Directed by Carol Reed
Written by R.C. Sherriff, based upon the novel of the same name by F.L. Green
Starring James Mason, Kathleen Ryan, Robert Newton and Cyril Cusack
Believe it or not, it’s not always easy watching the movies in this series. No, I don’t mean in terms of availability, like I’m out here picking movies that are basically unavailable and so it’s hard to watch them. As if there is any sense to that.
No, I mean they’re difficult to watch in terms of hearing a film defined as ‘classic’, only to learn it actually doesn’t live up to the hype. That instead of being rapt by this supposed-classic, I’m bored silly and constantly looking at your phone and counting the minutes until it’s over. And at the end, you wonder if you just missed something about the film and it’s truly a classic, or if everybody else simply drank the Kool-Aid and you’re the only sane one left. Continue reading
Directed by Delmer Daves
Screenplay by Halsted Wells, based on the short story by Elmore Leonard
Starring Glenn Ford, Van Heflin, Felicia Farr, Richard Jaeckel, Henry Jones, and Robert Emhardt
A courtly outlaw, Ben Wade (Glenn Ford), robs a stagecoach in rural Arizona. In the robbery, the stage driver winds up dead. When a posse is formed to catch the outlaw, a local rancher, Dan Evans (Van Heflin), agrees to join. Only, after the outlaw is caught and it’s decided to take him to a neighboring town to be put on the train to Yuma, the posse chickens out. Bluntly, they fear Wade’s gang will kill them. The only one who sticks is Evans, who really needs the $200 he’s being offered for the job. The question is: will Wade make it to the train, or will Evans be killed before finishing the job? Continue reading
Directed by Victor Seastrom
Screenplay By Victor Seastrom and Carey Wilson, from the play by Leonid Andreyev
Starring Lon Chaney, Norma Shearer, John Gilbert, Marc McDermott, Ruth King, and Tully Marshall
First, a disclaimer: silent films are a big ask, and putting one into this series and expecting you to watch it is not something done lightly. The problem with silent films is they are very much like puppies and babies, in that they need constant attention. Unlike puppies and babies, though, they lack the essential cute and cuddliness that make the constant attention worthwhile. Sure, a silent movie might be good, and that’s something. But the only way you’ll know it’s good is through that constant attention. Even then, that may not be enough.
Directed by William Wyler
Screenplay by Charles MacArthur and Ben Hecht, from the novel by Emily Bronte
Starring Laurence Olivier, Merle Oberon, David Niven, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Flora Robson, Leo G. Carroll
The auteur theory of filmmaking is premised on the notion of a film having a single author. That despite all other efforts from others contributors, including the screenwriter, there is ultimately just one person who ‘authors’ the film. Usually, that person is presumed to be the director, because he is the one on set directing the action, placing the camera, and interpreting the script into a form that eventually winds up on film. Continue reading
Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Screenplay by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, based on the novel “A Letter to Five Wives” by John Klempner, adaptation by Vera Caspary
Starring Jeanne Crain, Ann Sothern, Linda Darnell, Kirk Douglas, Paul Douglas, and Jeffrey Lynn
Here’s a little ‘behind the curtain’ info on this series – and really, this blog as a whole: I don’t own most of the movies reviewed here. I also don’t rent them – probably because that’s not a thing anymore. The usual way I do it is take some from Amazon Prime and Netflix if they have ‘em, then catch the rest either on TCM through Hulu, or from DVD’s I borrow from the library. Continue reading
Directed by George Stevens
Screenplay by Richard Flournoy, Lewis R. Foster, Frank Ross, and Robert W. Russell, based on the story “Two’s a Crowd” by Garson Kanin
Starring Jean Arthur, Joel McCrea, and Charles Coburn
War really messed with George Stevens – I’m pretty sure I noted this during my entry on I Remember Mama, but if I didn’t, I’ll say it here for the first time. And if I did say it there, it’s good to say it again.
War really messed with George Stevens.
Before Stevens went off to work with the U.S. Army Signal Corps during World War II, he was primarily a director of comedy and lighter fare – he came up through Hal Roach Studios and kept right on doing comedies, with the occasional Gunga Din thrown in for good measure. Continue reading
Directed by Andrew Stone
Screenplay by H.S. Kraft, story by Jerry Horwin and Seymour B. Robinson
Starring Bill ‘Bojangles’ Robinson, Lena Horne, Dooley Wilson, Cab Calloway, and Fats Waller
Bill Williams (Robinson), returns from WWI determined to make a go in showbiz. Through a loosely connected series of vignettes, staged as Bill’s memories, and interspersed around a variety of musical numbers, we see his sputtering start as a dancer, his eventual ascent to fame and fortune, and his love with Selina (Lena Horne).
Directed by John Sturges
Written by Leon Uris, based upon a story by George Scullin
Starring Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Jo Van Fleet, and Rhonda Fleming
Dennis Hopper had a very long career. In the back of my head I’m always aware of this, because I know he was in Giant (1956), directed Easy Rider (1969), was in Apocalypse Now (1979), was in Blue Velvet (1986), was in True Romance (1993), and was in all kinds of things right up until his death in 2010. Hell, it’s arguable he was even active after his death, but only on a technicality – he shot his part of The Other Side of the Wind back in the 70’s, even if it didn’t see the light of day until 2018.
Anyway, the point is while I knew he had a long career, I didn’t really make the connection that it was 50 years long until he popped up late in this movie – Gunfight at the O.K. Corral – as one of the Clanton boys, to be shot down at the O.K. Corral. And the only reason that fact registered on my radar at all was because I’d just seen Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. Continue reading
Directed by Victor Fleming
Screenplay by John Mahin, based upon the play of the same name by Wilson Collison
Starring Clark Gable, Jean Harlowe, Mary Astor, Gene Raymond, and Tully Marshall
Here’s a question: when you think of Clark Gable, what’s your flavor? With, or without, mustache? In my world I can only picture Gable with a mustache, largely because I most closely associate him with Gone With The Wind, where his mustache was so front and center it was basically the defining characteristic of Rhett Butler. And while Gable didn’t win an Oscar for that role, it is his signature role, so if the mustache defines the role, so it defines him.
Which means it might come as a surprise to realize he wasn’t completely tied to the mustache. History says he originally hated the facial hair as a sign of uncleanliness, but when it became part of his star, he then hated shaving it. Now and then, though, you’d catch him on screen with a bare upper lip. They were rare, but happened. Most notably he went without in Mutiny on the Bounty – a fantastic film – and also in his supporting turn in A Free Soul. Relevant to this entry? He doesn’t have a mustache in Red Dust.
Let’s dig in. Continue reading
Directed by Orson Welles
Screenplay by (No Credited Screenwriter) based upon the play by William Shakespeare
Starring Orson Welles, Jeanette Nolan, and Dan O’Herlihy
I don’t know why I bother with Shakespeare anymore. Yes, I know he’s one of those great writers we have to learn about – or supposedly-great. So, there’s that. Then, for a moviegoer there’s all these adaptations of his works, which means you inevitably have to contend with him in some way as more than just a dusty book on a shelf. I don’t want to bother, yet there’s often no way around it.
The truth is, I mostly find Shakespeare impenetrable. People can rave over the poetry of the plays and all that junk, but for me, the poetry and other junk keep me out. This was a fact I noted in my The Also-Ran’s Project entry about Henry V, and rather than beat that horse to death here, I’ll quote myself: Continue reading