Monthly Archives: June 2019

52 Before 62 — #17 A Double Life (1947)

A Double Life poster.jpgDirected by George Cukor

Screenplay by Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin

Starring Ronald Colman, Signe Hasso, Edmond O’Brien, Shelley Winters, Ray Collins and Millard Mitchell

Ronald Colman was an old-style movie star, of the kind we basically don’t see anymore.  Handsome, debonair, always clean and seemingly well-pressed, but with a bit of a roguish streak to them.  Modern analogues might be George Clooney and Colin Firth.  Moreover, Colman always comes across as authentically continental.  Worldly.

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52 Before 62 — #16 Wagon Master (1950)

Color poster. The word "WAGON" sweeps across the middle of the poster, with the word "MASTER" below it; just above there is text in smaller font that reads "John Ford and Merian C. Cooper present". Several scenes from the film are painted around the text, including a woman affectionately looking down at a kneeling man, a shootout with one man standing, holding a pistol, and several men falling or lying on the ground, and two covered wagons being pulled by galloping and rearing horses. At the top left there is text reading "John Ford's lusty successor to 'Fort Apache' and 'She Wore a Yellow Ribbon'". The credit block at the bottom reads "Ben Johnson - Joanne Dru - Harry Carey, Jr. - Ward Bond", with "Directed by John Ford" in larger font at the right. In smaller lettering, nearer the bottom, the poster has another line of credits "and Charles Kemper - Alan Mowbray - Jane Darwell".Directed by John Ford

Screenplay by Frank Nugent and Patrick Ford

Starring Ben Johnson, Ward Bond, Harey Carey Jr.

Ben Johnson was not a star of the sort we’re used to, which is one who actually leads movies.  If Johnson was a star at all, it was in the sense of showing up for a few days work in a small role to give a film like Will Penny that flavor of verisimilitude it thrives on.  Which means he was the very example of a supporting player.

There’s a story about Ben John in Peter Biskind’s book, Easy Riders, Ragin Bulls, about how when Peter Bogdonavich was casting The Last Picture Show, he really wanted Ben Johnson to play Sam The Lion in that film.  Johnson, though, turned off by the language in the script, and the amount of dialog he’d have.   Bogdonavich persisted, though, and went to John Ford and asked him to appeal to his frequent actor, Ben Johnson.  Ford did, asking Johnson something to the effect of, “Are you just going to play Duke’s [John Wayne’s] sidekick all your life?”  Johnson took the part and won an Oscar for it, the irony of which is it still wasn’t for a starring role – the Oscar was for Best Supporting Actor.  If anything, Johnson moved from being John Wayne’s sidekick to Timothy Bottoms and Jeff Daniels’ sidekick.[1] Continue reading

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52 Before 62 – #15 John Loves Mary (1949)

John Loves Mary poster.jpgDirected by David Butler

Screenplay by Phoebe and Henry Ephron, from the play by Norman Krasna

Starring Ronald Reagan, Patricia Neal, Jack Carson, Edward Arnold, Virginia Field, Wayne Morris, and Katharine Alexander

I’ve never seen a Ronald Reagan movie.  Yes, he was President and ‘acted’ his way through that, but that’s more a reality show than a movie these days, if we’re honest.  Anyway, what’s amazing about seeing no Reagan movies is I see a lot of movies.  Like, way more than the average person.[1]  But honestly, I’m  probably not alone in not seeing any Reagan films because I’m pretty sure even the idiots who think the man was a great president also haven’t bothered perusing his filmography.  The reason?  Because the general consensus is his movies are not worth seeing.  After all, of his entire filmography just three of those films managed Best Picture nominations, and the only one of those three even rated a mention in The New York Times Guide to the 1000 Best Movies Ever Made was Dark Victory.  Even then, that mention probably has more to do with it being a Bette Davis/Humphrey Bogart vehicle than it does for featuring an at-best-fifth-billed Ronald Reagan. Continue reading

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The Also-Rans Project – Vice (Best Picture Also-Ran 2018)

Vice (2018 film poster).pngDirected by Adam McKay

Written by Adam McKay

Starring Christian Bale, Steve Carrell, Amy Adams, Sam Rockwell, and Jesse Plemons

Here’s a fun game to play when you want to depress yourself about how the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has no clue about what is, and is not, Oscar-worthy: Oscar winners vs. Oscar not-winners.




Oscar Winner Oscar Not-Winner
Writer of trashy suspense novels and creator of I Dream of Jeannie, Sidney Sheldon[1] Alfred Hitchcock
The director of Dumb and Dumber and Shallow Hal, Peter Farrelly[2] Norman Jewison
The director of Dirty Dancing, Emile Ardolino[3] Phillip Kaufman
Dean Pelson (Jim Rash) from Community[4] Sidney Lumet[5]
The director of Galaxy Quest, Dean Parisot[6] Hal Ashby
Voice of K-Billy’s Super Sounds of the 70s, Steven Wright[7] David Lynch, George Lucas, Michael Man, Robert Altman, Sam Peckinpah, John Boorman, and Paul Thomas Anderson

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52 Before 62 #14 – Bend of the River (1952)

Image result for frances bavier bend of the riverDirected by Anthony Man

Screenplay by Borden Chase, from the novel by

Starring James Stewart, Arthur Kennedy, Julie Adams, and Rock Hudson 

In the most famous movie involving the Anthony Mann/Jimmy Stewart/Borden Chase/Rock Hudson quadrumvirate, Winchester 73 (1950), Hudson barely got to play a part, as much as he played a stereotype: he put on red-face makeup to play a war-like Native-American.  Of course, while Hudson would be a massive star later, he was a nobody then, so slapping on some red-face makeup was a positive step in his career. Continue reading

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