Category Archives: 52 Before 62

52 Before 62 – The Exit Survey

Well, at long last[1] we’ve reached the end of 52 Before 62 journeys.  And what a journey it was, through some of the not-nearly-as-well-explored corners of film history.  It’s been fun and, if we’re honest, a little educational.  And while you may have taken different lessons away from this project, these are some of mine. Continue reading

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52 Before 62 — One-Eyed Jacks (1961)

One-Eyed Jacks (1959 poster).jpgDirected by Marlon Brando

Screenplay by Guy Trosper and Calder Willingham, based upon the novel “The Authentic Death of Hendry Jones” by Charles Neider

Starring Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Katy Jurado, Pina Pellicer, and Ben Johnson

Fans of Stanley Kubrick tend to be an obsessive bunch, knowing his films intimately.  They also know that the reason he went so long between putting out films was not some sort of professional ennui on his part — he was not a filmmaker who could barely be bothered to ply his art.  Rather, most of the gap of time between his films was more a matter of Kubrick’s intense perfectionism on his part.  After all, it takes time to get things just right.  Of course, some of that lost time is also due to Kubrick having spent years working on projects that might never have been made at all, or were made by others.

For simplicity’s sake, let’s call those The Lost Films of Stanley Kubrick

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52 Before 62 — #50 Little Caesar (1931)

Little Caesar (1931 film poster - Style A).jpgDirected by Mervyn Leroy

Screenplay by  Francis Edward Faragoh and Robert N. Lee, based upon the novel of the same name by W. R. Burnett

Starring Edward G. Robinson, Douglas Fairbanks Jr.

Rico (Edward G. Robinson) is a criminal with ambition.  Too bad he’s small-timing it out in the sticks, making ends meet robbing gas stations with his partner, Joe (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.).   But a man with his ambition won’t be small-time for long and within the space of the transition from one scene to another, Rico is joining one of the top criminal outfits in Chicago.  His partner Joe comes to the city too, but he puts aside his criminal dreams for dancing shoes.[1]  Because he’s ambitious, and ruthless, Rico rises quickly through the organization, eventually installing himself as boss.  Unfortunately, to rise that quickly you have to step on a lot of toes, which doesn’t end well for the man doing the stepping.

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52 Before 62 — #49 The Major and the Minor (1942)

MajorAndMinorPoster.jpgDirected by Billy Wilder

Screenplay by Billy Wilder and Charles Bracket, based upon the play “Connie Goes Home”, by Edward Childs Carpenter, and the story “Sunny Goes Home” by Fannie Kilbourne

Starring Ginger Rogers and Ray Milland

If I asked you – and I mean you specifically – to name Billy Wilder’s greatest films, chances are you’d name some, or all, of the following:

  • Double Indemnity
  • The Lost Weekend
  • Sunset Boulevard
  • The Apartment
  • Ace in the Hole
  • Stalag 17
  • Some Like it Hot

And because the Billy Wilder oeuvre runs so deep, there’s even room for the contrarian, or smartass, to include some of Wilder’s lesser films and not be laughed off for it.  So, you go ahead and do you, and throw The Fortune Cookie and One, Two, Three into the mix.  Me, I’m throwing Avanti![1]

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52 Before 62 — #48 The Farmer’s Daughter (1947)

The Farmer's Daughter (1947 film).jpgDirected by H.C. Potter

Screenplay by Allen Rivkin and Laura Kerr, from the play by Hella Wuolijoki

Starring Loretta Young, Joseph Cotton, Ethyl Barrymore, and Charles Bickford

Here’s a new thing: let’s start this entry by just carrying on the discussion from the last entry on Mogambo.  But don’t you worry – I promise it will circle around to being about this entry’s film, The Farmer’s Daughter.  But first, let’s take a sidetrack into yoga. Continue reading

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52 Before 62 — #47 ½ Mogambo (1953)

Mogambo.jpgDirected by John Ford

Screenplay by John Lee Mahin, based upon the play “Red Dust” by Wilson Collison

Starring Clark Gable, Ava Gardner, Grace Kelly, and Donald Sinden

A confession to start – I did not finish Mogambo.  I know how it begins, but not how it ends.  Although, because it’s a remake of Red Dust, which I have seen, I can probably guess how it ends.  This is how it went: I started it, watched about 35 minutes in the first sitting,[1] then spent three weeks slogging through the next 25 minutes.  And then, at roughly the 1 hour mark, facing down the possibility of having to watch another hour of the movie, I gave up.  That’s why this entry is 47 ½ and not 48.  And is also the why the moral of this story is don’t be afraid to quit things that no longer give you pleasure.  How ever you define pleasure.

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52 Before 62 — #47 The World, The Flesh and the Devil

World Flesh Devil 1959.jpgDirected by Ranald MacDougall

Written by Ranald MacDougall

Starring Harry Belfonte, Inger Stevens, and Mel Ferrer

Sigmund Freud was a famous proponent for the subconscious and imagery of dreams – he might not have been the first to subscribe to the idea, but he’s the only one most people know about, so he might as well be first.  Of course, being a proponent of symbols and the subconscious does not mean he thought everything was symbolic or a result of the subconscious – that reading just stands to reason.  After all, if everything is a symbol then nothing is a symbol.  Anyway, to put it the way Freud was purported to say himself: sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

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52 Before 62 — #46 Let’s Make Love (1960)

Lets make love.jpegDirected by George Cukor

Written by Norman Krasna, with additional material by Hal Kanter

Starring Marilyn Monroe, Yves Montand, Tony Randall, Frankie Vaughan, and Wilfrid Hyde-White

Several entries ago we tackled what was probably the first big hit of Marilyn Monroe’s career – Niagara.  Or, at least the first hit of her career that was attributable to her.  She’d been in other films before – All About Eve, especially – but the success there was not her’s.  She was merely incidental.  Niagara, though, was the first that succeeds off of her and part of the reason for that is because Monroe is so desperately beautiful and magnetic you can’t help but want to see her.  It would’ve been insane if it failed to make money. Continue reading

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52 Before 62 — #45 The Vikings (1958)

Vikings moviep.jpgDirected by Richard Fleischer

Screenplay by Calder Wilingham and Dale Wasserman, based upon the novel by Edwin Marshall

Starring Kirk Douglas, Tony Curtis, Ernest Borgnine, James Donald, Frank Thring, and Janet Leigh

When Kirk Douglas died a couple weeks ago it was almost literally the final expiration of old-style Hollywood stardom.  That’s what happens, I guess, when you live to 103 — whether you like it or not, your death is literally the end of something.

Douglas made his name in films from the late-1940’s onward, just before the ‘method’ style of acting came into vogue and the traditional notions of who could be, and who could not be, a movie star gave way to a system dominated more by unique faces and character actors.  In other words, the age when guys with a sense of stylization to their acting stopped winning Oscars — see e.g. Laurence Olivier — and guys with a touch of naturalism started winning.  Guys like Ernest Borgnine. Continue reading

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52 Before 62 — #44 Heidi (1937)

Heidi (1937 film) poster.jpgDirected by Allan Dwan

Written by Julien Josephson and Walter Ferris, from the book of the same name by Johanna Spyri

Starring Shirley Temple, Jean Herscholt, Arthur Treacher, Mary Nash, Marcia Mae Jones, and Sidney Blackmer

Shirley Temple is probably the proto-child actor.  Her, or Jackie Coogan.  One of the other.  But really, just Shirley Temple, if only because she set the standard for how a child actor’s career tends to go.  Get in the business almost at birth, make it big at a young age, only to see that career stall irretrievably at the brink of adult hood, when puberty turns the cute little kid into something the general public can’t handle, i.e. sexual. Continue reading

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