Directed by Daniel Mann
Written by John Michael Hayes and Charles Schnee, based upon the novel by John O’Hara
Starring Elizabeth Taylor, Laurence Harvey, and Eddie Fisher
Elizabeth Taylor is a rare thing in Hollywood history – a kid actor who grew up to have an adult career. Most only fade away before then, or just drift into fitful employment – looking at you Henry Thomas. Some, though, carry the fame forward. Sure, the life of, and demands of, being an actress probably warped Taylor immeasurably – how else would you possibly explain her eight marriages – and probably led to her struggles with addition. But somehow, she managed to come out of that as well as one probably could. Continue reading
Directed by Henry Hathaway
Written by Charles Bracket, Richard L. Breen and Walter Reisch
Starring Marilyn Monroe, Joseph Cotton, Jean Peters and Michael Showalter
Marilyn Monroe is a legendary figure. I won’t say she’s legendary as an actress, because that’s never really what people think about when they think about her. She’s really legendary for her sex appeal, and as a sex symbol.
On the one hand, it’s fair she’s a legendary sex symbol – you only need to look at her, and her onscreen qualities, to get a sense of the heat she generates. On the other hand, it’s unfair she isn’t also venerated for her acting. After all, being a screen presence is not an easy thing to do – lots of charismatic people come across as stiff when the camera points at them but no more. More than that, it’s hard to come across as convincingly sexy on film, which Monroe can do. Having presence, and the wherewithal to be convincingly sexy, are skills a good actress possesses. Continue reading
Directed by Henry King
Screenplay by George Seaton, based upon the novel of the same name by Franz Werfel
Starring Jennifer Jones, William Eythe, Gladys Cooper, Vincent Price, Lee J. Cobb, and Charles Bickford
In cinema circles as of late, you hear a lot of complaining about how Hollywood doesn’t make films like they used to anymore. These days it’s mostly in relation to how movies have become nothing but overhyped theme park rides – specifically, Marvel theme park rides. And that movies for thinking adults just aren’t in Hollywood’s wheelhouse any longer. If we’re honest, this is probably a complaint that’s been going on for the entire life of cinema, as one generation is always intent on sneering at the generations that follow it, arguing they are somehow doing things ‘wrong’. But I digress. Continue reading
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).