Category Archives: 52 Before 62

52 Before 62 — #30 The Fastest Gun Alive (1956)

Fastestgunposter.jpgDirected by Russel Rouse

Written by Russel Rouse and Frank D. Gilroy, based on Gilroy’s teleplay, “The Last Notch”

Starring Glenn Ford, Jeanne Crain, Broderick Crawford

Broderick Crawford winning Best Actor for All The King’s Men (1949) is probably one of the stranger choices to win an acting Oscar.  Not strange in the sense he was an actor of limited range,[1]because many Oscar winners have limited range.[2]  Which is a less-backhanded way of saying that winning an Oscar is not usually proof of an actor’s quality.  If anything, winning an Oscar is merely ratification of the zeitgeist in the moment, and is also why the Oscars are essentially meaningless and good acting cannot truly be appreciated in the moment. Continue reading

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52 Before 62 — #29 The Hanging Tree (1959)

Poster of the movie The Hanging Tree.jpgDirected by Delmer Daves

Screenplay by Wendell Mayes and Halsted Wells, from the novelette of the same name by Dorothy M. Johnson

Starring Gary Cooper, Ben Piazza, Karl Malden, Maria Schell, and George C. Scott

Gary Cooper was a movie star of the highest order, with a career lasting something like 35 years, coming up as an extra and even appearing in the first Best Picture winner, Wings.  Career longevity aside, though, he always felt like a wooden actor to me.  Of course, being a movie star, and being a good actor, are frequently two different things: acting requires the ability to act, being a movie star is more about charisma and charm than anything else.  And it almost feels idiotic to argue he was a wooden actor, given he won two Oscars, and was nominated for three others, so somebody thought he had skills.  But I say he was a wooden actor, and so he was. Continue reading

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52 Before 62 — #28 I Remember Mama (1948)

I-remember-mama-1948 poster.jpgDirected by George Stevens

Screenplay by DeWitt Bodeen, from the play of the same name by John Van Druten, which was based on the novel of the same name by Kathryn Forbes

Starring Irene Dunne, Barbara Bel Geddes, Phillip Dorn, Steve Brown, Peggy McIntyre, Oscar Homolka, Ellen Corby, and Edgar Bergen

George Stevens might be one of the most underrated directors in history, which is sort of an insane thing to think about a man who has two Oscars for Best Director.  But ask anybody to name ten directors working before 1960 and you’d probably not hear his name mentioned once.[1]  He might not even be in the top 20. Continue reading

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52 Before 62 — #27 The Adventures of Mark Twain (1944)

Marktwain1944poster.jpgDirected by Irving Rapper

Screenplay by Alan Le May, adaptation by Alan Le May and Harold Sherman, with additional dialog by Harry Chandlee, all from the play by Harold Sherman

Starring Fredric March, Alexis Smith, Donald Crisp, Alan Hale, and John Carradine

Is Mark Twain a great novelist?  That seems the single question asked by this film, which is purportedly Twain’s life story.  Given the movie about Twain is asking the question, it’s no surprise it answers that, yes, he was a great novelist.  And, though Twain does not start writing in earnest until maybe 30% of the way through the film, after moving from one successful career to another – riverboat pilot to newspaperman – if we did not come to the same conclusion, then what was the point of making a movie about him in the first place? Continue reading

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52 Before 62 — #26 The Sweet Smell of Success (1957)

Sweetsmell.jpgDirected by Alexander Mackendrick

Screenplay by Clifford Odets and Ernest Lehman, from the novelette by Ernest Lehman

Starring Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis, and Susan Harrison

Sydney Falco (Tony Curtis) is a New York City press agent, desperate to place items about his clients in J.J. Hunsecker’s (Burt Lancaster) gossip column.  Just a mention there carries enough weight to make, or break, a career, which explains all the anxiety and jockeying for position that follows Hunsecker.  But while Falco and Hunsecker usually have a shark-and-remora relationship,[1] Hunsecker has lately frozen Falco out, insisting Falco be the hatchet man ruining the relationship between Hunsecker’s little sister, Susan (Susan Harrison), and the guitar player, Steve Dallas (Marty Milner), who Hunsecker has no appreciation for.  As days go on and the end does not come for Susan and Steve’s love, Hunsecker grows vicious toward Falco, pushing Falco even deeper into his desperation.  Eventually, both men hit a version of rock bottom

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52 Before 62 — #25 Sherlock Holmes Double Feature

"Silver Blaze" (1937).jpg

Murder at the Baskervilles, a.k.a. The Silver Blaze (1937)

Directed by Thomas Bentley

Screenplay by Arthur Macrae and H. Fowler Mear, based upon the Arthur Conan Doyle story “The Adventure of Silver Blaze”

Starring Arthur Wontner, Ian Fleming, Lyn Harding and John Turnbull

The Woman in Green - 1945 - Poster.pngThe Woman in Green (1945)

Directed by Roy William Neill

Screenplay by Bertram Millhauser, based in part on the Arthur Conan Doyle stories “The Final Problem” and “The Adventures of the Empty House”

Starring Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, and Henry Daniell

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52 Before 62 — #24 Leave Her To Heaven (1945)

LeaveHer.jpgDirected by John M. Stahl

Screenplay by Jo Swerling, from the novel by Ben Ames Williams

Starring Gene Tierney, Cornell Wilde, Jeanne Crain, Darryl Hickman, Mary Phillips Vincent Price, Ray Collins, Chill Wills, Gene Lockhart

Even though I saw Laura years ago, where Gene Tierney stars as the titular Laura, and I recall enjoying it, even though Tierney did not register with me.  I was far more into the fact that Clifton Webb, who I always thought of as the archetype of fussy, but not overly-stern movie dads thanks to his turn in Cheaper by the Dozen,[1] did a pretty good heel turn.  Plus, the fact that a very-young Vincent Price got to play a straight part in something other than a B-grade thriller was pretty exciting to see. Continue reading

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52 Before 62 — #23 Destry Rides Again (1939)

Destryridesagainposter.jpgDirected by George Marshall

Screenplay by Felix Jackson, Gertrude Purcell, and Henry Myers, from an original story by Felix Jackson, suggested by the novel of the same name by Max Brand

Starring Marlene Dietrich, James Stewart and Brian Donlevy

I started reading the book Best. Movie. Year. Ever. by Brian Raftery recently.  The whole premise of the book is 1999 was the greatest movie year ever.  To support this, just look at the lineup of 1999 releases: Fight Club, The Blair Witch Project, Being John Malkovich, Election, American Beauty, Go, Three Kings, Office Space, Eyes Wide Shut, and Magnolia.  And that’s just naming a few.  Which is a murderer’s row of films by any stretch.[1]

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52 Before 62 — #22 O.  Henry’s Full House (1952)

O. Henry's Full House Poster.jpgDirected by Various

Written by Various

Starring Charles Laughton, Marilyn Monroe, Dale Robertson, Richard Widmark, Anne Baxter, Jean Peters, Gregory Ratoff, Fred Allen, Oscar Levant, Jeanne Crain and Farley Granger

Many of my most vivid memories of school revolve around the movies they’d show us when they didn’t feel like teaching.  Most times these would be ‘educational’ films, sometimes not.  And when they were not they’d give it to us as a reward for something or other.  One of the reward movies was Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, which I’ve already talked about being low-level scandalous in the school because Dee Snider and Twisted Sister makes an appearance.  As if watching some glam/metal guys in long hair and women’s clothes would turn us gay or something.[1]   Less of a reward was the old educational program from the 70s, Mulligan Stew, which at least had the memorable “4-4-3-2” song, which occasionally runs through my head without asking even to this day. Continue reading

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52 Before 62 — #21 My Darling Clementine (1946)

1946.my.darling.clementine.jpgDirected by John Ford

Screenplay By Samuel G. Engel and Winston Miller, screen story by Sam Hellman, based upon the novel “Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marhsal” by Stuart N. Lake

Starring Henry Fonda, Victor Mature, Linda Darnell, Water Brennan, Ward Bond, Cathy Downs and Tim Holt

Wyatt Earp (Henry Fonda), and his three brothers (Ward Bond, Tim Holt, and Don Garner) are driving cattle west.  When they stop for a night in Tombstone, Arizona, the youngest brother winds up shot in the back and the cattle rustled.  Now, there’s no doubt this was the work of Old Man Clanton (Walter Brennan) and his sons, but there’s also no real proof.  Determined to hold the killers accountable, Earp sticks around and becomes sheriff of Tombstone, to give him time to get proof.  Along the way he becomes sort-of frenemies with Doc Holliday (Victor Mature), and imposes some law and order on things.  In the end, Earp finds the proof he needs about his brother’s killer, and gets his revenge on the Clantons.

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