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Archive for the ‘Allan’s 40s Countdown’ Category

sullivans-travels-1-copy1

by Allan Fish

(USA 1941 90m) DVD1/2

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

p  Paul Jones  d/w  Preston Sturges  ph  John F.Seitz  ed  Stuart Gilmore  m  Leo Shuken  art  Hans Dreier, Earl Hedrick  cos  Edith Head

Joel McCrea (John L.Sullivan), Veronica Lake (The girl), Robert Warwick (Lebrand), Porter Hall (Hadrian), William Demarest (Jones), Franklin Pangborn (Casalais), Byron Foulger (Valdelle), Eric Blore (Valet), Robert Greig (Butler), Margaret Hayes (Secretary), Torben Meyer (Doctor), Jimmy Conlin (Trusty), Alan Bridge (The Mister),

If there was ever a film that personified the Golden Age American cinema not appreciating talent, it’s Preston Sturges’ masterpiece from 1941.  Perhaps it was because the film wasn’t easily pigeonholed; it was comedy, a satire, an oddball romance and a tragedy, all rolled up into one deluxe ninety minute package. Sturges made other great films, three of which are covered elsewhere in this list, but for me Sullivan’s Travels is his masterpiece, a work of genius for all time.

            John Lloyd Sullivan is in a rut.  The thirty-two year old director of such popular hits as Ants in Your Pants of 1939 is sick of making frothy films and yearns to make a serious social drama along the lines of The Grapes of Wrath, based on a worthy novel entitled O Brother, Where Art Thou?.  He decides that he needs to feel some of the misery for himself and sets off with a few cents in his pocket, dressed as a tramp, to look for trouble and despair to inspire him for his attempted magnum opus.  But events conspire to bring him back to Hollywood, where he runs into a young girl who is tired of the casting couch and lecherous executives and wants to go home.  But then she fancies the idea of tagging along with him as he goes out on his experiment. (more…)

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out-of-the-past-6-copy

by Allan Fish

(USA 1947 97m) DVD1/2

Aka. Build my Gallows High

We owe it all to Jose Rodriguez

p  Warren Duff  d  Jacques Tourneur  w  Daniel Mainwaring  novel  “Build My Gallows High” by Daniel Mainwaring  ph  Nicholas Musuraca  ed  Samuel E.Beetley  m  Roy Webb  art  Albert S.d’Agostino, Jack Okey  spc  Russell A.Cully  cos  Edward Stevenson

Robert Mitchum (Jeff Markham/Bailey), Jane Greer (Kathie Moffett), Kirk Douglas (Whit Sterling), Virginia Huston (Ann Miller), Richard Webb (Jim), Paul Valentine (Joe Stefanos), Ken Niles (Leonard Eels), Rhonda Fleming (Meta Carson), Steve Brodie (Jack Fisher), Dickie Moore (The Kid), Wallace Scott (Petey, the taxi driver), Mary Field (Marny the diner owner), Lee Elson (Lou Baylord), Frank Wilcox (Sheriff Al Douglas),

Back in 2001 I was watching cult TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer as Eliza Dushku’s Faith described her borderline psychotic psyche: “it’s like the whole world is moving and you’re stuck.  Like those animals in the tar pits; it’s like you just keep sinking a little deeper every day and nobody even sees…”  Totally unrelated though that may be, the quote made me think of this film and its antihero Jeff Markham, who likewise inexorably sinks deeper and deeper into his own proverbial pile of quicksand, and smiles as he does so.  To put it mildly, this is a quite sensationally cynical film noir, the best ever in the genre and one of the greatest, and most stylish, films of all time.  I won’t waste too much space with the plot, in which a private eye relates to his current flame how he got involved with a femme fatale he’d been hired to find by a big-time gambler, and concentrate on the impact. (more…)

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 citizen-kane-1-copy

by Allan Fish

(USA 1941 119m) DVD1/2

A declaration of principles

p/d  Orson Welles  w  Herman J.Mankiewicz, Orson Welles  ph  Gregg Toland  ed  Robert Wise  m  Bernard Herrmann  art  Van Nest Polglase, Perry Ferguson  cos  Edward Stevenson  spc  Vernon L.Walker  sound  James G.Stewart

Orson Welles (Charles Foster Kane), Joseph Cotten (Jedediah Leland), Dorothy Comingore (Susan Alexander), Everett Sloane (Mr Bernstein), Ray Collins (Boss Jim W.Gettys), Paul Stewart (Raymond), Ruth Warrick (Emily Norton), Erskine Sanford (Herbert Carter), Agnes Moorehead (Mrs Kane), Harry Shannon (Mr Kane), George Coulouris (Walter Parks Thatcher), William Alland (Jerry Thompson), Fortunio Bonanova (Matiste), Philip Van Zandt (Mr Rawlston), Buddy Swann (Kane aged 8), Sonny Bupp (Kane III), Gus Schilling (Head Waiter), Philip Van Zandt (Mr Rawlston), Georgia Backus (Miss Anderson), Richard Barr (Hillman), Joan Blair (Georgia), Al Eben (Mike), Benny Rubin (Smather), Frances Neal (Ethel), Alan Ladd, Arthur O’Connell,

What can I say about Kane that hasn’t been said by a thousand critics and commentators before me?  One feels almost in danger of inflicting paralysis by analysis.  Often referred to as the greatest film ever made, it’s certainly a worthy contender to that most arbitrary of titles, but there is so much talk these days about the drama behind the film’s making, both in documentary or dramatic re-enactments such as the cable TV movie RKO 281, that the film itself is often overlooked.  Now that it has, thanks to digital technology, been released pristinely to DVD it can be truly seen and appreciated as the masterpiece of the old Hollywood, typically rejected by its peers at the academy for How Green Was My Valley, as whopping an insulting oversight as has been offered before or since. (more…)

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 hisgirl1-copy

by Allan Fish

(USA 1940 92m) DVD1/2

Take Hitler and stick him on the funny page

p  Howard Hawks  d  Howard Hawks  w  Charles Lederer  play  “The Front Page” by Charles MacArthur, Ben Hecht  ph  Joseph Walker  ed  Gene Havlick  md  Morris Stoloff  m  Sydney Cutner  art  Lionel Banks  cos  Robert Kalloch

Rosalind Russell (Hildy Johnson), Cary Grant (Walter Burns), Ralph Bellamy (Bruce Baldwin), Gene Lockhart (Sheriff Hartwell), Porter Hall (Murphy), Cliff Edwards (Endicott), Ernest Truex (Roy Bensinger), Clarence Kolb (Mayor), Roscoe Karns (McCue), Helen Mack (Mollie Malloy), John Qualen (Earl Williams), Abner Biberman (Louie), Frank Jenks (Wilson), Regis Toomey (Sanders), Frank Orth (Duffy), Alma Kruger (Mrs Baldwin), Billy Gilbert (Joe Pettibone), Pat West (Warden Cooley), Edwin Maxwell (Dr Egelhoffer),

It all happened in the dark ages of the newspaper game – when to a reporter ‘getting that story’ justified anything short of murder.”  So saieth the introduction and you’d better believe it, brother.  Never in the field of cinematic wordplay have so many words been delivered so brilliantly and so quickly by such an immortal few.  His Girl Friday truly is the fastest, wittiest, sassiest and most hilarious comedy of its day, so cynical as to be typed in venomous ink but with just enough heart to touch the soul.  This is a film that film buffs eulogise over from morning to night, speaking fifty words to the dozen in respect of their idols.  The 1931 straight (if you can call it that) version The Front Page was a fine film in itself, but it pales into near insignificance besides Hawks’ masterpiece.  There are too many lines to quote here, partly because they’re spoken so fast.  But who the hell cares when delivered by actors such as these.

            Hildy Johnson, ex star reporter and wife of Morning Post editor Walter Burns returns to tell her recently divorced ex-husband/boss that she’s leaving the business to get married to a slow-talking dolt in Albany.  Burns cannot believe his ears, and tries to get Hildy to change her mind by getting her embroiled in a case involving political corruption and a potentially unjust execution, in an attempt to get her to stay.  Oh, and getting her intended up on as many phoney charges as his warped, degenerate mind can conjure up in two hours.  (more…)

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 day-of-wrath-1-copy

by Allan Fish

(Denmark 1943 99m) DVD1/2

Is it a sin to love?

p  Carl T.Dreyer  d  Carl T.Dreyer  w  Carl T.Dreyer, Poul Knudsen, Mogens Skot-Hansen  play  “Anne Pedersdotter” by Hans Wiers Jenssen  ph  Carl Andersson  ed  Edith Schlussel, Anne-Marie Petersen  m  Poul Schierbeck  art  Eric Ases, Lis Fribert

Thorkild Roose (Absalon Pedersdotter), Lisbeth Movin (Anne Pedersdotter), Sigrid Neiiendam (Meret Pedersdotter), Preben Lerdoff Rye (Martin Pedersdotter), Albert Hoeberg (The Bishop), Olaf Ussing (Laurentius), Anna Svierkier (Herlof’s Marte),

The cinema of Carl Dreyer is the most perfect representation of the bleak, austere power of faith.  Unlike those of Ingmar Bergman, Dreyer’s protagonists’ faith not only leads to internal crises but to a belief in a life eternal and as something to use against an overwhelming fear.  One thinks of Falconetti’s Jeanne d’Arc and Julian West’s David Gray as previous central figures in Dreyer’s world who had their faith tested by extreme terror.  Dreyer’s characters are martyrs to faith and prisoners to their fears.  Never was this better represented than by the poor, aged figure of Herlof’s Marte in Dreyer’s seminal witch movie.  Her ordeal is truly harrowing to watch and even more harrowing when we don’t actually see, but hear her screams from off-camera (a trick used by Cecil B.de Mille so effectively in The Sign of the Cross).  When she tremblingly confesses “I am so dreadfully afraid of death” it would take a very hard man not to internally suffer with her. (more…)

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by Broadway Bob Eagleson

This is merely a list, not an analysis…

1

1

2

8

3

7

4

9

5

 

4

6

12

7

10

8

6

9

11

10

5

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 late-spring-1

by Allan Fish

(Japan 1949 108m) DVD1/2

Aka. Banshun

Waiting for a good ball

p  uncredited  d  Yasujiro Ozu  w  Yasujiro Ozu, Kogo Noda  ph  Yuharu Atsuta  ed  Yoshiyasu Hamamura  m  Senji Ito  art  Tatsuo Hamada

Chishu Ryu (Prof Shukichi Somiya), Setsuko Hara (Noriko, his daughter), Yumeji Tsukioka (Aya Kitagawa), Haruko Sugimura (Masa Taguchi), Hohi Aoki (Katsuyochi Taguchi), Jun Usami, Kuniko Miyake,

Ozu’s masterwork is often referred to as the first of his Noriko trilogy (followed by other masterpieces Early Summer and Tokyo Story) in which Setsuko Hara plays a girl called Noriko.  It can also be seen as the original version of the tale tackled in his last film, the marginally inferior An Autumn Afternoon

            Professor Somiya is a 56 year old widower whose daughter Noriko is in her late twenties and nearly beyond marriageable age, but who is still living at home looking after her father.  Though she is everything to him, he realises that her looking after him is selfish so he contrives to try and see her married.  Yet Noriko does not want to go, so her father pretends that he intends to remarry himself, to relieve her worries of his not taking care of himself, so that she will marry.  Of course, he never intends to remarry.  (more…)

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 third-man-1-copy

by Allan Fish

(UK 1949 106m) DVD1/2

The Lone Rider of Santa Fe

p  Alexander Korda, David O.Selznick, Carol Reed  d  Carol Reed  w  Graham Greene (and Orson Welles)  novel  Graham Greene  ph  Robert Krasker  ed  Oswald Hafenrichter  m  Anton Karas  art  Vincent Korda  cos  Ivy Baker

Joseph Cotten (Holly Martins), Alida Valli (Anna Schmidt), Trevor Howard (Maj.Calloway), Orson Welles (Harry Lime), Bernard Lee (Sgt.Paine), Wilfrid Hyde-White (Crabbin), Ernst Deutsch (Baron Kurtz), Siegfried Breuer (Popescu), Erich Ponto (Dr Winkel), Wilfrid Thomas (Narrator),

I never knew the old Vienna before the war, with its Strauss music, its glamour and its easy charm; Constantinople suited me better…”  To hear those words is to be back in the company of an old friend for the best part of two hours, as if one were going to dine with someone you hadn’t seen for many years, but with whom each reacquaintance added a cherished new memory for the subconscious.  My latest sighting was immediately after viewing the silent masterpiece The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, with which at first glance it would seem to have little in common.  Yet a connection there most definitely was, for Reed’s much loved masterpiece is a film that the German expressionists would have applauded.  Firstly because it, too, takes place in a German-speaking nation crestfallen after a war and, secondly, because of its expressionistic camera angles, which distort, disorientate and ultimately deceive.  Characters are deliberately shot from certain angles almost without exception, the only one seemingly untouched being the ever loyal heroine.  (more…)

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 cat-concerto-1

No 10 has already been covered on WitD here…

https://wondersinthedark.wordpress.com/2008/10/09/the-magnificent-ambersons/

 

by Allan Fish

(USA 1946 7m) DVD1/2
Slapstick symphony
p  Fred Quimby  d  William Hanna, Joseph Barbera  md  Scott Bradley

Of all the classic cartoon characters of yore, from Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck to Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, Tom & Jerry hold a unique place in animation history.  Not just because of their very individual brand of mayhem, but because they were animated by the famous animator partners, Hanna and Barbera.  For it was they who went on to make a name for themselves in the successor to the cartoon industry, producing two reel cartoon episodes for television, the best of them based on classic American TV sitcoms (Top/Boss Cat based on You’ll Never Get Rich (Bilko), The Flintstones based on The Honeymooners).  And though they themselves had no second generation offspring, as it were, could one imagine The Simpsons without The Flintstones a generation earlier?  Just two links from Ralph Kramden to Homer Simpson; scary.  (more…)

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its-a-w-life-1-copy 

by Allan Fish

(USA 1946 129m) DVD1/2

Welcome to Pottersville

p  Frank Capra  d  Frank Capra  w  Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, Jo Swerling, Frank Capra  story  “The Greatest Gift” by Philip Van Doren Stern  ph  Joseph Walker, Joseph H.Biroc  ed  William W.Hornbeck  m  Dimitri Tiomkin  art  Jack Okey  spc  Russell A.Cully  cos  Edward Stevenson

James Stewart (George Bailey), Donna Reed (Mary Hatch), Lionel Barrymore (Henry F.Potter), Thomas Mitchell (Uncle Billy Bailey), Beulah Bondi (Ma Bailey), Henry Travers (Clarence Oddbody), Frank Faylen (Ernie the taxi driver), Ward Bond (Bert the cop), Gloria Grahame (Violet Bick), H.B.Warner (Mr Gower), Samuel S.Hinds (Peter Bailey), Frank Albertson (Sam Wainwright), Todd Karns (Harry Bailey), Mary Treen (Cousin Millie), Ellen Corby (Miss Davis), Sheldon Leonard (Nick), Charles Halton (Carter, the bank examiner), Virginia Patton (Ruth Dakin), Charles Williams (Cousin Eustace), Sarah Edwards (Mrs Hatch), Bill Edmunds (Mr Martini), Charles Lane (the architect), Al Bridge (arresting sheriff), Roscoe Karns, J.Farrell MacDonald, Almira Sessions, Tom Fadden, Halliwell Hobbes,

Though films such as Gone With the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, Casablanca and more recently, Star Wars, are beloved of seemingly everybody, I think it’s fair enough to say that Frank Capra’s 1946 masterpiece is the most beloved film of all time.  A fact that is all the more amazing when you consider that it was a flop when released.  Maybe people couldn’t see how dark a film it really was, under all the tinsel of the Bailey family Christmas tree.  Maybe they just didn’t want any light fare after the war and were too cynical for such sentiment.  (Never mind the glaring fact that the photography at times resembled that of a film noir.)  Either way, as with other such classics as Bringing up Baby, they were myopic.  (more…)

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