Friday, October 30, 2009

A Letter to Three Wives


A Letter to Three Wives (1949) was directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and starred Linda Darnell, Jeanne Crain and Ann Southern.

The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture and won the Academy Awards for Best Director and Best Writing, Screenplay.

A flirt, Addie Ross writes a letter to Deborah (Jeanne Crain), Lora Mae (Linda Darnell) and Rita (Ann Southern). They receive the letter just as they are boarding boat to take the town's children to an all day picnic. The letter says that Ida is leaving town and leaving with one of their husbands.

We learn through flash backs about the three woman and their lives and their husbands and about Ida Ross.

First we learn that Deborah is a farm girl who met her husband, Brad (Jeffrey Lynn) while they both were serving in the Navy. They meet and fall in love and Deborah returns to her husband's home. Deborah is scared to death of meeting Brad's friends as she will be the outsider and she is a farm girl and they all seem so sophisticated. Rita, Brad, George (Kirk Douglas) and Addie grew up together. Addie is an old sweetheart of Brad's. Deborah has one to many drinks before the country club dance and feels out of place in her four year old dress. At the dance, Deborah learns more about Addie. Porter (Paul Douglas) and Lora Mae's husband, says Addie has "class." Deborah's dress is torn in a most embarassing moment and she seeks solitude in the women's dressing room as the maid stitches back of her dress and Rita gives her reassurance and support. Deborah returns to the dance and sees her husband talking to Addie. We do not see Addie, as she is blocked by a tree and all we see is her husband laughing and a woman's arm holding a cigarette.

Deborah wonders if it is her husband that Addie has run off with. Addie and her husband are old flames. Her husband left that morning for a business trip to the city with an overnight bag. The dress he had picked out for her for this year's dance is one that Addie also wore recently. Is it her husband, she wonders?

Next we learn about Rita and George, childhood sweethearts. George is a school teacher and Rita writes for a radio show. Rita's flashback is about a dinner party attended by Rita's bosses, Lora Mae and Porter. Although a happy couple, George is upset about Rita putting on a show for her bosses like making their maid Sadie where a maid's uniform. George receives a gift from Addie with what appears to be a romantic note and we learn it is also George's birthday, and Rita has forgotten. The gift is a Braham's record recorded in Vienna before the war. When the recorded is accidently damaged by Rita's boss, George stews and brews. George finally blows up at Rita's boss and Rita.

We learn that George feels somewhat somewhat emasculated since she earns a substantial portion of the household income. We also learn George does not approve of radio stories as a form of entertainment. As he tells Rita's boss in a delightful quote "The purpose of radio writing, as far as I can see, is to prove to the masses that a deodorant can bring happiness... a mouth wash guarantee success and a laxative attract romance. " Rita, wonders if it is her husband. George left that morning in a suit and did not say where he was going. He always fishes on Saturday, where could he be going all dressed up? Did he leave with Addie?

The final flashback is about Lora Mae. We learn Lora Mae is a girl from the wrong side of the tracks who married her boss, her much older boss. Lora Mae, her sister and her mother live in a tiny apartment near the railroad tracks and their apartment shakes violently when a train goes by. Lora Mae and Porter's courting is a strange one with her playing hard to get. While on their first dinner date, they run into George. George says that he and Rita are having dinner with Addie. Porter becomes very distracted and we can tell he is interested inAddie and they leave the restraurant. On a later date at Porter's house, Lora Mae stars at a photo on the piano, the photo is of Addie. Lora Mae wants to be the queen in the silver picture frame on the piano. Frustrated with Porter, she breaks off the relationship. New Years Eve, Porter comes to Lora Mae's house because he can't stop thinking about her and asks her to marry him even though he has been married before and does not wish to marry again.

During Rita and Deborah's flashbacks we also learn that Porter and Lora Mae's marriage is a strange one. Lora Mae loves to dance and Porter would rather sit at the table and drink. They also bicker frequently. He is a bit older and "knows all the answers," as she sarcastically tells him. The couple has never gotten along but obviously share a bond. Lora Mae wonders if it is her husband that Ida has run off with.

The women return home from the picnic and each hesitantly goes home to find out which of their husbands have run off with Addie.

This film also includes a delightful performance by Thelma Ritter who plays Sadie. She is George and Rita's maid and also an old friend of Lora Mae's mother and is featured in both Rita's and Lora Mae's flashback scenes.

We never see Addie Ross, her voice in narrating the film is provided by Celeste Holm. The film's technique of never showing Addie Ross is delightful. You have an image in your mind of what she looks like based on her voice and the men and women's reactions to her and the way they speak of her.

I enjoyed this movie. It has an excellent cast and excellent script. I highly recommend this movie for those who have not seen it.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Raisin in the Sun


A Raisin in the Sun (1961) was directed by Daniel Petrie, written by Lorraine Hansberrry, and starred Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, Claudia McNeil and Diana Sands. Supporting cast includes Ivan Dixon, Louis Gossett Jr.(in his film debut), John Fiedler, and Stephen Perry.

The movie is based on theBroadway play also written by Lorraine Hansberry. Sidney Poitier, Claudia McNeil, Ruby Dee, Diana Sands, Ivan Dixon, Louis Gossett Jr. and John Fielder recreated their stage roles for the movie version.

A Raisin in the Sun is about a working class African American family at a turning point in their lives.

Walter (Sidney Poitier) and Ruth (Ruby Dee) Younger and their son Travis (Stephen Perry), along with Walter's mother Lena (Claudia McNeil) and sister Beneatha (Diana Sands), live in poverty in a dilapidated one-bedroom apartment on Chicago's south side. Walter is barely making a living as a limousine driver and is going through a mid life crisis. Ruth is also excepting their second child although marital relations are strained by Walter's drinking and mood swings.

On the death of her husband, Lena Younger (Claudia McNeil) becomes the beneficiary of a $10,000 life insurance payment, and suddenly the family is in conflict over how the money should be spent. Lena wants to use the money for a down payment on a house. Her daughter Beneatha (Diana Sands) is hoping that Lena will help her pay for medical school. Lena's son, Walter Lee (Sidney Poitier) wants to go into business with friends who plan to open a liquor store, which he's convinced will be a sure money maker.

Walter feels he has a sense of entitlement to the money and desperately wants to become wealthy, but his mother has religious objections to alcohol and frowns on his idea of using the money for a liquor store. Beneatha reminds Walter that it is Mama's money and it is her call on how to spend it.

Beneatha is in college and being pursued by two suitors. First there is George (Louis Gossett Jr) who is wealthy and educated. Second there is Joseph Asagai, a Nigerian medical student at a Canadian university on a visit to America. Beneatha and Walter feel that George represents the "fully assimilated black man" who denies his African heritage with a "smarter than thou" attitude. Whereas, Asagai teaches Beneatha about her African heritage but also points out how she is assimilating herself into white ways.

Lena puts some of the money down on a new house, choosing an all-white neighborhood over a black one for the practical reason that it happens to be much cheaper. Walter is furious and goes on a drinking binge. Lena later relents and gives the rest of the money ($6500) to Walter to invest with the proviso that he reserve $3,000 for Beneatha's education.

Meanwhile Karl Lindner (John Fiedler) from the all white neighborhood offers to buy the Youngers out of their house, to avoid an "interracial" neighbor. Walter shows him the door.

Walter passes all the money (he fails to put away $3000.00 in a savings account for his sister) on to Willy's naive sidekick Bobo, who gives it to Willy, who absconds with it, depriving Walter and Beneatha of their dreams.

Beneatha is scolded by Asagai for her materialism when she becomes distraught at the loss of the money. She eventually accepts his point of view that things will get better with rebuilding effort, along with his proposal of marriage and his invitation to move with him to Nigeria to practice medicine.

Walter, distraught, calls Karl Linder planning to take him up on the offer to buy them out of the house. His wife Ruth, his mother and sister are horrified. As Lena says that while money was something they try to work for, they should never take it if it was a person's way of telling them they weren't fit to walk the same earth as them.

In the end, Walter comes to his senses and in a powerful speech to Linder, turns down the money and the family gets ready to move into their new home.

A Raisin in the Sun is a groundbreaking movie.

The film shows the complex questions facing a racial minority. The movie examines serious generational and racial issues as assimilation, prejudice, conflicts between idealism, the pursuit of the American dream, and pride in one's racial and cultural heritage.

The movie powerfully conveys the inter-familial and inter-generational conflicts that arise out of different hopes, dreams, and ambitions.

The movie captures the power and tension of a strong ensemble cast with intelligent and moving script.

I highly recommend this very powerful and moving film.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Navigator


The Navigator (1924) was directed by Donald Crisp and Buster Keaton and starred Buster Keaton and Kathryn McGuire.

Rollo (Buster Keaton) decides to marry his sweetheart Betsy (Kathryn McGuire) and sail to Hawaii. When she rejects him he decides to go alone but boards the wrong ship, the "Navigator" owned by Betsy's father. Unaware of this, Betsy boards the ship to look for her father. whom spies capture before cutting the ship loose. It drifts out to sea with the two socialites each unaware of there being anyone else on board.



The two end up together, stranded and drifting a sea. At first, the young couple is helpless because they've never had to lift a finger in their lives. What follows is a series of comedy gags as the couple tries to figure out how to cook for themselves.



As the weeks pass, Keaton and McGuire become quite adept at fending for themselves, utilizing the huge facilities of the liner (its steam room, its enormous kitchen) for the simplest and most basic of necessities.

An attack by a cannibal tribe requires Rollo (Keaton) to be more resourceful than ever, he must go down in a deep sea diving suit and repair the ship in order to escape the cannibals.




This builds-up to the climatic contretemps between Rollo (Keaton), Betsy (McGuire) and the cannibals .

The movie also has a great gag with a photo of director Donald Crisp.

There are gags with Rollo (Keaton) losing a battle with a deck chair and his attempt to shuffle a water soaked deck of cards.

The Navigator contains some of the most elaborate and well-known stunts by Keaton.



This film is a comic masterpiece and one of the silent era's most memorable films as well as one of Keaton's best films.

Two Faced Woman


Two Faced Women (1941) was directed by George Cukor and starred Greta Garbo and Meylvn Douglas.

The movie opens with Lawrence "Larry Blake" on holiday at a ski lodge in Idaho. He is there to rest and not ski. That is until he sees ski instructor Karin Borg (Greta Garbo) and immediately wants lessons.

The two fall in love and marry. Larry Blake vows to Karin to give up the life in New York and settle for a simple life in Idaho. However, his vow doesn't last long, when his secretary Miss Ellis (Ruth Gordon) and business partner Oscar Miller (Roland Young) arrive in Idaho. Blake is outraged at the latest addition of his magazine and against his wife's wishes returns to New York. His trip to New York becomes a longer and longer stay. Karin missing her husband decides to suprise him in New York.

However, it is Karin that gets the suprise when she spots him with old girlfriend Griselda Vaughn (Constance Bennett). Karin tries to make a quiet exit from New York, swearing Miss Ellis to not tell anyone she was in New York when they accidently run into Oscar Miller, Blake's business partner.

Miss Ellis gets the idea to say that Karin is not Karin but Katharine, Karin's twin sister. Miller falls for the gag and "Katharine" and invites her to dinner. Karin/Katharine decides it might be fun to pose as her twin and spy on her husband with Griselda.

At the night club, Larry Blake is suspicious and calls Idaho and finds out his wife is in New York. So Larry decides two can play this game. What unfolds is a comedy of errors and mishaps.

This was Garbo's last film before retirement. Rumor says because it bombed at the box office, she bought out her contract and retired from the silver screen.

Ruth Gordon is delightful as Miss Ellis and I love it when she says "I am going slowly but quietly insane" as she is the only one that knows Katharine is Karin.

Roland Young is wonderful as Oscar Miller, befuddled and confused.

Greta Garbo and Meylvn Douglas have wonderful chemistry as they did in Ninotchka (1939).

I found this film delightful and truely enjoyed it.

Several films we find classic today originally bombed at the box office like Bringing Up Baby (1938).

This is one of those films that may have bombed at the box office but is truely a romantic gem and a movie to see.

The Black Swan


The Black Swan (1942) was directed by Henry King and starred Maureen O'Hara and Tyrone Power.






After England and Spain make peace, notorious pirate Henry Morgan (Laird Cregar) is made Governor of Jamaica and decides to reform. He vows to rid the Caribbean of his former comrades, by persuasion or force, if necessary. Jamie Waring (Tyrone Power) and Tommie Blue (Thomas Mitchell), reluctantly give up their "trade" out of friendship with Morgan.

Morgan replaces the former governor, Lord Denby (George Zucco) but is not trusted by either the lawful residents or the pirates.

Captain Billy Leach (George Sanders) and Wogan (Anthony Quinn) refuse to change and continue wrecking havoc on the Caribbean seas. When Morgan is unable to stop the pirating of his old shipmates, he is suspected of still being allied with them. Someone is selling sailing information to Captain Leech and his crew. The people of Jamaica suspect Morgan and demand for his impeachment.

It is up to Jamie Waring to set sail to get to the bottom of things and bring Captian Leech and his crew to justice and restore Captain Morgan's good name.

However, Jamie Waring has taken a liking to Lord Denby's daughter, Lady Margaret (Maureen O'Hara) who happens to be engaged to an English gentleman, Roger Ingram (Edward Ashley). It turns out, her soon to be husband is the one secretly providing information about ship sailings to the pirates in an attempt to unseat the newly appointed Governor Morgan.

On the eve of Lady Margaret's wedding to Roger, Jamie Waring kidnaps her and takes her along on his voyage to capture Captain Leech and his crew. When Jamie Waring, Tommie Blue and the crew meet up with Leech's ship "The Black Swan" they realize they cannot fight them or out run them. So Jamie Waring and his crew form a fake alliance with Leech pretending they have left Morgan and returned to being pirates. Their plan is to lure Leech in and have him captured. However, Leech discovers their plan and takes them all hostage and the fight is on.

In the meantime, Captain Morgan thinks he has been betrayed by Jamie Waring and vows to bring him in.

What falls is an explosion of fighting and Leech is brought down and Lady Margaret falls in love with Jamie.

This is one of the best pirate films. The film won an oscar for Best Cinematography, Color.

Maureen O'Hara is stunning as Lady Margaret. Thomas Mitchell, Tyrone Power, George Sanders and Laird Cregar give excellent performaces.




Tyrone Power as Jamie Waring.



Maureen O'Hara as Lady Margaret



Laird Cregar as Captain Morgan.



Thomas Mitchell as Tommie Blue.



George Sanders as Captain Leech



Anthony Quinn as Wogan

Ladies in Retirement


Ladies in Retirement (1941) was directed by Charles Vidor and stars Ida Lupino and Louis Hayward.

Ida Lupino plays Ellen Creed a housekeeper to retired actress Ms. Fisk (Isobel Elsom). Evelyn Keyes plays Lucy, the maid.

The film's setting is the late 1800s in a remote area of England. Ms. Fisk (Isobel Elsom) is a retired London stage actress. She lives with her personal assistant/ housekeeper, Ellen Creed (Ida Lupino) and her maid, Lucy (Evelyn Keyes). The remote mansion in the country only gets occasional vistors like the sisters from the near by church, Sister Agatha (Queenie Leonard) and Sister Theresa (Emma Dunn) or Ms. Fisk's driver, Bates (Clyde Cook).

The film opens with Ellen receiving a letter from her sister's landlord. The landlord states they must leave at once or she will call the police and have them committed to the appropriate institution. Ellen persuades her employer, Ms. Fisk to permit the sisters to visit for a few days, not telling her of their mental problems. Ellen goes to London to run a few errands for Ms. Fisk and pick up her sisters.

While Ellen is in London, her long lost nephew Albert (Louis Hayward) appears needing money. The generous Ms. Fisk loans him a few pounds. Albert also takes a fancy to the maid, Lucy. He leaves before Ellen returns and asks Ms. Fisk and Lucy not to say anything of his visit.

Ellen returns from London with her sisters Emily (Elsa Manchester) and Louisa (Edith Barrett). A few days visit turns into six weeks. The two sisters are batty and soon get on Ms. Fisk's nerves. Ms. Fisk has had about all she can take of the crazy sisters and their antics. Ms. Fisk demands Emily and Lousia leave her home at once.

Ellen fearing her sisters will be committed and having no avenue of escape, murders her employer Ms. Fisk and tells everyone Ms. Fisk is on an extended holiday.

Long lost nephew Albert returns to the mansion, and begins to suspect what Ellen has done with Ms. Fisk. He is also running from the law, after stealing money from the bank where he worked.

What begins is a suspenceful cat and mouse game between Ellen and Albert, with Lucy helping Albert. Will Ellen be exposed or will she retain the upper hand?

The acting is excellent and it is a very absorbing suspenseful film. The name of the film makes it sound like it would be a comedy and not the melodrama that it is. It is actually based on a true story that occurred in England in 1886.

If you have not seen this film, I highly recommend it, you will not be disappointed.

Les Miserables


Les Miserables (1935) was directed by Richard Boleslawski and stars Fredric March and Charles Laughton. The movie is based on the book by Victor Hugo. Like most movies based on books there are some differences.

Fredric March gives one of his finest performances as Jean Valjean/ M. Madeleine/ M. Duval.

Charles Laughton is equally as good as the vicious, single-minded, neurotic Inspector Javert.

Young Cosette (Marilyn Knowlden) is delightful. She also played young Kim the 1936 version of Showboat and Florence Udney in Anthony Adverse (1936).

Older Cosette is played by Rochelle Hudson.

In 1800, in France, Jean Valjean (Fredric March) is sentenced to ten years as a galley slave. Jean's crime was that while he was hungry and out of work, he stole a loaf of bread to feed his sister and her children.

Officer Emile Javert (Charles Laughton), who has sworn to rise above his father, crimes (his father died as a prisoner on the galleys) is promoted after he emotionally confides that the book of regulations is his bible and that his creed is that the law must be strictly obeyed. Officer Javert is assigned to the galley were Jean Valjean is imprisoned. They meet for the first time when a fellow prisoner is injured and Jean Valjean lifts the heavy board off the prisoner with his back.

After years of imprisonment, Jean, now with long, unkempt hair and beard, is freed and told he must carry a yellow passport and report to police headquarters on a regular basis. He is refused lodging and food by all because he is a former convict. He takes shelter during a rain storm with Bishop Bienvenue (Cedric Hardwick). During the night, Jean Valjean steals the Bishop's silver plates. Officer catch Jean Valjean and return him to the Bishop. Much to Valjean's suprise, the Bishop states that the plates were a gift. The Bishopalso presents Jean with two silver candlesticks and tells him that life is to give, not to take, Jean leaves with new confidence.

The movie next advances to years later. Jean has changed his name to M. Madeleine and, as the owner of a thriving glass factory. He is newly appointed Mayor of the village. Things are going well for the former prisoner until Officer Emile Javert is appointed inspector of police for the district in which Jean lives. Jean remembers Officer Javert but at first Officer Javert does not remember Jean.

Fantine (played by Fredric March's real life wife Florence Eldridge) is a glass factory worker who is discharged because of rumors that she had a child out of wedlock. Although she threatens to kill Jean/ M. Madeleine for firing her, he prevents Javert from arresting her and takes her in. He goes to the Inn where her daughter has been sent to work and brings her daughter Cosette home to her mother.

On the way to the Inn, Jean/ M. Madeleine rescues a man caught under a cart by lifting it with his back. Javert witnesses the rescue and, his suspicions aroused as he has only see men who were imprisoned in the galleys with such strength in their backs. Javert sends messengers to inquire about Jean/ M. Madeleine.

Javert suspects that M. Madeleine is actually Jean Valjean, a man who is wanted for not reporting for parole. However, Javert learns that a man known as Champmathieu has been arrested and is believed to be "Jean Valjean." Javert confesses his actions to Jean and demands that Jean dismiss him and press charges against him for wrongly accusing M. Madeleine of being a wanted convict. Jean/ M. Madeleine refusal greatly disturbs Javert.

Jean/ M. Madeline is disturbed that another man is being prosecuting for his crime of not reporting to parole and goes to the trial. During the trial, Jean/ M. Madeleine cannot watch another man being wrongly prosecuted and confesses he is the man they are looking for and they know where they can find him if they wish to arrest him. He returns to his home and attempts to give Fantine 20,000 francs to provide for her daughter, Cosette, but Javert confiscates the money. When Fantine, who has been seriously ill, dies, Jean throws Javert down and escapes with Cosette for Paris.

After changing his identity to M. Duval, Jean puts Cosette into a convent and gets work there as a gardener. Years later, after Cosette's confirmation, the two leave the convent and settle in Paris. While in Paris, Cosette meets Marius, a law student who is protesting for reforms, and they secretly fall in love. Javert, investigating Marius' group, follows Cosette home, and when Jean spies Javert watching them, he starts to pack.

As the students' protests escalate into street violence, Jean plans to go with Cosette to England, but when she reveals her love for Marius, Jean responds with anger, jealousy and dismay, for he loves Cosette himself, stating she is all he has in the world. Cosette, who thinks of Jean as her father and feels undying gratitude for, agrees to escape to England and leave Marius behind. However, Jean remembering the Bishop's words on giving and while looking at the candlesticks the Bishop gave him, decides to help Marius and bring him back to Cosette.

Jean and a friend of Marius must fight their way through the violence in the street to reach Marius. Javert is hot on their trail. After the students capture Javert, Jean says he is his, that this man has been following and hounding him for 20 years. However, Jean cannot bring himself to kill Javert and sets him free.

Javert is outraged to be freed by Jean. Jean finds Marius who has been badly beaten. Jean carries the beaten Marius through the sewers of Paris and escapes. He brings Marius to Cosette and begs Javert, who is waiting at he house, for a moment to say goodbye to her. Although the law does not allow this, Javert complies.

Jean says his goodbyes to Cosette and Marius, letting them believe he is escaping to England. He does not tell them that Javert is waiting to arrest him. He repeats the bishop's creed to Cosette and Marius and gives them the candlesticks. Jean walks out the door to meet Javert.

I will not write what happens next as I do not want to reveal a spoiler for whoever has not seen this movie. But I will say the ending is a very emotional one.

The Magnificent Ambersons


The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) was directed by Orson Welles and starred Joseph Cotton, Dolores Costello, Anne Baxter, Agnes Moorehead, and Tim Holt.

The film, set in the late 1800s to the early 1900s, tells the story of the Ambersons, an upper-class Indianapolis family.




The head of the Amberson family is Major Amberson (Richard Bennett). The Major has two children, Isabel (Dolores Costello) and Jack (Ray Collins).



The beginning of the film is told in flasbacks and establishes the history between the characters. We learn that Isabel is unintentionally humiliated in public by her beau Eugene Morgan (Joseph Cotten) with he serenades her after having a few drinks and drunkenly falls and breaks his bass violin. Isabel breaks off the relationship and marries Wilbur Minafer (Donald Dillaway).

Isabel and Wilbur have one child, George (Tim Holt), who the town describes as a spolied arrogant immature brat who will one day get his "commeuppance."

The film next advances to twenty years later. Eugene, now a widower, returns to Indianapolis with his daughter Lucy (Anne Baxter). Isabel and Wilbur are still married and living in the Amberson mansion with her father Major Amberson and Wilbur's spinster sister Fanny (Agnes Moorehead). George is home from college and they are throwing him a party. George meets Lucy and is instantly taken by her.



But George is a momma's boy and is upset by the obvious attraction that still exists between Eugene and his mother, Isabel. Fanny is also not happy as she is also smitten with Eugene.

Eugene is a man of the future, designing "horseless carriages" which George thinks is stupid and a useless invention.

George and Lucy begin a courtship but problems arise when George's father Wilbur dies. After Wilbur's death, his mother begins seeing Eugene and George is furious. To make matters worse, Fanny flames the fire with George's dislike of Eugene. Ultimately, this conflict results in a breaking off of the relationship between George and Lucy.

Eugene continues to court Isabel and then decides to ask for her hand in marriage. Sensing that Eugene wants to marry Isabel, George takes control and rebuffs a planned visit from Eugene at the door of the Amberson mansion. Isabel's love for George overrides her love for Eugene, so she complies with George's demands. Isabel leaves with George on a world tour, to get her away from Eugene.

Isabel becomes ill on the world tour. Her illness compels their return to Indianpolis, where George still acts as gatekeeper for those who wish to see the dying Isabel. Eugene is unable to see Isabel for one last time before her death.

Shortly thereafter, Isabel's grief-stricken father Major Amberson dies, leaving George and the other family members to fend for themselves financially. George and Fanny are forced to move from the mansion.

George feeling a responsibility to care for Fanny, must take employment among the "riffraff" he has always scorned. George was originally to take a job in a law firm but it did not pay enough to care for himself and Fanny, so he takes a job in the labor industry. George Minafer received his comeuppance.



George also begins to gain some self-awareness of how he has hurt others. He begins to learn to take responsibility as he deals with his grief and guilt. He finally begins to show signs of maturity.

Eugene and Lucy read in the newspaper that George is in the hospital after nearly being killed in a car accident. The final scene of the movie shows Eugene and Fanny walking down the hall outside of George's hospital room and we learn George, Eugene and Lucy have reconciled their differences.



The Magnificent Ambersons was nominated for four Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Art Direction-Interior Decoration, Black-and-White, Best Cinematography, Black-and-White and Best Supporting Actress for Agnes Moorehead.

Agnes Moorehead and Tim Holt steal this movie. There performances are excellent. Although Agnes Moorehead did not win the Academy Award she did receive the New York Film Critics Award for her performance as Fanny.

The main draw back to this movie, is the original version was much longer and several cuts were made. At times it is obvious that that a scene or information is missing.

This is a very good movie that I highly recommend

A Guide for the Married Man


A Guide for the Married Man (1967) was directed by Gene Kelly and starred Walter Matthau, Inger Stevens, and Robert Morse.

Paul Manning (Walter Matthau) discovers one day that his dear friend and neighbor Ed Stander (Robert Morse) has been cheating on his wife. Curious, he asks Ed about it and is given the history and tactics of men who have successfully cheated on their wives. With each new story and tactic Paul can't help but notice the attractive blonde who lives nearby. Although Paul gets close to cheating on his wife, Ruth (Inger Stevens) he never does go through with it.

As Ed Stander (Morse) is telling Paul (Matthau) the lessons on how to cheat without getting caught, Ed's examples are told by cameo appearances and witty demonstrations.

For example, Lucille Ball and Art Carney, play a married couple which demonstrates how the husband can pick a fight to get out of the house.

Another example is shown by Jayne Mansfied and Terry-Thomas, on why one should never cheat on their wife in the home, when Jayne loses her bra.

Cameos in the examples are portrayed by Lucille Ball, Jack Benny, Terry Thomas, Jayne Mansfied, Sid Ceaser, Joey Bishop, Phil Silvers, Carl Reiner, Wally Cox, Marty Ingels, Same Jaffe, and Jeffrey Hunter.

This is a delightful comedy and Walter Matthau is darling. The witty demonstrations by the cameo appearances of some of my favorite actors are classic.

They Died With Their Boots On


They Died With Their Boots On (1941) was directed by Raoul Walsh and stars Olivia de Havilland and Errol Flynn.

The film is filled with historical inaccuracies, but all in all in is a very good film, provided you don't take it at all seriously as a historical representation. It is an enjoyable film designed to entertain not educate.

The film follows the supposed life of General George Armstrong Custer (Errol Flynn) from his attending West Point to his final stand at the Battle of Little Big Horn.

At West Point, Custer is compared to Ulysess Grant and not in a good way. They are both said to be the most undisclipined cadets ever to attend West Point. One historical accuracy is both in real life and in the movie, Custer graduates last in his class.

Custer graduates West Point early (his class was graduated early to fight in the Civil War) and hopes to get into active battle in the Civil War. However, the person in charge of assigning soldiers to units, is Custer's old superior at West Point, Maj. Romulus Taipe (Stanley Ridges). One day while at a restraurant Custer eyes Lt. General Winfield Scott (Sydney Greenstreet) and uses his charm and art of persuasion to get Scott to have him assigned to active duty. While assigned to his first unit, Custer encounters his old nemis from West Point, Ned Sharp (Arthur Kennedy). Custer ignoring all rules and the chain of command, slugs Sharp and takes over the men and lead them further into battle. Later, a goof promotes Custer to General and he is in charge of the Michigan cavalry and once again Custer ignores orders and leads the men further into battle.

After the Civil War, Custer is assigned to Fort Lincoln. Prior to his assignment, he turned down a job offer by Ned Sharp's father to head up trading posts in the new frontier. Custer turned down the position with the Sharps because he did not want his good name to be used to make money. At Fort Lincoln, Custer once again encounters his old nemis Ned Sharp. Ned Sharp is selling firearms to the Indians and selling booze to the soliders at Fort Lincoln. To the dismay of Ned Sharp, Custer closes the bar and basically shuts down Sharp's business.

Sharp and Major Taipe enter into a plan to make the public believe their is gold in the Black Hills and break the treaty. But first, they have to get Custer out of the way. Taipe orders the bar at the Fort reopened and Custer has a bunch of drunk soldiers on his hands. Custer slugs Taipe and a court maritial proceeding is initiated. Custer true to his word and his men, asks for the proceedings to be put on hold until he can return to Fort Lincoln and help the soliders fight the Indians. Custer knows the infantry is not suited to fight the Indians, it must be the cavalry, only the cavalry is trained properly to deal with Indians. Custer knows the mission is most likely a suicide mission. The white settlers must be protected and as Custer states he and his men must endure and die with their boots on. Knowing it is a suicide mission, Custer writes a letter as a dying declaration exposing the corruption and absolving the Indians of all responsibility.

Flynn is excellent as the fun loving, dashing Custer. Olivia de Havilland is delightful as Custer's sweetheart and then wife, Elizabeth Bacon. This is the final movie together for de Havilland and Flynn and they are so comfortable together and play off each other so easily, it is easy to over look how thinly their courtship is written into the movie.

The movie also has delightful characters as Elizabeth's maid, Callie (Hattie McDaniel) and California Joe (Charley Grapewin), Custer's right hand man at Fort Lincoln. California Joe is not a solidier but a settler who is determined one day to get to California, never mind the fact he has been trying for 27 years.

This is a wonderful movie, entertaining with an excellent cast.

Drums Along the Mohawk


Drums Along the Mohawk (1939) was directed by John Ford and stars Henry Fonda and Claudette Colbert. Supporting cast includes Edna May Oliver, John Carradine, Ward Bond, and Eddie Collins.

It is a technicolor film based upong a 1936 novel of the same name by American author Walter D. Edmonds.

In 1776, American colonists Gilbert Martin (Henry Fonda) and Lana Borst (Claudette Colbert) marry and leave her family home in Albany, New York to settle in Deerfield, a frontier of the Mohawk Valley in central New York.

Lana has difficulty adjusting to frontier life, but is soon working the farm alongside her husband. Her first night in Deerfield she is terrified to the point of hysteria when a local friendly Indian Blue Back (Chief John Big Tree) pays the new couple a visit.

The American Revolution begins and the local Indians are being led by a Tory named Caldwell (John Carradine). Caldwell and the Indians burn every home to the ground including the Martins. Lana is pregnant at the time and miscarries when their home is burned and they are forced to seek shelter in Fort Herkimer.

Peace is temporarily restored in the valley (although the Revolution continues) and with winter approaching, Gil and Lana accept work and shelter on the farm of a wealthy widow Mrs. McKlennar (Edna May Oliver).

Another attack by the Tories and the Indians threatens the valley and the miltia is called up. Gil Martin promptly joins the minutemen. Mrs. McKlennar and Lana are ordered to take shelter in Fort Herkimer but Mrs. McKlennar refuses.

The poorly trained setllers barely mange to defeat the enemy at Oriskany. Gil returns home badly wounded. He is nursed back to health. Mrs. McKlennar's home is turned into a temporary hospital for the wounded settlers. .

Life once agains returns to nomality, although the American Revolution continues. The Martin's are still working for Mrs. McKlennar and the community of Deerfield is slowly rebuilding. Lana and Gil welcome the birth of their son. But life in the valley will soon change.

The enemy once again attack the settlers, led by Caldwell. This time they burn Mrs. McKlennar's home to the ground. The settlers take refuge in Fort Herkimer. Mrs. McKlennar is killed and ammunition runs short. The settlers realize someone must get to Fort Dayton for help. The person who is selected must make it through enemy lines to secure help. The first person to attempt to get to Fort Dayton, is captured and killed. Gil then decides to try to make it to Fort Dayton for help.

While Gil is gone, the Indians and the Tories are closing in on the Fort. Will help from Fort Dayton arrive in time? Will Gil make it to Fort Dayton or will the three Indians chasing him catch him before he can get help?

Edna May Oliver was nominated for an Acadmey Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. She steals every scene she is in. She is fiesty and will not back down for anyone. For example, when she is ordered to take refuge in the Fort the first time, she refuses, saying this is her home and she can handle anything that comes her way. When the Indians come and are burning down her house, she won't leave and actually physically fights with the Indians. Gil has to forcibly remover her and take her to the fort. When the Indians are attacking the Fort, she is fighting right alongside the men.

I really enjoyed this movie and I highly recommend it.

Half Angel


Half Angel (1951) is a delightful romantic comedy directed by Richard Sale and stars Loretta Young and Joseph Cotton.

Loretta Young plays Nora, a prim and proper nurse, engaged to the stuffy Tim (John Ridgely). Nora is a sleepwalker and during her nocturnal forays, the less inhibited side of her personality takes over. On one of her nocturnal strolls, she meets up with her childhood sweetheart flame, John Raymond Jr. (Joseph Cotten) and once more falls for him. Of course, neither of Nora's personalities is aware of the other's existence, which leads to a comedy of errors. Finally, on the night before her planned wedding to Tim, her nighttime half runs off with John, to her other self's bewilderment the next morning. Of course her psychological problem is discovered in time and the movie ends on a happy note.

Cecil Kellaway plays Nora's father Harry Gilpin. Cecil Kellaway is a long time character actor who appeared in such films as Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967), Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte (1964), and Harvey (1950).

Basil Ruysdael plays Nora's boss, Dr. Jackson. He appeared in such films as The Horse Soliders (1959), People Will Talk (1951), and The File on Thelma Jordan (1950).

Jim Backus best known as Thurston Howell III on Gilligan's Island plays Mike Hogan, John Raymond's friend.

Irene Ryan best known as Granny Clampett is delightful as Nurse Kay, Nora's co-worker and friend. This is a younger Irene Ryan and who knew she had red hair.

John Ridgely is delightful as the stuffy Tim McCarey, Nora's intended groom. Ridgely was Eddie Mars in The Big Sleep and Saunders in Arsenic and Old Lace.

This is not a serious movie, it is simply a delightful romantic comedy with a wonderful cast and if you are looking for a light hearted movie, this is a movie to see.

Hush....Hush, Sweet Charlotte


Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964) was directed by Robert Aldrich and stars Bette Davis, Joseph Cotton, Olivia de Havilland, and Agnes Moorehead. The film also features Mary Astor in her final silver screen performance.

The film opens in the 1920s, Charlotte's father Big Sam Hollis (Victor Buono) is arguing with John Mayhew (Bruce Dern) about his adultress affair with Charlotte. Big Sam orders John to break things off at once as John is married.

There is a big party at the Hollis mansion, John breaks his relationship off with Charlotte. Charlotte is heart broken. John is sitting in the summer house crying over Charlotte when a mysterious person enters and murders John with a meat cleaver. Charlotte then enters the ball room with blood all over her dress. Her father Big Sam escorts her out of the room.

The film advances to 1964. Big Sam has long since passed away. Charlotte (Bette Davis) is living alone in the Hollis mansion with her long time housekeeper Velma (Agnes Moorehead). Charlotte lives isolated as a spinster with the occassion visit by long time friend and her now doctor Drew Bayliss (Joseph Cotton).

Charlotte is shunned by her community for the grisly murder some 40 years prior of her intended, John Mayhew. Even though her guilt in the matter was never proven, the townspeople liken her to a modern-day Lizzie Borden. The community even has a little song made up about the murder.

The Louisiana Highway Commission intends to demolish her home and build a new highway through the property. This decision meets with opposition from Charlotte, who ignores the eviction notice and refuses to leave. She keeps the foreman (George Kennedy) and his demolition crew at bay, even shooting at them with a rifle. They finally give up and leave temporarily.

Charlotte writes her cousin Miriam (Olivia de Havilland), a poor cousin who lived with the family as a girl, to come for a visit and help save the family home.

Miriam arrives and soon renews her relationship with Dr. Drew Bayliss, her high school sweetheart, who jilted her after the murder.

Charlotte's sanity deteriorates with Miriam's arrival. Someone is trying to drive her insane. Her nights haunted by a mysterious piano playing the song Mayhew wrote for her and by the appearance of Mayhew's supposed disembodied hand and head (his hand and head were never found).

The film is full of mystery and suspense.

The first mystery is who is trying to drive Charlotte insane. Velma suspects Miriam and Drew. Miriam suspects Velma. Charlotte believes John's widow Jewel (Mary Astor) is responsible for at least sending her the threatening letters over the years and believes Jewel is behind the Lousiana Highway Commission's plan to take her family home.

The second mystery is who murdered John Mayhew. Velma slips Miriam a note calling her a murderess. Charlotte believes it was her father Big Sam. The community believes it was Charlotte.

Agnes Moorehead gave a memorable performance as Velma, an even earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

Bette Davis is incredible as the half mad Charlotte.

Olivia de Havilland gives a memorable performance as the caring cousin with a dark side.

Mary Astor appears in only two scenes as Jewel Mayhew but Mary's talent as an actress shines through.

Joseph Cotton is excellent as the loyal family friend with alterior motives.

All the performances are intense and watching the various characters true sides emerge is incredible.

If you haven't seen this film, I highly recommend it.

To see Bette Davis, Joseph Cotton, Olivia de Havilland, Agnes Moorehead and Mary Astor giving such fine and strong performances in their later years is something to see. Just like fine wine, they only get better with age.

Anna Karenina


Anna Karenina (1935) was directed by Clarence Brown and stars Greta Garbo and Fredric March. It is based on the novel Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy.

Anna Karenina (Greta Garbo) is married to Karenin (Basil Rathbone) and they have a small child Sergei (Freddie Bartholomew). Kerenin is devoted to his work and does not have much time for Anna. There home is in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Anna makes a trip to Moscow to see her brother Stiva (Reginald Owen) and his family. Anna's sister-in-law, Dolly (Phoebe Foster) is fed up with her husband's extra marital affairs especially one with the family's governess. Anna encourges Dolly to forgive Stiva and for them to stay together.

Meanwhile, Dolly's younger sister Kitty (Maureen O'Sullivan) tells Anna of her new love Count Vronsky (Fredric March). Anna briefly met Count Vronsky when she arrived in Moscow as she traveled from St. Petersburg to Moscow on the same train as his mother.

At a dance attended by all, Anna and Vronsky are immediately smitten with each other and begin an affair. Anna returns to St. Petersburg and her husband and young son. However, her affair with Vronsky continues. Anna and Vronsky become the subject of much gossip among the social elite of St. Petersburg.

Meanwhile, a eartbroken, Kitty marries her young suitor Levin (Gyles Isham).

Karenin fed up with the gossip and worried about his standing among St. Petersburg's elite, gives Anna an ulitmatum, she is to stop seeing Vronsky or she will never see her son again. Anna begs Karenin for a divorce but he refuses.

Anna unable to stay away from Vronsky, the couple run away together to Italy. While in Italy, Anna deeply misses her son and Vronsky and Anna return to St. Petersburg. However, Karenin refuses to allow Anna to see their son. In fact, he has told their son that she died. Anna goes to the family home anyway and sees her son for his birthday. Karenin orders her to leave at once.

Countess Vronsky (May Roberson) disapproves of her son's relationship with Anna. She tries to interfere by introducing him a very beatufiul young lady at an opera in which Vronsky and Anna attend.

Vronsky and Anna, although in love, their relationship is suffering. Anna cannot stand being away from her son. They are both shunned by the social elite of St. Petersburg and feel alone except for each other. Vronsky wants to join the volunteer regiment and fight among his fellow commrades, Anna wants him to stay with her.

Anna and Vronsky have a huge fight. Vronsky runs off to join the volunteer regiment in Moscow. Anna tries to send word to him in order to work things out and goes to Moscow. Anna is unable to get word to Vronsky and races to the train station to catch him before he leaves but sees him saying goodbye to the woman from the opera that his mother introduced him too.

While trying to get word to Vronsky, Anna goes to her brother's home in Moscow. Her brother basically tells her that her affair with Vronsky is wrong. Then he tells his wife Dolly he won't be home tonight as he has an "engagement" and everyone knows his "engagement" is another women. Dolly and Anna have a heart to heart talk. Dolly reminds Anna of their early conversation in which Anna pleaded with Dolly to forgive and stay with Stiva. Dolly tells Anna she understands her situation with Vronsky. Dolly makes the statement they both paid dearly for their choices. Dolly has her children but is in an unhappy marriage with a cheating husband. Anna is happy with Vronsky but lost her child. It is a no win situation no matter which path the women take.

Anna is heartbroken and alone with no where to turn. What will she do...........................?

This is a heartbreaking love story. Anna is in a loveless marriage. She finally finds love with Vronsky. If Anna stays with Karenin for the sake of her child she will be miserable. If she goes with her love Vronsky, she loses her child. As Dolly pointed out, no matter which path Anna takes, she will be unhappy.

I really enjoyed this movie. The love story is heartbreaking. I really felt for Anna.

On a more positive note, the movie opens with one of the most delightful drinking games I have ever seen.

Duel in the Sun


Duel in the Sun (1946) was directed by King Vidor and stars Gregory Peck, Jennifer Jones, Lionel Barrymore, and Joseph Cotton.

Pearl Chavez (Jennifer Jones) is a half Native American. Her mother is Native American and her father is caucasian. Pearl is orphaned after her father Scott Chavez (Herbert Marshall) kills her mother (Tilly Losch) after he catches her with a lover (Sidney Blackmer). Before his execution, Scott Chavez arranges for Pearl to live with his second cousin and old sweetheart, Laura Belle (Lillian Gish).

Arriving by stagecoach, Pearl is met by Jesse McCanles (Joseph Cotton), Laura Belle's oldest son. Pearl is instantly attracted to Jesse. He takes her to the family ranch, Spanish Bit. The gracious Laura Belle is happy to welcome her to their home, but not so her husband, the wheelchair-bound Senator Jackson McCanles (Lionel Barrymore) who calls her a "half breed."

The second son, Lewt (Gregory Peck) is a womanizer, gambler, violent, and an all around jerk. Whereas, Jesse is a gentleman. Lewt expresses an interest in Pearl in very direct terms and she takes a strong dislike to him. When Pearl is overpowered by Lewt in her bedroom one night, she is angry with him and ashamed of her own behavior. But she also cannot help but be flattered by his lust and attentions and is therefore attracted to him.

Laura Belle calls in the "Sinkiller" (Walter Huston) a self proclaimed preacher, to counsel Pearl on how to avoid the evils of temptation. Pearl is determined to remain "a good girl." However, she eventually gives in to her temptations and Lewt. Jesse catches them one night and tells Pearl although he has feelings for her, he can never forget what happened between her and Lewt.

Meanwhile, the railroad is building tracks across Spanish Bit. The Senator organizes his men to stop the railroad. However, the railroad has the legal right to build their tracks across Spanish Bit. Jesse, a lawyer himself, sides with the railroad. The Senator bans Jesse from the ranch. Ostracized by his father, Jesse moves to Austin and opens a law practice. Although, Jesse still has feelings for Pearl, he becomes engaged to Helen Langford (Joan Tetzel).

Pearl feeling rejected by Jesse becomes Lewt's "women." Lewt promises to marry her and they intend to announce their engagement at a family barbeque. However, Lewt not wanting to be tied down and knowing people do not think highly of Pearl, reneges on his promise to marry her.

Pearl, heartbroken, meets Sam Pierce (Charles Bickford) a rancher who is instantly smitten with her. They plan to marry. Lewt, who does not want to marry Pearl, also does not want anyone else to have his "women." Lewt picks a fight with Pierce in a saloon and murders him. Lewt is now on the run and a wanted man.

Laura Belle's health takes a turn for the worse and the Senator admits his love for her before she dies. Laura Belle had always blamed herself for the Senator's accident. He was following after her when she left him for Pearl's father and is paralyzed after being thrown from a horse on his pursuit to reclaim Laura Belle. The Senator and Laura Belle make amends just before she dies in a very touching and heart warming scene.

Jesse returns to visit his dying mother but is too late. The Senator continues to shun him and Jesse leaves the ranch but takes Pearl with him stating she can stay with him and his soon to be bride. Lewt gets wind that Jesse is with Pearl, and sends a message to Jesse that he is to return Pearl to him at once or else.

Jesse and Lewt have a show down in the street. Jesse is unarmed so Lewt tosses him a gun. However, before Jesse can pick up the gun, Lewt shoots Jesse.

We learn that Jesse is going to be all right. A livid Pearl is relieved to learn Jesse is going to survive but arms herself and goes after Lewt.

The movie ends with a show down between Pearl and Lewt.

This is a wonderful movie and is one of the rare times Gregory Peck plays a bad guy. Gregory Peck gives an awesome performance as Lewt. Joseph Cotton is splendid as the gentlemanly Jesse. Lillian Gish is wonderful as the gracious and kind Laura Belle. Lional Barrymore steals every scene he is in and gives some wonderful one liners. Walter Huston is an absolute hoot as the "sinkiller."

Jennifer Jones was miscast for this role. At times her acting is terrible and you can tell many times she is over acting. Despite the poor performance by Jennifer Jones, the rest of the cast is excellent and the film is very enjoyable.

The film does touch on some risky subjects for 1946 and was very conterversial when released. It is obvious that Lewt and Pearl are having a pre-marital sexual relationship. It is also obvious that Lewt frequently takes Pearl by force. Also the relationship between Lewt and Pearl is the classic abusive relationship that we see so common today, despite everything Lewt does to Pearl, she still loves him and returns to him time and time again.

The Blue Dahila


The Blue Dahlia (1946) was directed by George Marshall and starred Veronica Lake and Alan Ladd.

Johnny Morrison (Alan Ladd) returns home from the South Pacific with his military buddies Buzz (William Bendix) and George (Hugh Beaumont). Morrison returns home to his wife Helen (Doris Dowling) and finds her throwing a party with her new boyfriend Eddie Harwood (Howard Da Silvia), the owner of the Blue Dahlia nightclub.

Morrison finds his wife to be a drunken cheat and she admits to killing their son in a car accident when she was driving while intoxicated. Morrison has had enough, he grabs his suitcase but before leaving he points his gun at her. He then tells her she is not worth it and tosses the gun on the chair as he leaves.

While walking down the street in the rain, Morrison is picked up by the mysterious Joyce (Veronica Lake). Morrison does not know it, but Joyce is the estranged wife of Eddie Harwood, his wife's lover.

Meantime, Buzz, who has issues after being injured in the war, learns of Morrison walking out on Helen. Buzz goes to Helen's hotel and meets up with a mystery women and returns to her apartment. The mystery women is actually Helen. The next time we see Buzz is when he arrives home soaked from the rain and George asks where he has been, Buzz does not remember.

Eddie Harwood goes looking for Helen. Eddie Harwood has a secret about his past and Helen knows his secret. We see Eddie leaving Helen's apartment and "Dad" Newell (Will Wright), the hotel's house detective is hiding in the bushes.

The next morning the maid finds Helen has been shot to death with Morrison's gun. An investigation and a search for Morrison ensues.

Morrison learns of his wife's death from the news and that he is wanted for questioning by the police. Morrison knows the police suspect him and instead of turning himself in, he searches for the killer.

In the process of searching for the killer, he learns Eddie Harwood's secret thanks to Helen who wrote her own "insurance policy" by writing his secret on a back of a photo of Morrison's son. Morrison also learns Joyce is Harwood's estranged wife.

During the investigation, we learn the nice "Dad" Newell, the hotel detective, is a scheming blackmailer.

Who is the murder? So many suspects with motives.

Is it Buzz? Did he snap when he learned the mystery women he met in the bar is his war buddy's cheating wife?

Is it Eddie Harwood? Did he silence Helen to keep her from telling about his secret past?

Is it the blackmailing hotel detective "Dad"? Did his blackmailing schemes go to far?

Is it Joyce? Did she finally decide to get rid of her husband's mistress?

Is it Morrison? Did he return to the apartment and have an another arguement with his wife? She did cause his son's death and he is angry.

This is a wonderful suspense film. It will keep you guessing until the end.

Ladd, Lake, and everyone gives excellent performances. Also you get to see a very young Hugh Beaumont (aka Ward Cleaver).

If you have not seen this movie, I highly recommend it.

Lillies of the Field


Lillies of the Field (1963) was directed by Ralph Nelson and starred Sidney Poitier and Lilia Skala.

Sidney Poitier was nominated and won both the Golden Globe and Oscar for Best Actor.

Lilia Skala was nominated for both the Golden Globe and Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

The film was also nominated for an academy award for Best Picture.

An unemployed construction worker, Homer Smith (Sidney Poitier) heading out west stops at a remote farm in the desert to get water when his car overheats. The farm is being run by a group of East European Catholic nuns, headed by the strict Mother Maria(Lilia Skala), who believes that Homer has been sent by God to build a much needed church in the desert.

Homer Smith is persuaded to do a small roofing repair by Mother Maria. He stays overnight, believing that he will be paid in the morning. In fact, the nuns have no money and subsist only by living off the land, on what vegetables the arid climate provides, and some milk and eggs. Even after being stalled/stonewalled when asking for payment, and after being persuaded to stay for a meal, and against his better judgment, Smith agrees to stay another day to help them with other small jobs, always with the faint hope that Mother Maria, the head nun will settle with him.

Soon, the weekend is upon them, and Smith offers to give the nuns a ride to Sunday service so they do not have to make the long trip on foot as they usually are required to do. He is invited to attend Catholic mass, but declines because he is a Baptist and not very religious. Instead, he takes the opportunity to get proper breakfast (the nun's had been only feeding him a single egg for breakfast) from the service station/cafe/store adjacent to where the religious service is held. In talking to the proprietor Juan (Stanley Adams) Smith learns about the hardships that the nuns, led by the unyielding Mother Maria, overcame in order to emigrate from Eastern Europe -- over the Berlin Wall.

Despite the unlikelihood of his ever getting paid for his work and partly out of respect for all the order has overcome, Smith stays longer and finds himself driven to work further on at least clearing the construction site for the chapel. He rationalizes that it would be too hard for the women of the order to move the heavy beams and so he is willing to do at least this much for them.

To earn money to buy some "real food" to supplement the spartan diet the nuns are able to provide him, Smith gets a part-time job with the nearby construction contractor, Mr. Ashton (Ralph Nelson).

To pass the evenings, Smith teaches the nuns some basic English and even joins them in singing.

At one point, after losing a Bible-quoting duel with Mother Maria where he attempted to prove the point that she should settle with him, he finally agrees to undertake the job of building them a chapel.

Smith, determined that the building will be constructed to the highest standards, insists that work be done by him and only him. As word spreads about the endeavor, locals begin to show up to give materials and to help in construction, but Smith rebuffs all offers of assistance in the labor. The locals find minuscule ways to lend a hand which cannot be easily turned down - (ie: the lifting of a bucket or brick to an elevated Smith). Once the process is in motion, they end up doing as they intended and as Smith tried in vain to resist, assisting in every aspect of the construction in addition to contributing materials. This greatly accelerates the progress, much to the delight of everyone but Smith. Smith finds himself sitting on the sidelines watching the locals build "his chapel."

Even Ashton, who had long ignored Mother Maria's pleas, finds an excuse to deliver some more materials, and almost overnight, Smith soon rejoins the project and finds that he's become a building foreman and contractor. Smith brings the chapel, finally, to completion. Signing his name in the cement below the cross on top of the chapel.

This is a charming black and white film based on dialogue and the characters. The characterizations in this film are wonderful and deep. There is a strain of stubbornness in both Mother Superior and Homer Smith. It is a miracle they are able to work together. At one point in the film, Smith disappears for weeks leaving the chapel unfinished. However, he returns looking like he had been on a drinking binge, hungover and in a Hawaiian shirt.

The film centers on the battle of wills between Mother Maria and Homer Smith with race and faith closely in the background. Another aspect of the film is the growth of the characters, Homer Smith and Mr. Ashton.

There is a racial edge to this film. Smith is black, and the nuns are white. Juan and the members of the community are Hispanic. Father Murphy is white. Ultimately, all of these people come together to build the chapel. One point in the film where race becomes overt is when Homer Smith meets Mr. Ashton. "Hey boy", he says to Smith. Smith quickly turns the tables on Ashton and calls him "boy". In another scene Smith compares Mother Superior to Hitler. Later, Mother Superior compares Smith to Hitler.

A perfect example of the racial edge in this film are the following quotes:

Mother Maria (ringing the dinner bell) Schmidt! Schmidt!

Homer Smith: Old Mother gonna feed the slaves

and

Homer Smith (talking with the hispanics at the Fiesta) "Gringo? I don't know if that's a step up or a step down from some other things I've been called."

Mother Maria never loses faith that the chapel will be built. Even when they run out of materials, she knows somehow materials will arrive, she puts her trust in God.

The bible quoting duel between Mother Maria and Homer Smith is one of the most compelling scenes in the movie.

Homer Smith quotes Luke 10:7 "The laborer is worthy of his hire," but Mother Maria responds with a verse saying, "Look at the lillies of the filed, they continue to appear beautiful even though they get no payment. The bloom is to honor God, but not to get paid for their work."

This is a delightful film and I highly recommend it.

Beyond A Reasonable Doubt


Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956) was a film noir directed by Fritz Lang and starred Dana Andrews, Joan Fontaine, and Sydney Blackmer.

A newspaper publisher, Austin Spencer (Sydney Blackmer) wants to prove a point about the insufficiency of circumstantial evidence. Spencer is opposed to capital punishment and is upset with a case that the district attorney just won based on circumstantial evidence where the death penalty was imposed.

When a dancer is strangled and the police have no suspect, Austin Spencer convinces his future son-in-law, the prominent writer Tom Garrett (Dana Andrews), to plant circumstantial evidences to self-incriminate Garrett. Spencer will hold pictures, receipts and other evidence of Garrett's innocence until after the conviction. Later Spencer would begin a campaign in his newspaper disclosing the hoax and the possibility of sending an innocent to the electric chair based soley on circumstantial evidence and in the process humilate the District Attorney.

They decide to hide the truth from Austin's daughter Susan (Joan Fontaine) since she could not support the situation under stress and might reveal the hoax.

Tom agrees to the plan, not knowing that unforeseen events will put such a snag in the scheme that he ends up in danger of being executed.

The plot is full of unexpected twists and you are wondering up to the last minute if Garrett will be executed for a murder he did not commit.

This is a wonderful crime drama/ film noir and I highly recommend this film.

Pressure Point


Pressure Point (1962) was directed by Hubert Cornfield and starred Sidney Poitier and Bobby Darin.

The movie opens with Sidney Poitier playing the chief psychiatrist at a clinic. It is the early 1960s and Peter Falk comes to his boss asking to be released from a case. The young psychiatrist (Falk) is having difficulty with an african american patient who has seen his father murdered by white men and his mother sell her body to white men. Falk's character thinks the patient would do better with a white psychiatrist.

Sidney's character tells Falk's character of a time in 1942 when he was a prison psychiatrist assigned to treat a Nazi sympathizer played by Bobby Darin.

The bulk of the film is told in flashbacks and there are flashbacks within flashbacks. The first main flashbacks are Sidney's character remembering his counseling sessions with Bobby's character. Then the film relays in flashbacks Bobby's childhood and how he became a member of the Nazi party.

The counseling sessions become a battleground in a test of wills between Sidney and Bobby's characters, that can leave only one man in control.

One of the most fascinating things about this movie, is none of the characters have names. Bobby Darin is merely credited as the patient. Sidney Poitier is credited as Chief Psychiatrist. Peter Falk is credited as Young Psychiatrist.

Bobby Darin gives an excellent performance. He plays the distrubed psychotic bigot patient very well. There is one scene where Bobby's character and his friends wreck havoc on a husband/wife bar with games of tic tac toe. It is hard to describe here but watching the scene, Bobby's character turns the game tic tac toe into a weapon and psychologically tortues the bar's owners with games of tic tac toe.

Sidney's character does not only battle wills with Bobby's character but with his superiors who question Sidney's judgement believing it is clouded by his extreme dislike for Bobby's racist ideas.

The dialogue in this film is incredible. There are no special effects, there are no lavish scenery, the entire movie's greatness is based on dialogue and the musical score.

I highly recommend this psychological drama.

In A Lonely Place


In a Lonely Place (1950) is a film noir directed by Nicholas Ray and starred Humphrey Bogart, Gloria Grahame, and Frank Lovejoy.

Screenwriter Dixon Steele (Bogart) is a bitter, hard drinking and frequently violent screen writer. He is down on his luck and has not had a hit since the war. He is asked to write a screen play based on a book.

We see the first signs of Steele's temper as he is driving to a night club to meet his agent Mel Lippman (Art Smith) when he gets into an argument with a couple in a convertible. The second signs of Steele's violence is when he gets into a argument in the nightclub. But his second episode of violence also shows a tender side to Steele, as the argument arises when Bogart is defending a down on his luck movie star (Robert Warwick).

At the nightclub, Steele meets Mildren Atkinson (Martha Stewart) a hat check girl who has just finished reading the book. Dix is too tired to read the novel, so he asks Mildred Atkins to go home with him and explain the plot. Later that night, Mildred is murdered and Steele is a prime suspect; his record of belligerence and violence work against him.

Fortunately, his lovely new neighbor Laurel Gray (Gloria Grahame) who Steele has never met gives him an alibi. She tells police she sees Mildred leaving alone and Steele retiring back into his apartment. But the police still find Steele to be their prime suspect. This odd way of meeting leads into a romance.

Laurel proves to be just what Steele needed, and their friendship ripens into love. At first everything is wonderful, and Bogart is even writing again, but bit by bit Grahame starts to see his dark side and begins to fear him, even suspecting that he may have been involved in the murder after all.

Will suspicion, doubt, and Steele's inner demons come between them?

Frank Lovejoy plays Detective Nicolai, an old army buddy of Steele's who at first does not believe Steele is the murderer. But after reviewing Steele's lengthy record of violence and watching Steele describe with fascination of how he believes Mildred was murdered, Nicolai also begins to have his doubts as well.

It's a fascinating movie that mixes drama, suspense and romance in a very interesting way. The movie is more about the tension unfolding between Steele and Gray and will their love survive his violent ways as oppose to who killed Mildred Adkinson. The end of the movie provides the answer to both questions.

Bogart gives a terrific performance, and while his character can be charming at times he's also surprisingly unlikeable and intense.

If you have not seen this film noir, I highly recommend it.

Watch on the Rhine


Watch on the Rhine was released in 1943 and directed by Herman Shulman. It is based on the play by Lillian Helman and written by Lillian Helman and Dashiell Hammet.

The film stars Bette Davis (Sara), Paul Lukas (Kurt), Geraldine Fitzgerald (Marthe), Lucile Watson (Fanny), Donald Woods (David), and George Coulouris (Teck).

Paul Lukas won the Academy Award for Best Actor beating Humphrey Bogart for Casablanca. Lucile Watson was also nominated for Best Supporting Actress.

The setting is 1940. Sara and Kurt Muller and their three children are returning to her mother's home in Washington DC after 18 years in Europe. Kurt Muller is an anti-fascist fighter fleeing Europe. At Sara's mother's house, a Romanian Count (Teck) living there who is a Nazi sympathizer. Teck discovers Kurt's attache case full of money and other items and attempts to blackmail Kurt to keep Teck from telling the Nazis where he is. Kurt's friend and fellow anti-fascist is captured in Europe. Will Kurt return to Europe and risk his life to help his friend? Will his son Joshua follow in his footsteps as a anti-fascist fighter? Will Teck turn Kurt over to the Nazi party?

There is also a developing romance/ friendship between David (Sara's brother) and Marthe (Teck's wife). Marthe unlike her husband Teck is a good person.

Janis Wilson (Babette), Eric Roberts (Bodo) and Donald Buka (Joshua) play Sara and Kurt's very well behaved children. Eric Roberts and Donald Buka overact the role of the well behaved children. But Janis Wilson plays the part of the well behaved Babette beautifully. She is loyal to her parents but not annoying. Janis Wilson is best known as playing Tina in Now Voyager and young Martha Ives in The Strange Love of Martha Ives. (Sazball did an early blog to this wonderful child actress).

Lucile Watson is hilarious as Sara's mother with an opinion about everything. She adds comic relief to a very serious subject matter. With lines like "We've been shaken out of the magnolias."

Bette Davis she gives a wonderful performance here as Kurt's loyal and loving wife, Sara. The love scenes between Kurt and Sara are beautiful and tender.

The movie is about family, loyalty and doing what is right for freedom.

This movie is a must see for anyone whether a fan of Bette Davis or not.

Lady in The Lake


Lady in the Lake, a film noir, released in 1947 is directed by Robert Montgomey and stars Robert Montgomery as Phillip Marlowe. The film also stars Audrey Totter as Adrian Fromsett, Lloyd Nolan as Detective DeGarmot, Tom Tully as Captain Kane, and Leon Ames as Derace Kingsby.

Detective Phillip Marlowe is asked by publishing executive Adrienne Fromsett to locate the wife of her boss, publisher Derace Kingsby. The wife was last seen about two months ago and the last communication was a recent telegram saying she was heading to Mexico to marry a man named Chris Lavery. However, Chris Lavery is still in town and hasn't seen the publisher's wife in awhile. The case becomes more and more complicated as people are murdered, an old suicide case is believed to have been a murder connected to her disapperance, and a web of intrigue develops with a police officer possibly being involved in one or more of the murders.

The entire movie plot unfolds from lead Robert Montgomery's point of view: the principal character is never seen on-screen except as a reflection in mirrors and windows. You see the movie from the eyes of Robert Montgomery's Phillip Marlowe. The movie was also rare for having virtually no musical soundtrack.

I enjoyed this movie although Robert Montgomery is by no way one of my favorite Phillip Marlowes. The technique of shooting everything from Montgomery (Marlowe) point of view is an excellent touch but can be annoying at times. The story line with its twists and teasers is great. One teaser in particular was very well done. Chrystal Kinsby is credited as being played by Ellay Mort which is French for "she is dead."

All in all, I recommend this movie to those who have not seen it.

Where The Sidewalk Ends


The film noir Where the Sidewalk Ends was released in 1950 and directed by Otto Preminger. The film stars Dana Andrews, Gene Tierney, Gary Merrill and Karl Malden.

Ruthless and cynical Mark Dixon (Dana Andrews), a New York City police detective, who despises all criminals because his father had been one is in trouble with his superiors for his heavy-handed tactics, subjects murder suspect and gambler Ken Paine (Craig Stevens) to the third degree - he strikes the drunken Paine in self-defense and accidentally kills him. Paine, however, is a war hero with newspaper friends. Dixon decides to dump the body in the river.

Dixon tries to place the blame on an old gangster enemy, Tommy Scalise (Gary Merrill), yet, his superior Detective Lt. Thomas (Karl Malden) place the blame for the killing on cab driver Jiggs Taylor (Tom Tully). Taylor had motive as Paine had struck his daughter (Paine's wife) leaving bruises and Taylor had gone looking for Paine that night. Dixon had fallen in love with Jigg's daughter, Morgan Taylor-Paine (Gene Tierney). Dixon tries to clear the her father without implicating himself, but ultimately he becomes trapped in a web created by himself.

Dixon (Andrews) attempts to hide emotion from those around him, and remains expressionless whenever possible. He makes mistakes and tries to cover them up and digs himself deeper and deeper into a predicament that can only end in tragedy.

A classic film noir which mixes vigilantism, doing the proper thing, and a man trying to escape the shadows of his father. You are left wondering through out the movie if Dixon will do the right thing and set Taylor free or frame Scalise for his crime. Even up to the last minute you are left wondering what will Dixon's final choice be and will Morgan stand by him.

I enjoyed this film very much and it reunites Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney with Otto Preminger from the movie Laura.

Seven Men From Now


Seven Men From Now (1956) is a western directed by Budd Boetticher. The film stars Randolph Scott (Ben Stride), Gail Russell (Annie Greer), Lee Marvin (Bill Masters) and Walter Reed (John Greer).

A former sheriff, haunted by the loss of his wife in a Wells Fargo robbery, hunts for the seven men responsible for her death. Along the way, he assists a couple, John and Annie Greer, travelling west from Kansas City to California, and forms a temporary alliance with a former outlaw , Bill Masters, a man he once sent to prison. Masters, who knows that Stride is after the express-office robbers, rides along letting Stride lead them to the bandits, then they will try and make away with the loot themselves. Stride also begins to fall in love with the wife of the man he's traveling with, but it doesn't slow him from his task - killing the remaining men responsible for his wife's death.

This is an excellent movie with beautiful scenery as most of the movie was filmed in the Alabama Hills near Lone Pine, California.

John Wayne was originally slotted for the role of Ben Stride, but it is doubtful that even such a great actor as The Duke could have played Ben Stride the way he was meant to be portrayed. This is also one of the early lead roles for Lee Marvin and he proves himself as a very talented actor.

If you like westerns and have not seen Seven Men from Now, I highly recommend it.

Golden Boy


Golden Boy starring Barbara Stanwyck as Lorna Moon and William Holden as Joe Bonaparte (in the film that made him a star) was released in 1939 based on the Clifford Odets play of the same name.

The film also stars Lee J. Cobb as Holden's Bonaparte's middle age father (although Cobb was actually only six years older than Holden); Adolphe Menjou as Tom Moody, his manager; Sam Levene (best known as playing Lt.Abrams in a couple Thin Man movies) as his brother-in-law Siggie; and Joseph Calleia as Eddie Fuseli (best known from Gilda, The Glass Key and Another Thin Man), a gangster who takes over Bonaparte's management.

The film also contains a classic appearance by Charles Lane as a reporter.

Victor Young was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Score.

The producers were initially unhappy with Holden's work, and tried to dismiss him, but Stanwyck insisted that he be retained. Thirty-nine years later, when Holden and Stanwyck were joint presenters at the Academy Awards, he interrupted their reading of a nominee list to publicly thank her for saving his career and also sent her flowers every day on the anniversary of the films release to thank her.



A very young William Holden "hits" the bulls-eye on this one. And, I always love to see Barbara Stanwyck's hard, street smart "heart of stone" turn to mush as she falls for the young boxer.

Joe Bonaparte, a promising violinist feels his music career is going nowhere, so he turns to boxing. Joe Bonaparte's father wants him to pursue his musical talent; but Joe turns his back on his father's dream and signs with near-bankrupt manager Tom Moody to give him a chance and Joe quickly rises in his new profession. When he has second thoughts Moody's girl Lorna uses feminine wiles to keep him boxing. But when tough gangster Eddie Fuseli wants to "buy a piece" of Joe, Lorna herself begins to have second thoughts...for that and other reasons.



I finally got to see this movie last night and it was another example of 1939's great year of movies.

Night Train to Munich


Night Train to Munich is a 1940 British movie starring Rex Harrison and Margaret Lockwood.

It is a suspence/ thriller written by also written by Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder (who also wrote The Lady Vanishes) and directed by Carol Reed (who also directed the Third Man).

The scene is September 1939, the Germans are marching into Prague. England is on the verge of entering what will become known as World War II.

A scientist, Dr, Bomasch (James Harcort) who is working on a new process for armour-plating, escapes to England. His daughter, Anna (Margaret Lookwood), who is also about to flee, is arrested and sent to a concentration camp. At the camp, she befriended by a Czech named Karl Marsen (Paul Henreid). However, unbeknown to Anna, he is actually an undercover German agent. Together they escape to England, and Anna finds her father.

Dr. Bomasch is now working for the Royal Navy. He is being guarded by Dickie Randall (Rex Harrison), a naval officer working undercover as an entertainer called 'Gus Bennett'. However, Marsen and his agents have watched and followed Anna, and they soon recapture Bomarsch and his daughter, returning them to Germany.

Randall then volunteers to go to Berlin in the guise of an engineer in the German army, in order to get the pair out of the country.

During Randall's quest to get Anna and her father out of the country and back to England, they meet up with two Englishmen, Charters and Caldicott (Basil Radford and Nauton Wayne). Charters recognizes Randall from Oxford University. Charters and Caldicott quickly become caught up in this quest to help Randall get Anna and her father out of Germany.

Basil Radford and Nauton Wayne reprise their roles as Charters and Caldicott from the movie The Lady Vanishes (1938).

The suspence mounts as Marsen, Randall, Anna, and Dr. Bomarsch are on the night train to Munich as Marsen becomes more and more suspicious of Randall. Will they escape and make it safely to Switzerland? Will Randall's cover be blown as he encounters his old college chum Charters?

If you have not seen this movie, I highly recommend it.