"Docudrama" about the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941 and its results, the recovering of the ships, the improving of defense in Hawaii and the US efforts to beat back the ... See full summary »
A managing editor of a LA newspaper must put together headlines for the next day in a way that'll attract the potential readers, deal with hectic going-ons at the workplace and have a serious talk with his wife about her wish to adopt.
A grumpy old fisherman tries to avoid marriage, contend with a daughter he never knew he had and scuttle the attempts of landlubbers who want to rob him of his seagiong livelihood, while the locals try to reform him.
Matt Corbin, a vacationing magazine writer, takes a fishing trip to Minnesota, and stumbles across a lake, near a ghost-town, where all the fish have mysteriously died. None of the locals ... See full summary »
I agree that a movie -- or almost any other cultural artifact -- should be judged on the basis of the times and circumstances of its production. It's unfair to judge what people have done in the past through the prism of our own prevailing prejudices. Barbara Field, the African-American historian, was critical of Lincoln's deciding to wait until after Antietam to announce the emancipation of slaves -- this in Ken Burns' documentary on the Civil War. That sort of statement has always irritated me, brimming over with self righteousness. (I wonder how historians will judge us a hundred years from now. I hope they're kinder to us.) So I am willing to take the temporal context into account. The simple fact is that a movie that humanized the enemy would not have been made in 1945 -- or for years afterward for that matter. Steinbeck's script for "The Moon is Down" was criticized for turning a German soldier into something resembling a human being. And in "The Desert Fox" (ca. 1950) James Mason's touching performance as Erwin Rommel was blasted. In the later "The Desert Rats," playing Rommel again, Mason was forced to resort to the usual stereotype. How would you feel if you now saw a movie that included a partly sympathetic portrayal of a member of Al Qeda? Given all that, this movie is pretty crummy. The crumminess is not only in the script, although it's certainly there too, but especially in the performances, and most notably in Tom Neal's. He was out of his depth, although the part was simple enough. (He was IN his depth in "Detour".) He doesn't even get the Japanese bow right. The bow is face down, smart and snappy, in real military life. Neal bows slowly from the hips down, keeping his face up all the time, as if involved in some particularly outre tai ji exercise. The make up job is astonishing. And his speech! He evidently has a set of false teeth (all Japs are buck-toothed) which make him sound as if he's speaking through a mouth full of tooth paste. On top of that he struggles desperately to impose a "Japanese" accent which consists mostly of substituting [r] for [l] and vice versa. Let's just say he speaks his lines memorably. Sure it's a racist movie, but it WAS wartime, and it's understandable -- a lot more understandable than rounding up Japanese-American families and shuffling them off to internment camps. THAT manifestation of racism is less justifiable. But the movie is pretty bad nonetheless, unless you can enjoy it as pozlost.
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