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This title of this film, SUCH A PRETTY LITTLE BEACH (in the original, UNE SI JOLIE PETITE PLAGE) is ironic. The story is a very sad one. The film is an intensely moody and profoundly atmospheric French film noir. It is set in 1949 (the year of its release), and a young man returns to a tiny seaside French town on the Atlantic coast, near the town of Berck (which is mentioned in the dialogue as being nearby, and the location may thus be Cayeux sur Mer). In summer time it has 'a pretty beach', though not such a little one, as it stretches a long way. But it is winter, it is pouring with heavy rain day after day, and the weather is non-stop gloom. There are still defence fortifications along the beach, and a decaying blockhouse for machine guns, called a cabin, which is a hideaway of another young man who works in the small hotel in the town. The star of the film is the 27 year-old Gérard Philipe. He is silent, thoughtful, and preoccupied. He takes a room in the hotel. An old man is sitting in the hotel's bar and restaurant paralyzed by a stroke and unable to speak. He is the now disabled owner of the hotel. It is plain that he is startled and recognises Philipe, but he can say nothing, and Philipe tries to ignore him. A prolonged air of mystery pervades this film, as we wonder who Philipe is, why he has come to this strange out of the way place in such horrid weather, and why he wishes to say so little. It becomes obvious that he has been there before and knows the place well, but only the man with the stroke knows who he is. Philipe strolls along the beach, remembering his earlier time there. He visits the little cabin, and it is clear that it was once his own hideaway. We begin to realize that he, like the new boy, is one of the many war orphans who were fostered to people like the hotelier and effectively became slave labourers in their own country. The film is a savage attack on the system which permitted the nationwide exploitation and abuse of the state orphans. The new boy is in a state of constant misery, and the same had been true of Phiiipe, who we discover left five years before. Philipe tries to befriend the new boy and show sympathy for him, but the boy cannot accept it, and shies away. In the small hotel they keep playing a 78 rpm record of a French chanteuse singing a song in the style of Edith Piaf. This obviously upsets Philipe, who knows it well and does not want to hear it. Later in the story, he ends up smashing it in a rage. We eventually learn that he had been the 'slave boy' orphan in this very same hotel five years earlier. But the singer whom we have heard on the record stopped by, picked him up, and took him to Paris with her as her young lover. Philipe hated every minute of it, and after five years of miserable subservience to the woman, he has killed her. He has gone on the run, but having nowhere to run to, he has gone back to the only place he formerly knew, the little hotel which he had also hated, but at least it had once been the only thing he could call a home. The murder is widely reported in the newspapers and the police are looking for him. A young woman who works in the hotel helps him, as does a local garage mechanic. Will he accept their help and flee across the border into Belgium and be safe, as they urge him to do? Or will the power of the woman who 'owned' him overwhelm his ability to save himself, and thus destroy him in the end? This film is brilliantly directed by Yves Allegret, and it conveys such a powerful force of anguish and suffering in so few words that it is a work of directorial genius. The script, written by Allegret's frequent collaborator Jacques Sigurd, is a masterpiece of cinematic writing. The cinematography by Henri Alekan is pure visual and compositional genius, and it is just as well that the film is in black and white, because that intensifies the mood enormously. The performances are excellent, and every aspect of the production is successful. Gérard Philipe died tragically young at the age of only 36 of liver cancer. His loss was a tremendous blow to the French cinema, for he was one of the finest male presences ever to appear on the French screen. This film has been restored by Pathé, is now in Blu-Ray with English subtitles, and should be seen by all those interested in film noir, with the caution that it is highly sophisticated, deeply sombre, and exudes more melancholy than all the leopards in cages in all the zoos of the world. No one will be cheered up by this sad and brooding film, but for those who appreciate the art of the cinema, it is a wonder.
This film is that very rare thing, a French classic which is no good. French classics are usually terrific, and Julien Duvivier was one of France's most brilliant film directors. Here he tries every trick he knows to try to prevent the film from being tedious and boring, but he fails. But not for lack of effort, for if there is a camera angle which can help, a bit of movement which can inject some pretense of life into the inaction, he tries it. And the film is certainly not helped by the wooden performance of the lead actress, Danielle Darrieux. She seems to think that in order to be mysterious she needs to be a block of wood. But in this she mistakes corpse-like non-response for inscrutability. It is a terrible miscalculation, and clearly Duvivier was unable to control her, assuming, that is, that he was not so mesmerised by her beauty that he became unable to see clearly. Sometimes Darrieux adopts the expression of a vain woman looking into a mirror and passively admiring her looks, even when she is meant to be listening to one of the other actors. (Was she seeing her reflection in the other person's eyes?) But let's tackle what is really wrong with this film. It is a group of men and one woman alone in a room for 99 minutes. There is only the one set. And they talk, and they talk and they talk. Yawn, yawn, yawn. The film is set in 1959 (the year of the film's release). The group of people have all gathered together for the first time in 15 years, to honour the 15th anniversary of the death of the leader of their wartime Resistance organisation. After a luxurious dinner, the real business begins. Marie, called by her nom de guerre 'Marie-Octobre', wants to find out who murdered the leader, who, it transpires, had been her secret lover (and we are meant to believe that the others never knew this, so pull the other one). It happened when the Gestapo unexpectedly raided this very same room in August, 1944. She has learned in the interim that they came because of a traitor in their midst. She says one of them is a traitor. From that point on, the film becomes a kind of inferior Agatha Christie whodunit story with all the suspects grilled one by one, each revealing a secret and each in turn being found to be suspicious in some way or other. But this is not only very talky, it is way overdone. The cast is one of famous French actors of the period. Like the director, they try and try to make this sodden drama interesting, but they fail. They flap about like fish out of water. Flap flap, flap flap. But we don't get high drama, we just get fish out of water. This film was restored in 2016 in the admirable series of Pathe/Leydoux restorations of classic French cinema. It is now on Blu-ray with English subtitles. This is the first of that series of films which I have seen so far which has been a disappointment. It was worth doing, but that is a different thing from its being worth seeing.
I have just seen this film for the first time, having missed it earlier. The film begins with a dramatic terrorist attack on Borough Market in London, involving a large van. As we all know, a dramatic terrorist attack on Borough market involving a large van subsequently took place. Copy cat? Inspired by an idea of? Coincidence? Psychic prophecy? We will never know. The film is very well directed, with excellent performances, and the pace never fails, as the tension is wound tighter and tighter. The terrorist attack really only sets the scene for the story which follows, which is entirely concerned with corruption within the British security services and what currently passes for 'the British justice system', a system which degenerates by the day. The story features a revoltingly corrupted Attorney General, which comes as no surprise, since I can think of a past one. John Broadbent is suitably menacing in that role, his eyes bulging with a terminally compromised personal morality. But the main target of the film is the establishment of the secret courts which have been instituted in Britain today, and which include not only the security courts such as the one shown in this film, but even the Court of Protection, in which invalids and children have their fates decided in secret, with their relatives being excluded from the process. My view is plain: there is no place for secrecy in the justice system, since as soon as the system ceases to be transparent, corruption and abuse are inevitable. This film is about such abuse. A young Turkish man with the unfortunate name of Erdogan (this film seems to have foreseen perhaps too much!) is accused of being the mastermind of the London terrorist attack. However, it transpires that he was all along an agent for the British security services, but he has been framed by them to cover up their mammoth cock-up which resulted in the deaths of more than 200 people. The terrifyingly icy security head is played by Anne-Marie Duff, who will just as soon kill you as look at you, and frequently does so. The horrifying 'secret justice' (or should I say secret injustice?) laid on by the officials is shown in minute detail, and everyone is under surveillance all the time. Welcome to modern Britain! Erdogan's previous defence attorney has 'committed suicide by jumping from a roof', but we later learn that he was murdered because he discovered too much. An American journalist is also murdered because she discovers too much. And that leaves the two remaining lawyers, played by Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall. They naively commence their duties, only to discover that the whole process is a sham, that Erdogan is a patsy, and people who interfere in the plan keep getting killed. Attempts are made to murder both of them. They keep trying to fight the corruption, but they are out-manouevred at every turn because of informers and intensive surveillance. Can those fearless fighters for justice get anywhere in their David and Goliath struggle? Or will the System crush them, and indeed succeed in killing one or both of them? But one thing is for sure, the British 'justice system' will continue to become increasingly corrupted, since once the rot sets it, it is terminal unless someone courageous and true steps forward to put a stop to it. But I see no signs of such a person at the moment. Waiting for someone to save the British justice system seems about as hopeless a cause as waiting for Elvis to return from the dead and sing 'Blue Suede Shoes' live at Wembley Stadium. John Crowley has done a superb job of directing this gripping thriller, and all his cast have done just as well as he, to produce a cautionary film for our time, which deserves as wide an audience as possible.
This is the eighth Little Rascals sound film, and it is superb. This time we are back in the closed world of the children themselves, which is where all the humour comes from. The theme of this film is that all the kids think they should be 'married'. So we have the boys asking the girls to marry them, especially Mary Ann, but she frowns and pushes them away and even whacks them. Jackie Cooper makes his first appearance as a Rascal in this film, playing the boy named Jack. He 'falls in love with' Mary Ann. Today's world is a decadent one, obsessed by sexuality, but naturally sexuality is nowhere on the horizon in these Little Rascal films, as such things in connection with children were unthinkable in the far more innocent world of 1930. Therefore all the talk of 'marriage' and 'love' with the little kiddies is intended entirely humorously, and is very funny indeed. For instance, Farina says: 'I've been married seven times now, but I'm finished with women.' The entire basis of the humour of the Little Rascals films was concerned with tiny children pretending to be adults, but getting it hopelessly wrong. Officer Kennedy, the local cop who is the kids' friend (played as usual by Edgar Kennedy) tries to give helpful advice to the children about 'marriage', saying that to win the love of a gal, a fellow needs to 'be a caveman', but this is of course misdirected and misunderstood. However, all the male attention from the boys eventually goes to Mary Ann's head, and she indulges her fantasy of two knights in the Middle Ages fighting with swords for the hand of a maiden. She decides she wants two of the boys to fight a duel for her 'hand'. So she produces two very sharp and dangerous swords, and a duel takes place which descends into chaos, with everyone getting stabbed slightly in the bottom and saying 'ouch!' Much of this takes place in a yard where sheets are hung up to dry, so there are many sight gags of people stabbing each other through the sheets because they see a shadowy figure through the sheet, but it is the wrong person, and so on. The edges of the swords are so sharp that as the swords slash around, they easily slice the sheets in half. It is total pandemonium, and a miracle that no one got hurt (as far as we know). This is a pretty wild Little Rascals film, where 'letting it rip' is taken literally. But this is certainly the best one in the series so far.
This film, though containing fictionalised love stories, is otherwise based on true events, and takes much of its inspiration from the famous best-selling novel by Franz Werfel, published in 1933 as DIE VIERZIG TAGE DES MUSA DAGH, and in 1934 as THE FORTY DAYS OF MUSA DAGH. I have a copy signed by the author to his friend Hans Koerner (along with a copy of THE SONG OF BERNADETTE also signed by him). Koerner gave these to me just before his death because of my love of Werfel's writings. In reality, the defiance of the Turkish troops by five thousand Armenians on Musa Dagh mountain lasted for 52 days, though in this film it lasts for only a few days. The rescue of 4000 Armenians, many of them orphans, by a French naval ship shown in the film is based on the real rescue by several French naval ships in 1915. Werfel's novel was filmed in 1982. An attempt to film it in 1934 was prevented by pressure applied by the Turkish Government to the US State Department. Two subsequent attempts to film the novel were also prevented by Turkish pressure. The Turkish Government has always denied that the genocide of the Armenians took place, although everyone outside of Turkey who takes an interest in such things knows very well that one and a half million Armenians were brutally massacred by the Turks, men, women, and children, in cold blood. Werfel says in the introduction to his lengthy and complex novel (823 pages): 'This book was conceived in March of 1929, in the course of a stay in Damascus. The miserable sight of some maimed and famished-looking refugee children, working in a carpet factory, gave me the final impulse to snatch from the Hades of all that was, this incomprehensible destiny of the Armenian nation. The writing of the book followed between July 1932 and March 1933.' The American religious mission in the book is at Marash, and its head was the Rev. E. C. Woodley. What the novel really requires is a television series. Of course, Turkey will not permit its locations to be used, and THE PROMISE was filmed in Portugal, Spain, Malta, with a few scenes in America. The executive producer of this film was the famous billionaire film moghul and former Chairman of MGM, Kirk Kerkorian, an Armenian (1917-2015), who alas died before the film was released, aged 98. When Werfel's novel came out, Kerkorian was working as a manual labourer at MGM, a studio which he later bought and owned. Moving words by the author William Saroyan (Armenian-American) are quoted in the end titles of this film. I am glad to say that his daughter Lucy and I were close friends for a few brief months when we were young. She died much too young in 2003. Her first film role was uncredited in Karel Reisz's film ISADORA (1968), because Karel's step-daughter Kerry Kelly was her best friend and she was then (at the time I knew her) at their house nearly every day. Lucy's god-father was Marlon Brando, which became a good joke when he later actually became THE godfather. It should be remembered that not only the Armenians but also the Greeks were massacred by the Turks at this time. One of the most emotional films you could ever see deals with a Greek refugee boy from Turkey, modelled on the grandfather of Elia Kazan, who made the film: America America (1963, see my review; I slightly knew the actor who played the boy in that film). THE PROMISE briefly shows the visiting German military men who negotiated Turkey's entry into World War One on their side. It was the Kaiser's policy, based on an idea going back to the 1890s, that German interests could be served by whipping up Muslim hatred for infidels (all except for Germans, of course), and their massacre. Hitler did not originate this policy but inherited it. It was entirely under German influence that anti-Semitism took root in the Middle East, and the genocide of the Armenians inspired Hitler to commit genocide on the Jews, saying: 'Who remembers the massacre of the Armenians?' I am proud to say that my grandmother was a relentless campaigner for years for the Armenians and raised a great deal of money for the refugees during and after World War One. This film is excellently made, the direction by Terry George is superb. He also co-wrote the screenplay with Robin Swicord, and the script really is excellent. She has written many distinguished screenplays. As for Terry George, he was previously best known for writing and directing HOTEL RWANDA (2004), another powerful expose of massacre and injustice. He clearly has a social conscience worthy of an Oscar. The performances in this heart-rending story are very good indeed, with the lead young man, Mikael, played by Oscar Isaac with strength and conviction. Christian Bale once again masters the American accent to contribute a top rank performance as the American journalist who is trying to expose the genocide in the world press. The French-Canadian actress Charlotte Le Bon does not look particularly Armenian, as she should have done, but she delivers a sensitive and moving performance as Ana. Angela Sarafyan, on the other hand, who plays Maral, was born in Armenia and certainly looks it. When we see closeups of her face, we are looking at the real thing. She is now a successful American actress who has appeared in 60 films. Jean Reno appears briefly as the French admiral who saves the refugees on the beach. Tom Hollander appears as a former clown who has been imprisoned on a work gang by the Turks. This film deserves to be shown in every school all over the world, so that the truth can be known. Why should the Turks be allowed to get away any longer with hiding their dirty big secret?
This is the seventh Little Rascals sound film, 20 minutes long. Shakespeare does not actually feature in the film, which is entirely devoted to a school play of QUO VADIS staged at the school attended by the Little Rascals. (The fact that Wheezer is only four years old and could not yet be at school is conveniently set aside, and there he is declaiming the lines of an ancient Roman.) Pete the Dog is of course in attendance, and howls at an appropriate moment. The chief Rascals in the action of this film are Chubby, who plays the Emperor Nero, Farina who plays a sorcerer 'from darkest Africa', and Mary Ann, who plays a Christian girl who is going to be thrown to the lions. For those who do not know, QUO VADIS was at this time an extremely famous book. It is a novel written by the Polish author Henryk Sienkiewicz (pronounced 'Syen-kyay-vitch'), who won the Nobel Prize for Literature for writing it. It is set in Rome at the time of Nero, and is a very powerful and dramatic work. Sienkiewicz was a brilliant author, and is still a literary hero to Poles today, who all have to read him in school (though not this novel, instead they read his many Polish historical novels). QUO VADIS was what we call 'a runaway international best-seller' which sold millions of copies. One reason for its success was its description of the early Christians, who were being persecuted by Nero, since until the 1970s, Christianity was still very important to everyone in the 'mass market'. If it were published today, few people would buy it, I expect, despite its being very good. No one cares about early Christians anymore, at least not in films. QUO VADIS was made into a famous Hollywood epic film in 1951 with Peter Ustinov playing Nero. I remember asking Peter, whom my wife and I knew very well, what it was like playing Nero. He said he had to remember to keep squinting up his eyes, because Nero was notoriously near-sighted. He felt ambivalent about giving the thumbs-down to the gladiators in the Colisseum, since although it made him feel powerful, it also made him feel guilty at the same time. The costumes worn by the kids in the school play are extremely lavish, well above the budget of any actual school play. Everything imaginable that could go wrong with the production does go wrong. Comic situations abound, and not only the Rascals but all the parents and adults attending the performance throw custard pieces in each other's face, so that a very congenial total chaos results.
This is the sixth of the Little Rascals sound films. It is a very silly and ineffective one. That is because the producers decided to take their eyes off the children and try and involve too many adults. They also used a hopelessly corny story, which is really ridiculous. In this film, the local policeman Officer Kennedy is introduced as a kind-hearted man who loves children and likes to look after them. That is OK, and Edgar Kennedy who plays the cop is very good. He tells the gang that when he was young he dug with a shovel to try to find treasure, so all of them rush off to do the same. They choose for their site an old abandoned 'haunted house'. They go inside and start digging the earth foundations. Pete the Dog joins in, spraying Wheezer with the dirt he kicks up in his burrowing. Where the film goes wrong is in having a 'lunatic' vagabond secretly living in the house, who howls like a ghost to scare people away. He lives in a space between the walls, accessed by a secret button. The children eventually come face to face with, and interact with, the madman, and he insists to Farina that he will give him a turkey dinner. He serves an invisible turkey to Farina, who is scared and pretends to eat it. One good bit of the film is that he also throws imaginary pieces of the turkey to Pete the Dog, who is sitting on the chair beside him, and Pete 'catches' them and pretends to eat them too. For some unknown reason, the madman is portrayed as a wild-haired German who speaks with a strong accent, and who counts in German. None of this makes any sense at all, of course. The madman is played by a genuine German actor, born in Berlin, named Max 'Davidson' (his real surname is not recorded on IMDb). Davidson went on to appear in 197 films in his career, retiring in 1945. The moaning and groaning of the title of this film are those of the 'ghost', i.e. the madman. This film was an unfortunate lapse in the series, since its 'geniuneness', which comes from the interactions of the children with one another, is sacrificed for a silly haunted house story which ruins the mood and the point of the Little Rascals films altogether.
This is the fifth Little Rascals sound film, and it is particularly hilarious. The star of this 20 minute film is four year-old Wheezer, who successfully dominates the film. This is also the first film in which Pete the Dog has a prominent acting part, does tricks, and takes a key part in the action. (In previous films he had merely hung around in the background.) Pete pulls Wheezer's nightie off for him, and holds Wheezer's short trousers up when he is trying to get dressed. The dog also accompanies Wheezer on all his adventures and is his indispensable companion. There are so many sight gags and incidents in this short film that it is impossible to list them all. Wheezer's older sister is six year-old Mary Ann, who is just as charming and talented as always. Wheezer is feeling put out because his mother has had a baby, who now gets all the parental attention. Wheezer keeps trying to attract his parents' attention but all they can do is keep cooing over the baby. Wheezer's parents, who have a lot of speaking lines, are played by Dora Dean and Eddie Dunn, though they are uncredited, since grown-ups don't count in this series. Wheezer becomes so fed up he and Pete run away from home (again, as he does this often). He encounters Farina sitting on a bench and tells him his troubles. Then Chubby and some other kids in Halloween costumes (though it is daylight) scare them and chase them around, and Wheezer goes home. He then decides to take the baby back to the hospital and exchange it for a goat. He pushes the cot, which is on wheels, along the streets and across a busy intersection, not realizing that the real baby is still at home and the lump under the blanket is a doll left there by his sister. The nurses at the hospital agree to take the baby (doll) back and phone his mother, but say they have no goat available. So he goes home, where Mary Ann and her mother pretend to be weeping pitifully at the loss of the baby. Wheezer is upset, and says he will go and get the baby back, so he goes to the hospital again with Pete to retrieve the baby, only to be told that he is too late, because the baby has already been sent back to heaven. He returns and tells this sad news to his mother and sister. They say that if he will pray, 'like you did before the baby was born', maybe the angels will bring him back. So he and Pete the Dog both kneel down beside one another and earnestly pray for the return of the baby. It is remarkable how Pete really does look like he is praying. Meanwhile the baby crawls into the room, picks up a stick, and whacks Wheezer. I have omitted the sequence where Wheezer is 'fixing his own breakfast' and makes pancakes out of plaster of Paris. This is a really successful episode in the series.
This is a very amusing but also worrying portrayal of 'unemployables' trying to get a job in America. I ordered the DVD out of curiosity because I have always liked D. B. Sweeney, whom I find most congenial. He does very well, low key, but solid, and he knows how to hold a lead role without affectations. The film is written and directed by Douglas Horn, who has successfully walked the tightrope of entertaining us and being humorous while at the same time honestly portraying the desperation of the chronically unemployed. That was not an easy thing to pull off. The main character, Sweeney, is a talented chef but refuses to work as one any longer, and finds himself unemployable because he has no other skills. The film shows the same gang of people going from job interview to job interview, always being told they are unsuitable. They all become great friends because they sit in the same succession of waiting rooms and joke about their shared dilemma. It's a good idea for a film, and it works very well.
This is an incredibly cynical film. Subtlety was largely unknown to Billy Wilder, who co-wrote and directed this. The lead role is played by Kirk Douglas, but he overacts to an outrageous extent and appears never to have been reined in by Wilder, who always liked everything done with broad strokes of the brush, and all harsh lines to be shouted. Just the tiniest bit of restraint would have done wonders to make this film more effective. The female lead is played by Jan Sterling, and she too is encouraged to overact. That tends to be the case however only in the scenes where she is scared, in which she opens her eyes wide and I can imagine Wilder yelling off camera: ''Wider! Wider!' Sometimes you can see her opening them wider, as if remembering to do so, or as if she has been shouted at. This is just about as 'in your face' as such a film can get. There are some very amusing lines given to Jan Sterling, and she delivers them with an excellent sense of cool. Exasperated with Douglas, she says to him: 'I've seen hard-boiled eggs before, but you, you're 20 minutes.' On another occasion when he tells her he wants her to go to church, look holy, and kneel down, she replies: 'I don't kneel. It puckers my nylons.' Unfortunately, there aren't enough of such wisecracks to lighten the load. The story is meant to be a savage expose of the corruption and exploitative nature of the news media. Douglas plays a ruthless journalist who will do anything for a story, and then will squeeze that story dry, and then some. He wants to get ahead, and he uses anyone and anything to further his ambitions. He shouts, he bullies, he throws things, he insults people, and is so horrible that the scenes in the office of the Albuquerque, New Mexico Sun Journal where he works are totally unbelievable, since his despicable behaviour there would never have been tamely tolerated by his colleagues, as portrayed in the film. He finally gets hold of a 'big story' of a man trapped deep in a cave behind a Pueblo India ruin, on a mountain sacred to the Native Americans and called The Mountain of the Seven Vultures. He crawls in and tells the man he will see to it that he is rescued. He then delays the rescue for several days in order to squeeze more juice out if the story, thus risking the man's life. The man's wife is played by Jan Sterling. She has been longing for an opportunity to leave her boring husband but only has eleven dollars, so can't run away. Douglas organises a huge publicity circus, where thousands of people gather outside the cave to wait to see whether the man will be rescued. Meanwhile Jan cleans up by selling hamburgers to them all, thus getting enough cash to dash. The film is meant to have a moral message. It is meant to tell us how awful we all are, how horribly humans behave, and how monstrous the media are. There is only one good person in the whole film, the long-suffering owner and editor of the Albuquerque newspaper. Everybody else is a nightmarish parody of a person. The film is so extreme it its depiction of everybody as greedy, corrupt, dishonest, and ruthless, that there seems little point in watching it, since we know enough about all that sort of thing already without having to see it in a very out-of-control film rant. I should point out that eight years later, Robert Penn Warren published his novel The Cave, about a man stuck in a cave near Tracy City, Tennessee, which is a tiny place near Monteagle on Sewanee Mountain. That novel may well have been inspired by this film, since it largely concerns all the things which go on outside the cave, and also deals with 'the nature of humanity' as everyone flutters around the man who is stuck, all with their own agendas. I read it way back in those days. It is very easy to get stuck in a cave in Tennessee. I was stuck in one myself once, but only for about nine hours, with a boy named Neil Trichell, who came from Louisiana. Nobody rescued us, but we made our escape eventually with the greatest possible struggle and difficulty. That was in Salt Peter Cave in Tennessee, which had been used as a salt peter mine by the Confederate troops during the American Civil War, as gunpowder could not be made without that ingredient. If you have never been stuck in a cave shaft, you should try it sometime. It did not give me claustrophobia, but it made me more careful in the future. When I saw that man in the film lying there unable to get out, I could not but remember my own brief flirting with such a dilemma. Robert Penn Warren, by the way, wrote the famous novel ALL THE KING'S MEN (1946), which won the Pulitzer Prize and was made into the famous film of that title in 1949. His other major contribution to the cinema was the novel BAND OF ANGELS, made into a well known film in 1957. THE CAVE was never filmed, but got a lot of attention at the time because of the author's reputation. And the fact that many people remembered this film may have helped as well. People who are trapped have always been popular for film stories, perhaps because so many people feel trapped in their own lives. The hope of escape lives on, and is one of things that keeps everyone going. Let us remember that it is not only the man in the cave who is trapped in this film, but his wife as well, in her marriage, and in fact, that is really by far the more interesting part of the film.
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