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The Anatomy of Futility
This film is a powerful argument against war. The men, at first enthusiastic, become bitter and they feel betrayed. The two scenes that affected me the most are the German soldier in a trench with a dying Frenchman and the death of a man who reaches out toward a butterfly which is the only beautiful object in a desolate war field.
Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)
The Play and the Movie
As hilarious as the movie is, I enjoyed the Broadway production a bit more. When Jonathon is told that he looks like Boris Karloff, his reaction in the play is humorous because the part WAS taken by Karloff. And when he finds out that he is not a real Brewster, Mortimer yells, "I'm the son of a sea cook!" which is not as funny as the stage line, "I'm a bastard!"
Josephine Hull played her part on the stage and in the film. In my opinion, she could do no wrong. Her subdued sense of comedy was absolutely brilliant.
The African Queen (1951)
Classic Movie"African Queen
Written by a mad genius and acted by two more, "Queen" is in a niche of its own. It is unique. An inexperienced woman and a worldly man rub their psyches against each other and reach a tender concord. This is the stuff of greatness, the elemental force of man and woman.
Passport to Pimlico (1949)
This dippy little movie is British humor (humour) at its best. When the London district of Pimlico discovers that it really is not English, the fun begins. Dear old Margaret Rutherford is delightful, as are the rest of the cast.
How Green Was My Valley (1941)
This film has everything and it's all good. From the opening shot with the Welsh singing, it holds one's attention in an iron grip. There is a powerful message about how idle gossip can ruin a reputation, and I especially like the boxing lesson that is given to the schoolmaster.
Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)
I have "Kind Hearts" on tape and it never grows old. The direction, casting, acting - all are perfect. Mozart's "Il Mio Tesoro", which constitutes most of the backgound music, sweetly complements the genteel onscreen mayhem.
Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941)
It is often the supporting actors who make a film great, and such is the case for "Jordan". In particular, James Gleason turns in a fine performance. This is not to say that Robert Montgomery does not - his is a competent (and often mordant) portrayal of the dead pugilist. I first saw this film on the island of Corsica, sitting in an open field on a bomb crate. It was well received by us fliers.
Mister Roberts (1955)
The Stage Play and the Movie
I was back from combat in Europe when I saw "Mr. Roberts" on the stage. The dialogue rang true; it had the flavor of the rough speech of military men. This was lacking in the cleaned-up film version. On the stage, the men of The Reluctant often hinted at scatological tidbits with which all servicemen were familiar, and the audience had a lot of former seamen and soldiers in it, accompanied by their dates. I often heard male laughter, then whispering which was followed by female laughter. One more thing: The scenes with drunken sailors were believable in the stage production - not so in the film. Whoever did the voice coaching for the movie had no idea of how drunks talk. Having said all of this, I must add that I enjoyed the movie. Watching the four master actors - Fonda, Powell, Cagney and Lemmon - was pure delight. Jack Lemmon received an Oscar for his portrayal of Ensign Pulver in the film and Larry Blyden was just as good in the stage part.
Way Out West (1937)
Laurel and Hardy really don't have to DO anything to make me laugh. When they are on my screen, I howl. "West" is, in my opinion, their best film. Laurel did the cutting and he put in some sound effects that punch up the action. The spoken lines are hilarious: Stan, speaking to an imposter: "We want to know why you are not Mary Roberts!" The ridiculous dance in front of a blatantly obvious rear-projection screen is a gem. I have this movie on VHS and have run it many times. It does not get old.
I was 12 when I saw this picture in 1932. This little boy was held breathless. My younger brother, 9 years old, went to a matinee performance and was struck senseless with terror. The theater manager called our home and asked for someone to come get him. My mother waited in the car while I went in the theater. The projectionist stopped the film and turned up the house lights. My brother was cowering under a seat and when he saw me he yelped and fastened onto me with his arms and legs. I returned to the car, walking with difficulty. For weeks I had to look under the bed for monsters before my bud would even enter the bedroom. Oh yes, "Frankenstein" certainly is a gem of a movie. It is a bit passe now, but I still run my tape of it once in a while.