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Griffith both serious and funny
In this 1958 Warner Brothers production, Andy Griffith is both nutty and yet very dramatic; this movie indicates that fact very well. While I was watching this as a boy in 1958, I was expecting a comedy, but, unlike the side-splitting comedy "No Time for Sergeants" it was only humorous occasionally. I learned empirically that if anyone was looking for a comedy in this, don't get your hopes up along that line. But again, it was a well-done production of its kind. Tersely, the story is about a 1941 Oklahoma boy named Alvin "Al" Woods in maybe his twenties who becomes upset one night with his girlfriend because of a lack of commitment on her part, which spurns him to go join the Coast Guard where he is assigned to a ship in Boston and ends up being a cook. Because of his naivete he is sometimes taken advantage of by others on the ship, though many of them do end up respecting him. He becomes very serious and firm when, because of a conflict in the kitchen, he takes a very serious stand. Again, his dramatic powers come through when he not only takes his stand, but when he becomes frustrated as well. The 12/07/1941 attack on Pearl Harbor was well-dramatized. The acting was well-done. The very lovely Felicia Farr lends support as Stella Papparonis, a not-so-nice girl who likes to throw herself at men. Walter Matthau is comical as 'Red' Wildoe, the chief cook. Ray Danton must have wanted people to hate him, for here he plays a cold and very dishonest Ensign Dennis Higgins. Erin O'Brien is a sweet and pretty lady as Josephine "Jo" Hill, Woods' first love interest. James Gregory, though smile-less and a bit on the rough side, portrays well Lt. Cmdr. Fox, a man who becomes a very good-hearted and supportive friend of Woods. Claude Akins is nutty as a buddy of Woods. Everything taken into consideration, it is a well-done dramatic feat.
good western, endearing musical
I saw this movie as a boy in 1957, although it was released in 1955, I own the VHS of it now, so I guess it can be said that it has never gotten away from me for all but slightly over ten years of my life. I do believe it is my favorite Rodgers & Hammerstein movie. And too, Magna Productions and the director Fred Zinnemann should have been proud, and no doubt were.
All the dance numbers were excellently done, thus great talent on the parts of the dancers was very clearly shown. This movie, the first for Shirley Jones (who played Laurey), even at this early stage launched her career. She was very appealing and heart-melting. It was also a signature movie for Gordon MacRae, who played the cowboy Curly. Eddie Albert was in the movie for decorative purposes, playing the Persian peddler Ali Hakam, and he did bring about a lot of laughs. It was also, undeniably, a change of pace for Gloria Graham: basically, she played the parts of very pretty ladies, but in this movie she was worse than ridiculous as Ado Annie Carnes, a ridiculous, naïve, and not-so-bright a girl. She was the love interest of Will Parker, a not-so-bright cowboy; Gene Nelson was adept as both an actor and a dancer. Charlotte Greenwood as the widowed elderly lady Aunt Eller who seemed to keep so many people together was perfect for her role. Rod Steiger was definitely not out of character, as Jud Fry, the mean ranch hand for Laurey, since he practically always played mean men. It was quite agreeably surprising to see Roy Barcroft in a straight role as the Marshal; it was definitely a change-of-pace for this man who so very often played a crook in so many B westerns.
Some of the musical numbers are practically classics, such as "The Surrey with the Fringe on the Top", "O What a Beautiful Morning", and of course the title song "Oklahoma!" (A few years later that became the official state song for the Sooner State.) The dream sequence was one of the best dance numbers I have seen in any movie; Bambi Lynn and James Mitchell were excellent in it.
In this western there was little violence: Curly and Jud Fry did get involved in an altercation toward the end.
This movie is just right for people like me who like westerns and mind-sticking musicals. Truly, it can never be forgotten.
The Wild One (1953)
there is and isn't much to it.
Except for the fact that Marlon Brando (as Johnny Strabler) wore a black leather jacket and led a motorcycle gang, known as the Black Rebels that took over a small modern-day California town, there's not much to this piece. On the other hand, it does show clearly that there was and is too much hate and defiance toward the law-enforcers, and thus the establishment. Yet in this 1953 Stanley Kramer production from Columbia Pictures, there was little action to speak of: Lee Marvin, who played Chino, the leader of the motorcycle gang the Beetles in this movie, had an altercation with Brando, toward the end one night there was a shop window crashed and Brando was blamed and beaten mercilessly for it, but other than that there was, again, little action to speak of. The motorcycle gang rode into the town and rode around in circles in the small street. Mary Murphy was a good actress in this as a young lady who was concerned about the man who cared about nothing or no one. The calm and expressionless Robert Keith played the town sheriff who, in the movie, was also Mary's father; she referred to him as the town joke and she herself admitted that she was stuck with him. J.C. Flippen played the part of Sheriff Stew Singer, a firm and hard sheriff, a part which he performed well. It was really not among any par excellence movies for Brando, anymore than it was for,again, Kramer, though the story did have a good, sound message to it.
The Young Lions (1958)
war and romance on both sides
This Twentieth-Century Fox film, based on Irwin Shaw's novel and produced by Edward Dmytryk, depicts the horrors and anxieties felt by soldiers and their mates during WWII. Marlon Brando, as the German lieutenant Christian Dietsl is definitely a lion, passionate about Hitler and what he believed that he Hitler could do for Germany, though he did not like to kill innocent civilians. The outstanding Montgomery Clift as the Jew Noah Ackerman was also willing to fight, not only the enemy but also the fellow soldiers who began to hate him. Dean Martin as Whitacre seemed to change his character as he transitioned from a night club entertainer to a more firm soldier himself. Who wouldn't have felt for Hope Lange, (who acted as Hope Plowman) the lady who became Ackerman's wife? Again, griefs and anxieties were felt by people both in Germany and in the US. The war scenes were realistic, and the scene depicting anemic captives in a German concentration camp was realistic and very graphic. The next-to-last scene in the movie was exciting and good, (depending on who you were for), and the very last scene was warm and endearing. Because of the war scenes, scenes depicting passionate feeling on the parts of the main characters, and occasional romantic scenes, the movie was another three-hour drama which captured and maintained viewers' attention well.
Live and Let Die (1973)
weird, unethically unethnical, but good
This is one of three James Bond films I personally own, and I do like it, mainly because of the excitement and the tense story. This is the first Bond movie for Roger Moore, who plays Agent 007. Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman really do a fine job, so this is not an anomaly at all. M, still played by Bernard Lee, is his same unsmiling, not-so-friendly self. and Miss Moneypenny (played by Lois Maxwell) still vies for Bond's affection futilely; she does help him out of a close call is his apartment one night, but still, again, doesn't earn his affection. Yaphat Kotto is mean as mean can be as he plays, for all practical purposes, two roles, as the drug pin from Harlem named Mr. Big, and as Kananga, the man who controls the fictitious island of San Monique in the Caribbean. Julius Harris, who plays Tee Hee, the heavy with the mechanical arm, has not one good bone in him. In this movie which places emphasis on voodoo, Jane Seymour, (in this her first movie) plays the lady named Solitaire, and for her and Kananga it's "all in the cards," the tarot cards. The voodoo aspect of it is what renders it weird. Geoffrey Holder is his same bass-voiced self, and renders the movie comical. Brenda Arnau is an appealing addition who sings the title song at a nightclub in New Orleans. So, the weird movie does have positive aspects. The plot pattern is standard: here, three CIA agents are killed-one "technologically" at the UN Building in New York, one in front of a bar in New Orleans where a bogus funeral is held and the agent is fatally knifed by a black man, and then another agent is killed on the island San Monique by a python(?) while that agent is tied to two poles. So now, 007 must find out who the killer is, "and so the fun begins." Definitely, the blacks are not put in a good light, which is what happens when Blaxploitation is emphasized. But it is exciting, has a talented cast, and there's never a dull moment virtually. An exciting movie about Bond, James Bond.
Roman Holiday (1953)
a lot of comedy, a lot of love, a lot of warmth
This 1853 movie, filmed on location in Rome, was Audrey Hepburn's first, and she did so very well for a lady in her early twenties, especially when you consider the fact that she was paired with the veteran actor Gregory Peck, and Eddie Albert.It starts off with a fictitious country's young princess (Hepburn)resting in a palace in Rome after a tour of Europe, and in Rome she is very frustrated one night and has a temperamental fit, and thus is given a shot of very strong medicine, so much so that she appears to be inebriated, and just as well be. After sneaking out of the palace she hops a small paddy wagon and rides down a street in Rome, stops in front of a building where she sits on a bench when the American newspaper reporter Tom Bradley (played by Peck)sees her on the bench and later takes her to his apartment. (To indicate how ancient the movie is, nothing lewd takes place there.) He is late for work the next day, but quite by accident in his boss' office he sees a picture of the princess on the cover of a Rome newspaper. He then bets his boss that he will do a story on that "dame", and he in his own mind knows he will win. Naturally, the princess' entourage, a cold group, has no idea where she is, and is worried about her and the fact that she will hold a press conference the next day. In the meantime the princess does not know that Bradley is a newspaper reporter, nor does she know that at the same time he knows that she is the princess. He is, again, going to do a story on her, replete with pictures taken by his friend Irvin Radovich(Albert)who owns his own photo service. Bradley later tells her to take the whole day off and have a holiday, and so they do and it's filled with much fun; the fun ends at a pier where there is a big shindig where, in turn, she tells him that he has been so kind to her and so unselfish. At this point, though there is a fight at the pier which is comical in its own right, the story becomes serious and romantic.
Though it is very amusing in so many places, it is, again, also serious in places as well. Whether or not the ending is amusing or serious is something the viewer(s)will have to personally decide.
Though the movie is filmed in B&W, the sights around the Eternal City-such as the Victor Emannuel Memorial, the Spanish Steps, the Fountain of Trevi, the Wall of Truth, and the Roman Forum-are still very captivating. And William Wyler does manifest the fact that he is a prolific producer. It is another movie I have watched so very many times, yet do not get jaded despite that.
an excellent weaving by Hitchcock
This is one of my favorite Hitchcock films, the other two being North by Northwest and the comical The Trouble with Harry. The setting of San Francisco was, in my personal opinion, a big drawing card. To be sure, Hitchcock knew well how to weave together suspense, romance, and mystery. James Stewart and Kim Novak clicked well together in this masterpiece by the master of suspense. And, Kim Novak was quite talented at playing two roles in this movie. Stewart was also adept at playing two types of people, a kind, good natured man, but also a hostile, temperamental man in places. You wanted to hate Tom Elmore. It was structured so very well also; it was almost like two dramas in one. Bernard Herrmann, an excellent musician, definitely and effectively provided the needed eeriness for the film. And, the color was beautiful. Because of the eeriness of the film, the excellent acting, the, again, very beautiful setting of San Francisco, as well as the suspenseful story, again, this ranks among one of my favorite all-time movies.
The Vikings (1958)
Norway never looked so beautiful nor as exciting.
This United Artists movie, directed by Richard Fleischer, has breathtaking beauty since it was produced around the fjords and mountains of Norway; in fact, the fjords were very refreshing-looking. It is, essentially, a "Scandanavian western" with a lot of exciting action all the way through. The movie depicted so well the bitterness and bitter fighting between England and Norway during the Middle Ages. The cast was well-picked. Kirk Douglas was a mean Viking barbarian named Einar, and the blond-haired, blue-eyed prided himself on being so handsome. Ernest Borgnine was a mean man himself named Ragnar, the father of Einar. (In real life,their ages were very close to each other.) Tony Curtis, who was adept at playing either dramatic roles or comedic roles, did a serious turn as Eric, a slave, mistreated but very brave. Janet Leigh, Tony Curtis' wife, was very beautiful as Morgana. The excitement of the movie maintained almost perfectly my attention and thus alleviated any boredom. The love scene in which Einar spoke to Morgana (which was Curtis speaking to his wife) was touching. For many reasons it should be considered a superb classic, since it was that to be sure.
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)
romantic comedy or comical romance?
This 1947 movie from 20th Century Fox, directed by Joseph L Mankiewicz, is certainly a heart-warming movie. In some ways it is comical, thanks to Rex Harrison's irascibility; he, in this movie once a sea captain, is the ghost of the house into which Lucy Muir (played so well by the very beautiful and appealing Gene Tierney) moves with her little daughter (performed by the precious Natalie Wood at about age nine.) Yes, you had to laugh at Harrison when he does become so unbearable toward Gene Tierney. But also, you had to feel for him when he does feel rejected by Mrs. Muir in the movie. For that reason it is difficult to say whether it should be placed under the rubric of comedy or romance. Definitely, I could feel no sympathy for the character George Sanders portrayed, a man who was disgusting and two-faced. Bernard Herrmann's music, beautiful but haunting, contributed well to the eeriness sometimes found in this production. The turn-of-the-century London was depicted fairly well. Truly, Tierney and Harrison clicked so well, and for that and other reasons it is a movie with magnetic appeal.
3:10 to Yuma (1957)
very exciting and tense
This movie, filmed on the Old Tucson movie site, is definitely like High Noon. The outlaw in this piece, played well by Glenn Ford, is as mean as mean can be. Van Heflin, who must get him on the train, is a big, dauntless man who is determined to do his job. Felicia Farr here, as always, is able to catch a man's eye, the beautiful lady she is. Yes, is so much like the classic "High Noon", and the viewer is wondering if Heflin will be successful in his job. It would have looked better in color, as was the 2007 version of the movie, but I still enjoyed watching it. You can't get jaded by this western, despite the slow pace of it, and I have always liked it. Very exciting in its own way.