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Union Pacific (1939)
My favorite DeMille
Contrary to what another viewer wrote, this movie is not hard to sit through at all--in fact, I wish it could have been longer and had dealt a little more with the upper level corruption of Barrows and the too-kindly treated Oakes Ames, the politician behind the Credit Mobilier scandal. As it is, it gives a good approximation of what the great adventure of building the Transcontinental Railroad must have been like at the time, and all the actors are excellent in the context of the romanticized depiction of events.
SPOILER WARNING!!! Great train wreck scene, and the scenes between Overmann and Tamiroff are reminders of why today's movies, though faster paced, are not likely to be considered as rich and entertaining 50 years from now--today's movies have no depth when you get away from the main character. Look at the scene when Barrows is able to drive home the Golden Spike, watch the byplay between Barrows, Leach and Fiesta, and see how beautiful the results can be when you let secondary characters have a chance to play a real part in the story, rather than just filling the frame.
Fortunes of Captain Blood (1950)
Memory--can we trust it?
The previous poster is mistaken if she remembers seeing Hayward in glorious color--this is a black and white movie---and a less glorious B&W than that supplied Warner Brothers' Captain Blood by Ernest Haller and Hal Mohr. In fact, Fortunes often looks like a TV production--and not just because of the poor model work. What isn't typical of a TV movie is the surprising amount of violence--Blood's crew is bludgeoned mercilessly when they are captured, whipped by the Marquis and his overseers, and forced to listen to Alfonso Bedoya's idiosyncratic line readings.
I remember seeing Louis Hayward in The Black Arrow when I was about 10, and thinking that movie a great swashbuckler. Yet when I read the posts about it on IMDb, I wonder if my memory is playing tricks on me as well. Watching a bit of Fortunes on TCM, I rather suspect it is--this movie is pretty tepid, with the chief excellence being Hayward's performance, even though he gets no help from the script or director.
Il ladro di Bagdad (1961)
Is this really as I good as I--and others--remember?
I haven't seen it since the original release, but I remember thinking at the time it was a storybook adventure in the same league as Jason and the Argonauts. I remember the flying horse to have been a major improvement on the one in the Sabu version of this story, using Disney-type animation for the flying scenes instead of a pair of prop wings that just flopped around, and some of the sequences, like the encounter with the Sirens, were memorably terrifying.
If it really is as good as I remember, it's a crime it hasn't been given a proper release on DVD, and doesn't appear on TV more often. Reeves was a major movie icon of the 50s, but except for this film, and to a lesser degree, the first Hercules, he was never given the kind of material that would make the best use of his limited, but likable talent.
Going Hollywood (1933)
Too bad it couldn't have been made today
I think this could have been a contender except for the black & white photography, the silly costumes, the lack of nudity and graphic violence, and no CGI..........just think of all the computer-generated scarecrows you could have in the "Making Hay" number!
I'm curious why people apply current canons of taste to movies (or music) from the 20s and 30s so they can put them down as being inferior to what we have now. I'm almost (but not quite) ashamed to admit I enjoyed this film. Marion Davies, a wonderful comic talent in "The Patsy" and "Show People" is mostly delightful to watch here, proving in her Fifi D'Orsay impersonation that her gift at mimicry wasn't just visual. Even her dancing is fun--she's not Eleanor Powell (who is?), but at least she can dance a routine in a single take and not require an editor to build a performance out of 40 frame clips. She is also intensely likable--even when performing in Blackfeet I was charmed by her.
Crosby, of course, held the patent on this kind of easy charm and likability, and I can't think of another musical of this period where I felt cheated when some of the songs ended too soon--the title song, "Beautiful Girl" and especially "Temptation." In addition to showcasing his iconic baritone, this film gives some of the earliest glimpses of the excellent dramatic actor who would appear in films later in his career.
D'Orsay, Ned Sparks, Stu Erwin and the Radio Rascals all provide moments of fun, even if the cumulative effect is sometimes too much of a good thing. If you are willing to meet the film halfway, I think you will find it a well-spent hour and a half.
Murder, My Sweet (1944)
Powell the definitive Marlowe
Unlike almost everyone else, I liked Robert Montgomery's Marlowe; Bogart's Marlowe is more Bogart, and more Hawks, than Marlowe, but is indispensable; Gould's was interesting, and Mitchum's makes one regret he didn't play the part 20 years earlier. Almost everyone seems to have done fine by Marlowe (with the possible exception of George Montgomery in "The Brasher Doubloon,') but Powell is simply in a class by himself. His scenes in the asylum are amazing-- easily the most convincing portrayal of substance-induced psychosis in the movies--even more believable than Ray Milland's DTs in "The Lost Weekend." (And why didn't Powell even get a Best Actor nomination?) Robert Montgomery and Bogart do the glib, smart-ass stuff equally well, but no one else ever brought such a 3-dimensional quality to Marlowe as Powell did. A very underrated actor.
Man's Favorite Sport? (1964)
What is really important?
Some reviewers have criticized the studio-bound look (Bringing Up Baby wasn't???), flat, high- key photography, the fact Rock Hudson isn't Cary Grant, that much of the comedy is slapstick (which, I guess, means physical and visual), that gags are recycled from older films......I mean, who cares? This is a total delight, probably the best comic roles Prentiss and Hudson ever had, and one of the funniest post World War 2 movies of all. Today, the 6th or 7th time I've seen it, I found when it was over I wanted to go out and buy a DVD of it.
Hawks' films may not have the pictorial qualities that Ford's, Welles', and Hitchcock's had, but when it came to involving you in a group of characters and their silly, yet somehow believable, antics, he had no superiors. It's not surprising it took the French New Wave, with their impatience for tired and predictable dramatic conventions, to finally recognize and rank Hawks at the very highest level of film artists.
The earlier films weren't funnier--or better
Actually, the movie's improvisatory style seems more forced and contrived than a later film like Love and Death. Woody's humor got even better when he started being more serious. Both Manhattan and Radio Days have a great balance that keeps the comedy from becoming tedious. There are brilliant scenes--especially the early ones with Howard Cossell, but scenes like the "exercise workplace test" lack the precision of the similar scene in Modern Times.
But comedy is such a matter of personal taste (think of the 3 Stooges and Jerry Lewis as examples of love it or hate it comedy) that I'd just as soon not try to make sweeping statements about what is the funniest Woddy Allen movie. (Although I have to say that I can't see What's Up Tiger Lily? without laughing myself sick).
It's not Bergman as his most tormented or saturnine, but it's thoroughly entertaining, more theatrical (in a good sense) than say Persona or In a Glass, Darkly, and still an unqualified masterpiece on a level of artistry that no one making films today seems to be able to achieve. It makes me think in some ways of Shakespeare's plays like the Henry IV with their mix of tragedy and comedy--all done with tremendous showmanship. I'll bet Orson Welles admired this film-- if he ever saw it.
Bergman seems almost forgotten today. Films like this one, Naked Night, Hour of the Wolf, Persona, etc., hardly ever crop up on TV or film festivals. When Bergman is represented, it's usually by The Seventh Seal (not my favorite, and a film that begs for a parody), Wild Strawberries, Smiles of a Summer Night (because of the musical version, no doubt), or Fanny and Alexander, which is more recent, and most important, in color. What a pity. The man created a body of work virtually unsurpassed in the second half of the 20th century.
The Goldwyn Follies (1938)
OK, it's not "An American in Paris," but..............
I would sorely miss not having this Technicolor record of what the old Goldwyn studios and the Santa Monica beach looked like in their heyday. Plus a wonderful cultural record of Jepson's singing (if only Goldwyn had gotten Pinza doing a scene from "Don Giovanni" as well), Zorina's dancing, Balanchine's choreography, and two of Gershwin's finest songs (despite some viewer's comment that "Love Walked In" is insipid, it has always been my personal favorite).
Add to this wonderful sets and costumes, masterfully photographed by Toland (in one of his few efforts in color), and you have a movie that while being a failure as a work of art, is immensely worth seeing as a record of the times.
That said, I wish Kenny Baker had been as good a singer and as personable on screen as Dick Powell, that the dippy story had been jettisoned in favor of a better one (how could Ben Hecht have been a party to this?), and, despite the fact that they were cultural icons (of a sort), that the Ritz Brothers screen time had been in another movie. (Yes, I know there are those who think they're the best thing in the movie, but some people like Martin and Lewis, too).
The Four Feathers (1939)
Perhaps the best film of the golden year of 1939
The color photography and location work elevate it above GWTW, the period feel and look is impeccable, the acting by all the leads--especially Clements and Richardson--can't be bettered, and the story, while retaining the superficial patriotism of the original, is really about how there are different forms of heroism, and military glory does NOT get an automatic and uncritical validation--quite an act of courage on the part of the filmmakers themselves, considering this was England on the very eve of war.
The spectacle and excitement of the action scenes are certainly up with the very best done in the period, and the dramatic scenes, especially the ones where first Esme, then later John, find that Faversham is alive and paying his "debt of honor" are moving beyond words. All in all, and though it may be heresy to say it, I prefer this film to the revered Lawrence of Arabia for the title of Greatest British Epic.