The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

An ongoing survey of the Criterion Forum membership to create lists of the best films of each decade and genre.
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ntnon
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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#476 Post by ntnon » Sat Sep 14, 2019 8:55 pm

therewillbeblus wrote:
Sat Sep 14, 2019 12:29 am
One could argue from this deep character study that the process has nothing to do with rigidly defined ‘moral’ pathology but rather relatable ego-infecting psychological damage that results in cognitive dissonance and the disintegration of the self. A sad portrait of the diffusion of identity from ruthless forces outside and within, and one that I believe doesn’t render Dobbs immoral but rather amoral; directionless, and stripped of any bearings on reality.
I would be tempted to go further... though I'm not sure there's another gradation. After all, his im/a-morality manifests mainly from fear, suspicion... and logic. His push towards murder was quite reasonably framed (where's the line, if people can bully their way into partnership?) and persuaded at least one of his companions.

All three of them make fair points and arguments over the relatives strengths of communal goods vs. individual wealth (...is there a Communism subtext in this film, I wonder? Or are the themes merely coincidental..) and concomitant responsibility are all valid, including the final 'immoral' double-cross. After all, abandonment of the group (putting the burden and risk and hassle on others) is essentially abandonment of property and ownership...

Let's add "philosopher" to Dobbs' character study!
therewillbeblus wrote:
Sat Sep 14, 2019 12:29 am
That he becomes robbed of both the psychological and the spiritual values of his identity leaves him totally lost and thus your point on the nuances and flexibility of the terms, despite their distinct differences, rings true. As the film walks this hazy tightrope so does Dobbs, and when he falls, their distinction falls with him. As all these flooding existential experiences are revealed as elastic, they shatter any rigid confidence that existed in separating themselves into tangible forms, just like his own confidence in his psyche, reality, morality and meaning.
That summary may belong in a medical journal...

It's another handy pointer that the film functions as a commentary on multiple levels of 'the meaning(s) of life'. Especially in the vaguelly-nihilistic way you're essentially writing that the nuances of action and reaction and life are erased after-the-fact, when outcomes (and their perceived purpose and path) are judged apart from the nuance and INSTEAD of the nuance: he betrayed them and lost everything - including his life and fortune. The End.

Outcomes and summaries paint stark lines that obfuscate the varied and complex picture that experience and the thousand compound choices, perceptions and assumptions have used in their portrait of a life.

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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#477 Post by Rayon Vert » Sun Sep 15, 2019 12:29 am

Remember the Night (Leisen 1940). The shoplifter and the prosecuting district attorney falling in love is a cute premise and overall it’s a pleasant rom-comdram although it’s clearly in the good-but-not-terrific category for me. Sturges is tamer than usual here, except for a couple of manic moments where he’s more recognizable, notably the justice of the peace segment. Quite a few charming scenes here, in a nicely-photographed film by Tetzlaff, and while the Christmas section does lean a bit too much into sentimentalism, luckily that doesn’t take over the whole film. An abrupt ending is one of the weaker points.


Sanshiro Sugata (Kurosawa 1943). Kinda sucks when you have to risk killing your beloved’s aging father in a judo match! A simplistic enough martial arts drama actioner that’s still kind of fun to watch. The director does bring an aliveness to the material with his camera movements and staging decisions, and the humanism that he was later to be renowned for is already much in evidence in his first film.


The Most Beautiful (Kurosawa 1944). Propaganda films are inherently minimally interesting as historical documents, and, additionally, even if it’s not a completely successful film, I didn’t feel the propaganda aspect impinged too much on the enjoyment of the drama here or made it too unrealistic. The film’s theme is partly this collective of young women in a war optics factory meeting production quotas for the good of the nation’s aims, and partly to do with the relationships between the women, the experience of being in this isolated setting apart from their families, and one character’s personal evolution. That actress’s acting is pretty sensitively done, even if the script doesn’t develop that aspect as well as it should. This certainly is better than its reputation would suggest, though, and technically is more than adequate and has the director indulging in original strategies now and then (successive jump cuts on a character to show the passage of time, as one example).


Sanshiro Sugata, Part Two (Kurosawa 1945). A decently well-done sequel, with most of the main characters/actors back, although not much is made of the romantic angle. Definitely more trashy (the American boxer, the karate wild men) but it’s a bit more action-filled and entertaining on the whole.


The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail (Kurosawa 1945). The first foray into the distant samurai era is a short adaptation of a kabuki play that focuses on one discrete plot point involving disguise and deception. Schematic and shot against not very convincing-looking backgrounds. The acting is solid enough, but I didn’t see this as really driving that much of a point.


Spring in a Small Town (Mu 1948). The comparisons to Brief Encounter are pretty superficial apart from the adultery, and the differences more important. What makes this good isn’t so much the interpersonal narrative on its own rather than how the relationships and temptations are tied in to the historical reality of these people under the traumatizing effects of the second Sino-Japanese war and its destruction, which has created a sense of loss and barrenness. The setting in that semi-destroyed house and those many scenes among the constantly wind-swept trees go to creating a potent visual poetry.


The Lost Weekend (Wilder 1945). [Rewatch] It’s my observation too that this isn’t too dated because of the fact that it’s pretty uncompromising and through a lot of it rather bleak and despairing. Several times you expect a wake-up call but the character just continues being driven by his compulsion. Wilder very modernly presents alcoholism as a physical and psychological illness and also includes some pointed social commentary (class observations, the cruel judgments that the sick Don Birnam is subject to – although that’s balanced by the close ones that keep by his side). There definitely are strong noir aspects to the film – a broken-down protagonist lost in the urban jungle, frequently captured amidst expressionistic cinematography. The theremin in the score also gives it a slight Gothic horror feeling.

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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#478 Post by therewillbeblus » Sun Sep 15, 2019 2:25 am

Rayon Vert wrote:
Sun Sep 15, 2019 12:29 am
The Lost Weekend (Wilder 1945). [Rewatch] It’s my observation too that this isn’t too dated because of the fact that it’s pretty uncompromising and through a lot of it rather bleak and despairing. Several times you expect a wake-up call but the character just continues being driven by his compulsion. Wilder very modernly presents alcoholism as a physical and psychological illness and also includes some pointed social commentary (class observations, the cruel judgments that the sick Don Birnam is subject to – although that’s balanced by the close ones that keep by his side). There definitely are strong noir aspects to the film – a broken-down protagonist lost in the urban jungle, frequently captured amidst expressionistic cinematography. The theremin in the score also gives it a slight Gothic horror feeling.
The noir aspects work well because of the fatalistic nature of untreated alcoholism, and the disorientation to, and isolation from, people and culture. However, the part that does feel dated and a bit cheap is Milland’s speech about his core belief that he is destined to fail as a writer as the root of his addiction. Now, it’s not cheap because he says it, after all what person struggling with addiction hasn’t put all the eggs in one tidy basket of reason when rationalizing their behavior to others and themselves. What bothers me about this insert is that Wilder paints a complex portrait only to turn around and produce this simple explanation, though to be fair this isn’t necessarily a falsity (especially back then when a man’s identity was basically blended with their occupation and professional goals), it’s just that it doesn’t play quite the same in that one area today, when addiction is generally treated as the complicated beast it is. Nice observations on the gothic horror and noir vibes- this is not only a film that gets the details right but those stylistic choices only help elevate its dark and unsettling moods.

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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#479 Post by Rayon Vert » Sun Sep 15, 2019 10:52 am

therewillbeblus wrote:
Sun Sep 15, 2019 2:25 am
However, the part that does feel dated and a bit cheap is Milland’s speech about his core belief that he is destined to fail as a writer as the root of his addiction. Now, it’s not cheap because he says it, after all what person struggling with addiction hasn’t put all the eggs in one tidy basket of reason when rationalizing their behavior to others and themselves. What bothers me about this insert is that Wilder paints a complex portrait only to turn around and produce this simple explanation, though to be fair this isn’t necessarily a falsity (especially back then when a man’s identity was basically blended with their occupation and professional goals), it’s just that it doesn’t play quite the same in that one area today, when addiction is generally treated as the complicated beast it is.
I agree, and I thought that was the part of the film, in the long flashback sequence if I remember correctly, that sagged a little before it picked up again.

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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#480 Post by therewillbeblus » Sun Sep 15, 2019 3:40 pm

Yep, but for audiences at the time, who didn’t even have a concept of what ‘core beliefs’ were, and barely any therapeutic processes to identify them outside of some psychodynamic interventions, this part that ‘sagged’ for us today was likely a bold revelation to them. So this banal scene the took me out of the movie in the 21st century was likely Wilder purposefully slowing things down for the reveal that likely shook audiences in 1945! If we’re scaling depth based on psychological awareness, this part, while dated, was probably the most powerful for those who saw it upon release.

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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#481 Post by nitin » Sun Sep 15, 2019 10:51 pm

Fort Apache - it won’t make my final list but it’s another effortlessly made film from Ford and impeccably performed by Wayne and Fonda in particular. It’s clearly a very rose tinted view of the cavalry but the whole thing feels so alive, it doesn’t really matter. I also did not appreciate it’s “print the legend” type mythologising at the end until this time around (although it’s really hard to miss it, I clearly wasn’t paying enough attention last time I watched it).

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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#482 Post by ntnon » Tue Sep 17, 2019 11:15 am

Blithe Spirit is good fun, although the supposedly-lauded special effects seemed confined to a couple of floating objects and a walking-through-a-ghost, which hardly seem novel. The plot and dialogue was enjoyable and witty, though the chauvinistic over- and undertones were... outdated.

Leslie Howard's First of the Few with David Niven co-starring was inspirational and educational. And another good propaganda piece made during the height of WWII that nevertheless mostly eschews the ultra-jingoism of enemy demonising in favour of a relatively even-handed puff piece about a man who deserves to be remembered and promoted. There were some stock Nazi idiots on display, but even they seemed depicted less as incompetent evil and more as brainwashed and misled.

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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#483 Post by ntnon » Tue Sep 17, 2019 8:22 pm

I distinctly remember sitting down to watch The Life and Death of Col. Blimp last year. I can only assume I immediately fell asleep, because I remembered none of it, and it was great. Maybe not 'the best British film ever,' but thoroughly enjoyable and well done. John Laurie in the Home Guard... interesting casting...

Five minutes into To Be or Not To Be and we've already seen Hitler in Warsaw, heard the Brandy/Herring/Cheese joke (novel to the film, or drawn from the time..?), "Heil myself" and then the exchange that I shall adopt from now on:

"You want my opinion?"
"No, Mr Greenberg, I do not want your opinion."
"Alright. Then let me give you my reaction - "

I wonder how well that will go down when directed at my boss...

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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#484 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Sep 17, 2019 10:21 pm

To Be Or Not To Be is one of the all-time greats, though the humor isn’t the only aspect that makes it nearly perfect. It’s also got the intricately woven plot of a spy/adventure film, with hints of seriousness embedded even in many comic scenes. Lubitsch somehow strikes this difficult balance of drama, action, and comedy, and runs full speed ahead on this beam for an entire film without faltering. How does one do that? I don’t know, but I’m glad it exists.

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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#485 Post by ntnon » Tue Sep 17, 2019 10:35 pm

therewillbeblus wrote:
Tue Sep 17, 2019 10:21 pm
To Be Or Not To Be is one of the all-time greats, though the humor isn’t the only aspect that makes it nearly perfect. It’s also got the intricately woven plot of a spy/adventure film, with hints of seriousness embedded even in many comic scenes. Lubitsch somehow strikes this difficult balance of drama, action, and comedy, and runs full speed ahead on this beam for an entire film without faltering....
Exactly. It's such a brilliant balancing act - and from 1942! That alone elevates every part of it - see also Great Dictator et al. - the fact that they're making this satire while Hitler is still reigning terror on the people of Europe.

Interestingly, one of the contemporary reviews - NYT? - savaged it for largely that very reason.

Now I have a burning question. Can someone please rewatch the beginning 2m where "Hitler" is in Warsaw: is one of the shocked locals FRANK MORGAN, or just a lookalike..?

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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#486 Post by Rayon Vert » Wed Sep 18, 2019 12:12 am

ntnon wrote:
Tue Sep 17, 2019 10:35 pm
Now I have a burning question. Can someone please rewatch the beginning 2m where "Hitler" is in Warsaw: is one of the shocked locals FRANK MORGAN, or just a lookalike..?
Do you mean this guy? I don't think that's him.

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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#487 Post by senseabove » Wed Sep 18, 2019 1:16 am

ntnon wrote:
Tue Sep 17, 2019 8:22 pm
I distinctly remember sitting down to watch The Life and Death of Col. Blimp last year. I can only assume I immediately fell asleep, because I remembered none of it, and it was great. Maybe not 'the best British film ever,' but thoroughly enjoyable and well done. John Laurie in the Home Guard... interesting casting...
Blimp greatly rose in stature on my second viewing, and I don't think just because the first was the Criterion disc at home and the second a beautiful print in all its glory at a classic movie palace—though that surely helped. I pretty well agreed with you the first time—enjoyable, impressive—but, really, on second view it threads the needle of propaganda and sentiment in spite of both feeling a little overcooked at first. The balance of miniature and too-muchness is strangely perfect for such a hard-to-manage topic as national identity; the "of a type" personalities of both lead and bit parts are so big and the plot so historically lurching that the patient brilliance in the performances of Livesey and Walbrook and in their relationship gets overshadowed—Livesy's performance, especially, I didn't quite catch the first time around beyond its sentiment and caricature, the guffawing and mustache-wobbling and growing wheeze in the voice, but how he and the story work personality and character in and around and behind that caricature is just superb.

I fully intended to write more about it after the rewatch, but just haven't had the time to do the write-ups I wanted, so that'll have to do for now.

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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#488 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Wed Sep 18, 2019 2:55 am

I've said it before and I'll say it again - as A.L. Kennedy says in her BFI monograph "I couldn't love anyone who doesn't love Blimp"
My number One film since I was re-born

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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#489 Post by domino harvey » Wed Sep 18, 2019 11:47 am

I don't even remotely have the love for P+P that most here and elsewhere do, but it's a perfect movie

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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#490 Post by Rayon Vert » Fri Sep 20, 2019 11:56 pm

The Shop Around the Corner (Lubitsch 1940). [Rewatch] This later period of Lubitsch has a thing for (non-Ruritanian!) Eastern Europe: Budapest, Warsaw, a Czech refugee, Russian agents in Paris…There’s hardly any silliness or broad humor in this quite simple and humbly set romantic comedy. There’s a sweet appeal to the Sullavan-Stewart storyline, the premise and how it’s played out, but I didn’t remember that it only takes up about a third on the screen time and sometimes gets lost among other less essential plot points involving the shop management business and other personal matters, like Mr. Matuschek’s marital problems for instance. Still a cute film though.


No Regrets for Our Youth (Kurosawa 1946)
. A somewhat strange mix of a recent-history saga with a focus on the last decade’s shifting political alignments and social divisions, and a female melodrama. This is more ambitious film-making on the director’s part but unfortunately it doesn’t really succeed. The problem appears to have to do in part with the writing, as we’re thrown from one time-stamped situation to the next without creating what’s required to care more deeply for the characters, including the lead, despite Setsuko Hara’s best efforts. It gives the film a certain superficial quality at odds with the intended gravitas of the themes engaged. The film also errs by excessive melodrama in the portrayed situations and acting, where a little restraint might have helped ground the film more.


Moonrise (Borzage 1948). The amount of violence at the beginning for a Borzage film is a bit surprising, and more so that, at least from today’s perspective, we’re supposed to root for this man who not only does what he does to his tormentor but then proceeds in the following scene to forcefully bully the object of his affections. Nevertheless, the movie really engages dramatically, even if the slightly lackluster ending disappoints a little. But the film especially succeeds aesthetically, in terms of the atmosphere and the strong visuals on display here, really uncommonly strong for the director, especially compared to pretty much anything in his previous MGM output. This is my 29th film on a first run-through of the director’s filmography, and it slightly edges out the rest of the best for me.


One Wonderful Sunday (Kurosawa 1947).
A bit of a Bicycle Thieves vibe going on here: a day in the life of two poor people roaming the streets of a war-devastated city, trying to survive and find meaning, with their relationship tested by the social reality. Kurosawa is a bit all over the place here and again a bit excessive, with pleasant enough but unexceptional romcom scenes contrasting violently and not all that successfully with scenes of utter despair. Some of the latter feel interminable in pace and length. I guess the film succeeds in some way if you want to see the sometimes maniacal form of the film as representing the oversized emotions of its young protagonists.

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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#491 Post by therewillbeblus » Wed Sep 25, 2019 12:54 am

The Boy with Green Hair was a bit of a disappointment considering how strong Losey is as a filmmaker, though it’s still got an eccentric nature that’s engaging even if it’s not exceptional. Robert Ryan has a phoned in throwaway role, but the always reliable Pat O’Brien as Gramps makes the most of his scenes, initiating a lot of fun into what would otherwise be tedious material. it’s nice to see Losey flaunt his skills as a great director of actors from the outset at least, and the oddities of the story are welcome but don’t save the film from becoming rather forgettable as a whole.

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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#492 Post by knives » Wed Sep 25, 2019 5:38 am

The film actually had a minor controversy when no one, not even Stockwell, was willing to reshoot the ending in order to make it more politically palatable.

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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#493 Post by Rayon Vert » Sun Sep 29, 2019 12:03 am

Take Me Out to the Ball Game (Berkeley 1949). A mixed experience for me. There’s plenty of energy here, the film starts off especially well in its first half hour or so, the musical numbers come in plenty and sometimes memorably enough, and I really liked that self-reflexive closing piece. The narrative around the sports team and the love interests is really predictable, though; you don’t look for real originality in those aspects in a musical but in this case the piling on of clichés did end up affecting this viewer’s interest. Also, Kelly’s character was so aggressive for some of this that he bordered a little on off-putting at times. Still worth watching (and I finally got to see an Esther Williams swimming scene!), but I don’t feel compelled to see this often again.


Thieves’ Highway (Dassin 1949). Pretty much the last first-rank status noir I hadn’t yet seen. Blus wrote this up well. A potent mix of pulp and social commentary that I think I enjoyed more than him, even though I generally share his view of the weaker points, especially the ending. I thought once we get to the market, the film never quite keeps the promise of that extremely strong beginning, although it remains a cut above just solid all the way through. Cortese really brings a lot in her performance to make the femme fatale and romantic angles work, and to foster a vital sensual aspect.


The Enchanted Cottage (Cromwell 1945). Dorothy McGuire plays a young maid who’s confronting the painful consequences of her homeliness, who crosses paths with Robert Young as a pilot whose sudden disfigurement causes him to wallow in self-pity. Predictable consequences follow. The “enchanted” plot twist isn’t as predictable but doesn’t make the film any better. Whether in its idealization of romance as The One Thing Worth Living For, or in its pseudo-profound “message” angle, the film has no restraint in terms of sentimentality and it’s overbearingly on-the-nose through it all. Not very inspired acting and sets don’t help.


The Bishop’s Wife (Koster 1947). Okay, given my decidedly unenthusiastic reaction to this beloved film as well, and in this case in particular one that has gotten such effusive praise in this thread, something is probably wrong with me. I honestly thought this was just mildly OK bordering a little on the dull. Narratively nothing much seems to happen to create any drama once the basic situation is revealed, and I kept hoping for something interesting like the bishop’s wife getting the hots for the angel (!) but nope. There wasn’t a single scene that charmed me and I thought both Grant and Niven were unexceptional but mostly it was the script I found lacking. The film looks good, but that’s about it. I’m thinking I should stay away from sentimental favorites.


Drunken Angel (Kurosawa 1948). Obviously a more completely artistically and successfully realized film than what came before. The symbolism of the swamp and the tuberculosis for the social-historical context depicted is obvious but effective. And the figure of the alcoholic doctor devoted grudgingly devoted to his criminal patient(s) is a sympathetic one. I would have liked the two lead characters to have been drawn a little less broadly, especially in the case of the yakuza who despite cutting a striking figure could have used a bit more depth to make him more relatable. The acting by the two leads can also be a bit loud, but then you could argue that that fits in with the expressionistic streak that runs across the film’s style.


(I also did a rewatch of The Lady Eve, but wrote that up somewhere else already. My memory of the half after the stuff on the ship is always hazy no matter how many times I see the film – the revisit revealed that it’s probably partly because the best scenes reside in that first half.)

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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#494 Post by therewillbeblus » Sun Sep 29, 2019 12:44 am

Rayon Vert wrote:
Sun Sep 29, 2019 12:03 am
I also did a rewatch of The Lady Eve, but wrote that up somewhere else already. My memory of the half after the stuff on the ship is always hazy no matter how many times I see the film – the revisit revealed that it’s probably partly because the best scenes reside in that first half.
It’s funny you say that because this has been exactly my experience with this film up until recently (I don’t even know how many times I’ve seen it, mostly because I’ll immediately re-rent it to get a better look at the second half, forget, and repeat). However during my last few watches I came around to notice that there are many nuggets of comedy gold in the second half, they’re just more spaced out and hidden compared to the well-set up gags in the first half. On this last watch I fell in love with the second half and in some ways prefer it (“they look too much alike to be the same”) in just how Stanwyck’s presence causes complete screwball chaos amongst the high society, an amplified extension of the tighter first part that focused solely on her relationship with Fonda. In this expanded milieu we get Eugene Pallette stealing scenes as Fonda’s father, and of course Demarest as well in one of his better backseat roles, as men who are established in their positions and yet completely inexperienced with the disorientation brought into their world. The clear torment can be less fun than the murky waters of the complex brewing relationship on the boat, but it seems like the only way they could take that plethora of information and broaden it to a larger context, inciting new jokes based on the old. Maybe I’ll go back to liking the first half more eventually, but having finally discovered a respect for the back end I’m high on its merits.

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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#495 Post by Rayon Vert » Sun Sep 29, 2019 10:57 am

Those Fonda pratfalls in the second half made me laugh out loud, and yes that later part is more recognizably Sturgean slapstick screwball.

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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#496 Post by nitin » Sun Sep 29, 2019 10:56 pm

Don’t forget the horse!

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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#497 Post by Rayon Vert » Sun Sep 29, 2019 11:01 pm

Yes! The first few times the horse stuck his nose in, it definitely looked like Fonda tried to suppress laughter as he turned his head back!

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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#498 Post by filmyfan » Mon Sep 30, 2019 4:30 pm

Rayon Vert wrote:
Sun Sep 29, 2019 11:01 pm
Yes! The first few times the horse stuck his nose in, it definitely looked like Fonda tried to suppress laughter as he turned his head back!
BS looks down to compose herself as well it looks like.

Oh man what a film.

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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#499 Post by ntnon » Mon Sep 30, 2019 11:43 pm

My phone - upon which I do most Internetting - got broken, and then the Internet disappeared... on the plus side, that gave time to watch some Real DVDs.

On the downside, I've discovered quite how many of my Warner Signature sets have become almost-completely unplayable... much frustration and sadness.

On which note:
Rayon Vert wrote:
Sun Sep 29, 2019 12:03 am
The Bishop’s Wife (Koster 1947). Okay, given my decidedly unenthusiastic reaction to this beloved film as well, and in this case in particular one that has gotten such effusive praise in this thread, something is probably wrong with me. I honestly thought this was just mildly OK bordering a little on the dull. Narratively nothing much seems to happen to create any drama once the basic situation is revealed, and I kept hoping for something interesting like the bishop’s wife getting the hots for the angel (!) but nope. There wasn’t a single scene that charmed me and I thought both Grant and Niven were unexceptional but mostly it was the script I found lacking. The film looks good, but that’s about it. I’m thinking I should stay away from sentimental favorites....

(I also did a rewatch of The Lady Eve, but wrote that up somewhere else already. My memory of the half after the stuff on the ship is always hazy no matter how many times I see the film – the revisit revealed that it’s probably partly because the best scenes reside in that first half.)
The Lady Eve is one of the several films I'm looking forward to getting back to.. it's just wonderful. Almost on a par with The Bishop's Wife, just not half as deep or magical and revealing. I'm surprised (and disappointed) that you were uncharmed (unmoved?) by the plot - the "basic situation" is really nothing less than a full emotional and spirtual awakening. And the best part of it is that, while it' clearly uber-religious, it doesn't ever (to me) hammer that home. Indeed, I find Cary's angel (like Clarence or Mary Poppins) to be wilfully understated and deliberately apart.

And that underscores the non-religious messaging about family and importance and memory and priorities: the divine is taking a backseat and watching as much as guiding. The realisations are not forced, they dawn; it isn't a top-down miracle, it's a ground-up rebuilding of lives and their places in the world. Which is as unreligious as it is religious, and so well-balanced.

I would disagree that little stands out, but if it doesn't... consider that as a deliberate stylostic choice: the mundane meeting the divine and being as quietly important.

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Re: The 1940s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#500 Post by ntnon » Mon Sep 30, 2019 11:55 pm

So, with apologies for th probable either walls of text or undue brevity, I have been watching:

The Canterbury Tale, This Happy Breed and Mrs. Miniver. Naturally the latter two shared many points of commonality, though I was more impressed with Happy's focus on a more working-class and far-from-perfect familial situation. Both had much drinking of tea, which was good. The Tale seemed - as last time - well-crafted, but slight. It also seemed very.. let's say "allegorical," given it's mystery assailants proclivity towards definitely-not-rape...

High Sierra, I enjoyed. It was very focused on its Bonnie&Clyde pairing, and although the buildup to the relationship was odd and improbable, the aftermath was grim and heart-rending.

Then I watched the not-really-a-film coverage of the XIV Olympiad and marvelled at many of the feats, as well as the clipped coverage. I prefer watching sport in this condensed, highlights way. The ice skating seemed very tame and dull; the skiing extremely dangerous.

Naked City was more fascinating than especially enjoyable - its sub-documentary approach, and ultimately quite bleak conclusions were searing, but it seemed more of a curiosity than an especially great film.

Few of my discs would play the supplementary shorts, which was very annoying. But I managed to persevere through a few, including For Scent-imental Reasons which (aside from the jawdropping - and apparently often censored for good reason scene) seemed very dull to me. Bacall to Arms was very amusing, the mini-doc Lions for Sale was both fascinating and - from a modern perspective - utterly deplorable. I also watched Porky's Preview about a week ago and genuinely don't remember a second of it.

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