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The Best of Enemies (2019)
A very fine movie
There have been a series of movies lately on race relations here in the U.S. during the 1950s and 60s, among them the Oscar-winner *Green Book* and *BlackKKlansman*. I think this movie trumps them all. The acting is first-rate, the main characters are actually given time and room to grow and change, rather than just remain two-dimensional stereotypes. One previous reviewer found the pacing slow; I certainly did not.
Near the end of the movie, CP's speech, which is very moving, comes somewhat out of left field, in that we had not previously seen the character speak with anything like that eloquence. Still, that's a very small nit, one that in no way detracts from the very real emotional power of this movie.
I strongly recommend it.
Libeled Lady (1936)
This is not a "screwball comedy." This is a brilliant comedy. The script is remarkable. The actors are perfect, as is the direction. There is not a dull moment. Everything works, wonderfully.
One of the things I found particularly interesting: Harlow gets to play the wronged lady, rather than the husband-stealing other woman. She is allowed to have a heart here, and she brings it off very well.
We have seen the husband/fiancé who lets his work with a newspaper get in the way of his married life. We have seen the spoiled daughter of the wealthy family. But these movie stereotypes have never been used better.
This is just one remarkable movie.
They Shall Not Grow Old (2018)
A mixed bag with some wonderful things in it
This movie is definitely a mixed bag of good and less good things, but the good very definitely outweigh the less good.
To begin with, for me the best part of the picture was very definitely Jackson's explanation of how and why he made this documentary. It comes at the end, after all the credits - and, at least when I saw it today, after almost everyone has left the theater - and that is a GREAT shame. Jackson is an intelligent and very knowledgeable, as well as a very modest and engaging, man, at least in his 20+ minute explanation, and I found it and him thoroughly fascinating. He explained, somewhat like Ken Burns, that his goal was to present the war as it was experienced by the common (British) soldier, rather than to explain battle strategies, treaties, etc. - i.e., the sort of thing we got in war documentaries before Ken Burns. That his picture does very well. It also turns out that Jackson has been collecting things related to World War I for years, and knows a lot about it. I suspect that that is why the British War Museum asked him to create something out of their World War I film footage. He was far from a random choice.
Jackson also explains/shows how he and his crew were able to make some of the 100 hours of World War I film footage come back to life. That, too, was very interesting, because he and his crew took the time to do a very accurate job of it, including the colorization. The results definitely benefit from their meticulous efforts. (I would have appreciated this even more in the movie if we had been able to see Jackson's talk first, but I suppose his producers felt that the audience wouldn't want to sit through a lecture before a picture. I think that was selling audiences short. After all, only history buffs are going to see this movie.)
Also fascinating was the work done to remain faithful to English regional accents when certain parts of originally silent film footage was dubbed. I suspect that will be lost on most American viewers who can't distinguish one regional British accent from another - it was certainly lost on me.
In fact, for me, the accents were sometimes a real problem when they ran over a lot of background noise. This was especially the case for me during the long - for me too long - battle sequence near the end of the movie. Jackson used snippets from 600 hours of audio interviews recorded by the BBC after World War I to try to convey what it was like to be in the trenches during the battle of the Somme. It was a nice idea in principle, but I could not make out some of what was said, because the accents were too think and the background sound too loud.
I also didn't care for the 3-D effect, and would recommend seeing this movie in 2-D.
But I would very definitely recommend seeing this movie. Not so much to World War I buffs, who probably won't learn a lot new here. But rather to those interested in documentaries about eras before our own, especially since the invention of the camera, to see one approach, and one set of techniques, that can be used to make them come alive.
I went back today to see the movie again, this time in 2-D. A few added comments.
First, as I suspect, this movie is much better in 2-D than 3-D. 3-D can be fun when a movie is originally shot that way, but turning what was originally shot in 2-D into 3-D looks fake, and that is true in this case as well.
Second, I appreciated the work done on restoring the 100-year-old silent films MUCH more this time, because yesterday I saw Peter Jackson's 30-minute explanation of what they did to bring it about. It reinforces what I wrote above: his remarks should be watched BEFORE the movie, not after it.
Third, even on a second viewing-hearing, the snippets from the radio interviews become very difficult to hear during the battle scenes, in part because my American ear is not accustomed to some of the English accents, in part because the battle sounds are too loud - or the interview snippets not loud enough.
Fourth, I still think the battle runs on too long for what there is to show and say. Jackson has to use the same footage more than once, and that becomes very obvious.
But again, I strongly recommend this movie to those who want to see what can be done to make old video footage more interesting to the general public.
The Desert Song (1953)
I like operetta, but this is a really corny movie
It's hard to believe there was any audience for such a corny movie. How could anyone have made this with a straight face?
Gordon MacCrea has a great voice and sings wonderfully. Grayson and her voice are less annoying than usual, and she's got a great figure in this movie.
Other than that, this is pure hokum from start to end. If u want to listen to the music, some of which is very good, find a recording. There's really no reason to watch this movie.
Show Boat (1951)
Can't hold a candle to the 1936 version
This movie has great color photography. And that's about all it has, frankly, compared to the 1936 bw version with Irene Dunne and Allen Jones.
Irene Dunne could act circles around Kathryn Grayson. (So could your grandmother, I suspect.) She also had a much better singing voice. Grayson is like listening to fingernails on a chalkboard.
Howard Keel was very handsome and a decent actor. But he was very masculine, which made him a poor choice for the weak Gaylord Ravenal. Allen Jones was very good at playing weak.
William Warfield sings "Old Man River" beautifully. But who can hold a candle to Paul Robeson?
As others have remarked, this version of *Showboat* is prettified. It takes out all the social commentary that was very much a part of the original show. I honestly don't see any reason to recommend this movie. If you want to listen to the music, which is great, go on YouTube and find a recording. But why sit through this maudlin excuse of a movie?
That Uncertain Feeling (1941)
Minor league Lubitsch
There's a lot of talent here: Merle Oberon, Melvyn Douglas, Burgess Meredith, Ernst Lubitsch. Where the talent was lacking was in the script. It just isn't very clever. Everyone tries their best - it was a potentially great role for Meredith - but they can only do so much with a dull script. So, while there are occasional funny moments here, the movie as a whole is pretty much a dud.
More's the shame, since, as I said, there was so much talent here.
Green Book (2018)
A fine performance by Mortensen, but an underdeveloped script
Viggo Mortensen definitely gives a fine performance in this movie as Tony Vallelonga, a man who shares the racial prejudices of his Italian-American world but then learns to overcome them during the eight weeks that he drives gay Black piano player Don Shirley through the 1960s American South. It's a great role - as it should be, since the script was written by the real-life character's son, Nick Vallelonga. Granted, it's hard to imagine that a man who came from that much prejudice so easily overcomes homophobia - he's even willing to spend the night in the same bedroom with Shirley - but the script was clearly written to make Tony Vallelonga look good.
Granted, it's a little hard to accept Mortensen physically at times, since the original Vallelonga ate astounding quantities of food - and was a very big guy as a result - but I guess there was no point in putting him in a fat suit.
My problem with the movie, which I enjoyed, is that the script did not do a very good job of developing Don Shirley's character. Anyone who has seen *Midnight* knows that Mahershala Ali, the actor who plays him here, could have handled a complex character, but he isn't given a lot to work with. It's a shame, because it would have made for a more interesting movie.
The whole movie is really the relationship between these two characters. The rest is all fine, but peripheral.
New Moon (1930)
A real disappointment
Some of the 14 previous reviewers of this movie find very positive things to say about it, leading me to wonder if they actually saw the same movie I just sat through. I'm a big fan of Lawrence Tibbett and Grace Moore. I like operetta. Director Jack Conway made some of my favorite movies, like *A Tale of Two Cities*. But pretty much everything goes wrong here.
First, this movie isn't an operetta. It's not just that the setting and plot were changed. That's not uncommon with operetta. It had been changed into an uninteresting, unmusical melodrama/foreign adventure movie (think *The Charge of the Light Brigade* without Eroll Flynn) with some musical numbers tossed in at random. Imagine Flynn and Olivia de Havilland breaking out into song in one of their movies together for Michael Curtiz and you get some idea of how strange this movie is, how mismatched the new plot is with the old musical format. The director, Jack Conway, made some great movies. But here he had no idea how to find a tone appropriate to a melodramatic story interrupted by light musical numbers.
But there's lots more wrong here as well. The plot and the script are bad, yes. It goes completely over the edge when it moves to the mountain outpost. Moore sounds very awkward in most of her dialogue, especially when speaking with a professional like Menjou.
And, while they were both very good singers - Tibbett was a great singer - neither is well-recorded here. Tibbett too often sounds strained, Moore's voice sounds thin - which it certainly was not.
Perhaps it was the microphone placement - remember, there were no separate soundtracks back in 1930. Mikes had to be hidden on the set. (Remember that great scene in *Singing in the Rain* when they try to capture Lola's voice with a mike hidden in her dress and then a nearby plant.) Perhaps the two singers weren't in good voice during the filming.
And there's much more wrong with this picture. There is no chemistry between Moore and Tibbett. When they sing *Wanting you*, they don't even look at each other half the time. They seem to want anything but each other.
And, as a few previous reviewers have pointed out, Moore looks downright dowdy in this picture. It's not just that she was carrying a few extra pounds. It was that her outfits, one after the next, are neither stylish nor flattering. Think about the great outfits Jeannette MacDonald was wearing at the same time in her Paramount pictures with Ernst Lubitsch and Maurice Chevalier and you can see what's wrong.
There are a few good musical moments in this picture. Moore sounds good in "One Kiss", not over-singing as she does in some of the other numbers.
But that's about it. This movie was a big-budget mistake. A lot of talent badly misused.
The Last Days of Pompeii (1935)
Not San Francisco
During the height of its corruption, a city is destroyed by an earthquake. Only those who believe in the Christian faith are spared, so the movie ends with stirring religious music.
MGM's 1936 blockbuster *San Francisco*? No, RKO's 1935 *The Last Days of Pompeii*. And what a difference.
There are hokie things about *SF*, yes, but it's not a bad movie, and the disaster scenes during the earthquake at the end are very impressive, even today, and very moving.
Nothing is moving in this movie, not even the eruption of Vesuvius at the end.
I imagine that's primarily because the script stinks. It never engages us with any of the characters, never makes us care about any of them. Nor is it always easy to follow.
And then there are the actors. Preston Foster was no Spenser Tracy or Clark Gable, not even close. And there is no equivalent of Jeannette McDonald.
This was a serious disappointment for me. I can't understand the previous reviewers who loved it. A real turkey, in my eyes.
One More Tomorrow (1946)
A sad waste of talent
This movie has a half-dozen fine actors who, in other movies, have given great performances. And in this movie, they do their best. But there is no talent at the helm, either in the director or the script writer, so despite the actors' best efforts, this movie is pretty bad.
The dialogue in a movie derived from a Philip Barry play should be scintillating. Believe me, that's not the case here.
And yet, there was so much potential. There's a scene between the gold-digger wife (a thankless role played very well by the breathtakingly-beautiful Alexis Smith) and Ann Sheridan, who in *The Man who Came to Dinner* had shown that she could deliver clever, biting dialogue with the best of them. But the scene goes nowhere.
There is Reginald Gardner, who has been so devastatingly funny in other movies. He's given nothing funny to work with here.
There is Dennis Morgan and Jack Carson, a great comedy duo. They don't have any good material here either.
And Jane Wyman is completely wasted.
In short, this movie is a waste of film and, if you watch it, your time.
Our Vines Have Tender Grapes (1945)
Most of the previous 39 reviews on here are glowing - though they don't all agree on everything. Reviewers praise the presentation of a simpler life in days gone by. It is, for them, an antidote to everything they don't like in the modern world, including modern movies.
I watched this movie - all the way to the end, through it wasn't easy - because I grew up in Wisconsin in days gone by. And because *I Remember Mama* is one of my favorite movies, which I can watch over and over again with the greatest pleasure, I thought I would particularly enjoy a movie about Scandinavians in Wisconsin, as opposed to San Francisco.
But this movie was not even close to being in the same league. To me, it was very flat, very contrived, and never held me. Yes, the acting by Robinson and Moreland is fine. But the script, and the pacing of the script, just did not interest me. The movie just did not make me care about these people, whereas *I Remember Mama* made me care, very deeply, about its characters.
What made for the difference? Perhaps the choice of scenes to establish the characters. In both films, we are to see these people as hard-working and self-sacrificing. In *I Remember Mama*, there is the deeply moving scene where Mama scrubs the floors in the hospital where one of her children is sick because she wants to be near her, and the way she can think of to appear to be part of the hospital staff is to work, and work hard: scrubbing floors. There is no equivalent scene in *Our Vines* to demonstrate the self-sacrificing work ethic of these farmers.
I have never liked Margaret O'Brien, in anything. I find her cloying, endlessly trying to milk the audience for tears. And very, very artificial. The complete opposite of Shirley Temple. Her presence in this movie only made it worse for me.
As most of the previous 39 reviews show, this movie appeals to some viewers. For me, it was slower than molasses in a cold Wisconsin winter, and much less tasty.
On the Basis of Sex (2018)
It needed a much better script, and probably a better director
I went to see this movie tonight, having eagerly awaited it after thoroughly enjoying the documentary about Judge Ginsburg entitled *RBG*. But whereas I found that a very powerful and compelling movie, *On the Basis* struck me as almost a Halmark movie. It was nice, certainly, with all the right ideas. But it wasn't very dramatic or striking, and didn't know how to turn its story into something that would grab audiences by whatever part of the anatomy you want to mention.
There was nothing wrong with the acting. The problem, I suspect, was that the script was weak. It also failed to make clear some of the legal issues. I imagine a better director could have done more with this, but the lack of a dramatic script seems, to me, to the be real culprit.
If you want to learn about Judge Ginsburg's early career, I would strongly recommend the documentary *RBG*. This really didn't hold me. More's the shame. I was really eager to like it.
The Plot Thickens (1936)
I wanted to like this movie
I very much wanted to like this movie. I've always liked James Gleason and Zazu Pitts. But the script was uninteresting, and the direction lackluster. It wasn't funny, and it didn't move, even though it's a short movie.
There's really no reason to watch this movie.
Mary Queen of Scots (2018)
Remarkable in several ways
I found this movie to be remarkable in several ways, but frustrating in others.
To begin with, the cinematography and lighting were never less than very good, and often remarkable. Not just the lovely Scottish landscapes, but the interior lighting of many of the scenes. I can't remember the last time I was so impressed with lighting and camera work.
Second, the acting of the two female leads, Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie, both of whom definitely deserve Academy Award nominations. They are always good, but in the final confrontation it is truly a joy to watch them play off each other. These are two very fine actresses!
BTW: No, Elisabeth and Mary never met in real life. Who cares? This isn't a BBC historical documentary meant for school children. Those can be well and good, but that's not at all what this movie is. It's a feature film that presents the director's interpretation of how two young women in this situation might have functioned in a world that was very difficult for women of any age. And that director, Josie Rourke - it's not surprising that it's a woman - does a remarkable job.
The costumes and makeup were also good, though that it's particularly important to me.
There were also downsides for me, however.
First was the sound. It was sometimes very difficult to catch the dialogue. That compounded the second problem for me, which was that
The movie, especially in the first half, doesn't make any effort to explain the political situation and relationship of the characters to those who didn't read up on it before coming to the theater. The politics are complicated, so between the lack of explanation and the sometimes unclear dialogue, I wasn't always sure why X was angry with Y, and how A was related to B. (When I watch it at home, I'll turn on the English subtitles, I guess.) I can only guess that the low overall rating for this movie here on IMDB is a result of American viewers not being able to follow all the elements of the plot.
Still, this is a beautifully made movie with two outstanding performances. Read up on the story of Mary Queen of Scots before you watch it, and write down all the names so you know who is who, and you'll have a grand old time.
Going Hollywood (1933)
Not making a case for Marion Davies
I watched this movie because I wanted to see what Marion Davies could do in a comedy, which is supposedly what she did best. She was an attractive woman, with - at least on screen - a pleasant, unpretentious personality, so I figured she might indeed do well in comedy.
But this script, by the much admired David Ogden Stewart, gives her nothing to work with. She delivers her lines ok, but the lines are so uninteresting that I don't know what Helen Hayes could have done with them.
Davies has to dance, and she's passable but no better. But then, no worse than Crawford or some other actresses of the era who were given dance numbers. Davies has to sing, and again, she's not bad, but nothing special.
In short, this movie doesn't make a case for Davies as an actress in comedy. It doesn't make her look bad, but it doesn't make you think she was a great comedian, either.
For me, the best thing, the only really good thing, in this movie was Bing Crosby's delivery of some of his musical numbers, in particular *Temptation*, a great song that he brings off very well. The other musical numbers, like the script, are bland and forgettable.
I'm surprised that Hearst, with all his money and power, couldn't have seen to it that Davies had better material. But then, perhaps the problem was not with her but with him: maybe he couldn't tell if a movie script was good or bad and imposed bad ones on her.
Old Acquaintance (1943)
A strange movie
This is a strange movie in several respects.
First, perhaps, is the strong contrast between the understated acting of Bette Davis and the very over-the-top style of Myriam Hopkins.
Second: I kept wondering why Hopkins would have accepted to play such an unsympathetic part.
Third: The male lead, John Loder, though very suave and charming, also comes off as unsympathetic when we learn that he simply abandoned his wife and young daughter for 10 years with no contact.
Fourth: I could not for the life of me understand why Davis' character maintained her so-called friendship with Hopkins' character. Hopkins' character constantly put her down, derided her, was selfish, etc.
There are, in short, a lot of unexplained holes in this movie.
Davis does a good job acting. I honestly don't know what to make of Hopkins' performance. If this is a woman's picture, I can understand why men would not have wanted to be dragged to see it. Too much of it is just too hard to believe.
Two Girls on Broadway (1940)
Watch this only to see Lana Turner dance
The plot of this movie is paper-thin and not at all engrossing. The only reason I stuck with it is that it was a pleasure watching a very young Lana Turner dance. No, she wasn't Rita Hayworth, at least not yet, but she turns out to have been a very fine dancer.
That said, the real problem with this short movie is that there is very little singing and dancing in it. So most of the time is spent on the plot, which was hackneyed even then and of no interest. The few musical numbers are forgettable.
It's a shame they didn't put Turner in another, much better musical. She was really a talented woman, wasted on all those 1950s melodramas.
The Favourite (2018)
Don't waste your time or money on this one
Throughout this movie characters vomit. While I wouldn't say that it will make you do the same, I certainly found it deadly dull.
The story has some basis in history. It takes place near the end of the reign of England's Queen Anne, around 1711-1713, during which time the War of Spanish Succession-the war between England and France that is mentioned on occasion-was drawing near its end. The Queen's husband, Prince George of Denmark, had died in 1708, after having gotten her pregnant 17 times - enough to justify switching romantic interest away from men for any woman. Sarah, the Duchess of Marlborough, who had already managed to become the Queen's friend, and-at least in this movie-something more than that as well, has come to exert real influence over the Queen because of her willingness to play to the monarch's desire for affection from other women. As the movie opens, Abigail Hill, a distant relative of Sarah's, arrives at court with the hope of getting preferment there. She sees how Sarah receives favor from the Queen, and decides that she can play that game as well if it will allow her to advance at court. Lesbian intrigue follows.
The costumes are fine, there is some intriguing lighting, and early in the movie some different types of lenses provide unusual shots. The acting, to the extent that the women in these roles get to act, is all fine.
But, for me, this was a succession of too-often unexplained scenes and strange behavior that I found pretentious in the extreme. I can understand that, if they have to consume a steady diet of play-by-the-numbers action movies, film critics get excited over something different and not formulaic. But for me different and not predictable does not, in itself, produce a movie interesting enough to hold my attention for two hours. I found myself nodding off on occasion-and it was only the middle of the afternoon-because none of it held my interest.
Nor would I say that is movie strikes a blow for lesbians. The characters aren't interesting, so you don't really care about their relationships, which are presented as manipulative rather than romantic. The Queen never gets to say that the relationships she has with women are more fulfilling, or at least less stressful, than the marriage she had with Prince George.
I just didn't see why the director wanted to resurrect this element of history in this way.
Maria by Callas (2017)
I found this movie very disappointing for a number of reasons , few of which will probably interest the real Callas fan.
First, there is no outside narrator , no at least partially objective voice. What we get is truly just Callas' own words , mostly from filmed interviews and occasionally from her letters. (These occasional texts are read by Joyce Di Donato, a great singer in her own right but with a speaking voice that bears no resemblance to Callas's . That's rather off-putting , though I suppose it avoids confusion.) As a result , we get no objective commentary when Callas presents her own version of different episodes in her life. That makes this of little use as biography.
Second, we get a lot of unidentified or only partially identified footage, which is frustrating for anyone who is actuallly interested in learning something about Callas' life. As one example out of many: we see scenes from her late career tour with Giuseppe di Stefano, but we never hear what the critics had to say about it. (They were evidently both in bad voice.)
In short , this movie is only what the title states : Maria Callas as she wanted to be seen. For the Callas fan who has read a lot about her and knows what the issues were, I guess that's fine. But this movie would definitely make a very misleading introduction to the phenomenon that was Callas in the third quarter of the last century.
The Front Runner (2018)
A script that never develops its central character
The acting in this movie is fine. The problem lies in the script. Near the end it gives Lee Hart, and even Donna Rice, scenes that allow us to get to know them somewhat, see what's inside them. We never get that for Gary Hart, who is far and away the most important character in this movie. We never see what made Hart so popular, especially with younger voters. We never get to see him explain important issues to the masses, though we are told that he does that very effectively. We never get scenes with him in which he gives us a hint of why he risks his career with his extra-marital affairs. He comes off as very cold, very distant, and that's problematic for a central character. As a result, we have no reason to feel anything when his career is finally destroyed.
To an extent, this is about the media's intrusion into the privacy of public officials, but that isn't examined. Nor is there any attempt to suggest a change over time to today, when a sitting president can boast about extra-marital affairs and not suffer any loss of popularity.
In the end, I was left wondering why this story was being told in 2018. It doesn't make us understand Hart, or feel sorry for him. It doesn't tell us anything either about 1988 or our own era. It doesn't make Hart a character we can feel for when he falls, because it never shows him to us as a great if flawed man. (Several characters tell us he is great, but that's not the same thing.) What was the point of filming it?
Broadway Melody of 1938 (1937)
This movie is definitely less than the sum of its parts, some of which are quite fine.
Granted, 1930s movie musicals were often short on plot, but the story line here is particularly broken up.
Still, there are good moments.
My favorite, I guess, is Judy Garland singing "Dear Mr. Gable." Every phrase is beautifully shaped. It's really a remarkable moment.
After that, perhaps my next favorite is Powell and Murphy dancing around a fountain. It makes you realize that Powell could have made more interesting movies if she had been paired with dancers, rather than with a string of leading men who couldn't accompany her in her dance numbers. (Robert Taylor looks nice, but he can't hold the stage with Powell when she starts to dance.) I also found it interesting that the music for that dance number was Mistingette's "Je cherche un millionnaire," but with completely different words.
Igor Goren gets to do the Toreador Song from Carmen. His voice is very light for it, but he does a nice job nevertheless.
Most of the rest of the movie is just fluff. Pleasant but forgettable. Sophie Tucker doesn't make an impression singing her numbers. Hollywood evidently wasn't for her.
As I said, this movie is less than the sum of its better parts. We get to watch Powell dance, which is always a pleasure, but in between those scenes there's a lot of filler.
The Longest Day (1962)
Hard to sit through the whole thing at once, but informative
I have spent years studying World War II, particularly in France. I have walked Omaha Beach and climbed the cliff - with no one shooting at me from the top. I have walked around the square in St. Mère Eglise. In other words, I know something about D-Day.
That allowed me to be impressed by Zanuck's effort to recreate a moment in history. But, with all due respect, this movie comes off, to me, as something of a dramatized documentary, a history lesson with cameos. It is great for learning about how we finally made it across Omaha Beach, for example, and up that cliff. But it pales next to the opening of *Saving Private Ryan* when it comes to making you feel as if you are there, one of those poor soldiers in the first waves trying to cross that beach.
The acting is all fine, the "staging" of the scenes, especially Omaha Beach, very impressive. I could have done without the brief cameos designed to make the French civilians look foolish, as in Bourvil's portrayal of the mayor of Courville.
You will learn a lot about D-Day from this movie - though not as much as if you read any good book on the subject. The movie, being a movie, leaves us with all sorts of questions. Like: why didn't the Allied air force destroy those pillboxes at the top of the Omaha Beach cliff before we landed on the beaches down below. Why didn't we have better info about German positions in the area? Etc.
The Grinch (2018)
Well animated, but not engaging for this adult
Perhaps it's because I grew up with the old animated version of this Seuss tale. Perhaps it's just because it isn't what I had hoped for. But this movie was something of a disappointment to me.
First, the positive: the animation is really very impressive, very imaginative and creative.
On the negative side, I thought the first part went on too long, for what there was to it. Perhaps Mr. Bricklebaum could have been developed in contrast to the Grinch, since he seems to live by himself as well. Perhaps something else could have been done. Or perhaps it could just have been shorter.
The second half engaged me more. The story development made the Grinch resemble Mr. Scrooge a lot - the person who hated Christmas because, as a boy, he had had to spend holidays alone - and made him much more sympathetic than I remember from the old animated version. Though there was much sugary food to be seen, the story itself was not made too syrupy.
I don't know if little children will enjoy it. Perhaps if they have read the book beforehand. I found much of the additional script, which is not in verse, to be flat and uninteresting.
Sorry to be such a grinch. I had really wanted to enjoy this movie more.
Pride of the Marines (1945)
Not an easy movie to watch
This isn't an easy movie to watch for a lot of reasons, but that shouldn't keep you from watching it.
It divides into three parts: life before the main character joins the Marines (the least interesting part of the movie, by far), life for the Marines on Guadalcanal (very well done, if very overacted and, of course, extremely racist), and life back at home for a blinded veteran (the best part of the movie). Garfield was a wonderful actor, particularly good at portraying Joe Average American working guy, and here he plays the part to perfection. He is every bit a traditional guy, wanting to be able to stand on his own two feet and fend for himself. When his blindness makes that difficult, it is very hard for him to adjust, and you really feel for the guy.
The scene in the hospital, where the various Marines express their fears of how they will be treated after they return to civilian life, is preachy, especially at the end with Dane Clark's speech, but no less powerful for all that.
*The Best Years of Our Lives* is a smoother picture of the return to civilian life for veterans after World War II, perhaps, and certainly easier to watch. But this movie raises real issues about what it will be like for soldiers who were injured during the war to return to civilian life, and the acting is first-rate. As I said, it's not easy to watch. But it is definitely worth watching.
You Can't Take It with You (1938)
Very uneven, but at its best, very great
This is a very uneven movie. There is a lot of filler, a lot that just isn't that funny or interesting.
But when it reaches its stride, in the last part of the picture, there are some remarkable scenes, in part because of Capra's direction, in part because he had assembled a cast capable of very good acting.
The courtroom scene, for example, where we first see Mr. Kirby begin to question his own life, has a whole series of great touches. Harry Davenport, as the judge, is one of them, foreshadowing Harry Carry's great turn as the president of the Senate in *Mr. Smith Goes to Washington*, which Capra would direct the next year.
In fact, from this point on, the movie is about Mr. Kirby's slow realization that he has made a mess of his life. Today, that could all be done in one unconvincing scene. Here, Capra lets us watch the great actor Edward Arnold slowly come to the realization that his financially very successful life is hollow. When he finally begs Lionel Barrymore for help, we can see that he is a broken man, and it's deeply moving because Arnold plays it so well, and because Capra directs his scenes so quietly and with such understatement.
Yes, there is a lot of excess here, especially with the Vanderhof family. They are too crazy. But there is also a lot of fine, understated acting here, brought out by Capra at his best. This is not a movie to be dismissed, as some previous reviewers have claimed. It is certainly not perfect. There are certainly slow spots in it. But at its best, it is a very fine movie.