Monday, May 31, 2010
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Davy Crockett, Indian Scout (1950) One of Davy Crockett's descendants leads a wagon train through perilous territory. Cast: George Montgomery, Ellen Drew, Philip Reed, Noah Beery Jr. Dir: Lew Landers
Monday, May 17, 2010
Friday, May 14, 2010
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Northwest Passage (1940) True story of Rogers' Rangers and their fight to open up new frontiers for Colonial America. Cast: Spencer Tracy, Robert Young, Walter Brennan, Ruth Hussey Dir: King Vidor
Saturday, May 8, 2010
Anne Lee (Lombard), a quiet dependable and devoted nurse sacrifices her reputation and career when she takes the blame for her sister's negligence at nursing which results in the death of a child. Lee moves to the next town, Hepperton, after she elicits a promise from her sister to finish her her nurses train and gain her certificate as she has done. They can both then move on to London for better work. At the new hospital, Lee instantly wins over the staff as well as Mr. Bowley (Julien Mitchell), the hospital's main source of funds. All goes well until a nurse from her former position shows up to apply for a job. Lee was set to visit her sister that day to see her receive her certificate. While Lee is on the bus with Matron East (Ethel Griffies), this nurse tries to reveal what Lee did at her former job. However, before she can say anything damning, the bus suddenly crashes and Lee takes charge of getting all injured passengers- including the vindictive nurse- the proper care which includes calling upon Dr. Prescott (Aherne). Already impressed with Lee's ability and her quiet control in the face of danger, a friendship develops between the two. Prescott reveals his frustration with Bowley who denies the hospital much needed funds especially in face of a small pox epidemic that's bound to break out soon.
The next day Lee's sister Lucy (Anne Shirley) shows up at the hospital with a husband in tow. Joe Shand (Peter Cushing) was once in love with Lee but she refused his proposal due to her dedication to nursing. Joe and Lucy are headed to London without Lee. Reeling from that disappointment Lee then must deal with Bowley's when his attentions become more ardent. He tries to woo Lee with lavish gifts which she denies, imploring him instead to look to Prescott's cause and donate money to the hospital. When Mrs. Bowley catches her husband mid-woo, she demands Lee's dismissal and accuses Prescott of sending her to pester her husband.
Forced to leave, Prescott, who's aware of what really happened, begins to write her a recommendation but also reprimands her for saying anything to Bowley which he considered he told her in confidence. Humiliated, Lee leaves without the recommendation.
When she reaches London, she finds Lucy's husband Joe alone and drunk in their apartment and her sister being charged with negligence once again in conjunction with a nursing home. At Lucy's trial, Dr. Prescott comes to the rescue, revealing the scam that the nursing home has been run under and clearing Lucy's name from any involvement, stating she was following a crooked doctor's orders.
Meanwhile, the small pox epidemic has broken out and the Lee sisters go back to Hepperton to volunteer in the quarantined area. Their courage encourages other nurses who before, refused to volunteer- this includes the vindictive nurse who benefited from Lee's care after the bus accident. Needing a more sanitary set up, Lee takes charge and orders the supplies and has the bills sent to Bowley. Enraged, he confronts her only to find the whole staff is backing her and now his own son has succumb to the pox and is quarantined. Now seeing the error of his ways he promises Prescott that he will be more cooperative in the future.
That problem solved, Lucy is given the responsibility of sitting with Bowley's son through the night. After resuscitating him with mouth to mouth, the boys fever breaks and he's through the worse. However, Lucy's devotion comes at the cost of her own life- a sacrifice she is glad to make. Lee barely has time to mourn as a mine accident causes the next series of chaos at the hospital. Before she and Prescott rush off to save lives, he admits his love for her.
As I said before, this movie had great elements, but I was most impressed with Lombard's dramatic turn. Her quiet way of speaking while portraying a resilient inner strength is borderline eerie. Having been cast in comedies due to her innate ability to cause laughter, Lombard desperately wanted to show her serious side. Vigil in the Night is evidence that she could be just as serious as she was funny. Imagine the possibilities of what she could have brought to the screen if her life hadn't been tragically cut short.
The Lion In Winter (1968) England's Henry II and his estranged queen battle over the choice of an heir. Cast: Peter O'Toole, Katharine Hepburn, Jane Merrow, John Castle Dir: Anthony Harvey
Friday, May 7, 2010
In Kiss and Make Up, a pseudo musical about a doctor devoted to women’s beauty, we see the stirrings of what will soon be a charmingly hilarious actor who will provide viewers with his great comedic timing and distinct deliverance of dialogue.
Dr. Maurice Lamar (Cary Grant) believes that all women have a right to beauty and has built an entire empire in Paris around it. When he creates his most perfect piece in Eve Caron (Genevieve Tobin), he does so at the expense of her marriage. Marcel Caron (Edward Everett Horton) used to love his wife when she was just pretty enough, and plump. Now he has to deal with men ogling and wooing his wife as well as her strict regiment (courtesy of Dr. Lamar) in order to keep herself slim and beautiful. When Eve and Marcel divorce she immediately marries Lamar much to Anne’s (Helen Mack) dismay. Anne has been Lamar’s devoted secretary for years. She doesn’t go in for all the beauty mumbo jumbo and encourages Lamar to use his education for something more beneficial. However, she needn’t worry, soon Lamar sees the monster he has created in Eve and decides to quit the beauty business altogether. Thinking to find solace in Anne, Lamar learns that she is now engaged to Marcel (so convenient) and a hilarious chase ensues.
The most interesting aspect about this film is Grant singing. He wasn’t too shabby but it seemed out of place and unnecessary to have him or the other characters singing at all. However, I loved “Corn Beef and Cabbage I Love You”.
Monday, May 3, 2010
Betsy Bartlett (Claudette Colbert) is the love of Square John Sand's (Spencer Tracy) life. He’s been “wildcatting” (prospecting for oil in an area supposed to be unproductive) for years, hoping to strike it big so he can provide for her. When Square John knows he has a prime spot, he has difficulty getting the oil equipment from Luther Aldrich (Frank Morgan) who has been swindled one too many times before. Enter Big John McMasters (Clark Gable) who Square John does not hit it off with until he assumes that Big John has the dough to front for the equipment and he tells him of his plan. However, Big John is more interested in boozing and womanizing at the moment and when the two start drinking, Square John realizes that Big John doesn’t have that much dough, that he’s just blowing some hard earned funds. Despite this, he helps Big John out of a scrap over a girl and Big John in turn promises to get the oil equipment so they can drill. After a failed first attempt where Square John admits they should have drilled near a spot that Big John indicated would produce, they have to beat feet out of town as Aldrich is on to their scam to use his equipment with plans to pay him off when the oil comes through. After months of working other fields, Big and Square John are able to scrape together enough money to get the equipment legitimately and go back to drill- this time in Big John's spot of choice. When it becomes clear they are going to hit oil, Square John sends for Betsy to come to town. When she does, she runs into Big John who is out for another night of boozing and womanizing. Having no idea who she really is, they spend the evening together and get hitched. Meanwhile, the oil has been struck and elated Square John comes to town to tell Big John the news. Betsy quickly admits who she is and together they tell Square John the news of their marriage. Though both men are upset, Square John is mostly concerned with Betsy's happiness and they work out their differences while building up their oil field and enjoying the spoils. Then one day Big John is caught by Square John and Betsy drunkenly carousing with a saloon waitress. The Johns butt heads and split up with Square John taking over the oil field and money having won the coin toss.
Years of struggling to get back on top strengthen the bond between Big John and Betsy, a bond that eventually produces a son. Despite years of refusing help from one another when both men were down and out, Big John decides to eventually extend the olive branch. When he gets into the oil refinery business he is determined to have Square John as his partner. Square John begrudgingly accepts but is then confronted with Big John's obvious affair with Karen Vanmeer (Hedy Lamarr) who is determined to win Big John for herself. Another battle ensues with Square John risking friendship and fortune to make sure that Betsy is not harmed by their affair.
An interesting film about the lengths one will go to when they truly love another person, Boom Town also has a surprising message delivered by Square John in defense of Big John. Something that we in America today are familiar with, the usage of America's natural resources in relation to the quanity of those resources. Square John makes a very convincing argument that compels viewers like me some seventy years later to ponder what America would be like today if we simply followed logical thinking instead of the almighty dollar.
Tonight on TCM!
Can't Help Singing (1944) A senator's daughter follows her boyfriend in the days of the California gold rush. Cast: Deanna Durbin, Robert Paige, Akim Tamiroff, David Bruce Dir: Frank Ryan