Drama · War

49th Parallel: Britain’s Love Letter to Canada

Perhaps we (as in, yours truly) read too much into the WWII-era drama 49th Parallel. This 1941 film serves propaganda straight up, courtesy of the British Ministry of Information. It was meant to sell a reluctant American public on joining the war in Europe. Like any good sales pitch, the film uses fear to close the sale. The plot… Continue reading 49th Parallel: Britain’s Love Letter to Canada

Drama · Thriller

Bette Davis: Underacting for William Wyler

*Spoiler Alert* They created the best opening scene in the history of cinema: On a moonlit night, on an isolated rubber plantation in Malay, a woman follows a man out of a house. As he stumbles down the stairs of the veranda, she fires at him repeatedly with a handgun, even after he’s dead. In films… Continue reading Bette Davis: Underacting for William Wyler

Drama

Frank Sinatra’s D-I-Y Detox Program

In The Man with the Golden Arm, an irritated Kim Novak asks a drug-addled Frank Sinatra some pointed questions. “Why should you hurt like other people hurt?” she snaps. “Why try to face it like most people do?” A haggard, unshaven Sinatra is mute during her lecture. He sits slumped, eyes lowered, almost shrivelling into himself.… Continue reading Frank Sinatra’s D-I-Y Detox Program

Drama · Western

A Big Country that Ain’t Big Enough

In the early 1960s, the world became uncomfortably familiar with the term “Mutual Assured Destruction” (MAD). MAD was a Cold War peace strategy that prevented countries with nuclear arms from getting too trigger happy. So Country A would think twice about launching nuclear weapons because they knew Country B would retaliate with the same amount of nuclear firepower. See? This ensured… Continue reading A Big Country that Ain’t Big Enough

Drama

Mr Watanabe’s Life-Fulfilling Project

“[T]his is one of the few movies that might actually be able to inspire someone to lead their life a little differently,” writes movie critic Roger Ebert. Ebert is speaking of the award-winning Japanese film Ikiru (1952), a haunting story about the meaning of one man’s life. Ikiru, in Japanese, means “to live”. The film is about a… Continue reading Mr Watanabe’s Life-Fulfilling Project

Comedy · Drama

A Love Affair, Recycled

You really can’t beat Rita Wilson’s monologue in the 1993 romantic comedy, Sleepless in Seattle. In the film, a chagrined Tom Hanks is describing a potential meeting his young son has arranged with a stranger (Meg Ryan) at the top of the Empire State Building on Valentine’s Day. Wilson immediately recognizes this rendezvous from the 1957 classic film, An… Continue reading A Love Affair, Recycled

Drama · Western

William Wellman and the Accusatory Close-Up

*Spoiler Alert The trouble with creating a masterpiece is sometimes people don’t automatically see it as such. One example is The Ox-Bow Incident, a 1943 western directed by William Wellman. This film was released during some of the darkest days of WWII and, as a result, it was a box office disappointment. Audiences were in no mood to… Continue reading William Wellman and the Accusatory Close-Up

Drama · Film Noir

Ida Lupino’s Murderous Sucker Punch

In 1940, Warner Bros. released They Drive By Night, a commentary on the American trucking industry. It starred George Raft, who was one of the studio’s biggest stars, and a young British actress who would steal the entire film. Her name was Ida Lupino. Lupino plays the perfectly-coiffed but disaffected wife of a trucking company… Continue reading Ida Lupino’s Murderous Sucker Punch

Comedy · Drama

Alice Guy: Entertaining Since 1896

They say Alice Guy (Alice Guy-Blaché) made over 600 movies between 1896-1920. Sure, a lot of these films were under 15 minutes, and she did have her own studio. Even so. Over six hundred movies. Although Guy’s work is slowly gaining more recognition through recent publications and a biopic Kickstarter campaign, she remains largely unknown. Now, we’re not saying Guy should be popular just… Continue reading Alice Guy: Entertaining Since 1896

Drama

Sounder: The Anti-Blaxploitation Film

“Son, don’t get used to this place.” This advice is from a sharecropping father to his eldest son in 1930s Louisiana – and if you guessed these people are black and poor, you guessed right. The father’s statement has dual meaning: Don’t settle for being a sharecropper, and don’t settle for being a poor black man in Louisiana. The line… Continue reading Sounder: The Anti-Blaxploitation Film