Drama · War

Starring Joan Crawford, as France

You know those unpleasant times in life, such medical issues, the loss of a loved one, or a parade of rotten luck? Of course you do, and we’re guessing you went on with life anyway, determined to not let circumstances Break You. But when a minor setback occurs, such as misplacing keys or spilling a… Continue reading Starring Joan Crawford, as France

Drama · Historical

Life Lessons for Roman Emperors

Let’s talk about Roman Emperors. They’re often viewed as despots – and despots, by definition, are unreasonable people. They’re unwilling to accept critical feedback; they don’t like to lose, even at card games; and they treat the state treasury like a piggy bank. But if you’re a leader preoccupied with carving out your place in history, you can’t be a Nice Guy.… Continue reading Life Lessons for Roman Emperors

Drama

Olivia de Havilland Visits the Snake Pit

Here is one of the most moving scenes in the 1948 drama The Snake Pit: Residents and staff of a mental hospital are attending a dance. There is a four-piece band  on stage, and chairs line the sides of the floor. Patients dance and flirt and talk with old friends. If you didn’t know these people had mental… Continue reading Olivia de Havilland Visits the Snake Pit

Drama

Gregory Peck’s Show Trial

*Spoiler Alert Starting in 1936, leaders of the Soviet Union commissioned a series of show trials. These were public trials in which alleged enemies of the state were found guilty then executed. They weren’t real trials, of course. Show trials are not about Justice; they are meant to Send A Message. In a show trial, no amount… Continue reading Gregory Peck’s Show Trial

Drama

Rocky, Boxing and the 1970s

Look at Sylvester Stallone in the above photo. Here is an underdog, as if we couldn’t tell: jogging pants too short, sweatshirt tucked inside an oddly high waistband, socks that may or may not match. Notice the landcape colours, and how Stallone himself nearly dissolves into the greyness of it. Look where he is on this chilly… Continue reading Rocky, Boxing and the 1970s

Drama · Film Noir

Requiem for Captain Quinlan

Spoiler Alert! Hank Quinlan’s death, at the conclusion of Touch of Evil (1958), is not glamorous. There he is, the celebrated police captain, floating belly up in a pool of wastewater. It’s not the way any of us want to go. If you’ve seen Touch of Evil, you may not have been surprised by this ending. After all, Captain Quinlan… Continue reading Requiem for Captain Quinlan

Drama

Hoffman and Redford: Writing the Big Story

All the President’s Men (1976) is an intense, paranoid drama about journalism. It’s about writing a story when you don’t know what the story is. Naturally, this is a film about words and, to emphasize this, we see evidence of words everywhere. Newspapers and manuals crowd journalists’ desks. Shelves of books line editors’ offices. Stacks… Continue reading Hoffman and Redford: Writing the Big Story

Drama

Bette Davis’ Post-Op Bender

If you’ve ever watched someone jump into a self-destructive cycle after receiving bad news, you know how hard it can be for them to climb out later. This is the type of character Bette Davis explores in the 1939 melodrama Dark Victory, a film about a rich, gregarious woman who discovers she has a terminal… Continue reading Bette Davis’ Post-Op Bender

Adventure · Drama · Thriller

Badges? We Don’t Need No Stinking Badges

B. Traven (18??-1969?) was a popular novelist who never gave interviews. Not even his publishers knew him; they communicated with someone claiming to be his agent via a Mexican postal box. Traven might have been onto something. The great thing about not generating your own publicity is that others will do it for you – and they’ll create fantastic stories. For example, some… Continue reading Badges? We Don’t Need No Stinking Badges

Drama

Frank Borzage’s Spiritual Oscar-Winning Romance

Frank Borzage was kind of a show off. But then, to win the Academy Award for Best Direction, you have to be kind of a show off. And Borzage didn’t win just any Directing Oscar, either, but the very first one for a dramatic film. (To clarify: There were two Directing awards handed out at the inaugural 1929 Academy Awards Ceremony,… Continue reading Frank Borzage’s Spiritual Oscar-Winning Romance