Drama · Thriller

Jack Nicholson vs. the Dept. of Water and Power

Chinatown (1974) is not a Feel Good film. Jack Nicholson stars as 1930s-era private detective Jake Gittes, a cynical and persistent investigator who stumbles upon corruption in the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. The film is loosely based on the so-called California Water Wars of the 1920s, when water was being diverted from… Continue reading Jack Nicholson vs. the Dept. of Water and Power

Biopic · Drama

Gary Cooper as the Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth

Even if you’re not a baseball fan – or a classic movie fan – you know this line: Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. You can just hear it, can’t you, echoing over the stadium PA system. It’s from a 1943 movie called The Pride of the Yankees,… Continue reading Gary Cooper as the Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth

Drama

How Bette Davis Turned 18 Minutes into a Whole Movie

*Spoiler Alert* We found a Bette Davis film that made us cry. Now, as much as we adore Ms Davis, we never cry at her films, not even if she’s dying of cancer or preparing to live in a leper colony. These things make us sad, but not tearful. However, we just watched the drama Phone Call from… Continue reading How Bette Davis Turned 18 Minutes into a Whole Movie

Drama · Thriller

The Sidney-Poitier-as-Social-Barometer Film Theory

We’re working on a Sidney Poitier film theory. We started developing this theory while watching the 1950 thriller No Way Out, in which Poitier portrays a young doctor at a busy city hospital. As the film opens, Poitier is asked to fill a shift in the hospital prison ward, where he examines two white prisoners. The two are brothers, and are sporting gunshot wounds… Continue reading The Sidney-Poitier-as-Social-Barometer Film Theory

Drama · Musical

The Great Gabbo: Mad Ventriloquist Skills

The next time you’re in the mood for a truly strange film, give this one a try. Now, we don’t mean strange as in occultist or supernatural; we mean strange as in, What kind of movie is this? We’ve recently glommed onto The Great Gabbo (1929), an early “talking picture”. It stars Erich von Stroheim as… Continue reading The Great Gabbo: Mad Ventriloquist Skills

Drama · War

Why John Wayne has to do Everything Around Here

There’s a delicious meta moment in the 1951 drama, Operation Pacific, a film that mostly takes place on a submarine during WWII. In the film, the submarine crew is watching a Cary Grant movie that is also set in a submarine. One of the crew members quips, “It’s amazing what Hollywood can do with submarines.” It’s amazing… Continue reading Why John Wayne has to do Everything Around Here

Drama

How Sidney Poitier Taught Us Forgiveness

There is something of a miracle in the 1963 drama, Lilies of the Field. The film, adapted from the 1962 novel by William E. Barrett, stars Sidney Poitier as a traveling carpenter who experiences car trouble in Arizona. Here he meets a strict Order of Eastern European nuns trying to scratch a living out of the dry… Continue reading How Sidney Poitier Taught Us Forgiveness

Drama · Thriller

Barbara Bel Geddes: Caught in an Unrealistic Worldview

One of the most satisfying experiences in film, in our opinion, is when a sympathetic character decides Enough Is Enough. A good actor lets you know the instant their character snaps, usually with a clenched jaw and don’t-mess-with-me expression. Barbara Bel Geddes has such a moment in the 1949 thriller Caught, a film loosely based… Continue reading Barbara Bel Geddes: Caught in an Unrealistic Worldview

Drama · War

To Sink a Battleship

They say it was the longest military campaign of World War II. The Battle of the Atlantic was a struggle to control shipping routes from Great Britain and North America to continental Europe. As you can imagine, protecting the transport of equipment and soldiers across the ocean was critical to the Allied war effort. The Germans… Continue reading To Sink a Battleship

Drama

Ingrid Bergman as the Ignoble Hedda Gabler

Really, there is no reason to like the fictional character Hedda Gabler. She’s vain, contemptuous and competitive. She’s not someone with whom you could let down your guard or trust with confidences. Yet, she can be witty and charming. She’s knowledgeable and smart – and that is the problem. Hedda Gabler is too smart for her own good. Hedda Gabler,… Continue reading Ingrid Bergman as the Ignoble Hedda Gabler