Live and Let Die (1973)

Director:

Guy Hamilton

Cinematography by

Ted Moore

Several British agents have been murdered and James Bond is sent to New Orleans, to investigate these mysterious deaths. Mr. Big comes to his knowledge, who is self-producing heroin. Along his journeys he meets Tee Hee who has a claw for a hand, Baron Samedi the voodoo master and Solitaire a tarot card reader. Bond must travel to New Orleans, and deep into the Bayou.

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One of my favorite James Bond movies

20 January 2009 | by kurciasbezdalas (Lithuania) – See all my reviews

I can’t understand why some other people didn’t like it. Actually this is the first Bond movie I’ve seen, it made a big impression on me and it still does. I found this movie being one of the most colorful Bond movies. There were few colorful villains, lots of action, some humor, and of course – Roger Moore who is my favorite James Bond. The story isn’t typical for James Bond movies, it’s more mystical this time, but I liked that. Of course nowadays when you watch this movie it may look cheesy in some scenes, but the action sequences where very exiting. Another reason why I liked this movie was the main theme song – Paul McCartney’s Live and Let Die, which is yet my favorite James Bond theme.

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Positively surreal Blaxploitation Bond

8/10
Author: Shawn Watson from The Penumbra
15 December 2006

And none the worse for it, since every Bond film needs a fresh spin on the same old formula. Roger Moore’s first outing as JB is, in equal measures, comical and action-packed. You’ll never get bored. But it’s definitely the weirdest Bond ever with loads of utterly bizarre moments.

It begins with M turning up at JB’s house in the early hours while he’s pumping some Italian agent for information (don’t you just love his initialled dressing gown). Before sending him to America to investigate a Harlem pimp known as Mister Big he delivers some gadgets from Q-Branch, including a very useful watch. Q himself, or Major Boothroyd if you want to call him by his proper name, doesn’t make any appearance in this one.

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Standing out like a Muslim in an airport, almost every single black person JB encounters in Harlem is on Mister Big’s payroll. And they’ve got a seemingly endless bag of tricks to play on him. The funny thing about Moore is that he’s very proper and British and doesn’t think anything of walking into a tough Harlem bar while dressed up like the Duke of Edinburgh. His stunned reactions when they mess with his head are seriously funny.

The action then moves to Lousiana and a savage Caribbean island as JB uncovers a massive heroin plot. There’s a particularly long speedboat chase across a bayou where JB encounters Sheriff J.W. Pepper, the most stereotypical southern redneck ever. Think of Texas Businessman from The Simpsons and you get the idea. JB also gets to dodge a hundred hungry Gators and do, many times over, Solitaire, Mister Big’s Tarot card reader.

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I’m not sure what kind of formidable villain uses a Tarot card reader to help him do business but when you also surround yourself with a hook-handed maniac called Tee-Hee, a quiet fat guy called Whisper and a seemingly unkillable voodoo high priest called Baron Samedi then you really do become a serious baddie. Right? He even goes on a big speech about how his master plan works before attempting to kill JB slowly. Obviously this makes much more sense than just shooting him right away. When will they learn?

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Despite being the oldest actor to debut as Bond (at 46), Moore does look younger than Connery. And while Sean was gruff and Scottish, Moore is perpetually calm and refined, even in the face of danger (fingers being chopped-off, snake in the bath, being eaten by gators/sharks). Everything that the British once thought they were. He has a certain sarcastic edge that the other Bond actors lacked. While some of his films may have been the sillier of the franchise, Moore has always been my favorite. And the massive revolver and holster he uses at the end is so much more masculine than the usual, wimpy as hell, Walther PPK.

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And, as much as I am no fan of Paul McCartney, you gotta love that theme song! Exciting and iconic at the same time. And also yet another juxtaposition in the weirdest Bond movie ever.

MI6, Harlem, Pimps, Paul McCartney, Gators, Heroin, Voodoo, Snakes, Sharks, Clairvoyance, Rednecks, Afros, Fake Afros, Fillet of Soul, Human Scarifice, Scarecrows and a small-headed man in a Top-Hat who lost a fight with chickens. Is this a Bond film or did the whole world just go insane?

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Bond Over Easy, Cool But Dumb

7/10
Author: Bill Slocum (bill.slocum@gmail.com) from Greenwich, CT United States
24 July 2004

Was Roger Moore channeling Austin Powers in 1973? There’s a scene in this, his first go-round as 007, where Bond is tied up and his arm is cut to draw blood and attract some hungry sharks swimming below. Moore twitches his eyebrow and asks: “Perhaps we can try something in a simpler vein.”

Those sharks don’t need any frickin’ laser beams on their heads to get you to smell the Austin. Moore gets a lot of blame for turning the Bond movies into weakly-plotted farces, ignoring that the series had been moving in that direction since “Goldfinger” and that the previous installment, Sean Connery’s final EON bow “Diamonds Are Forever,” was every bit as goofy. Also, Moore could deliver a more serious Bond when the script allowed, and two of the finest Bonds ever, “The Spy Who Loved Me” and “For Your Eyes Only,” were his.

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But there’s no getting around this, “Live And Let Die” is a dumb movie. The gadgets are silly, the villain’s scheme is ill-defined, the storyline is frenetic and unengaging, the action is plodding and overlong. Moore starts out not quite know how to play Bond here, while the movie requires him to play the fool sauntering through Harlem in a double-breasted suit like the Prince of Wales waiting for some natives to show him around.

But this film makes me smile, in part because I’m young enough to remember what it was all about when it came out. If this was Bond for the cheap seats, it at least delivered the goods, with some vivid supporting characters, a knockout visual style, amazing title music from Paul McCartney, and most importantly for Moore’s future in the series, drop-dead quips. My favorite is when the nasty Tee Hee twists his pistol muzzle out of shape with a metal pincer arm, then giggles when he hands it back: “Funny how the least little thing amuses him.”

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Julius Harris is menacing but charming as Tee Hee, mostly mute except when he sticks Bond in a gator pond and suggests the best way to disarm the beasts is to try and pull out their teeth. Chief villain Yaphet Kotto has his moments, too, but with odd shifts of character. In the beginning, he’s stone-cold Ron O’Neal in “Superfly,” and at the end, he’s plummy Charles Gray in “Diamonds Are Forever.” Jane Seymour is Bond’s love interest, and why she goes off with him is another of those things best not thought about long.

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There are two great characters in this movie, though, bigger than just about anything seen in a Bond movie before who kind of work in tandem in overhauling any objections about this film being too “cartoony.” Clifton James is redneck sheriff J.W. Pepper, who throws off one madman line after another while Bond is off on one of his long silly chase scenes. James mugs through every scene he’s in, rolling his tongue around, playing off everyone and everything, and delivering every hackneyed Southern stereotype to such righteous perfection it’s enough to make cotton sprout out of his ears. Bond purists who whine should just take their vodka martinis shaken not stirred and let the rest of us enjoy the craziness. The series is supposed to be fun; if you want serious espionage go watch “Smiley’s People.” (I grant you Pepper shouldn’t have returned in the next Bond film; that was a mistake.)

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The other great outsized character is Geoffrey Holder as perhaps the most mysterious figure in the whole series, Baron Samedi. Is he supernatural? Is he just crazy from the heat? He’s certainly different, a guy who sides with the bad guys without quite being one of them. The always-eerie quality of his appearances, either dancing in a big hotel production number or quietly sitting in a cemetery playing a flute, make you question whether there ain’t something to that voodoo after all.

It’s silly bashing Pepper but praising Samedi, they are both equally so unreal, in a way that’s in tune with the rest of the movie. The best thing to do is enjoy the different kinds of fun on offer. Frankly, not having these guys around might push this film on the bad side of Spinal Tap’s “fine line between stupid and clever,” the side where “A View To A Kill” and “Moonraker” are on.

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But “Live And Let Die” is a winner. It’s a fun movie that brings me back to younger days, when my heart was an open book. It’s a nice transitional film for the series in that Moore managed a mostly smooth entrance to the role of Bond. And it has one of the best final shots in movie history. That’s all I’ll say there; you know it if you saw it.

A new era for James Bond, and a fairly effective and enjoyable opening film.

7/10
Author: Jonathon Dabell (barnaby.rudge@hotmail.co.uk) from Todmorden, England
11 January 2005

Live and Let Die ushers in Roger Moore as the new James Bond. Prior to this movie, Bond had been played most often by Sean Connery, with the one exception being George Lazenby’s short-lived stint in 1969 (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service). Moore is very different to Connery and Lazenby. He plays Bond as a more relaxed, charming, humorous character. Over the years, many people have said that the Moore incarnation of Bond lacks the brutality of Connery’s and the hard masculinity, but actually Moore is not the kind of actor to do Bond in that manner. He’s merely playing to his own strengths, and creating a Bond that is akin to his acting style. I feel that Roger makes a perfectly likable 007, admittedly different to the character of the novels, but still a rousing screen hero.

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The story has James Bond sent to solve the killing of three British agents. One was killed in New York, one in New Orleans, and the third on a voodoo-practising Caribbean island. Bond’s starts his mission in New York, where he runs across a nasty black gangster named Mr Big and his gorgeous, tarot-reading accomplice Solitaire (Jane Seymour). Bond heads down to the Caribbean, where he “connects” Mr Big with a drug-smuggling big-shot named Dr Kananga. Then it’s off to New Orleans, where Bond discovers that Kananga’s master plan is to provide huge amounts of free heroin to the junkies of the world, creating a massive drug-reliant population and setting himself up as a supplier with a worldwide monopoly on the drug trade.

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The title song, sung by Paul McCartney and Wings is one of the best of the series, a lively and powerful tune which fits the style and period of the film perfectly. Yaphet Kotto is a decent bad guy (his death scene at the end is both funny and memorable); Seymour is superb as the Bond girl (probably the best of the bunch apart from Barbara Bach in The Spy Who Loved Me). There are good set pieces as we have grown to expect from the Bond series, most notably a spectacular boat chase around the Louisiana bayous, a scene involving a bunch of hungry crocodiles, and a slick sequence featuring Bond’s escape from corrupt island police aboard a slow and lumbering double decker bus. The film has some negatives, but not too many. The character of Baron Samedi doesn’t fit in the film (check out that ludicrous closing shot, which seems to be hinting that Samedi is somehow immortal), and Clifton James’s brash southern cop is an immature and irritating character who might just as well have been left out of the final cut. On the whole this is a good start to the Moore era, though. One point of interest:- Live and Let Die also features a scene in Bond’s house at the very start….. only once before have we seen where Bond lives, and that was at the start of Dr No.

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Patton (1970)

“Patton” tells the tale of General George S. Patton, famous tank commander of World War II. The film begins with Patton’s career in North Africa and progresses through the invasion of Europe and the fall of the Third Reich. Side plots also speak of Patton’s numerous faults such his temper and tendency toward insubordination, faults that would prevent him from becoming the lead American general in the Normandy Invasion as well as to his being relieved as Occupation Commander of Germany.

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The Classic War Movie

24 June 2004 | by nabor7 (Texas) – See all my reviews

Not much can be said of this movie that already hasn’t been said. It captures the war, the man, and the conflict of the two. I thought the movie was very nicely tied together and I thought the reflections of Patton on the past was very necessary. Patton believed in reincarnation so in looking back at historical battles you can see how Patton developed his strategy. He was a student of great leaders and commanders and the movie developed that thought really well. The movie presented the characters, the actual war history, and the Germans extremely well and it is no wonder this movie received the awards it did. After watching this movie over and over again, I’m convinced that no one could have played Patton any better than George C. Scott. You can tell from the movie that he put everything he had into the character. My father-in-law was an officer under Patton in the 3rd. Army and has said over and again how realistic the movie is. I would recommend this movie to anyone looking for an excellent re-telling of WWII history.

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Fascinating portrait of the Allies’ greatest general

9/10
Author: Daniel R. Baker from United States
8 September 1999

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of reading “The Patton Papers,” a collection of Gen. Patton’s diary entries and letters edited by Martin Blumenson. Having seen the movie, I think that no actor has ever better captured the spirit of a man better than George C. Scott, nor has any movie better portrayed that spirit than PATTON.

Patton was a man who lived for war. World War II was the high point and culmination of his life. He didn’t fight for any principles, he didn’t fight to defend freedom or democracy or any abstract idea; he fought because he loved fighting. In his diaries you can read of his fear of flunking out of West Point; the prospect terrified him because he was certain that he would never be good at anything except being a general or a leader of a country.

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As a leader of men, he was exceptional. His speech at the beginning of the movie is vintage Patton, an almost exact reproduction of a speech Patton actually gave to Third Army. It’s tough, and no-nonsense; Patton lets you know in no uncertain terms that he is here to win, to destroy the enemy, and by God you’d better be too. I don’t know if Patton actually directed traffic on the roads as he is shown doing in the movie, but it was a very Pattonish thing to do. Patton did on at least one occasion get out of his staff car and join a squad of G.I.’s in heaving a vehicle out of the mud. Try to imagine Montgomery doing that; the very thought is hilarious!

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Patton’s character explains his treatment of his men. To those who had been wounded fighting for him he was always kind and considerate. But to those whose minds could not stand the horrible strain that war imposed on them, he was merciless; he could not comprehend the fact that other people didn’t share his love of violence for violence’ sake. PATTON shows this aspect of his character very well.

Karl Malden’s Omar Bradley is shown in an almost father-like role; he sees and recognizes Patton’s immense talents as a general, and uses them in spite of Patton’s natural ability to antagonize everybody around him. Not shown in the movie is Patton’s unloveable characteristic of turning on his subordinates once they surpassed him in their careers. Patton had nothing but good to say about Bradley, until Bradley was promoted over Patton’s head, whereupon Patton savaged Bradley in his diary. Patton did the same to Eisenhower.

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A general can have no higher compliment than the fear and respect of his adversaries, and as PATTON demonstrates, Patton was more feared by the Germans than any other Allied general, at least on the Western front. As one German officer observes all too prophetically, “the absence of war will destroy him [Patton].” And although mankind’s single greatest stroke of good fortune in the 20th century was that Russia and America never came to blows, it is still hard not to feel sorry for Patton as he desperately seeks his superiors’ approval to carry the war on eastward into the Soviet Union – anything, just to have a war to fight. Patton is like an addict to a destructive drug.

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Hollywood has rarely given us such a textured and human portrait of a great man: cruel, often foolish in his relations with others, rude, and psychopathically attached to violence, but brave, dedicated, and loyal. Certainly those who, like myself, have Jewish blood, or who were otherwise marked for death by the Nazi state, all owe him a great debt of gratitude for his pivotal role in destroying that state. And yet, had he been born German, Patton would surely have fought just as devotedly for the Nazi side. I’m glad he wasn’t.

Favorite war film . . .

Author: jaywolfenstien from USA
2 December 2003

. . . and it’s not even about the war. There’s no wall to wall action. In fact, World War II is merely the setting – a backdrop so to speak – and the battles are all downplayed in favor of giving the audience a glimpse into the brilliance (or insanity) of the historically significant character, Patton. From the script on up, everything plays out wonderfully to bring the famous general to life on screen, and after watching George C. Scott deliver his Oscar-worthy performance, I find it hard to believe there were a number of actors on the list above his name.

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George C. Scott’s performance of Patton is one I consider the greatest given of any war film. Patton is a champion for freedom while sometimes equally as much of a tyrant as the ones he’s trying to put down, he’s a monster and a hero, and neither he nor the filmmakers give a damn about political correctness. I found the character to be an overly harsh prick, myself, but in some strange way, very likeable and sympathetic, and when watching the movie again I don’t look at the screen and say, `Hey, there’s George C. Scott.’ Instead it’s, `Hey, there’s Patton.’ Not very many film characters have a personality strong enough to overtake the actor playing them. I appreciate that depth and that degree of realism, this attention to detail on the parts of Scott and Schaffner.

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Schaffner surprised me by somehow managing to capture my interest on a subject matter I’d ordinarily write off as too silly (Planet of the Apes); two years later, he applied that same technical know how, craft, and intelligent storytelling towards a film whose subject appeals to me from the get go, and once again I’m impressed. There are some great war films out today; however, Schaffner’s take pursued the most unique perspective in all realms, and captured my imagination with such ease . . . I can’t help but come back to it over other war films.

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And I have to comment on the score, which is not only one of my favorite Goldsmith scores but also one of my favorite war-film scores. Jerry Goldsmith matched point for point the brilliance of Franklin Schaffner’s vision, the depth of George C. Scott’s performance, and somehow managed to captured the essence of both musically. A good music score is one that tells the story of the film in its own unique voice. Goldsmith’s score has such a prominent voice in the experience of Patton, that to remove it would be the equivalent of removing Schaffner’s direction or George C. Scott.

Lastly, how accurate is the film? Not a clue, and even if it is completely false, I don’t care. I’ve never been about writing history papers based on cinema experiences. All I know for certain is that Patton is a very entertaining and well balanced movie that holds up very well thirty years later, and it’s a film that can be admired for its craft.

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When the going gets tough, they call for the sons of bitches”…Adm. Ernest King

Author: Puck-20 from Bannana Republic
5 November 2003
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Patton is a movie about a man who on one hand was one of America’s greatest generals, and on the other hand was only marginally saner than Gen. Jack D. Ripper. According to several vets I got to talk to (who actually served under the real Patton!), George C. Scott’s portrayal was spot-on. A few observations on the movie: Even when I was a kid, seeing Patton when it came out in 1970, I was suspicious of the tanks used in that battle scene in North Africa. Even then, they didn’t look like the classic German tanks…Patton’s speech in the beginning of the movie was edited for content. If you ever read the original version of his speech, it makes the movie version sound like a church sermon.

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I also wished that the movie had pointed out that in WW1, Patton commanded the first ever American tank battalion, and was severely wounded in battle, yet kept fighting until he just about passed out from loss of blood. I thought this should have been brought out that he had practiced what he preached… Gen. Omar Bradley: portrayed in the movie as Patton’s “buddy”, he was nothing of the sort. Jealous of Patton, the real life Bradley would go to Eisenhower behind Patton’s back to stymie George’s success.

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Monty: Sorry, Monty fans, but the movie points out one historical fact. Monty usurped needed gas and supplies from Patton in September of ’44 for his disastrous “Market Garden” attack (watch Richard Attenborough’s “A Bridge Too Far” as a companion movie to “Patton”). Thanks to Monty, the war went on much longer than it probably would have if Patton had been allowed to drive into Germany. Patton’s arrogance helped win battles. Monty’s arrogance gave us the Battle of the Bulge, the fire bombing of Dresden, not to mention countless Jewish lives lost. Patton had the Germans reeling in the fall of 1944, and, as the movie pointed out, had the army in just the right place at the right time to end it. Unfortunately, thanks to Monty’s political pull and crappy generalmanship, the war went on longer than it should have…

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A fine epic about a “pure warrior.”

10/10
Author: Righty-Sock (robertfrangie@hotmail.com) from Mexico
21 October 2002
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The war epic was revived with Franklin Schaffner’s admirable ‘Patton.’ Schaffner’s control of his film is impressive, and the various campaign sequences are strikingly photographed through an audaciously wide lens…

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George C. Scott was commonly referred to as a ‘character actor’ in view of his remarkably extensive range… Oddly for a character actor, Scott was almost always the same person on screen vigorous to the point of pugnacity, acting with his chin the way other actors do with their eyes-yet revealing, in his own eyes, unsuspected depths of humor and intelligence…

Now few actors have ever been so convincing in such a powerful and colorful character… Only Peter 0’Toole’s eccentric T.E. Lawrence comes immediately to mind… Both, he and Scott, create their characters out of complementary contradictions… Lawrence detests the savagery of war but embraces it… Patton cannot separate the conduct of war from his own personal glorification, and both actors are given large canvases upon which to work…

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Screenwriters Francis Ford Coppola and Edmund H. North and director Franklin J. Schaffner introduce a 16th-century warrior lost in contemporary times… He is a brilliant and military historian, with a hazardous speech…

Magnificently uniformed, and wearing his ivory-handled pistol, George S. Patton steps up, against a backdrop of the Stars and Stripes, before an unseen gathering of soldiers defining himself in unambiguous terms as a man who revels in war… The scene is cut to a close shot of two scorpions crawling across the body of a dead soldier at the Kasserine Pass, Tunisia… The camera then pulls back to reveal a harsh look at American casualties with dozens of Arabs busily stripping more bodies…

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The American Army has just suffered its first defeat at the hands of the Germans… Patton’s first job is to restore the morale and discipline of the dispirited troops of his new command… His experience with tanks led General Dwight Eisenhower to place him in charge of one of the three task forces invading North Africa in 1943…

According to his theory of war, Patton would drive all the way to Palermo on the northern coast of Sicily, slicing the island in half… But his finest moment comes during the massive German counteroffensive in the Ardennes… By the time the Germans feared him above all other Allied generals…

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Schaffner turns to the Germans for comments on Patton’s abilities… They expect him to lead a major invasion… When he was sent to Corsica, the Germans were convinced he would lead an invasion of southern France… When he was sent to Cairo, they feared for an invasion through the Balkans…

Patton is seen reprimanded by Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower for indiscreet political statements… As an able tactician who promotes himself to three-star general before it’s officially approved by the U.S. Senate, Patton proves himself as the most effective American field commander of the European war… Behind his audacity lay an imaginative planning and a shrewd judgment… Patton knows that loyalty to a leader would inspire his men to take on objectives against all odds… His strict discipline, toughness, and disregard of classic military rules, contributed to his advance across France and Germany…

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The modest and conscientious Omar Bradley, commander of the U.S. 12th Army Group, who had served under Patton in Africa and Sicily as a deputy commander, found Patton to be a superb combat general, but hotheaded, profane, and unpredictable… Bradley ends now as Patton’s superior… It was soon apparent that the two make a superb team… Patton’s dash and drive in the field is a perfect complement to Bradley’s careful planning…

With the help of Bradley, Patton prepares to re-engage German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel… After he defeats Rommel’s 10th Panzer Division at El Guettar thanks to his analysis of Rommel’s published strategies, he shouts one of the greatest lines in war films: “Rommel, you magnificent bastard, I read your book!” At the same time, his rivalry with his Field Marshal Montgomery (hero of El Alamein) becomes more intense… Patton was motivated by a pride to reach his target before his British colleague, sometimes not for the purpose of the Allies…

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Karl Malden has the film’s only other significant leading role, as the most capable, yet unpretentious general… Malden could be deduced from the number of major directors with whom he has worked… These include Cukor, Hathaway, Kazan, King, Preminger, Milestone, Vidor, Hitchcock, Brooks, Mulligan, Daves, Brando, Frankenheimer, Ford, Quine and Schaffner… In his best and most personal work he has succeeded in exploring depths of moral ambiguity rare in commercial cinema…

Schaffner illuminates various sides of Patton’s remarkable personality, presenting a dashing extrovert and attractive general, with a compassionate side…

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Touring an evacuation hospital in Sicily, Patton slaps an enlisted soldier twice calling him a ‘yellow,’ and threatens to shoot him, before two men forcibly remove him from the tent… The incident occurs because Patton’s views of bravery and cowardice are so severely limited… The fighting general who has the imagination to write poetry and to believe that he has been reincarnated, in ancient Greece, at Carthage, and Moscow, cannot conceive of a psychological wound that he cannot see… The incident occurred after he prays at the bedside of one man severely injured… Patton whispers some words in his ear which the audience doesn’t hear, then lays a medal on his pillow and gives him a gentle touch on his head… The portrait is so compelling that it’s easy to overlook Patton’s own final words in the film, “All glory is fleeting.”

Franklin J. Schaffner’s motion picture reveals an effective portrait of three men: Patton, Bradley, and the unseen Dwight Eisenhower… The film is a fine epic about ‘a pure warrior, and a magnificent anachronism,’ who loved war…

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The Academy Awards saluted ‘Patton’ capturing eight Oscars, including best picture, best director, best actor (Scott declined his well deserved Oscar), best screenplay, best editing, and best production design…

Lady for a Day (1933)

Director:

Frank Capra

A gangster tries to make Apple Annie, the Times Square apple seller, a lady for a day.
Apple Annie is an indigent woman who has always written to her daughter in Spain that she is a member of New York’s high society. With her daughter suddenly en route to America with her new fiancé and his father, a member of Spain’s aristocracy, Annie must continue her pretense of wealth or the count will not give his blessing. She gets unexpected help from Dave the Dude, a well-known figure in underground circles who considers Annie his good luck charm, and who obtains for her a luxury apartment to entertain the visitors – but this uncharacteristic act of kindness from a man with a disreputable reputation arouses suspicions, leading to complications which further cause things to not always go quite as planned.
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Great early Capra

28 July 2004 | by dfree30684 (United States) – See all my reviews

this is the film that precedes IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT for the team of Frank Capra (director) and Robert Riskin (screenwriter). Sadly it’s not regarded as one of his beloved classics…it deserves to be. William Warren is the perfect Dave the Dude, who’s heart of gold aids the distressed aged damsel (May Robson…the titled LADY FOR A DAY). Most of it’s innocent charm and humor haven’t faded over the 71 years since it’s release. Speaking of 70’s…at 74 May Robson was the oldest actress to receive a Best Actress nomination.

the scene near the end; where she’s received by the real mayor of New York and his party guests at her phony party (meant to show off her “society” friends to her daughter, and future inlaws) is priceless. Miss Robson’s quiet, teary eyed smile will still bring the viewer to near tears today. Also, Guy Kibbie, and Ned Sparks provide reliable comic support. a must see for all Capra fans.

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I may have to change my mind about Capra!

9/10
Author: Ursula 2.7T from my sofa
23 February 2005
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I’m no Capra fan, but here’s a second movie of his (along with “The Miracle Woman”) that I just loved. Maybe his pre-Codes are better than his other movies? I may have to change my mind about Capra, or at least see some more of his pre-Code movies; they’re terrific!

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This movie was sweet and touching, without being sickening sweet or melodramatic. This movie also has lots of humor and some great dialogue. This 72-yr-old movie holds up extremely well. I was utterly charmed by this movie.

The story revolves around an elderly woman, Apple Annie, who is quite poor. She sells apples for a living and sends all her money to her daughter, Louise, who lives in Spain. Annie is ashamed of her lifestyle, and she leads her daughter to believe she’s a high-society lady by writing letters on the stationery of a posh hotel. Annie even has a friend on the inside of the hotel who passes Louise’s letters that are sent to the hotel to Annie.

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One of Apple Annie’s clients is “Dave the Dude”, the head of a local mob. Before he does any business dealings, Dave always buys an apple from Annie for good luck.

Well, not to spoil the movie too much, let me just say that Annie finds out her daughter is coming to town (New York) and she panics. Her panhandler friends talk Dave into setting Annie up in a suite at the posh hotel so that she can continue the pretense for her daughter’s sake. Dave gets most of his mobster and street friends involved in one way or another — the potential is here for great sappiness, but amazingly the story unfolds with just pure sweetness and lots of humor that has held up very well over the past 3/4-century.

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The performances by the lead actors were terrific. May Robson as Annie was wonderful; she gave a tender, subtle performance as the mother who loved her daughter so much, yet was so ashamed of the way she (Annie) lived. Warren William was terrific as Dave the Dude – I think his was probably the toughest role to play as he had to be a “bad guy” mob head as well as a softie who went out of his way to make Annie a lady for a day. Guy Kibbee as Annie’s husband was superb, a common pool hustler who played an upper-crust gentleman. The rest of the cast were pretty good too … I especially enjoyed the actor who played the dry and sardonic “Happy”; he had some of the best lines in the show.

So, in conclusion, snappy dialogue, nice mix of drama and humor, and just the right amount of sweetness make for a wonderful pre-Code movie. If you enjoy old movies, this is a movie that you definitely won’t be sorry you watched. Highly recommended.

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It Made Columbia Pictures With A Second Choice Cast

7/10
Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
12 February 2008

Back in the days of the studio system only one B picture outfit managed to vault itself into the big time and compete with the majors. That studio was Harry Cohn’s Columbia and the film that did it was Frank Capra’s Lady For A Day.

In his very candid memoirs Capra said unabashedly that his goal was to win one of those statues nicknamed Oscar. The Motion Picture Academy Awards were only five years old, but still the awards were coveted then because it meant prestige and far bigger salaries and in a director’s case, bigger budgets to work with.

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Capra said he tried and failed with a very arty film, The Bitter Tea of General Yen which lost money for Columbia and Cohn. He set out try it a different way with a sentimental story from that most sentimental of writers, Damon Runyon. The original story was entitled Madame LaGimp and it was about a street beggar who the great city of New York takes to its heart for a brief period with the assistance of a gangster with a streak of sentiment.

But this was Columbia, the poverty row studio so Capra couldn’t get the only old lady movie star around in Marie Dressler from MGM. May Robson was his second choice for Apple Annie, the street beggar who has a daughter in a convent school in Spain and engaged to marry into Spanish nobility.

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As for the gangster Capra wanted James Cagney, but Harry Cohn couldn’t pry him loose from Jack Warner. He was offered Warren William instead and certainly the dapper and elegant William played a different kind of gangster than Cagney would have. For William’s moll, Capra’s partner and screenwriter for Lady for a Day Robert Riskin persuaded his then girl friend Glenda Farrell to take the part. She Jack Warner was willing to part with.

With the great skill that Capra had in casting his films, some of the best character actors around like Guy Kibbee, Nat Pendleton, Ned Sparks, and Walter Connolly filled out his roster. A lot of these people would work for Frank Capra again and again.

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Came Oscar time and Lady for a Day had the great distinction of being nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay adapted from another source. This was the first film from Columbia Pictures that was ever nominated for anything by the Motion Picture Academy. May Robson made Capra forget he ever wanted Marie Dressler. Unfortunately she lost to a young actress picking up her first of four Oscars, Katharine Hepburn.

Riskin lost to the writers of Little Women and the film itself lost that year to the British story Cavalcade. One of the most embarrassing moments in Frank Capra’s life occurred when Awards host Will Rogers in announcing the Best Director said “come up and get it Frank.”

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Capra rose thinking it was him and the spotlights came down on him. Then there was a frantic buzzing and the spotlight shifted to the opposite side of the hall where Frank Lloyd got up to accept the award that was meant for him for directing Cavalcade. Talk about feeling like a nickel looking for change.

However next year Capra’s next film It Happened One Night swept all the major Oscars including his first. It sounds like something that only could have happened in a Frank Capra movie.

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Lady for a Day Themes and Thoughts

9/10
Author: Shadow10262000 from United States
16 March 2006
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Things aren’t always what they seem. A person may appear to be rich, happy, and enjoying life, when in fact they are poorer than dirt, have not smiled in days, and are just miserable everyday. Apple Annie was a woman who didn’t live in the best of circumstances but she made the best of what she had. She sold apples to earn money to send to her daughter living in Spain. Such a kind old woman who is trying her best to survive, and she makes that best of her poor little life. She has made many friends in her life some poorer than her and other who are well enough off to not even worry about money. An acquaintance that she has, Dave the Dude, is a well off man, although it is not of total honest ways, as he is the leader of a gang, but he is always kind to Apple Annie and believes that she is good luck for him. He believes that an apple a day does more than keep the doctor away, it keeps the cops away as well as gives him luck in his dealings. Not quite the fairy tale that one would expect but maybe it is. Is it possible that bad guys have good qualities? Can a grown man believe in a fairy tale? Can a lie really turn out to be good or must it be covered up by a string of more lies.

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In Lady for a Day we see much of a fairy tale made of lies come to life through the kindness of a mobster. Annie is embarrassed about her standard of living, and sets up the allusion to her daughter that Annie is a lady of the upper class. She writes letters on the stationery of a classy hotel. She has set up a seemingly harmless lie that she is doing better in life than she really is. This is fine until Louise sends a letter saying she is coming home and bringing a suitor and his father Count Romero. Now Annie finds herself in a bind. She must cover up this lie so that her daughter can keep her lover. Annie fears that if she does not live up to the life style, which her daughter thinks she has, everything will fall apart.

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Her penniless friends talk Dave the Dude into setting Annie up in a room at the classy hotel so that she can go on her lie. Dave who is a bad guy in the sight of the law has a touch of good in him. He believes that he can help what he sees as a fairy tale to come to pass. A parallel to Cinderella Dave becomes the fairy godmother that helps dear Annie to live her dream. But this is not a simple answer. Now that Annie has her classy suite in the hotel, there is more of the story that she has to fulfill. The story follows a perfect line of events. We see the objective of Annie and the obstacles that she must over come. The action just starts rising from the moment she gets the letter from the hotel manager. She has to find her second husband, and even throw a party for the Count before they leave.

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The point in the movie where I was on the edge of my seat was when we were waiting for Dave and his gangster friends to arrive at this classy party. Leave it to the police to draw out what seems to be a simple gathering to put a stop to the gangster’s sinister plans. What a way to bring the movie to a climax. The resolution finally comes after a little added suspense of Dave being arrested, almost. The party goes on with a few unexpected guests; the police chief and even the governor play in to this fairy tale to help it have a happy ending. And the story ends on what could be a happy note, an end to a string of lies, but then again it could be just the beginning of a happily ever after marriage.

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Frank Capra’s Cinderella Story

10/10
Author: Ron Oliver (revilorest@juno.com) from Forest Ranch, CA
21 February 2000

An old apple seller on Broadway panics when she learns her daughter is returning to New York City with her European fiancé. What will happen when the girl discovers her mother is not a high society matron, as she supposes her to be? Only a notorious racketeer can help her become a LADY FOR A DAY.

May Robson is superb in this early Frank Capra film. She steals every scene she’s in as Apple Annie, the harridan sidewalk vendor. This was a plum role & Miss Robson knew how to exploit it to the limit. Glenda Farrell & Guy Kibbee are both excellent in supporting roles – she as a nightclub owner and he as an eccentric judge . Walter Connolly is fun as a suspicious Spanish Count. Warren William is good as Dave the Dude, the criminal boss who comes to Annie’s aid because her apples are good luck for him.

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Halliwell Hobbes is all proper British decorum as Annie’s borrowed butler. Acerbic Ned Sparks & dense Nat Pendleton are both enjoyable as the Dude’s henchmen. That’s an uncredited Ward Bond as the mounted policeman at the very beginning of the film.

This film is bursting with charm.

” May Robson Is Splendid As Apple Annie “

10/10
Author: PamelaShort from Canada
15 December 2013
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

If you enjoy the film Pocketful Of Miracles, which was the remake of this film, I highly recommend watching Lady for a Day the original. I found a copy of a 1933 review for this charming film and it states ‘ a picture which evoked laughter and tears from an audience at the first showing,’ and it still hits the mark perfectly today as it did in 1933. May Robson was a superb choice to play Apple Annie and her performance is extremely splendid, she completely embodies the character of Annie, thus making her real and believable. Probably May Robson’s best performance ever. No one could have done a better job of playing the lovable old Judge Blake than the wonderful Guy Kibbee. Warren William adequately handles the role of Dave the Dude along with Glenda Farrell as Missouri Martin. A host of excellent supporting actors all give sufficient performances to make this amusing sentimental tale of the grey-haired Cinderella a very pleasurable and entertaining film. There are many fine synopsis written for this film, however Lady for a Day must be seen to be fully appreciated. This is also a terrific example of Frank Capra’s best work and one of the finest films from the 1930s.

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