Jesse James (1939)

Directed by Henry King
After railroad agents forcibly evict the James family from their family farm, Jesse and Frank turn to banditry for revenge.
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yet another Tyrone power winner

25 April 2016 | by rickdumesnil-55203 (Canada) – See all my reviews

simply loved the movie. let me start i absolutely was grateful that the black character PINKY was treated so nice. one of the rare Hollywood movie where the boss didn’t boss around and took time to chat. the scene when Jessie ask pinky if the baby is cute….simply breath taking. the scenery the acting especially by power Fonda Scott darwell and hull you cant ask for more. NANCY KELLY was touching but for me she seemed plain and not so pretty. of course i didn’t want Jessie to die in the end and his reunion with Jessie Jr. was simply well done and tear jerking. i gave it a 9 and took off 1 point because of the handling of the horses. how cruel. i just MR. POWER was against it but had no choice. good movie though glad i got the DVD….POWER FOREVER.

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A highly romanticized account of the infamous desperado…

8/10
Author: Righty-Sock (robertfrangie@hotmail.com) from Mexico
30 November 2007

Splendid in his first Western and his first Technicolor movie, Power portrayed Jesse James as a sympathetic hero and the most charming bank robber of the Old West…

Teamed with Henry Fonda, and stalwart Randolph Scott, Henry King came with a Western classic, considered as one the best Jesse James of the series…

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The film opens in Pineville with hothead Jesse and temperate Frank as a couple of Missouri brothers who, embittered by the ruthless tactics of a railroad agent, got a warrant and had to skip out, hiding out until Major Rufus Cobb (Henry Hull) can get the governor to give them a fair trial … But the railroad’s got too much at stake to let two farmer boys bollix things up…

After they had thrown Barshee (Brian Donlevy), the brutal railroad representative off the farm of their widowed mother (Jane Darwell) when she refused to sign over her property, Jesse and Frank later learn that she had been killed by a bomb tossed into their home by Barshee himself… Jesse returns, shoots Barshee, and vows revenge on the railroad, with the complete sympathy of the Missouri populace…

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Jesse’s sweetheart, Zee and her uncle, publisher Major Rufus, are among the James’ supporters, as is U. S. Marshal Will Wright (Scott), but he has a job to do and is forced to track down the two brothers…

Jesse and Frank have expanded their operation from merely harassing the St. Louis Midland with a series of holdups to robbing banks…

Pursuaded by railroad president McCoy (Donald Meek) to talk Jesse into surrendering, Wright extracts a written promise of a light sentence for the desperado… Zee then urges Jesse to give himself up following their wedding…

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Of course, Henry King tries to show how Jesse hated the railroads and from that hate he presented a charismatic hero… But this hero was not going to last… The more luck he had, the worse he gets… It’ll be his appetite for shooting and robbing until something happens to him…

He also shows a worried fiancée keeping thinking of an outlaw all the time out there in the hills just going on and on to nowhere just trying to keep alive with everybody after him, wanting to kill him to get that money…

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There’s a scene near the end where Zee (Nancy Kelly) after delivering her baby is lying in bed with her creature, with the presence of the Marshal, so to speak, between herself and her uncle that suddenly made clear to me what the entire film was about… Her feelings as a woman: “I’m so tired to care. This is the way it always is. We live like animals, scared animals. We move. We hide. We don’t dare to go out… ”

Obviously she is a sensitive woman who exposes her being on screen without losing sight of reality… That’s quite a great scene from King, and key in this great Western, as it’s really all about her character, Zee Cobb, a struggling woman in love now a mother with a baby to take care of…

So please don’t miss it!

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The Jesse We Somehow Have Gotten to Want to Remember

10/10
Author: theowinthrop from United States
21 April 2007
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It was the luck of Tyrone Power that he became the pet male star of Producer Genius Daryl Zanuck of 20th Century Fox. He was constantly finding decent adventure film properties for Power to use, resulting in a huge public following for the star.

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Unfortunately in 1938 Power was lent to MGM to appear in the extravaganza historical film MARIE ANTOINETTE with Norma Shearer. He gave a fine performance as her friend/probable lover Count Axel Fersen, but his fans were puzzled, and some critics had a field day. It was like a problem a decade and a half earlier suffered by silent idol Rudolf Valentino, when he made some costume films like MONSIEUR BEAUCAIRE. Then Valentino suggested the choice of these rolls proved Valentino was a “powder puff” (i.e. homosexual). Now they suggested the same (after one film only!) for Power.

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To recoup meant taking Power into a particular historical film – a western. Long before the idea of a homosexual cowboy found any open acceptance on the screen, most actors found that the most masculine American role was as a cowboy. And if Power was going to play a westerner, he should play one who did not take nonsense – indeed was downright dangerous to people he disliked. Such a person was Jesse Woodson James (1848 – 1882). Zanuck’s genius at picking the right properties showed up here to such great affect, that a year later MGM copied the idea for their resident star with a huge female following, Robert Taylor, with the film BILLY THE KID.

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In first rate Technicolor, we watch a screen-writer’s version of Jesse’s complicated and violent life, in the last days of the Civil War (for the South), fighting carpetbaggers, banks, and railroads from the North, turning bandit against these aggressors, and then controlling the best bank and train robbing gang from 1868 – 1876 in the Mississippi/Missouri Valley. It also follows the love and marriage and tribulations of Jesse and his wife Zee Cobb (Nancy Kelly), and the events leading to his assassination (which more of below) by Robert Ford (John Carridine) a member of his gang. His brother and gang partner Frank is played by Henry Fonda. His love rival but occasional ally, the Marshall is Randolph Scott. Besides Carridine, the villains are a half-way comic banker/railroad owner played by Donald Meek, and his agent played by J. Edward Bromberg (possibly his best known role). And as for that “great” editor, Col. Rufus Cobb (Henry Hull) anyone who does not think him a great character should be taken outside and hanged like a dog!

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Henry King, a good journeyman director used by Power and Zanauck in several films, turned in a first rate job, even as the screenplay really improves Jesse’s record. It is questionable if he was in the Confederate army or even served with Quantrill (as Frank and the missing Cole Younger, his cousin, did). But he was thoroughly tied to the lost cause, and the post war poverty that hit his part of Missouri did not endear the victors to him. Given the way money ruled the Gilded Age millionaires, one can see that the avariciousness’s of the banks and railroads would have worsened the situation. But did that give Jesse and Frank and their gang the right to kill any former Union foe they encountered in what was technically peacetime?

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The Northfield Bank Raid is rightly seen as the destruction of the James – Younger Gang, and as a model of overreaching. Unlike the fictional version in the story (the plan is betrayed, so the bank becomes a trap), Jesse and the gang tried to rob two banks in Northfield, Minnesota, and thought the locals there would be as indifferent as Missourians or Kansas on-lookers (they weren’t). Many were shot and killed on both sides, but worse Cole and his brothers were captured and sent to prison. Jesse and Frank and several others escaped – but regrouped in Missouri. It lasted for six more years with bank and railroad robberies before Jesse was killed by Ford.

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There is no denying (as Hull says at the end) that James was a criminal. But to be fair, the Federal Government and the Pinkertons did not behave well either. Keep in mind, in 1870 Federal intervention in the states was limited to the Reconstruction policies, not to policing action. But Ulysses Grant, although from Ohio, had lived in Missouri for years, and took a personal interest in the James Gang. He was willing to use the Pinkertons as his agents, including one incident where a bomb-like device was used against Jesse’s mother’s family, injuring several (his mother lost her arm), and killing his half-brother. So furious was Jesse about this, for a couple of months he was in Chicago seeking a chance to attack and kill Allan Pinkerton!

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And then there is that final killing – Governor Crittenden of Missouri, from a distinguished Kentucky family, smashed his career in setting up a “hit” by Ford, in which Jesse was shot in the back in his parlor! I don’t think any other criminal of the top rank in American History (maybe Dillinger in his demise at the Biograph Theater in Chicago) ever came across as having had his bad list of actions cleaned by the manner his death was caused. In 1881 Crittenden was considered a possible future Democratic Presidential candidate. After 1882 his career was finished. As for Ford, he was shot down years later – his killer given a judicial slap on the hand.

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JESSE JAMES cuts down the negative issues a bit too much, and builds up his good characteristics too much. Yet it works splendidly as film. Other “James” films like I SHOT JESSE JAMES or THE GREAT NORTHFIELD RAID may be truer somehow, but this is the JAMES we like to recall – and the JAMES that will live.

Power Brings Jesse James To Life
8/10
Author: jhclues from Salem, Oregon
8 December 2001

A real life legend of the Old West comes to life in this 1939 film, which may not be historically accurate or honest enough for purists, but nevertheless tells a good story while leaving any moral judgments up to the audience.

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`Jesse James,’ directed by Henry King, stars Tyrone Power as the man heralded by some as the Robin Hood of cowboys. Whether or not he was actually a hero is debatable, and what this movie does is supply the motivation for the wrong-doing on Jesse’s part– at least up to a point. At the time this film was made, it was necessary for the filmmaker to present a story like this in a way that reflected a reckoning of sorts for a character engaged in any form of moral turpitude; and this film is no exception. But in this case, it’s done with subtlety, and in a way that still allows the viewer’s sympathies to be with the protagonist, regardless of his crimes.

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At the heart of the matter is basically another version of the oft-told David and Goliath tale. In this story, Goliath is the railroad, expanding ever-westward and growing bigger and stronger by the day. When they encounter the farm on which Jesse, his brother, Frank (Henry Fonda) and their mother (Jane Darwell) reside and make their living, the railroad does what any self-respecting conglomerate would do– they take it, pay the owners a pittance and lay their rail without giving it another thought. Only this time, the railroad messed with the wrong people. Not one to take it lying down, Jesse forms a gang– which includes Frank– and strikes back in the only way he knows how: By robbing the trains. And, just as Bonnie and Clyde would become, in a sense, local heroes a few years later, many began looking up to James as something of a redeemer; the man who stood up for all the others who were either unwilling or unable to do it for themselves after being wronged, as well, by the ruthless machinery of progress.

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Power gives an outstanding performance as Jesse James, to whom he brings an intensity that seethes beneath his rugged good looks and determined attitude. Like Beatty did with Clyde, Power makes Jesse an outlaw you can’t help but like, and actually admire. Because the James Power presents is nothing more nor less than a good man seeking reparation for the injury visited not only upon himself, but upon his family, to whom he feels justice is now due. It’s a very credible and believable portrayal, though under close scrutiny his Jesse may come across as somewhat idealistically unflawed. Then again, within the time frame of this story, we are seeing a man adamant and single-minded of purpose, and the depth Power brings to the character more than accounts for what may be construed as a flawless nature.

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As Frank James, Henry Fonda presents a man perhaps more laid-back than his brother, but every bit as volatile and adamant in his quest for justice. There’s a coolness in his eyes and in his manner that belies the tenacity of his character. Fonda conveys the sense that Frank is a lion; he’s no trouble without provocation, but once aroused he will demand satisfaction and stay with the scent until he has it. And it’s that sense of dogged determination that Fonda and Power bring to their respective characters that makes them so engaging and accessible. Goliath is the real bad guy here, and you want to see him fall; and these are the guys you want to see bring him down.

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In a supporting role, John Carradine gives a noteworthy performance as Jesse’s own personal Judas, Bob Ford, a man who made history by demonstrating that there is, indeed, no honor among thieves. Carradine brings Ford to life in a sly and sinister way that leaves no doubt as to who the real villain of the story is.

The supporting cast includes Nancy Kelly (Zee), Randolph Scott (Will), Slim Summerville (Jailer), Brian Donlevy (Barshee), Donald Meek (McCoy), Charles Tannen (Charlie Ford), Claire Du Brey (Mrs. Ford) and Henry Hull, in an energetic and memorable performance as Major Rufus Cobb. Compared to many of the westerns made in the past couple of decades or so, this film is rather antiseptic in it’s presentation; that is to say it lacks the graphic visuals of say, `The Wild Bunch’ or Eastwood’s `Unforgiven.’ But `Jesse James’ is satisfying entertainment that doesn’t require or rely upon shocking realism to tell the story, but rather the talent and finesse of a great cast and a savvy director. It’s a movie that will keep you involved, and Power and Fonda make it an especially enriching cinematic experience. In a very classic sense, this is the magic of the movies. I rate this one 8/10.

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Special cast, special movie, just don’t expect a history lesson.

8/10
Author: Spikeopath from United Kingdom
20 January 2009

We are at the time of the Iron Horse birth, the railroads are buying out the farm land at ridiculously low prices, even resorting to bully tactics to get the signature rights. When one particularly nasty railroad agent tries his strong arm tactics on the mother of the James brothers, he gets more than he bargained for. In an act of almost vengeful negligence, the agent causes the death of Mrs James and thus sets the wheels in motion for what was to become folklore notoriety, Jesse James, his brother Frank, and a gang of seemingly loyal thieves, went on to etch their names in outlaw history.

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There is no getting away from the fact that history tells us that this is a highly fictionalised account of Jesse James and his exploits. What we are given here by director Henry King and his screenwriter Nunally Johnson, is a more romanticised look at the legend of the man himself; which sure as heck fire makes for one dandy and enjoyable watch. The cast is one to savour, Tyrone Power (Jesse James), Henry Fonda (Frank James), Randolph Scott (Will Wright), Brian Donlevy (Barshee) and John Carradine (Bob Ford) all line up to entertain the masses with fine results, with Fonda possibly owing his subsequent career to his appearance here. He would return a year later in the successful sequel The Return Of Frank James and subsequently go on to greater and more rewarding projects. Power of course would go on and pick up the trusty blade and start swishing away, a career beckoned for this matinée idol for sure, but it’s nice to revisit this particular picture to see that Power could indeed be an actor of note, capable of some emotional depth instead of making Jesse just another outlawish thug. If the makers have made the character too “heroic” then that’s for debate, it’s one of the many historical “itches” that have irked historians over the years. But Power plays it as such and it works very well.

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One of the film’s main strengths is the pairing of Power and Fonda, very believable as a kinship united in ideals, with both men expertly handled by the reliable Henry King. The Technicolor from Howard Greene and George Barnes is wonderfully put to good use here, splendidly capturing the essence of the time with eye catching results. While the film itself has a fine action quota, gun play and galloping horses all feature throughout, and the characterisations of the main players lend themselves to pulse raising sequences. To leave us with what? A highly accomplished Western picture that ends in the way that history has showed it should-whilst the rest of the film is flimsy history at best? Yes. But ultimately it really doesn’t matter if one is after some Western entertainment, because for sure this picture scores high in that regard. 8/10

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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…

Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

1934. Young adults Bonnie Parker, a waitress, and Clyde Barrow, a criminal just released from prison, are immediately attracted to what the other represents for their life when they meet by chance in West Dallas, Texas. Bonnie is fascinated with Clyde’s criminal past, and his matter-of-factness and bravado in talking about it. Clyde sees in Bonnie someone sympatico to his goals in life. Although attracted to each other physically, a sexual relationship between the two has a few obstacles to happen. Regardless, they decide to join forces to embark on a life of crime, holding up whatever establishments, primarily banks, to make money and to have fun.

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They don’t plan on hurting anyone physically or killing anyone despite wielding loaded guns. They amass a small gang of willing accomplices, including C.W. Moss, a mechanic to fix whatever cars they steal which is important especially for their getaways, and Buck Barrow, one of Clyde’s older brothers.

Trivia

Producer Warren Beatty requested that the sound of gunshots in the movie should be much louder than the rest of the soundtrack. He was greatly influenced by Shane (1953) in this regard. However, at a screening in London he noticed that the gunfire sounds were much softer than intended. He went to the projection booth, where the projectionist told he that he had “helped” the film by adjusting the gunfire sounds. The projectionist said that he had not come across a film as poorly mixed since “Shane”.

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A masterpiece that dares to be excessive!

‘Bonnie and Clyde’ is not a film about two real people famous for so many bank robberies and murders across the big country… It shows a new kind of fury in which people could be harm by weapons… The film, however, manages to carry the impression that these two youngsters took great pleasure in robbing banks and stores… It also suggests that it was very easy for them to fool the law—as certainly occurred in real life… Though merited punishment caught up with them, audiences laughed at their remarkable deeds and wanted them to get away…

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In ‘Bonnie and Clyde,’ Penn created an emotional state, an image of the 1930s filtered through his 1960s sensibility… The sense of this period reflects Penn’s vision of how the 1930s Depression-era truly was, and for all the crazy style and banjo score, this vision is greatly private…

What is also personal about ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ and constitutes its incomparable quality, is its unusual mixture of humor and fear, its poetry of violation of the law as something that is gaiety and playfulness…

‘Bonnie and Clyde’ is both true and abstract… It is a gangster movie and a comedy-romance… It is an amusing film that turns bloody, a love affair that ends with tragedy…

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A modification between pleasure and catastrophic events is important to the essential aim of the film… In their second bank robbery, a daring and joyful action goes morosely embittered when Clyde is forced to kill an executive in the bank, and real blood pours out from his body…

Bonnie and Clyde take self-gratification posing for photographs with their prisoners… But when surrounded by detectives in a motel, they turn into vindictive bandits struggling for their lives… C. W. Moss, specially, brings to mind Baby Face Nelson, when he murders policemen with a blazing machine gun…

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One of the stimulating moments in the film happens when Clyde chases Bonnie through a yellow corn field, while a cloud transverses the sun and slowly shadows the landscape… Here the characteristic quality of the Texas countryside and the vague aspect of the story are beautifully communicated……

Penn’s masterpiece nominated for ten Academy Awards, including Best Picture, won two Oscars, one for Best Actress in a Supporting Role and another for Best Cinematography…

The movie that made it okay to sympathize with murderers…

10/10
Author: filmbuff-36 from Houston, TX
30 October 2001

First of all, let me say that I’m appalled by the real life Bonnie and Clyde. They were two psychopathic thrill killers from Dallas who had a special hatred for law enforcement officers.

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I must admit that I do feel sorry for the way they were killed, but like the old axiom goes, “If you live by the sword, you die by the sword.”

That said, the movie “Bonnie and Clyde” was a groundbreaking film. It was the first time that we the audience were allowed inside the killers minds, and could see what made them tick. This is perhaps the first film that takes a somewhat objective look at crime; we the audience don’t have “FBI Seal of Approval” morality shoved down our throats, but we still can tell by the actions of the characters that they are evil, whether they know it or not.

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The story is of two Texas young adults who, bored with their lives and the prospects of going nowhere in the world, decide to live out their dreams of stardom by going on a crime spree. They fancy themselves a sort of “Romeo and Juliet” couple, and think of their robberies as harmless fun. They start out small by knocking over grocery stores and gas stations, but soon graduate to banks when they need more money to accommodate their lifestyle. Soon they have a simple minded gas clerk named C.W. and Clyde’s brother and wife in the gang, and the duo goes down into history.

Then the fun and games are over. With law enforcement officials now looking for Bonnie and Clyde, they become targets of bounty hunters, unethical cops and other greedy persons who wish to make a name for themselves, and they lose a part of their childish innocence as the escalation of their crimes makes them become more and more violent. When death finally comes for Bonnie and Clyde, it comes with a vengeance.

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Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway have never been better. Beatty, who plays Clyde Barrow as an impotent, ne’er do well country boy who seems to be sowing his wild oats, is in top form. He makes Clyde likable, with a goofy smile perpetually pasted on his face, even when sticking up a bank with two guns in his hands. Dunaway is the ultimate femme fatale as Bonnie Parker, a sweet natured Southern belle who likes the feel of a .38 in her hands as she politely asks for all the money. It’s absurd, it’s unrealistic, but hey, it’s Hollywood. And the film works.

But most importantly, Bonnie and Clyde are in love. It’s a kind of love that only few films afterward have been able to equal. There is a genuine feeling of giddy romance between the two no matter what the scene, be it a bank robbery or family get-together away from the reaches of society.

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Arthur Penn was obviously a man on a mission when he directed this film. You could sense with every frame that he knew of the importance of this movie; a cinematic masterpiece that dares to make its audience evoke pathos for what would have been banned just a few years earlier.

The finale is still to this day a triumph of audience manipulation. The two bandits, finally captured and unable to escape, are dealt with in a fashion that will haunt you days after viewing. It’s sad, it’s disgusting, but it brings closure to the lives of two individuals whose works and existence could not be tolerated by the powers that be.

Great To Be Nominated Series

The movie “Bonnie and Clyde” inspired a generation of film makers to look at cinema in a different light. Actions movies were allowed to be funny from this point; funny movies could get away with violence. On the negative side, however, the film changed the morals of Hollywood by allowing murder to be dealt with in such a nonchalant fashion.

Sure, Claude is obviously shaken up after his first kill, as are Bonnie and C.W., but from that point on violence against law officials is no longer a problem. The police in this film are rather like the way gangsters used to be portrayed; a collection of stupid, soulless individuals who only want to ruin Bonnie and Clyde’s fun.

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In the end, this in an excellent film about Depression era gangsters. Most ironically, however, is that it seems dedicated to the two real life robbers who don’t deserve such an honor of having a film legacy created in their names.

10 stars. Innovative, fresh, and hey, it helped pave the way for “Dillinger”, my favorite movie in the robber-gangster genre.

“We Rob Banks.”

Author: Michael Coy (michael.coy@virgin.net) from London, England
10 January 2001
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Boy meets girl, boy takes girl on robbery spree, cops chase boy and girl. This innovative film transformed Hollywood’s approach to the crime genre and ushered the nouvelle vague into America’s mainstream.

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The real-life Bonnie and Clyde ranged the rural Texas-Oklahoma-Missouri emptiness in the early 1930’s, holding up village banks. A product of the Depression, these amateurish outlaws attracted media attention because they brought drama to a bleak, joyless world. They were freewheelers who turned the tables on the banks, notorious but somehow admirable villains. The Robin Hood theme is quietly insisted upon throughout the film. Banks foreclose on poor farmers, or suddenly fail, wiping out ordinary folks’ savings. Out of this chaos emerge these youngsters, scourging the rich and living for the moment, riding their luck for as long as it lasts, “uncertain as times are”.

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Mythology is the stuff that Bonnie and Clyde are made of. The film deals admirably with both reality and myth. A farmer touches Clyde reverently, as he might touch a sacred relic. On the other hand, Old Man Moss is disappointed by the ordinariness of the dynamic duo – “they ain’t nothin’ but a coupla kids!” We see the clumsy, ragged robberies and the burgeoning fame. Our lovable rogues may be violent thugs, but they favour the little guy. During a robbery in progress, a farmer is permitted to keep his money. The authorities are portrayed as hapless oafs, as is customary in ‘Robin Hood’ movies, but here it bears an underlying significance – America’s institutions have failed the citizens. People can’t repose trust in the police. (The film was made at the depths of the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights disturbances.)

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One of the striking features of the film, and one which attracted criticism on its release, is the linking of violence with comedy. This was a period when violence was being portrayed graphically onscreen, and what is new in this film is that the firing of the gun and the bullet hitting the victim are both contained in the same camera shot, as opposed to the traditional euphemism of the cut away from the gun. We never forget that, for all their hedonistic levity, our two leads are “staring square into the face of death”. The final shoot-up is a shocking and fascinating danse macabre. “There’s nothing quite like the kinetics of violence,” says director Arthur Penn. He uses crazily juxtaposed running-speeds to compound the horror of the madly-flailing corpses, an effect which he calls “both spastic and balletic”.

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And then, of course, there is sex. The real Clyde Barrow maintained a homosexual liaison with C.W. Moss, and originally the writers Benton and Newman had wanted the menage-a-trois with Bonnie to be a part of the film. Warren Beatty objected to playing a bisexual, and on reflection the Beatty-Penn-Benton-Newman production team dispensed with the sexual sophistication, reasoning that it would complicate the story unnecessarily and alienate cinema audiences. The only remaining vestiges are Clyde’s difficulty making love to Bonnie, and some laddish cuddles during the card game in the hideout. The meeting of Bonnie and Clyde at the start is filled with playful sexual imagery. A bored, trapped Bonnie pummels the slats of her bedframe, pouting with sexual frustration. Clyde bursts into this ‘prison’ and seduces her with his aura of danger and excitement. Check out the phallic symbols – toothpick, gun and coke bottle.

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The music is wonderful in itself, and wonderfully appropriate. Flatt and Scruggs’ “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” evokes place and time perfectly, and provides a rousing accompaniment to the car chases. Director Penn has the boldness to dispense with incidental music and, where dramatic effect requires it, to rely on ambient sound such as eerily-rustling grass.

At the writing stage, Benton and Newman were in love with the French New Wave and wanted this project to enshrine the nouvelle vague principles. Strenuous but abortive attempts were made to recruit first Truffaut and then Godard, but Beatty finally convinced the writers that outer trappings such as European directors were unnecessary, because the script held all the New Wave ingredients.

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Truffaut’s benign influence pervades the final version, especially the section where Bonnie reads her ballad aloud. We move visually through three scenes as Bonnie’s voice proclaims the couple’s testament, a cinematic gem suggested by Truffaut. Throughout the action, the jump-cut style of editing captures perfectly the spareness which is the essence of New Wave. Two sheets of newspaper are scattered on the swirling wind, an image which underscores the feckless, empty existence of the protagonists. Benton may not have got his francophone director, but in this fresh treatment of classic American subject matter he succeeded in making his “specifically European film”.

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“We couldn’t have made it on the back lot,” says Beatty, and he is right. The rural Texas locations are terrific, their open spaces hinting at both freedom and emptiness. Bonnie and Clyde are at their best when on the move, and they grow fractious whenever cooped up. The countryside is almost a participant in the story, as when the distraught Bonnie, filled with thoughts of death and separation, absconds through the field of withered corn, or the Eugene-Thelma episode closes with a dustcloud ‘wiping’ the action. The night-to-day sequence around the two cars after Buck’s misfortune is beautifully done.

Beatty produced the film as well as starring in it. He held daily pre-shoot discussion sessions for the cast, an admirable attempt to enrich the creative process. By the evidence of this fresh, entertaining and superbly-constructed film, his inclusive instincts triumphantly augmented a winning formula.

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1967’s best movie.

10/10
Author: Charles Saint-Pierre from Montreal, Canada
10 September 1999

“Bonnie and Clyde” is, what I would consider to be, the movie that let loose violence in cinema. Artur Penn’s based on a true story classic of violence, sexuality, and crime, was excellent thirty-two years ago when it first came out, is excellent today, and will be excellent for decades to come. Plus, it is one of those rare movies that are at the same time a landmark for cinema history as well as a true classic for more than just its landmark aspect. This movie earned five nominations only for acting and won best supporting-actress for Estelle Parsons.

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One morning, as she wakes up, Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway) notices that a man is trying to subtly break into her car. She quickly dresses up and runs down. The man looks up at her embarrassed and we are than revealed Clyde Barrow (Warren Beatty). The two of them go for a walk down the road but when Clyde tells Bonnie that he is a robber, she doesn’t believe him. So, he decides to prove to her that he isn’t lying and robs a small grocery shop right away. As soon as he exits the store, he shows Bonnie the money and they escape in a car that they steal. And so begins an adventure they will never forget.

Along their way, they pick up a young boy who works at a gas station who is called C.W. (Michael J. Pollard).

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They begin doing more and more robberies until Clyde is finally forced to kill someone. Later on in their trip, Clyde’s brother (Gene Hackman) and his wife Blanche (Estelle Parsons) catch up with Clyde, C.W., and Bonnie and they continue committing crimes such as robberies and even sometimes murders but usually in cases of self-defense.

“Bonnie and Clyde” is beautifully acted and expertly directed. After “Bonnie and Clyde”, Arthur Penn directed some other good movies such as “Little big man” but as good as they were all, none ever equalled “Bonnie and Clyde”. If you haven’t seen it yet, you should put it first on your “Next movies to watch” list.

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All the King’s Men (1949 )

Directed by Robert Rossen
Cinematography Burnett Guffey

All the King’s Men is a 1949 American film noir drama film set in a political setting directed by Robert Rossen and based on the Robert Penn Warren novel of the same name. The triple Oscar-winning production features Broderick Crawford in the role of the ambitious and sometimes ruthless politician, Willie Stark.

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Plot

The story of the rise of politician Willie Stark from a rural county seat to the governor’s mansion is depicted in the film. He goes into politics, railing against the corruptly run county government, but loses his race for county treasurer, in the face of unfair obstacles placed by the local machine. Stark teaches himself law, and as a lawyer, continues to fight the local establishment, championing the local people and gaining popularity. He eventually rises to become a candidate for governor, narrowly losing his first race, then winning on his second attempt. Along the way he loses his innocence and becomes as corrupt as the politicians he once fought against. When his son becomes paralyzed following a drunk driving accident that kills a female passenger, Stark’s world starts to unravel and he discovers that not everyone can be bought off.

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The story has a complex series of relationships. All is seen through the eyes of the journalist, Jack Burden, who admires Stark and even when disillusioned still sticks by him. Stark’s campaign assistant, Sadie is clearly in love with Stark and wants him to leave his wife, Lucy. Meanwhile, Stark philanders and gets involved with many women, taking Jack’s own girlfriend, Anne Stanton, as his mistress. When Stark’s reputation is brought into disrepute by Judge Stanton (Anne’s uncle), he seeks to blacken the judge’s name. When Jack finds evidence of the judge’s possible wrongdoing, a quarter century earlier, he hides it from Stark. Anne gives the evidence to Stark, who uses it against her uncle, who immediately commits suicide. Anne seems to forgive Stark, but her brother, the surgeon who helped save Stark’s son’s life after the car crash, cannot. The doctor eventually assassinates Stark after Stark wins an impeachment investigation. The doctor in turn is shot down by Sugar Boy, Stark’s fawning assistant.

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The main plot is a thinly disguised version of the rise of real-life 1930s Louisiana Governor, Huey Long, Long’s efforts to blacken the name of Judge Benjamin Pavy, and Long’s assassination by the Judge’s son-in-law (compared to nephew, as in the film), Dr. Carl Weiss.

The Test of Time!

21 October 2006 | by VideoJoeD (United States) – See all my reviews

I viewed this film for the first time this past week. It was one of only a few “Best Picture” Oscar winners over the past fifty or sixty years that I had not previously seen. I have found most, but not all, of these films to be absorbing and/or entertaining with the majority deserving of the awards they received. I included this specific film in a personal test that I conducted recently. I initially viewed the current version of this film, which features an impressive cast headed up by Sean Penn, Jude Law, Kate Winslet and Anthony Hopkins. Then I rented this 1949 award winner to compare both versions.

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I am aware that when you first see a film or program that you find to be an excellent presentation and then you view a newer version of the same entity, the normal tendency is to find the new version not up to the standards of the original due to the unfairly high expectations. For the test conducted, I switched viewing order of the two versions. I anticipated finding the newer version more rewarding due to the more than half century difference in the two presentations and the fact that Sean Penn and Anthony Hopkins have each artistically created several roles which I have found to be top of the line performances. It did not work out that way in this case. I found the 1949 version withstood the test of time and in my opinion was the superior production. This had to do with several factors, the primary one being that the screen play of the older version seemed to be better paced and the presentation flowed more evenly.

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I believe this version more closely followed the novel and the depiction of the central character “Willie Stark”. The novel loosely based this character on real life Louisiana politician “Huey Long”. I concluded that the newer version tried to capture more of Longs’ character along with his political successes and failures. In doing so it lost some of the novels flow and impact.

Both versions have excellent casts and the performances given by both Sean Penn and Broderick Crawford (Oscar winning) as Willie Stark are first rate. I consider this version to be a top 25 all time political drama and gave it an 8 out of 10 IMDb rating, but I would recommend both versions for fans of semi-biographical political dramas.

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Don’t compare it to CITIZEN KANE

Author: (patrick.hunter@csun.edu) from Northridge, Ca
18 August 2000

While I admit that CITIZEN KANE portrays the corruption of power better than any motion picture ever made, let’s also be fair, because any Hollywood movie will suffer when compared with it. A more appropriate comparison would be the recent docudrama of Huey Long, KINGFISH. While John Goodman is excellent as Long and the movie worthwhile, it reveals just how good a film ALL THE KING’S MEN is.

Of course, Robert Rossen’s picture has a drab look. It should. It suggests the drab appearance of most U.S. states (anyone who has visited Kansas will know why Dorothy and L. Frank Baum wanted to go over the rainbow) and the use of common townsfolk rather than Hollywood extras adds to this look, as do the drab locations (check out something like the Marlon Brando movie THE CHASE, a movie that should have a drab look, but instead looks like a glossy Hollywood backlot). Thank God Columbia, a studio that loved locations because it had no back lot, financed this movie!

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I wouldn’t call this film realistic, but I’ve read the pulitzer prize winning novel, and I wouldn’t call it realistic either. Every page brims with beautifully poetic language which the movie often incorporates and which Rossen makes sound more like natural conversation than it really is. Compared to the book, the film, I think, reveals its real weaknesses: it does simplify moral issues and also reduces some of the characters to the level of melodrama (Willie Stark, in the novel, resembles more someone like Andy Griffith’s character in A FACE IN THE CROWD: a charming good ole boy you want to love, but who will knife you in the back the next minute). Broderick Crawford, with his Bronx accent, hardly suggests either a hayseed or, as he calls himself “a hick,” but he has a bullying power that I think is brilliant for the role. Personally, I’m glad neither Spencer Tracy nor John Wayne (both of whom Rossen wanted) got the part.

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And I think this movie holds up very well, even in our post-Watergate era of cynical politics: like the novel, it shows how the populist leader can easily be a tyrant. This message is not in CITIZEN KANE: the lofty Kane was never one of the people; he just wanted to be one of the people. Considering how much Hollywood in the era of Harry Truman embraced the populist sentiment with the films of John Ford and Frank Capra, considering that dictators like a Hitler and a Stalin like to present themselves as one of the people and enjoyed popular support, considering how much Americans love politicians who are charming rather than substantial, I’d say Rossen’s film hasn’t dated at all.

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Monkey on My Back (1957)

Directed by Andre DeToth

Cinematography by

Maury Gertsman

Monkey on My Back is a 1957 biographical film directed by Andre DeToth, starring Cameron Mitchell as Barney Ross, a world champion boxer and World War II hero (based on a real-life titleholder). The movie is heavily fictionalized, but both the movie character and the biographical character become addicted to opiates due to war conditions. In the climax of the film, Ross faces a challenging battle to recover from his addiction.

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In the 1930s, boxer Barney Ross wins the welterweight championship, then meets chorus girl Cathy Holland as he celebrates. Sam Pian, his trainer, learns that Barney placed a $10,000 bet on himself to win the fight. Cathy, a single mom of a young girl, Noreen, gets to know Barney, but is unaware of his gambling habit. When he loses to Henry Armstrong, he owes thousands to a bookie named Big Ralph and is forced to work in Ralph’s bar to pay off the debt.

Barney joins the Marines when war breaks out. He gets Cathy to marry him before leaving for the South Pacific, where, at 33, his heroism at Guadalcanal saves another soldier’s life and earns Barney a medal, the Silver Star. But he also contracts malaria, for which a medic prescribes morphine. Back home in Chicago, he is given a job with a public-relations firm by the father of the man whose life he saved. Barney is now addicted to morphine, however, and incurs a huge debt to Rico, a drug pusher. Cathy catches her desperate husband breaking into Noreen’s piggy bank, so she moves out.

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Barney becomes suicidal. But when his wife returns to inform him that Rico has been arrested, he vows to beat his addiction. He checks into a hospital in Kentucky while the whole country becomes aware of his plight. Four months later, Barney is permitted to leave, rejoin his family and resume his life.

Dope Addiction, a perpetually relevant story

8/10
Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
25 January 2013

Monkey On My Back tells the story of Barney Ross, former lightweight and welterweight champion who became a war hero with the US Marines and then after fighting the Japanese became a bigger hero fighting drug addiction. At that time films like this one, A Hatful Of Rain and The Man With The Golden Arm were making the American public get acquainted with the evils of drug addiction.

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One of the key elements of Barney Ross’s story that was left out was his religion. The man was an orthodox Jew who was the son of a Talmudic scholar whose father was shot to death in a holdup. Barney was born Dov Rosovsky and the Rosovsky had tough going after the death of the family patriarch. Ross rejected the formal religious teachings of his father, but of his heritage you could never make any kind of anti-Semitic crack in his presence. For reasons of a market in some ultra red state territory, that component of his story was eliminated, but it is key to understanding him.

He also worked his way out of poverty first by being a low level strong arm guy for Al Capone in Chicago. After that he decided to go legitimate in the use of his fists and graduated to boxing. The managing team of Sam Pian and Art Winch played here by Jack Albertson and Richard Benedict turned him into a champion of two divisions. That is where the film picks up Barney Ross’s story.

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Psychologists could best tell you why some folks have an addictive personality and what could and what will always addict people. Ross as is shown here was a free spender who loved to gamble and was constantly in hock. Considering how some fighters end up, he was almost lucky that World War II came along and he joined the Marines.

On Guadalcanal he became a hero and also caught the malaria which could only be treated as far as the pain with morphine. That part of the story is perpetually relevant because after every war we seem to breed a generation of dope addicts.

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Cameron Mitchell got his career role in Barney Ross and could have contended for an Oscar if this independent film from United Artists had been properly publicized. Out the same year was A Hatful Of Rain that did have performances so nominated by Don Murray and Tony Franciosa. Mitchell’s holds up every bit as well as those two. In fact 1957 was his career year as the highly acclaimed Christmas story All Mine To Give also came out with Mitchell. This should have led to bigger roles and bigger pictures, but Cameron Mitchell was off in a few years to Europe to do Peplum, spaghetti westerns, and other films, some of them pretty dreadful.

Dianne Foster does well as his loyal wife with Kathy Garver as her daughter who Mitchell adopts. And Paul Richards as the dope dealer Rico will make your skin crawl with his evil.

And this film is dedicated to Barney Ross, a champion in life as well as the ring.

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Exceptional…especially for when it was made.

8/10
Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
20 February 2012
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is the true-life story of a famous boxing champion, Barney Ross (Cameron Mitchell). The film picks up in his later years as a fighter–when he’s at the top of his game. Barney should be a happy man–and he is. But there also is trouble brewing, as Barney is an inveterate gambler. Even when it costs him his wife because of this, he’s slow to admit he’s got a problem. Fortunately, he eventually kicks the habit and joins the armed services. The film doesn’t show it, but he was used early in his military career to sell bonds–just like Joe Lewis and various celebrities. He is eventually sent to Guadalcanal–a hellish place and probably the worst battle of the Pacific, as it drug on for many months. In the process, he shows his heroism and earns a silver star–but he’s also wounded and suffering from the effects of PTSD (they don’t really talk about this too much in the film). As a result of this and his very addictive personality, he soon begins hooked on morphine. Much of the rest of the film is his horrible struggle to kick his addiction.

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The film is very well done. Despite a lower budget, Cameron Mitchell turns in a nice performance as the boxer. And, like “A Hatful of Rain” (which also came out in 1957), it does a great job of showing the horrors of this sort of addicted life. Well worth seeing.

By the way, Barney Ross was a boxer during the late 20s and through the 30s–yet it looks like 1950s in the movie. A very minor gripe, but I did think this was kind of funny.

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Barney Ross: Drug Addict!

7/10
Author: kapelusznik18 from United States
24 July 2014
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

***SPOILERS*** True and heart lifting story of light and welterweight boxing champion Barney Ross, Cameron Mitchell, who’s roller coaster life in and out of the ring is the stuff that legends are made of. We first get to see Barney broken and alone enter a federal or veterans hospital in Kentucky to get treated for his addiction to morphine that he devolved during WWII in the battle of Guadalcanal where he was both wounded and contracted malaria. The movie starts at the Polo Grounds in NYC with Barney winning a 15 round decision over welterweight champ Jimmy McLarnin who took the title from him the year before. Celebrating his victory at a local nightclub Barney meets his future wife single mom and show girl Cathy Holland, Dianne Forster, and he’s off to the races, Belmont Aqueduct & Saratoga, with her and her six year old daughter Noreen, Kathy Garver, enjoying life to the fullest and gambling his money away. That’s until three years later when in a title match he runs into the windmill like “Hammering Henry” Armstrong who takes his welterweight title from him in a brutal 15 round decision at the now defunct Madison Square Bowl in Long Island City.

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Retiring from boxing Barney later does his patriotic duty at age 33 and joins the US Marine corps when he ended up in the fighting in the South Pacific. That ended up getting Barney addicted to morphine that destroyed his as well as his wife Cathy’s life. It’s then after Barny returns state side to a hero’s welcome that the story of an all-American success story turns into an all-American nightmare. Craving for morphine and not getting it from the VA turns Barney into a down and out junkie who goes so far of raiding his 12 year old step daughter Noreen’s piggy bank for money to buy the stuff. Getting involved with drug pushers like Rico, Paul Richards, doesn’t help either. Rico like a monkey on Barney’s back squeezes the poor man for every cent he has leaving him totally broke and unable to pay his bills as well as rent and food!

With Barney’s wife Kathy threatening to leave him if he doesn’t straighten his sorry life out Braney comes clean and turns himself over to the government, or government hospital, to get help before his addiction to morphine ends up killing him. With the love and support he gets from both Cathy and the hospital staff, as well as thousands of his fans and admirers, Barney kicks his morphine habit where in four month of going cold turkey he’s completely drug-free. We see at the end of the film Barney leaving the hospital a free, drug free, man to start his life over again with Cathy waiting to greet him. With all the battles he had fought in the ring the one Barney had with drug addiction was the hardest he ever went through. And in the end he licked it even though the at the start the odds of him winning were greatly against him!

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Too Much, Too Soon (1958)

Director:

Art Napoleon

The daughter of iconic actor John Barrymore becomes reunited with her father after a ten year estrangement and engages in his self-destructive lifestyle.

Warner Brothers purchased the book the film is based on with the intention of starring Carroll Baker (then under contract) in an adaptation. When she declined on the grounds that she did not want to play “a nymphomaniac”, they refused to lend her to an outside company to appear in “The Devil’s Disciple” opposite Sir Laurence Olivier.

A masochistic wallow…enjoyable, nonetheless, especially with Malone in the lead

10 July 2012 | by moonspinner55 (las vegas, nv) – See all my reviews

Dorothy Malone does very fine work portraying Diana Barrymore, the daughter of alcoholic actor John Barrymore, a young woman with dreams of carving out her own niche in show business before succumbing to the same demons which dogged her father. The picture, however, is little more than a potboiler, co-written by director Art Napoleon with Jo Napoleon, from the book by Diana Barrymore and Gerold Frank. Errol Flynn is solid as John Barrymore, and there’s a sweet supporting performance from Martin Milner as a family friend (Milner’s final scene, revealing a bald head, is especially good). Still, this movie about the movies seems lackluster and naive, not to mention under-produced. For buffs, a somewhat enjoyable wallow with a quiet, even pace, and Malone manages to be sympathetic on the road to ruin without becoming a nuisance. **1/2 from ****

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“Too Much, Too Soon” is Errol Flynn’s last good role

7/10
Author: (chuck-reilly) from Los Angeles
7 March 2008
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It’s strange watching “Too Much, Too Soon” mainly because of Errol Flynn’s take on his old mentor John Barrymore. The story involves the real John Barrymore’s daughter, Diana, who herself was an early version of some of Hollywood’s wayward children of today. Ms. Barrymore, charismatically played with loads of verve by Dorothy Malone, could’ve been a huge star, but it wasn’t meant to be. Booze, drugs and an endless string of bad lovers put her career on the rocks from which she never really recovered. Ms. Barrymore’s story is sad and morose and this movie does its best to sensationalize it. Her fast rise is chronicled here as well as her even faster fall from grace. That said, the performances are uniformly good in this movie, particularly Flynn as John Barrymore. Flynn died at the age of 50 the year after this film came out, and he was literally fading away during the entire production. He had his own demonic battles with alcohol, so he could entirely relate to the character he was playing.

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After winning an Academy Award earlier, Dorothy Malone’s movie career mostly stalled after this film, but she later achieved lasting fame on TV’s “Peyton Place” as Constance MacKenzie. Ray Danton, another fine actor who never got his due in Hollywood, is along for the ride here as one of Dorothy’s gigolo/lovers. The depressing tale of Diana Barrymore could probably stand a good remake today with a capable cast and director. After all this time, she’s still a worthy subject.

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Incredible Movie

10/10
Author: rsgallo from Lee’s Summit, MO
30 June 2001

Dorothy Malone’s performance is unbelievable. From a teenager to a middle aged woman. It is truly like seeing Diana Barrymore. Errol Flynn also was so outstanding. It was one of the greatest performances I have ever seen for him. The movie is one of the best I have seen. I highly recommend it.

Flynn Makes It Memorable

5/10
Author: Tom Hodgins from Mississauga, Ontario
9 April 2011

Based on the 1957 autobiography of Diana Barrymore, Too Much, Too Soon is one of a series of film biographies produced by Hollywood in the 1950’s dealing with show business personalities. While the second half of the film dissolves into soap opera antics, the first hour is remarkably compelling.

This is entirely due to the touching and profoundly sad performance of Errol Flynn, cast as the legendary ruin of a once great actor, John Barrymore. Flynn had been a crony and admirer of the Great Profile in the latter’s final years of alcoholic excess. The two men had much in common, talent, fame, and success, along with self-loathing and large streaks of self-destructive behaviour.

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Tragically, Flynn, though he would never know it, even had his own version of Diana Barrymore, a daughter of whom he saw little who, like her father, would be cursed with personal demons, a life of potential squandered with drug addiction that preceded an early death. That, however, would be almost forty years after Flynn had performed his own incrementally slow suicide through alcohol and drugs.

Flynn adopts few of Barrymore’s mannerisms. Instead, his performance splendidly captures the inner turmoil and vulnerability of the Great Profile in his wilderness years, as well as one startling scene in which he depicts the mean, violent drunk that could emerge. There is a sadness and loneliness at the soul of this characterization, made all the more powerful because what the viewer is seeing is largely a reflection of Flynn himself. After years of self-indulgence and with a great career that had all but vanished, Flynn knew only too well the anguish that Barrymore felt towards the end.

There is also the irony of a scene in which Flynn, as Barrymore, regales a small gathering of people in a closed theatre with anecdotes about some of the old-time Hollywood personalities he had known. A year after Too Much, Too Soon’s release Flynn would be doing the same thing again, but now in real life at a private party, minutes before he suffered his fatal heart attack. Among the people that he discussed was John Barrymore.

The theme of the film is of a child of privilege, denied love by her self-absorbed parents, who spends her life seeking that love as she descends into an increasingly sordid world of alcohol and abusive relationships. It’s a pretty grim story though actually cleaned up for this film version. Diana Barrymore’s complete story was even more degrading than the one vaguely depicted in the screenplay of Art Napoleon, who also directed the film. Nor is any mention made of the fact that Diana’s first husband, played by Efrem Zimbalist Jr., is based on the actor Bramwell Fletcher, who had actually co-starred with her father eleven years before, in one of Barrymore’s greatest film triumphs, Svengali.

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There are also, no surprise for a Hollywood product, some embellishments with the truth. One of the film’s best scenes involves Flynn, as Barrymore, making a person-to-person call to Diana’s mother, whom he had divorced years before, because he wants a second chance. It’s a great moment for the actor, a closeup on his face as his eyes first register fear then hopeful anticipation as he hears the phone ring at the other end, followed by a look of dejection when the operator comes on line to announce that the call isn’t being answered.

The real Barrymore, however, had two stormy marriages after that divorce (never mentioned in the screenplay, among many other things) and was engaged in an obsessive love-hate relationship with his fourth wife (Elaine Barrie) at the time that Diana briefly moved in with him. I’ve never read any indication that he still carried a torch for Diana’s mother, as Napoleon’s writing would have you believe.

Flynn’s performance is haunting but once his character dies at the film’s half way point there’s little reason for the viewer to continue to watch. Diana Barrymore’s own story is decidedly less interesting, as she runs through a succession of men, most of them predictably very bad for her. Dorothy Malone, fresh off her best supporting actress Oscar win for Written on the Wind, is quite good in the lead role but the viewer still feels robbed that Flynn is no longer on screen.

After a final hour of watching Diana Barrymore’s descent into a personal hell, the film ends on a slightly upbeat note with the indication of a possible rehabilitation for the main character. Unfortunately, it was not to be for the real Barrymore who would die from a drug overdose less than two years after this film’s release (and just four months after Flynn’s demise).

It’s a cautionary tale of celebrity self-destruction, made memorable by the heart rending performance of a man who channelled his own life story into that of the friend he portrayed.

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To Please a Lady (1950)

Directed by Clarence Brown

Plot

Racing driver Mike Brannan (Clark Gable), has a reputation for doing whatever it takes to win. Powerful nationwide columnist Regina Forbes (Barbara Stanwyck) decides to interview Brannan just before a race, and becomes annoyed when he is rather brusque with her. Brannan and popular competitor Joe Youghal fight for the lead. When a car they are about to lap crashes in front of them, Brannan safely drives around it on the inside, forcing Youghal to try to go outside. In her column the next day, Regina blames Brannan for Youghal’s death and brings up a prior racing fatality involving him. As a result, he is barred by nervous racing circuit managers anxious to avoid bad publicity.

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Brannan has to sell his race car. He becomes a star stunt driver for Joie Chitwood, performing dangerous stunts at circuses for $100 a show. When Regina’s assistant, Gregg (Adolphe Menjou), updates her about Brannan, she shows unexpected interest. She goes to see how Brannan is doing. He tells her he has earned enough money to buy a car of his own and enter the big leagues, where Regina has no influence. She provokes him into first slapping and then kissing her. She likes it, and they start seeing each other.

He is very successful on the racetrack, but their relationship is rocky. Finally comes the big race at Indianapolis Speedway. At a key moment, Brannan drives cautiously rather than aggressively, but his car flips anyway. He is rushed to the hospital, where Regina lets him know that she is proud of him.

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A young Bill Hickman can be seen as one of the members of Clark Gable’s pit crew. Hickman was famous as one of the top movie stunt drivers in Hollywood for many years, and his most notable on-camera role was as the middle-aged, bespectacled driver of the black Dodge Charger that is chased by Steve McQueen‘s green Ford Mustang in the film Bullitt (1968).

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The film featured short-track midget car racing, a highly popular form of auto racing in post-World War II America. From the mid-1930’s through the mid-1960’s, most drivers who aspired to race in the famous Indianapolis 500 usually started competing in the midgets, then sprint cars (similar in looks, but more powerful and faster than midgets), then to “championship,” or Indianapolis-type cars.
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Fun to see the vintage racing footage

16 August 2015 | by smatysia (feldene@comcast.net) (Houston) – See all my reviews

A decent film of its era, with a very formulaic story arc between the two main characters. I had only watched this because Barbara Stanwyck was starring in it. I had no idea that it was a racing movie. But as a racing fan, it was a lot of fun to see the vintage racing footage. Even though Clark Gable was mostly acting in front of a projection screen for the racing closeups, they spliced it all together very well. And even though auto racing is dangerous now, wow, they raced open top cars with no seat belts at all, no roll bar, no fire suit, pretty much nothing at all to protect a driver except a partial helmet and goggles. Also fun to see the pit stops with a lever for a jack, and hammers to remove and replace the main tire nuts. Apparently, a lot of footage from the 1950 Indianapolis 500 was used and it was something to see.

Great racing scenes (Indy style) but they get in the way of plot development

6/10
Author: secondtake from United States
26 January 2013

To Please a Lady (1950)

Amazingly, this is from post-war America. It feels like a movie from the 1930s, both technically and the way the story is told. Even the stars, though both obviously alive and still working, are better known for their earlier work.

I’m speaking of Clark Gable and Barbara Stanwyck. And they have a certain degree of good chemistry on screen, though the story is so “constructed” (I’m avoiding the better word “contrived”) you don’t always feel what they are feeling, as characters. The one scene that does this best is an extended dinner at a club where a string orchestra is playing and they fall in love and then seem to fall out of love quickly. It’s really beautiful and romantic (and the strings are as lush as any string section has sounded, and I mean it).

Because of all these things this ends up being both a great fun movie and a bit of a throwback that doesn’t quite take off. The director, Clarence Brown, is also known best for much earlier movies (like the award winning pre-code “A Free Soul” which is fabulous). He’s good, the acting is good, and the story is, well, pretty good. It’s serviceable, but a little too packaged and somewhat thin going.

Another factor here is the racing itself, the Indianapolis 500. Some of the footage is clearly from real races (probably the 1949 or 1950 race…this movie was released in the fall of 1950). There are lots of scenes–too many, unless you are car racing fan–of cars zooming around the track. Credit goes to the cinematographer, Harold Rosson, who is a bit legendary because he helped with “Wizard of Oz” and did several other classics like “Asphalt Jungle” and “The Bad Seed.” The photography matters more than usual here because it’s “just” car racing, and it’s made exciting and visually intense. Closeups of Gable in the car are of course constructed in the studio, but seemalessly. Great visuals throughout.

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See this? You bet, but remember it’s really an entertainment, and it has little complexity or depth, and it has lots and lots of race track stuff that doesn’t propel the plot, just the immediate energy. It’s no classic, but it has classic qualities and faces, for sure, and I liked it. And in the end, without giving a thing away, the woman (Stanwyck) stays strong and keeps her independence, a rare thing in 1950s movies.