The Great Caruso (1951)

RICHARD THORPE Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.  USA, 1951.  Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.  Screenplay by Sonya Levien, William Ludwig, suggested by the biography of Enrico Caruso by Dorothy Caruso.  Cinematography by Joseph Ruttenberg.  Produced by Joe Pasternak.  Music by Johnny Green, Peter Herman Adler.  Production Design by Cedric Gibbons, Gabriel Scognamillo.  Costume Design by Helen Rose, Gile Steele.  Film Editing by Gene Ruggiero.  Academy Awards 1951.  …

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Lassie Come Home

BBBB (out of 5) It’s nice to know that decades of movies about children befriending animals began with a few great ones, since it would take a very cold heart to not be won over by The Yearling, National Velvet and this first adaptation of Eric Knight’s beloved collie.  Lassie is the best friend to an adorable Roddy McDowall, whose…

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Moonfleet

BBB (out of 5) Having recently lost his mother, young and innocent Jon Whiteley follows her last spoken instructions and makes his way back to a village he has never known, seeking out a roguish aristocrat (Stewart Granger) to whom he immediately becomes attached.  Granger is living the high life of a fornicating cad in his…

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The Sword In The Stone

BBB.5 (out of 5) Animated adventure that tells the Disneyfied version of the legend of King Arthur, concentrating mostly on his boyhood life as a squire and his tutelage under the magical guidance of the wizard Merlin, before the mythical moment when he removes the sword Excalibur from the stone that houses it. It concerns itself…

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The Uninvited

BBBB (out of 5) Ray Milland and Ruth Hussey are siblings who decide to buy an abandoned mansion at the top of a hill in an English village, completely unaware of its miserable history.  The man they buy the house from (Donald Crisp) is more than willing to let it go, while his daughter (Gail Russell) longs…

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Johnny Belinda

BBB.5 (out of 5) Jane Wyman won an Academy Award for her sensitive portrayal of a deaf-mute woman in Nova Scotia who bears a child after being raped by a local bad guy. At first her shocked family think that she has behaved improperly, but when they learn the truth they decide to support her as…

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Journey To The Center Of The Earth (1959)

BBB (out of 5) New advances in stop-motion animation technology were encouraging movie producers of the fifties to create lots of deliciously pulpy science-fiction films for mass audiences to enjoy. For a few years following the success of 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea and Around The World In 80 Days, Jules Verne’s more fantastical novels enjoyed…

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Ministry Of Fear

BBBB (out of 5) Fritz Lang’s powerful visual style has not abated by the time he makes this Hollywood classic, a superbly enjoyable wartime thriller that does not dwindle even when its plotting gets a bit sludgy towards its conclusion.  Ray Milland is in top form as a man released from an asylum for the murder…

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Julius Caesar

BBBB (out of 5) You wouldn’t think that Marlon Brando‘s mumbling Method acting would suit Shakespeare so well, but here’s evidence that given the right director (in this case, Joseph L. Mankiewicz slapping Brando around to get him to enunciate), it’s a possibility.  He is excellent as Marc Antony, the conflicted politician who must become…

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Young Bess

BBB.5 (out of 5) The earlier life of Queen Elizabeth I is explored in this so-so melodrama. It deals with the time when she was still a teenaged princess and living with Catherine Parr (Deborah Kerr), one of her father’s many wives. Parr is now married to Thomas Seymour (Stewart Granger), but Elizabeth loves him…

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Joan Of Arc

BB (out of 5) Dry, clunky adaptation of Maxwell Anderson’s play, one of many films on the subject of the Maid Of Orleans that has failed to win audiences over (Preminger’s version based on the Shaw play is another example; perhaps Dreyer’s Passion of Joan Of Arc ruined it for everyone?) Ingrid Bergman gives an unconvincing…

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Marnie

BBB (out of 5) This middling effort by Alfred Hitchcock is a psychologically sound study into the mind of a frigid, deranged kleptomaniac (Tippi Hedren). At the film’s beginning, Hedren has ripped off yet another big business enterprise that she has been working for, but this time she hasn’t managed to escape notice. The man…

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