The Hurricane (1937)

JOHN FORD Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB.  USA, 1937.  The Samuel Goldwyn Company.  Screenplay by Dudley Nichols, adaptation by Oliver H.P. Garrett, based on the novel by Charles Nordhoff, James Norman Hall.  Cinematography by Bert Glennon.  Produced by Samuel Goldwyn.  Music by Alfred Newman.  Production Design by Richard Day.  Costume Design by Omar Kiam.  Film Editing by Lloyd Nosler.  Academy Awards 1937.  This excellent…

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The Last Command

BBBB (out of 5) An aging movie extra (Emil Jannings) drags his tired body to the set of his latest assignment, another day of earning a dollar fulfilling a silent-era stereotype. He flashes back to ten years earlier when, as a Russian general who was also cousin of the Czar, his Bolshevik enemies make a pauper…

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Underworld (1927)

BBBB.5 (out of 5) This excellent, beautifully shot drama is considered the film that sparked the craze for gangster movies in the thirties. Rough thug George Bancroft finds his lawyer friend Clive Brook at a bar and convinces him to give up the booze, turning the man from a useless bum to a dapper dan in no…

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Young Mr. Lincoln (1939)

JOHN FORD Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB.5.  USA, 1939.  Twentieth Century Fox.  Screenplay by Lamar Trotti.  Cinematography by Bert Glennon.  Produced by Darryl F. Zanuck.  Music by Alfred Newman.  Production Design by Richard Day, Mark-Lee Kirk.  Costume Design by Royer.  Film Editing by Walter Thompson.  Academy Awards 1939.   Henry Fonda is perfectly cast (with an impressive prosthetic nose) as Honest Abe, with John Ford’s sturdy direction telling a…

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Operation Pacific

BBB (out of 5) Shameless war propaganda that isn’t without its merits.  John Wayne is excellent as a submarine officer whose vessel is trying to perfect the launching of missiles that will not explode. Returning to Pearl Harbour (only a few years after the historical invasion) after an island rescue mission, Wayne is reunited with…

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Copacabana (1947)

BB.5 (out of 5) Carmen Miranda and Groucho Marx work at the famous nightclub to make some dough, with her working extra hard because she has just taken two jobs at the joint, including one as a mysterious chanteuse hidden under a veil. He does his schtick, she does her songs, nothing very special happens. If it’s…

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Stagecoach (1939)

JOHN FORD Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBBB.  USA, 1939.  Walter Wanger Productions.  Screenplay by Dudley Nichols, based on the story by Ernest Haycox.  Cinematography by Bert Glennon.  Produced by John Ford.  Music by Gerard Carbonara.  Production Design by Alexander Toluboff.  Costume Design by Walter Plunkett.  Film Editing by Otho Lovering, Dorothy Spencer.  Academy Awards 1939.   The western that started it all; certainly the genre was already well established…

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Hollywood Canteen

BB (out of 5) War propaganda has never been as shameless as in this endless bore. The film takes place in the actual Hollywood canteen, a real nightclub started in the forties by cinema stars and directors (Bette Davis and John Garfield being the two key founders) where servicemen taking leave in Los Angeles could have a…

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The Scarlet Empress

BBBB.5 (out of 5) The role of Catherine The Great couldn’t be more tailor-made for star Marlene Dietrich if she had been carved out of fiction. Brought from her Prussian home to the palace of Peter II a shy and awkward young woman, Sofia Frederica is renamed Catherine by the queen (Louise Dresser), becomes acquainted with…

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Blonde Venus

BBB (out of 5) Marlene Dietrich conceived the original story for this film, which was purchased from her by Universal Studios solely on the grounds that she relinquish credit (which she did). She plays a happily married woman whose husband one day reveals to her that he is dying of a horrible disease and must travel…

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The Rains Came (1939)

CLARENCE BROWN Bil’s rating (out of 5):   BBB.5.  USA, 1939.  Twentieth Century Fox.  Screenplay by Philip Dunne, Julien Josephson, based on the novel by Louis Bromfield.  Cinematography by Arthur C. Miller, Bert Glennon.  Produced by Darryl F. Zanuck.  Music by Alfred Newman.  Production Design by William S. Darling, George Dudley.  Costume Design by Gwen Wakeling.  Film Editing by Barbara McLean.  Academy Awards 1939.   Myrna Loy‘s glamour and…

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Drums Along The Mohawk (1939)

JOHN FORD Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB.  USA, 1939.  Twentieth Century Fox.  Screenplay by Lamar Trotti, Sonya Levien, based on the novel by Walter D. Edmonds.  Cinematography by Bert Glennon, Ray Rennahan.  Produced by Darryl F. Zanuck.  Music by Alfred Newman.  Production Design by Richard Day, Mark-Lee Kirk.  Costume Design by Gwen Wakeling.  Film Editing by Robert L. Simpson.  Academy Awards 1939.   Pre-revolutionary Americans Henry Fonda and Claudette…

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