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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Because You’re Mine

BB (out of 5) Mario Lanza plays (what else) a famous opera singer whose celebrity does nothing to keep him from the draft.  He is snatched up by Uncle Sam and put through basic training, though thanks to the fact that his sergeant (James Whitmore) is a huge opera buff, he is given pride of place…

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Johnny Got His Gun

BB.5 (out of 5) Dalton Trumbo, once the blacklisted author whose unabashed screenplay credit in Spartacus effectively ended the reign of anti-Communist fear in Hollywood, wrote and directed this anti-war film based on his own novel. Timothy Bottoms plays a World War I soldier who survives the battlefield, but only barely:  he doesn’t have eyes,…

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Wake Of The Red Witch

BBB.5 (out of 5) Who can resist high seas adventure that leads to underwater searches for lost treasure?  John Wayne is the captain of a ship trying to fight an enemy for the woman he loves and for the deep sea treasure that he feels rightfully belongs to him. Excellent photography and marvelous work from the…

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The Thing From Another World

BBBB (out of 5) Fun chiller from the fifties that emphasizes unseen terror and builds tension through characters and dialogue. Its ability to get under your skin with little apparent effort makes you nostalgic for the good old days when people made scary movies that didn’t give everything away in the first reel. It takes…

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Madame Bovary (1949)

BBB.5 (out of 5) Vincente Minnelli’s sumptous adaptation of the classic Gustave Flaubert novel suffers when it opens and closes with Flaubert himself (played by James Mason) defending his work in a public courtroom. Presumably this was to give forties film audiences a chance to understand the original novel in its historical context, but it was…

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Broken Lance

BBBB (out of 5) Excellent western by Edward Dmytryk and featuring a terrific performance by Spencer Tracy as a cattle baron who raids a copper smelter that is polluting his water and harming his livestock. His son (Robert Wagner) takes credit for the crime and goes to jail in place of his father, while Tracy’s other…

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The Ten Commandments

BBBB.5 (out of 5) The life and times of Moses, brought to vivid life! Charlton Heston made quite a cinematic mark with his rock-steady performance as the Biblical hero, born to a Jewish slave and raised in an Egyptian palace as a prince. Discovery of his roots leads him to understand his destiny as the man…

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The Jazz Singer (1952)

BB.5 (out of 5) The creative artists who decided to remake this maudlin drama from the 1927 original starring Al Jolson seemed to be quite unaware that the material wasn’t that great in the first place. All that really made the 1927 version memorable was the fact that it was the first film to feature…

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