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 Long Voyage Home (1940)

JOHN FORD Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB.  USA, 1940.  Argosy Pictures, Walter Wanger Productions.  Screenplay by Dudley Nichols, based on four Sea Plays by Eugene O’Neill.  Cinematography by Gregg Toland.  Produced by John Ford.  Music by Richard Hageman.  Production Design by James Basevi.  Film Editing by Sherman Todd.  Academy Awards 1940.   Four nautically-themed plays by Eugene O’Neill are strung together for a haunting and…

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Wilson (1944)

BBB.5 (out of 5) Fox head Darryl F. Zanuck really put his back into the studio’s prestige picture of 1944 with this polished and respectable hagiography of the 28th American president, applying the technological power (Technicolor cinematography, giant sets) usually reserved for big-budget musicals.  The film begins with Woodrow Wilson’s days as president of Princeton…

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Only Angels Have Wings

BBBB.5 (out of 5) This exquisite drama has long been regarded as Howard Hawks’ masterpiece, though there are so many strong entries in his oeuvre that I leave it up to the viewer to decide which is their favourite. The exciting action takes place in the heart of a South American jungle, where a group…

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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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The Devil And Daniel Webster (All That Money Can Buy)

BBBB (out of 5) Jabez Stone (James Craig) is so tired of being a hardworking, dirt-poor New Hampshire farmer that he announces that he’d sell his soul to the devil for a little bit more ease in life. Careful what you wish for, as the saying goes, since Mr. Scratch (Walter Huston) shows up and…

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The Hunchback Of Notre Dame (1939)

BBBBB (out of 5) Richly enjoyable, thoroughly satisfying drama based on the novel by Victor Hugo.  Charles Laughton is the misshapen denizen of the titular cathedral who inspires horror and revulsion in the citizens of King Louis XI’s France. The moral order of Paris is enforced by Frollo, the hard-bitten, hypocritical bishop who falls in…

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Gone With The Wind

BBBBB (out of 5) Like I could possibly say anything that hasn’t already been said. It’s the mother of all movies: inside its vast canvas you’ll find two of the greatest performances ever committed to film: Vivien Leigh‘s Scarlett O’Hara, a performance so intelligent and nimble that it ably carries an entire four-hour film, and…

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Pocketful Of Miracles

BB.5 (out of 5) Frank Capra remakes his own Lady For A Day with mediocre results, taking a charming little black and white movie and blowing it up into a ridiculously overproduced Technicolour feast for the senses. Bette Davis, in a role that the producers should be ashamed of wasting her talents in, plays a…

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It’s A Wonderful Life

BBBBB (out of 5) Perennial Christmas classic that director Frank Capra’s name is most often attached to and that really is as good as its reputation would have it. James Stewart is a depressed husband and father on Christmas Eve who, thanks to all his personal and financial problems, wishes the world had been created…

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Mr. Smith Goes To Washington

BBBB (out of 5) Frank Capra feel-good Americana about a pure-hearted boy-scout leader turned newbie Senator (James Stewart) who gets a job in the government not realizing that he’s being counted on to not push buttons or raise important questions. Against the desires of the corrupt officials surrounding him, Stewart suddenly finds himself squaring off…

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Lost Horizon

BBBB.5 (out of 5) Ronald Colman and crew think it’s over for them when their plane crashes in the snowy Himalayas and they are continents away from known civilization. What they’re about to find out is that just around the bend is a mysteriously beautiful city called Shangri-La, a place whose residents don’t age and…

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