1941-1950

René Vautier – Afrique 50 (1950)

Afrique 50, France’s first anticolonialist film, was banned by the censorship board, yet has recently been awarded a prize by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. On its completion, this biting pamphlet against French colonialism in black Africa earned its author thirteen indictments and a year’s prison sentence. In the post-war period of European reconstruction, France wanted to show her colonies in the best possible light and promoted the image of the Republic leading her child-like pupils with a maternal hand to the light of reason and progress. Not everybody, however, subscribed to this vision. Read More »

    Leo McCarey – Once Upon a Honeymoon (1942)

    At the start of WWII, Katie O’Hara, an American burlesque girl intent on social climbing, marries Austrian Baron Von Luber. Pat O’Toole, an American radio reporter, sees this as a chance to investigate Von Luber, who is suspected of having Nazi ties. As country after country falls to the Nazis, O’Tool follows O’Hara across Europe. At first he is after a story, but he gradually falls in love with her. When she learns that her husband is indeed a Nazi, O’Hara fakes her death and runs off with O’Toole. In Paris, she is recruited to spy for the allies; he uses a radio broadcast to make Von Luber and the Nazis look like fools. Read More »

      Joe May – Johnny Doesn’t Live Here Any More (1944)

      Plot:
      The sparkling screwball comedy And So They Were Married was originally released as Johnny Doesn’t Live Here Any More. French-Canadian girl Simone Simon leases a Washington DC apartment from Marine William Terry. Since the Nation’s Capital is overcrowded (wartime, don’t you know), Simon must put up with a steady parade of Terry’s old cronies and girlfriends, all of whom have keys to the apartment. She also becomes the romantic bone of contention between Terry and his sailor pal James Ellison. The last half of the film is dominated by Robert Mitchum as a Chief Petty Officer, who wants to rent the apartment for himself and his wife. Read More »

        Cecil B. DeMille – Samson and Delilah (1949)

        Synopsis:
        Though his people, the Israelites, are enslaved by the Philistines, Samson (Victor Mature), strongest man of the tribe of Dan, falls in love with the Philistine Semadar (Dame Angela Lansbury), whom he wins by virtue of a contest of strength. But Semadar betrays him, and Samson engages in a fight with her real love, Ahtur (Henry Wilcoxon), and his soldiers. Semadar is killed, and her sister Delilah (Hedy Lamarr), who had loved Samson in silence, now vows vengeance against him. She plans to seduce Samson into revealing the secret of his strength and then to betray him to the Philistine leader, The Saran of Gaza (George Sanders). Read More »

          Georges Rouquier – Le Tonnelier (1942)

          A short documentary about the life and craft of a French cooper. The main focus is on the two-day process of creating a wine barrel, from nada to completion. Interspersed throughout are little snippets concerning the life of the cooper whose work we follow, like mentioning his daughter’s marriage and his being involved in WWI. Read More »

            James A. FitzPatrick – Glimpses of Florida (1941)

            Quote:
            This Traveltalk entry starts in Miami, which at the time of filming was still a small vacation community. We then go to Hialeah to watch the thoroughbred horses race. After short stops at The Everglades and Cypress Gardens, we are taken to Silver Springs, named after its pristine waters. Mr. Ross Allen, director of the Silver Springs Reptile Institute, is shown catching alligators and milking a poisonous snake of its venom. The venom is sent to pharmaceutical companies to manufacture snakebite serum. Read More »

              Billy Wilder – A Foreign Affair (1948)

              Quote:
              Phoebe Frost (Jean Arthur), an upright Iowa Republican member of Congress, travels to Berlin to look into reports of corruption among the occupying American forces. She enlists an Army captain (John Lund) in her crusade and finds herself falling for him, unaware that he’s the man romantically involved with a German cabaret singer (Marlene Dietrich) who can lead army investigators to a high-level Nazi war criminal. The post-war public was not ready to accept such a witty expose of American and German hypocrisy during its original release but A FOREIGN AFFAIR is now considered one of Wilder’s most underrated and iconic films. The black and white cinematography by Charles Lang and the screenplay by Wilder, Charles Brackett and Richard L. Breen received Oscar® nominations. Read More »