Classics

Joseph L. Mankiewicz – Cleopatra (1963)

Synopsis:
In 48 B.C., Caesar pursues Pompey from Pharsalia to Egypt. Ptolemy, now supreme ruler after deposing his older sister, Cleopatra, attempts to gain favor with Caesar by presenting the conquerer with the head of Pompey, borne by his governors, Pothinos and Achillas. To win Caesar’s support from her brother, Cleopatra hides herself in a rug, which Apollodorus, her servant, presents to Caesar. The Roman is immediately infatuated; banishing Ptolemy, he declares Cleopatra Egypt’s sole ruler and takes her as his mistress. A son, Caesarion, is born of their union. Caesar, however, must return to Italy. Although he is briefly reunited with Cleopatra during a magnificent reception for the queen in Rome, Caesar is assassinated shortly thereafter, and Cleopatra returns to Egypt. Read More »

Alfred Hitchcock – Shadow of a Doubt (1943)

Synopsis:
Charlotte “Charlie” Newton is bored with her quiet life at home with her parents and her younger sister. She wishes something exciting would happen and knows exactly what they need: a visit from her sophisticated and much travelled Uncle Charlie Oakley, her mother’s younger brother. Imagine her delight when, out of the blue, they receive a telegram from Uncle Charlie announcing that he is coming to visit them for awhile. Charlie Oakley creates quite a stir and charms the ladies’ club, as well as the bank President where his brother-in-law works. Young Charlie begins to notice some odd behavior on his part, such as cutting out a story in the local paper about a man who marries and then murders rich widows. When two strangers appear asking questions about him, she begins to imagine the worst about her dearly beloved Uncle Charlie. Read More »

Mervyn LeRoy – Moment to Moment (1965)

This is a good movie in the Hitchcock vein, in which small details form the key to intense pathos. Will the husband notice the thing she mentioned in passing? Will her child inadvertently play with the wrong toy? Will the best friend keep the story straight? It takes a tangled web of lies and omissions to keep silent an impulsive affair–and a possible murder–when everything is so interconnected. No real villains here, but faulted humans trying to be happy, and not upset the house of cards that comprise their private lives. Good performances by Honor Blackman and Jean Seberg. You will be on the edge of your seat, and clutching a hankie at the same time. Read More »

John Ford – The Last Hurrah (1958)

Synopsis:
An aging politician tries to get re-elected one last time in the changing world of the 1950s when TV started to play a bigger part in politics. Based loosely on the career of multi-term Boston Mayor James Michael Curley, this film examines the good and evil inherent in politics and all the things that go into an election. Tracy’s uphill battle to stay in office is set against the political machinery that preyed on ethnic hatred and old-time money. Read More »

Henry Hathaway – Call Northside 777 (1948)

Synopsis:
When a woman places an ad in the Chicago Times offering a $5,000 reward for information that will exonerate her son, the newspaper assigns reporter P.J. McNeal to look into the case. He learns that eleven years earlier, Frank Wiecek was convicted of killing an on duty police officer in a speakeasy and was sentenced to 99 years in prison. McNeal is quite skeptical as to his innocence and only slowly comes to realize that there was a miscarriage of justice. The real question is whether he can find evidence that would convince the pardon board and obtain Wiecek’s release. Read More »

John Huston – In This Our Life (1942)

Plot Summary: A young woman (Stanley Timberlake) dumps her fiancée (Craig Fleming) and runs off with her sister’s (Roy Timberlake) husband (Peter Kingsmill)… Read More »

Edmund Goulding – The Old Maid (1939)

Quote:
The movie is about two cousins, Charlotte (Bette Davis) and Delia (Miriam Hopkins), who are in love with the same man (George Brent). Originally he was to marry Delia but looses her to a rich rival. He then turns to Charlotte. He is killed in the fighting before he and Charlotte can marry. Charlotte becomes an unwed mother, an impossible situation for a young woman in the mid-nineteenth century. Charlotte hides the baby among a group of civil war orphans she cares for. She later accepts recently-widowed Delia’s big house, where she installs herself and her daughter, who is told that she’s an orphan. Read More »