Mitchell Leisen – Song of Surrender (1949)

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Plot
Though her acting range was limited, Wanda Hendrix was cute as all get out, and this cuteness is pretty much all that’s required from her in Song of Surrender. The film is set in a small town of the early 1900s. Hendrix is cast as Abigail Hunt, the young bride of fiftyish museum curator Elisha Hunt (Claude Rains). Their connubial bliss is threatened when attorney Bruce Eldridge (Macdonald Carey) falls in love with Abigail, and she with him. When her neighbors discover her indiscretions, Abigail is driven from town. It is only during a near-tragedy that Abigail realizes that her true place is with her aging husband. Still, the script manages to wangle a happy ending for everyone concerned. Of interest in Song of Surrender is the utilization within the plotline of several vintage Enrico Caruso recordings. Continue reading

Alfred Hitchcock – Jamaica Inn (1939)

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Vince Leo said this:

“An orphaned young woman named Mary travels to Cornwall to stay with her aunt and uncle in a place called the Jamaica Inn. The downside to this is the fact that the inn is the lair of treacherous and murderous land-pirates, who lure ships in and proceed to kill the ship’s crews and steal everything on board. After discovering the truth, she and one of the pirates who is secretly a police officer, go to the local peace officer for help, little realizing that he is the kingpin for the whole operation. Now their lives are in jeopardy due to the fact that no one can be trusted, and they must fight for their lives.” Continue reading

Raffaello Matarazzo – Treno popolare (1933)

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Plot: Lina, Giovanni and Carlo take the Roma-Orvieto train for a trip to the countryside.

Quote:
One of the beacon films of the European cinema of the Thirties. Celebrating the sound film as a rebirth of cinema, Treno popolare combines and harmonises, with genius, several characteristics of the cinema of the period. Talking pictures, of which it is too often said that they rendered cinema theatrical, also accentuated and stimulated realism. (…) This realism, born from sound and the possibility to make characters speak in their own langauage and with their true voices, here extends to a unanimist depiction of Italian society, and notably of the petite bourgeoisie of the time, portrayed with great veracity in its daily activity and behaviour. And the fact that the film is entirely staged in exteriors makes it possible to assign it its place – it precedes Renoir’s Toni by a year – as the first neo-realist work. Continue reading

John Ford – Stagecoach [+Extras] (1939)

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A Ford-Powered ‘Stagecoach’ Opens at Music Hall; Mickey Rooney Plays Huck Finn at the Capitol
In one superbly expansive gesture, which we (and the Music Hall) can call “Stagecoach,” John Ford has swept aside ten years of artifice and talkie compromise and has made a motion picture that sings a song of camera. It moves, and how beautifully it moves, across the plains of Arizona, skirting the sky-reaching mesas of Monument Valley, beneath the piled-up cloud banks which every photographer dreams about, and through all the old-fashioned, but never really outdated, periods of prairie travel in the scalp-raising Seventies, when Geronimo’s Apaches were on the warpath. Here, in a sentence, is a movie of the grand old school, a genuine rib-thumper and a beautiful sight to see. Continue reading

Orson Welles – The Tragedy of Othello: The Moor of Venice (1952)

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Quote:
Want to be daring? Try watching Othello without the sound. The assembly of magnificent compositions that Welles has put together for his Othello is nothing short of astounding. Welles finds angles where they never existed before and extracts from the text, so elegant in word, a visual power unmatched by other Shakespearean movies. The heritage from Citizen Kane to Touch of Evil is evident in this stylistic tour-de-force.

Welles is an imposing Othello. Painted with shadows and light, Welles moves regally through the castle sets and strides powerfully along the beach or atop the ramparts. As Iago, Michael Mac Liammoir, the Irish stage actor, is quite creepy. His vast stage experience perhaps affects his performance in front of the camera too much, but the result is highly effective under Welles’ guiding camera and brilliant editing. Continue reading

Eddie Romero – Ganito kami noon… Paano kayo ngayon? AKA This is how we were, How are you doing now? (1976)

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(from Cinemarehiyon)
The picaresque adventures of a young, naive country bumpkin named Kulas (de Leon) and his whimsical encounters with denizens of various nationalities – Spanish, American, Chinese, indio – is a metaphor for the Filipino quest for identity at a time when nationhood was still an imagined concept. Set during the liminal period when the Philippines was in transition from Spanish to American colonial rule, this masterwork shows Romero at his best and most exuberant as a filmmaker. It swept most of the awards at the 1976 Metro Manila Film Festival, and was subsequntly voted best picture at the very first Urian Awards in 1977. Continue reading

Mervyn LeRoy – Any Number Can Play (1949)

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Plot Synopsis by Mark Deming
In this light drama, Clark Gable once again played his stock-in-trade role of a rogue with a heart of gold. Charlie King (Gable) runs a casino, but, in a business that thrives among the unscrupulous, Charlie takes pride in running an honest game and treating his customers with fairness and respect. However, Charlie’s wife Lon (Alexis Smith) doesn’t care if he runs a fair game — she regards gambling as a dirty and corrupt business, and no matter how honest Charlie may be, he’s still involved in a wicked activity. Charlie’s son Paul (Darryl Hickman) is also against him; when Paul gets in trouble and Charlie bails him out of jail, he refuses to leave with him, instead going home with mother. Charlie invites Paul to see what his casino is like, and Lon agrees that Paul should know just what his father does. Continue reading