George B. Seitz – Yellow Jack (1938)

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This intelligent drama follows a group of medical scientists as they attempt to find the cause behind the dreaded yellow fever. It is just after the Spanish-American War, and Stone (playing Major Walter Reed) is head of a medical staff stationed in Cuba. Convinced he has found the carrier of yellow fever (nicknamed “yellow jack” by the men), Stone needs five volunteers from the US Army to serve as human guinea pigs. Montgomery heads up the enlisted volunteers, understanding well the unknown dangers of what he is about to undergo. Montgomery is bitten by some mosquitos carrying the yellow fever; three others stay in a “dirty room;” the fifth must sleep in the bed of a dead yellow fever victim. The film wisely concentrates on the ordeals of the five volunteers. This is a story filled with tension and suspense, backed by an underlying humanity. Montgomery (taking the role created on Broadway by James Stewart) is excellent as the lead volunteer, projecting a stoic image as he submits to the unknown. The film is slightly marred by an unneeded romance between Montgomery and camp nurse Bruce. Their scenes together, though well played, seem out of place and detract from the already strong drama. The ensemble is a good one, with Stone, Devine, and Ebsen particular standouts. Continue reading

George B. Seitz – The Vanishing American (1925)

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Quote:
History, as portrayed in this film, has been a succession of conquests of stronger races over weaker ones. As played out on the stage of Monument Valley, long ago, tribes of Indians defeated the ancient cliff dwellers; then came the Europeans to conquer the Indians. Now, in the early 20th Century, a tribe of Navajo live on a reservation overseen by an Indian-hating agent, Booker. He and his men steal the best Indian horses for their own profit. Nophaie, a tribal leader, complains to Booker’s higher-ups, but he is unable to gain fair treatment from the whites. When World War I breaks out, an Army captain comes west in search of the horses that Booker was supposed to have bought from the Indians for a fair price. Marian Warner, the teacher at the Indian School, has befriended Nophaie, teaching him to read; she convinces him that the Great War is a fight for a more just world, and that, when that world comes, the Indian will be better treated. Nophaie not only brings horses for the Army, he and many other Indians enlist, and distinguish themselves in battle. But when they come back after the war is over, they find life for Indians even worse than when they left. Surely, they feel, it is time to fight back. But Nophaie is not so sure. Continue reading

George B. Seitz – Gallant Sons (1940)

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Synopsis: from TCM
Johnny Davis, the son of gambler “Natural” Davis, Byron “By” Newbold, the son of crusading newspaper editor Barton Newbold, and Kate Pendleton, the daughter of Clare Pendleton, a wealthy widow and sportswoman, are schoolmates. Barton Newbold, who is determined to publicize Natural’s illicit activities, organizes a raid on Natural’s casino, which Natural foils by quickly transforming the gambling room into a musical recital. Newbold’s men follow Natural to Lucille Baker’s apartment, where Natural accuses her of blackmailing him and his sweetheart Clare, until he realizes that Lucille is dead. Natural finds a gun near the body, and as soon as he picks it up, Newbold’s men enter and accuse him of murder. Continue reading

Frank Borzage & George B. Seitz – Big City (1937)

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Plot:

Celebrate the short career (10 Hollywood films and two Oscars®*) and long life (100 years young in 2010 and an honored participant in the TCM Classic Film Festival) of one of the screen’s nonpareil stars with this threesome of the fourth, fifth and sixth films Luise Rainer made in Tinseltown. The Viennese beauty portrays a Czarist Russian spy alongside William Powell in the ornate The Emperor’s Candlesticks. Cabbie Spencer Tracy and his immigrant wife Rainer struggle to make a life for themselves in the Big City while coping with a bitter labor dispute between organized and freelance cab drivers. And Rainer is a reckless Southern belle who marries the man her sister loves but flees to the arms of a wastrel playboy in The Toy Wife. From Warner Brothers! Continue reading