Fredric March

  • John Cromwell – Victory (1940)


    Victory was the first of Joseph Conrad’s novels to be adapted to film, way back in 1919. The earliest talkie version, pointlessly retitled Dangerous Paradise, was lensed in 1930. Finally, Victory was given its best screen treatment in 1940 under the sensitive direction of John Cromwell. Fredric March plays an intellectual British recluse living in the Dutch East Indies. Having vowed to close himself off from the world, March is forced to break this promise to himself when lovely travelling showgirl Betty Field is imperiled by three murderous scavengers. The villains–led by Cedric Hardwicke at his most sardonically scurrilous–switch their attentions from Field to March when they’re led to believe that the recluse is wealthy. The experience shakes the morose March back into the real world, but his regeneration is tinged by tragedy. Not precisely perfect (it’s possible the book was unfilmable), the 1940 Victory is superior to the earlier film versions if for no other reason than its retention of Joseph Conrad’s overall sense of doom and foreboding.Read More »

  • László Benedek – Death of a Salesman (1951)

    Reportedly unavailable on TV or video because Arthur Miller himself was unhappy with it, this 1951 film version of the classic play nevertheless features a bravura, barn-burning performance from Fredric March, who had been Miller’s original choice to play Willy Loman on the stage. (March turned down the part, and regretted it greatly, which led to his taking the movie part.)Read More »

  • Dorothy Arzner – The Wild Party (1929)

    Dorothy Arzner’s “The Wild Party” was a Clara Bow star vehicle and Paramount’s very first talking movie. Set in an all-girls’ school, the film has a routine, all-too familiar scenario, but it was fun to watch because of its leading lady.Read More »

  • Michael Gordon – An Act of Murder (1948)

    A hard-line judge is tempted toward mercy-killing by his wife’s terminal cancer.

    I find it interesting that An Act of Murder, The Third Man (Carol Reed), Obsession (Edward Dmytryk), The Set-Up (Robert Wise), Act of Violence (Fred Zinneman), House of Strangers (Joseph Mankiewicz) and Without Honor (Irving Pichel) were all in the main competition at the Cannes Film Festival in 1949 – about one quarter of the competition were films that show up these days on classic film noir lists.Read More »

  • John Frankenheimer – The Iceman Cometh (1973) (HD)

    A salesman with a sudden passion for reform has an idea to sell to his barfly buddies: throw away your pipe dreams. The drunkards, living in a flophouse above a saloon, resent the idea.Read More »

  • Stanley Kramer – Inherit the Wind (1960)

    In the 1920s, Tennessee schoolteacher Bertram Cates (Dick York) is put on trial for violating the Butler Act, a state law that prohibits public school teachers from teaching evolution instead of creationism. Drawing intense national attention in the media with writer E. K. Hornbeck (Gene Kelly) reporting, two of the nation’s leading lawyers go head to head: Matthew Harrison Brady (Fredric March) for the prosecution, and Henry Drummond (Spencer Tracy) for the defense.Read More »

  • Sidney Franklin – The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934)

    Plot Synopsis from by Mark Deming
    Based on a successful stage drama, this historical romance stars Norma Shearer as Elizabeth Barrett, an invalid largely confined to her bed. Elizabeth has little company beyond her dog and her obsessively protective father, Edward Moulton Barrett (Charles Laughton). Her one great passion and means of emotional escape is writing poetry, to which she devotes a large part of her days. She makes the acquaintance of fellow poet Robert Browning (Fredric March), who pays her a visit. They respect each others’ literary abilities and become romantically attracted to each other. Robert asks for Elizabeth’s hand in marriage, but Edward refuses to allow it. Elizabeth must battle her father for the right to live her own life, but eventually she is able to wed Robert and bring herself back to health. Director Sidney A. Franklin also helmed a remake of The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1957); it was his last film.Read More »

  • Mitchell Leisen – Death Takes a Holiday (1934) (HD)

    The Grim Reaper (Frederic March) takes the form of a Prince in an attempt to relate to humans and, along the way, also learns what it is to love.Read More »

  • Elia Kazan – Man on a Tightrope (1953)

    Plot Synopsis by Mark Deming:

    Elia Kazan directed this drama inspired by a true story. Karel Cernik (Fredric March) is the leader of a troupe of Czechoslovakian circus performers who have been plying their trade in Eastern Europe for years. When Czechoslovakia falls under Communist rule, the proud and independent Cernik finds that he is no longer free to operate his circus as he sees fit. Many of his performers are conscripted into military service, and his equipment and possessions are declared government property, though the state fails to maintain it properly, or even to give him access to the material to fix it himself. Finally, when Cernik’s remaining performers are ordered to insert pro-Communist messages into their acts, he decides that he can take no more and begins making plans to escape to Bavaria during an upcoming tour. Read More »

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