What can you say about a war which killed and robbed the young men of their most valued possession, their future? The Longest Day is the story about that day where men and women gave their lives for peace. It tells you about the intrigues, planning, objectives, military strikes which leads to the ultimate Normandy landings to defeat the Germans.
Longest day is adapted from the book by Cornelius Ryan who did the screen play for the movie. Directed by a series of directors like Ken Annakin, Andrew Marton, Bernhard Wicki and Darryl F Zanuck, the movie boasts of a stellar cast of John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Henry Fonda, Robert Ryan, Sean Connery, Rod Steiger, Mel Ferrer, Robert Wagner, Eddie Albert, Edmond O'Brien, Richard Burton, Kenneth More, Peter Lawford, George Segal, Richard Todd, Red Buttons, John Gregson, Leslie Phillips, and many more.
The opening scene of the film shows us the young soldiers indulging in a play of cards and the camera pans to reveal the large number of them concentrated in the barracks ready for the fighting. Then you can see the German soldiers and officers debating the possibility of the attack. Many Germans do not anticipate the attack on Normandy. Then comes the scene where a German soldier distributing tea to the officers looks up to the horizon seeing almost five thousand ships and just gasps. And then the ships start firing.
The Paratroopers are airdropped into the enemy territory with of them stuck on a steeple forced to watch the battle from above. Long shots of French troops running in to battle with German planes mowing them down is one cinematic spectacle. There are real poignant situations where allied and German troops march side by side with out even knowing and the murdered and wounded in the streets of Normandy helped by the locals.
This movie also shows the German point of view, with their war preparedness as well as their Bureaucratic wrangles and indecisiveness. The Germans expecting an attack on Calais (Hitler was expecting an attack there based on a skilled program of deception), are caught unawares at Normandy. The film depicts the desperation of German officers like Rommel who understands that the war is fought and won on the beaches.
All the officers like General Eisenhower, Theodore Roosevelt Jr, Norman Cota, John Howard and all soldiers are almost accurately pictured. Another interesting feature is that all the soldiers speak their own mother tongue which is delivered to the audience through subtitles. I feel that this is more of an anti-war film because it does not show the battle but the men who sacrifice a lot through battle. At the end of the movie you are overcome with respect for the dead irrespective of the nationality for they did what you wouldn't do.
This movie is shot entirely in black and white to give you the stark picture of the war. It was one of the box office successes too. It won the Oscars for best cinematography and special effects. Also nominated for 5 other awards including the best picture it has raked up numerous other awards too. See it for the men who fought for to keep civilization from going under the rule of tyranny.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
The Longest Day (released in 1962) - starring John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Henry Fonda, Robert Ryan, Sean Connery and many more - the attack on Normandy
What can you say about a war which killed and robbed the young men of their most valued possession, their future? The Longest Day is the story about that day where men and women gave their lives for peace. It tells you about the intrigues, planning, objectives, military strikes which leads to the ultimate Normandy landings to defeat the Germans.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
On Golden Pond (released in 1981) - starring Henry Fonda, Katherine Hepburn, Jane Fonda and Doug McKeon
Released in 1981, the screen play was adapted by Ernest Thompson from his play. Directed by Mark Rydell this movie boasts of a stellar cast of Henry Fonda, Katherine Hepburn, Jane Fonda and Doug McKeon.
Have you got tired of watching mindless revenge drama's, lust, anger and sex? Then you need to get hold of On Golden Pond. The simple nuances of love, relationships, kinship and mortality is presented in this film that leaves the viewers spellbound. You leave the movie not with tears but with an uplifting feeling in your soul.
The story begins with the sexagenarian couple Norman and Ethel Thayer arriving at their summer cottage at the golden pond to spend their vacations as they had done for the last fifty years. Norman is a grouchy old professor who ribs everybody in the wrong way. Ethel, his ever suffering wife understands his behavior and sense of humor. Some great scenes about their camaraderie comes through creating cinematic history. Ultimately Norman knows that Ethel understands and completes him.
Arriving at the cottage is his middle aged estranged daughter, Chelsea to celebrate his birthday She is accompanied by her fiancée, Coleman and his son eight year old Billy. Norman's acid tongue and repartees soon make the situation tense, but the night passes on. The next day Chelsea and Coleman depart to Europe for a vacation leaving Billy in the cottage.
Norman and Billy are forced to spend time together and Norman grudgingly accepts his young friend. In Billy he finds a chance to parent a young child as he had never tried to do with Chelsea. Norman does not leave this chance and takes young Billy under his wing, teaching him fishing and reading treasure island with him. Billy with his silly childish ways builds a bond with Norman with Ethel.
Soon they are enjoying the vacations, with occasional mishaps like a boating accident bringing them closer. Meanwhile Chelsea arrives from Europe sans her fiancée and the good news that she is married. Seeing her father and Billy together, she confesses her resentment about Norman. She feels that she was neglected always because Norman wanted a boy. But a heart tot heart talk with Norman calms her troubled heart.
Norman too is confronted with his mortality as he suffers a mild heart attack. Ethel and he understands the value of the time spent together. Chelsea and Billy depart with a promise of staying in touch. Norman and Ethel also depart hoping to comeback next summer.
This is the last movie of Henry Fonda and no better curtain call could be there for his illustrious career. He won an Oscar for his portrayal of Norman Thayer. On Golden Pond went on to win 5 Oscars with 10 nominations. Katherine Hepburn and Jane Fonda were among the winners. It also went on to win the Golden Globes, BAFTA and other prestigious award. The viewers also gave it a thumbs up as the movie grossed $119,285,432 at the box office.
A good feel good movie for all ages.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Battle of the bulge (released in 1965) - starring Henry Fonda, Robert Shaw, Telly Savalas, Robert Ryan, Dana Andrews and Charles Bronson, history of the famous battle of the same name
Battle of the Bulge is a war epic based on the real battle which ranged across Belgium, Germany and Luxembourg during the Second World War. The movie was released in 1965 on the 21st anniversary of the battle. The movie starred Henry Fonda, Robert Shaw, Telly Savalas, Robert Ryan, Dana Andrews and Charles Bronson. The Director Ken Annakin had reorganized the chronological events of the battle for maximum impact.
The movie begins with Lieutenant Colonel Riley and his fellow officer flying re-con over the Ardennes forest to check on German positions. Col Riley has his suspicions about a German counterattack and is not taken seriously. The war is dragging itself to the end and all the allied troops are in a complacent mood. When Riley produces pictures of a Tiger tank on the move it is deemed as a coincidence by his superiors, General Grey and Col Pritchard.
Riley, convinced that something is brewing on the German side leaves to collect evidence to the Siegfried line. Here he interviews some German PO W's captured by Major Walenski and Captain weaver. He finds all the PO W's are teenagers and feels that experienced German soldiers are withdrawn to prepare for the ultimate battle. Again his suspicions are dismissed by his superiors.
But actually German are undertaking massive preparations to mount an attack on the allied positions. This is led by Colonel Hessler who is heading to the town of Ambleve to see Gen Kohler to plan the attack. He is shown a massive contingent of Tiger tanks, arms and heavy ammunition. Gen Kohler tells him that he has all the fuel necessary for 50 hrs of battle after which they have no supplies. Hessler feels that he can decimate the allies with this fire power.
When the GI's are asleep Hessler launches his attack and completely decimates the allied positions. Major Walenski tries to withdraw to the Belgium town to fight another day. But the SS troops are disguised as Americans and rearrange the signs dispersing a confused allies and in the end massacring the whole unit.
Gen Gray, Colonel Pritchard, and other officers are evacuated from the the head quarters and ask the men to fight till the last stand. Kiley meanwhile deduces that the Germans are low on fuel and devices a strategy to slow the attack so that the fuel is used up. In the mean time the Germans led by Lt. Schumacher are disguised as Americans and intercept these messages. Many Soldiers fight for their loved ones decimated in Ambleve, and Hessler in his desperation attacks the fuel depot. In this ultimate battle scenes you find an injured Riley and a host of other officers defend the depot. They use barrels of gasoline as burning missiles and hurl them down to the advancing Tiger tanks. The American tanks are pounded but they stand their ground and retreat slowly, hastening the burning up of fuel by the Germans. A desperate Hessler tries to go it alone and launches an attack on the Germans and his tank is blown up by the gasoline maelstrom.
With their fuel completely used up and their arms rendered useless the Germans abandon their positions and the battle is won. In the last scene the German loss is shown with Hessler's Man Friday Conrad disgusted with the battle and its cruelties throwing off the gun and heading home on the Siegfried line. There are lot of historical inaccuracies but the movie is a brilliant portrayal of the battle where the allies were with their back up to the wall, but still rallied to win. Good watch for action movie buffs.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
In Harm's way (released in 1965) - starring John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, Patricia Neal and Henry Fonda - A war movie (Black and White) based on the Second World War
In Harm's Way is a 1965 American epic war film produced and directed by Otto Preminger and starring John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, Patricia Neal, Carroll O'Connor, Tom Tryon, Paula Prentiss, Burgess Meredith, Brandon De Wilde, Jill Haworth, Dana Andrews and Henry Fonda.
This is an epic war film released in 1965 and is one of the last John Wayne movies which is in black and white. After this movie the color era really begins. The title of the movie is derived from the quote by American revolutionary hero John Paul Jones “I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast, for I intend to go in harm's way."
The central character is Rockwell Torrey played by John Wayne who is a second generation naval officer and a navy academy graduate. After a disastrous campaign against the Japanese in which his ship is torpedoed he is shunted out to a desk job. During the fag end of the war he is promoted to the post of Rear Admiral and given a crucial job aboard a cruiser. He is involved with a pretty naval nurse and yearns for an emotional anchor in his life after his divorce. His son is an ensign with the navy and is estranged with his father.
Another important character is Captain Paul Eddington (played by Kirk Douglas), a wayward officer, taken to drunkenness because of his wife's infidelity. He resigns from the cruiser and returns to surface navy as an officer in charge of warehouses. And then his wife is killed during the raid on Pearl Harbor while she was having a romantic tryst with another officer. This tragedy further brings down Paul Eddington until Torrey reaches out to him to be a part of the mission. Tom Tryon, a junior grade officer, just out of the naval academy, presents a complete opposite of Paul Eddington.
He has a loving wife, a stable marriage and has every emotional support which Torrey and Eddington crave. As the story progresses, Eddington, in his drunken fits, rapes Torrey's son's fiancée', nurse Annalee Dohrn. She commits suicide by consuming sleeping pills. But Torrey feels his need for the mission. Eddington sort of redeems himself by giving advance warning of the huge Japanese fleet and thus sacrificing himself for the success of the mission. This movie is considered as a classic World War epic and in a side role, indicts all the bureaucratic wrangles and political manipulations that a servicemen face while doing duty for the nation.
This movie was nominated for the Oscar for the “Best Cinematography” in the year 1965. It is mostly noted for John Wayne's understated performances and he is said to have been diagnosed with lung cancer during the making of the movie. Actress Patricia Neal was awarded the “Best Actress” citation at the BAFTA awards for this movie.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Fail Safe (released in 1964) - Starring Henry Fonda, and Walter Matthau - the horrible cost of a nuclear war and mutual mistrust
Fail safe is a film released in 1964, starring Henry Fonda, Walter Matthau and others. It is about a fictional cold war scenario which escalates to nuclear war and is adapted from the book of the same name by Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler; the ultimate horrors of a nuclear exchange and the quest to avoid a suicidal war.
The strategic Air Command or SAC notices a suspicious aircraft heading to America from Europe. American bombers are deployed to counter the plane. According to the routine, six fighter planes are deployed around strategic points called the fail safe points around the Soviet Union. If the attack is innocuous the bombers are recalled back to the fail safe points.
Due to a technical transgression the attack code CAP 811 is transmitted to the six fail safe planes. The planes are the vindicator bombers with nuclear war heads commanded by Colonel Grady. Colonel Grady gets the code and tries to confirm it through radio. Since the frequencies are routinely jammed by the Soviets it fails to get through and he puts the attack in motion. Accordingly the bombers are dispatched to bomb Moscow.
According to the attack procedure, once the bombers are cruising towards the target they refuse to accept any audio alterations to their mission. It is felt that the enemy may use impersonators to distract them from their mission.
In America the whole establishment is in a tizzy. The president calls on the Soviet Premier to make him understand the accident. General Black, the Air chief fears that if Moscow is bombed the Soviets may launch nuclear missiles on America. To make them understand the sincerity of American operations six planes are deployed to shoot down the planes. But due to fuel constraints these planes fail and are lost. American President assures the soviet Premier that all of it was an accident and if Moscow is bombed he himself will order the bombing of New York. The Soviets are thus convinced of his sincerity.
Initially the Soviets refuse American help but turn around to ask for assistance. Americans help them to shoot down the plane. Five bombers are shot down and the President through the radio asks Gray to desist from the bombing. But Gray following orders says that he cannot take audio orders anymore fearing it to be an impostor. Soon the soviets detonate nuclear bombs in the air to avoid being hit, but Gray passes through and detonates the bomb over Moscow. When Moscow burns the American Ambassador's phone melts giving a shrill tone.
The Soviet Premier tells the President that he acknowledges that it was an accident and he does not blame anybody. Both the heads of state promise not to depend overtly on machine controls anymore. However, there is a price to be paid to avoid a nuclear war.
The President orders General black to bomb New York City as he had promised the Soviet Premier as a show of solidarity. The First Lady and Black's family are in New York, putting them in harm's danger. Black bombs new York city and commits suicide. The last haunting scenes are the lively scenes of New York City, all to be incinerated in the back drop of the shrill sound of the melting phone.
A classic and haunting film highlighting the cost of distrust.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
There was a crooked man (released in 1970) - starring Kirk Douglas, Henry Fonda, a comedy western film
This black comedy western is directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and star Kirk Douglas and Henry Fonda. Paris Pitman Jr is a bespectacled smooth talking con man and a murderer. He is a very evil man with no morals and soft feelings within him. But being a cool operator he is able to charm his way out of difficult situations and win the trust of those around him.
Pitman and his gang loot the house of a wealthy rancher, Lomax and make away with half a million dollars. But one by one the gang members are shot by the police and the surviving lone marauder is killed by Pitman himself to prevent him from claiming a share on the booty. Pitman escapes and enters a brothel. He ties the money up and drops it in a rattlers pit.
He enters the brothel, is recognized by Lomax and is subsequently arrested and sentenced to a prison Arizona. The prison is in the middle of a desert and a hard life awaits Pitman. But he tries to bribe Warden LeGoff to help him escape. His plans go awry when the warden is killed by one of the inmates and his place is taken up by an upright officer called Lopeman. Lopeman is an idealist who is in favor of prison and judicial reform. He believes in reforming the criminals and presents a slew of measures to improve the conditions in the prison.
Pitman is enraged at first at his failure, but soon wins the trust of Lopeman. Lopeman puts him in charge of the building of a new prison dining room. Soon he starts manipulating others to formulate a plan for escaping from the prison. He forms a gang of his own which includes Missouri Kid, Whinner and Macnutt (a gay con artist couple), Floyd moon, Michael Blodgett, a kid on death row and Ah Ping, a silent Chinese. All of them slowly feel the power of Pitman Jr and plot an escape. They plan to start a riot during the inspection day by the governor.
Soon the plot is successful, with full scale rioting taking place, and as a result, all of them escape from prison. But Pitman the backstabber that he is, kills every one. Lopeman sheds all his idealisms and vow to bring back Pitman dead or alive. But fate has another things in store for the outlaw. As Pitman takes out the loot from the Rattlers nest he is bitten by one of them.
This is the most cynical movie I have ever seen. There is no good vs evil fights with good triumphant over the bad. This is the story of a bad man who corrupts and manipulates his way out to meet the just desserts by the quirk of fate. Tough movie to watch on.
Friday, June 18, 2010
Too Late the Hero is a 1970 Anglo-American war film directed by Robert Aldrich, and starring Michael Caine, Henry Fonda, Cliff Robertson, Ken Takakura, Denholm Elliott, Ian Bannen, Lance Percival, Ronald Fraser, Harry Andrews and Percy Herbert.
Sam Lawson is an American Lieutenant who works as a Japanese language expert during the world war two. He has always avoided direct combat duty. But as luck could have it he is assigned to the British Infantry unit in the New Hebrides for combat duty
The unit is commanded by Colonel Thompson, with a duty of observing the movements of the Japanese for the Allied forces. The British unit is situated in the middle of a large field near a jungle and the other side of the jungle the Japanese keep watch. The observation and communications post of the Japanese give information about the movements of the ships in the Pacific. The Japanese radio operator gives an “All is well” signal every evening and the Allies need the help of Lawson to fake this signal. An American Naval convoy is attempting for a passage and it needs to buy 24 hours time to sail undetected to reach the war zone with supplies. The British commando unit of Lawson is assigned to destroy this observation post and emit a fake signal to confuse the Japanese.
Captain Hornsby an uppity British officer leads a patrol to destroy the Japanese observation post. They ambush a Japanese patrol and three of them, Currie, Connelly and Riddle are killed. Tosh, a cynical medic and others blames Hornsby's poor leadership for the killings. Campbell cuts a Japanese officers finger and steals his ring. One of the sergeant majors, Johnstone, is fatally wounded, is left behind by Hornsby and is then killed by the Japanese.
Scott the radio operator ruins the radio and this forces Hornsby to personally enter the Japanese post and capture the radio to sent in the signal. But Lawson feels that it is a suicidal attempt and try to stop them from doing it. In the resulting melee the Japanese men attack and kill Hornsby and Scott. Lawson being the senior ranking officer, leads the men to the jungle to safety. Japanese Major Yamaguchi tries to stop them from getting back to the camp and reporting about the airfield and arsenal present. They put up loud speakers and try to terrorize them to surrender. But Lawson and Tosh see through heir plan and ask the men to march forward to camp. But Campbell who is scared is in favor of surrender,manipulates the others to run away. But they are caught and Campbell is executed as the stolen ring is found on him. The Japanese use other soldiers as bargaining chips and ask for Lawson and Tosh to surrender. But both of them do not trust Yamaguchi's surrender plans and plan to make run for the camp. As they run zig zag through the fire of bullets both of them are hit. Tosh is wounded but drags him-selves to the camp and gives information about the Japanese arsenal. He also informs the others about the brave deeds of Lawson and walks back to claim back his body.
This movie is a little slow paced, but is heavily loaded with emotions which brings the viewer to realize the worth of soldiers who die for others.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Spencer's Mountain (released in 1963) - starring Henry Fonda, Maureen O'Hara - the story of a rustic patriarch
This heart warming tale was directed by Delmer Daves, in 1965 based on the book by Earl Hamner Jr. This the tale of the fight of the human spirit to triumph against all odds. The film stars, Henry Fonda, Maureen O'Hara and James Macarthur. The high light of the movie is the panoramic view of the mountain's which are breathtakingly beautiful. This novel and the movie has been the basis for the Television drama The Walton's.
As the tale goes, grandpa Zebulon, the father of Clay Spencer makes his home among the beautiful mountains of Wyoming. Here he has nine children of whom only Spencer continues his legacy. Clay Spencer is a hard working quarry man who occasionally indulges in a drink. He is a decent man and does not believe in the cliché of organized religion and therefore never goes to church. But he takes up back breaking labor to put bread on the family table. His wife is the rock of the family and has raised nine children.
Spencer's dream and promise was to build a beautiful mountain home for his wife. His son Clayboy is an amazingly gifted and talented boy who dreams of going to college. Clay boy is the only Spencer with any scholastic achievements to his credit. Clay knows that college will open new vista's for the boy and he will escape the poverty and labor which the Spencer's are doomed to.
Clayboy is admired by Claris Coleman, the rich daughter of the quarry manager and her frank admissions embarrass Clayboy. But he is enamored with her and returns her kiss. This arouses jealousy in Minnie Cora Cook a valley girl who ultimately marries the richest man around. Clayboy is rejected by the college because of his lack of proficiency in Latin. The family is shocked and an angry Clay confronts the college. The school agrees to admit him if he passes in Latin. The preacher Goodson agrees to tutor Clayboy if Clay Spencer would come to church and turn to religion.
Tragedy strikes the Spencer's when Granpa is killed by a falling tree. But in his will he leaves a legacy of thirty eight dolors and exhorts Clayboy to aim high. This spurs him to study hard and he passes his Latin with flying colors. Clay tries to borrow money from a rich man, but Minnie Cora who is married to the rich man out of spite blocks the loan. Clay decides to forget his dream and relinquishes his land on beautiful Spencer Mountain. He has no choice to burn it down. His wife stands behind him and says that she is contended with what ever they have
So a united family send Clayboy to college. Super feel good movie which will uplift your soul when you are down. Just grab you tissues and soak the triumph of the hardworking, gracious and decent people of the mountains.
Monday, June 14, 2010
This movie was released in 1968, and has Henry Fonda and James Stewart essaying the leading roles. The leading pair are cast as chief antagonist's and are pitted in a good Vs bad gun battle. As the story begins, Johnny Cobb is a mild mannered farmer who acts as a sheriff to a gentle community of Fire creek. He is a family man with his wife Henrietta in the family way. He moves around with a tin badge hammered out by his kids which spells “Sheraf” instead of sheriff. He is pretty embarrassed by these shows of affection.
In to this idyllic town ride the thugs, Larkin, Drew, Norman, Earl and Willard. They are raging psychopaths who shoots up the town. The ring leader Larkin is wounded and has to lie low to get well. He is disgusted with the behavior of his gang but does little to stop them. Larkin is ministered by Evelyn a kindly land lady who fearlessly speaks about the atrocities committed by the hoodlums.
John Cobb does his best to keep peace within the town. Soon the gang members disrupt church services, and beat up the towns people. Things get ugly when Meli, an Indian women is raped by the gang member. Albert a stable boy who witness this gruesome sight, inadvertently kills him. Cobb locks up Albert to put him on trial. But as he leaves town to visit his pregnant wife the gang forcibly enter the prison and lynches Albert. Then the gang tries to take over the town completely.
This cowardly act enrages the sheriff who try to arrest the perpetrators. Soon a gun battle ensues in which the sheriff takes the lone stand. He shoots Drew, Earl, Norman and Willard. Larkin wounds the sheriff but still he manages to kill Larkin. Soon the whole town is energized and they fight the thugs out.
The movie is supposed to be thriller, but is little too long. This is one of the few films which Fonda plays the antagonist and has worked with his real life buddy James Stewart.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
The Cheyenne Social club (released in 1970) - Starring James Stewart, Henry Fonda, and Shirley Jones, and directed by Gene Kelly
The Cheyenne Social club is a western comedy directed by Gene Kelley who is famous for his role in “Singing in the Rain”. It stars real world friends Henry Fonda and James Stewart along with the beautiful Shirley Jones.
Two lonely cowboys in the 1870's John Hanlan and Harley Sullivan have been riding together for almost ten years. They have nothing to call their own and do odd jobs and sleep under the stars. Hanlan's secret wish is to acquire some property. One day he gets the message from a lawyer that his estranged brother has passed away presenting him with a legacy. The legacy is Cheyenne Social club.
Hanlan is mighty pleased as he has become a “man of property”. He resolves to go to Wyoming to claim his property. Harley rides along with him as he always has in the past. When they reach Cheyenne they are welcomed with most love and affection. The towns men treat them with respect and the bar offers them free drinks.
Hanlan goes to inspect his inheritance and to his dismay discovers that it is a bordello. The business is run by Jenny who is the loveliest of all madams. The rest of the girls are, Opal Ann (Sue Ann Langdon), Pauline (Elaine Divry), Carrie Virginia (Jackie Russell), Annie Jo (Jackie Joseph) and Sara Jean (Sharon DeBord).The girls all hand picked by DJ are the best of the women available. The prudish uptight Hanlan is horrified and says that this business against his religion and convictions. Soon he decided to close down the brothel and build a boarding house in its place. But this upsets the towns people who petition him to rethink his decision.
In the mean time Harley charms his way in to the rooms of all the girls and makes his conquests. Hanlan is disgusted by this. But matters go to his head when one of the girls Jenny is beaten by a sinister Corey Bannister who is the local thug. Hanlan shoots him in a duel and soon has the blood thirsty Bannister clan baying for his blood. A gun battle ensues and the friends have to defend themselves and the girls. The shooting of Corey Bannister is one of the funniest scenes in the movie. While Hanlan is trying to shoot him Harley makes a shooting sound with some pecans which distracts Corey. Hanlan shoots him becomes a hero.
A wonderful movie with the best of humor in place. The dialogues are very witty and there is nothing bawdy about them. Sex is not in your face but is shown as a gentle romance. There is romance, action, and above all healthy fun. James Stewart and Henry Fonda are real life friends who bring the crackling chemistry to the fore and make you laugh and smile with their performances. This movie was James Stewart's last western. Watch the movie for their performances and the most witty dialogues you can quote.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
This movie is adapted form a book of the same name by Oakley Hall. It belongs to the genre of a western and is treated as a classic. Warlock is a town in Utah and is plagued by a group of cowboys led by Abe McQwon who routinely rob and humiliate all the towns people. To control this menace the residents bring in the sharp shooter Clay Blaisedell as a Town Marshall. Blaisedell arrives with his friend Morgan who is a petty drunkard. They rename a saloon as French quarter and take over the place. Morgan is a liability because of his drunkenness and the town people ask him to leave. Blaisedell refuses to let Morgan off and informs that he is part of the deal. Soon they come face to face with the McQuown gang and the gang members are humiliated. One of the members Johnny Gannon leaves to become a more law abiding citizen.
Morgan learns that his old girl friend Lily Dollar is coming to town with Bob Nicholson. Earlier Lily had left Morgan for Ben Nicholson, Bob's elder brother. Morgan had entrapped Ben in to challenging Blaisedell who easily shoots him to death. Morgan anyway leaves to see Lily arriving in a stagecoach which is ambushed by the McQuown gang. In the melee Morgan kills Bob and runs away. Lily reaches town and sees Morgan and is convinced about his guilt even though she has no proof.
Blaisedell has fallen in love with a local girl Jessie Marlow and wants to settle down. Johnny Gannon becomes a Sheriff deputy in the neighboring bright town. Th McQuown gang tries to undermine Blaisedell's status as the town Marshall. In a confrontation with the robbing gang, Blaisedell kills Gannon's brother. Gannon in the mean time is successful in breaking up the robbing gang and is more amiable to the citizens of Warlock. They feel that Blaisedell has out lived his usefulness.
Soon the residents are tired of him and wants him to leave. Morgan also wants to go from the town of Warlock. When Blaisedell refuses Morgan is furious and shoots up the town. Blaisedell learns about the murders of the Nicholson brothers and turns his back on Morgan. A furious morgan tries to prove that Blaisedell is not good without him and shoots at him. The other in self defense shoots at Morgan, killing him immediately. But Blaisedell, is grief stricken and gives Morgan a Viking Funeral by burning down the saloon.
The town has had enough of the spectacle and feels confident in Gannon's power in maintaining law and order. Gannon, along with the town's people asks Blaisedell to leave. His girl friend abandons him and refuses to leave town. Blaisedell challenges Gannon to a duel, even out draws him. But in the end he opts to leave town, and throws his gold handled pistols on the ground. Lily Dollar feels that she has avenged the killings of the Nicholson's and takes up with Gannon.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
The Tin star directed by Anthony Mann is adapted from a short story of the same name. The movie is considered as a classic in the genre of western films and was nominated for an Oscar for the best screenplay. Veteran Bounty hunter Morgan Hickman comes to a town to hunt an outlaw. The town Sheriff has been killed and is replaced by young Ben Owens. Ben Owens is inexperienced and does not have any people skills. His confidence levels are very low. He is struggling to maintain the law and order and especially is bullied by the brutish Neville.
Morgan Hickman ultimately captures the outlaw and brings him in dead. He is cold shouldered by the town people who treat him with contempt. But as Hickman puts it ”I don't mind the chill, I'm after money”. He has steeled himself for this reception and does not let him bother him. Initially Ben Owens also treat him the same way, but soon comes to know about his courage.
Ben wants to be the permanent sheriff of the town and needs to impress the people of the town with his skills. He feels that Morgan can help him in this department. He asks him to train him in fire arms.
Morgan initially skeptical, agrees to the bargain and soon he is imparting lessons to the young Owens. He takes a liking to Owens and imparts people management skills also. As Morgan says “A gun is only a tool, you can master it if you got the knack. It is harder to master people”.
During one such interaction Ben is astonished to know that Morgan was a sheriff a long time ago and wore the tin star. He was disillusioned by the the towns people who treat him shamefully when his wife and son was killed. He prefers to be a free bounty hunter with no conscience.
The film also deals with the problem of racism especially against the Indians. A widow is treated as an outcast for marrying an Indian and Morgan develops feelings for her and her son. Ultimately while training Ben, Morgan rediscovers himself and his love for the badge.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
This movie was adapted from a book by Maxwell Anderson, “The True story of Christopher, Emmanuel Balestrero” and is based on a true life incident.
It deals with a couple who fight for justice when the husband is convicted as a result of a mistaken identity. Manny Balestrero, a musician in a night club and his wife Rose live a hand and mouth existence. He tries to borrow money against Rose's insurance for some dental work which needs to be done. While he is at he insurance office, the clerk notices that he resembles the armed robber who had robbed the office. He calls in the police and soon the witnesses are marched in who swear to have seen him robing the office. Manny tries to prove his innocence, but fails. Even in his handwriting sample, in his nervousness, he misspells the same words that the robber himself had mis-spelt. Soon Manny is taken in to custody and the trial begins.
The couple hire Frank O'Connor as the defense attorney who builds up the case in their favor. He argues that Manny and Rose were on a vacation during the first robbery. But the 3 witnesses who had seen them during the vacation had died and this alibi also fails to impress. During the second robbery Manny had a swollen jaw which would have been easily noticeable by the insurance agency employee.
Rose is unable to bear the strain of this ordeal and soon buckles under pressure. She is confined to the sanitarium and is treated for depression. During the trial a bored Juror passes a remark which makes the judge to declare a mistrial. Manny is forced to await another trial in prison. As luck could have it the real robber is arrested and Manny is set free. He reaches Rose with the happy news but finds her apathetic. Soon Rose is cured and the family moves to Florida.
This movie was based on a true life story and is the last movie directed by Alfred Hitchcock for Warner bros. After this he made pictures only for Paramount. This movie is said to have been the only true story in Hitchcock's entire body of work. He is said to have hated the police and this sentiment is amply reflected in this movie. Hitchcock even did a cameo as the story teller in the movie and this is the only time he has appeared in any one of his pictures. He even cast the real Balesstrero witnesses in small parts for the movie. The real life Frank O'Connor is a New York Senator who rises to a appellate Judge.
The wrong man failed to impress at the box office, but is considered a classic. This movie has significant influence on many directors, and was influenced in making of the 2006 movie Lucky Number Slevin.
Friday, June 4, 2010
War and peace is an epic novel by Leo Tolstoy and tells a love story with in the back ground of the Russo- Napoleonic war. It was directed by King Vidor and produced as an American/Italian collaboration by Carlo Ponti and Dino Laurentelis.
The story starts with Prince Andrei Bolkonsky who is disillusioned by his marriage to Lise and goes away to fight the Napoleonic war's. Lise, in the mean time lives with his father and sister, princess Marya. Andrei is injured and is supposedly dead but Marya and her father keeps this news away from Lise fearing for her unborn child. However Andrei is under the care of Napoleon himself, recovers and returns home a changed man, ready to love Lise again. But she dies leaving him to care for their son.
Andrei and Nicholas Rostov become friends and they in-turn are introduced to Pierre Bezhukov who has a devil may care attitude. He is attracted to Natasha Rostova who is Nicholas's sister but marries the beautiful Helene. He comes in to his inheritance from his father and leaves to enjoy life not the least bit interested in war.
A distraught Andrei is disillusioned by war and serves under his father in St Petersburg. Here he meets countess Natasha Rostova and falls in love with her. He proposes marriage and Natasha accepts, except for the fact that it is vetoed by Andrei's father. He proposes to the couple to wait for a year and then go for the wedding. Andrei accepts and leaves for a tour of Europe.
Natasha is lonely and is seduced by a married Anatole Kuragin and plans to elope with him. She writes to princess Marya breaking off the engagement and the letter reaches Andrei. But Natasha's cousin Sonya tells her that Anatole is much married and Natasha breaks up with him. She tried to commit suicide and is rescued. Meanwhile her best friend Pierre Bezhukov comes in to his inheritance and is married to a scheming princess Helene. He realizes his mistake and divorces her and reaches St Petersburg.
Andrei is seriously wounded by a grenade in the war and in his trying moments realizes that he is in love with Natasha and is ready to forgive her. An abandoned and wounded Andrei is found by Natasha who cares for him with the help of his sister, but dies of his serious injuries. Natasha meets with Pierre whose wife has died and develops feelings for him. They ultimately marry and have four children.
This film is a golden globe winner for the best film and was nominated for the Oscars for best director, cinematography, color and costume design. The film is often compared to the 1965 version by Sergei Bondarchuk and pales in such comparison. It vastly differs from the book and many of the supporting characters are relegated to the side. This movie was not a big hit and is essentially a love triangle between Andrei, Natasha and Pierre.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Fort Apache (released in 1948) starring John Wayne and Henry Fonda - the prejudices between the White and the American Indians
Fort Apache is a western based loosely on the Battle of Little Bighorn and the Fetter-man massacre. It gives a balanced view about the soldiers and the Indian Settlers, Sioux in the battle. The story details about the prejudices which was prevalent among the whites which lead to the rebellion by the Indian tribe Apache. It is the story of class wars also and how love conquers everything. This movie won the prize for the best director in the Locarno film festival.
Fort Apache is a outlying cavalry post and its commanding officer is being moved. Every body expects Kirby York, a highly respected Captain to be given the command of the regiment. But it was given to the Lieutenant Colonel, Owen Thursday who is a graduate from the West Point military Academy and a decorated civil war officer. But he lacks the people skills and the experience to guide Fort Apache. He is accompanied by his Daughter, Philadelphia to the posting. Owen Thursday is a very egoistic and self-centered officer who is extremely class conscious. He is dismissive about the concerns about the Indian settlers and follows the rule book to the core. This builds resentment against him in the unit.
The Apache's are exploited by Silas Meacham and complaints reach Thursday. He has utter contempt for Meacham but he follows the rule book which states that Meacham being an United States agent is entitled for Army protection. York advices Thursday against angering the poor exploited Indians, but is ignored. Soon the Apaches rebel under the leadership of Cochise. Interwoven in the story is the love story between Philadelphia and Second lieutenant Michael Shannon O'Rouke, who is the son of a Sergeant Major who has won a gallantry medal. In-spite of being a West Point Graduate, O'Rouke is treated with contempt by Colonel Thursday who forbids the relationship between O'Rouke, and his daughter.
Soon the Indians rebel and and Thursday declares war on them. He charges against them in - spite of the odds staked against the company. Kirby York tires to reason with the colonel and is shunted out. Colonel Thursday removes him from his post and orders him to stay back. Soon the charge against the Indians who are comfortably entrenched on the hills is a failure an the company is decimated. Thursday is among the casualties. The surviving but wounded soldiers come back to the regiment and inform York who leads a rescue mission. Cochise spares York because he knows that he is a man of his word.
York who had spared O'Rouke from battle helps him to marry Philadelphia. In the end York assumes the command of the regiment and is deputed to negotiate with the Apaches. He does not bad mouth Thursday's failed charge against the Indians. When the journalists ask him whether he has sen the picture titled, “Thursday's Charge” he says that the regiment will always honor the memory of the brave officers and foot soldiers.
This film was directed by John Ford and first of his highly successful Cavalry Trilogy which was followed by “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon” and “Rio Grande”