Showing posts from July, 2021

The Roaring Twenties (1939)

Director: Raoul Walsh Writers: Jerry Wald & Richard Macauley and Robert Rossen, from an original story by Mark Hellinger Stars: James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, Jeffrey Lynn, Priscilla Lane, Gladys George, Frank McHugh Finding that his old job has been given away, returning  World War I vet Eddie Bartlett (James Cagney) takes work as a taxi driver to make ends meet, and soon rises from delivering bootleg liquor to leading his own criminal empire in the days of Prohibition.  The corruption of his good nature and the alienation of his war buddies, the slimy George Hally (Humphrey Bogart, still playing heavies at this point), and the stalwart Lloyd Hart (Jeffrey Lynn), pave the way to his eventual downfall.  This thrilling crime picture from the heyday of Warner Bros. gangster films is thoroughly entertaining and features a great Cagney death scene.

Journey into Fear (1940)

by Eric Ambler Graham, a British engineer who specializes in munitions,  becomes the target of German spies as he travels from Turkey to England in the months preceding WWII.   He takes passage on a small boat, where many of his fellow passengers will reveal surprises about themselves and he will encounter both friends and foes in unexpected places.   Eric Ambler's prose is efficient and graceful as he moves his plot along smoothly.   Eric Ambler His characters are delineated well, their interactions are well-focused, and the twists and turns in the plot are satisfying. "Journey into Fear" (Greek) "In the Grip of Fear" (Dutch) "Fear Travels with You" (German) "A Journey into the Heart of Fear" (Hebrew) "Journey into Fear" (Italian) "Journey to Fear" (Korean) "Journey to Fear" (Portuguese) "Day of Terror" (Spanish) "Trip to Fear" (Spanish) "Journey to Fear" (Turkish)

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)

Director: Andrew Adamson Writers: Ann Peacock and Andrew Adamson and Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely, from the book by C.S. Lewis Stars: Georgie Henley,  Skandar Keynes, William Moseley, Anna Popplewell,  Tilda Swinton, James McAvoy C.S. Lewis's story of the four Pevensie children's (Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, William Moseley, and Anna Popplewell)  adventures in the land of Narnia comes to the screen as a big-budget, digital spectacle.   Although the battle, which was summarized in only a few bloodless paragraphs of the novel, takes up a good part of the running time--and, no doubt, the budget--of the film, the tone of the book is largely preserved.   The children are perfectly cast and Narnia is portrayed as a generally friendly place, except for occasional appearances by the White Witch (Tilda Swinton) and her cronies.   I like big battle scenes, so the shift of emphasis from character to spectacle didn't bother me, but strict admirers of the novel may be di

Becket (1964)

Director: Peter Glenville Writers: Edward Anhalt, from a play by Jean Anouilh and Lucienne Hill Stars: Peter O'Toole, Richard Burton, John Gielgud, Gino Cervi, Paolo Stoppa, Donald Wolfit King Henry II (Peter O'Toole) appoints his drinking  buddy, Thomas Becket (Richard Burton), as Archbishop of Canterbury, believing that doing so will give him control of the Church.  An awakening of conscience in his friend leads to conflict and tragedy.   O'Toole and Burton give magnificent speeches, but I never really believed their friendship.   The whole affair seemed a little cold and calculated, with characters such as Brother John standing out as blatant plot devices.   Contrast this film with another in which O'Toole played the same character, "The Lion in Winter."  That film also featured magnificent speeches, but the central relationship between O'Toole and Katherine Hepburn was full of passion and fire. Spoiler alert!!! From the end of the movie!!