December 1943: Ghost Ship

“Why, a captain has more law than the King of Siam! A captain can marry you!”

“Well, I’m already married.”

This is an extremely odd film about a crew on a ship ships that’s possibly haunted. Excuse me while I do some googling.

It was produced by Val Lewton for RKO Radio Pictures as part of a series of low-budget horror films.

So it’s a B movie, I guess? Which explains the short length and the really weird cast. And the DVD I have has been sourced from a 2005-era torrent, judging by the quality of the compression artefacts.

But it’s so bizarre. A plot element is a heavy hook that’s not been tied down because er uhm the captain is insane? Or… an Objectivist? Is A A?


There’s a plot twist that made me laugh out loud (inside of me), though. And after that, it’s pretty exciting.

But still… bizarre… It’s so weird it could almost be brilliant. But it isn’t.

Ghost Ship. Mark Robson. 1943.

Popular movies in December 1943 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
4671 7.7 The Song of Bernadette
6364 7.6 Jane Eyre
341 7.3 Lost Angel
274 7.3 The Phantom
1931 7.2 Madame Curie
3682 7.2 Destination Tokyo
1679 7.0 A Guy Named Joe
381 6.9 Whistling in Brooklyn
1144 6.9 The Gang’s All Here
1680 6.9 Tarzan’s Desert Mystery

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

November 1943: Old Acquaintance

It’s Bette Davis! Again! Geez, the person who bought these movies had a one track mind…

Anyway! It’s a comedy! A romantic comedy! I didn’t think Davis did those, but this is the second one in this blog series…

Oh, it’s not a comedy after all. That makes more sense. It’s about an insufferably grating woman who’s very successful and that makes her husband all insecure and stuff, so Bette’s totally justified in having an affair with him. I mean, how dare she write successful books! How dare she!

But the mystery is really why either her husband or Bette hangs out with her at all. It’s even brought up in the script, but they don’t really have much of an answer.

So by making it easy for themselves (by making her so awful) they also ruin some of the tension, because there’s no doubt who we’re rooting for.

But I’m really kind of quibbling. The scenes with Davis and her arch-frenemy played by Miriam Hopkins are really kind of electrifying.

Old Acquaintance. Vincent Sherman. 1943.

Popular movies in November 1943 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
2167 7.6 Old Acquaintance
611 7.5 The Battle of Russia
326 7.1 His Butler’s Sister
672 6.9 Cry ‘Havoc’
1175 6.9 Girl Crazy

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

October 1943: Guadalcanal Diary

This DVD has a very artifactey transfer — it’s probably mastered off of a torrent site.

This is not the first movie in this blog series that’s been told from the point of view of the troops, but this one keeps the focus there throughout the movie. And while it’s a propaganda movie (the opening scenes with horseplay on the decks of the ships (complete with puppy) under a tropical sun are very… er… appealing), it gets tense pretty quickly.

But always amusing.

Does it work as a recruitment tool? I think so…

The final scenes, where they rout the dirty Japs (oops spoilers) is pretty amazing. And the dog survives (oops spoilers).

Guadalcanal Diary. Lewis Seiler. 1943.

Popular movies in October 1943 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
275 8.0 Mr. Muggs Steps Out
273 7.5 My Learned Friend
410 7.3 L’éternel retour
4005 7.2 Lassie Come Home
810 6.9 Princess O’Rourke
1744 6.8 Guadalcanal Diary
202 6.5 Sweet Rosie O’Grady
267 6.4 Yellow Canary
3249 6.2 Son of Dracula
230 6.0 The Dark Tower

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

September 1943: Le Corbeau

What’s this then? A French movie? Made during the occupation? That had to be controversial.

Ah. Some wikipedia editor says:

The film caused serious problems for its director after World War II as it had been produced by Continental Films, a German production company established near the beginning of the Occupation of France, and because the film had been perceived by the underground and the Communist press as vilifying the French people. Because of this, Clouzot was initially banned for life from directing in France, but after protests only until 1947. The film was suppressed until 1969.

It was shown in cinematheques during the war, and then banned in France afterwards.

I… don’t quite understand the acting style, but it might just be that I’m not familiar with the pre-Nouvelle Vague French acting style. It’s nothing like American, British or Swedish acting of the era (which I’m more familiar with). It’s… kind of stylised, but not… really?

Perhaps it’s just bad acting? I don’t really believe in any of the portrayals?

Probably not. It’s a pretty exciting movie, and nobody’s very pretty or noble, so I can understand that some people accused Henri-Georges Clouzot of being anti-patriotic by making this.

The bluray restoration looks great.

Le Corbeau. Henri-Georges Clouzot. 1943.

Popular movies in September 1943 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
224 7.8 Doña Bárbara

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

August 1943: Hi Diddle Diddle

This is a B movie, I guess? Cheap and cheerful. It’s got a convoluted and silly plot that putters away in a very pleasing manner. Much intrigue and running around.

It’s not exactly a cinematic masterpiece, but it’s really funny. It’s just an almost-perfect bundle of silliness, and everything works out like it’s supposed to.

The newlyweds even get some private time at the end due to a helpful maid.

Hi Diddle Diddle. Andrew L. Stone. 1943.

Popular movies in August 1943 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
7558 7.5 Heaven Can Wait
2894 7.5 Watch on the Rhine
470 7.3 Holy Matrimony
279 6.9 Hi Diddle Diddle
3965 6.9 The Seventh Victim
692 6.8 The Man in Grey
958 6.7 The Fallen Sparrow
870 6.6 Destroyer
738 6.6 A Lady Takes a Chance
4651 6.5 Phantom of the Opera

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

July 1943: This is the Army

Oh Em Gee! Colour! It’s a movie in colour! Is colour even possible?! My eyes!

An Irving Berlin eleganza extravaganza. It’s about a bunch of guys drafted into the army and then they put on a show. As one does. It’s great! It’s got lines like

Angry sarge: “Did you sleep well?”

Private: “Sure. This bed has the softest mattress I’ve ever slept on the floor next to.”

that almost kinda make sense, which I like very much.

This DVD version, though, leaves a lot to be desired. It’s got so many artefacts (especially when there’s a lot of action) that it’s obvious that it’s been sourced from a torrent site with a very bandwidth-restricted codec. Which is a shame, because it looks like it was originally quite pretty.

At least the audio quality is pretty swell.

For major bits of the movie they give up on the pretence that it’s a real film and just show one musical stage performance after another. But they’re pretty impressive. A huge number of people performing, and the Berlin’s music’s pretty nice. (The movie started off as a Broadway musical where the profits were donated to the Army Emergency Relief fund, and they raised the equivalent of $135M in today’s money.)

Ronald Reagan is unexpectedly perfect for his part.

But… is it a good movie? It’s barely a movie at all. But I found it quite entertaining.

This is the Army. Michael Curtiz. 1943.

Popular movies in July 1943 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
1405 7.3 Stormy Weather
6544 7.0 For Whom the Bell Tolls
634 6.8 Victory Through Air Power

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

June 1943: Hitler’s Madman

Douglas Sirk! I love his 50s melodramas, but I haven’t seen any of his earlier stuff, so I’m excited to watch this movie.

Virtually all of the war movies I’ve seen so far in this series (that are set in foreign countries) are set in the Czechoslovakia. I guess it makes sense… it was an early invadee of the Germans. But why not, say, Poland? Is it a way to avoid the complications of the Jewish Question?

Just like the Fritz Lang/Bertolt Brecht movie, this is staunchly anti-Nazi, but it’s a completely different approach. That movie had cartoon evil Nazis (which is great and very Brecht), while this one has more melodramatic evil Nazis (which is also great). The scene where the Nazi commander picks out Czech girls to be sent to the front (as “entertainment” for the German soldiers) is absolutely horrifying.

Both movies are about the same event, sort of: Killing Reinhard Heydrich, the Gestapo chief in Czechoslovakia. But plot-wise, they have nothing else in common, really.

Like the Lang movie, it’s not completely successful as a movie. But it’s a very successful anti-Nazi piece. And you’d have to be a Nazi not to be moved by the final scene.

Hitler’s Madman. Douglas Sirk. 1943.

Popular movies in June 1943 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
10322 8.2 The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp
1163 7.2 Hit the Ice
1794 7.0 Bataan
901 7.0 The Constant Nymph
488 6.7 Hitler’s Madman
298 6.7 Coney Island
1179 6.6 Stage Door Canteen
676 6.5 Best Foot Forward
708 6.4 Jitterbugs
260 6.4 Crime Doctor

This blog post is part of the Decade series.