May 1943: The Ox-Bow Incident

Oh! A western! With a name like that I thought this was going to be about an obscure Pacific naval battle or something.

This is from a director, William A. Wellman, who’s done a shit-load of movies, but who’s unknown to me, for some reason or other.

Aaaanyway. This is a kinda odd western. It’s about a posse going after a criminal, but it’s mostly about the moral ramifications of taking the law into your own hands and all that stuff. Which makes me wonder whether this, taking the timing into account, is a pro-Nazi movie in disguise somehow. Is cow-rustling a metaphor for invading Poland?

Oh, oh, I get it! I mean, this is American movie making a passionate case against lynching people. The people being lynched at the time in the US were black people… so is this really an anti-racist movie?

Or is it just generally saying that a judicial system is a nice thing?

Or is it a totally metaphor-less movie just telling a story about the Old West?

Difficult to read.

“I thought there were one white man among you.”

So I don’t know what’s this about, but is it any good? This is Clint Eastwood’s favourite movie, and has a generally positive reception. There’s a lot of very pretty imagery here. The actors are arranged superbly to catch their best angles, and the matte painting is superb.

But I don’t know. I was scratching my head more than I was getting into the characters, really.

The Ox-Bow Incident. William A. Wellman. 1943.

Popular movies in May 1943 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
16529 8.1 The Ox-Bow Incident
4261 8.0 The More the Merrier
5151 7.8 Ossessione
2093 7.6 This Land Is Mine
3821 7.4 Five Graves to Cairo

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

April 1943: Clancy Street Boys

I am Confused, Bemused and Bemildred.

What is this?!?!

It starts off with a street gang spanking their leader… and then the rival gang spanks him… and I guess my general confusion is due to the video quality is kinda like fourth generation VHS, and the audio is more rumble than voice.

But what’s even more confusing are all these middle-aged looking people who are in these gangs… are they supposed to be teenagers? 12-year-olds? One of the gangs are all-white… is that a sign of something? Are they a metaphor for Nazis? Is this a bit from a serial? Are these all well-known characters? In the Marvel comic Fantastic Four, there’s a Yancy Street Gang… is that a take on this movie (if it is a movie) or something?

Wikipedia to the rescue. It’s a movie in the East Side Boys franchise. href=””>Yancy doesn’t mention them.

And they’re supposed to be like eighteen.

ANYWAY. This turns into a classic farce plot and they run through all the scenes you’d expect. It’s workmanlike, but it’s kinda amusing. And if I could make out more of the words, it would probably have been actually funny.

Clancy Street Boys. William Beaudine. 1943.

Popular movies in April 1943 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
437 7.3 Clancy Street Boys
340 7.2 A Stranger in Town
1427 7.2 Edge of Darkness
8134 7.2 I Walked with a Zombie
237 6.9 China
1000 6.8 We Dive at Dawn
703 6.8 Presenting Lily Mars
422 6.7 Slightly Dangerous
691 6.7 Fires Were Started
399 6.6 The Falcon Strikes Back

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

March 1943: Hangmen Also Die

Huh. A British war movie directed by Fritz Lang from a script co-written with Bertolt Brecht.

I had no idea what to expect here, but they use their not-inconsiderable talents to go all-in on the anti-Nazi propaganda war effort. And it’s great!

The Nazis are evil, eeevil; mincing and brutally sadistic at the same time.

“You know we have means to make you talk!”

But it’s not a total triumph. It aims for Total Paranoid Thriller, and there’s some thrilling scenes in here. But it’s a bit… flabby in the editing? I wonder whether that’s a result of the restoration? The pre-titles said that some scenes had been restored from acetate, which might perhaps mean that this is longer than the theatrical version?

Because, really, there’s way too many character arcs in here. I feel like there’s a classic thriller hidden inside here, but the various sub-plots are smothering it.

But I’m quibbling. This is fab. Those evil Nazis. So eeevil.

And pimply.

Hangmen Also Die. Fritz Lang. 1943.

Popular movies in March 1943 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
677 7.6 It Ain’t Hay
3283 7.5 Hangmen Also Die!
2046 7.3 Cabin in the Sky
1363 7.1 The Human Comedy
270 7.1 The Moon Is Down
565 7.0 Flesh and Fantasy
2878 7.0 Sherlock Holmes in Washington
325 6.9 Hello Frisco, Hello
293 6.9 The Silver Fleet
444 6.8 They Got Me Covered

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

February 1943: Air Force

It’s a war movie!

I’ve seen some spy stuff during this blog series, but very few out-and-out war movies. And it’s by Howard Hawks, so it looks like the shots are gorgeous…

Except that the transfer I have i ridiculous. There’s digital artefacts all over the place. Not just banding and exaggerated grains, but also a harsh mp3 audio track.

It basically looks like they mastered it off of a VCD disc downloaded from a 1998 torrent site.

Very not pleasant.

Anyway, this won the Oscar for Best Film Editing, which is, I guess, a way for people to say “this movie wasn’t very good, but we appreciate the effort”.

Because this is an odd movie. We follow a crew flying around the Pacific for hours. So lots of tight shots inside a plane, and then composited above documentary footage of locations.

Ah… it had a difficult production. I guess that explains the weirdnesses.

But I don’t know whether my general dissatisfaction with this movie is due to the bad DVD or whether the movie is just kind of boring. It’s 95% character development.

Air Force. Howard Hawks. 1943.

Popular movies in February 1943 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
2340 7.1 Air Force
491 7.1 Kid Dynamite
241 6.9 Claudia
246 6.7 Reveille with Beverly
265 6.1 The Youngest Profession
3090 5.5 The Outlaw
949 4.6 Dead Men Walk

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

January 1943: The Hard Way

Opening with an attempted suicide, that’s not what you expect when imdb says that this is a romantiv musical. The scenes of industrial grime in a factory town are stunning.

imdb is on acid, of course. This is a movie about struggling out of property and the hard-nosed grift needed. Ida Lupino is brilliant as the schemer and Joan Leslie is perfect as the ingenue.

But… the last half, when we get The Moral, just isn’t very exciting. “Oh, yeah, being relentlessly ruthless might perhaps not be healthy. Got it.”

Basically: The first half hour is great, and then it’s off into very clichéd territory. I love melodrama, but this goes all kitch.

The Hard Way. Vincent Sherman. 1943.

Popular movies in January 1943 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
47154 8.0 Shadow of a Doubt
291 7.6 The Adventures of Smilin’ Jack
431 7.3 Forever and a Day
810 7.2 The Hard Way
554 7.0 No Time for Love
1740 7.0 Tarzan Triumphs
627 6.7 Immortal Sergeant
379 6.6 The Crystal Ball
672 6.4 Hitler’s Children

This blog post is part of the Decade series.