July 1942: The Pride of the Yankees

Oh. This is about some sports guy? Who got a disease named after him? And it was nominated for all the Oscars? But only won for “Best Film Editing”? And it’s directed by schmaltzmeister Sam Wood, who we previously saw in Our Town and Kitty Foyle?

I fear the absolute worst!

And, yes, Wood lays it on with a trowel. There’s barely a scene without a sentimental bed playing beneath. Cooper does his best, especially playing the teenage Gehrig, but it’s an uphill struggle.

This is a well-received movie, getting a 93% tomato rating. Naturally, since I didn’t enjoy this film at all, I’m just going to quote with the one reviewer that didn’t like it either:

Nominated for 11 Oscars (it won one, for best editing), The Pride Of The Yankees has a vaunted reputation as a sports-movie classic, perhaps because the only scene anyone remembers is Gary Cooper humbly, affectingly delivering Gehrig’s famed farewell address at Yankee Stadium. The film that surrounds that speech, however, is surprisingly dreary and lifeless, a slapped-together piece of studio hackwork that’s thick with sentiment and short on illuminating details about Gehrig’s life and career.



Anyway, this does have some good melodramatic scenes (like when Cooper stands up to his mother on his wife’s behalf), but it’s surrounded my much tedium. I wonder whether the positive reception is more about the idea of a film about Lou Gehrig than the actual end result.

The Pride of the Yankees. Sam Wood. 1942.

Popular movies in July 1942 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
17470 7.9 The Magnificent Ambersons
7960 7.8 The Pride of the Yankees
320 7.2 The Pied Piper
313 6.9 The Magnificent Dope
789 6.7 Crossroads
206 6.2 Calling Dr. Gillespie
338 6.1 I Married an Angel
1041 6.1 Invisible Agent
388 6.0 Her Cardboard Lover

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

June 1942: Mrs. Miniver

This movie won all the Oscars. So I approached this with some scepticism.

But it’s irresistibly charming. The actors playing the Minivers are absolutely wonderful, but there are some variable performances otherwise. The plot’s not quite what I expected, either…

Still, I don’t think this is quite as good as Wyler’s previous movie The Little Foxes. It’s still plenty great and very touching.

Mrs. Miniver. William Wyler. 1942.

Popular movies in June 1942 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
11977 7.6 Mrs. Miniver
248 6.9 The Foreman Went to France
546 6.7 The Big Shot
214 6.6 The Affairs of Martha
279 6.5 The Night Has Eyes
261 6.4 Maisie Gets Her Man
450 5.8 They All Kissed the Bride

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

May 1942: Private Buckaroo

This is from that collection of cheap b movies and features the Andrews Sisters.

This also has the fabulous Mary Wickes. She can liven up a movie just by being in the general vicinity of it, and when she’s on the screen, she’s just everything. And Shemp Howard is a perfect foil for her.

This is barely a movie, though. It’s a series of songs with some screwball stuff happening in between the numbers.

Which is fine by me; the is very easy on the brain. The music’s nice and the screwball stuff is amusing throughout. And occasionally laugh-out-loud funny.

Everybody joins the army halfway through the film! This is very patriotic but structurally odd. It also means less Mary Wickes, which is never a good thing.

“I’ve sipped from many a cup, but never a mug like this.”

“That’s beautiful.”

Private Buckaroo. Edward F. Cline. 1942.

Popular movies in May 1942 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
11437 7.8 Yankee Doodle Dandy
3079 7.5 In This Our Life
880 7.2 Prelude to War
2601 7.0 Tarzan’s New York Adventure
352 7.0 Take a Letter, Darling
730 6.9 This Above All
1749 6.8 The Spoilers
435 6.7 Let’s Get Tough!
537 6.6 Grand Central Murder
589 6.5 The Falcon Takes Over

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

April 1942: This Gun For Hire

Yay! A real noir thriller!

Alan Ladd’s great as the taciturn assassin. I don’t think I’ve seen many movies with Veronica Lake, and she’s definitely of the “I’m standing here waiting until the other person finishes their line so that I can say my line” school of acting, but she’s fun. She’s certainly a better actor than some of the other characters in this movie.

The plot of the film is a literally literally in-credible series of koinkidinks, but hey, who cares. It’s kinda perfect anyway.

This Gun For Hire. Frank Tuttle. 1942.

Popular movies in April 1942 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
6387 7.5 This Gun for Hire
1763 7.4 Larceny, Inc.
928 7.2 My Favorite Blonde
18263 7.2 Saboteur
1425 7.1 One of Our Aircraft Is Missing
519 6.9 Kid Glove Killer
991 6.9 Moontide
295 6.7 The Man Who Wouldn’t Die
909 6.6 Rio Rita
310 6.6 Alias Boston Blackie

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

March 1942: Reap the Wild Wind

When I saw the start of the title sequence, with the American eagle and everything, I thought that we’d finally arrived at a honest-to-goodness American war movie.

But no: It’s a Cecil B. DeMille extravaganza set in 1840.

It’s a romantic/comedic/epic kind of thing, and I had no idea that the plot would get this complicated. It’s very nice watching a movie and not really knowing where it’s going, in a general sense. And it doesn’t happen that often. I wasn’t even sure what genre this was going to turn out to be.

Paulette Goddard is great as the leading character here, and it’s fun seeing John Wayne not on a horse. And looking younger than most films I’ve seen him in.

If you want to be picky, I thing you could say that this film just goes through too many phases: Naval adventure, romantic intrigue, courtroom drama and finally undersea horror. But I like it. It’s huge and unwieldy, but it’s good.

Reap the Wild Wind. Cecil B. DeMille. 1942.

Popular movies in March 1942 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
396 6.8 Star Spangled Rhythm
877 6.8 The Male Animal
2285 6.8 Reap the Wild Wind
369 6.7 The Courtship of Andy Hardy
397 6.7 Rings on Her Fingers
305 6.5 Always in My Heart
588 6.2 To the Shores of Tripoli
4120 6.1 The Ghost of Frankenstein
808 4.2 Black Dragons

This blog post is part of the Decade series.