March 1949: Little Women

















Oh, this isn’t what I thought it was going to be at all? I thought it was with… Bette Davis? And an adult drama? Little Something Else? The?

Anyway, this is a big-budget Hollywood movie, and it really shows. When this kind of thing works, it really works. And this really works.

There’s so many great actors in here. Janet Leigh, Mary Astor, Elizabeth Taylor…

The “little women” in question are teenagers — I think, but because of the casting it’s a bit difficult to say. The actors range in age from 12 to 32… but at least Elizabeth Taylor is 17 here.

Anyway! This is a pretty flawless specimen. It’s got laughs, it’s got sobs, it’s got romance. And all these perfect little details.

The ending drags, though.

Veteran director Mervyn LeRoy is thoroughly professional, but not very distinctive.

Little Women. Mervyn LeRoy. 1949.

Popular movies in March 1949 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
5986 7.8 The Set-Up
407 7.3 Alias Nick Beal
4929 7.3 Little Women
492 7.1 Manon
2105 7.0 Impact
2412 6.8 Take Me Out to the Ball Game
587 6.8 The Undercover Man
319 6.7 The Blue Lagoon
374 6.7 The Walking Hills
867 6.6 Edward, My Son

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

February 1949: Caught
















Quite a few of these late-40s DVDs have been from Olive Films, a company I was previously unaware existed. Is this a new iteration of one of the older quality-minded DVD companies? Like… uhm… Eureka? Artificial Eye? Curzon? Tartan? I know that some of those have gone under and been resurrected under other names…

All the Olive movies look great. They aren’t super-restored or anything (you can definitely see the film grain and the wear of the film stock), but that just adds charm. The discs look really sharp and cool.

But there’s not a lot extra features: At most, just the ad for the movie in question.

Anyway!

This is a Max Ophüls movie, so big, big drama, expertly shot. The first half hour of this film feels really special: We get an excellent portrait of a woman navigating her possibilities.

But when she marries, the movie loses interest. The husband is so awful that the scenes become a chore to watch. But then it gets interesting again. I really like Barbara Bel Geddes understated performance.

Contemporary reviewers didn’t much like it:

Handsome production values have been wasted on a complicated, unpleasant story that is a curious hodge-podge of romance and psychological melodrama … It is an odd picture, impressive in many respects and ‘corny’ in others, but on the whole too contrived and implausible.

That’s true. And there are parts of the ending I rolled my eyes at, but this is a pretty solid movie.

Caught. Max Ophüls. 1949.

Popular movies in February 1949 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
269 7.7 Salón México
573 7.4 Down to the Sea in Ships
1518 6.9 I Shot Jesse James
2320 6.9 Knock on Any Door
422 6.8 The History of Mr. Polly
1154 6.7 The Bribe
293 6.6 Flaxy Martin
437 6.5 Cover Up
276 6.0 John Loves Mary
360 5.9 Tarzan’s Magic Fountain

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

January 1949: A Letter To Three Wives














*gasp* Nineteen fortynine! I just have 12 more movies to go for this blog project!

This is pretty good. We get presented with three women’s lives, possibly at a pivotal point for any of them, and it’s pretty interesting. But mainly I’m wondering whether Ingmar Bergman saw this movie and then thought, hmm, I can do this a lot better. And then did.

Because this pales in comparison with that movie, of course.

Still: It’s a solid movie. It’s mainly let down by the performances; and mainly the performances of the men. I don’t really buy any of them as real characters.

The disc includes the radio play (that the movie’s based on?), and it’s a lot funnier than the movie. The movie goes for pathos, while the radio play goes for slapstick. It’s fun!

A Letter To Three Wives. Joseph L. Mankiewicz. 1949.

Popular movies in January 1949 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
6538 7.9 A Letter to Three Wives
1552 7.7 The Passionate Friends
5293 7.6 Criss Cross
3206 7.5 Act of Violence
504 6.9 The Accused
245 6.8 The Sun Comes Up
817 6.6 Shockproof
1019 6.1 A Woman’s Secret

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

December 1948: Force of Evil















Hm… that’s a very familiar name? Oh, yeah, that’s what I thought: Orson Welles did a movie with a similar name.

This is definitely not that one.

It’s John Garfield playing a mobster(ish) lawyer. It’s about the intricacies of running a numbers game. Basically everybody in this movie are crooks.

I don’t know. I didn’t connect with this movie at all. It’s just not very interesting.

I do like the cluttered, dirty look of the interiors. It’s either very thoughtfully done or it’s filmed on a perfect location.

Force of Evil. Abraham Polonsky. 1948.

Popular movies in December 1948 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
4817 7.8 Portrait of Jennie
3230 7.5 Yellow Sky
4366 7.4 Force of Evil
1557 7.3 Command Decision
715 7.3 Enchantment
2203 7.0 Adventures of Don Juan
243 6.9 The Feathered Serpent
2905 6.9 The Paleface
930 6.8 Mexican Hayride
626 6.8 Jungle Jim

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

October 1948: June Bride



















Oops! I was supposed to watch this before the previous movie, but I got confused because the first copy of this DVD arrived broken and I had to get another one in and then etc.

But here it is! June Bride!

Bette Davis! And… people…

I didn’t think Davis did that many comedies, but this is at least the third funny movie I’ve seen her in during this blog series.

Ooh! Mary Wickes is in this! Mah favourite.

I guess this could easily have been a Katharine Hepburn/Cary Grant movie. It’s fun and easy on the brain. It’s so… welcoming? You know how this is going to turn out, and there’s a ton of jokes and stuff on the way there, and it’s just a perfect little movie.

The only slight problem is that Robert Montgomery isn’t quite Cary Grant. Bette Davis isn’t Katharine Hepburn, either, but she’s Bette Davis instead, which is even better!

This is just about perfect. I laughed a lot (out loud) and the rest of the time it’s exceedingly amiable. But there’s just something about it that makes it not be “Bringing Up Baby”. But it’s almost there. Almost. What spoils it is the anti-woman-as-boss subtext (and text).

But… it’s so much fun.

June Bride. Bretaigne Windust. 1948.

Popular movies in October 1948 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
575 7.5 Quartet
665 7.3 Apartment for Peggy
1145 7.3 June Bride
1103 7.2 Moonrise
4660 7.2 The Three Musketeers
759 7.1 Night Has a Thousand Eyes
1621 7.1 A Song Is Born
631 6.9 Kiss the Blood Off My Hands
482 6.8 You Gotta Stay Happy
463 6.1 Inner Sanctum

This blog post is part of the Decade series.