February 1945: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

This is like… neo-realism… before neo-realism. So is it realism?

Oh, this is Elia Kazan’s first movie. He’d go on to define the 50s with A Streetcar Named Desire, On The Waterfront and East of Eden.

This movie looks wonderful. It’s so sharp: The light and the shadows. New and fresh and a new thing.

And the performances are as meticulous and detailed as the images are. It’s remarkable.

Unsurprisingly, it was only nominated for a couple of Oscars (and won a supporting actor one).

This makes me want to watch all Elia Kazan movies. I’ve only seen the most famous ones… unfortunately there’s no bluray collection of his movies. The blu ray of this movie was only released in Spain?


Anyway, every single frame of this movie is a delight to watch… I don’t even know whether it made much sense, but it’s just kinda beautiful.

The last half hour tips over into bad melodrama, though.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Elia Kazan. 1945.

Popular movies in February 1945 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
5625 8.1 A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
289 8.0 Docks of New York
2182 7.6 The Enchanted Cottage
3308 7.5 The House of Fear
1676 7.4 Hangover Square
1029 7.1 Here Come the Co-eds
355 6.7 Waterloo Road
455 5.2 Fog Island

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

January 1945: Objective Burma

On a War Movie scale of 1 to 10 this is 25: It’s all soldier, all the time.

The director has the best profile picture ever on IMDB:

And the movie is just about what you’d expect from seeing that picture: It’s brash, manly and filled with robust humour.

And as you’d expect, it’s not actually funny.

The depiction of the minutiae of soldiering seems very modern. Many of the scenes in this film could have be edited into movies from the 70s and nobody would have noticed (except for the hairdos and the the film stock).

Oh! I was totally confused. I was trying to spot Errol Flynn here and the only one who looked Flynnish seemed too young. But Flynn was only 36 when this movie was made: I was confusing Flynn with Douglas Fairbanks. D’oh.

Here’s a plot summary: Some soldiers are dropped into Burma and then they wander around for an excruciating 140 minutes of screen time. There’s nothing wrong with any specific scene, and it’s… admirable?… in its focus on the guys in the jungle…

But it’s hard not to start dusting the bookcase while watching this. Or, if you have a cat, vacuuming the cat.

If this had been half the length, it still would have been challenging to keep concentrated.

Perhaps it should have been six times as long? Then it’d have been a 70s art movie. It could have been a double drive-in feature along with Out 1: Noli me tangere.

Still! I kinda like it.

Objective Burma. Raoul Walsh. 1945.

Popular movies in January 1945 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
3610 7.4 Objective, Burma!
470 7.0 Roughly Speaking
895 6.9 The Jade Mask
973 6.8 A Song to Remember
742 6.6 The Great Flamarion
326 6.5 Madonna of the Seven Moons
586 6.4 Tonight and Every Night
246 6.3 I Love a Mystery

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

December 1944: Together Again

Oh, this is from the Icons of Screwball Comedy DVD “box”, which I can’t seem to find at the moment… I’m substituting the other box for the dice throw picture.


This is a supremely amiable movie. The actors are charming; the storyline is cute; the lines are witty.

It’s entertaining and amusing, but you know how this is going to end up: The mayor is going to resign her job, meaning that the village is going to be left in the unsuitable hands of that newspaper asshole.

So it’s kinda not very satisfying, although it’s a funny little movie.

Together Again. Charles Vidor. 1944.

Hey! I’m at the half-way point in this 40s blog series? Look at the stack of DVDs:

I think I must be. 1940-1945… That’s like… five years…

Popular movies in December 1944 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
9190 7.6 Murder, My Sweet
1811 7.5 The Keys of the Kingdom
1006 7.5 The Suspect
276 7.4 The Fighting Lady
1533 7.3 I’ll Be Seeing You
5174 7.3 National Velvet
1388 7.3 Hollywood Canteen
208 7.2 Sunday Dinner for a Soldier
417 6.9 Together Again
378 6.7 Music for Millions

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

November 1944: The Children Are Watching Us

Oo. Those are purdy fonts.

Huh? An Italian movie from 1944?

Oh, it’s from the director of Bicycle Thieves, which is a wonderful movie. And this is pretty great, too.

According to this, it was filmed in 1942, before Italy started losing. There’s no mention of the war in this film, although we do see some soldiers in crowd scenes.

Throughout the movie, I was trying to puzzle out whether there’s some sort of ideological component being subtly pushed, but if so I’m not quite sure what it would be. Could be a Kinder, Kuche, Kirche thing… But in Italian. But it doesn’t really seem that way for most of the movie. The ending can definitely be taken that way.

This movie is brimming with emotion, but unusually for an Italian movie, most of them are conveyed subtly, by surreptitious looks and avoidances. The actors are really fabulous here.

The Children Are Watching Us. Vittorio De Sica. 1944.

Popular movies in November 1944 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
15758 7.7 Meet Me in St. Louis
354 7.7 Bowery Champs
4277 7.5 Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo
3789 7.4 The Thin Man Goes Home
929 7.0 Lost in a Harem
1401 7.0 The Princess and the Pirate
228 7.0 And Now Tomorrow
290 6.7 Two Thousand Women
574 6.6 Dark Waters
424 6.1 Dead Man’s Eyes

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

October 1944: To Have and Have Not

After a couple of cheapies, this is a proper, expensive A movie. I mean, Bogart? Bacall? Howard Hawks? Hemingway? Doesn’t get more A than that.

The movie has been beautifully restored for this bluray release.

I must have seen this movie a few times before (who hasn’t?) because some of the scenes seem awfully familiar. But I did not remember that there were this much music in the movie. You can see the filmmakers trying to make another Casablanca, complete with hit theme music and all, and they almost make it.

I don’t think these people could make a movie that wasn’t pleasurable to watch, but I did find something to be annoyed with: That old coot just gets on my tits.

But it’s just not a good movie. The plot doesn’t go anywhere and nothing much of interest happens. It all rests on the performances. They are, admittedly, wonderful, but it still needs like a script.

To Have and Have Not. Howard Hawks. 1944.

Popular movies in October 1944 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
33055 8.1 Laura
24369 8.0 To Have and Have Not
9965 7.8 The Woman in the Window
5201 7.2 Ministry of Fear
327 7.2 The Very Thought of You
1009 7.0 Mrs. Parkington
282 6.8 An American Romance
206 6.6 Love Story
1733 6.6 None But the Lonely Heart
710 6.5 The Conspirators

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

September 1944: Swing Hostess

Oh, another cheapie B-movie from PRC from that box set. The previous movie, Minstrel Man, wasn’t er good, but you never know…

This one seems more promising… for one, there’s no blackface. And the lead’s a better actor.

It’s a real movie, sort of: It’s not just an excuse to string a bunch of songs together. Not just. It’s that, too, but the plot is rather fun and lively.

And very nerdy, involving many convoluted shenanigans with electronic transmission, cutting platters, and related hi-jinx.

It’s swimming in charm and nonsense. Most amiable.

Swing Hostess. Sam Newfield. 1944.

Popular movies in September 1944 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
56061 8.1 Arsenic and Old Lace
2171 7.1 Tall in the Saddle
205 6.6 The Impatient Years
290 6.5 Strangers in the Night
744 6.4 The Big Noise
510 6.3 Frenchman’s Creek
294 6.2 Crime by Night
242 6.2 Greenwich Village

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

August 1944: Minstrel Man

This is another B movie from that DVD box set. The transfer is pretty good here — while some of these have been sourced from torrents, this looks like a straight from film to DVD transfer. Hm… it might have been done via high quality video tape… There’s some typical tape ghosting going on.

It was nominated for a couple of music-related Oscars, and the music is indeed pretty good.

There isn’t much of a story here. It’s basically just a filmed “minstrel show” (i.e., white performers in blackface) with some not-very-developed drama to pad the movie out some.

The singing’s OK, but the “minstrel” comedy bits are offensively boring. All the jokes seem to be basically “aren’t those black people stupid, eh?”

But it’s not… horribly bad? I was entertained. Perhaps the biggest problem is the lead, Benny Fields, who is as expressive as a two by four. And probably as smart.

Plenty of good supporting performances keep the movie somewhat afloat. For instance, Judy Clark is so effervescently bubbling that you have to see it to believe it.

Minstrel Man. Joseph H. Lewis. 1944.

Popular movies in August 1944 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
3338 7.8 Hail the Conquering Hero
2941 7.5 The Pearl of Death
1597 7.5 In Society
1048 7.0 Black Magic
490 6.8 When Strangers Marry
706 6.4 Casanova Brown
366 6.4 The Doughgirls
725 6.3 The Great Moment
382 6.2 The Falcon in Mexico
272 6.2 Maisie Goes to Reno

This blog post is part of the Decade series.