September 1948: Sorry, Wrong Number















Oh, wow! I know this storyline!

I’ve been listening to old Norwegian radio dramas while walking the last year, and there was a 50s serial about an invalid woman overhearing a murder plot on a crossed line on the telephone, and then trying to do something about it — all over the phone.

So the story has basically one single setting: A woman, in a bed, talking on the phone. And they made this into a movie?

Me am intrigue!

I am unfamiliar with the director, Anatole Litvak, but one of the ways he solves the problems is to use a constantly roving camera that haunts the other rooms of the house, giving us background.

But the other ways they’ve making this more movie-like aren’t as interesting. They’ve added a bunch of flashbacks and expansions to the plot. Well, basically changing the entire plot, I think? Or… was the Norwegian version extremely condensed? I don’t know!

They lose most of the tension with all the flashbacks.

Barbara Stanwyck is wonderful in bed. I mean, acting wise.

Oh, wow::

Lucille Fletcher’s play originally aired on the Suspense radio program on May 25, 1943, essentially a one-woman show with Agnes Moorehead as Mrs. Stevenson. The play was reprised seven times, each starring Moorehead. The final broadcast was on February 14, 1960.

I’d love to listen to any of those versions.

Sorry, Wrong Number. Anatole Litvak. 1948.

Popular movies in September 1948 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
3323 7.8 Johnny Belinda
4868 7.6 Macbeth
7583 7.5 Sorry, Wrong Number
1608 7.3 Road House
274 7.2 Dédée d’Anvers
1439 7.2 Cry of the City
1486 7.0 Rachel and the Stranger
1207 7.0 Louisiana Story
584 6.9 The Luck of the Irish
659 6.7 Station West

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

August 1948: The Scar



















Huh! The previous movie was also an Eagle-Lion thing. How odd I’ve bought two of these in sequence.

At least this had been restored properly; the Amazing Mr. X looked horrible.

This is noir, though, and is told from the viewpoint of a bunch of small-time (wannabe) gangsters. I don’t think I’ve seen a movie quite like this before. It makes a lot of unusual (for its time) aesthetic choices, as in not using a score to tell the viewers how to feel all the time.

It feels fresh and unsettling.

Back in those days, they felt they had to make criminal protagonists somewhat more palatable by having the people who are after them be even worse people, and they use that for great effect here. We forget that he’s a ruthless killer for minutes at a time!

These days, of course, they’ll just have TV series starring the worst psychopaths and people will totally root for them anyway.

The plot is preposterous and all the more fun for that. But there’s a twist is signalled so thoroughly that when it comes to actually do the fatal mistake, it’s a bit “Paul, pleez.”

Joan Bennett is wonderfully cynical.

It’s almost a perfect little gem of a movie.

The Scar. Steve Sekely. 1948.

Popular movies in August 1948 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
427 8.1 Los tres huastecos
99735 8.0 Rope
831 7.8 The Winslow Boy
22264 7.8 Red River
5844 7.8 The Fallen Idol
4504 7.6 They Live by Night
1654 7.2 Pitfall
954 7.1 L’amore
409 7.0 Four Faces West
656 7.0 Julia Misbehaves

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

July 1948: The Amazing Mr. X











Wow, this is a bad DVD transfer. Looks like it’s been sourced from VHS via an NTSC broadcast.

But never mind. This is fun! It’s a horror movie, sort of. Or perhaps thriller? It’s kinda thrilling, anyway.

Being able to see what was going on would perhaps have been even better, but it works anyway.

That crow!

At the end of the day, it’s an entertaining piece of fluff. I’m not sure what it’s at the start of the day, though.

The Amazing Mr. X. Bernard Vorhaus. 1948.

Popular movies in July 1948 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
20996 8.3 The Red Shoes
29728 7.9 Key Largo
689 7.1 Superman
646 6.8 The Velvet Touch
488 6.7 Coroner Creek
832 6.6 A Date with Judy
1007 6.5 The Amazing Mr. X
535 6.3 Return of the Bad Men
554 6.1 Blonde Ice
758 5.5 The Babe Ruth Story

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

June 1948: Easter Parade













I can see! In colour!

Based on the name I thought this was going to be a cheap B movie, but instead it’s an Irving Berlin extravaganza! With Fred Astaire and Judy Garland!

But like I guessed by the “parade” name, this is basically a bunch of songs and dances and skits with some nonsensical plot to tie it all loosely together.

Which is fine by me!

It’s odd watching Astaire in colour and in 2K. He looks so… highly resoluted. (That’s a word.) For the first five minutes I was going “is that really Fred? Is it really? Is it?”

But then he started dancing.

:

It was the most financially successful picture for both Garland and Astaire as well as the highest-grossing musical of the year.

But I can see why. This is effortlessly funny. It’s a kind of Eliza Doolittle thing, really, and Judy Garland is hilarious here. And she hoofs it impressively.

The Ann Miller tap scene tops everything, though. Amazeballs.

Easter Parade. Charles Walters. 1948.

Popular movies in June 1948 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
8962 7.8 Oliver Twist
6681 7.5 Easter Parade
4995 7.4 A Foreign Affair
1968 7.1 The Street with No Name
1284 7.0 Romance on the High Seas
272 6.7 Canon City
243 6.3 Green Grass of Wyoming

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

May 1948: Hamlet
























Directed by Laurence Olivier, this is pretty spiffy. Lots of weird little touches.

It’s not filmed theatre at all — it’s all movie.

I didn’t recognise Olivier at all. Perhaps I’ve just seen him in much later movies? Or is it just the blond(e)ness? He’s fabulous here, anyway.

We’ve all seen Hamlet way too many times, right? But this version seems so fresh. Despite my expectations, I found myself riveted. I think this may well be the best version I’ve seen?

Yes.

Even if it doesn’t include Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. It feels very compact, even if it’s two and a half hours. And that means that it’s all psychodrama and doesn’t have all the funny and or political bits.

Oh, huh. It won all the Oscars that year, which I didn’t expect, either.

But even so, it’s great. The only major misstep is the casting of Horatio. He’s just an oafish non-entity here. And it’s a bit weird that Hamlet’s mother is obviously much younger than Hamlet is, but they make it work.

Did Olivier want to play Hamlet as he was really a lunatic instead of playing at being one? This version seems to be open to that interpretation… Especially when you mix the incestuous bits with his mother in.

Hamlet. Laurence Olivier. 1948.

Popular movies in May 1948 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
12250 7.8 Hamlet
2758 7.4 Raw Deal
406 7.1 The Fuller Brush Man
3410 7.1 The Pirate
662 6.9 Miranda
2180 6.8 Berlin Express
874 6.6 The Woman in White
783 6.6 Silver River
851 6.5 The Time of Your Life
3366 6.5 Melody Time

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

April 1948: Letter from an Unknown Woman












Oh, directed by Max Ophüls. I haven’t seen a lot of movies by him… I remember seeing The Earrings of Madame De… the other year. I think? Yes.

I was apparently befuddled then.

This looks great. The cinematography is relentlessly intriguing.

Joan Fontaine is marvellous. Her acting style is so different from what you usually get in Hollywood movies of this era. Not that there’s anything wrong with the norm, but it’s refreshing to see a different take.

This is a very strange film: I had no idea where it was going (on a macro plane) while most of the individual scenes were quite predictable.

The most disturbing thing about the movie is watching Louis Jourdan pretending he knows his way around a piano.

Letter from an Unknown Woman. Max Ophüls. 1948.

Popular movies in April 1948 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
8524 8.0 Letter from an Unknown Woman
201 7.4 Krakatit
2623 7.4 State of the Union
839 7.1 The Noose Hangs High
702 7.1 Winter Meeting
763 6.9 Ruthless
224 6.8 Fury at Furnace Creek
486 6.7 Homecoming
284 6.3 Casbah
1087 6.2 The Emperor Waltz

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

March 1948: Fort Apache



















Johns Ford and Wayne! Is this the first John Wayne movie I’ve seen in this blog series? Hm…

Oh, Shirley Temple and Henry Fonda, too…

This is sweet. I thought this was going to be one of those serious and relevant westerns (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but instead it’s pretty funny.

Not that there isn’t some drama, but this is mostly very light-hearted and amusing. Until it suddenly turns quite serious.

The mix of slapstick humour and more earnest action doesn’t always work: The horse-riding skit seemed to last forever while we were perhaps more interested in what was going on with the Cochise situation.

But it’s an interesting movie. It’s somewhere half-way between the older western movies where the Native Americans are the enemy and the later revisionist westerns where the US Army are unambiguous villains.

The final scene with the journalists, creating the myth of The Great General and the Savage (Befeathered) Indians, is a very thoughtful touch.

Fort Apache. John Ford. 1948.

Popular movies in March 1948 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
4038 8.3 I Remember Mama
2961 7.9 The Search
9067 7.7 The Naked City
5888 7.7 The Big Clock
1486 7.6 Sitting Pretty
13044 7.6 Fort Apache
1186 7.4 All My Sons
8284 7.3 Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House
333 7.2 The Mating of Millie
319 6.9 So Evil My Love

This blog post is part of the Decade series.