Archive for 1940s

Quote of the Day: The Third Man

Posted in Film, Of the Day with tags , , , , , , on 28 October, 2008 by Ally

Anna starts rummaging in her handbag for money — in the process some of the contents tumble out on the counter including a photograph. Martins picks it up.

MARTINS
Harry?

ANNA
Yes. He moved his head, but the rest is good, isn’t it?

Upon watching The Third Man for maybe a third or fourth time, that line affected me as it never had before. It’s just a small moment, but it perfectly mixes humour with sadness. First I laughed, imagining a blurred head on a botched photograph, but then the poignancy of it overcame me. That Anna would keep even a botched photograph of her dead love, and even carry it with her in her handbag, is too sad for words.

So I shall say no more. Except The Third Man is a truly great film on all levels.

Crossfire

Posted in Film, Film Noir with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 16 September, 2008 by Ally

Edward Dmytryk, 1947

Crossfire is a dark and gritty film noir, brimming with the kind of expressionistic shadows and sardonic repartee you would expect from that style. It tackles some controversial issues of the time, depicting an anti-Semitic murder committed by a soldier unable to reintegrate into post-war civilian life.

A group of demobilized soldiers go out to share a drink, but listless Floyd Bowers (Steve Brodie) befriends a kindly Jewish man named Joseph Samuels (Sam Levene). They go back to Samuels’ apartment for a drink, closely followed by two of Bowers’ old army buddies. When Samuels is found dead later that evening, world-weary Captain Finlay (Robert Young) investigates the last people to see him alive. The imposing and outspoken Montgomery (Robert Ryan) points the finger at Bowers, who is conspicuous by his absence, but Sgt. Keeley (a reliably acerbic Robert Mitchum) is convinced of his innocence. Continue reading

You’ll Never Get Rich

Posted in Film, Musical with tags , , , , , , , , , on 10 September, 2008 by Ally

Directed by Sidney Lanfield in 1941, credits courtesy of the local council...

You’ll Never Get Rich is the first of two pictures Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth made together. It launched Hayworth as a major star and pinup icon, and gave Astaire a much-needed boost in a career suffering from the lack of Ginger Rogers. Rita was truly beautiful, and a talented dancer as it turned out. Fred was as graceful and charming as ever, and the dance routines are magical. Problem is, all these great ingredients are dumped into a picture that isn’t very good. And… why is it called You’ll Never Get Rich anyway?

The plot is a standard farce based on love, lies and misunderstandings. Robert Curtis (Astaire) is a choreographer in a fancy night club owned by Martin Cortland (Robert Benchley). Mr. Cortland is rather fond of Miss Sheila Winthrop (Hayworth), one of the girls in the chorus line. He buys her an engraved diamond bracelet, but Mrs. Cortland (Frieda Inescort) finds the bracelet and demands answers. Martin spins a web of lies, telling his wife that Robert is courting Sheila, and asking Robert to play along. After being threatened by Sheila’s actual suitor (John Hubbard), Robert is only too delighted to be drafted into the army. This is clearly an exercise in morale-boosting, it being made “during the war”. Continue reading

The Lady From Shanghai

Posted in Film, Film Noir with tags , , , , , , , , , on 5 September, 2008 by Ally

There is a story that John Lennon, upon hearing that Beatles lyrics were being analysed in University classes, wrote I Am The Walrus just to fuck with the scholars. I can’t help but wonder if Orson Welles made The Lady From Shanghai with similar motivations. The plot of this film noir is notoriously complex and deliberately disjointed, so much so that even Welles himself could not summarize it for a furious studio boss, and iconic Rita Hayworth appears with her trademark red hair cut short and bleached.

"And they all lived happily ever after... The End."

To cut a shaggy-dog story short, Michael O’Hara is an Irishman who freely admits he’s not the fastest ship in the fleet, but he is what you’d call an able-bodied sailor. He is played by Welles with a comically thick Irish brogue and rugged good-looks from particular angles. After a chance meeting with Elsa (Rita Hayworth), he is employed to run her husband’s yacht. The husband is Arthur Bannister (Everett Sloan), an “elaborate cripple” with two canes and a silly walk that would make John Cleese weep. He also happens to be the world’s greatest criminal lawyer. Continue reading