dolores costello

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while i still have the time i thought id try to chronicle the movies that i watch. many opportunities for embarassment but when has that ever stopped me. oh right, most of the time. dont know if ill rate them or have much to say but...ill add a turner classic synposis if available

Contact


one thing that unifies these three films is the lack of overacting and schmaltz. thats saying alot for this movie as it costars matthew mcconaughey and is directed by forrest gumpmeister robert zemekis. the first contact was somewhat anticlimactic but the tension between science and faith was well considered. bonus points for jena malones first major role as a young jody foster.

Stagecoach (1939)
A group of disparate passengers battle personal demons and each other while racing through Indian country.
Cast: John Wayne, Claire Trevor, George Bancroft. Dir: John Ford. BW-96 mins, TV-G


usually when i see john ford and john wayne on the schedule i surf on. in fact i rarely brake for westerns but i thought id give it a whirl if only to scratch them off of my mental checklist. as usual the injuns get short shrift and the characters are caricatures but at least it was well acted, and like mcconaughey john waynes worst characteristics were muted. according to robert osborne this was waynes first starring gig and what vaulted him to the a-list so its not a big surprise that his performance lacked the excess swagger. standout performance was from thomas mitchell as doc boone who won the best supporting actor oscar for this role.

Only Angels Have Wings (1939)
A team of flyers risks their lives to deliver the mail in a mountainous South American country.
Cast: Cary Grant, Jean Arthur, Rita Hayworth. Dir: Howard Hawks. BW-121 mins, TV-PG

thomas mitchell was in this film as well. really great character actor. 1939 was a banner year for him as he appeared in:

# The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939) .... Clopin
# Gone with the Wind (1939) .... Gerald O'Hara
# Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) .... Diz Moore
... aka Frank Capra's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (USA: complete title)
# Only Angels Have Wings (1939) .... Kid Dabb
# Stagecoach (1939) .... Doc Boone

heres a richer point of view gleaned from imdb. from what i understand the critique of hawks holds true for ford the director of stagecoach. bonus points for a 20yo rita hayworth in a supporting role.

This film is relentlessly male and relentlessly American. It functions brilliantly within the Hawksian "system" where male bonding is key, and where Woman is an outsider. Where romance is a minor part of life and where love is expressed through symbols and not through language. The group of professionals and their easy, jocular interaction is the beating heart of this film and all the group scenes are brilliantly directed. I also like the element of screwball comedy (a genre in which Hawks is one of the few masters) which presents itself in Grant and Arthur's "coffee" scene. It shows how much Hawks trusts his actors and his material in that he knows that such changes of tone can strengthen, rather than weaken, the key drama. I love this film even though its presentation of the world is not the one I'm the most sympathetic to. The film is not incredibly strong in psychological nuances - not when compared to directors like Sirk, Fuller, Welles, N. Ray, etc...and the basic tone is that of a stoicism which occasionally cracks (slightly) under pressure, but which almost immediately reestablishes itself. It's an attractive world view, but not one I'm incredibly comfortable with. There is no place here for ambiguity - not on any deep, non - localized level. I've been reading some Hawks interviews, and I now understand why Hawks was uncomfortable with being labeled an "artist". His attitude towards films and film-making is clearly the same as the attitude of the men in this film towards their work and their lives (and deaths). It's simple: you're either good enough or you're not, and you're only as good as your last flight. This identification between the man (Hawks) and his production (Only Angels Have Wings) helps to illuminate the greatness of the film, but it also explains its emotional and aesthetic limitations.


- dave 2-26-2008 9:26 pm [link] [2 comments]