Wednesday, August 14, 2019

A Pictorial Tribute to A Few Good Films

Carole Lombard and Gene Raymond in Brief Moment (1933)

The best clocks work with a seamless precision.  The wheels, springs and gears serve their function while neatly concealed inside a pretty casing.  A clock that works exactly as it should is not something we have a desire to talk about.  It is just doing its job and that's all we care about.  But we would have a great deal to say about a clock if it suddenly burst apart.

A well-crafted film can be like a well-crafted clock.  Every part works together precisely and imperceptibly as it should.  It tells a story in an effective way.  It introduces engaging characters and has those characters work out challenging problems.  I have seen countless films like that.  These films have made me laugh or they have made me cry.  In either case, I feel gratified.  "I liked that," I think.  "That was good."  Later, I may go over the film in my mind and consider what exactly I liked about the film.  But maybe I won't.  It reminds me of something a character says in Alan Ayckbourn's "The Norman Conquests."
Norman: "I tell you, if you gave Ruth the rose, she'd peel all the petals off to make sure there weren't any greenfly.  And when she done that, she'd turned around and say, 'Do you call that a rose?  Look at it, it's all in bits.'  That's Ruth."
It might be better to simply enjoy the beauty of a rose without plucking off the petals to figure out what makes it beautiful. 

So, rather than draw out accolades for the many engaging and entertaining films that I have seen lately, I will express my fondness for these films with a series of pictorial tributes. 

Street Angel (1928)

This is the second of twelve films that paired Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell.  Wikipedia: "A spirited young woman (Gaynor) tries to prostitute herself and, failing in that, to steal money, to pay for her seriously ill mother's medicine. She is caught in the act and convicted but escapes from her guards, only to find her mother dead. Fleeing the pursuing police, she joins a traveling carnival, where she meets a vagabond painter (Farrell). Though they fall in love, her past will not leave her alone."


Hot Saturday (1932)

Ruth Brock (Nancy Carroll) becomes the victim of false gossip.

She Married Her Boss (1935)

Julia Scott (Claudette Colbert) has been in love with her boss, Richard Barclay (Melvyn Douglas),  for the last six years, but Richard is obsessed with his work and is unaware of Julia's feelings. 


Fury (1936)

Joe Wilson (Spencer Tracy) is wrongly accused of murder and nearly lynched.  Wilson becomes consumed with rage and sets out to get revenge.


Wedding Present (1936)

Monica Fleming (Joan Bennett) begs her husband-to-be Charlie (Cary Grant) to restrain his rampant sense of humor on their wedding day, but Charlie fails to get a marriage license due to a joke he plays on the marriage license clerk.  This upsets Monica, who breaks off their engagement.  Charlie now has to prove to Monica that he can be serious.


More Than a Secretary (1936)

Google: "Carol Baldwin (Jean Arthur) is an independent woman too busy running her secretarial school to find romance. After blonde man-hunter Maizie (Dorothea Kent), the worst typist in Miss Baldwin's class, accuses her of being an old maid, Carol quits and goes to work as a secretary for her dream man, Mr. Gilbert (George Brent), editor of a health magazine. The dream spirals into a nightmare when Gilbert promotes Carol to associate editor and hires brainless Maizie as his personal secretary."

The Plainsman (1936)

Wild Bill Hickok (Gary Cooper) and Calamity Jane (Jean Arthur) are caught up in an Indian uprising.

The Cowboy and the Lady (1938)

The legendary cinematographer Gregg Toland is responsible for the film's beautiful imagery.


The Shopworn Angel (1938)

 A soldier (James Stewart) falls in love with a popular Broadway actress (Margaret Sullavan).


Three Comrades (1938)

Erich Lohkamp (Robert Taylor) dedicates his time and energy to a struggling auto repair shop that he runs with his two best friends (Franchot Tone and Robert Young).  But cars seem less interesting once he meets Patricia Hollmann (Margaret Sullavan).


Three Loves Has Nancy (1938)

Longtime friends, Mal Niles (Robert Montgomery) and Franchot Tone (Bob Hanson), are resolute bachelors until Nancy Briggs (Janet Gaynor) comes into their lives.  Nancy, who has left her small town to find her runaway groom in New York City, does notice that the men are falling in love with her and is surprised to find the men battling each other for her hand in marriage.


In Name Only (1939)

Alec Walker (Cary Grant) is stuck in an unhappy marriage.  It has become obvious to him that his wife Maida (Kay Francis) only married him for his wealth and position.  She has no feelings for him and he has no feelings for her.  This doesn't matter to Maida, who refuses to divorce him.  Alex falls in love with Julie Eden (Carole Lombard) and assures Julie that he will end his marriage with Maida.  But Maida manages with her ruthless manipulations to impede Alec and Carole at every turn.

Fast And Furious (1939)

A married couple (Franchot Tone and Ann Sothern) set out to prove that their friend didn't murder his boss.

Midnight (1939)

Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder wrote this screwball comedy about a millionaire (John Barrymore) who hires an unemployed showgirl (Claudette Colbert) to pretend to be a baroness and seduce his wife's playboy lover.


The Westerner (1940)

Meet the Stewarts (1942)

Newlyweds (William Holden and Frances Dee) struggle with their budget.

So Proudly We Hail! (1943)

 Google: "[A] group of U.S. military nurses. . . are trapped behind enemy lines in the Philippines."  The film is based on a true story.


Bride By Mistake (1944)

A wealthy young woman, Nora Hunter (Laraine Day), is so shy that she has her secretary and friend Sylvia Lockwood (Marsha Hunt) impersonate her at public events.  Nora takes an interest in Captain Tony Travis (Alan Marshal), a fighter pilot who was sent home to convalesce following an injury, but she introduces herself to him as her own secretary for fear that her wealth will complicate their relationship.


The Valley Of Decision (1945)

Paul Scott (Gregory Peck), who runs his father's steel mill, falls in love with his father's maid, Mary Rafferty (Greer Garson).


She Wouldn't Say Yes (1945)

A rigid and repressed psychiatrist, Susan Lane (Rosalind Russell), has never had an interest in marriage, but a man that she meets during a train trip has different ideas.  Google notes, "[Susan] resists the romantic overtures of freewheeling cartoonist Michael Kent (Lee Bowman), whose popular comic strip advocates giving in to one's desires."


Getting Gertie's Garter (1945)

A man (Dennis O'Keefe) becomes concerned about his new wife (Sheila Ryan) finding about a jeweled garter he gave to a former girlfriend two years earlier. 


The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946)

Dark secrets, blackmail and love triangles are at the core of this film noir drama.


The Man I Love (1947)

A lounge singer, Petey Brown (Ida Lupino), travels to California to visit her younger siblings: brother Joey and sisters Sally and Ginny.  Big sis becomes worried by what she finds.  Sally has a husband who suffered combat stress during the war and had to hospitalized, Joey has taken a job with a small-time hood, and Ginny has a crush on a married man who lives across the hall.  Like a blues-crooning Mary Poppins, Petey sticks around to fix her siblings' lives.


 Ivy (1947)

A woman (Joan Fontaine) is willing to do anything to get out of her loveless marriage and marry another man.


Sleep, My Love (1948)

A husband (Don Ameche) schemes to get rid of his wife (Claudette Colbert) to inherit her money and run off with his mistress (Hazel Brooks).


The Lady Gambles (1949)

A woman (Barbara Stanwyck) develops a gambling addiction during a visit to Las Vegas.


The Miracle of the Bells (1948)

Bill Dunnigan (Fred MacMurray), a Hollywood press agent, falls in love with a young actress, Olga Treskovna (Alida Valli).  When Olga dies of tuberculosis, Bill is left to take Olga's body back to her hometown for funeral services.

The Lady Takes a Sailor (1949)

No one believes a woman (Jane Wyman) who claims she was taken aboard a mini-submarine after the submarine wrecked her sailboat.

A Letter to Three Wives (1949)

Wikipedia: "[A woman] mails a letter to three women, telling them she has left town with the husband of one of them."


Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950)

A police detective (Dana Andrews) struggles to cover up his accidental killing of man during an interrogation.


Kind Lady (1951)

A group of criminals take an old woman hostage with the intent to rob her expensive art collection.


La nuit est mon royaume (1951) English translation: The Night Is My Kingdom

A train conductor (Jean Gabin) is blinded in a work accident.

The Prowler (1951)

A police officer (Van Heflin) stalks a married woman.


Three Guys Named Mike (1951)

Three men (who just happen to share the first name Mike) vie for the attentions of a charming stewardess (Jane Wyman).

The Turning Point (1952)

A prosecutor (Edmond O'Brien) teams up with a reporter (William Holden) to expose a criminal enterprise.


All I Desire (1953)

Naomi Murdoch (Barbara Stanwyck), a woman who abandoned her husband and children years earlier, returns to see her daughter make her acting debut in a school play. 


Jeopardy (1953)

When her husband (Barry Sullivan) becomes trapped under a dock piling, Helen Stilwin (Barbara Stanwyck) has to find help before the tide rolls in and drowns her husband.  She runs into a fugitive (Ralph Meeker), who takes her hostage.  Helen must use every strategy of persuasion and manipulation to get the fugitive to help her to rescue her husband. 


Garden of Evil (1954)


Witness To Murder (1954)


Crime of Passion (1957)

A newlywed wife, who gave up her journalism career for marriage, has a nervous breakdown.


Town on Trial (1957)

John Mills plays a tough detective investigating the murder of a young woman in a small town.


Term of Trial (1962)

A high school teacher (Lawrence Olivier) is falsely accused of sexual assault by an infatuated student (Sarah Miles).


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