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Posts Tagged ‘James Stewart’

The Spoilers – Starring Marlene Dietrich, John Wayne & Randolph Scott

Posted by the editors on Tuesday, 29 November 2011

The Spoilers (1942)(DVD)  Directed by Ray Enright, starring Marlene Dietrich (The Blue Angel (1930), The Devil is a Woman (1935), Destry Rides Again (1939), Stage Fright (1950), Touch of Evil (1958)), Randolph Scott (Santa Fe (1951), Ride the High Country (1962)), John Wayne (Stagecoach (1939), Red River (1948), Fort Apache (1948), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949),  Rio Grande (1950) and many other films) and others.  A great and classic Alaska gold-rush “Western”, The Spoilers, about miners, claim-jumpers and con-men, features, amidst mud and abundant and scintillating sexual innuendo, probably one of the greatest fist-fights ever filmed: a truly epic battle between John Wayne’s white-hat wearing Glenisster and Randolph Scott’s over-confident con-man, McNamara.  Marlene Dietrich, riding the success of her portrayal in Destry Rides Again (make a note that Wayne’s mining partner is also called Destry), is hot, bothered and loyal in love as she wears a succession of amazing gowns.  Randolph Scott, too, is hot and bothered, and overconfidently villainous as a conning gold commissioner. Not to be outdone, John Wayne is hot and bothered as well, making for quite a love triangle, and is arrogant and surprisingly stylish (in fact the entire cast is rather snappily costumed).  The Spoilers is wonderfully entertaining, with good sets, sharp dialogue and some great acting, not to mention some very dramatic action. (PR)

If you enjoy classic westerns, see our post on the film High Noon, one of the all-time greats, starring Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly, and our post on the film The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, with John Wayne and James Stewart.

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The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance by John Ford

Posted by the editors on Tuesday, 4 October 2011

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)(DVD)  Directed by John Ford (Stagecoach (1939), My Darling Clementine (1946), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), The Searchers (1956) and, of course, many, many others), starring John Wayne (Stagecoach (1939), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949),  The Searchers (1956) and many others), James Stewart (Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), The Philadelphia Story (1940), It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), and many others), Vera Miles (The Searchers (1956), Psycho (1960)), Lee Marvin (Cat Ballou (1965), The Dirty Dozen (1967), The Big Red One (1980)) and others.  This excellent, rather sad, western looks at the transition in the American West from wide-open range, and its underpinning of individual justice, to American statehood, and rule by law and order.  The actions and implications of this change are personified in the lives, and personalities, of its two protagonists, Tom Doniphon (I personally thought is was “Donovan”..), played by John Wayne , the independent, rough and gun-carrying cowboy, and Ransom Stoddard, the Easterner, attorney at law, (and often referred to as “Dude” or, by Doniphon/Wayne, “Pilgrim”), played by James Stewart.

In keeping with the thematic “restrictions” of  “liberty” which characterise the story, Ford shot The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance primarily on studio sets, in contrast to his repeated use of location shooting, notably the majestic, wide-open spaces of the American West (often Monument Valley in Utah, USA), which have been the setting of so many iconic John Ford films (see above).

In any case, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is essential viewing for anyone interested in the films of John Ford, or any of the stellar cast of actors. (PR)

We recommend that you buy your DVDs. Have a wonderful personal film library..

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High Society

Posted by the editors on Sunday, 11 September 2011

High Society, theatrical release poster

High Society (1956)(DVD) Directed by Charles Walters and starring Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby with Louis ArmstrongHigh Society, the film musical, is a reprise of the truly marvelous The Philadelphia Story (which starred Kathryn Hepburn, Cary Grant, Spencer Tracy and James Stewart and for which Stewart won an Oscar for Best Actor in 1940) and is Grace Kelly’s final film, released three months after she became Princess Grace of Monaco.  Receiving mixed critical reviews, though achieving box-office success, it’s true that the sauntering Bing Crosby pales in comparison to the inimitable Cary Grant’s portrayal of C.K. Dexter Haven, and Frank Sinatra, seeming to strain to sing some of the wonderful Cole Porter tunes in the film, is no comparison at all to James Stewart’s award-winning portrayal of McCauley Connor, the Spy Magazine reporter.  The lovely Grace Kelly, though uneven, is not a terrible Tracy Samantha Lord, though it is certainly impossible not to think of Kathryn Hepburn’s superb performance (of course, the film role and the play, a resounding Broadway success, starring Hepburn, which served as the basis for both High Society and The Philadelphia Story, were both written expressly for Hepburn), and to miss the chemistry between Hepburn, Grant and Stewart.  Nevertheless, High Society is certainly worth watching, even if it is only for the great Louis Armstrong and his band, who perform a couple of snappy numbers. (PR)

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Changing My Mind – Occasional Essays, by Zadie Smith

Posted by the editors on Sunday, 24 April 2011

Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays ustrated]

 Changing My Mind – Occasional Essays by Zadie Smith

Changing My Mind – Occasional Essays (2009) (Collection of essays) by Zadie Smith (White Teeth (2000), The Autograph Man (2002), On Beauty (2005), and numerous essays for The Guardian, The New Yorker and other newspapers and magazines).

With essays on Hepburn and Garbo, to David Foster Wallace, from an Academy Award weekend in Los Angeles to E.M. Forster, Roland Barthes, Vladimir Nabokov, Tom McCarthy and a great deal more, and with a tone from travel documentary to insightful literary analysis, and most everything in between, Zadie Smith has offered us the opportunity to see how her mind works, and how she not only permits herself to change it, but even makes that her motto, shall we say.  There’s some very good writing here, and some, on the other hand, a bit difficult to get through, but well worth the effort required.  Smith can be extraordinarily perceptive, subtle, keen, as well as, perhaps, naively hopeful, even silly, and that, in itself, is marvelous and refreshing, intellectually challenging and agreeably human.

Her long essay on David Foster Wallace, entitled “Brief Interviews with Hideous Men: The Difficult Gifts of David Foster Wallace” is honestly excellent. (PR)

See our previous post on Zadie Smith, David Foster Wallace and Tom McCarthy, entitled “The Last Audit – Review of David Foster Wallace’s “The Pale King” by Tom McCarthy“, here.

Smith prefaces her book, which is dedicated to her father, with the two following quotes:

“The time to make your mind up about people is never!” (Tracy Lord, played by Katherine Hepburn, in The Philadelphia Story (1940), also starring Cary Grant and James Stewart; directed by George Cukor.)

“You get to decide what to worship.”  (David Foster Wallace)

Pankaj Mishra’s review of Changing My Mind – Occasional Essays, entitled “Other Voices, Other Selves” in the Sunday Book Review section of The New York Times, here.

Peter Conrad’s review of Smith’s book in The Guardian is aptly titled “Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays by Zadie Smith” and is found, here.

We recommend that you buy your books.  Have a wonderful personal library.

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Posted in Book Reviews, culture, Education, film, General, Language, Links, Literature, Nothing Is Invisible, nothingisinvisible, publishing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Captains Courageous

Posted by the editors on Sunday, 13 March 2011

Captains Courageous, 1990 VHS version cover

Captains Courageous (1937) (DVD) directed by Victor Fleming starring Freddie Bartholomew, Spencer Tracy, Lionel Barrymore, Melvyn Douglas, Mickey Rooney.  Based on the novel of the same name (1897) by Rudyard Kipling (a long and fascinating Wikipedia entry, here).  Captains Courageous offers not only a wonderful sense of realistic detail of fishing the Great Banks in 3-masted fishing schooners in the early 20th century (with much real footage), as well as a sensitive recounting of Kipling’s tale of how a young teenager learns what it means to be fair, to work hard, and to value life, but also offers a wonderful opportunity to delve into the accomplishments of it star-studded cast, and director.  To this end, it may interest you to note the following details of their various filmographies:

Lionel Barrymore: (It’s a Wonderful Life, 1946, Directed by Frank Capra with James Stewart; Key Largo, (1948, Directed by John Huston, with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall), brother of John Barrymore, great uncle of Drew Barrymore)

Melvyn Douglas: Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for both (Hud, (1963), starring Paul Newman, and Being There (1979) with Peter Sellers and Shirley MacLaine)

Spencer Tracy: (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, 1941, also directed by Victor Fleming; Woman of the Year, 1942, with Kathrine Hepburn) ranked 9th, in 1999, by the American Film Institute’s list of Greatest Male Stars of All Time 

Victor Fleming: (The Wizard of Oz (1939), and Gone with the Wind (1939), for which he won an Academy Award for Best Director.)

All said, a film worth watching for any number of reasons. (PR)

We recommend that you buy your DVDs.  Have a wonderful personal film library..

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