- Another Part Of The Forest (Michael Gordon)
- The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence (John Ford)
- Angst Essen Seele Aus (Rainer Werner Fassbinder)
- Night Nurse (William Wellman)
- Love is Colder Than Death (Rainer Werner Fassbinder)
- Fort Apache (John Ford)
- Conflagration (Enjo) (Kon Ichikawa)
- The Prowler (Joseph Losey)
- The Naked Spur (Anthony Mann)
- Stormy Weather (Andrew L. Stone)
1) Another Part Of The Forest was a prequel that Lillian Hellman wrote to her more famous and much, much better play The Little Foxes. The play tries to be ‘How the Hubbards got that way’, but after a while you feel that Hellman is revisiting these characters with no real intent. The film version is minor indeed compared to the towering Bette Davis film version of The Little Foxes.
Question: The title seems to come from stage directions in either A Midsummer Night’s Dream or As You Like It. Beats me why. Anyone have any thoughts on that?
2) What fun to see Stormy Weather. It’s not much more an excuse to showcase a ton of great black musical performers. The numbers are strung together with the flimsiest of plots, but you get to see Fats Waller doing his stride-piano thing, you get to see a mind-blowing routine by the Nicholas Brothers, you get to see the gorgeous Lena Horne sing the title song, among other treasures. You get to see the star, Bill ‘Bojangles’ Robinson, without Shirley Temple. There is a very curious vaudeville comedy routine where Robinson and his costar put on blackface. Black artists in blackface flips the whole controversy of the performing style on its head. Or does it?
3) It is very illuminating to watch a first work by a great director, and then a later work from the period where that artist hits his stride. Love Is Colder Than Death is Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s first feature and for me it was longer than death. It seemed completely derivative of the worst posturing of the French New Wave with its disaffected heros and treacherous amoral heroines. However, Angst Essen Seele Aus is a masterpiece. Derivative also from the works of Douglas Sirk, the film uses its sources merely as a starting point. It is beautifully moving and very much a Fassbinder film. I give the title in German since it is hard to give an accurate rendition in English. It conveys the broken German of the hero in his most poignant moment of the film: he tells his love how fear is consuming his soul. It is a heartbreaking scene and transcendent in the way the best of Sirk is.
4) Will you just watch Night Nurse already?!? It is the best example I know of the loose moral universe that Pre-Code Hollywood showed so well. It is scary and funny and sexy. Clark Gable (without the moustache) is truly a monster. Barbara Stanwyck is glorious as always. Joan Blondell is on hand to provide the olive in this perfect gin-heavy martini.
5) Stay tuned for an upcoming post where I cogitate over the conflicting world views of the Western (including Fort Apache, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and The Naked Spur) and Film Noir.