A Christmas Story (1983)

“Mothers know nothing about creeping marauders burrowing through the snow toward the kitchen where only you and you alone stand between your tiny, huddled family and insensate evil.”

Lines like this one, muttered by narrator Ralphie Parker, who tells the story of his most memorable childhood Christmas, are what give such compassionate life to what many consider the most funny holiday film ever recorded.  Continue reading

Wuthering Heights (1939)

One of the great things about studying 1939 is seeing how such a vast enterprise as Hollywood can, at times, seem so small.  I feel like I did a pretty good job showing how interconnected the industry was that year in my initial essay on 1939, and how that interconnectedness made Hollywood more a machine than a business.  It pumped out films at a tremendous rate—good ones, too.  Well, the smallness of Hollywood was at play in the creation of some of 1939’s finest films. Continue reading

Red River (1948)

Like I’ve already said, 1948 was an important year for the Western.  This isn’t only because a lot of Westerns came out that year.  It’s because, primarily, two Westerns came out that year.  These two Westerns are The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and Red River.  Together, they represent a bridge into a new era of this signature American genre: from the mythic hero-epics of the 1930s and 1940s to the character-focused mythic tragedies of the 1950s and 1960s. Continue reading

Stagecoach (1939)

One of the most oft-mentioned films on my blog has been Stagecoach.  As long as I’m talking Westerns of the 1930s and ’40s, and as long as I’m talking about John Ford, I figure that it is time for Stagecoach to get a review of its own. Continue reading

The Great Dictator (1940)

charlie-chaplin-in-the-great-dictator

Charlie Chaplin is so much fun to watch that he’s actually fun to write about.  I recently had a social networking request to hear a review of The Great Dictator, and since I have enjoyed writing the last three film reviews so much (all three about Chaplin movies) I must readily accept this request.  The decision is not made lightly.  After all, this movie is by far his most controversial, not just in regards to his content but also in regards to the large spectrum of approval that this movie has been subject to over the years. Continue reading

Apocalypse Now (1979)

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My structure remains.  Hitchcock, Coppola, silent film.  Hitchcock, Coppola, silent film.  Hitchcock, Coppola, silent film.  Perhaps after that, I’ll move on to other things.  As for Coppola, The Godfather movies provide only so much potency.  What The Godfather enjoyed, perhaps to a greater degree than any other movie was that it was a story so stunning–and so driven by motif and character–that it probably could have made itself.  Put a director with Francis Ford Coppola’s touch behind the camera and the movie no longer makes itself, but instead becomes the most precious clay a sculptor could ever want: a clay that becomes a masterpiece by mixing the perfection of the plot with the tenacious and dexterous master’s touch.  With that being said, there is perhaps no Coppola film that better exhibits the directorial skill of its creator than 1979’s Apocalypse Now. Continue reading