The Wizard of Oz (1939)

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“If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with! Is that right?”

There is the learning of Dorothy Gale, one of cinema’s most enduring heroines, as she, with her friends, receives her gift from the Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Continue reading

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Gone With the Wind (1939)

Let’s face it.  We live in an era where the mainstream is something to be feared, and to like the blockbuster is to admit to being the very same “non-person” we all fear becoming.  It’s important to look smart and cultured, and so we can’t admit to anything that makes us look too sheltered or nationalistic.  We embrace uniqueness or obscurity because it makes us feel like modern day Columbuses…no, strike that.  Columbus is too politically incorrect.  Continue reading

The 101 Greatest Film Scores

Lists, and not baseball, have become America’s favorite pastime, and for fifteen years now, I have been passing as much time as anybody I know.   Continue reading

30 Best Film Composers

As I stated in my “Brief Exposition on Movie Music”, 1939 was one of several watershed moments in film history, not only because of the sheer amount of great films that were pumped out of Hollywood that year, but also because it introduced forever the “thematic” elements of movie scores.  In particular, the Alfred Newman’s score in Wuthering Heights and Max Steiner’s work in Gone With the Wind were key players in this movement. Continue reading

Ninotchka (1939)

“This picture takes place in Paris, in those wonderful days when a siren was a brunette and not an alarm—and if a Frenchman turned out the light it was not on account of an air raid!”

So begins the riotous story of Ninotchka and Leon in Paris, penned by Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett. Continue reading

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941 and the subsequent entry into World War II by the United States of America, James Maitland Stewart joined the US Air Corps.  Before the war, Stewart was a talented pilot in the private sector, amassing hundreds of hours of flight time and even participating in a cross-country race as a co-pilot.  He had invested (and recruited more investments) in a pilot-training program hosted by Southwest Airways.  He was an immensely popular actor on the home-front, starring in such films as The Philadelphia Story with Katharine Hepburn and You Can’t Take it With You with Jean Arthur.  He was well-publicized, well-known, and was an interesting character, who loved flying, loved his country, and respected his family’s military tradition. Continue reading

The Samurai Trilogy (1954-1956)

In an unprecedented move, I am going to review three films at once.  So, while I will technically only write four reviews on samurai film to accompany my recent essay on that genre, I will actually be reviewing six movies.  The three movies that I will be reviewing today make up the masterful trilogy from director Hiroshi Inagaki and actor Toshiro Mifune called, simply, The Samurai Trilogy.  This trilogy is made up of three films, Musashi Miyamoto (1954), The Duel at Ichijoji Temple (1955), and The Duel at Ganryu Island (1956).  The release of these films marks an important moment in the development of the samurai film and its role as not only the predominant genre of Japan, but as Japan’s most exported film-type in world cinema. 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

It Happened One Night (1934)

Of all the screwball/romantic comedies of the 1930s, few stand as tall as It Happened One Night.  When the movie was released to secondary movie houses in 1934 after mixed success with its initial release, it started a popular wave across the United States as people everywhere swarmed theaters to see Clark Gable—“The King of Hollywood”—and silent-film golden girl Claudette Colbert fall in love.  What at first appeared to be a flop turned out to be the biggest success in the history of Columbia Pictures up to that date. Continue reading

“Ignorance, Sheer Ignorance”: The Audacity and Innovation of the Citizen Kane Experiment

gregg and orson

Note: before reading this post, I want to make an apology.  This post is designed to prove the optic innovation and aesthetic quality of Citizen KaneTo help you—the reader—see first-hand some of the innovations at hand, I have included clips from the movie.  Unfortunately, these clips are hosted through YouTube and other online sources that are subject to the fickleness of Internet connections and the variance of upload quality.  Because of this, the complete visual experience of Citizen Kane is not available in these clips alone, because they may be more blurry or slow than they would be watching a well-restored Blu-Ray or DVD release. 

In my last post, I attempted to make one point quite clear: the greatness of Citizen Kane lies in its duality.  It is part-drama, part-comedy.  It is based on truth, but shrouded in lies.  It’s a mystery with no resolution.  It is light.  It is dark.  It is black.  It is white. Continue reading