Grand Illusion (1937)

Where Jean Gabin portrayed a doomed working class hero in Le jour se lève, in Grand Illusion (La grande illusion), he played perhaps the most hopeful symbol of the victorious proletariat that French Poetic Realism would ever come to offer.  Grand Illusion uses his character as but one of several others showing the disintegration of the old world, and the rebuilding of a new one after the earth-shattering imbalance of World War I.  It tells the story of humanity, divided vertically by borders and divided horizontally by social class.  It tells the story of the war that shattered these distinctions: gone were the days of gentleman’s battles, glorious deaths, and the rules of the game.  A new world order, one more unified in both suffering and success was being born.  Out of this carnage and pain could come a new type of freedom, one both symbolic and practical, one that would elevate the lower class and destroy the arbitrary divisions that threatened humankind. Continue reading

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Le jour se lève (1939)

“A killer! Now there’s something to gossip about! Sure, I’m a killer, but killers are a dime a dozen! They’re everywhere! Everyone kills! They just do it quietly, so you don’t see. It’s like sand. It gets deep inside you.”

So exclaims Jean Gabin’s famous proletarian hero from his apartment balcony to the curious masses below in Marcel Carné’s 1939 masterpiece, Le jour se lève.

Many critics, when asked which movie acts as the quintessential example of film noir, would say The Maltese Falcon. When asked which film most exemplifies the precepts of the screwball comedy, many experts would likely tag It Happened One Night.  When it comes to the American Western, they likely cite Stagecoach.  Well, in my opinion, if you were to ask which film most embodies the general characteristics, images, and ideas of French Poetic Realism, the answer would be  Le jour se lève. Continue reading

The Maltese Falcon (1941)

The Maltese Falcon (1941): John Huston's Noir masterpiece featuring a ...

“The cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter.”—Sam Spade, The Maltese Falcon

It is a recipe for disaster in the world of film noir to be incapable of formulating a good, old-fashioned threat.  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

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

1948 was an important year for the Western.  Movies like 3 Godfathers and Fort Apache were contributing to the overwhelming continuation to the genre by the team of John Ford and John Wayne.  Movies like Silver River with Erroll Flynn and Yellow Sky with Gregory Peck were headlining other great team-ups with superstar actors and directors (Raoul Walsh directed the former; William Wellman, the latter).  The second World War was drifting into the past, but its ripples were still freshly informing the new artistic psyche, and these team-ups were beginning to integrate a far more human arrangement into the Western to supplant what was originally a mythological archetype.  Method acting and human dilemma were rising to an important position in the way that Westerns were written.  While these aforementioned films, and others, were making their dramatic (or, at times, comedic) impact on what was, before the war, a simple formula, two films really made waves in 1948.  These two Westerns were The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and Red River.   Continue reading

Lauren Bacall (1924-2014)

bacall

It always seems to happen in a wave.  While the passing of comic sensation Robin Williams is on everyone’s minds, it will unfortunately shadow yesterday’s sad news that the legendary Lauren Bacall died of an apparent stroke.  Again, you may wonder why this merits an article on my blog: I don’t write about every celebrity passing, after all.  In my tribute to Robin Williams, I even mentioned the names of several significant personalities that passed away in the last several months about whom I probably should have written something. Continue reading

350 Greatest Movie Quotes

(This list, like all lists in this blog is regularly updated when I feel it is necessary).

I like to release a fun little list in conjunction with my new posts and pages.  I think it’s time I put up a new one, especially considering the fact that I didn’t have such a list for that mammoth publication on montage theory I did.  Now, considering the emphasis I placed on wit and dialogue in my “My Take On…Comedy” page, I felt it would be appropriate to list the greatest movie quotes of all time.  Most of these are comedic in that they are funny, satirical, witty, or sarcastic—as a matter of fact, they’re all at least witty (though some are far from funny).  That is good enough reason to publish this list in conjunction with an analysis on comedy. Continue reading