A young boy stands like Peter Pan, hands on his hips against the pale background of his bedroom wall. A light pours through the window before him, casting him brightly despite the darkness in the room. The intersecting beams of the window pane cast a skewed cross across him, this distorted cross moving downward to the right against the wall. Suddenly, a large shadow steps into the frame, a personage of darkness that steals most of the light in the room. The boy is now cast in darkness. Here we have a filmic sequence derived from an appeal to the literature of images, a distorted religiosity beckoning the arrival of a diabolical presence. We have a moving picture demonstrating the shrouding of innocence by the waves of a harsh world, a world frustratingly characterized, as we will later learn, by abusers of power and manipulators of morality. Such flattery and gamesmanship is brought more into the light, as it were, when the light recedes into nighttime.
This is the sort of movie that you would never think belongs on a blog like this.
The negatives are flipped, the fog machines corny. The actors are transparent, their characters cliched. The lighting seems artificial, the plot seems incomplete. The whole thing is cheap in its production , even cheap in its quasi-Freudian metaphors. It’s the sort of movie that a high-schooler may come up with in about a week. Continue reading →
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 →
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 →
When it comes to Westerns, there is one ultimate King. It is not John Wayne (he’s only a Duke). It is not Clint Eastwood or Sergio Leone. It’s not Roy Rogers or his trusted Trigger. When it comes to Westerns, the King is John Ford. Continue reading →
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 Kane. To 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 →
This next post in my series of essays on Citizen Kane will focus not so much on the history of the film, nor will it view the film as an examination of its makers. This will act as a true movie review, focusing on what makes the movie so great as a stand-alone viewing performance. Continue reading →
I hope that in reading the introduction to this series of essays on Citizen Kane, you—the reader—went and rented the movie and watched it, or at least wanted to. I want to write so much about the movie; but to not watch the movie until I am done writing would, I think, be detrimental. Part of that is because the movie is known for its important ending, which I would hate to spoil. However, to not write about the ending would be to not write about the whole movie. It puts me in an awkward situation. So, go watch the movie. Then, I won’t feel bad in throwing around some spoilers. Continue reading →