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Good Night, and Good Luck.

This one's about All The Senator's Men
Itis obvious that George Clooney has a feel for the history of Television. Several years ago he helmed a live telecast of the Doomsday thriller "Fail Safe" which was well received.

Now Clooney returns to the historical genre with this brilliant retelling of one of the scariest eras in our nation's history. The Joseph McCarthy era. Clooney the co writer uses the late Great Edward R. Murrow as the focal point of the picture. It was Morrow, one of the best journalists in history, who took on the Junior Senator from Wisconsin whose irresponsible Communist finger pointing would make anyone who so much as would wear a pink shirt cringe.

Clooney the Director, photographs the movie in Black and White and creates a true feel for 1954 when Morrow's show "See It Now", a CBS and Morrow staple since the Radio days when it was called "Hear It Now", unearthed the story of a member of the Air Force was asked to resign because of one time alleged Communist affiliations in his family. The show and the incident was to manifest itself into a "confrontation" between Morrow and McCarthy".

And while the CBS portion of the story are played by actors(a marvelous ensemble cast), McCarthy, Roy Cohn and others involved are played by themselves due to the use of archival footage. What is particular noteworthy is a shot of a young Robert Kennedy at one of the hearings and another shot of Joseph Welsch who presided over the Army-McCarthy hearings that would bring the senator down. Film buffs may remember Welsch shortly thereafter as an actor, portraying Judge Weaver in Otto Preminger's "Anatomy Of A Murder".

Clooney has assembled a dream cast and each one delivers. It begins with David Strathairn as Morrow. He has already won an award for best actor at the Venice Film Festival and if he doesn't win an Oscar for this, something is wrong. Clooney, the Actor, plays Fred Friendly, Producer of "See It Now" and Morrow's confidant, he could pick up a nomination in 4 categories. Frank Langella Plays William S. Paley, the head of CBS. Jeff Daniels, Robert Downey Jr, Ray Wise and Patricia Clarkson are all uniformly excellent.

I have been called a purist, a charge I plead guilty to. It is gratifying to see that a film can be successfully made without blood, gore and guts and still hold the interest.

Then when you examine the roots and career of it's maker, it should not surprise you at all.

A perfect 10

The High and the Mighty

Mike and Pat--Don't hold this one back
Probably the most popular film that has never been released to any video medium, The High and the Mighty is th4e granddaddy of all of those disaster pictures that became popular in the 70s, but they do not hold a candle to this one.

The Wayne Family in general, and I would assume sons Michael and Patrick in particular, own the film along with some others. One has to wonder why they do not release it. I have a copy I recorded from HBO many years ago and when aired it was a great print. I am fortunate to be able to see it now and then at my own leisure.

The plot of a crippled airliner in the middle of the Pacific doesn't accurately describe this film. It is a true character study with some of the finest actors of the day on hand delivering brilliant performances. Those that stand out include Jan Sterling (oscar nominee and Golden Globe winner), Claire Trevor (Oscar nominated), Phil Harris, Robert Newton, and David Brian. But each and every one in the rest of the cast can take a bow for a job well done. And That includes Wayne himself. His Dan Roman is complete, a man with strengths and weaknesses, but a man who eventually is the only one to step up in a time of crisis. It is one of his best performances.

William Wellman's direction keeps the film moving, Dimitri Tiomkin's Oscar winning score had viewers whistling along with Whistling Dan.

Mike and Pat, please let this one out before it becomes an antique. A new generation of your father's fans await this classic. It is not fair to deny them their chance to see him. And by the way. John Wayne was not the original choice to play Dan Roman. When He acquired the rights to the film he just wanted to produce it ( a la Bullfighter and the Lady). His choice wanted to play the role, but schedule conflicts prevented this, thus John Wayne had to play the role he offered to Spencer Tracy

The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse

Robinson, Bogart, and the Warner Brothers Stock Company at their best
Take a successful broadway play, add Edward G Robinson, Humphery Bogart, Claire Trevor and the Warner Brothers stock company to the mix and you can't go wrong. And this one doesn't go wrong.

Robinson plays Dr Clitterhouse, an extremely successful doctor catering only to High Society patients.

In reality Clitterhouse only wants to do a study on criminals with the hope of developing a cure for crime by finding out what makes these men tick.

To do this he joins a gang led by Trevor as the brains and Bogie as the Brawn.

Clitterhouse participates in their ventures and while on the job measures things like blood pressure, heartbeat and other vital signs, but what he doesn't count on is his near addiction to crime.

Robinson makes a great Clitterhouse(Cedric Hardwicke played him on Broadway)Bogart in his gangster milieu, plays Rocks Valentine like it is second nature to him. The Stock company in this one consists of Ward Bond, Vladimir Sokoloff, Maxie Rosenbloom, Donald Crisp, Gale Page and John Litel.

Dr Clitterhouse is a fun film, but don't ask him to make a house call

Gideon's Day

John Ford goes cops and robbers
John Ford, the esteemed director, worked in many film genres but up until this film he had never done a Cops and Robbers movie.

In this one, he takes us on a "typical" day of a Scotland Yard Inspector in which we get a view of his private life as well as his professional.

In fact if Gideon's Day is "typical", what is dull? Chief Inspector George Gideon catches a double murderer, a single murderer, a robber, suspends a crooked cop, and ends the day catching three men who break into a vault and murder the guard(not related to the other 2 murderers he catches).

John Ford who usually takes his time in telling a story, uses a much faster pace than he is accustomed to in most of his narratives. And if it doesn't work to perfection in this film, it still is enjoyable due to some of the characterizations.

Jack Hawkins is perfectly British as Gideon. He seems to be constantly in a dither, but in the end he is the consummate cop, tough, sensitive and smart.

Ford uses a large cast and many characters and they play off Hawkins as if they were on a lark. T E B Clark's story has moments of comedy, drama and pathos.

Most critics consider "Gideon's Day"(or "Gideon of Scotland Yard" as it is known here) to be beneath the standards of one of the great directors in film history. There is no question that this is true. However, If you watch it as a straight cops and robbers film and forget that Ford was at the helm, this one is a pretty good one

Lust for Gold

How to find 20 million dollars in gold. Make a sleeper like this one
Like it's academy award winning predecessor, "The Treasure of Sierra Madre", Gold and the greed that comes with it make for a compelling motion picture.

"Lust For Gold" is really two stories, one set in the present (at least 1949 when the film was made), one set some 50 years earlier. The contemporary part of the story begins with a man named Barry Storm searching for gold. He is no ordinary prospector though. His grandfather was the legendary Jacob Walz who had discovered the "Lost Dutchman Mine". Storm is not the only one looking for the gold however. Among the others are an explorer, and a killer.

A powerhouse trio of stars, Glenn Ford, Ida Lupino and Gig Young, are the protagonists of the historical part of the story. Ford plays Walz, an evil man who finds the gold mine and Lupino, is a no good woman one of many trying to get her hands on the treasure, and Young is equally villainous as Lupino's husband.

There are many elements to this story and they are blended to perfection. S Sylvan Simon, more known as a "B" film director for MGM, had the perfect read on this one. He came into his own as a helmsman with this picture. Unfortunately, this was his last film, succumbing to a heart attach at the age of 41 not long after the completion of this.

Besides, Ford, Lupino and Young, William Prince as Barry Storm has the best role of his acting career. The film boasts a supporting cast of several people who went on to fame and fortune on television. Among them, Edgar Buchanan (Petticoat Junction) Paul Ford (The Phil Silvers Show), Jay Silverheels (The Lone Ranger) and Will Geer (The Waltons).

This film, not made on a big budget, is a real sleeper. It is a great example of what can happen when professionals like these go out to mine a great film. It comes up solid gold

One, Two, Three

a virtual laugh fest
Consider the relationship between the US and Russia in 1961 and you wonder how Billy Wilder had the guts to make this film.

Made when the Cold War was in full bloom, "One, Two, Three" is the story of a Coca-Cola executive running the bottling plant in West Berlin.

Sounds like serious stuff Huh?? Well not exactly. "One, Two, Three" is a brilliantly structured comedy that has the pace of a normal drive on the Autobahn.

Wilder spares no one. The Russians, Germans, space race, capitalism and communism all are ridiculed in the screenplay co-written by longtime collaborator I.A.L. Diamond.

The catalyst is one CP MacNamara, the aforementioned manager. He is living in West Berlin complete with a typical American wife, two American Kids, and a gorgeous mistress who gives him "German lessons".

Along comes Scarlett Hazeltine, the flighty daughter of one of the top executives of the company who is being sent to Europe so her father can break up her American romance.

It is MacNamara's responsibility to keep Scarlett from getting into trouble, which is exactly what she does.

James Cagney is MacNamara. He shouts and bellows and goes way over the top but his interpretation is nothing short of perfect. He is as energetic as the pace and never stops. Pamela Tiffin plays Scarlett and does it so expertly you really think she is a ditz. Horst Buckholtz, never known for comedy shows a surprising flair for the medium, and whoever thought of Arlene Francis for the role of Cagney's wife deserves a special cudo. Known more as a radio hostess and panelist on "What's My Line" then as a major thespian, Francis expertly plays off Cagney.

This is one of Cagney's greatest performances. And one of his legendary. After it he went into retirement, burned out after 30 non-stop years on the screen. It would be 2 decades until he came back. Oh what we missed in those 20 years.

Champagne for Caesar

You'll need a doctor to stitch you up after laughing your sides off
There is no way that you can present a synopsis of this film that can make it appealing. Here is a film that stars Ronald Colman, Vincent Price, Celeste Holm and Art Linkletter???? The plot includes a soap company, a quiz show and a talking parrot. Not only does this film work, it is one of the most riotous comedies ever filmed.

It is the incongruity (and thus the brilliance) of the casting that makes this successful. Colman who is so well known for his romantic voice and looks and just coming off as Oscar winning performance in the dark but brilliant "A Double Life" plays Bouregard Bottomley, a man who knows "everything about everything", except how to get a job. He goes to the Milady Soap Company and is almost hired except he had the audacity to make a joke in front of company President Birnbridge Waters, played by Vincent Price. It seems that Milady sponsors a quiz program and Bottomley decides to go on as a contestant and take Price for all he is worth and thereby hangs this uproarious tale.

For all of the dramatic accomplishments by the principals, Colman, Price and Holm are tremendously funny with Price as a particular standout. He goes way over the top (similar to James Cagney in the equally as funny "One, Two, Three") but he is perfect.

The real surprise is Art Linkletter. Having made his reputation as a rather bland variety show host in radio and the early days of television, he comes off very effectively as both the quiz show and the romantic lead. This was his only acting appearance and it is too bad. He was very good.

This film demands several viewings. Often you are laughing so hard you miss some great lines.

The Champaign in the title does not go solely to Caesar (a talking parrot). It goes to all involved with this classic. Here's to you.

The Senator Was Indiscreet

Non stop laughs
This film stands along with "Bringing Up Baby" as one of the most preposterous non Marx Brothers comedies ever filmed. Its plot seems to defy reality, but in looking at the political climate of this era it seems like more of a case of art imitating life.

This art is created hilariously by William Powell who as Senator Melvin G Ashton is the epitome of buffoonery yet due to his political party's shenanigans and the fact that he has kept a diary of those dastardly deeds finds himself as a candidate for President of the United States. When that diary is stolen, the efforts to retrieve it lead Powell from one embarrassing situation to another with non-stop laughs.

Peter Lind Hayes, not known for acting plays Powell's press agent and is very funny. Ella Raines, one of the most stunning women in films, plays a reporter and she's not only very funny but very beautiful. And there's a who's who of character actors led by Ray Collins, Allen Jenkins, Charles D. Brown and Milton Parsons who perform superbly.

George S Kaufman directed the film. He was long known as one of the leading playwrights of both comedy and drama. He won 2 Pulitzer Prizes. He wrote 2 Marx Brothers Films, as well as "The Man Who Came To Dinner" and "You Can't Take It With You". This was his only turn at directing a film. The pace he establishes is frenetic, with dialogue delivered in the Howard Hawks overlapping style.

Stay with this until the very last line. The ending is a pip. In fact the whole film is one


A great story presented in a semi documentary mode
This film is one of Elia Kazan's early efforts as a director. He presented this story in the semi documentary style pioneered by producer Louis DeRochemont in his "March of Time" short subjects and brought to full length status in Henry Hathaway's "The House on 92nd Street".

In filming this true story, Kazan took his cast and crew to a small Connecticut town similar to the one that the story occurred in. This concept was very effective.

Dana Andrews plays Henry L. Harvey, a Connecticut States Attorney who is prosecuting a particularly sensitive case in which a local revered priest was murdered and a homeless drifter was arrested for the crime after an exhaustive search in which the local police was criticized by both the media and local politicians. When Harvey begins to have some doubts, his case "Boomerangs".

The story is riveting from start to finish and the style Kazan uses adds even more credibility to it. (Kazan used on location filming a few years later in making "Panic in the Streets" and it was just as effective even though the story was fictional).

The acting is first rate. Supporting Andrews is Arthur Kennedy as the suspect, Lee J Cobb as the chief of police, Sam Levine as a reporter who knows all, and Robert Keith as a political leader (his son Brian, who later became a bigger star than his father, has a bit).

"Boomerang!" is a film made during the time when Hollywood was growing up. It's a provocative story about our judicial system that even when viewed today makes you think. And it's done to perfection

The Gunfighter

A dark western
This film was made during the peak years of "Film Noir". Although it is almost incongruous to place the western film into that genre, "The Gunfighter" comes close to meeting the criteria.

It is a deep dark western devoid of gunplay(until the conclusion)highlighted by a marvelous portrait painted by Gregory Peck as Jimmy Ringo, the gunfighter, trying to escape his past.

Ringo in his younger days was one of the "fastest guns in the west" who has survived to reach middle age. As he has matured he realizes you can't change what has happened.

Everywhere Ringo goes he is perceived as the "the fastest gun in the west" and everywhere he stops there is some young gun who wants to prove he is faster than the great Ringo. In fact when Ringo stops in a dusty town, he is being pursued by three brothers of his latest victim seeking revenge.

Ringo's arrival in this town is more than just co-incidence. We learn that the sheriff (what a performance by Millard Mitchell) used to run with the Ringo gang, the saloon singer was married to Ringo's best friend, and most importantly, Ringo's wife and son live there.

The bulk of the story is spent waiting to see if Ringo who lives by his wits as well as his guns, can survive.

The acting is uniform with Karl Malden as the saloon keeper and Skip Homeier standing alongside Peck of Mitchell for acting cudos

The script by Bill Bowers is taught and suspenseful. Henry King's in his second of 5 films with Peck(their previous collaboration was "Twelve O'Clock High") brings out the essence of a tired lonely tragic man without using any tricks(In fact there is no music except for the opening titles.

If you're looking for a shoot-em-up you won't find it here. If what you want is a top flight adult western, well pardner you've come to the right film.

Out of the Past

Definitive Film Noir
This film established the Robert Mitchum screen persona. In it he established the easy going laconic style that was to become his trademark. His Jeff Bailey is the epitome of the 1940s tragic hero.

The story is told in flashback, a Film Noir tradition. Bailey owns a gas station in a small California town. But he is a man with a past, a past that comes back to haunt him(as in Hemingway's "The Killers")

Bailey tells us that he was a detective in his previous life. He was hired by a gambler to find a girl who had stolen $40,000 from him. Bailey found the girl and the money , but love got in the way.

To reveal anymore of this convoluted plot would ruin it for those who have not had the pleasure of not seeing this masterpiece.

In addition to Mitchum, the rest of the cast excels as well. Jane Greer is the perfect Femme Fatal. Kirk Douglas is mean and sadistic as the gambler. Rhonda Fleming, Virginia Huston, Steve Brodie and Paul Valentine provide excellent support.(Greer and Valentine were in the 1985 remake "Against the Odds".

Jacques Tourneur one of the great Noir directors does a fine job with Daniel Mainwaring's story and script(using the pseudonym Geoffery Homes) and the Roy Webb music is the perfect compliment.

A lot of young talent went into the making of this classic. Many of the people involved went on to bigger and better things. It is easy to understand why.

Action in the North Atlantic

The title says it all
Humphrey Bogart was a full fledged star when he made this film. Other Hollywood stars not in the military at the time including John Wayne and Errol Flynn were winning the war on screen so why not Bogart. "Action In The North Atlantic" was a natural.

Bogie Plays Joe Rossi, a first mate on a Merchant Marine freighter. The ship gets blown out of the sea and rammed by a Nazi Sub. Bogie gets a new ship, the ship gets even, and delivers their cargo to their destination(Russia of all places).

All of the typical war movie stereotypes are there. Raymond Massey in a departure from his many villainous roles of that era was the father figure Captain. The Warner Brothers Stock Company were all there led by Alan Hale, Sam Levine, and Dane Clark( who for the first time in his career used this name given to him by Bogart--previously he acted under his real name Bernard Zanville).

In addition, Ruth Gordon and Julie Bishop are there for the perfunctory wife/girlfriend scenes.

The title says it all. Except for a few scenes on land most of the film takes place on board ship. Lloyd Bacon and Raoul Walsh(uncredited)make the battle scenes realistic with the guidance of Byron Haskin.

The dialogue some of which was written by John Howard Lawson came under some controversy. In the 1950s Lawson was named as one of the Hollywood 10 and was blacklisted. As relations between the US and Russia deteriorated anti communist factions pointed to this film as pro russian.

In truth this is a one of the great WWII dramas. It is a stirring tribute to the unsung heroes of the conflict, the Merchant Marines

The Caine Mutiny

A great film that bails out at the end
"The Caine Mutiny" is a great Film, make no mistake about it. Bogart is brilliant(he was nominated for an oscar), Van Johnson makes Steve Maryk's actions totally believable and justifiable, and Fred MacMurray's Tom Keefer proves how versatile and underrated an actor he was. Jose Ferrer shines as Greenwald.

There is one element missing from the film and that is the underlying theme of anti-semitism. Having viewed a television presentation of "the Caine Mutiny Court Martial" from the 1950s(with Lloyd Nolan as brilliant as Bogart was as Captain Queeg), the anti-semitism was placed right out on the table with Judge Advocate Challee stating that Greenwald was a pretty good Lawyer "for a Jew".

In the film version Greenwald's confrontation with Keefer is an interpreted as an act of Greenwald's conscience getting to him. In the Play, Greenwald(played wonderfully by Barry Sullivan) reveals his true feelings. He tells us "Adolph Hitler goal was to conquer the world and rid it of Jewish 'Vermin' and melt them down to soap. And while Hitler was marching through Europe, who was on the home front protecting Mrs Greenwald from this maniac. Was it her son Barney? Not yet, he was learning to fly and it would take a long time, Was it Willie Kieth? Still on the playing fields of Harvard. Maybe it was Old Yellowstain, and others like him who didn't crack under pressure".

Greenwald concludes with "I found the only way to clear Steve Maryk was to torpedo Queeg and I am sick about it. I owed him better. He kept Adolph Hitler form washing his hands with my mother"

This film was made with the co-operation of the US Navy. They rejected several versions of the story until Stanley Roberts came up with an acceptable one(and got an oscar nomination for it). the addition of these elements into Greenwald's speech along with the depiction of navy personnel may have been too much of a cross to bear for the US Navy.

Although anti-semitism and other racial biases had been the subject of previous films, it was avoided here.

"The Caine Mutiny" is a great film that still holds up today. It might have been even better.

A Walk in the Sun

A microcosm of WWII
This is one of the great war films ever made. Yet there are few combat scenes, and no mock heroics. What makes this movie successful is its depiction of war from the viewpoint of the men in the platoon. The film takes place primarily during the course of a walk from the beach at Salerno, Italy where the platoon has landed to a farmhouse they are to capture 6 miles away.

Although Dana Andrews is listed as the nominal star of the film, the scenes are divided up equally among several men each with their own take on the mission and ultimately the war.

Other than Andrews(approaching the peak of his career as Sgt Tyne)the rest of the cast were young up and comers, many who went on to great acting careers. They included Richard Conte, Lloyd Bridges(his first important role), John Ireland, George Tyne, Huntz Hall(on hiatus from the East Side Kids films and very effective) and Norman Lloyd(bitterly brilliant as Archambeau). There is an understated narration by Burgess Meredith and a folk ballad score sung by Earl Robinson. They all perfectly fit in to the picture

The key player in all of this is director Lewis Milestone. A veteran of films since the twenties, his credits included "All Quiet On The Western Front", "The Front Page", and "Of Mice and Men". In "A Walk In The Sun" a Milestone independent production he incorporated the successful elements of the other three and the result is one of the greatest of it's genre. It is a movie not to be missed.

White Heat

Top of the Gangster World
This is the film that brought James Cagney back to the gangster film, the genre that made him a star. Cagney plays Cody Jarrett a robber and killer with the psychosis of both migrane headaches and a mother fixation that rivals Oedipus Rex. He is a totally repulsive character whom no viewer should feel sympathy for.

Screenwriters Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts make this more than just a gangster tale. But it is Cagney who makes it works. He takes Jarrett way over the top and he is so successful you actually feel sorry for him. He has many great moments, including the finale when he makes it to the "top of the world" by blowing up a oil refinery.

A stellar supporting cast including Virginia Mayo,(who never looked better), Steve Cochran, John Archer, and Edmond O'Brien(almost as good as Cagney as Judas)are great as is Director Raoul Walsh's frenetic pace. But the star of the show is Cagney, who personally hated the film, calling it a quick cheapie, but he needed the money and his career needed a jump start. He was right, a new generation of fans discovered him and his star would never fall again

"White Heat" though was well received upon it's release and has become one of the greatest gangster films ever made. In the list of great James Cagney performances, this is near the top of that world.

Ace in the Hole

a searing unrelenting drama
Having exposed the cynicism of the film industry in "Sunset Boulevard", Billy Wilder turned to the newspaper business in his next assignment "The Big Carnival" (or Ace in the Hole as it was originally called).

In his Charlie Tatum, Wilder created one of the most hardened characters in cinema history. Yet as brilliantly interperted by Kirk Douglas, the viewer actually has some feeling for him.

Here is a man who had it all threw it away. And when the opportunity to redeem himself comes his way, he plunges to even lower depths.

Those depths include playing with a man's life for the sole purpose of rebuilding his own and in the end neither survive.

While this is a hard hitting, uncompromising film, it was one of Wilder's few failures. Perhaps journalists who have some power of of a film's life and death in their typewriters, do not want to see themselves portrayed as they were in this film. Still the acting is uniformly great.

Douglas sets the standard, Jan Sterling, Robert Arthur, Porter Hall, Richard Benedict and the rest of the great supporting cast compliment him perfectly.

Had this film been made in the 70s or 80s it would be revered as it is now. Back in 1951, it was too strong to digest.

RKO 281

Citizen Kane is arguably the best film ever made. And maybe the most controversial. Still what could and should have been a great story with a great cast and the powers of HBO behind it, is at best a routine docu-drama.

So much dramatic license is taken with the plot, it tends to border on being a fictional account rather than the real story.

While some of the incidents may be accurate(like Welles meeting Hearst in a hotel elevator on the night if Kane's premier) the dialogue in that scene never took place(Hearst admonishing Welles).

In addition, Welles never got the idea of doing Kane from his attendance at a Hearst party.

The writers tried unsuccessfully to place a direct parallel between the fall of Hearst and the rise of Kane. In truth Hearst still had plenty of power in 1941 when the film was released.

Liev Schrieber was OK as Welles, his sedate moments were more like Orson's, but he goes over the top in the more vocal moments.

John Malkovich was too insecure as Herman Mankiewicz, dependent on the bottle but still a brilliant writer. James Cromwell who never seems to give a bad performance, is the best of the cast with the perfect reserve as Hearst.

The biggest error was Marion Davies. The story tried to make her into a true Susan Alexander when in truth she had some acting ability and was never as insecure as Melanie Griffith portrayed her to be.

I love Citizen Kane and have read a lot about the film and the man who made it. Those responsible for this overrated film should have done so as well.

The Naked City

There are 8 Million Stories in the Naked City. This is the one that started it all
There are 8 Million Stories in the Naked City. This is the one that started it all. And what a start it was. While "The Naked City" is considered "Film-Noir" by many who have seen it, in truth it is simply a routine detective story. What makes the film as great as it is(and it is a great film)is the Oscar winning photography by William Daniels who shot the film not in a studio but on the streets and in the buildings of "The Naked City", New York City.

From the very opening of the film when Producer-Narrator Mark Hellinger introduces himself and tells you that this film "is quite different from anything you've ever seen", the viewer is hooked. And it is not by the story but by the city.

Hellinger's cast did not consist of any major players. Barry Fitzgerald, stars as Lieutenant Muldoon, the head of the Homicide Squad, Don Taylor is Jimmy Halloran, Muldoon"s "leg work" man. Howard Duff is the slimy Niles and Dorothy Hart, a beautiful actress who should have gone on to bigger and better things, was a model. They were all perfect. Ted De Corsia in his first screen role, played Willie Garzah the killer. His death scene at the top of the Williamsburg Bridge is memorable. He nearly steals the picture but not from the actors, but from the city who is the real "star" of the film.

Hellinger was formerly a New York Newspaper man. He started his Hollywood career as a screenwriter and among his successes was the 1939 Bogart-Cagney classic, "The Roaring Twenties" another film about New York. The city was very personal to him.

The sad part of the film is the tragedy of some of the major participants. Hellinger died of a heart attach shortly after the release. He was only 44.

Albert Maltz who co-wrote the screenplay was blacklisted as being one of the Hollywood 10, and didn't work for decades. Jules Dassin the director fled to Europe because of threats of blacklisting. He later made the classic "Rififi" and Oscar winners, "Topkapi" and "Never On Sunday". We can only wonder what might have been had this association continued.

What we do know is that "The Naked City" still lives on. You can see it in nearly every episode of the TV his "Law & Order". And as long as those skyscrapers of New York stand, there will always be a "Naked City"

All the King's Men

A Multi-Oscar winner ahead of it's time
When Robert Rossen filmed Robert Penn Warren's brilliant political drama back in 1949, he had no idea that how it would turn out. He had a cast of unknowns led by Broderick Crawford who prior to that was usually playing big blustery heavies on the screen. But Crawford, sensing this could be his watershed part , threw himself into the character of Willie Stark(based on real life Huey Long).

What emerged was a full dimensional portrait of what began as an honest politician who rose up from itenerance and poverty to become a currupt political leader elected governor of his state and had it not been for an assassin's bullet, could have run for president.

Crawford makes Stark's transition from country hick to Machine boss believable. He shines in a scene where he learns he is being used to split the hick vote, and instead of speaking the party line he gives an emotional rallyng cry. the rally gave Stark his stepping stone into the big arena.

Similarly, the role of Willie Stark gave Crawford his jump to stardom. He richly deserved the best actor Oscar he won. While he was the focal point of the film(and an Oscar winner as well) he was supported by Mercedes McCambridge, herself an unknown who also won an Academy Award for best supporting Actress. Her interpertation of Sadie Burke the hard boiled assistant is right on the mark. John Ireland who never got credit for being as good an actor as he was made a good Jack Burden, a man trying to escape from his wealth but never succeeding. Ireland was nominated for an Oscar as well. Finally Joanne Dru, married to Ireland at the time , was Ann Stanton, the antithesis of Sadie, and one of the many illicit flings in Stark's life.

While the success of "All The King's Men" was a major surprise, what has become even more amazing is the fact that a half a century later the story and plot is still topical.

One has to wonder if the 1970s political thriller "All The President's Men" owes more than just it's titular resemblance to this film. In fact it is just a more sophisticated retelling of the story of a longtime incurable disease called Politics.

Somewhere in the Night

Early Joseph L. Mankiewicz film noir
The trademark of any Joseph L. Mankiewicz film is screenplay. It is often sharp and crackling as in his award winning "A Letter To Three Wives" and "All About Eve". In this Mankiewicz's second directoral effort the seeds of his future successes are sown.

John Hodiak plays a wounded marine who wakes up in a hospital not knowing who he is, but finding among his possessions 2 letters, one from a woman telling him what a cad he is and another from a friend of his that will lead him down a path lined with several murders, 2 million dollars and a couple of good looking women.

While "Somewhere In The Night" sounds like any one of the many detective thrillers of the 40s, it is lifted from the routine is the script which has a distinct Mankiewicz ring to it

His touch is evident in several places, including meetings with a seedy fortune teller, superbly played by Fritz Kortner, an atypical cop played by Lloyd Nolan who doesn't understand why "movie cops" always "have their hats on", and a spinster played by Josephine Hutchinson who gives Hodiak a hope when she says she recognizes him.

You may or may not figure out the plot. It matters not. The film is an enjoyable one.

Kiss Me Deadly

Mickey Spillane's view of the end of the world
Mickey Spillane's view of the end of the world comes to the screen as a brutal, violent and fatalistic one. It also comes off as one of the best detective dramas ever filmed. The screenplay by A.I. Bezzerides portrays Hammer as Spillane intended him to be. A caustic, callous, self centered man who is a good detective, perhaps too good for his own being.

After Hammer picks up a woman hitchiker he is drawn into a case that involves everything up to and including the atomic bomb.

The film is presented as a compelling mystery, and despite a cast of lesser stars and unknowns, the acting is uniformly great throughout.

Meeker is the best Hammer I've ever seen on any medium(and I say this even though Biff Elliot, the first screen Hammer is a close personal friend). He has just the right blend of toughness, cockiness and cynicism to make you admire him yet pity him. He is supported by a strong supporting cast. Cloris Leachman(her screen debut), Maxine Cooper (as Velma)and Gaby Rodgers as Lily Carver make up a deadly trio of Femme Fatals. Albert Dekker is one of the great villans in screen lore. Paul Stewart plays his culturally bred lieutenant. Strother Martin, Fortunio Bonanova, Nick Dennis and Juano Hernandez are memorable characters involved with the case.

The star of the show is the end. The video versions, both VHS and laser, feature the original ending as shot by Director Robert Aldrich following the conclusion of the film

Personally I like the ending that is in the released version. It gives the picture more of a mystique(not that it needs it). In fact this film needs very little because it has so much.

Inherit the Wind

How do you improve a great film? You don't.
How do you improve a great film? You don't. Showtime tried, with George C Scott and Jack Lemmon as the opponents in the 1925 Scopes Monkey trials story, but just as Kirk Douglas and Jason Robards Jr failed to so in 1988, this version doesn't come close to the brilliance of the Fredric March-Spencer Tracy version on 1960.

Scott doesn't seem to know how he wants to play Matthew Harrison Brady, the Biblical prosecutor of heavenly Hillsboro. He doesn't seem emotional at the right times. Lemmon, on the other doesn't try to be Tracy and thus his performance as Henry Drummond is more believable than Scott's. The two best performances are by Beau Bridges as EK Hornbeck and by John Cullum as the judge.

The biggest sins are committed by the secondary leads, Tom Everett Scott as Bertram Cates and Lane Smith as Reverand Brown can't find the fire displayed by Dick York, and Claude Akins in the Stanley Kramer Classic. And despite the fact that Donna Anderson was weak as Rachel Brown in the original, Kathryn Morris in this version, was weaker, in fact one can't feel any sympathy for Rachel after watching Ms Morris.

Still, it's tough to ruin a great story. Inherit The Wind is a classic that is successful despite subpar acting and a directing job that virtually duplicates Stanley Kramer's film, scene for scene.

The question is, why bother?

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