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The Fallen Sparrow

The Nazis are in New York, and they want their flag back!
This movie is very interesting, but convoluted. And hard to follow. Yet it is good if you like international espionage and World War II spy movies. John McKittrick(John Garfield)was tortured in Franco's Spanish prison camp, but survives and returns home to find out who killed his comrade in arms Louis Lepetino, formerly a fellow New York City cop. His childhood friends and Louis' family all warmly welcome him back, but he is disturbed by what he has endured and the truth he must find. Anton(John Banner)who plays piano accompaniment to his childhood friend Whitney's(Martha O'Driscoll)singing is a spy for the Skaas family and attempts to kill Kit because he knows too much. Next Martha's brother Ab(Bruce Edwards)who is a Fed goes to D.C. to help Kit and returns answering a fraudulent letter for help sent by Otto claiming to be Kit, and Ab is murdered in his lobby. Meanwhile Kit has fallen for the mystery lady on the train back who was also at his welcome home party and works modelling at a womens hat boutique, Toni Donne(O'Hara). She is brusque and gives him the brush-off, but he is not easily dissuaded. He introduces himself, asks her on a date, sends her flowers, and she finally relents. They go out and have a wonderful time. She takes him to meet her family, and Dr Skaas in a wheelchair tells him of his book on his theory of effective mental torture. They show him their family crest and begin cross examining, but he plays dumb. They invite him to a concert of beautiful gypsy orchestrations and Dr Skaas corners him in a room upstairs. He was the Nazi guard at the prison camp with the dragging leg that followed tortures that come back to haunt Kit. Kit has a gun, but cannot shoot. Skaas has a poison syringe and is coming toward Kit. Kit finally shoots him dead! The cops come and catch Anton, but Toni has fled and is on a plane to Lisbon, when she is apprehended by the authorities and Kit takes her seat. The End.

Britannia Mews

A rare chestnut wish would come back in print!
SPOILER This film is a little bit hard to get hold of nowadays, but very worth the watch and purchase. Please rally to get it redistributed. Maureen O'Hara is Adelaide Culver, an upper class Londoner from a very respectable victorian household who is taking art lessons inhome from impassioned impoverished artist Herbert Lambert(Dana Andrews)who resides in a lively ghetto of ne'er do-wells behind the genteel rowhouses whence her family resides. She immediately falls in love with him and decides against her parents and siblings protests to be his wife and live with him there, mostly for worse. He warns her that he is a drunk, but she will not listen. He proves to drink too much and work too little, and her trust fund is dwindling. She says he must go back to giving art lessons which he abhorred and he refuses. He is drunk and tumbles to his death down the long steep stair. A crowd immediately arrives and the constable begins questions. Mrs Mounsey(Dame Sybil Thorndike)across the way declares she saw the whole thing, and that it was an accidental death. She then forces her friendship upon Adelaide, begging and insisting into an odd relationship based on blackmail. To the rescue comes Gilbert Lauderdale(also Dana Andrews), a good natured mailroom clerk and barrister who tells Mounsey to get lost or else. Among is a wonderful Moliere puppet show featuring the noble French marionettes Herbert had created as a dreamy eyed college student in Paris, which he gave up on but were resurrected after his tragic demise. The parents have bought a country estate in the Cotswolds and brother Treff from Oxford sees the show and loves it. Upon discovering it has been put on by sis he lets her know she's been missing all these years and is welcome home. She goes to her parents with Gilbert and they welcome him into the family to a happy ending.

Immortal Sergeant

Great WWII movie with real battle scenes, touching plot and happy ending!
SPOILER This movie is lauded for its realistic battle scenes of soldiers suffering during wartime. Henry Fonda is Colin Spence, a well meaning Canadian gent; Benedict(Reg Gardiner)a brash British bloke, his nemesis. They are schoolmate writers in love with the same beautiful woman, Valentine(Maureen O'Hara). They attended school together but while Benedict was privileged, Colin was humble. It has been the same in life, where Benedict has enjoyed fame and fortune and Colin has known only failure. After seeing a French acquaintance herded to prison camp during the nazi occupation, Colin decides to enlist. There he meets his Immortal Sergeant(Thomas Mitchell), a frankly admittedly self flawed man who runs his small quirky outfit with instinct and wit, leading them on long traverses through hot desert seeming with no end but resulting in nazi casualties and while he gets killed provides for his men and gives them hope to carry on. They discover a nazi outpost and raid it for some much needed supplies. They then surround the camp and do a good job of killing the men. Three of them survive, and two of them including Cpl Colin Spence are now declared heroes. While recovering in hospital, a journalist reporter comes to interview Col. Unbeknownst to both of them, it is Reg. Col had just got a telegram from Valentine, and he tells Bene to wire her his intent to marry her. Reg says no way, but Col now has backbone and says you better. Reg does it and Maureen is now here to wait for her Lieutenant a the station upon his return home. Another happy end!

This Land Is Mine

The French resistance of the German occupation!
Albert Lory(Charles Laughton)and Louise Martin(Maureen O'Hara)are grammar school teachers during the German occupation of France. Since this is now a police state, they must seek refuge in the basement shelter during air raids("ting-a-ling,hear them ring, churchbells in the steeple...",). To worsen matters, they are receiving revolutionary pamphlets under their door and must either destroy them or report them to the gestapo coming around. Not to mention that being literati they are suspected intellectuals. Paul is apparently willing to go along, to a point. He is switchman on the track which unbenownst to him is being used to transport Nazi troops and their equipment. George runs the railway and knows what's up. His guilt overcomes him and despite that he will marry beautiful Louise commits suicide to prevent implicating himself and others. Albert arrives just after he's shot himself in the head, and picks the gun up. Someone comes in and yells, "Murder!", so Albert is incarcerated. His doting mother(Una O'Connor)goes to the mayor who had previously been a friend of theirs to secure his release, but cannot get an appointment. While in prison, Albert watches helpless as the principal of his school Prof Sorel is shot to death on a firing line. He screams his name in vain. Paul has performed an independent mercenary act by blowing up a nazi motorcade and is hunted and shot to death. Major Erich Von Keller(Walter Slezak)visits Lory in jail and strikes a deal with him and he is released. Louise feels that Albert had to do with Paul's death, but he explains to her. She is appeased and they return to the classroom, only for Lory to be arrested again. The final scene is Louise reading to the children from the French book of rights and independence. It is amazing how accurately portrayed the characters are and how courageous such a venture for Jean Renoir at a time so close to when the actual events occurred! This is a very valuable history lesson.

To the Shores of Tripoli

Fast paced action comedy that gently stirs patriotism without overdoing it.
This is probably John Payne's best vehicle. He plays the rugged individualist Pvt Chris Winters, an upstart booted from Culver who enlists in the marines, not coincidentally in the unit headed by his father's old officer buddy who not also coincidentally saved his life. Funny things start happening right away. First his girlfriend who he joined to get away from's father is the CO, so she always gets letters excusing him from duty to be with her. Ugh. Next Chris falls head over heels for beautiful 2nd Lieut Mary Carter, a cold nurse who quickly melts when he will stop at nothing to get near her, immediately feigning hit by a military truck to land him in the infirmary. She teaches him a hilarious but painful lesson, yet he is still determined. Then it gets serious when they're assigned C school duty and are called to "war games" at sea which consists of going into a mine field, where Chris' Sgt Dixie Smith played by Randolph Scott gets knocked out and is in grave danger of being blown up. Chris takes a boat from the sweeper and singlehandedly rescues him, returning to a heroes welcome. He has won over Mary, but gets angry because he is so principled and it is killing his spirit. Mary says goodbye, and he goes with his girlfriend to a cushy desk job in Washington, only in the car listening to the radio he hears that the Japanese have just bombed Pearl Harbor. His unit happens to be parading by on their way to war, so he leaps out and changes back from suit to uniform hiding among the ranks. That is humorous too. The final scene is the ship leaving the harbor with Mary in Chris' arms and everyone singing the Marine Hymn, "From the Halls of Montezuma!...", and you know the rest! Pick up a copy today!

Ten Gentlemen from West Point

The first year of West Point!
Contains Spoiler This is the beginning of West Point, with its proud enlistees winning the ancient historic French Battle of Tours all over again! Handsome George Montgomery stars as the poor simple and principled Kentuckian Joe Dawson, a young farmer with good strong instincts.

John Sutton is the British gentleman Howard Shelton who challenges him. Maureen O'Hara is Carolyn Bainbridge, daughter of one of George Washington's heroic revolutionary army. Together they endure torture and hardship to become the first American leaders of great men to lead our nation. Laird Cregar as Major Sam Carter doesn't believe the men are fit for duty and that the academy is a waste of money. They are driven to succeed by their military tactics instructor, a descendent of Napolean. The native uprising around Fort Harrison to save their commander inspires the Battle of Tours, since they are few but inspired. They surround the fort and make noise, and Dawson performs an heroic rescue.

Bainbridge marries him and they live happily ever after.

How Green Was My Valley

One of the best films ever, a masterpiece of cinematography!
Contains Spoilers! This is a personal favorite. It never ceases to move one to tears. Especially the scene when the mine explodes and the elevator rises by each level, wet with debris but no survivors. This is one of the best novels set to movies by Richard Llewellyn. Produced by Darryl F Zanuck and directed by John Ford, with an allstar cast including Maureen O'Hara, Walter Pidgeon, Roddy McDowall, Anna Lee, Donald Crisp, and Sara Allgood. Mr Morgan(Crisp)is the proud father of a hardworking mining patriarchy. It is amazing how well Hollywood recreated the Welsh mining town where the story is set! The new preacher Mr Gruffydd (Pidgeon)is well liked and especially by Angharad(O'Hara)and young Huw Morgan(McDowall). Unfortunately the son of the mine owner is set to marry her, and she cannot refuse, so she is miserable in a loveless marriage. The soundtrack is beautiful, and the miners' continual singing throughout provide a moving framework for their spirit and suffering. Huw is small and smart, so will become a doctor. He and Mrs Morgan have fallen in the frozen water and are rescued after she confronts them for their rough ways, but they are bedridden for months. They tap hello with their canes, Mr Gruffydd visits, and lovely Bronwyn reads him from Robert Louis Stevenson, so they both recover. A very touching scene comes when spring is here and Huw looking out the window observes that the daffodils are in bloom. Mr Gruffydd takes him out and teaches him to walk again, "among the daffodils". Then later Huw gets beat up at the neighboring school and becomes a man there, and the scholar decides that before college he wants to go down into the colliery, just like his father and brothers did. He gets beat up again defending his sister's honor. Then they lose their jobs to neighbors, the mine blows up and Dada and Ivor Morgan get killed. Some hard lessons here, but that is how it was. The valley that had previously been green was quickly turning black from soot, and everyone who could was getting out. The Morgans leave, and presumably Huw has a better life as a doctor, and other better and more lucrative opportunities await the brothers.

Jamaica Inn

Hitchcockian film noir at its best!
"Oh Lord, we pray thee -- not that wrecks should happen but that if they do happen Thou wilt guide them -- to the coast of Cornwall -- for the benefit of the poor inhabitants." So ran an old Cornish prayer of the early nineteenth century, but in that lawless corner of England, before the British Coastguard Service came into being...... there existed gangs who, for the sake of plunder deliberately planned the wrecks, luring ships to their doom on the cruel rocks of the wild Cornish coast. Thus begins "Jamaica Inn". Mary is an Irish colleen whose mother has just succumbed. She comes to stay with her aunt Patience in Cornwall. Uncle Joss is head of this den of thieves who lure and loot shipwrecks. Mary stops here. The carriage rears for notorious is its band. She meets its mastermind Sir Humphrey Pengallan, who has made his fortune thus. Jem Trehearne is an English spy who's just recently joined ranks with the rogues. He is being hanged by them on suspicion of treachery when Mary rescues him. They steal in a cove and narrowly escape to Pengallans where they tell him the story. He feigns shock and promises to bring justice. They meet the rogues at their hideout where they are tied up for the final big loot which will bring much booty. Pengallan gets away and Trehearne convinces Aunt Patience who is a soft touch that it is best. Mary saves the day by thwarting the wreck with a fire lantern light that drives them away from the rocks. Joss takes her back by buggy but is shot immediately and Mary tries to nurse him but he dies and Patience is shot right away so she is alone with Pengallan who takes her hostage. Pengallan tries to take Mary onboard a seacruise faraway, but she escapes upon seeing the English police authorities and is held by Pengallan at gunpoint. Trehearne has scurried aboard and has a gun at Pengallan's head, so Pengallan scales the mast to a crowd of onlookers below and declares: "If you want a spectacle, you shall have it!", and proceeds to leap to his death. The end is his manserveant Chadwicke looking bewildered at the whole scene. It is disturbing. I would recommend this movie.

Kicking the Moon Around

Just Sing the "Cheer-Up" Song!!
This depression-era film of 1938 set in London is great fun to watch and sing along with, too! And the story is fun, too: Ambrose, a millionaire investor who just found out he's struck it rich with another great investment that paid off big, decides to test his fiance Pepper by pretending he's gone bankrupt and is worthless or worse! Naturally she doesn't find it so amusing and calls the whole thing off. This amid his "tramps parade" party where the elite meets the street and hobnobs it with the hoi-polloi featuring among a couple of charming song and dance numbers by Harry Richman including "You're What's the Matter With Me"... Ambrose finds love for a song in the record shop girl who he "discovers" by cutting her a record that breaks up his sceptic pals. Primadonna Pepper the next aspiring Hepburn-wannabe is tricked into thinking she has a film contract awaiting in Hollywood, only to catch Ambrose's sidekick and secretary(Maureen O'Hara in her first feature role to date)play-acting producers on the phone in the next room! Meanwhile workers of the world unite in the park to rally against the oppression of the masses when it is discovered that the good natured accordianist who plays the cheer-up song to the tune of "March Militaire" is the shop girl's uncle she has to bail out every so often. Naturally there is a happy ending and if you get the chance to pick up a copy of this rare find, it is recommended that you will enjoy.

Sentimental Journey

A heartwarming walk down memory lane!
Contains Spoiler Bill(John Payne)and Julie(Maureen O'Hara)are famous New York theatrical producers and actors. Julie has a rare fatal disease. She wants to adopt, and takes a walk on the beach. Coincidentally the orphanage is there with Mehitabel'Hitty', a sweet girl with fairytale fantasies. The two are immediately smitten with eachother, and soon Julie adopts her. Bill is jealous and overtly hostile. Julie dies but her ghost returns regularly with helpful advice like playing their favorite song and going back to where they first met. Hitty goes to the Atlantic on a dark and stormy night and is nearly consumed by tidal waves when Bill miraculously sweeps her into his arms for a happy ending. Comic relief comes in the form of William Bendix as Donnelly. Frankly Julie should've left the lout for him long ago who would have her laughing and loved the kid too.

Dance, Girl, Dance

The end should have been the beginning!
Judy O'Brien is an aspiring ballerina in Madama Basilova's dance troupe. Lucy "Bubbles" has oomph and no class, so she makes it big in burlesque right away. This movie is frustrating. First, Madama Basilova takes her favorite and principal dancer Judy to New York to meet the major ballet company director. In her excitement she rushes into oncoming traffic and dies instantly. Judy should have been holding her hand or keeping her back, but what can you do. Next when Judy finally does go back to meet the producer Steve Adams, the receptionist doesn't know who she is, she watches the dress rehearsal and is intimidated. Now she doesn't even want an audition. Then infuriatingly Steve Adams gets on the same elevator down, and she doesn't even put two and two together. He is immediately smitten by her beauty, but she assumes he is merely a flirtatious smoothie and her dignity is further assaulted by the fact that she has lost her last dime, missed the bus, and is without an umbrella in the rain. He never says his name, so she goes onto an offer she can't refuse from Bubbles as a shill to intro her number. Then she endures cruel taunts from perverts and the shame of having to compromise her principles just to survive and dance. Luckily Steve Adams reads about her in the papers and goes to watch her performance. He is ready to sign her but she still doesn't know it's him and rips up his business card! Among this is the wealthy tire company heir from Akron Jimmy Harris, a fickle but harmless and fun playboy who offers a momentary romantic diversion for Judy and Bubbles, but ultimately gets back together with his estranged wife. It's a happy ending providing some relief when Judy finally meets Steve Adams and he promises her career with the company will be stellar. She will at last be able to adapt the "Morning Star" that she is. This should be the beginning of the sequel, where she becomes a Mrs Ballanchine type except that instead of tiring of her as she grows old he falls more deeply in love with her with each ballet that is created for her, as her greatness fame world renown and idolatry grow ever more out of control. And no tragedy like "The Red Shoes" except for that of his ultimate passing as he is older and his work is done here, he cannot outdo himself and his legacy to the world is complete, with heartwarming memories for effective softfocus slomo dreamlike flashbacks. But at least we know it gets better after the movie ends.

A Woman's Secret

A unique role for Maureen O'Hara,and intriguing tongue-in-cheek film noir!
Marian Washburn(O'Hara)is a singer with a rare throat infection precluding a promising career. Luke Jordan(Melvyn Douglas)is her piano accompanist. Susan Caldwell(Gloria Grahame)is a small town hick in New York hoping for that big break, when she faints from starvation and is rescued by them. They feed her and discover she sings, and she is reborn as the Broadway star "Estralita". Marian puts her heart and soul into making Estralita everything she would have been, but Susan feels stifled and decides to end it all. Marian catches her in the act of trying to shoot herself and attempts to wrest the gun from her, but in the struggle Susan is shot anyway and lies near death with a bullet lodged close to her heart. Marian decides to claim that she shot Susan because she realizes she drove her to suicide anyway and it opens another can of worms into her deep psyche of trying to possess another person and attempt to live vicariously through them that will remain unexplained. Marian is in jail and the case will be closed with her admission of guilt, but Luke believes in her and insists on waiting for Susan to come to and tell the true story. As luck would have it, Susan does and the closing scene is Marian being released and proposing to Luke. A happy ending? Perhaps, but without a full sense of closure. Still, a film with enough tongue-in-cheek humor and essential pat pulp-genre characters, and what a nice departure to see Miss O'Hara acting a role with a dark latent side left mysterious enough keep the viewer interested and wondering....

Father Was a Fullback

Another hilarious vehicle featuring Fred MacMurray and a young Natalie Wood!
George Cooper(Fred MacMurray)is the losingest coach State U has ever known. A well meaning square fresh from Elm Tree High, his team has potential but is yet to win a game in this his first season, which will make or break him. Comic relief comes in the form of his family's maid who knows to always bet against his team, and two daughters: Natalie Wood as a scruffy tomboy spouting poetic slang in which I must say is her best role, and Betty Lynn(who in real life is actually only eight years younger than Maureen O'Hara)as an angst-ridden hormonal teen with no writers block nor lack of pubescent imagination when she secretly sends in a unique offing to "True Romance" magazine. Her true calling apparently does not help matters any, except when it turns out that Joe Burch, the ploy her parents use to bring her out of her shell, turns out to be a high school football hero all the colleges have been bartering for. He had been intending to go to the leading team school, but in the end decided State U, "to be near Connie...she's the first thing I liked more than a football...." Hurrah! The team now has an official starting star for next season, and George's coaching contract will be renewed. A Happy End.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

One of my favorite movies of all time, a classic must-see!
This is one of my favorite movies of all time, and a classic must-see! Maureen O'Hara is quite lovely as the gypsy girl Esmeralda who defends her people to the King and wins the heart of the deformed bellringer Quasimoto. With some of the largest most authentic casts and onlocation scenery, this moving spectacle portrays one of the most poignant stories ever told by the great French author Victor Hugo, who also penned "Les Miserables". Anyone who loves historic epics will add this as an essential to their collection. You will be on the edge of your seat the whole time, cheering and weeping to praise noble victory as your heroes survive torture and escape to freedom in the name of romantic justice.

Sitting Pretty

Hilarious! Cute and funny, witty and sophisticated.
This movie is hilarious! I don't think I stopped laughing the entire time. Everything about it is cute and funny, with the perfect counterbalance of wit and sophistication. Robert Young is in handsome lighthearted form, and the children are of course adorable and winsome - especially Roddy, who wails at the slightest provocation. It has everything! The more I watch it, the more humorous subplots emerge. My favorite scenes are when the nosy neighbors spread rumors of Lynn and Tacey's sordid affair, and she says at the lounge as they pass by, "Let's give them something to gossip about!", and proceeds to jitterbug with him. And when Mr Belvedere exposes the hypocrisy of the townspeople: Priceless. I'm so pleased with Ms O'Hara's versatility when you think about the vastly contrasting films in their genres, themes and moods that she made around the same time within the space of a few years, how they display her dynamism and acting genius with her outstandingly unique ubiquitous great theatrical stage presence that translates well to the screen which is so rare and difficult a feat to accomplish. She appears equally at home with deep brooding roles as she does the urbane comedic together-woman. This is definitely one of her best!

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