Short Takes: Two Anti-War Classics

dirk_bogarde_king__countryKing and Country is a dark, brutal, effective attack on war by the exiled American Joseph Losey. A shell shocked soldier, one Private Hamp (Tom Courtenay), is put on trial for desertion after he walks away from the brutality and loss of humanity of war. The young soldier has already served three years at the front, witnessing the violent, senseless, inhuman pointlessness of trench warfare. Living in rat-infested conditions, witnessing one atrocity after another, Hamp, after one particular brutal day of warfare, leaves. He wants to go home. Continue reading

The Sad Life of Audrey Munson

Audrey_Munson_1922

You may be asking yourself who is Audrey Munson? Well, if you lived in the early years of the 20th Century, and you were into the art scene of the day, you would know that Munson was a well-known artist model. The New York City art community certainly knew Munson. She was the first “super model” before the term was even invented. Her career began in 1906 when she was only 15 and she remained at the top until early in the 1920’s when her world would begin to unravel. But that was still in the future. Continue reading

Ball of Fire (1941) Howard Hawks

balloffire2lcWhile Billy Wilder is best known as a film director, he always considered himself a writer first and director second. He worked best with a partner, and though he had many over the years, there were two, Charles Brackett and I.A.L. Diamond, who were his most important associates.  Though he was born in Europe, Wilder quickly picked up and mastered the American vernacular. While Wilder always had a co-writer, there is no way to misinterpret a Wilder screenplay. His footprints are clearly all over them. Continue reading

Who’s That Knocking at my Door (1971) Martin Scorsese

 

who's that knocking

I had just returned from a year in Vietnam, home on leave for about a month before going to Fort Polk in Louisiana, when I read a review about a film by a young filmmaker I had never heard of before. His name was Martin Scorsese. The film, Who’s That Knocking at My Door, was playing at the Carnegie Hall Cinema, a theatre located beneath the famed Carnegie Hall. What attracted me to the film after reading the review was its Italian-American background, something familiar to me. Scorsese grew up in this environment and knew it well, as did I. Continue reading

Five Bad Dads for Father’s Day

It’s equal time here at Twenty Four Frames.  On Mother’s Day I listed five bad movie Moms. Just like with Mom’s on screen there are plenty of examples of bad male  parental behavior. Here are a few of my favorites.

The Shining Jack Nicholsen knocking

All work and no play makes Jack a very nutty dad. Nicholson’s portrayal of the alcoholic crazed Mr. Torrance who forces his family to move into a spooky empty hotel where he decides the best way to handle a disobedient family is with an ax. When his wife Wendy pleas not to hurt her, he screams out “I’m not gonna hurt you, I’m gonna bash your brains in!” Continue reading

The House on 56th Street (1933) Robert Florey

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It’s always a treat when you get the opportunity to discover a good film you never heard of before. I was totally unaware of this Robert Florey directed film when I saw it pop up on TCM’s schedule. It sounded interesting, so I set up my DVR to record. It turned out to be a real nice surprise.

Released during the Christmas season of 1933, The House on 56th Street had to be one of the last few films to be come out before the enforcement of the Production Code and all its many “Thou Shall Not’s” that would follow. It’s a good thing too because the film’s entire last act would have been marred had those devil censors got their oily hands on it. Continue reading

The Joker is Wild (1957) Charles Vidor

Joker_is_wild

My parents did not go to the movies too often, though when they did they generally took me along. Sure my Mom did take me to the Disney movies of the day like Tammy and the Bachelor, Dumbo and whatever other family fare was out there during the summer, but as a family, meaning my Dad came along, it was not too often. I can remember family viewings of The Bridge on the River Kwai, The King and I and a little gem called The Joker is Wild. I was only about nine years old at the time, yet the film had a memorable impact on me. What made it so unforgettable was Frank Sinatra. We didn’t have a record player at the time but our home was always filled with music on weekend mornings with the sounds of Jerry Vale, Nat King Cole, Perry Como and a lot of Frank Sinatra. There was a radio show on WNEW-AM called The Make Believe Ballroom with D.J. William B. Williams. Williams played a lot of what he called The Great American Songbook and tops on his list was Sinatra. I bring this all up because, as far as I can remember, The Joker is Wild was the first movie I ever saw with Frank and there is a certain scene where Sinatra, as Joe E. Lewis, is badly beaten up by some mobsters. This all happens off screen but you see the aftermath which resulted in a scarred face, a cut tongue and an amazed little kid in the theater. Continue reading