Sergio Leone’s follow-up to the “Man With No Name” film trilogy was probably not what anyone expected, but international audiences seemed better able to cope with the surprise than their American counterparts. Once Upon a Time in the West initially bombed in the States despite being a smash hit overseas. Only in retrospect have we conferred upon this film its proper status as a unique classic, as different from the director’s previous work as it was from the more traditional Hollywood conventions it inverted at the same time it was playing homage to them.
It’s best to think of this movie as the estranged fraternal twin of Dr. Strangelove. Fail Safe is the sober, humorless one. Both films cover virtually the same territory, that of an inadvertent nuclear attack on the Soviet Union, but while Stanley Kubrick treated Armageddon as a subject worthy of absurdist gallows farce, Sidney Lumet takes it seriously for some reason. Continue reading
Darryl Zanuck’s multi-national epic occasionally plays like an academic lecture on the events of June 5 and 6, 1944, albeit an interesting lecture with some really cool film. The Longest Day covers the first twenty-four hours of the invasion of France from American, British, French and German perspectives, employing separate directors for each nationality and shooting in the native languages of those involved. This gives the film a level of authenticity that was fairly atypical of war movies of the time.
Despite having two directors with somewhat clashing styles, being noticeably dated in places, and a little too obviously based on a stage play, Mister Roberts still works as a classic comedy and a war movie in which the only violence is committed upon a pair of hapless palm trees.
The Tony-winning play by Joshua Logan and Frank L. Nugent had already run for seven years on Broadway when the film was made and Henry Fonda had played the role of Lt. (jg) Doug Roberts 1,300 times before a frame of film had been shot. It’s safe to say that he didn’t need reheasal.
Almost every Alfred Hitchcock film has something that makes it stand out from the rest of his work. In the case of The Wrong Man, it’s the simple fact that the director has elected to tackle a true story. A movie like Rope was inspired by an actual murder but doesn’t claim to tell the story of Leopold and Loeb. While Hitchcock’s assertion in his opening monologue that it’s completely true, “every word of it,” is a bit of a stretch, the film does conform to the basic facts of the real case.