While John Ford would go on to direct several more pictures after this one, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance represents a sort of exclamation point of one of most celebrated directorial careers in American film. His previous high-water mark, The Searchers, was a film torn between the conventions of a previous era and emerging modern sensibilities. Liberty Valance is thoroughly modern by 1962 standards and virtually timeless by any other.
The hero of this film is an insomniac (Jeff Goldblum) who doesn’t really know where his life is headed. Watching Into the Night left me with a similar feeling, and I don’t necessarily mean that as a criticism. This whole movie seemed infused with that groggy, discombobulated feeling you get when you’ve been awake for thirty-six hours straight. Continue reading
John Ford’s The Searchers is a movie in desperate search for an identity. For every aspect that is excellent, two more make you want to cringe. The film seems to have feet in two eras. Its ambivalent attitude toward the stereotypical treatment of Native Americans seems slightly ahead of its time, although Hollywood would do much better later. Balancing against this are characters and storylines that would have seemed dated when Ford and John Wayne were first working together back in the thirties.
Psycho has, somewhat inaccurately, been credited with being the ancestor of what we now call the “slasher” film, despite having virtually nothing in common with modern horror films, in plot, theme or tone. It’s more of a godfather to that genre. At the very least, it gave birth to the horror movie tradition of the audience shouting to the characters on the screen, “Don’t go up those stairs!”
Rather than being a horror film in the traditional sense, Alfred Hitchcock‘s first film of the 1960’s is really a blood-soaked character study and that character is Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), who single-handedly gave “momma’s boys” a bad name for a generation or more.
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.