July 31, 2016

Richard Todd, The Hasty Heart


I've watched a lot of duds. I've seen the same old fare repurposed ever-so-slightly through the subsequent years. So at face value, The Hasty Heart might seem like just your average forgotten 1940's wartime drama, and to a certain extent it very well is. It's fairly conventional filmmaking that can hit up some hokey avenues at times. But every so often, I bump into the occasional needle-in-the-haystack, coming into a film without any expectations and leaving surprised and impressed. Richard Todd is the reason why I sought out this film, and he does not disappoint.

July 30, 2016

Broderick Crawford, All the King's Men

Won: Academy Award - Best Actor | New York Film Critics Circle - Best Actor (1949) | Golden Globe - Best Actor

I was surprised to find that All the King’s Men features two lead characters. The intertwined storylines between Jack Burden and Willie Stark make the picture a less fluid and less compelling viewing experience than it could have been had the film primarily keyed in on the Stark character, but it’s obvious how Broderick Crawford reigned in everyone’s attention here. His is a compelling albeit slightly unvaried performance.

July 17, 2016

Gregory Peck, Twelve O'Clock High

Won: New York Film Critics Circle - Best Actor (1950)

I’ve had a cool reception of Peck throughout his prior three nominated performances, mainly because his characters have been that of “noble” men who’re more receptive to the things that happen to them as opposed to being characters that have any distinguishable traits or flaws to actually develop around (For what it’s worth, the closest I was to being impressed by him was via his non-nominated work in Spellbound, and for less obvious reasons, Dual in the Sun). And so it’s interesting (and somewhat refreshing) that Peck should end his 40’s run playing fairly against type, continuing on with 1949’s archetype of the ‘tough guy’ in Twelve O’Clock High.

July 3, 2016

Kirk Douglas, Champion*


In a decade full of ubiquity, it was at first frustrating to see that we'd close it out with a third boxing offering in the Best Actor category. Skepticism and weariness aside, Champion was a vastly intriguing film. From a trajectory standpoint, if Robert Montgomery was the decade's comedic segue into boxing, and if John Garfield was the first to dabble into the dark side of the sport, then it's fitting that we'd end with Kirk Douglas, who takes on a character that's wholly consumed by the darkness, and who bears no redeeming qualities when contrasted against his 1940's boxing brethren. The result is a stunning performance that is as unwavering as it is perceptive.

July 2, 2016

John Wayne, Sands of Iwo Jima


I'm not familiar with John Wayne's work, but my impression of him is that of a stoic, macho man, one who's a reliable presence in films that the boys go to watch, but not quite an actor that is interesting per se. That said, there was absolutely no reason for me to like Wayne or Sands of Iwo Jima. And yet--the film wasn't that bad. It was pretty watchable. Wayne on the other hand, was very much what I thought he'd be.