Top O’ the Morning
Theft of the Blarney Stone, for nefarious purposes not thought of. Village police to investigate, and a detective from Cork, lastly a New York insurance investigator to avoid the claim.
The legend of a love, and a singer, the tunes of old Ireland and some new ones. The innermost of the land is reached in several numbers, one by Thomas Moore. The terrible legend proceeds along merrily, and the tale of the absconding combines with all in a work of genius.
Bosley Crowther of the New York Times found that Crosby and Blyth “keep the picture from becoming utterly maudlin and banal.”
Critics were taken aback, and one can’t help believing they prefer it that way. After all, Madame’s whammy on Harpo produces the greatest hilarity of articles from his person, and these include a barber’s pole. Surrealists liked Marx shenanigans for the poetic truth in them, and so probably did Madame.
The critics were hoping for the cat’s dinner, those Romanoff diamonds.
The Story of Esther Costello
It seems likely that most reviewers at the time could not understand this, certainly Variety and Bosley Crowther of the New York Times could not, Halliwell’s Film Guide likewise.
The first part is very ably analyzed in Arthur Penn’s The Miracle Worker, the second in Richard Brooks’ Elmer Gantry. The third, which strikes a note from Jean Negulesco’s Johnny Belinda that reveals the evident source of Miller’s film, correctly serves as the pivot and base of the work, and all at once places the characters one and all in the proper perspective.
This was beyond the reach of critics then, we may well believe. Sidney James is absolutely authentic as an American newspaper editor, however, and that should tell you something.
The London financier and the American heiress. Memories of El Alamein, rebuilding London, a sailor in Singapore dry-dock. Hitchcock’s Suspicion is the well-disguised basis (Halliwell did not even notice it, neither did anyone else, he furthermore describes the film as “thoroughly silly”), along with Anthony Dawson from Dial M for Murder. There is “that Elliott business” forcing the exposure of an embezzlement, thanks to an ambitious junior.
It opens with a clownish death threat in fogbound Grosvenor Square, and painting “Horatio Nelson pink!” The maid’s son is a wastrel in PR. Joseph Gershenson conducts the well-filmed Swan Lake charity ballet that helps convey the secondary theme of a doubtful wife.
Bosley Crowther of the New York Times considered it posh and nothing else. Time Out Film Guide is not very keen (“suavely effective”), following a very superficial analysis by Variety (“the emphasis is on visual satisfaction”), whereas the intricacy of the structure is indicated in the title.
A fashion designer (Susan Hayward) meets a department store heir (John Gavin), he’s married. She advances in her domain as artisan and assistant and partner in the House of Dalian (a fitting resemblance is offered by Reginald Gardiner). The wife is a drunken harridan perfectly played by Vera Miles, there are two kids.
The metaphor is suitably expressed in Kazan’s The Last Tycoon, among other things, the “prestige picture”.
According to Bosley Crowther of the New York Times, “a moral and emotional fraud.”
A great and authoritative masterpiece, with a perfectly straight face and the last laugh.
Lonely Are the Brave
The moral position of the Westerner is tried to the utmost by an adherent, this is the cause of a perfectly subtle and amazingly precise screenplay (it needed no revision, as Kirk Douglas has pointed out, uniquely), and a style of direction at once uncommonly heroic and exceptionally delicate (the Golden Reel Award for sound editing takes perfect cognizance of this).
Variety, however, could not recognize the very premise laid out so diligently, and therefore defined as “symbolism” what is really straightforward discourse. The infra-slim of Trumbo’s screenplay nevertheless makes impossible the resolution offered, which anyway is deliberately ambiguous, a question of métier.
Captain Newman, M.D.
A key film, as often noted in this latter day, that points up the obvious absurdity of the Army ban on Huston’s documentary, Let There Be Light. The filmmakers must have known it, or else direct experience had its part to play.
Several of the cases reflect the suffering inflicted on psyches in the field, thus Corporal Tompkins and Captain Winston, both shot down. Col. Bliss is another type entirely, a full-blown psychosis born of command and drowned in battle losses, he’s “Mr. Future”, completely divorced from “Mr. Past”.
The classical Hollywood technique shows Capra visibly and right through to Boleslawski, the acting is everything that could be expected. The surprise appearance of Italian POWs accomplishes the epiphany of Ezra Pound as a chip off the old Christmas tree.
The singular analysis is by Samuel Fuller in Tigrero, a film abandoned in pre-production (vd. Mika Kaurismäki). The influence of Terence Young’s Thunderball is evident and part of the joke in a tale of an art collector with a penchant for pornography, cf. Hawks’ The Big Sleep.
The approach to the villa at Lisbon by wavestruck seawall and cliff is from Hitchcock’s North by Northwest. Case of the jockey with a nom de guerre, “I-I-I never told ‘em me—real name’s—Mullens.”
A thorough meditation on art in all its degrees and stations, from happenings to Henry Vaughan, mimesis, Truth and Beauty. “Oh, I beg your pardon. I thought this was the Family Circle Home Movie Club. Thank you.”
Dialogue in the bonds of death. “Can you get hold of it?”
“Mmh. Yeah. Yeah. I’ve got it.”
“OK, now, now, work it up and down. That’s it.”
“I-is it coming?”
“What a relief.” View from the casket en route, cf. Dreyer’s Vampyr. A parody of The Man Who Knew Too Much (second version) accomplishes the switcheroo. Life on a passing motorcyclist. Variant of The 39 Steps, “the report is divided into four sections...”
Andrew Sarris (The American Cinema), “how a David Miller cult ever got started is one of the unsolved mysteries of underground criticism.”
Dan Sullivan of the New York Times, “competent schlock.” Catholic News Service Media Review Office, “sluggish”. Dan Pavlides (All Movie Guide), “uneven”. Halliwell’s Film Guide, “jaded”.
The fictional conspirators, their hired marksmen, their patsy’s stooge, their political considerations, their power and influence. A brief history of assassinations and failures, with a critique. History of the patsy, a creation of intelligence. Activities of the stooge. Three marksmen (grassy knoll, depository window, records bldg. roof). Fall of the patsy. Death of a conspirator, at Parkland Hospital. Disappearance of witnesses.
The Bay of Pigs is mentioned, the conspiracy resembles in certain aspects the Watergate affair. A reporter asked President Kennedy about the attitude of “big business” that “we have you where we want you.” The President replied, standing at the podium bearing the Seal of the President of the United States for all to see, “I can’t believe I’m where big business wants me.”