Dr. Christina J. Johns
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Dr. Christina J. Johns

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Book reviews, movie reviews, classic movie picks, classic actor picks, a discussion about all things arty. 

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Dead Reckoning (1947)

Posted on May 26, 2019 at 12:35 AM Comments comments (0)

 

 

Originally intended as a vehicle for Rita Hayworth, Lizbeth Scott takes over the part of the femme fatale with Humphrey Bogart playing the male lead. This film noir directed by John Cromwell, is a military film noir and one of the few not to take place in the city. Scott didn’t get good reviews for this film and the plot was considered “rambling” by the New York Times reviewer. But, Bogart got good reviews and Bogart is always worth watching.



 

 

They Gave Him a Gun (1937)

Posted on April 6, 2019 at 6:35 PM Comments comments (0)


 Most of the reviewers agree that there's a reason why most of us never heard of and never saw this movie.  It's just not the best even though it's directed by W. S. Van Dyke and starrs Spencer Tacey and Francot Tone and Gladys George. 

It should be an interesting script - WWI buddies (Tracey and Tone) fall for the same nurse.  She decides to marry Tone when she thinks Tracey's dead.  Tracey returns, but steps aside.  Disaster ensues. But, it's not the predictable disaster of two people deciding to marry because of wartime tragedy.  The tragedy comes from Tone going back to the states and, unable to get a good job, turns to using the gun that the government taught him how to handle being a raceteer.  It's an interesting 1937 anti-war film, but unfortunately, the script glosses over most of the anti-war message in order to superficially explore the relationships between the three.  So, neither sub-plot is really successful.




Pacific Liner (1938)

Posted on April 3, 2019 at 5:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Pacific Liner (1938 )



Chester Morris

Chester Morris stars in Pacific Liner along with Victor McLaglen, Wendy Barrie, Alan Hale, and Barry Fitzgerald. 

The screenplay for Pacific Liner was written by John Twist and is based on a story by Anthony Coldeway and Heny Roberts Symonds.  The film is directed by Lew Landers. 

Chester Morris plays a ship's doctor (Doctor Craig) who fancies nurse Wendy Barrie (Ann Grayson).  Victor McLaglen (Chrusher McKay) also has designs on Grayson.  When a cholera epidemic breaks out the two men are in even more conflict. It's a slow film, not the best, but worth seeing. 

Morris (1901 - 1970) was the son of stage actor William Morris and stage commedienne Etta Hawkins.  He was nominated in 1929 for best actor for his role in the film "Alibi."  But, he is best known for the series of Boston Blackie films which he made in the 1940s.  Morris played the criminal turned detective Boston Blackie in 14 films.

Morris' career began in the silent era and lasted until the year he died 1970.  He, in fact, died while working on his last film role.  He was diagnosed with stomach cancer at some time during the last two years of his life, but died of a barbituate overdose. 



 

 

 

Novel/Movie Series: Clark Gable

Posted on February 19, 2019 at 12:40 AM Comments comments (1)

   Clark Gable in "Run Silent, Run Deep"

Before Gable became a star, he worked all sorts of jobs which involved manual labor - oil rigs, electric companies.  His father, who was an oil prospector (not a very successful one) was always disappointed in Gable for not following him into the oil business.  Even after Gabe was making a lot of money in Hollywood, his father made a comment that he could have made more if he had gone into oil.  Sometimes you just can't please your father, even if you're Clark Gable. 

The Green Years (1946)

Posted on February 16, 2019 at 1:50 PM Comments comments (0)

 

  This is one of those movies where my friend Carol used to say: "Don't you hate it when things go wrong?"  Things go wrong here for an Irish orphan plopped down into a Scottish family complete with stingy patriarch (Hume Croynyn) and a salty wonderful old grandpa (Charles Coburn).  Also featured in this film are Jessica Tandy, Gladys Cooper, and Dean Stockwell (as the young boy).  This is one of three movies that Jessica Tandy and Hume Croynyn had made together at the time.  Tandy (Driving Miss Daisy) plays the daughter of Hume Chronyn in the film.  She was actually his wife and very pregnant at the time.  This is yet another film in which she is way too good and too believeable for the rest of the cast.  But, Charles Coburn got a nomination for an academy award as best supporting actor.  It's a good film.  It's well worth a watch, but things go wrong. 

The Green Years (1946)

Posted on February 16, 2019 at 1:50 PM Comments comments (0)

 

  This is one of those movies where my friend Carol used to say: "Don't you hate it when things go wrong?"  Things go wrong here for an Irish orphan plopped down into a Scottish family complete with stingy patriarch (Hume Croynyn) and a salty wonderful old grandpa (Charles Coburn).  Also featured in this film are Jessica Tandy, Gladys Cooper, and Dean Stockwell (as the young boy).  This is one of three movies that Jessica Tandy and Hume Croynyn had made together at the time.  Tandy (Driving Miss Daisy) plays the daughter of Hume Chronyn in the film.  She was actually his wife and very pregnant at the time.  This is yet another film in which she is way too good and too believeable for the rest of the cast.  But, Charles Coburn got a nomination for an academy award as best supporting actor.  It's a good film.  It's well worth a watch, but things go wrong. 

Don Rickles on the set of Run Silent, Run Deep

Posted on February 15, 2019 at 6:30 PM Comments comments (0)

  Don Rickles and Clark Gable on the set of Run Silent, Run Deep. 

Run Silent, Run Deep (1958)

Posted on February 5, 2019 at 7:10 PM Comments comments (0)

  Clark Gable on the set of Run Silent, Run Deep.


Come join us for a discussion of the novel 25 February, 2019 and a showing of the film 27 February, 2019, 2PM.  Free



Midnight Mary (1933)

Posted on January 17, 2019 at 5:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Midnight Mary (1933), starring Ricardo Cortez, Franchot Tone and Loretta Young, was a pre-code drama adapted from a story by Anita Loos.

  In this film directed by William Wellman, Loretta Young plays against type as an impoverished young women drawn into prostitution and associations with the wrong crowd in order to escape hunger and joblessness. 

Ricardo Cortez is the "wrong side of the tracks" lover who draws her into criminal activity and promises to take care of her.  When a robbery job goes wrong, Young happens to flee the premises with a millionaire playboy, Tom Mannering, Jr. (Franchot Tone).  Because she has been seen by the police as part of the caper, she can't go back to the streets.  Tone offers to send her to school and get her a job (in his law firm).

Predictably, the two of them can't stay away from each other and fall in love.  But, just as they are about to decide to get married, a policeman spots her.  Realizing that she would ruin Tone's career, she brushes him off and goes back to the crime gang.

But, everything works out in predictable Hollywood fashion.  Tone, who resented always playing supporting roles, is good in this film, as is Una Merkel who plays Young's friend.  It would have been nice to have seen more of both of them.  But, Young shows that she can play the tough as nails gang moll as well as the innocent heroine. 

The screen writers for this film (Gene Markey and Kathryn Scola) also provided another pre-code classic "Baby Face" (1933), which starred Barbara Stanwyck in one of her best early roles. 


Interesting Reading:

The Wages of Sin: Censorship and the Fallen Women Film, 1928-42 (Wisconsin studies in film) Hardcover – August 31, 1991 

Marked Women: Prostitutes and Prostitution in the Cinema by Russell Campbell, 2006.


 

 

Love on the Run (1936)

Posted on January 14, 2019 at 1:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Love on the Run (1936)

 MGM loaned Clark Gable out to Columbia Pictures to make "It Happened One Night" as a punishment.  "It Happened" was such a success, that for years the studios put out "heiress on the run" films like this one starring Gable, Joan Crawford and her then husband Francot Tone.  This is a terrible film.  The actors try, they really try, but the script is unutterably foolish.  To give you just one example, Gable and Crawford escape in the middle of rural France in a truck.  Crawford looks in the back, and low and behold, the truch is full of women's clothes.  This gives the excuse for her to wear a Snow White with scattered sequins dress for an entire episode in an abandoned castle.  Even if you are a Clark Gable fan, this one is hard to watch.  


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