Sunday, March 8, 2009


* Mrs. Miniver, Greer Garson, best actress, Teresa Wright, best supporting, Walter Pigeon, and Henry Travers nominated. Oscar-winning performance in the title role often comes off as artificial, especially when she nobly tends her rose garden while her stalwart husband participates in the evacuation at Dunkirk. However, even if the film has lost a good portion of its ability to move and inspire audiences, it is easy to see why it was so popular in 1942 and why Winston Churchill was moved to comment that its propaganda value was worth a dozen battleships. Everyone in the audience-even English audiences, closer to the events depicted in the film than American film goers-liked to believe that he or she was capable of behaving with as much grace under pressure as the Miniver family.

Kings Row, Paris Mitchell (Robert Cummings) gives up a promising career as a musician in order to study psychiatry. But before he ever gets near the psychoanalytic Mecca of Vienna, Mitchell has plenty of cases to study right in his small Midwestern home. Ronald Reagan turns in the most powerful performance of his career as Mitchell's easygoing companion, Drake McHugh, while knockout Ann Sheridan carries the film with her stellar performance as Randy Monaghan, the girl from the wrong side of the tracks. Both will face needless tragedies perpetrated by human hands in this dour look at the home front during WWII.

The Magnificent Ambersons, The story of the film spans two generations (about twenty-five years), and is set at the turn of the century in an upper-middle-class Midwestern American town of Indianapolis, Indiana - identified by the front page of the Indianapolis Inquirer at the end of the film. This tale is set against the social decline, ruin and fall of the aristocratic Amberson family at the turn of the century with the coming of the industrial age and the rise of the automobile (and the prosperous Morgan family). Industrial and technological progress parallels the decline of the fortunes of the wealthy Amberson family. Agnes Moorhead is nominate for supporting role.

The Pied Piper is a film in which an Englishman on vacation in France is caught up in the German invasion and finds himself taking an ever-growing group of children to safety. Remade in 1972

The Pride of the Yankees The story begins before World War I, when young Lou Gehrig begins dreaming of becoming a professional ballplayer. Lou's immigrant parents insist that the boy attend Columbia University to become an engineer. While in college, Lou becomes a star athlete, and, with the help of sports journalist Sam Blake, played by Walter Brennan, he is signed by the New York Yankees and joins their big-league lineup in 1925; real-life Yanks Babe Ruth and Bob Meusel play themselves. He also meets and falls in love with Eleanor Twitchell, played by Teresa Wright, (an event that actually happened in 1933) and earns the nickname "The Iron Man of Baseball" because he never misses a game. In 1939, Lou discovers that he has a fatal neurological disease called amytrophic lateral sclerosis (now known, of course, as "Lou Gehrig's Disease").

Random Harvest A veteran of World War I marries and settles happily into a tidy, humble life until an accident brings back memories of a former life of wealth and privilege while blocking all recollection of his existence since the war. Thus one man disappears, and another man long missing turns up and claims his vast inheritance. What does his devoted wife, whom he no longer recognizes

Talk of the Town is a quick-witted comedy driven by wonderful performances by Ron Colman, Cary Grant, and Jean Arthur. Michael Lightcap, Colman, is a stuffy law professor in line to a Supreme Court appointment, who is spending the summer at the house of schoolteacher Nora Shelley (Arthur). But Lightcap is not the only guest at the house. Shelley has also let Leopold Dilg (Grant)--a man who had recently escaped from prison, where he was serving a sentence for false accusations of immolating a local factory--stay at the house, telling Lightcap that he is a gardener. In addition to striking up a friendship, Lightcap and Dilg also compete for the affections of Shelley. Eventually, the professor learns of Dilg's true identity, finding out that Leopold was framed by a crooked government, led by the foreman of the factory, who supposedly died in the fire. When Dilg is captured by the police, Lightcap comes to his defense, bringing the still-alive foreman out of hiding and, in the process, clearing Leopold of all the charges.

Wake Island In November 1941, Major Caton takes command of the small Marine garrison on Wake Island. His tendency toward spit and polish upsets the men's tropical lassitude, but Pearl Harbor changes everything. Soon the island is attacked and the Marines pull together day by day; but how long can they hold out?

Yankee Doodle Dandy--James Cagney best actor, John Huston, nominated Dandy has song, dance, pathos, pageantry, uproarious comedy, and, best of all, James Cagney at his Oscar-winning best. After several failed attempts to bring the life of legendary, flag-waving song-and-dance man Cohan to the screen, Warner’s scenarist opted for the anecdotal approach, unifying the film's largely unrelated episodes with a flashback framework. Summoned to the White House by President Roosevelt, the aging Cohan is encouraged to relate the events leading up to this momentous occasion. He recalls his birth on the Fourth of July, 1878; his early years as a cocky child performer in his family's vaudeville act; his decision to go out as a "single"; his sealed-with-a-handshake partnership with writer/producer Sam Harris. Can Cagney dance? OH YES!

Holiday Inn wins for best song, White Christmas. When their showbiz trio breaks up, the suave dancer (Fred Astaire) steals the crooner's (Bing Crosby) fiancée (Lila played by Virginia Dale) and runs off with her to continue their showbiz careers. Joe (Crosby) retires on a farm in Connecticut. After a year of farming, Joe comes up with the idea of a night cub that is only open on Holidays hence the name Holiday Inn. Joe visits Ted and Lila in New York and meets a shop girl named Linda Mason played by Marjorie Reynolds. Lila leaves Ted for a Texas millionaire. This start Ted to drinking, and sends him to his buddy who knows what it is to have the woman you love stolen away from you.In the mean time, Joe has fallen in love with Linda who can really sing and dance, and he offers her a Life of the Inn contract as his wife, and she accepts. Of course, the timing coincides with Ted meeting Linda while nearly blind drunk, and dancing an incredible improvised comic dance routine that is still a classic. Never has it been done as well, or as funny..., a Christmas classic!

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