Essential Films

It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)

August 29, 2014 // 0 Comments

It’s A Wonderful Life (1946) Produced & directed by Frank Capra based on Philip Van Doren Stern’s story “The Greatest Gift” with a screenplay by Frances Goodrich & Albert Hackett (The Thin Man (1934)) and Capra plus additional scenes from Jo Swerling (The Pride of the Yankees (1942)) this essential family fantasy drama lost the Academy Award for Best Picture of the Year to producer Samuel Goldwyn’s The Best [...]

Little Women (1933)

August 29, 2014 // 0 Comments

Little Women (1933) This the first version of this much filmed Louisa May Alcott novel movie won the Oscar for Best Writing (Adaptation) and was also nominated for Best Picture. It stars Katharine Hepburn Joan Bennett Jean Parker Frances Dee Spring Byington Edna May Oliver and Paul Lukas. Director George Cukor was also nominated. Hepburn is Jo March the headstrong creative writing daughter (of Byington’s character) that shouts [...]

Along the Rio Grande (1941)

August 29, 2014 // 0 Comments

Along the Rio Grande (1941) Directed by Edward Killy a Best Assistant Director Oscar nominee in 1934 this Tim Holt B Western was based on a story by Stuart Anthony; the screenplay was written by Morton Grant and Arthur V. Jones. Joined by his usual sidekicks singer Smokey (Ray Whitley) and tall tale telling Whopper (played this time by Emmett Lynn) Holt plays Jeff a trustworthy ranch hand whose boss Pop Edwards (Harry Humphrey) is murdered by [...]

She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949)

August 29, 2014 // 0 Comments

She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949) The best of director John Ford’s (and actor John Wayne‘s) U.S. Cavalry trilogy which includes Fort Apache (1948) & Rio Grande (1950) this essential Western won Cinematographer Winton Hoch his second of three Oscars (on three nominations). Hoch’s sweeping views of Utah’s Monument Valley and beautiful blue cloud dotted skies are unforgettable. It’s based on stories by James Warner [...]

Kameradschaft (1931)

August 29, 2014 // 0 Comments

Kameradschaft (1931) A year after directing the enlightening World War I drama Westfront 1918 (1930) Georg Wilhelm Pabst directed this foreign language (with subtitles) drama about “comradeship” between French and German miners who work the same coal mine on opposite sites of the border. Like director John Ford’s subsequent Oscar winner How Green Was My Valley (1941) the film gives one a very real sense of (the family) life in [...]

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936)

August 29, 2014 // 0 Comments

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936) Director Frank Capra’s classic about a baseball/tuba playing common man (Gary Cooper of course) who inherits a fortune but is determined to give it away because he’s “pixelated”. Jean Arthur plays a reporter who pretends to be his confidant but (unknown to him) writes stories which portray his as a fool selling lots of newspapers. Unforgettable courtroom scenes the funniest ever? And [...]

In Which We Serve (1942)

August 29, 2014 // 0 Comments

In Which We Serve (1942) Producer director (with David Lean) and original screenplay writer Noel Coward earned an Honorary Award for this outstanding production achievement to go along with the only other Academy recognition he received in his career for this film: Best Picture & Best Writing Oscar nominations. He also played the lead role British Navy Captain Edward V. Kinross in this excellent war drama about the special love seamen have [...]

Death Takes a Holiday (1934)

August 29, 2014 // 0 Comments

Death Takes a Holiday (1934) Directed by Mitchell Leisen and co-written by Maxwell Anderson (All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)) Gladys Lehman (Two Girls and a Sailor (1944)) and others this film was remade as Meet Joe Black (1998) by Martin Brest with Brad Pitt and Anthony Hopkins. Fredric March plays Death who poses as Prince Sirki a guest of Duke Lambert (Guy Standing) for a weekend in order to better understand why people fear him. The [...]

Breaking Away (1979)

August 29, 2014 // 0 Comments

Breaking Away (1979) Produced and directed by Peter Yates this essential comedy (sports) drama features an Academy Award winning story by Steve Tesich who won the Best Writing Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen Oscar on his only nomination. Yates received his first two (of four unrewarded) nominations as well for Best Picture and Best Director. Patrick Williams who wrote the film’s Score also received his only nomination as did [...]

The Searchers (1956)

August 29, 2014 // 0 Comments

The Searchers (1956) This John Ford Western – one of the director’s best – inexplicably did not receive a single Academy Award nomination despite the fact that it features one of John Wayne’s best lead acting performances a compelling relevant story (Frank Nugent wrote the screenplay from Alan Le May’s novel) and beautiful Technicolor vistas of Monument Valley by 3-time Oscar-winning cinematographer Winston Hoch; it was however added [...]
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