1950’s

[4.0] Joan Crawford seems born to play a lady gangster fighting blindness, but unfortunately, This Woman is Dangerous isn’t nearly as interesting as it sounds. The ‘gangster’ aspect of the movie is kept to a bare minimum, with most of the screen time spent on a romance between Crawford and the doctor (Dennis Morgan) who saves her sight. The crux of the story is whether …

[5.0] Gordon Scott continues his reign in the famed loincloth in Tarzan’s Fight for Life. In this chapter of the ongoing series, Tarzan is trying to mediate between an English doctor building a hospital in the jungle and a jealous witch doctor who feels his power is being usurped. A young native chief’s life hangs in the balance and when the witch doctor steals the …

[6.0] Spencer Tracy and Jean Simmons star in this adaptation of an autobiographical stage play by writer/actress Ruth Gordon (Harold & Maude, Rosemary’s Baby). The story centers around teen-aged Gordon’s final year at home with her parents, when she first set her sights on acting while dodging her father’s efforts for her to pursue a more practical line of work. Director George Cukor sticks to …

[6.5] When a small plane goes down in a South American jungle, the passengers and pilots must work together to repair the vehicle and get it back in the air before native headhunters attack. Back from Eternity is a remake of 1939’s Five Came Back, both films directed by John Farrow. The cast this time around includes Anita Ekberg (La Dolce Vita), Robert Ryan (The …

[4.5] Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon reprise their roles from the Oscar-winning Mrs. Miniver in a sequel that really isn’t necessary at all. The Miniver Story picks up after World War II has ended. The Miniver family is scattered around the globe but soon come together in love and gratitude to their renovated home in England. Shortly thereafter, however, Kay Miniver (Garson) learns she is …

[6.5] Jennifer Jones and William Holden star as a widowed Eurasian doctor and a married American news correspondent who fall in love despite cultural differences and wartime separations during China’s communist revolution. Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing is one of the quintessential ’50s romance movies. It’s about strangers falling in love in an exotic land, aided as these lovers often are by sandy beaches and …

[5.5] Gregory Peck is Captain Ahab in John Huston’s adaptation of Melville’s classic novel. Peck is reliably charismatic in the role, and the movie is at its best when it stays with him. Huston’s style is not an overly romantic one — which I think would have suited the movie better. I enjoyed the first thirty minutes the most, up through Ahab’s introduction and his …

[6.0] From a technical and artistic point of view, this may be the finest animated film ever made. But it’s also dull. I dislike how the three floating fat ladies (Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather) steal the show, while the prince and princess are given all the personality of tree stumps. Fortunately, artistry goes a long way. Sleeping Beauty is Disney’s most exquisite work. I love …

[8.0] François Truffaut made his feature directorial debut with this semi-autobiographical tale of a disenfranchised twelve-year-old Parisian boy who takes his first steps into a life of petty crime. Truffaut went into The 400 Blows with an admirable mission statement — to capture the very real malaise of pre-pubescence. Truffaut’s doppelganger is Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Léaud), whose escalating infractions with his school and parents threaten to …

[4.0] Aliens in flying saucers contact a scientist about their plan to enslave all the humans of Earth! This atomic age flick is slow going until the last ten minutes, when effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen gets to destroy Washington D.C. Aside from the big finish, this movie suffers from the usual pitfalls of the era, including bad acting, over reliance on stock footage, and silly …

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