Site Under Reconstruction

1953

[6] Barbara Stanwyck stars in this intimate thriller from director John Sturges (The Great Escape, The Magnificent Seven) about a woman who is kidnapped by an escaped convict (Ralph Meeker) while trying to find help for her husband. While the husband (Barry Sullivan) is trapped under debris on a beach with rising tide, Stanwyck comes to realize her only means of saving him might be …

[7] Fredric March plays a 1950s Czechoslovakian circus owner trying to lead his troupe in a daring escape from the Iron Curtain. The plan is to obtain a permit to perform for communist soldiers in the border territories — then create a distraction and make a run for freedom over a narrow bridge into American occupation. At the same time, March’s character is dealing with …

[8] If you told me I’d enjoy a movie about a unabashed gold-digger and her showgirl best friend traveling to Paris while trying to pull the wool over the eyes of a private detective attempting to catch one of them in an act of infidelity to his client’s son — I’d have said probably not. But it turns out the gold-digger is played by the …

[4] The Darling children — Wendy, Michael, and John — take a magical trip to Neverland with a hero only children can see or believe in: Peter Pan. Once there, they meet Pan’s Lost Boys, visit the mermaids, pow-wow with the Indians, and have a couple of entanglements with the dastardly Captain Hook. Peter Pan is not one of my favorite Disney animated ‘classics’. I …

[6] 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 …

[5] This monster romp was the first solo effort by effects wizard Ray Harryhausen. All the stop-motion animation has the usual Harryhausen charm, including a famous scene where the dinosaur rages down Wall Street and chomps on a policeman. Unfortunately, there’s not much else going for this creature feature until that point. The story is one of the earliest to feature atomic mutation, but the …

[7] William Holden leads an ensemble cast in Billy Wilder’s adaptation of Stalag 17. The film takes place entirely in a German prisoner-of-war barrack, where the captured Americans are beginning to suspect that Holden’s pessimistic black marketeer character may be informing on them to the Germans. But Holden knows better — that there’s a German spy planted in their midst, secretly thwarting all their chances …

[5] Marlon Brando is terrific as Marc Antony in the centerpiece scene, rallying Rome to condemn Caesar’s assassins. The supporting cast, sets, Miklos Rozsa’s score, and the cast of thousands are impressive. But I’ll be damned if this movie didn’t have me fighting off sleep on more than one occasion. Maybe I need to see it again later, or maybe James Mason’s voice just puts …

[5] Lex Barker ends his five-film tenure as Tarzan with a bit of a whimper in Tarzan and the She-Devil. The plot focuses around ivory poachers, lead by Raymond Burr and icy-cool Monique van Vooren, who enslave a peaceful native tribe to do all their grunt work. This installment had the potential for the greatest emotional impact, with Tarzan’s tree-top home burnt to the ground …

[7] This nifty WWII naval actioner is slow to start, but after the midpoint it offers an engaging blend of drama and suspense. Jeffrey Hunter (The Searchers) plays Andrew Brown, a signalman in the British navy who survives the sinking of his ship and escapes German capture. While the Germans carry out repairs to their vessel in an island harbor, Brown becomes a sniper. He …