September 23, 1946
In honor of Raymond Chandler's birthday, our 1946 review of the film version of his novel "The Big Sleep," starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.
Frank Capra, Hollywood’s Horatio Alger, lights with more cinematic know-how and zeal than any other director to convince movie audiences that American life is exactly like the Saturday Evening Post covers of Norman Rockwell. It’s a Wonderful Life, the latest example of Capracorn, shows his art at a hysterical pitch. Capra’s moralizing, which is driven home in films packed with absurdly over-simplified characterizations and unbearable whimsy, is presented with great talent almost wholly through visual detail.
Before seeing "The Pride of the Yankees" you may or may not know that the Yankees referred to are the ones who win the World Series each year. After seeing it you will find that the reference is indirect. Deep down inside it's the baseball story of Lou Gehrig, the silent strong boy, who went from Columbia to the Yankee Stadium to hit home runs. It was at the start of the fabulous Yankees, when the manager was a runt-sized baseball genius named Miller Huggins, and "Murderers' Row" meant Gehrig, Ruth, Coombs and Meusel.
Orson Welles’s second I-did-it should show once and for all that film making, radio and the stage are three different guys better kept separated. The Magnificent Ambersons is one of those versions of the richest family in town during the good old days. Front and center of the Ambersons is the Oedipean situation between Dolores Costello and son Tim Holt, which, according to the movie, started when Dolores married the wrong man. All her frustrated love went toward smothering her son, and sure enough he grew up to gloriously rotten manhood.
The story of Warner Brothers’ movie, “Mildred Pierce,” recounts the enormous and unrewarded sacrifices that a mother (Joan Crawford) makes for her spoiled, greedy daughter (Ann Blythe). The mother, whose husband (Bruce Bennett) has left her to live with another woman, starts baking cakes and pies for the neighbors, becomes a waitress in a tearoom, opens a drive-in-restaurant, marries a society gigolo for his name, and finally tries to get her business partner (Jack Carson) convicted for the murder committed by her daughter.
The Big Sleep is an unsentimental, surrealist excitement in which most of the men in Hollywood’s underworld are murdered and most of the women go for an honest but not unwilling private sleuth (Humphrey Bogart).
National Velvet tells how a twelve-year-old butcher’s daughter, Velvet Brown (Elizabeth Taylor), helped by a vagabond ex-jockey (Mickey Rooney) wins the Grand National steeplechase. It is the best thing to see at the moment, next to another very happy MGM technicolor film, Meet Me in St.
Laurence Olivier’s spectacle-film, Henry V, is a sparkling armor-and-woolen-goods movie about a glorious English leader (Olivier), his smashing, upset victory over the French (who had too much armor, too few archers) in 1415, and his lightning courtship—made up of tricky, beautiful talk and vaudeville—of the French princess Katherine (Renée Asherson). Henry V is a great deal more than almost any other hell-bent-for-armor movie that you’ve seen.