Gary Cooper

Some years ago, I got a call from NFL Films, from a man named Steve Sabol. Yes, he realized I was English by birth and might not know much about American football. So I explained to him that I had arrived in San Francisco in September 1981 at the start of the season in which the 49ers won their first Super Bowl—their first of five. Mr. Sabol was encouraged, but he had called me because he’d read some writing about movies that I had done. I believe I had compared Joe Montana and Gary Cooper in the way they gazed at space. That was his kind of dream.

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From time to time these days, one meets young people—film students even—who can’t quite place Gary Cooper. Come May 13, he will have been dead for 51 years; and on May 7—the day I’m writing—he was born in 1901, up in Montana.

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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.

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The classic western High Noon culminates with a scene in which the hero, a retired sheriff played by Gary Cooper, finally confronts the dangerous gang that’s descended upon the unsuspecting town of Hadleyville. The townspeople remain in the background throughout the climactic fight, passive and frightened. Whether Hadleyville will be saved is solely in the hands of the outsider: his wisdom, his courage, his determination. Most of the policy debates in recent years on international intervention seem to have been framed around that famous plotline.

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The Clock Paula Cooper Gallery One afternoon several months ago, I lingered on West 24th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues as a photographer shot two fashion models in haute punk outfits, with perilously spiky heels and raccoon-style eye makeup. Spring was at long last coming to the city, the final stubborn patches of filthy snow had melted away, and I was not the only person who stopped to watch as the photographer and his models spun their gritty-chic little Manhattan fantasy, the great-looking women vamping while an assistant adjusted a reflector and a stylist stood at the ready.

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It’s about time for this column to look back for a moment and delve into our library of DVD treasures. The reason is obvious: Most people passionate about film now spend as much time with that library as with new pictures. I’m talking about 1928, a very good year. An odd, sentimental gesture attended the first Oscars—but only those top prizes. The awards were held in the Blossom Room of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel on May 16, 1929, when awards were being delivered for the years 1927-28.

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Universes

Lebanon Sony Pictures Classics Around a Small Mountain Cinema Guild It took Samuel Maoz more than twenty years, he says, to write Lebanon. In June 1982 he was a tank commander in the division of the Israel Defense Forces that invaded Lebanon. In 1987 he went to film school in Israel and became a writer-director. In 2007 he decided to write about his war experiences. In a press comment he notes: “My memory of the events themselves had become dim and blurred....

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Class Acts

Ornamentalism by David Cannadine Oxford University Press, 240 pp., $25) When Hitler wished to relax after a hard day at the office, he liked to watch films in his private screening room. Nazi propaganda movies were not his favorite entertainment; they felt too much like work. Hitler liked swashbuckling Hollywood films, and one picture in particular: Lives of a Bengal Lancer, starring Gary Cooper and C.

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There was always more to the legend of John Wayne than met the eye. To judge by most of the obituaries, the unifying effect of his long war against cancer had transcended the divisive effect of his long war against communism. His illness was thus regarded as a metaphor for all the problems that plague Western man in his decent from power. With Wane's passing, we were told by solemn editorialists, the last simplistic American Hero had bitten the dust. This meant that there would be no more Vietnams on the American horizon.

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