Category Archives: 1941 Movie reviews

Dumbo-1941

Dumbo-1941

Director-Ben Sharpsteen

Starring-Various voices

Reviewed December 24, 2016

Grade: A

One of the best produced (and at sixty-two minutes, one of the shortest!) of the classic Walt Disney films of the golden age, Dumbo, in similar fashion to another Disney classic, Bambi, is both heartbreaking and mixed with fun entertainment. It should be heralded and viewed by everyone- children and adults alike, and teaches a valuable lesson in acceptance and tolerance- messages that never go out of fashion, despite the film being made in the grand old year of 1941.

To draw more comparisons to Bambi, we are introduced to the title character, as Dumbo is nuzzled and cherished upon being brought into the world by storks, by his warm and affectionate mother. Dumbo is an elephant and his mother a circus elephant, where she spends her days as entertainment, along with a group of other female elephants- none of whom has her grace, kindness, or dignity.

Sweet Dumbo is born with an imperfection- he has enormous ears. While others- namely the female elephants- ridicule and stare in horror at the lovable little elephant- his mother embraces and cuddles her little bundle of joy, eliciting a genuine, good-nature warmth rarely seen in cinema history. There is something so innately good about this character, (Mrs. Jumbo). She has a richness and way about her that is fantastic and consuming.

Sadly, one day, while entertaining the masses, a bratty human kid taunts Dumbo, causing Mrs. Jumbo to go ballistic, immediately going into protection mode. She is then deemed a “mad elephant”, shackled, and chained, and worse yet- separated from her baby. How anyone can watch this portion of the film and not shed a tear or get a lump in their throat is beyond me. Walt Disney was a master at eliciting raw emotion from his audience and writing a heartbreaking yet charming stories.

The centerpiece of Dumbo is the wonderful bond between mother and son- a sweet and powerful connection almost everyone can relate to. The pride and joy in Mrs. Jumbo’s eyes when she is granted a visit from Dumbo while imprisoned is magical- it means the world to her.

The supporting characters are key to the richness of the film- Timothy Q. Mouse is an important character to the story. Upon Dumbo and Mrs. Jumbo’s separation, he becomes Dumbo’s only friend, sympathizing with Dumbo, and is instrumental to Dumbo’s reunion with his mama as well as his future successes in the circus. The bitchy female elephants are crucial too- despite being one of their own, they still reject Dumbo and mother. There are some light moments, as when the ladies, (Catty, Giddy, and Prissy), gossip and act superior to others.

Another fun scene, to balance out the heavy drama, occurs when Timothy and Dumbo accidentally mistake champagne for water, causing them to hallucinate and imagine pink elephants.

Dumbo is important in that it sends a powerful message about the way animals (especially circus animals) have historically been treated. Why animals should be used to amuse and entertain human beings is anyone’s guess, but this film is a powerful reminder of such. Fortunately, the film goes for a happy and satisfying ending, which should please fans. An animated classic for the ages.

Citizen Kane-1941

Citizen Kane-1941

Director-Orson Welles

Starring-Orson Welles

Top 100 Films-#19

60000605

Reviewed January 29, 2017

Grade: A

Regarded as one of the greatest films ever made, Citizen Kane is a technically brilliant film that introduces fantastic new elements into film never before seen and replicated for decades to come. It is a timeless masterpiece still enjoyed and marveled at in modern times.

Forget what the story is about, as one can sit back, not having any idea of what the story means (it can be a bit difficult to follow) and look at the film from a cinematic perspective. The various camera angles, shadows, and use of an actual ceiling (never seen in film before) is impossible not to appreciate for any film lover. My favorite scenes occur when director (and star) Orson Welles uses snow falling outside as the cameras look through a window to observe the winter wonderland. This quality is simply astonishing in creative technicality. I can view this scene over and over again.

The plot is a hybrid drama and mystery. The life and legacy of newspaper legend Charles Foster Kane is examined. The character, played by Welles himself, is loosely based on real life figure, William Randolph Hearst. The film is told mainly through narrated flashbacks, as a newsreel reporter attempts to solve the big mystery centered around the deceased celebrity- his dying word, uttered from his lavish Florida mansion, was “rosebud” and nobody seems to know who “rosebud” is or what the word represents.

As the story goes along we begin to learn more about the famous Kane. Jerry Thompson, the reporter, learns that Kane’s childhood in Colorado was one of poverty. His mother, discovering a gold mine on her property, sent Kane away to be educated by a famous banker, thus securing his future. Thompson also interviews Kane’s personal business manager, and Kane’s ex-wife, now a drunk who owns a night club, but neither of them can shed light on the mystery.

The mystery- never solved by Thompson nor anyone else- is revealed at the end of the film, to the viewer only, in fantastic form and Kane’s childhood is key to the entire puzzle. This angle is creative and imaginative and brilliant to the entire film.

Technically, one of the best, most creative film creations, Citizen Kane has lost none of its marvel over the years and can be watched, studied, and introduced to new generations of film lovers eager to learn what a true movie gem is all about.