Category Archives: 1942 Movie reviews

Mrs. Miniver-1942

Mrs. Miniver-1942

Director William Wyler

Starring Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon

Scott’s Review #841

Reviewed December 13, 2018

Grade: A-

Released in 1942 amid the horrific World War II, Mrs. Miniver (1942) was a smash hit, winning over audiences concerned with the troubled and uncertain times.

Decades later the film does not age as well as other similarly themed films, but still entertains and tells a good story with an important theme.

The film is nestled in the war drama genre with a bit of romance thrown in. The film won numerous Oscars the year of its release including Best Picture and star Greer Garson winning for Best Actress.

The story is told from the perspective of an affluent British family and the struggles they face to keep things together during growing peril. The focus mostly remains squarely on an unassuming housewife, Kay Miniver (Garson).

The supporting players do much to flesh out the film with wonderful performances by Walter Pidgeon, Teresa Wright, and Henry Travers as Clem Miniver, Carol Beldon, and Mr. Ballard, respectively.

The direction by William Wyler is astounding and adds to the perfectly crafted ambiance and homey details.

The family lives a comfortable life in a whimsical village outside of London. Quite idealized, they own a large garden and a motorboat on the river Thames.

Along with Kay and Clem, their three children of varying ages and their housekeeper and cook reside with them. Besides the parents, the central couple is son Vin (Richard Ney) and the prominent Carol (Wright), the pair initially disagree on politics, but finally, fall madly in love.

As the soap-opera-style family situations continue to occur the war grows closer and closer to their house.

As Mrs. Miniver progresses, Vin enlists in the army to assist with war efforts, a German Nazi breaks into the Miniver house, a central character dies, and bombs and planes crash.

Through it all, Kay remains stoic and takes the family through challenging situations adding much melodrama to the film. The woman’s journey and resolve to keep everything and everyone intact is the core of the film.

The film is mainly a family drama with both the Minivers and the townspeople experiencing trials and tribulations. In this way, Mrs. Miniver risks being a one-trick pony, albeit an emotional and teary-eyed one.

The rich characteristics and the polished nature make the film more than it ought to be and the superlative cast and production values as well as the timeliness of the film’s release undoubtedly made it what it was in 1942.

In present times, however, Mrs. Miniver seems diminished in importance and relevance with a sappy and overly sentimental feel, World War II in the distant past, and several other wars come and gone.

Apparent is that Wyler carefully packaged the film to hit every emotion from the bombastic musical score to the proper English characters, to the comic relief housekeeper.

The film is a giant Hollywood production, but perhaps a bit too perfect to age with any zest or reason to watch more than once.

The film might be better remembered for its strong female lead. Told from Kay’s perspective, it was unusual in 1942 for a film (especially with a war theme) not to have the story from the male point of view. Still refreshing in 2018, this quality was downright groundbreaking at the time.

Kay stays strong and proud through the ravages of war that are closing in on her family with unbridled boldness and nary a simpering quality. An early champion for strong, female-driven characters and in a smaller way, Wright’s Carol is also a muscled female role model.

Mrs. Miniver (1942) is a well-crafted film of its time that displays lavish production values and strong characters worthy of admiration.

For a glimpse back into the 1940’s time-capsule, especially for those fans of good, solid drama, the film is a major win. There are no major flaws to harp on, but the overall piece has not aged especially well and other similar films (Casablanca, 1942) are more memorable affairs.

Oscar Nominations: 6 wins-Outstanding Motion Picture (won), Best Director-William Wyler (won), Best Actor-Walter Pidgeon, Best Actress-Greer Garson (won), Best Supporting Actor-Henry Travers, Best Supporting Actress-Teresa Wright (won), Dame May Whitty, Best Screenplay (won), Best Sound Recording, Best Cinematography, Black-and-White (won), Best Film Editing, Best Special Effects

Bambi-1942

Bambi-1942

Director David Hand

Starring Various voices

Top 100 Films-#88

Scott’s Review #556

Reviewed December 22, 2016

Grade: A

Simply a lovely, endearing, and heartbreaking tale, Bambi is one of my favorite classic Disney animated features of all time. Gorgeous and flawless, the film sends a definite message of animals longing for peace in a world filled with hunters attempting to disturb and kill the graceful deer.

After all of these years, this message still resonates loud and clear, in a sad, heartbreaking fashion. All deer hunters should watch this film and then have the audacity to hunt.

Bambi was released in the Golden Age of Disney films, led by Snow White, Dumbo, and Pinocchio, to name but a few.

We first meet baby Bambi as his dear mother nurtures and nestles him, fawning over him with pride and teaching him the joys of the forest. ¬†Bambi’s father is the Great Prince of the Forest- protector of all the creatures of the land.

Bambi’s mother (unnamed) warns an exuberant Bambi to be cautious of the gorgeous, yet dangerous, meadows, where the deer are vulnerable and unprotected.

During the film’s famous gut-wrenching scene, tragedy occurs, and violence disrupts the peaceful forest, leaving Bambi alone, lost, and devastated, forced into a cruel world of tragedy, realism, and responsibility.

The scene gets to me every time as we see the pain and the harshness of what life is like for the sweet deer, to say nothing of the other animals in the forest- namely, Thumper (a rabbit), and Flower (a young Skunk).

These characters are Bambi’s best friends. The dripping teardrop that oozes from Bambi’s eye is unable to be forgotten.

To counterbalance the dark tone of the film, Disney successfully adds cheerful scenes of the animals dancing and co-mingling with each other- as one community.

This is nice as it shows the power and the bond between the creatures- they are united as a family and take care of one another. I love this message, especially as young people will watch the film for the first time.

There is also a sweet romance offered between Bambi and Faline.

To watch the film and listen to the musical score is to experience sheer beauty. The music makes the film powerful- its classical and operatic elements are gorgeous and will elicit emotions for sure.

Visually, each frame is a drawing set against a still, and is magical to watch and marvel at the amount of work that undoubtedly went into this preparation.

In the end, the circle of life takes place. Bambi becomes the Great Prince of the Forest, replacing his father as the protector. Now all grown up with two tiny babies of his own, he must protect his family and friends.

Life goes on. A sad yet realistic message. How brave of Disney to create a piece as wonderful as Bambi.

Personal satisfaction for me is observing my beloved female feline friend, Thora, become mesmerized and attentive to the film each time I watch it.

Disney’s Bambi is a wonderful, cherished treasure that evokes emotion and teaches a valuable, though painful message. It is a timeless masterpiece to be enjoyed for generations to come.

One will not escape the film with dry eyes, which is a testament to the marvelous filmmaking involved.

Oscar Nominations:¬†Best Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture, Best Original Song-“Love Is a Song”, Best Sound Recording

This Gun For Hire-1942

This Gun For Hire-1942

Director Frank Tuttle

Starring Veronica Lake, Robert Preston

Scott’s Review #285

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Reviewed November 3, 2015

Grade: B

This Gun for Hire (1942) is an early film noir that influenced later films of a similar genre. Starring marque headliners of their day, Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake, this film is a surprisingly violent experience for its period. Shot in black and white, the film is wonderfully lit, adding style as well as substance to it.

The film begins with a bang…literally, as hit-man Philip Raven (Ladd) murders a chemist and blackmailer in exchange for a hefty sum of loot.

His wealthy boss double-crosses him and reports him to the Los Angeles Police Department. Detective Michael Crane takes the case aided by his sexy girlfriend and nightclub singer Ellen Graham (Lake). Adding a wrench to the story is the tangled love affair that ensues between Ellen and Raven, who are the film’s main draw.

I love the black and white shooting of this film, as many were in 1942, and found this only enhances the tone of the picture given that it is of crime/hit-man variety.

The chemistry between Lake and Ladd smolders and Lake is great as a femme fatale with her long blonde locks and sultry pout.

She was the inspiration for the character conceived for L.A. Confidential as Kim Basinger portrays a Veronica Lake look-alike. Ladd is brooding in his intensity as the hit-man with the damaged childhood and ultimately sympathetic personality.

The setting of San Francisco and L.A. is wonderfully perfect and adds depth as the warm and sunny locales are mixed in with murder, corruption, and shenanigans. Who wouldn’t make comparisons to Chinatown (1974)??

A flaw I found in the film and which I found it difficult to buy into is the implausibility of Ellen falling in love with Raven as he tries to murder her-unsuccessfully so. This point seems plot-driven and a way to incorporate a mainstream love story amid the thrilling film noir.

Surely, she would find satisfaction in a romantic sense with her detective boyfriend and since the duo has no conspicuous problems, the love between her and Raven is all the more inexplicable. Still- sparks do indeed fly on-screen.

An action-packed crime affair, This Gun for Hire laid a crisp blueprint for film noir and hitmen, action types films for decades to come and I admire it for this reason.

Saboteur-1942

Saboteur-1942

Director Alfred Hitchcock

Starring Robert Cummings, Priscilla Lake

Scott’s Review #98

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Reviewed July 9, 2014

Grade: B+

Saboteur (1942) is a very early Alfred Hitchcock film that is a blueprint for his masterpieces in the years to follow.

The story follows a common theme among Hitchcock thrillers- the falsely accused man. An aircraft factory worker, Barry Kane, is falsely accused of an act of sabotage that kills his best friend.

Only Kane, and the audience, know the true culprit and sets out on a quest for both his innocence and to find and capture the real culprit.

The film then sets off a tale of adventure, cross-country hijinks, romance, and political espionage, quite similar to a Hitchcock classic, North by Northwest, which followed years later.

This film contains some excellent scenes- the traveling Carnie train adventure, the blind man, and especially the climactic chase scene atop the Statue of Liberty are fantastic.

This film is a bit raw and the chemistry between the leads Robert Cummings and Priscilla Lane poor, but a very good early Hitchcock film to be appreciated.