The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

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The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948). 126 minutes. Directed by John Huston. Starring Humphrey Bogart (as Fred C. Dobbs), Walter Huston (as Howard), Tim Holt (as Bob Curtin), Bruce Bennett (as James Cody), Barton MacLane (as Pat McCormick), Alfonso Bedoya (as Gold Hat), Arturo Soto Rangel (as El Presidente), Manuel Dondé (as El Jefe), José Torvay (as Pablo), Margarito Luna (as Pancho), Robert Blake (as boy selling lottery tickets), John Huston (as American in Tampico wearing white suit). Screenplay by John Huston. Music by Max Steiner.

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is one of director John Huston’s masterpieces. It stars his father, Walter Huston, as a tough old miner who leads two aspiring prospectors into the mountains of Mexico in pursuit of gold. They do find gold, but they also discover a darker side to themselves that leads to betrayal and death. Its story about the corrupting power of wealth is in line with another movie that ends … Read the rest

Ziegfeld Girl (1941)

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Ziegfeld Girl (1941)

Ziegfeld Girl (1941). 132 minutes. Directed by Robert Z. Leonard. Starring James Stewart (as Gilbert Young), Judy Garland (as Susan Gallagher), Hedy Lamarr (as Sandra Kolter), Lana Turner (as Sheila Regan), Tony Martin (as Frank Merton), Jackie Cooper (as Jerry Regan), Eve Arden (as Patsy Dixon), Philip Dorn (as Franz Kolter), Charles Winniger (as “Pop” Gallagher), Ian Hunter (as Geoffrey Collis), and Edward Everett Horton (as Noble Sage). Musical sequences directed by Busby Berkeley.

Ziegfeld Girl is intended to be a follow-up to 1936’s The Great Ziegfeld, but whereas The Great Ziegfeld focuses on Florenz Ziegfeld (founder of the Ziegfeld Follies) and his rise to fame, Ziegfeld Girl charts the careers of three fictitious Follies showgirls. The similarities between the two movies are numerous, and towards its end, Ziegfeld Girl even recycles some of the footage from the earlier film, including The Great Ziegfeld’s famous rotating wedding cake set. While Ziegfeld Girl has many failings—including the fact that it … Read the rest

The Last Laugh (1924)

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The Last Laugh (1924) featured image

The Last Laugh (1924). 91 minutes. Directed by F. W. Murnau. Starring Emil Jannings (as hotel doorman), Maly Delschaft (as his niece), Max Hiller (as her bridegroom), Emilie Kurz (as bridegroom’s aunt), Hans Unterkircher (as hotel manager), Olaf Storm (as young guest), Hermann Vallentin (as guest with pot belly), Georg John (as night watchman), and Emmy Wyda (as thin neighbor). Cinematography by Karl Freund.

The plot of The Last Laugh can be encapsulated in a simple sentence: an anonymous hotel doorman is demoted. Despite its simple premise, however, this silent movie is an astonishingly profound depiction of human misery. Relying on camera movement and gesture to convey meaning throughout, and using only one title card during its 91-minute running time, The Last Laugh relies more than most films on visual elements to tell its story. It is essential viewing for anyone who cares about early movies.

An enthusiastic hotel doorman is observed drinking on the job one day by the … Read the rest

San Francisco (1936)

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San Francisco (1936)

San Francisco (1936). 115 minutes. Directed by W. S. Van Dyke. Starring Clark Gable (as Blackie Norton), Jeanette MacDonald (as Mary Blake), Spencer Tracy (as Father Tim Mullin), Jack Holt (as Jack Burley), Jessie Ralph (as Mrs. Burley), Ted Healy (as Mat), Shirley Ross (as Trixie), Edgar Kennedy (as sheriff), Al Shean (as professor), and William Ricciardi (as Signor Baldini). Songs by Walter Jurmann, Bronislaw Kaper, and Edward Ward.

San Francisco has the potential to be a good movie. It has great music, including the song “San Francisco,” which was composed especially for it; features Jeanette MacDonald, Clark Gable, and Spencer Tracy; makes use of contributions from directors D. W. Griffith and Erich von Stroheim; and is set in one of the greatest cities in the world in the days before its most impressive catastrophe, the 1906 earthquake. Yet San Francisco’s story is both fairly conventional and a strange compilation of genres, with the plot beginning as a familiar story … Read the rest