Film Review – OPERATION PACIFIC (1951)

Image result for operation pacific 1951Operation Pacific (1951; USA; B&W; 111m) ***½  d. George Waggner; w. George Waggner; ph. Bert Glennon; m. Alan Crosland Jr.  Cast: John Wayne, Patricia Neal, Ward Bond, Scott Forbes, Martin Milner, Philip Carey, Milburn Stone, Paul Picerni, William Campbell, Kathryn Givney, Cliff Clark, Jack Pennick, Virginia Brissac, Lewis Martin, Sam Edwards. During WWII, a submarine’s second in command inherits the problem of torpedoes that don’t explode. When on shore, he is eager to win back his ex-wife. Well-made war film combines tense battle scenes with standard romantic interludes. The submarine action is well-staged allowing Wayne moments of heroics. The scenes on land are more formulaic as Neal and Wayne try to figure out their future. A colourised version was released on video. [PG]

Film Review – RIO GRANDE (1950)

Rio Grande (1950; USA; B&W; 105m) ***½  d. John Ford; w. James Kevin McGuinness; ph. Bert Glennon; m. Victor Young.  Cast: John Wayne, Claude Jarman Jr., Ben Johnson, Maureen O’Hara, Harry Carey Jr., Chill Wills, J. Carrol Naish, Victor McLaglen, Grant Withers, Patrick Wayne, Steve Pendleton, Alberto Morin, Stan Jones. A Union officer is in charge of an outpost on the Rio Grande in which he is in charge of training of new recruits one of which is his son whom he hasn’t seen in 15 years. Third of the Wayne/Ford “Cavalry Trilogy” is probably the least, but still vastly entertaining. Story unfolds at a leisurely pace (including two or three musical interludes) with Wayne and O’Hara sparking a strong chemistry in their first of five outings together. McLaglen offers his familiar light relief as heavy-drinking sergeant. Extensive use of Mohave Valley locations. Based on a story by James Warner Bellah. Also available in a computer colourised version. [U]

Film Review – SANDS OF IWO JIMA (1949)

See the source imageSands of Iwo Jima (1949; USA; B&W; 100m) ****  d. Allan Dwan; w. Harry Brown, James Edward Grant; ph. Reggie Lanning; m. Victor Young.  Cast: John Wayne, John Agar, Adele Mara, Forrest Tucker, Wally Cassell, James Brown, Richard Webb, Arthur Franz, Julie Bishop, James Holden, Peter Coe, Richard Jaeckel, William Murphy, George Tyne, Hal Baylor. Marine sergeant John Stryker seems a martinet and a bully as he trains young Marines for combat in the Pacific war. In the end, as survival in the bloody battle of Iwo Jima depends on the lessons Stryker has drilled into them, his troops discover why he was so hard on them. Wayne received his first Oscar nomination for his rounded performance as the tough sergeant in this first-rate war drama. Whilst some of the characterisations are a little two-dimensional and stereotypical, there is still an edge to the story and the message it serves to deliver. The battle scenes impressively integrate actual newsreel footage to heighten the sense of realism. Also available in a computer colourised version. [PG]

Film Review – SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON (1949)

Related imageShe Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949; USA; Technicolor; 103m) ****  d. John Ford; w. Frank S. Nugent, Laurence Stallings, James Warner Bellah; ph. Winton C. Hoch; m. Richard Hageman.  Cast: John Wayne, Ben Johnson, Victor McLaglen, Joanne Dru, John Agar, Harry Carey Jr., Mildred Natwick, Paul Fix, George O’Brien, Arthur Shields, Michael Dugan, Noble Johnson, Fred Graham, Tom Tyler, Jack Pennick. A US Cavalry Captain, on the eve of retirement, takes out a last patrol to stop an impending massive Indian attack. Encumbered by women who must be evacuated, Brittles finds his mission imperilled. Gloriously shot (Hoch’s colour photography rightly won an Oscar) second film in Ford’s celebrated Cavalry Trilogy is a thoroughly entertaining account of the last few days active service of respected Captain Wayne. The production values are high and great use is made of the Monument Valley location. Wayne is in top form in a role older than his years. Johnson also shines as unassuming sergeant, whilst McLaglen adds his usual high spirits to the proceedings. Followed by RIO GRANDE (1950). [PG]

Film Review – 3 GODFATHERS (1948)

Image result for 3 godfathers3 Godfathers (1948; USA; Technicolor; 106m) ****  d. John Ford; w. Laurence Stallings, Frank S. Nugent, Peter B. Kyne; ph. Winton C. Hoch; m. Richard Hageman.  Cast: John Wayne, Pedro Armendariz, Harry Carey Jr., Ward Bond, Mae Marsh, Jane Darwell, Ben Johnson, Mildred Natwick, Guy Kibbee, Dorothy Ford, Charles Halton, Hank Worden, Jack Pennick, Fred Libby, Michael Dugan. Three outlaws on the run discover a dying woman and her baby. They swear to bring the infant to safety across the desert. Superbly filmed story with obvious religious overtones, which only become heavy-handed in the story’s finale. Ford gets superb performances from his actors – notably as Wayne, Armendariz and Carey, Jr. are tracked across unforgiving terrain by Bond and his posse. Wonderful photography by Hoch. Ford had previously directed a silent film version of the same story, called MARKED MEN (1919) – no prints of this is known to be in existence. [PG]

Film Review – FORT APACHE (1948)

Image result for fort apache 1948Fort Apache (1948; USA; B&W; 125m) ****  d. John Ford; w. Frank S. Nugent; ph. Archie Stout; m. Richard Hageman.  Cast: Henry Fonda, John Wayne, Ward Bond, John Agar, George O’Brien, Shirley Temple, Irene Rich, Victor McLaglen, Anna Lee, Pedro Armendariz, Dick Foran, Guy Kibbee, Grant Withers, Jack Pennick, Mae Marsh. At Fort Apache, an honourable and veteran war captain finds conflict when his regime is placed under the command of a young, glory hungry lieutenant colonel with no respect for the local Indian tribe. Fonda is excellent as proud, but flawed commander of cavalry regiment in tale inspired by the legend of General Custer. Wayne is also on top form as the captain whose experience is overlooked by the by-the-book approach of his superior. Extensive use of Monument Valley locations. Agar’s debut. Suggested by the story “Massacre” by James Warner Bellah. First of Ford’s loose cavalry trilogy followed by SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON (1949) and RIO GRANDE (1950). [U]

Film Review – RED RIVER (1948)

Red River (1948 film) movie scenesRed River (1948; USA; B&W; 133m) ****½  d. Howard Hawks, Arthur Rosson; w. Borden Chase, Charles Schnee; ph. Russell Harlan; m. Dimitri Tiomkin.  Cast: John Wayne, Montgomery Clift, Walter Brennan, Joanne Dru, Coleen Gray, John Ireland, Noah Beery Jr., Harry Carey, Harry Carey Jr., Paul Fix, Chief Yowlachie, Hank Worden, Mickey Kuhn, Hal Taliaferro, Shelley Winters. A rancher is driving his cattle to Red River when his adopted son turns against him. Wayne is excellent in an unsympathetic role as the trail boss. Clift and Brennan are just as good in support. The photography captures the toughness of a long cattle drive and Tiomkin contributes a memorable score. Hawks handles the story perfectly through to its finale, which strikes the only false note in an otherwise top-class production. Filmed in 1946 but held for release for two years, in part due to legal problems with Howard Hughes who claimed it was similar to his THE OUTLAW. Borden adapted his own story. Remade for TV in 1988. [PG]

Film Review – ANGEL AND THE BADMAN (1947)

Image result for angel and the badman 1947Angel and the Badman (1947; USA; B&W; 100m) ***  d. James Edward Grant; w. James Edward Grant; ph. Archie Stout; m. Richard Hageman.  Cast: John Wayne, Gail Russell, Harry Carey, Bruce Cabot, Irene Rich, Lee Dixon, Stephen Grant, Tom Powers, Paul Hurst, Olin Howland. An outlaw is nursed back to health and sought after by a quaker girl. Entertaining morality tale delivers a tight, well-scripted, if fairly simplistic, story. Wayne is a confident lead and Russell is appealing as the girl who becomes his saviour. Carey, as a Marshal out to get Wayne, is wonderfully droll. Some may balk at the sermonising, but the approach is actually well-balanced. Partly shot in Monument Valley. First film produced by Wayne. Inspiration for WITNESS (1985). Remade for TV in 2009. [U]

TV Review – SPACE 1999: BREAKAWAY (1975)

Image result for space 1999 breakawaySpace 1999: Breakaway (TV) (1975; UK; Colour; 50m) ***  Exec pr. Gerry Anderson; pr. Sylvia Anderson; d. Lee H. Katzin; w. George Bellak; ph. Frank Watts; m. Barry Gray. Cast: Martin Landau, Barbara Bain, Barry Morse, Roy Dotrice, Prentis Hancock, Zienia Merton, Anton Phillips, Nick Tate, Philip Madoc, Lon Satton Lon Satton, Eric Carte Eric Carte. Commander John Koenig, the new commander of Moonbase Alpha, leads the investigation of a mysterious disease at the station and uncovers evidence of a far greater looming disaster. First episode of the TV series sets up the premise by telling the tale of the events that lead up to the Moon being blasted out of the Earth’s orbit and out into deep space. Landau has the right amount of gravitas as the base commander and is well supported by Morse as his scientific sidekick. Bain, however, gives a one-note performance as the medical doctor and lacks charisma. Her chemistry with real-life husband Landau would be allowed to develop as the series progressed. Great special effects and model work for the day as Gerry Anderson adds his usual high production values. Anderson re-edited Katzin’s initial cut, which reportedly ran close to 2-hours in length, and shot new scenes once series production was underway. [PG]

TV Review – ARMCHAIR THEATRE: A MAGNUM FOR SCHNEIDER (1967)

Armchair Theatre: A Magnum for Schneider (TV) (1967; UK; B&W; 55m) ****  pr. Leonard White; d. Bill Bain; w. James Mitchell; m. Robert Farnon. Cast:  Edward Woodward, Joseph Fürst, Ronald Radd, Peter Bowles, Francesca Tu, Russell Hunter, Helen Ford, Martin Wyldeck, John Scarborough, Ivor Dean.  This Armachair Theatre presentation was the first adventure of David Callan (Woodward), top agent for the S.I.S. Forcibly “retired” several years earlier because he had lost his nerve. Callan is called back into service to handle the assassination of Schneider, a German businessman who may be more than he seems. Confined to studio sets, despite the limitation so its production this remains a fascinating piece of television driven by Woodward’s brilliant performance and Mitchell’s sharp script – adding depth and a cynical humour to an unsympathetic character. Hunter is Callan’s unkempt underworld contact, Lonely. The TV series Callan was picked up later the same year and ran for four series from 1967-1972. Mitchell later novelised the story as “A Red File for Callan” and this in itself was later filmed for theatrical release as Callan in 1974. [12]