Charles Bickford

Charles Bickford

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Johnny Belinda Review


Very Good
What'll happen to poor Johnny Belinda, the son of a deaf-mute woman named Belinda (Jane Wyman), who was raped and impregnated by the local hoodlum?

Well, it will involve tears and a lot of courtroom hair-tearing, and given that this is a feel-good movie from 1948, it's all going to come up aces.

Continue reading: Johnny Belinda Review

Anna Christie Review


OK
Demanding a whiskey (which she is offered the chance to receive in a pail), Greta Garbo made her first, historic spoken words in this film. (I have to imagine audiences of the era must have been horrified to hear how deep and thickly accented it was.) The story is rambling melodrama that must have felt right at home when it first aired, in the heart of the Great Depression, comprising vignettes that include a souse returning to town from Minnesota (!), a sinking boat, a trip to Coney Island, a broken engagement, and -- of course -- a past that will have to be revealed in the end. Extremely popular in its day, the film was shot a second time on the same sets but with a different crew and in German. The DVD includes both versions, allowing you to nod off before the end twice.

Whirlpool Review


Good
Hypnosis is always good for thriller fodder: Here we have poor Gene Tierney, a shoplifter, used and abused by a crackpot hypnotist named Korvo (José Ferrer), much to the chagrin of hubby Richard Conte (a psychologist in his own right). Korvo uses Tierney's Ann Sutton by framing her for his dirty work, but the inability of Conte's supposedly genius husband to put any of the mystery together (or the cops, for that matter), make Whirlpool a rather tedious affair.

A Star Is Born (1954) Review


Very Good
As it turns out, stars are made, not born. The classic George Cukor film gives us Judy Garland, unforgettable as Vicki Lester, a plucky singer whom Big Star James Mason targets for her raw talent, and soon makes her into an Oscar winner. The movie seems a little too easy, though. As if all you need to do is have Brad Pitt be your friend and, presto, you're famous. The teeth are pretty dull on Star, too -- for example, when Mason's character hits rock bottom (all while Garland's star is rising), the worst that we hear about before his tragic end is an arrest for being drunk and disorderly. Puh-lease. But it was the 1950s, so what can you expect? Overall, it's too long, but altogether this star is fairly bright.

The Big Country Review


Very Good
The Big Country is a Big Movie, long, majestic, and filled with Shakespearean overtones. This William Wyler western has never found classic status, but it's a worthwhile and very well-made production. Charlton Heston steals the show as the ranch foreman to a wealthy landowner feuding with his neighbors; Gregory Peck makes a minimal impression as a sea captain who arrives on the scene to marry the ranch owner's daughter -- only to get caught up in the squabble. Burl Ives (yes, Burl Ives) won an Oscar for playing the neighbor, Rufus. This one's been lost to time for the most part, but Wyler fans will eat it up.
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