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Mr. And Mrs. Smith (1941) Review


Weak
It's unusual -- unique, even -- for a director's "big departure" to be a screwball comedy. And here it is: A disastrously ill-advised bickering couple's comedy from none other than Alfred Hitchcock.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith offers a potentially rich setup: Married couple discovers there vows weren't quite legal, and the wife (Carole Lombard) decides she prefers it that way, sending husband (Robert Montgomery) into a tizzy. The usual setups follow: Montgomery checks into his men's club and stalks his "wife," who immediately begins dating a series of men.

Continue reading: Mr. And Mrs. Smith (1941) Review

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.

Mildred Pierce Review


Excellent
Joan Crawford's Oscar-winning performance in 1945's Mildred Pierce was a career pinnacle she reached after a long and hard climb back from near oblivion. Labeled box-office poison and dumped from MGM, Crawford turned to Warner Brothers and put herself in the very capable hands of their film noir experts with sensational results. Swallowing her pride and taking a role that had already been turned down by three leading ladies, including her arch nemesis Bette Davis, was the smartest thing Crawford ever did. (Fans of Mommie Dearest will remember how Crawford "took to her bed" with a fake illness on Oscar night rather than attend the ceremony and risk losing in person.)

The luscious blacks and whites of this melodramatic noir classic suit Crawford's kabuki-like visage perfectly. As the ambitious, neurotic, and much put upon Mildred, Crawford is all eyebrows, cheekbones, and lipstick as she frantically tries to hold her little family together and make her way as a single mother and businesswoman.

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Mildred Pierce Movie Review

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Joan Crawford's Oscar-winning performance in 1945's Mildred Pierce was a career pinnacle she reached after...

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