Loretta Young

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Four Men and a Prayer Review


Weak
In Four Men and a Prayer, director John Ford doesn't have one. Saddled by Darryl Zanuck with a claptrap mystery adventure plot involving the dishonorable discharge and subsequent murder of a proud British career officer during the jewel-in-the-crown years of British colonialism and the efforts of his four sons to find the killer and exonerate their father, Ford assumes the role of Houdini. With a handsome physical production, Ford mounts an impressive sleight-of-hand, diverting prying eyes by throwing everything at the audience he can think of, anything to stay away from the actual story, which Ford doesn't want to get close enough to smell.

The nominal plot has stout-hearted Colonel Loring Leigh (C. Aubrey Smith -- who else?) kicked out of the Lancers for signing an order allowing a shipment guns to find their way into the hands of a band of Indian rebels, who end up massacring 90 men at one of those Indian passes so famous in '30s movie adventure yarns. Colonel Leigh is drummed out of the army but knows he's been set up and his signature forged. Returning to England he summons his four sons -- dim bulb Oxford student Rodney (William Henry), pompous barrister Wyatt (George Sanders), shallow ladies man/aviator Chris (David Niven), and stuffy British attache Geoffrey (Richard Greene) -- in order to show them the evidence proving he was framed by an international gun cartel. He doesn't get that far. While the boys are sipping bitters in the ante room, Colonel Leigh is shot dead in his study and the evidence removed. The press claims Leigh committed suicide from his disgrace, but the boys know better and set about to find his killer and clear his name.

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The Bishop's Wife Review


Weak
The troubles that underlied this production show in the end, with a quirky and vaguely unsatisfying tale of a bishop (David Niven, not very compelling) who receives a guardian angel (Cary Grant, not very angelic) to help him sort out his life, Wonderful Life style. Still, nostalgia for the prior year's feel-goodie probably propelled Bishop's Wife to five Oscar nominations (it won for best sound), though its feel-good sentiment ends up drowning the film in saccharine.

The Stranger Review


Excellent
Largely unsung, this Orson Welles movie is one of his most straightforward, yet still one of his greats -- and reportedly his only film to turn a profit on its original theatrical release. Welles also stars as a Nazi war criminal now living under a new identity on Connecticut... until the tribunal catches up with him. The architect of the genocide then quickly reverts to his old ways. Not a lot of surprise -- except for some rare casting of Edward G. Robinson as the good guy.
Loretta Young

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