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To Have And Have Not Review


Excellent
Lauren Bacall made her nerve-wracked screen debut in the memorable Howard Hawks film To Have and Have Not, put opposite the hugely famous Humphrey Bogart in a Casablanca-esque tale of intrigue in France during WWII. Bogart's crusty fisherman and Bacall's swindling lounge singer get roped into aiding the French resistance, but the plot is ultimately a throwaway -- having none of the depth of Casablanca. Instead, To Have and Have Not owes its success to some fiery chemistry between its leads as well as amazing supporting turns by Walter Brennan and Hoagy Carmichael. The jazzy tunes played in Bacall's bar are unforgettable, too. You know how to whistle, don't you?

Barbary Coast Review


Very Good
Any self-respecting San Franciscan needs to give Barbary Coast a spin, a film of Gold Rush-era S.F., when the town was full of backstabbing gold panners, corrupt tycoons, and nary a "white woman" in the whole town. That changes when Miriam Hopkins arrives, fresh off the boat, only to discover her fiancee is no longer alive. To keep food on the table, she takes a job as a roulette wheel spinner (crooked, natch) for local boss Edward G. Robinson, who owns the movie -- at least when Walter Brennan's "Old Atrocity" (his actual character's name) isn't on screen. Lots of fun, despite a forced love story late in the picture, and full of chilly, delicious fog.

To Have And Have Not Review


Excellent
Lauren Bacall made her nerve-wracked screen debut in the memorable Howard Hawks film To Have and Have Not, put opposite the hugely famous Humphrey Bogart in a Casablanca-esque tale of intrigue in France during WWII. Bogart's crusty fisherman and Bacall's swindling lounge singer get roped into aiding the French resistance, but the plot is ultimately a throwaway -- having none of the depth of Casablanca. Instead, To Have and Have Not owes its success to some fiery chemistry between its leads as well as amazing supporting turns by Walter Brennan and Hoagy Carmichael. The jazzy tunes played in Bacall's bar are unforgettable, too. You know how to whistle, don't you?

Red River Review


Very Good
John Wayne stars in one of his most acclaimed films, Red River, opposite a young Montgomery Clift. Wayne is the tormenting rancher, driving his 9,000 head of cattle to Missouri to avoid bankruptcy; Clift is his adopted son, who grows increasingly antagonistic against dad's slave driving. Eventually, the cattle drive approaches a situation of mutiny, pitting father and son against one another.

Filled with beautiful black and white photography, especially for its era, Red River is an atmospheric ride a la Unforgiven, where it's hard to find a white-hat hero and a sense of dread surrounds the proceedings. Unfortunately, the film is hampered by a lame hoedown score, typical of 1940s Westerns, not to mention an atrocious "happy" ending that belies the emotion in the rest of the picture.

Continue reading: Red River Review

Rio Bravo Review


Very Good
Dean Martin as "Dude the Drunk," eh? Why not -- it works in Rio Bravo a favorite among Western enthusiasts that nonetheless is far too long, spending too long setting up the story before getting to the powerful finale. Wayne is good, but Dean-o steals the show along with Walter Brennan's crusty jailkeeper, who owns every scene he's in. A definitive piece of Americana by way of Howard Hawks, Rio Bravo is what the late 1950s studio system was all about.

Support Your Local Sheriff! Review


Very Good
"It's bad enough to have to kill a man, without having to listen to a lot of stupid talk from him first." James Garner adapts his Maverick persona to this western-comedy, a clever and deftly-dialogued story about a blase gunfighter who takes the job of sheriff in a rough-and-tumble town simply for the money. Good thing he's an excellent shot and even better with a pistol. It's a clever spoof with some dry moments, but overall it's one of the old west's better comedies.

Fury Review


Extraordinary
One of the greats of its era, Fritz Lang's Fury is a bitter indictment of mob politics, with the inimitable Spencer Tracy in the role of an innocent man swept up in by lynch mob for a crime he didn't commit. Horrifying and extremely well-made, Fury belies its age with insight into the human psyche that is more relevant today than ever. Lang, as a refugee to America from Naxi Germany, knew what he was talking about. This is one to savor for the ages.
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