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Midnight Cowboy is a 1969 drama film based on the 1965 novel of the same name by James Leo Herlihy. It was directed by the British director John Schlesinger who had directed previously Julie Cristie in the much critically acclaimed Darling (1965)). Dustin Hoffman took a calculated risk in accepting the role of Ratzo. The lead role was however played by then-newcomer Jon Voight. (For Hoffman, the role enabled him to avoid any typecasting: such a vast contrast in the role of Benjamin in The Graduate from Rizzo ‘Ratzo’ established him as an actor of considerable dramatic range. Voight went on to have a long, respectable acting career himself, with roles in Catch-22, Deliverance, Conrack, The Champ, Coming Home, National Treasure and other movies.)
Notable smaller roles are filled by Sylvia Miles, John McGiver, Brenda Vaccaro, and Barnard Hughes. The film won three Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. it is the only X-rated film to win an Oscar in any category.
The film follows the story of a modern day Candide whose unbounded optimism is expressed around his sexual prowess. He is young and a Texan named Joe Buck (Jon Voight). We see him at the beginning of the film washing dishes in a diner. He wishes to leave the restaurant, declaring to a workmate, “What the hell have I got to sit around here for?” He dresses himself like a rodeo cowboy, packs a suitcase, and quits his job. He heads to New York City in the hope of making it rich as a “kept” man. He tells people he meets, “I ain’t a for-real cowboy, but I am one hell of a stud!”He is completely amoral and holds no gender preferences. He is willing to serve old goats or hags provided  they throw their money to keep him well heeled.
The events of Joe’s life are told in mostly chronological order, interspersed by flashbacks. Much of the film is taken up with his vicissitudes and his disenchantment with the reality of New York that he found there. The movie is set out as a road movie and  veers soon into a buddy movie. In the end Joe when he seems to have found his foothold on the seamier side of the Big Apple sacrifices it all for the sake of his friend and leaves for Florida. On reaching the destination he is honest enough to admit that he could build a more scaled down dream there.
Joe throws away his cowboy outfit, and declares “I ain’t no kinda hustler.”

Director’s Art
This film ultimately is the showcase for the directorial brilliance of John Schlesinger. It also brings to light the difference in the presentation of two mediums: the book is in three parts, in which the first part deals with the rearing of Joe Buck while the second part concerns with the picaresque journey of the naïve Texan and the predatory aspect of the Metropolis for the unwary. The third part begins with a Warholesque party and Joe Buck’s first success in hustling. The book ends with his trip, which ends in Miami.
The film altogether skips the first part and brings certain salient aspects of his life prior to boarding the greyhound bus in a series of flashbacks. Only 15 minutes of the movie has elapsed since he alights in New York. By cutting and compressing two fifths of the book Schlesinger changed central focus of the book. In his visual invention and emphasis he brings home an insight which is more his own. If the book is woven around Joe Buck, whose dream is crushed by the reality the film underscores more of the friendship between two losers, that of Joe and Ratso in a hostile environment. John Schlesinger succeeds in presenting their burgeoning friendship without sentimentality: using the cinematic idiom he melds the human predicament with all its folly and amorality with dehumanizing glitzy underbelly of the Metropolis, which is commerce. With an eye for beauty he juxtaposes friendship no matter how unprepossessing their outward circumstances are against nobility of human spirit (represented in their care and compassion) he makes the film as a whole emotionally satisfying.

* Dustin Hoffman as Enrico “Ratso” Rizzo
* Jon Voight as Joe Buck
* Sylvia Miles as Cass
* John McGiver as Mr. O’Daniel
* Brenda Vaccaro as Shirley
* Barnard Hughes as Towny
The line “I’m walkin’ here!”reached #27 on AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Movie Quotes
Directed by     John Schlesinger
Produced by     Jerome Hellman
Written by     James Leo Herlihy
Waldo Salt
Music by     John Barry
Cinematography     Adam Holender
Editing by     Hugh A. Robertson
Distributed by     United Artists
Running time     113 min.

Language     English
Budget     $3.6 million
Gross revenue     $44,785,053

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According to the film critic Roger Ebert ‘The movie’s simplistic approach to mental illness is not really a fault of the movie, because it has no interest in being about insanity. It is about a free spirit in a closed system’. But when Forman-Saentz team who gave us Amadeus have had dealt with Ken Kesey’s book of the same title(1962) the film became a top hit. The movie was the first to win all five major Academy Awards (Best Picture, Actor in Lead Role, Actress in Lead Role, Director, Screenplay) since It Happened One Night in 1934, an accomplishment not repeated until 1991, by The Silence of the Lambs.
The movie was filmed at Oregon State Hospital in Salem, Oregon, which was the setting of the novel.


Randle Patrick McMurphy (Jack Nicholson), a recidivist criminal serving a short prison term on a work farm for statutory rape, is transferred to a mental institution little does he know what is in store for him there. He had manipulated the system for such a transfer where he’ll now be able to serve out the rest of his sentence in relative comfort and ease.

His ward in the mental institution is run by Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher), a nasty villain whom you love to hate.( Nurse Ratched is currently rated #7 on the Internet Movie Database list of 50 Greatest Villains).
She doesn’t lashout or whip whom she wishes to bring to heel. Mostly her patients are “voluntary” patients anyway,- who are there by choice. While McMurphy initially has little respect for his fellow patients, his antiauthoritarian nature is aroused. What began as a little fun, to bring down her a peg or two,- strictly for laughs is gradually ratcheted into a fullblown fight on his part for the hearts and minds of the patients. She could take him on calmly since she represents authority: when he finds out only later that Ratched has the power to keep him there indefinitely we begin to see beyond his criminal record and learn to sympathizea little with him. He represents like you and me an individual and not a depersonalized number bristling at the unfair way she has stacked all the chips in her favour. Rather than have him transferred, Ratched sees his behavior as a personal affront and becomes obsessed with winning this contest.

McMurphy gradually forms deep friendships in the ward with a group of men which includes Billy Bibbit (Brad Dourif), a suicidal, stuttering and helpless young man whom Ratched has humiliated and dominated, and “Chief” Bromden (Will Sampson), a 6’ 5” muscular Native American. Believed by the patients to be deaf and unable to speak, Chief is mostly ignored and he becomes his only real confidant, as they both see their struggles against authority in similar terms.

McMurphy at first uses the chief as an advantage (for example, in playing basketball). Later, they and patient Charlie Cheswick (Sydney Lassick) are detained for being involved in a fight with the ward attendants. Cheswick undergoes electroshock therapy, while McMurphy and Chief wait their turn on a bench. While they wait, McMurphy offers Chief a piece of Juicy Fruit gum, and Bromden verbally thanks him. A surprised McMurphy discovers that Chief uses his’debility’ as a weapon against the authority. He rebels as McMurphy but in a different way. McMurphy hatches a plan that will allow himself and Bromden to escape. Following his “therapy,” McMurphy jokingly feigns catatonia before assuring his cohorts and Nurse Ratched that the attempt to subdue him didn’t work.

One night McMurphy sneaks into the nurse’s station and calls his girlfriend, Candy, and tells her to bring booze. He also takes Billy along. Another woman tags along and both enter the ward after McMurphy bribes the night watchman, Mr. Turkle (Scatman Crothers). They are found out probably because of the extant neuroleptic drugs (Thorazine, etc.) in their systems.

When Nurse Ratched arrives the next morning she commands the attendants to clean up the patients and conduct a head count. Billy is found in a room sleeping with Candy. When he announces that he is not ashamed with what he done, Nurse Ratched then threatens that she will tell his mother about it. Billy breaks down, and after being carried into the doctor’s office, kills himself by slitting his throat. McMurphy, furious tries to strangle her. McMurphy is subdued and taken away again.

A few days later, the patients are seen playing cards as usual. Nurse Ratched, her vocal cords damaged by McMurphy’s previous attack, is forced to speak through a microphone for the patients to hear her, and finds that she is now no longer able to intimidate them. Later that night, Chief Bromden sees McMurphy being returned to his bed. When the Chief approaches him, he finds to his horror that he has been given a lobotomy. Unwilling to leave McMurphy behind, the Chief suffocates his neurologically disabled friend with a pillow. He follows Randle’s plan for escape by heroically hoisting a very heavy hydrotherapy control panel (which McMurphy had tried to lift earlier) and hurling it through a barred window. He is last seen fleeing the institution.


Kirk Douglas originated the role of McMurphy in a stage production, and then bought the film rights, hoping to play McMurphy on the screen. He passed the production rights to his son, Michael Douglas, who decided his father was too old for the role. Kirk was reportedly angry at his son for a time afterwards because of this. Marlon Brando and Gene Hackman were considered to play the lead.

The role of domineering Nurse Ratched was turned down by six actresses, Anne Bancroft, Colleen Dewhurst, Geraldine Page, Ellen Burstyn, Jane Fonda, and Angela Lansbury, until Louise Fletcher accepted casting only a week before filming began.
Actor     Role
Jack Nicholson     Randle Patrick McMurphy
Louise Fletcher     Nurse Mildred “Big Nurse” Ratched
William Redfield     Dale Harding
Dean R. Brooks     Dr. John Spivey
Scatman Crothers     Orderly Turkle
Danny DeVito     Martini
William Duell     Jim Sefelt
Brad Dourif     Billy Bibbit
Christopher Lloyd     Jim Taber
Will Sampson     Chief Bromden
Vincent Schiavelli     Frederickson
Nathan George     Attendant Washington
Sydney Lassick     Charlie Cheswick
Louisa Moritz     Rose

The film marked the film debuts of Sampson, Dourif and Lloyd. It was one of the first films for DeVito. (DeVito and Lloyd co-starred several years later on the television series Taxi.)
Directed by     Miloš Forman
Produced by     Michael Douglas
Saul Zaentz
Written by     screenplay by Lawrence Hauben
Bo Goldman
based on the novel by Ken Kesey
Music by     Jack Nitzsche
Cinematography     Haskell Wexler
Editing by     Sheldon Kahn
Lynzee Klingman
Running time     133 min.
Country     United States
Language     English
Budget     $4,400,000
Gross revenue     $112,000,000

Title interpretation

The title is derived from an American children’s folk rhyme.

Wire, briar, limber-lock
Three geese in a flock
One flew east, one flew west
And one flew over the cuckoo’s nest

It loses a bit of the significance it has in the novel, where it is part of a rhyme Chief Bromden remembers from his childhood. This detail was not included in the film.
Memorable Quotes:
McMurphy: Which one of you nuts has got any guts?
McMurphy: That’s right, Mr. Martini. There is an Easter Bunny.
Chief Bromden: My pop was real big. He did like he pleased. That’s why everybody worked on him. The last time I seen my father, he was blind and diseased from drinking. And every time he put the bottle to his mouth, he don’t suck out of it, it sucks out of him until he shrunk so wrinkled and yellow even the dogs didn’t know him.
McMurphy: Killed him, huh?
Chief Bromden: I’m not saying they killed him. They just worked on him. The way they’re working on you.
McMurphy: I must be crazy to be in a loony bin like this.
McMurphy: I’m a goddamn marvel of modern science.
Taber: Jack Dumpey’s full of shit!
[McMurphy is pretending to watch the World Series on TV]
McMurphy: Someone get me a fucking wiener before I die.
Nurse Ratched: Aren’t you ashamed?
Billy: No, I’m not.
[Applause from friends]
Nurse Ratched: You know Billy, what worries me is how your mother is going to take this.
Billy: Um, um, well, y-y-y-you d-d-d-don’t have to t-t-t-tell her, Miss Ratched.
Nurse Ratched: I don’t have to tell her? Your mother and I are old friends. You know that.
Billy: P-p-p-please d-d-don’t tell my m-m-m-mother.
McMurphy: A little dab’ll do ya.
McMurphy: What are you doin’ here? You oughta be out in a convertible bird-doggin’ chicks and bangin’ beaver.
McMurphy: Is that crazy enough for ya’? Want me to take a shit on the floor?
McMurphy: [about shock treatments] They was giving me ten thousand watts a day, you know, and I’m hot to trot! The next woman takes me on’s gonna light up like a pinball machine and pay off in silver dollars!
McMurphy: She was fifteen years old, going on thirty-five, Doc, and she told me she was eighteen, she was very willing, I practically had to take to sewing my pants shut. Between you and me, uh, she might have been fifteen, but when you get that little red beaver right up there in front of you, I don’t think it’s crazy at all and I don’t think you do either. No man alive could resist that, and that’s why I got into jail to begin with. And now they’re telling me I’m crazy over here because I don’t sit there like a goddamn vegetable. Don’t make a bit of sense to me. If that’s what being crazy is, then I’m senseless, out of it, gone-down-the-road, wacko. But no more, no less, that’s it.
Candy: [innocently] You all crazy?
McMurphy: In one week, I can put a bug so far up her ass, she don’t know whether to shit or wind her wristwatch.
McMurphy: I’m here to cooperate with you a hundred percent. A hundred percent. I’ll be just right down the line with ya’. You watch.
[the inmates are playing cards and betting with cigarettes]
Martini: [rips a cigarette in half] I bet a nickel.
McMurphy: Dime’s the limit, Martini.
Martini: I bet a dime.
[Puts the two halves onto the table]
McMurphy: This is not a dime, Martini. This is a dime.
[shows a whole cigarette]
McMurphy: If you break it in half, you don’t get two nickels, you get shit. Try and smoke it. You understand?
Martini: Yes.
McMurphy: You don’t understand.
McMurphy: What do you think you are, for Chrissake, crazy or somethin’? Well you’re not! You’re not! You’re no crazier than the average asshole out walkin’ around on the streets and that’s it.
McMurphy: Why don’t ya shut your goddamn mouth and play some music.
[McMurphy, getting Chief into the basketball game]
McMurphy: Hit me, Chief, I got the moves!
Nurse Ratched: If Mr. McMurphy doesn’t want to take his medication orally, I’m sure we can arrange that he can have it some other way. But I don’t think that he would like it.
[McMurphy turns around to see Harding smiling at him]
McMurphy: Heh, YOU’D like it, wouldn’t you?
[to Harding, regarding the pills]
McMurphy: Here, give it to me
Chief Bromden: Mmmmmm, Juicy Fruit.
[about Nurse Ratched]
McMurphy: Well I don’t wanna break up the meeting or nothin’, but she’s somethin’ of a cunt, ain’t she Doc?
Dr. Spivey: Well, the real reason that you’ve been sent over here is because they wanted you to be evaluated… to determine whether or not you are mentally ill. This is the real reason. Why do you think they might think that?
McMurphy: Well, as near as I can figure out, it’s ’cause I, uh, fight and fuck too much.
McMurphy: Get out of my way son, you’re usin’ my oxygen.
McMurphy: Nurse Ratched, Nurse Ratched! The Chief voted! Now will you please turn on the television set?
Nurse Ratched: [she opens the glass window] Mr. McMurphy, the meeting was adjourned and the vote was closed.
McMurphy: But the vote was 10 to 8. The Chief, he’s got his hand up! Look!
Nurse Ratched: No, Mr. McMurphy. When the meeting was adjourned, the vote was 9 to 9.
McMurphy: [exasperated] Aw come on, you’re not gonna say that now! You’re not gonna say that now! You’re gonna pull that hen house shit? Now when the vote… the Chief just voted – it was 10 to 9. Now I want that television set turned on *right now*!
[Nurse Ratched closes the glass window]
McMurphy: You’re not an idiot. Huh! You’re not a goddamn looney now, boy. You’re a fisherman!
Nurse Pilbow: Don’t get upset, Mr. McMurphy.
McMurphy: I’m not getting upset, Nurse Pilbow. I just don’t want anyone to slip me salt peter!
[telling McMurphy about Chief]
Billy: He-he-he can’t hear you. He’s a d-d-deaf and d-d-dumb Indian.
McMurphy: [pointing to naked woman on playing card] Where do you suppose she lives?
McMurphy: We’re just having a little party.
Orderly Turkle: Party my ass, this ain’t no nightclub!
Night Nurse: Mr. Turkle?
McMurphy: Where the fuck is he, why doesn’t he answer her?
Taber: He’s jerkin’ off somewhere.
Orderly Turkle: Ain’t no one jerkin’ off nowhere muthafucker!
McMurphy: Turkle what the fuck are you doing in here? Go out and talk to her.
Orderly Turkle: I’m doin’ the same fuckin’ thing your doin’- hidin’!
[last lines]
Chief Bromden: Mac… they said you escaped. I knew you wouldn’t leave without me. I was waiting for you. Now we can make it, Mac; I feel big as a damn mountain.
[he suddenly sees the lobotomy scars]
Chief Bromden: Oh, no…
Chief Bromden: [embracing McMurphy] I’m not goin’ without you, Mac. I wouldn’t leave you this way… You’re coming with me.
Chief Bromden: [laying him down] Let’s go.
McMurphy: But I tried, didn’t I? Goddamnit, at least I did that.
McMurphy: Who’s the head bull-goose loony around here?
Orderly Turkle: Oh shit, the supervisor!
Nurse Ratched: Your hand is staining my window.
McMurphy: Jesus Christ! D’you nuts wanna play cards or do ya wanna fuckin’ jerk off?
McMurphy: Koufax looks down! He’s looking at the great Mickey Mantle now! Here comes the pitch! Mantle swings! It’s a fucking home run!
[loud cheering from the patients]
Young Psychiatrist: Have you ever heard of the old saying “a rolling stone gathers no moss?”
McMurphy: Yeah.
Young Psychiatrist: Does that mean something to you?
McMurphy: Uh… tt’s the same as “don’t wash your dirty underwear in public.”
Young Psychiatrist: I’m not sure I understand what you mean.
McMurphy: [smiling] I’m smarter than him, ain’t I?
McMurphy: Well, that sort of has always meant, is, uh, it’s hard for something to grow on something that’s moving.
Psychiatrist: Dr. Sanji?
Dr. Sanji: I don’t think he’s overly psychotic, but, I still think he’s quite sick.
Psychiatrist: You think he’s dangerous?
Dr. Sanji: Absolutely so.
McMurphy: [pretending to watch the World Series on TV] Koufax… Koufax kicks. He delivers. It’s up the middle! It’s a base hit! Richardson is rounding first. He’s going for second. The ball’s into deep right center. Davis cuts the ball off! Here comes the throw. He throws it to second! He slides! He’s in there! He’s safe! It’s a double.! Richardson’s on second base!
[McMurphy gets up as the other patients come to see what he's doing]
McMurphy: Koufax is in big fucking trouble! Big trouble, baby! All right. Tresh is the next batter. Tresh looks in. Koufax… Koufax gets a sign from Roseboro. He kicks once. He pumps. He fires. It’s a strike! Koufax’s curve ball is snapping off like a fucking firecracker! All right, here he comes with the next pitch. Tresh swings. It’s a long fly ball to deep left center!
[patients cheer]
McMurphy: It’s going! It’s gone! Let’s hear it! One way!
Harding: I’m not just talking about my wife, I’m talking about my LIFE, I can’t seem to get that through to you. I’m not just talking about one person, I’m talking about everybody. I’m talking about form. I’m talking about content. I’m talking about interrelationships. I’m talking about God, the devil, Hell, Heaven. Do you understand… FINALLY?
McMurphy: What are we doing in here, Chief? Huh? What’s us two guys doing in this fucking place? Let’s get out of here. Out.
Chief Bromden: Canada?
McMurphy: Canada. We’ll be there before these sonofabitches know what hit ‘em. Listen to Randall on this one.
McMurphy: When we get to Canada…
McMurphy: I can’t take it no more. I gotta get outta here.
Chief Bromden: I can’t. I just can’t.
McMurphy: It’s easier than you think, Chief.
Chief Bromden: For you, maybe. You’re a lot bigger than me.
Taber: [Taber is picking on Harding as he plays Monopoly with Martini]
[pushing his back]
Taber: Come on, Harding. Play the game. Play it!
Harding: I am playing the game! Stop bothering me! I can’t concentrate!
Taber: [pushing him again] Play the game, Harding. Come on!
Harding: [shouting] You keep your hands off me, YOU SON OF A BITCH!
[first lines]
Attendant Warren: Good morning, Miss Ratched.
Nurse Ratched: Good morning.
Attendant Washington: Good morning, Miss Ratched.
Nurse Ratched: Mr. Washington.
Miller: Morning.
Nurse Ratched: Good morning.
Nurse Pilbow: Good morning, Miss Ratched.
Nurse Ratched: Good morning.
Attendant Washington: Morning, Bancini.
Bancini: Morning.
Attendant Washington: How do you feel?
Bancini: Rested.
Nurse Pilbow: Medication time. Medication time.

*  The role of McMurphy (played by Jack Nicholson) among others was offered to James Caan.

* Many extras were authentic mental patients.

* Louise Fletcher was signed a week before filming began, after auditioning repeatedly over six months; director Milos Forman had told her each time that she just wasn’t approaching the part correctly, but kept calling her back.

* Danny DeVito reprised his performance from a 1971 off-Broadway revival.

* The cast and crew had to become accustomed to working with extras and supporting crew members who were inmates at the Oregon State Mental Hospital; each member of the professional cast and crew inevitably worked closely with at least two or three mental patients.

* Most of Jack Nicholson’s scene with Dean R. Brooks upon arriving at the hospital was improvised – including his slamming a stapler, asking about a fishing photo, and discussing his rape conviction; Brooks’s reactions were authentic.

* Before shooting began, director Milos Forman screened the film Titicut Follies (1967) for the cast to help them get a feel for life in a mental institution.

* Mel Lambert, who played the harbor master, was a local businessman rather than an actor; he had a strong relationship with Native Americans throughout the area, and it was he who suggested Will Sampson for the role of Chief Bromden.

* With the exception of the fishing segment (which was filmed last), the film was shot in sequence.

* Director Milos Forman relied heavily on reaction shots to pull more characters into scenes. In some group therapy scenes, there were ten minutes of Jack Nicholson’s reactions filmed even if he had very little dialogue. The shot of Louise Fletcher looking icily at Nicholson after he returns from shock therapy was actually her irritated reaction to a piece of direction from Forman.

* The script called for McMurphy to leap on a guard and kiss him when first arriving at the hospital. During filming, director Milos Forman decided that the guard’s reaction wasn’t strong enough and told Nicholson to jump on the other guard instead. This surprised the actor playing the second guard greatly, and in some versions he can be seen punching Nicholson.

* Ken Kesey, who wrote the original novel, said he would never watch the movie version and even sued the movie’s producers because it wasn’t shown from Chief Bromden’s perspective (as the novel is).

* Cameo: [Saul Zaentz] [- the film's producer appears as a man at the inmates' bus outing.]

* Cameo: [Anjelica Huston] Jack Nicholson’s one-time girlfriend appears as one of the crowd on the pier as the fishing excursion returns.

* Louise Fletcher only realized that the part of Nurse Ratched was a hotly contested role among all the leading actresses of the day when a reporter visiting the set happened to casually mention it.

* This story was based on author Ken Kesey’s experiences while working at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Palo Alto, California.

* The fishing trip sequence was filmed at Depoe Bay, Oregon – the smallest harbor in the world.

* In order to produce the film, Michael Douglas quit the show “The Streets of San Francisco” (1972).

* Though veteran cinematographer Haskell Wexler is credited here as DP, he was actually replaced by Bill Butler early in the shoot due to various creative differences with producer Michael Douglas.

* During most of the film’s shooting, William Redfield was ill. He died several months after the film was completed.

* According to Michael Douglas, director Milos Forman had his heart set on Burt Reynolds to play the part of McMurphy.

* The musical theme by Jack Nitzsche played during the opening and closing was based on the chord structure of the song “Please Release Me”.

* Lily Tomlin wanted to play Nurse Ratched, but was committed at the time to Nashville (1975).

* In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked this as the #33 Greatest Movie of All Time.

* During filming, a crew member running cables left a second story window open at the Oregon State Mental Hospital and an actual patient climbed through the bars and fell to the ground, injuring himself. The next day The Statesman Journal in Salem, Oregon reported the incident with the headline on the front page “One flew OUT of the cuckoo’s nest”.

* During production, Nicholson and Forman spoke to each other through the cinematographer, but faked a friendly relationship when the media and studio personnel would show up to the set.

* Milos Forman had considered Shelley Duvall for the role of Candy. While screening Thieves Like Us (1974) to see if she was right for the role, he became interested in Louise Fletcher, who had a supporting role, and decided to cast her as Nurse Ratched.

* Louise Fletcher was so upset with the fact that the other actors could laugh and be happy while she had to be so cold and heartless that near the end of production she removed her dress and stood in only her panties to prove to the actors she was not “a cold-hearted monster”.

* Will Sampson, who plays Chief Bromden, was a park ranger in Oregon in a park near where the movie was filmed. He was selected for the part because he was the only Native American the Casting Department could find who matched the character’s incredible size.

* Kirk Douglas starred in the 1963 Broadway production after buying the film rights prior to publication. Kirk had met Milos Forman in Prague while on a State Department tour and promised to send him the book after deciding he would be a good director for the film; the book never arrived, probably confiscated by censors of the Czech government, which was Communist at the time. Ken Kesey wrote a screenplay for the production, but Forman rejected it because Kesey insisted on keeping Chief Bromden’s first-person narration.

* During the ECT scene, McMurphy says “A little dab will do ya” as the nurse is putting conductor gel on the side of his head. This phrase, not in the original script, is a reference to the advertising jingle of Brylcreem hair cream, which was a popular hair care product for men in the 1960s and 1970s.

The film went on to win a total of five Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Jack Nicholson (who played McMurphy), Best Actress for Louise Fletcher (who played Nurse Ratched), Best Direction for Miloš Forman, Best Picture, and Best Adapted Screenplay for Laurence Hauben and Bo Goldman.

Today, the film is considered to be one of the greatest American films and is ranked at number 33 on the American Film Institute’s list of AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Movies.
( Ack:imdb,filmsite,wikipedia)

check out Loves of a blonde, another Forman film cinebuff.wordpress.com

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The 1932 publication of Charles Nordhoff and James Norton Hall’s Mutiny on the Bounty sparked a revival of interest in the  1789 ship mutiny, and MGM studio with their policy of bringing famous literature to celluloid bought the film rights. This 1935 MGM movie version won the Oscar for Best Picture. The movie chronicles the real-life mutiny aboard the Bounty and its aftermath in a series of trials. The film was one of the biggest hits of its time and remains a classic today.

Was the ship’s captain, William Bligh really a villain? Bligh is depicted as a brutal, sadistic disciplinarian. Particular episodes include a keelhauling and flogging a dead man. Neither of these happened. Keel hauling was used rarely if at all and had been abandoned long before Bligh’s time. Indeed the meticulous record of the Bounty’s log reveals that the flogging rate was lower than the average for that time. There are quite a few  historical inaccuracies that however do not detract the appeal of this movie over the audience.

Clark Gable stars as Fletcher Christian, first mate of the infamous HMS Bounty, skippered by Captain William Bligh (Charles Laughton), the cruelest taskmaster on the Seven Seas. Bligh’s villainy knows no bounds: he is even willing to flog a dead man if it will strengthen his hold over the crew. Christian despises Bligh and is sailing on the Bounty under protest. During the journey back to England, Bligh’s cruelties become more than Christian can bear; and after the captain indirectly causes the death of the ship’s doctor, the crew stages a mutiny, with Christian in charge. Bligh and a handful of officers loyal to him are set adrift in an open boat. Through sheer force of will, he guides the tiny vessel on a 49-day, 4000-mile journey to the Dutch East Indies without losing a man. No small feat for a pedantic, unimaginative sea-captain! The movie struck gold at the box office, and, in addition to the Best Picture Oscar, Gable, Laughton, and Franchot Tone as one of the Bounty’s crew were all nominated for Best Actor (they all lost to Victor McLaglan in The Informer). The film was adapted into the “revisionist” 1984 feature The Bounty with Mel Gibson as Fletcher Christian and Anthony Hopkins as Captain Bligh.
Although its historical accuracy has been seriously questioned (inevitable as it is based in a novel about the facts, not the facts themselves) it is considered by film critics to be the best film inspired by the mutiny.
A 1962 three-hours-plus widescreen Technicolor remake, starring Marlon Brando as Fletcher Christian and Trevor Howard as Captain Bligh, was a disaster both critically and financially at the time, but has come to be reevaluated by critics for being closer to the facts.

(ack: Hal Erickson)

Similar Movies
Billy Budd  (1962, Peter Ustinov)
Damn the Defiant!  (1962, Lewis Gilbert)
His Majesty O’Keefe  (1953, Byron Haskin)
The Hurricane  (1937, John Ford, Stuart Heisler)
The Sea Wolf  (1941, Michael Curtiz)
Treasure Island  (1934, Victor Fleming)
Across to Singapore  (1928, William Nigh)
Mutiny  (1952, Edward Dmytryk)
Red River  (1948, Howard Hawks)
Movies with the Same Personnel
Forever and a Day  (1943, René Clair, Edmund Goulding, Cedric Hardwicke, Victor Saville, Kent Smith, Robert Stevenson, Herbert Wilcox, Frank Lloyd)
The Charge of the Light Brigade  (1936, Michael Curtiz)
China Seas  (1935, Tay Garnett)
Captain Blood  (1935, Michael Curtiz)
The Mystery of Mr. X  (1934, Edgar Selwyn)
The Adventures of Robin Hood  (1938, Michael Curtiz, William Keighley)
The Man on the Eiffel Tower  (1949, Burgess Meredith)
The Pearl of Death  (1944, Roy William Neill)
Other Related Movies
The Bounty  (1984, Roger Donaldson)
The Caine Mutiny  (1954, Edward Dmytryk)
Mutiny on the Bounty  (1962, Lewis Milestone)
You Are There: Mr. Christian Seizes The Bounty
Biography: Captain Bligh – Mutiny on the Bounty

Cast and Other details:

Directed by     Frank Lloyd
Produced by     Irving Thalberg
Written by     Charles Nordhoff and
James Norman Hall (novel)
Talbot Jennings
Jules Furthman
Carey Wilson
Starring     Charles Laughton
Clark Gable
Franchot Tone
Music by     Herbert Stothart
Cinematography     Arthur Edeson
Editing by     Margaret Booth
Distributed by     Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date(s)     November 8, 1935
Running time     132 min.
Country     USA
Language     English
Mutiny on the Bounty, won an Oscar for Best Picture and also received seven additional Academy Award nominations:

* Best Actor in a Leading Role -
o Clark Gable
o Charles Laughton
o Franchot Tone
* Best Director – Frank Lloyd
* Best Film Editing – Margaret Booth
* Best Music, Score – Nat W. Finston (head of department) and Herbert Stothart (“Love Song of Tahiti” written by Walter Jurmann, uncredited)
* Best Writing, Screenplay – Jules Furthman, Talbot Jennings and Carey Wilson
Historical inaccuracies:
Captain Bligh was never on board HMS Pandora, nor was he present at the trial of the mutineers who stayed on Tahiti. At the time he was halfway around the world on a second voyage for breadfruit plants. Fletcher Christian’s father had died many years before Christian’s travels on board the Bounty – the movie shows the elder Christian at the trial. It should be noted though, that the movie was always presented as an adaptation of the Nordhoff and Hall trilogy, which already differed from the actual story of the mutiny.
In the final scene of the film Gable gives a rousing speech to his fellow mutineers speaking of creating a perfect society of free men on Pitcairn away from Bligh and the Navy. The reality was very different. Free from the restraints of Naval discipline the mutineers proved incapable of self government. Pitcairn degenerated into a true hell on earth of drunkenness, rape and ultimately murder. ( The same holds true even this day!?) Apart from John Adams all the mutineers perished, most of them by violence.
Memorable quotes:
Captain William Bligh: During the recent heavy weather, I’ve had the opportunity to watch all of you at work on deck and aloft. You don’t know wood from canvas! And it seems you don’t want to learn! Well, I’ll have to give you a lesson.
Captain William Bligh: What’s your name?
Seaman Thomas Ellison: Thomas Ellison, sir. Pressed into service. I’ve got a wife, a baby!
Captain William Bligh: I asked your name, not the history of your misfortunes.

(ack:allmovie, wikipedia)
Trivia: James Cagney, David Niven, and Dick Haymes were uncredited extras in the movie.
Clark Gable had to shave off his famous moustache because the sailors in the Royal Navy in the eighteenth century had to be clean-shaven. Gable was reluctant to shave it off, though.


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The Philadelphia Story is a romantic comedy film based on a Broadway play of the same name by Philip Barry, the film is about a rich socialite whose wedding plans are complicated by the simultaneous arrival of her ex-husband and a handsome journalist. It is considered one of the best examples of romantic comedy, a genre popular in the 1930s and 1940s. At a time when depicting extramarital affairs was banned in American film a screwball comedy dealing with remarriage in which a couple divorce, flirt with outsiders and then remarry was a useful ploy at a time. The film was a great success.
The Philadelphia heiress Tracy Samantha Lord Haven (Hepburn) throws out her playboy husband C.K. Dexter Haven( Cary Grant) shortly after their marriage. Two years later, Tracy is about to marry respectable nouveau riche George Kittredge(John Howard) whilst Dexter has been working for “Spy” magazine.
Wedding preparations are complicated when she is blackmailed by publisher Sidney Kidd (Henry Daniell) over some incriminating photos exposing the antics of Tracy’s philandering father, Seth (John Halliday). “Spy” must have exclusive rights to the event. Enter the tabloid reporter Macaulay “Mike” Connor (James Stewart) and photographer Elizabeth “Liz” Imbrie (Ruth Hussey) sent by the magazine. Dexter has help in the reporter: Mike Connor frowns on the rich and also drops lines to show his distrust of them.
(” Macaulay Connor: The prettiest sight in this fine pretty world is the privileged class enjoying its privileges”.
) The other one is photographer Liz Imbrie, who has a yen for champagne.
“Elizabeth (Liz) Imbrie: What’s this room? I’ve forgotten my compass.
Macaulay Connor: I’d say, south-by-southwest parlor-by-living-room”.
With such spoilers who are out to peel that rich snooty veneer off her, Tracy is forced to choose among her past love, her present love, and her new love.

The night before the wedding, Tracy gets drunk for only the second time in her life and takes an impromptu, innocent swim with Mike. When George sees Mike carrying an intoxicated Tracy into the house afterwards (both of them wearing only bathrobes), he thinks the worst, that his bride-to-be has disgraced herself. The next day, he tells her that he was shocked and feels entitled to an explanation before going ahead with the wedding. Tracy takes exception to his lack of faith in her and breaks off the engagement. Then she realizes that all the guests have arrived and are waiting for the ceremony to begin. Mike volunteers to marry her (much to Elizabeth’s distress), but Tracy graciously declines. At this point, Dexter makes his successful bid for her hand.
Of course the dialogue is supposedly scintillating, a sample of which is given below.

The play was Hepburn’s first great triumph after several movie flops (including the classic Bringing Up Baby), which had led to her being labeled “box office poison”. Howard Hughes bought the rights to the film as a gift to Hepburn. When Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer decided to make a movie out of it, she stipulated in her contract that the film could not be made unless she was allowed to reprise her stage role. Hepburn initially wanted Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy for the male leads but they were not available. The film earned a Best Actor Academy Award for Stewart in an unusually forceful performance, as the fast-talking reporter smitten with Hepburn.

It was remade in 1956 as a musical titled High Society, starring Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, and Frank Sinatra
Director: George Cukor
Writer: Donald Ogden Stewart
Cary Grant as C. K. Dexter Haven
* Katharine Hepburn as Tracy Lord
* James Stewart as Macaulay Connor
* Ruth Hussey as Elizabeth Imbrie
* John Howard as George Kittredge
* Roland Young as Uncle Willie
* John Halliday as Seth Lord
* Mary Nash as Margaret Lord
* Virginia Weidler as Dinah Lord
* Henry Daniell as Sidney Kidd

Producer: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Cinematographer: Joseph Ruttenberg (director of photography)
Composer: Franz Waxman
Distributed by MGM
(Ack: http://www.imdb.com, wikipedia}

Memorable quotes
Margaret Lord: The course of true love...
Macaulay Connor: …gathers no moss.
George Kittredge: [walks in on Tracy and Dexter together] Well, I suppose I should object to this twosome.
C. K. Dexter Haven: That would be most objectionable.
Tracy Lord: [Tracy and Mike have almost kissed. Both are very drunk] Has your mind taken hold again, dear professor?
Macaulay Connor: Good thing, don’t you agree?
Tracy Lord: No, professor.
Macaulay Connor: [angrily] Alright, lay off that “professor” stuff! Now, do you hear me?
Tracy Lord: Yes, professor
Macaulay Connor: Doggone it, C.K. Dexter Haven. Either I’m gonna sock you or you’re gonna sock me.
C. K. Dexter Haven: Shall we toss a coin?
[Dexter has just proposed]
Tracy Lord: Oh Dexter you’re not doing it just to soften the blow?
C. K. Dexter Haven: No.
Tracy Lord: Nor to save my face?
C. K. Dexter Haven: Oh, it’s a nice little face.


In the original Broadway play Joseph Cotton played the Cary Grant role while Van Heflin did the James Stewart role.
Stewart had been extremely nervous to do the scene in which Conner recites poetry to Tracy and believed that he would perform badly. Coincidentally, Noel Coward was visiting the set that day and was advised by director George Cukor to say something that would encourage Stewart. Coward said, offhandedly, “Did I mention I think you’re a fantastic actor?” Stewart performed the scene unforgettably well. (Courtesy IMDB)
The film was shot in eight weeks with no requirement for retakes. On one instance, James Stewart slipped in his hiccuping during the drunk scene. Grant turned to him, surprised, and said “Excuse me.” The scene only had to be shot once. (Courtesy TCM).
The character of Tracy Lord was inspired by Helen Hope Montgomery Scott (1904-1995), a Philadelphia socialite, known for her hijinks, who married a friend of playwright Philip Barry

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The idea of conflict between good and evil is central to this film and the US-Mexico divide in which the drama is played out merely is a geographical divide, and not necessarily to be taken for a moral divide. Having said this let me introduce Mr. Big and he is evil incarnate and he is also a pro. Quinlan exudes the stench of corruption from every pore of his distended, heaving carcass, yet his fellow officers are in awe of him because of his reputation. He short-cuts moral quotient if he could attain his ends. Thus he is also a pragmatist. The twist is that his outlook has been poisoned since the brutal murder of his wife, decades ago. The constant pain fuels a personal vendetta. This is, of course, no excuse, but it does partly explain the prejudice of Quinlan. Enter the Mexican lawmen Ramon ‘Mike’ Vargas and given an international incident and an unsolved crime the stage is set for sparks to fly. Both Vargas and Quinlan have reputations to protect and when it comes down to a one-on-one duel, both are willing to get their hands dirty. Now all it requires is the genius of Orson Welles to give the film its impact and enduring appeal.

The film opens with its most famous sequence. It’s an audacious, incredible, breathtaking, three-minute, uninterrupted crane tracking shot under the credits (appearing superimposed on the left of the screen). The entire tracking shot covers four blocks from start to finish. In a close-up, hands set an explosive, timed device. A shadowy figure runs and places it in the trunk of a parked convertible. The pounding of bongo drums and blare of brass instruments are heard (Henry Mancini’s score), accompanied by the ticking-tocking of the mechanism on the soundtrack. The camera pulls away sharply, identifying the car’s location – it is parked on a street in a seedy Mexican border town. An unsuspecting, wealthy American man – Rudi Linnekar (the boss of the town) and his giggling, blonde floozy, mistress/girlfriend [later, we learn she is a striptease dancer named Zita] emerge out of the background darkness and get into the car, driving off through the streets toward the US-Mexican border about four blocks away.
Through the tawdry streets Linnekar and Zita roll, until the camera smoothly picks up their passing by Mexican lawman Ramon “Mike” Vargas (Charlton Heston) and his new wife Susan (Janet Leigh). As the newly-weds cross over the border, into the US, they catch up and overtake the automobile. Just a few steps more and the car explodes in a ball of flame, casting harsh shadows. Unfortunately this is an international incident since the bomb was set in Mexico and detonated in America.
Honeymoon plans of Vargas and his wife are now ruined and he sends her to the hotel to await him while he wants to assist the local cops who have arrived at the scene. The cops are awaiting Quinlan (Orson Welles). When he finally arrives from his ranch, with his side-kick Pete Menzies (Joseph Calleia), the dead man’s daughter Marcia Linnekar (Joanna Moore) comes in to identify the remains of her father but Quinlan seems disinterested, dismissing her (with a tail). Finally turning to his fellow officers, after appraising and disregarding Vargas, Quinlan’s twitching nose takes them onto the Mexican side.
Meanwhile, Susan has been waylaid on the way to the hotel by smooth-looking Pancho (Valentin De Vargas), one of the Grandi boys. Allowing herself to be led to greasy crime-boss “Uncle Joe” Grandi (Akim Tamiroff), puts on a brave face. Since his brother is being investigated by Vargas, he wants him to lay off – a request which cuts no ice with Susan. Her husband hasn’t got much time to think about this development though because Quinlan is hot on the trail of a suspect and Vargas wants to be present. The hunch concerns Manelo Sanchez (Victor Millan), a poor Mexican worker who became involved with Marcia, severely upsetting her father. Thus Sanchez had the motive, which is enough for Quinlan. However the discovery of some damning evidence by Pete seals the case, but disturbs Vargas. He is certain that Quinlan is framing Sanchez, though he’ll have to gather some solid proof if he is to prove this (which means leaving Susan to make the best of her situation.)

We see a stunning portrait of corruption and abuse of power in the hulk of Orson Welles. As I said earlier the opening shots sets the mood and tone. Having introduced main characters early on Welles doesn’t slacken his control over its development. This technical brilliance, flaunted so early, is a driving force, opening the door to extensive range of camera angles and superb editing. Links between separate scenes are established with connecting motifs, such as doors opening or a shared musical theme. When combined with the advanced level of spatial choreography (so that every position and movement latches together into a cogent whole), the result is an extraordinary piece of film-making. There is a greater fluidity in his direction helped firmly by the strong theme and acting.

Lastly, the bizarre casting choices made for Touch of Evil show, in retrospect, a certain genius. Welles is perfect, dominating and beyond reproach, sometimes looming over the screen and sometimes shrunken like a doll. In opposition, Heston and Leigh are excellent as the disturbed newly-weds. However, special mentions must be made of Marlene Dietrich, the gypsy fortune-teller Tanya, Dennis Weaver, the motel clerk, Mercedes McCambridge, a butch gang member, and Zsa Zsa Gabor. This eclectic group of performers forms the broad-sweep of this frontier town, a setting where the weird is commonplace and disparate cultures clash. All of this gives Touch of Evil a deliciously tangy flavour, a film noir at its best. Given the unexpected opportunity to direct( since Citizen Kane had sent him to the dog-house as far as Movie moghuls were concerned), Welles grabbed the opportunity and created a masterpiece (foxing the studio executives). As usual he messed up during the editing stage, by letting the film out of his hands (cf. The Magnificent Ambersons), but now we have the chance to see his vision in all of its electrifying glory.
The version of the film that was released in 1958 with 93 minutes of running time (later revised and restored with 15 minutes of additional scenes in 1976), was disowned by director Welles, who was paid $125,000 to direct, re-write, and star in the film. Before its release by Universal International Pictures, some scenes were reshot, and the film was edited, cut and bastardized without his full approval, while he was out of town working on another project.
In 1998, the film was re-edited and/or restored based upon creator Welles’ original, newly-discovered 58 page memo of editing instructions to Universal International boss Ed Muhl. The new version did not contain new footage, but was a reconstructed “quasi-director’s cut” with re-organized, cross-cut scenes (with a total of about 50 changes). The most impressive change was that the legendary opening shot (described below) was seen without obscuring, super-imposed credits, and the blaring, distracting Henry Mancini background music during the elaborate scene was stripped away and replaced by natural source music (from doorways of dives the couple passes, or from car radios). The credits were re-positioned at the end of the sequence. Other changes included: repaired torn shots, restored sound quality, excision of “explanatory scenes” added by the studio, re-positioning and trimming of scenes, and restoration of originally-cut footage. The re-edited version, the fourth version of the film, now runs 111 minutes (compared to 93 minutes in the earliest version).(ack)
Compiler: benny

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One may be pardoned after seeing this movie if he were to ask, “What is the good of harrowing people like that?” This opening line isn’t mine but I am echoing a review of Brooks Atkinson of the play in the NY Times in 1947.’There is no purpose in “Streetcar.” It solves no problems;it arrives at no general moral conclusions. It is the rueful portrait of one person’, a faded Southern belle Blanche DuBois (Vivien Leigh) who comes to visit her pregnant sister, Stella (Kim Hunter), in a seedy section of New Orleans. The predicament of Blanche is not something universal and in tracking her descent (for who like Ophelia fate hasn’t been too kind and has difficulty in separating reality from imaginings) into madness Tennessee Williams sets the stage in so many scenes to be compassionate and prise open poetic truth from that particular case.

In the classic play by Tennessee Williams, brought to the screen by Elia Kazan, Stella’s boorish husband, Stanley Kowalski (Marlon Brando), not only regards Blanche’s aristocratic affectations as a royal pain but also thinks she’s holding out on inheritance money that rightfully belongs to Stella. On the fringes of sanity, Blanche is trying to forget her checkered past and start life anew. Attracted to Stanley’s friend Mitch (Karl Malden), she glosses over the less savory incidents in her past, but she soon discovers that she cannot outrun that past, and the stage is set for her final, brutal confrontation with her brother-in-law.

The movie transcended “filmed theater” to become a groundbreaking Hollywood work. Battling the stringent Production Code, Kazan and Williams made concessions concerning the “perverse” sexual elements of Blanche DuBois’ past, but they retained the crucial rape of “delicate,” old-fashioned Blanche by brutal, Stanley Kowalski, earning the Code’s approval for a film definitively aimed toward adults. Marlon Brando’s performance as the ‘pollack’ Stanley was brilliant. The scene where he demands his rights and howls ‘Stella!’ was electrifying. It burned itself into popular consciousness what with Stella descending the steps slowly in a combination of carnality and doing her duty to her husband though he had wronged her sister and the scene was something elemental. Method-acting “naturalness,” established Brando as the premier purveyor of the then-innovative Method acting style and a striking erotic presence. Brando, Hunter, and Malden had all starred in the original Broadway version. The more traditional Vivien Leigh, replacing Broadway’s Jessica Tandy, similarly flourished as Blanche, while the Oscar-winning art direction, Harry Stradling’s photography, and Alex North’s moody, influential jazz score enhanced the hothouse atmosphere.

The film was nominated for 12 Oscars, including Best Picture, and took home awards for Leigh, Karl Malden, and Kim Hunter, though Brando lost to Humphrey Bogart in The African Queen. It was re-released in 1993 with four minutes of footage that had originally been censored by the Legion of Decency, including close-ups of Hunter’s Stella eyeing Stanley with too much desire. (ack: Hal Erickson)

compiler: benny

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It certainly is. Especially with Christmas in the offing. Capra warms the cockles of our hearts with this much loved classic as Charles Dickens did a century earlier.  Angels and Christmas are now packaged as Christmas spirit comes by an act of will as shallow as a smile. Yet new generations are added to the ideas of self-sacrifice and reward, and an oh so happy ending that could bring any suicide back from the brink. No small achievement if this were true?


Angels are discussing George Bailey (James Stewart), a small town savings and loan proprietor. Life is getting him down and he’s thinking of ending it all. His childhood dreams of travelling the world and doing great things have not been fulfilled.  

    I’m shakin’ the dust of this crummy little town off my feet and I’m gonna see the world. Italy, Greece, the Parthenon, the Coliseum. Then, I’m comin’ back here to go to college and see what they know. And then I’m gonna build things. I’m gonna build airfields, I’m gonna build skyscrapers a hundred stories high, I’m gonna build bridges a mile long…

 He had to sacrifice his chance of going to college for his brother and despite his own aspirations he ended up marrying his childhood sweetheart (Donna Reed) and running the family business in Bedford Falls. Now, thanks to his absent-minded uncle unwittingly giving a pile of money to an unscrupulous banking rival, he’s got money problems and is ready to throw himself from a bridge.

 Enter his appointed guardian angel, Clarence Oddbody (Henry Travers), a trainee hoping to win his wings. Clarence shows George what a terrible place Bedford Falls would be if it hadn’t been for George and his string of good deeds. He’s saved lives, protected the town from the money grubbing banker Potter (Lionel Barrymore), built decent homes for folk and so on and so on.

 When, after Clarence’s intervention, George returns home, the townsfolk are there with thousands of dollars from their savings, just to save George from going to jail. He is back with his family. It’s lovely. A bell tinkles on the Christmas tree.

Zuzu his daughter says: Look, Daddy. Teacher says, every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.

George (grinning): That’s right, that’s right. (He congratulates Clarence, looking upward and giving a wink.) Attaboy, Clarence.

Corny eh? But George has found his own rewards and gifts – life, redemption, and freedom. The swelling sounds of Auld Lang Syne build to a crescendo in an affirmation of life. [The film originally ended with 'Ode to Joy.']

The film doesn’t pretend to be arty or of highbrow. It is as honest as a fart and Frank Capra knew how it could be done as natural without offending the fine sensibilities of others. I mean he let the reprehensible act of Potter, despite stealing money from the Bailey Building and Loan go unpunished — something unusual for the average Hollywood movie at the time. The inclusion of this sop to popular hypocricy would have diluted the film message. Our lives like that of George touch everyone else’s. How the good or bad is repaid is subjective and Capra simply told a story intelligently and straight to the heart.

 This film bombed at the box office which is probably why it won no Oscars despite 5 nominations. Repeated holiday TV showings from the sixties onwards hammered home the point. A lot of people like it now. 

    This is a film that people either love or hate… it’s an unashamed statement to the innate goodness of human nature or alternatively it’s sentimental goo.

    ~ Barry Norman, 100 Best Films of the Century

Director:Frank Capra 

George Bailey: James Stewart

Mary Hatch: Donna Reed

Mr. Potter : Lionel Barrymore

Uncle Billy : Thomas Mitchell

Clarence: Henry Travers

Mrs. Bailey : Beulah Bondi

Ernie: Frank Faylen

Bert: Ward Bond

Violet Bick: Gloria Grahame

Mr. Gower : H.B. Warner

Sam Wainwright : Frank Albertson

 129 minutes

Academy Awards

Won (0)

 Nominated (5)

    * Best Picture

    * Best Actor (James Stewart)

    * Best Director(Frank Capra)

    * Best Sound Recording (John Aalberg)

    * Best Film Editing (William Hornbeck)

 compiler: benny



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The 1951 John Huston classic, set in Africa during WW I was based a novel by C.S. Forester that had been making the Hollywood rounds since its 1935 publication.

German troops set fire to an African village, resulting in the death of an English missionary. His straightlaced sister Rose (Katharine Hepburn), now alone, is taken aboard a riverboat, the African Queen, by its gin-soaked Canadian skipper, Charlie Allnut (Humphrey Bogart). Allnut would love to sit out the war just drinking and smoking, but Rose convinces him otherwise; newly invigorated and desiring revenge, she persuades him to take her downriver where they will try to destroy a German U-boat using homemade torpedoes. Taking an instant, mutual dislike to one another, the two endure rough waters, the presence of German soldiers, and their own bickering to finally fall into one another’s arms. This is classic Huston material–part adventure, part quest–but this time with a pair of characters who’d all but given up on happiness. Bogart (a longtime collaborator with Huston on such classics as The Maltese Falcon and Key Largo and Hepburn have never been better, and support from frequent Huston crony Robert Morley (Beat the Devil, also featuring Bogart) adds some extra dimension and color.

How this movie ever got to be finally made or given the chemistry, bad in most cases, between Huston and his actors, one might think it a miracle that the film became a hit.


The location shoot in the African Congo turned out to be one of the most difficult, most legendary, and most recounted in Hollywood history. To start, the company arrived in Africa without a finished script. James Agee had collaborated with Huston on the screenplay, but a heart attack kept Agee from flying to Africa for the shoot and from writing the film’s ending. Instead, Peter Viertel came in as replacement.

 Imagaine what it is to shoot with a script still in development and to work with a director whose nickname was ‘the monster’. Then the crew had location problems that included sun, rain, snakes, scorpions, crocodiles, tsetse flies, hornets, huge biting black ants, and constant humidity, which created mildew everywhere. Further, the African Queen’s engine had problems, rope would get tangled in its propellers, sound from the generator would interfere with shots. One night the Queen sank, and it took three days to raise the boat and get it ready again. To top it all there also were no toilets except the outhouse back at camp.

The food was OK but the dishes were washed in infected river water, and virtually everyone in the cast and crew got sick – except for Bogart and Huston, which they attributed to the fact that they basically lived on imported Scotch. Bogart later said, “All I ate was baked beans, canned asparagus and Scotch whiskey. Whenever a fly bit Huston or me, it dropped dead.” Inspite of every difficulty posed by ego or location the film still stand out as high adventure as corroborated in Hepburn’s memoir, led by John Huston, a man with a strong but odd personality.

Hepburn and Huston

Hepburn was frustrated with Huston’s lack of interest in discussing the script – which Hepburn thought had major problems – before leaving for Africa. Finally he “ambled” up to her hut one morning and began to talk the script over with her. “We had long and amiable arguments,” wrote Hepburn. “Nothing much was done, really, and I seemed to be happy. I found that I could be quite honest with John about what I thought, and I also found that where I had good ideas he would take them. Where I was just worrying and confusing the issue, he would say, ‘Let it alone.'” One episode in particular won her over for good. The director had been dissatisfied with Hepburn’s performance, finding it too serious-minded. He came calling at her hut one day and suggested that she model her performance on Eleanor Roosevelt – to put on her “society smile” in the face of all adversity. Huston left the hut, and Hepburn sat for a moment before deciding, “that is the goddamnedest best piece of direction I have ever heard.”

For all Huston’s oddities and the pranks that he and Bogart pulled on Hepburn (such as writing dirty words in soap on her mirror), she came to respect his talent deeply.

Hepburn, Bogart, Huston and Agee went on to earn Oscar nominations, and Bogart won the Best Actor Academy Award for the first and only time in his career. “



Columbia originally bought the book as a vehicle for Charles Laughton and his wife Elsa Lanchester. When that duo instead made The Beachcomber (1938), a similar story, the deal fell through. Warner Bros. then bought it for Bette Davis and David Niven, but that deal also unraveled before the property ultimately found its way to Spiegel.

A story of two old people going up and down an African river… Who’s going to be interested in that? You’ll be bankrupt.”


So spoke British producer Alexander Korda to American producer Sam Spiegel upon learning that Spiegel wanted to film The African Queen. Korda wasn’t alone in his skepticism. “It will give John [Huston] the kind of commercial hit he had when he made The Maltese Falcon [1941],” Spiegel boasted to The New Yorker before shooting even began. But Spiegel would turn out to be right: the roughly $1.3 million gamble turned out to be not only a critical success, earning four Oscar nominations, but a huge commercial hit, pulling in $4.3 million in its first release.

Sam Spiegel knew his man: John Huston seemed to thrive on misery of his stars. Simply deciding to shoot in the Congo was one way of torturing everybody. Another example was the scene in which Bogart finds his body entirely covered with leeches (This was actually shot in the studio in London). Bogart insisted on using rubber leeches. Huston refused, and brought a leech-breeder to the studio with a tank full of them. This made Bogart queasy and nervous – qualities Huston wanted for his close-ups. Ultimately, rubber leeches were placed on Bogart, and a close-up of a real leech was shot on the breeder’s chest. Hepburn observed these kinds of incidents, and later wrote of Huston, “I never did see him go to the outhouse. Maybe he never did. Wouldn’t surprise me a bit. Would explain a great deal.”

Additional notes: Peter Viertel later related his run-ins with Huston in his novel White Hunter, Black Heart, a thinly disguised expose of the making of The African Queen and its director who would rather hunt elephants than shoot film. (Clint Eastwood directed a film version of that book in 1990, playing the Huston character himself.) Hepburn’s entertaining 1987 book The Making of the African Queen also details Huston’s obsession with hunting. One day he even convinced Hepburn to join him, and he inadvertently led her into the middle of a herd of wild animals from which they were lucky to escape alive.

 (Ack:–Tom Keogh,Jeremy Arnold)





Producer: Sam Spiegel, John Woolf

Director: John Huston

Screenplay: James Agee, John Huston, Peter Viertel, C.S. Forester (novel)

Cinematography: Jack Cardiff

Film Editing: Ralph Kemplen

Art Direction: Wilfred Shingleton

Music: Allan Gray

Cast: Humphrey Bogart (Charlie Allnut), Katharine Hepburn (Rose Sayer), Robert Morley (Rev. Samuel Sayer), Peter Bull (Captain of Louisa), Theodore Bikel (First Officer), Walter Gotell (Second Officer).

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The greatest of all musicals, a joyful, fast-moving romp of a romantic comedy, which looks both nostalgically and satirically at the earlier days of Hollywood.

After The Wizard of Oz MGM came up with another musical that unlike the Judy Garland movie is for the grown-ups. They asked Screenwriters Adolph Green and Betty Comden to create a story that would make use of a number of songs on which the studio owned the copyright and many of which were written by Arthur Freed, the producer. A lot of the tunes dated from the late twenties, so the writers were inspired to set the story in the transition from silent movies to talkies. If rehashing of some leftover numbers could make the greatest musical the entire credit must go to Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen. Singin in the Rain has great songs, corny nostalgia, amazing dances including the most memorable dance sequence in 100 years of film history.
Story is a trifle. It’s 1927 and matinee idol Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) is a popular movie romantic lead with Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen).

They’re a household name all over the world, like bacon and eggs.

They are in love on screen and, as far as Lina is concerned, in real life – she read it in a magazine. When interviewed at a premiere Don does all the talking. Flashbacks show a mis-match between his recollection and actual events. Lina is not allowed to talk.

What’s wrong with the way I talk? What’s the big idea? Am I dumb or something? Why, I make more money than Calvin Coolidge put together!

Things seem to be going swell when, along comes Jolson with The Jazz Singer, and the silent era is over. Don is OK, he can talk, with some help. Lina has a voice like buzz-saw through marble.

Enter aspiring young actress Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds). Don falls in love with her and she saves the day by dubbing for Lin’s voice on the new talkie, now turned into a musical. [In fact, Reynolds own singing voice wasn't quite up to scratch and some of her singing was dubbed by Betty Boyce.] Naturally, love triumphs at the end and they all live happily ever after – or at least as long as Hollywood marriages typically lasted in the good old days.

The plot is competently acted out and Jean Hagen is particularly good – hence the Oscar nomination. In fact her own speaking voice was fine – it’s said that in some of the scenes where Kathy is dubbing Lina’s voice, Hagen is actually dubbing for Reynolds! Debbie Reynolds, who was only nineteen when the film was made, offered a creditable performance. There’s a nice performance from Madge Blake as a sugary gossip columnist.
The story is merely a spring board for choreography, the heart of the film and we get to see some spectacular dancing, not just from Kelly, but also from Donald O’Connor as Don’s old vaudeville partner, Cosmo Brown. O’Connor’s comic and energetic rendering of Make ‘em Laugh is one of the terpsichorial highlights of the movie, indeed of all films of all time. Another is the ‘Broadway Ballet’ sequence featuring Cyd Charisse and a 25-foot veil. (This sequence cost $600,000 and took six weeks to rehearse and shoot.) Time’s judgement awards the dancing honours to Kelly who bounds and skips through the rain washed street, twirling his umbrella, swinging around lampposts and splashing in and out of puddles. It is inspired, managing to be joyous and dreamlike and comic all at once. Every time you see it you just want to go out and do it yourself.

The concept of a movie within a movie is handled with style and panache, utilising in-jokes, old props and self-effacing remarks which apply to more than just this picture. Especially smooth is the way in which scenes change from the present to the past, or to the movie in production, by gliding through the screen or panning to a new perspective. The acting is both excellent and convincing (for all of the major players) but the real stars of the movie as mentioned earlier are the musical sequences, such as the title song scene where Kelly leaps and tap-dances his way through the puddles. (ack:Damian Cannon, Barry Norman ~ 100 Best Films of the Century


Director: Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen
Don Lockwood: Gene Kelly
Cosmo Brown: Donald O’Connor
Kathy Seldon: Debbie Reynolds
Lina Lamont: Jean Hagen
R.F. Simpson: Millard Mitchell
Zelda Zanders: Rita Moreno
Roscoe Dexter: Douglas Fowley
Dancer: Cyd Charisse
Dora Bailey: Madge Blake
103 minutes
Academy Awards
Won (0)
Nominated (2)

* Best Supporting Actress (Hagen)
* Best Score

check out the other blog of the author:cinebuff.wordpress.com

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This was Sir Carol Reed’s second collaboration with British screenwriter Graham Greene (after The Fallen Idol (1948)) – a clever and original mystery tale simply evoked by one sentence written by Greene: “I saw a man walking down the Strand, whose funeral I had only recently attended.”

The Third Man is a decadent film pure and simple. Before we consider the film in cinematic terms the only reason for being here, we may look at the basic premise of the film: nations are corrupt of which war is a sure sign as much as the murder of an individual for some monetary gain is symptomatic of the darkness of the soul of man.
The story begins with a spoken prologue (“I never knew the old Vienna, before the war. . .”). The shattered postwar city has been divided into French, American, British and Russian zones, each with its own cadre of suspicious officials and it is ample proof with regards to the corruption of man collectively that I stated above. Into this sinkhole of intrigue comes Holly Martins (Joseph Cotton), alcoholic author of pulp Westerns. He has come at the invitation of his college chum Harry Lime. But Lime is being buried when Martins arrives in Vienna. Martins, an American is well meaning but bumbling innocent who does not realize what a murky world he has stumbled into.
How did Lime die? That question is the engine that drives the plot, as Martins plunges deeper into the labrinth of unrelieved moral depravity. ( Perhaps the superb score ‘Harry Lime theme’ played on a zither by Anton Karas was aesthetically necessary to lighten the mood). Where the opening shots show the ‘Blue Danube’ is anything but blue what with a corpse floating among other things we see the climatic shots in a sewer. One may draw conclusion that the film is a kind of descent into hell and it is so.
I suspect the shots mostly used in this film have to do with a world out of joint: more shots are tilted than are held straight; there are fantastic oblique angles. Wide-angle lenses distort faces and locations. And the bizarre lighting makes the city into an expressionist nightmare. (During a stakeout for Lime, a little balloon man wanders onto the scene, and his shadow is a monster three stories high). Choice of Vienna was right on. The action fits the city like a hand slipping on a glove.
Let me get back to the story.

How did Lime die? Martins needs to know and Calloway (Trevor Howard), the British officer in charge, bluntly says Lime was an evil man, and advises Holly to take the next train home. But Harry had a girl named Anna (Alida Valli), who Holly sees at Lime’s grave, and perhaps she has some answers. Certainly Holly has fallen in love with her, although his trusting Yankee heart is no match for her defenses.
‘The emotional heart of the movie is Holly’s infatuation with Anna, who will love Harry and be grateful to him no matter what she learns. The scenes between Holly and Anna are enriched by tiny details, as when they visit Harry’s apartment and she opens a drawer without looking–because she already knows what will be inside. Or the way she sometimes slips and calls Holly “Harry.” Everyone in the movie has trouble with names. Holly calls Calloway “Callahan,” and Dr. Winkle insists on “VINK-ell!” And the name on Harry Lime’s tombstone is wrong, too.
Then there are the faces: Joseph Cotton’s open, naive face contrasts with the “friends” of Harry Lime: the corrupt “Baron” Kurtz (Ernst Deutsch); the shifty Dr. Winkel (Erich Ponto), the ratlike Popescu (Siegfried Breuer). Even the little boy with a rubber ball looks like a wizened imp. The only trusting faces are those of innocents like the hall porter (Paul Hoerbiger) who tells Holly, “There was another man . . . a third man. . .” and the beefy Sgt. Paine (Bernard Lee), Calloway’s aide, who levels the drunken Holly with a shot to the chin and then apologizes. Even the resident exiles are corrupt; Crabbin (Wilfrid Hyde-White), the head of the discussion group, chatters about culture while smoothly maneuvering his mistress out of sight through doors and up stairs.

There are two scenes unforgettable and cinematically most satisfying that I have relished many times over. Reed allows Orson Welles to make the most famous entrance in the history of the movies and the sequence is as follows: the meow of the cat in the doorway, the big shoes, the defiant challenge by Holly, the light in the window, and then the shot, pushing in, on Lime’s face, enigmatic and teasing, as if two college chums had been caught playing a naughty prank.
Next the famous speech comes during an uneasy ride on a giant Ferris wheel; at one point, Lime slides open the door of the car they are riding in, and Holly uneasily wraps an arm around a post. Harry tries to justify himself: ``You know what the fellow said: In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love–they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.” The speech was an off- the cuff bravura delivery of Welles that adds to the film richly. Since then Welles was given a free hand to ad-lib lines and none of which are as memorable as this.

The chase sequence in “The Third Man” is another joining of the right action with the right location. Harry escapes into the sewer system like a cornered rat, and Reed edits the pursuit into long, echoing, empty sewer vistas, and closeups of Lime’s sweaty face, his eyes darting for a way out. Presumably there would be no lights in the Vienna sewers, but there are strong light sources just out of sight behind every corner, throwing elongated shadows, backlighting Harry and his pursuers’.(roger ebert, suntimes)
In the famous closing sequence, a bleak and uncompromising, unromantic ending (bookending the opening scene at the cemetery), Holly leans on a cart and waits on one side of the tree-lined cemetery road for Lime’s loyal, former lover Anna as she leaves Harry’s funeral on foot. Off in the distance, she is walking and approaching toward him down the empty avenue, first a dot, then a shadow, and then a full figure – in an extremely long-held stationary shot. As he seeks in vain for any response from her, she stoically ignores him and continues by, passing him without paying any attention – without a pause, a look, a word, or a gesture. Her defiant response is a simple judgment upon his betrayal of a friend, similar to the attitude of Harry’s unsociable cat. Holly follows her with his eyes, but she stares impassively ahead, walking out of his life and abandoning him. He lights a cigarette as the film fades out to black.

Reed fought with David O. Selznick, his American producer, who wanted to shoot on sets, use an upbeat score and cast Noel Coward as Harry Lime. Reed defied convention by shooting entirely on location in Vienna, where mountains of rubble stood next to gaping bomb craters, and the ruins of empire supported a desperate black market economy. And he insisted on Karas’ zither music (“The Third Man Theme” was one of 1950’s biggest hits). Anton Karas, who was playing in a Vienna beerhouse one night when Reed heard him. The sound is jaunty but without joy, like whistling in the dark. It sets the tone.
“The Third Man” is like the exhausted aftermath of “Casablanca.” Both have heroes who are American exiles, awash in a world of treachery and black market intrigue. Both heroes love a woman battered by the war. But “Casablanca” is bathed in the hope of victory, while “The Third Man” already reflects the Cold War years of paranoia, betrayal and the Bomb. The hero doesn’t get the girl in either movie–but in “Casablanca,” Ilsa stays with the resistance leader to help in his fight, while in “The Third Man” Anna remains loyal to a rat.
Holly Martins: Joseph Cotten Anna Schmidt: Alida Valli Maj. Calloway: Trevor Howard Harry Lime: Orson Welles Porter: Paul Hoerbiger “Baron” Kurtz: Ernst Deutsch Dr. Winkel: Erich Ponto Popescu: Siegfried Breuer Old Woman: Hedwig Bleibtreu Sgt. Paine: Bernard Lee Crabbin: Wilfrid Hyde-White

Directed by Carol Reed. Produced by Alexander Korda, Reed and David O. Selznick. Screenplay by Graham Greene. Photographed by Robert Krasker. Music by Anton Karas. Edited by Oswald Hafenrichter. Running time: 104 minutes.
The black and white, pessimistic film is one of the greatest British thrillers of the post-war era, in the best Alfred Hitchcock tradition, and beautifully produced and directed by Carol Reed. It was voted the #1 British Film of the 20th Century by the esteemed British Film Institute (BFI). It was co-produced by Hungarian-born Alexander Korda and American movie mogul David O. Selznick. Because Korda gave American distribution rights to Selznick (who cut eleven minutes from the original British version), the credits of the US version include Selznick references.
For the movie buffs here is 2 cents worth: Welles and Joseph Cotton earlier teamed up in Citizen Kane 1941 and in The Magnificent Ambersons-1942: Welles wrote and directed Joseph Cotton.
(Ack: Tom Dirks, Eberts)
compiler: benny

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