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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)

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Five Easy Pieces” refers to a book of piano lessons for beginners. But the five classical piano pieces featured in this film are not necessarily “easy”. Since the film is about the central character who is alienated and a misfit I think the five easy pieces could easily be applied to our misguided notion of putting labels to people  according to their  race, color, beliefs, status or politics. What we end up with? If not misfits we are breeding hypocrites. Man is beyond any easy labeling since he as an individual owes no allegiance to anyone but to himself. Alas he has to reckon with society whose impact often makes him either fall in or turn back on it as the central character does.
Five Easy Pieces is a moody, thoughtful character study of an alienated, misfit. He is a drifter and drop-out. It is an unpalatable  story of a rough-neck California oil rigger Robert Dupea (Nicholson) who has turned his back on his well-to-do upbringing. Why does he do it? As he confesses towards the end.  ‘I mean, I move around a lot because things tend to get bad when I stay. And I’m looking…for auspicious beginnings,..’ A tangible proof of his past is his musical talent and it shall haunt him wherever he looks for auspicious beginnings.
He lives with an ignorant, dim-witted but kind-hearted waitress girlfriend Rayette Dipesto (Karen Black) – an aspiring (and awful) country music singer. She constantly chatters and when he is annoyed she has this to say, “If you wouldn’t open your mouth, everything would be just fine.” She pathetically clings to him and smothers him with love although he is unfaithful and not committed to her:

I’ll go out with you, or I’ll stay in with you, or I’ll do anything that you like for me to do, if you tell me that you love me.

He doesn’t feel settled in the common lifestyle of a hot-tempered, Southern California blue-collar, redneck oil rigger, who drinks beer, bowls, listens to country music, and chases easy women. He might reject the cultured affluent atmosphere of his home but its mark on him is indeliable. During traffic gridlock on a California highway, when the oil-rigger leaves his vehicle, on an impulse he jumps up on a truck stalled ahead, and plays Chopin’s Fantasy in F Minor Op.49 on an upright piano found there. He shall carry home wherever he may go and it shall only make him feel alienated all the more.
Give the modern parable of Cain a period of self-imposed exile of twenty years, does he settle down as the original Cain did? While visiting his sister Partita (Lois Smith) in a Los Angeles recording studio, he learns that his father is seriously ill and dying following two strokes. He plans to return to his home in the Pacific Northwest’s Puget Sound area, for a final reconciling visit before he is gone. In a memorable scene in his car, he struggles with himself about whether his girlfriend (now pregnant) should join him or not, fearing being embarrassed by her lack of class or refinement. In the end he decides to take her along. During the car trip north, he gives a lift to an aggressive, complaining lesbian couple, aggressive Palm Apodaca (Helena Kallianiotes) and passive partner Terry Grouse (Toni Basil). The countercultural pair are on their way to Alaska to escape society and because it’s “cleaner.”

The film is most famous for the classic scene of Nicholson’s outburst while ordering a chicken salad sandwich in a diner – symbolic of the 60s generation’s rebellion and alienation during the Vietnam War Era. In this scene in a roadside diner on his way home a live-by-the-rules waitress (Lorna Thayer) stubbornly refuses to serve him a plain omelette (with tomatoes instead of potatoes), a cup of coffee and a side order of wheat toast, because she dryly explains: “No substitutions”:

Dupea: I’d like a plain omelette, no potatoes, tomatoes instead, a cup of coffee, and wheat toast.
Waitress: (She points to the menu) No substitutions.
Dupea: What do you mean? You don’t have any tomatoes?
Waitress: Only what’s on the menu. You can have a number two – a plain omelette. It comes with cottage fries and rolls.
Dupea: Yeah, I know what it comes with. But it’s not what I want.
Waitress: Well, I’ll come back when you make up your mind.
Dupea: Wait a minute. I have made up my mind. I’d like a plain omelette, no potatoes on the plate, a cup of coffee, and a side order of wheat toast.
Waitress: I’m sorry, we don’t have any side orders of toast…an English muffin or a coffee roll.
Dupea: What do you mean you don’t make side orders of toast? You make sandwiches, don’t you?
Waitress: Would you like to talk to the manager?
Dupea: …You’ve got bread and a toaster of some kind?
Waitress: I don’t make the rules.
Dupea: OK, I’ll make it as easy for you as I can. I’d like an omelette, plain, and a chicken salad sandwich on wheat toast, no mayonnaise, no butter, no lettuce. And a cup of coffee.
Waitress: A number two, chicken sal san, hold the butter, the lettuce and the mayonnaise. And a cup of coffee. Anything else?
Dupea: Yeah. Now all you have to do is hold the chicken, bring me the toast, give me a check for the chicken salad sandwich, and you haven’t broken any rules.
Waitress (spitefully): You want me to hold the chicken, huh?
Dupea: I want you to hold it between your knees.
Waitress (turning and telling him to look at the sign that says, “No Substitutions”) Do you see that sign, sir? Yes, you’ll all have to leave. I’m not taking any more of your smartness and sarcasm.
Dupea: You see this sign? (He sweeps all the water glasses and menus off the table.)
His brief stay at home leads him to a fling with the sophisticated, musical wife of his brother (Anspach) but any love between them is impossible as she tells him, ‘You’re a strange person, Robert…A person who has no love for himself, no respect for himself, no love of his friends, family, work, something – how can he ask for love in return?’
His stay in his father’s house proves a fiasco. As he returns home with Rayette, he ignores her observation:

There isn’t anybody gonna look after you AND love you, as good as I do.

In the bleak final sequence, he abandons her in a Gulf gas station without explanation, leaving her with his wallet and car, while he catches a lift from a northbound lumber truck toward Canada and freedom. The driver promises they will travel to an even colder climate and he could borrow a jacket: “Where we’re goin’, it’s gonna get colder than hell.” He responds: “Nah, it’s okay. I’m fine. Fine. I’m fine.”
The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Jack Nicholson), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Karen Black), Best Picture and Best Writing, Story and Screenplay Based on Factual Material or Material Not Previously Published or Produced.

In 2000, Five Easy Pieces was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

Also the notable filmmakers Lars Von Trier, Joel and Ethan Coen, Ingmar Bergman, and the award-winning novelists Cormac McCarthy and William Gaddis have expressed deep admiration for the movie.
The movie’s most famous scene takes place as mentioned earlier in a roadside restaurant where despite appeals to logic and common sense, the waitress adamantly sticks to the rules of the restaurant, so Bobby comes up with a plan of his own as Rayette and their two hitchhikers (played by Toni Basil and Helena Kallianiotes) look on:
Back in the car:

Palm Apodaca: Fantastic that you could figure that all out and lie that down on her so you could come up with a way to get your toast. Fantastic.

Bobby: Yea, well I didn’t get it, did I?

Palm Apodaca: No, but it was very clever. I would’ve just punched her out.


The roadside diner scene is iconic as a metaphor for the rebellious, free spirit of the youth of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Thirty years later Nicholson would perform a scene in the movie About Schmidt which directly drew from this scene.

Directed by     Bob Rafelson
Produced by     Robert Daley
Written by     Carole Eastman
Bob Rafelson
Starring     Jack Nicholson
Karen Black
Cinematography     László Kovács
Distributed by     Columbia Pictures
Running time     96 min.
Language     English
Memorable Quotes:
Palm Apodaca: Hey, follow that truck. They know the best places to stop.
Rayette: That’s an old maid’s tale.
Palm Apodaca: Bullshit! Truck drivers are the only ones that know the best places to stop on the road.
Rayette: Salesmen and cops are the ones. If you’d ever waitressed, honey, you’d know that.
Palm Apodaca: Don’t call me honey, mac.
Rayette: Don’t call me mac, honey.
Palm Apodaca: You know, I read where they, uh, invented this car that runs on, ummm… that runs on, ummm… when you boil water?
Terry: Steam.
Palm Apodaca: Right, steam. A car that you could ride around in and not cause a stink. But do you know they will not even let us have it? Can you believe it? Why? Man! He likes to create a stink! I mean, I’ve seen filth that you wouldn’t believe. Ugh! What a stink! I don’t even want to talk about it.
Palm Apodaca: People. Animals are not like that. They’re always cleaning themselves. Did you ever see, umm… pigeons? Well, he’s always picking on himself and his friends. They’re always picking bugs out of their hair all the time. Monkeys too. Except they do something out in the open that I don’t go for.
Rayette: I’m not.
Bobby: You’re just gonna sit here?
Rayette: Yes.
Bobby: Okay. I hope no one hits on you.
Rayette: I hope they do.
Bobby: That’s dangerous, you know.
Catherine: Riding?
Bobby: Mm-hmm. You play the piano all day and then jump on a horse, you could get cramps.
Bobby: What are you doing screwing around with all this crap?
Catherine: I do not find your language very charming.
Bobby: It isn’t. It’s direct.
Catherine: I’d like you to leave so that I can take a bath. Is that direct?
Bobby: What else do you do?
Catherine: Well, there’s fishing, boating, and concerts on the mainland.
Catherine: I feel funny telling you this. This is really your home. You probably know better than I what there is to do.
Bobby: Nothing.
Catherine: Nothing?
Bobby: Nothing.
Catherine: Well, it must be very boring for you here.
Bobby: That’s right.
Catherine: I find that very hard to comprehend. I don’t think I’ve ever been bored. Excuse me.
Catherine: You’re a strange person, Robert. I mean, what will you come to? If a person has no love for himself, no respect for himself, no love of his friends, family, work, something – how can he ask for love in return? I mean, why should he ask for it?
Betty: That’s a wig you wear, isn’t it?
Bobby: Me?
Betty: Yeah, I told her it was you but that you were wearin’ a wig because on the TV you’re mostly all, uh -
[pats him on the head]
Betty: bald up there!
Bobby: [laughs] Your, your little friend’s real, real sharp. Uh, I don’t, uh, I don’t wear the wig on TV because if you’re gonna be out there in front of two and a half million people, you’ve got to be sincere. I mean, I like to wear it when I’m in bowling alleys and slipping around, stuff like that. I think it gives me a little class. What do you think?
Betty: When I was four, just four years old, I went to my mother and I said, “What’s this hole in my chin?” – I saw this dimple in my chin in the mirror, and didn’t know what it was. And my mother said – get what my mother says – she says, “When you’re born, you go on a assembly line past God, and if He likes you, He says,
[grabs her cheeks with both her hands]
Betty: “You cute little thing!” and you get dimples there. And if He doesn’t like you, He goes,
[presses one finger on her chin]
Betty: “Go away.” So about six months later, my mother found me saying my prayers, and I was going,
[holds one hand over her chin]
Betty: “Now I lay me down to sleep…” My mother says, “What are you covering up your chin for?” And I said, “Because if I cover up the hole, maybe He’ll listen to me.”
Rayette: That was real good, wasn’t it? I finally did it!
Bobby: Great. You throw the big Z’s for 19 frames, and then you throw a strike on the last ball of a losing game. Wonderful. Just wonderful.
[Turns around to bowlers at next lane]
Bobby: Isn’t that wonderful, ladies?
Twinky: Are you talking to us?
Bobby: Wonderful.
Rayette: You love me, Bobby?
Bobby: What do you think?
[they kiss]
Bobby: [out of his car during a traffic jam, yelling at other motorists] Ants! Why don’t we all line up like a goddamned bunch of ants! Its the most beautiful part of the day!
Bobby: You keep on talking about the good life, Elton, ’cause it makes me puke.
Rayette: I’m gonna play it again.
Bobby: You play that thing one more time, I’m gonna melt it down into hairspray.
Rayette: Let me play the other side then.
Bobby: No, Rayette, it’s not a question of sides. It’s a question of musical integrity.
Samia Glavia: …It was just what I was trying to point out…
Bobby: [interrupting] Don’t sit there pointing at her.
Samia Glavia: I beg your pardon.
Bobby: I said don’t point at her, you creep.
Samia Glavia: But I was just telling about…
Bobby: Where do you get the ass to tell anybody anything about class, or who the hell’s got it, or what she typifies? You shouldn’t even be in the same room with her, you pompous celibate… You’re totally full of shit! You’re all full of shit.
Catherine: It’s useless.
Bobby: Look, give me a chance.
Catherine: I’m trying to be delicate with you, but you just won’t understand. I couldn’t go with you. Not just because of Carl and my music, but because of you.
Catherine: You’re a strange person, Robert. I mean, what would it come to? If a person has no love for himself, no respect for himself, no love of his friends, family, work, something… How can he ask for love in return? I mean, why should he ask for it?
Bobby: Living here in this rest home/asylum – that’s what you want?
Catherine: Yes.
Bobby: That will make you happy?
Catherine: I hope it will. Yes.
Catherine: I’m sorry.

List of Five Easy Pieces:

* Chopin – Fantasy in F Minor Op.49, played by Dupea on the back of a moving truck.
* Bach – Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue, played by Dupea’s sister, Partita, in a recording studio.
* Mozart – E-flat Maj. Concerto K.271, played by Dupea’s brother, Carl, and Catherine upon Bobby’s arrival to the island.
* Chopin – Prelude Opus 28 in E Minor no. 4, played by Dupea for Catherine.
* Mozart – Fantasy in D Minor K.397
This was director Bob Rafelson’s second film (and his best work) after he had directed the television pop band the Monkees in the mind-blowing Head (1968), a surrealistic and psychedelic film that was co-written with unemployed actor Jack Nicholson, the major star in this film, and emulated the European New Wave pictures of the era.

This was Jack Nicholson’s first major acting role. His particular delivery of lines is evident here. His acting reminds one of Brando in his younger days. For example his monologue to his dying, paralyzed father in a wheelchair in the cold outdoors, in the film’s most powerful scene. He apologizes for his abandonment of his family and talent, for giving up on his responsibilities, and for not living up to his father’s high ideals, breaking down in tears mid-speech:

I don’t know if you’d be particularly interested in hearing anything about me. My life, I mean… Most of it doesn’t add up to much… that I could relate as a way of life that you’d approve of…I’d like to be able to tell you why, but I don’t really…I mean, I move around a lot because things tend to get bad when I stay. And I’m looking…for auspicious beginnings, I guess…I’m trying to, you know, imagine your half of this conversation…My feeling is, that if you could talk, we probably wouldn’t be talking. That’s pretty much how it got to be before… I left…Are you all right? I don’t know what to say…Tita suggested that we try to…I don’t know. I think that she…seems to feel we’ve got…some understanding to reach…She totally denies the fact that we were never that comfortable with each other to begin with…The best that I can do, is apologize. We both know that I was never really that good at it, anyway…

He finally bows his head, sighs, and admits with sorrow, “I’m sorry it didn’t work out.”

The soundtrack employed five songs by Tammy Wynette, including “Stand By Your Man.”

Similar Movies
Alice’s Restaurant  (1969, Arthur Penn)
Fingers  (1978, James Toback)
Kings of the Road  (1975, Wim Wenders)
You Can Count On Me  (2000, Kenneth Lonergan)
The Last Detail  (1973, Hal Ashby)
Stay Hungry  (1976, Bob Rafelson)
The Drifter  (1966, Alex Matter)
World Traveler  (2001, Bart Freundlich)
The Brown Bunny  (2003, Vincent Gallo)
Adam at 6 a.m.  (1970, Robert Scheerer)
Movies with the Same Personnel
Easy Rider  (1969, Dennis Hopper)
Stay Hungry  (1976, Bob Rafelson)
The King of Marvin Gardens  (1972, Bob Rafelson)
The Postman Always Rings Twice  (1981, Bob Rafelson)
Head  (1968, Bob Rafelson)
On the Nickel  (1980, Ralph Waite, Robert Waite)
The Secret Life of John Chapman  (1976, David Lowell Rich)
Drive, He Said  (1971, Jack Nicholson)
Other Related Movies
is related to:      The King of Marvin Gardens  (1972, Bob Rafelson)
Man Trouble  (1992, Bob Rafelson)

(ack:wikipedia,allmovie, Filmsite.tim dirks)


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The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) is a film about three servicemen trying to readjust their lives after coming home from World War II. This is a companion piece to Mrs Miniver(1942) also by the same director. For a third world audience these films may not seem as much relevant as for the American or British audiences. Nonetheless for a discerning viewer from any culture or milieu it is one of the best 100 films. War kills and maims and those soldiers discharged from their service to the nation return to pick up the thread of their past. Would they ever find a perfect fit of the present or their future?
Samuel Goldwyn was motivated to produce the film after his wife Frances read an 7 August 1944 article in Time magazine about the difficulties experienced by war veterans returning to civilian life. Goldwyn hired former war correspondent MacKinlay Kantor to write the story, which was first published as a book, Glory for Me Robert Sherwood (The Petrified forest) then wrote the screenplay. It was directed by William Wyler, with cinematography by Gregg Toland (Citizen Kane, The Grapes Of Wrath). The film won seven Academy Awards among others, Best Picture, Best Director for the legendary William Wyler, Best Actor for March, and Best Supporting Actor for Harold Russell, a real-life double amputee whose hands had been blown off in a training accident.

After World War II, demobilized servicemen Fred Derry (Dana Andrews), Homer Parrish (Harold Russell), and Al Stephenson (Frederic March) meet while hitching a ride home in a bomber to Boone City, a fictional Midwestern city, patterned after Cincinnati, Ohio.[3] Fred was an Army Air Forces captain and bombardier with the Eighth Air Force in Europe, awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism during a mission. Homer had been in the Navy, losing both of his hands from burns suffered when his aircraft carrier was sunk. Al served as an infantry sergeant in the 25th Infantry Division, fighting in the Pacific.
Al had, prior to the war worked as a loan officer for the Corn Belt Savings and Loan bank in Boone City. Though a mature man with a loving family, his patient wife Milly (Myrna Loy), adult daughter Peggy (Teresa Wright) and son Rob, he has trouble readjusting to civilian life, as do his two chance acquaintances.

The bank, anticipating an increase in loans to returning war veterans, promotes Al to Vice President in charge of the small loan department because of his war experience. However, he has his problems with his boss Mr. Milton (Ray Collins) since his willingness to help veterans is tempered by his experience while his boss wants him not to give them loans without collateral. Before the war, Fred had been an unskilled drugstore soda jerk, having been raised in a poor neighborhood. He had met Marie (Virginia Mayo) while in training and married her shortly afterward. She is ambitious and they have now conflicts since she does not relish being married to a soda jerk instead of an officer He does not want to return to his old job, but has no choice, given the stiff competition from other returning veterans and his lack of skills. Their marriage is made impossible after he meets Peggy and falls in love with her. Al tries to dissuade his daughter from her breaking up their marriage without success. To protect Peggy, Al pressures Fred to break off all contact with his daughter. Fred does so, but the friendship between the two men ends.

Homer was a football quarterback before the war. Before leaving to fight, he had become engaged to Wilma (Cathy O’Donnell). When he returns, he finds his handicap as an obstacle. He pushes her away, although she is the one person who has adjusted best to the situation. His uncle Butch (Hoagy Carmichael) owns a bar where he frequents.
Fred loses his job for getting into an altercation with an abusive customer over Homer. Then he discovers his wife with another man and she demands a divorce. Fred decides to leave town. While waiting for a plane, Fred walks around the airport to kill time and wanders into a vast aircraft “boneyard”. Climbing into the nose of a B-17 Flying Fortress, he begins to relive intense memories of combat. He is brought out of his reverie by the boss of a work crew salvaging the aluminum from the airplanes to build pre-fabricated housing. That chance meeting gives him a job.

Wilma tells Homer that her family wants her to go away, since it seems that he won’t marry her. He bluntly demonstrates how hard life with him would be, but she is unfazed. When she makes it clear that she loves him regardless, he gives in.

A now-divorced Fred meets Peggy at Homer and Wilma’s wedding. After the ceremony, Fred approaches Peggy and holds her, matter-of-factly telling her that their life together will be a hard struggle. She looks at him with love; they kiss.
The title Best Years of Our Lives does not mean the soldiers had it too easy or spent part of their lives ever to be treasured as best that happened to them. The title refers to the ordeal by fire and needless risks often taken when they ought to have spent their most fruitful and vibrant years into more rewarding careers and home building.
“Profoundly relevant in 1946, the film still offers a surprisingly intricate and ambivalent exploration of American daily life.” Hal Erckson-allmovie. Dave Kehr makes the case for why the film is important today. He wrote, “The film is very proud of itself, exuding a stifling piety at times, but it works as well as this sort of thing can, thanks to accomplished performances by Fredric March, Myrna Loy, and Dana Andrews, who keep the human element afloat. Gregg Toland’s deep-focus photography, though, remains the primary source of interest for today’s audiences.”David Thomson: “I would concede that Best Years is decent and humane… acutely observed, despite being so meticulous a package. It would have taken uncommon genius and daring at that time to sneak a view of an untidy or unresolved America past Goldwyn or the public.”

Also known as: Glory for Me (USA) (working title)
Home Again (USA) (working title)
Myrna Loy     …     Milly Stephenson

Fredric March    …     Al Stephenson

Dana Andrews    …     Fred Derry

Teresa Wright    …     Peggy Stephenson

Virginia Mayo    …     Marie Derry
Cathy O’Donnell    …     Wilma Cameron
Hoagy Carmichael    …     Butch Engle
Harold Russell    …     Homer Parrish
Gladys George    …     Hortense Derry
Roman Bohnen    …     Pat Derry
Ray Collins    …     Mr. Milton
Minna Gombell    …     Mrs. Parrish
Walter Baldwin    …     Mr. Parrish
Steve Cochran    …     Cliff Scully
Dorothy Adams    …     Mrs. Cameron
Casting brought together established stars as well as character actors and relative unknowns. Famed drummer Gene Krupa is seen in archival footage, while Tennessee Ernie Ford, later a famous television star, appears as an uncredited “hillbilly singer” (in the first of his only three film appearances). Notable film producer and director Blake Edwards appears fleetingly as an uncredited “Corporal”. Actress Judy Wyler was also cast in her first role in her father’s production.
Directed by     William Wyler
Produced by     Samuel Goldwyn
Written by     Screenplay:
Robert E. Sherwood
MacKinlay Kantor

Music by     Hugo Friedhofer
Cinematography     Gregg Toland
Editing by     Daniel Mandell
Distributed by     RKO Radio Pictures
Running time     172 minutes
Language     English
Budget     $2,100,000 US



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How Green Was My Valley is a novel of 1939, by the author Richard Llewellyn. Its success spawned sequels.  Darryl F. Zanuck paid $300,000 for the rights to the novel. The successful 1941 film was based on the book and was directed by John Ford.

The author’s claims to have based it on his own knowledge of the Gilfach Goch area were proven false, as Llewellyn was English-born and spent little time in Wales. The title of the novel is taken from its last sentence: How green was my valley then, and the valley of them that have gone.
The film was nominated for ten Academy Awards, winning five and beating out such classics as The Maltese Falcon and Citizen Kane for Best Picture. The cast included Walter Pidgeon, Maureen O’Hara, Anna Lee, Roddy McDowall (as Huw), and Barry Fitzgerald. None of the leading players were however Welsh.( * The songs sung by the male voices are all authentic Welsh. The song sung at the opening is “Men of Harlech”.)
In 1990 this film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
Plot Summary
The story is told through the eyes of Huw Morgan (Roddy McDowall), now a middle-aged man leaving the mining town of Cwm Rhondda, after the death of his father in a mining accident. The film is largely then told in a flashback of certain events of his youth.
The social changes of the Victorian England in the grip of Industrial Age make inroads into their town; “In those days, the black slag, the waste of the coal pits, had only begun to cover the sides of our hill. Not yet enough to mar the countryside, nor blacken the beauty of our village,..”, and its harshness takes toll in human terms: his brother, Ivor (Patric Knowles) dies in a mining accident and Huw moves in with his sister-in-law, Bronwen, on whom he had crush from the time she came into the family. Later, towards the end his own father is also killed in the mine. Juxtaposed to these is the romantic interlude between Angharad (Maureen O’Hara), one of Huw’s three sisters and Mr. Gruffydd (Walter Pidgeon), the local minister.
Huw is still too young to work in the local coal mine like his father, Gwilym (Donald Crisp), and his five older brothers, he senses the seriousness of an imminent strike by the rift it creates between his father and the other boys when three of them move out of the family abode.

During the tensions of the strike, Huw saves his mother (Sara Allgood) from drowning and in so doing temporarily loses the use of his legs. Gruffydd aids in Huw’s recovery and instills in him a positive attitude. Huw observes the tender romance between the preacher and his sister, who enters into a loveless marriage with the local wealthy coal owner. After everyone Huw has known either dies or moves away, he decides to leave as well, and tells us the story of his life just before he does.

Director John Ford wanted to shoot the movie in Wales, but events in Europe during World War II made this impossible. an 80-acre set was built in the Santa Monica Mountains at Brent’s Crags, near Malibu. The design of the village was based on the real Cerrig Ceinnen and nearby Clyddach-cum Tawe in Wales
Directed by     John Ford
Produced by     Darryl F. Zanuck
Philip Dunne
Starring     Walter Pidgeon
Maureen O’Hara
Anna Lee
Donald Crisp
Roddy McDowall
Music by     Alfred Newman
Cinematography     Arthur C. Miller
Editing by     James B. Clark
Distributed by     Twentieth Century Fox
Running time     118 minutes
Country     United States
Language     English
How Green Was My Valley won five Academy Awards in 1941, including Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Crisp), Best Art Director, Best Cinematography, and the book was later adapted into a 1975 BBC miniseries.
Similar Movies
The Corn Is Green  (1945, Irving Rapper)
The Good Earth  (1937, Victor Fleming, Sidney Franklin)
The Grapes of Wrath  (1940, John Ford)
I Remember Mama  (1948, George Stevens)
Life With Father  (1947, Michael Curtiz)
The Quiet Man  (1952, John Ford)
The Stars Look Down  (1939, Carol Reed)
The Corn Is Green  (1978, George Cukor)
The Citadel  (1938, King Vidor)
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn  (1945, Elia Kazan)
Movies with the Same Personnel
The Quiet Man  (1952, John Ford)
Fort Apache  (1948, John Ford)
Drums Along the Mohawk  (1939, John Ford)
The Long Voyage Home  (1940, John Ford)
Forever and a Day  (1943, René Clair, Edmund Goulding, Cedric Hardwicke, Victor Saville, Kent Smith, Robert Stevenson, Herbert Wilcox, Frank Lloyd)
They Were Expendable  (1945, John Ford)
Challenge to Lassie  (1949, Richard Thorpe)
Gentleman Jim  (1942, Raoul Walsh)
Other Related Movies
None But the Lonely Heart  (1944, Clifford Odets)

* The film was shot in black and white because the color of flowers in Southern California did not match those found in Wales.

* Darryl F. Zanuck originally intended the film to be a four-hour epic to rival Gone with the Wind (1939).

* William Wyler was all set to direct on location in Wales, and Laurence Olivier, Katharine Hepburn and ‘Tyrone Power were all being courted for parts in the film. William Wyler went off to make The Little Foxes (1941) instead.

* It only took two months to make the film.

* Donald Crisp and Sara Allgood were always first choice to play the father and mother.

* Alexander Knox was Fox’s first choice for the part of Dr Gruffyd, later played by Walter Pidgeon.

* John Ford referred to Philip Dunne’s script as “nearly perfect a script as could be possible”.

* For the scene where the miners greet their women by putting their earnings in baskets, actress ‘Maureen OHara stopped the scene’s filming once she noticed that her basket was a modern Kraft basket and not a basket of the movie’s period. Director John Ford was so upset by being corrected in front of the cast and crew.

* Cyfartha’s final line, “‘Tis a coward I am, but I will hold your coat,” was added by Ford himself over the objections of screenwriter Philip Dunne.

Memorable Quotes:
Huw Morgan: [Narrating] Memory… Strange that the mind will forget so much of what only this moment has passed, and yet hold clear and bright the memory of what happened years ago; of men and women long since dead.
Huw Morgan: There is no fence nor hedge around time that is gone. You can go back and have what you like of it, if you can remember. So I can close my eyes on my valley as it is today, and it is gone, and I see it as it was when I was a boy. Green it was, and possessed of the plenty of the Earth. In all Wales, there was none so beautiful. Everything I ever learned as a small boy came from my father and I never found anything he ever told me to be wrong or worthless. The simple lessons he taught me are as sharp and clear in my mind as if I had heard them only yesterday. In those days, the black slag, the waste of the coal pits, had only begun to cover the sides of our hill. Not yet enough to mar the countryside, nor blacken the beauty of our village, for the colliery had only begun to poke its skinny black fingers through the green.
Huw Morgan: [Narrating] It is with me now, so many years later. And it makes me think of so much that is good, that is gone.
Huw Morgan: [Narrating] I think I fell in love with Bronwen then. Perhaps it is foolish to think a child could fall in love. But I am the child that was, and nobody knows how I felt, except only me.
Huw Morgan: [narrating] Men like my father cannot die. They are with me still, real in memory as they were in flesh, loving and beloved forever. How green was my valley then.
Beth Morgan: I have come up here to tell you what I think of you all, because you are talking against my husband. You are a lot of cowards to go against him. He has done nothing against you and he never has and you know it well. How some of you, you smug-faced hypocrites, can sit in the same chapel with him I cannot tell. To say he is with the owners is not only nonsense but downright wickedness. There’s one thing more I’ve got to say and it is this. If harm comes to my Gwilym, I will find out the men and I will kill them with my two hands. And this I will swear by God Almighty.
Mr. Gruffydd: But remember, with strength goes responsibility – to others and to yourselves. For you cannot conquer injustice with more injustice – only with justice and the help of God.
Angharad: Look now, you are king in the chapel. But I will be queen in my own kitchen.
Mr. Gruffydd: You will be queen wherever you walk.
Angharad: What does that mean?
Mr. Gruffydd: …I should not have said it.
Angharad: Why?
Mr. Gruffydd: I have no right to speak to you so.
[he leaves]
Angharad: [stopping him] Mr. Gruffydd, if the right is mine to give, you have it.
Mr. Gruffydd: You’ve been lucky, Huw. Lucky to suffer and lucky to spend these weary months in bed. For so God has given you a chance to make the spirit within yourself. And as your father cleans his lamp to have good light, so keep clean your spirit… By prayer, Huw. And by prayer, I don’t mean shouting, mumbling, and wallowing like a hog in religious sentiment. Prayer is only another name for good, clean, direct thinking. When you pray, think. Think well what you’re saying. Make your thoughts into things that are solid. In that way, your prayer will have strength, and that strength will become a part of you, body, mind, and spirit.
Dai Bando: How would you go about taking the measurement of a stick?
Mr. Jonas: Why, by its length.
Dai Bando: And how would you measure a man who would use a stick on a boy one-third his size? Now, you are good in the use of a stick, but boxing is my subject, according to the rules laid down by the good Marquess of Queensberry… And happy I am to pass on my knowledge to you.
Beth Morgan: Nothing is enough for people who have minds like cesspools. Oh Huw, my little one, I hope when you’re grown their tongues will be slower to hurt.
Mr. Gruffydd: Huw, I thought when I was a young man that I would conquer the world with truth. I thought I would lead an army greater than Alexander ever dreamed of, not to conquer nations, but to liberate mankind. With truth. With the golden sound of the Word. But only a few of them heard. Only a few of you understood.
Mr. Gruffydd: I know why you have come – I have seen it in your faces Sunday after Sunday as I’ve stood here before you. Fear has brought you here. Horrible, superstitious fear. Fear of divine retribution a bolt of fire from the skies. The vengeance of the Lord and the justice of God. But you have forgotten the love of Jesus. You disregard His sacrifice. Death, fear, flames, horror and black clothes. Hold your meeting then, but know if you do this in the name of God and in the house of God, you blaspheme against Him and His Word.
Mr. Gruffydd: Who is for Gwilym Morgan and the others?
Dai Bando: I, for one. He is the blood of my heart. Come, Cyfartha.
Cyfartha: …’Tis a coward I am. But I will hold your coat.
Huw Morgan: [Narrating] Everything I ever learnt as a small boy came from my father, and I never found anything he ever told me to be wrong or worthless. The simple lessons he taught me are as sharp and clear in my mind as if I had heard them only yesterday.

Ianto Morgan: We are not questioning your authority, sir, but if manners prevent our speaking the truth, we will be without manners.
Dai Bando: A man is never too old to learn, is it, Mr. Jonas?
Mr. Jonas: [uncertainly] No.
Dai Bando: I was in school myself once, but no great one for knowledge.
Mr. Jonas: [angrily, shaking his cane] Look here, what do you want?
Dai Bando: Knowledge.
[taking Mr. Jonas' cane]
Dai Bando: How would you go about taking the measurement of a stick, Mr. Jonas?
Mr. Jonas: By its’ length, of course.
Dai Bando: And how would you measure a man who would use a stick on a boy one-third his size?
[throws Mr. Jonas' cane aside]
Cyfartha: Tell us!
Dai Bando: Now, you are good in the use of a stick, but boxing is my subject… according to the rules laid down by the good Marquis of Queensbury.
Cyfartha: [saluting] God rest his soul!
Dai Bando: And happy I am to pass on my knowledge to you!
[backhands Mr. Jonas, sending him reeling]
Dai Bando: [Cyfartha is holding Mr. Jonas in boxing position] Now look, to make a good boxer, you must have a good… *right hand*, you see?
[strikes Mr. Jonas with a right jab, the force of which knocks Mr. Jonas into the wall]
Dai Bando: Now, you see, that is how you will punish your man – with a right and a left, and put your shoulder into it!
[Mr. Jonas is slumped against the wall, dazed]
Cyfartha: The gentleman is talking to you!
Dai Bando: Position again.
[Dai Bando and Cyfartha drag Mr. Jonas to his feet]
Dai Bando: Could I have your attention, boys and girls? I am not accustomed to speaking in public…
Cyfartha: Only public houses.
Dai Bando: But this -
[backhands Mr. Jonas in the nose, sending him sprawling]
Dai Bando: never use. It’s against the rules. Break a man’s nose. Now then -
[turns to find Mr. Jonas collapsed against the wall, unconscious]
Dai Bando: I’m afraid he will never make a boxer.
Cyfartha: No aptitude for knowledge.

(ack: imdb,wikipedia,allmovie)

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Double indemnity is a legal term: it is a provision or clause in a life insurance or accident policy whereby the company agrees to pay twice the face of the contract in cases of accidental death. Legalese wording may be dry as dust but Billy Wilder could make it still sparkle as star dust. The pixie magic of movies makes even the tawdry dream of murder for gain seem very possible. It is always fascinating how a decent tax-payer who might balk at the idea of filing false returns laps up films reeking with the basest of human passions as portrayed in Double Indemnity. Having said the above the film is a classic in the film-noir genre and it has became part of the Hollywood mainstream.
The plot is simple: A frowsy housewife ( in a hideous blond wig) weaves a plan to do away her man with the help of an insurance agent and nearly gets away with it.
The movie was based on the true story of Ruth Snyder, the subject of a notorious 1930s murder trial. James M Cain who wrote The Postman Rings Twice improved on the bald facts of the case. His dark novella dealt with greed into which nothing is sacred, marriage or human life while each twist and turn of the story was dealt kinesthetically by Billy Wilder with a gravedigger’s sure touch to turn up dirt. There are other famous talents here: Raymond Chandler had his hand in writing the script along with Wilder. Musical score was from Miklós Rózsa. Barbara Stanwyck was the first choice and when she demurred at the brutal side of her role and expressed her concern to Billy Wilder, he asked her, “Are you a mouse or an actress?” Billy Wilder had a tough time getting a leading man for this film: many actors, including George Raft turned the project down. He had to persuade Fred MacMurray to accept the part. Of course he acquitted himself well in the role of Walter Neff, a salesman for the Pacific All-Risk insurance company. The other principal character is Edward G. Robinson as Barton Keyes, a claims adjuster,a friend and colleague of Neff.

Walter Neff (MacMurray) is a successful insurance salesman for Pacific All-Risk. But when he returns to his office building in downtown Los Angeles late one night, we know there is something very wrong. Neff is clearly in pain, and he sits down at his desk and tells the whole story into a dictaphone, for his colleague Barton Keyes (Robinson), a claims adjuster.

It is the story of how he meets Phyllis Dietrichson (Stanwyck) during a routine house call to renew an automobile insurance policy for her husband. A cheap affair develops as with a man who has head for figures but his heart is not actively engaged and who knows his senses are inflamed with some cheap perfume from a woman alone in her unmade drawing room, and she hints that her man had just left the coast clear for some smooching if he could figure that out. Well Neff sees the possibilities and is interested until Phyllis wonders how she could take out a policy on her husband’s life without him knowing it. Neff knows his cheap flirting has dirt under the carpet where he might get down for a roll. Oh boy, she has murder in mind and he wants no part of it.

Having tasted stolen bread in secret, Neff must deal with the proverbial aftertaste of it. Phyllis is the pursuer and she catches him in his own home and persuades him to that the two of them, together, should kill her husband. Neff who had played straight for long knows and up front knows instantly all the tricks of his trade: and comes up with a plan in which Phyllis’s husband will die an unlikely death, in this case being thrown from a train. Pacific All-Risk will therefore be required, by the “double indemnity” clause in the insurance policy, to pay the widow twice the normal amount.

Keyes, a tenacious investigator, does not suspect foul play at first, but eventually concludes that the Dietrichson woman and an unknown accomplice must be behind the husband’s death. He has no reason, however, to be suspicious of Neff, someone he has worked with for quite some time and admires.

Neff is not only worried about Keyes. The victim’s daughter, Lola (Jean Heather), comes to him convinced that her stepmother, Phyllis, is behind her father’s death because Lola’s mother also died under suspicious circumstances when Phyllis was her nurse.

Once he realizes that Phyllis is playing him for a sap and also seeing another man – Lola’s boyfriend – behind his back, Neff believes the only way out is to murder Phyllis himself. But she has had the same thought; when they meet, she shoots him first. Neff, badly hurt, is still able to shoot and kill her.

Neff then drives to his office. There he dictates his full confession to Keyes, who arrives in person just in time to hear the last of the gory details and see his dying friend Neff collapse to the floor.

By the way Wilder shot an alternate ending to the film (to appease censors), featuring Neff paying for his crime by going to the gas chamber. This footage is lost, but stills of the scene still exist.
Scripting the film:

Apart from the racy content- a tale of adultery and premeditated murder for hire, and the language the way two geniuses could work together is itself an interesting sidelight
Wilder, working for Paramount Pictures, acquired the rights to Cain’s novella but creating a screenplay from it was a challenge. For the Austrian-born Wilder who was yet to get total command of English. His American writing partner Charles Brackett refused to work on the film. Paramount and Wilder tried to get James M. Cain to co-write the screenplay but he was under contract for another studio. After reading The Big Sleep, Wilder decided that Raymond Chandler would be a good choice. ‘Cain’s crime story was intact but now it featured witty dialog that was a combination of 1930’s machine-gun chatter (especially Robinson’s speeches) and the laid-back hip dialog that would be Chandler’s trademark. The result is a screenplay that actually ends up being more sexual than the novella’(filmnoiroftheweek.blogspot.com)
Raymond Chandler hated the experience of writing the script with Billy Wilder so much that he actually walked out and would not return unless a list of demands was met. The studio acceded to his demands and he returned to finish the script with Wilder who claimed that he flaunted his womanizing ability at the time to torment the sexually-repressed Chandler.(wikipedia)

Other cast

* Porter Hall as Mr. Jackson
* Jean Heather as Lola Dietrichson
* Tom Powers as Mr. Dietrichson
* Byron Barr as Nino Zachetti
* Richard Gaines as Edward S. Norton, Jr.
* Fortunio Bonanova as Sam Garlopis
* John Philliber as Joe Peters

Other films inspired by the Snyder-Gray murder include The Postman Always Rings Twice (also based on a Cain novel) and Body Heat. Both Postman and Double Indemnity were remade, with Double Indemnity being a “made-for-TV” movie in 1973 starring Richard Crenna, Lee J. Cobb, and Samantha Eggar.
Academy Award Nominations

* Best Actress in a Leading Role (Barbara Stanwyck)
* Best Cinematography, Black-and-White
* Best Director (Billy Wilder)
* Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture
* Best Picture
* Academy Award for Best Sound, recording
* Best Writing, Screenplay

Critical response
In his review, film critic Roger Ebert praised director Wilder and cinematographer Seitz. He wrote, “The photography by John F. Seitz helped develop the noir style of sharp-edged shadows and shots, strange angles and lonely Edward Hopper settings.”

* The character Walter Neff was originally named Walter Ness, but director/writer Billy Wilder found out that there was a man living in Beverly Hills named Walter Ness who was actually an insurance salesman. To avoid being sued for defamation of character, they changed the name.

* The scene where Neff and Dietrichson can’t get their car started after the murder, was added by Wilder after his car wouldn’t start at the end of a shooting day.

* Dick Powell wanted the role of Walter Neff, but he was under contract to another studio and they wouldn’t allow it. He was enraged and tore up his contract. The role went to Fred MacMurray.

* The blonde wig that Barbara Stanwyck is wearing throughout the movie was the idea of Billy Wilder. A month into shooting Wilder suddenly realized how bad it looked, but by then it was too late to re-shoot the earlier scenes. To rationalize this mistake, in later interviews Wilder claimed that the bad-looking wig was intentional.

• In the first scene in which Walter first kisses Phyllis, we see a wedding ring on Walter’s hand. Fred MacMurray was married and the ring was not noticed until post-production.

* The victim, Mr. Dietrichson, is an oil company executive. Screenplay writer Raymond Chandler was an oil company executive before he became a writer.

* Silver dust was mixed with some subtle smoke effects to create the illusion of waning sunlight in Phyllis Dietrichson’s house.

* We never learn the first name of Mr. Dietrichson.

* Various studios expressed interest in the story when it first appeared in serial form in 1935 but realized it was unfilmable within the strictures of the newly-established Production Code.

• On viewing the film’s rushes, production head Buddy G. DeSylva remarked of Barbara Stanwyck’s blonde wig, “We hired Barbara Stanwyck, and here we get George Washington”!
* In the scene where Phyllis is listening at Neff’s door as he talks with Keyes, Keyes exits into the hallway and Phyllis hides behind the door. The door opens into the hallway, which isn’t allowed by building codes even back then, but it does give Phyllis something to hide behind and increases the tension.

Memorable Quotes:
Walter Neff: You’ll be here too?
Phyllis: I guess so, I usually am.
Walter Neff: Same chair, same perfume, same anklet?
Phyllis: I wonder if I know what you mean.
Walter Neff: I wonder if you wonder.
[last lines]
Walter Neff: Know why you couldn’t figure this one, Keyes? I’ll tell ya. ‘Cause the guy you were looking for was too close. Right across the desk from ya.
Barton Keyes: Closer than that, Walter.
Walter Neff: I love you, too.
Walter Neff: It’s just like the first time I came here, isn’t it? We were talking about automobile insurance, only you were thinking about murder. And I was thinking about that anklet.
Barton Keyes: Have you made up your mind?
Jackson: Mr. Keyes, I’m a Medford man – Medford, Oregon. Up in Medford, we take our time making up our minds.
Barton Keyes: Well, we’re not in Medford, we’re in a hurry.
Barton Keyes: They’ve committed a murder and it’s not like taking a trolley ride together where they can get off at different stops. They’re stuck with each other and they’ve got to ride all the way to the end of the line and it’s a one-way trip and the last stop is the cemetery.
Walter Neff: Do I laugh now, or wait ’til it gets funny?
Walter Neff: How could I have known that murder could sometimes smell like honeysuckle?
Walter Neff: Suddenly it came over me that everything would go wrong. It sounds crazy, Keyes, but it’s true, so help me. I couldn’t hear my own footsteps. It was the walk of a dead man.
Walter Neff: Yes, I killed him. I killed him for money – and a woman – and I didn’t get the money and I didn’t get the woman. Pretty, isn’t it?
Phyllis: I was just fixing some ice tea; would you like a glass?
Walter Neff: Yeah, unless you got a bottle of beer that’s not working.
Barton Keyes: I picked you for the job, not because I think you’re so darn smart, but because I thought you were a shade less dumb than the rest of the outfit. Guess I was wrong. You’re not smarter, Walter… you’re just a little taller.
[Norton, Keyes's boss, has just tried, unsuccessfully, to convince a client that her husband's death was a suicide]
Barton Keyes: You know, you, uh, oughta take a look at the statistics on suicide some time. You might learn a little something about the insurance business.
Edward S. Norton: Mister Keyes, I was RAISED in the insurance business.
Barton Keyes: Yeah, in the front office. Come now, you’ve never read an actuarial table in your life, have you? Why they’ve got ten volumes on suicide alone. Suicide by race, by color, by occupation, by sex, by seasons of the year, by time of day. Suicide, how committed: by poison, by firearms, by drowning, by leaps. Suicide by poison, subdivided by TYPES of poison, such as corrosive, irritant, systemic, gaseous, narcotic, alkaloid, protein, and so forth. Suicide by leaps, subdivided by leaps from high places, under the wheels of trains, under the wheels of trucks, under the feet of horses, from STEAMBOATS. But, Mr. Norton: Of all the cases on record, there’s not one single case of suicide by leap from the rear end of a moving train. And you know how fast that train was going at the point where the body was found? Fifteen miles an hour. Now how can anybody jump off a slow-moving train like that with any kind of expectation that he would kill himself? No, no soap, Mr. Norton. We’re sunk, and we’ll have to pay through the nose, and you know it.
Jackson: These are fine cigars you smoke.
Barton Keyes: Two for a quarter.
Jackson: That’s what I said.
Walter Neff: Who’d you think I was anyway? The guy that walks into a good looking dame’s front parlour and says, “Good afternoon, I sell accident insurance on husbands… you got one that’s been around too long? One you’d like to turn into a little hard cash?”
Walter Neff: They say all native Californians come from Iowa.
Phyllis: I’m a native Californian. Born right here in Los Angeles.
Walter Neff: They say all native Californians come from Iowa.
Phyllis: We’re both rotten.
Walter Neff: Only you’re a little more rotten.
Phyllis: Mr. Neff, why don’t you drop by tomorrow evening about eight-thirty. He’ll be in then.
Walter Neff: Who?
Phyllis: My husband. You were anxious to talk to him weren’t you?
Walter Neff: Yeah, I was, but I’m sort of getting over the idea, if you know what I mean.
Phyllis: There’s a speed limit in this state, Mr. Neff. Forty-five miles an hour.
Walter Neff: How fast was I going, officer?
Phyllis: I’d say around ninety.
Walter Neff: Suppose you get down off your motorcycle and give me a ticket.
Phyllis: Suppose I let you off with a warning this time.
Walter Neff: Suppose it doesn’t take.
Phyllis: Suppose I have to whack you over the knuckles.
Walter Neff: Suppose I bust out crying and put my head on your shoulder.
Phyllis: Suppose you try putting it on my husband’s shoulder.
Walter Neff: That tears it.
[first lines]
Building attendant: Well, hello there, Mr. Neff.
Barton Keyes: Now that’s enough out of you, Walter. Now get outta here before I throw my desk at you.
[looks in his pocket for a match]
Walter Neff: [takes a match of his own and lights Keyes' cigar] I love you, too.
Walter Neff: I really did, too, you old crab. Always yelling your head off, always sore at everybody. You never fooled me with your song and dance, not for a second. I kinda always knew that behind all the cigar ashes on your vest was a heart as big as a house.
Phyllis: I think you’re rotten.
Walter Neff: I think you’re swell – so long as I’m not your husband.
Phyllis: Get out of here.
Walter Neff: You bet I’ll get out of here, baby. I’ll get out of here but quick.
Edward S. Norton: That witness from the train, what was his name?
Barton Keyes: His name was Jackson. Probably still is.
Barton Keyes: Walter, you’re all washed up.
Barton Keyes: What’s the matter? Dames chasing you again? Or still? Or is it none of my business?
Walter Neff: If I told you it was a customer, you’d…
Barton Keyes: “Margie”! I bet she drinks from the bottle.
Phyllis: Do you make your own breakfast, Mr Neff?
Walter Neff: Well, I squeeze a grapefruit now and again.
Barton Keyes: Well, I get darn sick of tryin’ to pick up after a gang of fast-talking salesmen dumb enough to sell life insurance to a guy who sleeps in the same bed with four rattlesnakes.
Barton Keyes: The job I’m talking about takes brains and integrity. It takes more guts than there is in 50 salesmen. It’s the hottest job in the business… Desk job? Is that all you can see in it? Just a hard chair to park your pants on from 9 to 5, huh? Just a pile of papers to shuffle around and five sharp pencils and a scratch pad to make figures on. Maybe a little doodling on the side. Well, that’s not the way I look at it, Walter. To me, a claims man is a surgeon. That desk is an operating table. And those pencils are scalpels and bone chisels. And those papers are not just forms and statistics and claims for compensation, they’re alive, they’re packed with drama, with twisted hopes and crooked dreams. A claims man, Walter, is a doctor and a bloodhound… and a cop and a judge and a jury and a father confessor all in one. And you want to tell me you’re not interested. You don’t want to work with your brains. All you wanna work is with your finger on the doorbell, for a few bucks more a week.
Walter Neff: I get the general idea. She was a tramp from a long line of tramps.

Directed by Billy Wilder
Produced by Buddy G. DeSylva
Billy Wilder
Raymond Chandler
Narrated by Fred MacMurray
Starring Fred MacMurray
Barbara Stanwyck
Edward G. Robinson
Music by Miklós Rózsa
Victor Schertzinger
Cinematography John F. Seitz
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Running time 107 minutes
Budget $927,262
Similar Movies
Body Heat (1981, Lawrence Kasdan)
Ascenseur Pour L’Echafaud (1957, Louis Malle)
Kill Me Again (1989, John Dahl)
Niagara (1952, Henry Hathaway)
Seduced (1985, Jerrold Freedman)
Too Late for Tears (1949, Byron Haskin)
The File on Thelma Jordon (1949, Robert Siodmak)
The Pushover (1954, Richard Quine)
The Woman in the Window (1944, Fritz Lang)
The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001, Joel Coen)
Movies with the Same Personnel
Five Graves to Cairo (1943, Billy Wilder)
The Apartment (1960, Billy Wilder)
Stalag 17 (1953, Billy Wilder)
Ace in the Hole (1951, Billy Wilder)
The File on Thelma Jordon (1949, Robert Siodmak)
A Foreign Affair (1948, Billy Wilder)
Some Like It Hot (1959, Billy Wilder)
Going My Way (1944, Leo McCarey)
Other Related Movies
is featured in: Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993, Woody Allen)
Femme Fatale (2002, Brian De Palma)
is related to: The Moonlighter (1953, Roy Rowland)
There’s Always Tomorrow (1956, Douglas Sirk)
Slightly Scarlet (1956, Allan Dwan)
Bad Education (2004, Pedro Almodóvar)
In perspective:
Double Indemnity was released September 1944 and it became a classic for well merited reasons. It is a dark, back-and-white tale of lust, greed and murder told in a flashback as with Wilders Sunset Boulevard. It stands apart from other films- noir of the time including The Maltese Falcon – and was a box office hit. Double Indemnity competed against romantic thrillers and Hollywood melodramas at the 1944 Oscars – the film lost the Best Picture award to the Bing Crosby-starrer Going My Way. .( ‘In 1992, Double Indemnity was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. The film was listed at number 38 on the American Film Institute’s list of the top 100 American films of all time and at number 29 on the 10th Anniversary Edition of the list’-wikipedia)
(Ack:imdb,wikipedia, allmovie)

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The Informer is a John Ford film that suffers in comparison with his later works. This 1935 dramatic film, released by RKO was a painful episode for him and he, in later years was quite dismissive about it. (After a dismal preview–Ford was so devastated he left the theater and threw up–it looked as if the film would be consigned to a limited release and then forgotten). THE INFORMER was the surprise hit of the season for the struggling studio. This film was emotional in tone that gave way for a fine austere style Ford later cultivated. But THE INFORMER warrants our attention as one of Ford’s most emphatic and personal works (He came of Irish stock.) dealing with a painful subject: the Troubles following Easter Uprising of 1916 in Dublin.

The Informer is set in 1922, the period of the Black and Tans, when murder gangs from both sides went on with murders that were called ‘reprisals.’ The year Michael Collins would be waylaid and eliminated by one of his own people. The film works against this backdrop, on a much smaller canvas where an individual gets his comeuppance. It stars Victor McLaglen, Heather Angel, Preston Foster, Margot Grahame, Wallace Ford, Una O’Connor and J.M. Kerrigan.

The screenplay was written by Dudley Nichols from the novel of the same name by Liam O’Flaherty. It is about an oaf, but well-meaning Irishman, Gypo Nolan (Victor McLaglen), who informs on his best friend Frankie McPhillip (Wallace Ford) who is a member of the Irish Republican Army. At a time when lives of ordinary citizens in Dublin were not worth the bullet that could get them in the dark, Gypo must have been tempted. He has been ousted from the rebel organization and is starving. When he finds that his equally destitute sweetheart Katie has been reduced to prostitution, he takes his chance and betrays his former comrade, in order to collect the reward of £20. He hopes to sail to America with his girlfriend Katie Madden (Margot Grahame). The film traces his conscience-stricken emotional disintegration that eventually leads him to give himself away. That final act of retribution does come on a gloomy, foggy night. (Owing to the film’s low budget–shot in three weeks at $250,000, Ford had his scene designers, Van Nest Polgalse and Charles Kirk, “fog in” the set to mask the cheap painted backdrops and structures. So thickly does the fog blanket this cinematic Dublin that the film becomes a murky, atmospheric maze, perfectly symbolizing the state of mind of the ordinary blokes, rebels, politicians alike. An individual like Gypo Nolan could not equate ethics for his individual case. But when a politician like Eamon de Valera confuse over ethics and politics the loser would be Michael Collins and IRA. (No retribution did visit Eamon for his role or for his politics.)
‘As the lumbering Gypo Nolan, Ford cast the action star Victor McLaglen in a performance that used McLaglen’s own bulk and hamminess to create one of the sound cinema’s first authentic anti-heros. A one-time vaudeville and circus performer as well as a lesser prizefighter, McLaglen had also been one of the ‘Great White Hopes’ sent in to stop Black champion Jack Johnson. McLaglen lost in six rounds. As Gypo, McLaglen is a winner. His improvised dialogue in the trial sequence is high-key, and well-tuned to the desperation and suspense of the moment. McLaglen’s Oscar for best actor that year was well-earned. By the end of the shoot he was jittery and exhausted from the emotional demands an uncompromising Ford had placed on him’. — Kevin Hagopian, Penn State University

Trivia: Joseph P. Kennedy, a major investor in RKO’s parent company, had urged the project on Ford. In the middle of shooting, Kennedy left and the film was suddenly in a dilemma. What to do with a film that didn’t seem right? The film was briefly shut down, and then moved to a virtually abandoned sound stage. It was largely due to Richard Watts, critic, of the New York Herald Tribune who convinced the studio boss Merian C. Cooper that the film was worth the money. With a new campaign strategy it was shown the film was adapted from a serious novel, and it worked.
Perhaps the story is apocryphal but worth repeating here: when the studio boss faulted Ford for being behind the schedule the filmmaker in full view of cast and crew tore out 8 pages of the script, saying quietly, “There. We’re back on schedule now”.
The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. McLaglen won the Academy Award for Best Leading Actor for his portrayal of Gypo Nolan, beating out Charles Laughton and Clark Gable for the better-remembered Mutiny on the Bounty, and Ford won for Best Director. Dudley Nichols won the Oscar for Best Writing, but turned it down because of Union disagreements. It was the first time an Oscar was declined.

The film’s other awards & nominations;

* NBR – Best Picture
* New York Film Critics Circle Awards – Best Film and Best Director
* Venice Film Festival – John Ford nominated for Mussolini Cup

A presentation copy of the script was recently found in a garbage pile in Madison, Wisconsin, and brought on to the show Antiques Roadshow. It was appraised for about $4,000.


* Victor McLaglen – Gypo Nolan
* Heather Angel – Mary McPhillip
* Preston Foster – Dan Gallagher
* Margot Grahame – Katie Madden
* Wallace Ford – Frankie McPhillip
* Una O’Connor – Mrs. McPhillip
* J. M. Kerrigan – Terry
* Joe Sawyer – Bartly Mulholland (as Joseph Sauers)
* Neil Fitzgerald – Tommy Connor
* Donald Meek – Peter Mulligan
* D’Arcy Corrigan – The Blind Man
* Leo McCabe – Donahue
* Steve Pendleton – Dennis Daly (as Gaylord Pendleton)
* Francis Ford – “Judge” Flynn
* May Boley – Madame Betty

Directed by John Ford
Produced by John Ford
Written by Dudley Nichols
Music by Max Steiner
Cinematography Joseph H. August
Editing by George Hively
Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures
Running time 91 min.
Memorable Quotes:
Terry: [realizing Gypo's stuck him with the bill as an angry bouncer glowers at him] Oh dear, oh dear. I have a queer feelin’ there’s going to be a strange face in heaven in the mornin’.
Katie Madden: Ah, Gypo, what’s the use? I’m hungry, and I can’t pay my room rent. Have you the price of a flop on you?
Gypo Nolan: No.
Katie Madden: What’s the use? Ah. don’t look at me like that, Gypo! You’re all I got! You’re the only one. You know that. But what chance do we have to escape? Money! Some people have all the luck!
[Indicating the ad in the travel agency window]
Katie Madden: Look at that thing handing us the ha-ha! Ten pounds to America! Twenty pounds and the world is ours?
Gypo Nolan: What are you saying that for?
Gypo Nolan: And now the British think I’m with the Irish, and the Irish think I’m with the British. The long and short of it is I’m walkin’ around without a dog to lick my trousers!
Frankie McPhillip: Up the rebels!
Katie Madden: Gypo, where did you get that money? Look at it, and not an hour ago you hadn’t a penny to warm your pocket. Did someone die and leave you a pot of gold?
Gypo Nolan: Why are you sayin’ that for?
Katie Madden: Well, did you rob a church or what?
Gypo Nolan: [loudly at Frankie's wake] I’m sorry for your trouble, Mrs. McPhillip!
Bartly Mulholland: What are you shoutin’ for? Don’t you know there’s a wake goin’ on? (ack: allmovie,wikipedia)

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Steinbeck narrates the story of Joad family who were on the road: somewhat similar to Kerouak’s On The Road. Kerouak had Sal Paradiso and a few others hitting the road: they were looking for the soul of America in a Post-war America. America of the Depression period was a world much more simpler. Joad’s family merely wanted to be together as a family. While Kerouak’s narrator was for beatific experience, Steinbeck’s characters, of which Joad’s  family is nothing unusual  set out for some hard cash that would keep their body and soul together. Sal Paradise’s travels erode into disappointment among people from lower classes, old Negroes and Mexican whores and Joad’s family is onto some bitter disappointment. In the Grapes of Wrath Steinbeck told the story of the migration of thousands of homeless families from the dust bowl of Oklahoma to the promised land of California, the “Golden West.” The misfortunes of the Joad family who, lured by this promise, load their meager belongings onto a dilapidated truck and head west for the land of plenty. What they find is even more bitter poverty and oppression.

Why California?

Why don’t you go on west to California? There’s work there, and it never gets cold. Why, you can reach out anywhere and pick an orange, Why, there’s always some kind of crop to work in. Why don’t you go there? And the owner men started their cars and rolled away.

For once, a great book is made into a great movie in the 1940 film. Comparing the book with the film one is struck of the differences of creative approach required in turning a book into a successful film. It was Edmund Wilson who noted ‘Mr. Steinbeck’s almost always in his dealing either with the lower animals or with human beings so rudimentary that they are almost on the animal level’. Steinbeck describes the indestructibility of a turtle which is hit by a truck. His introduction of this event is to hint of the survival of the Joads despite of all their vicissitudes. A film can equally well create its inner logic without resorting to the same imagery given in prose. ‘The religious satire, with the single exception, is dropped entirely; the political radicalism is muted and generalized…’(George Bluestone) The love of land, family and human dignity are consistently translated into cinematic images:Greg Toland’s photography lovingly brings out the pictorial values of the land and sky and in his dark silhouettes against a brooding sky he sets the mood and tone. If the book is one of indignation and of moral anger the film seem to linger long after the show for its beauty and cinematic values. Here we see two different purposes and two different results. Both are successful in its own medium.

John Ford takes the second of his four Oscars for Best Director and Henry Fonda establishes himself as a major screen actor in the role of Tom Joad.

There is anger in this film, a deep resentment of the social injustice and downright misery, which America allowed to be visited on thousands of its people. It was a remarkably brave and liberal picture to make at a time when the Dies Committee was already trying to sniff out Communists in Hollywood.

~ Barry Norman, 100 Best Films of the Century

The film chickens out when it comes to the book’s downbeat and shocking ending. Still, it remains a great movie with some great photography from Greg Toland and tremendous acting from the cast.


Director: John Ford

Tom Joad: Henry Fonda

Ma Joad: Jane Darwell

Pa Joad: Russell Simpson

Jim Casy: John Carradine

Al Joad: O.Z.Whitehead

Rose of Sharon: Doris Bowden

128 minutes

Academy Awards

Won (2)

* Best Director

* Best Supporting Actress (Darwell)

Nominated (7) above plus

* Best Picture

* Best Actor (Ford)

* Best Screenplay

* Best Sound

* Best Editing


John Steinbeck was already a major literary figure when he published The Grapes of Wrath in 1939. Works like Tortilla Flat and Of Mice and Men were already behind him. The Grapes of Wrath won him a Pulitzer Prize in 1940. In his earlier works, John Steinbeck had often returned to the social theme of the troubles of poor and hard working folk.

A feature of the novel are the ‘intercalary’ chapters: descriptive passages that background the story. Chapter 1, for instance, poetically describes the how the last feeble rains give way to fierce heat ,which dries out the parched soil and bakes it into dust. Then winds come and whip up the dust.

When the night came again it was black night, for the stars could not pierce the dust to get down, and the window lights could not even spread beyond their own yards. Now the dust was evenly mixed with the air, an emulsion of dust and air. Houses were shut tight, and cloth wedged around doors and windows, but the dust came in so thinly it could not be seen in the air, and it settled like pollen on the chairs and tables, on the dishes.’

Into this nightmare landscape Tom Joad returns home, paroled from prison, having killed a man with a shovel some years before. He finds his family ready to move on, their land useless, everything that cannot be loaded onto their cheap jalopy of a truck sold for a pittance. They are joined on their journey to the west by Jim Casy, a relapsed preacher. On the road they meet other families displaced from the Dust Bowl. Everywhere they go they are reviled.

Okie use’ ta mean you was from Oklahoma. Now it means you’re a dirty son-of-a-bitch. Okie means you’re scum. Don’t mean nothing itself, it’s the way they say it.”

The family fractures under the strain of their known life lost. Grampa dies on their first overnight stop. Other travelers warn them that California may not be the land of plentiful jobs and white houses they were promised. Deprivation and setbacks dog their journey as they struggle to keep their aging, fragile and overloaded truck on the road.

When they cross the border into California, Tom’s simple and withdrawn older brother, Noah, announces he will go no further and slips off to make a life by the river. As they cross the desert, Grandma dies in the back of the truck but Ma Joad keeps it secret to keep the family going and avoid the attention of the authorities. They arrive at a migrant camp, ‘Hooverville’. Tom manages to get into a fight with local sheriff and Casy takes the rap for him – Tom is violating his parole.

Rose of Sharon (Rosasharn), Tom’s pregnant sister is abandoned by her feckless husband. The family head off to a government camp, where they are at last treated with some dignity. But there is no work and the children are dizzy from hunger. Eventually they drive north and find poorly paid work but discover they are strike breaking. The main agitator turns out to be Casy.

They say it’s gonna be five cents. We got there … an’ they’re payin’ two an’ a half cents … Now they’re payin’ you five. When they bust this strike – ya think they’ll pay you five?”

A deputy kills Casy and Tom angrily clubs the deputy to the ground. He has to go into hiding while the rest of the family pick peaches. For two and a half cents a box. Tom vows to carry on Casy work, fighting for justice for the workers.

As winter approaches the family are forced to live in an abandoned boxcar. Rose of Sharon gives birth to her baby amidst torrential rain. The swelling river sweeps away their boxcar home and they are forced to shelter in a barn.

The book ends, in the midst of deepest despair, with a gift: literally the milk of human kindness. Rose of Sharon’s beatific sacrifice shines through the bleakness with a message of hope. People this good cannot be defeated.

This is a terrible and indignant book; yet it is not without passages of lyrical beauty, and the ultimate impression is that of the dignity of the human spirit under the stress of the most desperate conditions. (ack:Guardian,George Bluestone )

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Taking a story of three vagrants on “the beach” in Mexico who pool their scratchy resources and go hunting for gold in the desolate hills is as old as ‘dem hills.’ Who can resist such a lure of the dangers of desolate places if pots of gold were guaranteed at the end? Greed has never been good even if in the ‘80s we were told by some quarters to the contrary. In Treasure of the Sierra Madre we see the baseness of human nature, greed,like a steel- spring shut on those who succumb to it. John Huston, who wrote and directed it from a novel by B. Traven, does not obfuscate this essential feature of human self- aggrandizement and also equally valid instinct for self preservation ( in an environment where all the barriers are down) even while he boldly presents a great adventure film. ‘ For the details are fast and electric from the moment the three prospectors start into the Mexican mountains, infested with bandits and beasts, until two of them come down empty-handed and the third one, the mean one, comes down dead. There are vicious disputes among them, a suspenseful interlude when a fourth man tries to horn in and some running fights with the banditi that will make your hair stand on end. And since the outdoor action was filmed in Mexico with all the style of a documentary camera, it has integrity in appearance, too. Most shocking…, however, will likely be the job that Mr. Bogart does as the prospector who succumbs to the gnawing of greed. Physically, morally and mentally, this character goes to pot before our eyes, dissolving from a fairly decent hobo under the corroding chemistry of gold into a hideous wreck of humanity possessed with only one passion—to save his “stuff.” And the final appearance of him, before a couple of roving bandits knock him off in a manner of supreme cynicism, is one to which few actors would lend themselves. Mr. Bogart’s compensation should be the knowledge that his performance in this film is perhaps the best and most substantial that he has ever done.’ Quote from NY Times review by Bosley Crowther,1948
Plot Synopsis
by Hal Erickson

John Huston’s 1948 treasure-hunt classic begins as drifter Fred C. Dobbs (Humphrey Bogart), down and out in Tampico, Mexico, impulsively spends his last bit of dough on a lottery ticket. Later on, Dobbs and fellow indigent Curtin (Tim Holt) seek shelter in a cheap flophouse and meet Howard (Walter Huston), a toothless, garrulous old coot who regales them with stories about prospecting for gold. Forcibly collecting their pay from their shifty boss, Dobbs and Curtin combine this money with Dobbs’s unexpected windfall from a lottery ticket and, together with Howard, buy the tools for a prospecting expedition. Dobbs has pledged that anything they dig up will be split three ways, but Howard, who’s heard that song before, doesn’t quite swallow this. As the gold is mined and measured, Dobbs grows increasingly paranoid and distrustful, and the men gradually turn against each other on the way toward a bitterly ironic conclusion. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is a superior morality play and one of the best movie treatments of the corrosiveness of greed. Huston keeps a typically light and entertaining touch despite the strong theme, for which he won Oscars for both Director and Screenplay, as well as a supporting award for his father Walter, making Walter, John, and Anjelica Huston the only three generations of one family all to win Oscars.
DVD Releases
Similar Movies
Black Water Gold (1969, Alan Landsburg)
Greed (1924, Erich Von Stroheim)
Legend of the Lost (1957, Henry Hathaway)
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Trespass (1992, Walter Hill)
Plunder of the Sun (1953, John Farrow)
The Trail of ’98 (1928, Clarence Brown)
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Movies with the Same Personnel
The Maltese Falcon (1941, John Huston)
The African Queen (1951, John Huston)
Key Largo (1948, John Huston)
The Red Badge of Courage (1951, John Huston)
Beat the Devil (1953, John Huston)
High Sierra (1941, Raoul Walsh)
The Man Who Would Be King (1975, John Huston)
Across the Pacific (1942, John Huston)
Other Related Movies
is related to: Across the Pacific (1942, John Huston)
The African Queen (1951, John Huston)
Beat the Devil (1953, John Huston)
Key Largo (1948, John Huston)
The Maltese Falcon (1941, John Huston
Ack: http://www.allmovies.com


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