If the 1954 film, On the Waterfront is not the best American film ever produced, it is without doubt among the ten best post—World War II American films. It was nominated for 12 Oscars, and won 8 including Best Picture. It is ranked the 8th Greatest American film of all time by the American Film Institute. The idea for On the Waterfront began with an expose series written for The New York Sun by reporter Malcolm Johnson. The 24 articles won Johnson a Pulitzer Prize, and coupled by the April 1948 murder of a New York dock hiring boss, awakened America to the killings, graft and extortion that made up everyday life on the New York waterfront. The protagonist Terry Malloy’s fight against corruption was in part modeled after whistle—blowing longshoreman Anthony DiVincenzo, who testified before a real—life Waterfront Commission on the facts of life on the Hoboken docks and was to a degree ostracized for his deeds. DiVincenzo sued and settled, many years after, with Columbia Pictures over the appropriation of what he considered his story. DiVincenzo recounted his story to writer Budd Schulberg during a month—long session of waterfront barroom meetings—which some claim never occurred—even though Shulberg attended Di Vincenzo’s waterfront commission testimony every day during the hearing. Read more
The year 1939 is regarded by most film historians as the pinnacle of success and legitimacy in the short history of Hollywood’s Golden era. That year gave us the likes of Gone With the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, Stagecoach, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and many more.
The manifest quality of these great classics is evident and needs no further elaboration here. There are a number of reasons for the achievements of 1939, chief of which was the great Hollywood studio system. If 1939 was a watershed year for Hollywood, then the next great shift came in 1946, Hollywood’s most successful year ever, in terms of attendance. The motion picture had grown up in the seven years since the release of Gone With the Wind. The great change of course came about with World War II, and it’s aftermath. Read more
From hard-boiled Sam Spade to cynical Rick Blaine, from wise cracking shamus Philip Marlowe to down-on-his-luck Fred C. Dobbs, Humphrey Bogart created a gallery of unforgettable characters. Appearing in over 75 films, spanning 26 years, Bogart left an indelible mark on American cinema.
Humphrey Bogart’s early career was hardly noteworthy. His roles ranged from rich playboys to seedy hoodlums. In the film The Petrified Forest (1936), Bogart, on the insistence of his Broadway co-star Leslie Howard, re-created his role of the cold-blooded killer Duke Mantee. The film was a huge success and gave a tremendous boost to his career. Although his immediate roles remained constrained to the hoodlums, and malcontents he had portrayed prior to The Petrified Forest , he remained steadfast in his pursuit of excellence.
By 1941 Humphrey Bogart was on the verge of cinematic prominence. His subsequent and now celebrated roles were about to garner Bogart the acceptance and adulation he so desperately craved. A recognition he relished, as he set out fortuitously to create the now famous “Bogart ” mystique, which would dominate the screen for the next decade. He was to remark later that there were few things about which he could feel genuine pride, and the 1941 classic The Maltese Falcon, was one of them. Read more
Femme fatale—is defined as “an irresistibly attractive woman, especially one who leads men into danger or disaster”. To me the most engaging semblance of a “femme fatale” is the stunning image of Lana Turner, as the camera pans from her ankles upward in that breathtaking shot from The Postman Always Rings Twice 1946. Read more
By the fall of 1943, Barbara Stanwyck had starred in 43 films. She had shown versatility with many styles. However, there remained one type of role, and an integral part of the spectrum of any actress, that she had never done, and the time seemed right for it. It was still early enough in cinema history for audiences to be shaken up by a thoroughly evil woman.Stanwyck was well aware of the potential in the role of Phyllis Dietrichson in Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity, Wilder remarked later how Barbara jumped at the chance of playing it. In an interview for Movie Digest in 1972, Barbara, recalled, “when Billy Wilder sent me the script of Double Indemnity, and I read it, I realized that I had never played an out–and–out killer. I had played medium heavies, but never an out–and–out killer. And because it was an unsympathetic character, I was a little frightened of it. I went to his office, and I said to him, I love the script and I love you, but I’m a little afraid, after all these years of playing heroines to play the part of an out–and–out cold– blooded killer… Read more