Archive for the ‘directed by George Marshall’ Category

When The Daltons Rode

30 Mar

When The Daltons Rode – Directed by George Marshall. Comedy Western. Will our hero remain faithful to his friends, the wronged Dalton boys, or will he not?  81 minutes Black and White 1940

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And rode and rode and rode.  This is one of George Marshall’s comedy/romance/westerns, a genre at which he was a master. Destry Rides Again and Texas are two notable examples of his craft and sense of fun. Here the fun is supplied by the jalopy-voiced Edgar Buchanan once again and the heaviness once again by George Bancroft. The inestimable castrati-voiced Andy Devine gives us a wonderful town silly to whom all the females in the movie are drawn. He himself is stretched between his love of food, his love of the Dalton boys, and his love of these giggling females. Marshall’s style is in full play here: during a daring escape from a lunch counter, Brian Donlevy steals a pie, and during the ensuing daring stage-coach chase, he gives it to Andy Devine, the driver, to eat, but after one bite, it is shaken from Devine’s hand, and he nearly goes overboard after it. Marshall had a genius for comic set-ups; it is one of his most endearing gifts. But watch how brilliantly he stages crowds in violent motion, and groups in mayhem. The stars are bashed around like mad. The gunfights and chases are remarkable for their conviction. Also take in, if you like, the range of stunts performed here. The gang actually does jump from a cliff onto the top of a moving train. No joke, that. Randolph Scott is the lead as a man caught up in the bandit gang, as he also is in The Stranger Wore A Gun. He exhibits a fine sense of humor, just right for Marshall’s shenanigans and set in perfect balance by the script, which, as is usual in Marshall films, is better than you might expect. It gives forceful and realistic love scenes for him to play with the elegant Kay Francis, who herself is a game gal in a dustup. Mary Gordon does the minute Irish mom of the Dalton boys to a T. The picture has brilliant passages of horses in motion, and color does not interfere here with the beautiful spectacle of black and white photography. Marshall’s cast is deep on talent: Broderick Crawford is super as Kay Francis’s love interest and pal of Scott. This is a film the whole family can watch together with pleasure.




01 Mar

Texas – directed by George Marshall – Western. A pair of ex Confederate soldiers drifts west where one goes wild and one goes good. 93 minutes black and white 1941.

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What a trip to see William Holden young.  He was never young. He was always the drained, middle aged, bourgeois-hearted one, without zest, without joie de vivre, without spontaneity and bounce, often cast in parts he was too old and inwardly defeated to deliver (Picnic, Sabrina), although, to tell the truth, these very qualities led to parts in which he was very successful, such as Sunset Boulevard. Yet here he is, before the war, in his early twenties, almost unrecognizable, full of the ready improvisation of the actor and the fluid responsiveness, full of inherent hope. Hope?  Can you believe William Holden ever knew such a thing?  But here it is. Lovely. Here he is with a young Glenn Ford, a couple of years older, and with his puppydom in full display and also his earnestness, as the lesser of the two points of interest —  the real point of interest in this picture being the style of the director George Marshall, which you can also see in full display with When The Dalton’s Rode, and that style is both romantic and humorous and comedic and cowboy. So all the story moves are worked out in terms that are commented on with humorous asides. For instance, the spectacle of a terrible stampede through town is given a momentary aside by a cow walking into a room with a man taking a bath. Marshall directed Destry Rides Again his most famous of these cowboy/comedy larks. He has strong supporting people headed by the jalopy-voiced Edgar Buchanan and the massed authority of George Bancroft. Claire Trevor is present as the love interest in an underwritten role and an over-written hair-do. When such movies came out, parents could not afford baby sitters, so they brought their kids along. We kids stayed awake or not, but if we watched the picture, we saw a show that offered entertainment without sordidness — nothing wrong with sordidness but we kids wouldn’t have known what we’e looking at. Likewise, families today can sit down together and watch this tip-top, beautifully produced and written western. It’s in black and white which spares us the color of blood, but affords us the greater color of George Marshall’s fun.



The Ghost Breakers

23 Feb

The Ghost Breakers – directed by George Marshall – Comedy Mystery Thriller. That haunted island castle in the Caribbean must be explored! 82 minutes Black and white 1940

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Bob Hope plays his usual boastful fool, and it is quite welcome. Here again he is sexually overreaching and heroically underachieving, floundering into shallows over his head. Hope is a master at the lecherous coward, (also played by Danny Kaye and Jerry Lewis and Charlie Chaplin and many others). No wonder he appealed so long to so many. In real life, evidently Hope was quite intrepid, going into battles zones to entertain the troops, but intrepidity and cowardice go hand in hand, else one would not know one from the other. I saw this picture as a little kid when it came out and the recollection of a woman side-stroking through swampy misty water holding her clothes over her head to keep them dry never left me as an example of practicality under pressure. Also the spooky castle remained with me and gave me nightmares. So did the zombie, my first in film. All these effects now have lost their power; thus the questionable practice of revisiting the past. Ahh, but the film still has its power to entertain. Its effects are low key and innocent but they give us a chance to recover from each while the next one waits in the wings. The film was re-made many years later with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, with the same director and the same sets, but this is by far the better version. Paulette Goddard, she of the dimples, is excellent here. Male or female, every actor who has dimples is a minx, and she sure is. Goddard was one of the brightest women in Hollywood, highly respected as a person, but everyone agreed that she could not act worth tuppence. I don’t know why. Here she’s good, attentive, game, unapologetic about taking off her clothes a couple of times — a good-time gal with a deep resource of pep and very convincing as a brash lass, up against Anthony Quinn at his most sexually dangerous, and adventuring into the haunted castle against all warnings. Go with her. You will be so pleased to be petrified. .


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