Archive for the ‘Preston Foster’ Category

Annie Oakley

02 Apr

Annie Oakley — directed by George Stevens. Western. A country lass can shoot the thorns off a rose at 50 paces. So she joins Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. 90 minutes Black and White 1935.


This is a George Stevens production???!!! — the George Stevens who directed Alice Adams and The More The Merrier and Shane and Woman Of The Year? Inconceivable! It is a movie barren of distinction, save for the slight truth Preston Foster gives it as the bragging sharpshooter Annie loves. It’s a marvelous part, and later on Howard Keel would also be excellent in it, as a man whose pride is hurt and who misconducts himself because of it. The roles are great but the script is so poor even Stanwyck looks like a bad actress, which she wasn’t. She was an actress of limited range and disposition, sure, but she had the common touch and a beautiful carriage and natural presence and surety of execution, all of which counted for a lot in her work — in any actor’s work. Alas, the film is puerile, and one wonders at the aesthetic degradation studios felt they had to drag their audiences into in order to snare them. In real life, Annie Oakley was a woman of parts, smart and able and of fine disposition, and she had a long career. Oakley wasn’t even her name; it was Moses; she changed it to have more show-biz potency. Why didn’t Stevens make a film about the fun of that? Stanwyck is able to convey Annie’s youth — as a teenager — but, of course, she is incapable of creating a character — that was not her forte and why should she? — she already herself had enough character for twenty — and besides the script gives her so little to work on. And as to the director — oye! — who would have thought that he would one day direct A Place In The Sun. And yet why should I feel such dismay? As Somerset Maugham said, “Only the mediocre maintain a level,” and George Stevens certainly was not that. I should keep in mind that he directed a hundred films I never saw and never hope to see. That this was one of the forgettable ones is forgivable and then some.


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