top of page
  • melissaryanconner

Best Picture Movie Marathon, Part 72

Part 72: 1936


MOVIES:

  • Alice Adams

  • Top Hat

  • Captain Blood

  • A Midsummer Night's Dream

  • Mutiny on the Bounty (winner)

  • Ruggles of Red Gap (hidden gem)

  • The Informer

  • David Copperfield

  • Broadway Melody of 1936

  • Lives of a Bengal Lancer

  • Naughty Marietta

  • Les Miserables



Alice Adams

Director: George Stevens

Starring: Katharine Hepburn, Fred MacMurray, Fred Stone, Evelyn Venable, Frank Albertson, Ann Shoemaker, Charles Grapewin, Grady Sutton, Hedda Hopper, Hattie McDaniel, Jonathan Hale, Jeanet McLeod, Virginia Howell, Zeffie Tilbury, Ella McKenzie

Oscar Wins: No wins.

Other Nominations: Best Actress (Katharine Hepburn), Best Picture

 

Katharine Hepburn, like Bette Davis, is great when she plays herself: a snooty, upper-class, and strong-willed woman who doesn’t care at all for the opinions of others (The Lion in Winter, The Philadelphia Story and even Little Women are great examples of her perfect casting). However, it’s not so easy to play the opposite.

 

When Bette Davis plays the subdued, timid, overrun woman, something feels wrong. It’s like she’s even bored with her performance. Davis’ softer roles often go unremembered and are overshadowed by her brilliant, chaotic ones. However, unlike Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn is also great at playing against her type.



In Alice Adams, Hepburn plays her complete opposite. Alice is extremely insecure. Hepburn never cared for convention. Alice is overly self-conscious about her appearance and is bothered to have to wear last year’s dress to a party. Hepburn wore pants before it became common for women to do so. In 1974, she attended the Oscars for the first and only time, wearing the clothes she was gardening in before the show.

 

Aspirations to rise to better circumstances drive the title character in Alice Adams, but it’s not a tale of snobbery gone wild. Instead, it’s a story about a young woman desperate to be “something besides just a kind of nobody”. It’s a uncharacteristic arc for Hepburn, unlike Tracy Lord in The Philadelphia Story, and one that makes Alice sympathetic, but never pathetic.

 

Unlike her friends and acquaintances, Alice Adams (Hepburn) comes from a poor family. Her father, Virgil (Fred Stone) could have been a contender, so to speak, but didn’t want to risk his loyalty to his employer. Mrs. Adams (Ann Shoemaker) is a loyal and loving mother, but also upset that her daughter can’t move up in the world due to their financial woes.



While attending a party one evening, Alice meets the young, wealthy and dashing Arthur Russell (Fred MacMurray) and the two have an almost instant connection. While Arthur is taken by Alice, she is also deeply embarrassed and ashamed of the world she comes from. Rather than admitting the hardships her family has suffered, she pretends that her family’s modest circumstances are out of choice, not necessity. These matters come to a head at a very disastrous (and hilarious) dinner, which plays out like a Laurel & Hardy short. All too soon, Alice’s façade begins to crumble.

 

Hepburn’s performance is obviously the heart of Alice Adams. This film is solely hers. We know her inner conflict, her yearning to be better. Behind her high-brow laughs and thinly veiled efforts to shield what she considers her shame of poverty, she hides a girl trying desperately to belong in a world that’s quickly moving right past her.



Another scene-stealer is Hatti McDaniels, the maid hired to give the Adams’ a touch of class at the pinnacle dinner. Far from being the highly skilled servant they were hoping for, Melina is clumsy and confused. She has wonderful bits of physical comedy as well, not unlike Agador in The Birdcage. It certainly takes a lot to steal a scene from Hepburn, but McDaniels does it flawlessly.

 

The message of Alice Adams is simple – just be yourself and be proud of who you are. It’s very quaint, very Americana, very run-of-the-mill in the grand scheme of things. Movies since have done this better and, all things considered, Alice Adams might be lost to the ages if it wasn’t for Hepburn. This is solely her film, her story, her vehicle. Fans of hers will love it, others will most likely forget it. But, at its best, Alice Adams offers a fun, relatable story that makes all of us in tough situations feel just a bit better about making our own dinner, upcycling our own clothes, and picking our own flowers.

 

Top Hat

Director: Mark Sandrich

Starring: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Edward Everett Horton, Erik Rhodes, Helen Broderick, Eric Blore

Oscar Wins: No wins.

Other Nominations: Best Dance Direction ("Piccolino"), Best Dance Direction ("Top Hat, White Tie, and Tails"), Best Music (Song) ("Cheek to Cheek"), Best Art Direction, Best Picture

 

When I watch a musical, I’m rarely watching it for the plot. The storyline is almost always secondary to the songs, the dance numbers, and the costumes. The same, I think, can be said about Fred and Ginger movies.

 

Fred Astaire was a known stickler about his dance numbers, particularly in Top Hat. He insisted his numbers with Ginger Rogers be shot in unbroken takes that ran as long as possible. To watch them dance in this way is to see an achievement in endurance and artistry. There are no gasps for breath, just glorious smiles as the two dancers seemingly float through the air. Because of this, movies like Top Hat can get away with a stupid plot. We’re not here for that, we’re here for them.



Like many romantic comedies of the day, Top Hat relies on mistaken identities. Song-and dance man Jerry Travers (Astaire), who is footloose and fancy-free, is in London to do a show for producer Horace Hardwick (Edward Everett Horton). He’s showing off his new dance moves late at night in Hardwick’s hotel and the noise from his shoes wakes up Dale Tremont (Rogers), who is sleeping in the room below.

 


Clad in pajamas I’m CONVINCED no one ever slept in in the 1930s, she goes upstairs to complain and the two are immediately enamored with each other. Some flirting follows, and some dancing, then Dale comes to the false realization that she has been flirting with Horace, who she’s never met but is married to her friend, Madge (Helen Broderick). How she can be BFF’s with Madge and not know the man she’s been married to for several years makes no sense to me but, as we said, we’re not here for the plot. To make matters even more entertaining, Dale is on her way to meet Madge and Horace in Italy, where Madge hopes to set her up with…Jerry.

 

Top Hat is essentially a comedy of errors with some great dancing scenes scattered in between. It’s what Roger Ebert dubbed an “Idiot Plot”, one that could be cleared up at any moment by one line of sensible dialogue…but there are times when nothing but an Idiot Plot will do – and this is one of those times.

 

This might seem obvious to say about a Fred Astaire movie, but Top Hat is at its best when Astaire is in motion…and I don’t just mean when he’s wearing tap shoes. Astaire has such perfect control over his entire body that even something as simple as folding a newspaper can turn into slapstick gold.



And he’s only better with Ginger. When discussions come up about which was the better dancer, people often quote the famous line, “Ginger Rogers did everything Fred did, and she did it backwards and in high heels.” Top Hat is technically kind of a dumb movie, but it’s remarkable to see how these two worked together. Even though there were rumors of feuds on set (mostly because of Rogers’ instance to wear that insane feather dress that made her look like an ostrich), the chemistry between the two is undeniable.

 

Top Hat broke box office records at the time and was the second highest grossing film of the year. During the Great Depression, it brought in more than $3 million, about $66.4 million today. Even though Fred and Ginger weren’t that popular before this film (this was only the 4th of their 10 movies together), it no doubt set them on the path to stardom. Today, it’s impossible to hear one name without the other. They are a pair dancing cheek to cheek until the end of time.

 

Captain Blood

Director: Michael Curtiz

Starring: Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Lionel Atwill, Basil Rathbone, Ross Alexander, Guy Kibbee, Henry Stephenson, Robert Barrat, Hobart Cavanaugh, Donald Meek, Jessie Ralph, Forrester Harvey, Frank McGlynn, Sr., Holmes Herbert, David Torrence, J. Carrol Naish, Pedro de Cordoba, George Hassell, Harry Cording, Leonard Mudie, Ivan F. Simpson, Mary Forbes, E.E. Clive, Colin Kenny, Vernon Steele, Murray Kinnell

Oscar Wins: No wins.

Other Nominations: Best Writing (Screenplay), Best Director, Best Musical Score, Best Sound Recording, Best Picture

 

When Johnny Depp took to the high seas in 2003, I was one of the scallywags who dressed up for the midnight showing. When Dead Man’s Chest came out 3 years later, we had a full-blown pirate-themed party – complete with Jack Sparrow cupcakes! -  to celebrate the event:



 

Though pirates, and the Caribbean for that matter, saw a huge surge in popularity thanks to Captain Jack and his Black Pearl, Pirates of the Caribbean was far from the first time a merry band of misfits has plundered their way through those tropical islands. In 1935, director Michael Curtiz took a chance on a young, unknown Australian actor named Errol Flynn for the lead in his new pirate movie…and much like Pirates would do for Depp, Captain Blood skyrocketed Flynn to stardom.



Set in England in 1685, Captain Blood follows a doctor named Peter Blood (Flynn), who is arrested for treason when he’s found helping a wounded rebel. Sentenced to slavery in Jamaica, he uses his medical background to help the local governor with a nasty case of gout, thereby earning himself some protection from his owner, the nasty Colonel Bishop (Lionel Atwill).

 

Though he has favor with the governor, he’s still very much a slave. He plots with his fellow prisoners to escape the island via a ship. They form a crew, deeming themselves a “brotherhood of buccaneers”, and become one of the most formidable groups of pirates in the Caribbean.



Blood eventually befriends a French pirate named Levasseur (Basil Rathbone) and the two become, well, frenemies. The better part of each man agrees to share what each takes in plunder, however; when Blood arrives empty-handed, Levasseur is not at all willing to share his latest prize – one Arabella Bishop (Olivia de Havilland), Blood’s love interest and niece of Colonel Bishop.

 

Naturally the only way to settle the argument is with some fancy swordplay. With elegant footwork that takes these men up and down a rocky cliff, the fight eventually ends in Blood’s favor – and he is able to take Arabella for himself.

 

But not all high-brow women can be wooed by swashbuckling thieves. Though he’s disappointed in her rejection, he still agrees to bring her home to Port Royal. However, the French have beat him there and are blasting ships out of the water. In a scene pretty insanely cool for the 1930’s, Blood and his crew destroy the warring French ships, and he returns as the hero – and newly appointed governor – of Port Royal.



Captain Blood is a movie of memorable firsts. Not only did it launch the careers of Flynn and de Havilland, it was also the first of their eight films together (they’d go on to make a similar film, The Adventures of Robin Hood, just three years later).

 

And while it wasn’t the first swashbuckler put to celluloid, there’s no doubt it became the gold standard against which all others were judged. The scenery and choreography of the sword fight between Blood and Levasseur were obviously an inspiration for the fight between Westley and Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride. And Rathbone’s oily magnificence as the villain Levasseur was so iconic, Disney surely borrowed his likeness and mannerisms for their Captain Hook in Peter Pan.

 

While Captain Blood is far less snarky than the Pirates of the Caribbean films, it’s no less entertaining. With witty writing, memorable characters, and epic stunts and battle scenes, Captain Blood is quite the treasure.

 

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Director: Max Rienhardt, William Dieterle

Starring: Ian Hunter, Verree Teasdale, Hobart Cavanaugh, Dick Powell, Ross Alexander, Olivia de Havilland, Jean Muir, Grant Mitchell, Frank McHugh, Dewey Robinson, James Cagney, Joe E. Brown, Hugh Herbert, Otis Harlan, Arthur Treacher, Victor Jory, Anita Louise, Nini Theilade, Mickey Rooney, Katherine Frey, Helen Westcott, Fred Sale, Billy Barty, Peggy Lynch

Oscar Wins: Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing

Other Nominations: Best Assistant Director (Sherry Shourds), Best Picture

 

In 1934, director Max Reinhardt signed a young, unknown actress to be the second understudy of Hermia in his theater production of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Staged at the Hollywood Bowl, Reinhardt brought in real trees and a pond. The players entered the theater via a suspension bridge and carried live torches. Electric lights were used to represent fireflies. Set against the sounds of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, this lavish production was the talk of Hollywood, with big-wigs and celebrities itching to see a performance.

 

As the understudy to the understudy, this young, unknown actress named Olivia de Havilland would need not one act of God, but two, to get on stage. But the fates smiled down on her one night when both Jean Rouverol and Gloria Stewart (who would go on to play Old Rose in 1997’s Titanic many years later) both dropped out of the play to take film roles. And just like that, Olivia was in the game.

 

If you’ve seen Olivia de Havilland in pretty much anything she was in during her more than 100 years on this planet, it should come as no surprise to you that she SLAYED that performance. In fact, when Warner Bros. came calling asking Reinhardt to direct a film adaptation of his play, he brought de Havilland along with to star in the film (the only other cast member to join the film from the original theatrical cast was Mickey Rooney as Puck – but more on that later).



Besides being the film debut of Olivia de Havilland, A Midsummer Night’s Dream was the first Shakespearean adaptation to be nominated for Best Picture. It also marked the first and only time a write-in candidate would win an Oscar (write-in votes were only allowed in 1934 and 1935). Cinematographer Hal Mohr would win for Best Cinematography even though he was not on the official ballet.

 

However, the film didn’t do all that great at the box office. With a very weird cast consisting of approximately 0 Shakesperean actors, A Midsummer Night’s Dream was far from the high-brow film it billed itself to be. Still, it’s praised for its technical achievements, some of which still look amazing even by today’s standards.



A Midsummer Night’s Dream has remained one of the Bard’s most popular over the centuries. You don’t need to know anything about history, politics or myth to understand the story – which relies mostly on mistaken identity. You do, however, need to have a pretty good understanding of all the intertwining plotlines.

 

Plotline 1: The main storyline involves a young woman named Hermia (Olivia de Havilland), who is in love with a boy named Lysander (Dick Powell). However, Hermia’s father wants her to marry Demetrius (Ross Alexander) instead. Besides the fact that Hermia only has eyes for Lysander, she also knows her BFF Helena (Jean Muir) is actually goo-goo for Demetrius. It’s all very Dawson’s Creek.

 

True to her heart, Hermia refuses to follow her father’s commands – so he has no choice but to take her to the Duke of Athens, Theseus (Ian Hunter), to see if he can have his blasted daughter killed for being so disagreeable. Seems a TAD dramatic, but ok, moving on.

 

In true Shakesperean fashion, nothing will stop these lovers from following their hearts. They run away into a forest, where they fall asleep from the summer heat. But the forest has it’s own drama.


Plotline 2: King Oberon (Victor Jory) and Queen Titania (Anita Louise) are in a bit of a lover’s spat. As Queen of the Fairies, Titania is a magical nymph who has adopted a young boy into her home of leaves and flowers…however, Oberon wants him as his servant.

 

Plotline 3: A group of thespians, including an obnoxious James Cagney, are looking for a place to rehearse their play and find themselves smack-dab in this enchanted forest.

 

Plotline 4: An annoying little creature named Puck (Mickey Rooney) just reaks havok on everyone, using magic love potions and transforming spells to cause complete chaos for everyone involved.

 

Eventually, everything works out – as things tend to do in a Shakespearean comedy. But it’s a loong acid trip to get to the end.

 


From a technical standpoint, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is easily one of the most beautiful black and white films I’ve seen in a while. The fairy ballets harken back to a magic found in the very beginning stages of cinema. Fairies seem to be dancing on actual clouds. Actors fly through the air with ease. And all the scenes involving Oberon and Titania actually glitter. It’s not only cool to see these older effects being put to use here, but to also see how far we’ve come.



While the special effects and even the costumes certainly deserve high praise, the acting – particularly that of Mickey Rooney – leaves a lot to be desired. Rooney’s Puck is not only a child – he’s a wild child. He runs around shirtless with matted, unruly hair. Sticking out from his head are two small horns. He looks like one of Peter Pan’s Lost Boys on someone else’s medications. His laughter is a mix between braying and screaming, shrill to the point of annoyance. I may have muted him on several occasions…



All in all, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a jumble of plotlines, costumes, accents, cultures, and camerawork. Ironically, it feels very much like a dream (or a nightmare, depending), with hazy transitions and creatures that look straight out of Middle Earth. Parts of it are great, other parts not so much – but that’s to be expected here. After all, “the course of true love never did run smooth.”

 

Mutiny on the Bounty

Director: Frank Lloyd

Starring: Charles Laughton, Clark Gable, Franchot Tone, Herbert Mundin, Eddie Quillan, Dudley Digges, Donald Crisp, Henry Stpehenson, Francis Lister, Spring Byington, Movita Castaneda, Mamo Clark, Byron Russell, David Torrence, John Harrington, Douglas Walton, Ian Wolfe, DeWitt Jennings, Ivan F. Simpson, Vernon Downing, Bill Bambridge, Marion Clayton, Stanley Fields, Wallis Clark, Crauford Kent, Pat Flaherty, Alec Craig, Hal LeSueur, Dick Winslow, Charles Irwin

Oscar Wins: Best Picture

Other Nominations: Best Actor (Charles Laughton), Best Actor (Clark Gable), Best Actor (Franchot Tone), Best Director, Best Film Editing, Best Music (Scoring), Best Writing (Screenplay)

 

It’s high treason in high pants on the high seas!

 

“In December 1787, HMS Bounty lay in Portsmouth harbor on the eve of departure for Tahiti in the uncharted waters of the Great South Sea. The Bounty’s mission was to procure breadfruit trees for transplanting to the West Indies as cheap food for slaves. Neither ship nor breadfruit reached the West Indies. Mutiny prevented it. Mutiny against the abuse of the harsh 18th century sea law. But this mutiny, famous in history and legend, helped bring about a new discipline based upon mutual respect between officers and men, by which Britain’s sea power is maintained as security for all who pass upon the seas.”

 

So reads the opening credits of Mutiny on the Bounty, a film based on the famous real-life mutiny against a cruel captain in the British Navy. Starring Charles Laughton and a mustache-less Clarke Gable, Mutiny on the Bounty is a war between two titans, set in the arena of the open sea.

 


The crew of the Bounty was far from traditional seamen. Comprised mainly of men plucked from prisons or forced into service, this crew was unaccustomed to both the rigors of the sea and of military regimentation. Many of these men were already dreading what was certain to be a grueling two-year journey – but nothing could have prepared them for the ruthless Captain William Bligh (Laughton), a monstrous man who punishes his crew not just to discipline them, but because he enjoys seeing them suffer.

 

One of their first encounters with the captain comes as he demands another in a round of lashings for a sailor who struck an officer. When it’s discovered that the sailor is already dead, Bligh orders the beaten, battered corpse whipped nonetheless. Death will not stop punishment!

 

Bligh’s lieutenant, Fletcher Christian (Gable), is Bligh’s complete opposite. Handsome, empathetic, and an all-around good guy, Christian admires Bligh for his knowledge, but doesn’t agree with his harsh punishments. They tolerate each other well enough until the boat reaches Tahiti – and it’s during the next leg of the voyage that things truly come to a head. 

 

While on the island, the men are enamored with the easygoing life of the natives, which includes beautiful native girls. Their discipline grows lax. When Bligh orders the ship to begin its return voyage, the men aren’t too happy about it. The fire is building…



Once on board, Bligh starts rationing the water supplies to make sure the breadfruit plants have enough water. The water ration is enough to send Christian over the edge. Pushed well beyond his breaking point, Christian and a handful of men seize control of the Bounty, leaving Bligh and a few of the captain’s loyalists adrift on a small boat, some 3,500 miles from the nearest port.

 

Their chances of survival are slim at best, but Bligh is nothing if not determined. As for Christian, he and his men seek sanctuary back in Tahiti, where they enjoy a couple years of peace and freedom – until another British ship is spotted on the horizon…

 

Similar to the more recent Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, Mutiny on the Bounty is not about sailing or the Navy or even the mutiny – it’s about the conflict between these two leaders, or two leadership styles. When Bligh looks at his crew, he sees animals that must be tamed, must have their wills broken so they’ll blindly follow his demands. Christian, meanwhile, sees men. If treated with some measure of respect, they’ll likely return it. When the mutiny finally happens, Christian is visibly broken. This is a defeat in everything he’s come to believe in, longstanding friendships are irrevocably fractured. He has to rein in a crew that’s hellbent on vengeance against Bligh and contain their insatiable bloodlust. Though the mutiny means freedom from Bligh’s cruelty, Christian knows there’s no hiding from the Royal Navy. All he can do is delay the inevitable.



As the billed ‘villain’, Charles Laughton is particularly fascinating as Captain Bligh. This character could easily be nothing but menacing evil, but Laughton provides layers to him that may hint as to why he was such a ruthless leader. When Bligh is first introduced to Christian, he makes it a point to mention that he’s a self-made man, not a proper gentleman as Christian is. Perhaps Bligh doesn’t feel like he deserves his station in life and fears that the men under his command – men with whom he has more in common than he’d like to admit – feel the same. So, he compensates in the worst way possible. Fear becomes the ideal tool to sculpt these scallywags into a proper British outfit. The only time we see him smile is when he’s dining with the ship’s officers. He smiles, laughs, jokes – for a time, he’s almost unrecognizable. These few glimmers of humanity work to elevate a great performance that much more.

 

Mutiny on the Bounty also marks the first time in Oscar history that the three male leads, including Laughton and Gable, were nominated for a Best Actor Academy Award (even with three in the game, they all still lost to Victor McLaglen in The Informer). Still, the film was a box office smash. It was the highest-grossing film of 1935 – making back its budget twice over. Sitting alongside a string of other classic literary adaptations produced that year, including David Copperfield, Anna Karenina, Ah Wilderness and A Tale of Two Cities, Mutiny on the Bounty grabbed more box office dollars and more Oscar nominations than all four of those films combined.

 

Shot on location in the REAL OCEAN, Mutiny on the Bounty offered audiences plenty of spectacle, exotic filming locations and juuust a hint of taboo romance. With great performances from everyone on board and a story that still excites viewers, it seems Mutiny on the Bounty hasn’t lost its salty bite.

 

Ruggles of Red Gap

Director: Leo McCarey

Starring: Charles Laughton, Mary Boland, Charlie Ruggles, ZaSu Pitts, Roland Young, Leila Hyams, Maude Eburne, Lucien Littlefield, Leota Lorraine, James Burke, Dell Henderson, Clarence Wilson

Oscar Wins: No wins.

Other Nominations: Best Picture

 

Made right smack-dab in the middle of the Great Depression, Ruggles of Red Gap is a celebration of the mythology of America. It’s a film that believes in the daydream version of these United States, a land of apple pie and opportunity, where every man, no matter his lot in life, can carve out his own place in the world. 

 

Marmaduke Ruggles (Charles Laughton) is the quintessential English butler. A gentleman’s gentleman, Ruggles has devoted his career to ensuring that his master, the Earl of Burnstead (Roland Young) is never less than appropriately presentable. Unfortunately, Burnstead has already lost his service before the movie even begins.



When Burnstead loses a game of poker to the genial but uncouth hick millionaire rancher, Egbert Floud (Charlie Ruggles), he suddenly finds himself without a servant. Having raised the stakes by putting Ruggles in the prize pot, Burnstead must not only nurse his pride, but find someone else to run his life for him.

 

Ruggles is initially fearful of his new American venture. He still thinks it’s “a country of slavery” and may not be as welcoming to an outsider like him. Burnstead assures him not to worry. That’s all been taken care of “by some fellow named Pocahontas or something”. Not the most WOKE movie, but gotta admit, that was kind of funny.

 

Egbert, in all his glory, is the very model of a modern American rancher. Sporting a Yosemite Sam mustache, checkered suit, cowboy hat, and cartoonish Southern accent represents everything about America that horrifies Ruggles. No better is Egbert’s wife, Effie (Mary Boland), who is a social climber and takes a shine to the “tone” the presence of Ruggles would bring to their home in Red Gap, Washington.



This cartoonish exaggeration of American attitudes follows Ruggles and the Floud’s back to Red Gap, where Ruggles is welcomed into town by a large crowd, hooting and hollering, complete with a man rearing a horse and firing guns into the air.

 

Though timid at first, Ruggles soon finds himself loving his American life. In some of the most wonderful scenes in the film, Ruggles relaxes enough to enjoy himself at a carnival, get drunk with his new “employer”, and indulge himself in his new dream to start a restaurant in town. And when romance comes a’knockin’, the final nail is placed in his proverbial red, white, and blue coffin.

 

While the teasing America gets in Ruggles of Red Gap is certainly entertaining, the most wonderful thing about this film is how genuine it is. Much like the film Marty, scene after scene is not only funny, but endearing. There’s a realness about it, a kind of ad-lib relaxed feel that only works to enhance the story.

 

Directed by Leo McCarey (who also directed some of my favorite films, including Duck Soup and The Awful Truth), Ruggles of Red Gap is filled with clever physical humor that’s easy to miss if you’re not paying attention. Though he was a master of the dramatic role, Charles Laughton proves he could really do anything playing this softer, loveable goof ball. He’s a man of few words, but he says plenty with his eyes, his face, his movements, even what he doesn’t say. It’s comedy gold – stuff that challenges even the best in the business.



On a personal level, America meant a lot to Laughton. When he was working on this film, he was seriously considering becoming an American himself. He thought it was a wonderful place and believed wholeheartedly in “The American Dream”. It was likely for that reason Laughton named Ruggles of Red Gap his favorite of his own movie roles.

 

Towards the end of the movie, an American makes his way around a bar, asking if anyone knows what it was that Abraham Lincoln said at Gettysburg. The punchline is that Ruggles knows the whole speech by heart and rehearses it for everyone at the bar. The camera pans to those in the crowd, giving each man a chance to be alone with their reaction to Laughton’s careful and soothing delivery of the speech.

 

It’s the showiest moment in a film that rarely shows off, which is undoubtedly why it lands so well. Ruggles of Red Gapis really quite a gentle comedy with an empowering message at its heart. Ironically, it’s a tale of emancipation, of freedom, and of a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

 

The Informer

Director: John Ford

Starring: Victor McLaglen, Heather Angel, Preston Foster, Margot Grahame, Wallace Ford, Una O'Connor, J.M. Kerrigan, Joe Sawyer, Neil Fitzgerald, Donald Meek, D'Arcy Corrigan, Leo McCabe, Steve Pendleton, Francis Ford, May Boley

Oscar Wins: Best Actor (Victor McLaglen), Best Writing (Screenplay), Best Director, Best Music (Scoring)

Other Nominations: Best Film Editing, Best Picture

 

Ask anyone in show business and they’ll probably all tell you the same thing – it almost always pays to step out of your comfort zone.

 

Though he’s traditionally known for his westerns, director John Ford earned his first of four Best Director Oscars for a film that traded landscapes for hallways, cowboys for criminals, and horizons for hazy Smoke Monsters ala LOST. It had all the makings of a classic film noir before that category of cinema ever even existed. With religious, political and moral themes intertwining throughout the film, The Informer is about as far from a Ford western as you can get.



We begin in 1922 in Dublin, Ireland. A tall, strong, great slab of a man dressed in a ratty jacket and tweed cap shuffles through the foggy night. His name is Gypo Nolan (Victor McLaglen) and, like many in Ireland, is hoping to find a better life in the United States with his girlfriend, Katie Madden (Margot Grahame).

 

The only problem is that tickets to a better life cost about 10 pounds each (roughly $900 in today’s money), an astronomical um for someone down on their luck. But things change when he spies a poster of Frankie McPhillip (Wallace Ford), a wanted hoodlum for the IRA resistance and a brother in arms for Gypo. There’s a 20-pound reward for turning Frankie in and Gypo is obviously torn. The two grew up together and their friendship means a lot to both men – but Gypo could really use that reward money…

 

The fact that he rats out his friend shouldn’t be surprising (I mean, it’s called The Informer), but this selfish act works to set up the entire rest of the film. Guilt governs every subsequent venture Gypo undertakes. He’s instantly plagued by his choice, tortured by his conscience, and quick to admit to something as farfetched as murder rather than utter the word “informer”. His only defense is to indulge in self-absorbed debauchery and, as one might anticipate, it doesn’t bring him happiness or relief. All too soon paranoia sets in, as peeping eyes become suspicious of Gypo’s sudden financial break.



Things only get worse when Gypo is assigned by an IRA commandant (Preston Foster) to identify Frankie’s informer (as a return for a favor). This forces Gypo to point his finger at anyone he can think of other than himself as his guilt continues to grow…

 

But Gypo isn’t the worst shady character at play here. That honor goes to John Ford’s fog machine, which covered his Dublin set so heavily that the film becomes a murky, atmospheric maze, perfectly representing the confusion over ethics and politics that shape the film into an essay on modern Ireland. It’s also used throughout the film to cover Gypo’s face, reminding us that he’s not to be trusted – that some part of him is always trying to avoid detection. He’s a character you might find in a Dostoevsky novel, a man so ravaged by his own guilt that he becomes a dreadful and pathetic creature of darkness, all over the course of one very eventful evening.



For religious folks, the connection to Judas should be pretty obvious here. For those of us who are unfamiliar with Biblical lore, John Ford makes the connection that much easier by opening The Informer with a title card featuring a quote about Judas betraying Christ. It’s easy to say that this is a modern take on that Biblical story, but it’s also a much more relatable moral of sorts about the decisions we make and, more importantly, why we make them. It’s a story about human weakness and forgiveness, and the terrible way in which love and destruction almost always follow each other.

 

David Copperfield

Director: George Cukor

Starring: Edna May Oliver, Elizabeth Allan, Jessie Ralph, Harry Beresford, Freddie Bartholomew, Basil Rathbone, Hugh Walpole, Herbert Mundin, John Buckler, Faye Chaldecott, Una O'Connor, Lionel Barrymore, Violet Kemble Cooper, Elsa Lanchester, Jean Cadell, W.C. Fields, Lennox Pawle, Renee Gadd, Marilyn Knowlden, Lewis Stone, Roland Young, Frank Lawton, Madge Evans, Hugh Williams, Maureen O'Sullivan, Florine McKinney, Ivan F. Simpson, Mabel Colcord, Arthur Treacher

Oscar Wins: No wins.

Other Nominations: Best Assistant Director (Joseph Newman), Best Film Editing, Best Picture

 

If there’s one thing producer David O’Selznick loved, it was a literary adaptation. Throughout his years in Hollywood, he adapted Gone with the Wind, Rebecca, A Farewell to Arms, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Anna Karenina, A Tale of Two Cities, and Little Women, just to name a few. However, one of his most beloved adaptations was about a little Victorian orphan named David Copperfield.

 

But it didn’t start out that way. No one at MGM was confident enough to modernize the Dickens masterpiece, and the top brass at the studio was adamantly opposed to highbrow literary adaptations due to their cost and risky box office appeal. However, O’Selznick was nothing if not tenacious.

 

Bringing David Copperfield to the screen would ultimately change MGM’s attitude toward literary classics. As the studio’s last and greatest release of 1935, David Copperfield was a huge box office success. It was one of the highest grossing films of the year, bringing in about $3 million upon its release.



David Copperfield (Freddie Bartholomew) lives a happy life with his mom (Elizabeth Allan) and his creepy nurse, Peggoty (Jessie Ralph). All is well and good until mom is courted by the unpleasant Murdstone (Basil Rathbone). For as cold as he is, his sister Jane (Violet Kemble Cooper) is even worse.

 

When Murdstone eventually becomes David’s stepfather, he makes it a priority to treat David and his mother with little to no respect. And when David’s mother eventually dies, he is forced to make a tough decision about whether to stay with his stepfather or run away.



The decision is made somewhat easier when David’s boss (because child labor), the kindly Mr. Micawber (W.C. Fields), is sent to debtor’s prison. With his only advocate forced to relocate, David decides to run away to the home of his Aunt Betsy (Edna May Oliver) and her insane cousin, Mr. Dick (Lennox Pawle).

 

For those of you who are curious, David ran from his home in London to his aunt’s home in Dover, a distance of about 80 miles…on foot…as a 10-year-old…by himself. Just letting that sink in. OK, moving on.

 

Aunt Betsy then sends David to a school in Canterbury, where he lives with his aunt’s lawyer, Wickfield (Lewis Stone), and his daughter, Agnes (Marily Knowlden). The two children grow up together and Agnes continues to nurse a crush on David (now played by Frank Lawton). But David only has eyes for Dora (Maureen O’Sullivan), an immature girl he eventually marries, then loses when she also dies for apparently no good reason. But, dear old Agnes is there to pick up the pieces. The two childhood friends are united at last, and everything ends happily ever after for this little Artful Dodger.



The greatest part of any Dickens story is most often the secondary characters, and that’s no different here. Not only are they brought to life in a funny, maybe even frightening way, they’re also most likely a perfect representation of what audiences thought these characters looked and sounded like while reading the book. Think Hagrid in Harry Potter or Gollum in Lord of the Rings. Many considered Edna May Oliver to be the exact Aunt Betsy and even W.C. Fields’ characteristic cane and hat tricks fit right in with his Mr. Micawber.

 

But David Copperfield does suffer from the same vex that cursed the book: it’s too damn long. The novel, which is about 800 pages long, is squeezed into 130 minutes of film – and is often way too much story for one movie. Characters fly through the storyline before they’re dropped and never mentioned again. Gone are the backstories and the connective tissue that help explain motives and decisions. Reduced to its bare bones, David Copperfield does its best to introduce the highlights, if not the best parts, of its literary muse.

 

Broadway Melody of 1936

Director: Roy Del Ruth

Starring: Jack Benny, Eleanor Powell, Robert Taylor, Una Merkel, Sid Silvers, Buddy Ebsen, June Knight, Vilma Ebsen, Nick Long, Jr., Robert John Wildhack, Paul Harvey, Frances Langford, Harry Stockwell

Oscar Wins: Best Dance Direction (“I’ve Got a Feeling You’re Fooling”)

Other Nominations: Best Writing (Original Screenplay), Best Picture

 

Chances are if you’re a lover of movie musicals, you’re not watching them for their plotlines. Most have obnoxious stories that are only made better by casting Danny Kaye or Gene Kelly and filling any extra space with catchy showtunes. The film that kicked the musical genre up a notch, The Broadway Melody of 1936, is no different. The plotline is so drab that there’s actually quite a bit of time spent highlighting a character whose entire purpose in life is to study, and replicate, various snoring sounds.

 

Gossip columnist Bert Keeler (Jack Benny) is in hot water with his boss. His weekly column is supposed to air the dirty laundry of the celebs of the day – the kind of stuff that would get him punched in the nose. But, with no scent of drama in the air, he’s forced to write about celebrities expecting babies. Oh the days before social media…



Along with his buddy, aptly named Snoop (Sid Silvers), Bert hits the streets to see what he can find. As luck would have it, he comes upon Broadway producer Bob Gordon (Robert Taylor) discussing a new project with the beautiful (and wealthy) Lillian Brent (June Knight). Bert gets to work writing about Bob and his new show, focusing on the need for a new leading lady. This inevitably leads to Bob punching Bert in the nose, an action that ironically earns Bert a promotion.

 

Bob returns to his office that’s almost always filled with Broadway hopefuls. One of the wannabe stars this time is Irene Foster (Eleanor Powell), an old childhood friend from Albany. She’s arrived in New York to break into showbusiness and reconnect with an old friend – and maybe not necessarily in that order…

 


She checks into a boarding house, where she meets Ted and Sally Burke (real-life siblings Buddy and Vilma Ebsen), a sibling vaudeville act who are in New York to…you’ve guessed it…break into showbusiness. They sing (before breakfast), they tap-dance on the roof, they impersonate Katharine Hepburn. Just your usual “waiting for my Broadway break” activities…

 

Eventually Bob comes to learn his old pal Irene is in town and is eager to see her. However, like the charmer he is, he refuses to cast her in his show. Instead, he casts Ted and Sally, then rewards Irene with a ticket back to Albany. Sorry kid, he says. Broadway’s gonna chew you up and spit you out.

 

Luckily though, Bob’s secretary Kitty (Una Merkel) has faith in Irene’s talents. Together with Snoop and Bert, Kitty conspires to transform Irene into the French actress, La Belle Arlette, a character Bert actually made up a while ago to help spice up his column. Even though Arlette is very obviously fake, Bob is none the wiser and he casts her in the show.

 

As is the case with these kinds of stories, the proverbial chickens always come home to the proverbial roost. Truths are revealed, love is restored, and there’s a slam-bang finish to top the whole thing off.



Like most musicals, Broadway Melody of 1936 has its high and low points. On the one hand, the musical numbers are often too long and a bit disjointed from the rest of the story. On the other hand, there are some pretty cool experiments done with camera technique and special effects. Objects appear with the flick of a wand, flowers bloom and pianos pop out of the floor, costumes change color, and whenever Bob walks through the news office, papers fly up as he passes. These effects might seem old hat today, but they were super impressive given what movie crews had to work with 90 years ago.

 

As our lead, Eleanor Powell was a female Fred Astaire in top hat and tails…only hers were bejeweled with sequins. Her talent was put on full display here, even if her acting skills weren’t quite up to par yet (this was only her second film). Her confidence shows much more in Broadway Melody of 1940, where she actually gets to dance with Fred Astaire in “Begin the Beguine”, a performance you should absolutely check out if you haven’t seen it before!

 

Overall, Broadway Melody of 1936 falls into that category of films that inspired other films to do it that much better. While it’s not at all what I would call ‘inspirational’ in terms of technical achievements, it still helped in jolting us into a new genre…one that opened the door for people like Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, and Ginger Rogers to not only act, but dance their way to the top. Even if it is dull by today’s standards, its influence is still seen in everything from Singing in the Rain to 42nd Street…not too shabby in the history of movie musicals.

 

Lives of a Bengal Lancer

Director: Henry Hathaway

Starring: Gary Cooper, Franchot Tone, Richard Cromwell, Guy Standing, C. Aubrey Smith, Kathleen Burke, Douglass Dumbrille, Colin Tapley, Lumsden Hare, J. Carrol Naish, James Dime

Oscar Wins: Best Assistant Director (Clem Beauchamp, Paul Wing)

Other Nominations: Best Film Editing, Best Art Direction, Best Director, Best Sound Recording, Best Writing (Screenplay), Best Picture

 

History hasn’t been kind to movies touting the virtues of the British Empire. It’s often hard for modern audiences to watch these tales of white superiority, not to mention the subjugation of indigenous people and the marginalization of their cultures. In films like Lives of a Bengal Lancer, British heroism is required to not only foil the villain, but protect the innocent, childlike Indians. It’s the reason Adolf Hitler named it as one of his favorites, for it maintained the lesson that a handful of Europeans could rule an entire continent of ‘lesser’ races.

 

Perhaps it’s fitting, then, that Lives of a Bengal Lancer is largely forgotten today…yet, in it’s time it was the equivalent of a Marvel movie – pure escapism. It not only shot Gary Cooper into stardom, it was also one of the first ‘buddy movie’ successes, where a group of friends fight incredible odds in the name of glory.



Out of the northern frontier of India during British rule, Alan McGregor (Gary Cooper) is the highly respected – if somewhat defiant – lieutenant of the 41st Bengal Lancers. Rocking a pencil-thin mustache, McGregor (“Mac”) is under the command of Colonel Tom Stone (Sir Guy Standing) and Stone’s second-in-command, Major Hamilton (C. Aubrey Smith with a MUCH better mustache).

 

When an officer is killed in a skirmish while on patrol, two replacements are brought in: the insolent Lieutenant Forsythe (Franchot Tone), and Lieutenant Donald Stone (Richard Cromwell), who happens to be the son of Colonel Stone.

 

The Colonel had nothing to do with his son’s assignment (much to his son’s dismay) and shows no favoritism to him. Instead, Stone Jr. finds a surrogate father in the softhearted Mac, who does his best to guide the new recruits in the ways of life on the frontier.



The heart of the story concerns the kidnapping of Donald Stone by Mohammed Khan (Douglass Dumbrille), Colonel Stone’s longtime nemesis and leader of the Muslim rebels. However, when dear dad finds out his son has been captured, he refuses to rescue him, fearing the mission will endanger the regiment.

 

This leaves Mac and Forsythe with the difficult decision to rescue Jr. – without the permission of leadership. But these two aren’t as sneaky as they think. When they’re eventually captured, Khan demands information about the route the weapons convoy plans to take. The two men are subjected to rounds of torture, including having bamboo slivers placed under their fingernails (this literally makes me want to die). But Forsythe and Mac not only take it like men, they take it like gentlemen. However, Jr. is made of weaker stuff. In an effort to get back at his dad, he reveals the route to Kahn before being thrown in a cell with Mac and Forsythe.

 

For what it’s worth, Mac and Forsythe are jolly decent about Stone’s blabbermouth, maintaining that stiff upper lip even though they were tortured for literally NO REASON. In a final act of brotherly togetherness, the men come up with a daring, suicidal plan to destroy some stolen ammunition and take on the Muslim army. And when Mac goes down in a blaze of glory, Jr. has no choice but to step up and be a real man.

 


Lives of a Bengal Lancer is an important bridge between the British and American empires. It’s no accident that three American actors (Cooper, Tone and Cromwell) are junior officers in their 20s and 30s and the British actors (Smith, Standing) are senior officers approaching retirement. Even in a movie about British rule, the “heroes” are American. It’s a proverbial passing of the imperial torch from the UK to the US.

 

As mentioned before, films like Lives of a Bengal Lancer don’t hold the same punch today as they did back in the 1930s. Through a modern lens, this film is not only racist and insensitive, but uncultured and xenophobic. While it does offer some great cinematic scenes (and mustaches), it’s not near my cup of tea, English Breakfast or otherwise.

 

Naughty Marietta

Director: Robert Z. Leonard, W.S. Van Dyke

Starring: Jeanette MacDonald, Nelson Eddy, Frank Morgan, Elsa Lanchester, Douglas Dumbrille, Cecilia Parker, Walter Kingsford, Joseph Cawthorn, Greta Meyer, Akim Tamiroff, Harold Huber, Edward Brophy, Helen Shipman

Oscar Wins: Best Sound Recording

Other Nominations: Best Picture

 

Princess Marie de Namours de la Bonfain (Jeanette MacDonald) is the people’s princess. She doesn’t want to live a stuffy life and instead likes hanging out in the poor part of town, rubbing her clean elbows with the unwashed masses.

 

Upon arriving home one day, she learns that her uncle (Douglas Dumbrille) has gone and arranged a marriage for her with Spaniard Don Carlos de Braganza (Walter Kinsford), whom she despises.

 

It looks like there’s no way out for poor Marietta, until she learns about the casquette girls, a group of women being sent to Louisiana to marry whatever bag of male hormones is up for it. Her maid, Marie (Helen Shipman) is one such girl, and agrees to give her spot up to Marietta as a way to escape her arranged marriage. Marietta sneaks onto the ship, where her clever disguise as a not-princess consists of a hat and a pair of glasses. I guess if it worked for Clark Kent, it can work for anyone, right?



However, before they can make it to the New World, the ship is attacked by pirates. They kill the entire crew and bring the all the women with them. But never fear! Before anything can happen, a group of mercenaries, led by Captain Richard Warrington (Nelson Eddy), come to their rescue. This crooning Davy Crockett takes an instant liking to Marietta, and he and his cavalry bring the women to New Orleans.

 

Their first stop is the convent, where most of them get married to their rescuers (LOL)…but not Marietta. Though they’re all hot to trot, she’s having none of it. She informs the governor (Frank Morgan), who’s in charge of this meat market, that she’s an “immoral” girl. Apparently, this is a deal-breaker and she’s hauled off by the guards.



For some reason, the governor’s wife (Elsa Lanchester) – who literally has the best dresses I’ve ever seen – isn’t too happy with Marietta’s existence. Maybe it’s because the governor has a roving eye, but the Mrs. need not worry. Marietta has a type – and the stumbling governor is not it.

 

Ever the gentleman, Warrington finds the disgraced Marietta a place to stay, then goes on to make fun of the fact that she probably can’t sing as well as he can. SYKE! They have an old-fashioned, 18th-century sing-off, where Marietta easily wipes the floor with this guy before running off to join…a marionette show. Weird, but ok girl – you do you.

 

Warrington then enters his stalker era, following Marietta around town. They eventually agree to have lunch, where they overhear that Marietta’s uncle has arrived to town and is looking for her. Warrington doesn’t yet know who she is, just that she’s on the run. He takes her off for a romantic swamp rendezvous where they sing love songs at each other in octaves only dogs can hear.



Apparently soldiers were able to hear their singing, too – because they’re eventually found and it’s revealed that Marietta is actually a princess. The governor and his wife, who’s suddenly over her jealousy – throw a ball in Marietta’s honor. Her uncle threatens to kill Warrington if he shows up, but doesn’t follow through on that promise when, of course, Warrington does show up. Instead, the two love birds sing at each other once again, before he sweeps her off to the frontier, where she will have to learn to trade fame for farming. All in the name of love!

 

Naughty Marietta is historical in that it marks the first of many films featuring Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy, two classically trained opera singers who supposedly had even more chemistry behind the scenes than they did on camera. Today, however, this film remains mostly forgotten – and maybe for good reason. As someone who does love a good musical, I found Naughty Marietta difficult to sit through. While the singing talent is no joke, it was often so hard to understand what they were actually singing about. Granted, some of that has to do with the sound quality, but I hate to say it took me out of the experience a bit.

 

I will say, though, I did enjoy watching MacDonald and Eddy together. There’s something about watching two people who have natural chemistry on screen. Her effortless humor was a good match to Eddy’s stiffness and there were several times you could tell the two of them had real attraction to each other.

 

But was that enough to save it? Personally, I don’t think so. The crazy storyline and all the operatic singing got tiresome after a while, and the songs just made a long movie feel even longer. A better option is Roman Holiday, which tells a very similar story with better scenery, prettier stars, and no high-pitched warbling.

 

Les Miserables

Director: Richard Boleslawski

Starring: Fredric March, Charles Laughton, Cedric Hardwicke, Rochelle Hudson, Marilyn Knowlden, Florence Eldridge, John Beal, Frances Drake, Ferdinand Gottschalk, Vernon Downing, Leonid Kinskey, Ian MacIaren, John Carradine

Oscar Wins: No wins.

Other Nominations: Best Film Editing, Best Assistant Director (Eric Stacey), Best Cinematography, Best Picture

 

This review does contain spoilers.

 

There are several novels that filmmakers have turned to again and again for inspiration. Stories like A Christmas Carol, Little Women, Romeo and Juliet, Oliver Twist, and Hamlet have seen many authentic and imaginative remakes over the years. But few have inspired storytellers quite like Les Miserables.

 

Though there have only been a couple Hollywood renditions of Victor Hugo’s novel, countries all over the world have told this story on screen (and stage) countless times. The first of the American renditions, this 1935 telling somehow squishes 1,400 pages into 108 minutes. There are no songs, no dance numbers, no epic choreography…instead, Les Miserables focuses heavily on Valjean vs. Javert. Rather than giving side characters their own storylines, as we’ve seen done in the musical version, this telling turns them into a connected influence on Valjean as he moves through life, focusing almost exclusively on his conflict with Javert and their dueling visions of mercy vs. the law.



We begin in the courtroom, where Jean Valjean (Fredric March) is sentenced to prison for stealing bread to feed his starving family. He receives 5 years, but his time is doubled when he tries to escape.

 

Prison is brutal and inhumane, filled with hard labor and physical and mental abuse. When Valjean is finally released, he is bitter and hardened by the experience. Everyone treats him like a convict, so he acts like one, until he meets the saintly Bishop of Digne (Cedric Hardwicke).

 

The Bishop offers him food and shelter and is the first person to treat Valjean like an actual human being. Even when Valjean responds by robbing him, the Bishop forgives him and offers him an additional gift of two silver candlesticks. He tells Valjean that “life is to give, not to take”, a phrase that completely transforms Valjean’s life.

 


All of this is contrasted with Inspector Javert (Charles Laughton), who Valjean first meets as a prison guard. Unlike Valjean, Javert was actually born into the criminal class, but was determined to rise above it by embracing the law. In this retelling, Javert is less concerned with the ‘once a thief, always a thief’ idea and more obsessed with the fact that the law has gone unfulfilled when Valjean broke parole. Therefore, he must be apprehended to restore balance to the law. He’s a man who’s pinned his entire identity on being the man who follows the law that when there’s any irregularity or grace given, he loses a bit of himself.

 

The rest of the characters are majorly diminished in an effort to focus on Javert and Valjean. Fantine (Florence Eldridge), for example, is almost entirely glossed over and Cosette (Rochelle Hudson) plays a much smaller role here than she does in later adaptations. For the most part, I think this works to move the story along. With such a strong focus on the battle between Valjean and Javert, the other characters (while certainly entertaining and important overall), don’t matter quite as much in this very slimmed down version.

 

<insert spoiler alert!>

 


That being said, I think this version of Les Miserables missed the boat just a bit towards the end, particularly surrounding Javert’s suicide. Why would a man who lives and breathes the law decide to end his own life? The reason isn’t made very clear here. In one of those “if you blink, you miss it” moments, Valjean rescues the man his adopted daughter loves. Seeing this, Javert jumps into the water, but the WHY isn’t all that obvious. If you’re familiar with the story, you might know that Valjean’s actions in saving his daughter’s lover proved once and for all that a man is not necessarily evil just because the law says he is. This action went against Javert’s entire belief system, and he became plagued by the thought he might be living a dishonorable life. Personally, I didn’t think this was all too clear by the end. Furthermore, the whole reasoning for the battle on the barricade wasn’t explored, either. I don’t think either of these mishaps took away from the film as a whole, just left me feeling like I missed something at the end (thankfully I kept hearing the songs in my head, which helped fill in the gaps!).

 

Though this version of Les Miserables is greatly condensed, it still gets the theme across…be kind and lend a hand to those who need it most. And when life has you way down, just remember that even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise again.

 

9 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page