CLASS #3World War II and Hollywood

America’s studio system did its part during war time. Some of the best movies came after the war: “Best Years of Our Lives,” “Stalag 17,” “From Here to Eternity,” “Patton,” “Saving Private Ryan.”. Capra: Why we Fight series. “The Great Dictator” – Chaplin – spoof of Hitler

John Wayne best known for westerns and war movies.“Flying Tigers” 1942, John Wayne’s first war movie“The Fighting Seabees”, “Back to Bataan”, “They Were Expendable”. Number of actors served in the war – Clark Gable, Gene Kelly, Jimmy Stewart; Stewart flew bombing missions in Europe.

“Casablanca” – 1942. Based on unproduced play, “Everybody Comes to Rick”.A-list film with minimal expectations. Oscars for best film, director, screenplay. Director – Michael Curtiz, “The Mad Hungarian”. Warners studio director, “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” “White Christmas”. Greatest romantic drama. Film shot in sequence because only the first half of the script was ready for shooting. Many famous lines: Never actually said, “Play it again Sam, Here’s Looking at you kid, we’ll always have Paris”

Name of a Woody Allen film

Humphrey Bogart – tough guy, Warners stars of the 40s.Married to Lauren Bacall.Oscar for “The African Queen”. Rick was his first romantic role.Ingrid Bergman: Swedish actress.Paul Henreid, Austrian actor. Claude Rains – Senator Paine from “Mr. Smith”. Conrad Veidt

Sydney Greenstreet.  Peter Lorre – Fritz Lang’s first sound movie “M” in 1931. Dooley Wilson, a drummer, not a pianist. “As Time Goes By” by Herman Hupfeld. Hal Wallis, producer, later known for discovering Lewis and Martin and bringing Elvis to Hollywood. 7th highest grossing film of the year. Leonard Maltin: “the best Hollywood movie of all time”. Julius Epstein interview


Gangster films and “White Heat”

Review from the previous week:

Director Michael Curtiz – the “Mad Hungarian”

“Casablanca” – best romantic drama ever?

A classic Melodrama

Bogart from tough guy to leading man

“Casablanca” the perfect studio film

John Wayne – major star of war movies and westerns

Be able to name other examples of war movies

The gangster film and “White Heat”

Warner Bros. was the king of the gangster films

Stars: Edward G. Robinson, George Raft, James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart

“Little Caesar”- Robinson

“Public Enemy” – Cagney

“Scarface” – Raft

“High Sierra” – Bogart

Musicals were waning – Busby Berkeley films

Warners during the Depression wanted the gritty realism of the gangster films

Raoul Walsh, started as a stage actor and silent film actor

Directed many silent films, including “White Price Glory,” his most successful in 1926

“The Roaring 20s,” “They Drive By Night,” “High Sierra,” “White Heat”

Living is adventure in Walsh’s movies, and usually begins as escape — from shame, crime, or life. Walsh left home at 15 when his mother died, unable to support the house without her, and for years propelled himself on an odyssey to nowhere — Cuba, Texas, Mexico, Montana, punching cattle, toughening himself, taking blows, forming callouses so thick he felt ashamed to shake hands. By accident he landed in show business, because he could ride a horse. Then D.W. Griffith decided to turn him into a moviemaker. And he met Miriam Cooper.

And so for 50 years Walsh made movies of his Irish fantasies. Like him, his heroes, and women too, have neither book learning nor ancestry, only themselves, youth, and infinite bravado. There are few families or children to get in the way, and scarcely a mother. Whether in soaring epics like The World in His Arms or hardscrabble tragedies like The Roaring Twenties (1939), Walsh’s heroes incarnate the dreams and miseries of first-generation Irish-Americans like himself, parvenus, with something to escape from.

Women are for loving. Walsh’s never cry. They like watching their guy being beat up, knocked down, given comeuppance — and coming up off the canvas to win. For their world is full of outrageous injustice, mutilated bodies, innocent lives destroyed. “You gotta fight,” says John Wayne in The Big Trail (1930). “That’s life. And when you stop fightin’, that’s death.”

(Above from a Peter Bogdanovich interview)

James Cagney, 1899

Stage actor, shot to fame in “Public Enemy” (1931)

Grapefruit scene with Mae Clarke, supposed to be an omelet

Irish-American, short, tough, distinctive voice and cadence

A hoofer at heart

Preferred his few musicals although typecast as a tough guy

“Yankee Doodle Dandy” his only Oscar

Other great films – “Angels with Dirty Faces,” “Mister Roberts” and “Love Me or Leave Me”

Just a job, came out of retirement for “Ragtime”

Not true film noir – “centrifugal noir”

Last of the great Warner Bro. gangster films

Cagney thought it was run of the mill – added touches such as the cluster headaches

Location filming around LA

AFI – 4th best of the gangster genre

Madonna video

Show grapefruit scene

Cagney and Mayo articles in Reel to Real