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Girls, Children, and Cowboys
GIRL CRAZY (1943)
Based on the stage musical of the same name, Girl Crazy stars Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland in their ninth of ten pairings. He plays college playboy Danny Churchill, who is sent to Cody College, a university populated by singing cowboys, to learn the error of his ways (the cowboy way = responsibility, apparently). He finds the will to reform when he falls for Ginger (Garland), who delivers mail and can’t see him for Adam. But, as is the case in most films of this type, bad feelings always lead to true love. Diverting fluff with some great Gershwin tunes. Production began with Busby Berkeley as director, but Berkeley was fired after continued run-ins with Garland.
A CHILD IS WAITING (1963)
Written by Abby Mann and directed by John Cassavetes, this sober drama features Burt Lancaster as the director of a state institution for mentally handicapped and emotionally disturbed children and Judy Garland as Jean Hansen, a new teacher who challenges his methods. The film uses real-life mentally-handicapped kids, which adds to the overall effect. Producer Stanley Kramer modeled the film's school on the Vineland Training School in New Jersey. Ingrid Bergman, Katharine Hepburn, and Elizabeth Taylor were considered for the role that went to Judy Garland, who previously had worked with Lancaster and Kramer on the 1961 film Judgment at Nuremberg. When original director Jack Clayton withdrew, he was replaced by John Cassavetes, who liked to use improvisation, which led to clashes with Kramer. The problems extended to philosophy. Cassavetes said, "The difference in the two versions is that Stanley's picture said that retarded children belong in institutions and the picture I shot said retarded children are better in their own way than supposedly healthy adults. The philosophy of his film was that retarded children are separate and alone and therefore should be in institutions with others of their kind. My film said that retarded children could be anywhere, any time, and that the problem is that we're a bunch of dopes, that it's our problem more than the kids'. The point of the original picture that we made was that there was no fault, that there was nothing wrong with these children except that their mentality was lower." Cassavetes disowned the film, calling it “sentimental.”
Skyfall is the twenty-fifth James Bond film, features Daniel Craig's third (and best) performance as James Bond, and Javier Bardem as Raoul Silva, the film's antagonist. The film was directed by Sam Mendes, who brings a somber, Graham Greene-like tone to much of the action. This is a serious Bond, with a back story (we learn about his parents) and an emotional depth that previous Bonds lacked, but still has great action sequences. The film centres on Bond investigating an attack on MI6; part of a plot by former a MI6 operative against M (Judi Dench). The film sees the return of two recurring characters: Q, played by Ben Whishaw, and Eve Moneypenny, played by Naomie Harris. The film's release coincided with the 50th anniversary of the 007 series, which began with Dr. No in 1962. Skyfall is the highest-grossing film in the series.
VENGEANCE VALLEY (1951)
Diverting, though rather run-of-the-mill western, only redeemed by Burt Lancaster’s presence as the upright foreman. With the great Robert Walker (Strangers on a Train) as a two-time cowpoke, looking decidedly uncomfortable in western duds on a horse.
December 24, 2012