Friday, May 28, 2004

Forgotten Cinema, Volume I

Tonight, When crustaceans attack! brings you a few fun facts about lesser known cinematic gems for you to sprinkle into dinner party conversation.

This Man's Navy (1945)
The engaging tale of two Navy vets who compete to see whose son is the bigger hero. Wallace Beery, James Gleason, Tom Drake. D: William A. Wellman. BW 100m

This propaganda effort, made in the closing days of World War Two, is notable for what was only the third homosexual screen kiss and the first to feature tongue.

Corporals on Parade! (1948)
A scewball comedy about new recruits from all over the United States being put through their paces at an army base in South Carolina. Jay C. Flippen, John Gilbert. D: Frank Capra. BW 100m.

Made during the depths of Capra’s little-known battle with depression (which Warner Brothers worked hard to suppress), this film is chiefly known for the closing scene where the young private from California screams into a thunderstorm ‘I did not take your shoes, I did not take your shoes,’ over and over again, as the torrential rain washes the Drill Sergeant’s blood from his broken fingers. Bracing!

It Happened One Afternoon (1934)
A newspaperman tracks a runaway heiress on a madcap cross-country tour, finishing in a men’s prison where the two find love at last. Claudette Colbert, Clark Gable, Walter Connolly. D: Mark Sandrich. BW 105m. CC

The first Hollywood film to capture the brutal reality of prison rape, this movie saw audiences walk out of the twelve minute ‘laundry’ scene. It is also thought to be the first film to feature the now standard line ‘don’t drop the soap!’.

The Importance of Being Earnest (1952)
Asquith’s immortal film of Wilde’s most popular work. Michael Redgrave, Edith Evans, Richard Wattis. D: Anthony Asquith. C 95m

Audiences warmed to this film after initial discomfort with screen-writer Paul O’Hare liberal changes to the original script. Best scene: Lady Bracknell gives her famous line: 'To lose one parent, Mr. Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness' to which Jack retorts in a flash: 'why don’t you just shut the fuck up?'

Adventure (1945)
A rough-living sailor has trouble adjusting to domestic life when he marries a librarian. Clark Gable, Greer Garson, Thomas Mitchell. D: Victor Fleming. BW 126m. CC

Poorly undertood when it was first released, this film has become highly influential. The scene where Clark Gable strides naked, clad only in a coat made from Greer Garson’s skin is, of course, later echoed in Silence of the Lambs. And the pulsating sound track was later imitated by Miami Vice.

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