1946: The Best Years of our Lives

(Originally published December 26, 2013)

An all-star cast including Myrna Loy, Fredric March, Dana Andrews,Teresa Wright, Virginia Mayo, and Harold Russell comes together in The Best Years of our Lives to dramatize three soldiers’ experiences returning to civilian life from World War II.

The film opens with these three men flying home for the first time after the War has ended.  They admire the landscape of the United States from the airplane and they talk about their contribution to the military and about the girls Continue reading


1945: The Lost Weekend

This compelling film illustrates the attitudes and obsessions of a young man battling alcoholism.  The dialogue, soundtrack, and actions of the characters worked together to create a poignant portrait that was almost hard to watch at times.  The film brought to light many of the private struggles within the alcoholic himself and Continue reading

1944: Going My Way

(Originally published November 30, 2013)

Winter has descended again and even without this project hanging over my head, I have been craving movies every night for a week.  I am either operating on teacher-burnout (I have a full-time job!) or the foggy, crisp weather demands cozy comfort.

The beginning of Going My Way is ve-ry sl-ow.  However, Bing Crosby’s serious yet delightful charm drew me in anyway.  His character, an Irish-Catholic priest named Father Chuck O’Malley, appears clumsy and bumbling as he stumbles through the first few scenes of the movie but emerges as a pillar of religious strength and love.

The premise of the story is that the Bishop of New York City has sent Continue reading

1943: Casablanca

(Originally published January 17, 2013)

I recently learned from a friend that colleges offer whole classes devoted to this film, so please excuse and enjoy my humble layman’s interpretation.  First of all, the French accent took considerable adjustment to understand.  Thank goodness for subtitles.  British accents are far easier on my ears.

This film portrays one Continue reading

1942: Mrs. Miniver

(Originally published January 9, 2013)

The movie opens with a young wife urgently traveling across town and one gets the impression that something is about to go horribly wrong in her life.  This suspense is humorously assuaged when she rushes into the haberdashery and purchases a fancy hat that she had apparently been thinking about for some time.

This hurried scene is immediately juxtaposed Continue reading

1941: How Green was my Valley

(Originally published August 3, 2012)

The soft-spoken narrator of this 1941 Best Picture Winner soothes the soul with his gentle recollections of growing up in Wales.  I am sure this movie sailed to success because of its pastoral contrast to the raging World War, but also because viewers could relate to the nostalgia that comes with the changing times.

Although the film covers conflicts of its own, Continue reading

1940: Rebecca

(Originally published July 18, 2012)

This 1940 Best Picture Winner never promises to be cheerful.  In fact, several characteristics converge to create a rather foreboding impression from the very beginning:

  1. It is directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
  1. It is based on a Gothic novel (Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, which, coincidentally, I read as a sophomore in high school and didn’t understand a whit.  We’ll see how it goes in DVD form…).
  1. The black and white film opens with a dream sequence marked by moonlight, fog, dense forest, and castle ruins.

However, these features also Continue reading

1939: Gone with the Wind

(Originally published June 21, 2012)

Gone with the Wind: Need I say more?  An American war epic.  A tale of love and pride and passion.  A coming-of-age classic.  Not to mention that it stars Clark Gable.  I was never one for celebrity crushes and fantasy, but then It Happened One Night…

I am not sure I can do the film justice in this little blog, since I am sure it has been analyzed extensively by professional critics.  As an amateur, the best I can do is share my raw first impressions.  And Gone with the Wind certainly Continue reading

1938: You Can’t Take it with You

(Originally published June 7, 2012)

Oh black and white films, how you stretch me.  This has truly been a character building exercise in patience, perseverance, and attention span.  The dialogue seems slower, and the picture seems difficult for my brain to comprehend because my whole world is in color.  However, thus far, I have found myself glued to every film as the plot thickens and the themes develop, and by the end I know the film has enriched me.

Continue reading

1937: The Life of Emile Zola

(Originally published on November 17, 2010)

Why hello 🙂 Please pardon my long absence; I took a long spring and summer hiatus because it is really hard for me to watch movies inside when good weather beckons from the outside. Actually, that is not a very good excuse because we did not really get a summer here in Portland. It rained till mid-June and picked up again in late August. I simply got busy with substitute teaching and making sandwiches at night.

Well, enough with the weather report and complaining about the lack of good weather. I am here to report on good movies that have been nearly lost to time. Continue reading