Category Archives: Epic

The Dawn Patrol

Directed by Edmund Goulding
Produced by Jack Warner (executive producer)
Hal B. Wallis (executive producer)
Robert Lord (associate producer)
Written by John Monk Saunders (story)
Seton I. Miller
Dan Totheroh
Starring Errol Flynn
Basil Rathbone
David Niven
Music by Max Steiner
Cinematography Tony Gaudio
Editing by Ralph Dawson
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date December 24, 1938
Running time 103 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Dawn Patrol is an excellent film about the futility of war and the waste of human life that they cause. Errol Flynn and Basil Rathbone are great in this but it is David Niven as Scotty who steals the film in my opinion. Scotty goes from being a happy-go-lucky pilot who thinks that war is an adventure and not really caring about anything. His persona slightly changes after he is recovered  and he briefly confronts the German who shot him down, but it is not until his own brother has enlisted and is sent up with the squadron to tackle the hated Von Richter and his men in what will be certain doomed for an inexperienced rookie that his character changes completely.

The film is not so much about war, although there are some great aerial scenes (many of which were taken from the 1930 Howard Hawks version), but about the way it changes the men who have to fight it.

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Hatari

Directed by Howard Hawks
Produced by Howard Hawks & Paul Helmick
Written by Harry Kurnitz
Leigh Brackett
Starring John Wayne
Elsa Martinelli
Hardy Krüger
Red Buttons
Music by Henry Mancini
Cinematography Russell Harlan
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date October 6, 1962
Running time 157 min

Hatari is another manly John Wayne movie. It’s not as manly as The Quiet Man, but it is pretty close. Of course John Wayne is a man’s man, even if there are photos of him wearing women’s clothing which somehow hasn’t made it to the internet yet! (Perhaps he is so manly that the internet refuses to believe that he was into transvetitism!). Hatari is such a manly film that even the woman act manly, no matter how hot they are. In one scene that lasted about five minutes Elsa Martinelli smokes three cigarettes and drinks a beer. The film is just dripping with testosterone.

Seriously it is an enjoyable, although overlong, film. There are lots of exotic animals and dangers in the African savannah and there is also a lot of good-natured humour. With John Wayne you always know what you are going to get as he always plays the same type of character. Perhaps he didn’t need much of an acting range since he was so manly?!

I should also mention the music and that at the end of the film we are treated to Mancini’s Baby Elephant Walk and the sight of three cute baby elephants running amok.  All in all an enjoyable way to waste 2 1/2 hours and best thing is that you can get the DVD from Big W for less than ten bucks.


Around the World in 80 Days

Directed by Michael Anderson
Produced by Kevin McClory, William Cameron Menzies & Michael Todd
Written by: Novel: Jules Verne
Screenplay: James Poe, John Farrow & S.J. Perelman
Starring
David Niven
Mario Moreno “Cantinflas”
Robert Newton
Shirley MacLaine
Music by Victor Young
Cinematography Lionel Lindon
Editing by Howard Epstein, Gene Ruggiero & Paul Weatherwax
Distributed by 1956 – 1976: United Artists
1983 – present: Warner Brothers
Release date October 17, 1956
Running time 183 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Around The World In 80 Days is a film that I loved to watch as a kid, despite its very lengthy running time. Watching the film today it doesn’t really hold up as being so special, but it is a fine film nonetheless.

The film follows Jules Verne’s novel with the exception of the scenes in the balloon and the bullfight in Spain, which I gather were done just to give the  fans of the Mexican Cantinflas, who plays Passepartout, something to cheer about. I am not so sure about the choice of Cantinflas to play the ‘worthy fellow’. Verne’s Passepartout is a Parisian, not latino, and unlike the way he is portrayed in the film he is not a skirt chasing comic relief.

I wonder if this could be the reason why I did not enjoy the film this time around. I have recently read and enjoyed the novel and found the film adaptation to be lacking in detail and quite watered down. The film seems to go from one scene to the next without any growth for the characters (Shirley MacLaine’s Aouda is just there and unlike her namesake in the novel adds very little to the plot).  There is really colourful and spectacular scenery and lots of cameos but ultimately while the film is fun, it feels a little empty. It feels very rushed compared to the novel and some vital plotpoints are left out or tweaked. Despite the film being 3 hours long it feels much shorter although some scenes are a little pointless and seemed just designed to show off the special guest star who is playing a cameo rather than furthering the plot. Perhaps if the film spent more time on the plot and of developing the major characters and less on trying to tell the world that a certain guest star is appearing in a particular scene I would have enjoyed the film a little more.


The Greatest Show On Earth

Directed by Cecil B. DeMille
Produced by Cecil B. DeMille
Written by Fredric M. Frank, Theodore St. John, Frank Cavett & Barré Lyndon Narrated by Cecil B. DeMille
Starring Betty Hutton
Cornel Wilde
Charlton Heston
James Stewart
Dorothy Lamour
Gloria Grahame
Music by Victor Young
Cinematography George Barnes
Editing by Anne Bauchens
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s) January 10, 1952 (1952-01-10)
Running time 152 minutes
Country United States
Language English

We bring you the circus — that Pied Piper whose magic tunes lead children of all ages, from 6 to 60, into a tinseled and spun-candied world of reckless beauty and mounting laughter; whirling thrills; of rhythm, excitement and grace; of daring, enflaring and dance; of high-stepping horses and high-flying stars.

But behind all this, the circus is a massive machine whose very life depends on discipline, motion and speed …. a mechanized army on wheels that rolls over any obstacle in its path …. that meets calamity again and again, but always comes up smiling …. a place where disaster and tragedy stalk the Big Top, haunt the backyards, and ride the circus rails …. where Death is constantly watching for one frayed rope, one weak link, or one trace of fear.

A fierce, primitive fighting force that smashes relentlessly forward against impossible odds: That is the circus. And this is the story of the biggest of the Big Tops …. and of the men and women who fight to make it — The Greatest Show on Earth!

The Greatest Show On Earth won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1952 but is often called the worst Best Picture of all time. This is mainly because 1952 was the year that other classics such as High Noon, Singin’ In The Rain, Ivanhoe, The Quiet Man and Moulin Rouge were released. Despite what critics may say and the reputation that it has had hoist upon it, The Greatest Show On Earth is still a very fine film. I am not just saying this because The Greatest Show On Earth was my favourite show as a kid either. Sometimes it is good to watch a big budget, dumb film with lots of colour and action and FUN!!! It is not just worthy films that should be considered great, not all films have to have a message or feature dramatic performances, sometimes it’s enough to be able to much on some popcorn and be thoroughly entertained for two and a half hours. I suspect that if The Greatest Show On Earth had not received the Oscar for best picture in 1952 it would be much more respected than it is today.

I am not a wanker movie reviewer (obviously) who has try to look intelligent or profound with what I say. I don’t have to try to pretend to shun the mainstream for whatever is hip. I am allowed to say that I like a film that many professional critics have maligned, which is the case here. Let’s face it, I still like The Greatest Show On Earth and would say that of the other films that were nominated for Best Picture in 1952, only High Noon can compare to it. (The same can be said for The Sound Of Music, but that was omitted from the nominations for best picture!)

In hindsight I do admit that The Greatest Show On Earth is a big, dumb movie, but that is no bad thing. The best way to enjoy this film is to turn your brain off before watching it and to just take in the colour and spectacle of the movie. It’s fun to watch the film and to reminisce about the old days of the circus, and to watch the cameos by actual renowned circus performers like Emmett Kelly and Lou Jacobs. Charlton Heston is Ok as Brad the circus owner while Betty Hutton is downright annoying at times as aerialist Holly. I do like James Stewart’s fine role as Buttons the Clown and find him intriguing, especially as he does not take his make-up off at all in the picture.