Movies Came Out In (1942)
Mrs. Miniver – Just watched recently, and very much enjoyed this film. It’s a WWII romance drama, about an English family life and how it changed as England was drawn into the war. There are several plot twists and the story is very compelling. There’s even a scene in which the men of the village take their boats to assist in the evacuation at Dunkirk. This film is definitely worth watching.
49th Parallel – Just watched this film and really enjoyed it. The plot is: A World War II U-boat crew are stranded in northern Canada. To avoid internment, they must make their way to the border and get into the still-neutral U.S. You don’t see many films involving Canada, their role in WW2, and older films involving U-boats, so this was a pretty unique film. The story telling is interesting, the acting is decent, and I would recommend watching especially to WW2 history buffs.
Kings Row – Just watched this recently, and thought it was a pretty good movie. It shows the lives of 5 children growing up in a neighborhood called Kings Row, and their trials and tribulations of adulthood around the turn of the century (1900). It stars a young Ronald Reagan as one of the main roles. The film has a good plot and decent acting, I definitely would recommend watching if you get the chance.
The Magnificent Ambersons – I found this movie incredibly confusing and extremely bizarre. The narration by Orson Wells reminded me of the Twilight Zone. The movie is clearly dated (in reference to “horseless carriages” for automobiles), but even so, I didn’t find the story very compelling. Not one of my favorites to have had to watch.
The Pied Piper – This was a very hard film to find. The copy that I managed to buy on eBay did not have the French/German dialog translated to English, so I had to “best guess” what was being said. That being said, I do not think my “translation” was that far off considering what was going on with the plot and their body language/expressions. I really liked this movie a lot. It’s about an older Englishman in France that helps smuggle out of the country several children (he picks up a few during his travels, somewhat “against his will”) away from the Nazis. The older gentleman’s character is a crotchety crank but he clearly has a soft spot for children and justice and it makes for a very enjoyable tale.
The Pride of the Yankees – I know that I’ve seen this movie as a kid, but since it had been so long, I rewatched recently just to refresh my memory. Pretty great film, corny at times, and I wish Gary Cooper looked younger when he was Lou Gehrig as a rookie (considering, in my opinion, he actually looked older than Babe Ruth who was at the tail end of his career) but overall a great film. If you’re a baseball fan, or even if you’re not, this movie is well worth watching.
Random Harvest – I enjoyed this film quite a bit. A WWI veteran is in an asylum with amnesia, and escapes. Makes a life for himself and then one day gets into an accident and his memory is restored. However, all knowledge of his life #2 is now erased. Struggles ensue from people from life #1 and life #2, and really complicate matters. I thought it was a very interesting plot and the acting was decent. I would recommend watching if you ever get the chance.
The Talk of the Town – Watched on TCM, was it a drama, comedy or romance, very hard to decipher. The plot is definitely is dated, as the premise (an escapee from jail being able to hide out in plain sight/attic without being discovered/recognized) is just not practical in today’s society. So, you have to suspend belief a little bit while watching, i.e. maybe this was possible in 1942. Other items, like shooting a gun off in a court room to get attention without any repercussions, also seemed very far fetched. It was a likable film, and somewhat entertaining, with a good moral lesson in it. Would I rush out to see it, no, but I think it was worth watching.
Wake Island – Watched recently, and the movie was ok. It’s about the defense of Wake Island in the Pacific after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. It was made/released in 1942, just months after the bombing and is clearly a patriotic propaganda film, which I totally understand for the time period. The sub-plot (a couple of Marines engaged in a tit-for-tat about leaving the island) is quite contrived and almost Three-Stooges-esque at times. But other than that the film held my attention, is relatively short and is important in the historical context for the US.
Yankee Doodle Dandy – Just watched recently and thought it was pretty good. This is the first film that I’ve seen James Cagney in (“you dirty rat”) and he has a pretty good deadpan wit to his acting style, in order to being a decent dancer/singer. The film is an autobiographical telling of the life of George M. Cohan, and it’s done in a pretty interesting way (flashback technique and what not). If you’re into musical and Americana, I would definitely recommend watching this movie.
Mrs. Miniver, but quite a few good films this year!
Ceremony Year (1943) – Movies Came Out In (1942)