Masterful John Ford western with a great story, great characters, and great acting from a great cast (led by James Stewart and John Wayne). Everyone involved seems to be working at the height of their powers. The framing story works quite well, adding a sense of foreboding, sadness and wistfulness, particularly to James Stewart’s character. My only two criticisms are that it sometimes lacks excitement and that the villain (played by Lee Marvin) is so two-dimensional; he’s just an arsehole with no redeeming features or explanation as to what made him so or what his motivations are. Note for any fans of the Gene Pitney song ‘(The Man Who Shot) Liberty Valance’: though it was written and recorded for the movie, it doesn’t actually appear in it. No great shame, I reckon.
Highly effective thriller, much better than the 1991 version. Robert Mitchum’s performance as Max Cady is key to the film’s success; he’s creepy, malicious and relentless, and he instills genuine fear despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that he isn’t shown being violent until the end. Beyond the monstrous villain himself, the other main source of fear is the utter uselessness of the authorities; our hero (ably played by Gregory Peck) attempts to work within the law but quickly and disturbingly discovers that it’s very much on Cady’s side. Bernard Herrmann’s score is excellent, ramping up the tension nicely. Outside of To Kill a Mockingbird, it’s hard to think of a Gregory Peck film better than this one.
It may not have been the smartest idea to pick a movie lasting almost four hours as part of a project in which I was trying to get through lots of movies! But this had been on my to-watch list for a long time so I’m glad I finally got to it. Peter O’Toole is great and his character is compelling enough to hold your attention throughout despite the length. A criticism: he was presented as an expert on Arabia with a more progressive view about Arabs and Arabian independence than all of his contemporaries, but we never find out where he got his ideas from (i.e. there’s no equivalent to the scene in Braveheart in which William Wallace’s uncle says to him, “You don’t speak Latin? Well that’s something we shall have to remedy, isn’t it?”, promising to educate him in Europe and giving us a basis for his enlightenment). Also, I wasn’t as moved by the film as I wanted to be. Still, easily the best movie I’ve ever seen featuring this many camels. And the theme music is still stuck in my head.
Epic depiction of D-Day from multiple perspectives is very impressive in its scale, particularly some of the beach scenes. Dramatically, some parts are fairly hokey, and overall it doesn’t have enough emotional impact.