Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

A review requested by Liz, with thanks for contributing to the Second Quinquennial Antagony & Ecstasy ACS Fundraiser. The body of work created by the filmmaking team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger (credited equally as writers, directors, and producers, though it’s generally understood that Powell was more the director, while Pressburger was more the […]

A review requested by Jenny B, with thanks for contributing to the Second Quinquennial Antagony & Ecstasy ACS Fundraiser. I have been guilty of this sin as recently as in the middle of re-watching the film for this review, but I think I can still say without hesitation: it’s much, much too easy to overlook […]

A review requested by McAlister, with thanks for contributing to the Second Quinquennial Antagony & Ecstasy ACS Fundraiser. The ingredients are pretty standard early ’40s Hollywood comedy, so you wouldn’t know it just to glance at it, but Ball of Fire is a very special movie. And not just because every film directed by Howard […]

I do not know – and I suppose if I really wanted to know, I could find out – what the stops are along the history of “realistic” war films; what caused people to start making movies in which combat was a joyless, dispiriting slog full of mortal dread and not a noble calling that […]

“This is a story of the Unconquerable Fortress: the American Home…1943” You know Mrs. Miniver, yes? Let’s talk about it like you don’t: Mrs. Miniver is a film about British Fortitude on the Home Front during The War. It strike a massive chord with wartime audiences, ending up the highest-grossing film of 1942, winning six […]

In all the history of cinema, there few subgenres that I find delightfully weird and random than one that existed for only a few years, between 1942 and 1945, made a staggering quantity of money, and ceased to have any function after World War II ended. I don’t even know if the style has a […]

There’s an important thing to keep in mind when watching any film made in the United States about World War II, and especially those made during the war itself: it wasn’t, physically, an American war. To the British, for six years, the war was a constant looming threat right across a terrifyingly thin stretch of […]

The textbooks will have you know that the United States entered the Second World War on 8 December, 1941, the day after the Empire of Japan bombed the U.S. naval yards at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. And while this is technically true, it would be a damned lie to act like imminent war wasn’t much on […]

A mere four years after the adventures of Kharis the mummy (played here, for the last time, by the resentful and alcoholic Lon Chaney, Jr.) began with The Mummy’s Hand in 1940, they slammed to an end with The Mummy’s Curse, the last Universal mummy picture that was actually aiming to be horror: they’d trot […]

Without exception, every single Universal monster franchise hit a point where it was uncomfortably obvious that the people making them had entirely stopped caring. For the films starring Kharis the mummy, that point was The Mummy’s Ghost, the first of two mummy films from 1944, and that fact alone tells us of the estimable “crank […]

If your stereotypical notion of a mummy movie is an undead corpse in moldy bandages scraping its feet along as it stalks terrified victims who really only need to walk at a brisk pace to keep well ahead of a monster that they could destroy with a matchbook, you should know that not all mummy […]

Every week this summer, we’ll be taking an historical tour of the Hollywood blockbuster by examining an older film that is in some way a spiritual precursor to one of the weekend’s wide releases. This week: Planes is about planes. Talking planes with faces, no less. And while I can name no other movie about […]