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Captain USAF Air Force Pilot 65-70
Retired-partially disabled by work related accident
Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
Cagney Dances, and doesn't shoot anyone.
Ordinarily, I like old films, especially those made in the 40's. But I have never understood why this film is so loved, and played so often on TCM. For me it is a dated propaganda film (we had just entered WWII). Hollywood never questioned any war with Germany. Its patriotism was never questioned, even when it came to offering good reviews and Oscars. Cagney may have been a good dancer, I am not an expert. But if I paid to see him in a film in 1942 I would have been disappointed to see him dancing instead of smashing a grapefruit into a face, or going nuts in a prison. That is the Cagney that I liked. Sorry if that offends anyone. Cary Grant, who never won an Oscar, could never played the roles Cagney played as a mobster. Fortunately, to my knowledge, Grant never danced, sang or played an absolute evil person.
The film may have deserved kudos for its patriotism and artistic values. But this is one Cagney movie I can not watch from beginning to end. I don't think it will stand the test of time.
Furthering the Myth
I like flying movies, but being a professional pilot, I have found misleading info about Earhart, that was probably more the fault of her sponsors than herself However, she did not shy from the limelight, and was an ardent feminist.
This made for TV film appears to be a little short on facts and long on the myths that have made Earhart the most famous of female pilots. This mythology is not fair to other aviators,male and female, who made more contributions to aviation as a commercial venture and towards safety.
This film thus centers on the myth, rather than stick to the facts. Earharts aviation contributions are substantial, however, she seemed to have more than her share of accidents, some of which indicate a basic failure of pilot judgment. Engines can fail, weather is unpredictable, gas may be exhausted before landing, but a pilot's judgment must be constant to meet the various challenges.
The real Earhart apparently had so many irons in the fire, her skills as a pilot became questionable. One of a pilot's requirements is recent experience. Making historical flights in questionable aircraft could not be a part-time job. In a recent biography of Earhart, none of her warts which would show her humanity rather than the public image which we already know. This film does nothing for me but watching aircraft fly.
The Seven Year Itch (1955)
Monroe is a characters of every man's dream-in 1955
The time this film was made was 1955. For those old enough to talk a girl to a movie to see this film, it is a great comedy and satire. To the younger generations, with different moral codes, many of the scenes probably don't make sense. For example, who knows about the magazine called U.S. Camera? It was one of the few magazines that showed completely nude women. This got by the censures because it was considered art, and was before Playboy. You could buy "girlie" mags, but they were not considered proper in a married middle class home. The other other "decent" magazine that had naturally nude women was when the Geographic was doing a piece on the South Seas, or life in Africa.
Middle class married men were not any different than those today, except the trysts were usually more circumspect. And that is what makes this flick funnier to we grey hairs. Traveling salesman jokes were so popular at the time because they had respectable jobs, and had more opportunities to play around and not get caught by their wives. Married men with routine jobs had to be more inventive.
Comedy that plays on universal subjects such as human nature and sex. Some films become dated because you must be alive to understand the subtle references. Unles you have a degree in some period of time.
This film will be a classic forever, despite some of humor lost on younger generations. There is enough timeless comedy to keep this film alive for generations. If someone can not see something special in Marilyn Monroe, they must not be a normal male, of any generation.
Tom Ewell is perfect in his roll. Like most men, he is not very handsome or sexy, but sees himself attractive to ALL females, even a Marilyn Monroe. The seven year itch is a reference to that time that comes in every marriage when romance gives way to routine. A man wants to return to his youth. (Which explains why so many older men are married to trophy wives-if they can afford them).
I have not discussed how women might view this. Knowing what women think becomes more difficult as one grows older. I suspect that they may found humor in how men see themselves as young and viral, and begin to delude themselves. This phenomenon is similar to the non-combatants in any war, who begin to think and tell others of their heroic deeds of their youth.
The first scenes, showing the original inhabitants of Manhatten are intended to show that as far a sex is concerned, nothing has changed.
Quality Street (1937)
Even Hepburn makes a bum film
Actually, its hard to describe whats wrong with this film. Everything should be in place. Hepburn,Tone, Stevens, good supporting cast. Good photography. Ah, yes, the writing. That's probably the problem. The writing is syrupy sweet, the dialog appropriate for the 19th century, and then it was probably over the top in social correctness. The plot-well the plot is in the simply dumb.
As any film buff knows, Hepburn's career was not like a meteor. She had a good start, but had a sucession of terrible films which didn't make money. From a business point of view, for most film producers, a film is good if it makes money. Most do not care if the film is loved by the critics. Its nice if everybody praises the film, but bad films and bad box office have usually ended many promising careers. Hepburn's greatest accomplishment was overcoming her "sophomore jinx" There are many "flash in the pans"- in sports, the arts and business. What counts in the end is staying power. Just look at her life accomplishments. She ended her career like she started-one of films greatest stars.
The Tattooed Stranger (1950)
Low Budjets and unknown actors make good movie
Its not sophisticated, and nobody in the credits had a great career, but taken as a whole, because there are no famous personalities; the film seems more realistic than some high budget, well cast films.
A film made for a few bucks, that is worthy of watching should give hope to all those would be film makers and wantabee actors.
The problem with this film is it was made in the worst possible time. TV was taking over the revenues of the film industry, and this film could have easily been shown on TV. In 1950, all the fare on TV would qualify for a "G" rating. The film industry began to make more "adult" films that could not be shown on TV during the days when TV wouldn't dare show the sex and skin of today's commercials.
Hangmen Also Die! (1943)
Enjoyable film due to excellent cast.
The assination of Reinhard Haydrich is similar to Custer's last stand in that so many versions have been written and filmed. We probably haven't seen the last of them, or given the real story.
The plot at times reaches for credibility. For example, the character of Gestapo Inpector Gruber is played brilliantly by Alexander Granach. For once, WWII anti-nazi movies gave us a real Nazi who was smart and does solve the case, but not in time to save his life. In real life, I doubt whether a real Gestapo Inspector would ever go anywhere without the comfort of a few armed men.
The writers would have us believe that so many ordinary people could stick to the same concocted story without making an error, or taking a bribe to test the credibility of their plot to cast the informer as the assassin.
Gene Lockhart proves he can act as he plays the informer. He plays the role two ways- a devious and ambitious man willing to sell out his friends, and as a pathetic victim of his own doing.
Brian Dunnleavy plays the assassin who struggles with himself knowing that his act has caused the shooting of hostages. He wants to give himself up, but is convinced that it would be a futile gesture. Anna Lee plays the daughter of one of the Hostages, and she originally goes to the Gestapo to trade her knowledge of the assassin for her Father's life. On the way, the ordinary citizens try to stop her, and her conversion to helping the Czech cause begins to overide her attempt to save her father's life.
This film was one of many that were made during the War. Without major stars, it could never have won the acclaim that Casablanca won. Whereas Casablanca is filled with stereotypes, this film doesn't show every Nazi as a idiot. Inspector Gruber is a worthy opponent of the underground. As a cop, he was pretty good, at the same time he was playing the typical Nazi rotten human being.
Considering that that the Nazi's were in power from 1932 to 1945, and the Soviet Occupation of Czechoslavakia was three times longer, one has to wonder why there haven't been three times as many films portraying them as the unwanted dictators of their country.
Above and Beyond (1952)
An old film, but still a current topic of argument.
This is a good film, first line actors, William Wellman the Director was a combat pilot from WWI, and the film avoided most of the tiresome triteness of most war films especially those about flying and pilots.
Most of the commentaries seem to like the film, but not all agree with the political meaning of the film. Some of the comments mention personal connections with the film, so excuse mine. I was a combat pilot in SAC, and was behind one of the switches that could send off bombs more deadly then a 20K bomb. I served in Japan many years after the War. It was my impression that more young Americans faulted our decision to drop the bomb, than the Japanesse who were the actual targets of the bomb. They, like many Germans were ashamed of their acceptance and participation in the War. Today, the most ardent anti-communists are those who actually lived under communism, unlike many college professors and Hollywood actors, producers and writers.
In 1945, the Japanese Military who wanted to continue the war, wanted to fight to the last man. Not unlike Hitler, who could have ended the war, they were willing to expose every man, women and child in their country to death and starvation. Despite years of war (Japan had invaded China in 1931), the Military Junta still had the capacity to inflict horrible casualties on our troops at Okinawa and Iwo Jima, and they were prepared to fight to the death the Allied invasion set for September, 1945.
The US did not have enough fissionable material to make three bombs. Of the two that were dropped, one was made of Uranium 235, and the other Plutonium. Some critics said we should have set off a "show" bomb off the coast of Japan. We used one of our bombs on Hiroshima, and despite the evidence, it took another at Nagasaki to convince the leaders of Japan to end the war. Japan could, and should have quit before all the devastation.
The former Soviet Union entered this same war on the side of Hitler. They took chunks of land from the Poles,Lithuania,Lativia,Estonia and Finland, and chunks of Eastern Europe while Hitler was conquering Eastern and Central Europe. Hitler and Stalin were like two peas in a pod for two years. Stalin's agents in the US infiltrated our government and media and preached peace-because it was in Stalin's interest to keep us out. When Hitler attacked Stalin, some, but not all of Stalin's agents did a complete flip flop, calling for war against the Nazi's. This propaganda and infiltration continued until the collapse of the Soviet's in 1989. Many documents have been released about the communist reaction to Hiroshima. Unlike this film, which could hardly be considered a propaganda movie, the communists tried to use Hiroshima as a propaganda tool in their fight with the West.
Whereas the US pulled out of all its conquered territory, the Soviet's did not. They occupied all of the lands they had taken during the war. History may eventually judge our one moral failure in the War, was allowing our French and British Allies to continue their colonial territories they held before the War. Their rule, however, never approached the Communists tyranny.
As the events portrayed in this film fade into history, so will the effects of the propaganda that still seems to affect some who have bought into their arguments. The fact may explain why some people still celebrate the Fall of the Bastille and the French Revolution, without accepting the fact that their revolution replaced the tyranny of a King, with the tyranny of Napolean. After Waterloo, France was defeated, humiliated, and bankrupt. These events are hard cold historical facts, just as Hiroshima, and the facts that existed in 1945 lead to its destruction and deaths of many innocent people.
Walk Don't Run (1966)
Grant's swan song in a typical Grant style film
Grant never won an Oscar, but has become one of the most acclaimed film stars ever. For those who find this film "trite, dated, and boring" I dare you watch it without laughing at least a few times and smiling a few more. This film accomplishes what most of us pay to see - it entertains without being preachy or sending a message. Not that this last effort doesn't have a message. Smantha Eggers fiancé plays the bureaucratic type we have all meet through the course of our lives, and it fun to laugh at him.
This film is a remake of another film made during WWII. It was about another crowded city, for a much more serious reason. The War had drawn tens of thousands from outside the city, to fight the largest war yet. Movies for war time audiences(the film industry was at its height) were not interested in "message movies", they just wanted a few hours of light entertainment and a bag of popcorn to forget about the War.
Grant's career, which everyone seems to think remarkable, was made up of a staple of films that expose his comedic talents. "Bringing Up Baby and "The Bachelor and the Boby Soxer" are no more or less than "Walk, Don't Run" but the meat and potatoes of Grant's films. He did made some films, like "Destination Toyko" which could be considered a serious melodrama aimed at helping the War effort, but his pairing with Tony Curtis in a film about a pink submarine was far more Grant-like in that it was funny and more entertaining to watch today. What age does to any art form is most important in judging its value as an art form.
"Walk Don't Run" doesn't pretend to be serious-its a comedy. If it makes you laugh or smile, its mission has been accomplished. Whether it makes money, was only important at the time the film was made. It now belongs to the Ages.
If someone is looking for a message, I think the film is about the last truly amateur Olympics. Some have described Hutton's character as a dullard. I would describe him as ambitious, unpretentious, and a true amateur sportsman. Since he finished 10th in the Walk Marathon, he represents the average athlete-only a few go home with medals.
Everyone who looks back at any film, novel, or play, must remember the time in which it was written. Virginity and social correctness meant one thing in 1964, just as they mean another in 2007. Who knows what they will mean, if anything another 43 years from now? Just as Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest" was a satire about Victorian society which doesn't exist anymore, the play is still being performed today.
His Kind of Woman (1951)
Entertaining old film with odd script that somehow works.
Sending Robert Mitchum to a Mexican Resort for Raymond Burr to get his Face? Sounds a little wacky. But throw in Jane Russel and Vincent Price, and you end up with escapist entertainment the whole family could watch in 1951. The film critics may not have liked this film when it was made, but it has become a classic example of the era. It is worthwhile seeing Raymond Burr before he became Perry Mason, and Vincent Price made the Fly and all the horror movies that followed.
Mitchum was dominates the others in the cast and makes a good film without a realistic script. In the next decade, Mitchum would play both sides of good and evil characters, and some indeterminant. He would become the new Bogart, who could play both sides, but was best when he played them somewhere in the grey area. The audience could not automatically know what Mitchum would show up. He could play Westerns, War movies, comedies and downright sadistic villains. He was not afraid that Night of the Hunter would ruin his ability to play down right nice guys.
This film is one of the best examples that shows just how great an actor he was. Not bad for a man who never considered himself an actor. Or was he just being coy, when he said it was just a job, like any other.
Mitchum's trademark acting which cleverly clouds the issue of whether he is good or evil is quite evident in this film. He could play both sides with equal ability. Shortly after this film, he played a despicable character in Night of the Hunter. Then bounce back as a heroic figure in his other roles. His skills as an actor negated his public image as an actor. Unlike some actors who always played one side Mitchum could handle both.The audience could not tell what the film, or his character would be, until they saw the film.
While the City Sleeps (1956)
"B" movie with aging "A" actors.
The acting, especially Ida Lupino's is great. Fritz Lang's direction is good considering the script. Looking back with a half a century's hindsight, some may wonder how the news, whether TV, wire services or print ever fell into the trivial mess it currently finds itself. Sensationalism and and "scooping" competitors, and rivalry inside the office demeans the reason the founding fathers gave the media the rights and privileges it enjoys. No private business,can exist without making a profit, and since sex and sensationalism does help circulation or audience, it must be part of the picture.But it does not exclude hard news. As I watch this film, as I have several times, I failed to see any of the alleged reasons why the press was given any of its privileges. Instead we see an incompetent son inherit the business and deliberately put three of its top men at each other's throats. Not a single mention is given to national, international or political news. The fictional news company seems to be a carbon of the tabloids, rather than an imitation of the New York Times, or even the old Hearst papers that Orson Welles satirized in Citizen Kane.
There are too many slights to logic, and too many unlikely coincidences that drag this film down to mediocrity. New York is THE city, spread over miles of of apartments and hotels. Is it likely that the the Boss's wife has a love nest across the hall from the girl friend of the TV commentator,and secretary of the head of the wire service? Is it likely that with both the police and everybody focusing on these sensational crimes that have the important career bonuses if solved, somehow do not find a connection between the drug store employee delivering everything from bubble bath to scotch. (Now that's a drug story that has everything. Investigators, whether cops or media want to determine who was the last person to see the victims. Wouldn't someone at the Drug store notice their delivery man was sent to the victim's home just prior to the murders. John Barrymore's son who played the weakest acting role, he doesn't have his Father's acting ability or impressively masculine good looks. He has his mother's feminine beauty, which detracts from his role as a mad killer.
A trap is set via Dana Andrews TV broadcast. A million cops are assigned to protect the bait, Andrew's girl friend, and in the chase, we end up with Dana Andrews chasing and fighting with the killer. What happened to all the other cops. Did they decide to go to the donut shop? These scenes alone, give the film the appearance of a "B" western, where a pose with thirty men seem to fade away in the chase,leaving the hero the opportunity to be the hero by knocking the bad guy off his horse. Then everybody arrives in the nick of time to congratulate the hero.
This film proves my view, that without a logical believable script, a film can not be taken seriously, and can not be saved by great acting, direction, cutting or photography. Unless one wants to find addition fault's missed the first time, forget seeing the film again.
Beauty for Sale (1933)
The title tells it all.
Note that this screenplay was was written by two women based on Faith Baldwin's novel.On the surface the film seems to be all about scheming young women selling their youth and beauty to rich men. The three main female characters are positively portrayed against the rather vain, older and ridiculous customers of the beauty salon. The men are more sympathetically portrayed. The film may not be understood by today's generation who live in a different world where love, marriage, children without fathers, and the role of women is entirely different.
The script is witty and the acting,direction are excellent. Madge Evans is enticing as the lead female, Una Merkle plays the worldly wise and unabashed gold digger. Two of the supporting characters- Mrs. Sherwood, wife of Otto Kruger who is the married man with whom Madge Evans falls in love and Madge Evan's unmarried but inept boyfriend play roles that are simultaneously humorous and irritating.
After attempting to end the affair between Evans and Kruger, Evans agrees to marry her ridiculous but single suitor. We wouldn't have a happy ending if she hadn't left him at the altar.
Merkle who has managed to marry her prey, is out looking for a house with Evans and a real estate agent. They just happen to see the home built by the Sherwood's and discover that the Sherwood's are divorcing and the home is about to be sold. Evans forces the realator out of the driver's seat and makes a Nascar dash to the office, arriving just in time to stop the sale and inform Kruger that she is also available to live happily together for ever after.
I would recommend seeing this film as a window on the state of love, marriage and divorce in the thirties - as portrayed by Hollwood.
Keeper of the Flame (1942)
Spencer and Hepburn are great, the story is 1942 propaganda.
All the major powers were spending huge sums of money and effort to influence public opinion prior to and during WWII. This film falls into that category.
This film did not serve as a wake up call for those who opposed the war. We had already entered the war against the Nazi's, and the thinly disguised attack against Lindberg was unjust because once the war started, he threw his name and reputation behind the war effort.
Despite Lindberg's contribution for wining that war, he has always been a target for those who found his constitutional and legal fight against the illegal and unconstitutional actions of President Roosevelt.
For those who have commented that today's politicians should watch this movie, they should know that President Roosevelt had by 1942 lied numerous times to the public about his intentions to get into the War on the side of Great Britan. Lindberg's political movement was constitutional and legal. Only his judgment should be questioned.
History has vindicated Roosevelt's lies and illegal acts against neutrality, and his personal motive to fight with he Allies. But what if the Allies had lost, or the War dragged on for over a decade? Depending on your politics, propaganda is good or bad. Was Washington a traitor or hero. It all depends on who is making that judgment.
This site is dedicated to art and film as an art form. Unfortunately, some of the films made at this time are propaganda, and a target for condemnation for the corruption of true art.
Art that is timeless, because it touches on universal truths while temporary fashions come and go.
This film fails because it has an unrealistic plot line, situations that are unbelievable and younger viewers with a weak knowledge of history would fail to understand what the plot attempts to portray.
The story begins by showing a speeding car in a hard rain, and then crashing. There is a universal mourning of the American public. but five minutes into the film which expects us to believe that this great man, is reckless since he speeds in tremendous storm and doesn't have the sense to slow down approaching a flimsy wooden bridge. But Forrest was a man who has the resources, or had enough influence to build a steel and/or concrete bridge. Key to the plot is that Hepburn, who plays Forrest's young wife, knows the bridge has collapsed and he will be killed. It also requires us to accept that she knows Forrest would be killed. But hasn't everyone heard that "it was a miracle that he/she survived the accident?" The writer's must give Hepburn's character the courage to kill Forrest, without actually killing him. The speeding, the collapse of the bridge,and certain death must be accepted by the viewer to allow Hepburn's canonization at the end of the film. Never mentioned is the possibility that some innocent person may get killed. That question is never asked by the character played by Tracey, who goes from hero worshiper discoverer of the REAL Forrester. In the space of several days, he unravels what it took Hepburn years of married life to determine. We must suffer with her anguish as she determines that she must kill her husband, but save his public reputation. Of Course Tracey talks her out of such a scheme-for the good of the country. The youth of the country may be lead to believe that Stalin never existed, or that his ideas of conquest were much different than Hitler. Though Stalin's crimes against humanity were at least as bad as Hitler's, he had the better fortune to have switched sides and were now one of our allies in 1942.
Richard Whorf plays Forrest's creepy assistant. First he recommends that Hepburn speak to Tracey-is not the sort of journalist who can be put off. So what does that say about the others? There all dopes, or Hepburn should talk to the smartest one? Doesn't make sense to me.
Of course Tracey discovers everything, and Whorf's character plots to kill Tracey and Hepburn in the ancient fort, and destroy evidence at the same time. Alledgedly there is no comedy in this film, but I laughed at the idea of starting a fire with gasoline, expecting to kill Tracey and Hepburn and all the evidence. So you start a fire and shoot Hepburn? Ask any fireman about destroying files or papers, especially when a structure is primarily stone.
What purpose is served by shooting Hepburn other than giving her a death scene? Is it to avoid the unanswered question of putting innocent people at risk? I recently saw this film on TCM and the moderator stated that Louis Mayer stomped out of the theater because the film attacked his friend William Randolph Hearst. That statement is not correct. Hearst was the real person fictionalized in Citizen Kane. Hearst was never a beloved hero like the man who flew the Atlantic and earned the hearts of his fellow Americans, who then suffered through the kidnapping of his child. Lindberg, not Hearst, became one of the leaders of a political movement that advocated strict neutrality.
Whatever faults Lindberg had about his failure to see Hitler for what he was, there are many more who did not see Stalin for what he was.
Once the war started, Lindberg threw himself and his tremendous prestige into the war effort. But some never forgave his opposition to the illegal violations against neutrality. Political opposition to war is a constitutional right, regardless of the "justice" of the war.
The Big Shot (1942)
Warner Brother's Waste of Bogart Talent
Not even Bogart can save this film. Bogart's fame had caught up with his talent by the time this film was made. Its surprising that Warner would make such a bad film that could have wrecked the career of its star. If anyone thinks this film is great, just ask somebody who is film buff, which means a Bogart fan who played in "Big Shot", chances are the question will go unanswered. This film is hardly ever played, and its no wonder. For those commentators who liked the chase scene in the snow, they must have never ridden a motorcycle, let alone in the snow on mountain roads. The cops do eventually crash, but not before firing about twenty shots,which means they would have had to reload at least twice, while driving one handed. For those not familiar with revolvers, and apparently the writer's were not, loading a revolver is basically a two handed operation. So that means the cops would have been driving in the snow with no hands on the bars.
Unrealistic court rooms are not unusual for most movies, but this one is really bad. Surprise witnesses may be dramatic, but they are hardly an accurate portrait of the court system.
Unlike most Bogart gangster movies, you can never figure out whether he's a robin hood bad guy, or just a bad guy. In this film, the writer's created someone who comes across as a little sappy. Wasn't it quite unlike other Bogart characters to be stopped from pulling an armored car robbery by his former girl friend now married to the crooked attorney who for some never quite explained reason will get most of the loot.
The only good line in this film is during the prison break scene where the former girl friend is trying to fool around, and Bogart retorts, "I can only do one thing at a time." Not only was it a funny line, but one of the most believable.
I am still trying to figure out how Bogart and girlfriend got out of the house into their car. The prison seemed more like a refuge for bad actors, rather than bad characters. If a guy acted like "Dancer Smith" in prison, he would probably been raped so often, he would never been able to dance. This also was the first prison break that used a spot light to put out the lights. A novel but highly unlikely way of to start a break.
Its hard to believe that Warner Brothers put this film out at the same time it put out the Maltese Falcon, Casablanca, High Sierra. Some of Best films ever made which makes this film a real stinker.
Roman Holiday (1953)
This is a great romantic film actually set in Rome of 1953
William Wyler gets a great performance out of Gregory and Audrey. And the film received more than its share of awards. There are more than the average number of comments re this film.I saw this film in the theaters shortly after it came out, and was captivated by it. However, I recently watched it on TCM and thoroughly enjoyed it again.But...I could not watch it this time without wondering about some practical considerations. Dalton Trumbo is a great writer, despite his erroneous political beliefs. Was it Trumbo who created this fantasy about Audrey being a Princess from an Eastern European Country. Come on Dalton, all of Eastern Europe was under Joe Stalins's dictatorship in 1953. What remained of the Central and Eastern monarchies after WWI, was completely demolished by Stalin and the Communists. Isn't that what their revolution was about.
Trumbo's dialog in the first minutes of the film makes it quite clear, that Audrey who in real life was born in Holland, is an Eastern European Princesses whose mission is tie her imaginary Eastern Monarchy with Western Europe. I began to wonder if Trumbo was trying to exonerate himself from his pro-red tag, by writing this endearing film that is a fantasy. In the last scene of the film I couldn't help but laugh at the "polite" press corps. I doubt whether there would have been many at Audrey's press briefing, but if there was an interest in her, the press would have not been as polite as shown. In reality, there would have been a mob scene as reporters and especially photographers grappled with each other.
For those who find my observations picky, I apologize. This film is great despite my observations because it is an implausible love story that is credible with my above noted exceptions. The Roman background of post war Rome was a reminder to those who watched this film originally, that Europe was finally getting out from under the ruble of WWII. This is a wonderful love story without naked bodies doing all sorts of things that were better off left to our own wicked imaginations. This film lives on, as we forget the semi-pornographic films that have replaced gems such as Roman Holiday.
Odd Man Out (1947)
James Mason said this film was his best.
This film was a turning point in the careers of both Mason and Carol Reed, who was he Director. Although it is technically dated B & W, its theme is not. It seems to be about the eternal conflict between the conquered and the conquerers. I think its odd, that Mason, an alleged pacifist who refused to fight in the alleged most justified war of modern times, plays so many characters who do exactly what he claimed he hated. He played Rommel, the brilliant Nazi General, Captain Nemo, a self-proclaimed pacifist based on the Jules Vernes science fiction novel whose method of creating peace is killing.
ODD MAN OUT, made shortly after WWII, is about the Catholic Irish in Belfast, conquered and second-class citizens under the Protestant Irish.
The war in Belfast still has not reached a final political and social solution after two centuries of conflict.
Do we see another example of the same sort of conflict in Iraq today? A nation of racially similar people separated by minor theological differences that are an excuse as a perceived right to dominate?
The Irish and Belfast Protestant profess to believe in Jesus. The Shites and Sunni's in Allah.
This film depicts the brutal tactics of the oppressed, which includes violence against the innocent,which is imorally justified by a higher purpose.
This film touches on the inevitable characters created by political and religious conflict. This film is a marvelously well made film with an excellent cast. Every cause has its female supporter, willing to defend its defenders even to death. A child is depicted as a passive conspirator. There is always someone who profits from this mayhem, and the character of Terrsa provides us with the inevitable despicable traitors, cowards, and persons willing to profit at any cost, including the death of two who come for aid and protection. While providing false comfort and whiskey, she calls her contact within the police force. She is completely motivated my her self interest. Is it any wonder that the worst sort of retributions fall to those found out to be informers?
The film includes the majority of unfortunate who to find themselves trapped between the two opposing forces. Although they may tend to have a tepid dedication. Reed manages to capture the reality that the average person doesn't want to "become involved".
Many films fail to artfully capture the anguish and conflicts depicted in this film. This film shows the destruction of society by both sides who lack respect for their country they claim to protect and defend.
Boots Malone (1952)
This film is one of Holden's best.
I couldn't give this film a 10 primarily because I didn't know how accurately this film captured its subject. For example, I never knew that jockey's had Agents, although I suspected the more successful ones had someone to represent and manage their contracts. I enjoyed watching this film recently on TCM for the first time. It was a very enjoyable film, and I thought one of William Holden's best acting performances, which means credit should also go to the Director.
Unlike nearly ever sports film I have ever seen, I wasn't certain who was going to win the race. In most other films about sport, there never seems to be a doubt as to who will finish first or win, whether its Rocky or Seabiscuit. Seabiscuit was based on a real and famous horse. Obviously it was going to win most of his races. I purchased Seabiscuit on a DVD and was disappointed, because I doubt I will ever watch it again.
Boots Malone was one of the few films about sports that I could not guess the outcome. Wining the race, was not central to the film's theme,which was about the friendship that developed between a young, naive, rich kid, who had every material thing, but lacked something that money can't buy.
Holden's character is a cynical, far from lovable cad who tries to steal the kid's money the first time they meet. I thought his character was a little like Robert Louis Stevenson's Long John Silver, a cad by any measure, but someone that the kid couldn't hate. Like Long John, Malone continually acts in his own interests. In the last moments of the film, he tries to talk the kid into throwing the race, and one has to wonder whether the kid will, because of his devotion to Holden. The viewer really doesn't know who to root for because a win means serious trouble for Holden from the gamblers. Gamblers are a pox to any sport because they make their living with fixes and threats to anyone who can give them an edge in betting and profits. I do know something about that problem.
This film was one of Holden's best. David Lean didn't get as good a performance from Holden in Bridge on the River Kwai
This film reminds me of Holden's early performance in Rachel and the Stranger in which Holden demonstrates his ability as an actor capable of moving his role from one position to another.
For the critics who didn't like this film, I would offer the comment that this film made in 1952 and bad year for the movies, and was not high budget film. Holden was not a big star, and the film had to rely on some great number of familiar character actors. The "kid" was also a tough role to play, and he didn't measure up to star quality as evidence by his quick disappearance from film. A movie without sex, or violence that couldn't be shown on TV was not likely to make a splash, considering that Holden's career didn't get jump started until Stalag 17. I thought Holden, as an actor, was better in this relatively obscure film. The Oscar's have a spotty record of picking out the best performances. Making up for past mistakes seems to be a tradition on Oscar night.
Perhaps this was the case in 1952 and 1953.
Merrily We Live (1938)
Entertaining, funny thanks to witty dialog and zany characters
The title seems to be the only thing that lacks imagination. This film entertains, is humorous, and manages to poke fun at the rich without being irritatingly preachy as most modern films.
The new "chauffeur" in this film is a writer not a tramp down on his luck, but a famous writer who comes to the house expecting to use the phone to report his recent accident. Brian Aherne plays a charming and good looking role and easily gives up on his first intention, and allows himself to be hired as a chauffeur by the eccentric matron of the household.
Allan Mobray plays the real Butler and defender of class divisions. Mobray's character is constantly resigning due to the hiring practices of the lady of the house, played by Billie Burke, who believes in practicing what she preaches - which leads to hiring anyone who comes to the house hungry and homeless. Her misplaced kindness results in upsetting the entire household, and Aherne arrives at the moment all other members of the household have decided that no more tramps will be hired at least without good references.
Her grumpy and totally practical minded spouse, wants the new Chauffeur kicked out of the house. Aherne gradually ingratiates himself with the household, with the exception of Mobray, until Aherne orders breakfast in bed. This is a household where everyone eats breakfast together at the breakfast table. On hearing of this act of insolence, the Master of the Household runs upstairs with the intention of personally kicking Aherne out of bed. The grumpy patrician does a complete turnabout when he learns that the Senator's daughter has invited Ahern for a round of golf. Rather than kick Aherne out, Alan Mobray is ordered to feed and treat Aherne as a member of the family. The scene needs to be watched to be appreciated.
This film works well, because during the entire film, Aherne keeps making attempts, sometimes weak attempts, to explain that he is not someone down on his luck or needs anything more than a telephone to report the loss of his car. It was the family that constantly made the wrong assumptions. Not until the last moments of the films is Aherne's true identity revealed through a newspaper photograph and erroneous account of his death. (Another example of media reporting?) Just before realizing Aherne is alive and well, there is another humorous scene with the entire household females fainting over Aherne's alleged death and reincarnation.
The viewer is left to his own imagination as to why Aherne, a famous writer, allows himself to be hired. The most likely answer is when he first sees a lovely Constance Bennett. Those less romantic may conclude, Aherne sees an opportunity for material for a new book. Whatever the reason, the film manages to create a zany setting for reasonably logical reasons.
Since so many film critics love films with messages, the message in this film is that kindness and mercy that is not tempered with practical reality can cause you to lose your family jewels. This Hal Roach Comedy is one of those treasures, lost amidst thousands of mediocre films.
The Great Dictator (1940)
This film is dated, and not entertaining.
Chaplin was great a silent comedian, but many silent era stars fell when the public heard their voices in the first talkies. In my opinion, Chaplin's voice simply did not fit his silent characters that made him rich and famous. His career never recovered when sound came to film. Contrary to most of the reviews I have read, Chaplin's lifestyle and politics did not help his popularity with the average viewer who expected to be entertained by Chaplin the comedian, and not spend their entertainment dollar watching Chaplin's political commentary.
Despite Chaplin's awards and knighthood, I would take exception to his "contributions" to humanity. The Great Dictator was made at the same time Stalin's brutal dictatorship was having it's show trials, and both Dictators signed the agreement that lead to invasion of Poland by both Dictators. WWII started in an attempt to save Poland. The Nazi's were defeated in 6 years, but Poland disappeared as a sovereign country. This happened during the time this film was made and the investigations of Hollywood by the Federal government. Had Chaplin included Joe Stalin in this satire,in addition to including the Italian dictator, perhaps he would have had less criticism about his politics by the politicians. The Soviet's mistreatment of Jews and dissidents exceeded the Nazi's in time and numbers.
Judged simply as a film, many of the gags were too topical to be understood by younger viewers, who wouldn't know who Goebbels, Goring or Mussolini were. A classic piece of art must stand the test of time. Classic Greek Tragedy, the Mona Lisa and Beethoven's 9th are still enjoyed centuries after their creation because they are timeless. Films which rely on topical political commentary or currently popular social views usually do not outlast the generation in which they are made. But those that address issues that are common to all generations will probably live forever and receive a high rating from me.
Chaplin, as the writer, director and lead actor must take the blame for what I judge as a dated and tiresome film.
Chaplin's apologists have excused his decision to leave the country that made him rich and famous. If Chaplin found the US so offensive, why didn't he return to his native land. Great Britian fought the Nazi'with blood and money. What did Switzerland contribute in the fight against the European dictators? Switzerland is like a country club that picks and chooses its members based on race and class, and cares little about people who can't join the club.
The Lady from Shanghai (1947)
Fascinating but flawed.
The character of Grisby seemed to be the most curious of a totally odd assortment of characters. Even more so, than the crippled Bannister, his stunningly beautiful wife, or the "Black Irishman" played by Welles himself. The theme, expressed by Welles himself, that the trio of idle rich on board the yacht, were like sharks that the Black Irishman had seen devouring each other misses the point if one knows anything about sharks, or the law for that matter. Sharks have been compared more correctly compared with lawyers. Sharks as predators, are not cunning creatures like the three on the boat. They plan and scheme without the bold attack of a shark.
Welles should have compared them to predatory cats, who plan their attacks with stealth and cunning, and sometimes end up killing each other over the spoils.
The court scene seems written by someone who has never been inside a court. However in strictly film terms, it does seem to capture the diabolical interplay between the three principal characters.
I thought the scene at the empty amusement park was novel, but I may have to watch the film again, to figure out how Bannister knew Welles and Hayworth were there. I may also have to watch again to understand how the DA came up with a witness that saw Welles and Hayworth kissing in the Aquarium, or the appearance of the subpoena for Hayworth, without the knowledge of the Defense. Very bad law. As for politics, Welles, always the anti-Nazi, may have forgotten that the Irish were legally neutral during WWII, and the Irish government never lifted a finger to help the English, or the US who were in the war before Pearl Harbor. Did Welles forget Ireland had just fought and won their independence in the Southern Counties, with help from anyone who was willing to help. That included Nazi's, Communists, and many American Irishman, who cared little for what was happening in Spain, but a lot of what was happening in Irland during the 1930's.
The fact that Grisby was pro-Franco and O'Hara killed a Franco supporter seemed to be a political statement that defined the goodness and badness of the characters in a rather clumsy way. (Franco at the time was the fascist Dictator of Spain at the time, but Stalin was the most famous and dominant dictator of the world at the time this film was made. For all of the Kudos written about Welles, couldn't we expect him to write something other than current Hollywood correctness?
Welles seemed to ignore that Central Europe was being gobbled up by Stalin, while Franco had simply run Spain without any interest in dominating the world. Odd, that Welles chose Spain as his final resting spot, and clearly had an attachment to the country while Franco was still in power. One wonders if he ever visited the Soviet Union, or ever attempted to understand the evil present, rather than evil past when this film was made. In the Third Man, he plays an American with no morality, only a sublime self centered attitude toward life. This character seemed to fit what I know of the real Welles. A man whose genius put him above the rest of us, and whose lack of morality, or what ever one calls the relationship between fellow humans.
Many men of genius, and surely Welles was, the genius always seems to come at the expense of characteristics that most "normal" people have in common, and that is common sense. For those of us not in the film business, but make a living, we all understand that one must make a profit in order to go on making a living. Welles films, like Shangai Lady may please the film critics, but it didn't please the accountants.
36 Hours (1964)
Fighter Pilots don't know much about Intelligence Work
Mr. Dahl, who was a fighter pilot during WWI, was captured by the Germans and held prisoner for a short time. With those credentials, he was certainly in the position of writing a credible story/film. However, the plot and story line became tedious for this viewer because Intelligence officers, even Nazi's were not inclined to spend so much effort in a plan that was easily doomed to failure. Just imagine yourself in James Garner's position as the American with info about the D Day invasion. In the first place, a Major is not likely to know what the German's want to know. Both sides had major disinformation campaigns operating. The Nazi's actually knew the Allied plans, they just didn't believe them, because Hitler had decided the attack was coming at the Pas DeCalais, the shortest distance between Europe and England. He refused to believe the reality of the Normandy invasion, for days. Many German General's suspected Normandy would be the intended target, they also knew how futile changing Hitler's mind would be.
Hitler, a corporal during WWI, was not a professional soldier, as a politician and head of state, he frequently refused to take professional advice, which caused the end of his regime more than any other factor. Knowing all this in 1965, it was hard for me to accept the concept of this story. I knew that the German's had discovered through a spy in the British embassy in Turkey, solid proof the name of Overlord, the date, and place. The information came from the British Ambassador's safe, a much more credible source than what an American Major might know, considering the deception plans of the time.
Without knowing the history of the times, today's viewers should consider this. If you were told 6 years had passed from your life, you certainly would want to get on the phone and tell someone. If you were at an alleged American base, there would be no credible reason you could not make a call to someone, the planners of this deception could anticipate. A trained intelligence officer, would immediately suspect the reality of the situation far quicker than it took Garner. In real life, the planners of such an operation would realize this hurdle would be insurmountable, and go on to other methods. The props of the film are wonderful, the nurses, American Jeeps, the role played by Rod Cameron, as the fake American. Obviously, they could fool any one for about 5 minutes. Good fiction must be logical however clever it is hidden. Wouldn't you want to call someone if you just found out you were six years older, the war was over, and how was so and so back home?
The Nazi's couldn't anticipate who you would call, and what questions would be asked.
James Bond movies were just hitting the theaters, at the time this film was made. They were enjoyable because they did not try to be serious. You didn't have to believe they were believable. They were outrageous, and most of Bond's exploits were just as far fetched as the plot of 36 hours. But 36 hours would have you believe that its story line was plausible, at least until Garner discovered he was being duped It took too long, the character played by Eva Maria Saint was even less credible than Rod Cameron's character. But for the sake of a happy ending with a girl at the end of the rainbow, 36 hours is unfortunately a contrived story that made it seem more like a TV show rather than a good film.
A bit of Art imitating life.
My high rating is due to the fact that the "smart ass" private eye character we see in so many of this type genre is worldly wise except for the fact that he misses the paternity line of Faye Dunnaway until the end of the movie, and his lack of catching on causes her death. This is not the usual shamus movie. I was left with the impression that John Huston's character, although wounded and hurt, would get off legally because the last scene plays in Chinatown, where anyone with money and influence can beat any legal rap. However as someone who believes that if you live long enough, your own misdeeds will eventually punish you more than the corrupt law.
As for life art imitating life, you have Roman Polanski, the convicted rapist of a 13 year old, and Jack Nicholson growing up not knowing who his father and mother was. This fact of life plays a central theme in this film, and J.J. Gittes had figured everything out but the true connection between Dunaway's character and Huston's, but too late to be the hero. Instead he is like most of us, a guy who hasn't got all the answers, and thats what separates this from your average cop film.
As for the film, the only thing I didn't like, and don't like in general, is the tint used to give us the impression that the time frame is the 1930's and not 1974 when the movie was shot. Isn't the dress, 30 cars and ethic stereotyping enough to remind us of that era? Maybe Polanski should have shot it in Black and White, like the Godfather, or Maltese Falcon.
The Outlaw (1943)
Walter Houston and Thomas Mitchell's embarrassment
Recently saw this film on TCM, and it seemed worse than ever. I first saw this film when the top of a woman's breasts were enough to get boys to spend a quarter to see a cowboy movie. Boy, were we disappointed. This was not a "cowboy" movie of the genre that we were accustomed to seeing. We couldn't figure out who was the good guy, and who was the bad guy. Even at our tender ages, we deemed the "action scenes" as decidedly corny. I didn't know who Howard Hughes was at the time, and now that I do, I think he should have kept to designing airplanes.
Its a shame that two academy award winning actors used up their time and talent on such a terrible movie. I would only recommend seeing this film, to see how bad it is. The only memorable item about this movie centered around breasts and bras, and today seems like a tempest in a tea pot.
reevaluation after 40 years
This movie is still funny, and represents a better quality film than was produced during this era. I saw this movie in the theaters when it first came out, and had views similar to the majority of comments at the time.
Two years later, I was a pilot in SAC, and was very familiar with the real system, including the two man policy, and the procedures involved in starting nuclear war.
But one doesn't have to know anything that comes close to personal experience with the complex systems in place. My complaints, too numerous to mention make me rely on one very funny scene where Peter Sellers is trying to call the President on the pay phone. Nobody has to be familiar with a complicated system, to know that the scene is a cartoon of real life, and not a satire worthy of various awards this film earned. Keenen Wynn's character, an Army Colonel has been sent under force of arms to get the commander in contact with the President. Why then, did Wynn's character act as if the Deputy would not suffice, knowing that Hayden's character had committed suicide? And did Kubric do such little research as to be under the impression that a British Officer could act as a Deputy, when NO foreign officers were allowed access to nuclear control It was funny seeing Sellers trying to place a call to the President from one of those antiquated pay phones. It was also funny seeing Wynn blowing up the Coke machine to get change. But how many films have we seen where Colonels go around without several subordinates carrying various means of communications,especially if the boss back at the Capital wants to learn what's going on- IMDIATELY if not SOONER. Whether it was fast runners,carrier pigeons, or radio; we do not see anything of the kind. This one scene makes part of the film a cartoon, not worthy of any award, because it not well crafted. The scene violates what everyone who has ever seen a war film knows. Its not any different than a cartoon character being blown up in one shot, and coming together in the next shot. It's ludricrous, and admittedly funny, but that's OK for cartoons, not for award winning films. Satire should be a bit more subtle. "No Fighting in the War Room" is an example of Kubric's genius, and would deserve a 10 had the film refrained from caricatures and preaching.
War is not funny, and at times, it is ludicrous. It is a worthy subject of satire and ridicule. And in the proper context, it can be funny. But when a film strays into being a platform for preaching propaganda, its no longer entertainment or serious.
Plan "R" was a complete fiction. B-52's had numerous radios, and were in constant contact with various command posts throughout the world. Since refueling was necessary in order for the B-52's to reach their targets, the B-52's could not have reached their targets. Aircraft carrying nukes on actual missions had been discontinued when this movie was made. The accident in Spain, where 4 weapons were lost during a air-refueling accident caused political reality to end the practice.(Nobody was killed, except the SAC crew members, and no bombs went nuclear). Nobody was killed by any nuclear accident by either side in the 50 years of the cold war. Read history to learn the truth.
Why hasn't someone made a a "funny" movie about fanatics seeking control of nukes?
The Hucksters (1947)
A great film that is not dated, anymore than Homer or Shakespeare
Forget that this film was made in 1947, or about radio advertising. This film is about all tyrannical bosses, liars, and propaganda which have existed years before and after this film was made. This The state of current American politics is sold to the public, much the same way as the Soap was sold in this movie.
An aging Gable proves his abilities as an actor in this film. Some comments call his a liar, but by definition, a liar is someone doesn't tell the truth under oath. When you work in a business such as advertising or politics when the best "liar" wins,lying is an asset, not a negative moral judgment. Anything, short of murder is considered OK.
I rate this film a 9 because it artfully shows the "huckster" meeting a "real lady" played by Debra Kerr. She is not your average 'war widow" Her husband was a General, she is from English Aristocracy, and has two young children. When the film begins-the two complete opposites clash but fall in love. Perhaps what saves Gable, and makes him attractive to Kerr is his four years of service during WWII.
Gable has seen men die, and seen fear for one's life which changes his perspective. One of the best lines is when he tells Ad firm boss(aptly played by Adolph Menjou that he saw more courage in the men at Normandy than he saw in the reaction to Sydney Greenstreet who plays the largest client in the firm.
Desite Gable and Kerr's differences, and the injection of a very attractive and young Ava Gardner, Gable and Kerr fall in love.
The only reason I would not give this movie a "10" is due to the ending. Eventually, all men must make their living, and compromise with your boss or your customers is sometimes necessary. I found the ending a bit too sanctimoneous. In real life, Gable would have taken the job working for a despicable character played expertly by Sidney Greenstreet. Most of us have to face people like Greenstreet's character. The trick is keeping the job to pay the bills and keeping your self respect without running away from the job. There have always been Sidney Greenstreets.
All My Sons (1948)
Even Arthur Miller should know about his subject.
Arthur Miller is one of our best authors. His play however reeks of a bias, that makes him seem ignorant of his own times. Without Industry, and the profit system, the US would not have won WWII. Rubber was one of those items needed to fight a modern war. And it was the "war profiters" who provided our nation with synthetic rubber. If your too young to remember, ask your grandfather or Dad about the rubber shortage.
If a writer wants to focus on immorality, why don't they start at the top, and blame those politicians and propagandists who get us into wars. Watch nearly every movie made from 1939 until 1945, and you will see what Playboy magazine called "Hollywood Go to War."
People of German, Italian and Japanesse decent were racially and ethnically played in the worst possible way, and any artist worth his salt would agree that even a movie as great as Casablanca had its share of propaganda.
Miller and Chester Erskine, who adapted Miller's play seemed an illogical indictment of anyone who made a profit during the war.
Aircraft pistons are one part of an Aircraft. They are less likely to fail than compression rings, rods, bearings, electrical and hydraulic parts. Losing one piston, does not usually cause crashes.
Writers may be clever about how they write, but they can sound awfully stupid writing dialog that has Joe Keller stating that he "beat an old stove up for scrap." Scrap is sold by the pound, not by condition.
More importantly, both writers seem to be totally ignorant of the government and manufacturer's inspection systems. Manufactures would not accept "junk" material from a subcontractor. As aircraft are put together, each manufacturer assumes liability for the pieces they build. More than the Federal inspectors, they would not risk their contracts by routinely and criminally accepting faulty pistons. Miller and Erskine conveniently overlook that logic and fact, and concentrate on one character who probably would have been caught before the piston ever found its way into an aircraft.
Before the aircraft was accepted by the military, it would be flown to its maximum performance standards. The military would also fly the aircraft in a test flight before sending it into combat. The failure of one piston, in an engine would not usually bring an aircraft down. This is particularly true of multi-engine aircraft. And perfectly good pistons have been known to break down occasionally. Producing perfectly good pistons that break is not a crime or immoral. Proving that a faulty piston caused 29 accidents, and was a crime, is legal fantasy.
There may have been a million pistons produced in WWII. The sheer number makes it likely that some perfectly good pistons failed.Miller's and Erskine's play and film script becomes a tall tale to weave its "moral" failings of one man, or the industries that produced "The Arsenal" of Democracy.
From the lowest person who pushed a broom, to the very capable men who made millions, Miller's seemed to go out of its way to indict the industry that provided the arms for the the millions in uniform. I would be foolish to defend the rotten apples, cowards, stupid mistakes, and expediencies which cost lives. It just makes me wonder why Miller picked on one piston manufacturer to make his clumsy points. I recall a line in the film dialog, where Joe Keller stated that he had been arrested and spent some time in jail, and the jury declared him innocent. Did Miller or Erskine ever attend a real criminal trial? Does he know what it takes to convict anyone in this country? Convincing a jury that a batch of bad pistons among millions caused 29 crashes goes beyond any real concept of the trail system.
Why did Miller pick a fight with the men who made profits during the war? His play shows his contempt for such men, the film version softened his personal views.
The film ignores some basic facts. A public trial opens up an opportunity for all sorts facts and evidence to surface. More importantly, since Joe Keller was acquitted, he could not be charged again. As the film opens, his reputation is already an open question with some in his circle of friends, and should have been fixed during the time the film opens. Neither Miller nor Erskine inject any new information into Keller's guilt or innocence. Whether Keller was sick or not on the day the "faulty" pistons were shipped, in any ordinary trial would have been investigated and regurgitated by Keller's defense team. Keller's statement at the dinner table, that" he had never been sick a day in his life" has as much resonance as the comments all men make at times, such as "I would have killed him".
Miller doesn't know anything about American combat pilots. They were not inclined to go on suicide missions due to defects in family or friends.
Miller should have written what it was like to have survived as a combat crew-member during the war. Or the moral anguish that officers had over sending men to their death. especially when mistakes were made. Did they have a moral struggle to admit they cost innocent lives?
Miller's play is a fiction that goes beyond "literary license" and to this film lover, seems to be an effort at politics, rather than a morality play.
I still do not understand the purpose for creating a character like Kate Keller. Anyone who continued to think her son was still alive three years after the war does not seem to be a stable person and more likely to commit suicide than the character of Joe Keller.