The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003 Film)

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The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is an epic fantasy film directed by Peter Jackson. It is primarily based on the third volume of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings (but also includes material from the second volume), and it is the concluding film in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. It follows The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers and was filmed simultaneously with them.

As Sauron launches the final stages of his conquest of Middle-earth, Gandalf the Wizard and Théoden King of Rohan step up their forces to help defend Gondor's capital Minas Tirith from this threat. Aragorn must finally take up the throne of Gondor and summons an army of ghosts to help him defeat Sauron. Ultimately, even with full strength of arms, they find they cannot win; it comes down to the Hobbits Frodo and Sam, who themselves face the burden of the Ring and the treachery of Gollum, to destroy the One Ring in Mordor.

Released on December 17, 2003, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King became one of the most critically acclaimed films and greatest box-office successes of all time. It swept all eleven Academy Awards it was nominated for, which ties it with only Titanic and Ben-Hur for most Academy Awards ever won. It also won the Academy Award for Best Picture, the only time in history a fantasy film has done so. It also became the second highest grossing movie worldwide of all time behind Titanic, unadjusted for inflation.The Special Extended Edition, containing 50 more minutes of footage, was released on DVD on December 14, 2004.

Comparison with the source material

The film contains major scenes that occurred in the middle portion of the novel The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers but were not included in the film The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, such as Shelob and the palantír subplot, due to Jackson realigning the timeline as described in the book's Appendices, but not in the main prose. Saruman's murder by Gríma (seen only in the Extended Edition) is moved into the Isengard visit due to the cutting of the Scouring of the Shire. In the movie, Saruman drops the palantír, whereas in the book Gríma throws it at the Fellowship, unaware of its value. The entire Shelob sequence also takes place at the end of The Two Towers book, rather than within The Return of the King book.

Denethor, the Steward of Gondor was a more tragic character in the book. The film only focuses on his overwhelming grief over the death of Boromir as to ignore Sauron's threat (in the book he already lights the beacons), and is driven over the edge by Faramir's injury. The film only hints at his use of the palantír which drives him mad, information revealed in the Pyre scene, which is more violent than the book. Jackson also has Denethor jump off the Citadel instead of burning himself on the Pyre, one of the earliest changes.

The Battle of the Pelennor Fields is altered: Faramir never goes on a suicide mission, and is a simplification of the siege of Osgiliath. Generals such as Forlong and Imrahil are also absent, only leaving Gandalf in command. The Orcs also never get into the city in the book. The Witch-king enters and stands off against Gandalf before the Rohirrim arrive, but in the film Orcs invade the city after Grond breaks the Gate. The confrontation takes place whilst Gandalf journeys to save Faramir in the Extended Edition, during which Gandalf has his staff broken. A subplot in which the Rohirrim are aided by the primitive Drúedain into entering the besieged Gondor is also excised. Éowyn's presence to the reader on the battlefield is unknown until she takes off her helmet, but in the film the audience is aware, due to the difference of film and book as a medium.[9] When hope is almost lost, Gandalf also comforts Pippin with a description of the Undying Lands, which is a descriptive passage in the book's final chapter.

Sam and Frodo's major rift in their friendship, due to Gollum's machinations, never takes place in the book, but the writers added it because it added drama and more complexity to Frodo. Frodo enters Shelob's lair alone in the movie, whereas in the book he and Sam entered together. This was done to make the scene more horrific with Frodo being alone, and Sam's rescue at the last minute more dramatic. Also, in the movie we don't know that Sam has the ring until he gives it back to Frodo, whereas in the book the reader knows that Sam has the ring. Gollum's fall into the lava of Mount Doom was also rewritten for the film, as the writers felt Tolkien's original idea (Gollum simply slips and falls off) was anti-climactic. Originally, an even greater deviation was planned: Frodo would heroically push Gollum over the ledge to destroy him and the Ring, but the production team eventually realized that it looked more like Frodo murdering Gollum. As a result, they had Frodo and Gollum struggle for possession of the Ring.
Animatics of Sauron in his angelic (Maia) form.
Animatics of Sauron in his angelic (Maia) form.

There are two changes in the Battle of the Black Gate: Merry is not present there in the book, and Pippin does not kill a troll as he does in the novel. There was an even larger change planned: Sauron himself would come out in physical form to battle Aragorn, who would only be saved by the destruction of the Ring. Jackson eventually realized it ignored the point of Aragorn's true bravery in distracting Sauron's army against overwhelming odds, and a computer generated Troll was placed over footage of Sauron in the finished film.[7] The ending is streamlined so as not to include the Scouring of the Shire, which was always seen by the writers as anti-climactic. It is referenced, though, in Frodo's vision of the future in Galadriel's mirror in The Fellowship of the Ring.

The film has a 94% rating of positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. Richard Corliss of Time named it as the best film of the year. The main criticism of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, was its running time, particularly the epilogue. Even rave reviews for the film commented on its length. Joel Siegel of Good Morning America said in his review for the movie (which he gave an 'A'): "If it didn't take forty-five minutes to end, it'd be my best picture of the year. As it is, it's just one of the great achievements in film history." There was also criticism regarding the Army of the Dead's appearance, rapidly ending the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.

In February 2004, a few months after release, the film was voted as #8 on Empire's 100 Greatest Movies of All Time, compiled from readers' top 10 lists. This forced the magazine to abandon its policy of films being older than 12 months to be eligible. In 2007, Total Film named The Return of the King the third best film of the past decade (Total Film's publication time), behind The Matrix and Fight Club.


On January 27, 2004, the film was nominated for eleven Academy Awards, including the Academy Award for Best Picture, Directing, Adapted Screenplay, Original Score, Song, Visual Effects, Art Direction, Costuming, Make-up, Sound Mixing and Film Editing. On February 29, the film won all the categories for which it was nominated. It tied with Ben-Hur and Titanic for the most Oscars ever won by a single film, and broke the previous record for a sweep set by Gigi and The Last Emperor (See Movies with six or more Oscars).

However, none of the ensemble cast received any acting nominations, the first Best Picture since 1995's Braveheart to have not received any. The film was the first in the fantasy film genre to win the Best Picture award. It was also only the second time a sequel had won the Best Picture category; the first being The Godfather, Part II. Furthermore, after winning all 11 of its nominations, the film broke a record previously set by the film Gigi which had previously set the record for winning all 9 of its nominations. It was also the first time that the third movie in a trilogy has won for Best Picture.

The film won also four Golden Globes, five BAFTAs, two MTV Movie Awards, two Grammy Awards, nine Saturn Awards and the Hugo Award. It is among the most-honored fantasy films in history. [source]

Titanic (1997 film)

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Titanic is a 1997 American romantic drama film directed, written, and co-produced by James Cameron about the sinking of the RMS Titanic. It stars Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio as Rose DeWitt Bukater and Jack Dawson respectively, members of different social classes who fall in love aboard the ill-fated 1912 maiden voyage of the ship. Bill Paxton plays Brock Lovett, the leader of a treasure hunting expedition, while Gloria Stuart has the role of the elderly Rose, who narrates the story in 1996. The film was both a critical and commercial success, winning eleven Academy Awards including Best Picture, and became the highest grossing film of all time, with a total worldwide gross of US$1.8 billion.

Critical reception

The film garnered mostly positive reviews from critics. It has been a "Certified Fresh" film on Rotten Tomatoes, with 83% overall approval from critics and 79% from users.[37] The film received a 74/100 metascore on Metacritic, classified as a generally favorable reviewed film. Metacritic users also awarded it with a 7.4/10 average rating.

Roger Ebert has said, "It is flawlessly crafted, intelligently constructed, strongly acted, and spellbinding.... Movies like this are not merely difficult to make at all, but almost impossible to make well. The technical difficulties are so daunting that it's a wonder when the filmmakers are also able to bring the drama and history into proportion. I found myself convinced by both the story and the sad saga." It was one of his top ten films of 1997

James Berardinelli explains, "Meticulous in detail, yet vast in scope and intent, Titanic is the kind of epic motion picture event that has become a rarity. You don't just watch Titanic, you experience it." It is his second best movie of 1997.

Some reviewers felt that the story and dialogue were weak, while the visuals were spectacular. Kenneth Turan's review in the LA Times was particularly scathing. Dismissing the emotive elements, he says, "What really brings on the tears is Cameron's insistence that writing this kind of movie is within his abilities. Not only is it not, it is not even close." Barbara Shulgasser of San Francisco Examiner gave Titanic one star out of four, citing a friend as saying, "The number of times in this unbelievably badly-written script that the two [lead characters] refer to each other by name was an indication of just how dramatically the script lacked anything more interesting for the actors to say."

Titanic suffered backlash from many after its release. In 2003, the film topped a poll of "Best Film Endings," and yet it also topped a poll by The Film programme as, "the worst movie of all time." Parodies and spoofs abounded and were circulated around the Internet, often inspiring passionate responses from fans of various opinions of the film.

  • Kate Winslet as Rose DeWitt Bukater: A first-class socialite, seventeen-year-old Rose is forced to become engaged to Caledon Hockley so she and her mother can maintain their high status after the death of her father. Feeling trapped, Rose becomes suicidal, but she soon discovers a whole new lease on life when she meets Jack Dawson.
  • Leonardo DiCaprio as Jack Dawson: A penniless artist who travels the world, Jack wins tickets to the RMS Titanic in a card game. He is attracted to Rose's beauty and convinces her out of an attempted suicide. His saving of her life brings him into first-class society for a night, and he shows her a carefree way of life of which she had often fantasized but never realized of doing.
  • Billy Zane as Caledon "Cal" Nathan Hockley: The quintessential arrogant and snobbish first-class man, Rose's fiancé Cal becomes increasingly embarrassed, jealous, and cruel over Rose's friendship with Jack. He gives Rose the diamond The Heart of the Ocean as a reminder of her feelings for him.
  • Frances Fisher as Ruth DeWitt Bukater: Rose's widowed mother, who is marrying her off to ensure their high-class status. She loves her daughter but believes marriage to Cal is the right thing to do. The epitome of the shallowness and hypocrisies of high-class society, she scorns Jack, even though he saved her daughter's life.
  • Kathy Bates as Margaret Tobin "Molly" Brown: Brown is depicted as being frowned upon by other first-class women, including Ruth, as "new money" due to her sudden wealth. She is friendly to Jack and gives him a dining-suit when he is invited to dinner in the first-class saloon.
  • Victor Garber as Thomas Andrews, Jr.: The ship's designer, Andrews is depicted during the sinking of the ship as standing next to the clock in the first class smoking room. He gives Rose a life jacket so she doesn't drown in the icy water, and is last seen looking at his watch and adjusting the clock in the same room, accepting his fate.
  • Bernard Hill as Captain Edward John Smith: The film depicts the captain of the RMS Titanic as retiring to his quarters when the ships hits the iceberg. He goes into wheelhouse as it sinks, dying when the water bursts through the windows.
  • Jonathan Hyde as J. Bruce Ismay: Ismay is portrayed as an ignorant first-class rich man, who does not know who Sigmund Freud is. He cowardly takes the opportunity to get into a lifeboat, and looks back, guilt-stricken, as his ship sinks.
  • David Warner as Spicer Lovejoy: An ex-Pinkerton constable, Lovejoy is Cal's English bodyguard who keeps an eye on Rose and is suspicious of the circumstances of Jack's rescue of her.
  • Danny Nucci as Fabrizio De Rossi: Jack's Italian friend who comes aboard the RMS Titanic after winning a card game.
  • Jason Barry as Tommy Ryan: An Irish third-class passenger who befriends Jack and Fabrizio.
  • Bill Paxton as Brock Lovett: A treasure hunter looking for The Heart of the Ocean in the wreck of the RMS Titanic in the present. Time and funding to his expedition is running out.
  • Gloria Stuart plays the 100-year old Rose Dawson Calvert: She comes to give Lovett information regarding The Heart of the Ocean, after he discovers a nude drawing of her in the wreck of the RMS Titanic. She narrates the story of her time aboard the ship, mentioning Jack for the first time since.
  • Suzy Amis as Lizzy Calvert: Rose's granddaughter, who accompanies her on her visit to Lovett.
  • Lewis Abernathy as Lewis Bodine: Lovett's geeky friend, who expresses doubt at first whether Rose is telling the truth.
  • Eric Braeden as Colonel John Jacob Astor IV: A first-class passenger whom Rose calls "the richest man on the ship". The film depicts him and his 19-year-old wife Madeleine as being introduced to Jack by Rose in the first-class saloon.
  • Bernard Fox as Colonel Archibald Gracie: The film depicts Gracie making a comment to Cal that "women and machinery don't mix," and congratulating Jack for saving Rose from committing suicide.
  • Ewan Stewart as First Officer William McMaster Murdoch: The film's most controversial depiction, Murdoch shoots and kills men who try to enter a lifeboat under Smith's order of women and children first, before committing suicide out of guilt.
  • Jonathan Phillips as Second Officer Charles Lightoller: The film depicts him arguing with Captain Smith that it would be difficult to see the icebergs with no breaking water.
  • Ioan Gruffudd as Fifth Officer Harold Lowe, the only officer who led a lifeboat to retrieve survivors of the sinking.
Several crew members of the Akademik Mstislav Keldysh appear in the film, including Anatoly Sagalevitch, creator of the Mir submersibles. Anders Falk, who filmed a documentary about the film's sets for the Titanic Historical Society, cameoed in the film as a Swedish immigrant who Jack Dawson meets when he enters his cabin, and Ed and Karen Kamuda, then President and Vice President of the Society, were extras on the film. [source]

All About Eve (1950)

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All About Eve (1950), is a realistic, dramatic depiction of show business and backstage life of Broadway and the New York theater. The devastating debunking of stage and theatrical characters was based on the short story and radio play The Wisdom of Eve by Mary Orr. A cinematic masterpiece and one of the all-time classic films, this award winner has flawless acting, directing, an intelligent script and believable characters. The film is driven by Mankiewicz' witty, cynical and bitchy screenplay - through the character of Addison DeWitt, Mankiewicz represented his point of view and opinions about show business. Thematically, it provides an insightful diatribe against crafty, aspiring, glib, autonomous female thespians who seek success and ambition at any cost without regard to scruples or feelings. The acclaimed film also comments on the fear of aging and loss of power/fame.

It was nominated for fourteen awards - more than any other picture in Oscar history, until Titanic (1997) duplicated the same feat forty-seven years later. The skillful film won six Oscars: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (George Sanders), Best Director (Joseph L. Mankiewicz), Best Screenplay (Joseph L. Mankiewicz), Best Sound Recording, and Best B/W Costume Design. Four actresses in the film were nominated (and all lost). It holds the record for the film with the most female acting nominees:

* Best Actress (two) - Bette Davis and Anne Baxter
* Best Supporting Actress (two) - Celeste Holm and Thelma Ritter

Bette Davis' leading (but not title) role as Margo Channing has generally been considered her greatest career performance and her most memorable, signature role. [Other choices for the role included Claudette Colbert, Gertrude Lawrence and Marlene Dietrich.] Her part as an aging, 40-year old Broadway actress fit the 42-year old Davis perfectly, at a time when acting roles were drying up for her. Davis played opposite co-star Gary Merrill - with whom she had an affair during filming, and soon married (it was her fourth - and last - marriage, that lasted from 1950-1960) after waiting for each other's divorce.

The film was adapted and transformed into a Broadway play called Applause in 1970, with Lauren Bacall (later replaced by Anne Baxter!) as Margo Channing. Eddie (Ed) Fisher's sole scene was cut from the final version, although he still received screen credit as Stage Manager. The film is often noted as a "three suicide movie," for the deaths of George Sanders, Marilyn Monroe (although it may have been an accidental overdose), and Barbara Bates.

The film opens with the image of an award trophy, described in voice-over by an off-camera, muted voice:

The Sarah Siddons Award for Distinguished Achievement is perhaps unknown to you. It has been spared the sensational and commercial publicity that attends such questionable 'honors' as the Pulitzer Prize - and those awards presented annually by that film society.

We are informed about the setting - where we are and why. The elite of the theatrical world attend the annual presentation of the enviable Sarah Siddons Award for dramatic achievement in the theatre:

This is the dining hall of the Sarah Siddons Society. The occasion is its annual banquet and presentation of the highest honor our theater knows - the Sarah Siddons Award for Distinguished Achievement...The minor awards, as you can see, have already been presented. Minor awards are for such as the writer and director [playwright Lloyd Richards and director Bill Sampson are briefly viewed] since their function is merely to construct a tower so that the world can applaud a light which flashes on top of it. And no brighter light has ever dazzled the eye than Eve Harrington. Eve. But more of Eve later, all about Eve, in fact.

The cynical, caustic, acid-tongued New York drama critic Addison De Witt (George Sanders) introduces himself before going further:

To those of you who do not read, attend the theater, listen to unsponsored radio programs or know anything of the world in which you live - it is perhaps necessary to introduce myself. My name is Addison De Witt. My native habitat is the theater. In it, I toil not, neither do I spin. I am a critic and commentator. I am essential to the theater.

The narrator, De Witt introduces (in voice-over) a number of other main characters in the ceremony's audience at the same table, including Karen Richards (Celeste Holm), wife of playwright Lloyd Richards (Hugh Marlowe):

She is the wife of a playwright, therefore of the theatre by marriage. Nothing in her background or breeding should have brought her any closer to the stage than Row E, Center. However, during her senior year at Radcliffe, Lloyd Richards lectured on the drama. The following year, Karen became Mrs. Lloyd Richards.

The next individual at the table to be introduced is Max Fabian (Gregory Ratoff), the theatrical producer of the play which has won the award for Eve:

There are in general two types of theatrical producers. One has a great many wealthier friends who will risk a tax deductible loss. This type is interested in art. The other is one to whom each production means potential ruin or fortune. This type is out to make a buck.

Finally, there is Broadway actress Margo Channing (Bette Davis):

Margo Channing is a Star of the Theater. She made her first stage appearance, at the age of four, in Midsummer Night's Dream. She played a fairy and entered - quite unexpectedly - stark naked. She has been a Star ever since. Margo is a great Star. A true star. She never was or will be anything less or anything else.

Miss Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter), an actress who we soon learn "all about" in flashback, is being honored as the youngest recipient ever to win the Sarah Siddons Award as Best Actress - "such a young lady, young in years, but whose heart is as old as the theater. Some of us are privileged to know her. We have seen beyond the beauty and artistry that have made her name resound through the nation." From the reactions of audience members who have been introduced - false smiles, unmoving faces, cynical looks, and unapplauding hands, one senses the sham of the awards ceremony for Eve:

We know her humility, her devotion, her loyalty to her art, her love, her deep and abiding love for us, for what we are and what we do, the theater. She has had one wish, one prayer, one dream - to belong to us. Tonight, her dream has come true. And henceforth, we shall dream the same of her.

As the glamorous Eve rises in a regal manner to triumphantly accept the award, the voice-over continues - as she reaches out for the award, the shot freeze-frames:

Eve. Eve the Golden Girl, the Cover Girl, the Girl Next Door, the Girl on the Moon. Time has been good to Eve. Life goes where she goes. She's the profiled, covered, revealed, reported. What she eats and what she wears and whom she knows and where she was, and when and where she's going. Eve. You all know All About Eve. What can there be to know that you don't know?

In the remainder of the film, events from early October to June which led to the award ceremony are unfolded through the thoughts and actions of each important character that is in attendance.

Karen Richards, the playwright's wife ("a lowest form of celebrity"), and Margo Channing's best friend, relates that Eve began her life in the theater as an innocent, forlorn, star-struck fan, haunting the theater where her idol appeared, watching every performance and waiting in the back alley to see her idol arrive and leave. She worships one of Broadway's mega-stars, actress Margo Channing, who is appearing in producer Max Fabian's play Aged in Wood - directed by the star's lover Bill Sampson (Gary Merrill). Eve ("another tongue-tied gushing fan") is given the opportunity to meet her idol backstage following an evening performance.

Inside the theatre, the starry-eyed, stage-struck girl wanders around: "You can breathe it, can't you? Like some magic perfume." In Margo's backstage dressing room, Karen is envious of Margo's theatrical success: "You're talented, famous, wealthy, people waiting around night after night, just to see you, even in the wind and the rain." But Margo doesn't think much of her fans and audience:

Autograph fiends, they're not people. Those are little beasts that run around in packs like coyotes...They're nobody's fans. They're juvenile delinquent, they're mental defective, and nobody's audience. They never see a play or a movie even. They're never indoors long enough.

Karen begs Margo to see one of her adoring "indoors" fans: "Oh, but you can't put her out. I promised. Margo, you've got to see her. She worships you. It's like something out of a book...You're her whole life." Eve, seen in the alley's shadows as "the mousy one with the trench coat and a funny hat," is ushered into the dressing room and introduced to Margo - with unflattering cold cream on her face. The young girl Eve responds passionately toward the play: "I've seen every performance...I'd like anything Miss Channing played in...I think that part of Miss Channing's greatness lies in her ability to pick the best plays."

In a classic scene, wet-eyed Eve uses her captivating, acting abilities to tell her dressing room audience the hard-luck, melancholy tale of her life story which began in Wisconsin as an only child. "But somehow, acting and make believe began to fill up my life more and more. It got so I couldn't tell the real from the unreal. Except that the unreal seemed more real to me."

Her father was a poor farmer, so to help out, she quit school, moved to Milwaukee, and became a secretary - in a brewery. "'s pretty hard to make believe you are anyone else. Everything is beer." There was a little theatre group there - "like a drop of rain on the desert." Purportedly, she married Eddie, a radio technician, and during the war, he flew in the Air Force in the South Pacific. She learned she was a war widow when she was in San Francisco. Stranded, she remained there, found a job, and lived off her deceased husband's insurance. She saved herself from devastation by attending Margo's performances:

And there were theatres in San Francisco. And then one night, Margo Channing came to play in Remembrance and I went to see it. Well, here I am.

She had followed her acting idol from San Francisco across the country - with theatrical aspirations of her own to become a big star on Broadway. Eve's calculated, guileless manipulation of Margo's vanity and sentiments help her maneuver her way into Margo's life. Everyone is taken by lovely Eve's shy charm, helplessness, naivete, lack of pretention and passion. But Margo's maid, friend and companion Birdie Coonan (Thelma Ritter) reacts sarcastically and skeptically to Eve's fabricated, ingratiating "make-believe" image and stories:

What a story! Everything but the bloodhounds snappin' at her rear end.

Margo criticizes her maid for showing outspoken callousness toward Eve:

There are some human experiences, Birdie, that do not take place in a vaudeville house - and that even a fifth-rate vaudevillian should understand and respect!

Margo's fiancee-to-be, theatrical director Bill Sampson, a show business veteran and one of Margo's inner circle, is on his way to Hollywood for a month-long stay and a one-picture deal: "Zanuck is impatient. He wants me, he needs me." The earnest young woman Eve, who professes to admire Margo, quickly endears herself to the stage star, earning her a place in the star's inner circle. Margo encourages her to "stick around" for flattery's sake.

In flashback, Karen remembers that eventful evening: "And I'll never forget you, Eve." Sampson defines the word theater for Eve:

The theatuh, the theatuh - what book of rules says the theater exists only within some ugly buildings crowded into one square mile of New York City? Or London, Paris, or Vienna? Listen, junior. And learn. Want to know what the theater is? A flea circus. Also opera. Also rodeos, carnivals, ballets, Indian tribal dances, Punch and Judy, a one-man band - all theater. Wherever there's magic and make-believe and an audience - there's theater. Donald Duck, Ibsen, and the Lone Ranger. Sarah Bernhardt and Poodles Hanneford, Lunt and Fontanne, Betty Grable, Rex the Wild Horse, Eleanora Duse - they're all theater. You don't understand them, you don't like them all - why should you? The theater's for everybody - you included, but not exclusively - so don't approve or disapprove. It may not be your theater, but it's theater for somebody, somewhere...It's just that there's so much bourgeois in this ivory greenroom they call the theater. Sometimes it gets up around my chin.

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With descriptive review commentaries and background history on many classic, landmark films in cinematic history, especially American/Hollywood films. Including posters, Academy Awards history, film genres, film terms, film history by decade, trivia, and lots of lists of 'best' films, stars, scenes, quotes, resources, etc.

On The Waterfront (1954)

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On the Waterfront (1954) is a classic, award-winning, controversial film directed by Elia Kazan - a part drama and part gangster film. The authentic-looking, powerful film is concerned with the problems of trade unionism, corruption and racketeering. And it is set on New York's oppressive waterfront docks, where dock workers struggled for work, dignity, and to make ends meet under the control of hard-knuckled, mob-run labor unions that would force them to submit to daily 'shape-ups' by cruel hiring bosses.

To add realism, it was filmed over 36 days on-location in Hoboken, New Jersey (in the cargo holds of ships, workers' slum dwellings, the bars, the littered alleys, and on the rooftops). And some of the labor boss' chief bodyguards/goons in the film (Abe Simon as Barney, Tony Galento as Truck, and Tami Mauriello as Tullio) were real-life, professional ex-heavyweight boxers. The low-budget film brought a depressing and critical, but much-needed message about society's ills to the forefront, and was hailed by most critics.

The film's morality tale of corruption ends with its ultimate defeat and the saving of the community by a morally-redeemed martyr (a common man with a conscience). With a naturalistic acting style, Marlon Brando portrayed Terry Malloy, an inarticulate, struggling, brutish hero and small-time, washed-up ex-boxer who took a regrettable fall in the ring. Now an errand boy and 'owned' by the union boss, he is unaware of his own personal power. But eventually because of torment over his actions and his realization of new choices in life, he joins forces with a tough-minded, courageous and crusading priest (Malden) and a loving, angelic blonde woman (Saint), a sister of one of the victims, to seek reform and challenge the mob.

The political and criminal context of the film's background and history are extremely important. The similarity between Terry Malloy's whistle-blowing testimony against his own corrupt group paralleled director Elia Kazan's self-justifying admissions before the House Un-American Activities Commission (HUAC) two years earlier (in 1952) as a 'friendly' witness regarding his one-time membership in the Communist party and the naming of others who were sympathizers. Kazan attempted to vindicate himself politically with this semi-autobiographical film - the justification of naming names ('squealing') to expose the evils of corrupt unions, and the suggestion of sympathy advocated for squealers.

The film's story was based on New York Sun (now defunct) newspaper reporter Malcolm Johnson's expose, found in a series of 24 articles called Crime on the Waterfront. The series chronicled actual dockside events, labor racketeering in New York's dockyards, and corrupt practices, and won the 1949 Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting. It revealed rampant bribery, extortions, kickbacks to union officials, payoffs, theft, union-sponsored loan sharks, murder, and the mob's tyrannical influence on New York's waterfront. Originally, Kazan had hired playwright Arthur Miller in 1950 to research the world of longshoremen in Brooklyn’s Red Hook area (and use material from Johnson's articles), and craft a script for a film to be titled The Hook. It had a similar plot to the 1954 film - the setting of a Brooklyn waterfront with a militant trade unionist hero struggling with mobsters in the dockworkers union. The film was never produced, due to HUAC pressure on Columbia Pictures' studio chief Harry Cohn, who told Miller to change the villains from corrupt and militant union officials and gangsters to evil communists, so it would have a “pro-American” feel -- but Miller refused and pulled out as screenwriter.

Arthur Miller was replaced by novelist and scriptwriter Budd Schulberg (another 'friendly' witness before HUAC), who worked in collaboration with Kazan. The film's plot was taken from Schulberg's own original story - which reworked all the previous material and also dropped the Communists in the plot. On the Waterfront emphasized the waterfront's strict code of "D and D...Deaf and Dumb" -- keeping quiet instead of 'ratting out' or testifying (as a 'friendly' witness) before a Congressional waterfront crime commission against bullying union boss Johnny Friendly (an interesting and ironic choice of names), portrayed by Lee J. Cobb:

[Schulberg based Karl Malden's character on the tough and profane-mouthed waterfront Catholic priest Father John M. Corridan, and Pat Henning's character on a Father John disciple named Arthur Browne. Terry Malloy was modeled after whistle-blowing longshoreman Anthony De Vincenzo, and Johnny Friendly was based on mobster Albert Anastasia, chief executioner of Murder, Inc.]

The harsh, naturalistic, well-acted and uncompromising film was hugely successful, critically and financially. Its budget of slightly less than $1 million brought in almost $10 million at the box-office. Boris Kaufman's gritty black and white cinematography was singled out as superior, and the film received a phenomenal number of Academy Award nominations - twelve. It won eight Academy Awards including: Best Picture and Director (Kazan), Best Story and Screenplay (Schulberg), Best Actor (Brando), Best Supporting Actress (Saint in her film debut), Best B/W Cinematography (Boris Kaufman), Best B/W Art Direction-Set Decoration (Richard Day), and Best Film Editing (Gene Milford). Three of its other four nominations were supporting acting nods (for a total of four): Best Supporting Actor (Lee J. Cobb, Karl Malden, and Rod Steiger), and Best Scoring (Leonard Bernstein). This was the only film that wasn't a musical for which Leonard Bernstein ever provided the soundtrack.

Following the credits, drumbeats accompany a scene at the New York waterfront, where a large ocean liner is docked. The angry gangster union boss, Johnny Friendly (Lee J. Cobb) who callously rules this section of the waterfront, walks up the gangplank with his mobster entourage from the office (shack) of the Longshoreman's local Union. Slow-witted, illiterate waterfront bum Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) follows behind, surviving as a lackey by running odd jobs and errands for Johnny and doing strong-arm work.

He is asked to lure to the rooftop of his tenement building a young dockworker Joey Doyle, one of the informant union workers who is planning to cooperate with crime investigators by testifying (before the Waterfront Crime Commission) against gangsters who tyrannically control the docks. Terry shouts to fellow pigeon-lover Joey in his apartment, in the opening lines of the film. He unwittingly becomes a pawn in setting a trap to murder his fellow longshoreman dockworker:

Joey, Joey Doyle!...Hey, I got one of your birds. I recognize him by the band...He flew into my coop. You want him?

Terry keeps pigeons in coops on his tenement apartment's rooftop, and soon convinces potential informant Joey to meet him on the roof. When he looks up to the rooftop, he sees the dark figures of two men standing there. Instead of joining Joey on the roof, he releases his pigeon into the air, and then walks down the street to a seedy bar, Johnny Friendly's BAR. In front of the corner saloon is Charley Malloy "The Gent" (Rod Steiger), Terry's smartly-dressed older brother and manager. Charley, who works as Johnny Friendly's smart and crooked lawyer and as chief lieutenant, is flanked by two of Friendly's goons.

In shock, Terry witnesses Joey's murder, as he is hurled from the rooftop to his death many stories below with a bloodcurdling scream. One of the thugs coldly states: "I think somebody fell off the roof. He thought he was gonna sing for the Crime Commission. He won't." Unknowingly set up, Terry is stunned by the murder, believing that the racketeers (and his brother) would only threaten the man:

I thought they was gonna talk to him...I thought they was gonna talk to him and get him to dummy up...I figured the worst they was gonna do was lean on him a little bit...Wow! He wasn't a bad kid, that Joey.

Two of the thugs make a joke about the 'squealer' who has threatened to 'sing' to the crime commission and break the waterfront's unspoken code to be 'D and D' (Deaf and Dumb):

A canary.
Maybe he could sing but he couldn't fly!

In the street, a shocked crowd gathers around Joey's body. Introduced characters are local parish priest Father Barry (Karl Malden) who delivers the last rites, Joey's father Pop Doyle (John Hamilton), and Joey's fresh-faced sister Edie (Eva Marie Saint). One of the neighbors, Mrs. Collins (Anne Hegira) knows this was no accident: "Same thing happened to my Andy five years ago...(about Joey) He was the only longshoreman that had the guts to talk to them crime investigators ... Everybody knows that." Pop laments that his son didn't follow his advice: "Kept telling him. Don't say nothin'. Keep quiet. You'll live longer." Angered by the senseless murder of the brother she was close to, Edie screams: "I want to know who killed my brother!"

In the rough waterfront bar where some of the patrons watch a prizefight on a TV above the bar, Big Mac (James Westerfield) the waterfront hiring boss, brings beer-drinking Johnny Friendly a thick wad of bills, revealing union racketeering, corruption, strong-arm tactics and payoffs: "Here's the cut on the shape-up. Eight hundred and ninety-one men at three bucks a head, that's, uh, - twenty-six seventy-three...We got a banana boat at 46 tomorrow. If we could pull a walk-out, it might mean a few bucks from the shippers. Them bananas go bad in a hurry." Friendly responds sharply: "Ask two G's." A whole network of runners for Friendly's mob are in the bar including a weasel-like banker nicknamed "J.P." Morgan (Barry Macollum) and another conniving mobster named Skins (Fred Gwynne).

As a man in his 30s who is exploited like a pawn by others, ex-prizefighter and has-been Terry knows that he owes his waterfront career and livelihood to Johnny Friendly, head of the racketeers, and to his brother Charley, although he was forced to take a 'fall' in a boxing fight. But he also realizes that he is dull-witted and inarticulate, and not even capable of accurately counting a wad of bills. Big Mac good-naturedly comments on Terry's lack of education:

The only arithmetic he ever got was hearing the referee count up to ten.

But Terry is hot-tempered, and reacts harshly to the criticism. Charley excuses his brother's a-typical behavior: "It's just the Joey Doyle thing. You know how he is. He exaggerates the thing. Just too much Marquis of Queensbury. It softens 'em up."

Johnny raises his voice and explains how he became head of the local union and continues to maintain a lucrative (but illegal) operation. He also calmly rationalizes to Terry about the death of Joey Doyle - a waterfront dockworker who might have threatened the entire business:

When I was sixteen, I had to beg for work in the hold. I didn't work my way up out of there for nuthin'...You know, takin' over this local took a little doin'. There's some pretty rough fellas in the way. They gave me this (he displays an ugly scar on his neck) to remember them by...I got two thousand dues-payin' members in this local - that's $72,000 a year legitimate and when each one of 'em puts in a couple of bucks a day just to make sure they work steady - well, you figure it out. And that's just for openers. We got the fattest piers in the fattest harbor in the world. Everything moves in and out - we take our cut...You don't suppose I can afford to be boxed out of a deal like this, do ya? A deal I sweated and bled for, on account of one lousy little cheese-eater, that Doyle bum, who thinks he can go squealin' to the Crime Commission? Do ya? (pause) Well, DO YA?

Terry is given "a present from your Uncle Johnny," a fifty-dollar bill, and then promised a prime work area at the docks at the next morning's shape-up: "Put Terry up in the loft. Number one. Every day. It's nice, easy work, you see. You check in and you goof off on the coffee bags. OK?" Charley reinforces Johnny's kind gesture to his brother with a warning: "Hey, you got a real friend here. Now don't forget it."

Up on his rooftop at daybreak the next day, Terry tells a fourteen-year old neighborhood boy named Tommy (Thomas Handley) that he thinks his pigeons have the life:

Boy, they sure got it made, huh? Eatin'. Sleepin'. Flyin' around like crazy. Raisin' gobs of squabs.

The faint sound of ship's whistle brings Terry back to reality and he hurries to the docks, where hundreds of men mill around on the pier. [The film effectively uses authentic sounds from its environment: foghorns, ship's whistles, etc. to heighten the realism.] Some of the longshoremen are muttering about the unfortunate Doyle death, because he "couldn't learn to keep his mouth shut." Two of Friendly's goons threaten Timothy J. "Kayo" Dugan (Pat Henning): "Why don't you keep that big mouth of yours shut?...What are you, a wise guy?" Dugan replies: "If I was wise, I wouldn't be no longshoreman for thirty years. I'm poorer now than when I started." Pop Doyle passes the mantle of Joey's jacket to Kayo.

While waiting for the morning's work, Terry is approached by Glover (Leif Erickson) and Gillette (Marty Balsam), representatives from the Waterfront Crime Commission. The commission is "getting ready to hold public hearings on waterfront crime and underworld infiltration of longshore unions." When questioned by them about what he knows, being the last one to see Joey alive, Terry pleads ignorance:

I don't know nothin', I ain't seen nothin', I'm not sayin' nothin'.

At the 8 am whistle announcing the shape-up at the pier entrance (for 5 gangs and 100 banana carriers), Big Mac calls forward men to work for the day. Terry Malloy is favored and one of the first to be called. From the side, Edie and Father Barry watch, as he tells her: "This is my parish. I don't know how much I can do, but I'll never find out unless I come down here and take a good look for myself." When Big Mac is surrounded by the men, he throws the work tabs over their heads, causing a mad, animalistic, free-for-all scramble.

Terry meets the sister of the murdered union worker when he grabs a tab that Edie's father had seen first. When she wrestles with him for the tab, he first teases her, withholding the tab from her. But when he learns she's "Joey Doyle's sister," he gives her the working tab. She gives it to her humiliated father so he can work. Father Barry asks the rejected men who have been denied work: "What do you do now?...Is this all you do, just take it like this?...Huh? What about your union?" He is told that the lawless local union is mob-controlled by Johnny Friendly: "The waterfront's tougher, Father, like it ain't part of America." Father Barry offers the men "the bottom of the church" as a safe haven so that they can discuss their grievances - it can be one place where it's safe to talk.

At work, Charley finds Terry lying comfortably on a pile of coffee bags while reading a photo magazine filled with bikini-clad women. He sends Terry on an "extra detail" to sit in on tough, insistent Father Barry's meetings (with the "Doyle girl") that he is organizing in his parish to expose union racketeering. Terry is to keep "a run-down" on the "names and numbers of all the players." Terry argues that he doesn't want to stool, but Charley straightens him out:

Let me tell you what stooling is. Stooling is when you rat on your friends, the guys you're with. Johnny wants a favor. Don't think about it. Do it.

In the church meeting with only a handful of longshoremen in attendance, Father Barry speaks out against the controlling power of the mob and stands up for moral principles against the corrupt bosses. He preaches about the reality of the situation:

Isn't it simple as one, two, three? One. The working conditions are bad. Two. They're bad because the mob does the hiring. And three. The only way we can break the mob is to stop letting them get away with murder.

He attempts to determine who killed Joey Doyle, asking: "Who killed Joey Doyle?" The reaction to the Father's question is total silence - the men either look down, blankly stare away, or look embarrassed. Then the priest asks a second, more pointed question: "How can we call ourselves Christians and protect these murderers with our silence?" Terry sits at the back of the parish during the meeting, viewed suspiciously: "The brother of Charley the Gent. They'll help us get to the bottom of the river." Father Barry cuts through the talk and returns to the crucial question:

Now listen. You know who the pistols are. Are you going to keep still until they cut you down one by one? Are ya?

The priest is told by Kayo Dugan that there is a code of silence, called "D 'n D" on the docks: "Deaf and dumb. No matter how much we hate the torpedoes, we don't rat." Father Barry persuasively argues that they must break the code of silence and testify, but he feels defeated when the men don't respond to his words:

There's one thing we've got in this country and that's ways of fightin' back. Gettin' the facts to the public. Testifyin' for what you know is right against what you know is wrong. Now what's ratting to them is telling the truth for you. Now can't you see that? Can't you see that?

The meeting is suddenly broken up when rocks shatter the church windows. As Father Barry pairs off the men, Terry suddenly grabs Edie and leads her to safety down a fire escape. Thugs who wield long clubs and baseball bats mercilessly ambush and beat the men.

Walking Edie home through a park, Edie asks Terry about where his affiliation lies:

Edie: Which side are you with?
Terry: Me? I'm with me, Terry.

After he identifies his self-interest, Terry is confronted for a handout by an old rummy, one-armed derelict longshoreman named Mott Murphy (John Heldabrand). The man recognizes Edie and Terry, and accuses him of being there the night Joey was killed. Although bought off by the toss of some coins by Terry, Murphy spitefully calls him a "bum." Terry tells Edie to pay no attention to the "juice-head" who hangs around the neighborhood.

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From Here to Eternity (1953)

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From Here to Eternity (1953) is the powerful, realistic story (and fierce indictment) of the lives of American military men (and their women) stationed in peacetime Hawaii (near Honolulu) in the summer and fall before the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in late 1941 and the US entrance into WW II. The successful film, both critically and financially, soon became the second biggest hit of the year, behind The Robe (1953) (the first CinemaScope film) and ahead of Shane (1953).

One of the first remakes about the same topic was the ABC-TV mini-series titled Pearl (The Mini-Series) (1978) with superstars of the day Angie Dickinson and Dennis Weaver. It was also re-made as a glossy, 2-hour TV melodrama titled From Here to Eternity (1979) starring William Devane, Natalie Wood, Steve Railsback, Joe Pantolino, Peter Boyle and Kim Basinger, and directed by Buzz Kulik. This 1979 movie was also spun off as a soapy TV mini-series in 1980. And Michael Bay's recent Pearl Harbor (2001) provided a soap-operatic, sappy, and predictable love story triangle with an authentic and convincing re-creation of the historic attack.

In gritty, documentary-style black and white, director Fred Zinnemann (who had directed the acclaimed western High Noon (1952) a year earlier) accurately captured the isolation and boredom of the military personnel in a close-knit Army barracks on the island of Oahu, combining social/military history with the drama of the personal lives of its main characters - an enlisted man and a neglected officer's wife, and a prostitute and a military outcast. The major male characters wage their own 'battle' against corruption high up in the military ranks, each in their own ways.

Three of the film's stars were cast against type and their wholesome images: Donna Reed as 'hostess' bar-girl (hooker) Lorene and dignified British actress Deborah Kerr (instead of Joan Crawford who was announced for the part, but allegedly detested the costuming) as an unfaithful and adulterous sexpot wife. Montgomery Clift was also cast as a bugler, former boxer and stubborn, insubordinate soldier, although he was inexperienced in those areas and needed coaching. Burt Lancaster fit his role perfectly as a rugged sergeant. [Note: If casting decisions had gone differently, Aldo Ray, Edmond O'Brien, Joan Crawford, Julie Harris, and Eli Wallach would have played the roles given to Clift, Lancaster, Kerr, Reed, and Sinatra, respectively.]

It was based on James Jones' hefty, 859-page smoldering 1951 novel of the same name, taking its title from Rudyard Kipling's poem "Gentlemen Rankers" - "damned from here to eternity." However, Jones' sprawling and complex story-line about Army life with its bold and explicit script (with strong language, violence and raw sexual content) was considered unsuitable (and unfilmable) for the screen and it was rejected. Columbia Pictures head Harry Cohn, whose risky film project was soon nicknamed "Cohn's Folly," finally chose a more acceptable version written by Oscar-winning screenwriter Daniel Taradash. However, two major concessions and changes from the novel had to be made: (1) Fatso's sadistic brutality against Maggio had to be interpreted as atypical of Army behavior, and (2) the fate of Capt. Holmes - he was to be reprimanded for his mistreatment of Prewitt, rather than promoted. Nonetheless, the ground-breaking film's subjects still include prostitution, adultery, military injustice, corruption and violence, alcohol abuse, and murder.

Shot on location (including a three-week shoot in Hawaii's Schofield Barracks), this film was a monumental award winner - its thirteen nominations won eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress (Donna Reed), Best Supporting Actor (Frank Sinatra), Best Screenplay (Daniel Taradash), Best B/W Cinematography (Burnett Guffey), Best Sound Recording, and Best Film Editing. It won the most Academy Awards for any picture since Gone With The Wind (1939). (Its other five nominations were: Best Actor (Montgomery Clift and Burt Lancaster, who split the votes), Best Actress (Deborah Kerr), Best Scoring, and Best B/W Costume Design.)

At the time of its release, it was rumored that Sinatra's alleged Mafia ties (plus the help of his beautiful wife Ava Gardner) pressured tyrannical Columbia head Harry Cohn to relent and offer the part of Maggio to Sinatra instead of Eli Wallach. [This mythical, conspiracy-theory scenario seemed reprised with two characters in The Godfather (1972): singer-actor character Johnny Fontane (Al Martino, similar to Sinatra) and studio head Jack Woltz (John Marley, similar to Cohn) and the infamous bloody racehorse's head-in-the-bed scene.] Nonetheless, Sinatra's 'comeback' performance helped to re-spark his film career, that had faltered after a string of appearances in mediocre 40s musicals (often with Gene Kelly), and throat problems that had curtailed his singing career.

The film begins with the credits playing above soldiers practicing their marching at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, 1941. A lone Robert E. Lee Prewitt ("Prew") (Montgomery Clift) enters the base, passing Private Angelo Maggio (Frank Sinatra) - a genial and respected friend. Prewitt has requested a transfer to the base from the Ft. Shafter bugle corps. Maggio is doubtful about the wisdom of Prew's transfer to the new Company command: "You made a very bad mistake. This outfit they can give back to General Custer." But Maggio praises Prewitt's bugling talents: "You're the best bugler they've got on this whole island."

The duty-obsessed, brutal base commander, Captain Dana Holmes (Philip Ober) speaks to Prewitt about his transfer, learning that it was because of "a personal matter." Career soldier First Sergeant Milton Warden (Burt Lancaster) realizes that the new soldier was demoted from corporal to "buck private":

Prewitt, you was a corporal in the bugle corps. You took a bust to buck private to transfer to an infantry outfit. Why? Because you like to hike? Or was it because you couldn't stand to bugle?

Prewitt describes the circumstances for his transfer to Company "G" at Schofield - his protest over the appointment of an inferior bugler above him. His feelings and pride were hurt by favoritism:

I was first bugler for two years. The top-kick had a friend who transferred in from another outfit. The next day, he was made first bugler over me. I was a better bugler...Maybe it ain't sensible, but that's the reason.

The insecure Captain, the regimental boxing coach, 'pulled a few strings' to get Prewitt transferred to Company "G". He knew that Prewitt was a top middleweight boxer and urged Prewitt to box for the squad so that his company's boxing team could triumph in the regiment championship - his company's win would reflect upon his own superiority and bring a promotion: "I need a win this year." However, Prewitt insists that he hasn't been boxing for over a year, because of a tragic accident - he blinded an opponent while sparring in the ring. The strict Captain doesn't see hard-headed Prewitt's rationale for refusing to bolster the ranks of the team:

You might as well say 'stop war' because one man got killed. Our fighting program is the best morale builder we have.

If Prewitt will box on the regiment's boxing team, he will be rewarded with the esteemed post of bugler. But Prewitt defiantly refuses and flatly rejects the commander's offer. The Captain, a defender of team spirit, observes how Prewitt's principled stubbornness ("as a lone wolf") is disobedient and unacceptable in the Army - where individualism doesn't count:

Looks to me as if you're trying to acquire a reputation as a lone wolf, Prewitt. You should know that in the Army it's not the individual that counts. Well, you'll find that we won't put any pressure on you in my outfit. Just don't make any mistakes in it, that's all.

The tough but fair and by-the-book First Sergeant Warden has little respect for the arrogant commander who leaves the running of the company to him: "He'd strangle in his own spit if he didn't have me around here to swab his throat out for him." He also advises Prewitt, the 'hardhead,' about how he should go along with the system and not champion the principle of individualism ("A man don't go his own way, he's nothin'"):

Warden: You know what you did just now when you turned down dynamite Holmes? You put your head in a noose. Things are soft for a boxer in this outfit. Otherwise, you'd better know how to soldier.
Prewitt: I can soldier with any man.
Warden: ...You'll fight, Prewitt. You'll fight because Captain Holmes wants to be Major Holmes. He's got an idea he'll make it if he gets a winning team. And if you don't do it for him, you'll do it for me, 'cause my job is to keep him happy, see? The more he's happy, the less he bothers me and the better I run his company. So we know where we stand, don't we, kid?
Prewitt: I know where I stand. A man don't go his own way, he's nothin'.
Warden: Maybe back in the days of the pioneers, a man could go his own way. But today, you gotta play ball.

The rough-hewn Warden understands how to play the system to his advantage and keep everything under control, but is unwilling to manipulate the system to gain a promotion, like his manipulative commander.

The sergeant begins to eye the base captain's wife, Karen Holmes (Deborah Kerr), an unhappy, lonely, and frustrated wife who has gathered a reputation as being a loose and trampish woman. She has been told about Warden's qualities by her husband: "He says you're very efficient." Captain Holmes is often away from the post, "buttering generals" and drinking at the officers' club, and is acknowledged by his wife to be an unfaithful philanderer.

The entire boxing team attempts to pressure the obstinate Prewitt, reminding the ex-boxer: "Division champs get ten day furloughs." Maggio defends his friend's position and respects his steadfast decision and personal integrity: "Listen, the guy don't have to fight if he don't want to without gettin' kicked around." Prewitt courageously remains a highly principled individualist and soldier:

Look. I told Holmes and I'm tellin' you. I ain't fightin'. I quit fightin'. You guys want to put the screws on, go right ahead. I can take anything you can dish out.

Career soldier Sgt. Warden, who doesn't reject Prewitt outright, is seen as a smart, honorable and fair soldier by Corporal Buckley (Jack Warden):

He ain't like the others. He'll make it tough on you, but he'll draw himself a line he thinks fair and he won't come over it. You don't see many top kicks like him no more...All I know is, he's the best soldier I ever saw.

The whole outfit at the base accepts Prewitt's dare and makes life difficult for the hard-headed, introspective soldier. They begin to find fault with everything he does and they harrass him endlessly. He receives "the Treatment" in order to break his spirit - undesirable tasks, emotional harrassment, physical abuse, extra marching duty from Sergeant Baldy Dhom (Claude Akins), and double-time laps around the track for having a poorly-assembled rifle during gun inspection. In bayonet drill, one of the sergeants deliberately trips Prewitt. When Maggio rebelliously defends his friend, they both are sent to do laps.

Knowing that the captain will be gone, Warden calls on the restless, frustrated and testy Mrs. Holmes one rainy day for a drink and to initiate a relationship. She reveals how as an army commander's wife, she has wasted herself by being caught and trapped in a loveless, childless relationship - her unhappiness, sex starvation and longing for motherhood have driven her toward amoral behavior and promiscuity. They set the rules for the beginning of their secretive liaison:

Mrs. Holmes: Perhaps he's in town on business...You're taking an awful chance, you know...That's what I like about you, Sergeant, you have confidence. It's also what I dislike about you.
Sergeant: It's not confidence, Ma'am. It's honesty. I just hate to see a beautiful woman goin' all to waste.
Mrs. Holmes: Waste did you say? There's a subject I might tell you something about. I know several kinds of waste, Sergeant. You're probably not even remotely aware of some of them. Would you like to hear? For instance, what about the house without a child. There's one sort for you. Then there's another. (She takes a drink) You're doing fine, Sergeant. My husband's off somewhere and it's raining outside and we're both drinking now. You probably only got one thing wrong. The lady herself. The lady's not what she seems. She's a wash-out, if you know what I mean. And I'm sure you know what I mean. (She turns away after expressing self-pity.)
Sergeant: Are you gonna cry?
Mrs. Holmes: Not if I can help it. (He turns to leave.) What are you doing?
Sergeant: I'm leaving. Isn't that what you want?
Mrs. Holmes: I don't know, Sergeant. I don't know. (He turns and approaches, and they kiss and embrace passionately.)

Sergeant Maylon Stark (George Reeves, better known as TV's first Superman) has heard that Warden is "eyein' the Captain's wife like a hound dog at hunting time...She took up with a lot of men back there at Ft. Bliss...This ain't no story...Sure is somethin' strange about that woman."

Two inter-related, parallel love stories that are both emotionally-dangerous, forbidden and career-threatening are inter-cut together during the film's continuing sequences - the relationships are between:

* Karen Holmes and the Sergeant Warden
* Private Prewitt and a hostess named Alma at the New Congress Club

The virile Sergeant Warden and bored housewife Karen meet at a park bench at Kuhio Beach Park in a clandestine meeting away from the base. As a "non-com," Warden risks twenty years in Leavenworth prison for sleeping with a commissioned officer's wife:

Karen: I didn't think you were coming.
Warden: Why not? I ain't late.
Karen: No, I guess you're not. Then, I got here a little early. I must have been over-anxious. You weren't though, were you?
Warden: I stopped along the way for a couple of drinks.
Karen: You certainly chose a lovely spot for our meeting. I've had three chances to be picked up in the last five minutes.
Warden: Well, that's par for the course around here.
Karen: Well I don't care for it. I never went in much for back-alley loving.
Warden: Take it easy.
Karen: You probably think I'm a tramp.
Warden: Now what makes you think I'd think a thing like that?
Karen: Don't try to be gallant, Sergeant. If you think this is a mistake, come right out and say so. Well, I guess it's about time for me to be getting home, isn't it? Well, isn't it?
Warden: What's the matter? What started all this anyway? Do you think I'd be here if I thought it was a mistake? Takin' a chance on twenty years in Leavenworth for makin' dates with the company commander's wife? And her actin' like, like Lady Esther's horse? And all because I got here on time.
Karen: (encouraging) Well, on the other hand, I've got a bathing suit under my dress.
Warden: (with a broad grin) Me too.

The other soldiers spend the night out, in their off-base hours, at the "New Congress Club" on River Street in Honolulu, run by a pretentious woman named Mrs. Kipfer (Barbara Morrison). [In the novel, the New Congress Club was the New Congress Hotel, a house of prostitution, where enlisted men hang out.] The members-only private club, a USO-type social establishment advertises: "Soft Drinks, Dancing, Recreation." A slightly-drunk Prewitt is taken there by Maggio and the 'baby-face' quickly learns the rules of the 'respectable place' from Annette (Jean Willes):

Members are entitled to all privileges of the club, which includes dancing, snack bar, soft drink bar, and gentlemanly relaxation with the opposite gender - so long as they are gentlemen - and no liquor is permitted. Got it?

Considered 'new poison' in the club, Prewitt spots "the Princess" across the room - the aloof, but warm-hearted, dark-haired "hostess" who is known as Alma (Lorene) (Donna Reed). He proudly introduces himself to the innocent-looking B-girl as a career soldier:

Prewitt: I'm a 30-year man. I'm in for the whole ride.
Alma: Well, I suppose it's different when a fellow's gonna make a career of it.
Prewitt: Ain't nothin' the matter with a soldier that ain't the matter with everyone else.
Alma: I like you just the same. I liked you the minute I saw Annette bringing you in.
Prewitt: You did? That's funny. I-I-I came in and I stood there and saw you sittin' over here.

Prewitt is called away when an angry confrontation erupts between Maggio and the bullying, cruel Sergeant "Fatso" Judson (Ernest Borgnine), Sergeant of the Guard at the stockade - it arises over the volume of Judson's piano-playing. The unpleasant name-calling quickly degenerates:

Judson: I'll play loud as I want, you little wop.
Maggio: Little wop!? Mess with me, fat stuff, and I'll bust ya up.
Judson: You must be in a hurry for trouble, wop?
Maggio: ...Only my friends call me wop.

If you are interested to read the completed article, please visit
Greatest Films ( and
With descriptive review commentaries and background history on many classic, landmark films in cinematic history, especially American/Hollywood films. Including posters, Academy Awards history, film genres, film terms, film history by decade, trivia, and lots of lists of 'best' films, stars, scenes, quotes, resources, etc.

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

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The Shawshank Redemption (1994) is an impressive, engrossing piece of film-making from director/screenwriter Frank Darabont who adapted horror master Stephen King's 1982 novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption (first published in Different Seasons) for his first feature film. The inspirational, life-affirming and uplifting, old-fashioned style Hollywood product (resembling The Birdman of Alcatraz (1962) and Cool Hand Luke (1967)) is a combination prison/dramatic film and character study. The popular film is abetted by the golden cinematography of Roger Deakins, a touching score by Thomas Newman, and a third imposing character - Maine's oppressive Shawshank State Prison (actually the transformed, condemned Mansfield Ohio Correctional Institution or State Reformatory).

Posters for the film illustrate the liberating, redemptive power of hope and the religious themes of freedom and resurrection, with the words: "Fear can hold you prisoner, Hope can set you free." Darabont's film is a patiently-told, allegorical tale (unfolding like a long-played, sometimes painstaking, persistent chess game) of friendship, patience, hope, survival, emancipation, and ultimate redemption and salvation by the time of the film's finale.

It was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor (Morgan Freeman), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Original Score, and Best Sound - but it failed to win a single Oscar. And the film's director failed to receive a nomination for himself! In the same year as Forrest Gump, Pulp Fiction, and Speed, they received all of the attention. Only through positive word-of-mouth (following cable TV and broadcast airings, and then video releases) did the film do well - although its original reception at the box-office was lukewarm. The film was the precursor for another inspirational and popular film (and a similar adaptation of a Stephen King story by writer/director Frank Darabont) - The Green Mile (1999).

In the prologue before the film begins and pre-title credits play, a scratchy car radio (on the soundtrack) plays the romantic song: "If I Didn't Care," performed by the Inkspots:

If I didn't care, more than words can say,
If I didn't care, would I feel this way,
If this isn't love, then why do I thrill
And what makes my head go round and round
While my heart stands still...

To economically compress events during the credits sequence, a scene outside a cabin is intercut with a courtroom trial scene. [The year is 1946.] A Plymouth is parked outside a cabin [belonging to a golf pro engaged in an affair with an adulterous wife]. During a dark, quiet night in the wooded area near the cabin, the driver (the woman's husband) reaches for his oily, rag-wrapped gun in the glove compartment where bullets are also concealed. To fortify himself, he takes a swig of Rosewood bourbon from a glass bottle held in his lap. In the courtroom, the driver is identified as Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins). He is interrogated by the D.A. (Jeffrey DeMunn) and charged with murder: "Mr. Dufresne, describe the confrontation you had with your wife the night that she was murdered." The well-dressed, mild-mannered defendant calmly speaks: "It was very bitter. She said she was glad I knew, that she hated all the sneaking around. She said she wanted a divorce in Reno...I told her I would not grant one." The D.A. rephrases Andy's response with his actual words:

'I'll see you in Hell before I see you in Reno.' Those were the words you used, Mr. Dufresne, according to the testimony of your neighbors.

Obviously, Andy's wife (Renee Blaine) was having an affair with Glenn Quentin (Scott Mann), the golf pro at the Snowdon Hills Country Club. According to Andy, he felt confused and drunk, loaded his gun with bullets and intended to commit the crime, but then after quickly "sobering up," he had second thoughts. On his way home, according to his testimony, he discarded his gun: "...I stopped and I threw my gun into the Royal River."

The next morning, the bullet-riddled bodies of Andy's wife and her lover - in bed - were discovered. Andy's "very convenient" (acc. to the DA) testimony and unbelievable profession of innocence, coupled with the fact that "the police dragged that river for three days and nary a gun was found," seem rather suspicious to the D.A. The water washed away all evidence of his alleged innocence.

The D.A.'s closing summary to the jury, illustrated with a brief flashback-montage of the adulterous couple's passionate lovemaking (and obvious 'sin'), also points to Andy's undeniable guilt [it looks quite likely that Andy is guilty of the crime, although he has trouble remembering]:

We have the accused at the scene of the crime. We have footprints, tire tracks. We have bullets strewn on the ground which bear his fingerprints. A broken bourbon bottle, likewise with fingerprints. And most of all, we have a beautiful young woman and her lover lying dead in each other's arms. They had sinned. But was their crime so great as to merit a death sentence?...A revolver holds six bullets, not eight. I submit that this was not a hot-blooded crime of passion. That, at least, could be understood if not condoned. No - this was revenge of a much more brutal and cold blooded nature. Consider this. Four bullets per victim. Not six shots fired but eight. That means that he fired the gun empty and then stopped to reload so that he could shoot each of them again. An extra bullet per lover, right in the head.

The "icy and remorseless" man is sentenced by the Maine judge (John Horton) to "serve two life sentences back to back - one for each of your victims." The gavel marking the sentence pounds the screen to black.

The next scene, another scene of judgment, commences with noisy, iron bars sliding open, and another door opening into a room where five men sit at a table. An unexpected scene, this is the parole hearings room of maximum-security Shawshank Prison, where a black prisoner/lifer (#30265) named Ellis Boyd "Red" Redding (Morgan Freeman) - the real hero of the story, after serving twenty years of his sentence, receives his cursory annual review [in the year 1947]. [The entire film is basically told from Red's perspective, and much of the film is centered around the theme of observation, perception and seeing - especially Red's observation of the other main protagonist, Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins).]

Red religiously vows his rehabilitation has been accomplished - and swears - "that's the God's honest truth":

Reviewer: You feel you've been rehabilitated?
Red: Oh, yes sir. Absolutely, sir. Yeah, I've learned my lesson. I can honestly say that I'm a changed man. I'm no longer a danger to society. That's the God's honest truth.

A mechanical stamp marks "REJECTED" in red ink on his parole records. [The picture in his parole document is that of Morgan Freeman's own son, Alfonso.] In the prison's exercise yard following the "same ol' s--t" review, Red begins his ubiquitous voice-over narration (of his recollections) - a world-weary, resonant voice-over that continues for the remainder of the film. He is the prison's respected retriever - who sneakily passes contraband from hand to hand:

There must be a con like me in every prison in America. I'm the guy who can get it for you. Cigarettes, a bag of reefer if that's your thing, a bottle of brandy to celebrate your kid's high school graduation, damn near anything within reason. Yes sir, I'm a regular Sears and Roebuck.

Prison sirens blast as a ritualistic prison event is heralded - the arrival of fresh, new prisoners (termed "fresh fish") in a drab-gray school bus. Red recollects back: "So when Andy Dufresne came to me in 1949 and asked me to smuggle Rita Hayworth into the prison for him, I told him - 'No problem.'" A well-orchestrated, helicopter/aerial shot, one of the most acclaimed shots in the film, moves up from the arriving bus, ascends the main tower of the gothic prison, and peers down into the prison courtyard where ant-like prisoners scurry toward the fenced-in arrival area to gawk, size up, and jeer the new arrivals during their disembarkment:

Andy came to Shawshank Prison in early 1947 for murdering his wife and the fella she was bangin'. On the outside, he'd been vice-president of a large Portland bank. Good work for a man as young as he was.

Andy, dressed conspicuously in his banker's suit, is seated in the back of the bus. As the bus turns the corner into the prison, there are five blue-uniformed guards waiting there - the chief captain of the guard, Byron Hadley (Clancy Brown) motions the bus into position. Chained together, the prisoners exit from the bus, walk in single-file, and are lined up for inspection. Andy appears tormented and terrified as he nervously walks into his new surroundings while surrounded by shouting, taunting spectators who shake the fence. The old-timer inmates bet "smokes" on the new 'horses' and who will break first - Floyd (Brian Libby) bets on "that little sack of s--t...eighth from the front, he'll be first." Heywood (Bill Sadler) chooses "that chubby fat-ass there, the fifth one from the front." Red votes for the fragile-looking Andy ("that tall drink of water with a silver spoon up his ass" - a veiled reference to Andy's upcoming rape) at the end of the line:

I must admit, I didn't think much of Andy first time I laid eyes on him. Looked like a stiff breeze would blow him over. That was my first impression of the man.

Andy glances up at the imposing walls above him - walls that will close in on his life during two consecutive life sentences - as he is marched in. In an admitting area, the prisoners meet Mr. Samuel Norton (Bob Gunton), the self-righteous, Bible-carrying Warden:

You are convicted felons. That's why they sent you to me. Rule Number One: No blasphemy. I'll not have the Lord's name taken in vain in my prison. The other rules you'll figure out as you go along.

Hadley cusses right into the face of a disrespectful prisoner who has asked: "When do we eat?" The guard inhumanely jabs his baton into the gut of the man ("you maggot-dick motherf--ker!"). The Warden finishes his short, pompous introduction - with another reference to anal rape!:

I believe in two things - discipline and the Bible. Here you'll receive both. Put your trust in the Lord. Your ass belongs to me. Welcome to Shawshank.

To remove all vestiges of their identity (or contamination) from the outer world, the new cons are made to undress, then hosed down in a steel cage with high pressure water spray, and deloused with scoops of white delousing powder. As part of their degrading processing, they are given prison clothes and a Bible, and marched exposed and naked to their individual cells, their new homes in the cellblock - a three-tiered structure of concrete and steel.

The first night's the toughest, no doubt about it. They march you in naked as the day you were born, skin burning and half blind from that delousing s--t they throw on you, and when they put you in that cell, when those bars slam home, that's when you know it's for real. Old life blown away in the blink of an eye. Nothing left but all the time in the world to think about it. Most new fish come close to madness the first night. Somebody always breaks down crying. Happens every time. The only question is, who's it gonna be? It's as good a thing to bet on as any, I guess. I had my money on Andy Dufresne. I remember my first night. Seems like a long time ago.

As part of their entertaining betting game, the inmates taunt and 'bait' the "fishees" or first-timers - and "they don't quit till they reel someone in." The one nicknamed 'Fat-Ass' (Frank Medrano) is mercilessly teased by a leering Heywood: "This place ain't so bad. Tell ya what. I'll introduce ya around. Make you feel right at home. I know a couple of big ol' bull queers that'd just love to make your acquaintance, especially that big white mushy butt of yours." When the squeamish, hyperventilating victim wails and pleads despairingly: "Oh God! I don't belong here! I wanna go home," the prisoners chant: "Fresh fish!" The oppressed 'Fat-Ass' blubbers his unheard complaints to Hadley and is beaten with an unceasing rain of baton blows and kicked in the face until he lies still on the cold floor. The captain of the guard commands his lackeys: "Call the trustees. Take that tub of s--t down to the infirmary." Red loses his cigarette bet to Heywood:

His first night in the joint, Andy Dufresne cost me two packs of cigarettes. He never made a sound.

The next morning after a head-count in front of their individual cells in the cellblock, the prisoners are marched to the mess hall for breakfast. As Andy moves through the room, one of the 'bull queer' inmates named Bogs Diamond (Mark Rolston) gives him a salacious glance. As he begins eating a scoop of oatmeal on his metal tray, Andy picks out a squirming white maggot with his fingers. A neighboring, elderly inmate Brooks Hatlen (James Whitmore) inquires: "Are-are you going to eat that?" With everyone expecting that Brooks will eat the wiggling creature, he instead offers the "nice and ripe" maggot to a baby crow (named Jake) nestled in the inside pocket of his droopy blue sweater - he is its caretaker (in its prison cage) until it matures and flies away to freedom: "Fell out of his nest over by the plate shop. I'm gonna look after him until he's big enough to fly." [Brooks with his pet crow brings to mind the film: The Birdman of Alcatraz (1962).]

Heywood gleefully gloats about winning the bet and collects cigarettes as payment from everyone: "I want 'em all lined up just like a pretty little chorus line." But his victory is won with a deadly toll and price for 'Fat-Ass' - "Dead. Hadley busted his head up pretty good. Doc had already gone home for the night. Poor bastard laid there till this morning. By then, hell, there was nothing we could do." In the communal shower room, Bogs - one of the prison's notorious Sisters (the prison's resident rapists), expresses a liking for Andy and asks him a leading question:

Hey, anybody come at you yet? Anybody get to you yet? Hey, we all need friends in here. I could be a friend to you. (Andy breaks away without responding) Hey, hard to get. I like that.

Andy's assigned job is to work in the prison laundry room, where he "kept pretty much to himself at first. I guess he had a lot on his mind, trying to adapt to life on the inside. It wasn't until a month went by that he finally opened his mouth to say more than two words to somebody." While Red plays catch in the prison yard, Andy (joking that he's "the wife-killing banker") ambles over to break the month-long silence:

Red: Why'd you do it?
Andy: I didn't, since you ask.
Red: (chuckling) You're gonna fit right in. Everybody in (here) is innocent. Didn't you know that?...Rumor has it you're a real cold fish. You think your s--t smells sweeter than most. Is that right?
Andy: What do you think?
Red: I'll tell ya the truth. I haven't made up my mind.

Having learned that Red "knows how to get things," Andy officially meets Red when he makes a simple request for a rock-hammer - to resume his geologic "rock-hound" hobby from his "old life," although Red questions whether the tool will be used instead for self-protection against Bogs or for tunneling out of the prison:

Red: I'm known to locate certain things from time to time.
Andy: I wonder if you might get me a rock-hammer.
Red: ...What is it and why?
Andy: What do you care?
Red: What if it was a toothbrush? I wouldn't ask questions. I'd just quote a price. But then, a toothbrush is a non-lethal object, isn't it?
Andy: Fair enough. A rock-hammer is about six or seven inches long. Looks like a miniature pick-axe.
Red: Pick-axe?
Andy: For rocks.
Red: Rocks. (Andy flips him a sample rock) Quartz?
Andy: (squatting down and inspecting the ground) Quartz. Here's some mica, shale, limestone.
Red: So?
Andy: So I'm a rock-hound. At least I was, in my old life. I'd like to be again, on a limited basis.
Red: Or maybe you'd like to sink your toy into somebody's skull.
Andy: No, sir. I have no enemies here.
Red: No? Wait a while. Word gets around. The Sisters have taken quite a likin' to you, especially Bogs. (Bogs watches Andy from afar)
Andy: I don't suppose it would help any if I explained to them I'm not homosexual.
Red: Neither are they. You have to be human first. They don't qualify. Bull queers take by force. That's all they want or understand. If I were you, I'd grow eyes in the back of my head.
Andy: Thanks for the advice.
Red: That's free. You understand my concern.
Andy: Well, if there's any trouble, I won't use the rock-hammer. OK?
Red: Then I guess you wanna escape. Tunnel under the wall, maybe? (Andy laughs, when Red unintentionally guesses his real motive) Did I miss something here? What's funny?
Andy: You'll understand when you see the rock-hammer.

They decide on a price of $10 (which includes Red's normal mark-up percentage of twenty percent) for the "specialty item," and Andy assures Red that if he is caught with it during a surprise inspection, he won't mention his procurer's name. Red explains the rules of his business ("You mention my name, we'll never do business again, not for shoelaces or a stick of gum") and the origin of his nickname 'Red': "Maybe it's because I'm Irish." [This is a deliberate gag - delivered to the film audience! After African-American Morgan Freeman was cast to play the role of a white Irishman, this line was written to 'explain' Red's origins.] As Andy strolls away, Red remarks on his carefree, shielded attitude (with an "invisible coat" or Christ-like halo), while admitting his own growing affection for Andy:

I could see why some of the boys took him for snobby. He had a quiet way about him, a walk and a talk that just wasn't normal around here. He strolled, like a man in a park without a care or a worry in the world. Like he had on an invisible coat that would shield him from this place. Yeah, I think it would be fair to say I liked Andy from the start.

Andy's request is smuggled into the prison through a load of laundry at the loading dock, passed to Red in his new stack of clean sheets and blankets, and then distributed to Andy through Brooks, the prison librarian delivering books to each cell. Red is convinced that the rock-hammer would be useless in tunneling out: "It would take a man about six hundred years to tunnel under the wall with one of these." In the prison laundry room during a typical day, Andy is summoned to fetch some hexlite from the stock area. There in the stockroom, he is assaulted by Bogs Diamond and two other predatory men (the Sisters) who taunt him and beat him senseless: "That's it. You fight. It's better that way." According to Red, "prison is no fairy-tale world" and the vulnerable newcomer is repeatedly subjugated and victimized (and gang-raped?) during his first two years - dramatized in a short montage:

Things went on like that for a while. Prison life consists of routine, and then more routine. Every so often, Andy would show up with fresh bruises. The Sisters kept at him. Sometimes he was able to fight 'em off, sometimes not. And that's how it went for Andy. That was his routine.

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Greatest Films ( and
With descriptive review commentaries and background history on many classic, landmark films in cinematic history, especially American/Hollywood films. Including posters, Academy Awards history, film genres, film terms, film history by decade, trivia, and lots of lists of 'best' films, stars, scenes, quotes, resources, etc.

Gone With The Wind (1939)

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Gone With The Wind (1939) is often considered the most beloved, enduring and popular film of all time. Sidney Howard's script was derived from Margaret Mitchell's first and only published, best-selling Civil War and Reconstruction Period novel of 1,037 pages that first appeared in 1936, but was mostly written in the late 1920s. Producer David O. Selznick had acquired the film rights to Mitchell's novel in July, 1936 for $50,000 - a record amount at the time to an unknown author for her first novel, causing some to label the film "Selznick's Folly." At the time of the film's release, the fictional book had surpassed 1.5 million copies sold. More records were set when the film was first aired on television in two parts in late 1976, and controversy arose when it was restored and released theatrically in 1998.

The famous film, shot in three-strip Technicolor, is cinema's greatest, star-studded, historical epic film of the Old South during wartime that boasts an immortal cast in a timeless, classic tale of a love-hate romance. The indomitable heroine, Scarlett O'Hara, struggles to find love during the chaotic Civil War years and afterwards, and ultimately must seek refuge for herself and her family back at the beloved plantation Tara. There, she takes charge, defends it against Union soldiers, carpetbaggers, and starvation itself. She finally marries her worldly admirer Rhett Butler, but her apathy toward him in their marriage dooms their battling relationship, and she again returns to Tara to find consolation - indomitable.

Authenticity is enhanced by the costuming, sets, and variations on Stephen Foster songs and other excerpts from Civil War martial airs. Its opening, only a few months after WWII began in Europe, helped American audiences to identify with the war story and its theme of survival.

With three years advance publicity and Hollywood myth-making, three and one-half hours running time (with one intermission), a gala premiere in Atlanta on December 15, 1939, highest-grossing film status (eventually reaching $200 million), and Max Steiner's sweeping musical score, the exquisitely-photographed, Technicolor film was a blockbuster in its own time. A budgeted investment of over $4 million in production costs was required - an enormous, record-breaking sum. The film (originally rough-cut at 6 hours in length) was challenging in its making, due to its controversial subject matter (including rape, drunkenness, moral dissipation and adultery) and its epic qualities, with more than 50 speaking roles and 2,400 extras.

Various elements in the original novel had to be eliminated, and some characters, scenes, and events were either truncated, dropped, or modified:

* Scarlett's first two children (Wade Hampton and Ella Lorena) were eliminated
* In the novel, Charles Hamilton was in love with Honey Wilkes prior to falling in love with Scarlett; in the film, he was in love with India Wilkes
* Rhett's scenes (and confessions) about being a blockade runner were minimized or cut out
* the novel's love scenes (in particular, the "Paddock Scene") were more low-key
* the character of the Atlanta prostitute Belle Watling was sanitized, and Rhett's finding of solace with Belle, after Scarlett vowed not to have any more children following Bonnie's birth, was also down-played
* any episodes or mention of the Ku Klux Klan were dropped
* Rhett's contempt for Ashley was softened
* Rhett's last words in the novel: "My dear, I don't give a damn." In the film: "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn." [Contrary to popular belief, it was not the film with the first use of the word 'damn' (the expletive had been said by two characters in Pygmalion (1938) and had also been spoken in Alice Adams (1935))]
* Will Benteen (Tara's "man of the house"), Rhett's sister Rosemary Butler, and Scarlett's uncle and lawyer Henry Hamilton were eliminated
* On the night of the Shantytown raid, Melanie read from Charles Dickens' David Copperfield rather than from Victor Hugo's Les Miserables

A nationwide casting search for an actress to play the Southern belle Scarlett resulted in the hiring of young British actress Vivien Leigh, although over 30 other actresses (some well-known, and some amateurs) had been tested or considered including: Katharine Hepburn, Miriam Hopkins, Susan Hayward, Loretta Young, Paulette Goddard, Margaret Sullavan, Barbara Stanwyck, Joan Crawford, Norma Shearer, Lana Turner, Joan Bennett, Mae West, Tallulah Bankhead, Jean Arthur, and Lucille Ball. Although MGM star Clark Gable was expected to play the role of the dashing war profiteer Rhett Butler, Errol Flynn, Ronald Colman, and Gary Cooper were also considered for the part. Author Margaret Mitchell told a reporter she favored Basil Rathbone for the male lead. The four principal stars were billed in this order: Clark Gable, followed by Leslie Howard and Olivia de Havilland, and then Vivien Leigh last with "...and presenting" -- that is, until she won the Oscar and it was changed to "starring."

The landmark film received tremendous accolades, more than any previous films to date: thirteen nominations and eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director (Victor Fleming - the only credited director), Best Actress (Vivien Leigh), a posthumous Best Screenplay (Sidney Howard, along with collaborative assistance from Edwin Justin Mayer, John Van Druten, Ben Hecht, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Jo Swerling) - the first post-humous winner of its kind, Best Color Cinematography, Best Interior Decoration, Best Film Editing, and Best Supporting Actress (Hattie McDaniel - the first time an African-American had been nominated and honored) and two honorary plaques, one for production designer William Cameron Menzies for the "use of color for the enhancement of dramatic mood," and the other a technical production award for Don Musgrave for "pioneering in the use of coordinated equipment."

Many of the five nominations that lost were unexpected: Best Actor (Clark Gable who lost to Robert Donat for Goodbye, Mr. Chips), Best Supporting Actress (Olivia de Havilland who was competing against co-star Hattie McDaniel), Best Sound Recording, Best Original Score (Max Steiner), and Best Special Effects. Its record of ten Academy Awards wins held firm until 1959, when Ben-Hur (1959) won eleven Oscars. It was phenomenal that Gone With the Wind did so well, given that 1939 boasted some of the greatest American films ever made, including Ninotchka, The Wizard of Oz, Wuthering Heights, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, and Stagecoach.

Although almost half of the film was directed by Victor Fleming (45%) - who received screen credit, four other directors contributed various parts of the film: Sam Wood (15%), William Cameron Menzies (15%), 'woman's director' George Cukor (5%) - the first director, B. Reeves ("Breezy") Eason (2%), and the remaining from various second unit directors (18%). Menzies was placated with the credit: "Production designed by..." In the 30s, Selznick had already produced such prestige pictures and literary works for the screen, such as David Copperfield (1935), A Tale Of Two Cities (1935), Anna Karenina (1935), The Prisoner Of Zenda (1937), and The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer (1938), and at the time of Gone With the Wind's production, he was also preparing Rebecca (1940).

There was, naturally, a six-hour, soap-operish TV mini-series sequel titled Scarlett (1994), that was based on the follow-up novel by Alexandra Ripley, set partially in Ireland. It starred Joanne Whalley-Kilmer (as Scarlett), Timothy Dalton (as Rhett), Stephen Collins (as Ashley), and Barbara Barrie (as Pauline Robillard). Earlier, North and South (1985), with Patrick Swayze, Robert Mitchum, Kirstie Alley, Johnny Cash, Gene Kelly, Hal Holbrook - and others, and based on John Jake's best-selling book, was another attempt of a TV mini-series to recapture the magic of the ante-bellum period.

In the opening credits, producer David Selznick's name appears: "Selznick International In Association with Metro-Goldwyn Mayer has the Honor to Present its Technicolor production of Margaret Mitchell's Story of the Old South." The title of the film "GONE WITH THE WIND" is displayed in gigantic, majestic words, each one individually sweeping across the screen from right to left above a red-hued sunset. As the titles and credits play, carefully-selected images of the Old South are portrayed as backgrounds - a green pasture with horses grazing, a river at night, magnolias, a mill constructed from bricks, slaves working in the fields, peaceful Southern plantations, the city of Atlanta, and a sunset.

The fanciful, introductory foreword to the film explains:

There was a land of Cavaliers and Cotton Fields called the Old South. Here in this pretty world, Gallantry took its last bow. Here was the last ever to be seen of Knights and their Ladies Fair, of Master and of Slave. Look for it only in books, for it is no more than a dream remembered, a Civilization gone with the wind...

Part One:

The film extends over a time period of twelve years in the life of narcissistic plantation belle Scarlett O'Hara, from the start of the Civil War through the Reconstruction Period, and covers her various romantic pursuits against the backdrop of historical events. The beautiful, but spoiled, pouting, high-tempered and strong-willed 16 year-old Southern belle Scarlett O'Hara (Vivien Leigh), the eldest of three O'Hara daughters, lives an idyllic life at a North Georgian cotton plantation called Tara. [The fake front piece of the plantation house is all that really exists of the O'Hara home - also note that the door is off-center.] On the mansion's porch, in a beautiful white crinoline gown with ruffles, the headstrong young woman complains, in her first line, to suitor twins Brent and Stuart Tarleton (Fred Crane and George Reeves). She is sick of 'war talk' and all the disruptions caused by the turmoil of war:

Fiddle-dee-dee. War, war, war. This war talk's spoiling all the fun at every party this spring. I get so bored I could scream. Besides, there isn't going to be any war...If either of you boys says 'war' just once again, I'll go in the house and slam the door.

She states a variation on her trademark line for the first time when asked if she is attending the neighboring Wilkes-Twelve Oakes plantation's barbecue the next day: "Why I hadn't thought about that yet. I'll, I'll think about that tomorrow." She teases the slavish beaux-admirers about whether they can waltz with her. Scarlett is stunned and dismayed to hear a secret rumor that the man she loves and obsesses about, the eldest Wilkes son Ashley, is planning to marry his demure, delicately aristocratic, sweet-natured cousin, Melanie Hamilton from Atlanta - a "goody-goody" according to Scarlett. Infatuated with him and unaccustomed to losing, she tries to convince herself: "It can't be true. Ashley loves me."

Her white-haired Irish immigrant father, prosperous plantation owner Gerald O'Hara (Thomas Mitchell) gallops wildly on horseback across the fields and jumps over fences to meet Scarlett who walks down to meet him in the late afternoon light at "quittin' time." [The white horse ridden by O'Hara was also used as the Lone Ranger's horse Silver in the 1938 and 1939 Republic serials of the legendary hero.] As they walk together, she again is told that Ashley's marriage to Melanie (a "pale-faced, mealy-mouthed ninny" in Scarlett's eyes) will be announced at the barbecue's evening ball. Her father wishes that his petulant daughter won't make a "spectacle" of herself, "running about over a man who's not in love with you." Scarlett's father believes she wouldn't be happy with Ashley anyway, and qualifies the characteristics important in a prospective mate: "Well, what difference does it make who you marry - so long as he's a Southerner and thinks like you?"

She complains to him about Tara as a place that doesn't mean anything to her. He reinforces for his short-sighted, headstrong daughter the value of "the land" and the priceless inheritance that Tara represents [a lesson that Scarlett never forgets during the ravages and blows of war].

Gerald: Do you mean to tell me, Katie Scarlett O'Hara, that Tara - that land doesn't mean anything to you? Why, land's the only thing in the world worth working for, worth fighting for, worth dying for, because it's the only thing that lasts.
Scarlett: Oh, Pa. You talk like an Irishman.
Gerald: It's proud I am that I'm Irish, and don't you be forgetting, Missy, that you're half-Irish, too. And, to anyone with a drop of Irish blood in them - why, the land they live on is like their mother. Oh, but there, there. Now, you're just a child. It'll come to you, this love of the land. There's no getting away from it if you're Irish.

Father and daughter are silhouetted as they stand beside a tree with a twisted, gnarled set of branches. A pulled-back camera view shows Tara and a colorful, flaming sunset sky. Max Steiner's musical score "Tara's Theme" swells magnificently.

Ellen Robillard O'Hara (Barbara O'Neil) comes home after acting as a mid-wife, returning from the bedside of her overseer's "poor white trash" mistress Emmy Slattery (Isabel Jewell), who has just given birth to a baby that "mercifully" died. The overseer Jonas Wilkerson (Victor Jory) asks her as she steps from her carriage: "We finished plowing the creek bottom today. What do you want me to start on tomorrow?" Ellen recommends to her husband that the overseer be dismissed promptly (and he is fired the next morning).

The O'Hara family, in a hushed, church-like scene lit by flickering candlelit, offers evening prayers. Still upset, Scarlett can only think about how to snare Ashley: "Ashley doesn't know I love him. I'll tell him that I love him, and then he can't marry..."

Preparing for the neighboring Twelve Oaks plantation's barbecue the next day, her shrewd, protective, tenacious and sassy slave Mammy (Hattie McDaniel) laces up a vain Scarlett as she holds onto one of the bedposts of her white ruffled tester bed. Mammy, never fooled by Scarlett's airs and tears, insists that Scarlett eat the food that she and simple-minded household servant Prissy (Butterfly McQueen) have prepared for her: "You's gwine eat every mouthful of this." Mammy chides her for choosing a green-sprigged muslin dress to wear that reveals too much skin:

You can't show your bosom 'fore three o'clock.

To no avail, Mammy vigorously lectures Scarlett: "If you don't care what folks says about this family, I does. I has told you and told you that you can always tell a lady by the way that she eats in front of folks like a bird, and I ain't aimin' for you to go to Mr. John Wilkes's and eat like a fieldhand and gobble like a hog." Hard-headed Scarlett's response is: "Fiddle-dee-dee." Scarlett believes Ashley will approve of her healthy appetite, but Mammy thinks she might as well give up on winning Ashley away from Melanie: "What a gentleman says and what they thinks is two different things. And I ain't noticed Mist' Ashley askin' for to marry ya." After Mammy has proved her wrong, Scarlett sits on the stairs of her bedroom stuffing her mouth with the "vittles."

Carriages draw up with guests in front of the pillared, Twelve Oaks plantation for the lavish Wilkes barbecue - a beautifully photographed scene. Exquisitely-costumed guests stroll on the lawn and inside the vast mansion, with a massive hallway and wide, graceful, double-curved staircase. The camera follows Scarlett through the door and into the hallway where she greets the gentlemanly, idealistic, scholarly and sensitive Ashley Wilkes, the aesthetic eldest son of Twelve Oaks patriarch John Wilkes (Howard Hickman). Ashley and Scarlett also greet his sweetheart, the shy Melanie Hamilton (Olivia de Havilland), Ashley's radiantly-pretty cousin. The quietly charming, sweet-natured Melanie is nothing but loving toward Scarlett: "I've always admired you so. I wish I could be more like you."

Scarlett greets two other gentlemen (in fact, her future first and second husbands), shamelessly flirting with Melanie's weakly brother Charles Hamilton (Rand Brooks), intended beau of cousin India Wilkes (Alicia Rhett), one of Ashley's sisters; and then with whisker-faced Frank Kennedy (Carroll Nye), beau of Scarlett's own sister Suellen (Evelyn Keyes).

[IMPORTANT - PLEASE NOTE: in Margaret Mitchell's novel, Charles Hamilton has an unspoken understanding of marriage with cousin Honey Wilkes, not with India Wilkes (who is engaged to marry Stuart Tarleton), prior to falling in love with Scarlett. After Scarlett flirts with Charles, he falls madly in love with her. At the BBQ, she accepts Charles' marriage proposal and agrees to marry the smitten man after Ashley rejects her for Melanie, and after being made fun of by Honey.]

As she ascends the staircase, Scarlett asks one of her girlfriends, Cathleen Calvert (Marcella Martin) to identify the "nasty dark one" [dark-haired and devilish-looking] that is standing alone at the foot of the staircase. Scarlett is told: "My dear, don't you know? That's Rhett Butler! He's from Charleston. He has the most terrible reputation." The dashing and charming Rhett Butler (Clark Gable), in his dramatic film entrance, is dressed in an elegant black suit - the roguish character exchanges a cool, challenging stare with Scarlett, attracted by her stunning beauty. She responds to his sexually attractive gaze as he undresses her with his eyes: "He looks as if - as if he knows what I look like without my shimmy."

In silhouette, Ashley and Melanie move toward French windows. When they are opened, the lawn is revealed outside filled with festive surroundings and guests. Lovingly, the pale, white-skinned Ashley speaks to her: "You seem to belong here. As if it had all been imagined for you." Melanie describes the aristocratic Southern style that she is marrying into: "It's more than a house. It's a whole new world that wants only to be graceful and beautiful." Even war won't damage their love for each other - she promises: "Whatever comes, I'll love you just as I do now until I die."

On the lawn at Twelve Oaks, Scarlett is surrounded by interested beaux, but not Ashley. During their naptime, Scarlett's sister Suellen teases her about her romantic interest: "How is Ashley today, Scarlett? He didn't seem to be paying much attention to you." In an upstairs bedroom, a black child fans the young, aristocratic ladies stretched out for afternoon naps. Scarlett sneaks down and hides on the stairs, trying to find an opportune time to speak to Ashley.

There is a heated debate going on among the gentlemen about the war. Excited and patriotic southerners boastfully predict a quick victory, led by Gerald O'Hara: "The Yankees can't fight and we can!" Ashley attempts to cool off the room full of Southern hotheads, hoping that the North will let the South leave the Union without war: "Most of the miseries of the world were caused by wars. And, when the wars were over, no one ever knew what they were about."

The black sheep of a good family from Charleston, and turned out of West Point, Rhett expresses his lone dissent from the optimistic voices. He disagrees with the fervent patriotism of the Confederates: "I think it's hard winning a war with words, gentlemen...I'm saying very plainly that the Yankees are better equipped than we...All we've got is cotton and slaves, and arrogance." He realistically believes that the South's cause is doomed to failure because of its gradually declining resources - he spoils everyone's enthusiasm for war:

I seem to be spoiling everybody's brandy and cigars and dreams of victory.

In the famous library scene, Scarlett energetically corners a disinterested Ashley and declares her deep love for him. He expresses a brotherly love for her:

Ashley: Isn't it enough that you've gathered every other man's heart today? You've always had mine. You cut your teeth on it.
Scarlett: Don't tease me now. Have I your heart my darling? I love you. I love you.
Ashley: You mustn't say such things. You'll hate me for hearing them.
Scarlett: I could never hate you. And I know you must care about me. Oh, you do care, don't you?
Ashley: Yes, I do care. Oh, can't we go away and forget we ever said these things?

Ashley wishes that she had never professed her love for him. She is rudely startled and hurt when he announces his marriage to his cousin Melanie. But he doesn't want to hurt her: "Oh my dear, why must you make me say things that will hurt you? How can I make you understand? You're so young and unthinking. You don't know what marriage means." Ashley reaffirms his love and affinity to Melanie, a woman with a delicate, graceful nature like his own: "She's like me, Scarlett. She's part of my blood and we understand each other." With great ardor and vitality, Scarlett doesn't want to hear the truth: "But you love me!"

Ashley thinks he loves Scarlett, but he is extremely wimpish and inadequate in contrast to her harsher, more ruthless qualities. He vicariously envies her zest for life and simultaneously cools her off, expressing his fear of marrying her:

How could I help loving you - you who have all the passion for life that I lack? But that kind of love isn't enough to make a successful marriage for two people who are as different as we are.

She unfairly blames him for leading her on and then slaps him: "I'll hate you till I die. I can't think of anything bad enough to call you." Without any more discussion, Ashley stiffly walks from the room. In frustration, she throws a vase against the fireplace mantle.

Scarlett is surprised, embarrassed, and angered to see Rhett Butler rise from his hiding place behind the sofa - he is amused after overhearing the entire Ashley-Scarlett exchange and her importunate pleas, sarcastically commenting: "Has the war started?" Their first, fiery conversation and meeting is typical of their entire relationship in the film - a well-matched, sexually-electric, equally conscience-less bonding, but always tumultuously paired together. Rhett doesn't want to interrupt their "beautiful love scene," but promises to "keep her secret safe." Scarlett lashes back:

Scarlett: Sir, you are no gentleman.
Rhett: And you, miss, are no lady...Don't think that I hold that against you. Ladies have never held any charm for me.

To the tunes of "Dixie," a horseman arrives at Twelve Oaks with the news of the advent of the War Between the States, the firing on Ft. Sumter. The southerners mount their horses to go off to enlist and prepare for the conflict. Manipulatively and spitefully (while watching Melanie kiss Ashley farewell), Scarlett accepts an impulsive, impetuous proposal of marriage from Charles Hamilton, Melanie's colorless and shy brother, and steals him away from his beau Honey Wilkes. [See Important Note above.]

She marries out of spite and to stop the growing gossip about her obvious interest in Ashley. Charles and Scarlett, wearing an ivory silk gown, are married in the parlor at Tara, one day after Melanie's and Ashley's wedding. Charles (and Ashley) are due to leave in a few days for the war. As they part for the war, Charles misinterprets Scarlett's tears: "Don't cry, darling. The war'll be over in a few weeks, and then I'll be coming back to you."

Scarlett is quickly made a reluctant widow - Charles dies of pneumonia, following an attack of measles in a war training camp before reaching any battlefront. Inappropriately, Scarlett objects to wearing black mourning clothes in memory of her recently-deceased husband, and tries on a colorful bonnet. She reacts to the sad news, not seeing much future for a young, attractive widow and not feeling any grief. She tells Mammy:

I'm too young to be a widow.

She weeps to her mother, not about the loss of her husband, but about her boring future and the prospect of wearing black: "My life is over. Nothing will ever happen to me anymore." Her mother comforts her: "It's only natural to want to look young and be young when you are young."

Impatient with the lack of life at Tara, Scarlett has the option of visiting in Savannah or in Atlanta. A willful Scarlett decides to go to Atlanta to live with a frail Melanie and help Melanie's Aunt "Pittypat" Hamilton (Laura Hope Crews) take care of her as she awaits the birth of her first baby. Mammy shrewdly and accurately interprets Scarlett's real motives - to be closer to Ashley when he returns on leave from the war: "Savannah would be better for you. You'll just get in trouble in Atlanta...You know what trouble I's talking about. I's talking about Mr. Ashley Wilkes. He'll be coming to Atlanta when he gets his leave - and you sittin' there waitin' for him jes' like a spider. He belong to Miss Melanie..."

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