Fredric March in The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

Filmfreak!

Fredric March won his second Oscar for playing Al Stephenson in William Wyler’s best picture winner, The Best Years of Our Lives.

I think I have mentioned this before, but I am a huge fan of William Wyler. I really love his movies in general (maybe except Ben-Hur), and I really like his directing style, which is fairly simple and straightforward, but effective in its storytelling. He clearly knew how to handle his actors and stories very well, and I more often than not find myself drawn into his movies, even the dated ones like Jezebel.

I did have my reservations about The Best Years of Our Lives (TBYOOL) because it’s…well, a war-themed film and I often find them depressing to watch. And considering that it was from the 40s, that made me not want to watch it even more. However, there was this other part of me that wanted…

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Man on a Tightrope

David Nilsen, writer

This essay first appeared on Fourth & Sycamore.


Man on a Tightrope is one of director Elia Kazan’s most underrated films and one of his best. The film’s title has more than one meaning–the main character is a circus clown who very literally works on a tightrope in some of his routines, but he is also the leader of this circus, and the circus is coming under scrutiny from the communist police where the circus operates in Czechoslovakia in 1952, so he must also walk a narrow line betweenMan Tightrope interrogationmaintaining artistic integrity and not upsetting the authorities. This man is Karel Cernik–played with tremendous gravity and pathos by Fredric March–and his family owned the Circus Cernik for generations until the communist state took over ownership with the rise of their regime, though Karel has been permitted to continue management. However, police investigators and propaganda officials keep a close eye on him and…

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The Royal Family of Broadway (George Cukor/Cyril Gardner, USA, 1930)

First Impressions

A legendary film, difficult to see until now, and worth watching for many reasons: it’s adapted from the Kaufman and Ferber Broadway hit from 1927 and is based on the Barrymores; it makes one understand why Ina Claire was a Broadway superstar and then considered without equal in light comedy, something heretofore hard for me to grasp having seen her only in supporting parts, even when she’s been very good in them, like in Ninotchka; it’s one of the films directed by George Cukor in his first year as a film director, was a hit, and paved the way for the type of brilliant career he would go on to have, often mining a similar vein of sophisticated comedy, themes of the relation between theatre and life, women’s struggles with being and doing; it’s a pre-code film with quite daring moments (March undressing, March playful with sexual orientation, March…

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Fredric March in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1932)

Filmfreak!

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Fredric March won his first Oscar for playing Dr Henry Jekyll in the pre-code horror classic, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is a good old-fashioned horror film that may be a bit dated, but is still watchable as a whole. First of all, I must admit that I really dislike watching movies from the early thirties. I mean, it’s fascinating to see how things were done back then but I rarely enjoy watching the movies from this era. I always get the feeling that the film makers were still figuring their way around, and it shows. The camera angles are very “stagey”, and there’s always this annoying lack of atmosphere that can make the most exciting story seem dry and lifeless. Each scene will play out individually, but they always feel disjointed or abrupt, and the actors…talk about laughable. Thankfully, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde…

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