Month: April 2016

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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