‘The Quiet Man’ brings ‘Taming of the Shrew’ to Ireland

John Wayne kisses Maureen OHara in 'The Quiet Man'
John Wayne kisses Maureen OHara in ‘The Quiet Man’

[rating=4]Starring: John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara, Victor McLaglen, Barry Fitzgerald
Director(s): John Ford
Writer(s): Written by Frank S. Nugent, Story by Maurice Walsh

The basic story of The Quiet Man is that of Sean Thornton (John Wayne), a native of a small Irish town who has spent most of his life in America (“Pittsburgh, Massachusetts”, as one character claims) and has just returned to his native land to start over.

Read more‘The Quiet Man’ brings ‘Taming of the Shrew’ to Ireland

Douglas Sirk’s ‘Imitation of Life’ (1959) is a bonafide classic

[rating=3]Starring: Lana Turner, Juanita Moore, John Gavin, Susan Kohner, Sandra Dee
Director(s): Douglas Sirk
Writer(s): Eleanore Griffin

Poster for Douglas Sirk's 1959 classic, 'Imitation of Life'
Poster for Douglas Sirk’s 1959 classic, ‘Imitation of Life’

Douglas Sirk’s Imitation of Life (1959) was the second adaptation of Fannie Hurst’s popular novel of the same name. The film tells the story of two women, white aspiring actress Lora Meredith (Lana Turner), and her black confidante/maidservant Annie Johnson (Juanita Moore), and their struggles to raise their respective daughters, Susie (Sandra Dee) and Sarah Jane (Susan Kohner).

Using his own highly ironic interpretation of the original story, Sirk utilized the lens of fifties melodrama in order to project social issues such as race relations, maternal and sexual womanhood, and the artificial construction of whiteness, and in doing so, criticize the shallow representations that these issues find in “everyday” life.

Lora Meredith starts out as a struggling single mother who has just moved from the midwest to New York City. Her ambition to be a successful actress instantly seems odd, even selfish, especially considering the reality of supporting a small daughter. In addition to this, Lora is in her mid-thirties, hardly a “spring chicken” as one agent points out to her. Her age and situation call into question the soundness of her attempt to make it big as an actress instead of finding more stable work.

Read moreDouglas Sirk’s ‘Imitation of Life’ (1959) is a bonafide classic

Superhero genre established by ‘Superman II’

Jor El (Marlon Brando) puts General Zod on trial in 'Superman II'
Jor El (Marlon Brando) puts General Zod on trial in ‘Superman II’

[rating=3]Starring: Christopher Reeve, Gene Hackman, Terence Stamp, Margot Kidder
Director(s): Richard Lester
Writer(s): Story by Mario Puzo, Screenplay by Mario Puzo, David Newman, Leslie Newman

By the end of the 1980s, the movie-going public had tired of campy comic book hero film translations and was in the mood for something darker and grittier. The putrid Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987) was the perfect precursor to Tim Burton’s moody and violent retelling of Batman in ’89. The wheel never stops turning, however, and it wasn’t too long before these new dark “edgy” revisionings started too look as hackneyed as their forerunners.

Read moreSuperhero genre established by ‘Superman II’

‘View from the Top’ crashes and burns

[rating=1]Starring: Gwyneth Paltrow, Mark Ruffalo, Christina Applegate, Candice Bergen
Director(s): Bruno Barreto
Writer(s): Eric Wald

Gwyneth Paltrow and Kelly Preston co-star in 'View from the Top'
Gwyneth Paltrow and Kelly Preston co-star in ‘View from the Top’

After sitting through View from the Top, you might get the impression that somebody at Miramax has a whole bunch of incriminating photographs of the film’s cast. Either that or Bruno Barreto (Bossa NovaOne Tough Cop) must be one damn nice guy that nobody can say no to. Nothing else seems to explain how a film as god awful as this could have been made in the first place, let alone released on an unsuspecting public.

As directed by Barreto (from a script from first-time scribe Eric Wald) View from the Top is a film that never has a sense of itself, and as a result flounders for 87 seemingly endless and laugh-free minutes.

Read more‘View from the Top’ crashes and burns

‘She Wore a Yellow Ribbon’ is John Wayne at his best in classic western

John Wayne with Joanne Dru in 'She Wore a Yellow Ribbon'
John Wayne with Joanne Dru in ‘She Wore a Yellow Ribbon’

[rating=3]Starring: John Wayne, Ben Johnson, Harry Carey Jr., John Agar, Joanne Dru, Victor McGlaglen, Mildred Natwick
Director(s): John Ford
Writer(s): Story by James Warner Bellah, Screenplay by Frank Nugent and Laurence Stallings

Few filmmakers have left their mark on American cinema as John Ford has. She Wore a Yellow Ribbon comes second in Ford’s Cavalry Trilogy, between Fort Apache and Rio Grande, and it is perhaps the strongest film of the three.

Read more‘She Wore a Yellow Ribbon’ is John Wayne at his best in classic western