Movie reviews written for movies released in 1941.
1. Citizen Kane, directed by Orson Welles (10/10)
This is widely considered the greatest American movie of all-time for the reason that it was pretty much the first major US film to incorporate the lessons of German and Russian interwar cinema. As such, it is a major accomplishment. It is a tad overrated – okay, more than a tad overrated – but it is a clear landmark: you can really think of American cinema as pre- and post-Kane almost as much as you can think of American cinema as strongly divided into the Production Code era and the years prior to and after it.
2. The Maltese Falcon, directed by John Huston (10/10)
I recently re-watched this having not seen it in well over a decade. I forgot how awesome it was. Pretty much everything about this film is note-perfect.
3. Peer Gynt, directed by David Bradley (9/10)
I watched this as part of an anthology so my memory is foggy. The fact that Heston was in it and I still loved it attests to the power of the visuals.
4. Suspicion, directed by Alfred Hitchcock (8/10*)
Watched during my Hitchcock phase. I believe I should just use this as a disclaimer.
5. The Lady Eve, directed by Preston Sturges (7/10)
I failed to note my thoughts at the time. I want to like Sturges, I do. He was certainly superior to Capra. But I find him still too safe for me, and I believe I felt like the plot of this film strained credulity.
6. Sergeant York, directed by Howard Hawks (6/10*)
I watched this at the very beginning of my discovery of “old” movies, probably at age 16 or 17. I cannot defend the rating.
7. How Green Was My Valley, directed by John Ford (5/10)
Alex Trebek’s favourite film has not held up well. I suspect if you watched this as a child, or if you have some other emotional connection to this film, it is moving. If you do not and you watched it, like me, because of its “classic” status, you might be left wanting a little more from perhaps John Ford’s most sentimental movie.
8. I Wake Up Screaming, directed by Bruce Humberstone (4/10)
Oh I wanted to like this, I really did. I mean, check out that title. That has classic film noir written all over it. But there were so many things that didn’t work, not the least of which was the casting. The script is also weak for the genre.
9. Ball of Fire, directed by Howard Hawks (4/10)
So I guess I made a mistake, thinking a film called Ball of Fire set in the ’40s was about The Bomb…The Hydrogen Atomic Bomb. This thing is barely plausible. There are 8 academics, 7 of them look like massive stereotypes and the 8th is Cooper. Stanwyck is her usual self, and so is Cooper, in the sense that he’s Mr. Deeds. I laughed maybe three or four times through the whole movie and the rest of the time I was bored stiff. The penultimate scene in the library is tenser than it has any right to be but that’s about all I can say in favour of this. Boring.
10. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, directed by Victor Fleming (4/10)
A movie that did not need a remake is remade and, Hollywood being Hollywood, is made worse.