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Reading the Arts

Category: Screen and Screen Again

Screen and Screen and Again: Hold Back the Dawn (1941)

Stories of personal redemption were thick on the ground during Hollywood’s Golden Age, and often they were sticky and heavy‐handed and moralistic. Paramount’s 1941 drama Hold Back the Dawn is one of the best. It stars Charles Boyer as Georges Iscovescu, a Romanian con man and professional heartbreaker down on his luck, who lands in […]

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Screen and Screen Again: Bette Davis in The Whales of August

Bette Davis first cast her spell over me when I was about twelve. A local Oregon TV channel showed Jezebel, William Wyler’s 1938 romantic drama of the Old South, and I was mesmerized immediately. Davis was never more attractive onscreen; she also demonstrates an amazing ability, in just seconds, to transform her face from something […]

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Screen and Screen Again: Joan Bennett in Scarlet Street

Two nights ago, feeling the need of a reassuringly familiar movie, I watched something I’ve seen more times than I could possibly guess: Fritz Lang’s provocative 1945 film noir, Scarlet Street. I first came across it when I was a freshman in college, and I found it simultaneously shocking, in a peculiar way, and amusing, […]

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Screen and Screen Again:
Joan Fontaine, Divine and Mortal

Joan Fontaine had one of the most baffling careers of any star actress of the 1940s and ’50s. She is so breathtakingly good in a handful of her films that it is difficult to understand why she comes off as so stupefyingly phony in so many of them. After an unpromising beginning in the 1930s, […]

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High Water Mark

Hell or High Water is such a good movie that at times it almost left me breathless. It’s a beautifully textured study of two West Texas brothers, Tanner (Ben Foster) and Toby (Chris Pine), who go on a bank‐robbing spree to get money to prevent the Texas Midlands Bank from foreclosing on their dead mother’s […]

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That ’70s Show

Last Friday I returned to my hometown movie theater, the Coliseum, in Tillamook, Oregon. I hadn’t been there since September, 1979, when I saw Moonraker, Roger Moore’s fourth outing as James Bond. In his fine memoir Lucking Out: My Life Getting Down and Semi‐Dirty in Seventies New York, James Wolcott remembers the moment that he […]

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Screen and Screen Again: A Woman’s Face (1941)

Joan Crawford is a genuine oddity among the great Golden‐Age Hollywood stars—an actress for whom many of us feel a certain affection despite her stunning lack of dramatic imagination. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous comment about the challenges of writing a screenplay for her has been quoted so many times that I don’t want to do […]

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Screen and Screen Again: Picnic (1955)

The first movies to cast their spell over me were cheap old Universal horror films. On a string of rain‐soaked Saturday afternoons in the coastal town of Beaver, Oregon, my older brother Barry and I would be glued to The Mummy’s Ghost and Night Monster and House of Dracula on our parents’ old thirteen‐inch black‐and‐white […]

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