Friday, May 30, 2014

5 Films: Michael Curtiz

Today we look at the Budapest born, American filmmaker, Michael Curtiz, who had an astounding 173 director credits in his career.

1. Casablanca (1942) - When I think of fine Hollywood craftsmanship, Casablanca is the movie that comes to mind. But it wasn’t the typical Hollywood affair as much of the film was written on the fly. The stars didn’t even know the famous ending until late in the filming process. The finished project, however, is as sharp as it was in 1942.It is a classic love story of the one that got away. Ilsa left Rick years ago in Paris, and she shows up at his bar in Casablanca, now married, and needing his help. If he helps Ilsa she will leave with her husband who has Germans tracking him. But if Ilsa stays, he can rekindle the love they had in Paris. About as perfect as a Hollywood movie you can get. Perfect script, cast and acting in what many consider to be the best American romance film of all time.

2. Angels With Dirty Faces (1938) - Probably more well known to younger audiences as the movie that Kevin uses in Home Alone to scare off the robbers, but it should be known as a gangster classic. A priest tries to stop his childhood friend from corrupting the youth of Hell’s Kitchen and leading them down the wrong path. Cagney plays the gangster superbly as he always does, and gets help from Humphrey Bogart.

3. The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) - Errol Flynn takes on the famous role in one of the more well-known and best adaptations of the story,

4. Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) - James Cagney turns in a surprise amazing performance as the great stage man George M. Cohan.

5. Trouble Along the Way (1953) - John Wayne plays a football coach who is going through a rough patch. He is recently divorced and can’t get custody of his daughter. In addition to that, he is in the middle of a recruiting scandal.

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