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Kyle Kersten was a true friend of TCM. One of the first and most active participants of the Message Boards, “Kyle in Hollywood” (aka, hlywdkjk) demonstrated a depth of knowledge and largesse of spirit that made him one of the most popular and respected voices in these forums. This thread is a living memorial to his life and love of movies, which remain with us still.

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Recently Watched War and Military


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#1 LawrenceA

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Posted 19 September 2017 - 06:04 PM

Seven Days' Leave (1930) - Off-beat WW1 drama from Paramount Pictures and director Richard Wallace, based on the play The Old Lady Shows Her Medals by J.M. Barrie. Beryl Mercer stars as Sarah Ann Dowey, a old maid charwoman in London during World War One. She has no children that serving in the war, which makes her an outcast among her peers, so she pretends to have a son who is on the front lines. When a local do-gooder sees Canadian soldier Kenneth Downey (Gary Cooper) on leave, he thinks that Kenneth must be Sarah Ann's son. At first angered by the old woman's charade, Kenneth soon feels pity for her and agrees to go along with the ruse. Over the course of his seven days' leave, the two form a lasting bond. Also featuring Daisy Belmore, Nora Cecil, Tempe Pigott, Arthur Hoyt, Basil Radford, and Arthur Metcalf.

 

Mercer has starred in the original Broadway production of the play back in 1917, and she's very good here. Aside from a couple of awkward line readings, Cooper is believable and sympathetic. Seeing a surrogate mother-son relationship in a major Hollywood film is not very common, even during this period, so this was an expected fresh take on the War.  7/10

 

Source: archive.org.

 

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#2 LawrenceA

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 07:33 PM

The Dawn Patrol (1930) - aka Flight Commander, World War One aviation and the burden of command are the themes of this first talkie from director Howard Hawks and First National. Dick Courtney (Richard Barthelmess) is a flying ace who is growing tired of his commanding officer, the heavy-drinking Major Brand (Neil Hamilton). Brand continues to issue incredibly dangerous orders, while the attrition rate for new pilots keeps growing, with more and more dying on each mission. But, as Courtney's pal Scott (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.) tries to point out, Brand's near-drunken state is a result of the heavy weight of his pilots' lives crushing him down, a facet of command that Courtney himself will experience when he is placed in charge. Also featuring Frank McHugh, Clyde Cook, James Finlayson, Gardner James, and William Janney.

 

Hawks, who cameos as a German pilot, doesn't quite have his patented snappy dialogue going yet, and the dramatic scenes are creaky and hoary. The acting is good from Barthelmess and Fairbanks, but Hamilton's role could have been recast to much improvement. Hawks himself remade this 8 years later, with Errol Flynn, David Niven, and Basil Rathbone, and that version is justly better remembered, even if much of the exciting aerial action was the same footage from this 1930 original. This won an Oscar for Best Writing, Original Story.   7/10

 

Source: TCM.

 

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#3 LawrenceA

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 12:06 PM

Abraham Lincoln (1930) - Cliff-Notes biopic of the 16th President of the United States, "personally directed" by D.W. Griffith. Walter Huston stars as Lincoln, shown from his birth through his rough-and-tumble early years, his doomed romance with Ann Rutledge (Una Merkel), his marriage to the eccentric Mary Todd (Kay Hammond), and his election to the presidency, where he presided over the U.S. civil war, during which he wrote the Emancipation Proclamation freeing the slaves, before being felled by an assassin's bullet. Also featuring Jason Robards Sr., E. Alyn Warren, Russell Simpson, Helen Ware, Oscar Apfel, Hobart Bosworth, Henry B. Walthall, and Ian Keith as John Wilkes Booth.

 

Like most of Griffith's movies, this is a mixed bag of interesting choices, corny populism, and a rose-colored vision of the past. I was surprised by the opening of the film, set aboard a trans-Atlantic slave ship, featuring slavers coldly discussing their remaining "inventory" as they toss a dead African overboard. As this was one of a few scenes missing its audio, I have a feeling it was often cut out during exhibition. I was confused by Griffith's decision to cast Warren as both Stephen Douglas and Ulysses Grant: were there not enough qualified actors around? I liked seeing silent film stalwarts Bosworth and Walthall as General Robert E. Lee and his attendant colonel, respectively. I liked Huston as Honest Abe, and was surprised by how much he looked like the photographs of Lincoln in the last third of the film. The biopic elements themselves are simplistic and hagiographic, and things seemed rushed, trying to tell his entire life story in 90 minutes. I was not a fan of Hammond as Mary Todd, and felt she dragged the proceedings down quite a bit.   6/10

 

I decided to put this film in this genre category since, for some inexplicable reason, there are no Genre categories for Biography, History, or even standard Drama, so, since the last third of the film or more deals with the Civil War, I decided on this Genre forum.

 

Source: TCM.

 

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In this early scene with Una Merkel, Huston's heavy make-up made him resemble Batman's villain The Joker.

 

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