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A 20th Century Fox Retrospective Scrapbook: 1944


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There were only 29 Fox films in 1944 as output was again impacted. Fox as a whole would never make as many films a year as they did before the war. They cracked 50 films for the last time in 1957, but most of the time, the number was much smaller. Still, this 29 figure still shows off a number of films, including some great ones,  (and also its certainly larger that some later years; Fox, still riding on a wave of Star Wars euphoria, only released 7 films in 1978) So on we go with 1944!

Laird Cregar was meant to become an A-list star after playing The villain in The Lodger. The character actor had turned heads in his earlier work, and he was signed to do another villain role in Hangover Square (released in 1945). But Creger himself never lived to see his final film released. He died in late 1944, an effect of crash dieting.

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Lifeboat was a fascinating experiment, given that all of the film took place in such a tiny space, and yet, under the guidance of Alfred Hitchcock and a literate script from a Steinbeck story, a strong cast made it into a fascinating, tense, and brilliant cinematic experience. Hitchcock was nominated for Best Director at the Oscars for this wonderful film.

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The (Fighting) Sullivans told the tale of the group of brothers who all perished while defending their home country during WWII.

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The next war film, San Demitrio England, came from the British isle itself.

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Dana Andrews and Farley Granger faced off against the Japanese in The Purple Heart.

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Four Jills in a Jeep found Kay Francis, Carole Landis, Martha Raye, and Mitzi Mayfair playing themselves in this salute to the USO. Alice Faye reprised "You'll Never Know", and that was her last musical appearance in her career's heyday. She would not sing again on screen until 1962's State Fair. Betty Grable and Carmen Miranda also dropped by.

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Edward G. Robinson headed off to war in Tampico.

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Joel McCrea played the title role in the biopic Buffalo Bill. Maureen O'Harqa played his devoted wife.

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Betty Grable capitilized on her real life reputation by appearing in the light, charming musical Pin Up Girl in which she displayed good comic timing and a pleasing singing voice.

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Preston Foster and Ann Rutherford teamed up on a Bermuda Mystery.

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The Eve of St Mark was another war film, just one with a happier ending then the one the play it was based on had.

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Ladies of Washington was a B dealing with ladies working as government spies. One even fell in with an enemy agent.

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Preston Foster took the title role in the crime film Roger Touhy, Gangster

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Although she debuted in an unbilled bit in The Gang's All Here the year before, Home in Indiana marked the first full fledged role for future Fox star Jeanne Crain, playing the love interest of young Lon McCallister.

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Take It or Leave It's poster touts that it was a surprise hit and indeed it was, as this B took in over a million dollars, large money for a 1944 release.

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Don Ameche and Dana Andrews teamed up for the war carrier drama Wing and a Prayer.

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The Brits weighed in on the war again in Candlelight in Algeria starring James Mason.

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Wilson, with Alexander Know playing the President, was Daryl Zanuck's pet project. A large Oscar campaign, reaching all the way up to the US senate was deployed, but it still lost to Paramount's Going My Way and faltered at the box office. As a film, Wilson is a good film, maybe a bit long, but a good strong sturdy job, impeccably handled. Ruth Nelson played the first wife who passed away; Geraldine Fitzgerald played the second wife, and Charles Coburn, Thomas Mitchell, and Vincent Price all appeared. 

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Benny Goodman and his band and Linda Darnell were the headliners of Sweet and Lowdown (not to be confused with the 1999 Woody Allen film with Sean Penn, Samantha Morton, and Uma Thurman)

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Laurel and Hardy returned to make The Big Noise.

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Jeanne Crain, having made a splash, was the lead in otto Premenger's In the Meantime Darling

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Greenwich Village was a colorful musical for Carmen miranda. It also marked an end. The film finished Don Ameche's tenure at Fox. He would not return to his old homestead for a theatrical film until his massive comeback, his Oscar winning role in Cocoon, 41 years later.

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Much has been stated about Laura. All of it is true. It is a bona fide masterpiece of cinema, and the best film of 1944. Not a single performance is amiss, the script is literate and intensely gripping, the pacing is perfection. One of the best mysteries ever made. Now if only it had been up for Best Picture......

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Vivian Blane headlined Something for the Boys, while Carmen Miranda made a speedy return.

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Another musical then followed with  Irish Eyes are Smiling.

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Romance occurred for a soldier on leave in Sunday Dinner for a Soldier with John Hodiak falling for Anne Baxter.

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The Fighting Lady was a documentary narrated by Robert Taylor, who was off at war himself at the time.

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The air force got in on the action in Winged Victory

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And then Gregory Peck received his first big noticed part (after a lead in the little seen Day of Glory) and his first Oscar nomination as a dedicated priest in the large-scale religious drama The keys of the Kingdom. And just look at that supporting cast!

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