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I have always liked Peter Strauss since first seeing him in RICH MAN POOR MAN. Peter made many made for TV movies, and I believe that he won an Emmy for a performance as a prisoner or ex con.

Yes, he was sensational in all those miniseries he did in the late 70s and 80s. 

 

SOLDIER BLUE was released in 1970, so he is obviously much younger and it was one of his first major screen roles. He and Candice Bergen play off each other very well in the film.

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Yes, he was sensational in all those miniseries he did in the late 70s and 80s. 

 

SOLDIER BLUE was released in 1970, so he is obviously much younger and it was one of his first major screen roles. He and Candice Bergen play off each other very well in the film.

Peter won a Emmy for THE JERICHO MILE directed by Michael Mann. Peter`s first film was HAIL HERO! which was the screen debut of himself and Michael Douglas.Peter was serving time in Folsom Prison for killing his father, and he learned to become a exceptional runner in THE JERICHO MILE.

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Peter won a Emmy for THE JERICHO MILE directed by Michael Mann. Peter`s first film was HAIL HERO! which was the screen debut of himself and Michael Douglas.Peter was serving time in Folsom Prison for killing his father, and he learned to become a exceptional runner in THE JERICHO MILE.

I haven't ever seen it, Maureen. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. I will have to hunt down a copy. 

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You two are both talking about titles I want to see.

 

SOLDIER BLUE is in a book I have entitled "500 Essential Cult Movies", and its one of only three in the western chapter I haven't seen. Thanks again for pointing me towards another one I wanted to see being on Amazon Prime.

 

Michael Mann is one of my favorite directors, and I have never been able to see THE JERICHO MILE. I wish they'd make it more readily available.

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You two are both talking about titles I want to see.

 

SOLDIER BLUE is in a book I have entitled "500 Essential Cult Movies", and its one of only three in the western chapter I haven't seen. Thanks again for pointing me towards another one I wanted to see being on Amazon Prime.

 

Michael Mann is one of my favorite directors, and I have never been able to see THE JERICHO MILE. I wish they'd make it more readily available.

There is no film I can think of that better defines the term 'revisionist western' than SOLDIER BLUE. 

 

It will definitely be on my list for 1970 in your Top Tens thread, Larry. It's powerful, stays with you long after watching it.

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It's been awhile since I mentioned a film on this thread. And there is one I'd like to suggest, before I forget to do so. 

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Last night I watched CARIBBEAN, a 1952 Paramount production starring John Payne. It's on Amazon Prime. Not sure what I expected, but it was much better than a Technicolor swashbuckler/melodrama almost has any right to be. The performances were very good. John Payne is a handsome, dependable lead across a variety of genres but we usually don't think of him in the way that we think of Brando or other much-lauded actors. Yet he does some of his best work here, giving a very honest, sensitive and touching portrayal of a prisoner caught between two madmen waging war on an unnamed Caribbean island. What makes the story even more interesting is that Payne's character falls for a young woman who is the daughter of both men. Yes, that's what I said. Watch the film and you'll see what I mean.

 

The female lead is played by Arlene Dahl, and she gives what I think is her best performance in any film. She's beautiful, feisty and vulnerable. At the end, she is caught in a scene of domestic violence and the story ends without her knowing the truth about her two fathers. Most actresses would have a tough time with this sort of story, but she excels.

 

Back to the two dads for a minute. One of them is played by Cedric Hardwicke. He did a variety of roles in his long stage and screen career. So he comes to CARIBBEAN with vast amounts of experience. He easily could chew the scenery with the type of part he's playing here, but he keeps it all very dignified. He takes what is basically a cold-blooded killer and makes us sympathize with him. I have never liked a villain so much in a movie as I did with him here. That's a testament to Hardwicke's gifts as a dramatic interpreter of this material. The other paternal figure in the story is portrayed by robust Francis L. Sullivan. He could have turned his character into a nincompoop, but he infuses just the right amount of edginess and civility. Even when he is ordering two prisoners to fight each other to the death with knives before a crowd of spectators, as if it were an everyday event (maybe it was for him). 

 

The film has quite a number of things going for it. The direction is precise throughout, the Technicolor visuals are well photographed and there is a great subplot involving the slaves on the island that seems very much ahead of its time. 

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A bit of background--

 

Lately I've been researching United Artists releases of the 40s. When I reached the end of the list, from December 1949 there was a film called MRS. MIKE starring Dick Powell & Evelyn Keyes. They previously worked together on Columbia's noir JOHNNY O'CLOCK which I like a lot. 

 

Last summer while emailing with Moira, who posts here occasionally and is a moderator on the Silver Screen Oasis site, I mentioned casually about wanting to find a copy of MRS. MIKE. She kindly sent a file to me, which I promptly transferred to a thumb drive. Then, as it sometimes happens, I set the thumb drive somewhere and forgot I even had it.

 

So after reading about MRS. MIKE again, I endeavored to search the house and find the file Moira sent to me. Within an hour I had located it and finally watched the film. 

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Keyes and Powell are excellent together on screen, so relaxed and in sync-- I totally believe they are a married couple as the story plays. This picture is a far cry from noir; based on a bestselling novel, MRS. MIKE is a romance drama that places them in the northern Canadian wilderness, where they experience more than their share of hardships. The situations are not at all contrived; in fact, some things are left unresolved, and a few of the people they meet are not exactly wholesome (which is how life and people sometimes are).

 

In case it gets too serious, there are light moments. At one point, Powell has a scene where he sings, which he stopped doing when he made all those crime films. Another good thing is that a lot of unknowns are in the cast, so they kind of seem like real people instead of stars-- which makes Keyes and Powell deliver a much more natural performance in their presence. 

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There's a very interesting Paramount film from 1947 I am going to be recommending later today.

 

IMG_1535.jpg

 

Check back for my entire review this afternoon.

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There's a very interesting Paramount film from 1947 I am going to be recommending later today.

 

IMG_1535.jpg

 

Check back for my entire review this afternoon.

If Norma Varden is in it, I'm there!

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If Norma Varden is in it, I'm there!

Love the fact you're a Norma Varden fan (too!)...often unbilled or the last billed, but what a great presence. She was wonderful years later on Hazel.

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***Spoilers ahead***

 

In all honesty, I struggled during the first half hour of THE SEARCHING WIND and almost gave up on it-- but my opinion had considerably changed by the end. Let's get to the problems with the first thirty minutes, and then go into how great it becomes after that.

 

It's a Hal Wallis production, and for those who know his films-- they tend to be meticulously crafted affairs (which usually works in the viewer's favor but sometimes does not). This picture had an incredible budget, and as a result, it features extravagant sets and backdrops. Wallis and his director, William Dieterle, are in no hurry to start the story. They want us to soak up the atmosphere and tease us about the tale to follow. While everything is lavishly staged and intriguing up front, it's like going to a concert to see a great orchestra perform and you get an elongated overture while the curtain still remains drawn. You want them to pull the curtain back so everything can get underway. That's how THE SEARCHING WIND feels in the beginning. There are numerous scenes and characters referring to the past-- and you just know a large flashback is going to follow, which it eventually does, but it is repeatedly delayed.

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I believe there's a reason the main action is delayed. It is so the prologue can establish Wallis' new discovery, Douglas Dick-- he plays the young crippled son in the modern-day scenes. But in other films of this type without a movie debut, the opening sequence would be considerably pared down. Because of its lengthy warm-up, the film's overall running time pushes nearly two hours and it could easily have been told in a much more succinct 90 minutes.

 

Once the preamble is out of the way, and the flashbacks occur-- we do get a very interesting story about wartime intrigue involving an American diplomat (played by Robert Young). Because of his own isolationist point of view, he turns a blind eye to the encroaching fascism in Italy and other parts of Europe. Since he represents American views, the U.S. is regarded as silently supporting fascist politics due to Young's unwillingness to take a stand against it.

 

THE SEARCHING WIND is based on Lillian Hellman's award-winning stage play of the same name, and she wrote the screenplay. All the way through this is Hellman's indictment on the self-serving, ignorant bourgeoisie. She brings these points home continuously throughout the narrative, and it all comes to a thought-provoking climax in the last act.

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But do not assume this is only about war and government politics. Hellman's story is also a woman's melodrama, where if Sylvia Sidney and Wallis' other discovery Ann Richards were not in the main female roles, we might easily see this production cast with the likes of Bette Davis and Mary Astor. Sidney, who does an extraordinary job in this motion picture, plays Young's long-lost love; and Richards is the self-serving wife whose main interest abroad is rubbing elbows with royalty and other important heads of state to promote her husband's career. The romantic triangle between these three older adults frequently takes center stage while various atrocities and betrayals occur in the background.

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Eventually Sidney comes to reject Young, because as a journalist, her investigations have led her to realize her lover's complicity in the on-going horrors of war in Europe. And not only does she give Young the brush-off at the end, sending him back into the arms of a self-indulgent wife who is much like himself, he also learns a horrible truth about his son's injuries in battle. So Hellman neatly brings it all full-circle, and the pay-off is dramatically satisfying. But of course, Wallis and Dieterle have paced it so leisurely at times, especially in the early portions, that a tighter more economic brand of storytelling is out of the question. 

 

Sometimes a longer running time forces us to absorb the characters and their situations more. And that is probably what happened to me as I resigned myself to the fact that I was going to watch the whole thing through to the end. It became less laborious and more enjoyable. Granted, I didn't care for some of Young's acting-- he was a little too one-note in some sections where he is supposed to be a thoughtless upper class heel. But that's probably how Hellman wrote it and Dieterle wanted it played-- he is supposed to be quite boorish in spots, so we can see how poorly represented American interests were in Italy, Spain and Germany during the second World War. At least his slightly bland characterization is more than balanced out by the superb work of Sidney and Richardson.

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Meanwhile, Dudley Digges appears as Richardson's snobbish father (it was Digges' last screen role), and his moments on camera are usually quite entertaining. As for Wallis' young new actor, Douglas Dick, he looks like he could be Young's son and Digges' grandson; and he does well with the big speech at the end, railing against his family. 

 

When THE SEARCHING WIND concluded, I realized that the film blew me nearly in a new direction. Not all films, I understand, give the viewer immediate gratification. Some stories that play out on screen make us work. But if our thoughts have gone in a slightly different, more profound direction-- like Hellman's thesis mostly encourages us-- then I'd say it's all been worth it. 

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