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*THE BRIDE GOES WILD (1948)*

 

From Agee on June 19, 1948:

 

Attractive June Allyson and ineffable Van Johnson in a farce so lazily done that it is lazily amusing.

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*WITH THE MARINES AT TARAWA (1944)*

 

From Agee on March 18, 1944:

 

The film gave me a sharper realization of combat than any other film I have seen. I also respected its craftsmanship and its taste. A man who was at Tarawa tells me that it is impossible to duplicate the sounds of such an operation, and that with such material as was photographed, the editors have pulled no punches, as I suspected they might have; but the cameras simply failed to get down some of the things we read of in the newspapers.

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*THE EVE OF ST. MARK (1944)*

 

From Agee on June 3, 1944:

 

This has a good deal of that flavor of corn syrup which becomes continually more official in honest, homely celebrations of our local way of living. The sufferings of wartime love and the difficulties of celibacy are conveyed in gentle glimmers by the drafted hero (William Eythe) and his sweetheart (Anne Baxter), but never frankly or painfully enough to trouble the audience.

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*WATCH ON THE RHINE (1943)*

 

From Agee on September 25, 1943:

 

Seemed much better on the screen than it did, almost identically, on the stage. I still wished Henry James might have written it. I join with anyone whose opinion of Paul Lukas's performance is superlative.

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*BETWEEN TWO WORLDS (1944)*

 

From Agee on May 6, 1944:

 

This is OUTWARD BOUND brought up to date. Sad to think of it as the best we can do. Most of the newly dead on this ocean liner bound for eternity are killed by a very up-to-date bomb, but the bomb also helps destroy the highly theatrical but quite chilly suspense of the original. The characters though they are sincerely played are convincing neither as individuals nor as generalizations.

 

Whether we like it or not we are beyond things like BETWEEN TWO WORLDS, however decent and sober their intention. And whether we know it or not, we are beyond and above the cruel criminal little myths about death which are the best so far that Hollywood has furnished. They are as evil as cosmetics on a cadaver.

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*YELLOW CANARY (1944)*

 

From Agee on May 13, 1944:

 

This is mediocre British spy stuff. Relieved only by British film clich?, which is several times more realistic and intelligent than ours.

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*THE IMPATIENT YEARS (1944)*

 

From Agee on September 9, 1944:

 

This made me very impatient indeed. The difficulties of a discharged soldier and the wife whom he had known before he went off to war for only four days could have become a first-rate film. So long as the script allows them to stay within hailing distance of that idea, Jean Arthur and Lee Bowman and Charles Coburn make a semi-bearable third-rate comedy of it.

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*CRY HAVOC (1943)*

 

From Agee on December 3, 1943:

 

A sincere fourth-rate picture made from a sincere fifth-rate play about nurses on Bataan. In spite of the many very bad things in it and its intrinsic staginess, I was often touched by it, simply because the members of the cast (Margaret Sullavan, Ann Sothern, Joan Blondell, Ella Raines and several others) seemed to care a great deal about the thing they were reenacting.

 

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*THE NAKED CITY (1948)*

 

From Agee on April 24, 1948:

 

With the Homicide Boys in Old Manhattan. Photographed by William Daniels, who shot GREED, with a lovely eye for space, size and light. A visually majestic finish. Otherwise, mawkish and na?ve.

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*THE CURSE OF THE CAT PEOPLE (1944)*

 

From Agee on April 1, 1944:

 

I arch my back and purr deep-throated approval of THE CURSE OF THE CAT PEOPLE. Masquerading as a routine case of Grade B horrors, and it does very well at that job, the picture is in fact a brave, sensitive and admirable little psychological melodrama about a lonely six-year-old girl, her inadequate parents, a pair of recluses in a neighboring house, and the child's dead insane mother who becomes the friend and playmate of her imagination.

 

I was rather pleased than not whether the ghost was a real ghost or the far more real fantasy of the child. In the same way I liked the ambiguous melodrama about the daft old actress and her tortured daughter in the sinister house.

 

I wish that the makers of the film, and RKO, might be given some special award for the whole conception and performance of the family servant, who is one of the most individualized Negro characters I have ever seen presented on the screen. And I hope that producer Val Lewton and rest of the crew may be left more to their own devices; they have a lot of taste and talent, and they are carrying films a long way out of Hollywood.

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*PRINCESS O'ROURKE (1943)*

 

From Agee on November 20, 1943:

 

This noisome show is about a Princess who, with the help of her jolly old chum President Roosevelt, marries an American air pilot. The two basic lines of comedy are snobbery of the sorriest native kind and the common man's even more abandoned adoration of himself. If ever a standing indication were needed that as a people we do not deserve to mouth such words as democracy, let alone common sense, or minimum human decency, this is it.

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*THE NOTORIOUS GENTLEMAN/THE RAKE'S PROGRESS (1945)*

 

From Agee on September 28, 1946:

 

Contains a well-filmed rescue from drowning. There's a new girl (see note below) whose name I missed but who is, I gather, the wife of the star, Rex Harrison, and she is unusually lovely in her role as a Viennese refugee. There are funny moments on a British coffee plantation and during the course of a quarrel between an adulterer and a cuckold. I could add that an attempt was made here to make the old-fashioned cad interesting and attractive, and to use him as an instrument, a crowbar rather than a scalpel, for social comment. I would say too that except for the way he overrates it, Mr. Harrison is good at his job.

 

*The actress is Lilli Palmer, who was not new to films but had been appearing in motion pictures since 1933.

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*THE RED HOUSE (1947)*

 

From Agee on August 30, 1947:

 

Back-country melodrama well written and directed by Delmer Daves, who makes good use of his location and of some adolescents.

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I find Agee's take on movies very interesting. Take this one on Princess O'Rourke; While I agree there is a sappiness and sillyness to the overall plot Agee doesn't really say anything about if the movie is enjoyable or not, or the actors or the overall quality of the movie from his POV.

 

So while I agree with his take here (the end of the movie kind of drags down once the 2 plot angle Agee mentions are by then beaten to a pulp) I still wonder; Agee would you recommend people see this movie?

 

For example, there we have Jack Carson and Jane Wyman playing a married couple and I find them funny and of course Coburn is great as usual. Then we have the two stars: I felt they had good chemistry and this was a fitting end to Olivia's WB days and her involvement in light material.

 

So was this just a portion of his review?

 

Anyhow thanks for posting these. Like I said I find Agee interesting and respect his POV. So please continue the good work!

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This was a portion of his review of PRINCESS O'ROURKE. The reason I condensed it was that he went off on a bit of a political tangent about the Roosevelt administration which did not seem relevant to the film.

 

I think he enjoyed the film and Miss de Havilland's work in it, but I think he felt it was a little too manipulative and used the President to do it. That's how I read it. Plus, the screenwriter, Norman Krasna, was getting a lot of publicity about it and eventually won an Oscar for the story, and I think Agee felt it was not the best script of the season.

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*ISLE OF THE DEAD (1945)*

 

From Agee on September 29, 1945:

 

Val Lewton-Mark Robson horror film, with Karloff, Katherine Emery, Helene Thimig especially effective. Tedious, over-loaded, diffuse, and at moments arty, yet in many ways to be respected, up to its last half hour or so; then it becomes as brutally frightening and gratifying a horror movie as I can remember.

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*GUADALCANAL DIARY (1943)*

 

From Agee on November 13, 1943:

 

An adaptation of the Richard Tregaskis book. It is unusually serious, simple and honest as far as it goes; but it would be a shame and worse if those who made or will see it got the idea that it is a remotely adequate image of the first months on that island. The picture is worth talking about at some length. I think it is to be rather respected, and recommended, but with very qualified enthusiasm.

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*THE ENCHANTED COTTAGE (1945)*

 

From Agee on April 14, 1945:

 

The film is about a homely spinster and a disfigured veteran who, because they are in love, look beautiful to each other until people who are not involved in their illusion rudely shatter their frail dream world. I can recommend this Robert Young-Dorothy McGuire version of the story to susceptible adolescents of any age, but I doubt that I can give it a fair review, for everything about it embarrasses me too painfully for clear thought. I have no objection to tears when they are honest ones honestly extracted. But I was constantly preoccupied with the feeling that my spiritual pockets were being picked by people with sad sweet smiles who, worse still, believed in both the smiles and the thieving.

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*ZERO DE CONDUITE (1933)*

 

From Agee on July 5, 1947:

 

A forty-minute movie about a French boys' boarding school. It is hard for me to imagine how anyone with a curious eye and intelligence can fail to be excited by it. It is one of the most visually eloquent and adventurous movies I have seen.

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*TWO GIRLS AND A SAILOR (1944)*

 

From Agee on July 1, 1944:

 

Why this film is the hit it seems to be must be explained by those who mistake the all-American bitchiness of the heroines for all-American cuteness, Van Johnson for homely charm, and what seemed hours of suffocating boredom for air-conditioned summer entertainment. But Gracie Allen does a funny number in it, and I would recommend it to anyone who cares remotely as much for Jimmy Durante as I do. He ought to have a great deal more to do. But even as a stage corpse he would make me grateful.

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*WAKE ISLAND (1942)*

 

From Agee on September 14, 1942:

 

The purpose of a film like WAKE ISLAND is to convince, startle, move and involve and audience to the highest possible degree. Toward that end, faces, bodies, machines, rhythms, darkness, light, silence and sound must build up a tension which is a plausible parallel to human fact. WAKE ISLAND is a cinematic defeat because it builds up this tension for brief moments, then relaxes.

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*THOSE ENDEARING YOUNG CHARMS (1945)*

 

From Agee on August 11, 1945:

 

The story of a habitual seducer and his Waterloo, it is well played by Robert Young and Laraine Day and well-directed by Lewis Allen. But it is not quite interesting enough to be worth the time it takes.

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*MONSIEUR VERDOUX (1947)*

 

From Agee on May 10, 1947:

 

MONSIEUR VERDOUX is an entirely new character for Chaplin who might properly talk a blue streak. It is the greatest of talking comedies though so cold and savage that it had to finds its public in grimly experienced Europe. I will add that I think most of the press on the picture, and on Chaplin, is beyond disgrace. I urge everyone to see MONSIEUR VERDOUX who can get to it.

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*BEFORE HIM ALL ROME TREMBLED (1947)*

 

From Agee on March 22, 1947:

 

I hope that the Pope will sooner or later get around to admitting that he took no active part in the anti-Nazi underground; judging by Italian films, practically everyone else in Italy did.

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*PHANTOM LADY (1944)*

 

From Agee on February 26, 1944:

 

The first picture produced by Joan Harrison, who worked with Hitchcock as secretary, idea woman and scriptwriter from 1934 to 1941. Much of it is good. Within limits she clearly knows what she is doing.

 

Miss Harrison is doing nothing that Hitchcock has not done better, and little, for that matter, which was not commonplace ten or fifteen years ago in melodramas. She is simply an intelligent and entertaining worker in an idiom which badly needs not only restoring but developing.

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