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||| Frank Capra |||
Frank Capra

It goes without saying that Capra is one of the greatest and most beloved directors of all time, especially renowned for his madcap romantic comedies. He is one of the few directors who ever managed to balance whimsy with meaningfulness without loosing the ability to entertain.

Only Frank Capra, with his light hand and good sense of allowing the actors to be their roles, could carry off this tale of a naive average American used by an unscrupulous politician through a nationwide goodwill drive. No one was ever better at having strong yet vulnerable women not only aid, but often come to the rescue, of the leading man.

Frank Capra's final film is a hilarious translation of a Damon Runyon tale set in 1930s New York, as gangster Glenn Ford repays street peddler Bette Davis for her "good luck" apples by passing her off as a well-to-do society lady for her visiting daughter (Ann-Margret in her film debut). This excellent and thoroughly enjoyable remake of his own 1933 "Lady for a Day" is a beautiful swan song to a master storyteller. Widescreen!

In this black comedy about two sweet old ladies whose basement holds a murderously funny secret, Capra utilizes star Cary Grant to his zany, patented “double take” best. Capra’s brilliance in comic casting is demonstrated with such reliable character actors as Raymond Massey, Peter Lorre and Jack Carson who manage to play their parts to the hilt without chewing up the scenery.

Recommended by CarrieSpecht

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Peace, Propaganda and the Promised Land

By EdwardHavens

January 26th, 2005

Some may agree it is always interesting to see an opposing point of view, even if only to solidify your own perspective. So while Bathsheba Ratzkoff and Sut Jhally’s documentary “Peace, Propaganda and the Promised Land: U.S. Media and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict” reaffirmed my opinion that American news coverage of the Middle East conflict is unfairly one-sided in favor of the Israelis, it also confirmed my beliefs that, like Robert Greenwald’s recent “Outfoxed,” more and more documentary filmmakers today have zero qualms engaging in the very same polemic attitudes they and their films are supposedly denouncing.


“Peace, Propaganda and the Promised Land” does an admirable job in setting up its arguments. That Israel’s actions in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are an illegal occupation of Palestinian land, condemned for more than thirty-five years by the United Nations. That Israel set up the Hasbara Project to ensure good press in the United States, and that all major American news organizations are in leagues with the Hasbara Project to present “news” from the Middle East conflict which always shows Israel in a positive light. And that since September 11th, efforts have been made to always show any and all Palestinian actions in the region, regardless of the levels of violence, as a terrorist act. Now, how much you believe these bullet points will depend on your own personal feelings of Israel, Palestine and war, and “Peace, Propaganda and the Promised Land” does its best to show the levels of difference in coverage, showing US network news covering an incident, followed by a BBC reporter covering the same situation. The disparity in reporting is often startling.

Yet, this film’s greatest strengths is also its biggest weakness. Outside of its small group of talking heads, including MIT linguist professor Noam Chomsky (the seemingly obligatory go-to guy for all discussions highly critical of the American media), “Peace, Propaganda and the Promised Land” uses almost exclusively BBC footage to make its case. Surely there must be one other non-Arab news organization in the world besides the BBC who is, in the filmmaker’s minds, properly covering the Middle East conflict. Could they not find a single clip from Australia’s Nine Network, Hong Kong’s TVB or Japan’s TV Asahi which would favorably add to their argument?

“Peace, Propaganda and the Promised Land” remains engaging as it provokes viewers to consider not only a civilization half a world away but our own premonitions and prejudices. But by employing the very practice it seeks to condemn, the film will ultimately leave viewers just as angry and frustrated about the conflict at the end as they were at the start.

My rating: C