FilmJerk Favorites

A group of unique directors and the essential works that you've got to see.

||| John Sturges |||
John Sturges

Helming the “Magnificent Seven” should be reason enough, demonstrating that Sturges had the happy talent of taking what was considered strictly “male” oriented stories and making them sexy enough and humorous enough to appeal to female movie-goer as well.

Sturges takes this star-studded gunslinger film based on the Japanese favorite "The Seven Samurai", and makes it a bone fide all-American classic featuring Yul Brynner. At the request of Mexican peasants, Brynner recruits a band of fellow mercenaries, half of whom Sturges introduces as the next generation of action film super-stars including Charles Bronson, James Coburn, and Steve McQueen. Widescreen!

Sturges is responsible for what is renowned as one of the greatest war films ever made, featuring Steve McQueen and his unforgettably daring motorcycle jumps in the face of the enemy. Allied prisoners escape from a German POW camp in this superior effort, noted for a brilliant international cast and Elmer Bernstein's triumphant score. Widescreen!

This day in the life of a stranger in an isolated town has since been done to death, and this is why. In the hands of a lesser director the talents of this exceedingly manly cast (Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan) would otherwise overwhelm this compelling drama with a prejudice theme, but Sturges is able to maintain a firm grasp of the reigns, keeping his actors this side of mellow drama. Widescreen!

Recommended by CarrieSpecht

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It Happened One Night

By CarrieSpecht

June 6th, 2006

The Oscar winning 1934 comedy directed by Frank Capra is showing at the Aero Theater in Santa Monica Wednesday, June 14 at 7:30pm!

It Happened One Night

If you haven’t had the pleasure of previously seeing this exceptional example of the “screwball” comedy then I highly recommend that you take advantage of seeing it on the big screen. Actually, I envy you the unique opportunity of seeing a truly classic film for the first time the way it’s meant to be seen: in a darkened theater, with a bag of popcorn and a cuddly date.

“It Happened One Night” was the first film to win all five major Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, and Best Screenplay. And for good reason. This exceptionally entertaining film stars Clark Gable as a pushy news-hungry reporter chasing runaway rich girl Claudette Colbert from Miami to New York. The story follows what is now the formulaic routine of a mismatched couple fighting and rubbing each other the wrong way as they make a road trip, eventually falling in love in between their snappy dialogue and bickering.

This film marked the beginning of Capra’s reign as the master craftsman of the light comedy, which in his hands would evolve into the comedy/drama with “Mr. Deed’s Goes to Town” and later, “Meet John Doe”. This comedy also cemented Clark Gable as the “King” of Hollywood, a title he would hold for the duration of his career. Gable’s popularity with women and men was such that, when he removed his shirt in the famous motel scene and showed that he was not wearing an undershirt (something every man wore at the time), there was an immediate and lasting negative impact upon undershirt sales. Handled by a lesser personality, this stock reporter would flounder as a two dimensional character. But it’s a testament to Gable’s off screen popularity and bigger than life personae that he is able to give “Peter” the cinematic weight needed to ensure this character an enduring place in film history.

Lovely Claudette Colbert is in her prime, creating the original mold for the obnoxious young woman who whines and complains, moaning about life’s little everyday inconveniences that we humble folk never think twice about. Colbert’s caustic and witty feminine foil precedes Jean Arthur, Barbara Stanwyck, and Katherine Hepburn, all of whom would play similar rolls in later Capra films.

It’s been said that they just don’t make movies like this any more. And they really don’t, nor could they if they tried. So do yourself a favor, and don’t miss this great opportunity for a perfect “date movie”.

My rating: A