Saturday, March 27, 2010



299.) EAST OF EDEN (1955)
Directed by the brilliant Elia Kazan,the film adaptation of John Steinbeck's novel reeks with tension.Kazan used James Dean and Raymond Massey's dislike of each other to create genuine disaffection as they played father and son.

Dean,tries desperately to impress his father but fails to find commonality.Complicating his efforts are his brother and his pursuit to find and know his mother,played by Jo Van Fleet in an Oscar winning supporting performance.

This is high melodrama that barely avoids going over the top due to Kazan's deft direction.This is just one of many films that demonstrate complex relationships in a common,almost casual way that marks Kazan as one of the great film makers of all time.

300.) STARS IN MY CROWN (1950)

A highly under rated film and a departure for Director Jacques Tourneur. A western, it stars Joel McCrea as a minister in a small town. This is not a typical western. There is no gunfight. It's a simple, eloquent film that deals with the hazards from tainted well water to racial divisiveness and a couple things in between.

I had never heard of this movie until I came upon it a couple years back and it stayed in my head. The antagonist, if there is one is played by James Mitchell, the town doctor who followed in his father's footsteps. The conflict is between Joel McCrea's faith and Mitchell's disdain for all things religion.

The cast also includes Lewis Stone, Alan Hale Sr., Dean Stockwell and Ed Begley Sr. It is Juano Hernandez, however that is at the center of simmering tensions. A lifelong resident of the town and a freedman, he is being intimidated into selling his property at a fraction of its value or be run out by locals in white hoods and sheets. The end of the movie in resolving the matter is refreshing and as moving as any ever filmed.

Here's a link to more information

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