• Bambi


    Saccharine Symphony
    June 29, 1942

    The new Disney cartoon Bambi is interesting because it’s the first one that’s been entirely unpleasant. The robust irrationality of the mouse comedies has been squelched completely by the syrup that has been gradually flowing over the Disney way. In an attempt to ape the trumped-up realism of flesh and blood movies, he has given up fantasy, which was pretty much the magic element. Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck lived in a beautiful escape land,…

  • Syncopation


    Hollywood Blues
    June 22, 1942

    For esthetes there is nothing so much fun as kicking the movies around. It is the obscenity of the arts, they say, and it’s been that way since the day Griffith’s Intolerance failed at the box office. The esthetes are usually pale, one-sided people, who, if they can’t see the perfect, see nothing at all. But the movies don’t do much to prove them wrong. Take the picture Syncopation. It is the third Hollywood attempt…

  • Yankee Doodle Dandy

    Yankee Doodle Dandy

    From Warner Brothers comes another epic called Yankee Doodle Dandy which is an ear-shattering flag-waver that thunders like a Sousa march, jerks like a buck-and-wing and behaves like Jimmy Cagney, which adds up to a rather likable way of saying it’s American. It is a field day for the dynamic Cagney, whose volatile, cocksure toughness provides everything cinematic. He is in the film-acting tradition of Chaplin, with the athletic grace and gesturing of Fairbanks. There are no vacancies in his…

  • Mrs. Miniver

    Mrs. Miniver

    Probably Mrs. Miniver will be called the best picture of 1942. It has all the things that win Academy awards. The Great Ziegfeld and GWTW were miles long and Miniver is so long it gets lost. Also it has Morality. So it is in the way of being an epic and I can’t remember an epic that didn’t win something, or why do they make them? But most of all this picture is not very good and was made by…

  • This Above All

    This Above All

    Joan Fontaine’s eloquent portrayal of an English girl in love is all that you see in Darryl Zanuck’s production of This Above All, and considering the pretensions of this movie, her performance isn’t enough. The picture ostensibly sets up a problem (whether it is worth while to fight a war that will merely end in preserving the existing order and the class system in England) and then gets out of all responsibility for resolving it by ducking into a love…

  • Tortilla Flat

    Tortilla Flat

    There are certain stories that even Hollywood is reluctant to dress primly in long skirts and send to Will Hays. Tortilla Flat, by John Steinbeck, was a tough problem of this sort. Its author is famous and its message is noble and philosophical, but its episodes are entirely about sex and drinking. Three years ago MGM tried to make it but gave up. Now its author is more famous than ever, so this year they finished the job of extracting…

  • In This Our Life

    In This Our Life

    The Maltese Falcon is a good story which Director John Huston told brilliantly on the screen. Ellen Glasgow’s prize novel, In This Our Life, also has its good points, but Director Huston didn’t get any of them into his picture. Instead he stripped a complex novel of the frustrations of Southern family life down to just another custom-built vehicle for its star, Bette Davis. The action is as dull and static as a bad stage play, the kind that takes…

  • Native Land

    Native Land

    Two non-Hollywood movie makers, Paul Strand and Leo Hurwitz, were almost three years getting enough money and film together to screen a story of America’s working man called Native Land. But if their picture gets into enough of our theatres, it may be just the thing to wrench the movie industry out of its lingering adolescence. Native Land is the first American picture of its kind, and everybody who is interested in movies or democracy or almost anything at all…

  • We Were Dancing

    We Were Dancing

    We Were Dancing is a motionless picture in which two faces, Norma Shearer’s and Melvyn Douglas’, talk to each other at dull length about whether they should go on living together. The last thing they were interested in was making you care. Sometime they’ll find that Melvyn Douglas has been made to play this role just once too often. It starts off by following a one-act play by Noel Coward and carries on like My Favorite Wife, to the shame of both.

    Excerpt from Farber's text titled Blaboteur
    May 18, 1942

  • Saboteur


    The latest adventure movie directed by Alfred Hitchcock is Saboteur and it has the craftsmanship of The Lady Vanishes, except for one thing. It’s not exciting—not even mildly. Unfortunately that’s the very thing it needs, and the thing Hitchcock is famous for. In his earlier masterpieces the quality he achieved by making danger constantly real and imminent was an overwhelming horror unsurpassed for getting the last subtle and delicate turn of the screw. In Saboteur they talk things over. Actually,…

  • Twin Beds

    Twin Beds

    There isn’t even Laughton in a picture called Twin Beds.

    Excerpt from Farber's text titled Gabin in Hollywood
    May 11, 1942

  • The Tuttles of Tahiti

    The Tuttles of Tahiti

    The Tuttles of Tahiti, a Nordhoff-Hall story adapted by James Hilton, achieves nothingness with the same attitude and technical facility of a slick magazine story. Nobody was sincere here; it’s a string of dull incidents, banal acting and uninspired direction. The island is swarming with actors but the only living people are Charles Laughton and Victor Francen, and even they can’t rise above the material.

    Excerpt from Farber's text titled Gabin in Hollywood
    May 11, 1942