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Home-Front Movie Reviews

Discussion in 'WWII Films & TV' started by Tintwistle, Aug 9, 2009.

  1. Tintwistle

    Tintwistle Member

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    In the coming weeks, I plan to post a series of brief reviews dealing with home-front movies. The purpose of this thread is to open for discussion any WWII film that is set on the home front of either Britain or America. Please feel free to jump in and offer your own opinions. Thanks for your comments.

    Tintwistle
     
  2. Tintwistle

    Tintwistle Member

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    THE LAND GIRLS
    This is director/writer David Leland’s affectionate and sensitive depiction of the Women’s Land Army and the effect that three young ladies have upon a farm family in western Somerset. The son, Joe Lawrence, is attracted to all three of the contract labourers, bedding two of them before falling in love with the other. There is humour aplenty but also great sadness and youthful confusion about the meaning of life during wartime. An epilogue, set a few years after the war, is bittersweet, as we see what became of the principal characters. Normally I loathe such codas, but this one works quite well, leaving the viewer with a touching sense of “What if...?” Writing, acting, photography, and music are all first-rate, and the DVD comes with some enjoyable extras like interviews with cast members, deleted scenes, and even archival footage from 1941 of an actual Spitfire parade in Dulverton, the town where this movie would be shot more than half a century later. David Leland seems to have taken a personal interest in portraying this story with sensitivity, and his integrity shows. Rather loosely based on Angela Huth's remarkable novel, Land Girls, from which it differs in a number of important respects.

    Tintwistle
     
  3. Tintwistle

    Tintwistle Member

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    MILLIONS LIKE US
    A likable movie from 1943, telling the story of a shy young lady who leaves home for the first time, works in an aircraft factory, falls in love, and faces personal tragedy — but never abrogates her will to “do her bit” for the war effort. Some people have disparaged this as a propaganda film, but I saw it strictly as a tender love story in wartime. Patricia Roc, as Celia Crowson, is absolutely adorable, and she lights up the screen with her charming acting style. A very young Gordon Jackson (much later to be Hudson on "Upstairs Downstairs") plays Celia’s love interest, a bashful flight sergeant. Produced during the war itself, so the staging of Millions Like Us is the real thing. Highly recommended.
     
  4. Tintwistle

    Tintwistle Member

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    SWING SHIFT
    I was not expecting much more than typical Hollywood schlock from this one, directed by Jonathan Demme in 1984. It tells the story of a young woman (Goldie Hawn), who begins working in an airplane factory soon after her husband (Ed Harris) joins the U.S. Navy in December of 1941. She is tempted to indulge in an illicit affair with her foreman at the factory (Kurt Russell), while knowing full well that this would be wrong and inexcusable behaviour. I won’t reveal the plot to you, in case you have a chance to see this interesting film, but the acting is believable, the dialogue sounds natural, and the period detail is convincing. These characters seem like real people. I enjoyed it very much and found funny girl Goldie Hawn to be a talented and likeable dramatic actress. So, too, is Christine Lahti, who plays the role of her best friend. The whole film is nostalgic, evoking the Los Angeles of WWII very well indeed, and the editing keeps the story line moving. Critiques of Swing Shift were decidedly mixed, but I can recommend it with enthusiasm. Worth seeing.
     
  5. Tintwistle

    Tintwistle Member

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    ENIGMA
    This depressing film from 2001 somehow manages to be a boring thriller. Surely those heroic code breakers at Bletchley Park deserve a better memorial than this. The male lead, Dougray Scott, seemed to be half asleep through most of the picture, leaving Kate Winslet and Jeremy Northam as the only intriguing characters in a 114-minute production. The blonde love interest, Saffron Burrows, was utterly wasted, seeming to be an anachronistic girl of the 21st century who happened to wander onto the wrong soundstage. Sorely disappointing.
     
  6. Tintwistle

    Tintwistle Member

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    HOUSEWIFE, 49
    This one took me by surprise. Victoria Wood wrote the teleplay and also stars as Nella Last, using that lady’s actual diaries. It provides a fascinating look at women’s organisations during the war, including the patriotism and squabbling jealousies. Poor Nella is trapped in a suffocating marriage, but she finds her release in war work, and the film, though riddled with suggestions of mental depression, ultimately proves to be quite inspiring indeed. The wonderful Stephanie Cole appears in one of her patented, intimidating roles, and really shines. (I also enjoyed her in Back Home.) Brava to Victoria Wood, for this ITV/Granada effort is a triumph.
     
  7. Tintwistle

    Tintwistle Member

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    HANOVER STREET
    This is a shallow-minded but enjoyable thriller with Harrison Ford, Lesley-Anne Down, and Christopher Plummer. The plot surely is contrived and unconvincing, and yet the acting is fine, and the ending is quite satisfying. I liked this film though I can understand why many critics did not. Lesley-Anne Down is lovely, of course, but somehow her character seems much too easy to pick up. Well, I suppose that does move the plot along! Harrison Ford's character, David Halloran, would have been dead many times over, were it not for a protective screenwriter -- but it's all in good fun. Definitely worth a look, if you're in the mood to suspend your disbelief.
     
  8. Tintwistle

    Tintwistle Member

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    THE FIRST OF THE FEW
    This is actor/director Leslie Howard’s remarkable look at aviation designer R. J. Mitchell’s development of the Spitfire aeroplane, with David Niven co-starring as test pilot Jeffrey Quill (here renamed Geoffrey Crisp). Aerial sequences are nicely handled, with exciting dogfights aplenty. The leisurely depiction of Mitchell’s aeronautical genius is quite interesting, particularly his (and Crisp’s) chilling, pre-war visit to Nazi Germany. Perhaps some dramatic licence was taken in portraying the designer’s martyrdom for the cause of protecting his island nation, but then it would be hard to overestimate the value of his contribution to the war effort. This was fated to be Howard's final screen appearance, for he died on 1 June 1943 when KLM flight #777 was shot down by Luftwaffe fighter planes over the Bay of Biscay. This film stands as a fitting tribute to his film career.
     
  9. Tintwistle

    Tintwistle Member

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    FOR THE MOMENT
    This movie was produced by the National Film Board of Canada in 1993. It deals with an Australian flyer who joins the Canadian Air Force during WWII. I must say that this is a rather awful production, poorly written with shallow characters who do not seem like real people of that era. Fortunately, the two leading roles are played by Russell Crowe and Christianne Hirt, both of whom are very good indeed. A couple of the minor characters seem to be brought on screen for no other purpose than to be “tragically” killed. Several others just walk through the set, having no discernible connection to the plot whatsoever. Very predictable and contrived, despite good efforts from the two leads. Don’t bother with this one. It has been well received by audiences, but I cannot understand why.
     
  10. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

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    My personal favourite is The Gentle Sex, in which I think the cast were genuine ATS girls. The film follows them from enlistment to just another night at the Ack-Ack battery. Good stuff.
     
  11. Tintwistle

    Tintwistle Member

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    Thanks, Gordon. I'll try to find a copy of The Gentle Sex. The reviews I have read are decidedly mixed, but it seems like a "slice of life" movie that might prove quite interesting. Someone compared it to Millions Like Us, which I liked very much indeed.
     
  12. Tintwistle

    Tintwistle Member

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    THE CRUEL SEA
    This is a marvelous film, and every frame of it rings true. The characterisations are wholly convincing, with no stereotypical, two-dimensional, Hollywood-type people cluttering up the screen. I suspect that the filmmakers wisely chose to stay as close as possible to the Nicholas Monsarrat novel of the same name. Much of the shipboard activity and technical jargon could have been written only by someone who himself actually had experienced the naval life. Jack Hawkins, as the flawed protagonist (Ericson), is excellent, his stagecraft fascinating to watch. There is an element of the documentary in The Cruel Sea, and I found this approach to be enthralling from beginning to end.
     
  13. Tintwistle

    Tintwistle Member

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    THE HUMAN COMEDY
    Mickey Rooney is wonderful in this 1943 slice of Americana. Clarence Brown directed William Saroyan’s screenplay, and he did so in a very sentimental way. There is no realism whatsoever, and stereotypes abound. All characters wear their hearts on their sleeves, and the saccharine is ladled on throughout. Somehow, though, it works for me — being a sucker for nostalgia and poignant tales of nice, normal people. So much of today’s filmmaking deals with the depraved side of humanity that it is refreshing to encounter such a sweet, life-affirming movie as this. Mickey Rooney plays the role of a teenager in rural California who delivers telegrams during the war, including of course those which begin “The War Department regrets to inform you...” Beyond that, there is not much of a plot, and the film meanders from one vignette to another. Still, I enjoyed being transported back to a simpler day and age, before the anti-hero cynics took over in Hollywood.
     
  14. Tintwistle

    Tintwistle Member

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    GREEN FOR DANGER
    This movie begins as a conventional film-noir murder mystery but then blossoms into an endearing romp when Alastair Sim appears on screen as all-too-human Inspector Cockrill of Scotland Yard. The characters, without exception, are multilayered and unpredictable, leaving viewers to wonder who the true culprit may be — right up until the closing moments. Even then, there comes a final twist that demonstrates the protagonist’s fallibility. The writing is clever and witty throughout, and the acting is very good indeed. Hitler’s doodlebug offensive plays a recurring, subliminal, almost light-hearted role. Green for Danger is an enjoyable 87 minutes, well worth your time, and Alastair Sim is a delight to watch.
     
  15. Tintwistle

    Tintwistle Member

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    THE WAR BRIDE
    Anna Friel plays the role of Lily, a young woman from war-torn London who falls in love with a Canadian soldier named Charlie. They marry, and the newlyweds soon learn that they are an expectant couple — just as he is about to be shipped overseas. Lily faces disillusionment when she travels to Alberta and is confronted by her grim mother-in-law and surly sister-in-law, not to mention the stark reality of farmhouse living in the Canadian wilderness. Her big-city airs and sense of fun are met with resentment in her adopted world, and Lily finds herself to be something of an outcast. Clearly, either she will have to change, or those around her will need to adapt to her. Complications arise in the person of Charlie’s younger brother, Joe, who is fascinated by the newcomer and cannot fight his temptation indefinitely. And then Charlie returns, seemingly a total stranger, and Lily must decide whether to stick it out with him or flee with her daughter to the relative sanity of urban life. I consider The War Bride to be an oddly satisfying movie — a bit depressing at times perhaps, but ultimately worth the 103 minutes you will invest to appreciate an intriguing character study. The acting and photography are excellent, and the story moves along at a brisk clip. In many ways, Anna Friel’s Lily reminds me of her earlier role as Prue in The Land Girls, and she is quite endearing on screen.
     
  16. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member

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    Thanks for the reminder of this film. I first read the book in the early 60s, and saw the movie somewhat later. It was my favorite book for a long time. The movie had slipped my mind. Might be time for a new look.
     
  17. André7

    André7 Active Member

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    Can't Help but notice this thread has not been persued since 2009. Wish you would add more reviews, they are terrific!
     
  18. Dave55

    Dave55 Member

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    Yes. I'm glad it got a bump too. I haven't seen some of these. Yet
     
  19. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    I agree with Dave and Andre', an interesting thread. Tintwistle hasn't visited since February of this year, hope he stops back by and provides a few more.

    I'd like to give a few more for him to review:

    1.) "Until they Sail" (1957) Starring a very young Paul Newman, Jean Simmons, Joan Fontaine, Piper Laurie and Sandra Dee. It is a story about four New Zealand sisters, and how the war affects them. It deals frankly with a good many issues that were not normally mentioned during that era.

    2.)"Hail the Conquering Hero" (1944), starring Eddie Bracken and William Demarest (uncle Charley on "My Three Sons") a WWI US Army veteran. Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, it is considered Preston Sturges best film. A comedy that addresses many underlying serious questions, and has one of the, if not the earliest Hollywood mention of PTSD.

    3.) "Enchanted Cottage" (1945) Starring Robert Young and Dorothy McGuire. I would probably have never watched this movie, but was stuck inside one very rainy Sunday and it was all that was on TV. A really good movie about a disfigured war veteran and a homely maid. Worth the watch.
     
  20. André7

    André7 Active Member

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    Had never heard of #1 and #3. Will look them up. Thanks USMCPrice.
     

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