Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Champ (1931)

Maybe a bit hokey by today's standards, but I thought the sentiment here held up better than I would have expected. The champ is a washed-up former world boxing champion. He's a gambler and a drunk and a father. His 8-year-old son Dink idolizes him and doesn't even call him "dad" but "champ."

Wallace Beery won an Oscar for his portrayal of the down-and-out fighter, but the kid deserved it more in my opinion. He's the real heart of the story, played by Jackie Cooper, who grew up to play Clark Kent's boss in the Christopher Reeve Superman man movies.

68 to go...

Friday, June 24, 2011

Heaven Can Wait (1943)

So, I just assumed this was going to be the original version of the 1978 Warren Beatty movie of the same title. This was not remotely the case. Other than the title, the stories have little to nothing in common. In Beatty's version, he gets put back in a different body on Earth much to the confusion of both those in his life and that of the man whose body he inhabits.

The 1943 version, directed by Ernst Lubitsch, tells a man's life story, focusing primarily on his relationship with his wife. It is framed, completely unnecessarily, by his telling Satan (though is never called by name) of his life so Satan can decide whether to keep him or send him to heaven. The story itself was funny and engaging, but morality or salvation are hardly significant themes and the film would probably have worked better with a different title and without the bookends of the protagonist sitting in Hell's lobby.

69 to go...