A WW 2 Comedy, Spy Thriller: To Be Or Not To Be

“To Be Or Not To Be” the 1942 movie directed by Ernst Lubitsch starring Carole Lombard, Jack Benny and Robert Stack is a very unique film about an acting troupe in Poland just before and after the conquest of the country by Nazi Germany. The skills of all the actors to both act and use disguises to fool the occupiers comes into play in very real, dangerous and life threatening situations. It has a very interesting tone and it is not surprising that the film did not go over well at the time of the release with critics or audiences. Lombard and Benny are wonderful in it.

Vigilante Western: The Ox-Bow Incident

After posting about “Johnny Guitar” the other day it made me think of this movie which should be considered a classic by anyone who has seen it.

The 1943 Western “The Ox-Bow Incident” directed by William Wellman and starring Henry Fonda, Dana Andrews, Mary Beth Hughes, Anthony Quinn and Harry Morgan is similar in theme to the previously posted Western ”Johnny Guitar”. Both concern mob rule and vigilante justice, but “The Ox-Bow Incident” is a much more realistically staged film, and is much more powerful for it compared to the McCarthy era paranoia, homosexually repressed and theatrical “Johnny Guitar”. Orson Welles was at a an early screening of the movie and after it was over he is quoted as saying about the audience – “They don’t know what they just saw”.

Weird Western: Johnny Guitar

The 1954 Western “Johnny Guitar” Directed by Nicholas Ray and starring Joan Crawford, Sterling Hayden and Mercedes McCambridge has to qualify as one of the weirdest Westerns in the history of Hollywood. Martin Scorsese called it “an intense, unconventional, stylized picture, full of ambiguities and subtexts that rendered it extremely modern.” I think Scorsese’s quote is spot on.