Thursday, August 19, 2010

Movie Project: 1931 & 1932

1931: Cimarron
I just watched this one a few days ago. I'm not sure if this is one of those movies where my modern sensibilities are getting in the way of my enjoyment, or if this movie wasn't very good.

Cimarron (the film adaptation of a popular book) is the story of Yancey and Sabra Cravat, a young couple who move to one of the wild new "boomtowns" in Oklahoma after the territory opens to settlers. Yancey starts a newspaper, runs the bad guys out of town, protects the downtrodden (including Jews, Native Americans, and harlots), and essentially becomes the town hero while Sabra mostly simpers. That is, until he gets itchy feet and abandons his family for five years. Sabra runs the paper in his stead (although she never takes his name as editor off the front page) and raises their children single-handed. Then he comes back for a couple of years, where he proceeds to lecture Sabra about how wrong-headed she is about pretty much everything, before disappearing for another 20-odd years. He comes back one last time, only to die immediately in Sabra's arms. A statue honoring him is unveiled. The End.

Of course, the message of this film annoyed the heck out of me. The guy abandons his family, but everybody talks about how awesome he is and Sabra remains devoted to him always. Even though, at the end of the film, she is elected to Congress, he's still the hero, not her? Puh-lease.

Also, the racist caricature of the only black person in the film was seriously cringe-inducing. However, he did get perhaps the most epic death scene of any movie character I've ever seen, so there's that. The treatment of other minorities is done very sympathetically, especially for a 1930s movie, so I was impressed by that. And once I realized that the opening scene of the movie (men on horses, carriages, and bikes racing for a plot of land when the Oklahoma territory opens up) was essentially a 1930s car chase, I was highly amused by it. 2.5 out of 5 stars.

Stars: Irene Dunn, Richard Dix

1932: Grand Hotel
This is another one that I saw probably 15 years ago, and I don't remember a whole lot about it. It's about a bunch of people staying in a fancy hotel and all the drama that goes on in their lives. I really only clearly remember the last scene, which I won't spoil, because it's pretty epic. I hardly remember enough to rate it, so I shouldn't, but I'm going to give it 3.5 out of 5 stars. I remember liking it. I'd watch it again except I have too much other stuff to watch.

Stars: Greta Garbo, John Barrymore, Joan Crawford

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