Now With More Than 3000 Reviews! Go Nuts - Read 'Em All!!

WELCOME! Use the search engines on this site (or your own off-site engine of choice) to gain easy access to the complete MAKSQUIBS Archive; over 2500 posts and counting. (New posts added every day or so.)

You can check on all our titles by typing the Title, Director, Actor or 'Keyword' of your choice in the Search Engine of your choice (include the phrase MAKSQUIBS) or just use the BLOGGER Search Box at the top left corner of the page.

Feel free to place comments directly on any of the film posts and to test your film knowledge with the CONTESTS scattered here & there. (Hey! No Googling allowed. They're pretty easy.)

Send E-mails to MAKSQUIBS@yahoo.com . (Let us know if the TRANSLATE WIDGET works!) Or use the Profile Page or Comments link for contact.

Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

THE FRONT PAGE (1931)

Largely remembered (when remembered at all) for serious war dramas (ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT/’30; A WALK IN THE SUN/’45; the underrated EDGE OF DARKNESS/’43), Lewis Milestone earned the first (and only!) Best Comedy Director Oscar® in 1929 for   TWO ARABIAN KNIGHTS/’27. Made in the wake of Raoul Walsh’s WHAT PRICE GLORY/’26, the over-produced WWI prison escape buddy pic is now rarely shown, but does make Milestone seem less unlikely a choice for Ben Hecht/Charles MacArthur’s legendary Chicago newspaper dramedy. The famous story (ace reporter plans to ankle job for marriage, but not if his wily boss can stop him) has been picked clean for years. (Even by its authors, who ‘borrowed’ their template for GUNGA DIN/’39.) Nowadays, best known with a gender-switched lead via Howard Hawks’ HIS GIRL FRIDAY/’40; the original version is poorly served by Billy Wilder’s dispiriting 1974 remake, made in the cutesy wake of THE STING/’73. Which is all to say that this Early Talkie, now restored to reasonable condition on KINO DVD, is a real find; a gorgeous antique that honors the play in a hilarious & blisteringly tough fashion that still has you gasping at the audacity of Chicago city politics & newspaper ‘ethics.’ It not only hasn’t dated, it’s ahead of current headlines. (They do say ‘colored’ rather than African-American and everyone dresses better; elsewise, spot on.) Milestone seems utterly determined to blast thru the technical restrictions of the Early Talkie period, taunting his cameramen with impossibly fast moves and flaunting some technical flourishes. Not all of them work, and the soundtrack hasn’t come up as well as the picture. For that matter, Milestone always shot sound film as if he were still making silents . . . with dialogue tacked on. So, don’t look for that early Frank Capra rhythmic swing & pace you’d find perfected the following year in AMERICAN MADNESS/’32, which shares this film’s lead, Pat O’Brien, in excellent form. But even Capra couldn’t have cast it any better. Masterly perfs from a bevy of class character acts, and in Adolphe Menjou a triumphant turn as editor Walter Burns. A film so devilishly joyous, so heartlessly funny, it may have you second-guessing if Hawks’ version is the improvement everyone claims it to be.

ATTENTION MUST BE PAID: One of the DVD EXTRAs is a radio version from June 28, 1937 with Walter Winchell in for Pat O’Brien as reporter Hildy Johnson. But you may hit the repeat button when they announce the No-Show Special Guest . . . Amelia Earhart! Delayed in the air by her world spanning flight, she’s announced as being rescheduled for next week’s program. That would have been July 4th . . . and Earhart went missing July 2nd.

No comments: