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Movie Analysis: High Noon (1952)

United Artists’ High Noon (1952) is a lightning rod of controversy. This compelling movie was made with the best talents and its taut, purpose-driven plot gains and keeps attention. Any honest appraisal must account for its flaws, too. I recently saw it again at the Autry Museum of the American West, where the movie will be discussed in a program next year comparing the classic Western to what’s become known as the Hollywood blacklist.

The picture’s timely connection to a congressional campaign against Communism pertains to its downside. High Noon has a stagy, stiff quality that feels pedantic, forced and overproduced. In that sense, like Gary Cooper’s film for Warner Bros., The Fountainhead (1949), it’s too obviously delivering a message. Part of the problem is the age difference between Cooper as Hadleyville’s marshal Will Kane and Grace Kelly (Rear Window) as his deeply religious bride. And this problem feeds off the plot’s need to make the marshal more like a prop than a fully developed character.

On its own terms, however, High Noon engages to a degree. Marshal and Mrs. Kane flee from an evildoer on their wedding day—as the married couple does in Oklahoma!, also directed by Fred Zinnemann (From Here to Eternity, A Man for All Seasons, The Nun’s Story)—though they are not forced to do so and this, in particular, is a crucial distinction. To his credit, the marshal has retired his badge and job by the time he turns tail and gallops with his blonde young bride and, though he changes his mind, he later changes it again after putting the badge back on and decides to flee from harm. This is important because it shows that the lawman is conflicted.

So, infamously, is the town of Hadleyville. But the audience is supposed to morally judge them, and not him, for being conflicted. This while the marshal eventually, strictly and stubbornly out of a sense of duty carries out his mission to confront the evildoer coming in on the noontime train. Add a constant tick-tock clock and a song sung by Tex Ritter, with Dimitri Tiomkin’s Oscar-winning score, complex and interesting supporting roles and High Noon holds interest. As allegory for what the writer apparently considers an unjust anti-Communist hunt, High Noon does not hold up.

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See the movie and judge for yourself. What works as moral dilemma is what drains and undercuts the allegorical warning. This explains why High Noon, first offered to John Wayne (who rejected the leading role) and held up by leftists and those who condemn anyone (such as director Elia Kazan, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Viva Zapata!, On the Waterfront) who named Communists (such as High Noon‘s credited screenwriter, Carl Foreman) in the HUAC hearings, gets praised and claimed across the political spectrum. The movie is mixed.

No one scene explicitly captures this more than the speech in church by the morally gray, rotten character played by Thomas Mitchell, who basically endorses pragmatism (speaking of timely political references) as the reason for denying a defense of the town, on the grounds that protecting Hadleyville from thugs jeopardizes government handouts. This from a character who says he admires Will Kane and rightly demands that Will Kane be heard in his plea for help, that the hearing be civil and that the townspeople do, in fact, contrary to some claims, constitute the whole town.

“This is our town,” pleads Mitchell’s character and then he proceeds to make the case for abandoning its defense and appeasing its enemies (speaking of timely political references again). It’s not surprising that the mixed, pragmatic philosophy of this movie, chosen by the Autry’s members as the audience favorite in 2016’s Western film series, dominates today’s culture, politics and foreign policy; anyone on the left, right or in the middle can justifiably project himself onto the Will Kane character. High Noon was apparently one of Ronald Reagan’s favorite movies yet Bill Clinton showed it in the White House numerous times.

What decent person wouldn’t want to see himself as the crusading hero seeking to render justice in a “dirty little village in the middle of nowhere” (starting with a lonely train station as in 1955’s Bad Day at Black Rock) as Katy Jurado’s Mexican character puts it? With producer and director Stanley Kramer (Judgment at Nuremberg, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, Inherit the Wind) producing and said to be heavily involved with the filmmaking, how could High Noon not end up being serious, topical and absorbing? The cast of characters, though there are too many and they say too much, are a fascinating assortment of profiles in cowardice.

As evil men gather over the movie’s signature song at the start, church bells ring and religion comes off as the antidote selected by the townspeople to deal with whatever’s wrong with the world. They dread facing the truth, and, while the voice of reason is also a voice for pragmatism, he gathers and rallies the town in a church, where the parson, all but ceding that sermonizing offers no real, practical value here on earth, fully abdicates religion as a philosophy. Hadleyville’s lone intellectual, the judge who marries Will and Amy Kane, cites 5th century BC history and the fact that he’d previously fled a similarly challenged town called Indian Falls as he packs up and folds an American flag to get out of town. Lloyd Bridges’ deputy marshal sees himself as a victim who knows on some level that he lives through others. An innkeeper (who today would be a vocal proponent of Donald Trump) is more explicit in stating that the ends justify the means.

In this sense, Hadleyville’s a stand-in for America and its religion is pragmatism and High Noon certainly rings true in this regard, down to the fact that the whole place’s days are numbered. To this point, the Battle Hymn of the Republic plays in the climax as the clock ticks, emphasizing that the town’s doom comes closer while the town prays away precious seconds. While Gary Cooper’s Will Kane runs around town pleading for help against the four monsters about to strike, a character played by Harry Morgan hides, making the town’s cowardice more explicit, in case the audience misses the point. Someone asks: “How do we know that [the villain] is on the train?” Someone asserts that “it’s not our jobs” to protect the town. Even Will Kane’s mentor, an arthritic, old man, opposes confronting the thugs, telling him: “It’s all for nothing.”

But why would a hero go to enlist an old man in the first place? This is the problem with High Noon, which contradicts Kane’s heroism at every turn.

Whether he’s riding out of town after retiring his badge—and he was uncertain and unsteady in both decisions from the start—Will Kane can’t seem to stand on his own and decide what’s right. On one hand, with a town so undeserving—and you learn how thugs came to rule as the town’s lousy characters come along—it’s easy to see why the former marshal doesn’t want to go it alone. It’s hardly worth the effort as the town’s already half-dead. As the Tex Ritter song, “Do Not Forsake Me, My Darling” plays as a taunt in the saloon, it’s as though Will Kane goes door to door taunting himself, doubting whether he does have a moral duty to save a town that won’t defend itself (he doesn’t), casting himself adrift wherever he goes. When his ex-deputy (Bridges) asks Kane “Why?” Kane answers: “I don’t know.”

Yet when Katy Jurado’s morally ambiguous character—depicted as decent but remember she’s been the hero’s and the villain’s leading lady—proclaims that “when [Kane] dies, this town dies, too,” what’s the evidence that the town’s worth saving, or that the man who’d risk dying for a town that isn’t worth saving is any kind of hero? Will Kane takes his final steps past the offices of Julius Weber, the watchmaker, reasserting the theme that civilization is running out of time, closeups come in a cluster when the clock strikes noon and, as the camera pulls back making Cooper’s Kane smaller and smaller, it’s clear that he’s puny. And he’s alone.

Or is he? This is High Noon‘s final deceit, and, in its resolution, High Noon sort of justifies every pragmatic argument anyone in town’s ever made. You can have your cake and eat it, too, this classic movie aims to say, with Howard Hawks and John Wayne teaming for 1959’s underrated and emotionally superior counter-argument, Rio Bravo, several years later. The evidence that this picture won the audience is strong. Look around, down to who rules the day, and mark High Noon as an artful example of anti-heroism that dominates and influences in fiction and in fact.

Movie Review: From Here to Eternity (1953)

From Here to Eternity (1953) taps America’s pre-World War 2 anxiety and mixes it with fatalism to produce a seminal movie about war, death and dying. The film, based on James Jones’ 1951 novel, depicts a nation mired in self-doubt.

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Embedding anti-heroism underneath anti-social and anti-war themes begins with a character named after a Confederate war general. Director Fred Zinnemann (Oklahoma!, High Noon) introduces Prewitt, indelibly played by Montgomery Clift (Red River), as he plays pool. Prewitt plays alone, however, and, lest the audience mistake his insolent individualism for a heroic trait, as it was in The Fountainhead, it becomes clear that here, in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1941, being a man of principles out for himself leads to nothing but trouble and worse.

“A man don’t go his own way, he’s nothing,” Prew, as he’s called by friends, says early in the black and white movie. Unlike Roark in The Fountainhead, Prew’s path to his own way seems doomed from the start. This is Pearl Harbor in 1941, after all. Army soldier Prew is the movie’s moral center.

On orders of his new captain (Philip Ober), who’s caught wind of Prew’s renowned boxing ability and wants him back in the boxing ring, Prew’s singled out for hazing. He still refuses to box, and with good reason. It’s Prew’s principled stand which contrasts civilized individualist with barbaric conformist and From Here to Eternity—which I recently saw through Fathom Events and Turner Classic Movies’ Big Screen Classics series—makes this point over and over.

Watch what happens to Prew and his scrawny Army buddy, Maggio (Frank Sinatra, The Manchurian Candidate), who spend most of their time getting drunk and getting punished or cavorting with Honolulu’s quasi-prostitutes (Donna Reed, It’s a Wonderful Life). In an unforgettable role as a thug nicknamed Fatso, Ernest Borgnine makes a strong screen presence two years before he played a similar part in Bad Day at Black Rock and the rest of the cast, from supporting soldier types played by Jack Warden and Claude Akins to leading cast members such as Deborah Kerr (The King and I) and Burt Lancaster (Elmer Gantry, Separate Tables, Seven Days in May) as illicit lovers, also shine. All of them, except for Sinatra’s character, the weakest link, form a cohesive company.

In fast cuts, sharp lines and subtle hints, twists and clues, From Here to Eternity lazily leads up to the Japanese sneak attack at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and, briefly, its bleak and harrowing aftermath. As it does, with Lancaster and Kerr famously falling on the sands of Kuhio Beach, director Zinnemann plants the dark, cynical marks of postwar American insecurity in Donna Reed’s line about putting herself up for grabs: “I don’t like it, but I don’t mind it.” With drunken, violent outbursts and messy displays of repressed desire, From Here to Eternity manages to dramatize its theme that the good is not possible.

America is not exceptional; it’s as panicked, fake and afraid as everywhere else in the world, From Here to Eternity insists. The sound of bugles is always on guard in this compelling and watchable classic movie with its cast of movie stars—including Clift as the Fifties’ brooding, sensitive and tortured male, which made way for other mumbling, unsettled anti-heroes such as Marlon Brando, Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson, Clint Eastwood and Harrison Ford—but, seriously, what good does being American do? Even Burt Lancaster’s imposing physical superiority is useless to protect anyone from Fatso, though his scene confronting Borgnine’s meaty beast in the bar is among the most intense showdowns in cinema.

“I play the bugle well,” mutters the principled individualist whose rogue, solo pool game—Prew takes one more shot after being told to stop—begins From Here to Eternity. That he adds that he’d played taps at Arlington Cemetery for the president on Armistice Day only underscores the fact that, now, he’s powerless. By the end of this bleak exercise in striking down the strong and defiant, he, too, will be reduced to playing another round of soulful taps. As Kerr’s bitter wife tussles with Lancaster’s diminished if determined sergeant, Army, company and paradise get lost.

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This is the real, moral theme of From Here to Eternity; that, no matter what you do—especially if you stand alone, in particular if you do so on principle—there exists something more powerful than yourself, to invoke a common bromide, and it controls you and could easily shoot you down. In 1953, From Here to Eternity, which won Oscar’s Best Picture, might have seemed new, bold and different with its realism and frank sexuality. But it plays like a prelude to America’s predominant self-doubt and its byproduct: hard and begrudging pragmatism pushing everyone to go AWOL, get drunk or get in line to get snuffed out.


TCM Big Screen Classics: From Here to Eternity showed on Sunday, December 11 and Wednesday, December 14 with pre-recorded commentary from Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz.

I saw the screening at Hollywood & Highland’s Chinese Theater complex. Sound, projection, theater and audience were perfect. The winner of eight Academy Awards® in 1953, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Sinatra) and Best Supporting Actress (Reed), was written by Daniel Taradash (Hawaii, Golden Boy, Picnic). The movie’s title, From Here to Eternity, is taken from a line from an 1892 Rudyard Kipling poem in which soldiers are damned “from here to eternity”.

TCM just announced its 2017 schedule to screen a slew of classic movies, so the wonderful and encouraging series, which is a unique opportunity to see the best movies as they were intended to be seen in movie theaters, will happily continue.

Movie Analysis: Wings (1927)

The spirit of youth propels Wings (1927), Oscar’s first Best Picture, directed by William Wellman. Youth as idealism permeates the epic silent movie from the start, in eloquently worded titles, a beautiful cast and awe-inspiring action. I finally caught part of Wings several years ago on TCM. I was spellbound by the seriousness, gripping drama and earnest performances. I saw it again last night at a courthouse in Pasadena (see my afternotes). Hearing the audience gasp, sniffle, laugh, weep and go silent drove its impact home. Wings is both box office smash and magnificent motion picture.

The first thing to notice about this 90 year-old film is the leads in fresh and expressive faces that capture the pre-World War 1 state of the nation. It was a man’s world, with women recently made eligible to vote, though their emerging status as liberated equals plays to the picture’s strength. Still, pre-feminist scenes of men are remarkable. Wings is a window to what once was true, in easy glances and sustained, naturally confident enthusiasm for life—as against today’s submission to waiting for permission to pass and impressing or catering to others, especially in deference to women—and for life’s thrills, from fast cars, efficacy and love of country to the prospect of piloting an airplane. These were, in Wings‘ titles and words, “paths of glory”.

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Poetic writing dramatizes two early 20th century American men as they go to war in Europe. They bid goodbye to fathers and mothers and dogs in extended scenes teasing what it means to go to war, a sense we’ve lost as a nation, which may explain why we’ve been engaged in the longest and most unsuccessful war in U.S. history.

Wings shows what’s worth fighting for.

Man is depicted in youth—in three lives, one woman (Clara Bow, Mantrap) and two men (Charles Rogers, Varsity, and Richard Arlen, 1934’s The Virginian)—battle and love. So Wings‘ foremost quality is reverence for the life of a single man. You notice how it was once considered natural, even decent, to admire man.

You also notice that the wealthy are depicted as human, too, which is a rare quality in movies. One of the leading males, Arlen’s character, David, who becomes known to the one who loves him most as Dave, has a chiseled, aristocratic beauty; he sits with an air of benevolent ease when he’s with Sylvia (Jobyna Ralston), his girlfriend, on a swing. He barely blinks when another man, Jack (Rogers), arrives to steal Sylvia away. David’s wealth lies in his grace and confidence, a refined kind of lust for life that gains higher meaning in his military training as an aviator in war. Director Wellman (A Star is Born, Night Nurse, Beau Geste, The High and the Mighty, The Ox-Bow Incident), an ace pilot during World War 1 himself, lavishes David with unending lightness and nonchalance.

David leaves his worldwise mother, whose face carries a lifetime of knowledge, and wheelchair-bound father, whose eyes foresee what may come, and goes to train for his first flight. As he does, carefree Jack, who is only interested in working on his car, wooing the uptown Sylvia and taking part in the war against the Heines, as the enemy Germans are known, is oblivious to the affections of Mary (Bow) from around the bend. Bow’s characterization of Mary is really exceptional, embodying the best of a newly liberated woman, both undaunted and feminine yet somehow an atypical female. Soon, the soldiers see that Mary measures up in terms of fearlessness.

Jack and David bond amid pilot training, sealing the connection over a short but powerful encounter with a lanky pilot named White (Gary Cooper in his first credited role). They crawl, steer, hop, dodge, fire weapons and endure bad news before facing any Germans, portrayed here as marching with pageantry and flying with superiority. Then comes the first dogfight. The planes go down. Daredevil aerial photography shows the dueling biplanes skirting and chasing like wiggling tadpoles in the sky. When bombs start falling and bullets start piercing, vengeance, heartbreak and, thanks to a Dutchman who’s proud to be American, humor abound. Ribbons of black smoke trail in the air, planes pull suddenly up and up and up. Bubbles rise in a Paris nightclub. Always, action on screen suggests the whir of an airplane as Wings comes to a shocking climax in the skies above a French countryside. In daring camera work, Wellman depicts death as a searing and tender farewell—in unforgettable intimacy—as an intelligent and watchful woman and her child bear witness to the private horror and valor of war.

This leaves undone only the final accounting, etched by the retracing of a shooting star, and the vow to focus on the moment “from now on”. Wings, too long in battle scenes and showing that war makes life harder to cleanse, heal and sort through, depicts the sacred, and residual, oath to retain one’s innocence after almost everything of value has been destroyed.

Wings is not a pacifist movie. There is glory for those who fight to fly and fly to defend. But there is the hollowness that follows, which men now rightly call trauma, having loved and lost while soaring toward the stars. The soulful Wings is moviemaking at its most personal, powerful and best.


At the Pasadena courthouse screening hosted by Judge Alex Kozinski, the director’s son, William Wellman, Jr., Randy Haberkamp, the motion picture academy’s director of preservation, and Andrea Kalas, who is Paramount Pictures’ head of archives, spoke with the audience before and after the movie. One of the reasons I like attending Judge Kozinski’s “favorite flicks” (besides the pizza, prizes and guests) is that he, too, takes movies seriously, thinks for himself and brings people together based on a shared interest in examining film in rational discourse.

Last night’s event was no exception, with a discussion of Wings after the movie—before the Blu-Ray edition’s restoration came on, he spoke with his trademark humor about pre-Hays Code scenes of lesbians, naked breasts and what he referred to as the “man kiss”—about the Paramount movie’s $1.2 million budget, which was a lot of money in 1927. Artillery, tanks, troops, trucks and explosives were brought in from Fort Sam Houston to recreate World War 1. Wellman, whose son said he thinks his father was chiefly moved to make Wings by his wartime experiences as a pilot, specifically the loss of most of his friends and comrades in battle, used real bombs in the pictures of bombs being dropped on the town in France, which was actually a set built in San Antonio, Texas. When asked why his father was shunned in Hollywood, Wellman, Jr. said that he thought his dad was probably “insolent” and added that he was also probably less insolent “if they left him alone.” He pointed out that his father had lived through a real life equivalent like the picture’s Gary Cooper story arc. Wings is tremendously influential, from Star Wars to Top Gun, according to Wellman who said that the 80s’ film’s director, the late Tony Scott, once told Wellman that he’d watched Wings “many times” in preparation for making Top Gun. The silent film’s live accompaniment by musician Michael Mortilla was outstanding.

Wings was originally released with sequences presented in Magnascope, a lens which enlarged the 35mm image to an expanded screen.

Movie Review: The Big Country (1958)

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With an all-star cast, magnificent score and a powerful exposition underlying its theme, The Big Country, directed by William Wyler (The Best Years of Our Lives, Roman Holiday, The Letter, Funny Girl, Ben-Hur, The Collector), packs a punch.

This sprawling, violent and thought-provoking Western, which I watched with my Writing Boot Camp students at a screening at the Autry Museum of the American West’s Wells Fargo Theater, lingers and stays with an audience.

“I’ll be back,” says a character played by Chuck Connors, long before he played the rapist/slavemaster Tom Moore in Roots and a year before he played a man of honor in The Rifleman. That he says this to an innocent but strong schoolteacher (Jean Simmons) early in the picture signals the final conflict to come.

The main character is Jim McKay, played by Gregory Peck in one of his better roles and performances. Peck’s McKay is a civilized man; a newcomer to the American West. He represents a new wave of frontiersmen and women who populate the West. McKay drinks hard liquor in daylight, knows how to fire a gun and he eats steak and eggs. But he dresses well, thinks and knows how to sail a ship, too. McKay doesn’t swagger when he walks. He doesn’t drawl, either. His confidence is held down deep and he’s refined, not hard-charging like the Connors character or dogmatic like the duty-bound cowhand played by Charlton Heston. Indeed, Peck’s McKay is the quintessentially modern Westerner: he is the individualist who thinks.

But he is engaged to the daughter (Carroll Baker) of a landowner (Charles Bickford) who lacks the far-sighted brand of individualism that settling and inhabiting the West will demand. Herein lies a seed for moral conflict that spreads out far and wide. As everyone keeps telling the newcomer, this is big country.

In compelling scenes that run long and hard and entice the audience to pay attention, not drift off into sight gags, gimmicks and thrills, the locals’ small-mindedness in this big land comes out, is tested and gets roped. McKay’s fiancee’s daddy sets the smallness down at the dining table, as McKay reels back and sees the puny as it is for the first time.

At issue is an ongoing battle between two families over water rights owned by the schoolteacher.

“You can’t be friends with both,” someone tells a doubter. Jim McKay sees possibilities, however, looking out at the vast, open valley. Slowly, very slowly, at his own pace, this town’s people come to know the newcomer as a man of balance—even his future father-in-law sees that fact in McKay’s legacy guns, used in a duel McKay’s father lost—and the more they know him, the less they like him and his newfangled ideals. Among the radical notions he brings are treating a man with benevolence, not scorn, whether he’s drunk like Connors’ roughneck cowboy or foreign like Ramon, who runs the horses at the daughter’s ranch.

Treating a woman as an equal is another ideal, which not even his own would-be wife comes to want when she’s faced with what it really means. Baker and Simmons are a pair in contrast as much as the other two duos in this trilogy of contrasting couples. Their two Western women characters pit the self-reliant against the self-centered in a thoroughly engaging subplot. Simmons’ woman works with her hands and her mind while Baker’s acts more like a pre-Industrial typical female, working her ways and means, throwing hissy fits and pushing her man to fight for the sake of exhibition, not for the sake of a goal or a principle. When someone refers to him as a sailor, she points out that he’s a captain. Titles, not deeds, matter to her.

But deed matters most in The Big Country and it’s a deed to property owned by Simmons’ estate—the Big Muddy, as it’s known—which the rational man knows how to get and what to do with it. The plot twists and turns with great screenwriting from several credited and uncredited writers. Pivotal lines include: “Do what you’re told and don’t ask any questions”. The Big Country‘s best line, when climax nears and someone finally smears McKay, who dares to name the smear: “Coward? Are you afraid of the word? I’m not.”

This character contrast on an epic scale has everything it needs in abundance, from a technological tool used to outsmart the warring tribes, playfulness of a romance between equals and the sight of a man facing the big country alone, braced only with the use of his reasoning mind. With great writing, characters and performances, especially by Peck, Simmons and Heston dramatizing the virtue of loyalty, and fistfights, dancing, horseback riding, cattle, a stagecoach and stunning vistas in Technicolor—set to a musical score by Jerome Moross capturing what was once the insatiably American sense of life—The Big Country delivers its best feature late but not too late.

Burl Ives (So Dear to My Heart) gives a career best performance as the gruff patriarch who might have been a man of principle.

Ives dominates every scene with his body, voice and intensity. His nuanced turn as the leader of the ambush at Blanco Canyon (the name of Donald Hamilton’s story on which this movie’s based) adds depth to an already exceptional movie. The Big Country improbably has all of that and manages to depict with complexity the type of man—and woman—who idealized, conquered and won the West.

Roundup: TCM Classic Film Festival 2016

Classic movies tend to linger. Last month, TCM’s seventh annual Classic Film Festival, which I attended for the first time last year and wrote about here, offered a range of marvelous movies.

I covered festival events, discussions and interviews and watched or reviewed films from every decade from the 1920s to the 1990s. Besides my blog, reports and articles appeared elsewhere online. I’m also writing articles for a new, independent film source for future publication. 80fd3868f6692b85f0c9a3cca2d9d1dbThis year, I was finally able to see a 40-year-old past Best Picture Oscar winner at Sid Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, Sylvester Stallone’s 1976 hit Rocky, a film I had never seen in any format. Now, I think every adult should see it. What an inspiring movie.

Besides the new Rocky review, my other TCM festival reviews also include thoughts on the live interviews as applicable. Among the new reviews: thoughts on Stanley Kramer’s brilliant Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967) starring Sidney Poitier, Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, John Singleton’s powerful Boyz N The Hood (1991) featuring Cuba Gooding, Jr., Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne, and Vincente Minnelli’s lively, inventive The Band Wagon (1953) starring Fred Astaire.

Happily, I’ve also discovered Frank Borzage’s restored, Rachmaninoff-themed I’ve Always Loved You (1946), Josef von Sternberg’s striking Shanghai Express (1932) with Marlene Dietrich, and I enjoyed seeing Elia Kazan’s insightful A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945) with Dorothy Maguire on the big screen for the first time.

John Frankenheimer’s conspiracy-themed The Manchurian Candidate (1962), about an assassination plot to control the United States of America by a global Communist cabal, was an incredible moviegoing experience—also at the Chinese. It was introduced by Angela Lansbury.

In addition to the interesting discourse on journalism in movies and composer Michael Giacchino’s audio-visual presentation on making the musical score for film, I had the pleasure of watching Faye Dunaway, who’d previously introduced an anniversary screening of another still-timely picture, Sidney Lumet’s satire Network, interviewed at the Ricardo Montalban Theatre. Dunaway, a glamorous movie star whom I found intelligent and discriminating about her career, did not disappoint. At that point, I’d already run into the Washington Post‘s Carl Bernstein, who was there for a screening of All the President’s Men, and met fellow movie bloggers and buffs, including TCM curator Charles Tabesh after a press conference. Socially, the best aspect was trading thoughts with moviegoers from across the world.

Classic film fans might also be interested in new Western critiques of Samuel Fuller’s Forty Guns (1957) co-starring Barry Sullivan and Barbara Stanwyck and the 1946 version of The Virginian starring Joel McCrea, both screened at the Autry Museum of the American West.

As much as I enjoy seeing new movies, and I do, I must say that I appreciate the classics more on the larger screens and I think they get better with age. I was filled with a similar rush last year with the TCM-screened movies—film noir Too Late for Tears with Lizabeth Scott, George Stevens’ Gunga Din, Spike Lee’s Malcolm X, Elia Kazan’s Viva Zapata!, Walt Disney’s So Dear to My Heart and Robert Wise’s adaptation of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music—and, afterwards, the same sense of motion picture withdrawal.

Good movies leave me wanting more.