Monday, April 30, 2012

Gregory Peck: I Walk the Line

     Just to finish this month off, I'm going to leave you with a pretty awesome video that I was told I could kindly put on here by the creator of the tribute video: Muirmadien. Here's her tribute to one of Gregory's forgotten videos, I Walk the Line (1970).

Video Courtesy of 

Film Review: To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

One of the greatest films of all time.
Photo Courtesy of
     TCMDb: A young girl grows up fast when her lawyer father defends a black man accused of raping a white woman.
Gregory in between scenes of To Kill
a Mockingbird. 
Photo Courtesy of
     They say that perfection doesn't exist, which for most things is true, but for me, this film is perfect. There's not one thing I don't like about To Kill a Mockingbird; I could watch it a dozen times in one sitting if left to my own devices, and I'd still never get tired of it.
     So, you may be asking, is this review going to be biased? Yes, yes it is. And I'm going to relish in it.
     Gregory Peck had been in the movies since 1944, and in the eighteen years between 1944 and 1962, he had played a multitude of characters: an unorthodox priest; a gentile who, for the sake of bringing the truth to light, pretends to be a Jewish man; and a reporter who only wants a story about a princess, but in the process falls in love with her. He was a versatile man who could do anything and be anyone. Yet, it wasn't until he stepped into the shoes of Atticus Finch that he found the fictional man that he was most akin to. A man who was only meant to breathe life through the pages of Lee Harper's novel, but whom came to life in the most magical of ways, and has since gone on to inspire many people to the point where Atticus Finch has become more than just a figment of our minds, but a flesh and blood and bone human being.
Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch; Atticus Finch
as Gregory Peck.
Photo Courtesy of
     Gregory once said about his role as Atticus: "I put everything I had into it--all my feelings and everything I had learned in forty-six years of living; about family life and fathers and children. And my feelings about racial justice and inequality and opportunity." Those feelings and everything that he had learned in those years served him very well. Never before has a father's love for his children been caught so well on film. As is everything about To Kill a Mockingbird, it is real.
Father and daughter: Atticus and the one and only, Scout.
Photo Courtesy of
     As a girl, Atticus would be the kind of father I would want if I already didn't have my own father. He's everything that a child wants his or her father to be: loving; understanding; caring; wise; and willing for you to make your own mistakes and learn from them, and no matter what, always proud of you. Gregory's relationship with Scout, played Mary Bedham, was so real that even after the film was over, Bedham says that they stayed in contact with each other; until he died, they called each other Atticus and Scout.
Jem, Atticus, and Scout.
Photo Courtesy of
     To Kill a Mockingbird, as they like to say, has "stood the test of time". It has been able to simply because even today, there is racial injustice and inequality, though not as mainstream as it was back then, and as long as there is, this film will always be as powerful as it was when it was originally released on December 25, 1962 (coincidence, I think not).
     I remember the first time I saw this film, I was completely balled over. It was so powerful, so moving, I couldn't help but feel as though my whole being was humming. I was moved by Gregory's performance as Atticus, I decided that when I have children, I want them to be just like Jem and Scout: inquisitive, adventurous, honest, loving; I was moved by Robert Duvall's portrayal of Boo Radley. He had the least amount of screen time as anybody, but yet, he was able to convey every emotion and thought that he needed to in less than ten minutes of screen time.
The almost ghostly Boo Radley.
Photo Courtesy of
     Over the course of his career, Gregory was nominated five times for the Academy Award for Best Actor. The first time in 1944 for the film The Keys of the Kingdom which was only his second film, then he was nominated for his work in The Yearling (1946), Gentleman's Agreement (1947), and the last one before his 1962 nomination for To Kill a Mockingbird was Twelve O'Clock High. I've seen all of these films, and if I think he should have won any other nomination out of the listed it would be either The Keys of the Kingdom or Gentleman's Agreement. The important thing, however, is that he won for the role where, as Lee Harper said, "In that film, the man and part met." Had he not, it would probably be one of the biggest blunders that the Academy could have possibly have ever made.
Gregory and the well-deserved Oscar.
Photo Courtesy of
     My praises for this film are indefinite. I can only say that if you haven't watched this film yet, do so. And as you watch it, remember to, as Atticus says, "climb into his skin and walk around in it a bit". You'll love this film, I promise. I give To Kill a Mockingbird 4/4 stars.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Film Review: Duel in the Sun (1946)

Gregory is a bad, bad, bad man in
Duel in the Sun.
Photo Courtesy of
TCMDb: A fiery half-breed comes between a rancher's sons: one good, one bad.

     Gregory went bad, which made him all the more sexy, as Lewt McCanles in the epic Duel in the Sun. This was David O. Selznick's attempt at making another Gone with the Wind, and though it's no Gone with the Wind, it still reeks with awesomeness.
     Okay, so when one of thinks of Gregory Peck, they think of him as the embodiment of solid, understanding, and reliable leading men. As Lewt, though, he's the exact antithesis of all those fine qualities that he usually played, and he's hardly going to be Atticus Finch's best friend.
     And though I love him in those roles, I've gotta say: He makes bad look good . . . real good.
     I first saw this film about two years ago, and the whole time I was going, "Oh, Gregory. Gregory, that's just mean. Oooh, Gregory, you're gonna get in trouble." He was just so good at being bad, so good that I wish that he would have at least made one more film like this (he was bad in The Boys from Brazil when he portrayed Dr. Josef Mengele in 1978, but that's a different kind of bad--that's real bad, and I don't like that kind at all, especially if Gregory's doing it). While some may hate this film, or hate Gregory being bad, for me, Lewt was likable.
     What! She thinks Lewt McCanles (spoiler alert if you haven't seen it yet. Sorry) was likable even after he tried to rape Pearl? Well, no, I don't like he tried to do that because that's just wrong no matter who does it. I'm just saying that Gregory plays him so well, he makes him seem more human, more real. He really makes him either feel for him, good or bad, but whatever the feeling is, he's made you feel.
Gregory Peck as Lewt McCanles and Jennifer
Jones as Pearl Chavez.
Photo Courtesy of
     Speaking of Gregory Peck and Jennifer Jones, I've got to say, rarely have I ever seen a couple light up the screen like these two, or should I say electrify? They really are just amazing together. The moment they see each other, you know there's going to be big trouble. There's a sexual tension that you know Lewt is willing to act on anytime of  any day, anywhere; and Pearl, she wants him, but at the urging of the McCanles boys mother, Laura Belle, portrayed by the supreme Lillian Gish, she tries to be a good girl--and a good girl doesn't entice or encourage a man in a sexual manner. Lets face it, though. Pearl is a woman, a beautiful woman with needs, and she's got two handsome men that she could choose from: Lewt, the bad boy, and Jesse, the good boy played by Joseph Cotten.
     Pray tell, what is a girl to do?
Good boy Joseph Cotten and bad
boy Gregory Peck chillin' on the set of
Duel in the Sun.
Photo Courtesy of
   This is the third out of four films that Joseph Cotten and Jennifer Jones did together. The first being Since You Went Away, and the last being Jennie's Portrait. I really like the pairing of Jennifer Jones and Joseph Cotten, I thought they were a great couple, but they're not really considered as one of the great classic leading couples. Granted, only two of their four films did they actually have a romance, but nonetheless, they were great together.
Joseph and Jennifer in Love Letters (1945).
Photo Courtesy of
       Teresa Wright was originally planned to play Pearl, as her husband was Niven Busch, the author of the novel by the same name, but due to pregnancy, she had to drop out. If she had not dropped out, it would have been her second film with Joseph Cotten since Hitchcock's 1943 picture, Shadow of a Doubt. As much as I like Teresa Wright, I just can't picture her as Pearl Chavez. That's not to say that she couldn't have done an amazing job as Pearl, I just have a hard time as seeing her as a fiery and lustful woman, but what do I know?
     This film has got a few faces that classic film lovers should definitely recognize. The head honcho, the patriarch of the McCanles, is portrayed by none other than Lionel Barrymore; Laura Bell, the mother, as I said before was played by Lillian Gish; Herbert Marshall is Pearl's father, Scott Chavez; Walter Huston (as in director John Huston's father); Charles Bickford; Harry Carey; and the funny, "I-don't-know-nuthin'-'bout-birthin'-no-babies" Butterfly McQueen.
Lewt and Pearl.
Photo Courtesy of
     The ending of this film is one of the biggest twists I've ever seen in a film. When I first watched Duel in the Sun, I wasn't expecting anything like the way it ended. It was a fantastic surprise that had me going, Wow! It was nice to have an ending which was the exact opposite of how I thought the film would end. It stayed on my mind for quite sometime, and that's what you want whenever you read a book or watch a film, to stay on your mind, keeping you thinking.
     I definitely recommend this to anyone. It's not your normal western, but it's definitely not one that somebody should miss because of that. I give Duel in the Sun a 3.5/4 stars.

7 Degrees of Gregory

Peck ==> __2__ ==>__3__ ==> Charles Boyer ==> __5__ ==> __6__ ==> Judy Garland

Peck ==> __2__ = Co-starred together in Yellow Sky, 1948.
__2__ ==> __3__ = Co-starred together in a 1950 film; Margo found out it wasn't all about her, but someone else.
__3__ ==> Charles Boyer = Co-starred in All This and Heaven, Too, 1940.
Boyer ==> __5__ = "Come with me to the Casbah," is never actually said in this 1938 romantic film.
__5__ ==> __6__ = Co-starred together in The Highness and the Bellboy, 1945.
__6__ ==> Judy Garland == The Clock, 1945.

I think I'll just relax here on the beach, enjoy my cigarette,
and the feeling of sand between my toes and the wind in
my hair, while you try to figure this one out.
Photo Courtesy of

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Film Review: The Purple Plain (1954)

Gregory Peck in one of my all time favorite films.
Photo Courtesy of
TCMDb: A blinded Canadian flier has to find his way through World War II Burma.

   The Purple Plain is another one of Gregory Peck's movies that is just totally forgotten when his long and full filmography is being combed through. It was made right after last week's Gregory Peck essential, The Man with a Million. My feelings about The Man with a Million is exactly how I feel about The Purple Plain, and perhaps even more so.
     Based off the novel of the same name by H.E. Bates, the film in itself is, to me, an oddity. I say this because while there is action, it's more of a psychological action film, and then toward the last half of the film, a psychological survival of the fittest action film.
     While there are other actors that could have pulled this kind of film and role perfectly well, I do not believe that many could have done it as well or better than Gregory Peck. I say this because Gregory was such an intelligent man, he valued knowledge, and he liked to learn. I do not know how he felt about this role, or how many others feel about it, but Leonard Maltin, Director Martin Scorsese, and I all agree that it's a fine film with Maltin saying: "Absorbing Eric Ambler scripted drama of love, loss, and survival during World War II, charting the plight of disaffected pilot Peck . . ." Scorsese saying in the April Highlights on TCM: "Peck's performance takes on a genuinely spiritual dimension, and he is absolutely mesmerizing." I say: Ditto to both.
Flight Commander Bill Forrester
and Anna.
Photo Courtesy of
     Besides the fact that Gregory is mesmerizing in this film another added benefit is the actress Win Min Than, who plays Anna, Gregory's love interest. This is her only film, but even so, her beauty is undeniable. While the novel, which is my favorite book that I've read so far, is slightly more sexual than the movie, (and by that I mean all they do is kiss which they don't do at all in the film) the attraction between the two leads is like a slow burning ember: the heat is there, it's strong enough for it to be noticed, and it's constant. I find that I really like this. It's a different change of them being all over each other, or of them first hating each other. It's a soft kind of loving; very nice, indeed.
     As was The Man with a Million, The Purple Plain was filmed on location, but this time in Sigaria, Ceylon which is now Sri Lanka. The terrain is quite beautiful, and, as it apparent throughout the whole picture, extremely hot. I can only wonder how extremely tiring this shoot was, and how much it physically demanded of all of the actors because of the heat.
Maurice Denham as Blore.
Photo Courtesy of
Bernard Lee as Dr. Harris.
Photo Courtesy of 
     Though I don't know too many British actors, I do know that the main ones in The Purple Plain had to be some of the best. Maurice Denham who plays Blore, a man who's all talk but no action, and, in the end, a hypocrite, was fantastic. I disliked Blore intensely, but I liked Denham. He was a fine supporting player, and was the exact antithesis of Gregory's Forrester. I also really enjoyed the acting of Bernard Lee who played Dr. Harris, the one man who knows that Gregory really isn't such a terrible guy at all.
      There's one scene in The Purple Plain that got to me. Forrester finds a little Burmese boy (or girl, I can't quite tell) teasing a lizard. The boy is blocking the lizard's escape though the lizard isn't trying to escape because it's afraid for it's life. Forrester sits down and watches. Dr. Harris comes up on him and asks him if he would like to take a trip with him to a Burmese Christian community. "Really nice people," he says. "Very interesting. Pure Burmese. They speak English. I buy fruit from them."
     "Well, you bring me back a nice cold melon, would you?" Forrester replies sarcastically.
     Dr. Harris catching sight of the little boy "playing" with the lizard asks, "What's this?"
     "Kill or not to kill, that's all. That's--" Forrester stars to say, but stops at the sound of a loud SMACK! Dr. Harris looks over at the boy and sees him poke his finger at the now dead lizard.
     All he and Forrester can do is stare. Finally, Dr. Harris turns to him and says, "Strange how fascinating death can be, isn't it?"
     Indeed it is. This small scene is a big key to the film. It may not seem that way at first, but it really is.
     The Purple Plain is a small film in Gregory's filmography, but one that should definitely be seen. It's a fascinating film that probes into the psyche of a man's mind, and how he learns to deal with a harrowing experience in his life to overcome that of another. I give this film 3.5/4 stars.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Film Review: The Man with a Million (1954)

U.S. title The Man with a Million
Photo Courtesy of
TCMDb: On a bet, a man tries to see how much he can get without breaking a million-pound bank note.

     Once upon a time, when Britain was very rich, deep in the vaults of England, there was more gold than anywhere else in the world. "Safe," people use to say, "safe as the Bank of England  . . ." And so our story begins.
     After the beautiful success of Roman Holiday in 1953, Gregory Peck followed up with another comedy entitled The Man with a Million (United States title) based off of a Mark Twain story called The Million Pound Note. For a comedy with Gregory Peck to be followed so soon after Roman Holiday was not, in my opinion, a very smart business move. I guarantee you when the audience back in 1954 went to the theater and saw that Gregory Peck was going to be in another comedy, they probably said something like this, "Oh, look, it's Gregory Peck in another comedy! It'll probably be as wonderful as Roman Holiday, don't you think, Bill?" Already, this little forgotten gem was in trouble. In fact, it never really had a chance, and even today it still hasn't been given it's rightful chance with movie critic, Leonard Maltin, giving it a 2/4 star rating.
Gregory Peck with British actor, Wilfrid Hyde-White.
Photo Courtesy of
     I, though not a professional movie critic--in fact, not a movie critic at all--disagree with Maltin whole heartily. It's kind of like Roman Holiday is the perfect child that a pair of parents always wanted, in this case the proud Momma and Papa is Paramount Pictures, and then another Momma and Papa, General Film Distributors, in attempt at having a perfect child, was left with a misbegotten one . . . or so they thought.
     The Man with a Million had a lot to "look up to", and because of the audiences' of 1954 refusal to give it a chance, they were unable to see the film's true charm. I agree with Director Martin Scorsese who wrote in a small piece on TCM's April Highlights, "Peck's amazement and bewilderment, his initial euphoria and eventual exasperation, are beautifully drawn, and the film is genuinely delightful" (Scorsese).

Gregory and the million pound note.
Photo Courtesy of
     Really, Man with a Million has a lot going for it, and I really don't understand why it still hasn't gotten it's chance. Gregory had fine comedic ability, but for the most part he never got to really flaunt those talents. One of my favorite parts in the film where he does get to flaunt those subtle comedic abilities is when he's chasing after the million pound note down the sidewalk after the wind has ripped it out of his hand, and every time it seems as though he's just about to get a hold of it, the wind carries it away from him. He's doing this, however, trying not to look suspicious, but it's not helping at all. He runs into a woman and her baby in a ram, couples walking on the sidewalk, and then he runs smack dab into a man who's handing out pamphlets, the pamphlets go flying and the note gets mixed in with it all. He jumping in the air grabbing at the pamphlets frantically, and then he gets down on the sidewalk and starts sorting through them, and when at last he's found the note, a group of school girls come walking by and start pointing and laughing at him for his wild antics. I laughed so hard during this scene that I couldn't catch my breath; it just tickled me. Also, the film has got a lot of British charm to it, and that just adds even more to the film; the character actors are pure fun.
     All I can say is give the film a chance. I did, and I'm glad that I did, too. I give The Man with a Million a 3/4 stars.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Fever: Gregory Peck

     Here's a video I made a few days ago of the great Gregory Peck. I hope you like it. I think the song is very fitting, if I do say so myself.

Music: Fever--Peggy Lee
Films: All belong to their respected owners.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Film Review: The Keys of the Kingdom (1944)

In only his fourth film.
Photo Courtesy of
TCMDb: A crusading priest struggles to build a mission in China.

     Despite some peoples' beliefs, I've always held firm to the idea that a "quiet" picture is, in some ways, a lot better than a "loud" picture. What I mean by that is a picture like Singin' in the Rain is easily recognizable; as soon as you show a picture of a fellow hanging onto a lamp post with a smiling face upturned with rain pelting down on it, if you know anything about pictures, there's a good fifty-fifty chance of you getting the name of the film right, even if you haven't seen it before. However, if you take a film like The Keys of the Kingdom and show a picture of a man looking down at a sick little boy, whom happens to be Chinese, worrying and praying that what he is doing will save the boy, unless you've seen the picture, or something of that sort, that fifty-fifty percent that you had with Singin' in the Rain has gone down to a much lower percentage, even if you do, in the very least, recognize the man as being Gregory Peck.
Gregory as Father Francis Chrisholm.
Photo courtesy of
     Understand though, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a "loud" picture. They are just as imperative and meaningful as that of a more "quiet" picture, and vice-verse; just because the picture is "quiet" doesn't mean that it cannot also be as exciting, fun, and amusing as any "loud" picture is. They both just go at it in different ways.
     The Keys of the Kingdom ranks as one of my Gregory Peck Essentials because everything about it in my mind is absolutely perfect. Here is a man, very relatively new to the Hollywood scene, and he gives a performance that rings so true and poignant and humble today as it did back in 1944 that it nearly makes my head spin.
    However, just because The Keys of the Kingdom is "quiet" does not mean that there isn't any exciting moments, quite the contrary in fact. Later on in the film, there's a war between the Imperial and Revolutionary forces, and between Gregory and Thomas Mitchell, who plays Dr. Willie Tulloch, a friend of Father Chrisholm, have to treat the plethora of wounded soldiers and citizens. It's not all blood, guts, and glory, but nonetheless it's still powerful, and then when Dr. Tulloch himself gets sick from exhaustion . . . well, it's a must see.
Father Chrisholm and Dr. Willie Tulloch.
Photo Courtesy of
     Now, while there is some romance between Francis when he's young and he's yet to become a priest (he has no intention of becoming one when he's young), that's not the key focus of the film at all, and I'm quite glad about that. Don't get me wrong, I like a little romance even though I'm not a romantic (they just knew how to do it right back in the "old" days), but the whole point of it is that Father Chrisholm, an unorthodox priest, goes to China to do God's work his way.
     I would also like to point out while this film is about a priest and all of his accomplishments and hardships rolled into one, never really does it ever feel too religous for me. There's also some very comedic happenings that come in just at the right time.
     I give this film a 4/4 stars, and I definitely recommend this to anyone so do yourself a favor and watch it!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Gregory's Essentianls

     As always, here's the five Essentials for the Star of the Month:

     1. The Keys of the Kingdom . . . (Saturday, April 7)
     2. Man with a Million . . . (Saturday, April 14)
     3. The Purple Plain . . . (Saturday, April 21)
     4. Duel in the Sun . . . (Saturday, April 28)
     5. To Kill a Mockingbird . . . (Monday, April 30)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Star of the Month: Gregory Peck

     Gregory Peck is quite easily one of my top five favorite actors (he's tied with Gary Cooper at number three), and so this Star of the Month will give me great pleasure. His birthday happens to be this Thursday, and so I'll have an extra something besides a film review, which I find that I'm lacking here on my blog, so I'll have to fix that. And who better to start it with than Gregory Peck, pray tell?
     As always, I'll have the Five Essentials up tomorrow, and we'll start from there.
Gregory laughing between scenes on the set of
The Guns of Navarone.
Photo Courtesy of

I'm in Love . . . with Gordon MacRae!

My first love (along with Cary Grant that is) . . .
Photo Courtesy of
     As you all know by now, I'm sure, I'm head-over-heels for Dean Martin; I'm mad about him in the truest sense of the word. He was terrific, and anyone who has the audacity to say he wasn't in my presence . . . LOOKOUT! is all I can say.
     Saying that, there is NO ONE that COULD EVER, or WILL EVER, take his place . . . but I've ALWAYS got room for more people to love; and slowly over the past couple of weeks, I've found a new one: Gordon MacRae.
     I've always liked Gordon a lot, but as I said it wasn't really until about these last couple of weeks that I've really fallen for the guy. He was terrifically handsome, charmingly funny, and he had one of the most beautiful and astonishing voices that the 20th century ever had, and one that no century will ever have again.
Just look at him . . .
Photo Courtesy of
     He unlike many others, even my Dean, wasn't as limited as to the style of songs he could sing. I mean, it would seem kind of odd to hear Dean Martin sing opera-like songs . . . he probably could have done it, but it would've been odd, and he wasn't the only one: Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, and Bing Crosby and many more were all in the same boat. Gordon, however, could do it all. He could croon your heart into a warm puddle of mush, and then make it come to life with a start as he sang about love with such vivacity and tenderness that it makes you want to cheer and sigh at the same time.
Terrifically handsome, indeed!
Photo Courtesy of
     I haven't seen too many of Gordon's pictures, but I have seen three of the five pictures that he did with Doris Day: On Moonlight Bay, By the Light of the Silvery Moon, and Starlift. I've also seen The Daughter of Rosie O'Grady and The Desert Song, but that was such a long time ago, it definitely calls for a re-watching. I'm listening to a lot of his music on youtube, finding my favorites, and soon I'll be buying them and adding them to iTunes library. I've checked Amazon, and there appears not to be any books about this man, as to why not I'm completely lost, and Wikipedia is of no help whatsoever, so if any of you have any accurate information about Gordon MacRae, I'd be forever greatful.