Posts Tagged ‘John Wayne’

Short takes: ‘Stagecoach’ and ‘The End of October’

July 8, 2020

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
July 8, 2020

Many years ago, a textbook for my college film course contained a very enthusiastic passage about Stagecoach, John Ford’s 1939 Western. I have only the vaguest recollection of what it said (although it’s possible I still have the text somewhere — locating it is a project for another day). I think the author or authors were enthusiastic about the movie’s tight pacing, its character-driven plotting, and some well-executed action sequences.

I got around to watching the movie a few days ago when I noticed that it’s available on one of the streaming services I use. My reaction to the picture was… different from that of my textbook’s author(s).

The tale is set in the Arizona territory perhaps a decade after the end of the Civil War. The picture opens with a brief prologue in which some Army officers establish that Native American warriors led by Geronimo are raiding white settlers. Then we see the titular stagecoach arrive in a dusty town. As the horses are changed out, passenger Lucy Mallory (Louise Platt) and driver Buck (Andy Devine) disembark to develop the plot.

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The writer and the Red Scare: ‘Trumbo’ looks at the man who defied Congress and won two Academy Awards in the process

December 28, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Dec. 28, 2015

Director Jay Roach’s lively new biopic, Trumbo, tells the story of a leftist Hollywood screenwriter and his tangle with the House Un-American Activities Committee.

Veteran actor Bryan Cranston (the star of the acclaimed TV series Breaking Bad, who had minor roles in Argo and Godzilla) headlines the movie as title character Dalton Trumbo. A labor activist and American Communist Party member, he also happened to be one of Hollywood’s top screenwriters.

Trumbo’s story tracks what I know about the actual historic events, which a few web searches seem to confirm. America’s pivot from World War II to the Cold War meant that the Soviet Union, our allies in the crusade against Nazi Germany, quickly became our enemies in the sublimated struggle for world domination. Although fairly sudden, this change in relations between American and other Western Allies and the Soviet Union was very real — recall if you will Churchill’s famous “Iron Curtain” speech from March 1946. And it prompted some Americans to focus their animus on the sociopolitical philosophy of Communism, a dynamic that went on to cause a tremendous amount of needless harm.

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