Friday, March 20, 2009

Ten Favorite MICHAEL CURTIZ Movies

Below are my top ten favorite movies directed by the Academy Award winning Hungarian-born Michael Curtiz, who was considered the top director at Warners Brothers during the 1930s and 1940s:

Ten Favorite MICHAEL CURTIZ Movies

1. "Casablanca" (1942) - Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director for Curtiz went to this classic World War II tale about an American expatriate, who must choose between his love for a woman and helping her and her Resistance leader husband escape from the Vichy-controlled Moroccan city of Casablanca to continue his fight against the Nazis. Featured fine performances from a cast that included Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Heinreid and Claude Rains; along with a superb script filled with some of the most memorable dialogue in Hollywood history.

2. "The Charge of the Light Brigade" (1936) - Despite having nothing to do with the Crimean War until the last 15 to 20 minutes, this costumed action flick is my favorite Errol Flynn movie. Slightly darker than most of his other swashbucklers, this movie is about a British regiment that seeks revenge against an Indian rajah for a military massacre that occurred in British India of the 1850s. This movie not only featured one of Flynn's best peformances, but also a love story with a twist and the chilling and very memorable adaptation of the famous military charge.

3. "Kid Galahad" (1937) - Edward G. Robinson and Bette Davis starred in this exciting and well shot film about a tough boxing manager who finds a potential boxing champion, while dealing with a corrupt racketeer. The movie featured an excellent supporting cast with Humphrey Bogart, Jane Bryant and newcomer Wayne Morris as the young boxer. One of my favorite boxing movies of all time.

4. "The Sea Hawk" (1940) - This adaptation of Rafael Sabatini's novel about an Elizabethan privateer featured an excellent performance by a more mature Errol Flynn, able support by Brenda Marshall and Henry Daniell, a first-class story and excellent action - all put together by Curtiz.

5. "Mildred Pierce" (1945) - Joan Crawford won a well-deserved Academy Award in this slick and noirish adaptation of James M. Cain's novel about a sacrificing mother and her ungrateful older daughter. Ann Blyth is also memorable as the selfish and bitchy Velda.

6. "The Adventures of Robin Hood" (1938) - Errol Flynn was at the pinnacle of his success in this Technicolor favorite about the legendary 11th century English outlaw. Olivia DeHavilland, Basil Rathbone and Claude Rains co-starred. Although William Keighley was first assigned as director, Curtiz polished the movie with better action and pacing.

7. "Life With Father" (1947) - Curtiz's last memorable film was an adaptation of Clarence Day's Broadway play about his family in New York of the 1880s. William Powell and Irene Dunne are memorable as the heads of the Day family.

8. "Captain Blood" (1935) - Errol Flynn and Olivia DeHavilland became stars in this exciting adaptation of Rafael Sabatini's novel about a 17th century Irish doctor who finds himself as a slave in the West Indies and later, a pirate.

9. "Female" (1933) - Ruth Chatterton starred in this comedy-drama about a female business executive with a penchant for available young men, falling for one of her employees - George Brent. William Dierterle and William Wellman also directed scenes of this sizzling Pre-Code movie.

10. "Dodge City (1939) - Filmed in Technicolor, this sprawling Western chronicles the rise of the small frontier post of Dodge City, Kansas to civilized and respectable town and trading place for cattle after the end of the Civil War. The movie starred Errol Flynn, Olivia DeHavilland, Bruce Cabot, Ann Sheridan and Alan Hale Sr. Pretty solid, with every movie Western cliche thrown into the plot.

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