Thursday, March 2, 2017

Thursday Movie Picks #138: On the Run

This being Thursday, it's time for another edition of the Thursday Movie Picks Blogathon, run by Wandering Through the Shelves. This week's theme is "On the Run", and being a fan of old movies, I'm picking another set of older movies to blog about:

I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang (1932). Based on a true story, Paul Muni stars as a World War I veteran who, in the tough economic days after the war, gets arrested for stealing a small sum of money. Muni gets put on the chain gang which is of course brutal, and then escapes and heads north, where he makes a success of himself. Except that a vengeful wife (Glenda Farrell) turns him back in, and the other (unmentioned) state puts him back on the chain gang. The real criminal who wrote the book on which the movie was based had to sneak into Hollywood to help as a consultant.

It Happened One Night (1934). Claudette Colbert plays a spoiled heiress who wants to marry a man her father (Walter Connolly) doesn't approve of. So she jumps off their yacht off Miami and heads for New York to meet her fiancé. Clark Gable plays a reporter who wants to get this story, because it's the story of the year, and helps Colbert in her escape insofar as it will help the story he's writing. Of course, her naïveté and being spoiled make the who plan very difficult; making matters more complicated is that he falls in love with her along the way. One of the earliest screwball comedies, it's still one of the best.

Detour (1945). Tom Neal plays a nightclub pianist in New York who wants a better life. His girlfriend heads west for Los Angeles, and he'll join her when he gets the money. But he wants to see her, so he stars hitching his way west. He winds up taking a ride with a man who dies of a heart attack, and since nobody will believe the death wasn't a murder, he decides to take the man's identity. Of course, he's stupid enough to pick up a hitchhiker (Ann Savage) himself, and she turns out to be one of the fatalest of femmes fatales you'll ever run across in noir. Edgar Ulmer made this one on a budget of about $3.97, but the story is so entertaining that it overcomes all of the ultralow-budget problems.


pilch92 15andmeowing said...

I have never heard of any of these, but they all sound good.

joel65913 said...

These are some great movies. I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang is so compelling. I've always preferred Muni in modern dress roles rather than buried under the makeup he loved so much. It's amazing what Ulmer accomplished with Detour considering he had so few resources but as with It Happened One Night all the proper elements came together and turned out something unexpected and exceptional. All these years later IHON is still a delight.

There's tons of on the run films but I went with older films this week as well along with a slightly newer one with a comic twist.

The Clouded Yellow (1950)-Fired and seeking tranquility after a case goes wrong British Secret Service agent David Somers (Trevor Howard) retreats to the Fenton country estate and a quiet job cataloging butterflies. Upon his arrival he meets and becomes enamored with the Fenton's niece, the fragile Sophie (Jean Simmons). His peace is short-lived though when Sophie is framed for the murder of menacing handyman Hick. Escaping to London he uses his skills and a network of old friends to evade capture as both the police and the real murderer chase them across Britain as they attempt to flee to safety. Tidy thriller that benefits from location filming throughout England and a superior cast.

Dust Be My Destiny (1939)-Down on his luck but honest Joe Bell (John Garfield) gets into a fight with a crook and is sentenced to a work farm for 90 days. There he falls for Mabel Alden (Priscilla Lane), much to the displeasure of her stepfather Charles Garreth (Stanley Ridges) the farm's foreman. Goaded into a fight Joe knocks Garreth out and the panicked pair flee. To avoid suspicion and hard up for cash the couple endure an audience wedding then learn Garreth has died and Joe is wanted for his murder. Moving from town to town to elude capture they try to build a new life when Joe get a job as a photographer on a newspaper after capturing pictures of fleeing bank robbers but destiny is still on their trail. Solid Warner Bros. social issue drama with two excellent lead performances.

You Only Live Once (1937)-Ex-con Eddie Taylor (Henry Fonda), recently released due to the influence of his fiancée Joan (Sylvia Sidney) the public defender’s secretary, attempts to stay to the straight and narrow after they marry. Things go wrong however when he’s accused and convicted for a bank robbery he didn’t commit in which six people were killed. Sentenced to fry in the electric chair he escapes on the eve of execution with the aid of a smuggled gun, accidentally killing the prison chaplain while fleeing. Taking Joan with him they go on the lam but only tragedy lays ahead. Bleak Fritz Lang directed film, an amalgam of the Bonnie & Clyde legend and Lang’s reaction to his first wife’s embrace of Nazism, is considered the precursor to film noir.

Lighthearted Extra-Midnight Run (1988)-Fun adventure comedy/buddy film of bounty hunter Robert DeNiro taking fugitive mob accountant Charles Grodin cross country to collect his reward and dogged every step of the way by the FBI, Mafia and other bounty hunters all of whom want Grodin for reasons of their own. DeNiro & Grodin have a spiky exasperated chemistry with each other that adds greatly to the comedy of the situation.

Birgit said...

I have not seen Detour but it sounds like a great B movie. I love your first. 2 picks. A Fugitive From A Chain Gang is a great film about the issues regarding prison, false charges and what can break a human being. It stands up even by today's standards. The last line Muni says still gives me shudders. it Happened One Night is an excellent comedy that really showcases the leds to their best even though the Stars didn't think that at the time.

Sonia Cerca said...

I really need to watch Detour.

Katie Hogan said...

I really want to see Detour and I love love It Happened One Night.