Thursday, June 7, 2018

Thursday Movie Picks #204: Speeches/Monologues/Soliloquies

This being Thursday, it's time for another edition of Thursday Movie Picks, the blogathon run by Wandering Through the Shelves. This week the theme is speeches, monologues, and soliloquies. This would be a perfect place to use the Jack Benny/Carole Lombard version of To Be Or Not to Be, except that I already used it last February for a TMP on Shakespeare. So I had to come up with three different movies, which wasn't all that difficult.

You, John Jones! (1943). James Cagney plays a local air warden doing his part for the domestic air warden. He's married to Ann Sheridan and has a daughter in Margaret O'Brien. Dad learns just why his job is important, and O'Brien wraps things up by doing a creepy recitation of the Gettysburg Address. The link includes an embedded Youtube video of the short; I'm surprised it hasn't been taken down.

The Fountainhead (1948). Gary Cooper plays Ayn Rand's architect Howard Roark, who wants to design buildings in his way, which is not the way that "polite society" wants. It results in him bombing a housing project where his design was warped, and then giving a long impasioned speech in the court case. Patricia Neal plays his girlfriend, Kent Smith his rival, Raymond Massey a populist publisher who champions Roark, and Robert Douglas the snooty elitist behind the scenes. The movie is a mess not because of Rand's political and philosophical views, but because she either didn't know or wasn't willing to write a tight screenplay.

Elmer Gantry (1960). "And when I'm old -- and gray -- and toothless -- and bootless -- I'll gum it, 'til I go to heaven, and booze goes to hell!" Burt Lancaster joins preacher Jean Simmons as a charismatic preacher in the 1920s, but his past with Shirley Jones may come back to haunt him. Burt and Shirley won Oscars for their roles.


Daniel said...

Oh, Elmer Gantry! My beloved Burt Lancaster... <3

I haven't seen the other two, although I've heard The Fountainhead has some interesting things about it (outside of the terrible screenplay, obviously).

Wendell Ottley said...

Haven't seen any of these, but You, John Jones! sounds like a must because Cagney.

joel65913 said...

You John Jones is such a time capsule of what Hollywood was turning out for the war effort. Ultra patriotic and unsubtle but loaded with talent. Interesting to see those three performers all cast together (though wasn't Ann Sothern not Sheridan?) they made an odd family.

I thought The Fountainhead was a muddle even with the young Patricia Neal trying her best.

Elmer Gantry can be a test of patience at times but overall its compelling. Lancaster and Shirley Jones are memorable and deserving of their awards but I don't understand how Jean Simmons went empty handed without even a nomination. She's the equal and in some ways the superior of the other two.

A great monologue can elevate a movie so it's always a treat to find a good one. These are three faves of mine.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)-Idealistic greenhorn Jefferson Smith (Jimmy Stewart) is selected by the political machine of his state to complete the term of a recently deceased senator. Arriving full of purpose and dreams of justice the bumpkin is taken under the wing of an esteemed but secretly crooked senior senator (Claude Rains) and guided by the at first cynical and doubtful reporter Diz Moore (Thomas Mitchell) and Smith’s secretary Clarissa Saunders (Jean Arthur). Won over by his honesty the pair try and help him when his awareness of the breathe of malfeasance in government threatens to crush his spirit. Attempting to right many wrongs this climaxes in a memorable filibuster.

Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)-Ted and Joanna Kramer (Dustin Hoffman & Meryl Streep) are in a failing marriage. Feeling suffocated Joanna leaves not only Ted but deserts their young son Billy (Justin Henry) as well to find herself in parts unknown. Up to this point a distracted, obtuse father focused on his career Ted is required to assume all parental responsibilities and forges a strong bond with his young boy. Time passes and Joanna reappears wanting Billy back regardless of the fact that she abandoned him. Ted puts up a fight and in the court case that ensues there are several memorable monologues.

A Few Good Men (1992)-On the Guantanamo Bay military base two marines perform a Code Red on a fellow marine resulting in his death. Charged and moved to the nation’s capital their case is assigned to hotshot officer Lt. Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise). They affirm that they were under orders to perform the act while their superiors Lt. Kendrick (Keifer Sutherland) and Colonel Nathan Jessup (Jack Nicholson) deny any involvement. Moving into the courtroom Kaffee takes drastic measures to uncover the truth leading to many confrontations and an epic showdown monologue.

Sonia Cerca said...

I haven't seen any of these but I'm planning on reading The Fountainhead and watching the movie.

Sonia Cerca said...
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Birgit said...

i haven't seen the first one but would like to. I have tried, many times, to watch the Fountainhead but I just got too bored and actually turned it off...rare for me to do. Love the 3rd film and that speech by Burt is great. How Jean Simmons wasn't nominated is beyond me