Thursday, June 17, 2021

Thursday Movie Picks #362: Natural Disasters

This being Thursday, it's time for another edition of Thursday Movie Picks, the blogathon run by Wandering Through the Shelves. The theme this week is Natural Disasters, of which there are many. So I decided to do a mild theme-within-a-theme and pick three real-life disasters recreated on film:

The Last Days of Pompeii (1935). Preston Foster plays a previously pacificst blacksmith in Pompeii, embittered by his wife's death and resulting entry into the gladiatorial arena. His son (John Wood) went east to Judea, met Jesus, and returned to Pompeii the sort of pacifist Dad had been. The family conflict is about to take a back seat to the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, however.... Basil Rathbone plays Pontius Pilate.

San Francisco (1936). In early 1906 San Francisco, Clark Gable runs a nightclub on San Francisco's Barbary Coast, falling in love with would-be opera singer Jeannette MacDonald. Spencer Tracy plays a priest who serves more or less as Gable's conscience. Of course, if you know your history, there's going to be a big earthquake in April 1906:

Wild River (1960). Montgomery Clift plays a man sent from Washington in the 1930s down to Tennessee to get the Tennessee Valley Authority dams built in order to mitigate flooding as well as electrify the region. One matriarch (Jo Van Fleet) doesn't want to sell out even though one of the dams will flood her land, as this is the only home she's ever known. Along the way, Clift falls in love with the matriarch's granddaughter (Lee Remick). The reason I'm including this one is because the film opens with actual documentary footage of a flood in Trumansburg, NY, in 1935. I don't think this is the actual footage used in the movie, but this was the best I could find on Youtube:


Dell said...

Hey, Ted! Haven't seen any of these. Unfortunately, I did see the crappy Pompeii from a few years back. I should say much of it. I got bored and fell asleep after a while. I do want to see Wild River. It's been on my watchlist for quite some time.

Ronyell (a.k.a. Rabbitearsblog) said...

Hmmm...San Francisco sounds like an interesting movie! Great list!

SEK said...

I haven't seen these! But now I want to watch San Francisco.

joel65913 said...

Nice theme within the theme and three good films.

The Last Days of Pompeii has a few dated aspects but overall is solidly entertaining. I'm a big fan of Preston Foster and he anchors the film well.

San Francisco has some "Oh come on!" moments but makes up for them with star power and impressive for the time special effects.

Wild River is Clift's last performance where he seems to really have it all together. He did some very fine work afterwards but from that point on he was clearly damaged. His strong performance is matched by Lee Remick and Jo Van Fleet. It's a great catch it won't have occurred to me.

My picks have a similarity to yours since the disaster isn't the main point of the film but make a big impact on the story.

The Colossus of Rhodes (1961)-Soldier Darios (Rory Calhoun) arrives on the Isle of Rhodes during the Hellenistic period to finds King Serse (Roberto Camardiel) has commissioned a larger-than-life statue of Apollo (destined to be one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World) meant to protect the harbor. Upon meeting master builder Carete (Félix Fernández), who has been commissioned to erect the statue Darios falls in love with his daughter Diala (Léa Massari). Through their alliance Darios also becomes involved with Peliocles (Georges Marchal) and his rebel force who seek to overthrow the tyrannical king. As a revolt foments a massive earthquake lays waste to nearly all.

Tornado (1943)-Coal miner Pete Ramsey (Chester Morris) has a whirlwind romance with rapacious showgirl Victory Kane (Nancy Kelly) who is passing through town and impulsively marries her. Social climbing Victory pushes Pete to work his way up in the company to enter a high tax bracket but still unsatisfied takes up with Gary Linden (Morgan Conway), the philandering son of the mine owner behind Pete’s back. As matters come to a crisis point the title tornado blows into town and coal isn’t the only thing to hit the fan.

Red Skies of Montana (1952)-After a tragic incident that resulted in the loss of his crew smokejumper Cliff Mason (Richard Widmark), unable to recall the event, is fearful that cowardice might have been at fault. Though cleared though an investigation he is determined to prove himself again especially since one man's son, Ed Miller (Jeffrey Hunter), suspects Cliff was responsible for his father's death. When a canyon wildfire breaks out Ed pursues Cliff there for a confrontation but when they become trapped Cliff must take desperate measures to save them both.

Cinematic Delights said...

Interesting choices this week, Ted. They're all new to me, although San Francisco is on my list to watch thanks to a recommendation from Birgit. Wild River sounds like one I'd enjoy too.

ThePunkTheory said...

I'm quite curious about The Last Days of Pompeii - pretty much all I know about that is from that one Doctor Who episode 😅

Brittani Burnham said...

I'm 0/3 on these picks, but San Francisco sounds like the one I'd enjoy the most.

Birgit said...

I have not seen the Pompeii film or the one with Clift but we match with SAN Francisco which is quite good and the special effects are superb which is why they are often shown when talking about the actual earthquake of 1906.