Tag Archives: World War II

Wartime in a Bottle: Dunkirk, reviewed.

BB-T2-0051I’ve never understood the objection that Christopher Nolan’s movies are sterile. Dunkirk, his new dramatization of the 1940 rescue of British soldiers from the beaches of Northern France carried out largely by civilians, knocked me flat. Here’s my review.

We’ll Always Have Casablanca: Allied, reviewed.

usk-05634r2Here’s my review of Robert Zemeckis’ high-tech-but-old-fashioned WWII espionage thriller Allied. In my NPR review I note it’s meant to evoke a genre that includes great films like Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious or Carol Reed’s The Third Man. Continue reading

The Passion of the Christlike: Hacksaw Ridge, reviewed.

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My NPR review of Hacksaw Ridge, Mel Gibson’s new movie about World War II conscientious objector and Medal of Honor recipient Desmond T. Doss, is here.

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What the Movies Taught Us About World War II Aviation

I wrote this fun piece for my day job. It appears in our May 2015 issue of Air & Space / Smithsonian, now on sale at Barnes & Noble and other fine booksellers and newsstands, as well as the National Air & Space Museum. It’s our 70th anniversary of V-E Day issue, which – because it’ll be out in time for the Arsenal of Democracy Flyover on Friday, May 8th (the actual anniversary) – includes pull-out Spotter Cards you can use to identify the silhouettes of the two dozen vintage warbirds that’ll be buzzing over your head a few minutes past noon if you come down to the National Mall on that day. Continue reading

Video

Memorandum No. 56: Watch Sex Hygiene, the movie wherein John Ford directed Superman and Batman

“Most men know less about their own bodies than they do about their automobiles.”

John Ford, who made Stagecoach and The Searchers and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and who won the Academy Award for Best Director four times – not for any of the first-rate pictures I’ve just named – also made a sex-ed film for G.I.s in 1942, the same year he collected his third Best Director Oscar for How Green Was My Valley.

Okay, maybe that’s only funny to me. Anyway, if you think it’s worth 26 minutes of your life to learn how not to catch syphilis from – in the charming patois of Sex Hygiene – “a contaminated woman,” you can watch this not-so-casually misogynistic but highly informative short. Even if you’re already fully briefed on how to protect yourself from the predatory vaginas of dirty, dirty whores, this film has at least two other things to recommend it.

1) It features the greatest reaction shots ever captured on film.

2) Eisenhower-era TV Superman George Reeves and Robert Lowery, who played Batman in the 1949 serial Batman and Robin, appear together briefly in an early scene. So if you want a preview of what next year’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice will be like, well… it will probably be like this, at least in hair-gel terms.

“I think it made its point and helped a lot of young kids,” Ford told Peter Bogdanovich, reflecting on Sex Hygiene years later. “I looked at it and threw up.”

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The Spoils of War: FURY, reviewed.

I expected that David Ayer, the writer of Training Day and the writer-director of End of Watch and Sabotage, would make a gritty World War II combat picture. But I was surprised how much an interest his film takes in the plight of civilian women, and its willingness to show American soldiers behaving badly during the “Good War.” My NPR review is here.