Movies I’ve recently seen: Men Without Women ֍ Tales From Earthsea ֍ The Clock & The Longest Day

Here’s another random selection of films I hadn’t seen before. None are particularly brilliant. But then, none is truly awful.

Click a film’s title to find out how you can stream the movie.

B Men Without Women (1930) 
The film should have been called Men Without Oxygen. John Ford directed this tense, powerful naval thriller, where the crew of a submarine are marooned at the bottom of the sea. It’s a powerful thriller from a great director. But this 1930 movie is stuck between silents and talkies. The full sound version no longer exists; I’m not sure about the full silent edition. The cut I saw was a hybrid, where the film cuts from talking actors to silent film-like intertitles. Even the two musical scores battle against each other.

B- Tales from Earthsea (2006)

Studio Ghibli comes together with novelist Ursula K. Le Guin, and the merging doesn’t work all that well. (I haven’t read a Le Guin story in decades.) Like most Ghibli works, it’s beautiful to look at. But the story is like almost every fantasy story involving good and evil wizards, with one nice touch: The good, wizardly family spend most of their lives as farmers without magic. But why is the title Tales from Earthsea? There’s only one tale.

C The Clock (1945)

Now I know that Judy Garland wasn’t all that magical when she didn’t sing. Or maybe it’s just a so-so movie. Robert Walker plays a soldier on leave in New York (this is during World War II). Within two days, he and Garland are ready to marry. But things get in the way. They lose each other in crowds, they help a milk man, and then there’s dealing with the red tape of New York marriage laws. One surprising thing about the movie: Crowd scenes contain quite a few African American extras, and not just playing janitors and maids. Director Vincente Minnelli must have fought for that.

C- The Longest Day (1962)

Former studio head Darryl Zanuck attempted to squeeze the Normandy Invasion into three hours. This epic starts excitingly, but soon becomes tiresome. There are too many main characters, and the result is that there’s no real storyline. Nevertheless, there are a few suspenseful moments, especially in the first half. But there are unbelievable speeches, familiar faces (I didn’t count the movie stars), and in the second half, way too many explosions. But you’ll be awed with Zanuck’s ability to recreate the largest battle in history.

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