Art Vs Commerce: How Green Was the Golden Age? (1940s)


And now a film that requires no introduction.

And The Oscar Goes To…

Not sure what if anything you need me to say here. It’s Hamlet. It’s Sir Laurence MF’n Olivier as Hamlet in Hamlet. One of the early 20th century’s greatest actors directing and playing the lead role in possibly Shakespeare’s number one play.

And they are playing this one to the rafters. Even when Olivier is merely acting out reactions to a voice-over soliloquy, he’s still playing to the bleachers in every look and movement. It’s solid Hamlet.

Just be careful if you choose to watch this one on YouTube. You can find the whole movie there, but some versions stretch out the aspect ratio, making it look like all of Denmark are wearing giant David Byrne suits.

Kinda robs Claudius of a little dignity picturing him in this number.

How Green Was Their Valley? There was something rotten in their Valley, so the only shade of Green was “putrid.”

And Rotten Tomatoes Says: They place it right dead in the middle of the pack at 47/93. Apparently it faced some criticism for making cuts to the script, but I mean you kind of have to or you get a four hour movie. Some of us have work in the morning, Kenneth Branagh.

Anyhoo Shakespeare may not even have been the top seller in Shakespearean England, and definitely wasn’t in 40s America, so what was on top of the box office?

The Box Office Champ

I suppose it makes sense that a movie with “red” in the title would be my fourth colour movie. Only the second this decade, though. And it’s not just colour, the film quality seems better. As in this is the first movie on the list that looks like it could have been filmed this century. Sure it’s in the Criterion collection and probably got a remaster but come on, it’s not like Gone With the Wind didn’t.

Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger… again, not making up that name… wrote, directed, and produced this…. Hans Christian Anderson adaptation? No, a story about a ballet company doing a Hans Christian Anderson adaptation. And then there’s a romantic triangle with creepy power dynamics that leads to a climax unsettlingly similar to Love Never Dies.

Look, this isn’t a movie that any rational person in the history of film has ever or would ever think of comparing to Vin Diesel’s Bloodshot but it so happens I watched them back-to-back and now it’s happening.

Protagonist: a young composer whose work keeps getting pinched by more established people vs a mumblegrowling murder machine powered by nanotech and vengeance. Advantage: Vin Diesel’s Bloodshot.

Female lead: a ballet dancer trying to be the next big thing vs Generic Brand Ana de Armis Eiza González with gills and in athletic wear. Advantage: Bloodshot.

Antagonist: a predatory ballet producer with Notions regarding the female lead who tends to fire lead dancers for loving someone else vs Guy Pearce creating an unkillable supersoldier powered by nanobots and revenge, then personally wronging him. Advantage: Bloodshot.

Action set pieces: an impossibly trippy ballet number vs Vin Diesel slo-mo wrecking chumps while everyone is coated in flour. Advantage: …Tie.

First act: The Red Shoes doesn’t really have a plot for the first half hour; Bloodshot burns through the entire origin before the title card. Advantage: Bloodshot.

Big Music Moment: Swan Lake underscores the producer’s heel turn, vs Psycho Killer is Bloodshot’s rage trigger. Advantage: tie.

Plot: a love triangle with problematic power dynamics vs one part Wolverine, one part Groundhog Day, one part Memento. Advantage: Bloodshot.

Backdrops: the least convincing painted backdrop of an ocean I’ve ever seen vs the Amalfi Coast being digitally recreated right in front of us. Advantage: Bloodshot.

Climax: a dancer being forced to choose between love and dance that leads to tragedy when if her boyfriend was sensible for even a half second there’d be no need to choose at all vs a big dust-up in an elevator shaft that leads to a comedy twist on the end of Total Recall. Advantage: Bloodshot.

Sure The Red Shoes is a perfectly fine movie with an impressive dance piece right in the middle but Bloodshot was better than it deserved to be and I know which one I enjoyed more.

How Green Was Their Valley? Two of the leads find themselves in a Green Valley so the third plots to destroy them, this Valley be Shot with Blood.

And Rotten Tomatoes Says: Certified fresh at 97%, while Bloodshot has an abysmal 30%, we disagree on this one.

Other Events in Film

  • Superman comes to the serials, starring Kirk Alyn and Noel Niell.
  • This year in Humphrey Bogart Movies I Have To Skip Over is The Treasure of Sierra Madre. If I were talking about Golden Globes Best Pictures we’d have gotten into it, but Hamlet snuck by it at the Oscars. Though Olivier couldn’t snake Best Director from it.
  • Film debuts included Christopher Lee, Doris Day, and Beau “The Least Famous” Bridges.

Next Page: Nothing to do with Vin Diesel’s Bloodshot, don’t know where that came from

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