What I’ll Remember About the Films of 1943: A Personal Sampling


By the end of this week I’ll have my Top Ten By Year: 1943 up. But now I continue my new tradition, the What I’ll Remember post, a way for me to pay tribute to all the year-specific viewing I’ve done and to point out a lot of notables that stuck out to me. It’s also a way of stressing that, while the Top Ten list is something I love working towards, it’s really a means to an end. It goes without saying, but the most important part is the process and journey of watching and re-watching these films.

Ossessione

The reversal of the male gaze in Ossessione

Big game hunting marks the years with mounted wit in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp

Edith Waters going from drab to fab in Cabin in the Sky’s last sinful 30 minutes before the film pulls a Wizard of Oz in more ways than one.

Phallic bananas and neon-lit pink hula hoops and disembodied heads (The Gang’s All Here)

“You’re going to kill someone Mr. Tyler” (Flesh and Fantasy)

Joan Fontaine giving the best and worst work I’ve seen from her in The Constant Nymph and Jane Eyre respectively. The former a freakishly on-point portrayal of awkward fawning teenagedom, the latter a constipated characterless interpretation of an iconic title character.

The torturous interrogation of frail elderly women in Hangmen Also Die! and Day of Wrath

Life and Death of Colonel Blimp Kerr

Edith’s costumes and hats in Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, particularly her first hat and the dress she wears when Theo arrives in his wheelchair to play cards

“I think she could do better” – The Ox-Bow Incident

Looney Tunes quotables like “AAAAYY, FATSO?” and “Meadows????” (“Porky Pig’s Feat” and “The Aristo-Cat”)

Achille, the sadistic family dwarf in L’Éternel retour, threat to the disturbingly Aryan perfection of Jean Marais and Madeleine Sologne

Two musicals with all African American casts starring Lena Horne (Stormy Weather and Cabin in the Sky)

The softness of the birches vs. the hardness of the austere interiors, with Lisbeth Movin’s face bridging the two by embodying both in Day of Wrath

The blatant eroticism of The More the Merrier

Joseph Cotton’s line reading of “Do you know the world is a foul sty?” in Shadow of a Doubt

Nicholas Brothers Stormy Weather

The Nicholas Brothers jaw-dropping am-I-really-seeing-what-I-think-I’m-seeing feat of a tap dancing number in Stormy Weather

The Leopard Man’s uncommon empathy for its victims

Hollywood narrative propaganda/morale boosters ranging from the small town homefront (The Human Comedy), to male teamwork in combat (Air Force), to women in the field (So Proudly We Hail!), to anti-neutrality after the fact (Watch on the Rhine).

The passage of time; history through people (The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp) and life removed from history (Heaven Can Wait)

“Henry van Cleve, do I look like the type of girl who would take a boy’s last beetle?” (Heaven Can Wait)

Barbara Stanwyck doing splits in Lady of Burlesque!

Bette Davis in pantless PJ’s in Old Acquaintance!

Watching Jane Eyre with my best friend, with disappointment morphing into hilarity. Orson Welles channeling Ron Burgundy in the final scene is the cherry on top of a shitty sundae.

The Aristo-Cat (6)

The background design work in “Wackiki Wabbit” and “The Aristo-cat”

The most painfully uncomfortable smoking scene I can think of. Be a little more conspicuous Laughton. Or just get a grip on yourself for God’s sake. (This Land is Mine)

Realizing I’d virtually never run out of moments from The More the Merrier to put on here, so I stopped before getting too ahead of myself.

The iconic Jacqueline, fur coat and jet black hair severely framing her face as protective shields against the world (The Seventh Victim)

The final act long con pay-off of Hangmen Also Die!

The watchful dead and an orphan stalker obstruct the process of mourning before the Macauley family even learns of the death of their son in the final minute of The Human Comedy

Val Lewton at the height of his craft at RKO, an embarrassment of riches for one year (The Seventh Victim, I Walked with a Zombie, The Leopard Man) (And The Ghost Ship, which I don’t really care for)

Everyone is looking at him like, "Uggh, this fucking kid"
Everyone is looking at him like, “Uggh, this fucking kid”

May I present Bodo, the most obnoxious kid in the history of film (Watch on the Rhine)

May I present Ann, the most precocious kid in the history of film (Shadow of a Doubt)

As long as we’re talking kids, what about the adolescent Rolande, bespectacled omnipresent ball-bouncer in Le Corbeau?

Jean Arthur’s slippery revelation, and in face cream to boot (The More the Merrier)

The rural or isolated settings of French films made during the Occupation (Lumiere d’ete, La Main du Diable, Le Corbeau, L’Éternel retour, Angels of Sin)

The Von Sternberg-like masked ball revelry in Lumiere d’ete and Flesh and Fantasy

The fragrant Romanticism of The Constant Nymph

“Very much” (The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp)

Charlotte Greenwood

Charlotte Greenwood picking up a cat like it’s a phone (The Gang’s All Here)

An important secondary character being played by a child in blackface, engulfing The Man in Grey in supreme awkwardness amidst the picture’s otherwise entertaining luridness

Leopard-led publicity stunt with Jean Brooks in tow (The Leopard Man)

“And our message is ‘death is good’” – Val Lewton (The Seventh Victim)

“Survey or no survey, I’m not going to start by breaking an egg” (Shadow of a Doubt)

Dull romantic male leads (George Reeves in So Proudly We Hail!, Hugh Beaumont in The Seventh Victim, John Loder in Old Acquaintance, James Ellison in The Gang’s All Here)

The hero worship I have of Bette Davis’s Kit, particularly in the first segment of Old Acquaintance. Like, I just want us to be best friends.

Purchasing Walt Disney’s On the Front Lines for my DVD collection

Shadow-Hume-Cronyn-Herb-590px

Hume Cronyn, adorably needy as the friend who just wants to conceptualize and discuss murdering Henry Travers with Henry Travers in Shadow of a Doubt

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Master of Speech-Making, Charles Laughton (This Land is Mine)

Wait a minute folks! I present the Co-Master of Speech-Making, Anton Walbrook (The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp)

Hold on! I’ve got one more! I present the Master of Letter-Reading (and as a result of Speech Making!); Henry Fonda in The Ox-Bow Incident

Resistance films portraying European struggles as primarily relatable and recognizable as something vaguely American. Prioritizing the ‘what if it happened to us’ angle (Hangmen Also Die! and This Land is Mine)

Still not having even an inkling of an idea of how to interpret or take or reconcile or feel about the last ten minutes of The More the Merrier

“Ah woe, ah me. Shame and sorrow for the family” – I Walked with a Zombie

Once again reminded of the warm spell Powell/Pressburger cast, a concoction all their own (The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp)

The Ox-Bow Incident

The shot obscuring Henry Fonda’s eyes as he reads Donald Martin’s (Dana Andrews) letter in The Ox-Bow Incident

Queen Carmen Miranda and her tutti frutti hat (The Gang’s All Here)

The surrealistic frenzy of the final minute of “Der Fuhrer’s Face”

Jean Arthur’s hair during the roof scene. Yowza. And Joel McCrea in general. Double Yowza. (The More the Merrier)

Appreciating the combination of Gothic tropes, West Indies, and colonialism in my re-watch of I Walked with a Zombie and the fact that it’s a far better Jane Eyre adaptation than Jane Eyre.

Back-to-back deaths of uncommon cruelty in The Man in Grey

The not-nearly-discussed-enough and quite moving role of Emmy in Shadow of a Doubt

I Walked with a Zombie

Val Lewton’s now-trademark nighttime strolls courtesy of Jacques Tourneur and Mark Robson with existential dread (The Seventh Victim), cornfields littered with symbolism (I Walked with a Zombie) and blood seeping under a door (The Leopard Man)

They don’t want to die! (Day of Wrath and The Ox-Bow Incident)

Everything about Betty Field in, hollow-lit masked Ugly Duckling, in Flesh and Fantasy

“Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” (The More the Merrier)

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