Tag Archives: John Ireland

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All the King’s Men (1949) 3.72/5 (2)

 

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Rating: The Good – 84.5
Genre: Drama
Duration: 110 mins
Director: Robert Rossen
Stars: Broderick Crawford, John Ireland, Joanne Dru

John Ireland takes a rare centre billing as the passionate young reporter who is determined to make it without the help of his step-father’s wealth. When he learns of a local hick come political candidate standing up to the power brokers of a small town, the journalist and that politician’s paths become one, not to mention, a cautionary tale of the temptations of power. A more gritty and serious take on the subject matter of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, All the King’s Men is a pull no punches look at the yearning for power and the Shakespearian demise inherent in its pursuit. Broderick Crawford is the headstrong politician Willie Stark with the baseball bat ambition and total absence of scruples and he dominates the film. Ireland is unsurprisingly weak in the lead and is probably the primary reason why this movie’s popularity failed to display the longevity of other classics. But outside of the acting and Robert Rossen’s (adapted from Penn Miller’s novel) cynical screenplay which simply exudes unapologetic exploitation, it’s Rossen’s cultured touch behind the camera that marks this movie above most. Allowing context to breathe and grow, his film is defined by the power of setting-influenced perspective. This is best seen in the contrast between Ireland’s childhood home, Burden’s Landing, an island of wealth and security aloof from the sharp consequential world of politics which its most wealthy inhabitants still manage to determine. Rossen strikes a fine tuned balance between the otherworldly qualities of Burden’s Landing and the cut throat political scene. The former hazy with childlike mythos and naive optimism, the latter strewn with the grit and deceit of the great noirs. With an island named “Burden’s Landing”, it will come as no surprise that metaphor plays a sometimes heavy handed role in exacting the movie’s themes but it seems to curiously resonate with the naivety of the place rendering their harshness more forgivable. On the dramatic front, Rossen’s film is flush with political intrigue and offers a an up close and personal examination of the mechanism of US politics that probably hasn’t changed much since the era of its making.

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The Good Die Young (1954) 4.14/5 (2)

 

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Rating: The Good – 82.8
Genre: Film-Noir
Duration: 100 mins
Director: Lewis Gilbert
Stars: Laurence Harvey, Gloria Grahame, Richard Basehart

Lesser seen Brit noir starring a host of big names from both sides of the Atlantic and embodying all the mood and tension of the genre. Laurence Harvey is the gentleman of leisure who, after being cut off by his older wealthier wife, begins manipulating three desperate figures who he finds commiserating down the local pub into committing a dangerous post-office robbery. John Ireland is an American air force officer who has grown weary of chasing his unfaithful wife (a British-sounding [well, sort off] Gloria Grahame), Richard Basehart is a former US soldier stranded in England with his pregnant wife (a young Joan Collins) who herself is being tormented by her overbearing mother, and Stanley Baker is the ex-boxer prevented from earning a living after his no-good brother-in-law made off with his savings. With so many subplots and characters, director Lewis Gilbert, who was more famous for his later Bond movies, could’ve made a mess of this one but, armed with his and Vernon Harris’ sharp screenplay and a healthy appreciation for the aesthetic of the genre, he crafts a pitch perfect thriller and towards which, each of the subplots contribute equally. Of course, the cast are critical too and they are to a man/woman bang on form. Even Basehart and Ireland who could often be a little dull encourage much in the way of the audience’s sympathy while Baker provides a stoic force to combat Harvey’s sardonic deceiver. Grahame is a little wasted and her accent is off-putting enough question the wisdom of making her character British at all. It’s not like the film is lacking in that regard as it’s defined by London’s post-war murkiness, so much so, that it stands behind only the likes of Jules Dassin’s Night and the City in terms of quality and effectiveness. And like that little masterpiece, this one also ties up in a neat little package so that the intersection of the multiple subplots coheres poignantly with the spirit of the genre.

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