Carne, Litvak, Clement

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Francois Truffaut’s 1954 “A Certain Tendency of the French Cinema” really was the atomic bomb of movie reviewing, obliterating an entire artistic landscape in one blast. To this day we are feeling the effects of Truffaut’s diatribe against the directors and screenwriters of the “Tradition of Quality,” to the point where any release of a pre-New Wave French film seems cause for celebration. The Criterion Collection has slipped three of them into the latest volume in their “Essential Art House” series: Marcel Carne’s 1939 “Le Jour se leve,” previously available only as part of the $850 “50 Years of Janus Films” box set, along with two films making their Criterion debut, Anatole Litvak’s 1936 “Mayerling” and Rene Clement’s 1956 “Gervaise.” Three films of various degrees of accomplishment, all well worth examining. A review here in the New York Times.

142 comments to Carne, Litvak, Clement

  • jbryant

    It kills me that of the 270+ episodes of Dragnet that were made in the 50s, only the same handful show up on various public domain DVD releases. I’m thrilled to have them, because they’re great, but I want MORE!

    4 seasons of the 60s iteration of the series are available on hulu.com (50 episodes of The Rifleman over there too!).

  • Gregg Rickman

    Blake, if Truffaut and Godard are the T-Dub and Chickamaw of THIEVES LIKE US, scrapping over the loot, I guess that makes Jacques Demy and Agnes Varda into Bowie and Keechie, “never properly introduced into the world we live in” to quote the Ray version. Which is to say that their reputation was long trapped between the Tradition of Quality authorities and the nouvelle vague rebels… happily this has changed.

    Barry, I did question Milner’s casting, back in the August 2 thread, but thought Mackendrick had handled him very well.

  • Even more Bressonian was Jack Webb’s insistence that his actors read their lines off a teleprompter, even if they preferred to memorize. This was key to creating those sometimes zombiefied performances that Joseph McBride references above.

    I think one reason Webb had such a small, constantly reused repertory company of character actors (Peggy Webber, Harry Bartell, Vic Perrin, Virginia Gregg … significantly, many of them veteran radio actors) in his TV shows is that he only brought back the ones who could adapt to this technique … although most of them were able to slip in a little more “acting” than you’d find in Bresson.

    One of my favorite bits of Webb ephemera is GE TRUE, a “ripped from the headlines” half-hour anthology that Webb exec produced, hosted, and sometimes directed. The segments vary in genre but all are studies in narrative minimalism. One episode is about a mallard duck nesting atop a Milwaukee drawbridge.

    Universal’s decades-long suppression of the original DRAGNET is high on its list of crimes.

  • Jaime

    Count me a Webb fan as well. The ’60s DRAGNET is actually very impressive; if we continue with the Bresson analogy – which is a limited one, I think – then the two DRAGNETs is like A MAN ESCAPED:UN FEMME DOUCE.

    That said, I think a handful of the color DRAGNETs bear a closer resemblance to Hammer horror and the Gordon Hessler schlockfests…while others may be quieter yet have vivid colors and precise lines and gaping, Langian spaces.

    My favorites are the most single-character-intensive: THE BIG KIDNAPPING (featuring Peggy Webber) and THE BIG INTERROGATION (w Kevin McCord, who would star in ADAM-12). But the one that deals with LSD-heads has to be seen to be believed.

  • Jaime

    Speaking of ADAM-12, Webb directed the pilot, which isn’t half bad itself.

  • Jaime, you’re getting into another classic Webbian area of dissonance: the hysterically clueless/right-wing depictions of hippies, druggies, commies, etc., which bear no resemblance to reality but are framed within an austere visual style that’s superficially “realistic.”

    That’s obviously more pronounced in the DRAGNET 67/ADAM-12 era than in the earlier stuff, although I guess it’s an element of THE D.I.

    Webb is fascinating and understudied, and I don’t think anybody has paid any attention at all to the brief directing career of his sort-of protege, William Conrad.

  • jean-pierre coursodon

    dm494: THE SAL MOSCA STORY? I love Mosca’s late forties-early fifties recordings with Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh, but know almost nothing about this Tristano student’s life. What would make him good material for a biopick? Sorry if this is too off topic! Just curious.

  • Jaime

    Stephen, it’s certainly a key reason why I try not to sweat the politics of talented artists.

  • Johan Andreasson

    While on the subject (dare I say on topic) of biopics with a healthy content of jazz, AMERICAN SPLENDOR, chronicling the life and times of autobiographical comics writer and jazz aficionado Harvey Pekar is a movie I like a great deal. Lots of great jazz on the soundtrack, and to quote Pekar: “Ordinary life is pretty complex stuff.”

  • Shawn Stone

    Has anyone seen any episodes of Webb’s TV series version of PETE KELLY’S BLUES? I’d love to see those, just for Connee Boswell.

    Universal only issued that one DVD set of the 1960s DRAGNET, so I guess it didn’t sell well, alas. At least it does include the LSD episode.

  • Wagonmaster The earlier discussion of Wagonmaster reminded me of another Ford film from 1950, Rio Grande, made for Republic, and my favorite of all Ford’s “minor” films. Like minor poetry, minor films are easier to understand, more populist, and have engaging traits like fairy tales or children’s books; they solicit love. Rio Grande is, like Wagonmaster, another strangely intimate film for an epic. It is also historic as the first pairing of Wayne and O’Hara, who have a marvelous chemistry. There is a wonderful moment when the hard-seeming Wayne compares the height of his estranged and now grown son against a mark on his tent canvass, and there is some beautiful dialogue in the “toast” sequence. Elements of the plot anticipate The Searchers and The Horse Soldiers (which also has some great dialogue moments: “I must have been crazy … or too conventional”), and the relationship between Wayne and his son anticipate a similar plot thread in Preminger’s In Harm’s Way. I’m not sure of Rio Grande‘s critical status, but it strikes me as the least recognized of the calvary trilogy.

  • jbryant

    THE BIG INTERROGATION is indeed a good’un. I saw it a while back on Jaime’s recommendation (but it’s KENT McCord, not Kevin).

    Never heard of GE TRUE – sounds fascinating.

    By the way, was there ever an episode of DRAGNET that Webb DIDN’T direct? I don’t think I’ve never seen anyone else credited. That’s a lot of hours of television! No wonder he died relatively young.

  • Johan Andreasson

    D. K., I’m with you on RIO GRANDE. Of course I’m a big fan of The Sons of the Pioneers, so that contributes, but it certainly also has some of the easygoing qualities of WAGON MASTER. Ford was really at a peak in the early 50s, with WAGON MASTER, RIO GRANDE and THE QUIET MAN. THE SUN SHINES BRIGHT, which I still haven’t managed to see follows closely, and from everything I’ve heard about it, it’s also one of Ford’s best.

  • Jaime

    That’s what happens when you try to research cast members & post from an iPhone.

    I like this episode because it is structured around an unseen past event, and it pieces together the events from a potentially unreliable narrator. And if it was the typical DRAGNET perp/witness, i.e. flip or eccentric or nervous or nuts, it wouldn’t have worked as well. In this case it’s a cop, earnest and square and competent… yet the integrity of his personality plays a big part of the script’s drama.

  • Shawn Stone

    I haven’t seen THE SUN SHINES BRIGHT in 15 or so years, but I remember it as being a subversive reworking of JUDGE PRIEST and the Cobb stories, in that the only non-deluded character, the only voice of reason, is played by Stepin Fetchit. Where Will Rogers was slyly in control in PRIEST, Charles Winneger’s Priest is kinda lost.

  • Tony Wiliams

    Shawn, That is exactly the point made by one of my graduate students when he delivered a presentation on the film to my undergraduate class. As a Southerner, he was very conscious of these cultural references and nuances and the students really loved his expert knowledge.

  • Blake Lucas

    D.K. Holm, why do you say “minor” for RIO GRANDE? Why do you assume it automatically falls in that category? Can’t everyone have their own opinion of how it rates. I say that because it is my favorite of the cavalry trilogy (though just barely over YELLOW RIBBON, I will acknowledge) and you’ve actually said some of the reasons for this.

    Although RIO GRANDE immediately follows WAGON MASTER and again uses Stan Jones’ song writing and the Sons of the Pioneers, it’s important to note that they are used differently. In the first film, they are more of a formal aesthetic element, used as an chorus to do a musical narration for the film. On screen singing is done especially memorably by Ben Johnson and Harry Carey, Jr. when the pair decide to join the wagon train, one of my favorite moments. RIO GRANDE is not a narrative that called for this same thing (though I guess it could have had it, there would have been good reason for it–it calls for a use of music not dissmilar to the previous two films in the cavalry trilogy). But I think Ford was just really enamored of both Jones and the Sons of the Pioneers so found a way to use them again–he simply makes the group into the Regimental Singers and they do songs within the film playing those roles, providing some of its most memorable moments, notably “I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen” and the no less piercing “My Gal is Purple.”

    I think it can be argued Ford was consistently at his best in 1950-1956. Practically all these films are especially good (I won’t say “great” or “masterpieces” in deference to Michael Dempsey) with the exception of WHAT PRICE GLORY and MISTER ROBERTS, with Ford’s participation in the latter limited to only part of that film.

    I cannot agree about THE SUN SHINES BRIGHT, as I see the older Judge Priest as an uncommon moral force, inded a visionary one, in the way he unites the town and lifts them above intolerance, looking toward a brighter summer day. But Jeff too is knowing, and assures that the judge (actually “we” as he rightly puts it) wins the election by reminding him to vote for himself. An appealing character in JUDGE PRIEST, Jeff has become a deeper and richer one in this film.

  • Blake Lucas

    Re music in WAGON WASTER and RIO GRANDE, of course I did mean to say “…there would have been no good reason for it” as regards the same kind of music for the second film.

  • I say “minor” because the film doesn’t seem to have acquired much critical commentary, except maybe in an old issue of The Velvet Light Trap, and seems lighter in tone than, say, the “important” The Fugitive or Grapes of Wrath. But the film is major to me. I neglected to mention the Ben Johnson connection between Wagonmaster and Rio Grande; he is of course superb in both films, and in Rio Grande he is a something of a new version of the Ringo Kid, who this time John Wayne himself lets escape.

  • Jaime

    What about Ford’s Dan Dailey war comedy, WHEN WILLIE COMES MARCHING HOME?

    I liked it, personally, but I wouldn’t get heartburn if someone called it minor, as long as they said so warmly. It’s damn weird, an inverse HAIL THE CONQUERING HERO by way of 13 RUE MADELEINE.

  • Alex Hicks

    I don’t think lots of big close up make Webb Bressonian. In one case the shots are at theservice of emphatic self assertion, in the other the evocation of spirtual life.

    I bet enjoyment of “Rio Grande” varies directly with enjoyment of The Sons of the Pioneers. (I doubt that my indifference to the former and annnoyance at the latter are unique.)

    An inversion of “HAIL THE CONQUERING HERO by way of 13 RUE MADELEINE”! Gotta see WHEN WILLIE COMES MARCHING HOME, ASAP!

  • dm494

    Jean-Pierre, I’m not very familiar with Mosca’s life but I don’t think there was much in it that would qualify as conventionally dramatic. It’s the perversity of making a biopic about someone whose life was uneventful and ascetically devoted to music which I find appealing, and if a film can be made about Glen Gould, why not one about Sal Mosca? I do know that Mosca largely gave up performing and recording (which explains his disappearance after the fifties) because those activities interfered with his practicing routine, and that he took to teaching instead to support himself. He also became so far removed from the jazz scene that when he had to hire a drummer for the great 1976 Sarah Lawrence concert featuring himself and Warne Marsh, he initially proposed Shadow Wilson, unaware that Wilson had been dead for sixteen years. (Eventually Mosca and Marsh settled on Roy Haynes.) And when, at the end of his life, he started playing the piano again after a four-year post-surgery depression throughout which he didn’t touch the instrument, he downplayed his withdrawal from music to a reporter, informing him that “I was only away from music physically”–meaning that he had continued to improvise on chord progressions in his head.

  • Blake Lucas

    Jaime, to be honest, the one film in the 1950-1956 sequence I momentarily forgot about was that first one of 1950, WHEN WILLIE COMES MARCHING HOME. But although I wouldn’t put in the same level as the outstanding ones through the period, it is a wonderful comedy, and way better than WHAT PRICE GLORY or MISTER ROBERTS so don’t need to modify what I said too much. I think WILLIE compares well to any Preston Sturges including HAIL THE CONQUERING HERO–which I know is high praise–in the same way THE WHOLE TOWN’S TALKING compares well with any Capra film of the 30s, meaning it’s their territory more than Ford’s but he does such a beautiful job it doesn’t even matter. There’s an very good article on WILLIE by Gregg Rickman in the Ford issue of FIPRESCI (tried to go get the link and lost the first version of this post in the process).

    dm494, thanks for clarifying re RIO GRANDE. You are right, it hasn’t a lot of critical commentary yet relative to some of the other films. Hopefully, that will change, and I’m sure it will.

    I enjoyed reading about Sal Mosca, who I knew nothing about other than his playing with Tristano. It was very interesting to hear about hiring that drummer and ending up with Roy Haynes (one of the all-time greats) after learning Shadow Wilson was dead, because it was Haynes who replaced Wilson in Thelonious Monk’s quartet in 1958, making up the still underrated group of Monk, Johnny Griffin, Haynes and Ahmad Abdul-Malik. OK, I love that group, so just took the opportunity to arbitrarily mention it, but I’m sure there was a night somewhere along the line when I saw RIO GRANDE and then put on MISTERIOSO.

  • Blake Lucas

    I meant UNDERCURRENT, the online magazine of FIPRESCI. This is the current issue, which Dave mentioned awhile ago.

  • Johan Andreasson

    I’m beginning to feel like a broken record on this very musical thread, but yes, WHEN WILLIE COMES MARCHING HOME is also a delightful, easygoing film from this creative peak in Ford’s career. And as Greg Rickman points out in his article in Undercurrent it is very funny while also having a wistful feeling using nostalgic and (to me at least) very American music. It’s been a while since I saw it, but as I remember it there’s almost like a musical number with a band in the beginning of the film. And also, like Sturges, there’s the parades and the cheering for the homecoming “hero”.

  • Stephen Bowie

    None of you guys are going to have anything left to say about Ford when the “official” WAGONMASTER post comes along this weekend!

  • Gregg Rickman

    The link to the Ford section of Undercurrent is http://www.fipresci.org/undercurrent/issue_0509/ford_intro.htm
    Many outstanding pieces there, including this site contributors Blake Lucas on THE INFORMER, and Jean-Pierre Coursodon on JUDGE PRIEST. (Also my piece on WILLIE — my second choice as to what to write about; THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE was already taken.) No one took RIO GRANDE, and as I’ve suggested to Chris Fujiwara there’s room for another special section.

  • Blake Lucas

    D.K., sorry for the momentary confusion with dm494, who I was including in the response. And sorry for garbling Mosca’s identity as a fellow pianist and student to Tristano; of course, it’s his playing with Konitz (and Marsh) that I know. I associate all these people with Tristano so closely that I misspoke.

    Stephen, there is plenty more to say about WAGON MASTER. I for one am anxious to read Dave’s piece as stimulus to further discussion that we all know it will be.

  • Joseph McBride

    While RIO GRANDE contains many fine passages, its retro
    view of Indians as marauding savages (akin to those in DRUMS ALONG THE MOHAWK) is distressing, as is the film’s justification of violating international law. It is strange that only two years after making FORT APACHE, in which the Apaches not only win but are in the right, and in the same year he made WAGON MASTER, in which the Navajos surprise the white members of the wagon train by turning out to be warm and friendly, Ford would veer in the opposite direction in his depiction of Native Americans in RIO GRANDE. He did this again in SERGEANT RUTLEDGE, which, for all its virtues in dealing with the black troopers’ freedom and dignity, partly defines black manhood as the willingness to kill Indians for the white man. One of the most profound observations on Ford, the one that I think helps answer this question about how he could express such conflicting views of Native Americans from film to film, was expressed to me by a Navajo woman named Lillian Bradley Smith, who watched the filming of some of his movies in Monument Valley. Her father was Lee Bradley, Ford’s interpreter and righthand man in Monument Valley (Lee considered himself like a brother to Ford because Lee’s grandfather was an Irish member of the US Cavalry). When I asked Mrs. Smith her view of the authenticity of Ford’s Westerns, she said, “There was always a part that did not fit in right, and there were other parts that fit
    in. They would bring down costumes from Hollywood that were not really authentic but served their purposes. I’m pretty sure Ford tried to make the films true to life. It all depends who the scriptwriter was; whoever wrote the script was important. We see American movies and sometimes we don’t understand what is happening, what they’re about.” FORT APACHE was written by the liberal Frank Nugent, who wrote WAGON MASTER with Ford’s son Patrick. But the archconservative James Kevin McGuinness, one of the leaders of the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals, wrote RIO GRANDE (and died shortly thereafter). Mrs. Smith is right that “whoever wrote the script was important.” Ford is also responsible because he chose the writers to fit the mood he was in when he made the films. Richard Slotkin considers RIO GRANDE a “Cold War Western”; it is an allegory of the Korean War. The “Red Indians” stand in for the “Reds.” Even the Production Code Administration criticized McGuinness’s script for its blatant racism. Some of that was omitted from the film, but not enough.

  • Johan Andreasson

    Joseph, I can’t say anything against your political analysis of RIO GRANDE, so I guess I’ll just have to quote Jaime on Jack Webb: “… it’s certainly a key reason why I try not to sweat the politics of talented artists.”

    But then again with John Ford no matter what your poltical convictions are, you could find the Ford movie to support it. For me it would be THE GRAPES OF WRATH. An excellant movie in all other departments too, by the way.

  • Alex Hicks

    Johan Andreasson,I’d ALMOST agree that THE GRAPES OF WRATH is “An excellant movie in all other departments” — “almost” because I’ve always found its shifts between location and studio settings inadvertently jarring, indeed, some of the studio-shot scenes like the Tom Joad;’s first encounter with the John Carradine character utterly incongruous in their artificiality, especially in contrast with the magnificent documentary sharpness of the location scences, notably the film’s highway and truck stop opening, shot by a Toland as if he were channelling the visions of Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans and the several other great Depression still photographers. Also, Ford lapses from time to time into an almost maudlin sentimentality (e.g., with Ma Joad) quite untrue to Steinbeck of “Wrath.”

    On RIO GRANDE, between, its excessive intrusions of the wretchedly anachronuistic Sons of the Pioneers and its use of Indians as “Reds’ in cold War alleegory, I’d return RIO GRANDE to the safe haven of “minor Ford” where its typically been left. Such classification averts discussion of Ford’s rare aesthetic lapses, as well as of his occasional political excesses (hardly irrelevant to one’s appreciation of an already thin and spotty film).

    On another note, according to Manohla Dargis, writing on Resnais’ WILD GRASS in today’s New York times, Godard ONCE said of Mr. Resnais that he, “more than anyone else, gives the impression that he started completely from zero.”

    Does anyone have an idea what Godard meant?

  • Junko Yasutani

    ‘ Jazz has about as much currency in popular culture now as Renaissance music or Gregorian Chants.’

    Yes Blake, jaz is become classic art form. My friend has visited exhibit called The Jazz Century at Musee du quai Branly (same exhibit is in Barcelona now)having 1000 items about jazz, album cover, book, movie, photograph, sheet music and contemporary performance. She has told me that exhibit is including jazz painting by Stuart Davis, Clyfford Sill, Jackson Pollack (who listened to jazz record while painting), Larry Rivers (who played in amateur jazz ensemble), also jazz writing (not about jazz but in style of jazz)by Amiri Baraka, Ted Joans, Jack Kerouac, Ray Bremser, Lenore Kendall.

    In Japan amateur jazz ensemble is popular. There is jazz show on Far Eastern Armed Services Radio from America one show late at night, also on Japanese radio.

    When I have visited America I have heard free jazz show at museum, library and in Los Angeles at The Lighthouse by beach on Sunday morning. I think jazz is like Noh drama now, small group understands and appreciates, too difficult for general public now because tatse has changed.

  • Barry Putterman

    Ford lapsing into maudlin sentimentality? How could that possibly be?!

    It might be well to point out here that while there were quite a number of race relations westerns in the 50s where the Indians stood in for contemporary minority groups, there were also a number of Cold War westerns where the Reds were Reds. Particularly fascinating to me is one called ARROWHEAD made by Charles Marquis Warren that had Charlton Heston basically playing Whitaker Chambers.. I would also point to a Gordon Douglas 3-D extravaganza, THE CHARGE AT FEATHER RIVER, as a vital link between RIO GRANDE and THE SEARCHERS.

    Alex, my guess is that Godard meant that Resnais approached cinema as if nobody, including the Lumiere brothers, had existed before him

  • Alex Hicks

    Barry,

    Sounds like a good guess on Godard on Resnais (if an iffy charactwerization of Resnais by Godard).

    Thank God that Whitaker Chambers never was confronted with Charlton Heston playing him in a literal filming of WITNESS. Chambers (as it turns out) was a very straight shooter. Every once in a while Buckley would allow him to clean some decks at THE NATIONAL REVIEW, as with his definitive pan of ATLAS SHRUGGED, available at , and Chambers might have responded with a wonderful pan.

  • Barry Putterman

    Alex, it was Chambers’ unlimited self-hatred and almost apocalyptic pessimism as a result of having first been on “the other side” that made me think of him in relation to Heston in ARROWHEAD. No matter what anybody thinks of his politics, the man was no phony.

  • Godard once said something similar about Nick Ray, that his movies gave the impression that he could have invented the cinema from scratch.

    I personally love the alternation between expressionistic, studio-shot scenes with location photography in Grapes of Wrath. I always thought it was a purposeful equivalent to the alternation between the narrative and more “journalistic” modes of Steinbeck’s novel.

  • Joseph McBride

    I’ve pondered for a long time Jane Darwell’s performance in GRAPES and can find little to fault it. Aside from an occasional line reading that seems too studied, she seems authentic in the role of the stalwart, impoverished woman struggling to hold her family together, and some of her facial expressions and moments of behavior are deeply moving. Philip Dunne said her performance seriously hurts the movie and wished that Louise Dresser had played Ma Joad instead. I don’t see that. Beulah Bondi was considered and of course would have been fine, but so is Darwell. Among the most powerful scenes in Ford are Ma dancing with Tom and her farewell scene with Tom. I also very much like her silent shot as she wearily stares at California from the side of the truck after she has kept the grandmother’s death secret so they could cross the state line. It’s a low-angle shot that gives her great stature as the head of the family.

  • Blake Lucas

    It’s my understanding that Bondi was Ford’s original choice but his own opinion of Darwell’s performance seems to be validated by the fact that after GRAPES he made her a member of his stock company and she appears in many of his later movies. I don’t think he did that with actors who disappointed him. But once you were there, you were as good as gold for him. That’s good with me–I think she’s fine as Ma. I wish she hadn’t been saddled with that Zanuck-dictated ending, which does mar the movie and even is somewhat contadictory to the previous scene and Tom’s speech. It should have ended with that long shot of the horizon and a silhouetted Tom moving left to right on his journey, and I know I’m far from the first to feel this way.

  • Johan Andreasson

    Well, I can’t imagine Zanuck being a socialist, and I know for sure that Frank Capra wasn’t. But I actually think Zanuck showed good judgment with the ending of GRAPES, and I also think this is the way Capra would have ended this movie had he been a socialist. Anyway, Grand Illusion or not, I WANT to leave GRAPES feeling that “We’ll go on forever … ‘cause we’re the people.” So I’m fine with the ending.

  • Jonah

    “Jack Webb is an auteur. Mike Wilmington observed that his visual style is strange and paradoxical because it consists of huge screaming closeups (in the Hitchcockian sense) of people who have little affect and speak laconically. There’s an odd disconnect between the visuals and the behavior. Not unlike Bresson?”

    The Bresson/Webb connection has been made by a few critics, including Thom Anderson in his LOS ANGELES PLAYS ITSELF. Webb’s feature film work looks quite different from his TV work to me. There are many ambitious ‘Scope framings, and in each film there are some flashy, almost Fuller-esque crazy angles and jarring montage.

    By the way, Webb was an early proponent of (and investor in) TelePrompTer, and much of DRAGNET (the TV show) was shot with actors simply reading their lines off of a screen. That partly explains the low-affect acting style as well as the abundance of big singles.

  • Jonah

    Whoops, I see Stephen Bowie beat me to the TelePrompTer tidbit. Sorry for the redundancy!

  • alex hicks

    Although I do think Jane Darwell’s performance in GRAPES a bit much, this just amount to a quibble.

    What I think more harmful to GRAPES is the little-commented inconsistency of some of the scenes that were obviously shot on studio sets (Tom Joad first long scene with casy in particular) and the astonishingly effective realism most of the film (the on location scences in particular). The artificality of the studio-shot scene at the start of the fiim I set off seems to me very dissonant and, indeed, without merits’ (I’ve sufered trough it a dozen times.) Whether this amount to much more than quibbling, I’m not sure. I like the film very much; and I am inclined to think it’s a great film, though not so unfailingly and incontrovertably as THE SEARCHERS and (for me at least) THE QUIET MAN.

    Looking forward to what people think of WAGONMASTER, to which I’ve never seen cause for very strong praise or grumbling of any sort.