The Gerbil's Movie Reviews and Recommendations

The Mighty Gerbil

Tribe of Judah TF 2 Chapter Leader & CGA Admin
Staff member
In response to the seeming lack of interest of today's youth in things that are more than 50 years old I have started this thread. Here I shall post some reviews/recommendations of true classic movies I've watched. Movies that should be watched by everyone at least once in their life (although I may cover a couple marginal and/or modern movies later). Feel free to give opinions/reviews of the movies I pick if your brain isn't decayed by CGI. As a supplement here is a link to my free old movie thread ,however , unlike those movies the ones here are Netflix rentals so they will probably be of a higher caliber.

Without Further Ado my first review...

Mr. Deeds goes to Town (1936)

When a small-town tuba player (Gary Cooper) lands a $20 million inheritance and moves to the big city, the sharks begin to circle. Jean Arthur is the sassy reporter who'll do anything for a scoop on Deeds -- until she falls for him. Director Frank Capra (It's a Wonderful Life) delivers a heartfelt romantic allegory about daring to stand for principles in the face of greed and malice.

Been done before? Not in 1936. This the first time and certainly any remake after pales in comparison. Actors of that era were known for their personalities. Gary Cooper plays his part in his own distinctively earnest and wonderful way which no modern actor could match. Jean Arthur with her distinctive voice and ability to emote believably is equally outstanding. It's fun watching the subtleties of her face alone. The dialog is fast and clever too so you won't find yourself in any boring moments, after shaking a shady lawyer's hand Mr. Deeds comments "even his hands are oily". As this is a depression era film you can expect the prerequisite happy uplifting ending, but, since when is that a bad thing? Director Frank Capra's movies often feature honest, likable, little guys, and many have become classic movies, this in one of them.

Possible Positive and/or Objectable Content: Mr. Deeds punches a couple people (all of which needed it IMO). Mr. Deeds in his innocence's gets drunk, but, later repents. One reporter mumbles something under his breath, then when asked by his boss what it was he replies "I said you have dirty plaster". Many people lie or attempt to deceive Mr. Deeds, but, all either repent or are thwarted.

If you liked this film a similar film is "Mr. Smith goes to Washington" (1939) with Jimmy Stewart and Jean Arthur, which is perhaps even better. Both films remain as relevant and riveting today as then.

I give it 9 out of 10 Gerbil paws up!
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The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
This 1938 swashbuckler, which won Academy Awards for Best Film Editing, Best Interior Decoration and Best Original Score, stars Errol Flynn as Robin Hood, champion of the poor and disenfranchised. Robin Hood goes up against his worst enemy, Sir Guy of Gisbourne (Basil Rathbone), a cold-hearted royal who's after the woman Robin Hood loves, Maid Marian (Olivia de Havilland).

What is the point of any remakes of Robin Hood after this classic? The "swashbuckler" genre was blazed with Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and with Errol Flynn reaches it's epitome in this film. To make a film with a group of "Merry Men" in (glorious) Technicolor leotards would be impossible today and yet you are enthralled with every minute of it here. When this movie debuted I imagine archery sets selling out, scores of children carrying things around on their shoulders only to drop them unceremoniously on tables and no backyard tree must have remained unclimbed :) The film hides some very real skill as well. Every time an arrow hits a person it's really being fired by archery legend Howard Hill into a metal plate on their chest. Think the arrow's sound is fake? Nope. The sound Howard Hill's special custom arrows made was recorded to become a stock sound effect for countless films. Think no one can split a arrow? Hill could (although the arrow in the film is split via special effect because it did not look right on film when he did it). It's true the staff fighting scene could have been a tiny bit better and there was a bent sword at one point but overall the fencing scenes are superb and were choreographed by expert Fred Cavens (the classic fencing shadows trick is wonderful). It's not all action either. The supporting character actors are likeable and the romance has both chemistry and believability which gives a depth that isn't always present in pure action films. If there is anything bad about Robin Hood it's the fact that it only reminds us we will probably never see anything like this legend made again.

Possible Positive/Objectable content: Robin Hood does a bit of practical joking around, but, everyone becomes friends afterwards. People die and Robin is technically outside the law, but, it is all clearly placed within a justifiable moral reasoning.

I give it 10 out of 10 gerbil paws up! Do your merry men need a gerbil Robin?

Lifeboat (1944)
Using a story by John Steinbeck as inspiration, Alfred Hitchcock stages a gripping World War II drama by cramming eight survivors of a German torpedo attack into the hull of a tiny lifeboat -- among them, a magazine writer (Tallulah Bankhead), a radio operator (Hume Cronyn) and a crazy woman (Heather Angel) clutching the corpse of her dead baby. But the real trouble starts when one of the survivors (Walter Slezak) reveals he's a Nazi.

While it not as widely known as some of Hitchcock's other works it is one of his better ones. With it's deft characterization and Hitchcock's masterful camerawork you will never notice that the story never leaves the confines of the 40 foot lifeboat. None of the characters are underdeveloped with each serving an important purpose to the plotline. Hitchcock even managed to cleverly work in his trademark cameo so look for it for a laugh. The only flaws come as a few logical "why didn't they / what a coincidence" questions, but, all the other films in existence suffer from that anyway. It is interesting to note that the reason this film failed to become a big box office success was due to some reviews that said it made the Nazi appear too amiable. Considering the film's content actress Tallulah Bankhead was right when she called the reviewers "morons". The Nazi in this film is insidiously evil.

Possible Positive/Objectable content: Some smoking and alcohol use. A very ambiguous discussion about an affair occurs. Overall the film's morality could be interpreted by those who don't think about it as "all Germans are bad". Clearly this isn't the case as one of the "good guys" is of German ancestry. I'd say the film is really against Nazism not Germans, but, that wouldn't have covered World War One. If I could of added anything to the movie it would have been a line in reference to the evil German that said "we weren't wrong to try and save him, but, you can't save everyone, some people just won't have it". That line would have made the movie's morality a bit clearer. As it is the person who made a Christian reference at the beginning of the film is at the end a bit hate filled. Overall the film is engrossing and could provide an interesting moral discussion, however, people do die in it (in very emotional ways) so it is not for the very young.

I give it 8 out of 10 gerbil paws up!
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