The Warner Archive Instant Watch List
I'm a hound for streaming services because that's where so much HD is. Movies known via TV syndication, then VHS, and eventually DVD, are viewable now in glory of High-Def, the trick in locating them that way. Between Netflix, Amazon, Hulu Plus, Vudu, and a handful of others, there's access to hordes of vaulties till now
DESPERATE JOURNEY (1942) --- I tried this on Ann two nights after she enjoyed
WAGON MASTER (1950) --- The John Ford western said to have been a "break" for him between cavalry pics, but seems to me JF was bidding here to make stars of young folk under contract to the director's Argosy Pictures, a venture Ford engaged with producing pal Merian C. Cooper. It had to rankle the old man to know profits were assured only when John Wayne was aboard as lead. Did I say "old man"? Well, that's how everyone referred to Ford from after the war, but he was only 56 when Wagon Master was made. That's younger than me, and I don't regard myself an old man just yet. Being on-set curmudgeon had lots to do with the tag, Ben Johnson and Harry Carey Jr. regarding Ford as Methuselah, as did undoubted others. Could JF launch vital young players in such an old-fashioned western as Wagon Master? Johnson/Carey clicking might have given Argosy assets to stay afloat years longer (as it is, the company folded not long after Wagon Master's release), and Ford/Cooper could at least have loaned their new-mint stars after profitable Selznick example.
|Cooper at left, Ford at Right, But Who's The Guy in the Middle?|
BACK TO BATAAN (1945) --- Here was screen payback for the fall of Bataan and resultant death march, the latter dramatized in flashback that must have got blood boiling on eve of Allied victory (Back To Bataan released 5/45). Atrocity stuff was increasingly discouraged by the OWI as war wound down, a mission to win the peace within sight. In that sense, BtB harked back to Slap The Jap mindset of 1942-43 output. Did we need reminding of what provoked revenge taken here? Never was enemy force mowed down with such gusto; like ninepins they fall. Violence limit was relaxed during WWII --- otherwise, we'd be shocked when a thrown knife penetrates the back of a Japanese officer's neck and comes out the front (cue then-patronage cheers). One stunt that shocks has John Wayne (himself, not a double) blown out of a shell hole. I had to replay that a couple of times to confirm what eyes beheld. Director Edward Dmytryk was said to have appetite for such violence, more than satiated in BtB. The picture was rushed through to keep up with headlines, flashback structure permitting focus on then and (right) now. Dmytryk spoke later to nerve-wracking effect of constant story revision, this a must as dispatches poured in from in-progress liberation of the