The Golden Age of Hollywood

He was tyrannical, yet intelligent, speaking five languages - all of them badly. His English was mangled to when he wanted a puddle on the set, someone brought him a dog. But he knew how to make films. Ten performers were nominated for their perfomances in Michael Curtiz's films, two of the winning.

Casablanca . . The Adventures of Robin Hood . . Life With Father . .
Mildred Pierce . . Yankee Doodle Dandy . . Dodge City. And many more. Michael Curtiz could make any type film, and turn it into something we'd be watching decades down the line.

What Curtiz films are among your favorites?

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Stephen, I lived for 12 years in the Netherlands. That's where my classic film geekdom really took hold. I experienced the problem whereof you speak, and that's how I got started collecting classic films on DVD, which I generally had to order from the US or get someone to tape for me off the American TCM network. It was the only way I could see the movies I was curious about. I've got somewhere in excess of 800 titles now. They range from the silent era to around 1965, but very few of them are later than 1960. The 1960s films in my collection are only there because they star a Golden Age actor like Katharine Hepburn or Clark Gable.

Sorry to hijack this thread.

Favorite Curtiz movies: Casablanca, We're No Angels, and The Perfect Specimen (Errol Flynn and Joan Blondell, a fun comedy).

Just picked up some memorabilia from We're No Angels this week.  A color 8x10 scene card that has everyone in it.  

A friend and I get together every week and I introduce him to a movie.  Just found out he likes pirate films.  I think this next Sunday is time for The Sea Hawk.

Hijack away!  Interesting to note that most people's Top Five's include Casablanca, a film that doesn't even get into mine.  Not that there's anything wrong with it, it's just that Curtiz made that many good films.  I could probably make a top five with ten films in it.  Is that cheating?  On another week, Casablanca would probably make my top five very easily.  

At one time I was buying both official and unofficial releases by the box full.  Fifty to a hundred films at a time.  I tend to collect all genres, it doesn't matter to me, and I also have an interest in film music from that period.  But what I get from films of the Golden Age is my imagination that I am on the set with the actors and crew.  I'm not so much immersed in the story itself; more immersed in the making of the picture.  That's what I've always loved.  I went to Warner Bros. once, just to stand where Flynn, Cagney and Bogart stood, not to take part in the ridiculously trashy tour that Warners do nowadays where the high point is sitting on the set of Friends.


Casablanca - great film, I was nearly 50 when I saw this for the first time.

White Christmas

Captain Blood - the GOLD standard for swashbuckers.

The Adventures of Robin Hood.

Four of my all time favorites.

Great stuff, Larry - a Top Five with four films in it!  You could count The Adventures of Robin Hood twice, I don't mind.  I think I first saw Casablanca when I was about 14..  As for Captain Blood, it's amazing how fortuitous some people's careers can be.  There's Errol Flynn, struggling to get a decent part in Hollywood, and one drops in his lap from nowhere when Robert Donat cannot do the picture.  

As I mentioned before, Curtiz was skilled in every genre.  I also pointed out that these pictures were not personal or vanity projects, they were pictures assigned to him by his producers.  He was given assignment after assignment, script after script, and he turned out at worst highly skilled and at best utterly sublime films from them.  That's why I love Curtiz so much.  

I have a good number of Curtiz films on DVD.  For example, in the first Errol Flynn boxed set that Warners produced, the first four of the five films were directed by him.  The other was They Died With Their Boots On by Raoul Walsh.  Curtiz worked with great actors like Bette Davis, and got the best out of newbies like Elvis Presley.  He also had a tendency towards the malapropism that essentially gave countless stories and anecdotes to actors such as David Niven.  


Confession: I have never seen Captain Blood. I guess I will have to add it to my "List of Shame" (movies I should know but have never seen).

Indeed, Rosie.  Captain Blood is, for many, the ultimate swashbuckler, although for me it's overtaken by The Adventures of Robin Hood.  At the time, though, before the others were made, audiences were dazzled by Flynn's athleticism throughout the picture, while the producers counted the dollars because of Flynn's sheer magnetism on screen.  Hal Wallis went on record later in his life (in his autobiography, in fact) that he only ever saw that level of charisma twice in his career - once was Errol Flynn, and the other was Elvis Presley.  

By 1935, Curtiz hadn't handled a swashbuckler before, so to see him make Captain Blood, judging the action and the tempo just right, the inspired casting of Flynn & De Havilland, the supporting cast, Korngold's score, it is certainly a film to watch. Cheers!

Have to admit, I prefer The Sea Hawk.



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