Confirm or Deny (1941)

confirmordeny_2Starring Don Ameche, Joan Bennett, Roddy McDowall, John Loder, Raymond Walburn, Arthur Shields, Eric Blore, Helene Reynolds, Roseanne Murray, Stuart Robertson, Queenie Leonard, Jean Prescott, Billy Bevan

Directed by Archie Mayo

Expectations: Moderate.

threestar


Confirm or Deny is an interesting film because it’s so unique. It’s hard to classify as it’s kind of a thriller, it’s kind of romantic, and it also has an almost fly-on-the-wall, documentary-like feel in its depiction of the war correspondents working in London during The Blitz, a series of Nazi air raids on British cities during World War II. These air raids happened from September 1940 to May 1941, so with a release date in December 1941, Confirm or Deny was also quite the topical film.

The original draft of the story was written by Sam Fuller and star journalist Hank Wales (who, according to Fuller, was the basis for the Hitchcock film Foreign Correspondent). The two newsmen caught wind of the Associated Press offices getting bombed during the Battle of Britain, so they decided to write a film about newsmen doing everything in their power to get the news out despite these incredible, extraordinary circumstances. The finished film reflects a lot of this general feeling, although like all of Fuller’s early scripts, the studio heavily re-wrote Confirm or Deny to fit their desires more closely. I’m guessing they added the romantic angle, as it really doesn’t fit at all, nor is it very believable or romantic.

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Swing Time (1936)

swingtime_5Starring Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Victor Moore, Helen Broderick, Eric Blore, Betty Furness, Georges Metaxa

Directed by George Stevens

Expectations: Very high.

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In the case of Swing Time, it would be very appropriate to say, “They just don’t make them like that anymore.” This common phrase is often clouded in rampant nostalgia, but here it is a true statement; they simply don’t make films like this anymore. Films this charming have gone the way of the dodo long ago, but what’s interesting is that the base structure of the plot is still thriving in today’s romantic comedies. Apparently, they do still make some movies kinda like this, but just without all the parts that make Swing Time stand out and dance its way around the crowd of other similarly plotted films.

Swing Time opens as Lucky Garnett (Fred Astaire) has decided to leave show business to settle down and get married. He talked his troupe into performing in his hometown, and apparently he got nostalgic and wanted to re-root himself there. Lucky’s performing buddies don’t think too much of the idea, though, so they do everything they can to thwart his attempts at leaving them. It works, and it sets in motion the main plot of the film, causing Lucky to eventually meet up with the beautiful dance instructor Penny Carroll (Ginger Rogers).

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