The Major and the Minor

Ginger Rogers as young Su-Su

The Major and the Minor is an elevator pitch movie selling itself on its title. As to what’s in it for the viewer, quite a lot if you like comedy that rides right into inappropriateness. It’s written by Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett and one of the joys of watching this under-regarded 1942 comedy is looking on as two masters of their craft get into one tight spot after another – sometimes deliberately – and then Houdini-like spring free. Maybe when they first came up with the idea Brackett and Wilder didn’t realise that half-price train travel out of New York in the 1940s applied only to the under-12s. Maybe they thought 16 … Read more

Days of Wine and Roses

Jack Lemmon with drink in hand

You might know the title Days of Wine and Roses from Ernest Dowson’s 1896 poem Vitae Summa Brevis – “They are not long, the days of wine and roses/Out of a misty dream/Our path emerges for a while, then closes/Within a dream”. Or you might know it from Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini’s Oscar-winning theme song to this film, made famous by Andy Williams, whose lines replay Dowson’s sentiments. “The days of wine and roses laugh and run away like a child at play/Through a meadowland towards a closing door… etc”. If you’ve never actually seen the 1962 film that borrows the line for its title, it comes as a shock to discover that … Read more

One, Two, Three

Cagney reprises the grapefruit scene from The Public Enemy in One, Two, Three

  A movie for every day of the year – a good one     13 August   Berlin Wall goes up, 1961 On this day in 1961, Berliners woke up to a Berlin divided by a wall. The capital of Berlin had been partitioned in the aftermath of the Second World War. Like the rest of Germany, but in microcosm, Berlin was parcelled out between the victorious powers – US, UK, USSR and France. However, Berlin was entirely surrounded by Soviet territory, the allies’ parts of Germany being in the west of the country, and the fear amongst Berliners was that all of the city would be swallowed up by the Soviets. … Read more

The Lost Weekend

Ray Milland in The Lost Weekend

  A movie for every day of the year – a good one     10 June   Dr Robert Smith takes his last drink, 1935 On this day in 1935, an alcoholic doctor called Bob Smith took his last drink. He was 56 at the time and had been drinking heavily since he was a college student, checking himself into drying out clinics periodically in an attempt to kick the habit. He had drunk through Prohibition, thanks to his access to medical alcohol and the profusion of bootleggers. And he’d drunk through nearly 20 years of his wife’s attempts to get him to cut down or stop drinking. It was his wife … Read more

Double Indemnity

Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray in Double Indemnity

  A movie for every day of the year – a good one     18 April   Miklós Rózsa born, 1907 On this day in 1907, the celebrated and prolific film composer Miklós Rózsa was born, in Budapest, Hungary. His mother was a pianist and his father was a wealthy industrialist. Young Miklós was performing in public and composing at the age of eight. After studying in Leipzig, Germany, he moved to London, where fellow Hungarian, the producer Alexander Korda gave him his first film to score, 1937’s Knight without Armour. Rózsa went to Hollywood with Korda to work on The Thief of Bagdad, then went on to work on several Billy … Read more