Underneath this Veronica Lake–Alan Ladd thriller (1946) lies Raymond Chandler‘s only original screenplay—a suitably hard-nosed affair about a war vet whose homecoming coincides with the murder of his unfaithful wife. Though it has the Chandler flavor and occasionally captures the feel of his sunbaked Los Angeles, the film falters under the uncertain, visually uninventive direction of George Marshall—wildly miscast here, when any vaguely sympathetic hack from Stuart Heisler to Frank Tuttle would have been just fine. With William Bendix and Howard da Silva.
A wide-open San Francisco, circa 1890, is the background for one of Howard Hawks‘s intelligent love triangles: Miriam Hopkins is a mail-order bride whose husband-to-be is killed on the night of her arrival; gambler Edward G. Robinson offers her protection, drifter Joel McCrea offers her solace. A boisterous film with a serious undertone provided by Hawks’s preoccupation with the moral compromise necessary for survival. Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur scripted (1935).
This late film (1964) by John Ford came more from the head than the heart: it tries to do for the Cheyenne tribe’s forced migration from Oklahoma to Wyoming what The Grapes of Wrath did for the Okies’ drive west, and the social message squeezes out the drama. The movie is no disgrace, but it has the feeling of a forced march itself. Ford returns to the Tombstone of My Darling Clementine for another look at Wyatt Earp, now played by James Stewart in a strange, satirical turn. You can feel the Fordian myths beginning to crumble, but they wouldn’t collapse until 7 Women (1966)—Ford’s final and most bitter film. With Richard Widmark, Carroll Baker, and Karl Malden. 145 min.