Mutiny on the Bounty

  • Directors: Frank Lloyd
  • Producers: Irving Thalberg
  • Writers: Novel, Charles Nordhoff, James Norman Hall, Screenplay, Talbot Jennings, Jules Furthman, Carey Wilson
  • Genres: Adventure, Drama, History
  • Actors: Charles Laughton, Clark Gable, Franchot Tone, Movita, Mamo

The movie chronicles the real-life mutiny aboard the Bounty led by Fletcher Christian (Clark Gable) against the ship’s captain, William Bligh (Charles Laughton). Like the novel, it portrays Captain Bligh as an abusive villain whose cruelty towards the crew and most of the officers leads Christian to mutiny. When Bligh is cast on to a lifeboat with others that want to join him, Ensign Byam (Franchot Tone) tries to stop the mutiny, but fails. Byam and Christian, friends at the beginning of the movie are now not even speaking to each other. Christian leads the Bounty to [Tahiti] where the remaining crew live for many years. But Bligh has made it back to England and takes a ship to Tahiti. Byam sees the ship and decides to return to England while Christian with next to the whole crew sail with the natives and find another island to live on. When Byam goes on the ship (unaware Bligh is captain of the ship) is taken captive, for Bligh believes he had something to do with the mutiny.

Back in England Byam is tried and he is found guilty. Byam then tells of the cruelty in the ship. Christian has found an island that he can not land on. So he plans on ramming the Bounty into the island and then burning the Bounty. He lands on the island with the crew and burns the Bounty. Back in England Byam is found not guilty and is able to serve under Bligh again.

Spartacus

  • Directors: Stanley Kubrick
  • Producers: Kirk Douglas
  • Writers: Howard Fast, Dalton Trumbo
  • Genres: Action, Adventure, Biography, Drama, History, Romance
  • Actors: Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Peter Ustinov, John Gavin, Jean Simmons, Charles Laughton, Tony Curtis

The film begins with slaves working in the Roman province of Libya. Spartacus (Kirk Douglas), a burly Thracian, comes to the aid of an old man who has fallen down. A Roman soldier whips Spartacus and tells him to get back to work, only to be attacked and bitten on the ankle. For this, Spartacus is tied up and sentenced to death by starvation. Lentulus Batiatus (Peter Ustinov), a lanista (an impresario of gladiatorial games), arrives looking for recruits for his gladiatorial establishment. He inspects several slaves before finally settling on Spartacus, recognizing his unbroken spirit, along with his good health and physical condition. Batiatus purchases Spartacus and several others, then sails for Capua where his gladiatorial training camp is located. The trainer, Marcellus (Charles McGraw), immediately tries to provoke Spartacus into giving the trainer a reason to kill the Thracian as an example. Spartacus also befriends another gladiator, Crixus (John Ireland).

After several scenes showing gladiator training and life at the school, Crassus (Laurence Olivier) arrives with some companions, wishing to be entertained by watching two pairs of gladiators fight to the death. Spartacus is selected along with Crixus, an Ethiopian named Draba (Woody Strode), and another gladiator named Galino. During the first fight, Crixus and Galino are the first to fight, in which Crixus slays Galino. Next, Spartacus duels Draba and is defeated. Draba, however refuses to kill him, instead throwing his trident into the elevated spectators’ box and leaping to attack the Romans. Crassus quickly dispatches the slave and prepares to depart. As he leaves, he purchases the pretty slave woman from Britiannia, Varinia (Jean Simmons), whom Batiatus has assigned to Spartacus. Spartacus and Varinia have fallen in love, and in frustration at his loss and the overseer’s callous treatment, Spartacus begins a successful uprising. The gladiators eventually take Capua and all the surrounding districts. Many local slaves flock to the insurgents. Spartacus outlines his plan to escape by sea, aboard the ships of the Cilician pirates, who he plans to pay from the slaves’ plunder.

Batiatus and Varinia leave for Gaul via the Appian Way and find Spartacus hanging on the last cross by the road, not quite dead. Varinia shows Spartacus their newborn son, vowing that he will grow up a free man, promises to tell her son, “Who his father was, and what he dreamed of,” and bids Spartacus a final farewell. With one last breath, Spartacus’s head slumps back, and Varinia gets back onto the wagon and rides on.

The Big Clock

  • Directors: John Farrow
  • Producers: John Farrow, Richard Maibaum
  • Writers: Story, Kenneth Fearing, Screenplay, Jonathan Latimer
  • Genres: Crime, Drama, Film-Noir, Mystery, Thriller
  • Actors: Ray Milland, Charles Laughton, Maureen O Sullivan, Harry Morgan

The story is told in flashback. When it begins, George Stroud (Milland) is shown hiding from the police behind the “big clock” ― the largest and most sophisticated one ever built, which dominates the lobby of the giant publishing company where he works.

Stroud, a crime magazine’s crusading editor who is eager to spend more time with his wife, plans a long-postponed vacation from his job. Instead of meeting his wife at the train station, however, Stroud is preoccupied by an offer by his boss. He begins drinking and spends the evening out on the town with a glamorous blonde. She is later murdered and Stroud is assigned by his Hearst-like publishing boss Janoth (Laughton) to find the killer.

While investigating, Stroud tries to keep the facts of his night with the woman a secret because witnesses could recognize him. As the investigation proceeds to its conclusion, Stroud must try to disrupt his ordinarily brilliant investigative team as they increasingly build evidence (albeit wrong) that he is the killer.

The Night of the Hunter

  • Directors: Charles Laughton
  • Producers: Paul Gregory
  • Writers: Davis Grubb, James Agee, Charles Laughton
  • Genres: Drama, Film-Noir, Thriller
  • Actors: Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, Lillian Gish

The film is set in West Virginia, along the Ohio River. The story takes place in the 1930s.

Ben Harper (Graves) is sentenced to hang for his part in a robbery in which two men were killed. Before he is caught he hides the stolen money, trusting only his children John (Chapin) and Pearl (Bruce)—about ten and five years old, respectively—with the money’s location. Harry Powell (Mitchum), a serial killer and self-appointed preacher with the word “LOVE” tattooed on the knuckles of his right hand and “HATE” on the knuckles of his left, shares a prison cell with Harper. He tries to get Harper to tell him the hiding place before his execution, but the only clue he gets is a Biblical quotation Harper mutters in his sleep: “And a child shall lead them.”

Convinced that Harper told his children the secret, Powell woos and marries Harper’s widow, Willa (Winters). Willa is unaware of Powell’s motives and is convinced that her marriage will lead to her salvation. Powell questions the children about the money whenever they are alone, but they distrust him and reveal nothing. John especially is suspicious and protective of his sister. One night Willa overhears her husband questioning the children and she realizes the truth. As she lies in bed that night in their attic bedroom with rafters reminiscent of the interior of a church, Powell leans over her and slits her throat.

Powell disposes her body in the lake. Powell finally learns the money’s location from Pearl by threatening John, but the children escape with the money and find sanctuary with Rachel Cooper (Gish). Powell eventually finds them, but Rachel sees through his false persona. After a climactic standoff between Rachel and Powell where she protects the children with a shotgun but sings hymns through the night with Powell, he is arrested by the police.

Witness for the Prosecution

  • Directors: Billy Wilder
  • Producers: Arthur Hornblow Jr
  • Writers: Agatha Christie, Larry Marcus, Billy Wilder, Harry Kurnitz
  • Genres: Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller
  • Actors: Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich, Charles Laughton

Sir Wilfred Robarts (Charles Laughton), a master barrister in ill health, takes Leonard Vole (Tyrone Power) on as a client, over the protestations of his private nurse, Miss Plimsoll (Elsa Lanchester), that the doctor had told him to stay away from criminal cases. Vole is accused of murdering Mrs. French (Norma Varden), a rich, older woman who had become enamored of him, going so far as to make him the main beneficiary of her will. Strong circumstantial evidence all points to Vole as the killer.

When Sir Wilfred speaks with Vole’s German wife Christine (Marlene Dietrich), he finds her rather cold and self-possessed, but she does provide an alibi. Therefore, he is greatly surprised when she is called as a witness for the prosecution. While a wife cannot testify against her husband, it is shown that Christine was in fact still married to another man when she wed Leonard. She testifies that Leonard admitted to her that he had killed Mrs. French, and that her conscience forced her to finally tell the truth.

During the trial (in the Old Bailey, carefully recreated by Alexandre Trauner), Sir Wilfred is contacted by a mysterious woman, who (for a fee) provides him with letters written by Christine to a mysterious lover named Max. This correspondence gives her such a strong motive to lie that the jury finds Leonard not guilty.

Leonard appears and, now protected by double jeopardy, nonchalantly confirms what Christine had said. A young woman (Ruta Lee) then rushes into his arms. When he admits that they are going away together, Christine kills him with a knife in a fit of fury. Sir Wilfred remarks that Christine did not murder Leonard, but that she “executed him”. Miss Plimsoll then cancels Sir Wilfred’s holiday, realizing that he cannot resist taking charge of Christine’s defense.