Lifeboat

  • Directors: Alfred Hitchcock
  • Producers: Kenneth Macgowan
  • Writers: Novella, John Steinbeck, Screenplay, Jo Swerling, Uncredited, Ben Hecht
  • Genres: Thriller, War
  • Actors: Tallulah Bankhead, William Bendix, Walter Slezak, Mary Anderson, John Hodiak, Henry Hull, Heather Angel, Hume Cronyn, Canada Lee

Several American and British civilians are stuck in a lifeboat after their ship and a U-boat sink each other in combat. Willi (Walter Slezak), a German survivor, is pulled aboard and denies being an enemy officer. During an animated debate, Kovac (John Hodiak) demands the German be thrown out and allowed to drown. Cooler heads prevail with Garrett (Hume Cronyn) asserting the German’s prisoner of war status and he is allowed to stay.

Kovac takes charge, rationing the little food and water they have; but Willi gradually takes control away from him and is later revealed to be the U-boat captain. One morning, while the others are sleeping, the injured German-American Gus Smith (William Bendix) catches Willi drinking water from a hidden flask. Too delirious and weak to wake anybody up, Gus is pushed overboard by Willi and drowns while the others sleep. Upon waking, the others discover Gus missing and Willi is questioned. When they notice that the Nazi is sweating, the other passengers discover the hoarded flask in his jacket. In a spasm of anger they beat him up and throw him overboard, striking him multiple times to prevent him from reboarding. Musing on Willi’s treachery, Rittenhouse (Henry Hull) asks, “What do you do with people like that?”

The survivors are subsequently spotted by the German supply ship to which Willi had been steering them. Before a launch can pick them up, both are sunk by an Allied warship. A frightened young German seaman is pulled aboard the lifeboat and the passengers argue about keeping him or throwing him overboard to drown. The rescued seaman brandishes a gun and after being disarmed asks, “Aren’t you going to kill me?”. Kovac repeats, “What are you going do with people like that?”

The Pride of the Yankees

  • Directors: Sam Wood
  • Producers: Samuel Goldwyn
  • Writers: Paul Gallico, Jo Swerling, Herman J Mankiewicz
  • Genres: Biography, Drama, Family, Romance, Sport
  • Actors: Gary Cooper, Teresa Wright, Walter Brennan, Babe Ruth, Dan Duryea

The film emphasizes the personal relationships of Gehrig’s tragically short life, first, with his parents, especially his domineering mother, his friendship with the sportswriter, Sam, and, finally, the “storybook romance” and marriage to Eleanor. Although The Pride of the Yankees is often hailed as the greatest of all sports movies, the details of Gehrig’s baseball career are somewhat slighted, represented by montages of ballparks, pennants and Cooper swinging bats and running bases. His record of 2,130 consecutive games is prominently mentioned, yet the viewer is left to surmise his motive for such dedication. The real Lou Gehrig’s irrepressible exuberance for the game, his boyish delight in making the ball “jump” off his bat and in galloping around the bases as fast as he could, never quite makes it onto the screen.

It s a Wonderful Life

  • Directors: Frank Capra
  • Producers: Frank Capra
  • Writers: Screenplay, Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, Jo Swerling, Frank Capra, Short Story, Philip Van Doren Stern
  • Genres: Drama, Family, Fantasy, Romance
  • Actors: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Henry Travers

On Christmas Eve 1946, George Bailey (James Stewart) is deeply depressed, even suicidal. Prayers for George Bailey are heard by angels appearing as stars in the night sky. Clarence Odbody, an Angel Second Class, is sent to Earth to save him—and thereby earn his wings. Joseph, the head angel, is told to review George’s life with Clarence.

As a 12-year-old boy in 1919, George (Bobby Anderson) saved the life of his younger brother Harry from falling through ice, though George caught a cold that became an ear infection and left him hearing-impaired in one ear. Returning weeks later to his job as errand boy in a pharmacy, George stopped his boss, local druggist Mr. Gower (H.B. Warner), from accidentally filling a child’s prescription with poison while grief-stricken over the death of his son from influenza.

From childhood, George’s greatest ambition has been to see the world and design bridges and skyscrapers. However, George repeatedly has to sacrifice his dreams for the well-being of the people of Bedford Falls. Four years older than Harry, he puts off going to college to help in the family business until Harry graduates from high school and can replace him at the Bailey Building & Loan Association, essential to many of the disadvantaged in town. But on Harry’s graduation night in 1928, as George discusses his future with Mary Hatch (Donna Reed) — who has had a crush on him since she was a little girl — family friends arrive after George and Mary were throwing rocks at an old house to make wishes, and break the news to George that his father has had a stroke. Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore), a vicious slumlord, seizes this opportunity and tries to persuade the Board of Directors to end the “sentimental hogwash” of home loans for the working poor. George persuades the board members to reject Potter’s proposal; they agree, but only on condition that George himself run the Building and Loan. George reluctantly stays in Bedford Falls and gives his school money to his brother.

George returns to the bridge and calls upon Clarence and God to let him live again. His prayer is answered and George is returned to the moment he met Clarence. Small changes that had occurred while he didn’t exist, such as his daughter’s petals in his pocket, his crashed car, and even the weather being windy instead of snowy, are now just as they were, but George runs home filled with a new appreciation of what he has accomplished. There, he finds that his friends and family have collected a huge amount of money to save George and the Building & Loan from scandal and ruin. The newly arrived Harry proposes a toast to his brother, “the richest man in town.” Seeing how many lives he has touched, and the difference he has made to the town (and having helped Clarence earn his wings), George Bailey realizes that despite his problems, he “really has a wonderful life.”

Gone with the Wind

  • Directors: Victor Fleming, Uncredited, George Cukor, Sam Wood
  • Producers: David O Selznick
  • Writers: Novel, Margaret Mitchell, Screenplay, Sidney Howard, Uncredited, Ben Hecht, Jo Swerling, John Van Druten
  • Genres: Drama, Romance, War
  • Actors: Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Leslie Howard, Olivia de Havilland, Hattie McDaniel

The film opens on a large cotton plantation called Tara in rural Georgia in 1861, on the eve of the American Civil War where Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh) is flirting with the two Tarleton twins Brent (Fred Crane) and Stuart (George Reeves). Scarlett, Suellen, and Careen are the three daughters of Irish immigrant Gerald O’Hara (Thomas Mitchell) and his wife, Ellen O’Hara (Barbara O’Neil). The twins share a secret with Scarlett that one of her county beaus, whom she secretly loves, Ashley Wilkes (Leslie Howard) is to marry his cousin Melanie Hamilton (Olivia de Havilland) and the engagement is to be announced the next day at a barbecue at Ashley’s home, the nearby plantation Twelve Oaks.

At Twelve Oaks, Scarlett notices that she is being admired by a handsome but roguish visitor, Rhett Butler (Clark Gable), who had been disowned by his Charleston family. Rhett finds himself in further disfavor among the male guests when, during a discussion of the probability of war, he states that the South has no chance against the superior numbers and industrial might of the North.

When Scarlett sneaks out of her afternoon nap to be alone with Ashley in the library, she confesses her love for him. He admits he finds Scarlett attractive, and that he has always secretly loved her back, but says that he and the sweet Melanie are more alike. She accuses Ashley of misleading her to think that he did love her and slaps him in anger. Ashley silently exits and her anger continues when she realizes that Rhett was taking an afternoon nap on the couch in the library, and has overheard the whole conversation. “Sir, you are no gentleman!” she protests, to which he replies, “And you, miss, are no lady!” Before the conversation is over Rhett promises that her guilty secret is safe with him.

and walks away into the fog. She sits on her stairs and weeps in despair, “What is there that matters?” She then recalls the voices of Gerald, Ashley and Rhett, all of whom remind her that her strength comes from Tara itself. Hope lights Scarlett’s face: “Tara! Home. I’ll go home, and I’ll think of some way to get him back! After all, tomorrow is another day!” In the finale, Scarlett stands once more, resolute, before Tara.