Sunday, January 10, 2010

Reviews: "Stand Up and Cheer" and "Good-bye Mr. Chips"

Good-bye, Mr Chips: Good film. You know, I think there should be a whole sub-genre of films called Teacher films. Think about it: this one, Dead Poet's Society, Mr. Holland's Opus, The Emporor's Club, etc etc. And I don't think that there isn't a single one I haven't liked.
Basic Plot: The very old Mr. "Chips" is recalling his time at a english school for boys. From his first day with out of control boys all the way through his retirement on the grounds of the school. There is also a love story in there.
All in all, it is good. Robert Donat is genuine in his portrayal of a shy schoolmaster. Greer Garson was perfectly wonderful as his love interest in this film. Their relationship is so simple and so sweet - it makes quite an impression. You can see the change in Chips after he has met her, and it's a beautiful statement of what being loved can do for a person.
I think the most effective part was the montages of time moving on. They always began with the line of boys giving thier names. How appropriate it must be for a teacher's life to be seen in passing that way.
Beautiful, meaningful film.
3 and 1/2 out of 5 stars

Stand Up and Cheer: This is definately not what one would call an impressive movie. It is entertaining enough, and once you're finished, you're not unhappy or mad. It's kind of like a early Broadway play - a lot of song and dances and specialty acts very loosely connected to a very thin story. The story being this: A theatrical producer has been put in charge of the government's new Department of Amusement, with the hopes of raising people's hopes during the Depression. He gets to work, with the help of his cabinet members including the Children's Program Head (a very attractive young lady whom he falls for). Unfortunately, he gets some trouble from industrialists. It's not giving much away to say that eventually everything goes well in the end, boy gets girl, and everyone is happy because in the end, a man comes running in, gleefully proclaiming that "The Depression is Over!" Shows you just how much people wanted to believe it could happen like *snap* that.
Okay, so it is silly, but consider for a second this: This was made in 1934 - a couple of years into the depression. Things were not going well at all for the people. Movies houses had cheap prices, special give-aways, and were widely available, so many people went. It was important in those times for movies to be an escape - and this one is that. It's upbeat and positive with a "everything is going to be alright" attitude. There is a number early on in the film and the whole message is "If I can smile, so can you" In the film, it is set up as a series of different working class people singing the message of sustained hope. It was inspiring, and I can only imagine how much it meant to the people of the time.
Shirley Temple is in it, but only very briefly, and without a significant part. Playing her father is James Dunn, who went on to star with her in a number of her films. She's charming as ever, even in her very small role.
One of the things I was not shocked by, but certainly interested to note was the role of race in this movie. It is the 1930s, keep in mind, so the sterotypes of blacks were very much present. One of the roles in the movie was a man who played the stereotype of the dumb ex-slave well. His stagename was Stepin Fetcit - although his real name was (get this) Lincoln Theodore Monroe Andrew Perry. Apparently, this man became a millionaire playing these kinds of roles, and he was the 1st African American actor to get screen credit for his work. He's also in the group with Willie Best, who also played many of these roles, and their work is pretty controversial. I know it is wrong, but it is interesting to see these portrayals.
Sorry, but I wasn't that impressed enough - even though I do appreciate the meaning.
2 and 1/2 out out of 5 stars.

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