Poll

What's your favorite film by Lewis Milestone?

Two Arabian Knights
0 (0%)
The Garden of Eden
0 (0%)
The Racket
0 (0%)
All Quiet on the Western Front
7 (46.7%)
The Front Page
0 (0%)
Rain
0 (0%)
Hallelujah I'm a Bum
2 (13.3%)
The Captain Hates the Sea
0 (0%)
Anything Goes
0 (0%)
General Died at Dawn
0 (0%)
Of Mice and Men
1 (6.7%)
Lucky Partners
0 (0%)
Edge of Darkness
0 (0%)
The North Star
0 (0%)
The Purple Heart
0 (0%)
A Walk in the Sun
1 (6.7%)
The Strange Love of Martha Ivers
1 (6.7%)
Arch of Triumph
0 (0%)
The Red Pony
0 (0%)
Halls of Montezuma
0 (0%)
Les miserables
0 (0%)
Pork Chop Hill
0 (0%)
Ocean's Eleven
1 (6.7%)
Mutiny on the Bounty
0 (0%)
other (specify)
0 (0%)
Haven't seen any
2 (13.3%)
Don't like any
0 (0%)

Total Members Voted: 15

Author Topic: Milestone, Lewis  (Read 1257 times)

1SO

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Re: Milestone, Lewis - Director's Best
« Reply #10 on: February 01, 2015, 03:31:49 PM »
Really.



All Quiet on the Western Front
"If we threw away these rifles and these uniforms, you could be my brother."

How much leeway do you give a film for being "of their time"?  All Quiet on the Western Front, is badly dated.  It plays like a bridging film between the silent era and talkies.  Bits that are light on words, namely the large-scale battle sequences, are still pretty impressive, but much of the dialogue suffers from rigor mortis and characters have less dimension than the cover of the book it was based on.  I've seen films that were great for their time and films like Sunrise which are as great to day as they ever were.  This one is neither.

There are great scenes, or at least ideas for scenes that make me believe the book is still extraordinary.  First of all, making the Germans the lead army is a masterful idea, completely annihilating the nationalism and driving home the main theme of brothers under different flags.  There's a nice moment in the beginning where we see our young leads being convinced by their elders (a teacher) that they should enlist.  It contrasts nicely with a moment later when they meet their drill sergeant on the battlefield and show him all manner of disrespect.  But then we get a scene even later when one of the soldiers returns to the teacher.  The emotional point has already been hammered in, and now we're pounding the nail through the wall.  It's as bad as the worst Oliver Stone moment.  Scenes like these, and all manner of episodes from the dead Frenchman in the foxhole to the French girls, they're all great ideas for scenes, but their cinematic execution is stiff. 

So the high points come from the action, watching the brave young soldiers break down under the constant bombardment.  I especially liked the unceremonious presentation of death.  With everything else being dated, I expected lots of last words and "tell my wife I love her".  But many of our characters just go down and the camera moves past them, forgetting them in an instant.  The camerawork in these scenes was surprisingly fluid, with lots of nice tracking shots.  As the film wore on I became increasingly tired of the heavy-handed morality.
RATING: * 1/2
« Last Edit: February 01, 2015, 05:02:21 PM by 1SO »

oldkid

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Re: Milestone, Lewis - Director's Best
« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2015, 08:49:03 PM »
Of Mice and Men 4/5
"It's not art unless it has the potential to be a disaster." Bansky

Corndog

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Re: Milestone, Lewis
« Reply #12 on: March 30, 2016, 08:23:57 AM »
1. The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (3)
"Time is the speed at which the past decays."

Knocked Out Loaded

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Re: Milestone, Lewis
« Reply #13 on: November 27, 2017, 12:21:01 PM »
Of Mice And Men (1939)

Paint by numbers version of Steinbeck’s great novella that was published two years earlier. The characters feel like cut out from cardboard and show little depth. Much of the enigma is gone with the wind.

25˚
I might remember it all differently tomorrow.

Knocked Out Loaded

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Re: Milestone, Lewis
« Reply #14 on: November 27, 2017, 12:23:11 PM »
All Quiet On The Western Front, 30˚
Of Mice And Men, 25˚
I might remember it all differently tomorrow.

1SO

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Re: Milestone, Lewis
« Reply #15 on: May 28, 2018, 09:57:45 PM »

Pork Chop Hill (1959)
"How can I do it with a lousy squad?"
"Just do it. Ask me how later."


Watched this Korean War film starring Gregory Peck for Memorial Day. Based on a book by an Army General, the story focuses on a single, costly battle that took place while peace talks were underway, which increased the feeling among the men that they may be risking their lives for no good reason. Milestone doesn't clutter up the film with backstory and character building. You'll recognize some faces - Rip Torn, Norman Fell, Robert Blake - but except for Peck nobody's star power influences the size of their role or whether they will make it out alive.


One of the more memorable performances among the cast comes from Woody Strode (The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance). Wanting no part of the killing, he constantly tries to hide, fake injury and help people walk to the medical tent. For this, his manhood is belittled and he's put down by other black soldiers who don't want his cowardice to taint their contribution. Strode has a stoic physical presence, perhaps even more than Peck, and his argument has sound logic backed up by the personal attacks of everyone else on the hill.


Most of the film is wartime action and there are a lot of cast that look similar. Even on the Blu-Ray, there are some shots at night or in smoke where I wasn't even sure which army I was looking at. Still, Milestone has a number of standout moments where he lets the actors show more than they tell. Typical of the director, this extends to the enemy where one soldier is tasked with spewing propaganda on the radio and you can see his occasional disdain for the ruthless trickery he's forced to spread by his superiors. A worthy companion to A Walk in the Sun and along with Edge of Darkness Milestone has a worthy War Trilogy.
RATING: ★ ★ ★ - Good



Edge of Darkness (1943)
★ ★ ★ - Good
The most interesting film in the bunch. Lewis Milestone's direction is all over the place and plays up the preachier aspects in Robert Rossen's script. It takes forever to get going, with numerous subplot from a weak handful of supporting players. However,  this story of a Norwegian rebellion against the Nazis benefits from its unusual setting and increasingly interesting work by Errol Flynn, Ann Sheridan, Walter Huston, Judith Anderson and Ruth Gordon. The final half shakes off the lethargy and preachiness of the opening and the action, while done on a large scale takes on some real flesh and blood stakes.


[I know most people would put All Quiet On the Western Front in with these films, but I think my three selections make for a superior trilogy.]

1SO

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Re: Milestone, Lewis
« Reply #16 on: August 20, 2018, 08:11:29 PM »
The North Star (1943)
★ ★ ★ - Good
In my previous post I created a Lewis Milestone War Trilogy, but he actually has a Box Set. Like Edge of Darkness this one deals with Nazi's invading a peaceful town, with an opening section that's like the county fair in Young Mr. Lincoln before the murder. The impressive ensemble includes both Walter Huston AND Walter Brennan, along with Walk in the Sun star Dana Andrews, Anne Baxter, Erich von Stroheim and a decent performance by Farley Granger. To make things weirder, this is also a Musical. At first it just seemed like a lot of group folk songs like How Green Was My Valley, but the tunes more and more reveal a expression of emotions apart from the narrative.

Besides the cast, what makes this stand out is Milestone's direction, which is both tough and creative. Once again, the message is delivered like a blunt instrument, especially in farmer Brennan's words of wisdom. It might be as bad as Western Front, but years later I expect it from Milestone, and he does such a good job bringing the village to life it doesn't have the same propaganda feel as other pro-War films of this time. It's one of the most violent and cruel films I've seen from the 1940s, with a plot involving bleeding children to death to save the lives of wounded Nazis. Milestone also refuses to use typical filmmaking techniques to show the planes above attacking the people below. He employs a bunch of tricks I've never seen before to make it look like real planes are really putting bullet holes into people and things during their runs.