FAVORITE ANGRY MAN #9: Juror 10 (Ed Begley)

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Bigoted, close-minded and irrational, Juror 10  (Ed Begley) bases his vote on his personal opinions about ‘those people’, of which ‘the boy’ is one. He regularly loses his temper and hardly ever takes the time to actually think about the case or anything else for that matter. His prejudiced opinions are enough for him, thank you very much, and he refuses to back down. Consequently, his rage-fueled speech towards the end is one of the most powerful moments in the film, as not only do all the other jurors turn their backs on him in protest, but he also, silently, acknowledges that he may have been wrong this whole time, and not just about the case.

SCREENPLAY BY Daniel Taradash

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Adapting James Jones’ gigantic novel From Here to Eternity into the 1953 classic may have been one of the most laborious jobs in Hollywood, but not only did Daniel Taradash insist on it, he got Jones’ seal of approval upon the film’s release, and ended up winning an Oscar for it.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1913, he went to Harvard, where he studied law, graduating in 1936, before making it in the theatre when his play The Mercy won the Bureau of New Plays contest just two years later. He moved to Hollywood not long after that and received his first credit as one of the writers of Golden Boy (1939, dir. Rouben Mamoulian). A few years later, he served in the US Army, where he also worked in army training films as a writer and producer. Upon his return, he went to New York seeking more theater success, but returned to Hollywood when that failed. He wrote and co-wrote a string of films, including Knock on Any Door (1949, dir. Nicholas Ray), Rancho Notorious (1952, dir. Fritz Lang), Don’t Bother to Knock (1952, dir. Roy Ward Baker) and, more famously, From Here to Eternity (1953, dir. Fred Zinnemann), for which he won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay as well as the Writers Guild of America Award. In 1956, he directed Storm Center, a clear anti-censorship and anti-McCarthyism vehicle that, despite Taradash’s best intentions, didn’t have the impact it should have. He went on to write Picnic (1955, dir. Joshua Logan) and Bell, Book and Candle (1958, dir. Richard Quine) and, in 1970, he became President of the Academy, presenting Charlie Chaplin with his Honorary Oscar in 1972, one of the most famous moments in Oscar history. In 1977, he became President of the Writers Guild of America, and in 1996, he received the Laurel Award for Screenwriting Achievement, before passing away in 2003 at the age of 90.

Classic Literature on Film blogathon – Crimes at the Dark House (Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White)

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The stupendously hammy Crimes at the Dark House (1940, dir. George King) follows a plot not too dissimilar to that of the wonderful The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, the book it is loosely based on: a man pretending to be Sir Percival Clyde (Tod Slaughter) begins his murderous spree in a wealthy manor in order to inherit his estate, with the help of Dr Fosco (Hay Petrie). This is all very well, but I’m not going to lie: Crimes at the Dark House is bad. The Woman in White is not. In fact, it’s probably one of the best books of its genre and it was the first one that came to mind when my friend Paul from Silver Screen Classics announced his Classic Literature on Film blogathon. But the low-budget, melodramatic horror film does not do it justice, nor, I suspect, did it ever think it would. For starters, the book’s opening sequence is grand, mysterious and eerie, and while Crimes at the Dark House opens quite dramatically, it is entirely different altogether. Then, it’s only one hour and seven minutes long and, as a result, it overlooks a lot of subplots and key elements – the sisterly relationship between Laurie (Sylvia Marriot) and Marion Fairlie (Hilary Eaves), for instance, could have been better explored, as it is in the book. The film is dramatic and suspenseful when it needs to be, but apart from that, it lacks all the things that make the book great and, at times, it’s downright laughable. Now I’m not saying I don’t understand why it came to be that way. I get it. These George King-Tod Slaughter melodramas came out at an alarming rate and without the necessary budget, in order to fill a quota, and to be honest, they are not entirely un-enjoyable. I just found it interesting to witness the differences between the book and the film and I can’t help but wonder what Robert Siodmak would have done with it. Or even Edgar G. Ulmer. But alas, we’ll never know.

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