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Saturday Night at the Movies


1 Stagecoach (1939) – John Wayne, Claire Trevor

Stagecoach is a 1939 American Western film directed by John Ford and starring Claire Trevor and John Wayne in his breakthrough role. The screenplay, written by Dudley Nichols, is an adaptation of “The Stage to Lordsburg”, a 1937 short story by Ernest Haycox. The film follows a group of strangers riding on a stagecoach through dangerous Apache territory.

Stagecoach was the first of many Westerns that Ford shot using Monument Valley, in the American Southwest on the Arizona–Utah border, as a location, many of which also starred John Wayne. Scenes from Stagecoach, including a sequence introducing John Wayne’s character the Ringo Kid, blended shots of Monument Valley with shots filmed on the Iverson Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, California, RKO Encino Movie Ranch, and other locations. Similar geographic incongruencies are evident throughout the film, up to the closing scene of Ringo (Wayne) and Dallas (Trevor) departing Lordsburg, in southwestern New Mexico, by way of Monument Valley.

The film has long been recognized as an important work that transcends the Western genre. Philosopher Robert B. Pippin has observed that both the collection of characters and their journey “are archetypal rather than merely individual” and that the film is a “mythic representation of the American aspiration toward a form of politically meaningful equality.”[3] In 1995, the film was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in their National Film Registry. Still, Stagecoach has not avoided controversy. Like most Westerns of the era, its depiction of Native Americans as simplistic savages has been criticized as clear evidence of racism

This was the film hat propelled Wayne to stardom

2 The Royal Bed

The Royal Bed is a 1931 American pre-Code satirical comedy film produced by William LeBaron and distributed through RKO. The film was directed by and starred Lowell Sherman, along with Mary Astor and Anthony Bushell. The screenplay was adapted by J. Walter Ruben based on the 1928 play by Robert E. Sherwood titled The Queen’s Husband. It would be one of a handful of RKO pictures which was produced in both English and French language versions.

3 Judith (1966) Sophia Loren, Peter Finch, Jack Hawkins, Hans Verner and Frank Wolff

In Palestine shortly before the end of the British mandate, the Haganah has learnt that a former German tank commander, General Gustav Schiller (Hans Verner), is teaching the Arabs battle tactics, but they are unable to locate him. Then they learn of the existence of his Jewish former wife, Judith Auerbach Schiller (Sophia Loren), and arrange for her to be smuggled into Palestine via the port of Haifa. She is placed in the care of Aaron Stein (Peter Finch), a Haganah commander, at a kibbutz.

Schiller abandoned his wife during the war and took away their son. She was then sent to the Dachau concentration camp, where she was forced to serve in an officers’ brothel, but survived.

Judith does not take kindly to the rigours of kibbutz life, and is unable to tell them anything about Schiller, but Stein hopes that she can at least identify him. He “suggests” that she ask the local army commander, Major Lawton (Jack Hawkins), to help her. Judith travels to Haifa to see him and pleads with him to hand over the file on Schiller – which he eventually does. It turns out that Schiller was last known to be in Damascus, Syria.

Judith, Stein and a colleague are smuggled into Damascus and after days of searching, they find Schiller. As they are about to capture him, Judith shoots and wounds him. Schiller is smuggled back to Palestine and interrogated, but he refuses to give any information. Left alone with Judith, he pleads for mercy. But as the kibbutz comes under attack by Arab forces, he finally reveals the battle plans, and also tells Judith that he knows the whereabouts of their son, Karl. The room in which he is being kept is bombed and Schiller is killed. Aaron promises that he will help Judith find her son.

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