Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Kings Row (1942)

This is one of those films that used to play on TCM constantly back when I had cable, but I never watched it, so I took the opportunity to see it on the Criterion Channel before it leaves tomorrow.

Bob Cummings and Ronald Reagan are childhood friends in smalltown, turn-of-the-century America who each go their separate ways but remain close through life's ups and downs. And man, are there a lot of downs -- by end of the film, the number of painful incidents that pile on top of each other strain credibility even for a bleak melodrama such as this. Apparently the source novel was so downbeat that both the producers and the Hays Office initially considered it unfilmable.

Practically the definition of a "prestige" studio film, lavishly produced by Warner Bros. and scoring a smattering of Academy Award nominations. Also starring Ann Sheridan, Claude Rains, Judith Anderson, Harry Davenport, and Charles Coburn. Directed by Sam Wood, and shot by James Wong Howe. Erich Wolfgang Korngold's score was later borrowed in part by John Williams for the Star Wars theme.

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