North to Alaska
Directed by Henry Hathaway
Written by John Lee Mahin, Martin Rakin and Claude Binyon from a play by Ladislas Fodor and an idea by John H. Kafka
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
First viewing/Netflix rental
Sam McCord: Ahh, women! I never met one yet that was half as reliable as a horse!
This is the first of the series of entertaining two-fisted rom-coms John Wayne would make in the 60’s.
Sam McCord (Wayne) and George Pratt (Stewart Granger) are partners in an Alaskan mine that has just hit pay-dirt. George has been engaged for several years to a woman who lives in Seattle and can now afford to marry her. He has been pining for her the entire time. The men need to buy some heavy equipment in Seattle and, since Sam is the better businessman, he goes to both do the deal and fetch the fiancee home.
When Sam arrives, loaded with presents, only to find that the fiancee has married another man. That night he goes to a bordello called the Hen House and gets roaring drunk. He meets beautiful bad girl Michelle AKA “Angel” (Capucine). In his inebriated state, he decides it would be a fine idea to take her back to Alaska for George. She goes for the promise of riches but rapidly falls for Sam. He is pig-headedly oblivious.
The rest of the film covers Angel and Sam’s comically fiery relationship on the ship and in Alaska, punctuated by a number of brawls between the menfolk. With Ernie Kovacs as the villain of the piece and Fabian as Granger’s horny kid brother.
This is entertaining but I doubt it will stay in my memory for very long.
Late Autumn (Akibiyori)
Directed by Yasujiro Ozu
Written by Kogo Noda and Yasujiro Ozu from a novel by Ton Satomi
Repeat viewing/Netflix rental
Mamiya: You know, it’s people that complicate life. Life itself is surprisingly simple.
In the late autumn of his career, Ozu made this comic twist on his eternal marriage plot. I smiled throughout.
As the film begins, friends get together after a memorial service for Akiko’s (Setsuko Hara) late husband. They are three businessmen, one widowed and two married, who were friends of the widow and her husband in college, Akiko and Akiko’s daughter Ayako. The men all had crushes on Akiko in school and are half in love with her still. They privately decide to take on the job of finding a mate for Ayako. Ayako herself is not interested in marriage, mostly because she does not want to leave her mother alone.
The men bumble their way through the whole affair. One of their most outrageous maneuvers is to convince Ayako that her mother would marry the widower but for her. Somehow, almost despite themselves, everything works out perfectly in the end.
This is kind of a remake of Late Spring with Hara as the parent instead of the child and Chisu Ryu in a cameo as Hara’s brother. I find the three male matchmakers to be utterly charming and hilarious. It’s a tender film that examines the generation gap and the inevitable flux of life with a light touch. Recommended.
Trailer (which fails to capture the tone of the film)