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  • How the West Was Won

    How the West Was Won

    β˜…β˜…Β½

    As much of a slog as this sprawling Western epic is, there's the comfort that's the fact of anthology. Being broken up into a series of short films makes it digestible, for it really isn't much of a Western, but incidences occurring in the frontier.

    There are no grander themes like most John Ford or Preston Sturges films. It's Hollywood schlock, starring celebrities who dress up for paychecks, not that there's anything wrong with that. I'm reminded of all the…

  • Stagecoach

    Stagecoach

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    Some movies, though not the best in their field, are perfect in their archetype because of the way they elevate a genre to mainstream. Though "The Searchers" is my quintessential western, I cannot dismiss this greatness. It's a movie that defined the Hollywood western. It went out on location with a big budget and made a genre a staple of culture.

    The western grew its archetypes because of the pitch-perfect ways they're portrayed in this film. John Wayne is simply…

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  • The Thin Man

    The Thin Man

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    It's all personality in this picture. It's what makes it - that incomparable banter between its two leads, Nick and Nora, who feel so comfortable and at home in the picture you almost think they're entirely aware they're in a movie. Of course, that chemistry between Powell and Loy has never been replicated, not even by Hanks/Ryan, who are almost always servants to the plot.

    No, "The Thin Man" was the first picture that broke the mold for the staid…

  • On the Town

    On the Town

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    Gene Kelly's ostensible directorial debut is a visual treat - at least for its first 45 minutes. In the flux of its narrative, "On the Town" manages to become the first musical - first Hollywood picture, really - to shoot on location. And how beautiful 1940s New York looks as a backdrop to the plot!

    It's one of those trite sayings that New York is "a character" in the picture, but unlike, say, a "Sex and the City", it's the…