Monday, February 18, 2013

My Week of Movie Watching

The Thin Blue Line – This Errol Morris doc had been on my want-to-watch list for a long time. It explores the case of Randall Dale Adams, who spent over 10 years in prison for the murder of a police officer in 1976. The film explores the crime, and the subsequent investigation, and also spends a lot of time with David Harris, who was a friend of Adams, and should have been the logical prime suspect. TBL exposes the injustice that led to Adams’ being convicted, and the real killer actually helping the authorities put him away. Incredibly, Harris basically confesses to the crime in the movie, and this was instrumental in getting Adams released. Recommended, despite a couple of quibbles, like how the film doesn’t really explore what Adams role really WAS in the murder, because he was certainly in the car when it occurred.

The Prisoner of Shark Island – The story of Dr. Samuel Mudd, the man who mended the broken leg of John Wilkes Booth, and went to jail as a conspirator.  This John Ford treatment from 1936 was unknown to me, and it was a nice surprise. Warner Baxter stars as Mudd, and is presented as an innocent Good Samaritan (Which may or may not have been the case) brutalized by a sadistic prison guard played by the great John Carradine. The turning point comes when the prison is struck by an outbreak of Yellow Fever, and the convict doctor gets pressed into duty to save lives. This part of the film, which I assumed was simply Hollywood embellishment, is actually true. Beautifully shot by Bert Glennon, who worked as cinematographer on several of Ford's films, including Stagecoach and Rio Grande.

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