The Golden Coach – Sumptuous 1952 costume comedy from Jean Renoir centers on a vivacious stage performer (Anna Magnani) who disrupts a small Central American fiefdom. Magnani’s Camilla finds herself the object of the affections of 3 suitors (including the local Viceroy), and when she receives his ornate golden coach as a gift, all hell breaks loose. This is superb from the standpoint of visual impact – The sets and costumes are first-rate, but the story lagged a bit for me up until the end. A lukewarm recommendation.
Gentleman’s Agreement – Elia Kazan’s 1947 study of anti-Semitism. Gregory Peck starts as a writer who goes undercover to experience the everyday discrimination suffered by Jews. This one was kind of a mixed bag. After a while, you just go on autopilot waiting for another bigot to pop up, but I do have to admit that this film goes into a couple of places that I wouldn’t have expected, like Peck’s icy blonde secretary. She’s a Jew who has changed her name and masks a deep self-loathing. Dorothy McGuire plays Pecks love interest, and she is interesting as well, due to her well-meaning discrimination. John Garfield has a small yet vital role as Peck’s Jewish army buddy, and the highlight of the film for me was an exchange between him and McGuire towards the end where he lays out the danger of suffering in silence. A recommendation, but with a few minor caveats.