Category Archives: Movies

WIZ Retro Review Giveaway Double Feature: Come Next Spring and Merrily We Live

Movie-poster-Come-Next-Spring

Today is WIZ’s fifth birthday! To celebrate that and LONNOL Month, we’re giving away TWO free silver screen classics from days of yore for your viewing pleasure!

This first is a rerun from a previous WIZ Retro Review Giveaway, but it’s one of my favorite old flicks. Come Next Spring is a generous story with a quiet but strong heart.  Like many of these older films, rather than relying on in-your-face action sequences and special effects, loud soundtracks, and romantic drama that glues a box-office-compatible couple to center stage, Come Next Spring turns on resonant dialogue and actual, honest questions about family and community relations.

The story: recovering alcoholic Matt Ballot (Steve Cochran) returns to his Arkansas farm and the wife, Beth, and daughter, Annie, whom he abandoned twelve years earlier.  He’s more than a little interested to see what’s become of them since he left.  As he walks down the home stretch, he meets Annie.  Annie is a voiceless creature who keeps company with animals but runs away from her father, who doesn’t recognize her.  When Matt reaches the old homestead, he’s surprised to discover not only that his stoical and resourceful wife Bess (played beautifully by Ann Sheridan) has held everything together quite well without him but also that he has a delightful son, Abraham (Richard Eyer), born after Matt ran out on the family. Continue reading WIZ Retro Review Giveaway Double Feature: Come Next Spring and Merrily We Live

Retro Review: Come Next Spring by Patricia

Movie poster Come Next Spring

In spite of how elements of this movie’s storyline deal with the troubling subjects of alcoholism and abandonment of family, Come Next Spring is a generous story with a quiet but strong heart.  Like many of these older films, rather than relying on in-your-face action sequences and special effects, loud soundtracks, and romantic drama that glues a box-office-compatible couple to center stage, Come Next Spring turns on resonant dialogue and actual, honest questions about family and community relations.  No glamor kings and queens in this movie.  Its “just folks” actors provide it with a low-key, slow-moving charm. Continue reading Retro Review: Come Next Spring by Patricia

Thank you, 2012 LONNOL participants!

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Wilderness Interface Zone would like to thank participants who put their hearts in our Love of Nature Nature of Love Month.  The list includes:

Elizabeth Pinborough
Kathryn Knight
Gail White
Ashley Suzanne Musick
Sarah Dunster
Chanel Earl
Sarah Dunster
Mark Penny
Laura Craner
Gerard Manley Hopkins
Jonathon Penny

You all helped WIZ celebrate love and nature with fair fond tokens of well-worded affection.  Thank you!

Thanks also go to our readers and commenters.  There’s still plenty of room open (until March 24) on our LONNOL month giveaway of Typhoon, starring Dorothy Lamour and Robert Preston.  If you’d like one, please go to that post and leave a comment.  I’ll contact you for shipping information.  WIZ offers these DVDs free to readers in appreciation for your presence here and for your support of WIZ’s mission to create a rhetorically-diverse space for Mormon nature literature (though, of course, all nature writers are welcome–see submissions guidelines here).

Also, WIZ’s 4th Annual Spring Poetry Runoff Contest and Celebration will open on the vernal equinox, March 20, with categories for both competition and non-competition, an open-invitation spring haiku chain, another Retro Review, and other revelry.  Please make a note of the Runoff’s pending arrival and watch for announcements detailing this year’s activities and prizes.

Again, deepest affection to you, contributors, and to you, readers and followers of WIZ, for your continued presence here.

WIZ’s Birthday Retro Review: Typhoon

Typhoon poster3

Today is WIZ’s third birthday, and we’re in the mood to give gifts to our loyal readers.  For its giveaways, WIZ chooses flicks that feature nature in some way.  Our featured movie this time: Typhoon, starring Dorothy Lamour and Robert Preston.

This movie comes from an age when Hollywood trotted out the tropics when it needed an idyllic backdrop to frame one of its golden-throated beauties. Because, you know, nothing makes nature look better than a sarong-clad peach.   Typhoon contains several formulaic parallels to The Jungle Princess (reviewed here on WIZ), the movie that launched Lamour’s acting career.  Typhoon is another eye-and-ear candy adventure-romance starring Dorothy Lamour and animal friends along with a young Robert Preston in a screenplay that features cutting-edge special effects for 1930s-era films (Typhoon was released in 1940). Continue reading WIZ’s Birthday Retro Review: Typhoon

LONNOL Month call for submissions

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Roses are red;
Their odor is heady.
LONNOL month’s here–
Are your Valentines ready?

It’s Love of Nature Nature of Love Month on Wilderness Interface Zone, and we’re looking to publish love abroad.  Do you have a message of friendship and love you’d like to send someone? WIZ is looking for original poetry, essays, blocks of fiction, art, music (mp3s), videos or other media that address the subject of love while making references to nature.  We’ll also take the flipside: We’ll publish work about nature intertwined with themes of love.  Besides original work you’re welcome to send favorite works by others that have entered public domain.  So if you have a sonnet you’ve written to someone dear to your heart–even and perhaps especially your pet hamster Roley Poley or faithful horse Old Paint–or perhaps a video Valentine or an essay avowing your love for a natural space near and dear–please consider sending it to WIZ.  Click here for submissions guidelines.

Besides rolling out a (hopefully) heart-embroidered carpet of love-art, we’ll also be running two WIZ, nature-laced, romantic DVD giveaways, Typhoon, starring Dorothy Lamour and pre-Music Man Robert Preston, and a Pre-Hays Code movie, King of the Jungle, starring scantily clad Buster Crabbe as Kaspa the Lion Man.

We hope you’ll join the celebration.  Let’s warm up February with fond feeling.

WIZ Retro Review and giveaway: South of Pago Pago

South of Pago Pago cover art

Yep, this review probably contains spoilers.  Also, because its themes address directly environmental issues, I’ve given it a more thorough critical treatment than I gave The Charge at Feather River. Thanks in advance for taking the time to read it.  Finally, this movie contains intense battle scenes and a frightening pirate villain, either of which might be unsuitable fare for sensitive minds, be they adult minds or juvenile.

The beauty, intensity, and flair of this 1940 action-adventure flick caught me by surprise.  After watching the Dorothy Lamour vehicle, The Jungle Princess, I expected a tropical paradise movie of similar ilk. Geographically displaced animals.  Childlike but sexually forward leading men or women.  Backward natives who are slaves to superstition. Lots and lots of giant ferns.  I anticipated cartoon villains and expected that the water beneath their pearl-scooping pirate ship would have more depth than the ship’s crew. Continue reading WIZ Retro Review and giveaway: South of Pago Pago

WIZ Retro Review and giveaway: The Charge at Feather River

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Warning: As usual, this Retro Review may contain spoilers.

Don’t be fooled: Despite its somewhat predictable cavalry v. Indians plot and the flaming arrows shot directly at the audience to showcase the movie industry’s earliest 3-D special effects, The Charge at Feather River is about relationships—between misfit soldiers and their leaders, between rivals for a woman, between a young white woman and a Cheyenne chief and the people who come to her unwanted rescue.  At the admirable heart of this surprisingly complex story lies the bond that forms between a frontiersman and another captive woman, although as movie romances go, this one is understated and unique. Continue reading WIZ Retro Review and giveaway: The Charge at Feather River

Happy Birthday to us: WIZ turns 2!

Today WIZ celebrates its birth of two years ago (thanks again, Wm Morris) and its continued good health and growth.  Profound thanks are due its readers and contributors–as Sam says to Captain Faramir, you’ve shown your quality. I think Wilderness Interface Zone’s dream of building the ground story of a meeting place for Mormon and non-Mormon readers and writers of nature literature is being realized and showing boundless prospects for the future.  Debts of gratitude are due to be paid its supporters.

As part of its modest celebratory events, WIZ will post two Retro Reviews of vintage movies and offer copies of those movies in DVD form as gifts to interested audience members and WIZ contributors who comment on the review posts.  Each movie fits the Love of Nature, Nature of Love Month and has nature as a key element of its story, either as setting or plot vehicle.

How to get a free movie: Read the Retro Review I post today and/or the one I’ll post Monday, February 28. All readers need do is post a comment at the Retro Review and that will win each unique commenter one free copy of the movie under review.   I’m hoping that each Retro Review post garners 10 comments by unique commenters, but if they go over that, I think we’ll be able to meet demand.  If the unanticipated happens and commenters go way over the expected number, I may impose a cut off limit just to keep my sanity intact.

Thanks so much, loyal readers, for following WIZ’s content and posting comments, and deepest thanks to our contributors, who have heartily and with a great show of talent stepped up to provide for WIZ’s success.  I’m looking forward to this next year, which I anticipate to be exciting and filled with good prospects.

Profoundest thanks, friends.  This round’s two Retro Reviews will feature the films The Charge at Feather River starring Guy Madison and Helen Westcott and South of Pago Pago starring Francis Farmer and John Hall.  Today’s Retro Review is The Charge at Feather River.

WIZ Retro Review: The Jungle Princess starring Dorothy Lamour

The Jungle Princess

Graceful and alluring Dorothy Lamour stars as Ulah, The Jungle Princess, in this chimerical but endearing, black-and-white 1936 Paramount production that launched her career.  Ray Milland co-stars as Christopher Powell, a hunter who comes to the Malaysian jungle to capture wild animals but himself falls captive to Ulah’s native beauty, her stunning singing voice, and her child-like candor. The Jungle Princess taps deeply into the fantasy of the orphaned, nature-nurtured child, who by virtue of being human ascends to the throne of wild domains.  The roughly contemporary Tarzan franchise starring Olympic medalist Johnny Weissmuller (12 films between 1918 and 1948) and the1942 version of The Jungle Book starring Sabu also capitalized on that tradition.  And let’s not forget Johnny Shepherd as Bomba, The Jungle Boy.

When I was a kid, I loved this stuff.  Being a semi-nature child myself who kept company with wild animals in the woods and weeds of Virginia, movies of this sort, no matter how silly, made perfect sense.   Oscar-nominated The Jungle Book is far and away a better movie than The Jungle Princess, but like the fierce-browed and free-spirited Sabu, Dorothy Lamour casts a screen presence that makes watching her pretty darned enjoyable. Co-star Ray Milland—eh, not so much.  Continue reading WIZ Retro Review: The Jungle Princess starring Dorothy Lamour

WIZ Retro Review: The Wild North

Jules Vincent (marvelously played by Steward Granger) is a happy-go-lucky French trapper making his living off some of the most dangerous country in Canada. He comes to town one day to replenish his supplies.  While there, he rescues a kitten from a bad-tempered collie and an unhappy part-Chippewa woman (Cyd Charisse) from the saloon where she works after gallantly protecting her from a drunken jerk named Brody.   The next morning, Jules sets out for his wilderness home with both the kitten and Indian woman as passengers in his canoe.  Claiming to be a good hand with a paddle, Brody convinces Jules to take him, too.  But Brody’s presence gives rise to danger that threatens everyone in the canoe, and when Jules, the Indian woman, and the kitten arrive at the settlement where the Indian woman is to rejoin her tribe, Brody is mysteriously absent.  Knowing the law will come after him, Jules flees to the wilderness rather than chance a trial where his fate will be determined by city dwellers (“ribbon clerks,” he calls them) who can’t possibly grasp the perils of life in the wilderness. Continue reading WIZ Retro Review: The Wild North