Donna Reed doesn’t look much like the Sacajawea we have on our dollar coin nowadays, but The Far Horizons isn’t history; it’s Hollywood doing Lewis and Clark (Fred MacMurray and Charlton Heston), whose actual trip would’ve made an eventless movie in the traditional sense, and so dramas are invented involving tribal war, a scurvy French trader (Alan Reed—that’s right, Fred Flintstone), and the love dance between Clark and Reed’s dewy Indian maiden. Shot in Grand Teton National Park.
The concept of the “femme fatale” was old hat when James M. Cain wrote his vicious thriller Double Indemnity, but (with some help from this film adaptation, which was coscripted by Raymond Chandler and director Billy Wilder) he made the man-eating antiheroine into the dramatis persona of the postwar era.
An overlooked screwball masterpiece from Hollywood’s golden age, written by bad-boy satiric genius Preston Sturges and directed by beloved “woman’s director” Mitchell Leisen, in which whimsical bachelor DA Fred MacMurray takes sexy shoplifting tramp Barbara Stanwyck with him to his homestead for Christmas. Sturges’s dialogue, volleyed by these pros four years before Double Indemnity, is mint, but the idiosyncratic comedy slowly, organically seeps into melancholy. The film is as smart-mouthed as it is stunningly compassionate, and Sturges’s fat heart comes through in ways that are unique in a Christmas film. The characters’ feet are planted in the real world, and the season’s triumph is rescue from the memory of a poisoned childhood.