Irene Dunne's wonderfully etched title character esteems truth, morality and respect not just because it is proper, but because her DNA knows that such are the indispensable building blocks of a civilized society.
You see, while there is a class of movie that is so bad that it is great fun to watch, "The Fountainhead," starring Gary Cooper as iconoclastic architect Howard Roark, targeted for martyrdom by evil architecture critic Ellsworth M. Toohey, is so paradoxical it's magnetizing.
But the main reason to see this absorbing, character-driven morality tale that Mark Harris adapted for the screen from his novel is for the touching bond into which Moriarty and De Niro breathe life: the pitcher-catcher relationship as a tear-laced, buddy-buddy metaphor for devoted friendship.
This epochal contribution to cinema, history and the socioeconomic analysis of the American character, starring Henry Fonda's Tom Joad as a pilgrim amidst the tragedy of a capitalist system blind to society's urgencies, is that rare case where the film is almost as good as the book.
Cary Grant's wonderfully etched Jim Blandings has his own version of the chimera I speak of — a haven in the Connecticut sticks where the bigtime Madison Avenue adman can don slippers and smoking jacket, enjoy a snifter of brandy with a good pipe, and play country squire.
If you either have, had or someday hope to have that blessed relationship known as a best friend, you'll find the perceptive gist of the lucky circumstance rolled out in spades in director Jack Conway's "Boom Town," a virtual, iconic template for the buddy film.
The thing that happens here, as it does with any film you consider among your very favorites, is that in the magical whirligig of imagination that is cinema, you presume friendship with the protagonists. You like them … maybe even love them, and it has yet to be disproven outside of the most esoteric, philosophical conjecture, that they don't feel exactly the same way about you.
I watched every showing I could, and have come to fantasize that so great was this epiphanic event that the station held it over for a second week, perhaps just for me. Thus was the making of a romantic sap and dreamer extraordinaire.
Imaginatively complementing this part of my belated education is a visual cornucopia of period piece splendor, from the elegantly dreamy English countryside landscapes, a veritable slide show worthy of Gainsborough, to the exquisite, haute couture fantasy comprising Emma's wardrobe.
Affleck, in a decent performance that boasts a couple stellar moments, like when at a pivotal moment in a game he feverishly calls a player back to the sideline to emphasize the tactic, wins our support, even before a scattered exposition of his woes charitably pleads his case.
That said, "The Call of the Wild," arguably penned in reaction to the encroaching artificiality of things and modes resulting from the Industrial Revolution is, in its goodness, simplicity and virtuous paean to the rules of nature, a needed breath of fresh air in today's cynical climate.
Yet, in taking its uncertain path to some hoped for humanistic revelation, it seems like it'd be much happier if only it could jump the tracks from classically cerebral comedy to safely domesticized farce.
That night at the dining room table, I perceived an especially proud look on Mrs. O'Shaughnessy's face as she served up extra helpings of lamb stew, and all those in attendance jovially pitched in, barn raising style, to help me make my Oscar predictions.
Appropriating some sort of Scottish brogue, made even less audible by a muttering, offhanded delivery a la Popeye, it seemed as if this otherwise naturally glib actor was attempting to trademark his Dolittle with an obscure detachment analogous to Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow.
Shock and marvel combine in our appreciation of the award-worthy art direction, phenomenal cinematography and special effects that provide a near seamless, non-stop chronicle of the death-defying mission the two young soldiers undertake.
What could this Philistine of a male know about the trials and tribulations of the intrepid March sisters — Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy — and about sisterhood, feminism, devotion to family and the desire to have an identifying career in a stultifying society that believed a woman's place was in the home? In short, while I know, my genes dictate that I don't really know.
What is this aberration, this bizarre concoction of what the human experience can turn into when internal wires cross and hormones contraindicate? There is no propriety, no adhesion to accepted rules of society except under duress or threat of death.
"Richard Jewell," director Clint Eastwood's skillfully told account of how a hero was turned into a scapegoat following the murderous bombing at the 1996 Olympics, stokes that greatest fear upon which our judicial system is based: that an innocent soul might be convicted of a crime.
Fact is, we've been poisoning humankind's well since first we learned how to make a profit out of it while concomitantly rationalizing, if bothering at all, that we'll worry about it later. Well, it's later.