Good Films: Fresh starts

Ford's The Quiet Man, via Paramount Pictures.
Ford’s The Quiet Man, via Paramount Pictures.
Our “Good Films You May Have Missed” series calls attention to movies new and old that are all Filmworks worthy. Titles are available from Netflix and other streaming services, and you can also find them at your good old-fashioned public library.

USA • 1952 • Dir: John Ford
John Wayne plays an American boxer who retires from the ring to re-settle in his ancestral Ireland, where he woos Maureen O’Hara in the pre-feminist era when men ran everything. But the backstory of how director John Ford got the film made at all– and revitalized O’Hara’s career– might be more interesting than the dated but winning movie.

Scorsese's Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, via Warner Bros.
Scorsese’s Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, via Warner Bros.
USA • 1975 • Dir: Martin Scorsese
Ellen Burstyn stars as Alice, who becomes free after the death of her boorish truck-driving husband. Alice gathers up a few suitcases and her 12-year-old son and heads west in search of a new life. But what both Scorsese and Burstyn were probably after was a new statement– actually, a feminist statement, maybe before its time. The Academy took notice and awarded Burstyn an Oscar for her breakthrough role.

 Stanton's Wall-E, via Walt Disney.

Stanton’s Wall-E, via Walt Disney.
USA • 2008 • Dir: Andrew Stanton
The machines have taken over. What’s left of humanity is tucked away in a spaceship the size of Chicago. They have abandoned Earth because it is so polluted and junked-up that it’s unlivable. But this was hundreds of years ago. The humans can’t even remember their Earth time. The spaceship pampers them and has made them fat and docile like domestic cows. But two robot stowaways, the antiquated WALL-E and the sleek Eve, know Earth quite well and they sense it’s human destiny to return. Through fast turns of plot, they overpower the bad machines and head back to Earth, with a human at the bridge. Yes, the planet is still polluted and gray, but it’s home. Schmaltzy, but maybe prophetic.

Beresford's Tender Mercies, via Universal Pictures.
Beresford’s Tender Mercies, via Universal Pictures.
USA • 1983 • Dir: Bruce Beresford
Robert Duvall plays Mac Sledge, a one-time big name in country-western music who lets alcohol take him down. Mac ends up in a B-grade motel, gets sober, and works off what he owes the motel’s lonely owner, Rosa Lee. Vietnam has widowed Rosa Lee, played by Tess Harper. Her son, about 10, needs a father. There is tragedy in this two-hour working out of an iconic country-western yarn, but there is redemption, too, as a band of teachers and gas-station jockeys hook up with Mac and draw him back into singing.

Jim Piper is a Filmworks board member, a filmmaker, and a retired film studies instructor.