The Gunfighter (Henry King, 1950). This the movie where Gregory Peck plays a “bad guy”. Except, of course, he’s Gregory Peck, so he can’t help but let some decency slip in. Plus, he’s a gunslinger at the end of his career, wanting to be left alone, so he has turned his back on what made him “bad” in the first place. This plot has been done so many times ... I don’t know when the first example occurred, for all I know it’s The Gunfighter, but watching it in 2016, you need something more to go on than that same old plot. There’s nothing particularly wrong here, and it falls into that category of Movies That Are Praised for What They Don’t Do. In this case, there isn’t much action, it’s more a character study than anything else, the gunplay is minimal, so it feels “adult” compared to, say, Hopalong Cassidy. But if you’re looking for better Gregory Peck, try Roman Holiday or the ultimate Peck role in To Kill a Mockingbird. If you just want a decent Western with a hint of noir, though, The Gunfighter will do. 7/10.
The Kid (Charlie Chaplin, 1921). Avoids most of what I find annoying about Chaplin ... the sentiment is hard-edged. It belongs with his classic films. More than any other Chaplin film I can think of, The Kid relies not just on Chaplin but on his co-star, Jackie Coogan as the titular Kid. He is both feisty and adorable, never cloying. The affection between the two stars is evident. It’s hard to realize that The Kid eventually became Uncle Fester. Chaplin reworked the film in 1971, adding a new musical score and deleting a few scenes. That’s the version I saw. The picture ends with a short dream sequence which feels unnecessary. Without it, I’d give this my highest rating. #342 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They list of the top 1000 films of all time. 9/10. My own favorite Chaplins, in no particular order, are Modern Times, The Great Dictator, and The Gold Rush.