Tuesday’s Overlooked: The Major and the Minor (1942)

Today’s pick, The Major and the Minor was only director Billy Wilder’s second Hollywood directorial credit and yet you can see in it some of the trademarks that he would constantly employ as a filmmaker – the combination of witty dialogue, farce and romantic entanglements.



A young woman tired of life in the big city decides to head back home to the Midwest. The problem is that the fare for the return trip has gone up so the last money she has is not enough for the train passage. Her solution is to disguise herself as a little girl, aged 12. Her presence draws the attention of military officer (Ray Milland), who agrees to chaperone the ‘minor’ safely to her mother in Iowa, under the condition that they first make a detour to a military academy where he works.

Yes, I know – it is TOTALLY unbelievable that Ginger Rogers could pass for a 12 year old, but that is the whole gag after all. In spite of this flight of fancy, I still enjoyed the film mainly because of the silliness of it all. It is also not hurt by the presence of notorious humorist Robert Benchley.

Besides I received a bit of a history lesson in that I learned all about the Maginot Line 😉

In the final analysis, this is yet another one of those classic Hollywood films that I cannot help but watch whenever I see it on my television screen.

Check out other titles on Todd Mason’s blog Sweet Freedom.


Favorite Films Set in Berlin


As many readers may know, I have recently returned from a trip to London. A natural consequence of my excursions is a renewed wanderlust – no sooner am I back in the States am I contemplating my next trip.

After some deliberation and consideration I have decided on Central Europe. In anticipation of this trip, I have put together a list of my favorite films from each of the cities I plan to visit. Over the next several months I will compile lists of my favorite films from each of these locales.

The first location I will focus on is Berlin. The criteria I have used in the case of Berlin is a bit loose in that the film only needed to be set in Berlin and not necessarily shot there – although I think that at minimum that criteria is met.

Without further ado .. here are my SIX films (stills below):

M (Fritz Lang, 1931) German Expressionism at its finest.


A Foreign Affair (Billy Wilder, 1948) Fine example of what a romantic comedy should be. The film was principally shot in Soviet occupied zone (source: Wikipedia). Features one of my favorite leading ladies of the era, Jean Arthur.


The Big Lift (George Seaton, 1950) As the title suggests, the Big Lift  takes places during the Berlin Air Lift (1948-9). Shot on location in Berlin, really seems to capture the scale of devastation and the recovery efforts made post-war.


Torn Curtain (Alfred Hitchcock, 1966) While not one of his finest outings, there are some great set pieces. One that immediately springs to mind is the scene where Paul Newman and a civilian go about the very difficult task of killing a baddie. According to Hitchcock, he wanted to show just how difficult it is to kill someone. This also marks the one-time-only pairing of one of my favorite directors and actors (Newman).


Bourne Supremacy (Paul Greengrass, 2004) A frenetically paced spy-story. In many ways, breathed new life into a somewhat stale genre.


The Lives of Others or Das Leben der Anderen in German (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, 2006) Don’t know what to say about this film except that I really really liked it. It was my first glimpse into seeing what life in GDR was probably like.

What do you think of the list? Is there anything that you think I left out? And before anyone says Wings of Desire or Run Lola Run please note I have not seen either (I know, for shame!)


UPDATE: Honorable mention to The Edukators and The Baader Meinhof Complex