The Long Gray Line

The Long Gray Line ★★★★½

• Ford does 'Scope! Now, some lukewarm water: this isn't quite as geometrically pleasing as what Ford was up around this time with his academy ratio and spherical widescreen work, but if we're to compare this to what virtually any of Ford's contemporaries were up to with the 'Scope format circa '54-55, this succeeds with flying colours. Ford uses both the horizontal expansiveness and the vertical restrictiveness of the format to great effect, and while I'm not sure the omnipresent distortion does his compositions any favors he certainly wears the mumps and bulbousness a hell of a lot better than virtually anyone else at the time.

• A great example of a work wherein the wildly conflicting impulses driving it - this is simultaneously a lament about the soul-crushing meaninglessness and ennui that a life devoted to an institution entails and a sincere ode to the unsung cogs in said institutional machines, with a fair amount of American patriotism thrown in there - build to a nuanced internal dialectic rather than negate one another.