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Welcome to All Movie Talk! In this audio podcast, Samuel Stoddard and Stephen Keller talk about old and new movies, famous directors, historical film movements, movie trivia, and more.

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Top 6 Word: Where

Some of cinema's earliest appeal was the chance to show people exotic places that most people would never have a chance to visit. In the days when theaters regularly played a newsreel, a cartoon, and a short film before a feature, many of those shorts would be travelogues, such as James A. FitzPatrick's once famous Traveltalks series (1930-1954), which beginning in 1934 were filmed in Technicolor (at a time when most movies were still black and white) to bring the evocative hues of faraway places home.

This Top 6 list, of movies containing the word "where" in the title, are inherently about places. But rather than the geography lessons that the Traveltalks shorts were, a lot of these are metaphorical places where the mysteries of human nature lurk.

6. Where There's Life (1947)

The rule of thumb with Bob Hope movies is to stick with the ones he made in the 40s. Almost everything he made then was hilarious, at least if your sense of humor isn't too highbrow. His 30s films never quite knew how to showcase his talents, and his post-40s output (save for a few exceptions in the early 50s) was increasingly tired and stiff. Where There's Life packs a lot of laughs into its short and sweet 75-minute running time. Like My Favorite Blonde, it fuels its comedy by putting Hope into life-threatening situations and letting his comic cowardic take charge. The story, about the political intrigue of a fictional eastern European country, culminating in assassination attempts, is unapologetically nothing more than a framework to hang jokes upon. Unfortunately, that framework is not well-treated by them. Whereas in the better Hope vehicles The Paleface and the aforementioned My Favorite Blonde, the story and humor cohere, Where There's Life's story is somewhat undermined by a few too many gags at its expense. Still, it's a pleasant and amusing film.

5. Where the Red Fern Grows (1974)

One of the classic family adventure stories, based on the book by the same name. It's not a Disney production, but it has a similar feel to some of them from the same era and was directed by Disney regular Norman Tokar.

4. Where Danger Lives (1950)

This film noir deserves to be better known. In a genre built on the dark undercurrents of human psychology, this film nevertheless delves deeper than most. Robert Mitchum, in the leading role, is fantastic.

3. Where the Crawdads Sing (2022)

The "Marsh Girl," a recluse and outcast living on her own in the marshes of North Carolina, is accused of murdering an upstanding young member of the community. Most of the story is told in flashback, chronicling the events leading up to the fateful moment. In some sense it's an old-fashioned murder mystery, but it's a character study rather than a puzzle, and a compelling one at that. The film stuck with me long after it ended; days later, I was still realizing new things about it.

2. Where Eagles Dare (1968)

This is one the great wartime adventure films. Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood lead a task force to infiltrate enemy lines to carry out a mission. It's not unlike The Guns of Navarone in how it sets a focused story inside an epic environment, sprawls across a long running time, but does so with such momentum and tension that you scarcely notice the time. The cinematography is gorgeous, and the larger-than-life orchestral score is as rousing as they come.

1. I Know Where I'm Going! (1945)

Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger are one of cinema history's greatest writer/director teams. (Powell was primarily the director and Pressburger primarily the writer, but for many of their movies they are both credited in both capacities.) They are probably most celebrated for the masterpieces The Red Shoes and The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, but I Know Where I'm Going! is equally great if more subtle. Ostensibly it's a romantic comedy, and it works nicely on that level -- but peel back a layer or two, and you realize it is uncommonly perceptive about human nature and glories in the delightful textures and details of life that other movies are too hurried to consider. In that sense, the film is a universal one, yet it is also inextricably rooted in its very specific time and place, namely the latter days of World War II on the Isle of Mull, a small island off Scotland's west coast. The film likely wouldn't have worked if Powell and Pressburger hadn't spent weeks there at the outset and certainly wouldn't have worked if they hadn't filmed on location. The scenery and atmosphere of this enchanting place permeate every corner of the film, including, retroactively, the parts not set there. As for the war, it is scarcely mentioned, but its threat lurks in the background and shapes the mood under which the people live. But if what I've described sounds ponderous and meditative, rest assured it is not. It's luxuriously paced but light as a feather; it's not until later that you fully appreciate what an impression it has made.

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