Recommended Stevens Films
The More the Merrier (1943, 104 minutes) -- George Stevens Sr.'s last film before enlisting, "Merrier" is an audaciously mischievous romantic comedy in which Charles Coburn's flaky millionaire, Benjamin Dingle, adopts Adm. Farragut's "full speed ahead" in the midst of Washington's housing shortage to engineer a love affair between big-hearted "government girl" Connie Milligan (Jean Arthur, never lovelier) and military adviser Joe Carter (Joel McCrea). Columbia TriStar's DVD, released this month, has no relevant extras and a few blemishes; catch it on the big screen to fully appreciate the deliberate, hilarious pacing of the morning ritual set-piece, and a comically steamy front-stoop seduction that prompted Frank Capra to chortle, "Their words talk government, their hands talk . . . something else!" AFI Silver Theatre, Sunday, Dec. 12, at 7 p.m.; Wednesday, Dec. 15, at 7 p.m.
Shane (1953, 118 minutes) -- "A gun is as good or as bad as the man using it." In the iconic, enthralling "Shane," loner Alan Ladd rides into the life of rancher Van Heflin, wife Jean Arthur and wide-eyed son Brandon De Wilde, seeking only peace. But the former gunfighter is drawn into a dispute between homesteaders and cattlemen, facing off against a cold-blooded killer (a young Jack Palance). The plot is familiar, but "Shane" did it all first and is the family-friendly alternative to later variations on the theme. Loyal Griggs's Oscar-winning color photography on Wyoming locations should leap off the screen in a newly struck 35mm print at the AFI, while Paramount's DVD features an informative commentary track from George Stevens Jr. and associate producer Ivan Moffat. AFI Silver Theatre, Sunday, Nov. 7, at 4 p.m.; Wednesday, Nov. 10, at 9:25 p.m
The Diary of Anne Frank (1959, 180 minutes) -- Time has been good to the brave blend of stark realism and Hollywood production values of this drama, inspired by the writings of the young girl who continued to believe in the fundamental decency of mankind even as her family hid from the Nazis in an Amsterdam attic. Shot over six months on a claustrophobic, three-story set, it won an Oscar for its velvety, widescreen black-and-white photography and set design. 20th Century Fox's new DVD restores the overture and exit music, includes a pair of behind-the-scenes documentaries as well as a fascinating commentary track in which George Stevens Jr. draws out star Millie Perkins. AFI Silver Theatre, Sunday, Dec. 5, at 1 p.m.
-- Eddie Cockrell