Sunday, January 29, 2012

126. Gone With the Wind

Gone With the Wind
Directed by Victor Fleming

As far as morals go, this is like Birth of a Nation 2.  Though I disapprove of the showing the Ku Klux Klan being heroic or glorifying the plantation slave, I will try to judge the movie for its

Anyway, I am a huge Gone With the Wind fan, I have also read the novel.  You have to love the Scarlett character; she kind of reminds me of Becky Sharp from Vanity Fair.  Clark Gable is the perfect cad though I do believe that she should have ended up with Ashley.

The acting is amazing which is pretty much a guarantee when you cast that many quality actors in one movie.  Although it is nearly four hours long, it still is amazing and Clark Gable deserved to win Best Actor, dammit!  Truly amazing and you will find yourself rooting for the antiheroes and hating Melanie.

RATING: *****

Interesting Facts:

Gary Cooper turned down the role of Rhett, saying that this film will be the biggest flop in history.  Oops.

#6 in AFI's top 100.

There are too many!  I can't handle the pressure; click here.

125. Only Angels Have Wings

Only Angels Have Wings
Directed by Howard Hawks

Disclaimer: I am not a big fan of flying films.  Top Gun was just atrocious.  I am trying to think of other flying films that I have seen.  Does The Aviator count?  Because that was as boring as Napoleon.

Like in most 1939 films, the acting is incredible, with Jean Arthur and Cary Grant having palpable chemistry.  The story is about a group of fliers.  Each one has a really interesting back story which makes this more of an ensemble film than one that just centers around the famous couple.  This is also an effective technique because you actually care about what happens to the characters.

Pretty amazing airplane scenes, even for me.  Check it out!

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

"I am hard to get, Geoff, all you have to do is ask me."  Great line, one that was later used in To Have and Have Not.

Richard Barthelmess also was in Broken Blossoms.


124. Destry Rides Again

Destry Rides Again
Directed by George Marshall

The thing about 1939 is that it is such a big year for film that I have seen most of the movies on the list from that year.  This means that this is about my fourth review in a row and I still have three or four to go.  I am getting slightly nonsensical and so I apologize.

It has been awhile since I have seen this but I didn't like it enough to watch it again.  I am not a big Western fan but once I find a good one, I fall in love with it.  This is not one of those films.  There is nothing particularly wrong with it; in fact, the acting is quite good.  I desperately wish, though, that Marlene would stop singing.  It is not pleasant for anybody, 

This film stars Jimmy Stewart.  Movie test time, and if you are true fan, you will get this right.  When Jimmy Stewart comes on screen is he:
a. experienced and savvy
b. naive and emotional
If you guessed a, get off this blog immediately.  Actually, don't because I have very few readers.  Anyway, this movie was funny at times but overall it was the same old same old.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Marlene and Jimmy had an affair during the filming of this movie.  Apparently, he got her preggers and she had to have an abortion.  I am scandalized!
The fight scene wasn't choreographed and both women had bruises for weeks but they filmed it in one take.

Bar scene, in case you are a guy and get turned on when women beat the living shit out of each other.

123. The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz
Directed by Victor Fleming

Oh god, I hate this film.  I hated it ever since I was little and the munchkins scared me. I hated it even more when I was a kid and had to perform "If I Only Had a Brain" at an acting recital. I think that should count as child abuse.

Anyway, the whole film is like one bad acid trip.  The songs are obnoxious and the plot is disappointing and nonsensical.  I know this is supposed to based on a fairy tale but the whole thing felt vaguely sinister to me.  Check out the interesting facts section, it gets pretty crazy.

I think the only thing more annoying than the scarecrow song is the lion's voice.  However, this film has become such a cultural icon that you should see it, just to get the references.  As far as fantasy worlds go, though, I would take Alice in Wonderland or Pan's Labyrinth any day.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Buddy Ebsen was originally cast as the tin man but the aluminum dust in the make up coated his lungs and he had to be rushed to the hospital.

Garland's breasts were strapped so she would look younger.

The munchkins came from a European troupe and used this as an opportunity to escape the Nazis.

AFI's number 10 in top 100 movie list.

Okay, so I kind of like this song:

122. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Directed by Frank Capra

So I had some trouble writing a review for this one.  It is one of those classic films that I feel like I should have a brilliant review for, so of course I completely clam up.  So finally I got the hang of it and was just about to publish it, when my Google chrome crashed and I lost the entire post.  

This is me:
Anyway, here is my shortened review because I don't feel like rewriting my previous brilliance.  Jimmy Stewart is a naive politician that goes to Washington and attempts to conquer the corruption there.  Let's do highlights here.  Still pertinent today, some scenes went on too long, Stewart was amazing, and I like Frank Capra.  That about covers it.  So watch it; it is especially important with the presidential election coming up.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

BLAH!  I don't feel like rewriting these!  Click here.


Friday, January 27, 2012

121. Babes In Arms

Babes In Arms
Directed by Busby Berkeley

Got to love that awkward moment in the 1001 journey when there is a blackface scene.  Of course Mickey Rooney would be the actor that wore blackface.  Seriously, what is with that guy?

This movie is just not good, period.  The dance scenes are ridiculously unimpressive by Busby standards.  I actually had to double check to see if he was really the choreographer.  Judy Garland is slightly off putting at the best of times and I hate Mickey Rooney.  The film follows these two nuts as they try to make their way in show business like their parents before them.

I could go on, but I think this picture really just says it all.


Interesting Facts:

Highest grossing film of 1939 for MGM; it even surpassed The Wizard of Oz.  Really?!?!

One of the not-so-bad songs in this film:

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

120. Zangiku Monogatari

Zangiku Monogatari
The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums
Directed by Kenji Mizoguchi

It seems to be a universally acknowledged truth that the subtitles for this movie are awful.  I actually didn't think mine were too bad, but I don't speak Japanese so I am not exactly an expert.

Anyway, this film was a total snore.  It is two and half hours long which is pushing it even for a good movie.  The plot centers on a whiny couple who both go above and beyond to make their lives difficult.  The woman is a wet nurse who gets fired because of her love for her employer's son.  He is trying to make it as an actor and she attempts to help him.  Goodness, I am getting bored just explaining it!

This is a rare film that you won't hear too much about but the directing is supposedly sublime.  I was only mildly impressed and was pleased when the film was over.  So there!

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

No trivia on Wikipedia or IMDb.  It is just a really boring film, take my word for it.  Have I ever steered you wrong?

Can we all agree that "chrysanthemum'' is one of the worst words ever?

Random scene I saw was available on YouTube:

Monday, January 23, 2012

119. Stagecoach

Directed by John Ford

The first John Wayne on the list.  This is quite the pivotal moment.  I kind of love John Wayne.  I know he was kind of a wooden actor.  I also know that his views on certain...ahem...topics would ensure that we would not get along.  Not to mention all the racism in almost every single one of his movies. Despite all that, he has always reminded me of a different time.  He makes me think of my grandfather and always has me imagining my parents' childhoods.

That being said, my favorite John Wayne is The Searchers, and when I watch his other movies, I feel like they pale in comparison.  This movie is about a group of diverse people that share a stagecoach.  The trip is endangered because (of course; this is John Wayne movie) of "Injuns".  Actually, the Ford hired local Native Americans to play the roles of the Apaches which boosted the tribe's economy by huge amounts.  Kind of a Catch-22 since they always play ruthless warriors.

This film has excellent character development.  It is the kind of movie that the younger male generation hates because there is not action every five seconds.  Instead, it is a character study of a really different group of people.  I liked it, but like I said, if you want an excellent John Wayne, go for The Searchers.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

I think I am going to have trouble getting the next film too.  These 30s films have been quite difficult to obtain.

John Wayne's 80th film.

Orson Welles watched the film 40 times during the filming of Citizen Kane.

Full movie:

118. Bringing Up Baby

Bringing Up Baby
Directed by Howard Hawks

This is another film that I saw a very long time ago.  I remember really liking it, though, and it only took a quick glance at the plot synopsis to flood back into my memory.

It is hilarious enough to see sexy Cary Grant portray a bumbling paleontologist (think Ross from Friends).  Enter Katharine Hepburn, the Queen of witty comedy, and you have got yourself a show!  Hepburn wants Grant badly (who wouldn't?) and pursues him, along with her leopard, Baby.  Now, usually films where a character continually messes things up for another character annoys me, but Katharine Hepburn couldn't get on my nerves if she tried.  This comedy is in the same style as The Awful Truth.  Everyone talks quickly (sometimes over each other) and comes up with some real zingers.

This film bombed upon release, but I really liked it.  Of course, it cannot compare in my book to movies like The Thin Man, but it is still up there with great comedies.  Also, it was in a language that I can speak!  Always makes things easier...

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Hepburn was called "box office poison" after this film released and Howard Hawks was fired.

Grant modeled his performance after Harold Lloyd.

AFI's #88 film of all time.

First use of the word gay (meaning homosexual) in a film.


117. La Femme Du Boulanger

La Femme Du Boulanger
The Baker's Wife
Directed by Marcel Pagnol

I really need to take it easy with the French language.  I am currently trying to read a Diderot book in French for my book blog because it is less money that way and I am really cheap.  This movie was in French and didn't have subtitles.  I mean, Jesus, I am not that good!

From what I could understand, this film is about a baker who refuses to make bread after his wife leaves.  In typical comic fashion, the town gets together to try to get the wife back so they have bread.  This film is really rare so in all likelihood, you will never see it.  I had to call my brother and get it by shady means.  In fact, I used the word "shady" so much that my brother thought I was talking about drugs and got very confused.

Anyway, it is hard to enjoy a film when you barely know what they are saying.  This is a shame because the premise is very interesting.  The acting was really good, even the people with the smallest parts were talented.  I still enjoyed though.  I think you can get Spanish subtitles off the internet if that is your thing.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Mentioned in Catcher in the Rye.

The wife's part was originally meant for Joan Crawford but she declined.

My French has really come in handy for these 1001 projects...

One random scene:

Saturday, January 14, 2012

116. Olympia

Olympia 1. Teil- Fest der Volker (Festival of Nations)
Olympia 2. Teil- Fest der Schonheit (Festival of Beauty)
Directed by Leni Riefenstahl

So, I was all prepared to rant about how boring this movie is.  I am a not in any way, shape, or form a sporty person. I have never watched the Olympics before or any sporting event for that matter.  It is kind of weird that the first Olympics I watched were the 1936 summer Olympics, but I have done stranger things for the sake of the 1001 journey (following around a high school film teacher in order to question him about Me and My Gal comes to mind).

Anyway, I was prepared to rant until I saw the jumping competition.  That was absolutely insane.  The guys jumped like 1.77 meters!  That wasn't even human!  And the runners!  Flash has nothing on Jesse Owens.  I was pretty entranced.  Oh, and the javelin throwing!  How is that even possible???

Much as I hate Riefenstahl, I do have to admit the film making was pretty incredible.  I even forgot sometimes what a hateful person she was, until a shot of Hitler cheering on the German athletes would punctuate the events.  I am having Griffith flashbacks.  Still, well made and pretty entertaining.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Funded by the Third Reich.

Riefenstahl could not find a US distributor because so many American anti-Nazi organizations protested it.  Go USA!

The second part of the film celebrated the male body a lot.  Like really a lot.  Like back-off-Riefenstahl-you-are-creeping-me-out a lot.


Monday, January 9, 2012

115. Angels With Dirty Faces

Angels With Dirty Faces
Directed by Michael Curtiz

First of all, I want to be honest here and confess that I did not pay that much attention to this film.  It was pretty boring and I got caught up playing quizzes on (an incredibly addicting site; I would not recommend it).  I think, though, that even if I had watched the movie with strict attention, I still wouldn't have liked it.

This movie is about two friends who took fairly different paths.  One became a priest and the other became a criminal.  The priest tries to prevent the criminal from corrupting some "street kids".  Oh yeah, and Humphrey Bogart plays a minor role somewhere in there.  Anyway, the ending is pretty cool but the film felt a little too preachy to me.  I hate movies with intense moral messages; I feel like I am being talked to like a second grade teacher talks to her students.

Overall, good but not very interesting.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

The Dead End Kids bullied people on set during filming and stole Humphrey Bogart's trousers after cornering him.  James Cagney set them straight though by hitting one of the actors above the nose.


114. The Adventures of Robin Hood

The Adventures of Robin Hood
Directed by Michael Curtiz

This is the first movie on the list that is truly in color.  I say that because there were a couple of clips in previous silent films that had snatches of color.  I also watched Things To Come in color but it was remastered that way, something that Woody Allen would greatly disapprove of.

I have always loved the story of Robin Hood; it is a timeless, romantic fairy tale.  I especially love the novel Ivanhoe but we will wait until the book review for that.    Errol Flynn was a great choice for Robin Hood because he is the ultimate swashbuckler and he is not complete without his other half, Olivia de Hailland.  Of course, with the over the top acting, visually striking sets, and romantic story, you kind of watch it like a stage production.

This is one of those movies that you just have to have fun with.  It may not be the best film to study or examine, but it is entertaining and light.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

James Cagney was originally offered the role of Robin Hood.  He is just in every movie; like the 30s version of Tom Cruise.

The sound of Robin's arrow was used in most of the Star Wars films.

Errol Flynn thought the role of Robin Hood was boring.

In one of the jousting scenes, one of the swordsmen accidentally jabbed Errol Flynn with his sword.  Flynn asked the guy why he didn't have a guard on and the swordsman said "Curtiz said it would be more exciting without it."  Flynn then proceeded to grab Curtiz by the throat and ask him if "that was exciting enough for him?"  Everyone just take it easy!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

113. Jezebel

Directed by William Wyler

The book listed this as the second most famous film about a Southern belle, the other, of course, being Gone With the Wind.  I prefer Gone With the Wind, though Jezebel is a bit more socially conscious.  Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh have a lot more chemistry, than Henry Fonda and Bette Davis.

This film centers on Bette Davis who is a real hellcat and causes men to be completely miserable.  For instance, she wears an embarrassing dress that scandalizes society to get back at her boy toy for misbehaving.  Like I said, unlike Gone With the Wind, the Mammy character is absent which makes for a less inaccurate and offensive film.  Also, the heroes of the movie don't join the Ku Klux Klan  for the common good which is always a bonus.

 Bette Davis acts her tiny ass off in this film and won a well-deserved Oscar for it (take that Joan Crawford!).  This was a pretty interesting movie but a very uncomfortable one.  During the dress scene, I was cringing so much that I probably looked like I was having a seizure.  Still, it is worth watching just to Bette Davis' performance.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

It is a myth that this role was offered to Bette Davis after she was rejected from playing Scarlett O'Hara. IMDb acted really upset about this rumor but I have never heard it.

Julie's red dress was actually bronze.

Filming was interrupted frequently because Henry Fonda's wife was giving birth to their daughter, Jane Fonda.  She went on to star in some real


112. Pepe le Moko

Pepe le Moko
Directed by Julien Duvivier

Doesn't this guy have the best name ever?  If that was my name I would be a thief too.  The guy really doesn't have a choice...

This film is about the pursuit of Pepe le Moko, a thief who resides in Casbah but longs for Paris.  Pepe is played by the unequaled Jean Gabin, who we previously saw in La Grande Illusion.  He has a certain careless charisma about him that is incredibly charming.  Anyway, this film was a major precursor to film noir because of its use of shadows, femme fatales, and fast talking, street wise guys (the latter being a personal observation).

So I really liked it.  Not many films take place in Casbah (quick, name one!), and watching the background was just as interesting as watching Pepe's exploits.  Pepe is a really relatable character; I think we all have a special place in the world that we are drawn to, even at a danger to ourselves.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Walter Wanger remade this film and tried to get all copies of this movie destroyed.  He failed.  Stupid Americans!
I just watched Inglourious Basterds the other day and it was amazing!  Check it out!