Tuesday, February 21, 2012

133. Rebecca

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

I have to write this review pretty quickly because Real Housewives of Orange County is on soon.  Before you judge, it is really refreshing to watch people whose lives are complete messes for an hour.  It makes you feel like your life is not to bad.

So this is the third Alfred Hitchcock on the list and I just feel like they keep getting better and better.  This film is a very similar style to Wuthering Heights.  Joan Fontaine marries Laurence Olivier and she is haunted by his late wife, Rebecca.  I will start with what I didn't like.  Joan Fontaine is a really good actress but her character is super annoying.  First of all, she complains about not being attractive all the time.  Really, Joan? Some of us have real problems.
Anyway, she also seems terribly frightened of her husband at all times which got on my nerves.  Grow a pair, Joan.  I also think that the movie might have benefited from being a bit shorter.  On the other hand, the story is really fascinating and the actress who plays Mrs. Danvers (???) is perfect in her role.  Laurence Olivier has also gotten to be really talented.  Highly recommended.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Vivien Leigh wanted to play Mrs. de Winter so she could be with her boyfriend, Laurence Olivier.  Rejected AGAIN!

Alfred Hitchcock told Joan Fontaine that everyone on the set hated her so she would be more nervous for the role.  That is harsh, Hitch.

Judith Anderson, who played Mrs. Danvers, was instructed to rarely blink and try to glide instead of walk.

HITCHCOCK RADAR: Walking near the phone booth toward the end of the movie.

This is the first movie on the list that sort of freaked me out for real.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

132. His Girl Friday

His Girl Friday
Directed by Howard Hawks

Ah, the 40s.  To be honest, I am a bit nervous.  Some huge snores come out of the forties even though some of my favorites are here as well.  I don't think anything can beat 1930s cinema, though.

I first saw this film during a family vacation in Maryland.  It brings back great memories of laughing hard with my family all around me.  My sister and I still use the line "I've got a hot lead on a cool blond!".  It rarely makes sense when you say it but it is still a lot of fun.

This movie plays out like a farce; most of the acts committed by the characters are ridiculous.  The jokes fly thick and fast, even faster than in Bringing Up Baby.  I love the special memories associated with certain films.  Make one with this movie by watching it with your family!

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

This is one of those films that has tons of entertaining trivia.  Click here to read all about it (little bit of newspaper humor).


1930s Oscars!!!

We are done with the 30s!!!!

I have to say, I am bit sadder to see these go than I was to end the 20s era.  Some of my favorite movies were in this decade.  I enjoyed the swashbuckling adventures and the fast-talking comedies.  I also fell in love with French cinema and Laurence Olivier.  I conquered the quest of finding Me and My Gal and I sat through even more Chaplins! I got to see the perspective of people living in another time and experiencing historical events that seem really far away from me now.  Truly an unforgettable era and it makes me sad that people from today's generation will spend their time seeing movies like The Vow for the rest of their lives instead of looking behind them and experiencing this wonderful age of cinema.  As always, feel free to comment and/or add your own categories.

Nominees: Captain Blood, The Thin Man, The Gold Diggers of 1933, The Grand Illusion, Love Me Tonight

WORST PICTURE: Triumph of the Will
Nominees: Babes In Arms, The Black Cat, The Wizard of Oz, Make Way for Tomorrow

BEST ACTOR: Jean Gabin
Nominees: Jimmy Stewart, Cary Grant, Errol Flynn (shut up; I love him!), Clark Gable

BEST ACTRESS: Olivia de Havilland
Nominees: Vivien Leigh, Katharine Hepburn, Joan Fontaine, Marlene Dietrich, Joan Blondell

BEST LINE: "I love Russians! Comrade, I have been fascinated by your five year plan for the last fifteen years!" from Ninotchka or "Peabody, you disgust me." from Gold Diggers of 1933.

BEST DIRECTOR: Jean Renoir!!!!
No competition!

131. Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights
Directed by William Wyler
First of all, I am a huge fan of Emily Bronte's works.  I loved Wuthering Heights; rarely have I read a book that is so packed with emotions.  That being said, I knew that any adaptation of the novel would probably be extremely over the top which is why I have avoided seeing it.  But the list wants what the list wants.

For those of you who don't (I am glaring in disgust right now), this is a love story between Heathcliff and Catherine.  The two have a deep connection that almost seems violent at times, so passionate is their love/obsession for each other.  Anyway, these cooky kids just can't get it right.

I have never been too fond of Laurence Olivier but after seeing this movie, I think I am in love.  Seriously, will you look at him?  He is so sexy but I can't find anyone that agrees with me.  He is not the best actor in the world but by Darwin, he is nice to look at.  Like I said, the movie is really melodramatic but if that is something that you are in the mood for, it is pretty well done.  I loved the score most of all; better than Gone With the Wind's!

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Force male entities to watch this film at your own risk.

Vivien Leigh wanted the main role so that she could be in a movie with her husband.  She got rejected!

Merle Oberon and Laurence Olivier hated each other.

Available on YouTube.  First part:

130. La Regle du Jeu

La Regle du Jeu
The Rules of the Game
Directed by Jean Renoir

I am falling in love with French films.  I don't know who I love more: Jean Renoir or Jean Gabin.  Jean Renoir shows himself to be a competent actor as well as a director and writer in this movie.  Of course, Jean Gabin is really cute and charming.  DON'T MAKE ME CHOOSE!!!!

Sorry, I am pretty wound up today.  This was a great movie and one that I knew I would love from the very beginning.  The story centers on a bunch of different characters who are entangled in each other's lives through various connections.  It reminded me of those modern romantic comedies like He's Just Not That Into You (shut up; that was a great film).  It also contained a few comments on French society which led to it being banned from France. I recently read an amazing novel, The Elegance of the Hedgehog, which carried a similar message about the French bourgeoisie.  Check it out!

Anyway, this has movie as been referred to as the birth of modern cinema (alongside Citizen Kane).  I don't think I would go that far, but it certainly was witty and entertaining.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

People hated this film when it first came out.  One disgruntled audience member even tried to light the theater that was playing it on fire.  I felt the same way whenever I saw Valentine's Day.

The first production of Les Nouvelles Editions Francaises which was a company that Jean Renoir and his nephew started after the success of La Grand Illusion.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

129. Ninotchka

Directed by Ernst Lubitsch

Okay, so I am feeling a bit better about being alone on Valentine's Day because I have a huge chocolate bar next to me and I have Greta Garbo.  What more could a lady want?

So, as you can see, Garbo is laughing!  I told my one friend that I was actually going to watch a Garbo comedy and she was like "that's weird?".  But we 1001ers know that it is indeed weird to see Greta in a romantic comedy.  It would be like...wow, I cannot think of purely serious modern actor.  Any suggestions?  Maybe it would be like Anthony Hopkins starring in a Katherine Heigl movie.  Does that work?

Maybe by the third paragraph I can make a point.  Garbo isn't exactly doing schtick but she does have a lighter screen presence than normal.  This film is about a stern woman who comes to Paris to arrange the sale of some jewels but finds love instead.  How nice (*scowls*).  Anyway, the secondary characters are the real funny guys.  The film is also a bit of a comment on the materialism of Paris and western society for that matter.  Not laugh out loud funny but worth a watch.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

The slogan "Garbo laughs!" came before the film was even fully developed and written.

Banned in the Soviet Union.

This director also did Trouble in Paradise and The Shop Around the Corner, both of which I loved.


Thursday, February 9, 2012

128. Gunga Din

Gunga Din
Directed by George Stevens

This movie is based on a poem by Rudyard Kipling so you know you are in for a real politically correct treat. I think some time last year I popped in The Jungle Book to bring back fond childhood memories and was so disgusted by the "I Want To Be Just Like You" scene that I had to turn it off.

This movie is just as offensive.  Just look at the premise. There is a massive cult uprising in British India and it is up to the British soldiers (who all have American accents) to quell it.  Indians are treated as horrible savages.  Strangely enough, this is easier to watch then when the soldiers (including Cary Grant) have a patronizing friendship with a "water bearer".

This is an adventure story.  I usually love swashbuckler movies and escape literature.  I love feeling like I am seeing characters live their lives to the limit.  This movie, however, was cringe-worthy and boring.  Part of the 1001 journey, I think, is to place yourself in another time period and place.  Still, in 1939 we were not that far away from the Indian Independence Movement.  Skip it!

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Howard Hawks was going to be the director of this film until Bringing Up Baby did terribly at the box office and he was fired.

Sam Jaffe, who played Gunga Din, was actually a Jewish-Russian American.  So pretty close!

Joan Fontaine fell in love with George Stevens during filming.  At least something good came out of this.

Only Gone With the Wind earned more money at the box office in 1939.


Monday, February 6, 2012

127. Le Jour Se Leve

Le Jour Se Leve

I had a really crappy day today that involved some really bad news.  I have been trying to get my mind off it, though, which is when I popped this film in.  Surprise!  Another French film that features Jean Gabin.  These guys are obsessed with him and James Cagney.

Anyway, this film is a series of flashbacks about a murder.  This, of course, has been done a million times after this but it was very fresh at the time.  It felt very film noir-esque which is a sure sign that we are moving into the 40s.  Yay!
The acting is really spectacular but that is pretty much guaranteed if Gabin is in the film.  This movie took a little while to get started; I think I was actually at 20 minutes when I started to care about what happened.  Once it got going, though, it was quite enjoyable even though it was very predictable.  Let's just say it is not gripping enough to get your mind off of your woes.  Entertaining under different circumstances.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

RKO tried to have all records of this film destroyed so that their remake, The Long Night, would seem new.

Studios insisted on having pretitle cards because the flashback concept seemed like it would be too confusing for audiences.

A random scene: