Thursday, April 19, 2012

146. Dumbo

Produced by Walt Disney
Directed by Samuel Armstrong

Well, that was freaking adorable.  Most people have probably seen this movie.  I myself vaguely recall watching it as a child, which made it all the more special to watch it today.

This film is about a female elephant who really wants a baby.  Finally the stork comes (I am no doctor but whaa?) and delivers a baby that is so cute you will explode into rainbows and sunshine.  He has really big ears, though, so everyone makes fun of him.  The characters are lovable, especially the mouse, but the songs are just okay.  There is an obligatory trippy sequence after Dumbo accidentally sips a bit of champagne which features some cool animation.

Overall, it is definitely worth a revisit if you have seen it already.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

The only title character in Disney that never speaks.

The racism was pretty bad but it's Disney so that is pretty much expected.

One of the few Disney movies set in America.

Grossed more money than Pinocchio and Fantasia combined.

Walt Disney's favorite.

Full movie:

Monday, April 16, 2012

145. Sergeant York

Sergeant York
Directed by (who else) Howard Hawks

I never thought I would say this but I am getting sick of Gary Cooper and his Johnny Everyman routine.  Maybe I just wasn't in the right mood for this movie but it seemed to me to be like Mr. Deeds Goes to War.  Also, I am not really into being preached to and also it is Monday.  These are all factors that led to me not enjoy this film.

This movie is about a young "pacifist" who becomes a war hero.  Actually, if you look as this film in context it is rather interesting because it was released just three months before the US entered WWII but while the war was going on in Europe.  I looked up the tagline and it said "timelier today than ever." Still, the interesting historical context doesn't make up for over two hours of boredom.  A really good war movie is rousing and inspiring but at the end of the day, why was York even a hero?  What the hell was he fighting for???!?!?

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

First movie that Clint Eastwood ever saw.

York insisted that Gary Cooper play him.

America was mostly isolationist at this point so the studios were worried that the film would not be successful. By the time of the film's release, however, Hitler had taken over most of Europe and that was that.

First part:

Sunday, April 1, 2012

144. The Maltese Falcon

The Maltese Falcon
Directed by John Huston

So...exhausted writing one tired...can't go on...

I watched this movie and read the book so I am kind of a fan of the whole plot (complicated as it is).  Maybe I am a bit biased.  I am told girls really don't like this movie.  I guess I am more of an exception then, not the rule.  Still, everyone likes to watch Humphrey Bogart right?

Film noir is what most people think of whenever they think of 40s movies and this is pretty much the intro to that.  Watch and enjoy I guess; I have been doing this for about two hours.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

UGH!! Do it yourself: here

143. The Wolf Man

The Wolf Man
Directed by George Waggner

Ah, nothing like early Universal horror films.  This time we are dealing with a werewolf, not a vampire or monster (though if you want, I am pretty sure they made films of battle between the three of them).  This one, I have to confess, creeped me out a little bit (just the early woods scene).  I have never been a real werewolf movie person, but I was really into this.

This film is about a perfectly respectable man who is also A WEREWOLF??!??!?!  You know what they say, "even a man that is pure in heart, and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright."  Who says this, you ask?  Watch the movie!

Disclaimer: this movie is better than the campy Universal movies before it, which surprisingly enough, might turn some people off, who are looking forward to the cheese.  I apologize.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

This is a metaphor for when the Nazis took over Germany.

The bear that was supposed to battle Wolf Man broke out and chased Evelyn Ankers up into the rafters.

Myths about werewolves emerged from this film like the silver bullet, changing into a werewolf during the full moon, and becoming a werewolf through the bite.  I would feel very powerful if I was the writer.


142. The Lady Eve

The Lady Eve
Directed by Preston Sturges
Wow, I have written a lot of these today and it is getting tiring.  Damn me for seeing so many 1941 movies.  Why 1941?

Anyway, thirties and forties romantic comedies are simply the best so there is really no explanation needed here for why I love this movie.  There is witty banter, misunderstandings, likable actors, and raunchy jokes: what more do you want?  This film is about Barbara Stanwyck trying to seduce Henry Fonda for his money but then she....FALLS IN LOVE WITH HIM?!?!?

Watch and enjoy; soon romantic comedies will become a joke (excepting When Harry Met Sally of course).

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

The snake was going through hibernation season so she was sleeping a lot and shedding her skin.  She was not a happy camper.

Selected for the National Film Registry in 1994.


141. Citizen Kane

Citizen Kane
Directed by Orson Welles

So I have some friends that know that I am a bit of a film expert (compared to most people at least) that constantly ask me what the big deal about Citizen Kane is since it is boring as hell but also considered the greatest film of all time.  So here we are (Roger Ebert helped me somewhat):

  • Deep focus shots (everything is focus at the same time)
  • Invented the L-Cut (starting the sound of the next scene in the previous scene)
  • Orson Welles is a great actor
  • Low angle shots
  • Kind of an expose on William Randolph Hearst so pretty ballsy
  • You can actually see the ceilings of the scenes (which was pretty unusual because more sets didn't have any)
  • Invisible wipes
  • Used models or drawings for establish shots but it is almost impossible to tell
  • Great speeches
As a film buff, I think all of that is pretty amazing.  Still, it simply isn't as interesting as other great movies which means unless you are interested in technical achievements, I would skip it.  I think calling any movie "The Greatest Film of All Time" is a bit ridiculous.  I think it also leads to a lot of disappointment when you finally sit down and watch it and it is boring as Napoleon.  I have talked to many people about this movie (including a very attractive film student) and I rarely find anyone that loves this film.  My friend's boyfriend even said that he hated black and white movies now because the first one he ever saw was Citizen Kane (I refrained from dueling him for my friend's sake).  One of the greatest secrets of cinema that no one wants you to know: most people don't really like Citizen Kane; they merely respect it.

RATING: ***** (I have to; I owe a lot to this guy)

Interesting Facts:

As predicted, there is a very large amount of trivia for this film so I will just give you the link.  Feel free to peruse.


140. The Bank Dick

The Bank Dick
Directed by Edward Cline


All right, so I saw this movie awhile ago and I have no wish to watch it again so my memory is a bit foggy on the plot (that is not cheating, I promise!).  Suffice to say, you will not crack a smile once.

This is the kind of pre Family Guy/ Simpsons comedy but minus the laughs.  Middle aged fat man just wants to drink but is constantly bothered by the wife (ugh, wives).  In this movie, W.C. Fields accidentally foils a robbery and bad jokes ensue.  I suspect that some people grew up watching these kinds of films and have fond memories.

I could talk longer about the plot or acting but the bottom line is: it was a comedy that wasn't funny so it has fundamentally failed.  Just like Adam Sandler in everything he does.

RATING: *----

Interesting Facts:

The director co directed some of Buster Keaton's short films.

Hehe, dick.

Random scene that will prove my point:

139. The Mortal Storm

The Mortal Storm
Directed by Frank Borzage


So my incredibly classy way of starting this post is due to the fact that I had the worst version of this film.  This movie is hard to find so I ended up buying a really cheap dvd of it on Amazon. There were no visible scratches on it, but it wouldn't stop skipping.  Now, I have seen every minute of this film but I had to keep going back and forward so many times that by the end I really had no idea what was going on.

It is highly doubtful that you will see this movie because it is so unavailable and in such poor condition.  However, just for the heck of it I will carry on with my review.  This movie is about Professor Roth and his family as they are destroyed by Nazi Germany.  This film is really interesting for the time.  The United States did not enter World War II until 1941, when Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese (see?  This blog has everything, including obvious historical facts!).  However, it seemed that Americans (at least some) knew about the atrocities committed against mankind in 1940.  Kind of disgusting that we didn't get involved sooner, actually.

The love story is just kind of meh, but this is an interesting and historical film.  It seems that today every year some new World War II movie comes out; MGM was one of the very few studios that had the balls to do it while WWII was going on.  Pretty spectacular; too bad the quality sucks.

RATING: *****

Interesting Facts:

All MGM films were banned in Germany by Adolf Hitler for having anti Nazi sentiments.

Other pro American intervention in the war movies include Foreign Correspondent, Man Hunt, and Sergeant York.

In other news, I have officially seen all of AFI's top 100 movies.  Pretty excited...