Sunday, October 28, 2012

217. Adam's Rib

Adam's Rib
Directed by George Cukor

This is an awesome movie.  Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy have some of the best chemistry in all of cinema; you can tell they not only love each other but really like each other as well.

You can tell that this is going to be cooky film just by this brief synopsis: two lawyers represent different sides in a murder trial…and they are married!?!?!

This is an outstanding movie for a number of reasons.  First of all, the fact that there is a smart female lawyer is pretty progressive, considering all the women in these movies recently have been sexy troublemakers.  Did I just say sexy troublemakers?  Maybe it is getting a little too late at night to be writing this.

Anyway, the acting is great of course and the dialogue is smart.  There is also a great song in it called "Farewell Amanda".  Little known fact: I inspired that song.  Well, that is actually speculation but I am sure I am right.

One of the best romantic comedies of all time.  This review would be a lot more thoughtful if I wasn't already asleep.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Ranked #7 in AFI's top romantic comedies of all time.

Based on real life couple William and Dorothy Whitney.

216. Gun Crazy

Gun Crazy
Directed by Joseph Lewis

So it is Halloweek (aren't I clever) and I have already kicked it off by watching the Paranormal Activity series.  Right now I have Scream 4 on the background (and no, I am not writing this review right now because I am scared and all the lights are off; that would be silly).  I am also planning on watching a bunch of the horror films from the list this week but I won't blog about them until we get there chronologically.

Gun Crazy is not scary at all unfortunately.  What it is is Bonnie and Clyde with more likable characters.  The movie is about Bart, who is obsessed with guns.  As seemingly creepy as that sounds, he actually never wants to hurt anyone.  He then meets the woman of his dreams who is also a crack shot (of course, he is a little bit better than her though because she is a woman).  She drags him down to a life of crime though, as women are prone to do in noir.  We suck.

Anyway, the acting and the story is just so-so.  The film takes absolutely no risks and a crime movie, that can be a bit boring.  Still, there is no denying the influence it had over Bonnie and Clyde which is an undeniable classic.  Now I must go because we are reaching the climax.  Yay, gore!

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

All right, maybe I am freaking out a little.

Happy Halloween!

215. Kind Hearts and Coronets

Kind Hearts and Coronets
Directed by Robert Hamer

I absolutely love British culture and one dream of mine is to one day live in London.  However, if there is one thing I struggle with, it is British humor.  There are plenty of British comedians I like but man, there is something about those British sitcoms that make me agree with this spoof:
I have been told that Americans just don't appreciate irony.  Either that or we don't think men dressed as women is as funny as they do.  I mean, they REALLY think that gag is hilarious.  In this movie, watching Obi Wan Kenobi dressed as a woman hurt the nerd center of my brain.

This film is about a guy who kills all his relatives for inheritance.  Apparently, this is also supposed to be hilarious.  It is not even that I didn't think their jokes were funny; I couldn't even identify the jokes.  Another thing people say about Americans: we have to be told when you are joking all the time.  I really don't think it is one group not understanding another; just a difference in culture.

Anyway, I really don't get this murder is funny concept.  Movies like Monsieur Verdoux, Arsenic and Old Lace, and this are baffling to me.  Now not only are experimental movies going over my head but comedies as well.  I think I am getting stupider.  Or less patient.  Take your pick.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Rated #6 on BFI's top 100.

Alec Guinness played eight roles.  Oh, the shame.

Guinness almost died in the boat sinking scene.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

214. The Heiress

The Heiress
Directed by William Wyler

Olivia de Havilland is definitely one of my favorite actresses of all time.  I have mentioned this before but I love that she doesn't need to be the prettiest person in the room during her performances.  This is pretty unusual for actresses during this era (here's looking at you Joan Crawford).  She is fantastic at playing emotionally damaged women.  On a entirely separate and shallow note, I never really care what Montgomery Clift is up to.  He is just so nice to look at.

Anyway, this film is follows Olivia de Havilland, who is a plain spinster who is constantly verbally abused by her father.  Montgomery Clift comes along to woo her because of her large inheritance.  If this was a movie now, he would probably fall in love with her along the way, she would find out about his motives, a sad song would play during their estrangement, then he would make a big speech at the end and they would fall into each other's arms. Spoiler: none of this happens.

In addition to the outstanding actors, you also have William Wyler directing who almost never disappoints.  This film is flawless; even the score is amazing.  Watch it!

RATING: *****

Interesting Facts:

Montgomery Clift thought de Havilland was a horrible actress and didn't want to work with her.

Olivia de Havilland won an Oscar for her performance.  Take that, Clift (I really can't get mad at you).

Monday, October 8, 2012

213. Louisiana Story

Louisiana Story
Directed by Robert J. Flaherty

Do we really have to do this?  A documentary on oil commissioned by an oil company. I think sometimes the list makers just want to see what they can make me do.

RATING: -----

212. The Treasure of Sierra Madre

The Treasure of Sierra Madre
Directed by John Huston

This was my favorite Bogey film for awhile (until I saw The African Queen).  He really breaks out of his shell here.  It is like if Katherine Heigl played a woman who wasn't high strung and neurotic.  And if she was good.

Three men go off into the desert to try to find gold.  Really, this plot is just an excuse to have an excellent character study.  You can just see back and watch these three characters absolutely unravel as the pressure of greed and the elements gets to them.

Sorry for the brevity; had to do a lot of these today.  A really refreshing change.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

First father/son win in the history of the Academy Awards.

Bogart wore a wig throughout the entire shoot.

John Huston adopted a Mexican boy during the shoot and didn't tell his wife.

211. The Red Shoes

The Red Shoes
Directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger

Can a film be bad if it is centered around a crazy ballerina?  Of course not!

So with P and P you can always be sure of an absolutely beautiful movie.  Even that screen shot above is gorgeous; I always feel like I am seeing color for the first time when I watch one of their movies.  However, I have been pretty bored with their story lines so far.  This movie is the exception.

The film centers on Moira Shearer (one of the most underrated actresses by far) who becomes absolutely obsessed with ballet, neglecting her personal life along the way.  I have never actually been to the ballet, though it is on my bucket list.  Watching her dance was fascinating so if this movie is any indication, I will love it.

Anyway, much like in Black Swan, her life begins to follow the storyline of the ballet she is performing and everything goes to hell.

A movie about ballet that is over two hours sounds like a bore but it is actually probably one of the visually arresting, emotional movies you will ever see.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Moira Shearer said doing this movie was a horrible ordeal and that Powell was an ass (well, those are my words).

Ludovic Kennedy knew he wanted to marry Moira as soon as she arrived on set.

Went majorly over budget.

210. Paleface

Directed by Norman McLeod

Oh honestly, do we have to talk about this?  It's Bob Hope.  I even like Robin Williams more than him. And that is saying something.

RATING: -----

Interesting Facts:

I hate western parodies with all my soul.

209. The Lady From Shanghai

The Lady From Shanghai
Directed by Orson Welles

So apparently Orson Welles just pulled this movie out of his ass because he was in desperate need of money so he just picked a random novel to adapt to the big screen.  As such, I would kind of feel like a dope if I praised this film.  Like people who praise Ernest Hemingway's six word story that he did for a bet.

Unfortunately for me, this movie was pretty good even with Welles' absolutely ridiculous accent.  I mean, wtf was that?

But I digress.  The story centers around Orson, a sailor who, of course, gets in over his head.  If you have seen a single film noir movie, you will know the entire plot within the first twenty minutes.  It also stars Rita Hayworth, who Welles made cut off and bleach her hair which caused huge controversy.  Is it sad that people (including me) care so much about that?  Yes, it probably is.

Anyway, this movie is probably most famous for its Hall of Mirrors scene which was pretty awesome.  Still, I am use to Orson Welles being a competent actor as well as a director and this was mega disappointing on that front.  Meh.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Orson Welles and his friends broke into the paint department and repainted the sets.  When the union painters saw this, they went on strike and were only placated when Welles was forced to compensate them.

Rita Hayworth's hair was said to be the reason the movie did poorly at the box office.

Monday, October 1, 2012

208. The Snake Pit

The Snake Pit
Directed by Anatole Litvak

This weekend away from home totally kicked my ass and I am still trying to recover.  I also have like five movies to watch from the list which is just as important as the other work I have to do…right?

Well, we will just go with that hypothesis.  Anyway, movies that accurately describe the mental deterioration are rare.  We have Spellbound, Gaslight (kind of), and The Lost Weekend so far.  However, I think this is the best representation so far.  You don't get some sort of half assed Freudian explanation at the end.

In fact, Virginia, who is the woman that goes absolutely insane in this film, didn't feel like a crazy movie character at all.  She reminded me of someone like Sylvia Plath or Virginia Woolf.  She wasn't having a mental breakdown because her mother was controlling or anything like that.  She was just trapped in a loveless marriage in an era where she really couldn't do anything about it.

Olivia de Havilland, who we haven't seen in awhile, is absolutely incredible in this movie; you can tell she doesn't feel the need to be glamorous or hot in this movie.  Watch this but be prepared for some disturbing parts.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

There was an ancient practice of throwing insane people into a pit of snakes.  The theory was that since that would drive a normal person insane, it should work in reverse.  Wow.

Stephen King said that he used to watch this film on television which got him interesting in his own macabre writings.

Olivia de Havilland did extensive research for her role in this movie.

British censors made them put a foreword on the film that said that British mental institutions weren't actually like this.