Sunday, November 25, 2012

243. Jeux Interdits

Jeux Interdits
Forbidden Games
Directed by Rene Clement

All right, once I get this one done I can finally get start my actual work and holy shit, is it really already 2:05?

Anyway, I watched this film awhile ago when I was just browsing the streaming in Netflix.  I didn't really realize it was anything special until I started to read other people's reviews on it.

This movie is about a girl whose parents are shot down in front of her.  She finds a family that will take her in and forms a friendship with a little boy named Michelle.  They make a creepy pet cemetery so they won't feel alone.  One thing leads to another and most people find themselves reaching for the tissue box.

I was not one of those people.  The whole thing seemed dreadfully corny to me.  There was just way too much sappiness, almost to the point of nausea for me.   I am not one of those annoying people who laugh at sad movies; I just really did not feel anything.  Maybe that makes me some sort of sociopath.  Oh well.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Bridgette Fossey's first film.

242. The Quiet Man

The Quiet Man
Directed by John Ford

A classic John Wayne movie in…..IRELAND????

You read that right, folks!  In this film, John Wayne stars as Sean Thornton who falls in love with Mary Kate, a fiery red head.  Every one said that her character had a temper to match his but she seemed like a pretty weak woman to me.  Anyway, her brother does not want her to get married.  Does that stop John Wayne from marrying her?  No sir!  Does that stop John Wayne from hitting her and throwing her sometimes?  No sir!

So obviously, this film is a bit outdated.  First of all, if my brother told me not to marry someone, I would simply say fuck you, and carry on with my business.   There are also some notable cringe worthy moments, particularly in the way that John Wayne treats Maureen O'Hara.

Still, it is a decent romance complete with brawls and drinking.  So an Irish romance. Just kidding!  Oh wait, it is.

Decent but not really 1001 worthy.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

The movie Rio Grande was done so that Wayne, O'Hara, and Ford would have permission to do this film.

O'Hara broke her hand slapping Wayne but couldn't wear a cast because of filming.

Wayne and Ford put manure on the hill that O'Hara got dragged through.  EWWWWWWWW!

241. The Day The Earth Stood Still

The Day The Earth Stood Still
Directed by Robert Wise

I brought this to a movie night with a few friends awhile ago and they all laughed at me for my horrible taste in films.  They put in Thor instead.  But this is truly a classic, even if people have not heard a lot about it.  It is actually considered to be one of the first Sci Fi films.  So Thor might not even have existed if it wasn't for this movie.  So there.

It is very easy to laugh at the special effects of earlier movies.  However, the influence of this movie is pretty much prevalent in all the major sic fi films.  In fact, the landing of the aliens is so similar to Close Encounters of the Third Kind that I declare that I declare Spielberg a copycat!

An alien comes to Earth to deliver a message of peace to the humans.  Naturally, everyone completely freaks out and does not listen right away.  Damn humans.

This is actually a pretty good film, unless you are one of those jerks that will only focus on how bad the special effects look compared to today's.  My brother was doing that when I had Buffy The Vampire Slayer on during Thanksgiving and I nearly kicked him in the face.  But I digress.  Check it out!

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Patricia Neal had a hard time keeping a straight face during filming because she figured this would just be another stupid B movie.

As a homage, George Lucas named three of his bounty hunters Klaatu, Nikto, and Barada.

Lock Martin was 7'7''.  Holy crap.

240. A Place in the Sun

A Place in the Sun
Directed by George Stevens

I didn't realize there were so many classics in the early fifties but this is another film that would win you a game of David Lodge's Humiliation if you have not seen it.  Thankfully, it is constantly playing on TCM so you can make up for your error quickly.

This is a weird movie; it seems to be divided into three different films (which is why it is so goddamn long).  The first film seems to be a romance between hotties of different classes.  The second part is like  a murder/suspense movie.  Finally, it concludes with a trial film.  Although it may seem like it wouldn't flow well, it is actually really entertaining and coherent from start to finish.

This film stars Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift (*mouth waters*).  Clift falls in love with Taylor but his stupid girlfriend gets in the way with her stupid pregnancy, which is obviously her fault.  He then plans on killing her to get rid of her.  All hell breaks loose.

This is a really great film; the chemistry, acting, and directing are all great.  Just fantastic.

RATING: *****

Interesting Facts:

Mentioned in Lily Allen's song "Who'd Have Known". Well, that is interesting to me at least.

Shelley Winters felt inferior to Elizabeth Taylor for years after making this film.

Based on the true story of Chester Gillette.

239. An American in Paris

An American in Paris
Directed by Vincente Minnelli

This is an old favorite; there is nothing like a Gene Kelly musical and I would count this as one of the best.  Every once in awhile I will look up the "I've Got Rhythm" number on YouTube when I am having a rough day.  How could this not make you feel better?
Of course, I don't have rhythm or a man but that is inconsequential.

The plot of a Gene Kelly musical is never too important but I will give a brief summary anyway.  Gene Kelly is a painter in Paris who falls in love with a woman.  He can never get someone like that!  Oh wait, he can.

The dance sequences are truly incredible and the color is beautiful.  It will leave you will a bubbly, albeit shallow feeling, inside.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Name one of the most overrated films of all time by Premiere.

Gene Kelley would often take over directing duties when Minnelli was busy dealing with his divorce from Judy Garland.

238. Journal d'un Cure de Campagne

Journal d'un Cure de Campagne
Diary of a Country Priest
Directed by Robert Bresson

I have discovered another block of films that I have seen in The Book, which means another flooding of posts.  I have no idea why I have seen so many early fifties films.  Obviously, catching up on this blog is much more important than the other work I have to do, so here we go.

I don't know the movies have been hard to find lately, but I was forced to go to another less than reputable site to find this one.  This book makes me do bad things!

This film is about a country priest who struggles with his faith.  He is pretty much one of those annoying people who will not leave you alone about your religious beliefs.

Obviously my description doesn't sound too exciting.  I actually found the movie to be quite boring and the main character to be obnoxious.  I was so puzzled as to what to say about this film that I googled it and found a fantastic review by Roger Ebert.  I say fantastic because he is a great writer, not because I agree with his views on the film.  Apparently, this is one of the greatest Catholic movies of all time.  I wrote a paper my junior year of high school about why the Catholic Church is evil.  Maybe that is why this film didn't click with me.

Ebert also commends the fact that the main character rarely smiles and is dead serious the entire time.  All right, I guess.  Is that really a reason to watch a movie?  Nobody smiles?

Overall, I feel like I missed something when watching this movie that other people seem to get.  This could be owing to my stupidity but I think it has more to do with the fact that the film is a major snore.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

The main character is supposedly an inspiration for Travis Bickle's character in Taxi Driver.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

237. The African Queen

The African Queen
Directed by John Huston

Yay!  This is one of those joyous occasions where I get to review one of my favorite films of all time.  Actually, come to think of it, this is pretty hard because I don't know if I can convey through my writing how good it is.  Oh no! The pressure!

First of all, the mere fact that this is a movie starring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn should be enough to convince you to watch it.  I get more excited about that pairing than when modern romantic comedies have fifty stars in their casts.

Humphrey Bogart plays Charlie Allnut who is gin drinking, rough river boat captain.  Katharine Hepburn plays a straitlaced spinster who convinces Charlie to use his boat to attack the Germans.  Both roles are so unlike their usual characters that it is truly a thrill to watch them; it's like discovering the actors for the first time.

Of course, the goal of their journey doesn't matter.  What matters is the fact that they are stuck on board together and forced to interact.  I always love movies where two people who otherwise would never have a conversation are put together by circumstances.  Great dialogue always comes out of this scenario.

There are some great adventure sequences, but like I said, at its heart, this film is a romance.  And what a great romance this is.

RATING: *****

Interesting Facts:

Bogart won his only Oscar for this film.

Huston hired locals to help with the movie but many would not show for fear that the filmmakers were cannibals.

#65 in AFI's top 100.

Bogart and Huston were the only ones that avoided getting sick during filming, mostly because they drank so much alcohol.

236. Pandora and The Flying Dutchman

Pandora and The Flying Dutchman
Directed by Albert Lewin

I was visiting my sister recently for Thanksgiving and while we were walking home after dinner, I started to lament about not being able to find this movie anyway.  As Rachel often does, she took my problem into her own hands and we took a detour to the film library.  Within two minutes we had picked up a movie that I had been looking for for several months.

I will admit, we did not pay close attention to the movie.  I got distracted by Rachel's 1001 book.  She is horrible at checking things off and she made me (aka I did it without her permission) proofread her list.  Then I got excited because she had candy.  Then we played a drinking game.  Then I finally settled down to pay attention and…the film was over.

So here is what I gathered.  Ava Gardner is a horrible bitch who manipulates men because she is so fucking gorgeous.  She even convinces a man to push his car off a cliff for her.  If I suggested that, I am pretty sure I would be the one flying off the cliff.  But I digress.

I guess she met her match with this sailor guy?  And then she destroyed one of his paintings?  Maybe other stuff happened?

Obviously, I might have dropped the ball on this review a little.  I did notice that the cinematography was absolutely beautiful.  I don't feel too guilty.  I watch so many movies alone.  It makes me forget that sometimes movies are more about your experience than the one the filmmaker attended.  Cue the music that plays in sitcoms when someone learns a lesson.

RATING: ***-- (maybe?)

Interesting Facts:

First color film of Ava Gardner's.

Considered one of the most beautiful films ever made.

235. The Lavender Hill Mob

The Lavender Hill Mob
Directed by Charles Crichton

I have been looking forever for this film (okay, maybe a year) and couldn't find it.  For whom it may concern, this movie is available to rent on iTunes.  Although I really would not bother.

Another Ealing studios British comedy.  Oh dear.   Did not laugh once.  You are a disgrace to the force, Alec Guiness!

So this time Obi Wan Kenobi stars as a boring man who supervises the transfer of gold bullion to different banks.  He decides that he wants to steal the gold so executes a plan in which the gold is transformed into Eiffel Tower replicas.  There is a nasty scene where two men run down the Eiffel Tower and the camera twirls around in a nauseating fashion.  I say it was nasty because I watched it in the car on the way to Thanksgiving festivities and I already have a tendency of getting motion sickness.  Damn limeys.

Anyway, the most remarkable thing about this movie is that Audrey Hepburn is in the film for about ten seconds.  It is always cool to see famous people in movies before they make it big.

This movie is in no way offensive or awful but it isn't funny.  Call me crazy but I think a comedy should have a few laughs.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Considered to be Hepburn's first appearance in a major film.

To avoid missing the American market, the studio followed the Hayes code.

A special committee was formed comprised of employees of the Bank of England to devise a way that people could steal gold.  The committee came up with the idea of disguising the gold into towers.

234. Strangers on a Train

Strangers on a Train
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

This is another movie that everyone has seen or at least heard about.  Nothing like another homoerotic Hitchcock!

This film centers on two men who meet on a train (spoiler!).  They talk about how perfect it would be if  a stranger killed another stranger's enemies and vice versa, because the crimes would be really hard to trace.  When I first heard about this film, I thought the two characters would then follow through on this plan.  However, it is a bit darker than that.  Robert Walker is a psycho and wants to implement this plan while Farley Granger laughs it off.  However, when Walker, ahem, plays his part, he wants Granger to play his.  Oh and they may be lovers.  Who knows?

If there is one thing Hitchcock is good at, it is playing out our worst nightmares.  Whether it be being accused of a crime we didn't commit or having a total stranger stalk you, he nails it (or if your worst nightmare is all of the birds turning against us, he has a movie for that too).

This is a great movie; just fantastic and interesting from start to finish.  A truly original storyline in the most capable of hands.

RATING: *****

Interesting Facts:

HITCHCOCK RADAR: Early in the film, getting on the train.

Raymond Chandler was absurdly rude to Hitchcock during filming.

Last feature film of Robert Walker.

233. A Streetcar Named Desire

A Streetcar Named Desire
Directed by Elia Kazan

If you haven't seen this film, I have no idea what planet you have lived on for the past fifty years.  Actually, I hesitate to say that because I am sure that people my age probably have never even heard of it.  Damn kids.

In any case, you have probably heard countless references to the movie.  Off the top of my head:
All right, so for tradition's sake, I will give a brief summary of the film.  This movie is about….god, what is this film about?  I guess Blanche (Vivien Leigh) goes to live with her sister and her husband (Marlon Brando) and um, shit goes down.

Okay, it is a little hard to explain.  I think what has immortalized this film is mostly due to the great performances by the actors.  Leigh plays the emotionally damaged woman perfectly and Brando is a wonderful sexy asshole.  That actually is probably not too far off from real life…

I should also mention the unforgettable lines, not only "STELLA!" but also "I have always depended on the kindness of strangers."  Just watch so you can join the human race.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Vivien Leigh had bipolar disorder in real life and trouble separating her life from Blanche's.  Called it.

#47 in AFI's top 100.

One of two films to win three Academy Awards for acting.

232. The Big Carnival

The Big Carnival
Also called Ace In the Hole which is what it is under Netflix
Directed by Billy Wilder

Happy Belated Thanksgiving!  Hope everyone at a great time or at least, um, survived.

I popped this movie to watch while I unpacked from my trip.  I opened The Book and realized I had seen the next five films on the list.  This is going to be one of those times that I write for hours to catch up, partly due to my obsessiveness and party due to the fact that I have no life.

All right, this movie centers on Kirk Douglas, a very unethical journalist, who takes advantage of a man trapped in a mine shaft for the media coverage.  Laughs ensue.  Just kidding, it is really quite serious.

So the message of the movie is timeless.  The media is cruel in its exploitation of tragedy and we are just as bad for eating it up.  The extreme examples are, of course, things like Princess Di's death but it works on a much smaller, local level as well.  Like the main character says, good news is no news.

Of course, nowadays the message isn't as fresh as it might have been in 1951.  Still, it is extremely relevant.  It is interesting to watch the public in this film and cringe, but then realize that you might have the exact same reaction.

We get a great performance by Kirk Douglas, who I always seem to underestimate, with reasonably good performances from the supporting cast.  Overall a great and underrated film.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Huge box office flop upon its release.

Wilder was sued for copyright infringement and the case went all the way to the California Supreme Court where he lost.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

231. In a Lonely Place

In a Lonely Place
Directed by Nicolas Ray

This is an incredible film that I have had never heard about until today.  There are some pretty big names associated with it so this could be due more to my ignorance than the obscurity of the film.  Still, this is movie is now possibly my favorite Bogie film (although it is a tough call between this and African Queen).

This story is about Dixon Steele, a screenwriter with a nasty temper.  He is a suspect in a murder involving a young woman but is saved from being arrested by Laurel Gray, a neighbor who gave the police a statement about where he was during the murder.  They, of course, fall in love as attractive people in movies do.  Soon, however, she becomes more and more scared of him and his temper.

Where to begin?  This is one of the best movies I have seen in a long time.  The acting is incredible, of course; Bogie plays perhaps the darkest character of his career so well that I even I was afraid of him.  Gloria Grahame, a rather underrated actress, is also amazing.  By the end of the film, she had managed to make me really emphasize with her character.  Though I was never in such an extreme situation, I too have been genuinely frightened of a man but at the same time I wanted to spare his feelings.  Scary situation.

The dialogue is also incredibly; my favorite line being something that Bogey's character writes: "I was born when she kissed me.  I died when she left me.  I lived a few weeks while she loved me." Truly an amazing film that is both dark and exciting.

Interesting Facts:

Gloria Grahame was separated from her husband, the director, during filming.  She later ended up marrying her stepson (?).

In the book, Steele was a serial killer and a rapist.

People who knew Bogie thought that this role was closest to how he was in real life.  Yikes.

Friday, November 16, 2012

230. Los Olvidados

Los Olvidados
The Young and the Damned
Directed by Luis Bunuel

Full disclosure: I could not find this movie with subtitles.  It seems relatively well known but I could only find it from a less that reputable site that kept asking if I was into Asian women.  No, I am not.

Anyway, in the movies whenever two characters are watching a film with no subtitles, the couple usually adds their own hilarious dialogue and it is generally a pretty adorable scene.  Since I watch movies alone since I have been single for like…ever, it was not fun at all.  I had like four different windows open trying to follow the plot since I don't speak a word of Spanish.  It was not cute or hilarious, it was just irritating.

So from what I gathered, this movie was about a bunch of street toughs doing things.  It was actually pretty brutal.  Several birds were killed on screen and kids were beaten to a pulp.  I think there was also an attempted rape? Maybe?  I don't know.

This was evidently a pretty accurate portrayal of life for kids on Mexican streets.  However, there were fantasy elements in it that made it even harder to understand for me.  I really have no opinion on this.   If you can find a version with subtitles, let me know.  Honestly, it probably wasn't for me with or without subtitles.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

365 shots in the whole movie.

Its theatrical release only lasted for three days due to its response from both the press and the government.

229. Sunset Boulevard

Sunset Boulevard
Directed by Billy Wilder

This is probably one of my favorite films, certainly my favorite film noir.  Everything about this movie is flawless: the directing, the acting, and the dialogue.  Add to that, this movie can be genuinely frightening, although I am sure many jaded viewers would disagree.

Gloria Swanson plays an aging silent film actress star who is determined to remain young (think What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?).  William Holden is a Johnny Everyman is a nobody who unfortunately gets wrapped up in her crazy.  The movie starts with Holden shot in the back in a swimming pool and in true film noir style, goes back and fills in the blanks with voiceovers.

When I said the movie was scary, I was not just talking about Swanson's chilling performance (although that picture above is pretty creepy).  The directing is extremely well done, making Norma Desmond's mansion look like a house of horrors complete with a creepy butler.

There is also a certain sentimental aspect that came with watching this movie for me.  Having see so many silent films in my journey, I also felt a pang that that era was over (although I did not lose my sanity over it).

Just a fantastic movie; film noir does not get better than this.  Are we done with film noir with this movie.  Here come the tears!

RATING: *****

Interesting Facts:

#16 in AFI's top 100.

Cecil De Mille demanded $20,000 to appear for a cameo.

Buster Keaton did a cameo.

"All right, Mr. DeMille.  I am ready for my close up," is listed as #7 in AFI's top 100 movie lines.

228. All About Eve

All About Eve
Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Surprisingly enough, Bette Davis does not play the title character.  Eve is actually played by Anne Baxter but when you are talking about this film Eve is quite inconsequential.

This movie is about…well, it is kind of hard to pin down this movie's plot summary in a couple sentences.  I will do my best.  A young ingenue becomes part of a group of showbiz friends.  Lies, betrayal, ruthless ambition, etc.

This is an extremely quotable film (most notably, of course, the bumpy night line) and the acting is flawless.  Shout out to Marilyn Monroe, though she is only in it for a few minutes, is extremely radiant and talented.

This is one of those movies that is so famous and critically acclaimed that it is hard for me to do a good review of mostly because so many people that are more talented than me have already written in depth analyses that my review couldn't touch.  I have never even taken a film class!

It is a dark film but a brilliant one.  Go to Roger Ebert's blog if you want depth!

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Bette Davis' croaky voice was due to the fact that she burst a blood vessel yelling at her soon to be ex husband.  Yikes.

14 Academy Award nominations.

#28 in AFI's top 100.

Davis fell in love with costar Gary Merrill during filming.

227. Rio Grande

Rio Grande
Directed by John Ford

I just finished watching this movie with my parents as they are avid Wayne fans.  Yep, it is a Friday night and I was watching a movie with my parents.  Shut up!

Anyway, when you look at this film objectively, it is just awful.  We all know that John Wayne makes a better icon than an actor.  There are also really random musical numbers sprinkled throughout this film.  It also is extremely racist, with the Apaches being depicted more like demons than humans.

However, people tend to never look at westerns objectively. Westerns often remind us of parents or grandparents.  This sentimentality we associate with westerns make us excuse all its faults and just have a good time with it.  I am not saying this is a bad thing.  On the contrary, I had a lot of fun watching this with my parents despite all its flaws.

I should mention that the stunts done with the horses are mind-blowing (I actually gasped a couple times) and the scenery is, of course, beautiful at times.  Curl up with some relatives and enjoy the film.  It actually would make a good Thanksgiving film; goes with the theme of mass genocide!

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Two stuntmen died during the river scene.

John Wayne considered this a parable for the Korean War.

First of five movies starring Maureen O'Hara and John Wayne.

One of three films from Ford's cavalry collection.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

226. Winchester 73

Winchester 73
Directed by Anthony Mann

On the surface, this looks a really cliche western.  You got James Stewart as a reluctant hero, the flat bad guys, and the blond dame that is tougher than she looks.  However, this is actually a deeper movie that I thought it was going to be.  Which is good news for me because that means a longer blog post and more procrastination!

So this movie is basically about a gun.  The film follows the gun as it changes hands many times.  Kind of like the Ring of Power.  Everybody wants it, but only Frodo will be able to handle its power and bring it to Mount Doom.  Ahem.  I meant James Stewart.

It goes without saying that the acting is excellent.  The directing is pretty inspired too; of course, Ford will always be the champion Western director, but Anthony Mann does a good job too.  Wow, that sounded way more condescending than I wanted it to be.  He's good, all right?  Let's just move on.

Anyway, like I said at the beginning, there are plenty of cliches in this film.  However, cliches in westerns are part of the charm of the genre.  There are really great characters in this film.  This review sucks but watch it anyway.  What can I say?  I'm tired!

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Jimmy Stewart took a percentage of the profits from the film instead of the regular acting fee.  He was one of the first actors to do this and started a trend that would ultimately end the studio-actor relationship.

Saved Jimmy Stewart's career as he was worried he was being typecast as a wimp.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

225. Rashomon

Directed by Akira Kurosawa

I read the trivia for this movie before I watched it and I immediately knew I was in for a treat (scroll down to see why).  Japanese cinema is always a treat.  Recently at a family dinner I said that my favorite action movie was Seven Samurai and I was practically booed out of the room.  But haters gonna hate and these movies are awesome.

A samurai is murdered in the forest.  A priest, his wife, and a woodcutter are all witnesses to the murder.  We hear and watch each of their stories, with the plot being slightly different each time depending on the person's agenda.  This kind of unreliable narrative has been done many times since (I was about to give some examples but I don't want to ruin any movies for you).  Actually, it was done before in Citizen Kane but Kurosawa swears he  saw Citizen Kane for the first time two years after he was done with this film.  Either way, it is extremely well done here; each time you watch the story unfold, your perspective changes until you mind is blown and you can't do anything productive for the rest of the day.  At least, that is what I am telling myself.

So the story is intriguing and entertaining until the last minute.  The actors are all excellent as well though her eyebrows are really weird; check it out:

But I digress.  Finally, the directing and cinematography are truly inspired; the film is beautiful 100% of the time.  A must watch movie.

RATING: *****

Interesting Facts:

Slugs kept raining down from the trees so the cast and crew had to slather themselves with salt to keep them away.

The word "Rashomon" was recently added to the Oxford English Dictionary with the definition "of or relating to the film Rashomon.

First time someone pointed the camera directly at the sun.

To make the rain show up against the backdrop, the crew put black ink in the rain.  This is clearly visible on the cast's faces in some scenes.

Often cited as the reason the Academy added The Best Foreign Film category.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

224. Asphalt Jungle

Asphalt Jungle
Directed by John Huston

I did seven of these today, not counting the 1940s Oscars.  I am becoming more prolific than Nora Roberts, although hopefully I don't suck quite as much.

The thing about early crime movies is you always know how it is going to end.  Because of the production code, you know the criminals can't not get away with it.  So you are kind of just waiting for some horrible fate to befall them.  It can still be interesting but there is really no intrigue or suspense.

If this film had been made post 1968 it could have been really awesome.  As it is, however, it is merely so-so.  This is a heist film but because people are greedy and unreliable, everything goes to hell.  Huston really had a thing about greed, I guess.  Anyway, as you can see from the above picture Marilyn Monroe has a part, though she is by no means the star.  I always love seeing young actors before they were famous.

The movie has absolutely no balls, which is really not its fault but it stills suffers because of it.  Still worth a watch.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Body count is only 4.  Come on.  I can't wait for Reservoir Dogs…

Total scoring is around five minutes.

223. Orphee

1950 (!)
Directed by Jean Cocteau

I was all proud of myself for going through so many movies and blog posts today.  You can do a lot of writing and watching if you ignore all your important work.  I recommend this method.  In any case, my drive is starting to lose fuel so I will pump out this review and Asphalt Jungle and call it a day.

I told my mom today that I was starting the 50s and she said "maybe now I will have heard of some of these movies." Well, sorry Mom, because we are kicking off the 50s with a movie no one has ever heard of. Such is the way of the list.

Anyway, you most likely have heard of the story of Eurydice and Orpheus. This is like that except he really does love Eurydice; he is in love with Lady Death.  Poor Eurydice.

I have a deep respect for French films; the acting is nearly always phenomenal, at least from the movies I have seen.  This film is no exception.  The movie is also filmed in a very dreamlike way that I got really into.  However, it is not the most exciting film; I'd say I was bored for about one third of it.

It had its merits but ultimately is not worth it.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais were lovers.

Cocteau drew the opening titles.

1940s Oscars

Another decade gone and the golden age of Hollywood is drawing to a close.  This has, as always, been a fantastic ten years of movies.  We certainly have had the downs as well, but again, as always, the good outweighed the bad.  This moment is always bittersweet because although I do feel accomplished I am going to miss this era.  This era has the best actors, lines, and the grittiest noirs.  Truly amazing and it makes me sad that this decade is often ignored by my generation.  Oh well, on with the awards!

Best Picture:
Double Indemnity
Ox Bow Incident
The Magnificent Ambersons
Red Shoes
Letters from an Unknown Woman
Now, Voyager

Best Director:
Alfred Hitchcock (shut up; he will always win!)
Carol Reed
Joseph Mankiewitz
Emeric Pressberger
Michael Powell

Best Actress:
Olivia de Havilland
Joan Fontaine
Joan Bennett
Katharine Hepburn
Moira Shearer

Best Actor:
Henry Fonda
James Cagney
Joseph Cotten
James Stewart
Spencer Tracy
Humphrey Bogart

Worst Picture:
Ivan The Terrible
Fires Were Started
Monsieur Verdoux
Louisiana Story

Best Line:
"Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."
"The stuff dreams were made of!"
"Made it, Ma.  Top of the world!"
"Oh Jerry, let's don't ask for the moon.  We have the stars."

222. On The Town

On The Town
Directed by Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly

This screenshot itself should be enough to tell that this movie is awesome.  I mean, come on!  How can you not love a movie where the tourists are pointing away from the sights?

So everyone says that this film is about three sailors who have less than twenty four hours to get laid in New York City.  I prefer to take their words at face value and believe that they are simply looking for romance.  For instance, whenever Frank Sinatra and the taxi driver finally are alone after they get the wacky roommate out of the apartment, they turn to each other and hug and the camera fades out.  I believe that is far as they went that night.  Don't burst my Gene Kelly musical bubble!

Anyway, this film is a delight, pure and simple.  As proof, I will post my favorite musical number:
Okay, if you don't want to watch this movie right now, I have either failed or you are heartless.  Great musical numbers, relentless cheerfulness, and Gene Kelly!  Who could ask for anything more?

RATING: *****

Interesting Facts:

First musical to be filmed on location.

221. The Third Man

The Third Man
Directed by Carol Reed

I watched this film quite awhile ago when I was still trying to figure out why everyone made such a fuss about Orson Welles.  He actually does not direct this movie and only briefly shows up for about five minutes.  Of course, he still steals the show.

A man discovers his friend is dead and begins investigating.  He gets much more than he bargains for!

This movie actually feels really modern; you get a hot broad, political intrigue, heroes, and villains.  In fact, if it wasn't for the film being in black and white, I am pretty sure I could convince people my age that this came out last year.  I doubt they know who Orson Welles or Joseph Cotten are.  Hmmmmm….

My superiority complex aside, this is a fantastic movie.  Hats off to Carol Reed, who is particularly good at keeping you in suspense depending on what he does or doesn't show.  In fact, look out for the cat scene because that is one of Roger Ebert's favorite camera shots of all time.  Great twists and entertaining to the last minute.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Orson Welles was two weeks late for filming.  What a diva.

Carol Reed operated on around two hours of sleep every day while filming.

#57 in AFI's top 100.

220. A Reckless Moment

A Reckless Moment
Directed by Max Ophuls

Film noir has never been the most unique genre out there.  There is a strict formula that most movies adhere to, which makes constant viewings of these films a bit tedious.  However, this one was noir with a twist of the "whaaaaaattt????" factor that made it quite worth the watch.

The plot of this movie is a bit complicated and I fear that what I say will spoil it for you.  Suffice to say, a blackmailer falls in love with a blackmailee (just made up that word; deal with it) and and attempts to stop the blackmailing process.  Well, the other blackmailer will have nothing of that.  Hilarity ensues.  Just kidding, it is actually pretty gruesome.

Anyway, this movie is worth watching if only for analyzing each character and their motivations.  First of all,  James Mason, the guy who plays the enamored blackmailer, is a puzzle.  They really give no reason for him to fall in love with Joan Bennett.  Did he just think he was in love because subconsciously he was not a bad guy and wanted to back out of the plan?  And Joan Bennett.  Was she actually in love or was she manipulating him?  According to film noir laws, probably the latter because all women are bitches in that genre.

The film leaves these questions quite open ended and it is pretty much up to you to decide.  I would like to discuss my opinion with someone but if I met anyone I knew who had seen this movie I would drop dead of shock.  Check it out.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

The producer, Walter Wanger, and Joan Bennett were married from 1940 until 1965.  In 1951, Wanger shot Bennett's manager because he thought they were having an affair.  And they didn't get divorced until 1965?!?!

219. White Heat

White Heat
Directed by Raoul Walsh

This is probably the most violent film on the list so far.  I suppose that they got away with it because bad guys get their comeuppance.  Still, I was shocked; I mean, a man does gets his face steamed off.

This film is about Cody Jarrett who has some serious mommy issues, as psychopaths usually do.  He does psychotic things, gets put in jail, breaks out, and then proceeds to do more psychotic things.

We haven't seen a good gangster film in awhile and this brought me back to the glory days, in the early thirties, where we had one every five movies.  Besides the sheer shock value, this is actually a really good movie; exciting to the end with really excellent lines.  Just goes to show that you don't have to watch a Scorsese movie to have a bad guy blood bath.

RATING: *****

Interesting Facts:

The bizarre relationship between Cody and his mother was based on the relationship that bank robber Kate Barker had with her sons.

Ranked #4 in AFI's top 10 gangster films.

218. Whisky Galore!

Whisky Galore!
Directed by Alexander Mackendrick

Island people decide that life truly is not worth living if they don't have whisky so they attempt to steal it from a shipwreck.  Does this sound totally stupid to you?  It sounds even more stupid to me since I think whisky has one of the most vile tastes on the planet.

But that is neither here nor there.  This is supposed to be a farce, which means the plot can be paper thin as long as it makes you laugh. The problem is, this movie did not make me laugh.  I feel like my readers (hi Mom and Dad) will think I am a total buzzkill who hates laughing.   I assure you that I there are plenty of comedies that I like that will be reviewed later on.

For now, this movie isn't really funny.  It is actually just about a bunch of alcoholics (including a seven year old boy) with some pointless romantic subplots.  British humor strikes again.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Based on a real life incident.

Shot on the island of Barra.  I do have to say, the scenery was beautiful.

The title was changed in the US because there was a ban on titles with alcoholic drinks in them.  USA!