Monday, February 6, 2012

Apparently it's Illegal to impersonate a Gondolier in Italy

And when arrested by all means don't make fun of the police officer. Got around to seeing a few more movies on my list, one of them as the title suggests was Top Hat. Things were tough during Mussolini, wonder if they have eased that restriction?

Top Hat (1935) - Film number 365 was the famous Fred Astaire / Ginger Rogers musical that featured Cheek to Cheek. Realized that Edward Everett Horton was the narrator for Fractured Fairy Tales on Rocky and Bullwinkle years later after saying to myself, why do I know that voice? The film is basically a dance film that they built a script around. Just as it was described in the Robert Altman film The Player, they take two stars and let the film write itself. The plot is based on mistaken identity, no different than any sitcom, think Three's Company. It's the type of movie that someone would go to in 1935 to forget about the failed economic policies of FDR. Great dancing scenes but the rest of the script has jokes that fall flat and lots of unrealistic conflicts. Otherwise it is a great film if you enjoy grand dance scenes.

Was it the best film of the year, no far from it. But it is a classic.

Libeled Lady (1936) - This is one of the funniest movies I have seen in a long time. And not just funny for 1936, great comedy from very talented actors and actresses and a great script. Staring Jean Harlow, William Powell, Myrna Loy and Spencer Tracy, this film is terrific. Its defined as a screwball comedy about a newspaper that publishes a false story about a socialite played by Myrna Loy and the newspaper editor played by Spencer Tracy trying to do damage control. He brings in William Powell to help create a real scandal with Myrna Loy and forces his girlfriend played by Jean Harlow to marry William Powell. The chemistry is great, enjoyable all the way through, really a great film.

Should this film won best picture? As I have posted before, The Great Ziegfeld must have had a powerful emotion over the academy voters. 1936 is the starting point of a great run of excellent years in Hollywood, peaking in 1939. I have now seen eight out of ten films from this year and all of them have been great. I wasn't alive then and so I can only imagine that nothing was going to beat The Great Ziegfeld.

Witness for the Prosecution (1957) - From the Agatha Christie play staring Charles Laughton, Marlene Dietrich, Tyrone Power and his eyebrows. A murder mystery done from the courtroom setting. Great acting by Charles Laughton, Marlene Dietrich and Tyrone Power's eyebrows. But the movie moves like a typical English mystery, about the same speed as my grandmother would drive in the 45 mph lane. A suspenseful film that's good, not the greatest ever, but worth watching.

Could this have beaten The Bridge on the River Kwai, no who are you kidding?

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