Friday, April 5, 2013

If Your Doctor Gets Amnesia, Does That Mean You Don't Have To Pay The Bill?

Too bad Alfred Hitchcock didn't tackle that problem in Spellbound but he did raise other important issues like wild psychedelic dreams twenty years before everyone started taking acid.  And a bunch of other films as I shorten my list of nominated movies.

Spellbound (1945) - Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck are psychoanalysts in a Vermont mental hospital and you find out rather quickly that Gregory Peck is an imposter and doesn't know who he is.  A bit of twists and turns and a wild dream scene designed by Salvador Dali even without dripping clocks is still good.  Typical Hitchcock mystery with twists and turns but still a classic, not his best, but not his worst.

At this point seeing four out of five for this year, The Lost Weekend still stands as the best so far.  It is a great gritty drama and has more attack bats than the other films nominated that year.  Although Joan Crawford does give a good challenge to the attack bat, I'll wait until I see The Bells Of St. Mary's to properly rank everything.

Chocolat (2000) - A nice film about a worldly woman who comes to a small French town with her daughter in the late 1950's.  The town is very rigid and traditional and she opens a chocolate shop and puts the town on its head during the Easter holiday.  Very good acting, the story moves well and to be honest it was much better than I though it would be.  It's a very enjoyable movie.

This now closes out 2000 and the best picture of the year was the Oscar winner Gladiator.  It was overall the best produced movie.  The acting was good, could have been better.  The cinematography was great, the battle scenes were great.  A complete movie compared to it's competition.  Second would be Chocolat since it was also a good film but didn't have the epic like quality of Gladiator.  Third is Traffic since it took chances you don't see in other movies, like the different story lines in different color shades.  Fourth is Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon mainly since it was a foreign film and it is rare for them to be nominated for best picture.  Fifth is Erin Brockovich mainly since it is good film but not as good as the other four.

Seventh Heaven (1927) - A silent classic from the first year of best picture nominees.  Starring a young Janet Gaynor who won best actress and Charles Farrell as a sewer cleaner who saves Janet Gaynor from her abusive sister and pretends she is his wife to keep her from being arrested.  Have I mentioned that Europe is not better than us lately?  As you can guess they have to pretend until the police come but start to build a relationship.  Just at the point when they are going to fall in love, WWI starts.  So he goes off, she takes care of the house and he comes back after being left for dead but only ends up blind and finds his way back home to be with her.  Trust me, it's better than my description.

There is one more film to see for the first year and I know it's not going to make this any easier.  Both Wings and Seventh Heaven are amazing films.  Maybe the Racket will help push one of these to the top, or be better than the other two nominees.  Since I have it on tape and will be seeing it soon I will be able to close out the first year.

The Lives Of A Bengal Lancer (1935) - A classic action film with Gary Cooper as an English Army officer in India out in the northwest frontier fighting rebels.  Lots of shooting, great explosions or as good as you could get in 1935 and a bit of comedy makes this a great overall film.

This puts me at eleven out of twelve since it was one of two years where they nominated twelve movies.  And while this was a great film, Mutiny On The Bounty is still the best of all of them.  I can see why they nominated so many films, so many of them were really good, this one is definately in the top five for the year.

Bad Girl (1932) - A pre code classic staring James Dunn years before his Oscar in A Tree Grows In Brooklyn and Sally Eilers as two wise cracking people who end up falling in love and try to deal with married life.  Since each of the are so stubborn they always make mountains out of molehills of everything.  But of course love conquers all so you know they'll turn out alright.

This now closes out 1932 and it was a strong year.  While it can be challenged but Grand Hotel is the best picture because it is so rare to see so many stars in one film from this era.  And such great acting from all of them.  I want to say there is a three way tie for second, but I can't cop out again like I did with 1939 so I will have to go with The Champ since it has such lasting power and one of the most powerfully moving endings with Jackie Cooper loosing it, try and not get choked up.  Third and only by a razor edge would be Five Star Final from the amazing acting of Edward G. Robinson.  And the last of this tie for fourth is Arrowsmith as a great John Ford film with Ronald Colman in one of his finest roles.  Bad Girl is in fifth, the top of the bottom half, but the hill slopes down very steep at this point putting One Hour With You at sixth, Shanghai Express at seventh and last The Smiling Lieutenant.

Imitation Of Life (1934) - The original one that was nominated staring Claudette Colbert and Louise Beavers.  A nice story about a widow who ends up hiring Louise Beavers as a housekeeper since she is doing door to door sales of maple syrup and trying to raise a small daughter.  She trades room and board for Louise Beavers and a place for her daughter to live too.  Claudette Colbert eventually risks it all to open a pancake shop using Louise Beavers' family recipe and they become moderately successful.  That is until the great Ned Sparks tells them to package the mix to make even more money.  She does and becomes the pancake queen, a rather cool title I may add.  Mix in issues of race relations, mother and daughter falling for the same guy and you have a movie with some good ups and downs.

This now puts me at eleven out of twelve as well being the other year to have twelve films.  While it will be a difficult task to rank all of them, this one does sit near the top, maybe a bit closer to the middle.  It is also the third film that Claudette Colbert was in, the other two Cleopatra and the so far leading best picture It Happened One Night.

Wilson (1944) - A very, very fictionalized account of the life of Woodrow Wilson.  A major flop when it came out, which is not surprising since people still remembered how horrible his presidency was twenty five years later.  It's like if someone made a movie about Pol Pot and only talked about how much he loved farming and wanted to get the community to become more involved in growing their own food and ignore that whole killing field thing.  It's long, boring and a complete waste of time.  Probably the worst film of the decade.  Unless you're a mental patient like me who has to see every film nominated, don't see it, you'll be happy that you didn't waste the two and half hours of your life.

But seeing my 441th film has helped me finish out 1944.  I will have to say of the four films that were worth being nominated, obviously excluding Wilson, Since You Went Away should have won best picture over Going My Way.  I understand that WWII was going on and Going My Way is a comforting movie, but so is Since You Went Away.  And Lionel Barrymore has a bit part in there, how can you compete with that?  Going My Way is in my opinion the second best film of the year.  For third it does get tough again between Gaslight and Double Indemnity, each of them having major influence on society.  I will have to flip a movie reel and say Double Indemnity takes third because it influenced so many other film noir directors.  Gaslight has become part of our popular culture and even 70 years later if you say you are gas lighting someone, they know what you mean.  Very few movies have that distinction.  And last is Wilson, proving once again that the people who pick the movies sometimes really get it wrong.

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