Wednesday, March 21, 2012

It's been awhile.......

It's been awhile since I have posted and I have seen a bunch of movies. Nothing like taking a few days off to watch movies.

Darling (1965) - Julie Christie staring in her Oscar winning role, and besides that there wasn't much to this film. She was fantastic, the movie, eh. It's the story of a model who is bored with everything around her and chronicles her rise to royalty.

This means that I have finished 1965 and my mind has not changed, The Sound of Music was the best picture. As much as I don't like musicals, this is a really, really good one and a good film. Second is A Thousand Clowns for being such a great dramatic comedy. Doctor Zhivago in all of it's depression is third, Darling is fourth and fifth is Ship of Fools.

Foreign Correspondent (1940) - A Hitchcock film that competed against itself for best picture with Rebecca. It doesn't have the great Laurence Olivier, it has Joel McCrea. It's a spy thriller about a journalist who is sent to Europe and gets tangled up in a murder mystery conspiracy.

The film is a Hitchcock film, so it is good. Not as good as Rebecca, or other movies that year, but good suspense as you would expect from Alfred Hitchcock that doesn't disappoint.

The Long Voyage Home (1940) - Based on four plays by Eugene O'Neill about sailors on a ship in early World War II in the Atlantic. Directed by John Ford and staring John Wayne is all you need to know that this is a film worth watching. The stories blend into one another so that they are one film, but unless you knew the film was based on four different plays, the story seems a bit choppy.

This makes the ninth out of ten films for 1940, so I can't make an official assessment, but this one is up near the top.

State Fair (1933) - Staring Janet Gaynor, Will Rodgers and Lew Ayres, a non musical version of an Iowa family spending a week at the state fair and all of the drama, romance and comedy that comes with this. It's a light hearted film that is very enjoyable, very funny at times. To be honest I am glad I didn't see this movie when I was younger, I would not have understand it as a kid growing up in New York City. But I have been to state fairs and know what significance they hold, especially to people in rural areas.

It's not as serious as Cavalcade or other films nominated that year, so I can see why it didn't win best picture. But never-the-less a good classic film. See it before it falls apart even more and is lost forever.

The Thin Red Line (1998) - An all star WWII film about the battle of Guadalcanal. Very violent and gritty, good qualities of a war movie. A few too many characters makes it hard to follow the multiple story lines and to be honest Steven Spielberg did a better job with Saving Private Ryan. Some great acting though, but a rather long movie.

I still haven't seen the best picture of 1998, Shakespeare in Love, so this will sit in a holding comparison pattern. So far all the films I've seen make 1998 a very strong year.

Trader Horn (1931) - They don't make movies like this anymore, and probably for good reason. If you attempted to make a remake and keep the integrity of the original you wouldn't stop being sued. A "Many animals were harmed" disclaimer could also be used for this film. It's a story about a trader adventurer who ends up "saving" a white queen, a young girl who was taken from her missionary parents as a baby in Africa. From a standpoint on race it makes Birth of a Nation look like Remember the Titans.

Still the footage is amazing, it was filmed in Africa in the early 1930's. It's worth seeing it just for that. Doesn't come up to the level of Cimarron which was a bit of a mini epic, but still a good movie.

In Old Arizona (1929) - Don't mess with the Cisco Kid. Somehow Army sergeants from Brooklyn don't get this. The film is very old, one of the first major sound films. It's about Arizona before it was a state and how the Army is trying to track down the Cisco Kid who steals horses, gold, women, ham steaks and anything he gets his hands on. Typical Western storyline, action and scenery, but good enough to be one of the few Westerns to get nominated for best picture. It's hard to compare films from this time period to modern films, but there is something so cool to see a movie from over 80 years ago.

1929 was a mixed year, not counting that stock market thing. It was bad because President Coolidge left office, but my paternal grandmother was married that year which was good since further actions allowed me to post my ramblings on the Internet. I've only now seen two films from this year, so I still can't determine which was better, I'll leave it in second for now next to Broadway Melody which won best picture.

Blossoms in the Dust (1941) - A bio-pic about Edna Gladney, the woman who started the Texas Children's Home and Aid Society staring the beautiful Greer Garson. Not the most accurate portrayal, but most movies do take liberties. A very enjoyable movie, warm and heartfelt, makes you realize how tough it was to be an orphan back in the day. Things that we take for granted today were not the same ninety years ago. Does make you appreciate and honor those who work to get children adopted.

Now to try and compare this movie with the best picture of 1941 is a fruitless venture since the movie that won for best picture was NOT the best picture. This is the infamous year of Citizen Kane being snubbed, so the best that this film could do is second best, but so far seeing eight out of nine, it's falling in the middle.

Song of Bernadette (1943) - The story of a teenage girl who in the 1850's in France believed she saw the Virgin Mary and dug up a underwater well of mineral water. The film does do a good job to balance the religious overtones with reality. If you believe in the story as true then the film shows you it happened. If you question the truth the film also presents it from the logical perspective to show that it was circumstance and not a miracle. That is the sign of a good movie that can bring both sides together. Otherwise it is very, very long and you get the point rather quickly. Also France in the 1850's looks just as filthy as today, some things never change.

This film is good enough to be in the top ten of the year, but nowhere near to Casablanca.

The Right Stuff (1983) - The 385th film I have seen so far. The epic film based on the Mercury Seven and Chuck Yeager during the dawn of the space age. Star studded cast, good special effects, very well done movie. Reminds you how brave the first Astronauts were and how great of an American Chuck Yeager is.

Since I have now seen all films nominated for 1983 I can finally say that this was a very weak year for movies. As I posted before I considered this a year where all the films had a losing record. Well one film hit the .500 mark (or at least 9 and 7) which would be The Right Stuff. Not that it is a great film, but it is good and better than the others. Second would be Tender Mercies, mainly because of Robert Duvall and not because of the film. Third would be The Dresser, fourth is Terms Of Endearment and fifth is The Big Chill. Glad this year is over with.

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