Wednesday, August 1, 2012

No One Smashes Up a Research Lab Like a Welsh Miner

That's right you should have guessed that I saw The Citadel and a bunch of others.  Closed out three more years as well.  I'll start with a classic from the 1930's.

The Citadel (1938) - A King Vidor directed film with Robert Donat and Rosalind Russell about an English doctor who first starts working for Welsh miners in their form of a HMO and tries to research how to cure tuberculosis.  They start getting angry since he won't just give them unnecessary prescriptions or claim them unable to work when they can, so they destroy his lab and research.  He goes to London and falls into the very comfortable trap of getting paid a lot to do basically nothing.  After a terrible accident he questions his morals and fights for his principles, better late than never.

1939 is considered the apex of the early film industry, therefore the years before and after are almost as good.  Again this film did not disappoint.  The acting is amazing, my guess Robert Donat's best actor for 1939 was partially to make up for his performance in this film.  Its not as good as You Can't Take It With You or Grand Illusion, but definitely up there with the best for the year.

On Golden Pond (1981) - Henry Fonda, Katherine Hepburn, Jane Fonda and Dabney Coleman in a somewhat slow moving drama about a daughter dropping off her soon to be step child with her parents in their summer home.  Her father is old, angry and has never liked anyone but bonds with the kid over fishing.  When his daughter comes back she is jealous of the relationship that the kid has that she never did and cries.

This reminded me of In The Bedroom in that there are great actors and actresses with a really boring script.  You replace the actors and you have a really, really bad film.  There isn't much to this film and it's too safe and boring, but with good acting you can make it watchable, or nominated in a weak year.  Not good enough to win best picture though.

Love Story (1970) - Love is never having to say why did I watch this movie.  It is one of the king of the tearjerkers about a young couple getting started in life and the wife gets sick and dies.  Very sappy and melodramatic but a popular film and I will admit since I have watched my wife twice go through life threatening illness, it is very hard to watch someone you love suffer.

Compared to the other movies, it's not the best picture by far, but since I have the last film of that year to review next I can properly rank this movie.

Airport (1970) - The epic everything that could go wrong in a day at a Chicago airport movie.  An all star cast with Bert Lancaster, George Kennedy, Dean Martin and many others.  All of the personal conflicts of each person with a vicious snowstorm and a crazed man with a bomb on a flight to Rome.  Good drama and funny to see people smoking on an airplane.

Since I have now seen all of the films for 1970 this year can be closed out.  Patton was the best film miles above the rest.  You could combine all the other films and they still would not be as good as Patton.  Second would be Five Easy Pieces another strong film that shows the period of time as a photo in an album.  Third is very close but I would give the slight edge to M.A.S.H over Airport, even though both went on to have life during the decade, eleven years on television for M.A.S.H and at least three sequels for Airport, but M.A.S.H was funnier and that will give you an edge.  And last is Love Story.

Atlantic City (1981) - A small film at the time called low budget, now would be called independent, about a gangster who is a legend in his mind who falls into a drug deal and is able to get away with the money.  Burt Lancaster plays the part very well and is supported by Susan Sarandon a woman down on her luck trying to become a blackjack dealer.  They are surrounded by Atlantic City's rebirth that started in the late 1970's and eventually came back to life, as good as you can in New Jersey, by the mid 80's.  So it shows the historic background mixed with the conflicts of the characters.  This is a really good film that does not get enough notice.

Seeing this has now helped me close out 1981.  And Chariots of Fire was the best film, although it was a weak year.  Second I would put Atlantic City since it was such an interesting film, third is the now classic Raiders of the Lost Ark, fourth is On Golden Pond due to the acting and last is Reds which dragged on way to long and seriously who cared?

Smilin' Through (1933) - Norma Shearer, Fredrick March, Leslie Howard star in a sad and confusing story about a man raising his niece who ends up falling in love with the son of the man who killed his wife to be during their wedding fifty years earlier.  I know everyone can relate to this, it happens all the time.  But even though it is a somewhat sappy drama, it moves well and the acting is great.

Now I have seen this film I can attempt to close out 1933.  This will be difficult since I don't think I've ranked a year with ten movies with the exception of 1939 where I copped out and said all were worthy, can't do that this time.  Best picture overall was Cavalcade, dry as it was it was still done really well.  Second is I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang since Paul Muni was amazing in it.  Third is Little Women, the acting was terrific and the classic story just moves you.  The rest would then be 42nd Street a funny musical, then The Private Life of Henry VIII for Charles Laughton's great acting, Smilin' Through as a sold film, next State Fair for being a wholesome movie, Lady for a Day a Capra classic, She Done Him Wrong the great Mae West vehicle and last A Farewell to Arms, acted wonderfully but written by Hemingway will always get you to the back of the line.

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