Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Life of Pip

Not only Great Expectations, but four other films that helped me finish off the year with 425 movies seen so far.  I am closing in, even with a little over 75 to go as I am writing this, including the new nominees which I will post about later, my goal is to try and see 50 more this year.  I may have to break down and rent a movie or two, but to average one a week will get me that much closer to seeing everything.

Great Expectations (1947) - The classic Charles Dickens tale about an orphan who does something nice for an escaped prisoner, who gets recaptured and then when released becomes a secret benefactor to him.  Very well acted by John Mills, Alec Guinness and Finley Currie.  And very rare to see a well done English film from this era.

This now completes 1947 and Gentleman's Agreement was the best film of the year.  Second is close, but Miracle on 34th Street edges out Great Expectations since it has become a lasting Christmas classic.  Very close behind in fourth is The Bishop's Wife and last is Crossfire.

Madame Curie (1943) - A rather fictionalized but well acted movie based on the lives of Marie and Pierre Curie, the same people who found radium.  They cashed in on it since chemicals were very popular in France in those days and ***(Spoiler Alert)*** they win a Nobel Prize, back when it still had value.  It brought back the great combination of Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon who were also a couple in the previous best picture Mrs. Miniver.

No matter how good this film was, it went up against Casablanca.  I would put it in the middle of the pack for this year, for example it was better than Heaven Can Wait but not better than the Ox Bow Incident.  Only two more to go for this year, but nothing is going to be better than Casablanca.  If it was, everyone would be talking about it, and they're not.

Les Miserables ( 1935) - The first one to be nominated for a best picture Oscar and it wasn't a musical.  Fredric March plays Jean Valjean and Charles Laughton is Inspector Javert.  I hate to say this because I don't want to belittle Charles Laughton's incredible acting, but he looked like John Candy.  This version covers more of him in prison and on the lam, but very little with the street battles with the army, guessing the budget wasn't there.  Also doesn't have the full ending.  It was made one year after Raymond Bernard made a four and a half hour version that covered the street battles wonderfully, but didn't show him much in prison, in fact starts when he is being let out.  Also this version has a lot of differences from the novel, but still a good film.

As I close out this year, still three to go, Mutiny On The Bounty is still the best film.  While this movie also had Charles Laughton, he was much better in Mutiny and Clark Gable was better than Fredric March

One Hour With You (1932) - A silly romantic musical comedy with Maurice Chevallier and Jeanette MacDonald.  The two of them in a movie and it not being a musical would be shocking.  Mainly a story about a doctor whom people is having an affair with his wife's friend or something mindless like that.  Like I said it was silly and a lot of fluff, but enjoyable if you like that sort of thing, but I don't.

This went up against Grand Hotel, and it clearly lost.  It is currently fighting The Smiling Lieutenant  for last place and with one more film to go for this year it will stay near the bottom.

Double Indemnity (1944) - The classic film noir movie.  Even though I have never seen it before now, I knew the story since it has been used and parodied many times.  Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray, who did play a kind father in My Three Sons also had a lot of movie roles where he was really evil, this one no exception.  Well shot, somewhat cheesy with a lot of the lines, but very enjoyable.  And Edward G. Robinson is great as always, but really does hold the film together floating in and out of scenes.

While it didn't win it set the standard for other films in this genre.  It lost to Going My Way, which is a nice film but not as meaty as Double Indemnity.  My guess is if it came out a few years later it could of won, but this was made during WWII and I think that is what kept it from winning.  That and I also think that Since You Went Away was much better and it should have won, but I have one more film from this year and I will be watching it soon.

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