Friday, December 21, 2012

Merry Christmas, My Friends

Wishing all my dear blog friends the merriest of Christmases.  May it be a day filled to overflowing with love, joy, and laughter.

Our family will be hosting a Christmas Eve dinner for anywhere from 9 to 12 guests, and then Christmas Day, we will be having dinner at a Thai restaurant and, afterwards, taking in Steven Spielberg's highly-acclaimed Lincoln...a film which we have heard nothing but words of praise for.  (While our original plan was to see Les Miserables, which is being released on Christmas Day, last night, we changed our least as far as seeing it as a family.  My daughter and I will probably go see it together sometime in January...just the two of us.)

To end our Christmas day, as is my family's tradition, we will enjoy our annual viewing of It's a Wonderful absolute favorite Christmas movie of all time.  George Bailey was indeed a blessed man...just as I am blessed to have each one of you in my life.  A huge thanks to all of you for faithfully reading what I write.  I've loved the feedback and input y'all leave in your comments.  Truly, you all are my friends, and I am thankful for each of you.

Merry Christmas!!!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Film Finds of 2012

A little more than two weeks until we say goodbye to another year (how is that possible...didn't 2012 just begin a couple weeks ago?). Since I will be watching tried-and-true Christmas favorites for the next week and then, after that, satisfying my need for a William Holden fix with my faves of his films, I think it is pretty safe to assume that I won't be watching any additional "new to me" movies before we bid goodbye to 2012.  Therefore, with the possible exception of Les Miserables, which I will be taking in on Christmas Day, my 5-star film discoveries of this year have already been made, and it is time to reveal them to you, my dear blog readers.

As mentioned in last year's "film finds" post, several 5-star movies were part of my viewing pleasure this year.  However, most of those are favorite films that I simply enjoy watching over and over again.  There were, though, six new-to-me movies which I added to my 5-star list this year, and they are my "film finds" of 2012.  Three of the films are from the 1960's and are now among my favorite films of that decade; two of the films star Kirk Douglas, and given that I do not profess to be a fan of Mr. Douglas, I find that rather remarkable; another of the films (which I almost did not watch) has become the absolute favorite film of my beloved John Garfield; two of the films feature Academy Award-nominated performances by the male lead; finally---and this may come as a surprise to regular readers of my blog, for they know I am a "drama gal"---one of the films is actually a comedy.  So, without further adieu, here are my six "film finds" of 2012:

1.  That Funny Feeling---Though I don't ordinarily lean to comedy, I completely and totally adore this delightful little 1965 Sandra Dee/Bobby Darin romance.  After catching the two of them in Come September, I quickly sought out their other collaborations, and this one is my favorite (though not by much, as I 4-star their other works).   A show business wannabe, the lovely Miss Dee is currently working as a maid, with one of her clients being the handsome Mr. Darin.  Since he has always been out when she has been in the apartment, Sandra has no idea what her client looks like, thus, as she seeks to impress her latest beau, she claims the fancy apartment she cleans to be her own.  Only thing is, Mr. Darin is the man she is seeing, and though confused as to what she is up to and why she is calling his apartment her home, he, nevertheless, goes along with the charade.  Yes, this film is totally predictable---but it is also sweet, cute, and loads of fun. (Reviewed HERE)

2.  Guess Who's Coming to Dinner---This 1967 film, is a racial issues romantic drama starring Spencer Tracy, Katharine, Hepburn, and Sidney Poitier.  Bold for its time, this film tackles the subject of a white woman's marriage to a black man.  Spencer Tracy (in his final role) and Katharine Hepburn portray the woman's parents, and though they have long loathed racial discrimination, they are a bit unsettled by news of the nuptials...and not just because of the suddenness of the intended marriage.  Do they really believe in equality as much as they thought they did?  Garnering ten Academy Award nominations, and coming away with two wins (including a Best Actress statue for Miss Hepburn), Guess Who's Coming to Dinner is a very powerful and moving film. (Reviewed HERE)

3.  The Breaking Point---This 1950 adaption of Ernest Hemingway's To Have and Have Not very nearly missed my radar.  Because I don't care for the Bogey/Bacall film, I almost sat this one out.  However, because of my love for John Garfield and my desire to see his entire filmography, I decided to take a chance on this.  Lucky for me that I did, because I love it!  With my very first viewing, it became my new favorite John Garfield film.  Said to be the most faithful adaption of Mr. Hemingway's novel, this film was thought by the author to be "the best screen adaption of any of his novels."  Further, Mr. Hemingway said, "that Harry Morgan as written had never become anything beyond an idea, but that John Garfield made Harry a person."  (From Body and Soul, the Story of John Garfield, by Larry Swindell, page 229)     (Reviewed HERE)

4.  Detective Story---From 1951, this William Wyler film stars Kirk Douglas and Eleanor Parker.  The film takes place within a several hour period of one day at a New York City police precinct, mostly focusing on one particular detective---Sgt. Jim McLeod, an angry, hard-nosed man who believes there are no gray areas, only black and white.  Completely intolerant of criminals, McLeod does not believe in softness or in turning the other cheek, and he often behaves violently toward law-breakers in order to force a confession from them.  His obsession with getting the goods on one particular man will have serious ramifications for Jim and his wife.  While Miss Parker received an Academy Award nomination for her role as Mrs. McLeod, this film really was Kirk's all the way. He was brilliant here---truly, I was "blown away" by his portrayal of Sgt. McLeod. (Reviewed HERE)

5.  Strangers When We Meet---Another of the Kirk Douglas films I fell in love with this year.  This 1960 romantic drama also stars Kim Novak, with supporting help from Ernie Kovacs, Barbara Rush, and Walter Matthau.  While married to others, Kirk and Kim embark on a passionate love affair with one another, and they end up falling deeply in love.  Besides stellar acting by both leads, this film has an incredibly beautiful musical score. (Reviewed HERE)

6.  Death of a Salesman---Another brilliant piece of acting from 1951...this time by Fredric March, who received his fifth Best Actor Academy Award nomination for his performance here.  Based on the Arthur Miller play of the same name, this powerful, moving, emotionally-charged drama also stars Midred Dunnock, Kevin McCarthy, and Cameron Mitchell.  The salesman in this film is 60+ year-old Willy Loman, who after 36 years with his company, has just been removed from salary and put on straight commission. Unable to accept that he is just an ordinary man, and disappointed because of how his life has turned out, Willy seeks to push his adult sons to pursue paths he---not they---deems successful.  Mr. March is positively sensational in this role; in fact, it may well be the best performance of his entire career (in a career of many best performances).  The film is very deep and profound, and I believe it will take several future viewings to glean all that I can from it.   Reviewed HERE)

What makes a film a 5-star film for me?  It's a combination of three things...incredible acting, a deeply moving story which touches my heart and/or brings me to tears, and a powerful or bold dramatic story which I just can't get out of my mind.  (For me, comedy, while entertaining, rarely touches my heart...that's why there are few comedies among my favorite movies.)  Usually, all three of those things have to be working together for me to call a particular film a 5-star film.

Anyhow, while I always enjoy watching my tried-and-true favorite movies over and over again, I also love discovering new 5-star movies.  With a few dozen classic films on my "hoping to track down" list, I am counting on a few of them being 5-star discoveries in the coming year.  What about y'all?  Did 2012 find you discovering any new "totally love it" 5-star films?  I'd love to hear about them if you did.  I'd also love to hear your reaction to any of my "film finds of the year."

Happy viewing!!

Friday, November 16, 2012

All That Heaven Allows (4 stars)

With tomorrow being Rock Hudson's birthday, I thought a re-watch of one of my favorites of his films (and a re-working of one of my earliest posts) was in order.  All That Heaven Allows---a 1955 Douglas Sirk romantic drama pairing Rock with Jane Wyman---is a tender, touching film which explores the theme of romance between an older woman and a younger man. I am totally not a Jane Wyman fan and would have preferred someone else to have been in this role. (Susan Hayward comes to mind as one who I would have loved here, and given that she was only three years younger than Jane Wyman, her age would have worked in this role.) On the other hand, I think Rock Hudson is fabulous. He is beyond gorgeous at this point in his career, and he and the sweet storyline are the reasons I like this movie so much.

Jane Wyman plays Carrie Scott, a socially prominent, middle-aged widow, with college-age children. (You never really know how long she has been a widow, but you assume it's not been too long.) With her children off at college, Carrie is quite lonely, and even though her country club friends try to keep her active, there is still something missing in Carrie's life.

One day, while she is lunching alone on her terrace, Carrie makes the acquaintance of Ron Kirby, her new gardener, who tells her that his father has died and that he has taken over the business. Several years younger than Carrie, Ron is a simple, down-to-earth man totally at ease with himself and his position in society. He doesn't aspire to be socially prominent or to live the country club life; rather, he is content to live in the country and to try his hand at tree farming.

Carrie and Ron are drawn to each other and begin spending time together, despite the fact that the tongues of the snobby country club crowd are beginning to wag. When Ron takes her out to his tree farm, Carrie is fascinated by the old mill located on the property and tells him it would make a wonderful home for him and the wife he will one day have.

Several weeks later, Carrie is stunned to visit the mill and discover that Ron has begun renovating it and it is shaping up to be a beautiful home. He tells her he is doing it for her, for them...and he tells her he loves her and asks her to marry him. At first, Carrie turns him down, convinced that their different lifestyles and the age difference between them will prevent them from finding happiness. However, after Ron encourages her not to worry about what other people think and to take a chance on happiness, Carrie accepts his proposal and is blissfully happy.

When Carrie calls her college-age children home to share the news with them, she is unprepared for how violently they oppose such a union. Besides the fact that Ron is much younger than their mother, is the fact that socially he is not what she deserves. They are certain he could never fit in with the elite country club crowd Carrie has run in for years, and a cocktail party with said people proves they are right. The gossip mill is in full force when Carrie and Ron show up for a party, and ugly words about Carrie's fidelity to her deceased husband make their way to Carrie's daughter's ears. Both of Carrie's children tell her that such a marriage will shame them and totally ruin their lives.

Will Carrie reconsider?  Will she put aside other people's opinions and do what makes her happy?  These are the questions which play out in the balance of this sweet, tender film.

As noted, I don't care for Jane Wyman, but Rock more than makes up for that. I quite adore him---his gorgeous presence makes any movie enjoyable for me.  And this film is definitely sweet and lovely and even gets me mildly misty-eyed.  Out on DVD, it ought to be fairly easy to track down.  And, just FYI, Jane and Rock were paired together in another romantic tearjerker, Magnificent Obsession.  I highly recommend both that film and this one.

Happy viewing...and happy birthday, Rock Hudson (November 17, 1925 - October 2, 1985)!!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Happy Birthday, Robert Ryan!!!

Happy 103rd birthday to one of my most beloved #1 guy...the incredibly talented Robert Ryan.  (November 11, 1909 - July 11, 1973)

A tremendously under-rated Hollywood talent, Robert Ryan originally set out to be a journalist; however, with the Depression in full swing at the time of his graduation from Dartmouth College, there were no newspaper jobs available to him, so he took on a number of other jobs for several years.  Eventually, he got involved in the theatre and made his way to Hollywood, where he gave incredible performances in such films as Crossfire, Inferno, Odds Against Tomorrow, and Bad Day at Black Rock.

Although he never retired from films and was making his final movie, The Iceman Cometh (which incidentally was also Fredric March's final film), the year of his death, the stage often drew Ryan back.  Though he did other stage roles, having been a Shakespeare appreciator, he enjoyed taking part in Shakespearean plays; one of his roles was Marc Antony (opposite Katharine Hepburn's Cleopatra).  Helen Hayes said about that portrayal, "What a joy it is to see a real man playing Antony."

Besides entertaining audiences with his brilliant portrayal of cruel, angry, sadistic men, Mr. Ryan also served his country by way of the Marine Corp.  Based at Camp Pendleton, California, he spent two years as a drill sergeant.  Kind of fitting that his birthday is on Veteran's Day.

My absolute favorite of Mr. Ryan's films is About Mrs. Leslie (reviewed HERE).  This touching romantic drama, also starring Shirley Booth, is one of the few Ryan films which brings me to tears.  Though he excelled at playing the heavy, About Mrs. Leslie definitely shows the broad range of his talents.

Rounding out my list of 5 favorite Ryan films are:

2.  Inferno  (with Rhonda Fleming and William Lundigan---reviewed HERE)

3.  On Dangerous Ground  (with Ida Lupino---reviewed HERE)

4.  The Set-Up  (with Audrey Totter---reviewed HERE)

5.  Her Twelve Men  (with Greer Garson---reviewed HERE)

Interestingly, though it was Ryan's Oscar-nominated (supporting actor) performance as a cruel anti-Semitic soldier in Crossfire which first brought the brilliance of this man's acting to my attention, and though I love him in those "bad boy" roles, my five favorite films all show a bit of a softer and/or more likable side.

So, here's to you, Mr. Robert Ryan, on your 103rd birthday.  You were a completely sensational actor who always gave a terrific performance.  I completely adore you and will always consider you one of my #1 guys.  Thanks for bringing so much viewing pleasure to my life with all your wonderful films.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

I Want to Live (5 stars)

It was March 9, 1953 that the brutal, cold-blooded killing of Mabel Monahan took place in Burbank, California.  A 64-year old widow, Mrs. Monahan was bludgeoned and strangled, then left in the hallway of her house, her body to be discovered by her gardener two days later.  The three people arrested and convicted of the murder were executed in California’s gas chamber a little more than two years later (June 3, 1955), and a story based on the life of the female member of that trio was brought to life not long afterwards (1958) in the film I Want to Live. (Of course, “Hollywood license” was taken, resulting in several situations being fictionalized and/or depicted in a way which was not how they actually happened.)

Directed by Robert Wise, and starring my #2 gal, Susan Hayward, in an Academy Award-winning performance, I Want to Live is a gritty, hard-hitting “discussion piece” kind of movie.  The film, which will more than likely leave you questioning Mrs. Graham’s guilt, was based on the newspaper articles of Pulitzer Prize-winning San Francisco Examiner reporter, Edward S. Montgomery, and the letters of Barbara Graham.

Good-time party girl, Barbara Ward (Susan Hayward), is living a fast and loose lifestyle when she is arrested on prostitution charges.  Now with a criminal record, Barbara gets in further trouble with the law when, despite knowing perjury is a felony, she agrees to provide a phony alibi for two men who want to beat a rap.  Convicted of perjury charges, Barbara serves a year’s time and is then put on probation for five years.  During her probation period, she marries a man named Henry Graham then gives birth to a little boy.  Henry Graham is a drug addict who cannot hold a job, which results in Barbara passing bad checks and, ultimately, breaking her parole.

Though married, Barbara keeps company with two men who are suspected of the recent murder of a Burbank widow; a sting operation is put into action, and the men and Barbara are arrested.  Completely hostile to authorities, Barbara refuses to confess or to cooperate with prosecutors, and when she is questioned by the press, her belligerent attitude begins the initial action of trying her in the court of public opinion.  With the headline “Bloody Babs, the Tiger Woman,” reporter Ed Montgomery writes that Barbara is “young, attractive, belligerent, immoral, and guilty as hell.” 

As the case goes to trial, Barbara is fingered by the others as the one who did the killing.  Though she claims she is innocent and that she wasn’t anywhere near Mabel Monahan’s home that evening, Barbara has no alibi, and in an effort to concoct one, she lies that she had been with a man at a hotel.  As it turns out, though, the man who offers to be her phony alibi is an undercover police officer intent on getting a confession from her.  When he threatens to walk out on her unless she admits to having been with the other men, she agrees that she was, and that confession is brought forward as evidence against her.  Even though Barbara claims that her “confession” was a lie due to fear of her alibi falling through, having done time for perjury in the past, she is, more than ever, thought to be a compulsive liar and, without question, guilty of the crime for which she is standing trial.

All three suspects are convicted and sentenced to death in the gas chamber at San Quentin.  Barbara moves to Death Row, and as the film plays out, Ed Montgomery begins to believe that she is innocent.  Feeling that the press created the climate which condemned her, he seeks to change the climate.  With hopes to have a lie detector test administered, a psychologist is called in, but it is all to no avail.  Barbara’s appeal is denied…execution is inevitable...the gas chamber is prepared.  In the end, the question remains…is Barbara Graham a murderer?  Yes, she is hard, belligerent, immoral, and unlikeable…but is she a murderer?  This film’s view is that she is not.

In all, I Want to Live received 6 Academy Award nominations, taking home the win in the Lead Actress category.  Without question, Miss Hayward deserved the Academy Award she won for her work in this film, for she played the hardened Mrs. Graham to absolute perfection.  Truly, there are not enough adjectives to describe the performance she gave . . . she was brilliant . . . awesome . . . sensational . . . terrific . . . completely stellar.  While I think Miss Hayward was an amazing actress who gave many superb performances, I believe I Want to Live is definitely her finest hour.  Adding to the fantastic acting in this film is the incredible score.  It is perfect and totally adds to the realism.  The death row and gas chamber scenes are powerful and haunting, especially as Barbara mentally prepares herself for the walk to her execution, only to receive a last-minute stay by the governor.  Those torturous moments are brought vividly to life by Miss Hayward.

For those who like meaty, hard-hitting, gritty dramas with completely magnificent acting, I Want to Live is an absolute must-see.  No matter whether you are a proponent of the death penalty or an opponent, or whether you believe Barbara Graham was, in fact, guilty, or whether you think she was wrongly convicted, you absolutely will not be disappointed with the caliber of this film.  It is truly outstanding!  I don't believe the film is out on DVD; however, it is available in its entirety on YouTube (in parts), so you could catch it there.

Happy viewing!!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Happy Birthday, Montgomery Clift!!

Happy 92nd birthday to one of my dearly loved all-time favorite actors...the incredibly talented, positively beautiful Montgomery Clift.  (October 17, 1920 - July 23, 1966)

Back in March, I took part in a blogging event which paid homage to stars who left us too soon (before the age of 50), and Mr. Clift was the star I chose to honor.  It is my most-read blog post and the one of which I am the most proud.  I feel that if Monty was able to read that post, he would feel honored and loved.  I am not going to restate here all that I wrote on that post, but I'd love to have you read my from-the-heart tribute.  (HERE)

Mr. Clift has the honor of having 2 of his films and one of his film characters on my #1 lists.  First, as recently disclosed, A Place in the Sun is my all-time favorite movie.  I truly believe that film to be Monty's finest a career which offered many finest hours.

Also, I Confess happens to be my all-time favorite Alfred Hitchcock film; plus, Clift's character in I Confess---Father Michael Logan---is right up there with Will Kane (High Noon) and Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird) as my favorite film character.

Sadly, Mr. Clift's tragic life ended much too soon, and his film career is only 17 films.  I have seen 14 of them, and while I definitely hope to catch the other 3, there is a bittersweetness to doing so.  Yes, I will have watched the entire filmography of this extremely talented and very beloved actor, but once I've seen those 3, I'm done.  There will never be another Monty Clift film to discover, and that is a very sad thought indeed.

So, here's to you, Mr. Montgomery Clift, on your 92nd birthday.  You were a completely fantastic actor who always gave a brilliant performance.  I completely adore you and will always count you among my beloveds and all-time favorite actors.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Another Great Upcoming Event

I just heard about another upcoming event that I wish I was able to attend.  As with the Broadway production of The Heiress, I don't live close to where this event is taking place, nor do I have the money to make a trip there.  If I did, I would definitely be attending this screening.

Sunday, October, 28th, at Los Angeles's Downtown Independent Theatre there will be a screening of classic and contemporary "Desert Noir 3-D" films...those films being Inferno 3-D ( 2nd favorite Robert Ryan film) and Dark Country 3-D (2009).  The event is sponsored by the LA 3-D Club.  On hand to introduce the films will be the "Czar of Noir," Eddie Muller, founder of the Film Noir Foundation, and Thomas Jane, director and star of Dark Country 3-D.

For more information, visit the LA 3-D Club's website (HERE).

For my review of the film Inferno, go HERE.

I hope some of y'all get a chance to attend this event.  If you do, please be sure to tell me about it, especially how wonderful it was to see the fabulous Mr. Ryan "up close and personal."  

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Man Deserves Recognition

As regular blog readers already know, John Garfield is one of my absolute favorite actors and, also, one of my beloveds.  I adore this man and think he was a completely sensational actor.  Sadly, because he was targeted by the HUAC and because he refused to name names in the hearings, he was blacklisted in Hollywood, and, thus, he never received the kind of recognition he so richly deserves.

A fellow Garfield appreciator is on a quest to change that.  She has begun a petition campaign, aimed at Warner Home Video, to convince them to release a boxed set of Garfield films.  Although I've mentioned that petition here before, I wanted to do so again.  With Mr. Garfield's 100th birthday only a few months away, now is the perfect time for Warners to release a set of his films.

The goal of the petition is 2,500 signatures; currently, there are just over 400, so there is still a long way to go.  Please be a part of making John Garfield a more recognizable star, by popping over to the petition site (HERE) and adding your name to the petition.

Oh, by the way, Lori, who created the petition drive, has also created an incredibly beautiful video tribute to Mr. Garfield.  It features dozens of photographs of the handsome Mr. Garfield set to a lovely instrumental version of the songs "I'll Be Seeing You" and "Smile,"...the latter of which seems completely appropriate for such a tribute, given the tragic circumstances of the actor's final years, when his heart truly was breaking.

Thanks for joining us in making a boxed set of Garfield films a reality.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

The Heiress on Broadway

The Heiress---that wonderful 1949 Olivia deHavilland/Montgomery Clift period drama which I just reviewed HERE last week and which began its life on the stage---has been resurrected on Broadway once more.  Starring Jessica Chastain (The Help) and Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey), both in their Broadway debut, and also starring David Strathairn and Judith Ivey, The Heiress began its 18-week run last evening, October 6th.

If I lived anywhere near New York---or if a trip to New York was in my budget---I would, without question, be attending this event.  I think it is a fascinating story, and I would thoroughly enjoy seeing it played out on the stage.  And since I'm a huge fan of Downton Abbey---and Matthew Crawley---having Dan Stevens in the role I associate with Montgomery Clift is something I would very much like to see.

So, my friends, if you happen to live near enough to New York to make a viewing of this play a possibility, you might want to put it on your calendar.  For more information, visit the play's website (HERE).

As for me?  Well, I am playing the lottery a bit, with the hopes of winning the money to make this longed-for trip a reality.  Wish me luck!!

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

The Heiress (4 stars)

The Heiress, from 1949, is a William Wyler period drama starring Olivia deHavilland, Montgomery Clift, and Ralph Richardson, with Miriam Hopkins taking on a supporting role.  Based on the Henry James novel Washington Square, The Heiress was first brought to life on the stage in 1947.  It is about to begin a new Broadway run...something I will tell you about tomorrow.

In 1840's New York, Catherine Sloper (deHavilland) is the shy, awkward daughter of socially-prominent physician, Austin Sloper.  A widower who has totally pedestalized his late wife, Dr. Sloper can barely stand the sight of his daughter and is ashamed by her gauche behavior. Although she is of marriageable age, he cannot imagine anyone being interested in her---she is not clever, pretty, conversational, or anything else which would draw a suitor to her. The only thing she has is a sum of money left to her by her mother and, upon her father's death, an even larger sum. In short, the fact that she is an heiress is the only reason any man would be interested in her.

One evening, Catherine and her father, along with one of her father's widowed sisters, attend the engagement party of another sister's daughter. At that party, Catherine's awkward ways become apparent to all, and she is even abandoned by a young man who had been requested to dance with her. Alas, though, while she is sitting alone, she is approached by the gallant and handsome Morris Townsend (Montgomery Clift), who has just returned to New York after a time abroad. He is most interested in getting to know her and soon comes calling at the Sloper home.

Dr. Sloper is absolutely convinced that Mr. Townsend can be after only one thing...his daughter's fortune. Though Morris tells the doctor he finds Catherine beautiful and charming, since he knows those words do not describe his daughter, Dr. Sloper refuses to support their courtship; he even digs into Morris's background a bit and discovers that Morris has no job nor any prospects for one and that he wasted away a small inheritance by galivanting about Europe. Convinced that Morris Townsend is nothing but a fortune hunter, the doctor forbids Catherine to see him.

Catherine, however, in love with Morris and believing he loves her as well, is willing to defy her father and risk being disowned by him in order to marry Morris.  Thus, the two make plans to elope.

Does Morris really love Catherine? Does he really find her charming?  Or is he just after her money?  Will they follow through on their plans to elope?  What will Catherine's father do when he discovers the marriage?  The answers to these questions will play out in the balance of the film.  I will say that I found the final scene of the film to be one of the most memorable ending scenes in film history.

Receiving a total of eight Academy Award nominations and coming away with a win in four categories, The Heiress is an interesting, exciting, well-acted film. Olivia deHavilland, who garnered her second Best Actress statue for her portrayal of Catherine, is simply fabulous in this role. (It's my favorite of her performances.) Her portrayal of the awkward daughter trying to converse in society pained me right along with her, and when she realized the true extent of her father's feelings for her, again, I grieved along with her.  I completely and totally felt her pain, and yet as Catherine evolved, and the icy hardness of her character was revealed, Miss deHavilland was perfect there as well.  Truly, this role afforded Olivia an opportunity to display the broad range of her talents.

Ralph Richardson, who reprised the role he played on the London stage, received a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his work in The Heiress.  His portrayal of Dr. Sloper was terrific. Montgomery Clift was fantastic in his role as well...his character really kept you guessing.  Did he truly love Catherine?  Or was he just after her money?  As always, Monty is gorgeous to look at, though I must admit, I hated the silly little mustache he sported for a time.  I prefer his beautiful face clean-shaven.

While I'm calling The Heiress a 4-star film, it's more like 4.5, and very close to 5---a definite must see!  Out on DVD, it should be fairly easy to track down.  Additionally, the film is available in its entirety on YouTube (in parts.)  I do hope you get a chance to see it.

Happy viewing!

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Revealing My All-Time Favorite Movie

After revealing my favorite ten films for each decade of the classic film era (30's through 60's), it is now time to unveil which of those films receives the coveted status of "favorite film of all-time."  Of course, you know it has to be one of the #1 films from one of those decades, right?  So, that would be...

Gone with the Wind

Now, Voyager

A Place in the Sun

or Madame X

For the past couple of years, my #1 film has been Now, Voyager, with the 1940's #2 film, Casablanca, being my second favorite movie of all-time.  Well, dear blog readers, this year has found those two films toppling a bit and my former #3 movie moving in to take over the position of all-time favorite film.  That 1950's A Place in the Sun.

While the nature of favorites lists makes them always subject to change, at the present time, this fabulous romantic drama starring my beloved Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor, and Shelley Winters, is my favorite movie ever.  It's one of those films I never tire of is also one of those films which I always wish had a different ending than the one it has.  Read my review of this sensational film HERE.

Now, Voyager and Casablanca are still incredibly beloved movies to me, and who knows what next year will bring.  One of them may move ahead of A Place in the Sun once more, but for now, the 1950's winner takes first place.  I'd love to hear y'all's thoughts about this most fantastic film.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

My Favorite Movies---1960's (and beyond) list

My favorite films of the 1960's (and beyond) are mostly musicals and new 5-star film discoveries.  In fact, three of the the decade's faves are among my 5-star film discoveries of the year.  Two of the top 10 are musicals, with another musical in runner-up position.  I am including in this decade a 70's film as well.  Since I watch so few 60's and 70's films, it just makes sense to combine these decades.

10.  Charade

This Cary Grant/Audrey Hepburn whodunit film puts me in mind of a James Bond movie.  From the thoroughly modern (and very cool) opening credits to the twists and turns of the plotline, Charade ranks up there with every Bond film I've ever seen (all 3 of them!).   Cary Grant---who grew better-looking through the years---is in his early 60's here...and looking incredibly gorgeous.  The chemistry between him and the always-lovely Audrey is wonderful.

9.    Strangers When We Meet

The first of my 5-star film discoveries of the year, Strangers When We Meet is a beautiful romantic drama starring Kirk Douglas and Kim Novak.  A very passionate film featuring terrific acting and a beautiful score, it deals with extra-marital love.  (Reviewed HERE)

8.    Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

Bette Davis is out-of-this-world cruel to sister Joan Crawford in this "campy" drama.  One thing I love about Bette is that she was always more concerned with being a terrific actress than in being a glamour girl; therefore, she was willing to be ugly and grotesque if a role called for it...and in Baby Jane she is at her most grotesque.  

7.     Oliver!

My memories of this film go back over 40 years!!  I remember seeing this film at the movie theatre (near South Hills Village in my hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) with my grandparents, uncle, and brother.  I'm quite sure I developed a crush on Jack Wild (the Artful Dodger) from the very moment he appeared on screen.  My own kids more or less grew up on this movie, which has totally fantastic music.

6.    That Funny Feeling

One more of my 5-star film discoveries of the year, That Funny Feeling is an adorable romantic comedy starring the delightful real-life couple, Sandra Dee and Bobby Darin.    (Reviewed HERE)

5.    Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

Another of my 5-star film discoveries of the year, this bold (for its time) film tackles the issue of interracial marriage.  Starring Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn (in an Academy Award-winning performance), and Sidney Poitier, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner garnered 10 Academy Award nominations.  (Reviewed HERE)

4.    The Sound of Music

I grew up on this beautiful film!!  It has been a part of my life since its release in 1965.  I have practically the entire movie memorized, including every song.  Several scenes always get me misty-eyed.  

3.    To Kill a Mockingbird

Completely fantastic film, featuring one of my all-time favorite fictional characters---Atticus Finch.  A man concerned with doing the right thing no matter what others thought, Atticus offered true wisdom when he told his children that until you've walked around in a man's skin, you cannot see things from his perspective.  To me, those words mean don't judge others, for you know not how you would respond in a similar situation.

2.  Les Miserables

This 1978 made-for-TV movie, starring Richard Jordan and Anthony Perkins, is my favorite screen adaption of Victor Hugo's novel.  Though I've seen the 30's version (starring Fredric March) and the 50's version (with Michael Rennie in the lead), this 70's version is, easily, my favorite, and that is really saying something, since I generally prefer old to new and since Fredric March is among my top 10 actors.  Both Mr. Jordan and Mr. Perkins bring a life to their characters which I did not find in the earlier two films.  (Reviewed HERE)

and my favorite movie of the 1960's...

1.  Madame X

Lana Turner is one of my top 5 favorite actresses, and while I love many of her films,  Madame X is, without question, my absolute favorite.  This is not just a tearjerker for is an absolute sobber, almost to the point that I can barely breathe.  I sometimes pop this movie in the player and then fast-forward to the final 30 minutes (the sobbing part), just so I can sob my heart out.  Strange, yes...but the absolute truth.  Lana's portrayal of the tragic Madame X is completely brilliant...her finest work in my opinion...very definitely worthy of an Academy Award nomination, which, unbelievably, she did not receive.  (Reviewed HERE)

Runner-up films are ShenandoahA Patch of Blue, True Grit, and My Fair Lady.

Next up...the revelation of my all-time favorite film.  And it may be a surprise to some, as the film which has been in the #3 position edged past #'s 1 and 2 this year.  

Thursday, September 27, 2012

My Favorite Movies---1950's list

My ten favorite films of the 1950's scream "favorite men."  Five of my six "beloveds" have at least one film on this list.  William Holden has three, while Robert Ryan, Montgomery Clift, Gary Cooper, and John Garfield each have one (and Clift has a runner-up as well).  Plus, there's Fredric March, Cary Grant, and Rock Hudson.

10.  Born Yesterday

A delightful romantic dramedy starring Judy Holliday, in an Academy Award-winning role, Broderick Crawford, and the incredibly handsome Bill Holden.  Judy Holliday's character here---Billlie Dawn---is one of my favorite female film characters.  (Reviewed HERE)

9.    Pillow Talk

Adorable romantic comedy starring Doris Day and Rock Hudson.  Rock is drop-dead gorgeous here, and his "Rex Stetson" Texas accent puts me in stitches.  (Reviewed HERE)

8.    About Mrs. Leslie

My beloved Robert Ryan stars with Shirley Booth in this tearjerker romantic drama.  While "bad boy" Ryan isn't usually thought of as a romantic leading man, this touching films bears out that he well could have been one.  This is my absolute favorite Robert Ryan film.  (Reviewed HERE)

7.    Ten North Frederick

A total sobber, this romantic drama explores the May-December romance theme.  Starring my beloved Gary Cooper and Suzy Parker, this little-known gem is right up there with Mr. Deeds Goes to Town as my favorite Cooper film.  (Reviewed HERE)

6.    An Affair to Remember

A beautiful, touching Cary Grant/Deborah Kerr romantic drama.  This one always brings me to tears at the very same moment every time.  (Reviewed HERE)

5.    The Breaking Point

My favorite film of my beloved John Garfield, The Breaking Point is the truest film adaption of Ernest Hemingway's To Have and Have Not.  According to Mr. Garfield's biography, Body and Soul: the Story of John Garfield, Mr. Hemingway "thought The Breaking Point was the best screen adaption of any of his novels.  He said that Harry Morgan as written had never become anything beyond an idea, but that John Garfield made Harry a person."   And to think that I very nearly skipped out on this movie because I don't care for the Bogey/Bacall version!!  (Reviewed HERE)

4.    Stalag 17

My darling Bill Holden's Academy Award-winning role.  With barely a woman in this film, this may seem very much like a man's war movie, but I completely and totally love it and can pretty much recite every line verbatim...I've watched it that much.  (Reviewed HERE)

3.    Middle of the Night

A touching romantic drama which explores the May-December romance theme.  Starring Fredric March, in what I think is perhaps the best performance of his career, and Kim Novak.  (Reviewed HERE)

2.    Sunset Boulevard

The favorite film of my beloved William Holden...and one for which I think he ought to have won the Best Actor Academy Award...definitely, his finest hour (and he had man fine hours!).  A romantic drama also starring Gloria Swanson, in an Oscar-nominated performance.  (Reviewed HERE)

and my favorite movie of the 1950's...

1.    A Place in the Sun

Not only my favorite film of the 1950's, but perhaps my favorite film of all-time, A Place in the Sun is a romantic drama, starring my beloved Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor, and Shelley Winters.  It is one of those films which I always wish had a different ending than the one it has.  (Reviewed HERE)

Runner-up films for the 1950's are From Here to Eternity,  All About Eve, Ben-Hur, Roman Holiday,  Sabrina, and Singin' in the Rain.

Next up, the 1960's.