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Sunday, 23 October 2011

100 Essential Classic Films: Part 2 (90-81)

Here I am with Part 2 of my 100 Essential Classic Films list. I hope you enjoy reading about my choices and once again, don't forget to let me know what you think about them! :)
#90 It, 1927
Dir.: Clarence G. Badger
Starring: Clara Bow, Antonio Moreno, William Austin
IMDb says: A salesgirl with plenty of "it" pursues a handsome playboy.
Why I picked it: It will forever be one of my favourite silent films and, as such, it's definitely one that I would show to a silent film newbie. Not only is it a wonderful example of the "fluffy" silent film genre, it's also quite snappy and as such is perfect for those used to watching the much more fast paced modern films.

#89 Heaven Can Wait, 1943
Dir.: Ernst Lubitsch
Starring: Don Ameche, Gene Tierney, Charles Coburn
IMDb says: An old roué arrives in Hades to review his life with Satan, who will rule on his eligibility to enter the Underworld.
Why I picked it: Heaven Can Wait is an utterly charming film filled with wonderful actors, beautiful costumes (made even more gorgeous by Technicolor), and an intriguing plot. Don Ameche gives a particularly brilliant performance as the endearing cad, Henry Van Cleve.

#88 The Apartment, 1960
Dir.: Billy Wilder
Starring: Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacClaine
IMDb says: A man tries to rise in his company by letting its executives use his apartment for trysts, but complications and a romance of his own ensue.
Why I picked it: The Apartment is romantic dramedy with a difference: Billy Wilder's masterful use of the dark twist. The world isn't a place of rainbows, unicorns, and fairytale romances, but maybe eventually everything will work out OK. Lemmon and MacClaine make about the sweetest on-screen couple that you will ever see.

#87 High Society, 1956
Dir.: Charles Walters
Starring: Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Celeste Holm, John Lund
TCM says: In this musical version of The Philadelphia Story, tabloid reporters invade a society wedding
Why I picked it: The poor, younger, musical sister of The Philadelphia Story is often been frowned upon by lovers of the original film, but if you try to forget that it's Grace Kelly taking Katharine Hepburn's place as Tracy Lord (I know... what?!!) then you might just find yourself really enjoying it. It has some truly hilarious moments and everything with Frank and Celeste is pure gold.

#86 Sorry, Wrong Number, 1948
Dir.: Anatole Litvak
Starring: Barbara Stanwyck, Burt Lancaster
IMDb says: Whilst on the telephone, an invalid woman overhears what she thinks is a plot to murder her.
Why I picked it: Sorry, Wrong Number is a film that will have your nerves in shreds by the end. Although you do start to realise what's going to happen sooner than Leona (Stanywck's character) does, the ending won't fail to send chills up and down your spine. It's a thriller of the highest degree!

#85 City Lights, 1931
Dir.: Charlie Chaplin
Starring: Charlie Chaplin, Virginia Cherrill, Florence Lee
IMDb says: The Tramp struggles to help a blind flower girl he has fallen in love with.
Why I picked it: The silent, loving gestures made by Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp towards a blind, young flower girl with whom he has fallen love with in City Lights, hit home with more force than the love scenes in possibly any films since. If you want to watch silent films, here's your starting point.

#84 Mr. and Mrs. Smith, 1941
Dir.: Alfred Hitchcock
Starring: Carole Lombard, Robert Montgomery, Gene Raymond
IMDb says: Not a typical Hitchcock movie, this is a comedy about a couple who learn that their marriage was not valid.
Why I picked it: There is nothing better than a Hitchcockian comedy. It's not something you expect, almost like when you bite into something that you think will taste one way but ends up tasting so much better! But Hitchcock's films are scattered with (dark) humour much more than most people realise and, not surprisingly since he can do no wrong, he excels at the romcom just as much as he excels at the psychological thriller.

#83 The Grapes of Wrath, 1940
Dir.: John Ford
Starring: Henry Fonda, Jane Darwell, John Carradine, Charley Grapewin
IMDb says: A poor Midwest family is forced off of their land. They travel to California, suffering the misfortunes of the homeless in the Great Depression.
Why I picked it: The Grapes of Wrath deals with the Great Depression in a brutally honest and painful way. It's remains a stringent reminder of the hardships borne by the working class people who lived during the Thirties. Definitely not a film to miss.

#82 Since You Went Away, 1944
Dir.: John Cromwell
Starring: Claudette Colbert, Jennifer Jones, Joseph Cotten, Shirley Temple
IMDb says: While husband Tim is away during World War II, Anne Hilton copes with problems on the homefront.
Why I picked it: As someone who grew up with war films that were almost all depicted from a British home front perspective, when I first saw Since You Went Away I was a bit sceptical as to whether a film about the vastly different American home front could ever be as brilliant as "our" WWII films. I was pleasantly surprised. Although it has a completely different feel to the British films I'm used too, it's beautiful, poignant film of epic proportions (almost 3 hours long!) that every classic film fanatic should see.

#81 The Innocents, 1961
Dir.: Jack Clayton
Starring: Deborah Kerr, Peter Wyngarde, Megs Jenkins, Michael Redgrave
IMDb says: A young governess for two children becomes convinced that the house and grounds are haunted.
Why I picked it: A more chilling, haunting film you'll never see. The Innocents plays creepy tricks with your mind, something that the incredible cinematography only perpetuates. If you get the chance to see this film, don't pass it up!

An Awful Victory (poll results)

The Awful Truth won out as the most popular film from my first batch of 100 Essential Classic Films with 9 of the 30 votes.

In second place came Seven Brides For Seven Brothers with 6 votes.

After that came Camille, The Heiress, Ninotchka and Funny Face each with 3 votes. Psycho and Grand Hotel followed with 2 votes and 1 vote respectively. Marked Woman and Oliver! didn't have a look in as neither of them received a vote.

I'll be posting the next instalment of 100 Essential Classic Films shortly, so stay tuned for that and for the poll! :)

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

New Poll!

I have a new poll up (it's over there in the sidebar :) ) asking you which of the 10 films I posted for the first part of my 100 Essential Classic Films series is your favourite. I thought it would a fun thing to do alongside each one of the series posts. Anyway, just a heads up so that we can get lots of people voting! :D 

Oh, and because this isn't much of a post, here's a photo of shocked!Deborah.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

What I watch when I'm not watching oldies (part 1)

After reading Clara's post this morning about how she hasn't seen a classic film since last month, I was inspired to write about what I'm watching when I'm not watching something made between 1910-1960. It's something I've wanted to write about for a while because there are so many tv series and films that I love to pieces but that definitely don't fall under the "classics" category. So, I hope you enjoy this slightly different post! 
This year I've watched a lot of tv series but my two biggest tv watching endeavours have definitely been watching House and The Golden Girls. They boast 14 series between them and I'd never really seen any of the episodes before so it did take me a while to wade through the series. Well, it took me just over 2 weeks to watch all 180 episodes of TGG, but it took me at least a couple of months to get through House. I highly recommend both series. House is really fascinating and humorous and The Golden Girls is just plain wonderful!

Whilst I do greatly love the two series I mentioned above, the two tv series that really stole my heart this year were Matador (which actually has nothing at all to do with bull fighting. I wrote about it here) and Band of Brothers. I devour anything to do with WWII, so when my Dad bought the BoB box set I just had to watch it. Let me tell you, nothing will ever be the same again. You know something is going to be good when Spielberg and Hanks collaborate on it, but nothing can prepare you for the incredibleness of this mini series. After I watched the last episode (it's a ten part mini series), I cried and cried. I cried not so much because I'd just finished watching an incredible piece of television, but because the story is just so powerful and the ending really knocks the wind out of you. Even the most hard hearted person in the world would get emotional over it. As Orson Welles (I think) said about Make Way For Tomorrow, "It would make a stone cry.". What makes it all the more amazing is that fact that it actually happened. Obviously, there is going to be some tweaking here and there, but nevertheless, these men were real people who were unimaginably courageous and strong. At the beginning of each episode some of the surviving men from Easy Company are shown talking about the events that are being shown to us in the series, and it really makes the realities of the whole experience hit home. I honestly can't recommend Band of Brothers enough. If you don't mind quite a bit of swearing and a blood and guts, then you should go ahead and check it out! I recommend reading the book written by Stephen Ambrose as well. I'm currently reading it and it's really fascinating and gives you a lot more insight into the mini series. 

I also watched The Pacific this year, which is sort of (not really) the sister series to Band of Brothers except that, instead of being set mainly in Europe, it's set in, you guessed it, the Pacific. Again, it's a truly incredible piece of television, but it's not quite up there with BoB in my books.

A couple of weeks ago I discovered Downton Abbey. Let me tell you, Elizabeth McGovern is a life ruiner ;D But, in all seriousness, it's a wonderful tv series and, lucky for me, living in Britain I'm able to see the new episodes as they air! Eep! It makes a change from having to wait months for American tv series until they air over here. Something that makes the series all the more wonderful for me is the fact that it's set in the county I live so I know all of the names of the towns that they mention. And also, the actress who plays Anna comes from a little village just outside my home town! :D Oh, and did I mention that they totally rip off (or pay tribute to) the flower contest scene in Mrs. Miniver during one of the first series episodes. Cora Crawley even has a huge Greer Garson-esque hat!

The Countess of Grantham, is better than you. And so is her hat.

Something a little more "random" (omg, your bins are so random!) that I watched this year was the Australian mockumentary, Summer Heights High. If you got the quote above you are awesome. All of the episodes are on YouTube and it's so hilarious and brilliant. 

Currently I'm plowing through The X-Files because I finally decided it was time to bite the bullet and watch all the episodes that I haven't seen before (most of them). It's somewhat shocking that I haven't already seen all of the show because Gillian Anderson is my absolute favourite modern actress (she ranks just a teeny tiny bit behind Deborah for all time favourite) and, whilst I've seen a large amount of her films and other tv work (Bleak House is what introduced me to her 6 years ago. I've never looked back.) I've always been too much of a scaredy cat to take much interest in TX-F. My Dad and brother both love it, but I have never seen a true horror film (well, modern horror film at least) because I know I won't sleep for days (I even had a nightmares when I heard Spotify playing the Paranormal Activity 2 trailer in between songs once...). There is at least one episode of TX-F that I know I'll never watch, Die Hand die verletzt. It terrified my father and brother so much that they couldn't watch it, so I'm not even going to try. If there are any big fans of the show reading this, I'd appreciate it if you could let me know of any other episodes similar to the one I just mentioned so I can quietly skip past those too! 

Well, I think that's all for now! I really enjoyed writing this though, so perhaps, if people are interested, I'll make another post about my "old favourites". You know, things I can watch over and over and will most probably force upon any offspring I may have... Just let me know what you  all think! Hope you enjoyed reading!

Monday, 17 October 2011

100 Essential Classic Films: Part 1 (100-91)

Over the next few weeks I'm going to be posting, in groups of 10, the 100 films that I consider to be "essential classics". By that, I mean the films that I think every fan of classic films should see at least once in their life. Many of these I wouldn't include in a list of my 100 Favourite Films, rather they are films that I think are the best examples of classic film that I've seen. I've tried to rank them without letting my personal enjoyment of the film get in the way too much but I warn you, this list is a far cry from anything impartial!

#100 Marked Woman, 1937
Dir.: Lloyd Bacon
Starring: Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart
IMDb says: A crusading DA persuades a clip joint "party girl" to testify against her mobster boss after her innocent sister is accidentally murdered during one of his unsavory "parties."
Why I picked it: Marked Woman is a great example of the film noir/crime melodrama. In fact, in my books it's one of the best. The entire cast gives excellent performances, especially Bette Davis. It afforded her with the chance to play one of her best roles yet, and to this day, it still stands as one of her greatest performances.

#99 The Heiress, 1949
Dir.: William Wyler
Starring: Olivia de Havilland, Montgomery Clift, Miriam Hopkins, Ralph Richardson
IMDb says: A young naive woman falls for a handsome young man who her emotionally abusive father suspects is a fortune hunter.
Why I picked it: The Heiress is excellent film with a strong storyline, fantastic performances from the leads, and some of the most beautiful cinematography in film history.

#98 Funny Face, 1957
Dir. by Stanley Donen
Starring: Audrey Hepburn, Fred Astaire, Kay Thompson
TCM says: A fashion photographer turns a Greenwich Village unknown into an international supermodel.
Why I picked it: A vibrant, lavish, romantic, albeit a bit clichéd, story set in two of the most loved cities in the world, New York and Paris, Funny Face is a charming film that draws the viewer in and can be watched over and over again.

#97 Pyscho, 1960
Dir. by Alfred Hithchcock
Starring: Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, John Gavin
IMDb says: A young woman steals $40,000 from her employer's client, and subsequently encounters a young motel proprietor too long under the domination of his mother.
Why I picked it: As one of Hitchcock's most well known films, I really couldn't not include it in this list. It's an incredible film, one which I think every film fanatic should see.

#96 Ninotchka, 1939
Dir. by Ernst Lubitsch
Starring: Greta Garbo, Melvyn Douglas
IMDb says: A stern Russian woman sent to Paris on official business finds herself attracted to a man who represents everything she is supposed to detest.
Why I picked it: Ninotchka is one of the oddest romantic comedies I've ever seen, and that's what makes it great. Unlike a lot of romantic comedies, it has a quality which will keep it fresh for many years to come. It's rather sad that one of the most wonderful comedies of the 20th century is so overlooked by people outside of the classic film community.

#95 Camille, 1936
Dir. by George Cukor
Starring: Greta Garbo, Robert Taylor, Lionel Barrymore
IMDb says: A Parisian courtesan must choose between the young man who loves her and the callous baron who wants her, even as her own health begins to fail.
Why I picked it: If ever-so-slightly over the top romantic dramas are your cup of tea, then you will love this film. And even if they're not, you should still see it for the magnificent cinematography, script, and Greta Garbo.

#94 Grand Hotel, 1932
Dir. by Edmund Goulding
Starring: Joan Crawford, Greta Garbo, John Barrymore, Lionel Barrymore, Wallace Beery
IMDb says: A group of very different individuals staying at a luxurious hotel in Berlin deal with each of their respective dramas.
Why I picked it: If Grand Hotel's star studded cast isn't enough to draw you in initially, just wait until the terrific performances by each and every one of those stars start to work their magic. It's a perfectly balanced melodrama which won't leave you with the same feeling that you get after eating too many sweet things. To anyone starting out with the classics, I highly recommend this!

#93 Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, 1954
Dir. by Stanley Donen
Starring: Howard Keel, Jane Powell
IMDb says: In 1850 Oregon, when a backwoodsman brings a wife home to his farm, his six brothers decide that they want to get married too.
Why I picked it: An iconic musical with some amazing dance routines and very catchy music that you'll be humming for days afterwards. In terms of the storyline, let's just say that if a similar film came out today there would be uproar - and rightly so - but it's still well worth a watch.

#92 The Awful Truth, 1937
Dir. by Leo McCarey
Starring: Irene Dunne, Cary Grant
IMDb says: Unfounded suspicions lead a married couple to begin divorce proceedings, whereupon they start undermining each other's attempts to find new romance.
Why I picked it: Cary and Irene are arguably one of the most iconic on-screen couples in the history of cinema and in this, their first of three films together, they helped to create one of the finest screwball comedies of the '30s.

#91 Oliver!, 1968
Dir. by Carol Reed
Starring: Mark Lester, Ron Moody, Shani Wallis, Jack Wild, Oliver Reed
IMDb says: Musical version of the Dickens classic about an orphan taken in by a band of boy thieves.
Why I picked it: Oliver! won Best Picture at the Academy Awards in 1969 and I have to say, in my eyes at least, it really did deserve the win. Although the musical nature of the film may not be to everyone's taste it's an accessible and absorbing, and fairly true (for a musical!) adaptation of Dickens' original story.
Hope you enjoyed reading, please share your thoughts! Stay tuned for the next installment of this series!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Happy birthday, Glynis 'Awesome' Johns!

Happy birthday, Glynis!

She may not be one of the most well-known actresses from classic films, but I think everyone can name one particular film that this incredibly fantasmagorical lady was in. If you're struggling to think of it, let me give you a hint:

From Kensington to Billingsgate one hears the restless cries. From every corner of the land, WOMANKIND ARISE! Political equality and equal rights with men - take heart for Mrs. Pankhurst has been clapped in irons again!

Got it yet? YES! She was the mother of Jane and Michael Banks in Mary Poppins. Nevermind Miss Poppins being practically perfect in every way, Winifred Banks is practically awesome in every way. She's a singing and dancing suffragette. No one will ever top her coolness.

I thought I'd honour her this year by doing a "6 Reasons" post. I could hardly narrow her magnificence down to 6 reasons though...

Reason #1 - Her Voice

Glynis' voice is one of those that you can't stop listening to. It captivates you with it's unique, beautiful tones. I could listen to her read the phone book quite happily. Whilst so many wonderful actresses have performed the song, Glynis' rendition of Send in the Clowns from Sondheim's A Little Night Music will always be my favourite version, which isn't surprising seeing as it was written for her. 

Reason #2 - Her face

Pretty self-explanatory really. She has such a beautiful, interesting face and the weirdest nickname ever regarding her eyes, "The Girl with the Upside-Down Eyes". Yeah.

Reason #3 - Her 1954 film, Mad About Men

(start at about 6:00 if you want to see the most brilliant part of the film!)

She made the prequel to this film back in 1948 (Miranda), but, if I'm honest, it's a bit rubbish. This film, however, is 90 minutes of pure and unadulterated, ridiculous rubbish, and it makes for a very entertaining, albeit somewhat brain-mushing, film. SHE'S A MERMAID. SHE HAS AN IDENTICAL RELATIVE WHO IS NOT HER TWIN. SHE DANCES. AND THERE'S A SEA LION LIKE IN JULIA MISBEHAVES. It's always going to be good when there's a sea lion. 

Reason #4 - The two films she made with Deborah Kerr

She made Perfect Strangers (1945) and The Sundowners (1960) with Deborah and they are both cracking films. I wish they'd made more films together because they really seemed to compliment each other well. 

Reason #5 - Her talent as an actress

(blatantly the best photo of anyone. ever.)

It pains me how underrated she is! She has huuuuge talent as an actress. She can be so spectacular in films that she almost blows you away. A great example of this is her segment in the 1951 film, Encore. She was in the third part of the film called Gigolo and Gigolette and played a young daredevil who entertains the crowds at a nightclub by diving into a shallow barrel of water from a very great height. It's by far the best part of the film and the way she manages to pull you into the story in such a short time is truly phenomenal. I urge everyone to check out her films! 

Reason #6 - Well done, Sister Suffragette!

You didn't really think I was going to leave it out, did you? ;D
Hope both my readers and the lovely Glynis have a wonderful day! ♥

Monday, 3 October 2011

My Year in Film: August & September

251. Die Büchse der Pandora (1929)
252. Twentieth Century (1934)
253. Birdman of Alcatraz (1963)
254. Sex and the Single Girl (1964)
255. What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? (1962)
256. Possessed (1947)
257. Now and Then (1995)
258. Pretty in Pink (1986)
259. The Godfather (1972)
260. I Confess (1953)
261. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
262. Harriet Craig (1950)
263. The Godfather: Part II (1974)
264. I See a Dark Stranger (1946)
266. Magnificent Obsession (1935)
267. Bluebeard's Eighth Wife (1938)
268. I'll Be Seeing You (1944)
269. I Married a Witch (1942)
270. Portrait of Jennie (1948)
271. These Three (1936)
272. Roxie Hart (1942)
273. On the Waterfront (1954)
274. The Duchess (2008)
275. Tell the Judge (1949)
276. St. Elmo's Fire (1985)
277. The Outsiders (1983)
278. Class (1983)
279. Banjo on My Knee (1936)
280. If a Man Answers (1962)
281. Scoop (2006)
282. Manhattan (1979)
283. The Bridges of Madison County (1995)
284. The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)
285. Calendar Girls (2003)
286. Europa, Europa (1990)
287. Stalag 17 (1953)
288. The Apartment (1960)

1900s - 0
1910s - 0
1920s - 1
1930s - 6
1940s - 7
1950s - 4
1960s - 5
1970s - 4
1980s - 5
1990s - 3
2000s - 3
2010s - 0

Most Watched Actresses

Diane Keaton - 3
Joan Crawford - 3
Demi Moore -2
Meryl Streep - 2

Most Watched Actors

Rob Lowe - 3
Al Pacino - 2
Emilio Estevez - 2
James Caan - 2
Joseph Cotten - 2
Robert Duvall - 2
Woody Allen - 2

Favourite Films of the Month(s)

Possessed, Now and ThenThe Godfather, These Three, Manhattan, The Bridges of Madison County, The Purple Rose of Cairo, and Calendar Girls.
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