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Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Avanti! (1972)

The 1970s is my least favourite decade for film but I will admit that the beginning of the decade had some really great, and some of my favourite, films (The Godfather, The Godfather: Part II, Fiddler on the Roof, Harold and Maude, to name but a few). So when I decided to watch something made in 1972 for my first film of 2012, I had my fingers crossed that it would be one of the better films of the '70s. It didn't let me down.

Avanti!, 1972
The director: Billy Wilder
The stars: Jack Lemmon, Juliet Mills
IMDb says: A successful business man goes to Italy to arrange for the return of his tycoon-father's body only to discover dad had died with his mistress of long standing.

Although the story is ridiculously unbelievable (but if you watched The Miracle of Morgan's Creek immediately before watching Avanti! it wouldn't seem half so crazy), Avanti! is without a doubt one of the most charming comedic films I've seen in a long time. 

Wendell Armbruster, Jr. (Jack Lemmon) travels to island of Ischia to take the body of his late father back to America but upon arriving, he is informed by fellow traveller Pamela Piggott (Juliet Mills), a poor English woman, that his father and her mother were lovers and that they both died in the car crash. Pamela wants their parents to be buried together on the island, but Wendell is determined to have his father sent back to America where a huge, nationwide funeral is being planned. Before they can come to an agreement, however, both of the bodies are stolen from the morgue. Whilst all this is going on, Pamela somehow manages to convince Wendell that they must celebrate their parents memories by spending the evening as their parents did when they were staying on Ischia (with the help of the hotel staff who provide them with all the food and drink that their parents were accustomed too.). I'm not sure nude swimming at sunrise was on Wendell's itinerary though. The rest of the film is fairly predictable but, nevertheless, enjoyable.

It's definitely not perfect but Billy Wilder never made a film that wasn't worth watching (*cough*exceptforSabrina*cough*) and his films with Jack Lemmon are all fantastic. With beautiful scenery, terrific acting (I'd never seen Juliet Mills in a film before; the Mills family have far too much talent!), and Billy Wilder in the director's seat, it's a film you should just sit back and enjoy. One of the only flaws about the film is that at 138 minutes, it is rather long for such a fluffy comedy. That being said, it didn't really feel as though it was dragging at any point. 

Thanks for reading! 

Sunday, 15 January 2012

10 of My Favourite Classic Film Tribute Videos

This is just a quick post showcasing 10 of my favourite classic film tribute videos. I hope you enjoy watching them and, if you do, please go and comment on the videos on YouTube! 

Classic Hollywood - Forever Young (made by my wonderful friend Sara)

Classic Hollywood Stars - Memories Remain (made by my fellow blogger Clara)

Everything - Tribute to Myrna Loy and William Powell (made by my amazingfriend Kari)

Marlene Dietrich - Rolling in the Deep (made by Sara)

Feels Like Home (made by Kari)

Thnks Fr Th Mmrs - From Here To Eternity (made by fantabulany)

Barbara Stanwyck Tribute (made by my fellow blogger, Kate Gabrielle)

Learning to Breathe - The King and I (made by fantabulany)

Dirk Bogarde Tribute (made by Kate Gabrielle)

Greer Garson (made by Sara)

And a bit of shameless self-promotion (because I have no shame) in the form of the video I am most proud of from my own tribute videos.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Classic Film Q&A Time With... My Brother!

Hello everyone! It's been several months since I posted the last Classic Film Q&A Time so when my two brothers came home for Christmas I was eager to interview them both. Unfortunately, with all the excitement and exhaustion, I completely forgot until one of them had already left again. My verbose oldest brother was still at home so I took advantage of that fact and interviewed him at 10pm the night before he left..

A little bit about Matthew: I've known him for 18, almost 19 years, and I almost shared my birthday with him. As of last year, he is no longer eligible for the Young Person's Railcard which signifies he is of a great age. He's almost as clever as me. I mean, we drew at a game of chocolate Pictionary this Christmas which is a sure test of who has the highest IQ. He plays the piano and the cello and, although it hurts my pride to say this, he is much better at both those instruments than I am. When he was around the age of two, he sang "Daisy, Daisy" in it's entirety whilst sitting in his pushchair in the butchers. He was in a production of The King and I when I was two weeks old and, because my Mum couldn't go to the actual performances because I would probably scream the whole time, she went to the dress rehearsal and took me with her. It was a moment of utter clarity for me. From that moment on, I knew that I would grow up to become obsessed with the film and consequently Deborah Kerr. Thanks, Matthew! Oh, and he bears a somewhat disturbing resemblance to Matt Smith.

Which genre of film do you most like to watch?

Matthew: Well, I don't know. It depends on my mood really. I wouldn't say I have a favourite. Sometimes I'm in the mood for a mindless blockbuster with explosions and sometimes I'm in the mood for a rather more well-crafted, meditative exploration of life.

Me: That's not a genre! You have to give me a specific genre.

Matthew: I don't have one. I suppose I like anything that is character driven. The films which most satisfy me tend to be dramas, I think.

What's your favourite classic film? Least favourite?

Matthew: Probably Kind Hearts and Coronets which I think is a real masterpiece. The main character is incredible and the twist at the end is remarkable. And of course Alec Guinness. Really, anything with Alec Guinness.

Me: Least favourite?

Matthew: I probably haven't seen it. I'm very difficult to displease. I'm not sure I've seen enough really. All the ones I've seen have been recommended by people and I've enjoyed them. I can't remember what I thought of Casablanca. I don't think I was moved by it as people expect.

Favourite actor and actress?

Matthew: Clearly Alec Guiness all the way. I think he's just perfect in everything he does, really. And actress, well, I don't really know.

Me: Say Deborah Kerr then!

Matthew: I think there's a little too much hype over Marilyn. She's never really done it for me.

Me: How many films have you seen her in?

Matthew: Some Like it Hot and the one where they're on a boat.

Me: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

Matthew: I prefer the brunette.

Me: You haven't seen some of her best films!

Matthew: Oh, the lass I saw playing in Vertigo was very good.

Me: Kim Novak.

Matthew: The way she transformed from being a very uninteresting, candy floss character into a remarkably complicated, interesting character...

Are you more like Oscar or Felix?

Matthew: I'm probably more like the Walter Matthau character. (Oscar)

What is the first classic film you remember watching?

Matthew: Fiddler on the Roof. I suppose The Sound of Music and The King and I too. That is probably the first one. I remember very early on knowing that. Maybe even The Wizard of Oz.

What is your favourite musical?

Matthew: Fiddler on the Roof. Although, I did enjoy High Society. Singin' in the Rain is brilliant as well. Fiddler I enjoy because it has real dramatic depth and the songs flow seamlessly; they don't feel so much like set pieces like they do in most other musicals which I kind of dislike. The songs feel important and dramatic, important to the narrative. Whereas in Singin' in the Rain they all feel a little tacked on to me. In terms of songs, my favourite from a classic musical would probably be Well Did You Evah? because I've been in several situations just like that. It's probably the most perfect illustration of what being happily drunk is like.

What is your favourite decade for films?

Matthew: Sometimes I like the '80s best for the great Speilberg's and George Lucas of course. The Empire Strikes Back, the Indiana Jones films, Ghostbusters, a lot of cult classics as well. The '80s does have a lot of great films but then the '70s as well with the Godfathers and Star Wars. And then the '80s has Monsignor Quixote which was Alec Guiness' last feature film and which is one of my favourites.

Joan Crawford or Bette Davis? (To make it easier, you can pick either pepsi or coke)

Matthew: I don't like either, really. I think I'd rather marry someone called Bette. Did you say Joan Rivers.

Me: NO! Joan Crawford!

Favourite Hitch film?

Matthew: Of the ones I've seen, and I haven't seen many, I thought Rear Window was the best. Fantastically well made.

Do you have anything to say about silent film?

Matthew: Well, slightly off topic but I have heard it said that what Jurassic Park did for special effects in the '90s was as revolutionary as what The Jazz Singer did in... 1937 was it?

Me: 1937?! You thought that sound films hadn't been invented by 1937?! Anyway, I can't agree with that statement.

Matthew: Well, in terms of technique and in terms of what it was possible to do. If you look at special effects before CGI it's very clunky and seamy.

Me: But silent films are a work of art.

Matthew: I'm talking about film technology though - what it's possible to do. I wasn't commenting on The Jazz Singer or Jurassic Park as works of art. What really interests me about silent films, naturally I suppose, is the culture of musical improvisation that went with the performance of them. Every showing of the silent film would consequently have different shades of meaning because of the contribution of the musician working with all the stock music that was given him. Also, I don't know much about that culture or if they were given entire scores to play, but I do know that there were general ways of doing scenes of peril and ways of doing love scenes and things like this by the musician. For me, that's the most interesting part, the way that every performance of the film would be different because the musician would be different. It's very interesting.

Who is the king of '60s cool: Paul Newman or Steve McQueen?

Matthew: Steve McQueen. He was in a film called Bullitt where he was called Bullitt, which is pretty cool.

A classic film you think you should probably have seen but haven't?

Matthew: The Jazz Singer, probably. I would say that's the one I should see because it's such a watershed moment in film history.

I've probably made you sit through a lot of classic films over the years, any of these occasions stick out in your mind?

Matthew: I enjoyed the first Nick and Nora film. He's the king of cool. He's much cooler than Paul Newman. They just slouched around in leather and looked moody, but he was a class act.

Me: He was.

Matthew: I'd much rather be like him. Also, didn't he carry a hip flask?

Me: He has alcohol running through his veins.

A big thanks to my big brother for answering all these questions and I hope you all enjoy reading his answers as much as I enjoyed hearing them! Speak to you soon!

Monday, 2 January 2012

My Year in Film: December (with a breakdown of my 2011 film watching escapades & some classic film related New Year's resolutions!)

Happy New Year, blog readers! I hope the first day of 2012 has been a joyous and happy one so far! After I've done my monthly Year in Film part of the post, I'm going to wind up with checking up on how I did with my classic film related New Year's resolutions and then type out my new ones so that we can meet back here again in 2013! 


330. The Truman Show (1998) 
331. The Aviator (2004) 
332. Home Alone (1990) 
333. Christmas in Connecticut (1945) 
334. Frankenstein (1931) 
335. The Red Shoes (1948) 
336. The Lady is Willing(1942) 
337. Kitty Foyle (1940) 
338. Easy Virtue (2008) 
339. Funny Girl(1968) 
340. Rain Man (1988) 
341. Dead Poet’s Society (1989) 
342. Metropolitan (1990) 
343. The Graduate (1967) 
344. The Major and the Minor (1942) 
345. Nuovo Cinema Paradiso (1988) 
346. Elf (2003) 
347. Primrose Path (1940) 
348. Going My Way (1944) 
349. Holiday Inn (1940) 
350. Holiday Affair (1949) 
351. Nobi (Fires on the Plain) (1959) 
352. The Smiling Lieutenant (1931) 
353. Design For Living (1933) 
354. The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (1944) 
355. Thunder in the East (1952) 
356. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969) 
357. Christmas in July (1940) 
358. It Happened on Fifth Avenue (1947) 
359. All Mine to Give (1957) 
360. Dear Brigitte (1965) 
361. It’s a Wonderful Life (1947) 
362. The Young Victoria(2009) 
363. The Sword and the Rose (1953) 
364. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992) 
365. The Weak and the Wicked (1954) 
366. Shake Hands With the Devil (1959) 
367. Shall We Dance? (2004) 
368. The Cabinet of Caligari (1962) 
369. My Fair Lady (1964) 
370. Auntie Mame(1958) 
371. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987)

So, my grand total of films was 371. You all know how much I love stats and lists so I broke my year in film down to a couple of handy, little lists.

Breakdown of Decades

1900s - 1
1910s - 1
1920s - 3
1930s - 72
1940s - 85
1950s - 64
1960s - 51
1970s - 13
1980s - 19
1990s - 20
2000s - 30 
2010s - 12

Breakdown of Most Watched Actresses and Actors

Carole Lombard - 12 Cary Grant - 11
Claudette Colbert - 10 James Stewart - 11
Glynis Johns - 10 Fred MacMurray - 8
Rosalind Russell - 10 Fred Astaire - 6
Ginger Rogers - 9 Frederic March - 6
Katharine Hepburn - 9 Gregory Peck -6
Marilyn Monroe - 9 Henry Fonda - 6
Barbara Stanwyck - 8 Robert Mitchum - 6
Deborah Kerr - 7 William Powell - 6
Greer Garson - 7 Gary Cooper - 5

All in all, I think that's a rather good year in film. What do you think?

Now, erm, it's the time to check and see how many of my New Year's resolutions from last year I kept.
  • Watch more silent films
  • Much as I love them, I really don't watch enough. I often start watching them and then just never finish.
I really didn't keep this one. I watched a pitiful amount of silent films, although I do have a very long list of silents that I need to watch. Maybe 2012 will be the year, eh? 
  • Watch more Hitchcock films
  • I am sadly lacking in the Hitchcock department - I haven't seen nearly enough of his magnificent films. I want to have seen all of his 1940's films, that I haven't already seen, by the end of 2011.
2011 was definitely Hitch's year. I watched around 20 of his films and, although I haven't still haven't seen all of his 1940s films, I'm almost there. I think I'm allowed to say I did pretty well in regards to this resolution.
  • Try to complete my Deborah Kerr film collection
  • I've seen almost all of her films, but only own 30-something.
This didn't happen. I haven't bought any DVDs for myself since my birthday in April and, besides, the Deborah films I need to add to my collection aren't on DVD. Still, I firmly believe 2012 is going to be the year that I finally see ALL of her films. I only have 4 to go (one of which I own, Eye of the Devil, but which I haven't yet watched because it looks really scary). I can do this!
  • Try to complete my Greer Garson film collection
  • Again, I've seen almost all of her films but only own about 20.
I'm in the same boat with this as with Deborah's films, except that I only have 2 films to go until I've seen Greer's entire filmography (Strange Lady in Town and Sunrise at Campobello, both of which I own but... I don't want to come to the end of her filmography!).
  • Hoard more Eleanor Parker films
  • I doubt I'll be able to complete this collection this year, but I own about half of her films so I will try to add to those.
  • Hoard more Maureen O'Hara and Barbara Stanwyck films
  • Again, there's no way I'll be able to complete these collections in 2011 but I can certainly add several titles to them.
Well, this didn't happen. But I did watch more of their films so I think that counts for something. 
  • Pick at least one Old Hollywood actor/actress whom I currently dislike/ignore and try to watch more of their films to give them a chance
  • I've been meaning to watch more Elizabeth Taylor films because I've only seen 2 or 3, and, whilst I don't dislike her, I've just never really given her a chance and generally bypass her films. This time last year I wasn't a fan of Myrna Loy or Joan Crawford and now I love Myrna and really enjoy watching Joan's films!
I did come to appreciate Elizabeth Taylor this year. I feel a little sad that I wasn't more appreciative of her whilst she was still alive, but at least I enjoy her films now.  
  • Watch more Patricia Neal, Glynis Johns, Anna Magnani, Joan Blondell, Hedy Lamarr, Eva Marie Saint, and Jean Arthur films
Glynis took the cake for this one, closely followed by Jean. I didn't watch any Anna or Hedy films, sadly. Maybe this year...
I'm now almost halfway through the IMDb Top 250 list, Academy Award Best Pictures, and AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies, so I'm quite proud of that. I wish I could say I'm proud of my progress on the other lists but.. I'm not. Ah, well. It's time to make some more New Year's Resolutions. Here goes...

  • Finish watching all of Deborah and Greer's films.
  • Finish watching Hitchcock's talkies and progress onto his silents.
  • Get at least halfway through the BFI 100 film list and complete at least one of the AFI 100 Years lists (probably the 100 movies or 100 passions).
  • Watch at least 30 silents.
  • Start reviewing more films. Maybe 1 a week?
  • Pick at least one Old Hollywood actor/actress whom I currently dislike/ignore and try to watch more of their films to give them a chance. 
Well, I suppose that's it. I'll be commencing with more normal (I know, when have I ever written a normal post?!) posts after this (including a Classic Film Q&A Time with my oldest brother). Stay tuned! 
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