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Monday, 16 April 2012

My Year in Film: March

#45 *Saving Private Ryan (1998)
#46 *Father Goose (1964)
#47 *Rope (1948)
#48 It Happened To Jane (1959)
#49 Peyton Place (1957)
#50 Portrait in Black (1960)
#51 Houseboat (1958)
#52 Battleship Potemkin (1925)
#53 The Valley of the Kings (1954)
#54 Madame X (1966)
#55 The Bad and the Beautiful (1952)
#56 If Winter Comes (1947)
#57 Betrayed (1954)
#58 Josephine and Men (1955)
#59 Please Believe Me (1950)
#60 Escape Me Never (1947)
#61 Mr. Imperium (1951)
#62 *Cover Girl (1944)
#63 Angel (1937)
#64  Saboteur (1942)
#65 The Paradine Case (1947)
#66 *An Affair to Remember (1957)
#67 The Mosquito Coast (1986)
#68 *Julia Misbehaves (1947)
#69 Tangled (2010)
#70 *Music and Lyrics (2007)
#71 Yes Man (2008)
#72 Partir (Leaving) (2009)
#73 Blue Valentine (2010)
#74 The Pajama Game (1957)

1900s - 0
1910s - 0
1920s - 1
1930s - 1
1940s - 7
1950s - 11
1960s - 3
1970s - 0
1980s - 1
1990s - 1
2000s - 3
2010s - 2

The Bad and the Beautiful, 1952

Depending on whether or not you follow me on other social networking sites, you might have realised that I'm currently going through a Lana Turner craze. If you've followed me for a while you probably know that I disliked Lana Turner rather a lot and for a reason I no longer remember. It was something I read 4 or 5 years ago and, although I've since forgotten about it, I never managed to forget my dislike of Lana. Then I watched Peyton Place and she basically forced me to admit that she was a beautiful, highly talented, and absolutely exquisite actress. So, here we are. I'm obsessed with Lana Turner and The Bad and the Beautiful happens to be one of my favourite films of the month. Not only is Miss Turner fantastic in it but so is the whole cast: Kirk Douglas, Dick Powell, Walter Pidgeon, Gloria Grahame, Elaine Stewart. I'm not sure that there has ever been such a perfect 1950s melodrama. Everything about the film is so delightfully OTT. You should definitely see it ASAP. :)

Peyton Place, 1957

Peyton Place is a somewhat unusual film for the year it was made in that it deals with many issues that weren't regularly portrayed on the screen: rape, murder, suicide, to name but a few. Of course, in 1957, the Hays Code was drawing it's last breaths in Hollywood and a new era of more casual rules was beginning. Still, PP is a far cry from the splashy Technicolor musicals and sickly sweet romantic dramas that were popular throughout the decade. Whilst I did love the overall film, a huge let down was the acting of Diane Varsi who played the main character Alison. She showed absolutely no emotion throughout the entire film and when participating in dialogue, used the most dreary, bland voice I have ever heard. As if that wasn't bad enough, the film called for her to do several voice-overs and there is nothing more off-putting than having that disinterested voice narrating whilst a beautiful Cinemascope landscape is being shown. However, Lana Turner and the rest of the cast almost completely made up for Varsi, who I hope never to have to see in anything ever again.

Blue Valentine, 2010

I put off watching Blue Valentine for a long time because from what I'd read about it, I didn't think it was going to be my cup of tea. And, if I'm honest, I wasn't wrong. It was so raw and rough that I don't think I'll ever even try to watch it again. That being said, whilst I can't say I wholeheartedly enjoyed watching the film (although, I don't think enjoyment was entirely what director Derek Cianfrance was going for), I had to include it in my top films for March because everything from the script to the soundtrack was incredible. Furthermore, I'd never seen Michelle Williams in anything before this and I found her performance really moving. I'll definitely be checking out more of her filmography.

Tangled, 2010

Yeah, yeah, I know, I took my time in seeing this. Truth be told, I'm not a huge fan of animated films. I don't know why, but I just prefer seeing actual flesh and blood people as opposed to animated characters. I did really enjoy Tangled though and, in true Sophie form, I found that my favourite character was one of the "baddies". When it comes to Disney, my favourites characters are Scar (The Lion King), Jafar (Aladdin), Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty), and, although I'm not a big fan of the actual film, Ursula (The Little Mermaid), so it was no surprise that Mother Gothel completely captivated me from the start. Of course, my love of the character was no coincidence when she was voiced by the fabulous Donna Murphy. If it hadn't been for Mother Gothel, I'm not sure it would have ranked in my top films this month but I couldn't resist such a brilliant character with an even more brilliant voice so there you have it!

Speak to you all soon!

Sunday, 15 April 2012

In memoriam: A Night to Remember (1958)

A Night to Remember is probably one of the best known films about the RMS Titanic after James Cameron's 1997 soap opera/special effects bonanza named, very originally, Titanic. Never having been a fan of the previous film (it may have made me cry but not for the fictitious portions of the plot. There was clearly room on that raft for two.) but having always been keenly interested in the Titanic disaster, I found that the 1953 film also called... well, Titanic (if you're curious about the film, you can read my review of it here.) was much more my cup of tea. That's why last night I decided that I would watch the 1953 film in memory of the 100th anniversary of the disaster. Just as I was about to press play however, I thought to myself, "Why not watch A Night to Remember? After all, you've never seen all of it and it's supposedly one of the best films about the Titanic.". So I did. Here's the review!

A Night to Remember, 1958
The director: Roy Ward Baker
The stars: Kenneth More, Ronald Allen, Robert Ayres, Honor Blackman
IMDb says: The Titanic disaster is depicted in straightforward fashion without the addition of fictional subplots.

A Night To Remember follows the Titanic from it's departure from Belfast to the Southampton docks and from there to it's tragic demise. As the IMDb summary states, you won't find any fictional subplots here unlike other films about the Titanic. Everything they portrayed in the film happened almost exactly as the historians of the day believed it to have happened. Whether or not these depictions of events were 100% accurate or not, we'll never know for sure. Then again, no film based on a true story is ever completely accurate.

Whilst the film doesn't invent a fictional storyline to keep audiences interested (something which I personally feel is a little redundant in such a film as this), it does vaguely follow the personal story of the second officer on board, Charles Lightoller (Kenneth More), starting with his train ride to join the boat at Southampton. I thought this was a clever way to draw the viewers into the film without detracting from the events unfolding all around, something that I feel other films have done. It may not be to everyone's taste, but I like my factual films to be as historically accurate as possible and I find that spicing up the storyline is usual completely unnecessary.

Not being an expert on the sinking of the Titanic, I wasn't watching the film and cringing at whatever inaccuracies may have occurred but there was a rather big one that couldn't escape my notice. I'm not sure exactly when it was discovered that the Titanic did not, in fact, sink in one piece (1985?) but, if you watch earlier films you will notice that it always goes down intact. In actuality, the ship, which was sinking bow first, broke in half with the stern sticking up almost vertically before plunging down back down into the ocean. Whilst that is a rather big mistake for a film to make, I think the film makers can be let of the hook because they really had no way of knowing their portrayal was false.

All in all, I highly recommend A Night to Remember. There are several scenes in it that you might recognise as being pretty much replicated in the 1997 film, but, relieved of an overly sentimental subplot, I think it far surpasses any of it's fellow films. Apart from More, Honor Blackman, and David McCallum, the cast is rather obscure. Nevertheless, they all did a fine job to make this film memorable. So, if you feel like watching a film about the tragic maiden voyage of the RMS Titanic, look no further.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Box Set Monday #13: Ingrid Bergman (Guest post!)

This week's Box Set Monday post is by the very knowledgeable and lovely Rianna from Frankly, My Dear. Her favourite actress is the ever wonderful Lucille Ball and her blog is a veritable font of everything Lucy. I urge you all to follow her because, aside from Lucy related posts, Rianna writes about multitude of things pertaining to classic film. I'm honoured to have her guest posting here on Waitin' On a Sunny Day! 
I can never list my favorite actresses in a chronological order. Save Lucille Ball, my favorite, I always have a hard time sorting through the other actresses; I just can’t decide who might have that particular second place after Lucy. But if I have to be honest, one of the very strongest contenders for that place would be Ingrid Bergman.
What’s not to love about Ingrid? She was one of the greatest screen actresses of all time; and let’s not forget that gorgeous face and that marvelous Swedish accent. The best thing about watching Ingrid on the screen is you believe every action she preforms and every line she delivers; you believe it because she believes it. Ingrid was one of those actresses that truly loved her art and respected it, and always put her all into it. She was a natural performer. So it’s a fantastic shame there is no box set for her, but if I could pull the strings, it’d go like this
Intermezzo: A Love Story (1939)
Casablanca (1942)
Gaslight (1944)
The Bells of St. Mary's (1945)
Notorious (1946)
Anastasia (1956)

Intermezzo: A Love Story (1939) was originally a Swedish film Ingrid had starred in. David O. Selznick brought Ingrid out to Hollywood to star in American version, and this kicked off her Hollywood career. In this movie from Hollywood’s Golden Year, Ingrid plays a na├»ve piano instructor who falls in love with the father (Leslie Howard) of a young girl she teaches. The only problem is he happens to be married. This isn’t actually a perfect movie or anywhere near it, but it’s an important performance for Ingrid. She shines so brightly, it’s easy to see why America fell in love with her afterwards.
Casablanca (1942) is easily Ingrid’s most well known movie. Everyone knows this tale of a fight for love and glory and a case of do or die! For the few that may need a refresher, Ingrid plays the luminous Ilsa Lund opposite Humphrey Bogart’s Rick Blaine as the two lovers that just aren’t meant to be. Though Ingrid wasn’t even nominated for an Oscar for this most famous performance of hers, she really could have earned one. Casablanca (1942) is one of the most talked about movies of all time, and it’s not one bit overrated, and neither is Ingrid in her role as Ilsa.
I think out of all her performances, Ingrid’s in Gaslight (1944) is my favorite. It’s a melodrama set in the early twentieth century. Ingrid plays Paula, a beautiful woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown after she’s pressured to move back into the house her aunt was killed in by her husband, a very chilling Charles Boyer. There are plenty of intense, suspenseful scenes in this movie for Ingrid to show off her dramatic talent. It is such a complex role but every fiber of her body is into it; she’s honestly so perfect in this and SO deserving of the Oscar she won for this.
The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945) is a fun & sweet sequel to Going My Way (1944) from the prior year (in which Ingrid did not star). Ingrid plays a dedicated nun who runs the school for children Father O’Malley (Bing Crosby) arrives at to help reform. Father O’Malley and Ingrid’s Sister Benedict engage in a friendly rivalry all while helping the grade school children deal with the various issues they face. Ingrid is so adorable in this; there are certainly dramatic scenes but there also ones where she gets to show her flair for comedy, like one in which she teaches one of the schoolboys how to fight. This is easily one of Ingrid’s most endearing & charming performances.
Out of all the characters Ingrid played, her role as Alicia Huberman in Notorious (1946) is my favorite. Alicia risks her life by marrying a Nazi to spy on him for the US government, all while engaging in a hot/cold relationship with Cary Grant. Ingrid & Cary Grant are always perfect together – I wish they had gotten married. Their chemistry is just that perfect, and this is also the Hitchcock thriller with that famous kissing scene between the two of them. This is an exciting, suspenseful film with Ingrid at some of her very best & burning holes in the screen with Cary Grant.

Anastasia (1956) is very important film for Ingrid; it was the movie that reintroduced her to American audiences. Six years before she’d been exiled from the country for her scandalous affair with Roberto Rossellini, and in the time since, she’d made only Rossellini pictures in Italy. In Anastasia (1956), she plays an emotional woman who Yul Brynner tries to pass off as the Grand Duchess Anastasia Romanov. (The whole Romanov family was murdered in 1917, but for years rumors would exist that Anastasia had survived, and many women claimed to be her.) I find the Romanovs very intriguing and so it’s a treat to see Ingrid playing a woman who may or may not actually be Anastasia Romanov. America’s peace offering with her was an Oscar for this role, which Ingrid completely earned. She is simply compelling in this performance.
Well, those are my choices. Hopefully one day Ingrid will get a complete box set! A big thank you Sophie for giving me the opportunity to do this guest post on her lovely blog and for creating this super awesome series. :)
A hearty thank you to Rianna for coming up with such a wonderful box set for Ingrid. I'll definitely be checking out The Bells of St. Mary's as I loved Going My Way.

Is there are star you feel isn't appreciated and is need of their own box set? Do you feel like you could make a box set that will live up to their greatness? I'm looking for another 2 guest posters for this series of BSM and it could be you! (How cheesy does that sound?! ;D) Leave me a comment, send me an email, and we'll work something out!
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