Tuesday, July 05, 2022

An Affair to Remember

An Affair to Remember is a 1957 remake (starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr) of the 1937 film Love Affair (which starred Charles Boyer and Irene Dunne). Both were directed by Leo McCarey, who died on this date in 1969 from emphysema at the age of 70. To be honest, I much prefer the earlier film (available free at Tubi). The remake is not available free through any service I subscribe to, but I used to see it offered on network television back in the day.


Rotten Tomatoes has an audience consensus score of 87%. It's in the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.

This screenshot is from IMDb:

and I offer it to participate in the T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering.

Sunday, July 03, 2022

A Face in the Crowd

A Face in the Crowd is a 1957 film directed by Elia Kazan and starring Andy Griffith (in his film debut), Patricia Neal, and Walter Matthau. Also in this are Anthony Franciosa, Lee Remick, Rip Torn, and various popular public figures in cameos as themselves. I post it today in memory of Andy Griffith, who died on this date in 2012 of a heart attack at the age of 86. This movie not currently avaiable for free viewing, but I have the DVD.


It is remarkable in the parallels between the power-hungry main character and Trump, despite the differences in their background. It's stunning how Trump has maintained his hold on the GOP and hapless citizens even after all this time.

The Memphis Flyer says,
At the movies, there have been numerous cautionary tales of demagoguery, such as All The King’s Men, Bullworth, and Network. The granddaddy of them all is Eliza Kazan’s 1957 film A Face In The Crowd. ... it tells a distinctly American story that will seem all too familiar today.

It’s hard for audiences familiar with his wholesome sitcom image and second career as crusading lawyer Matlock to image Griffith as “edgy” and “dangerous,” but he drips with Trumpian malevolence...

A Face In The Crowd Predicted The Trump Era — in 1957
CNN has this:
Donald Trump certainly isn’t the first media personality to have political ambitions – lest we forget, Ronald Reagan was initially a film star. But thanks to his bombast and apparent megalomania, Trump is certainly the first such personality to eerily echo Larry “Lonesome” Rhodes, the character played by Andy Griffith in the 1957 film “A Face in the Crowd.” Watch it and you’ll be amazed.

Director Elia Kazan’s picture is one of the first to trace the relationship between TV stardom and politics.

“A Face in the Crowd” seems to be saying that the American public has the sense to turn away from a charlatan when they see one.

But so far, Donald Trump’s success clashes with the truth of that fictional story. And that’s a very scary thought.
Deadline writes,
the 1957 classic A Face In The Crowd, criminally under-appreciated at the time of its release, basically presaged the Donald Trump presidential campaign.

All are well worth discovering now as movies that had their finger on the pulse of the bizarre future we are now inhabiting. Sometimes it takes a trip to the past to figure out just how far we haven’t come.
The Wrap opens with this:
It was supposed to be a cautionary tale, but as usual, we didn’t listen. All the way back in 1957, when TV was black-and-white and served up in an unwieldy box, writer Budd Schulberg and director Elia Kazan (fresh off their collaboration for “On the Waterfront”) tried to warn us about the power of the small screen to create personalities who would lead us to places we didn’t want to go.

And now we have President-elect Donald Trump.
The AV Club says,
There will be no comeuppance, no undoing of Donald Trump—and certainly no moment when some clever writer gets to walk up and triumphantly lay out the path of his future of failure for him. Rather than turn away from the charlatan who openly played them like high-strung, xenophobic fiddles, the American public has actually put him in the White House, where no matter how disastrous he may be, he will always be comforted in knowing that he won—again. Trump knew exactly how to manipulate the biggest deal he could possibly land, bartering with the cheapest fears and emptiest promises, and whether he flourishes or bankrupts us all like one of his casinos, he will never again need to worry about chasing power. He now has all the power he could ever want.
In the aftershock of a Trump victory, how fitting it is that a movie once dismissed for being too outlandishly cynical, too overblown in its pessimism, now looks like quaintly guileless fantasy.

Saturday, July 02, 2022

Godzilla (1998)

Godzilla is a 1998 monster movie, the first in the Godzilla franchise to be a Hollywood production. It's directed by Roland Emmerich and stars Matthew Broderick and Jean Reno (I love Jean Reno). It got dreadful reviews, absolutely dreadful, and I knew that before I started watching it. Emmerich "won" a Golden Raspberry for Worst Director. On the other hand, it won a Saturn Award for Special Effects. I liked it. It was great fun, with just the right amount of light personal touches. I thought the worst part by far was the score. I watched it on Netflix.


Friday, July 01, 2022

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is a 1993 animated movie. It stars Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, Abe Vigoda, Stacy Keach, Dick Miller, and Efrem Zimbalist Jr. Don't let it fool you. This is a serious character study. I watched it on HBO Max.


The Verge has a positive review and says it's "surprisingly complex in its characterization of its protagonist." Roger Ebert's site has a glowing review. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus score of 85% and an even higher audience score. Empire Online gives it 5 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Fantasia (1940)

Fantasia is a 1940 animated Disney musical anthology film featuring various pieces of classical music. I've seen it several times, having had it on VHS when the kids were little. This time I watched it on Disney+. It was expensive to produce and was a box office failure. It's a must-see but doesn't in my opinion reward re-watching.


Film Site has an article and an extensive summary. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus score of 95%. It's listed in the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

The Producers (1967)

The Producers is a black comedy satire directed by Mel Brooks (whose 96th birthday is today) and starring Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder. I don't see it free anywhere. I'm always surprised at the movies that are unavailable except for rental or purchase. I tend to watch what's available free or through the services I'm already paying for. This film is hilarious, though, and I recommend it if you have access to it.


Here's a screenshot for the Tea Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering:

Monday, June 27, 2022

The Waif Woman

The Waif Woman is a 1914 short story by Robert Louis Stevenson.
Repressed by Stevenson at his wife’s insistence, “The Waif Woman” –published posthumously (and only after Mrs. Stevenson’s death)- is an adaptation of a ghost story told in chapters 50-55 of the Icelandic Erybyggja Saga. The story certainly is scandalous, even by Stevenson’s standards, and presents perhaps his most brutal indictment of material greed yet. -from Old Style Tales
You can read it online here or listen to it read to you at the bottom of this post. It begins,

This is a tale of Iceland, the isle of stories, and of a thing that befell in the year of the coming there of Christianity.

In the spring of that year a ship sailed from the South Isles to traffic, and fell becalmed inside Snowfellness. The winds had speeded her; she was the first comer of the year; and the fishers drew alongside to hear the news of the south, and eager folk put out in boats to see the merchandise and make prices. From the doors of the hall on Frodis Water, the house folk saw the ship becalmed and the boats about her, coming and p. 6going; and the merchants from the ship could see the smoke go up and the men and women trooping to their meals in the hall.

The goodman of that house was called Finnward Keelfarer, and his wife Aud the Light-Minded; and they had a son Eyolf, a likely boy, and a daughter Asdis, a slip of a maid. Finnward was well-to-do in his affairs, he kept open house and had good friends. But Aud his wife was not so much considered: her mind was set on trifles, on bright clothing, and the admiration of men, and the envy of women; and it was thought she was not always so circumspect in her bearing as she might have been, but nothing to hurt.

On the evening of the second day men came to the house from sea. They told of the merchandise in the ship, which was well enough and to be had at easy rates, and of a waif woman that sailed in her, no one could tell why, and had chests of clothes beyond comparison, fine p. 7coloured stuffs, finely woven, the best that ever came into that island, and gewgaws for a queen. At the hearing of that Aud’s eyes began to glisten. She went early to bed; and the day was not yet red before she was on the beach, had a boat launched, and was pulling to the ship. By the way she looked closely at all boats, but there was no woman in any; and at that she was better pleased, for she had no fear of the men.

When they came to the ship, boats were there already, and the merchants and the shore folk sat and jested and chaffered in the stern. But in the fore part of the ship, the woman sat alone, and looked before her sourly at the sea. They called her Thorgunna. She was as tall as a man and high in flesh, a buxom wife to look at. Her hair was of the dark red, time had not changed it. Her face was dark, the cheeks full, and the brow smooth. Some of the merchants told that she was sixty years of age and others laughed and p. 8said she was but forty; but they spoke of her in whispers, for they seemed to think that she was ill to deal with and not more than ordinary canny.

Aud went to where she sat and made her welcome to Iceland. Thorgunna did the honours of the ship. So for a while they carried it on, praising and watching each other, in the way of women. But Aud was a little vessel to contain a great longing, and presently the cry of her heart came out of her.

“The folk say,” says she, “you have the finest women’s things that ever came to Iceland?” and as she spoke her eyes grew big.

“It would be strange if I had not,” quoth Thorgunna. “Queens have no finer.”

So Aud begged that she might see them.

Thorgunna looked on her askance. “Truly,” said she, “the things are for no use but to be shown.” So she fetched a chest and opened it. Here was a cloak of the rare scarlet laid p. 9upon with silver, beautiful beyond belief; hard by was a silver brooch of basket work that was wrought as fine as any shell and was as broad as the face of the full moon; and Aud saw the clothes lying folded in the chest, of all the colours of the day, and fire, and precious gems; and her heart burned with envy. So, because she had so huge a mind to buy, she began to make light of the merchandise.

“They are good enough things,” says she, “though I have better in my chest at home. It is a good enough cloak, and I am in need of a new cloak.” At that she fingered the scarlet, and the touch of the fine stuff went to her mind like singing. “Come,” says she, “if it were only for your civility in showing it, what will you have for your cloak?”

“Woman,” said Thorgunna, “I am no merchant.” And she closed the chest and locked it, like one angry.

Then Aud fell to protesting and caressing her. That was Aud’s practice; for she thought if she p. 10hugged and kissed a person none could say her nay. Next she went to flattery, said she knew the things were too noble for the like of her—they were made for a stately, beautiful woman like Thorgunna; and at that she kissed her again, and Thorgunna seemed a little pleased. And now Aud pled poverty and begged for the cloak in a gift; and now she vaunted the wealth of her goodman and offered ounces and ounces of fine silver, the price of three men’s lives. Thorgunna smiled, but it was a grim smile, and still she shook her head. At last Aud wrought herself into extremity and wept.

“I would give my soul for it,” she cried.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls is an award-winning 2016 dark fantasy drama film starring Liam Neeson and Sigourney Weaver. I watched it solely because of those two actors and didn't know what to expect. I wasn't expecting such a touching film, though, or one so sad. I watched it on Netflix, at that time the last movie in my Netflix watchlist. I've added to the list since then.


Rolling Stone calls it "extraordinary" and closes its review with this:
Evocative, mysterious and shot through with bruising humor and heartbreak, A Monster Calls gets you where you live and where there’s no place to hide. There’s magic in it.
The Guardian has a positive review and says, "This is not just a film about grief; it’s a film that immerses you in grief’s journey." Empire Online says, "if you let the film in, it’s unlikely to let you leave the cinema with dry eyes." Roger Ebert's site calls it "a metaphorical allegory of childhood, illness, death, and grief. And an often very powerful film." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics consensus score of 86%.