Friday, February 26, 2010

#10: The Ox-Bow Incident

Starring: Henry Fonda, Dana Andrews, that nostril guy from State Fair
Dir: William Wellman (1943)

Bad: I have a hard time with Westerns, I really do. This one was mercifully short. I guess I wasn't in the mood for what it offered: I didn't like the THESE CHARACTERS ARE SYMPATHETIC and THESE CHARACTERS ARE UNSYMPATHETIC heavy-handedness, or how predictable the ending was, or how awkward it was to see Dana Andrews emoting, or how the movie decided to teach me a lesson. I didn't feel like being taught a lesson, I felt like tangling my fingers in Dana's hair (or Anthony's eyelashes. Mmmm).
Good: Dana & Dana's hair, Anthony & Anthony's eyelashes... Also, Henry Fonda was better by the end than he promised at first. I liked the quiet scenes between him and Harry Morgan. There were a lot of surprisingly artsy shots and those were kind of fun to see.

Summary: I really enjoyed certain scenes here and there, but overall I think it did itself a disservice by being so social commentary-y (although at the time it must have been more progressive than it looks today) (I understand that it was based on a book but I don't feel like looking that up). Hmm. It just was not the type of movie I usually like to see, so I had to put up with some stuff to get through it.
Favorite scene by far was Henry Fonda drinking on horseback and making those weird faces. So good.

Stars: 2.5 of 5

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

#9: Spellbound

Starring: Gregory Peck, Ingrid Bergman
Dir: Alfred Hitchcock (1945)
I'm allowing the giant picture because it takes in the great scope of Gregory Peck's attractiveness best.
Bad: Nothing bad really. It's not my favorite Hitchcock so far, I found the score was occasionally louder than the dialogue (though that could have been my tape), and it ran a wee bit longer than I liked. Also, I didn't like Ingrid Bergman in this, which makes me sad to say, as I usually like her very much. Well I envied her bathrobe at least, even if it was problematic. Who on earth wears tailored robes anymore??
Good: First and most importantly, Gregory Peck was the most mind-bogglingly attractive in this movie as I've ever seen him (second only, perhaps, to Duel in the Sun..!). I liked the ending - satisfying enough, since I wasn't bothering to think ahead and discover the murderer for myself. Many of the shots were wonderfully fun, like the suspenseful scene between J.B. and Dr. Brulov (to the doctor! back to the razor! to the kitchen! to the razor! to the doctor! to the RAZOR!!) and its culmination which drowns the viewer in a glass of milk. Honestly that was my favorite shot in the entire movie, going "Are we going to --? Yes we are! Drowned in a glass of milk!" I was expecting something like "Oh dear, the whiteness of the milk crowding his vision is going to make him crazy," and that was probably what I was meant to think, but that's what makes it so clever.

Summary: I liked this movie a good deal. There wasn't fantastic chemistry, no really great dialogue worth remembering*, the story was eh (others can explain the silliness of the old psychoanalytic school), and I may not watch it again anytime soon - but for a first-time, one-time view movie, it was engaging and excellent fun.

*except -
Ballantine: "Will you love me this much when I'm 'normal'?"
Petersen: "I'll be insane about you."

Stars: 3.5 of 5

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

#8: An Affair to Remember

Starring: Cary Grant, Deborah Kerr
Dir: Leo McKarey (1957)

And here I was thinking that Sleepless in Seattle could ruin this classic love story for me! So maybe I knew how it was going to end, but still - you can't overestimate the awesomeness of this story. Similar to my recent newfound appreciation for Joel McCrea, this movie made Deborah Kerr work for me. (It's difficult to like any woman who gets with Yul Brynner right in front of you.) And Cary Grant - well, there was never any trouble with him. Lord Almighty.
Bad: I wish I could say nothing, but I am bound to honesty. I was not a fan of either rendition of "Tomorrow-Land," and the whole children's chorus thing got way too much play. Maybe I am also a little tired of the "Let's Consult the Sharp-Eyed Old Lady Full of Wisdom and Matchmaking Inclinations" movie cliche, but that was only one scene (albeit an important one) in the midst of an epically wonderful movie that I otherwise loved every moment of.
Good: The chemistry. The way they met. The brief scene where she's leaving the dining hall just as he goes in, so she tells him to try the bouillabaisse and he just says "Oh, shut up." I loved all the sentimentality, the title song, their stubbornness, and how easy it was to turn Nick from a devil-may-care playboy into a deeply feeling and goodhearted potential husband. I loved how Terry was always able to laugh at herself. I loved how you didn't feel bad for her jilted ex because he was incredibly attractive in his own right and would probably end up happy with someone else. I just loved it.

Summary: An excellent movie for when you're feeling unapologetically romantic, or any time you want to feel the heartache without suffering the unhappy ending.

Stars: 5 of 5

#7: The More the Merrier

Starring: Jean Arthur, Joel McCrea, Charles Coburn
Dir: George Stevens (1943)
FINALLY. Kat has been yammering about this movie for as long as I can remember and I know I've never had a good enough reason for letting it go unseen, but the curse is lifted at last!, as is my lifelong apathy towards Joel McCrea. Forgive me for letting it get this far.
Bad: Despite the many endearing characters he's played, Charles Coburn has always looked like a creepy little pig to me. I found that distracting for the first half of the movie, but then JM came in to shine and I had more important things to think about.
Good: My conversion to the Cult of Joel McCrea Love can be pinpointed to the moment that he started snarking at Charles Coburn. I love a snarky man, especially one who can do a little shimmy-one-two-step when he likes. Not to be neglected is the lovely Jean Arthur, who is one of the only leading ladies I've ever seen (besides Deanna Durbin) who has a booty! Her dancing alone in her bedroom was one of my favorite movie moments.

Summary: It was adorable. It was funny, clever, full of banter and some of the best screen chemistry of all time. Plus, any movie with a scene like this deserves credit for something:
I rest my case.

Stars: 4.5 of 5