Saturday, August 30, 2014

My 150 Favorite Movies - #63

Seance on a Wet Afternoon (1964)

This stunning psychological thriller stands out as a showcase for legendary theatrical actress Kim Stanley, as a psychotic medium. Her plan to kidnap a child, only to "discover" the whereabouts later goes hopelessly awry. The late, great actor-director Richard Attenborough shines as her hapless husband and partner in crime. This is absolutely riveting, a must-see, although not for the faint of heart.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

My 150 Favorite Movies #64

Big Deal on Madonna Street (1958)

The original title, in Italian, is I Soliti Ignoti, which basically translates as "The Usual Suspects." This tale of a botched robbery at what is supposed to be a pawn shop references Rififi in all it's glory, but goes it one better - this one's a comedy. It made stars out of Vittorio Gassman and Marcello Mastroianni, and features a very early screen appearance by Claudia Cardinale, as well as a cameo from famed Italian film star Toto. Big Deal on Madonna Street was nominated for an Oscar for  Best Foreign Language Film and was listed by Premiere Magazine as one of the 50 best comedies of all-time. The wit here sparkles from start to finish.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

My 150 Favorite Movies - #65

The Sound of Music (1965)

This movie was of seminal importance to me, as a kid growing up in the turbulent '60's. No one was ever as wholesome as Julie Andrews, nor as handsome as Christopher Plummer, nor was anywhere as scenic as the Austrian alps (or wherever the heck this movie was filmed). The score, by Richard Rodgers (along with lyics by Oscar Hammerstein) was eminently hummable and the story of the Trapp family's daring escape from the Nazi regime was almost unbearably thrilling. Suffice to say, this movie has more than stood the test of time, and will continue to please movie lovers everywhere for generations to come.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

My 150 Favorite Movies - #66

Midnight Run (1988)

The juxtaposition of supremely dour Robert De Niro with extremely deadpan Charles Grodin, makes for unbeatable chemistry in this comedy about a bounty hunter and his all-too-unwilling "charge," an accountant who embezzled money from the Mob. Film critic Jay Scott wrote, "De Niro has the time of his acting life lightening up and sending up all those raging bulls that won him all those Oscars ... Charles Grodin, master of the double-take and maestro of the slow burn, the best light character comic since Jack Benny stopped playing himself." The film also features some outstanding character work from the likes of Yaphet Kotto, Joe Pantoliano, Dennis Farina, and Philip Baker Hall.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

My 150 Favorite Movies - #67

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)
Hollywood's quintessential blonde bombshell, Marilyn Monroe stars as Lorelei Lee in this adaptation of Anita Loos's iconic novel. Paired with Jane Russell as her best pal, the two glamazons strike sparks that are positively incendiary. The music in this movie musical would seem at first glance to be somewhat secondary to the decoration, but it really is not, particularly when one of the numbers is the much imitated, never equaled, Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend, which Marilyn sings to a backdrop of equally decorous men, along with, well, diamonds (talk to me, Harry Winston, tell me all about it!) Also starring Charles Coburn, Tommy Noonan, and my favorite child actor, George "Foghorn" Winslow.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

My 150 Favorite Movies - #68

Bridget Jones's Diary (2001)

Based on one of my favorite novels, by Helen Fielding, which is in turn a retelling of another favorite, Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Bridget Jones's Diary stars those quintessential charm magnets, Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth, and Hugh Grant, all in fine form, and playing well together. One of the finest rom-coms, and one of the funniest movies, of the early aughts.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

My 150 Favorite Movies - #69

Notorious (1946)


Another great old Hitchcock classic. In this one, Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman team up to bring down the bad guys, e.g., her husband, the Nazi, ably played by the ever versatile Claude Rains. Watch for the scene with the shattered wine bottle. Oh, the intrigue of it all!