Tuesday, October 27, 2015

My 150 Favorite Movies - #26

The Third Man (1949)

About as Hitchcockian a film as you can get, without actually being directed by Hitchcock, The Third Man, directed by Carol Reed, is based on a Graham Greene novel, about a pulp novelist who travels to postwar Vienna at the invitation of an old friend, only to end up investigating his mysterious death. The production team behind this movie is top shelf, with David O. Selznick and Alexander Korda both serving as producers. The haunting zither music on the film's soundtrack topped international music charts at the time.In 1999, the British Film Institute voted The Third Man the best British film of the twentieth century. Starring Orson Welles and Joseph Cotten, with Alida Valli bringing up the rear as the obligatory femme fatale, this classic film is required viewing for all movie lovers.

Friday, October 23, 2015

My 150 Favorite Movies - #27

Goodfellas (1990)

My all-time favorite film of acclaimed director Martin Scorsese, Goodfellas tells the true story of a mobster wannabe, on his way up, and what ultimately led to his downfall. The Lufthansa heist that actually took place in the late 1970's, and the events leading up to it is included as part of the story. Partially based on the book Wiseguy by Nick Pileggi, the stellar cast includes Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Paul Sorvino, and Lorraine Bracco. The movie's opening line, "As far back as I could remember, I've always wanted to be a gangster," was voted #20 of the "100 greatest movie lines" in Premiere magazine. An absolutely brilliant film, but could we expect anything less from this director?

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

My 150 Favorite Movies - #28

Ninotchka (1939)

"Garbo laughs!" was the tagline for this movie classic, originally released in that stellar year for all motion pictures, 1939. Melvyn Douglas served as the perfect foil for Greta Garbo's charm in this tale of a staunch Russian communist who melts under the charms of a dapper Parisian. With a screenplay by the combustible team of Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder, and direction helmed by the late, great Ernst Lubitsch, this movie has genius in it's DNA, and never fails to provoke a genuine emotional response in scene after memorable scene. Selected by the National Film Registry, Library of Congress, in 1990.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

My 150 Favorite Movies - #29

The Triplets of Belleville (2003)

This amazing French film about a young bicyclist who is kidnapped during the Tour de France, and then rescued by his grandmother and dog, along with help from a retired singing group called the "Triplets of Belleville," is unlike any other movie ever. The film takes place in the 1950's, is almost entirely in black and white, and is also almost entirely devoid of dialogue. It is also animated. Enjoyably witty, with many visual puns, every frame is a delight.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

My 150 Favorite Movies - #30

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

That illustrious year, 1939, may have been the high point for all of motion-picturedom. Wuthering Heights, Gone With the Wind, The Women, Gunga Din, and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, among many other classics, were released in 1939. But perhaps none was more beloved than The Wizard of Oz. Through annual showings on television, this film has wormed it's way into the hearts of all. Based on the beloved children's classic by L. Frank Baum, The Wizard of Oz tells the story of  Dorothy Gale of Kansas, who, along with her small dog, Toto, gets swept up in a tornado, and somehow winds up in a magical land called "Oz." Boasting a wonderful score by E.Y. Harburg and Harold Arlen, the film includes wonderful performances by such stalwart character actors as Frank Morgan, Bert Lahr, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley and Margaret Hamilton. But of course it will most of all be remembered for the performance at the center of the action, Judy Garland as Dorothy. This is the film that catapulted Judy to stardom and rightfully so. Anyone who has seen this film cannot help but fall in love with her.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

My 150 Favorite Movies - #31

Laura (1944)

Laura is quintessential Hitchcock-style film noir, except it wasn't directed by Hitchcock, but by Otto Preminger. Starring one of the screen's most beautiful actresses, Gene Tierney, Laura concerns itself with a young designer whose presumed death leads to a murder investigation and even further mystery. Starring a stellar list of colorful character actors, including Clifton Webb, Vincent Price, Dana Andrews  and Judith Anderson, it also contains some of the most scintillating dialogue east of the Mississippi. One sample: "I don't use a pen. I write with a goose quill dipped in venom." Blessed with a gorgeous theme song by David Raksin (you can listen here), Laura was voted one of the top five mysteries by the American Film Institute.

Friday, August 07, 2015

My 150 Favorite Movies - #32

The Great Race (1965)

I've written about The Great Race previously on this blog here.