Tuesday, January 13, 2015

My 150 Favorite Movies - #44

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)

Two of my favorite actors, Rex Harrison and Gene Tierney, star in this romantic turn-of-the-last-century tale of a widow and a sea-captain's ghost, learning to live and/or haunt, as the case may be, peacably together in a seaside cottage off the English coast. Remade later as a television series starring Hope Lange, this much loved film (7.9 stars on IMDB!), remains a black-and-white classic. Also starring a very young Natalie Wood, and George Sanders, in another of a series of roles he did as a debonair heel. Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz.

Monday, January 05, 2015

My 150 Favorite Movies - #45

Mary Poppins (1964)

This was the movie that rocketed Julie Andrews to international stardom after having been cruelly overlooked for the part of Eliza Doolittle in the film version of  My Fair Lady.  Based on one of my all-time favorite children's books, by P.L. Travers,  Mary Poppins tells the story of a magical nanny who basically rescues single-handedly a London family around the turn of the last century. An eminently hummable score and a wonderful supporting cast, including Dick Van Dyke and Glynis Johns puts this movie into the must-see Classic category.

Monday, December 29, 2014

My 150 Favorite Movies - #46

The Thin Man (1934)
Arguably the greatest screen team ever, Myrna Loy and William Powell made, all told, 14 movies together. Of those 14, six were Thin Man movies, of which the first is undoubtedly the best. Based on Dashiell Hammett's novel of the same name, "The Thin Man," in actuality refers not to Powell's character, but to the victim of the piece. The wit and sparkle of the interplay between Loy and Powell was rarely matched, and certainly not bested, in the history of cinema. The Thin Man also features early appearances by Maureen O'Sullivan, Cesar Romero, and, perhaps most famously, Asta, the charismatic wire-haired fox terrier who appeared in all six films, as well as other films throughout the 1930's.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

My 150 Favorite Movies - #47

All That Jazz (1979)

Roy Scheider shows off his song-and-dance chops, in this thinly disguised autobiographical account of director and choreographer Bob Fosse, here called Joe Gideon. Gideon's entire life as visualized by director Fosse, is one long bout of self-destruction, set to music, basically. Absolutely riveting, this film is both visually and aurally entertaining, dramatic and engrossing. Selected for preservation in the National Film Registry, it won four Academy Awards, and also won the Palme d'Or at the 1980 Cannes Film Festival.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

My 150 Favorite Movies - #48

Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)

Woody Allen has directed so many great movies, that it's difficult to pick just one. So here's another one: Hannah and Her Sisters, in which Woody directed Michael Caine in his first ever Oscar-winning role. The plot is a bit complex, but it takes place between two Thanksgivings, as we witness one family's dynamic, mainly centering around Hannah, played by Mia Farrow, and her two sisters, Lee (Barbara Hershey), and Holly (Dianne Wiest, another Oscar winner), and their various domestic dramas. Suffice to say there's  a lot of comedy, mixed in with all the drama, mainly relating to Woody's character, who's a suicidal hypochondriac (yes, it IS funny!) Maureen O'Sullivan, Farrow's real-life mother, plays her mother in this movie, and gets some of the best lines, including one of my all-time favorites: "this haircut that passes for a man!"

Sunday, November 30, 2014

My 150 Favorite Movies - #49

The Grifters (1990)

Annette Bening made a big splash early on in her cinematic career with The Grifters, a terrifically creepy neo-noir directed by Stephen Frears, with a screenplay by Donald E. Westlake, based on the novel by Jim Thompson. Everyone brings their a-game, including Anjelica Huston and John Cusack, as mother and son con artists. The film was nominated for a number of Academy Awards, and won Best Feature at the Independent Spirit Awards.

Friday, November 14, 2014

My 150 Favorite Movies - #50

Wonder Boys (2000)

With a supporting cast that includes Frances McDormand and Robert Downey Jr., and a soundtrack that prominently features Bob Dylan, is it any wonder that Wonder Boys tickles my fancy? Michael Douglas stars as an English Professor who's blocked on completing his second novel, years after making a major splash with his first, and Tobey Maguire costars as one of his students who may just best him in the novel writing department. One of the best movies ever made about campus politics, it was filmed in Pittsburgh, in and around the Carnegie Mellon campus. Written by Steve Kloves, directed by Curtis Hanson, and based on a novel by Michael Chabon, this is one movie with an impeccable pedigree. Not to be missed.