Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Don't Miss Joan Crawford's Flapper Trilogy On TCM

January is Joan Crawford month on TCM and they're kicking it off Thursday night with what I call the Flapper Trilogy—Our Dancing Daughters (1928), Our Modern Maidens (1929) and Our Blushing Brides (1930). They are an exploitative hoot, with Hollywood clucking its moralizing tongue at the antics of girls gone wild while raking in box office bucks.
Look for Monkey favorite Anita Page in all three.

The fun starts at 9 p.m. EST on Thursday, January 2, 2014.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Remember The Night: A Mini Review (Spoilers)

A comedy penned by Preston Sturges, and starring Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck, Remember The Night is the story of a district attorney who takes the woman he's trying to convict of larceny home to Indiana for Christmas.

Released four years before Double Indemnity, it was critically-acclaimed but a commercial flop, and turns out to be Camille without the cough. Funny and well-acted, but reactionary in its outlook, the ambiguous ending suggests that a tarnished woman can never be redeemed, and good people best not mix with them. Makes you wonder what Jesus thought he was up to, drinking wine with hookers and tax collectors.

3.5 stars out of 5.

Three More Of The Monkey's Favorite Musical Moments

A follow-up to my previous post.

"I Got Rhythm" (An American In Paris)

"My Rifle, My Pony and Me" (Rio Bravo)

"These Are The Laws of My Administration" (Duck Soup)

The Sunshine Award

I've been meaning to mention that Andrew D. of "1001 Movies I (Apparently) Must See Before I Die" has bestowed upon the Monkey the "Sunshine" Award. An appropriately-themed accolade, don't you think, considering the prevalence of Seasonal Affective Disorder at this time of year.

These are the award's rules:

1. Include the Sunshine Award in a post or on your blog
2. Link to the person who nominated you.
3. Answer 10 questions about yourself (you may use these or come up with your own)
4. Nominate 10 bloggers.
5. Link your nominees on your blog and comment on their blog to let them know they are nominated.

Andrew D. selected the Monkey for this award for the most refreshing reason ever: "I literally don't know ANY other bloggers." If only everyone were as honest.

Okay, so parts one and two, taken care of. But parts three and four—"10 questions ... 10 bloggers." Ten? Jeepers. Screw ten. I'm too old for ten. How about three? And not three questions, but three of my favorite musical moments from the movies. Maybe not the three favorites, but three of them.

(1) "Cheek to Cheek" (Top Hat). I've said it before, but I'll say it again: When I watch Astaire and Rogers dance, I reconsider the possibility that maybe there is a heaven after all.

(2) "I Should Have Known Better" (A Hard Day's Night). The Beatles and Richard Lester invent the music video.

(3) "Kindle My Heart" (A Little Princess). More a reimagining of the Shirley Temple movie than an adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett's beloved children's book, A Little Princess is the story of a rich girl suddenly thrown into poverty, but what it's about is the power of storytelling to transmute despair into hope. In this scene, director Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity) ups the ante, showing how filmmaking can bypass the frontal lobes and tell stories directly to the heart.

And who gets the Monkey's Sunshine shout-out? Olivia de Havilland, the pig from Babe and Nick Charles's beleaguered liver.

Have at it, boys and girls.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Peter O'Toole (1932-2013)

Peter O'Toole was nominated for Best Actor more times than anyone without winning. Here are the films he was nominated for and the actor he lost to:

Lawrence of Arabia (1962) — Gregory Peck (To Kill A Mockingbird)

Becket (1964) — Rex Harrison (My Fair Lady)

The Lion in Winter (1968) — Cliff Robertson (Charly)

Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969) — John Wayne (True Grit)

The Ruling Class (1972) — Marlon Brando (The Godfather)

The Stunt Man (1980) — Robert De Niro (Raging Bull)

My Favorite Year (1982) — Ben Kingsley (Gandhi)

Venus (2006) — Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland)

Even though I personally think Lawrence of Arabia is O'Toole's best performance, I'd bet 1968 is the one the Academy wishes it could do over. In fact, once a year, the Academy should be allowed one do-over. Let's start with Peter O'Toole.

Joan Fontaine Is Dead, Olivia De Havilland Is Furious

"Olivia has always said I was first at everything—I got married first, got an Academy Award first, had a child first. If I die, she'll be furious, because again I'll have got there first!"—Joan Fontaine (1917-2013)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Professor Larry Gopnik's Post Hanukah, Pre-Christmas, Post-Schrodinger, Pre-Apocalypse SLIFR Holiday Movie Quiz

Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule is hosting its famous semi-whenever-he-wants-to-do-it movie quiz this week. The questions are in bold, my answers are not.

1) Favorite unsung holiday film
Scrooge? Holiday? It's A Wonderful Life? Eh, click on this link to check out my list of Christmas movies you may have forgotten are Christmas movies.

2) Name a movie you were surprised to have liked/loved
Mostly, it's television that takes me by surprise—I don't search it out, it searches me out. In the last year or so we've discovered Modern Family, Bunheads, Castle, Elementary, Almost Human, The Blacklist, Inspector George Gently, Endeavour and The Crazy Ones. And Bunheads has already been cancelled!

3) Ned Sparks or Edward Everett Horton?
Horton, for everything from the Ernst Lubitsch movies to the Astaire-Rogers pictures to the narration of Fractured Fairy Tales on The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle.

4) Sam Peckinpah's Convoy—yes or no?
Oh, lord no.

5) What contemporary actor would best fit into a popular, established genre of the past
I'd like to see George Clooney and Amy Adams do a classic 1930s era screwball comedy.

6) Favorite non-disaster movie in which bad weather is a memorable element of the film’s atmosphere
The Thing From Another World, unless an alien invasion counts as a disaster, then Key Largo. I'm also a big fan of the rain in Red Dust.

7) Second favorite Luchino Visconti movie
Notwithstanding The Leopard's reputation, I don't even have a favorite Luchino Visconti movie.

8) What was the last movie you saw theatrically? On DVD/Blu-ray?
At the theater? Harold Lloyd in The Freshman at the AFI-Silver with live musical accompaniment. On DVD? After the Thin Man.

9) Why do you react the way you do when someone eloquently or not-so-eloquently attacks one of your favorite movies? (Question courtesy of Patrick Robbins)
Mostly, I think it over and either modify my opinion or not. Otherwise, polite indifference, since I am (1) polite and (2) indifferent. Not much for argument, friendly or not, unless you're paying me the going hourly rate.

10) Joan Blondell or Glenda Farrell?
As an actress, Blondell. It's said though that Farrell could speak 400 words in 40 seconds which considering how quiet I am could come in real handy at a dinner party.

11) Movie star of any era you’d most like to take camping
You couldn't make me go camping at gunpoint.

12) Second favorite George Cukor movie
My favorite is Holiday, so The Philadelphia Story.

13) Your top 10 of 2013 (feel free to elaborate!)
No Top 10, but here are my two favorite plays.

14) Name a movie you loved (or hated) upon first viewing, to which you eventually returned and had more or less the opposite reaction
Hated Apocalypse Now when I saw it as a callow eighteen year old then grew to love it. Loved The Big Chill the first time I saw it, then gradually realized I love the soundtrack and hated the characters.

15) Movie most in need of a deluxe Blu-ray makeover
Heck if I know.

16) Alain Delon or Marcello Mastroianni?
Mastroianni for 8 1/2.

17) Your favorite opening sequence, credits or no credits (provide link to clip if possible)
My favorite is Katie-Bar-The-Door's imitation of the beginning of Once Upon A Time In The West.

18) Director with the strongest run of great movies
Currently, Quentin Tarantino. All-time? Hitchcock, Hawks and Wilder.

19) Is elitism a good/bad/necessary/inevitable aspect of being a cineaste?
Labels like "cineaste" give me a headache, and "elitism" is often just an excuse for bad manners.

20) Second favorite Tony Scott film
I liked Crimson Tide, but that's really about it.

21) Favorite movie made before you were born that you only discovered this year. Where and how did you discover it?
The Big Clock, a 1948 film noir starring Charles Laughton, Ray Milland, George Macready and Elsa Lanchester, remade with Kevin Costner and Gene Hackman as No Way Out. I had it confused in my head with the non-musical Judy Garland movie, The Clock, which is fine but nothing to write a blog post about. Saw The Big Clock with Mister Muleboy at the AFI-Silver where we had met to see a free preview of Last Vegas and wisely chose to see this instead. One of the highlights of the year, not just movie highlights, highlights.

22) Actor/actress you would most want to see in a Santa suit, traditional or skimpy
Not on point, but I found this picture of Mary Pickford I like.

23) Video store or streaming?
There are no video stores around here anymore, but I do prefer to check out movies and TV shows from the library.

24) Best/favorite final film by a noted director or screenwriter
A popular meme going around the internet the point of which I admit I don't get.

25) Monica Vitti or Anna Karina?
I can take them or leave them, as a pair or individually.

26) Name a worthy movie indulgence you’ve had to most strenuously talk friends into experiencing with you. What was the result?
Strenuously? The Monkey does nothing strenuously. But I did ask Katie-Bar-The-Door and Mister Muleboy and his bride Michele to see some silent movies with me and the result was three converts.

27) The movie made by your favorite filmmaker (writer, director, et al) that you either have yet to see or are least familiar with among all the rest
Is Howard Hawks my favorite? Maybe. Apparently he made something called Red Line 7000 in 1965 I'd never even heard of until today.

28) Favorite horror movie that is either Christmas-oriented or has some element relating to the winter holiday season in it
Scrooge—a Christmas musical with Albert Finney and a variety of ghosts.

29) Name a prop or other piece of movie memorabilia you’d most like to find with your name on it under the Christmas tree
Mister Muleboy and Bellotoot once gave me a replica of the Maltese Falcon. Hard to beat that.

30) Best holiday gift the movies could give to you to carry into 2014
Free popcorn for life?