10 items from 2014
Here we are at what is a surprisingly modern list. At the beginning of this, I didn’t expect to see so much cultural impact coming from films so recently made, but that’s the way it goes. The films that define the horror genre aren’t necessarily the scariest or the most expensive or even the best. The films that define the genre point to a movement – movies that changed the game and influenced all the films after it. Movies that transcend the horror genre. Movies that broke the mold and changed the way horror can be created.
10. El laberinto del fauno (2006)
English Language Title: Pan’s Labyrinth
Directed by: Gullermo del Toro
It’s more a dark fantasy film than a horror film, but it would be tough to make a list of 50 of those. Plus, it has enough graphic, nightmarish images to push it over the threshold. »
- Joshua Gaul
“No one paid any attention to the orchestra. I could have saved that 85 bucks!”
After his daughter selects a mate, the father must endure sleepless nights, sticker shock, and the disruption of his household as he navigates through the nightmare of wedding planning. In the original 1950 comedy classic Father Of The Bride, Spencer Tracy is terrific as Stanley banks, the harried father whose plans for a small wedding go awry. As his wife and daughter, Joan Bennett and Liz Taylor aren’t given much to do except look supportive and lovely, respectively (Interestingly, both actresses played Amy in film versions of Little Women; Bennett in 1933 and Taylor in 1949). Don Taylor, who plays the groom, would have a long career as a TV director. Director Vincent Minnelli does a nice job of balancing the comedy and the sentimentality in Father Of The Bride, which was a huge hit in 1950, spawning a »
- Tom Stockman
If There's Always Tomorrow (1956) tends to get overshadowed in the Douglas Sirk canon—it's bracketed on either side by All That Heaven Allows (1955) and Written on the Wind (1956)—that may be because it's missing the two elements that define his most famous melodramas: color and Rock Hudson. Sirk's Technicolor films comprise his most widely known, widely praised, and widely available work, and not without reason. A command of the spectrum is arguably the director's key stylistic trademark and definitely one of his most important, helping him elevate even the flimsiest soap opera material to cinematic expressionism, driving emotions to impossible highs and playing his soulful characters against the seemingly insurmountable artificiality of their world.
So credit There's Always Tomorrow for choosing a format equally suited to its (relatively) toned down narrative. It's another suburban melodrama, but the gloriously preposterous plot twists of something like Magnificent Obsession (1954) or Imitation of Life (1959) are nowhere to be found. »
- Duncan Gray
Well, it's never too late to return to the "Father of the Bride" well, we suppose, as Disney and Warner Bros are currently working on a "Father of the Bride 3," the third film in the trilogy that started in 1991 with "Father of the Bride" and continued in 1995 with "Father of the Bride Part II." (The first film was a remake of a 1950 film of the same name that starred Spencer Tracy and Joan Bennett, while the second was a loose remake of that film's sequel, "Father's Little Dividend," which also starred Tracy and Bennett along with Elizabeth Taylor.) But this time out, there's a gay twist!
According to Nikki Finke, who broke the story, the "twist" is that Little Matty (the little boy from the first two films) is now 29 and gay and getting married to a Navy Seal's son. Oh man, can you imagine the hilarity? Martin will definitely return as the titular father, »
- Drew Taylor
The inspiration behind the making of Riot in Cell Block 11 is as equally fascinating as the end product. Producer Walter Wanger (who famously produced Hitchcock’s 1941 film, Foreign Correspondent, among others) was sentenced to a brief stint in prison after shooting a man he believed was having an affair with his then wife, actress Joan Bennett. The dramatic scandal would force Wanger into an experience that apparently changed his life, as leaving prison immediately saw his intense interest in getting this project off the ground, basing it on an actual event that happened in Michigan. Undeniably a semi-documentary message film, it’s an arresting prison drama that features believable performances and striking cinematography. Serving as director Don Siegel’s first major hit at the box office despite lack of female stars and subject matter, it’s his first definitive example of the themes that would mark him as Clint Eastwood »
- Nicholas Bell
Written by Nunnally Johnson
Directed by Fritz Lang
Richard Wanley (Edward G. Robinson) is an assistant professor of psychology at a local university. While the academic’s family is away for the summer, he spends his evenings at a gentlemen’s club with fellow intellectuals, among them Dist. Atty. Frank Lalor (Raymond Massey). Just next door to the club is an art shop where, set beside the window for all to see, a portrait of a beautiful woman sits, catching Richard’s attention. Happenstance has it that the subject, Alice Reed (Joan Bennett), passes by one night and, flattered by Richard’s admiration, invites him over to view other sketches. Everything is quite innocent until a middle-aged man, an acquaintance of Alice’s, storms into the apartment and attacks Richard out of jealousy. The professor has no other choice but to retaliate and stabs »
- Edgar Chaput
Written by Dudley Nichols
Directed by Fritz Lang
In a private party set up by J. J. Hogarth (Russell Hicks), president of one of New York’s largest banks, honours are bestowed upon the company and its employees for their diligent service. Among those celebrated is Christopher Cross (Edward G. Robinson), faithful cashier for 25 years. Chris is a mild-mannered, milquetoast sort of chap. He lives with his wife Adele (Rosalind Ivan), who only married him out of convenience after the passing of her first husband; she actually loathes him. A hopeful painter, all Chris has to call his joy is amateur painting on Sundays. Fate has something far different in store for Chris once he leaves his employer’s party. He stumbles upon a man physically assaulting a woman on the sidewalk, prompting him to come to her aid. The young woman, Katherine (Joan Bennett), is thankful »
- Edgar Chaput
DVD Release Date: March 11, 2014
Price: DVD $11.98
Studio: Film Chest
The under-appreciated 1948 film noir crime drama Hollow Triumph arrives from Film Chest with a full high-definition restoration taken from the original 35mm film elements.
When med school dropout-turned-master criminal John Muller (Paul Henreid, Casablanca) puts together a major casino heist, not everything goes as planned. The cops don’t know he was behind it, but, unfortunately, Rocky Stansyck (Thomas Browne Henry, Earth vs. the Flying Saucers), a vindictive gangland casino owner, figures it out. In order to “disappear,” Muller assumes the identity of a psychiatrist, Dr. Bartok (Henreid again, in a dual role), requiring him to scar his face to match Bartok’s … resulting in unforeseen consequences.
It took me a while to watch something in tribute to the late Peter O'Toole—too upsetting—and I still haven't been able to face Joan Fontaine on the screen since her recent passing, though when I do perhaps I'll go for September Affair (1950) or Something to Live For (1952), neither of which I've ever seen.
With O'Toole, I eventually plumped for Rogue Male (1977): the title seemed to fit him to a tee. This is a television adaptation of Geoffrey Household's excellent thriller, previously filmed by Fritz Lang under the title Man Hunt, back in 1941 when the events were current.
A hunter (O'Toole) called Hunter takes aim at Hitler, but is apprehended before he can pull the trigger. Tortured by the Gestapo, he miraculously escapes and now Hunter becomes the hunted, pursued all the way back to England and run to earth in a self-made burrow, trapped like a rat. »
- David Cairns
In which two ingénues are introduced...
A girlish debutante in a white gown floats down the stairs and into her waiting beau's arms. Gracefully, they glide around the dance floor sharing quips and quiet smiles. Thus is the world introduced to Katharine Hepburn in A Bill of Divorcement in 1932. It's a pretty enough entrance, but somehow inauspicious for Kate the Great. It is just so entirely Movie Ingénue Ordinary. The girl floating down the stairs could just as easily be Jeanette McDonald or Joan Bennett. Considering who Katharine Hepburn was and who she became, one would expect her to come striding into the room like a Greek goddess. Katharine Hepburn would make many more striking and characteristic entrances later, so for now we'll settle for this beautiful-if-ephemeral debut of the ingénue, and proceed with my own introduction.
- Anne Marie
10 items from 2014
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