7 items from 2014
Seventy-five years after the premiere of "Gone With the Wind" (on December 15, 1939), it seems that nothing -- not the passage of time, not the movie's controversial racial politics, not the film's daunting length, and not even the release of certain James Cameron global blockbusters -- can diminish the romantic Civil War drama's stature as the most popular movie of all time.
The film is certainly a formidable artistic achievement, a cornerstone of movie history, and a highlight of a year so full of landmark films that 1939 has often been called the greatest year in the history of Hollywood filmmaking. Each viewing of the four-hour epic seems to reveal new details. Still, even longtime "Gwtw" fans may not know the behind-the-scenes story of the film, one as lengthy and tumultuous as the on-screen romance between Scarlett O'Hara (Vivien Leigh) and Rhett Butler (Clark Gable). Producer David O. Selznick spent fortunes, hired »
- Gary Susman
Cary Grant films on TCM: Gender-bending 'I Was a Male War Bride' (photo: Cary Grant not gay at all in 'I Was a Male War Bride') More Cary Grant films tonight, as Turner Classic Movies continues with its Star of the Month presentations. Right now, TCM is showing the World War II action-drama Destination Tokyo, in which Grant finds himself aboard a U.S. submarine alongside John Garfield. Directed by Delmer Daves, who a decade later would direct a series of classy Westerns (e.g., 3:10 to Yuma, The Hanging Tree), Destination Tokyo is pure flag-waving propaganda, plodding its way through the dangerous waters of war-movie stereotypes and speechifying banalities. The film's key point of interest is Grant himself -- not because of he's any good, but because he has been cast against type as a tough submarine commander. It's always odd to see debonair Cary Grant »
- Andre Soares
Plays about writing are bores or lies or both. The drama of the process, entirely internal and largely concerned with semicolons, can’t be staged, so a different drama has to be manufactured. Usually this involves clichéd obstacles and a sort of deus ex typewriter for the climax, justifying yet somehow invalidating everything that came before. You could argue that the vicissitudes of writing movies instead of prose — the collaborators, the studios, the test audiences, the Hays Office — offer a dramatist many ways around the problem, which is why there’s a mini-genre of comedies about screenplays. Indeed, those things did help Ron Hutchinson’s Moonlight and Magnolias, which in 2004 hitched a ride on the back of Gone With the Wind, telling the story of its emergency plot transplant at the hands of David O. Selznick, Victor Fleming, and Ben Hecht. The resultant play wasn’t awful; for that we »
- Jesse Green
To anyone familiar with the many Hollywood newspaper comedies of the 1930s and 1940s, of course, this swell of alarmism about contemporary journalism will no doubt seem amusing. Diminished standards, ethical bankruptcy, the easy propagation of mistruths—this conception is nothing new. Let’s consider the history. In 1928, former reporters Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur wrote The Front Page, a hugely popular Broadway comedy which satirized the unscrupulousness of the newspaper business. The play concerned the efforts of Walter Burns, the ruthless editor of a big-city daily, to orchestrate the last-minute exoneration of a criminal sentenced to be hanged, which he hopes will both secure his paper a landmark exclusive and convince his former star reporter to return to the masthead once more. Its best-known adaptation, His Girl Friday, would arrive in 1940 courtesy of Howard Hawks. But Lewis Milestone's 1931 version remains perhaps the more influential: its success ushered in »
Best Picture: “12 Years a Slave.” What an incredible lineup! Apart from “American Hustle” (a blatant knockoff of Scorsese’s superior, Oscar-unrewarded “Goodfellas”) and Scorsese’s own equally unwieldy “The Wolf of Wall Street,” I would be happy to see any of these films go home victorious. And yet, “12 Years a Slave” strikes me as an achievement above the rest, inviting people to empathize with a human being caught at the center of a system whose implications and aftermath society still refuses to confront. Considering Hollywood’s belief in the healing power of Holocaust movies, it’s scandalous how long America’s slaveholding legacy had gone unexamined — until now.
Best Director: Alfonso Cuaron, “Gravity.” Though I know some are predicting “Gravity” for the top prize, direction is surely the category where this mind-blowing, mostly virtual achievement most warrants recognition. Cuaron delivers a visceral cinematic experience nonpareil, »
- Variety Staff
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
As if his British films weren’t evidence enough of his talent, Alfred Hitchcock made quite the impression when he came to Hollywood in 1940. His first picture in the states, Rebecca, was nominated for Best Picture at the 1941 Academy Awards. So was his second, Foreign Correspondent, also released in 1940. While Rebecca would ultimately win, many – then and now – consider the achievement as belonging more to producer David O. Selznick than to the director. This is not without some justification. Though Rebecca bears more than a few notably Hitchcockian touches, between the two features, Foreign Correspondent looks and feels more appropriately like Hitchcock’s previous and later works. The Criterion Collection, recently very kind to Hitchcock on Blu-ray, now gives this latter feature a suitably well-rounded treatment, with a documentary on the film’s visual effects, an »
- Jeremy Carr
So, we’ve arrived at the top 20, slowly creeping toward those films that are exactly what a romantic comedy should be. We’ve seen films that fall into the category, but lean more toward other genres. We’ve seen romantic films that are funny enough to be comedies, but don’t entirely represent the spirit of the rom-com, despite being brilliant films. Now, we form a clearer picture of what a romantic comedy is. Not all of the films in this section are necessarily “good,” but they’re all iconic, definitive romantic comedies (hence their inclusion). Memorability does not necessarily come partnered with quality. It means right place, right time.
courtesy of totalfilm.com
20. Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
- Joshua Gaul
7 items from 2014
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