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Some of my favorite movies of all time:
--Manchurian Candidate (1962)
--House of Games
--Last Year at Marienbad
--Man Facing Southeast
--The Time Machine (1960)
--Les Diaboliques (1955)
--The Haunting (1963)
--All About Eve
Favorite living actor:
Favorite living actress:
Favorite classic actor:
Favorite classic actress:
Other favorites include Bette Davis, Tallulah Bankhead, Gary Cooper, Joan Crawford and Fredric March
Current TV shows I like include most of the Law and Order shows, Without a Trace, Will & Grace and Scrubs.
Classic TV shows - Bewitched, Golden Girls, Hawaii Five-O
Psyche 59 (1964)
A 1964 hidden goodie - to a point
This film came on Turner Classic Movies recently, with the host mentioning that it was the film's debut on that channel, and the first film Patricia Neal made after winning the Oscar for Hud.
The story concerns a privileged upper-class blind woman named Alison (Neal), her husband Eric (Jurgens) and her younger sister, Robin (Eggar). At first all seems perfectly OK, given the circumstances, but bits of conversation are dropped here and there, darting looks are thrown here and there, and soon we realize that there is something lurking beneath the veneer of a privileged life. Alison, in the final stages of her second pregnancy, suffered a fall in her home that rendered her blind, though as she states early on, it's not that her corneas don't function, it's that her brain won't permit her to see images (paraphrasing here). Apparently this happened in 1959, hence the "'59" in the title: The story then takes place in 1964, five years after this fact, over a time period that seems to be about a month, or maybe two, when Robin re-arrives back into the lives of Eric and Alison after what appears to be a 5-year absence.
The black-and-white cinematography adds much to this film, such that I believe if it were in color, it would not be as effective. The language, dialogue and subject matter covered was ahead of its time, at least by U.S. standards, but stylistically, this matches a number of thrillers and socially-conscious dramas that came out of England in the early- to mid-1960s (e.g., Victim, Pumpkin Eater, etc.).
The first part of the film, set in London, sets up the story beautifully, and it isn't long before we start to realize that something's "up" - the carefully-worded dialogue, with certain key words and phrases omitted, or the glances of the blind Alison behind her sunglasses, to the beat of her words...you see that all that glitters is not gold, so to speak.
The second part of the film takes place at the characters' country house, located near a coastline; It is here that the set-up for what could be a riveting tale, as depicted in the first part of the film, loses steam and slows to a crawl, such that the conclusion is neither climactic nor satisfying; this is a shame, because it could have been done much better. Besides that, I do agree with the comments made by a previous observer, including that the grandmother doesn't seem quite grandmotherly (and actually, I'm sort of confused as to why this character is even in the picture).
Nonetheless, the acting is superb by all the leads, and particularly by Neal, who carries the film, in my opinion. Pay attention to every movement she makes, whether it's with her eyes, her head or her hands; listen intently to every syllable she utters, for it is through her character that we understand the real story of what has happened, or is happening, to these three people.
The movie is based on a book by the same name by Francoise des Ligneris, which is available online.
A glimpse into recent American history
I have shown this movie in entry-level college geography classes, as it is first of all a fine film, but second because it so clearly illustrates concepts of acculturation, assimilation and the American "melting pot." The story certainly could be told, and re-told, from a number of other perspectives (i.e., another city, another ethnicity, even a different starting decade), but despite its length, Avalon captures so much of a way of life in our country that has eroded throughout time. College freshmen, on the whole, seem to really enjoy this film, and papers that I ask them to write on it have been thoughtful and provocative.
The story is multi-generational, and centers on an immigrant arriving in Baltimore, MD in the early 1900s. It then traces his life forward through the generations, all the while noting how the impact of being in a new country changes him and his descendants. The cast does a fine job, Levinson's direction is superb, but pay attention to subtle nuances! This is one of those films that I can pick up something different every time I watch it.
The Client (1994)
OK, so I acknowledge Susan Sarandon is my favorite actress of contemporary times (have you ever seen her in a bad role?). I further confess to having a penchant for political-legal-type dramas/thrillers, and I will even go so far as to say that movies with Southern lawyers have a special fascination to many (Atticus Finch, anyone?), perhaps because portraying Southern politics tackles greater sociological and civil issues that would otherwise carry less meaning.
The Client is one such movie, and my favorite Susan Sarandon role. A great credible story, alternately epitomizing Southern politics while also placing the lead character as one who comes from that politic yet challenges it at every turn. Sarandon pulls this off beautifully as Reggie Love - in a world of men, particularly white southern men, she is somewhat weary of the cronyism to which she will never belong, yet solid enough in her own strength and belief in her convictions to hold her own against the mean ones.
Great story, but if you've not seen it recently, watch it again, and particularly focus on Sarandon - approach it with these comments in mind, noting how she's totally "on" with this character and that character's surroundings, it'll add to the film's multi-dimensionality.
The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
See it if you haven't
A true classic, the prototype for the lesser-explored genre of "political thriller." I had never heard of this film until 1988, when Sinatra re-released the rights to it. At the time, I was in Chicago, and dragged a friend to a theatre to see it. The next night I went back with another friend, and the next night after that, I went by myself. This is the ONLY film I have ever gone to a movie theatre to see three times in a row, three days in a row. It has been with me ever since. Arguably it is one of the best films ever made; top-notch acting, superb direction, riveting story. If you ever get an opportunity to see this film in a theatre, in the dark on a big screen, do so.
See the original before you see the remake. Remember when Hollywood remade 1963's "The Haunting" in 1995 or so? BAAAAADDDDD....
But back to the Manchurian Candidate. It is a film that introduces many questions as it tells its story; it is a fascinating, complex study of psychology and politics, and it is a forever-frozen-in-time moment of a depiction of American life in the early 1960s. It is a film that opinions and discussions will continue on for as long as the participants can muster...so many interesting observations and angles presented.
While all the acting is excellent, Angela Lansbury's performance is the one that stayed with me that night when I left that small theatre in Illinois, and though it is rare to find female characters in classic films in such magnanimous positions of power, her performance undoubtedly will go down in history as one of the best, if not the best, of such performances. No one has come close.
Many, many great comments about the film are contained in these summaries and on the message boards, attesting to the film's stamina and excellence. But if you've not seen it, do yourself the favor of watching it first...maybe even two or three times, as there are so many details to pick up on, then come in here and read through all the interesting observations, peruse the message boards and join the discussions. You'll find you'll learn so much more about the film!
The Captain and Tennille (1976)
Ha Ha Ha
I too would like to know if these episodes are floating around! This show - along with Sonny & Cher and Carol Burnett - made being a kid growing up in the 70s very, very fun.
I do not remember much of this show other than I really liked it, never missed it, and was mad when it was canceled. Oh yes, I also remember the "Bionic Watermelon." Makes me laugh just thinking about it now....
The Time Machine (1960)
This movie mesmerized me from the first time I saw it as a young boy, and back in the days before VCRs, direct TV and cable, I would wait for it to appear in the tv guide every so many months so I could watch it again.
A true classic if ever there was one. Cohesive story, superior observation of the human condition, and - for its time, 1960 - phenomenal special effects. I know the movie and the story backwards and forwards by now, yet that doesn't diminish its genius or its storytelling.
Forget newer mimics. In this case the original is by far the best and will always remain so. A talented cast propels the story. One of the few out there I'd recommend buying to hold onto forever.
In Dreams (1999)
A few instances of "YIKES!"
When this movie first came out, it was generally viewed unfavorably by movie critics, and in certain markets it didn't stay long in the theatres.
I've long been a fan of thrillers, but I paid attention to the critics on this one and didn't see it in the theatres. I caught it on HBO and, after seeing it, I wish I had seen it in the theatres. I do not know why movie critics generally snubbed this film - I thought it was a taut, edge-of-my-seat complex thriller, and there were a few times that I jumped out of that ol' seat, yelling, "YIKES!" (or something to that effect). Sure, it may be a bit unrealistic, but as far as storytelling, directing and acting, it's a very good piece.
Both Robert Downey Jr. and Annette Bening were outstanding; I was riveted by their characters and couldn't take my eyes off either of them during the film. Bening shows her great range and depth, playing the heroine/protagonist whose life turns upside down in only moments and spins wildly out from there. Downey also shows great versatility in a role that he is not normally associated in.
If you enjoy the work of either of these two actors, or if you enjoy complex, mind-bending thrillers, ignore the critics and watch this. I only wish I had had the opportunity to see it on the big screen.
Drôle de Félix (2000)
Charming and Beautifully Filmed
What a wonderful, charming movie that centers around the journeys of a gay man of Arabian descent as he travels from his home in Normandy to Marseilles.
I thoroughly enjoyed this film, not only for its unbiased treatment of homosexuality, but also for the stunning scenic shots across France, which only added to the overall beauty and enjoyment of the film.
Wonderful all the way around.
I watched this movie again recently after not seeing it for about 10 years, and it's held up very well. I remember after seeing it the first time, that I kept saying to myself, "What?", but upon seeing it a couple more times, I figured it out.
Overall pretty good, kind of a mind-bending mild thriller. It looks as if the director trimmed out some of the original movie that might have helped fill in a gap or two here.
Nonetheless, it is an interesting film with good acting, particularly with Ellen Barkin. Interesting supporting cast, too, that includes Julian Sands, Isabella Rossellini, Jodie Foster and Grace Jones.
7 out of 10. My favorite dialogue in the film: "I'm your guardian angel", to which the response is, "I'm almost tempted to believe you."
Sins of the Mother (1991)
For Elizabeth Montgomery Fans
This movie was based on an actual case, and it appears to relate the components of the real-life story rather well, though most of the acting is rudimentary and the characters are portrayed as one-dimensional; portraying them this way was either (a) due to limitations in writing, or (b) necessary so that the plot could progress without any holes.
In any case, Elizabeth Montgomery completely steals the show and compels the viewer to keep watching. Her performance in this movie is reason enough to watch it, and is testimony to her profound and multi-dimensional abilities as an actor. Elizabeth Montgomery is one of a very small subset of actors that can make virtually any role "go" (a/k/a believable, compelling, thought-provoking).