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Anchors Aweigh (1945)
I had forgotten how good this one was !
Usually musicals in the 1940's were of a set formula - and if you studied films you know what I'm talking about - a certain running lenghth, very "showy" performances that were great on the surface but never got into the real personalities of the characters etc.
THIS ONE IS DIFFERENT - and light years better and well worth it's nomination for best picture of the year - 1945 (although had no chance of beating the eventual winner - Lost Weekend).
Gene Kelly was probably in the best form of his career - yes I know about "American in Paris" and "Singing in the Rain". This one is different. He really gets into his character of a "sea wolf" thinking (at first) that "picking up any girl while on leave" is nothing more than a lark. And if you had to make up a "story" to get her - so be it - until. Sort of like the Music Man when he gets "his foot caught in the door". The eventual hilarity of the film stems mostly from his and his new pal (Sinatra)'s attempt to make the "story" good in order to "get the girl" that he REALLY and unexpectedly falls in love with. You are going to have to see the movie to see what I mean.
Besides that there are so many other elements of great film in this one, it's a classic buddy story, nostalgia to a time when WWII was almost over (the war ended about a month after the films release), a realization that a guy that always laughed at life can find out that he really is a great human being, great songs and probably a few other elements of classic film making that I can't think of right now.
Why not a 10? Near the end - at nearly 2 1/2 hours starts to feel a bit long. There is a small ballet number that Gene Kelly does that must have been a sensation in 1945 but seems dated and feels like it just adds minutes now. But overall, this ones a definite winner on every level.
Friendly Persuasion (1956)
By all means watch this one
When I was going to watch this movie for the first time, my mother told me it's about a Quaker family during the civil war all i could think of was BORING. I could not have been more wrong ! First of all, this movie was directed by the GREAT William Wyler. He never directed a bad film. Within the first five minutes i was in love with this movie. Then i ran out to buy two copies of it. The first copy I wore out by watching it ten times over a weekend - the other I still have.
I could not think of a more wholesome, decent honest without being preachy movie than this one. Oh, that they could still make them like this. Gary Cooper - need I say more. At first I was also worried that the movie might be a downer, but actually most of the first half of the film borders on being a comedy, then Wyler really starts to weave the ominous presence of the war into the lives of his characters, and yes someone (I will not tell you who - but it's not who you might not suspect - much in the same way Wyler did it in Mrs Miniver) does loose his life in the conflict, but even the ending resembles more of a comedy than a heavy war drama.
There are very few movies of real substance that have ever been made that are better or more wholesome than this one.
By all means - you're going to love this one.
Bye Bye Birdie (1963)
You are now entering the year 1963
. . . and oh what a year it was. Other movies have tried to take you back to that time with some measure of success, ("Hairspray" and "the Flamingo Kid" come to mind) but they pale in comparison. This is the original - this movie WAS 1963. The end of the camelot era (I did hear that this actually was the last movie that JFK got to see before he died).
Oh, on that note, did you ever notice on the "Dick Van Dyke" show a certain resemblance that Dick and Mary Tyler Moore bore to a certain couple in the White House at the time? Yes, we all know how it's a parody of Elvis, so I won't go there, but add Ed Sullivan, russians slamming shoes on the table etc. That was an era that would end too soon. (On a personal note, my father tragically died early in 1964 so this movie does bring back very special memories for me) Other than that, while it's in no way a break through in cinema, it's sheer joy from beginning to end. And just look at the list of names of people connected with this that would go on to become major stars after this: Dick Van Dyke, Ann-Margret, Paul Lynde, Maureen Stapleton, the musical comedy writing team of Adams-Strouse (and keep any eye out for some extras including Kim Darby !) No collection of movies is complete without this one, either for pleasant musical-comedy or a study of how life was in days gone by. this is one which will never die.
Music and Lyrics (2007)
Absolutely loved it !!!
It had been an extremely long time since I'd seen a romantic comedy that I've enjoyed this much. The characters are believable and entirely likable. The songs are cute (and I've actually found myself humming "Pop Goes My Heart". Drew is just plain cute - no other way to say it, cute. Hugh Grant is as always Hugh Grant.
I would heartfullly recommend this film - for a PG13 (could have easily been a PG) i saw remarkably little offensive material. In addtion the scene with Hugh Grant with Drew's niece and nefew just added to the warmth of the character.
I loved every minute of it and to be honest (and this is hard for a John Wayne / Gary Cooper / Jimmy Stewart type of guy). I actually found myself with a tear in my eye as i watched the two fall in love with each other.
You Can't Take It with You (1938)
My All Time Favorite Movie - Hands Down
. . . And i've seen thousands of them. Believe me, if you want a good-old fashioned, laugh till your sides ache, have that never ending smile and feel like you're on top of the world feeling - look no further. I first saw it on the late movie on some cable channel in 1988 and spent nine months looking for a copy of it. Wound up watching it 30 times the first month - went out and bought five more copies - just so I knew I'd always have one.
No - I'm not going to give away the plot or any details, I'm not going to rob anyone of the elements of surprise that occur almost by the minute - but believe me, you will not be disappointed at this movie.
Actually - at least yearly watching of this movie should be required of everyone. It would probably cure the world of many of it's ills.
If you find it - get it
Where do i begin? Probably the most underrated musical ever !!! Cinderella with the elegance and class of "My Fair Lady" and "Gigi". Gorgeous scenery, costumes, music - this movie had it all and yes - totally perfect and appropriate for children (except boys of around twelve years old may get a little bored). Even the approach of looking at the familiar story from the perspective of the prince as opposed to Cinderella's point of view was somewhat original.
The wonderful songs and choreography were by the Sherman Brothers and Mark Breaux respectively - the same who did similar tasks for "Mary Poppins" "Sound of Music" "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" and "The Happiest Milllionaire" - that should give you a clue.
The cast could not have been better starting with Richard Chamberlain as the prince - with a surprisingly good musical comedy presence complete with a great singing voice, new-comer Gemma Craven as Cinderella and a list of the cream of British theater including Michael Hordern as a slightly befuddled king, Margaret Lockwood as the stepmother who's mere voice is enough to give you chills, Kenneth Moore as the totally sympathetic Prime Minister and Annette Crosbie as the slightly daffy fairy godmother.
The only thing that got me was early in the film, there seemed to be a preoccupation with death. The first song ends with the word "die", Cinderella's first song is in a cemetery and there's a rather strangely hilarious song and dance featuring the prince (Chamberlain) and his friend played by Christopher Gable in the royal crypt. Hmm ! Maybe the film had to take these two through their loneliness (believe me - i got married in my forties so i know how empty ones life can be) for one to really appreciate the happiness they ultimately feel.
Finally - the ending (I'm not going to tell you) is somewhat different than you might expect - I was rolling on the floor.
By all means, if you can find this one - Cherish it. It really was the last of a dying breed.
Thank you Sherman Brothers - I wish that you can give us more of this.