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JSanicki

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41 reviews in total 
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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
The history of a not very good screwball comedy!, 4 April 2003

When Bringing Up Baby premiered in 1938, the film seemed to break all the rules. It combined Katherine Hepburn, who had never done an

out-and-out comedy before, with Cary Grant, who was known for his debonair leading-man roles. But director Howard Hawks struck casting gold in Hepburn and Grant, and set out to make Bringing Up Baby the screwiest comedy ever. The stars barely had time to catch their breath as they raced from one wild situation to another.

When production was finished, RKO felt the film was too frenetic for audiences. In fact, the studio considered shelving it altogether. When RKO finally released Bringing Up Baby into theaters, the film lost over $300,000. Hawks was fired from his next scheduled film, Gunga Din and Hepburn bought out her RKO contract and returned to Broadway.

However, with the coming of television in the 1960's and VCR in the 1980's, Bringing Up Baby found its audience. The film quickly won a reputation as one of the funniest movies ever made, and became known as the quintessential screwball comedy. In 1990, Bringing Up Baby was selected for the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress as one of the most important films in American cinema history.

However, I for one, never could understand what was so great about this film. I think the acting is poor and the storyline is very weak, if not believable. What is the big deal with this film? Maybe I just need to see it more...or maybe I've seen it enough. Who knows?

My rating: 1 and a half stars

3 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
The history of a not very good screwball comedy!, 4 April 2003

When Bringing Up Baby premiered in 1938, the film seemed to break all the rules. It combined Katherine Hepburn, who had never done an out and out comedy before, with Cary Grant, who was known for his debonair leading man roles. But director Howard Hawks struck casting gold in Hepburn and Grant, and set out to make Bringing Up Baby the screwiest comedy ever. The stars barely had time to catch their breath as they raced from wild situation to another.

When production was finished, RKO felt the film was too frenetic for audiences. In fact, the studio considered shelving it altogether. When RKO finally released Bringing Up Baby into theaters, the film lost over $300,000. Hawks was fired from his next scheduled film, Gunga Din and Hepburn bought out her RKO contract and returned to Broadway.

However, with the coming of television in the 1960's and VCR in the 1980's, Bringing Up Baby finally found its audience. The film quickly won a reputation as one of the funniest movies ever made and became known as the quintessential screwball comedy. In 1990, Bringing Up Baby was selected for the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress as one of the most important films in American cinema history.

I could never understand what was so great about this film. I think that the acting is poor and the storyline is quite weak, if not believable. What is the big deal with this film? Maybe I just need to see it more...or maybe I've seen it enough. Who knows?

My rating: 1 and a half stars

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
The first Screwball Comedy, 3 April 2003

In Summer 1933, Columbia Pictures paid $5000 for the rights to "Night Bus," a short story written by Samuel Hopkins Adams that appeared in the August version of Cosmopolitan. After completion of the film Lady for a Day, director Frank Capra and screenwriter Robert Riskin began work on the film adaptation; as several bus-related films had recently failed at the box office, they changed the title to It Happened One Night.

Columbia, a small studio with few stars under contract, made it a company policy to borrow expensive name-brand talent "as needed." So when Capra wanted MGM's Robert Montgomery and Myrna Loy for It Happened One Night, Columbia's prsident, Harry Cohn, sent the script to their boss, Louis B. Mayer. Although both stars were unavailable, Mayer surprised Cohn when he insisted Columbia take MGM's top leading man, Clark Gable, instead.

With Gable confirmed, Capra turned to the casting of his female lead role. After Miriam Hopkins, Margaret Sullivan and Constance Bennett turned him down, Capra approached Paramount's Claudette Colbert, who didn't want to play the heiress role either. Instead of saying no, however, the actress made Capra an offer she was sure would be rejected: $50,000 for four weeks work. To Colbert's amazement, Cohn agreed to her terms.

Production of the $225,000 project began on November 13, 1933. Although Gable was intially reluctant to work on It Happened One Night, he soon warmed up to Capra and gave a charming performance, one that would forever cement his screen image as a breezy, good-natured man of the world. Colbert, however, was another story. Although she gave an Oscar-winning performance, the actress did not want to make the film and continued to give Capra a difficult time throughout production. After her scenes were completed, Colbert went on vacation to Sun Valley, where she told friends, "I've just finished the worst picture in the world."

It Happened One Night was released on February 23, 1934, to moderate to indifferent reviews. But audiences across the country adored the film and made it the sleeper hit of the year. The first screwball comedy (before Bringing Up Baby), It Happened One Night went on to sweep the Academy Awards, winning all five major Oscars that it had been nominated for: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Screenplay. But it was Claudette Colbert who knew exactly who was resposible for the success of It Happened One Night when, after accepting her award, she graciously told the Academy. "I owe Frank Capra for this." So do we.

My rating: 3 and a half stars

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
An epic of the 1930's, 31 March 2003

As a film of the 1940's, the Grapes of Wrath does a wonderful thing. It shows us humanity in only the way that someone like John Ford could show it. Primarily known as a director of westerns, Ford helms this project with all the love and care you'd expect from someone entrusted with such a great and beloved work of American Literature.

Even seen as a bit dated, the film harkens back to a time in American History when the government was literally throwing people off their land just so they (the government) could have more and more room for agriculture and farming purposes. So, the Joad family like millions of other families in the midst of the Great Depression flees to California. They do this simply because they believe that work, not to mention a better life will be found there. However, once they arrive in California the Joads begin to see just how wrong they were with so many of their assumptions.

This has to be the definitive Henry Fonda film. Fonda plays Tom Joad with sort of an everyman type of quality. However, Fonda lost the Best Actor Oscar to James Stewart in The Philadelphia Story. The Grapes of Wrath received two statuettes that year, Best Supporting Actress for Jane Darwell's iconic portrayal of Ma Joad, the undeviating strength at the core of the Joad clan and Best Director for John Ford (his second Oscar after 1935's The Informer). The Grapes of Wrath was also nominated in the categories of Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing and Best Sound Recording, losing in all three instances. The film lost Best Picture to Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca.

All in all, this is an important piece in a director's legacy of great films. John Ford would follow The Grapes of Wrath with Oscar wins for both 1941's How Green Was My Valley and 1952's The Quiet Man, not to mention what I consider his greatest film ever, 1956's The Searchers with John Wayne.

My rating: 2 and a half stars

1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
I guess even George Stevens could make a bomb once in a while! !, 28 March 2003

If anything, the only reason to see Woman of the Year is for its pairing of the often-replicated but never duplicated team of Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn. Even in their first film together, you can see the sparks of a romance beginning. However, the story itself is totally flat, something that could have been totally done differently with a Ring Lardner, jr. script. So, all in all, just see this one if you want to see an early Tracy/Hepburn comedy, but other than that, I wouldn't waste my time.

My rating: 1 star

Sexual ambiguity at its very best...Billy Wilder style, 25 March 2003

Billy Wilder's classic comedy The Seven Year Itch is a sex farce, however there is no sex in it whatsoever. The Seven Year Itch blew the lid off 1950's conservatism, shocked audiences with its irreverant view of marital infidelity and showcased the late, great Marilyn Monroe in her most sexually suggestive role to date.

I think the greatest thing that this film has going for it is the interplay between its stars, Marilyn Monroe and Tommy Ewell. Of course, Marilyn is her normal self in this one and gives another trademark performance, but this one however transcends the boundaries of just a "normal" role and shoots her star into the celluloid heavens where it remains to this day. If Gentleman Prefer Blondes made her a star, than The Seven Year Itch just confirmed it and allowed her to shine even brighter then ever before. Marilyn plays the role of "the Girl", someone who is never named but who plays the role of the innocent girl next door to the hilt, but has a touch of tempstress within her still.

What is so funny about this film is the mannerisms in which it gets played. They're always a tad to the extreme but seem never to get taken "over the top" too much. As always with a Billy Wilder script, the dialog crackles with certain one-liners and an impeccable writing style that only Wilder himself was able to pull off.

In closing, yes this was THE film with the famous skirt-blowing scene that was the cause for Marilyn and Joe DiMaggio's marriage to hit the skids and break up, but as Marilyn herself once said "they're not in love with Norma Jean, they're in love with her (Marilyn Monroe)." And we as an audience are still in love with her as well, over fifty years later.

It's true what they say...some things DO improve with age.

My rating: 3 stars

Manhattan (1979)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A different kind of "Rhapsody in Blue", 22 March 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Spoilers ahead!

From the opening strains of Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" over numerous black and white shots of New York City, we are sucked in instantaneously. Cynical New Yorkers seem to be Woody Allen's forte and here he wastes no time in getting to the heart of his character. Allen plays Isaac Davis, a successful comedy writer whose wife (played here by a very young Meryl Streep in one of her earliest performances), having left him for another woman, is now embarking on a book about their failed marriage. Isaac happily consoles himself in the arms of an adoring seventeen year old schoolgirl (played by Mariel Hemingway in an Academy Award nominated performance) until he meets someone closer to his own age, journalist Mary Wilke (played by Annie Hall's Diane Keaton), who also happens to be his best friend's mistress!

If this plotline fails to confuse you then the film itself certainly will at times. Andrew Sarris of the Village Voice called Manhattan "the only truly great American film of the 1970's", but upon seeing it you wonder how many other films from that decade there would have been for him to choose from. Not many. Art certainly did end up imitating life in this film with Woody Allen divorcing Mia Farrow for Soon-yi Previn (a woman many years his junior) years later. Frankly, this is a good film with a witty screenplay (also nominated for an Academy Award as well) but alas, I think that Allen left a lot of holes in the storyline development. Still, though this film is a classic of the genre that is Woody Allen. Do yourself a favor and see this one at least once. The use of George Gershwin songs as the score is to die for!

My rating: 3 stars

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Remembering three legends who died too soon, 17 March 2003

Out of all the classic "teenage" films that I've ever seen, this and West Side Story have been the two that have been embedded in my psyche for the longest time. I have been a fan of James Dean for many years, but it is only here where he finally allows his genius to shine through. Sadly, his star fizzled out before it could even begin to shine fully. Whenever I watch Dean on-screen I am always curious as to "what could have been" had he lived longer. Frankly, I believe that Rebel Without A Cause will forevermore be known as his "testament" to us of his brief time upon this earth.

Everything about this film is stunning from the acting to the camera angles, not to mention the stark use of color in different sequences.

James Dean, Natalie Wood and Sal Mineo all make up a sort of fractured family, the castoffs whose normal families don't understand. If you look hard enough, there can be seen a sort of "love" between James Dean's character and Sal Mineo's character. Mineo's character simply idolizes James Dean's character and one wonders if he thinks of him as more than just a friend. It is interesting to note that the role of Plato (played by Sal Mineo) was in fact probably the first homosexual character in a film, although Nicholas Ray only allows glimpses and hints at it throughout the film.

This is the film that elevated James Dean into the mythic legend category most stars only dream of, and you must admit that it is one of the most searing, provocative performances ever placed upon celluloid. All three of its stars died too young...and all will never be forgotten.

My rating: 4 stars

Grease (1978)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Why does the whole world love this film?, 17 March 2003

I can remember when this film first came out, but then again I was only two years old. My sister had the double album and as a result Hopelessly Devoted to You, We Go Together and Greased Lightning have stayed in my brain for many, many years. It's a fun film, don't get me wrong, but I think that people just over-hype it to death. I wish people thought of The English Patient and All About Eve in the same way!

My overall opinion is that its a great film for the singing and dancing but I just wish that people weren't as crazy about this film as they are. The chemistry between the actors, especially John Travolta, Olivia Newton John and Stockard Channing is wonderful. However, I do believe that this is the best film that John Travolta ever made (obviously I don't think he's that great of an actor) and Olivia Newton-John followed this one with a far better film: Xanadu. I just adore that one!

All in all, this a great film to watch at a party with a big bowl of popcorn to munch on and to wonder if the 1950's were as really as halcyon as the filmmakers made them out to be.

My rating: 2 and a half stars.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
They just don't make 'em like this anymore, 17 March 2003

The names Audrey Hepburn and Holly Golightly have become synonomous since this dazzling romantic comedy was translated to the screen from Truman Capote's best-selling novella. Hepburn plays Holly Golightly, a deliciously eccentric Big Apple playgirl who's determined to wed a Brazilian millionaire. George Peppard plays her next-door neighbor, Paul Varjak, an up and coming writer who is "sponsored" by a wealthy Patricia Neal. Guessing who's the right man for Holly is easy. Seeing just how that romance blossoms is one of the enduring delights of this gem-like treat set to Henry Mancini's Oscar-winning score and the Oscar-winning Mancini-Johnny Mercer song "Moon River".

Breakfast at Tiffany's perfectly captures the essence of New York life in the early 1960's from the establishing shots of Audrey Hepburn munching on her danish pastry in front of Tiffany's jewelery store early one morning to the rain-swept ending on a street tucked far into Greenwich Village. Of course, Hepburn was nominated for Best Actress for her portrayal of the Bohemian Holly as well as the Set Decorations and the Screenplay itself.

All in all, this is a charming, vivacious warm-hearted story full of love and promise. They just don't make 'em like this anymore.

My rating: 3 and a half stars


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