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The Fly (1958)
The Fly was a movie that I had watched when I was younger and it really, really scared me. It did not do so know, but when it was released it must have been shocking. We may become immune to these things now because of all of the special effects. This movie did make me cringe-to realize that the wife had to kill her own husband by crushing his head under a press. At the last minute, she tries to pull him out-that was a suspenseful moment as well. That scene was pretty gruesome although they did not show the body. It was also a sad, tragic story in a way, but he suffered the consequences for playing with transporting matter even though he had good motives. That last scene with the fly with the human head screaming help me was very spooky back then and very spooky today.
I thought that this was a very funny and ironic movie. And yet there was really a scary underside to it, especially in the time it was released. The best part yet was that of George C. Scott who I had only seen as Patton and Scrooge. He played a great comic part, but very straight faced. I liked how it had a sort of pseudo documentary feel, especially with the soldiers in the aircraft and the them music of the Halls of Montezuma played every time they were in the plane. It was ironic that the war room was shaped like a mushroom cloud. Although at times I thought the movie slowed down a little too much and took too long to get to the story. I loved the alternative title!
The Postman Always Rings Twice
This movie had a slow start and I had a hard time watching the beginning. Why did the husband encourage their relationship? I found that uncomfortable. Was he stupid or did he want her satisfied in a way that he couldn't? I really loved the first scene-him on the road. You could see how they pushed the envelope to get around the code. My interest was piqued when they began to plan to get rid of the husband. The ride in the car was the most suspenseful scene, when it rolled down the embankment for the second time with him and the husband in it!! Best of all was Hume Cronyn as the defense attorney-he stole the show. I may have missed this, but I still am not sure about the title.
The Bad Seed (1956)
The Bad Seed
I think that I baby sat a kid like this when I was a teenager. All sweetness on the outside but a temper that was scary. I remember watching this movie when I was younger and it made quite an impression on me and was really scary. I thought this little actress did a great job with her part. I really felt sorry for the mother-what could she do? I was on the edge of my seat for this whole movie-I didn't know how this monster would try to kill next, her mother? her grandfather? The idea of passing down a murderous gene that perhaps skips a generation was fascinating. I also noticed how Rhonda sort of adopted the southern-type accent of the janitor. Also, a great ending-struck by lightening!!
The Naked Kiss (1964)
The Naked Kiss
What makes a B movie a B movie? I don't know but I thought this was a very powerful movie. There was a very strong female character and really the only strong, round character of the entire film. I liked how she didn't hold back and was not ashamed of her profession. The best scene was her smacking around the madam and stuffing the money in her face. It was kind of shocking but I was rooting for her the whole movie. She was a very interesting character who I felt involved with. I didn't see many formal elements to this film, but liked how the children's song tied in. What I did notice was that there was a lot of filler time where nothing was really happening. It gave these scenes an eerie feel. It felt a lot like a twilight zone episode. You really weren't sure what was going to happen.
East of Eden (1955)
East of Eden
I read this book when I was in college and was surprised how much was left out in this movie of an amazing story. But something has to be cut out to make a movie watchable. There was one scene on the porch were Cal (James Dean) spills his guts to his father that made me think was a great actor he was. The rest of the scenes, not so much. There were some great camera angles in this film-when Cal is on the swing and the camera moves back and forth with him. It's funny how the two brothers reversed roles at the end-I was shocked when Aaron put his head through the window of the train-which may have caused his father to have a stroke. It was ironic that Cal finally gets his fathers approval after Aaron leaves and the father is terminally ill with a stroke. I also liked the underlying prejudice against the Germans, bringing a reality to the film that really occurred. It had a slow start and a kind of other-worldy feel to it like something was going on that I was missing. A great film I enjoyed watching.
Sunset Blvd. (1950)
Sunset Boulevard was one of those movies that I kept thinking about the next day. The aged actress' character seemed very real to me, although she was eccentric and crazy. She was very sympathetic and I felt as if Joe took advantage of her. I liked the way this movie was made, the body in the pool, the darkness, the isolation of much of the movie. The inclusion of references to other film stars and film makers also brought a realistic feel to it. Their relationship somehow made me uncomfortable, I'm not sure if it was their age difference or because she was so needy and controlling of him. It did seem he had some feeling for her, because he went back after he found out that she tried to kill herself. That last scene was very powerful with the lights and the crowd, like her swansong. A very impressive use of lighting as well.
Notorious was great film, but I did not care for Cary Grant and Bergman together. This was Bergman as a different character than Elsa in Casablanca-a bad girl who likes to drink, but a patriot none the less. I loved the camera angles, from above, sometimes they focused on nothing at all and then something pertinent to the plot. The camera followed the action quite a bit. One thing I noticed that I hadn't before was the background music which enhanced the suspense. There was one close up of Claude Raines when he discovers that his wife is an American Agent that was great, and really made me feel sorry for him. I thought that he was so in love with her and that his heart would be broken, but really, he was worried about his colleagues and that both him and his mother would be killed. It was not clear what this group was up to, outside of helping the German Army. It took me a while to figure out why Emile was killed. All in all a great Hitchcock film.
Mildred Pierce (1945)
Mildred Pierce was an odd movie to me, although I thought that it had a great plot. The best scene is the first scene where Wally is trapped in the house with the body of Mildred's husband. The use of shadow and darkness really enhanced the fact that he was trapped. I thought Joan Crawford did a wonderful job of developing this character, who evolved from a housewife who baked pies to a very successful restaurateur. This was a strong female character that we haven't seen before. I did have a hard time picturing Joan Crawford as a wife and mother. The most realistic character was Wally-he sort of brought everything together. The daughter was a little snot, right from the get-go, she angered me off so much, I couldn't stand her. When Mildred had enough and kicked her out I was so happy. But then ironically it hurt Mildred more to see her daughter working as a singer and dancer. Since the younger daughter died, she tried to over-compensate and ended up creating a monster. A psychological portrait of Mildred Pierce.
This movie was really suspenseful and left you wondering who the real Johnnie Aysgarth (Cary Grant) was. Even after then end, I could not be so sure. The best scene was the beginning on the train when Johnnie meets Lina on the train. It is very amusing and is Grant at his most charming. There were certain scenes when the look on his face changed dramatically and you could see a very evil and angry side. I was most convinced that he was not a well meaning gambler and was really a murderer plotting to kill his wife for the insurance money. I thought that this movie had a great plot that moved steadily along. You could see Lina unraveling throughout. I really enjoyed watching!