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The Birds (1963)
Sorry, Hitch, a real misfire here...
Unfortunately, the self-styled Master of Suspense is the Master of Pretentiousness in this one. The "I'm an auteur now, as you can see by slooow pacing, the waxy, masklike stares of my blonde, and my deliberately withholding from any character the faculty of reason."
Main-character Melanie, the Paris Hilton of her day (did she or didn't she skinny dip in a Roman fountain? Oooh, titillating!) has absolutely no affect to her voice--in every line, she channels Lauren Bacall on barbituates. The women all hate each other instantly and are each fixated on "Mitch," a hubba-hubba guy with no chemistry. The cute meet is stupid; the melodrama is boring; there is no suspense because, between deadly attacks, people seem to forget the trauma of the birds--after a harrowing encounter, the mother rambles on about missing her husband and not knowing whether she likes Hubba's new relationship, for example.
In short, this would be excellent, excellent fodder for Mystery Science Theater--just the right level of movie-making competency and retardness to make for gleeful ridicule.
On Any Sunday (1971)
Sincere, and good hearted
I watched this with my teenager on DVD--he just got a KLR 650. I don't care for motorcycles, but what's great about this movie is that it makes you grasp just why other people do; the thrill of it, the risk and challenge are vividly portrayed. If you're the sort who enjoys understanding how the "other guy" ticks and are curious about all kinds of things, you'll like this.
It was also fun as a peek back at the era in which I grew up. The passionate, dedicated amateur was very much in the American tradition--this film made me realize how much we've lost with with the corporate takeover of sports.
My Favorite Wife (1940)
The silliness of Cary Grant being too embarrassed and afraid of hurting his bride's feelings to tell her what happened--and the screwball results--gives way at the end to an interesting play of sexual tension between husband and wife as the wife refuses to give "privileges" till her husband affirms, not just his passion, but his commitment to her and the family.
For a comic but sophisticated peek at what men and women need from each other, it joins Friendly Persuasion and The Quiet Man.
Casting is excellent--you can't feel very sorry for the wronged bride or for the cheerful disappointed suitor; the kids are funny, neither sentimentalized nor smart alecky; the judge and hotel manager are gems; and Cary Grant and Irene Dunne manage to generate sparks while seeming as comfortable together as old shoes.
Into the West (1992)
This movie was a critical success, by the way...
I first heard about it in National Review, where it was praised by the great John Simon-- checked it out at the video store and it became a favorite of everyone.
First-rate performances, especially liked the grandfather (whom you'll recognize as playing Michael in Waking Ned Devine); and the boys are superlative.
Movies in which animals are a major part of the story and presented as more knowing or powerful than an animal should be are kind of tricky to do well--so many times, the director relies on clichéd reaction shots, such as dogs covering their eyes with their paws--but the beautiful horse is well done as a character, conveying a mystery and aloofness that fits neatly with the plot.
Treat yourself to this one.
Hate to gainsay...
This movie is an clumsy attempt to recapture the magic of The Quiet Man and the Wayne/ O'Hara chemistry, and fails. Some comical moments, but overall, disjointed and insecure in its purpose.
The Quiet Man is a model of tight dialog and pacing and the sexual power play is both broadly comical and delicately nuanced. None of that here--just old timers defiantly acting old timey for old times' sake. I adore old times, but this ain't much of a movie.
Rent the Quiet Man if you like McClintock and be amazed at the real thing.
Witty, urbane, charming
No, the animation is not that of Snow White, nor does it aim to be. It's more sophisticated and minimalist, a la early sixties, but nevertheless delightful. The story is told with humor and verve.
This is an lovable movie you will reach for many times, whether child or adult. I'm not much of a Disney fan--can't stand the recent huge-eyed, social-message stuff--but this is one of my favorite movies, animated or otherwise.
Friendly Persuasion (1956)
A sensitive portryal of the moral dilemma facing pacifistic Quakers as their farms are raided by Confederate troops, this is a movie that takes religion seriously as an important, adult, and consequential subject.
The delicate balance of power in the household of a straitlaced woman Quaker minister whose very masculine husband and restless children are members of her congregation is portrayed with insight and humor.
The acting is beautiful, especially Anthony Perkins as the agonized teenaged son who must decide whether to fight to protect his home, against his mother's will.
Entertaining, intelligent, funny, and challenging for the whole family.