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Live with my wife in Gettysburg, PA where I practiced most of my life. Father of three daughters living in the US.
Fascinated with Hollywood since the late 1940's. When my classmates ran to see Bollywood films I was off with or without a companion to see Hollywood movies. In those days in smaller cities there was usually only one theatre that screened English movies and that too only one or two shows on weekends.
During the sixties some Hollywood blockbusters like Sound of Music and Cleopatra, became poular in India. For the most part in the fifties one had to appreciate realistic acting,location shooting or perfect sets to know the greatness of Hollywood movies and most youth of my age just wanted "entertainment" with light hearted song and dance or stereotyped social dramas.
With Hollywood movies of old, I could drink in action dramas, great dance musicals like Seven Brides For Seven Brothers and Singing In The Rain,seriuos dramas,crime stories, biographies and so on.
I am now a regular viewer of classics on TCM and hardly see any other movie channel on TV. I enjoy Robert Osborne's introductions and comments. Of late I have become super selective about what I watch and sort out unusual stories be they in black and white or color.
Of course I have some old favorites which I watch repeatedly although I see repeats only 2 or three per year.
I have my own all time favorites such as Five Fingers with James Mason,The Counterfiet Traitor with William Holden,The King And I with Yul Brynner, Nine Hours To Rama with Horst Bucholtz, The Secret of Santa Vittoria with Anthony Quinn, Anna Magnani and Hardy Kruger and many more.
2016: Obama's America (2012)
A worthless yet brazenly provocative film
Movie goers specially those who like documentaries must adhere to facts,be free from prejudice and never inject their own opinions into the story being related.If they cannot they have no business in the documentary film industry. This chap Dinesh D'Souza is a well known right wing conservative who thinks he is some major spokes person for the conservative population and the GOP in particular.He started writing his book about Obama with a mind already set on denigrating the President and has had no time to examine the facts but set a course for the film based only on his opinions with no credible fact to support his statements. If anyone knows nothing about Obama he/she will go home brain washed and thinking the President is a socialist anti-American, anti-colonialist and an anti-capitalist. All of this is wrong and many slightly left liberals will vouch for that fact because Obama failed to keep a lot of promises he made to the youth and middle class in his presidential campaign.The film made a lot of Obama haters watching the film nod their heads vigorously so they can go off to the polls and justify their support of anyone who would replace him in the White House. Those who have followed Obama from his days in the White House and read his recent biography "Barack Obama-The Story" will know that D'Souza has given vent to his rampant prejudice and aims to make money in the process and given the public a crass film.
The Last Command (1928)
An Unforgettable Classic.
I had little experience of silent films except few and far between until I saw The Last Command. With the great Josef von Sternberg directing and Oscar winning performance by Emil Jannings, I knew I could expect something memorable and I was richly rewarded in experience when I viewed it. Now I have no qualms about silent films and have become something of a fan of them. Three other silent films of equal caliber came to my mind when I watched this film; The Passion of Joan of Arc,Nanook of the North and Battleship Potemkin I noted that to bring the full effect of a movie's message and produce entertainment as well, it is a much harder task for the performers than with sound and dialog. In this film, Jannings outdid himself and absolutely deserved the Oscar, the first for a foreign actor in Oscar history. His haughty bearing as the imperial Russian general and appropriate facial expressions were totally convincing and he appeared taller and grander than himself in real life. Then again, as the devastated,humiliated extra in the Hollywood Bread line he was just as superb. he was able to project that false dignity even as he was dressed up in the uniform of his former rank in the Russian army for the part he was asked to play. The last few minutes of this movie brought to memory his depiction of Emmanuel Rath in the other great movie he made with Marlene Dietrich, Blue Angel, but in Last Command he was even more admirable. One gets deeply into the atmosphere of the scenes, the story and the music when one watches this film. For that, the credit goes to Sternberg as much or more than to the principal actors. The music score was also so very beautiful and made for a great total effect.Performances by Evelyn Brent and William Powell were also superb. Brent did a great job both as the delicate beauty as well as the vicious turn coat in her role.
Cotton Mary (1999)
Profile of a racially mixed Indian community.
I have seen Cotton Mary two or three times and I recommend it to my friends both Indian and American who have an interest in well directed and acted movies and who have an understanding of complex social issues around the world. Cotton Mary is an example of such a movie and it will stand as one of the best dealing with the subject of social class distinctions.As we know, the Merchant-Ivory team almost always makes excellent movies on historical and social issues and Cotton Mary is no exception.
What one learns from this almost factual story is that people of mixed English and Indian race in India are shunned by the former because they are colored and by the caste Hindus as being the product of unclean union. Hindus may show outward respect for the English but in truth the English are viewed as meat eating,promiscuous out castes not fit for marriage or intimate relations. This aspect was not shown in this film although English contempt for the Anglo-Indian was clearly illustrated. The third part of the equation, namely the Anglo-Indian,tried hard to assimilate English ways perhaps for reasons of economic advancement in British India and tried to assume superiority over the Indian not realizing that their English ancestry was no advantage in India or England. I am sure at least some members of the current Anglo-Indian community in India would feel resentment when they view this film as it shows them in a bad light which they may disagree with but nevertheless is true. Another movie on the subject, Bhowani Junction,shows Ava Gardner as the Anglo-Indian suffering rejection in India. Madhur Jaffry's role as well as that of her daughter,Sakina Jaffry were exemplary but that of Greta Scacchi was lukewarm and unconvincing. On the whole it is one of Merchant's best movies.
Random Harvest (1942)
One of the most Memorable Romantic Movies of all time
I had never seen Random Harvest until just the other day on my TCM channel. What a refreshingly beautiful romantic drama that was. My favorite star, Ronald Coleman, was there and that is what made me even want to watch it. I have never seen Greer Garson but know of her great talent from Mrs. Miniver and this pair made the fine story even finer with their convincing and earnest acting. Oh! for the days when we had real actors and real stories come out of Hollywood! I do not recall any other romantic drama from Hollywood that is this memorable or haunting as this one. Only Wuthering Heights with Lawrence Olivier and Merle Oberon came close.
Ronald Coleman and Greer Garson did a superb job of producing a variety of expressions on their faces to match their words and atmosphere. Some scenes would bring tears to the eyes even in grown men. The movie as a whole including the sets and period costumes was impeccable.I wonder if any one with a fascination for old Hollywood classics noticed the actress that played the little lady owner of the tobacconist shop. She was the one that performed so delightfully as the half blind house keeper in that famous film, Witness for the Prosecution.
A Double Life (1947)
One of the great movies of all time
When an actor has to play the role of an actor, fictional or factual, the task becomes much more difficult than playing a role. In A Double Life,Ronald Coleman surpassed himself as Anthony John, the tortured double personality. He put into that character all his talent and sincerity. The facial expressions, mannerisms,gait and stance spoke eloquently of what Anthony John was going through while playing Othello on stage. Coleman also did extremely well as a Shakespearean actor in those short scenes as Othello that were part of this gem of a movie. Closups of Coleman's face as Othello tortured by doubts about the fidelity of Desdemona were in themselves scenes worth watching.Add to that, his character's off stage desperation and only someone with Coleman's depth of acting perception can achieve. It was like watching Spenser Tracy as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, except this double role was much more profound and poignant. Shelly Winters looked so sweet, vulnerable and gorgeous at the same time and added her talent to the movie. It is believed that Ronald Coleman liked his role in this film above all others he played and went on to win the Oscar for Best Actor in 1947. I would see this movie repeatedly and never feel bored.
The Late George Apley (1947)
Victorian Traditions at Boston MA
Ronald Coleman has a resemblance to Errol Flynn but far exceeds him in gentility,suavity and urbanity. His voice is mellifluous and unlike any male actor of his time, even to this day.His portrayal of George Apley is really entertaining and very realistic as anyone would know by reading novels written at the time about Boston "brahmins". The character he plays is the quintessential Boston blue blood. He could portray outrage in a controlled manner expected of the character of George Apley and also profound sadness at the discovery of the drawbacks of Bostonian upbringing.The humor in the whole story is also genteel and yet manages to make some in the audience laugh out loud. I did as I watched this gem of a movie. This movie is a treat to watch for those who view a movie in all its dimensions. His character eclipses all the rest in the story including that portrayed by the great Mildred Natwick.
5 Fingers (1952)
A unique spy thriller with unmatched suspense.
One of my all time favorites among great films. I had never seen James Mason before and I became his instant fan. How very suave and cool he portrayed Diello. I cannot think of another person who could have carried that role better.His portrayal of the perfect valet was no less than a calm,ruthless spy.If I were very rich I could ask for no other man Friday than Diello. Location shooting in Turkey was quite authentic in producing the right atmosphere and all the supporting characters came across perfectly, especially the beautiful Danielle Darrieux. The story's surprise ending makes watching this thriller most satisfying and beyond just entertaining.
Invitation to a Gunfighter (1964)
Name of character played by Yul Brynner
It is very interesting to note the name of the mysterious gun fighter played by that superb actor,Yul Brynner. He is named Jules Gaspard D'Estaing. Altogether a French name which he teaches Pat Hinkle's character to pronounce just right. Interesting thing is that Yul is Russian for Jules and that name was given to Mr. Brynner after his Russian grandfather. I wonder if Yul chose that name himself for the character he played, was it co-incidence or chosen by the script writer.I have no answer and I would wish someone who knows about the genesis of this name would enlighten us all. Yul Brynner plays a Creole;half French half Black man who has been given an artificial dark complexion. Along with his shaved head and dark eyes he does look his part. He reminded me of that other fine actor,Woody Strode.
Prince of Players (1955)
A Memorable Movie
I was in my teens in India and had just graduated with an overseas school certificate awarded by the Cambridge University. One of my favorite subjects was English literature and I had avidly consumed many of Shakespeare's plays while at school. It was a treat to watch this movie because I could enjoy Shakespearean stage recitation on screen by the likes of Richard Burton and Raymond Massey. What a treat that was. I was talking about the great histrionics of these actors long after I had seen the movie.Before this movie I had no idea John Wilkes Booth came from such an illustrious family.I hated that character more after I learned it. It is now 50 years since I saw this gem of a film and badly want to see it but where can I get a copy of it to view. I hope someone who reads this can contact me.
The Queen (2006)
Looking at a monarch facing a royal dilemma.
I have always admired Helen Mirren as one of the greatest actresses of our times, ever since I saw that award winning movie, The Madness of King George. She is matchless in her performance and clearly becomes the character she portrays. She has been ably supported by Michael Sheen as John Blair in this film, and the story of this crisis proceeds holding the viewers' complete attention. Thanks to the skillful writing of Peter Morgan and the flawless sets. Even I, who had only a passing interest in the affairs of the British Royal Family was thoroughly fascinated. Ms. Mirren has done an exemplary job in elevating the persona of Elizabeth II in the last half hour of this film, accurately showing the deep dilemma that she faced during this crisis. The British monarchy is not only the last functioning one but has always been the most civilized of all those that came out of Europe in the last few centuries. What are the duties, constraints and sheer self-control that are needed to be the British head of state are shown by Ms. Mirren as Elizabeth II. This film I am sure will be awarded many Oscars and I hope one for Helen Mirren, Peter Morgan and costume designer. Bravo.