Saturday, February 4, 2012

One Big Dump

As you can see, it's been a while since I've done a round-up (or dump, as Jason aptly refers to them) of the films I've seen. My apologies for not being able to resist toilet humor.

Monsieur Beaucaire (Marshall)

After watching the Woody Allen documentary a few months ago, I became very interested in seeing a Bob Hope film. And in that Woody doc, they showed a hilarious clip from Monsieur Beaucaire. When Netflix let me down by not even having a copy available, I went straight to Amazon and bought the Monseiur Beaucaire/Where There's Life double feature DVD. I'm really glad that this was my first Bob Hope film because I got everything I wanted from it - alotta laughs and a smirk on my face throughout the entirety. It's no wonder that Woody wanted to emulate Hope. And I'm thankful that both this film AND Love and Death exist. I tried thinking about who I'd rather see play a cowardly character in a film..but then I remembered that it's best if they both do it. I look forward to re-watching this one in the near future. 

Trouble In Paradise (Lubitsch)

A pickpocket and a conman fall for each other -  the plot alone was enough to get me interested in this Lubitsch film. Hebert Marshall adds a lot of great complexity to his character, Gaston Monescu; you can tell he's always scheming and planning his next step. I found this pre-Code story to be very fun and interesting; even if it hit a rare point of predictability, it was still fascinating to watch. A very enjoyable film from beginning to end. 

The Princess and the Pirate (Butler)

Monsieur Beaucaire had more laughs, but this was still a very enjoyable Bob Hope film. As far as "Princess and the ____" films go, this one is far and away the best. And I'd pay money to see Bob Hope going up against a bunch of tough, bloodthirsty pirates any day of the week. Walter Brennan plays his usual lovably goofy, incoherent character. And then we also get a massive treat at the end of the film in the form of a cameo. What's not to like?? 

The Exterminating Angel (Bunuel)

It'll be interesting to see where Brandon ranks this for his 1962 list. Like Jeff, I'm very much a fan of Bunuel. I'm glad to see that Ben, John, and Brandon have all watched some of his stuff recently. I think that if you took this concept/story and put it in another director's hands, it wouldn't be as effective. The subject matter is perfect for Bunuel and he makes the most of it, even if it seems obvious at points. I really enjoyed watching this and I look forward to catching more Bunuel. 

Paths of Glory (Kubrick)

Until a few weeks ago, this is one of maybe three or four of Kubrick's films that I haven't seen. I think Brandon had this listed as Kubrick's best film, and while it's too early for me to agree or disagree, I can understand where he's coming from. The cinematography and story were both gripping. Surprise, I also love the anti-war message behind this one. Kubrick was certainly talented enough to exist in any film decade, but he fits in perfectly for the 1960s-1980s. There was so much happening in the world between that time and he found a way to capture the zeitgeist brilliantly. The battlefield pans were amazing. 

The 400 Blows (Truffaut)

I briefly mentioned watching this in my Kid with the Bike post. Count me among the Truffaut fans because I absolutely love this film. Watching it, you get a sense that Truffaut is doing so much more than capturing a day in the life of boy; he's captured what it means to be young and live in a world that desperately seeks to get a stranglehold on you. I really can't even put in to words what he was able to achieve with this film; it's brilliant. I also enjoyed the fact that it features both drama and comedy; I love the scene where the teacher is walking with his class through the city streets, and the students all head off in different directions as his back is turned to them. 

The Ox-Bow Incident (Wellman)

I'm trying really hard to write meaningful comments on these films without resorting to statements of generic praise. I'm going to break that trend here. No, immediately I can recall the story and the ending. I highly recommend this one if you haven't seen it. At a running time of 75 minutes, this is a very economical film; there's no wasted time here. I wanted to do an individual post on this one and title it, "Insane Cowboy Posse." Given my Simpsons background, I'm a huge fan of mobs in the comedic arena. But obviously, once we move into more dramatic circles, it's clear how quickly a mob loses any sense of morality. I love the ending of the film, as it makes the message more powerful that way. 

Blow-Up (Antonioni)

I fell asleep as I watched this film...only because I was already feeling sleepy anyway. This isn't going to be an anti-Antonioni post, though I wouldn't necessarily say I'm an early fan. I need to see more and see how they sit with me. Obviously this film moves like a paraplegic turtle, and when it does pick up, there isn't a whole lot that's going on. I don't know, it'd be interesting to discuss this one if anyone's up for it in the future. There is something about this film that I can appreciate and feel fascinated by. I loved the ending and it's allowance for endless interpretation. 

The Double Life of Veronique (Kieslowski)

Oh, Irene Jacob, je t'aime. Jeff isn't usually right about things, but I agree with him completely on Kieslowski. There's definitely a point of mutual interest between us in terms of what makes a good story. It's almost as if he films novels. There's an abundance of symbolism and other literary techniques at work here and in his other movies. There's also no denying his talent for shooting a film. There are so many creative shots in The Double Life of Veronique; the shot on the bus through the lens of the glass ball in Irene Jacob's hand instantly comes to mind. 

Road to Morocco (Butler)

One more Bob Hope movie and I get a free sub. This was my first "Road" movie and I look forward to seeing all of them. Bob Hope and Bing Crosby are one hell of a team. There's something special about watching old movies with vaudevillian roots. You're always completely entertained, be it The Marx brothers films or something like Road to Morocco. Songs, jokes, adventure, excitement...a jedi might not crave those things, but luckily I do when I watch old movies. 

The Searchers (Ford)

I was looking at some of my old posts the other day, and I think I mentioned that I was going to watch The Searchers two or three months ago. Good god, I have no idea why it took me this long to see it. I should've seen it ages ago, considering how great it is. And while I've never been John Wayne's biggest fan, I really liked him in Stagecoach and Rio Bravo. It's tough to like him in this, but I acknowledge the good performance here. Of course, it would be funny if it turned out that Wayne was just being himself. But who knew the Camanche were so scalp-happy and evil?? Oh well, at least Wayne's character makes the right decision in the end. How have I written so much about this and not mentioned John Ford? A beautiful, beautiful film. I'd love to see this one in a theater. As I told Jeff and Brandon the other day, even the sets in this film are gorgeous. 

Comanche Station (Boetticher)

I agree with everything Brandon and Jeff had to say about this one. I'll join in on the Randolph Scott crush session, too. The ending is fantastic and provides a very powerful note to end on. I also love the fact that while there are, let's say, politically incorrect depictions of native Americans in this film, there's also a white villain in the form of Twilight Zone alum Claude Akins. But, as Brandon noted in conversation, Akins' character does have something of a moral code, as displayed in one scene. It's great for adding complexity and definition to his character, but again, I think it's good that this white man was depicted as greedy and immoral in a land full of "savages." 

Don't Look Now (Roeg)

After the first ten minutes of this film, I immediately thought of The Omen or The Exorcist. There's a definite 1970s horror film feel to it. The camera movements and editing are also reminiscent of Hitchcock. I'll refer to this film as one of the most surrealistically realistic films that I've ever seen...whatever the hell that means (with exception of one or two scenes). It's also completely disjointed and has a house of mirrors effect. Everything seems off, and the theme of communication (and a lack thereof) is played out extremely well. Jason, you should see this one, if you haven't already. And that ending...oh, my. 

Hot Saturday (Seiter)

I just finished this 1932 film a couple of hours ago. For those not familiar, it has both Cary Grant and the aforementioned Randolph Scott. In it, they're both looking very young (and handsome, I might add) and they're sorta competing for the affections of a small-town bank clerk, Ruth Brock (played by Nancy Carroll). But this ain't some Tom Hardy/Chris Pine gimmicky, bullshit love triangle. I enjoyed the theme of the evils of small-town gossip, and how it can be used to destroy a young woman's reputation. Also, because it's pre-Code, we get some "scandalous" scenes of women being stripped of their undergarments.  The film was all right; if I, too, were making golden age top ten lists, this one probably wouldn't make the cut.


  1. I watched The 400 Blows recently too, though I didn't write much about it because it was during the final 2011 push and that took over. Anyway, I loved it too. Have you seen Jules et Jim? That's one of my favorite movies. More response to come when I make my next dump/catch up post.

  2. I sat down to watch Jules and Jim the other night, but something came up and I didn't end up seeing it. I hope to catch it soon; I'm really looking forward to it. When I do, hopefully we can get a nice mini-discussion going.