Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Agnes Moorehead Blogathon


Crystal over at In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood is hosting another blogathon, this time about actress Agnes Moorehead. (Coincidentally, she was born on this day back in 1900.) For my contribution for it, I decided to write about (perhaps to the surprise of no one) her Oscar-nominated performances. Moorehead was nominated four times throughout her career but she was always the bridesmaid and never the bride. Anyway, the movies she was nominated for are:

(1942, dir. Orson Welles)
Lost to Teresa Wright in Mrs. Miniver
(1944, dir. Tay Garnett)
Lost to Ethel Barrymore in None but the Lonely Heart
(1948, dir. Jean Neglusco)
Lost to Claire Trevor in Key Largo
(1964, dir. Robert Aldrich)
Lost to Lila Kedrova in Zorba the Greek

More after the jump!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

The Sunshine Blogger Award


Ruth over at FlixChatter has given me this award and unsurprisingly...
As given, every award has a set of tiny rules for accepting it, here are the ones for Sunshine:
  • Post the award on your blog
  • Thank the person who nominated you
  • Answer the 11 questions they sent you
  • Pick another 11 bloggers (and let them know they are nominated!)
  • Send them 11 questions
Right, let's do this thing!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Film Noir Blogathon


Okay, I'm gonna keep this post short, sweet and to the point. Quiggy over at The Midnite Drive-In is hosting a blogathon where the main theme is, well, film noirs. My pick?

(1967, dir. Richard Brooks)

Admittedly I wanted an excuse to re-watch this (it had been so long since I last saw it), and the relatively recent Criterion release provided such an example. Anyway, more after the jump. (As mentioned above, keeping things brief both out of laziness -- mainly that -- and hope to have more people seek it out.)

Sunday, August 7, 2016

The 3rd Annual British Invaders Blogathon


Terrence over at A Shroud of Thoughts has brought back his British Invaders Blogathon for a third year. Last year, I wrote about four films with a similar theme. This year I stuck with one title. Which one, you ask?

(1983, dir. Bill Forsyth)

Why this one? Several reasons:
  1. I wanted an excuse to re-watch it (I last saw over three years ago), 
  2. I'd like more people to know about it, and
  3. it's one of my favorites.
Anyway, enough of my personal yakking. More after the jump...

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Carrington

"Who on earth is that ravishing boy?" This question escapes Lytton Strachey's (Jonathan Pryce) lips upon first laying eyes on Dora Carrington (Emma Thompson). (He's quickly disappointed.) Carrington (which she prefers to be referred as) herself laments about being a woman. What follows in Christopher Hampton's Carrington is a true story of deep devotion.

Carrington is a love story of the non-physical variety. (Strachey was gay and there were implications that Carrington was bisexual or even a lesbian.) Incompatible sexual orientations aside, the writer and the painter had a bond that transcended friendship. (See? Such a thing does exist.)

While Strachey's work was known during his lifetime, Carrington -- much like Vincent van Gogh before her -- became prominent in the years after her death. But their success isn't the whole point of the film. What mattered more to them was the other's well-being.

Also shown throughout Carrington are the sexual politics of the time. Both Strachey and Carrington were members of the Bloomsbury Group (it's briefly alluded to at the beginning of the film), which rejected the social norms of the Victorian era. They were part of a group that influenced the rest of society.

Carrington focuses on two forgotten names of British culture, and Hampton has them come alive again decades after their deaths. The performances from Thompson and Pryce show the dynamic between this odd couple and how their lives became interwoven. It's a bond that stays united in this life and the next.

My Rating: ****1/2

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

To Each His Own

"The most mysterious mysteries are people, and usually people who don't seem mysterious at all." So opens Mitchell Leisen's To Each His Own. It's a story of  a woman who tries to escape her past indiscretion but has it gnawing away at her for years.

The woman in question is Jody Norris, played in top tier form by Olivia de Havilland. Bear in mind that To Each His Own was made following the legal woes de Havilland faced with Warner Bros. and the contract she was under with them. After two years of not working, she signed on to this film.

And it's her work in To Each His Own was her defiantly telling off Jack L. Warner for giving her nothing but ingĂ©nue roles for years. In Leisen's hands (whom de Havilland specifically chose to direct this), she tackles the role with utter aplomb. (It doesn't take much to see how she got her first of two Oscars for this.)

As she would do in her later performances like The Snake Pit and The Heiress, de Havilland shows how layered a character Jody is. When we first see her, she's a bitter middle-aged woman and through flashbacks we see what made her jaded and broken.

To Each His Own is a heartbreaking piece of filmmaking. In anyone else's hands, Charles Brackett's script could've turned into an overwrought melodrama reminiscent of Douglas Sirk's films the following decade. But thanks to Leisen and de Havilland, that is far from the case.

My Rating: ****1/2

The Best Man

Franklin J. Schaffner's The Best Man has its opening credits superimposed on images of all the United States Presidents up until the then-current one in office. (Being a film penned by Gore Vidal, it was probably his idea.) What ensues in Schaffner's sophomoric film shows that very little has changed since its 1964 release.

Apparently Vidal had enough insight that there's an absurdity within politics. In the fifty-two years following The Best Man hitting theaters, reality starts resembling fiction to a nigh unsettling degree. (Good thing Vidal isn't around to witness this current election otherwise that would've surely killed him.)

Similarly, Vidal managed to foretell the future of American politics. At one point in The Best Man, Art Hockstader (Lee Tracy) talks about the possibilities of a Jewish President, a Negro President and even a woman President. (It's worth mentioning that Vidal lived to see Barack Obama become President.)

And of course the characters of The Best Man were inspired by real-life politicians. William Russell (Henry Fonda) is based on Adlai Stevenson II while Joe Cantwell (Cliff Robertson) was inspired by Richard Nixon, John F. and Robert Kennedy, and Joseph McCarthy. And Hockstader is a mix of Dwight D. Eisenhower and Harry S. Truman. (Worth mentioning that Vidal wasn't too fond of some of them.)

It's unsettling how much The Best Man parallels the present election. So much focus on the mudslinging between the candidates and not enough on their policies. Hopefully Vidal's not currently turning in his grave.

My Rating: ****