Sunday, April 22, 2012

Citizen Kane (1941)

From a technical perspective I cannot praise it enough. This film is a cut above most. It's absolutely brilliant. The use of contrast in lighting, leading for particular characters to appear as silhouettes while others in the scene remained the same, was brilliant. The extreme camera angles to express distant relationships... And the camera being literally sat down in the floor at some points, looking up at powerful characters, or vise versa, having the camera look down at those more diminutive. All around, simply genius Cinematography, and filmmaking in general. Citizen Kane should be required viewing for anyone perusing the art of film, or those captivated by the beauty and magic of film in general.

On the other hand, the story itself left a lot to be desired, in personal opinion. *Spoiler alert* What most likely ruined my viewing experience was being aware that "Rosebud" had been the sled, which took the joy of mystery out of the film. Had this not been known, perhaps the ending would have been seen as a surprisingly bittersweet conclusion. This man had everything; money, power... yet these things could never buy back that which was lost. Those blissful childhood days spent out in the snow with Rosebud. Ah, the sentimentality! It's an amazing film, an intricately told storyline. But I prefer things to be much more Capraesque. Charles Foster Kane was an ambitious, bold and charming young man who spoke for the people... and we slowly watch, in a biographical format, as he deteriorates into a needy, egotistical, cold old rich man forever alone. It does not even have the merit of being a tearjerker sort of sad, it's just plain depressing.

What is impressive and admired, is that Orson Welles, in his mid-twenties at the time, had total control over this picture; from Directing, Producing, Writing and Acting. Not to mention, this was his first feature film!

Other info about this picture can be found at IMDB, and Wikipedia.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Lord Love a Duck (1966)


I had watched this film for one reason, and one reason alone. That reason, was Roddy McDowall. Other than the fact he was in it, there were no other expectations. Though, I wouldn't have been disappointed had there been. This film, in my opinion, was magnificent.

Roddy plays Alan "Mollymauk" Musgrave... an extremely brilliant young man who finds himself madly in love with Barbara Ann Greene (Tuesday Weld), a fellow student at their school. Mollymauk promises Barbara Ann that he will get her anything she wants; sweaters, popularity, etc. And subsequently follows through with his word every time.

Regardless of everything Alan has already done for Barbara Ann, she has got her eyes set on Bob (Martin West). So once again, it's the cunning and charming Mollymauk who grants her the wish, and soon those two are hitched.

But when Barbara Ann wants to go have a screen test for a movie, her new husband disapproves... Which leads to her wanting a divorce from Bob. Mollymauk goes above and beyond just granting Barbara Ann a divorce... he's going to kill Bob. There are then many unsuccessful attempts made. Soon enough, Bob transforms from that arrogant schmuck you despise, into this really helpless, abused, pitiful guy, who you feel rather bad for.

It cannot be denied a huge part of what made this such an appealing and delightful film had been my extreme partiality toward Roddy McDowall. For us fans, Lord Love a Duck is definitely essential for viewing, as it's a wonderful vessel to show off his incredible talent. Mollymauk is as much lovable as he is diabolical. Truly, an absolute treat to watch.

That being said, this is certainly not a film for everyone. It's a dark comedy, and satire of popular culture from the then 1960's. You'll see the extremely dated, typical cheesy beach party scenes, and other odd stuff. From the perspective of someone who likes extremely corny, low-budget, terrible movies though, the addition of these hysterical elements are happily welcomed.

Other characters in this film include Barbara Ann's mother, Marie (Lola Albright) a self-deprecating cocktail waitress. And then there is Bob's eccentric mother, Stella (Ruth Gordon), who Alan turns into a boozer.

Yes, quite a wickedly lovely film, indeed.

Lord Love a Duck was Directed by George Axelrod... you may find the rest of the cast and crew credit, along with other info, at IMDB, or Wikipedia.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Shoulder Arms (1918)



Shoulder Arms is a 1918 silent film directed and starring Charlie Chaplin.

Chaplin as his signature Tramp character, is a recruit in the United States army during World War I. After capturing thirteen enemy soldiers by way of "surrounding" them, Charlie gets a pat on the back from the Sergeant (Sydney Chaplin). Later, Charlie is sent to spy on the enemy whilst disguised as a tree. During the venture within enemy lines, he meets a French girl (Edna Purviance), who aids in his mission. While impersonating as an enemy officer, Charlie discovers that his pal, the Sergeant, has been captured by the opposition. Charlie improvises by convincing the enemy soldiers to leave the prisoner in his hands, which they do, and soon enough when no one is looking, Charlie frees his friend. Together, the team of three save the day, capturing the Kaiser (also played by Sydney Chaplin) and turning him over to the U.S. superior officers. Celebration thus ensues, until that is, Charlie is awoken by his fellow soldiers.

Too bad it was all just a dream.

Read more from Wikipedia, IMDb, and watch it here!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

City Lights (1931)


City Lights, a historical cinematic masterpiece. Released in 1931, is a comedy romance in pantomime. Written and directed by Charlie Chaplin, who stars as his beloved Tramp character.

A Poor, blind flower girl (Virginia Cherrill) mistakes the Tramp for a millionaire when she hears the door slam on a rich man's automobile close by. The Tramp, being smitten with her, continues the charade.

Meanwhile a drunken millionaire (Harry Myers) is suicidal when his wife leaves. The Tramp happens to be at the right place at the right time, and saves the millionaire from jumping into the river. He assures the wealthy man that "Tomorrow the Birds Will Sing!". The millionaire declares that he's been cured, and that they are now friends for life, and thus treats the Tramp to the luxuries of a wealthy man's lifestyle. There is a catch, though. When the Eccentric Millionaire sobers up, there is no recollection of befriending this tramp.

An interesting little tidbit to know is that Virginia Cherrill was the first wife of Cary Grant!

Read more from Wikipedia, and IMDb

Charlie Chaplin

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Fighting 69th (1940)


The Fighting 69th is a 1940 film, directed by William Keighley. Set in the time of World War I, and based upon the 69th Infantry Regiment. The story follows William Joseph Donovan (George Brent), Joyce Kilmer (Jeffrey Lynn), and most notably Father Francis P. Duffy (portrayed by Pat O'Brien) who attempts to amend troublemaker, Private Jerry Plunkett (James Cagney). Plunkett acts all tough and can throw a punch, but stick him down in the trenches and he's the biggest coward you will have ever seen!

Interesting fact: This unit was the original owner of nickname the "Fighting Irish", which later the University of Notre Dame would officially adopt in 1927.

Read more from Wikipedia, and IMDb


Sunday, February 28, 2010

Double Wedding (1937)


Double Wedding is a 1937 film, directed by Richard Thorpe.

Bohemian Charlie Lodge (William Powell) falls in love with the very organized, over-controlling Margit Agnew (Myrna Loy).

To spend time with her, Charlie pretends to be interested in Margit's sister, Irene (Florence Rice) who's become very much infatuated with Charlie after loosing interest in her chicken of a fiancé, Waldo (John Beal). Margit wants her sister to have nothing more to do with Charlie, so he promises to never see Irene again as long as Margit agrees to pose for a portrait he's to paint.

Read more from Wikipedia, and IMDb


Friday, February 19, 2010

Love Crazy (1941)


Love Crazy is a 1941 film, directed by Jack Conway.

William Powell and Myrna Loy are Steve and Susan Ireland; a happily married couple whom on their fourth wedding anniversary, experience a night of unfortunate events that leads to their marriage being on the rocks.

Susan, being under the impression that her husband has been spending time with his old flame, is definite about divorce. But Steve is crazy in love with his wife, and does everything he can to delay the divorce and prove it, though this might just get him committed to the sanitarium!

Read more from Wikipedia, and IMDb