Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941 and the subsequent entry into World War II by the United States of America, James Maitland Stewart joined the US Air Corps.  Before the war, Stewart was a talented pilot in the private sector, amassing hundreds of hours of flight time and even participating in a cross-country race as a co-pilot.  He had invested (and recruited more investments) in a pilot-training program hosted by Southwest Airways.  He was an immensely popular actor on the home-front, starring in such films as The Philadelphia Story with Katharine Hepburn and You Can’t Take it With You with Jean Arthur.  He was well-publicized, well-known, and was an interesting character, who loved flying, loved his country, and respected his family’s military tradition. Continue reading

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It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

Image result for it's a wonderful life

The holiday season doesn’t stop at Christmas.  It continues on through New Year’s Day…at least in our neck of the woods.  And, when it comes to New Year’s movies, there is none better than the great Frank Capra’s masterpiece, It’s a Wonderful Life. Continue reading

The Philadelphia Story (1940)

“You’ll never be a first class human being or a first class woman until you’ve learned to have some regard for human frailty.”

So says C.K. Dexter Haven, ex-husband of the pretentious and beautiful Tracy Lord.  She has thrown him out and banned him from her mansion estate, and has recently engaged herself to George Kittredge.  In Kittredge, she sees everything that Haven was not.  Unlike Haven, who was born into the social elite, Kittredge was a self-made member of the upper-classes, not subject to the vices of the pampered life (a life that she, herself, has lived).  A woman of her privilege demands the absolute best in everything she consumes: her wine, her clothes, her horses, and her men.  Haven couldn’t live up to the task; he was an alcoholic with no respect for the things she wanted.  Perhaps Kittredge will. Continue reading

Fantasy Academy Awards Ceremony

Okay, so this is a little indulgent.  But I can’t help but think that all this Academy Award talk in which I have been engaging can be diverting in this quest from casual movie watching to competency in film.  What I would like to do is bring back the discussion from contemporary films and set our sights backwards again, towards the vast world of cinema that encompasses over a hundred years of art and culture.  So, I’ve decided to go back and set up my own hypothetical awards ceremony, complete with honorary awards and imaginary glamor.  Imagine a red carpet with Miley Cyrus in her fishnet leggings and Audrey Hepburn in her black Givenchy dress; Jared Leto’s long hair followed by Humphrey Bogart in unbelted wool jackets.  The notion is enchanting, sure.  Those basketball or football video games that I like to play often have a “fantasy draft” setting or a pick-up game kind of setting were you can do the most absurd things: you can have LeBron James play against Oscar Robertson, or have the Detroit duo of Isaiah Thomas and Bill Laimbeer take on Michael Jordan and Dennis Rodman.  Why not do something like that for movies?  I consider this “fantasy academy” a well-earned journey into the indulgent imagination of my own self.  It is time to let all those worlds, the world of John Huston, the world of Federico Fellini, the world of Robert Bresson, the world of Martin Scorsese, and the world of Christopher Nolan, all come together in the ultimate exposition of glamor, art, competition, and class.  And considering the fact that my lists of the greatest directors and movies and acting performances are buried so deep in this blog, I feel like a resurrection of these lists in some new form is not an altogether bad idea, especially considering the fact that I just posted a page which, in essence, restated all the principles and theories that this blog has laid out thus far.  As long as I’m in the “reviewing” mode, I might as well review those earlier lists by having a little fun; having my own awards ceremony in my head.

The nominees are listed in alphabetical order.  There are 10 nominees for each category.  The winners are in bold.  I have hyperlinked all but one of the nominees to clips online (most of which can be found on YouTube) for your viewing pleasure. Continue reading

350 Greatest Movie Quotes

(This list, like all lists in this blog is regularly updated when I feel it is necessary).

I like to release a fun little list in conjunction with my new posts and pages.  I think it’s time I put up a new one, especially considering the fact that I didn’t have such a list for that mammoth publication on montage theory I did.  Now, considering the emphasis I placed on wit and dialogue in my “My Take On…Comedy” page, I felt it would be appropriate to list the greatest movie quotes of all time.  Most of these are comedic in that they are funny, satirical, witty, or sarcastic—as a matter of fact, they’re all at least witty (though some are far from funny).  That is good enough reason to publish this list in conjunction with an analysis on comedy. Continue reading

My Countdown Video

I had some time; I made this video.  These are 100 films (mostly American) that I think everyone needs to see on their journey towards film competency.  THIS IS NOT A LIST OF THE GREATEST FILMS EVER.  It is a list of some of the greatest films ever, films that I think everyone should see before they start making claims that they are true movie-buffs.  It is set to the sublime score of John Williams’ Schindler’s List.  Please excuse two typos in the titles of the film. Continue reading

The Best Actors

All movie-goers (casual and competent) have “guilty pleasures.”  For me, the occasional action film or comedy can fulfill a part of me that no Antonioni drama ever could.   That being said, there is a mortal aspect to said pleasures: they are rooted either in nostalgia or in the heat of a single moment that soon dies off.  Because of that, you will notice the allowance of indulge into my list-making.  I think that of all my lists, my lists on actors will be the most indulgent.  But, don’t be made to think that these don’t have clout.  Consider them overrated.  Better yet, consider them necessary indulgences for the evolution from casual to competent. Continue reading

Vertigo (1958)

Vertigo+Kim+Novak

Alfred Hitchcock is considered by many voices in the industry to be the greatest director of all time.  It suffices to say that I agree with these voices.  For so many of us, Hitchcock represents the stunning collaborative effect of art, technique, and personality—a personality that was as complex as it was singularly driven; his self-awareness only heightening the depths to which he allowed himself to operate.  He has several stand-out films that define these many different facets of his personality.  Rear Window tackles the horrors of obsession and handicap.  Rebecca deals with the concept of haunting ghosts and tainted love.  Notorious challenges the cliches of a love affair and asks how far is one really willing to go to prove their devotion.  Psycho provides sheer terror and mental complexes, while Frenzy takes those to a new level before the backdrop of overt sexuality and social tension.  Dial “M” for Murder and Rope conquer the issues of a “perfect murder” and the moral relationship–and supposed ambiguity–of death and killing.  North by Northwest and The 39 Steps make evident to the greatest degree the patented Hitchcock-ian humor and wit. The Birds, like so many others, gives the viewer an iconic motif that will never be forgotten.  Sabotage and the Man Who Knew Too Much films deal with the horror of a murdered of endangered loved one.  Spellbound demonstrates the brilliance of artistic expression to terrify in its surrealist embrace of the subconscious.  Shadow of a Doubt and The Lady Vanishes permeate us with the actuality of what life is like when we are alone and are in very real danger–even when the threat is only perceived.  At the end of the day, watching a Hitchcock film is more an exploration of self than one would realize at first blush: he was as much an auteur as he was an exhibitionist, as much a psychoanalyst as he was a showman. Continue reading