Monday, January 17, 2011

20 more movies under my belt.

After the death of Tony Curtis, many cited Some Like It Hot and Sweet Smell of Success as his greatest films. Longtime fan of the former, I had never seen the latter. This week I got my chance, and what a tremendous film. Powerful performances make for a powerfully well-told story.

First Men in the Moon, based on the H.G. Wells novel, was a favorite from my childhood. Netflix said it would be difficult to get it to us, but they did. Both silly and imaginative, it was a great delight to see it again after some 40 years. Included on the DVD is an hour long documentary on special effects and stop-motion artist Ray Harryhausen.

I enjoyed the romantic comedy Holiday Affair. Time was taken to develop the romance, the dialogue was allowed to play out at a natural pace. I admire quick and witty dialogue, but it was a nice change to see characters take their time to develop their own thoughts about a confusing situation. Nudged along by fateful repeat encounters, Mitchum becomes the cool yet determined wooer, while Janet Leigh, jarred from her moderately comfortable but unstimulating relationship, is flustered by the sudden dilemma put before her, and demonstrates considerable exertion to make her decision.

Even though I'd never seen or even heard of it before, It Happened on Fifth Avenue felt like a classic old holiday favorite that families watch every year. Character actor Victor Moore carries a lead role in this quirky non-conformist comedy.

I haven't had a lot of opportunities to see silent films, but I got my hands on a collection of Garbo films and found them thoroughly enjoyable. The plots were engaging, the cinematography amazing, and Greta Garbo irresistible. Duh, no wonder she's a Hollywood legend.

Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis in Sweet Smell of Success

The Chico Hamilton Quintet, including Paul Horn on flute, add authenticity to the night life depicted in Sweet Smell of Success

Janet Leigh and Robert Mitchum in Holiday Affair

Victor Moore in It Happened on Fifth Avenue

Gretta Garbo and Gustav von Seyffertitz (what an amazing name!) in The Mysterious Lady (silent)

Greta Garbo and Antonio Moreno in The Temptress (silent)

Special Effects by Ray Harryhausen for First Men in the Moon

Lionel Jefferies delightful as the peace-loving scientist in First Men in the Moon

Monday, January 10, 2011

I'm a Liberal, by Neal Gladstone

Seemed like a good time to revive this one. This catchy ditty always cheers me up. Sing a long with Neal!