Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Front Page (1931)


I thought about leaving my review at that. I really couldn't get into this movie. There were a lot of characters coming in and out and without a recognizable face, I couldn't keep track of who was who (full disclosure - I may have been on my computer part of the time). I watched the 1974 version immediately after and it was a little better, but largely because it starred Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau.

I will give the original some credit for having fun one-liners and giving us the cliche of the reporter shouting into the phone in a very staccato manner (it may predate this film, I suppose, but we're only a few years into talkies at this point).

The director, Lewis Milestone, did direct the best picture winning All Quiet on the Western Front of the previous year (a great movie) and won a best director Oscar in the very first Oscar ceremony for Two Arabian Knights. They actually awarded two that year and he won for directing a comedy.

70 to go...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Alfred Hitchcock

Arguably the most famous movie director of all-time, Alfred Hitchcock never won an Oscar for directing, though he was nominated five times. The Academy finally honored him in 1968 with a lifetime achievement award.

Four Hitchcock movies were nominated for best picture: Rebecca (1940 best picture winner), Foreign Correspondent (1940), Suspicion (1941), and Spellbound (1945). I have seen several Hitchcock movies, but it was these three non-winning nominees that I had not seen until recently.

Spellbound stars Gregory Peck and Ingrid Bergman. She's a psychologist in the then cutting edge field of repressed memories. He shows up as a well-known and respected doctor before it turns out he is actually an amnesia patient who assumed the identity of the doctor without knowing when or why he did so or what happened to the actual doctor. He disappears for fear he will be implicated in the real doctor's death and she goes after him having become smitten with him and convinced he's innocent. It's a rudimentary mystery by today's standards. There are better Peck movies, better Bergman movies, and better Hitchcock movies; that being said, this one is still worth watching.

In Suspicion, Cary Grant woos a young heiress. Soon after they are married she discovers that he's just a charismatic layabout with no money of his own. The titular suspicion rises as she wonders if he's just an innocent playboy or if he's willing to kill to keep up his fast living, no working lifestyle. Overall, the movie didn't really work for me as he's not vile enough to be a villain not likable enough to be redeemable.

My favorite of these three was Foreign Correspondent. It starts in August of 1939 with a New York reporter sent over to find a behind-the-scenes scoop on whether or not Europe is really on the brink of war. It seems decidedly un-Hitchcock until the reporter discovers a captive diplomat who he thought he had just seen publicly assassinated. It's the story that will make his career if he can live to tell about it. A very good show.

71 to go...