Here are some of my favorites:
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
....and I did! The thought of watching a film about a 29 year old man who is diagnosed with cancer and has a 50/50 chance of surviving (especially one that costars Seth Rogen) is not exactly the way I want to spend an evening but this film was worth it. "50/50" starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt ("500 Days of Summer" "Inception"), Seth Rogen ("Knocked Up" "Pineapple Express"), Anna Kendrick ("Up In The Air" "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World"), Bryce Dallas Howard ("The Help" "Lady In The Water"), Angelica Houston ("Crimes and Misdemeanors" "The Grifters") and directed by Will Reiser (known until now as a TV producer and director) presents its subject matter with humor, respect and lots and lots of heart. I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised by Seth Rogen. Joseph Gordon-Levitt has already proven himself to be one of our finest young actors and his career will continue to rise with his performance in this film. Seth Rogen plays his best friend and tones down his acting by about 100% compared to his other films. He brings a much needed sense of humor, coupled with a true love for his friend, that is endearing and very true to life. Bryce Dallas Howard plays the girlfriend who is in over her head and she continues to be quite an actress. You can feel her anguish over wanting to be there for her boyfriend but not truly understanding just what he is facing. Anna Kendrick plays the very young therapist who is assigned to help Joseph and she, too, continues to be one of our finest up and coming actors. Her scenes with Joseph are some of the best in the film. Angelica Houston is also superb as Joseph's mom who has always been overbearing and intrusive in his life. He holds her at arm's length but comes to know that her love for him is just what he needs. This is a film about the fragility of life, family, love in all shapes and sizes, finding joy, and finding peace. Never did I think I would walk out of that theatre feeling better than when I went in, but this film achieved that. This is film making at its best.
"I'm just a lucky slob from Ohio who happened to be in the right place at the right time."
And aren't we lucky he was in that place! Has there ever been an actor with more raw male energy and appeal? Clark Gable was one of those rare actors who was adored by women and admired by men. Women wanted to be with him and men wanted to BE him. Clark Gable started his career as a bit player but it was apparent early on that he was something very special in Hollywood. MGM put him under contract as one of their only leading men and cast him in everything. My class was treated to the film "Red Dust" (1932) also starring Jean Harlow, Gene Raymond and Mary Astor. This is a delightful film with lots of chemistry between Gable and Harlow (who was quite a comedian.) Gable is Gable in this film but somehow that does not bother me. He brings an energy and passion to his roles, whether he is a plantation owner, gangster, ladies man, gambler, or just a plain old guy, that entreats you to watch. His character portrayals are vivid and lasting. His sex appeal is legendary and stands the test of time. Unfortunately, he died relatively young (59 years old) but he left behind a body of work that is unforgettable.
Monday, October 17, 2011
"I was lucky enough to make four pictures with Barbara (Stanwyck). In the first I turned her in, in the second I killed her, in the third I left her for another woman and in the fourth I pushed her over a waterfall. The one thing all these pictures had in common was that I fell in love with Barbara Stanwyck -- and I did, too."
Fred MacMurray is probably best remembered as the mild-mannered father on television's hit show, "My Three Sons" that aired in the 1960's, however, he had a storied career in film. His rugged good looks, as evidenced above, surely helped him to land parts. His most famous roles were in "Double Indemnity" where he played insurance salesman, Walter Neff, who is conned by the beautiful Barbara Stanwyck, "The Caine Mutiny" where he played the smarmy Lt. Tom Keefer and "The Apartment" where he played Jack Lemmon's boss, Jeff D. Sheldrake. Fred MacMurray could be sinister and hard-edged, or funny and lovable. He would be someone you wanted to know and depending upon the role he was playing, it would either turn out to be a good thing or a very bad thing, indeed. He played cops, cowboys, businessmen, absent-minded professors and Naval officers in films from 1929 through 1978. If you have never seen his work, I highly recommend the films mentioned above. His quiet demeanor will disarm you and creep under your skin.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
"Well, I think one of the main things that you have to think about when acting in the movies is to try not to make the acting show."
Was there ever, or will there ever be, a more likable actor? James Stewart had one of the longest careers ever seen in Hollywood. It lasted for 38 years, starting with films like "The Shopworn Angel" and "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" and ending with his amazing turn in "The Shootist" at the age of 68. James Stewart is probably best known for his roles as an every day man in films like "It's A Wonderful Life" and "The Philadelphia Story" but he could also play very dark characters such as his roles in the Hitchcock films "The Man Who Knew Too Much" and "Vertigo." James Stewart captured the essence of his characters and showed us how the average man would deal with situations of all kinds. He could be carefree and loving, hard and conniving, confused and at his wit's end, or cold and downright evil. Stewart was believable in every role he handled and he truly lived what he said above - his acting did not show - just his unfailing talent. Oh, and he was also a highly decorated Air Force Officer who commanded bombardier squadrons during WWII, eventually receiving the rank of Brigadier General.
His body of work is extensive but here is a list of the clips we watched:
"The Shopworn Angel" directed by H.C. Potter, starring Stewart and Margaret Sullavan. Released in 1938.
"Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" directed by Frank Capra, starring Stewart, Claude Rains and Jean Arthur. Released in 1939.
"Destry Rides Again" directed by George Marshall, starring Stewart, Marlene Dietrich, Charles Winninger and Brian Donlevy. Released in 1939.
"The Philadelphia Story" directed by George Cukor, starring Stewart, Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant. Released in 1940.
"It's A Wonderful Life" directed by Frank Capra, starring Stewart and Donna Reed. Released in 1947.
"Winchester '73" directed by Anthony Mann. Released in 1950.
"The Man Who Knew Too Much" directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Stewart and Doris Day. Released in 1956.
"Vertigo" directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Stewart and Kim Novak. Released in 1958.
"Anatomy of a Murder" directed by Otto Preminger, starring Stewart, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzarra and Arthur O'Connell. Released in 1959.
"The Shootist" directed by Don Siegel, starring Stewart and John Wayne. Released in 1976.
Other recommended films are: "You Can't Take It With You" "Shop Around The Corner" "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" "The Man From Laramie" "Rear Window" and Stewart's favorite role, "Harvey."