Monday, December 12, 2011

"The Artist" is Why I Love The Movies

If you see one film this holiday season, make it this one.  It is like nothing you've ever seen before (including the old silent films.)  It may be a "silent" picture but it will completely entertain you with it's joy, heart, sorrows, and redemption.  It stars two actors whom I had not had the pleasure of seeing before, Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo, along with some very familiar faces (John Goodman, James Cromwell, Penelope Miller and a brief appearance by Malcolm MacDowell.)  The story is centered around Jean Dujardin, the quintessential silent film star George Valentin (much like John Gilbert), who is cast aside when the talkies begin production.  Berenice Bejo plays the young ingenue, Peppy Miller, who has a chance meeting with George, dances her way into a part in one of his pictures, and rises to glorious fame as a star in the talkies.  This film is delightful in so many ways and I urge you to see it in a theater.  The magic will be lost when it is downsized to your television (no matter how big it is.)  Go for the feeling of what it must have been like during the silent film era (minus the live orchestra, of course.)  "The Artist" is clever, 100% entertainment, beautiful and winning.  This is why I love the movies.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Class #8 - Robert Ryan

Robert Ryan

[on being listed as one of the screen's all-time best heavies]: "I guess they never saw me in most of my pictures. Still, I've never stopped working so I can't complain."

Most people will remember Robert Ryan from his later pictures where he was usually a heavy or a grizzled old soldier ("The Wild Bunch" "The Dirty Dozen" "The Longest Day") but as you can see from the picture above, he was quite a dashing young man when he started in Hollywood.  His breakout role was in the 1947 film "Crossfire" where he played an anti-Semitic bully, a role that landed him an Oscar nomination.  He continued to work in films until his death in 1973.  He was an actor who brought grit, honesty, intensity and heart to his roles; whether he was in the old West, fighting in WWII or pounding the beat as a cop.  He starred with such legends as John Wayne, Clark Gable, Richard Burton and Spencer Tracy, and more than held his own.  He was a mainstay in Hollywood for 33 years.  Robert Ryan was handsome, convincing and a terrific actor.