[Edit: I just see that John posted. Yes sir, FOUR FACES WEST has been added to my instant queue. It'll help with my 48 list, so I'll get to it soon.]
Ben, so glad that you watched THAT OBSCURE OBJECT OF DESIRE and that you loved it. I do too. I think strange and funny would aptly describe Bunuel's entire oeuvre. You are not alone on the actress confusion either. I think this film and MULHOLLAND DRIVE are among the only two times (that I can recall) where I literally did a double take and thought, "wait...what??" Bunuel was a mad scientist, genius, and vaudeville comedian all rolled into one.
Brandon, I totally understand the issue of wanting to like something that you really don't. We did those lists on movies you don't like but feel like you should, and they basically captured the sense of struggle between cultural opinion and personal opinion. I think in a vacuum one could watch BLOW UP and have no issue admitting boredom. But once the cultural weight it has is thrown on your shoulders, the struggle begins. I still say that if you are seriously interested in excavating something like BLOW UP, then you should get over your boredom and try to find something you can actually criticize or analyze about it. If you are not interested then let it be.
Boredom isn't an argument to have against something. It always belies something else, be it a fault in the movie or a fault in yourself. If you seriously care or want to care about what you are watching, then you at least owe it to yourself to find out where the fault lies.
Thanks for responding to the '41 list. You know, writing these lists is like playing tennis–I need someone to actually hit the ball back or else I'm just swatting awkwardly at the wind. Plus, I'm really lousy at starting a discussion on movies I really like. I never know what to say beyond, "This is great" or "I love this." I think it's because, through my schooling, I'm only used to writing arguments for or against something. I've never really had practice at writing a review of something or gushing about my thoughts on why I like it. On writing, it's always been, "who cares if you like something or not, find something to argue for or against in it." Anyway, I'm trying to get better at it, and I benefit from reading everyone else's responses to movies. Case in point:
CITIZEN KANE - with KANE, I think you can have the opposite affect to watching something like BLOW UP. You could strip away all of it's cultural value and importance and still love it completely on its own merits. I remember watching it for the first time. I knew it was important and popular, but I had no clue how revolutionary it was in terms of composition or storytelling. I remember just loving the story, the acting, and the imagery. It was a beautiful package. Now I watch it and still love it for all the reasons I ever did, but can also appreciate how technically masterful it is. Yeah, this one's difficult to refute, to say the least.
HIGH SIERRA - Absolutely, having the gangsters tied to one last job before turning a new leaf always tests our desire for their redemption in the face of the overwhelming certainty of their demise. I completely agree, throw a girl AND a dog into it (and it doesn't hurt that your gangster is one of the most, if not the most, appealing actors of all time) and you are begging for him to get away, just this once. I had that reaction watching it. And I think that is why I loved it so much. Walsh and that ineluctable executioner the Hays Code make this a tragedy that is more than just seen but deeply felt.
SULLIVAN'S TRAVELS - You won't find me disagreeing that Struges was one of the best writers to ever work in film.. Every time I see one of his films I'm reminded of his genius. He had such a gift for comedy and dialogue, and he was always moving the story forward through his wit and skill (you can see why guys like the Coens and Tarantino are such fans). This one makes me laugh every time–an almost Chaplin-esque laughter.
HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY - I agree, Ford does seem to have been a born director like Hitchcock. It's funny to hear him talk about directing because he couldn't be more dismissive of it. Seemingly always willing to berate someone for calling him an artist, he never strayed from the opinion that directing was just a way to make a living. But, of course, the talent and care he put into his pictures seems to belie that offhand exterior. The same with his his sympathy for the downtrodden, as you mentioned. I really like THE GRAPES OF WRATH, so maybe that's why I like this one so much as well. Ford is just one of those guys I'm so in awe of as a director that his films always benefit.
THE MALTESE FALCON - I prefer THE BIG SLEEP as well (one of my absolute favorite films, period), but I think the real crown jewel (and I think you'd agree) of the Huston/Bogie connection is SIERRA MADRE. That one certainly rivals the great Hawks/Bogie films. But anyway, TMF really is the stuff that dreams are made of.
BALL OF FIRE - I should have mentioned Brackett and Wilder. The combo of their talents with the myriad talents of Hawks makes this such a blast. I think I've run out of superlatives for Hawks as it stands. I love his movies.
I agree and don't really have anything to add on MAN HUNT and THE LADY EVE. MH is a great thriller from a master of the genre and TLE is another reason to fall in love with the already supremely lovable Stanwyck and Struges.
SUSPICION - I guess the ending feels cheap because we know where Hitch wanted to take it, but was thwarted. Still, I can appreciate the fact that the ending surprised me. I wouldn't have guessed that Grant's character was innocent. I guess the message the censors wanted was don't suspect your husband even when he has given you copious reasons to suspect him haha. But anyway, agreed that even lesser Hitch is better than most other stuff.
DUMBO is all about motherly love and nostalgia. Agreed.
Great comment on all the directors here. It does find them doing what they do best. I'd love to do director months. It would be really fun and would help fill in some of my many film gaps. I'd be game whenever. I'd just need to watch a bunch with you or do lots of borrowing.
I'll do an ATTACK THE BLOCK post soon.
a 1945 list is on its way, so be ready.
AND a 2003 list is coming soon too, so everyone be ready...to be let down.