Monday, March 19, 2012
I've got to get back into posting these since I have nothing else to write about.
1942 is another strong year for movies. I pretty much love all ten I have so far and really like or love all the honorable mentions. I’m still hoping to watch Carné’s LES VISITEURS DU SOIR on Hulu at some point, and I will be watching RIO RITA on TCM at the end of the month. They may alter the top ten I have, so as always, this list is still a work in progress.
One thing I should mention is that I’ve gone back and forth several times over which film I would put at number one for the year. The top three could almost be interchangeable as I could easily place any of them at number one and feel confident about it. Number four is no slouch either. And the rest of the films in the list are pretty great in their own ways. Here’s the order for now:
1. The Magnificent Ambersons (Welles)
2. To Be or Not to Be (Lubitsch)
3. There Was a Father (Ozu)
4. Cat People (Tourneur)
5. I Married a Witch (Clair)
6. Casablanca (Curtiz)
7. The Palm Beach Story (Sturges)
8. Saboteur (Hitchcock)
9. Bambi (lots of people)
10. Random Harvest (LeRoy)
HM: The Talk of the Town (Stevens), Road to Morocco (Butler), Yankee Doodle Dandy (Curtiz), Holiday Inn (Sandrich), Now, Voyager (Rapper)
I’m going with THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS at number one because, well, I think it’s a brilliant and lovely piece of filmmaking. Some critics feel that it surpasses its more famous older brother (some movie called “CITIZEN KANE”) in terms of quality; while I don’t know if I’d go that far, I do feel that AMBERSONS more than holds its own along side the majesty of KANE. Had AMBERSONS not been massacred while Welles was away in South America (those 40–50 minutes or so represent one of the great loses in film history, and perhaps the holy grail for all cinephile time travelers), it might have surpassed KANE both in terms of greatness and acclaim. Alas, we will never know. All I can say is that AMBERSONS is still a masterpiece even in its abridged form. It beautifully encapsulates an idyllic age of aristocracy when domestic pet-like idleness was the norm and the sweeping industrial transformation of this age. The scene with the “horseless carriage” in the snow is one of the most gorgeous in film history, to me; the camerawork and lighting are as great and visionary as they are in KANE; and Joseph Cotten’s presence (one of my favorite actors) just anchors the whole film. An essential one.
TO BE OR NOT TO BE, as I said above, could easily be number one this year. Brandon’s got it at number one and he’s probably right. It’s among the very funniest movies ever made. A genius work of satire and boldness, and the last film the beautiful and hilarious Carole Lombard got to make. Jack Benny's facial reactions in this film can get me in hysterics.
THERE WAS A FATHER is so incredibly touching that I was also tempted to stick it at number one. It’s one of the most tender and kind-hearted films I’ve ever had the privilege to see. Watch it if you ever feel the need for a huge dose of Ozu-ian serentiy.
CAT PEOPLE, we know, ushered in a new era of low-budget but sublimely artistic and creative horror cinema. It’s a landmark piece of filmmaking. It has two infamous scenes that are far scarier than anything I’ve seen from the present day. No exaggeration.
I’ve already raved about I MARRIED A WITCH sufficiently. Did I mention how deeply in love with Veronica Lake I am?
CASABLANCA was one of my favorite movies when I had only seen a limited amount of classic films. It’s down-and-out romanticism and sultry vibes are great bridge into the world of classic film when you’re trying to get into it. I know I appreciate it and still love it to death for getting me interested in black-and-white. However, as much as I love CASABLANCA, it’s so great to see other films that aren’t nearly as acclaimed and fall deeply in love with them too (and even more so). CASABLANCA pretty much speaks for itself though.
THE PALM BEACH STORY is probably the fastest gun in the west. It’s dizzingly quick and clever. Sturges obviously had a way with words and a brilliant mind for comedy. He was also a great innoventor, as evidenced by the film’s unique structure and ingenious opening. Love Joel McCrea too.
By the time SABOTEUR came out, Hitchcock was already a master of the “wrong man” thriller (done flawlessly in THE 39 STEPS and YOUNG AND INNOCENT). SABOTEUR feels like his attempt to go bigger and grander. It’s very fast-paced, oftentimes confusing, but always incredibly entertaining.
BAMBI is the cause of my life-long hatred of recreational hunting.
RANDOM HARVEST is a great tragic romance with real heart and tenderness. It could teach a serious lesson to all these awful Nicholas Sparks shitfests of today.
As for the honorable mentions, THE TALK OF THE TOWN is very enjoyable; ROAD TO MOROCCO is hilarious; YANKEE DOODLE DANDY is worth it for Cagney alone, even if its patriotism grows wearisome; HOLIDAY INN is ideal Christmas-time fare; NOW VOYAGER is overlong but very lovely at parts. All in all, not too shabby a year.