Saturday, March 17, 2012

Troy a Little Tenderness

Sounds like you're having a swell time, John. I'm seriously jealous of some of the pictures you got to see. I'm sure we're all missing out.

As much as I'd like to be there with ya, I don't mind saving my money, staying home, and having my own lame Cinefest.

I'm definitely seen a few good ones lately:

John Ford's 1935 comedy THE WHOLE TOWN'S TALKING is an underrated gem. Completely unlike any Ford film I've ever seen (seems like more of a Sturges or Hawks picture then one of Pappy's), it's a consistently amusing and charming take on the whole "wrong man" conceit. Edward G. Robinson (a whole ten years before THE WOMEN IN THE WINDOW and SCARLET STREET mind you) really gets to flex his range by playing both an overly timid accountant and the snarling gangster who looks exactly like him. It's a great duel performance from him that carries much of the film's affability. Jean Arthur is also great as Robinson's saucy co-worker and love interest. It's a real brisk and lively picture that's sure to cheer you up. It deserves more attention.

Cukor's THE WOMEN (1939) is also a brisk and lively one. The writing is superlative and often just so damn clever. It's surely got some of the best wisecracking insults in film history this side of STAGE DOOR. I mostly loved it, but (like Brandon) have a few reservations about the ending. I understand the Code wants to advertise marital adherence as sine qua non, but Mary returning to her husband at the end just seemed like a cop-out and struck me as even being cynical. She's better off without the schmuck. I don't know...that ending bummed me out. But the rest is absolutely scintillating. Another great one in an already overcrowded year.

RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY (1962), as expected, is incredible. One of the best of 1962 (good luck with that list, Brandon). I love the teaming of Randolph Scott (terrific in a generally more comedic role) and Joel McCrea (always great) as honorable old hands proving they still have what it takes and fighting against a wild and uncouth batch of brothers. The film has nothing but reverence for these aging heroes, as they ride taller in the saddle than anyone else and carry the moral weight of the film. Things really get interesting (and emotional) when a betrayal happens near the climax of the film. The ending is lovely, profound, and tragic (there's a two-shot of Scott and McCrea marching towards the final showdown that is sublime). Beautiful scenery and a host of raucous fistfights only add to what is a truly GREAT film about change and old age, honor and fraternity, violence and heroism. The film's wikipedia page claims that certain critics feel that Gary Cooper and John Wayne would have been ideally suited for the two leads. As much as I respect and revere Cooper and Wayne, I'd take Scott and McCrea any day over them. It's just too good to see them together.

I watched CHILDREN OF PARADISE again. I'm convinced it'd easily be in my top five favorite films of all time. It's pure magic, plain and simple. I cherish it like other people cherish their loved ones.

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