Thursday, September 30, 2010
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1925)
I still have fond memories of my collection of the Aurora monster models I use to put together in the 1970’s.
The core collection pictured here, taken from the website atomicantiques.com, includes all the Universal Studios monsters, as well as my personal favorite, The Forgotten Prisoner. Why was it my favorite? Because there was nothing but shackled skeletal remains left of him! The skull was screaming, but the scariest part to me when I was a kid was the fact that he had been, as the title suggests, forgotten. What torment he must have gone through.
I still have a Dr. Zaius model from Planet of the Apes, which didn’t quite fit in with the theme of monster models, but I liked it. I also had a glow-in-the-dark King Kong, which has long since gone to that big monster plantation in the sky.
Painting the models after you glued them together was optional, but I honestly like the look of them unpainted.
Why do I bring this up on the 1001 movie blog? Two of these models were based on characterizations based on the silent films of Lon Chaney Sr. I will always think of Chaney when I think of the The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Sorry, Disney) and will also always think of Chaney when I think of The Phantom of the Opera (Sorry, Andrew Lloyd Webber).
The Phantom model was maybe the coolest of the lot because it had a removable mask that you could attach to his face or put on his outstretched hand. There is also a man in a prison cell behind the Phantom's feet, which doesn’t have any relation to the movie, but was always a pretty frightening concept to me anyway.
In the 1925 film itself, the Phantom is described thusly:
His eyes are ghastly beads in which there is no light-like holes in a grinning skull!
His face is like leprous parchment, yellow skin strung tight over protruding bones!
His nose-there is no nose!
After Chaney is unmasked as the Phantom, it is an image that is still disturbing and unforgettable. The film has its plusses (The Phantom’s underground lair and Chaney) and minuses (plot holes and a few mediocre supporting performances).
Certainly no horror movie buff can be complete without watching The Phantom of the Opera, so get on it and don’t tell me you don’t like silent movies!
And while you’re at it, try to get one of the old monster models on Ebay or somewhere else and put it together. You’ll be glad you did.
Monday, September 20, 2010
The Godfather won Best Picture the year of the first Academy Award presentation I can remember. The biggest news from that night was Marlon Brando’s Best Actor trophy being accepted (or rejected) by an imitation Native American going by the name of Satcheen Littlefeather. A picture on the news the next day had a picture of Brando as a cowboy with superimposed arrows sticking through his head which led me to believe this R-Rated movie I was too young to see was actually a Western. When I was finally old enough to see it, The Godfather became one of my favorite movies.
Despite all the accolades heaped upon it, The Godfather won only three awards that night. This total looked pretty meager compared to the total of 8 won by the Bob Fosse musical Cabaret.
Of all the famous American movies I’ve put off seeing through the years, Cabaret might be the champ as far as my procrastination is concerned. Let me check my watch and see how long I’ve put this one off. Hmmm. Holy Shit, Batman! That be 38 years! How time does fly.
It’s not that I’m not a Bob Fosse fan. Fosse, who beat out Francis Ford Coppola for the director Oscar that year, has made some of my favorite movies over the ten year period after Cabaret. Lenny, All That Jazz and Star 80 if you’re keeping score. But I’ve just never been in the mood to watch Cabaret.
I’ve also not seen many Liza Minnelli movies. Let’s see, there’s Arthur and…did I mention Arthur? In the name of research and making up for past omissions, I also watched Liza’s film debut, The Sterile Cuckoo (where she exhibits some of the charisma she is noted for). I also tried to watch New York, New York, but I couldn’t get into it. Maybe another time, Mr. Scorsese.
Well, I thought Cabaret was a pretty good musical after all. Musical in the sense the characters perform there music on stage. Considering the movie is set in 1932 Berlin, I'm grateful there are no singing and dancing Nazis. However, the Nazi element does give the film an undercurrent political flavor. As Sally Bowles, Minnelli does have the role that seems to have defined her career. Joel Grey’s Master of Ceremonies character is fascinating in that he only seems to exist in the context of the movie as a stage persona. What he does offstage is none of our business. Michael York’s sexually ambiguous English teacher is another character of complexity.
My favorite song in the movie is the inspirational Tomorrow Belongs to Me performed by members of the Aryan youth. Too bad it’s a song about how great it is to be a young, virile Nazi! Change the lyrics and you’ve got one helluva inspirational song.
Liked it. Glad I saw it. All That Jazz is still my favorite Fosse film. Still don’t know how you could have not given Coppola the Oscar for The Godfather. And I appreciate Liza a bit more, not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
ANATOMY OF A MURDER (1959)
(The 1001 Movie Blogger is escorted through the courtroom to the witness stand and sworn in.)
Jimmy Stewart: Hello sir, you do realize why you are
1001 Blogger: I have no clue why I'm here today. All I know I was watching Anatomy of a Murder yesterday and today I find myself
in this court. I do want to know what I am being accused of.
George C. Scott: Perhaps I can shed some light on this
situation your honor. May I approach the defendant?
Judge Welch: It's a bit irregular, but I will give you
a little latitude here.
George C. Scott: Take a look at that woman sitting
over there, Mr. Blogger-If that is your real name.
(The woman in question is the voluptuous blonde Lee Remick, circa 1959, as she looked in Anatomy of a Murder.)
1001 Blogger: Okay, I'm looking.
George C. Scott: Do you think she's pretty?
1001 Blogger: Impressive...bordering on spectacular. But what's the point of your question?
George C. Scott: Let the record show that the defendant is not blind. He can see perfectly well.
Jimmy Stewart: Just a minute. Are you trying to
railroad my client, sir! He deserves his day in court before
you just arbitrarily toss him into the clink. (Stewart slams his right hand down on the prosecutor's table for emphasis.)
(Lee Remick giggles at the outburst and the entire court
soaks her in for a minute before the trial can proceed.)
Judge Welch:(to the lawyers) Gentleman, gentleman. Have you no since
of decency, sir? This is, after all, a court of law!
(A booming German voice from the back is heard as he
approaches the bench.)
Maxamillian Schell: Perhaps I can shed some light on
things. I say to you your honor, if this man is found
guilty, there are others who went along who must also be
Judge Welch: Stop right there sir. I believe you are looking for the
Nuremberg Trial, third door to the left.
Maxamillain Schell: Oh my God. I'm so embarrassed.
I was never here. (Schell runs out of the courtroom.)
Judge Welch: Now can we get back to-Who are you?
(A white haired man in suspenders approaches the bench
carrying a rock.)
Spencer Tracy: Mr. Blogger, have you ever read The Origin of the
Species by Charles Darwin?
1001 Blogger: Well, yeah. Most of it anyway.
Spencer Tracy: Oh. I wasn't expecting you to say
yes. I've got nothing else. Witness is excused. (Tracy returns to his seat.)
Judge Welch: Well, this is my courtroom and I don't excuse this witness.
Jimmy Stewart: Hold on here. Can I try something?
(Stewart goes to the bench and instructs the defendant to follow him around the courtroom. Stewart walks past the onlookers and twice around the perimeter of the room back with the 1001 Blogger following close behind before winding up back to the jury box.)
George C. Scott: OBJECTION !!! Counsel is leading the witness.
(Judge Welch pounds his gavel.)
Judge Welch: Any more references to
Kentucky Fried Movie and I swear clear I'll clear this courtroom! Do
you understand? Will the defendant please sit back down?
(The 1001 Blogger retakes the seat on the witness stand.)
George C. Scott: My colleague here has a question for the defendant.
(A JAG lawyer rises)
Tom Cruise: Did you or did you not order a code red?
1001 Blogger: What's a code red?
Tom Cruise: Um, I'm not really sure. I thought you knew.
(Cruise sits back down and lowers his head.)
(The 1001 blogger feels a light shining in his eye.
A portly man in a powdered wig drops a monocle into his
Charles Laughton: Sorry, your honor. I was using my monocle shining light method to see if this man was telling the truth or if he's just a...LIAR!
1001 Blogger: But I still don't know what
I'm being accussed of! This trial is...is
(A short, dark haired man stands and finishes the sentence for him.)
Al Pacino: This trial is out of order! My
client is guilty! My...
(Judge Welch bangs his gavel once again and
points to a sign above the door of the courtroom which reads-NO PACINO).
(Al Pacino gestures apologetically with his
hands and sits down.)
Jimmy Stewart: My goodness. May...may I have a
second to question my own client? Thank you. Do you laugh
when you hear the word panties spoken out loud?
1001 Blogger: No, of course not. Well, sometimes.
(A lady with a thick Australian accent stands.)
Meryl Streep: A Dingo Ate my baby!
(The courtroom looks at her for a moment before
ignoring her comment and looking back at the
(Juror #8 stands.)
Henry Fonda:No jury can declare a man guilty unless it's SURE.
Judge Welch: Those are admirable words. But this
is not a jury trial!
(Henry Fonda waves apologetically and slumps down in the jury box.)
Judge Welch: I believe we're ready for closing arguments
(A distinguished looking southern gentleman stands up.)
Gregory Peck: In the name of GOD, do your duty.
James Stewart: That's good Greg, but I think he was
talking to me. But I don't really have a close. How about you George?
George C. Scott: Me neither. Lets go have a beer. What
do you say?
Judge Welch: Great idea. This case is dismissed. You
are free to go. Party at Barney Quill's bar!
(Everyone cheers as they leave the court for Barney Quill's Bar, leaving the 1001 blogger alone in the courtroom with a confused look on his face.)
(Lee Remick sticks her head back in the door of the courtroom and signals at the defendant.)
Lee Remick: Hey, Mr. Blogger fella! Aren't you coming to the party?
(The 1001 blogger breaks into a smile as he follows her out of the courtroom.)
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