Wednesday, June 20, 2012


We go through a lot of DVD checkouts at the libary. Some patrons tell me that the disc they checked out wouldn't play. We do have methods to check this, (It could be your player you know!)but I took this French film home called La Belle Noiseuse home because whoever had it checked out said it wouldn't play. So I take it home. I realize it's not on the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list, but I feel I've got to be open-minded about such things and it also has an attractive French woman named Emmanuelle Beart clearly in the buff, so I take it home.

It's a real long movie. Really long. It's about a painter. He's painting a chick (that Emmanuelle Beart that I just mentioned). He's painting her. He takes a break. He poses her. And they repeat the process. A few other characters come in. Yadda Yadda Yadda. It's about four hours long.

My descripiton is sketchy becuause I really didn't sit throught the whole thing. I took advantage of fast forwarding on the remote quite a bit. I may have watched an hour of it in total.

Well, at least it's not on the 1001 movie list. I don't have to sit through the whole thing, right?

Then I was looking at a fellow 1001 blogger's post and realzed that it was on the list! Zoinks! It's under the English title A Beautiful Troublemaker and I just missed it on the list.

Do I really have to go back and watch the whole thing? Usually, I'm the one who tries to get others to watch more artsy films, but this time I'm afraid I'm going to have to argue for the other side. Please don't make me watch the whole thing again! I realy don't want to see that beautiful naked woman posed by that painter anymore! (Did I really just say that?) Oh, hell. I'm counting it! I only read about half of The Brothers Karamozov, but if you ask me if I read it, I'm not going to qualify it. I've read it, damn it! I've read it!

Steve at 1001 Plus gives this a review which I fully endorse at:

Sam at The Last 200 movies liked the film more than I did, but I still found his review very well done.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Chicago/Prohibition week (7 of 7)

Day 7 The Road to Perdition (2002)

Since I could only find six 1001 movie entries that fit this week’s category, I had to fudge the last one with an off-book film. I’m not sure why I’d never seen The Road to Perdition before. It’s in a genre I like, was well received and certainly the teaming of Paul Newman and Tom Hanks is noteworthy. It’s good to be off-book on occasion, though I think it would make my hypothetical book.

Random thought: When hitman Jude Law starts fondling a coin, I stood up and shouted, “It’s an homage to the coin flipping hood in Scarface played by George Raft!” I stopped the film to explain this to my wife, who patiently nodded with understanding and patience and asked me to restart the movie.

“There’s on thing Chicago loves more than anything and that’s their money".

"In Chicago, just a few minutes after prohibition went into effect, six masked bandits with pistols emptied two freight cars full of whiskey, another gang stole four cases of grain alcohol from a government bonded warehouse and still another hijacked a truck loaded with bourbon. Making prohibition the law of the land was one thing, enforcing it would be another. The devil would turn out to be in the details.”- –from the Ken Burns’s documentary Prohibition

Saturday, June 16, 2012

CHICAGO (2003)

Chicago/Prohibition week (6 of 7)

Day 6 Chicago (2003)

One of the many films where I think the William Goldman adage of “Nobody knows anything” comes into play. Can you imagine the pitch for this film? “Okay, it’s a musical, I know musicals aren’t that popular now, but hang with me. It’s Chicago. It's been around for decades, you know. The Bob Fosse musical! I know Fosse’s dead, and he could never get this made into a film, but I’ve got another director. He’s never done any musicals, but I think he can handle it. And for the leads? I got three stars. Now they aren’t know for musicals, but I’m sure they’ll be great. Have you ever seen Richard Gere dance? And hey, we got a big solo number form John C. Reilly! This is going to be a hit, you know. Make well over $100 million domestic and I truly think it’s going to win an Oscar for Best Picture. I know they don’t give musicals Oscars anymore, but I’ll think they’ll make an exception in this case. So what do you think?”

"This is Chicago, kid. You can’t beat fresh blood on the walls"

Friday, June 15, 2012


Chicago/Prohibition week (5 of 7)

Day 5 The Untouchables (1987)

Brian De Palma gave the old Chicago gangster film an updated treatment here to good effect.

Random thoughts: Brian De Palma is clearly a student of cinema. The best scene in the movie is the train station sequence with the baby carriage which De Palma admits was based on Battleship Potemkin. The opening scene with Capone at the barber shop reminded me a lot of Edward G. Robinson talking to the press in Smart Money.

“You want to know how to get Capone? Here’s how you get him. He pulls a gun. You pull a knife. He sends one of your to the hospital. You send one of his to the morgue. That’s the Chicago way. And that’s how you get Capone!”

Thursday, June 14, 2012


Chicago/Prohibition week (4 of 7)

Day 4 Some Like It Hot (1959)

Billy Wilder’s classic film has Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis playing two Chicago musicians that witness the St. Valentine’s Day massacre and have to go in disguise as women and join an all-girl band featuring Marilyn Monroe. The AFI voted Some Like It Hot the number one comedy of all-time and bascially, any fan of film really should see Some Like It Hot.

Random thoughts: I like the way George Raft’s coin flipping from Scarface was reprised here. I think Jack Lemmon in drag is especially good among a lively cast. And Marilyn’s “I Want to Be Loved By You,” was reprised by Lou Ann Poovie in an episode of Gomer Pyle…I did say these were random thoughts.

Well, nobody’s perfect.”

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Chicago/Prohibition week (3 of 7)

Day 3 Scarface: The Shame of the Nation (1932)

I had never seen this film before and of the three from this era(Little Caesar, The Public Enemy) this is the most powerful and brutal of all of them. And Paul Muni is most menacing in his Al Caponesce role.

Random Thoughts: I never much cared for Brian De Palma’s remake of Scarface, but since there are so many elements of the original that were brought into the remake (especially the relationship between Scarface and his sister) that I probably should give the De Palma film another go.

Also of note, if you have the DVD, make sure to see the alternate ending that was tacked on to satisfy the censors (and fortunately discarded by producer Howard Hughes).

“We’ll lick them all. The South Side.The North Side. We’ll lick the whole world!”

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Chicago/Prohibition week (2 of 7)

Day 2 The Public Enemy (1931)
The second film for this week is the gangster film that made a star of Jimmy Cagney and remains an entertaining story of bootleggers during prohibition. It is also interesting to see a film about prohibition that was made before it was repealed.

Random thoughts: It’s interesting to note that Cagney was originally supposed to play the main character’s sidekick, but was recast in the lead role at the last minute. Edward Woods, who was demoted from the lead to the secondary role, had a relatively short career in Hollywood thereafter while Cagney became one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. The famous grapefruit scene from this movie isn't quite as jarring as I remember it, but the ending is still pretty powerful.

It’s interesting that The Public Enemy and Scarface both have a scene where the tough guys force a beer proprietor to buy their beer over those of the competition.

I aint’ so tough

Monday, June 11, 2012


"It was what happened in the streets of Chicago that made that city synonymous with murder and mayhem for a generation.” –from the Ken Burns’s documentary Prohibition

Chicago/Prohibition week (1 of 7)

Dramatic gold has been spun by Hollywood depicting lawless Chicago during the days of prohibition. Sometimes it’s in the forefront, as in Little Caesar and sometimes it’s on the periphery, as in Some Like It Hot. The 1001 Movie list has six movies that I can find depicting lawless Chicago in some form during Prohibition.

Day 1 Little Caesar (1930)
The prototype for the American gangster movie and first in a trilogy of films from this era depicting a rise to power of a lowly hood and establishing the gangster movie into how we still define that genre.

Random thoughts: The rules are all set out for the prohibition gangster from Chicago. Stick to your territory and everything will be fine. But once you break the rules set out for you or venture outside your prescribed region, you will always find trouble and plenty of it! Well, it happens here and it will happen again, but crime doesn't pay, Rico!

Edward G. Robinson doesn’t look like your typical movie star, but he sure is fun to watch. When I think of him, I still remember the line he says to fellow poker hustler Steve McQueen in The Cincinnati Kid, ‘You’re good kid, but as long as I’m around, you’ll always be second best.” (Line most effective if you do a Robinson impersonation while repeating it.)

I think Little Caesar would make a great double bill with the Robinson/Cagney vehicle Smart Money, where Edward G. plays a kindler/gentler version of his Little Caesar character.

Listen you crummy, flatfooted copper…I’ll show you whether I lost my nerve…I’m coming after you see, and I’m gonna put one in your dirty hide for every lying crack you made about me, see? I’ll show you who’s gonna finish up in the gutter…Get your hat and start running, see, because you’re all through. Call up the papers and tell them that you rotten dirty, lying copper!”

Sunday, June 10, 2012


In 1981, you basically couldn’t turn on the radio without hearing the Kim Carnes song, “Bette Davis Eyes.”

Why do I bring this up?

I guess because I just couldn’t think of very much to say about the Bette Davis film, Now, Voyager. It’s a nice enough story about a woman finding herself and features some notable performances from a good supporting cast including the always reliable Claude Reins and is a definite showcase for Ms. Davis. There’s some pretty good dialogue (though at times it’s a little too mushy.) And James Cameron did steal the scene from this film for Titanic where Bette Davis is making out with her lover on a car hidden aboard a ship. However, this film probably wouldn't make my book, but it was made with more of a female audience in mind.

In 1981, the reputation of Joan Crawford took a hit with the release of the film, Mommie Dearest, that it still hasn’t recovered from. Even the DVD featurette on Joan Crawford says the first thing many people thing of when they hear the name Joan Crawford involves Faye Dunaway spitting out the line from the above film “No more wire hangers!”

But let us not forget that Joan Crawford was one of the biggest female stars in Hollywood for many, many years. Her Oscar winning performance in Mildred Pierce is (like Now, Voyager is for Davis) a real showcase for its lead actress. The film starts off like a film noir, but quickly becomes more of a domestic drama centering on the relationship between Mildred (Joan) and her daughter, Vera. Vera is played by Ann Blyth, who in the 70’s did a series of cupcake commercials that would always start, “This is Ann Blyth for Hostess,” though since most kids watching Saturday morning Hostess commercials probably hadn’t seen Mildred Pierce and didn’t know who the hell Ann Blyth was! But I digress.

After watching these two films, I wanted to rewatch (after about twenty-five years) the only collaboration between Davis and Crawford, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? This film was made during the 60’s when both stars were past their prime, but the film was a hit and still has a quite a cult following. Bette has the more showy role where she plays a former child star with severe mental and emotional problems. Joan plays Bette’s wheelchair bound sister who gets terrorized by Baby Jane on a regular basis. This film has more than its share of drama, horror and plenty of its share of camp as well. We also get to see the blustery Victor “King Tut” Buono in a memorable supporting role.

Just for the record, other Bette Davis films on the 1001 list include:
All About Eve

And some Bette Davis films I’m surprised aren’t on the 1001 Movie List include:
Of Human Bondage
Dark Victory
The Petrified Forest

Other Joan Crawford films on the 1001 list include:
The Unknown
Johnny Guitar

And some Joan Crawford films I’m surprised aren’t on the 1001 Movie List
Grand Hotel
The Women