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More of the Best

17 Jun

14~ The Graduate; The film tells the story of Benjamin Braddock (played by Dustin Hoffman), a recent college graduate with no well-defined aim in life, who is seduced by Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft) and then falls in love with her daughter Elaine (Katharine Ross). The movie begins at a party celebrating his graduation at his parents’ house in suburban Los Angeles. Benjamin is visibly uncomfortable at the party attended by mostly his parents’ friends. He remains aloof while his parents deliver accolades and neighborhood friends ask him about his future plans. Benjamin escapes from each person who comes to congratulate him, exposing his seeming embarrassment at all the honors he had won at college. His father’s business partner’s wife, Mrs. Robinson, asks Benjamin to drive her home, which he reluctantly does. We never learn Mrs. Robinson’s first name (or, indeed, the first names of any of Benjamin’s and Elaine’s parents) during the course of the film (in the novel, we are told that the initial of Mrs. Robinson’s first name is G).
Arriving at her home, she pleads for him to come inside, saying that she doesn’t like to enter a dark house. Once inside, she forces a drink on him, and later exposes herself to him offering to have an affair with him. This scene, known as the “Mrs. Robinson, you are trying to seduce me” scene, as said by Benjamin, is said to be one of the most iconic scenes in the film. Initially flustered, he is immediately shocked by her advances and flees. A few days later he calls her and their affair begins.

13~Inherit the Wind: Inherit the Wind is a fictionalized account of the 1925 Scopes Trial (the “Monkey” Trial), which resulted in Scopes’ conviction for teaching Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution to a high school science class, contrary to a Tennessee state law that mandated the teaching anything besides creationism. The fictional characters of Matthew Harrison Brady, Henry Drummond, Bertram Cates and E. K. Hornbeck correspond to the historical figures of William Jennings Bryan, Clarence Darrow, John Scopes, and H.L. Mencken, respectively.
Despite numerous similarities between the play, the movie and history, they were not intended as a documentary-drama about the Scopes trial, but as a warning about the evils of McCarthyism, which some see as one of the darkest moments in American history. The play was hailed as one of the great American plays of the 20th century, and its themes of religious belief, religious tolerance, and freedom of thought resonate down to the present day.

The play was the basis of the 1960 film of the same name, starring Spencer Tracy (Drummond), Fredric March (Brady), Gene Kelly (Hornbeck), Dick York (Cates), Harry Morgan (Judge), Donna Anderson (Rachel Brown), Claude Akins (Rev. Brown), Noah Beery Jr. (Stebbins), Florence Eldridge (Mrs. Brady), and Jimmy Boyd. It was adapted by Nedrick Young (originally as Nathan E. Douglas) and Harold Jacob Smith (Howard), and directed by Stanley Kramer. The movie also garnered Spencer Tracy for a nomination at the Oscars for Best Actor in a Leading Role.
12~ Elmer Gantry (1960) is an entertaining melodrama with memorable performances. It is the controversial telling of Sinclair Lewis’ novel regarding the charismatically engaging, but scandalous Midwestern salesman turned preacher in the 1920s. The film stars Burt Lancaster as Elmer Gantry, Jean Simmons as Sister Sharon, Arthur Kennedy, Dean Jagger, Shirley Jones as prostitute Lulu Baines, Patti Page, Edward Andrews, John McIntire, and Chief Tahachee. It won Academy Awards for Best Actor (Burt Lancaster), Best Supporting Actress (Shirley Jones) and Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium.

11~ The Apartment

Nominated 10 times and winner of five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay (co-written by Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond), Best B/W Art Direction/Set Decoration, and Best Film Editing, Billy Wilder’s The Apartment has been said to be his best work.

The story of an up and coming young men played by Jack Lemmon, who secretly lends out his apartment to other company executives for adulterous sexual affairs and liaisons. This is fine until he realizes that the young elevator girl, played by Shirley MacLaine, whom he has feelings for is being taken for trysts by his married boss (Fred MacMurray) to his apartment.

This movie was a glimpse at what had happened to corporate America during the 1960’s when a lowly but ambitious accountant prostitutes his own standards and moral integrity and allows himself to be exploited just so that he can get ahead. Powerful and engaging performances by Lemmon, MacLaine and Fred MacMurray (one of the omitted of 1960) as well as Ray Walston and Edie Adams.

The Apartment, today is still a moving and entertaining film, even if somewhat out-dated. It is listed as one of the 100 Greatest Movies of all time.
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Posted by on June 17, 2007 in 60's

 

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