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Category Archives: Classic

Lolita ~ 1962

lolita-title-sequence   I had heard a lot about this film, but had never seen it until an airing on TCM.  I am a huge fan of Shelly Winters and was actually quite disappointed in her role in this film. I felt it was contrived and had very little substance. You almost began to dislike Mrs. Haze and I felt myself “rooting” for Professor Humbert and his goal to win over Lolita. James Mason was great in this film and showed emotion throughout, both that of desire, and of anguish.  When Lolita disappears, the scene in the hospital was one of the best.

Sue Lyon was very good in this film. She had the ability to come across as the young teenager, with all the mixed emotions that go with that, as well as her confusion as to her feelings and desire for her mother’s husband. As a vixen you got the feeling that she knew exactly what she was doing and was going to get exactly what she wanted. Her performance later in the film, as the older married Lolita, was not as compelling or believable, but overall I think she gave the best performance in the film.Lolita-Still-BW-01

As far as the role of Peter Sellers as Clare Quilty, he have the incomparable performance that only Peter Sellers could. However, I felt his character in the film was unnecessary, and think the film would have been better if his character was more like in the book, behind the scenes, and more of a mystery. This role gave the film a comedic feel that took away from the films story and would have been better left on the cutting floor.  No disrespect for Sellers as he was amazing, I just think Kubrick should have had this character less in the forefront of the story and more on the sidelines as in the book.

Due to the censorship in Hollywood in 1962 this film fell flat for me, as it never really was able to portray the relationship between Humbert and Lolita and walked around the actually storyline.  Even Kubrick himself said if he would have known the role the censors would play in this film he never would have made it. The film was enjoyable, and I am gald I finally got to take a look at this classic. Now to try and find a copy of the 1997 remake.

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2013 in 1962, 60's, Classic, Reviews

 

Top 10 Favorite Female Performances of All Time ~ No. 2

No. 2 ~ ELIZABETH TAYLOR in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” (Martha)

Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf - Elizabeth Taylor 05

When director Mike Nichols cast “Who’s Afraid of Virgina Woolf?” Elizabeth Taylor seemed all wrong for the role. At age 32, she was still a sexy young superstar, not the frumpy, middle-aged hag played on Broadway by Uta Hagen. Even her normally supportive hubby Richard Burton admitted that Taylor was wrong for the role, saying, “I know she has the stridency, but she’s too young.”

Fifty-two-year-old Bette Davis fought for the film role, but Nichols wanted Taylor and Burton because they were the hottest acting duo in America, who also loved to spar as vehemently off-screen as the characters in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”

To prepare for the role, Taylor not only de-glammed herself, but she packed on 22 pounds. Film critics and movie-goers not only approved of the result, but academy members gave Taylor her second career Oscar. This performance would have to be in my opinion her greatest performance of all time, and I love almost all of her performances. Some say she wasn’t acting, that that was just her and Burton filiming real life. Regardless of what it was, it was by far one of the best performances of her career and one of the best feamle performances of all time.

 
 

Top 10 Favorite Female Performances of All Time ~ No. 3

No. 3 ~ BETTE DAVIS in “All About Eve” (Margo Channing)

All About Eve (Bette Davis)

What favorite list of any decade would be complete without the immortal Bette Davis? From 1931 to 1989, Davis played in over 120 films. But in my opinion, her greatest role was that of Margo Channing in the 1950 classic, All About Eve.

Manipulative, deceptive and mysteriously charming, Bette Davis was the real Margo Channing. She controlled the screen and the role with such venom, it made you love her even more. At the end of the movie, you almost actually felt sorry for her. The role garnered her a 9th out of a career 11 Academy Award nominations, however she lost her bid for a third win that year due to the nominations being a split vote between her and her on screen nemesis, Anne Baxter and the award went to Judy Holliday in Born Yesterday, even though the film All About Eve won 6 out of it’s record 14 nominations. When AFI named Bette Davis # 2 on its list of the greatest female American screen legends, All About Eve was the film selected to highlight Davis’ legendary career.

 
 

Top 10 Favorite Female Performances of All Time ~ No. 4

No. 4 ~ KATHARINE HEPBURN in “The African Queen” (Rose Sayer)

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No, this was not one of her four Oscar winning performances, although nominated, that went to Vivien Leigh in A Streetcar Named Desire, but in 1951, Miss Hepburn was revitilizing her career and with this performace it catapulted her to an iconic level, as the refined middle-aged spinster, a persona the public embraced. This was the first film I ever watched with Hepburn and I was enthralled with her performance. Many say this perfromance was the heart of her legacy. She never overplays her role and it is almost as if she is Rose Sayer, which is what acting is supposed to be. There is a reason she holds the record for the number of Oscar wins and why she is known as the greatest actress of all time. She would go on to win three Oscars, 1967, 1968 and 1981 to add to her first Oscar in Morning Glory. This performance is my favorite of Miss Hepburn.

 
 

Top 10 Favorite Female Performances of All Time ~ No. 5

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No. 5 ~ Vivien Leigh in “A Streetcar Named Desire” (Blanche)

Vivien Leigh, her name is synonymous with Gone With the Wind and Scarlett O’Hara, however, as great as that film and her performance is in GWTW,  I think Blanche is the best screen performance of Vivien’s career, and one of the best screen performances in film history. Vivien first played Blanche on the London stage in 1949, where she was directed by her husband Laurence Olivier. When cast in the film, many thought she was too “old” to play Blanche and too unstable. The latter may have been true, she was becoming more unstable in her personal life and her personal demons, but no one could be Blanche better than Leigh. This was the moment that acting changed forever in film, mainly due to Brando and Leigh. Their combination was combustible, and powerful. Their raw magnetism was evident throughout the film. Vivien Leigh gave everything she had and more, and it is evident in the outcome.

 
 

Cat On A Hot Tin Roof ~ 1958

What can I say, I just love this movie. Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman, Burl Ives…just great. Yes, it is classic and sometimes it is hard to give an honest review of such a well loved film. But after seeing it as many times as I have I must say it is not completely, absolutely perfect.
One of the things that is missed is Tennessee Williams underlying story. The one of Brick’s struggle with his own sexuality. In 1958 the censors would not allow a homosexual sub-plot, even if it meant changing the entire story. If this movie was made today I am sure that Brick’s relationship with his dead buddy would have been pursued. But then do we have the actors today that could carry out what Paul Newman did in 1958? I doubt that.
Being dated, the movie is somewhat overplayed and overacted, especially from Madeline Sherwood who played Mae. Also Jack Carson’s portrayal of Brick’s older, yet unaccepted, brother Gooper could have had a little more depth to it. Not to mention the kids that played the no-neck monsters.
The cinematography was very good for 1958 and the direction of Richard Brooks, should have got him the Golden Boy, but it was not to be. Gigi won that year for Best Picture and Best Director with Vincente Minnelli. One of those mistakes that the Academy seems to do occasionally. Sadly one of the best performances of his career, Burl Ives was completely overlooked by the Academy.
Even though it is dated, it is still one of the best films ever to have graced the big screen. B+
 
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Posted by on April 14, 2008 in 1958, Classic, Drama

 

A Look Back 80 Years ~ Wings 1927

Thanks to “TMC’s 31 Days of Oscar”, I finally was able to view the classic first Oscar winning picture, WINGS. The silent classic war film filmed in widescreen Magnascope, director William Wellman’s and Paramount’s Wings, was the official first winner of the Best Picture award as the “most outstanding motion picture production.” The most expensive film of its time (at $2 million), it featured spectacular aerial footage (air battles, bombing raids and crashes) and state of the art visual effects in its story of two flying buddies who are in love with the same woman, but war has it’s casualties.
It starred Silent Film Godess Clara Bow, and Charles Rogers, Richard Arlen and a very young Gary Cooper. I recently was able to view this film in it’s entirety.
I wondered how a silent film would keep my interest for 139 minutes, but this film was absolutley captivating and beautifully filmed. Clara Bow, is mezmerizing, as in silent films you have to rely on your gestures and face, which Clara was a true artist. Amazingly though, she did not win the Oscar. Both Charles “Buddy” Rogers (who later married the famous silent star, Mary Pickford) and Richard Arlen were dashingly handsome and quite skilled as artists. There was also the newcomer, an even more dashingly handsome Gary Cooper in his first film role. Not once in 139 minutes of this film did I loose interest. Actually after seeing it, it has become one of my top 20 favorite movies of all time. A
 
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Posted by on February 5, 2008 in 1927, Classic, Drama, Reviews, Silent Films