Tuesday, December 30, 2008

MY YEAR IN CLASSIC MOVIES:

Below is my list of the 10 classic movies I saw for the first time this year which were either among the best or most interesting (not necessarily the same):

BLONDE ICE (1948)--Delirious nonsensical Poverty Row film noir with no stars but a ton of action involving bad people acting badly. Almost as good as DETOUR (which I reviewed this year, but had seen before).

THE BLUE LIGHT (1932)--Not the best of the German Mountain movies, but one that stays in the mind due to its imagery.

CRAIG'S WIFE (1936) and HARRIET CRAIG (1950)--Two versions of the same story, with enough differences in the plot points and performaces to make them both worth watching; Rosalind Russell ('36) and Joan Crawford ('50) are both excellent.

CULT OF THE COBRA (1956)--B-thriller about a woman who can turn into a cobra hunting down some GIs who desecrated a cult ceremony. Bland and ultimately disappointing, but different enough to make it worth a viewing, especially in its first 15 minutes.

THE DRAGON PAINTER (1919)--A wonderful way to discover the early career of Japanese actor Sessue Hayakawa in a fairy-tale-ish parable about love and art.

THE GHOST TRAIN (1941)--British B-comedy/thriller about train passangers stranded at a haunted station which isn't all that funny but has atmosphere to burn.

THE GUV'NOR (1935)--Another charming George Arliss comedy. The man is due for a critical revival.

HUMORESQUE (1946)--One of those movies I'd avoided, a romantic melodrama of the kind I have to be in the right mood for, but I enjoyed it immensely, with Joan Crawford giving what may be her best performance just before tipping into camp in the 50's, and John Garfield almost as good as her violin-playing lover.

I WAS AN ADVENTURESS (1940)--Not a great movie, but a fun novelty, with Erich von Stroheim in a rare comic role as a con man (with his partners Peter Lorre and Vera Zorina) out to fleece the idle rich. Essentially a B-movie version of Lubitsch's classic TROUBLE IN PARADISE.

MAN HUNT (1941)--Walter Pidgeon muffs his chance to kill Hitler and goes on the run from nasty Nazi George Sanders. Not at all realistic, but a solid example of a pre-WWII Hollywood spy thriller.

I also kinda liked the Lana Turner 60's paranoid drug flick THE BIG CUBE and some of the other movies that Warner Home Video put out in their "Camp Classics" series of boxed sets. I liked discovering 2 50's actors who should have had bigger careers, Don Murray (THE BACHELOR PARTY, HATFUL OF RAIN) and Anthony Franciosa (STORY ON PAGE ONE and w/Murray in HATFUL). I discovered the difference between Deanna Durbin (OK) and Sonja Henie (not so much). I was very happy to finally be able to see TOBACCO ROAD, which led me to read the original book, and finally I loved an early James Mason thriller THE UPTURNED GLASS, which just missed making the top 10.

1 comment:

texasoperastar said...

I'm a Deanna Durbin fan and I'm glad to see that her movies are still selling well so many years after her retirement. My favourite one is MAD ABOUT MUSIC and I also love IT'S A DATE. For those interested I have heaps of information about all 21 of her movies on my Deanna Durbin tribute website:

www.deannadurbindevotees.com

Alex