Sunday, September 12, 2010


Movies. I still love them, they can be a great escape. But I think as time marches on I am increasingly becoming an grizzled, grim old fogy. Remember the skit on Saturday Night Live where there were some old folks who would reminisce and rant about the "good old days," and would end it with, "and we liked it." Well, that's how I feel at time, if not just a bit alienated from modern culture at times. Now I'll fully disclose that I'm a big pop cultural type guy, so even though lately I've tended to enjoy more older movies these day to the modern ones, I still find time and have the interest to see modern movies. Heck I can name off some that came out over the summer, and I'll probably rent them thru Netflix: Toy Story 3, Iron Man 2, and Inception for starters. I've got Roman Polanski's thriller, The Ghost Writer at home right now, it's just a matter of watching it. Plus now is really the time fame that Hollywood releases its hotter movies of the year, so I'm sure more will come out to put on my queue of movies to watch.

But anyway, I've watched several older films on TCM, and they've been all really good too. Today I watched Lassie Come Home. I fondly remember the TV series that came on Sunday nights with June Lockhart and Jon Provost as Timmy. At any rate, I'd never seen the movie of Lassie Come Home made in 1943 until today, and it was pretty much a classic. It starred Elizabeth Taylor in one of her first roles as she's still a child. Taking place in England a family has to sell their family pet, and Lassie escapes from a home in Scotland and travels back to home, meeting several people along the way. She stops and stays with an elderly couple out in the country for a while, and then takes up with a pots and pans traveling salesman, and also has several other run-ins along the way. The film has some wonderful cinematography of the English countryside. Like I said pretty much a classic.

Captain Horatio Hornblower starred Gregory Peck as the British naval captain in the Napoleonic wars. It's a war epic, but also has a middle plot that involves a romantic interest, which leads to a lot of heartbreak, particularly when the character returns home. But there's plenty of sea battles and action too, plus some great scenery, so it was a good movie too. Peck made many good movies.

Touch of Evil starred Charlton Heston, Orson Welles, and Janet Leigh, among other actors. It was a crime noir that starts out with a car that explodes and Heston is a detective that starts to investigate the crime. He locks horns with Welles' character who turns out to be a shady cop. A lot of twist and turns, but a well made classic.

Get Carter starred Michael Caine who is a London gangster. After he finds out that his brother has died he tries to find out who did it. He heads to his hometown in Newcastle and tries to find out how he died, and who, if anyone was responsible.

The Haunting (1963)--there were two versions of this, but the original was spookier and I'm referring to that one. It's a haunted house story, and well done and creepy. Hill House, a ninety-year old house in New England has had a long history of mysterious accidents and happenings. Finally many years later after the last accident (a woman hanging herself), a group of people are recruited by a paranormal investigator to examine the incidents at Hill House. Originally a novel by Shirley Jackson, the film has mood, and does a lot of neat tricks with the way the photography is phased and played with in the film. It's a pretty good horror tale.

Val Lewton's The Cat People I've read about and finally got around to viewing. It's a 'B' film, but not without merit. The basic story is a man falls in love with a woman, who has just moved to the states from Serbia. She feels that a curse was put upon her people that can transform her into a large cat, similar to a panther. The film is moody and atmospheric, and a pretty good watch. Is the curse a myth? You'll have to see the film.

Lonely Are The Brave--is a modern western where Kirk Douglas plays a loner cowboy that gets thrown in prison to help a friend escape. His friend has chosen to walk the straight and narrow (as his time is about up anyway and wants to make amends to society), so Douglas goes it alone. Once he breaks out of jail, the lawmen start their hunt to come after him. It's an odd film, in that Douglas plays a flawed character, I wouldn't say he's a criminal, but causes a lot of his own problems as well.

Make Way for Tomorrow is an interesting film of a by-gone era although still relevant by today's standards. An older couple loose their home and have to split up to live with their children due to the economy. Overall it's a sad film, but punctuated with scenes of humor that made me laugh out loud, as well as scenes of sadness and poignancy. As the couple try to get accustomed to their new environments they start to feel loneliness (for the other spouse), alienated at times, and maybe a bother to their children (and their spouses). There's a certain vibe to the film that reminds me of other films wherein the relationship of family becomes the main theme, and I'm reminded of films like Meet Me in St. Louis, It's A Wonderful Life, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and several others that also have a thread of Americana woven through them.


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