52 Before 62 – #6 Seven Men From Now (1962)[1]

Poster of the movie Seven Men from Now.jpgDirected by Budd Boetticher

Story and Screenplay by Burt Kennedy

Starring Randolph Scott, Gail Russel, Lee Marvin, and Walter Reid

After his wife is killed in the robbery of a Wells Fargo gold shipment, the prideful former-sheriff Ben Stride (Randolph Scott) gives chase of the thieves, driven to revenge mostly by his own guilt at his wife working as a Wells Fargo clerk in the first place.  One-by-one Stride kills the men, meeting a wife and husband travelling to California (Gail Russel and Walter Reed) along the way, and also running into an ex-con Stride once put in jail (Lee Marvin).  Together they make their way along the trail, each with a different agenda than the other, bound only by a common destination.  In the end, Stride has his revenge, returns the gold to Wells Fargo, and puts aside his pride to take the job as a deputy to the man who replaced him as sheriff.

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52 Before 62 #5 – Titanic (1953)

Titanic 1953 film.jpgDirected by Jean Negulesco

Written by Charles Brackett, Richard L. Breen and Walter Reisch

Starring Clifton Webb, Barbara Stanwyck, Robert Wagner, Audrey Dalton, Harper Carter, Thelma Ritter, Brian Ahern, and Richard Basehart

The R.M.S. Titanic has a rather interesting cinematic history.  Direct depictions of its sinking appeared almost as soon as the ship went down, with Saved from the Titanic, starring an actual survivor, released on May 14, 1912, less than a month after the ship sank.  To be fair, the film was only ten minutes long, so compared to other, epic-length film versions of the vents, this one could be done in a flash.  Besides, they didn’t do releases of film in 1912 the same way they do today, where they go out on 3000+ screens.  No, a release in those days could conceivably be just one print, in one theater. Continue reading

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52 Before 62 – # 4 Call Northside 777 (1948)

Callnorthside777.jpgDirected by Henry Hathaway

Screenplay by Leonard Hoffman and Quentin Reynolds

Starring James Stewart, Richard Conte, Lee J. Cobb, and Helen Walker

Jimmy Stewart had a career.  Started out in the 1930s as a sort of everyman in light comedies and Frank Capra films, with a natural charm accentuated by gangliness and height.  Played a couple romantic leads, an idealist or two, won an Oscar, then took five years off to do his part in World War II.  When he returns, he suddenly seems to favor darker material – It’s a Wonderful Life, Rope, and Winchester 73.  Now and then he gives a glimpse of his old ways, popping up in Harvey, bio-pics like The Glenn Miller Story, and the ultra-frivolous, The Greatest Show on Earth, but no matter what else he did, it’s that cynical streak of films he took with after the war that defines Jimmy Stewart for us today. Continue reading

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52 Before 62 – #3 The Horse’s Mouth (1958)

The Horses Mouth poster US.jpgDirected by Ronal Neame

Screenplay by Alec Guinness, from the novel of the same name by Joyce Cary

Starring Alec Guinness, Kay Walsh, Renee Houston, Mike Morgan, Robert Coote

Who doesn’t love an artist?  Everybody does, at least in some sense.  Why else would we listen to music, and watch movies, and read books, if we didn’t love an artist.  Or, at least love their art, which is arguably an extension of the artist.  Which means I guess I have a little love for Mel Gibson being a shitbag, because I’m genuinely okay about his movies.

But, boy do we love movies about artists.  Or, at least people love making movies about artists.  On just visual artists alone – painters and sculptors – there’s Rembrandt, Lust for Life, The Agony and the Ecstasy, Basquiat, F For Fake, Pollock, Crumb, Frida, Big Eyes, Girl with the Pearl Earring, and more.  Many more. Continue reading

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52 Before 62 – # 2 Bad Day At Black Rock (1955)

Bad day at black rock.JPGDirected by John Sturges

Screenplay by Don McGuire and Millard Kaufman, from the Howard Breslin short story, Bad Time at Honda

Starring Spencer Tracy, Robert Ryan, Dean Jagger, Ernest Borgnine, Lee Marvin, Walter Brennan, and Anne Francis

I love westerns.  Or some of them.  By no means am I a connosieur of the genre, but I certainly love a lot of them.  I’m here for Unforgiven, I’m here for For A Few Dollars More, and I’m here for Winchester 73.  My absolute favorite is Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, a movie that some purists might argue is more a buddy comedy than a true western.

Perhaps as close to my favorite as it can get without actually being favorite, is Clint Eastwood’s High Plains Drifter, a movie you could describe as “mean” and “weird” and “sexually retrograde” without actually scratching the surface on what’s going on there. Continue reading

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52 Before 62 — The Movies

Here are the links to the entire 52 Before 62 Project.

  1. The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
  2. Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)
  3. The Horse’s Mouth (1958)
  4. Call Northside 777 (1948)
  5. Titanic (1953)
  6. Seven Men from Now (1962)
  7. Meet John Doe (1941)
  8. The Far Country (1954)
  9. Holiday (1938)
  10. King Solomon’s Mines (1950)
  11. The Informer (1935)
  12. Topper (1937)
  13. Consolation Marriage (1931)
  14. Bend of the River (1952)

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52 Before 62 – #1 The Shop Around The Corner (1940)

The Shop Around the Corner - 1940- Poster.pngDirected by Ernst Lubitsch

Screenplay by Samson Raphaelson, based upon the play Parfumerie by Miklos Laszlo

Starring Margaret Sullavan, James Stewart, Frank Morgan, Joseph Schildkraut, and Felx Bressart

In The Also-Rans Project, a Lubitsch film, The Love Parade, made the cut by virtue of being a Best Picture loser.  In that one, Maurice Chevalier played a caddish soldier, who eventually marries the queen of a European country, becoming her consort.  But, while there were elements of that film to be enjoyed, overall it was not special, and did not sell me on what everybody calls, “The Lubitsch Touch.”  Nor did my encounter with another Lubitsch film, To Be, or Not to Be, leave me any better.  In fact, since I didn’t make it more than a half-hour into that film, you could argue it probably left me worse.[1]  After that one-two punch I pretty much decided Lubitsch was not for me – he might have a “touch”, but it didn’t touch me. Continue reading

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The Best Picture Project – Green Book (2018)

Green Book (2018 poster).pngDirected by Peter Farrelly

Screenplay by Peter Farrelly, Nick Vallalonga and Bryan Hayes Currie

Starring Viggo Mortenson, Mahershala Ali, and Linda Cardellini

As awards season 2018 marched to its bitter end, I resisted seeing Green Book.  In a year in which I’d seen 5 0f the 8 nominees in theaters,[1] and saw the sixth on video,[2] and just couldn’t make time for Vice, Green Book was the one film I didn’t even try to make time for.  It didn’t matter that as time went on it looked increasingly to be the presumptive winner, and maybe I should see it out of curiosity.  It only mattered it was shit on by critics as being sloppy in how it deals with the racial aspects of its story.[3]  But also, I worried that the director of There’s Something About Mary, and Dumb and Dumber, might not be the best guy to take charge of a story that deals with race relations.  Yes, we should encourage guys to try to get out of their creative ruts whenever they can, but perhaps this was all too much of a swerve for one man’s own good. Continue reading

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52 Before 62

Image result for phantom of the opera chaneyWhen The Best Picture Project was winding down, I knew I needed a new project to occupy my time.  Thus was born  Also Rans Project.  So now that project has ended, it’s time for something new.

One notion I had for the next iteration of these series was to carry on with the Oscar-theme – perhaps look at the feature-length Documentary winners.  But just as soon as I had the notion, I stuck it aside, worrying about availability – simply, I thought the older docs would be hard to come by and I didn’t want to spend a lot of time/money tracking them down.[1]

I also considered watching all the Best Actress winners, or even all the Oscar nominated films with scripts by women – after all, watching movies outside the ‘white male filmmaker’ genre would be good for everybody.  But again, I was worried about the ready availability of the films.  Also, it seemed there might be too much repetition between The Best Picture Project, and The Also-Rans Project, and therefore too limiting.[2]

So, what did I decide on?

52 Before 62.

The rules of 52 Before 62 are simple: watch 52 movies I’d never seen before, all of which were released before 1962.  The 52 was meant to spur me to watching them all inside a single calendar year.  Freed from requirement for one film per year from a small little subset of films, e.g. Oscar losers, I wouldn’t have to worry about availability of the movies, because I wouldn’t be tied down to watching any one thing at all.  More important is that most of the movies I’ve watched in the last several years were mostly from the last two decades,[3] and I want that to change.  By focusing on the first 50 years of film history, I’d learn a thing or two, about a thing or two.

My sincere hope is this project is completed with the calendar year of 2019, which means if I’m to average one per week, I have to get moving and double up some weeks because I’m already behind.  But, if you promise to follow along, I promise to lead you.

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You can follow 52 Before 62 here.

You can see the The Best Picture Project here.  Or, you could buy the revised, updated version of that project in book form:  E-Book or Paperback.  It will not include this entry, for obvious reason.

Also see the Also Rans Project here.  Or, you could buy the revised, updated version of that project here: click on the link here.

To be a pal and buy my books, jum.p over here and here and have a look.  I promise, buying always makes you feel good.

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[1] One that I know struggles for availability is The Man Who Skied Down Everest (1975).  I know this because, after catching it on cable as a kid – inexplicably on cable – I tried to track it down a few years ago and wound up having to watch a Polish-subtitled version on Youtube.

[2] Amongst the sure-to repeat amongst the Actress/Screenplay nominees: Funny Girl, The Big House, and Children of a Lesser God.

[3] My Letterboxd.com history is really good at exposing an inadvertent bias against older films.

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The Collected Also-Rans Project, and other news

6x9_bw_4701Hello, all.

While for you, my loyal readers, the Also-Rans Project came to an end just two weeks ago, it’s basically been over for me for about six weeks.  That’s when I wrote the last of the entries and scheduled them for publication.  In that time, and even before then, I was hard at work on collecting all the entries together and editing them all over again.  Well, after three passes at it, the work is done, and you can now buy the collection in digital and paperback form.  The digital copy is $3.99, the paperback is $19.95.  You can click on the link here, or the cover photo at left, to go to the page to buy it.

Be aware that I do not get rich on the backs of these books or this blog.  I don’t even make enough money to justify my time in doing this.  I only do it because I love it and, while I’d love it if the whole world would buy copies of everything I write, I know that won’t happen.  Nevertheless, because you’ve enjoyed this site for free for years now, it would be good kharma if you bought something for a change.

In other news, I’m going on a slight hiatus here as I contemplate my next project.  I promise to be back by March 15, 2019 with more info as we kick off something new.

Thanks for reading!

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