Monthly Archives: November 2010

The Best Picture Project – The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

File:194ER57.jpgDirected by David Lean

Screenplay by Michael Wilson and Carl Foreman, from the Pierre Boulle Novel

Starring Alec Guiness and William Holden

A few weeks ago – or maybe a few months ago – I wrote in these pages about Lawrence of Arabia, Best Picture winner of 1962.  One of the complaints I had about Arabia is that, for all its arresting imagery, which the film had in spades, was the way everything bogged down in the second half when all the adventure turned to politics.  After all, the film is practically four hours long anyway and to throw politics into the mix – well, the only reason I made it to the end is because the first half was so damned good. Continue reading

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Back in a minute…

Sorry loyal reader – I’ll call it readers, plural, when I get more than one of you – but due to circumstances beyond my control, specifically that my day job is being demanding right now, and my daughter had knee surgery and is being needy, I’m a little behind on my posting. 

Never fear, though.  I watched Bridge on The River Kwai – Best Picture, 1957 – with my gimpy daughter over the weekend and just need to find time to get a post out about it.

Hang in there, I promise it’s coming. 

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The Best Picture Project – Mutiny On The Bounty (1935)

Directed by Frank Lloyd

Starring Charles Laughton, Clark Gable and Franchot Tone

Screenplay by Jules Furthman, Talbot Jennings and Carey Wilson

From the Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall novel

Mutiny on the Bounty is a strange film for me.  I really like it, but I wouldn’t say I love it.  I know it’s good, but I also don’t think it’s great – or maybe superb is the better word.  It is definitely rousing, in bits, and the drama is dramatic, and the native girls are lovely.  The performances are good, but can be a bit hammy – Charles Laughton especially.  And when it’s on TV, I watch it, but with less-than rapt attention.  What makes it strange is that for all its faults, I don’t find it tedious in the slightest, nor terribly long.  For all the reasons to hate it, I don’t hate it, yet I don’t especially love it.  Continue reading

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The Best Picture Project – Rebecca (1940)

Rebecca (1940)

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

Written by Joan Harrison and Robert E. Sherwood, from Philip MacDonald and Michael Hogan’s adaptation

Based upon the novel by Daphne DuMaurier

Starring Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine, Judith Anderson and George Sanders

 I must say that I purposefully saved watching on Rebecca until I’d completed a good portion of this little project of mine for a good reason:  as I seen it before and really liked it I wanted to have it out there as a gift to myself, a good movie out there waiting for me after a whole lot of tedium.  I didn’t know how long I’d go before I’d give in and watch it and after putting in time watching Cavalcade, Broadway Melody, Rocky, Around the World in 80 Days and Ben-Hur, I guess I earned the respite, so I watched it.  And oh, what a breath of fresh air it was.  Quite simply, Rebecca might be the greatest Best Picture winner of them all, the big daddy to trump all big daddy’s, a heady statement to be sure, in a category that  includes Gone With The Wind and The Godfather and Bridge on the River Kwai, but one I’m confident to stand behind.

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The Best Picture Project – Gigi (1958)

Gigi (1958)

Directed by Vincent Minnelli

Written By Alan J. Lerner

Based on the novella by Colette

Starring Leslie Caron, Maurice Chavalier, Louis Jourdan and Hermione Gingold

 In the 1950’s the Academy Awards were of two minds.  On the one hand, they wanted to honor big, hit movies that took advantage of the new advances in widescreen and color photography and amounted to little more than escapist entertainment – in other words, the kind of movies they wanted people to ignore their TVs to come out and see.  On the other hand, the Academy also wanted to honor serious films that were emotionally and socially challenging and meant something.  Sometimes the two aims coincided, but usually not, which was why you had fluffier films like An American in Paris, The Greatest Show on Earth, Around the World in 80 Days and Gigi– all of which I’d call escapist sorts of movies – winning Oscars one year only to turn around and have All About Eve, From Here to Eternity, On the Waterfront and Marty – all of which I’d call sober and a bit more challenging – winning the next.  Sometimes, if you were real lucky, the film successfully straddled the two lines, such as Bridge on the River Kwai or Ben-Hur. Continue reading

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