Category Old Movies
It’s fun to look back on a decade of moviegoing.
I’ve seen over a hundred movies in the theater, hosted many memorable Oscar parties, started (and more or less ended) this very blog, and survived the hubristic rise and fall of Moviepass. I still remember getting Netflix DVDs in the mail. My phone blew up with texts the night La La Land won, then lost, Best Picture.
That’s right, I watched every Hitchcock movie from 1929 on, and compiled a master list from #44 down to #1.
Which of Hitch’s less familiar movies have been overlooked? And which (wink, The 39 Steps) are a little overrated?
“I want to be alone.”
These memorable words, in Greta Garbo’s Russian-accented delivery, are part of her enduring image. She was the reclusive actress who shied from fame and publicity throughout her estimable career. In the context of Grand Hotel, directed by Edmund Goulding, Garbo’s depressed ballerina urges her handlers to leave her, so that she can remove her costume and forget the disappointing crowd at the performance. Garbo doesn’t employ any dramatics to get our attention in this scene; she doesn’t need to.
The Best Picture winner of 1953, From Here to Eternity, could have been a major failure. Burt Lancaster and Frank Sinatra were not known for dramas. Director Fred Zinnemann had to consolidate an 800-plus-page novel into two hours, and there were many unsavory topics in James Jones’s book to work around: adultery, STDs, homosexuality. The […]
This week the BBC, in an act of international diplomacy, released a list of the 100 greatest American films ever made. As most lists of this type are, this feels like a popularity contest, with safe choices edging out the more unusual, provocative ones. But there were a few movies that really jumped out at me, […]
The first time I watched American Beauty, in high school, I knew this was a movie for adults. There were clear similarities: my ordinary suburban house; my dad worked for a large corporation; I felt lonely, isolated. But even then, I sensed the broad strokes Sam Mendes and Alan Ball painted with: this wasn’t my […]
In 1964, most people couldn’t tell you who Marni Nixon was. She had dubbed Deborah Kerr in The King and I and An Affair to Remember, then Natalie Wood in West Side Story — and without screen credit. But when it came to dubbing Eliza Doolittle, Audrey Hepburn suddenly experienced the first noteworthy public backlash to not singing for […]
1968 was a turning point for the movie musical. Voters had given Best Picture to three musicals so far in the sixties: West Side Story, My Fair Lady, and The Sound of Music. But then the Academy speciously nominated Doctor Doolittle, the Rex Harrison tuner that nearly bankrupted 20th Century Fox and, rumor has it, was up for Best Picture […]
Lauren Bacall would have been 90 this September. She died two weeks ago. There have been many tributes to her as one of the last icons of the Golden Age of Hollywood, to being Humphrey Bogart’s wife, to her signature whistle line, and to even the last living name mentioned among the celebrities in Madonna’s […]
Gigi was released in 1958, when the MGM unit was in decline. Musicals had changed since the Gene Kelly days; no more spontaneous dancing and dream ballets. Peter Wollan, in his BFI Film Classics guide to Singin’ in the Rain, suggests it was “McCarthyism, in the broad sense of the term—the determination to destroy all […]