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Found 4 results

  1. "Sabrina" is often considered one of "My Two Favorite Audrey Hepburn Films" by devout Hepburn lovers (of which I am one - the other film being "Roman Holiday," debuting one-year earlier) - 1953-1954 could be considered a mini Golden Age of Audrey Hepburn. Sabrina (Hepburn) is the young daughter of a chauffeur (played by the eminently recognizable John Williams), who works for a mega-wealthy family living on the North Shore of Long Island (think: "The Great Gatsby"). The two sons in the family are played by Humphrey Bogart (the same year as his Oscar nomination for "The Caine Mutiny") and a very blonde William Holden (one year after his Oscar victory for "Stalag 17") - Hollywood must have spared no expense in getting these three leading actors. Early on, there's an amusing scene about a Parisian cooking school. Without issuing any spoilers for people who are going to watch this classic Romantic Comedy, all I'll say is that "Sabrina," in some small way, can be thought of as a sequel to "Casablanca."
  2. None of these are extreme spoilers, and I don't think reading this will ruin the film for you, but just to be safe, I'll mark the entire post: *** SPOILER ALERT *** Guess who "Sex and the Single Girl" stars? , Yeah, well, I betcha didn't guess this! Or maybe you did. And why not give musical credit to where it's due? Oh my goodness! The opening music (when the credits end and the film starts) sounds like it's straight from the 1970s' TV series, "The Odd Couple." Well, this film had it beat by a good eight years. And I mean, it sounds *so* much like "The Odd Couple" that, if you watch the film, you'll chime in and agree with me. Ha! I just looked up Neal Hefti, who wrote the music for both, and I didn't know this until I after I heard the similarity - nailed it! Hefti absolutely plagiarized from himself (as many composers do). Hmm, that opening business meeting implies what needs to be done with donrockwell.com. Well - maybe my heirs can take us to those depths; I'm content to live poorly and with respect - now, if I can figure out a way to modify my estate so I can prevent this from happening - I want my descendants to suffer as much as I have. Ah yes, Managing Editor of STOP magazine, Bob Weston (Tony Curtis) is going straight for the jugular of Dr. Helen Brown (Natalie Wood). Dr. Helen Brown is livid at being mocked by Bob Weston as being a 23-year-old ... (what will it be? strumpet? trollop? harlot? The S-Bomb?) This is the moment she cuts off the man reading the article in front of her peers: What is the dreaded epithet? A 23-year-old ... Virgin! Hey, this movie is 55-years-old, man! Not bad! Natalie Wood is pissed at being called the dreaded V-word! God, if I had only known, thirty years ago, that *this* might have worked, I could have saved thousands of dollars in dinner checks, movie tickets, bar tabs, etc. You know, Tony Curtis was an extremely handsome man, right? I wonder where he's going with this angle. "I'll bet this kid has been giving flying lessons," he says about Dr. Brown, "and she's never been off the ground." And, as a parallel story, Frank and Sylvia Broderick (Henry Fonda and Lauren Bacall) are enduring a strained (to say the least), ten-year marriage, even though at their lavish anniversary party, you get to see them dance to Count Basie and his orchestra (I thoroughly object to the name "Basie" not even being found in the Wikipedia article about the movie), even though they're fully credited in the film. Ugh, I'm not even halfway through this movie and it's getting really stupid (I'm referring to the scene at the pier, where everybody falls into the drink) - it's turning into a "screwball comedy" which is the last thing I want to see. Hopefully, they just decided to have a few campy moments, and it will reset itself, but after these past five minutes, I don't know what to think, but I am not in the mood for this type of corny slapstick - I don't mind cornball comedy, but I'm in the mood for some character interaction, which is mostly what we've had up until this point. So far, I'm left asking myself why they got Henry Fonda and Lauren Bacall to waste their talents on this film, but maybe they'll do something worthwhile in the second half. Tony Curtis and Natalie Wood are about as expected, which means "moderately acceptable, but nothing profound" (although Wood has never looked more beautiful). Well, this movie is 3/4 over, and we appear to be done with that brief, unfortunate foray into slapstick, and are back to character interaction (and lots of mistaken identity - we're at the "three Mrs. Brodericks" part) - I know exactly how this movie will end, and I, well, let me watch the last half hour before saying any more. I hope they paid Henry Fonda and Lauren Bacall well for playing in this film. Ah! Lauren Bacall's "Yeah, he's about to pass away" line, which she just now said, was priceless! This film was a nice look at Tony Curtis (aka Bernie Schwartz) and Natalie Wood in their primes, with lots of dialogue and mid-range close-ups (not face shots, but waist-up shots, so you got a really good feel for them). Likewise Henry Fonda, Lauren Bacall, Count Basie, Mel Ferrer, and a few others such as Fran Jeffries, all beautifully filmed in Technicolor. It's of the "Divorce American Style" genre of comedy, and if you like one, you'll probably like the other. Definitely a product of its time (perhaps five years ahead), it remains a dated time-capsule of the sexual revolution, and could be considered "charming" or "cloying" depending on your viewpoint or mood - it was a little bit of both for me. I'm glad I saw it, but I can recommend it only to people trying familiarize themselves with the actors or the period; not to people seeking a great movie to watch, or to have a rollicking good time. There are certainly moments of wit and cuteness, but this comes across as a movie trying to capitalize on a "movement" by getting out in front of everyone else (which, ironically, is one of the major themes of the film). "Sex and the Single Girl" is worth a watch if you're trying to learn about specific things, but in almost every category, no matter what your category is, you can find a better movie to watch. That said, if you want to see Natalie Wood and Tony Curtis at their max-hottest, this is the movie for you. *** SPOILER ALERT FOR REAL *** Also, the "anti-car-chase" scene near the end is just terrific, and genuinely funny - it's the highlight of the movie. Incidentally, the final year the U.S. minted silver dimes, quarters, and half-dollars was 1964, so all of these were silver when this was filmed. It was fun seeing the toll-booth operator get a 1940 quarter (worth about $3.50 in today's money). Interestingly, inflation alone would have made twenty-five cents in 1964 worth nearly $2.00 in 2017 dollars, regardless of its silver content or numismatic value. The cars all left a quarter without even slowing down, and it's *very* funny that the fourth car left a Silver Certificate $1 bill while taking back three quarters in the man's hand as change - all without slowing down one iota (they must have been going 70+ mph). Farcical, of course, but still very funny. and nobody in 1964 could have possibly understood why this was so funny, because it happened in a blink-of-an-eye, and to understand it, you have to stop, rewind, re-watch, stop, rewind, re-watch, etc. And Bob Weston's (Tony Curtis') 1935 Bentley 3½ Litre Oxborrow & Fuller Continental Open Tourer (license plate: PSU 698, which I don't think is coincidental) was one *sweet* piece of scrap metal (Trivia: Rolls Royce acquired Bentley in 1931): And while the traffic officer on the motorcycle is passed by all these flying cars, he decides instead to pull over an uncredited Burt Mustin who's smugly driving about 20 mph, and says, "Where's the fire?" This has *really* gotten silly at the end, and this scene has gone over the top - if it was a farce before, this anti-chase scene makes it The Comedy of Errors, and the movie is better for it, because it's really well-done. I really can't believe I'm saying this, but the last twenty minutes has turned "Sex and the Single Girl" from a mildly amusing period comedy into a hilarious farce - you'll have to gut out the first 1'30", but the last part of the movie is worth it, or at least it was to me. This turnaround was incredible, but I have to issue a disclaimer and say that my taste in humor runs towards the puerile (slapstick, dirty jokes, etc.) But to me, this film went from a "decent little comedy" into twenty minutes of something special, containing parts akin to "the crowded cabin scene" in "A Night at the Opera" which may be the single funniest moment I've ever seen in a movie. You've got to make time to watch the anti-chase scene at least twice, and unfortunately, unless you watch the first 1'30", it just won't be as good.
  3. I have every intention to watch the classic, 1954, Japanese film "Seven Samurai" by Akira Kurosawa, and since I've been riding so high in the saddle with American Westerns recently, I decided to watch the classic, 1960 remake first: "The Magnificent Seven," pretty-much knowing that Seven Samurai will be better, and possibly a lot better. Now, that I've watched it, I hope "Seven Samurai" is a *lot* better, because "The Magnificent Seven" was merely a good - not great - American Western, even though you'll hear otherwise from plenty of critics. Perhaps I think so because I've watched *so* many great American Westerns lately, or perhaps movie critics are like so many restaurant critics - going for big celebrities, lots of PR, tons of hype, free meals, and God knows what else. Of the so-called "great" American Westerns I've seen, only "Shane" has disappointed me more. Don't get me wrong: "The Magnificent Seven" isn't a bad movie; it's just not a great movie ... it falls somewhere in-between. It was worth watching for me only because I'm recently fixated on the genre, and also as a preparatory exercise for "Seven Samarai." Only two of the seven (plus the villain) get billing before the movie title: Yul Brynner (Chris Adams), Eli Wallach (the bandit Calvera), and Steve McQueen (Vin Tanner). The other four, Charles Bronson (Bernardo O'Reilly), Robert Vaughn (Lee, the war veteran), Brad Dexter (the mercenary), James Coburn (the knife fighter), and Horst Buchholtz (the kid, Chico), each had their own screen, but were presented after the title. The movie was filmed entirely in Mexico, which helped; I only wish the Mexican actors were either better-trained, or didn't use English as a second language, because it really showed up - granted, this is how it would be in real life, but in contrast with the suave, dramatically and well-versed Americans, the difference in acting - particularly the diction - was rather dramatic. Wow, my first impression is that Calvera is a lot like Negan on "The Walking Dead." *** SPOILERS FOLLOW *** The most beautiful scene in the movie was Harry Luck's (Brad Dexter's) dying scene, in Chris Adams' (Yul Brynner's) arms. Each of "The Magnificent Seven" took this low-paying ($20 for six weeks) job for different reasons. Luck's primary reason was that he had always thought that there was something more in it for him than just a measly $20. He said to Chris, "I'd hate to die a sucker. We didn't come here just to keep an eye on a lotta corn and chili peppers, did we? ...." Chris answered, knowing Chris had mere moments to live, "Yes, Harry. You had it pegged right all along," and then told him there was a half-million dollars in buried gold, from which his share would be about $70,000 - it was all a lie to make Harry die with a smile on his face, which he did. Here are the following two stills, less than one-second apart from each other: Make note: Despite Harry Luck being a mercenary, he was a good person, and the "little white lie" told by Chris was entirely appropriate, and absolutely compelling. Harry's last words, delivered during the first photo, were, "I'll be damned." Chris's words, delivered immediately after Harry died, were, "Maybe you won't be." If only the rest of the film could have been this profound, it would have been a great movie. "The Turbulent Three": Nobody in the Seven was more dimwitted, or more wise, than Chico (Horst Buchholtz). As dumb as dirt, he was the only of the seven who walked away with First Prize. For all its hype, and for all its stars, "The Magnificent Seven" was simply not a great film; it was a good film, but it lacked coherence, and dare I say logic? Now I'm *really* hoping that "Seven Samurai" simply didn't transfer well to the Western genre - with the stars and the budget this film had, it should have been absolutely fantastic; it wasn't. It's a good movie, and worth seeing, and that's as far as I'm willing to go - what I'm really hoping is that it will deepen my appreciation for "Seven Samurai," but now I"m wondering whether or not I should see "A Bug's Life" first as well. I hate to come right out and say, "All the critics are wrong," because Rotten Tomatoes uses either a thumbs-up or thumbs-down model, and I have no problem giving this a "thumbs up," but once you get into more nuance than a simple, binary, "yes-or-no," once again, I find myself agreeing with Dave Kehr more than any other active critic: And I know I lack the specific experience to come right out and say that all the professional movie critics are wrong, but ... all the professional movie critics are wrong.
  4. I decided to watch "Charade" tonight for a number of reasons. I recently watched "Suspicion," a 1941 thriller starring Cary Grant directed by Alfred Hitchcock. While "Charade" was not directed by Hitchcock, it has a Hitchcockian feel. I adore Carey Grant, and felt like spending another evening being charmed by this embodiment of the Hollywood leading man. I am obsessed with Audrey Hepburn, and I was born in 1963. It seemed like a no-brainer that I should give this film another viewing. Although I saw this film several years ago, I remembered very little of it. While Hitchcockian in style and plot twists, it lacks the cinematic magic of an actual Hitchcock film. The plot is a bit like "Suspicion," with the leading lady unsure whether she should or should not trust Grant. The witty banter between Hepburn and Grant made me think of Nick and Nora in "The Thin Man." Their repartee is amusing, but not nearly as fast and funny as Nick and Nora's. I enjoyed watching Grant and Hepburn together, and I was drawn in by the plot's twists and turns. At times, "Charade" seems self conscious, and the film feels like it is trying too hard. While Grant and Hepburn make a charming couple, their chemistry pales in comparison to the sparks that flew between Hepburn and Gregory Peck in "Roman Holiday." Hepburn tells Grant time and again in this film that she loves him. She never once uttered those words to Peck in "Roman Holiday," but their love seemed more believable. Perhaps this is because at its core, "Charade" is a silly and stylish movie. It has an early '60s feel throughout, from the opening cartoon-like credits to Audrey's oh-so-chic Givenchy wardrobe. It isn't a great film, but it is an enjoyable one.
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