Back In The Day

Way back in the day, when things were simple, and there was far less to bitch about.

  • Comment-Happy Territory!

    If there's one thing I adore, it's comments. I try to respond to every comment left on my blog so if you like a review or even totally disagree with everything I said, please leave a comment! I'd love to chat with you.
  • Do you enjoy reading quirky reviews? Click "Ramble At Me, Panda" to subscribe to my blog and receive email updates!

    Join 9 other followers

  • Cantankerous Panda

Posts Tagged ‘films you are told to see but never do’

My Man Godfrey

Posted by Cantankerous Panda on July 2, 2010

MY MAN GODFREY (1936)

“The only difference between a derelict and a man is a job.”

Another classic screwball comedy to throw into the mix. This title was always familiar to me, and yet I never really knew any of the stars, nor did I know anything about the plot. I found myself quite surprised and amused by the film, while also slightly irked throughout. The film is quick to the pick-up, dumping the viewer in a trash heap with a number of homeless men. When a few members of the bourgeoisie pull up to the site, one particularly snooty woman offers $5 to her homeless man of choice, telling him that they are taking part in a high-class scavenger hunt and that bringing in a “forgotten man” will bring their team a huge amount of points and the win. Little did she know that the man she chose is smart, quick-witted, and uncompromising of his dignity, nor is he afraid to speak back to those with money and power. Instead of helping her, he opts to help her kinder–albeit naive and spoiled–sister, and subjects himself to becoming an almost zoo-like spectacle to a room full of upper-crust men and women. Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

Posted in Movie Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The French Connection

Posted by Cantankerous Panda on June 5, 2010

THE FRENCH CONNECTION (1971)

Behold, a young Gene Hackman and possibly the best car chase scene in cinematic history!

Forgive me, but I just got obsessed with The West Wing and I kinda need to finish it before the fall begins (SEVEN SEASONS) so I have been powering through the episodes and not devoting my free time to this blog. I am ashamed.

The French Connection should ring at least SOME bells. It’s a definite classic, it’s a rough and dirty film, and it’s incredibly famous for the car chase sequence. This is a major Oscar-winning film, bringing in the little gold man for Best Actor, Best Director, Best Film Editing, Best Writing (based on another work), and Best Picture–the first R-rated film ever to win for Best Picture after the MPAA adopted the rating system. It also had nominees for Best Supporting Actor, Best Cinematography, and Best Sound. It is another selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.  This movie, my friends, was a big deal. And rightly so. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Movie Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

The Philadelphia Story

Posted by Cantankerous Panda on April 14, 2010

THE PHILADELPHIA STORY (1940)

Holy crap, everyone! I started using my Netflix account again, and I watched an old movie to review like I set out to when I originally made this blog. Amazing, right? I promise, I’m going to be more diligent with this again. Besides, I want to feel like I’m not wasting all this money on my Netflix account and just letting these DVDs sit. Now let’s get on with the classicy goodness!

First, some background! It was adapted from the 1939 Broadway play of the same name, written by Phillip Barry, and the screenplay was expertly written by Donald Ogden Stewart, with the help of the uncredited–and later blacklisted–Waldo Salt (After the blacklist was lifted, Salt won an Oscar for both Midnight Cowboy and Coming Home, and was nominated for Serpico). It was directed by George Cukor, director of such films as Adam’s Rib (which I actually have seen a long time ago, so it probably won’t be reviewed anytime soon), Gaslight (which is on my list) and My Fair Lady (a classic musical that you all should at least recognize). And this is where I shall veer off into another ramble, of sorts: I would wager that if I were to ask the majority of the people reading to name five classic Hollywood directors, they would come up short. This is a travesty, and I will not tolerate it! When picking out my films, I didn’t look at the name “George Cukor” with a cocked head and a knotted brow; rather, I exclaimed, “Oh yeah, George Cukor!” and happily added films to my list. This is because I was fortunate enough to have a film studies department at my university, and I took the opportunity to get a film major while there. Yes, plenty of people know a ton about classic films, including their stars, directors, screenwriters, cinematographers, etc., without the help of a film studies background; however, too many people, especially amongst today’s youth, know tragically little about this golden age of cinema. And when Alfred Hitchcock, whom I adore, is the only classic director that someone can name… well, a special kind of rage starts to boil within my blood. This plays into why I created this blog: just because a film is “old” and in black and white, doesn’t mean the film isn’t spectacular! You simply cannot appreciate the films of today without appreciate the films of yesterday. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Movie Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

The Maltese Falcon

Posted by Cantankerous Panda on February 23, 2009

I know, I am so late on this one. Let’s get to it, shall we?

THE MALTESE FALCON (1941)

Crucials

Director: John Huston

Written by: Dashiell Hammett (novel) and John Huston (screenplay)

Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Peter Lorre, and Sydney Greenstreet

Recommended? ABSOLUTELY

This is a fascinating film to me. I found it to be both compelling and provoking. It’s literally a glimpse into a few days in the life of Humphrey Bogart’s character, Detective Sam Spade. As the film progresses, you really have no idea what to think of any of the characters because we’re barely given any amount of background on them, including Spade. One of the things that struck me was the complete lack of emotion from Spade when he heard about his partner’s demise. He didn’t even sound shocked. He simply repeated the words back to the police on the phone that Archer was dead. Was Archer his friend? Was Archer a bad guy? What was their story? We never get a full answer to these questions, and that’s a general theme of the movie. The characters are almost sketches, but the lack of mandatory exposition to fill in their histories makes the whole film feel even more real. People don’t rehash all the important things they already know about each other at the most convenient moments life. And The Maltese Falcon doesn’t give us the satisfaction of ever really knowing whom to trust. Sure, we all want to trust Sam Spade, as Humphrey Bogart is our leading man. But who is Sam Spade? Is he a good person? Is he only looking out for himself? Will he do anything for money? Is he trying to do the one decent thing in his life, or was this all an elaborate ruse and he’s a decent guy at heart? It’s hard to say. He’s the only character to root for throughout the film (except for the ever-faithful Effie, played by Lee Patrick– but even she isn’t above suspicion throughout the film as everyone is not quite what they seem), and you definitely want him to make the “right” decision in the end. I thought the film would have a more typical Hollywood ending, which would have been very unsatisfying.

Many label this film as the quintessential film noir film, and I couldn’t agree more. From its roots in the pulp fiction novel written by Dashiell Hammett to its low-key lighting, it’s a perfect example of the genre (if you are of the opinion that film noir is a genre, of course). I found it interesting that most, if not all of the dialogue was taken directly from the novel. According to some trivia, Howard Hawks (director of The Big Sleep, which is sometimes compared to The Maltese Falcon) knew that John Huston wanted to direct, and told him to take Hammett’s novel and make it into a film. He suggested that Huston “film the book”, and that’s exactly how the script was made. Although, the classic line of the film, “The stuff that dreams are made of,” was an adlib by Bogart, paraphrased from Shakespeare. And how true that was of the Maltese Falcon. It’s like every item sought after in these films; every take on “the Holy Grail”. People risk anything and everything for these objects with some idea that, once they obtain it, everything will magically come together and be alright.

The best performances were given by Bogie, Peter Lorre, and Sydney Greenstreet, by far. I didn’t really feel much for Mary Astor’s character, nor did I particularly care for her performance. This film definitely brought to attention how badly I need to re-tune my observational skills for older films; Peter Lorre’s character, while being much more subtly so in the film, is apparently gay. The hints were obvious in the context of the strict code being in place at the time of the filming, and had I been more in that mindset, perhaps that would have stood out to me. The handkerchief smelling of gardenias; the suggesting way he played with his cane; the strange conversation about the boy Turkey that Astor couldn’t seduce, it seems, though Lorre never got to finish the sentence because Astor slaps him across the face before we learn exactly what she couldn’t do. All signs that Lorre’s character was gay. Perhaps it’s because I’m used to his style that I didn’t pick up on anything in his performance that would hint at that; perhaps there was something effeminate in his quirkiness during this role that I missed? Regardless, he was stellar, as always. And for Sydney Greenstreet’s first performance in a Hollywood film, he was tremendous and extremely likable. Well, he was tremendous either way. I loved his scenes.

This is a film I most definitely recommend. It’s another one of those classics that everyone tells you to see and so you never do, but this is one you shouldn’t ignore. I bet I will find that a lot of these classics are like that, though, so be prepared to have me yelling at you all to watch these classics for your own good!

Posted in Movie Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »