I have now attempted to watch this film twice and cannot make it through. My husband agrees and wouldn’t even give it another try.
There is actually nothing that compels me to finish the movie. I feel nothing for the characters or the story. I understand what is happening, I just don’t care enough to finish it.
I’m saddened because I intended to watch every single movie from beginning to end, but cannot expend any more of the rarest of all commodities – time – into this film.
I give the following as explanation for this movie being on the AFI list:
From Wikipedia: The Wild Bunch is a 1969 American Western film directed by Sam Peckinpah about an aging outlaw gang on the Texas-Mexico border, trying to exist in the changing “modern” world of 1913.
The Wild Bunch is noted for intricate, multi-angle editing, using normal and slow motion images, a revolutionary cinema technique in 1969. The writing of Green, Peckinpah, and Roy N. Sickner was nominated for a best-screenplay Academy Award; Jerry Fielding’s music was nominated for Best Original Score; Peckinpah was nominated for an Outstanding Directorial Achievement award by the Directors Guild of America; and cinematographer Lucien Ballard won the National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Cinematography.
In 1999, the U.S. National Film Registry selected it for preservation in the Library of Congress as culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant. The film was ranked 80th in the American Film Institute’s 100 best American films, and the 69th most thrilling film. In 2008, the AFI revealed its “10 Top 10” of the best ten films in ten genres: The Wild Bunch ranked as the sixth-best Western.
Back to Netflix it goes, as I eagerly await the arrival of Modern Times, my first full-length Charlie Chaplin movie!
Starring: Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine and Fred MacMurray
Jack Lemmon plays C.C. Baxter, one worker in thousands at an insurance company trying to work his way up the ladder. Shirley MacLaine plays Fran Kubelik the elevator operator. Knowing this movie was filmed over fifty years ago, I was still mesmerized by the youth and beauty of both MacLaine and Lemmon. But more importantly, their acting chops are just as strong as they are in later movies, and both actors utterly compelling in their performances.
He’s a really nice guy, but besides being a highly efficient and responsible employee, he’s trying to achieve executive status by lending out his apartment to executives in his office for their extra marital affairs. He finds himself in various difficult situations because of it.
There are some differences in some social aspects, not surprisingly, from current day morals. One is that when Baxter is asking Kubelik out on a date, he tells her he knows everything about her because he looked up her personal information in the insurance files. He knew her address, birthday, social security number. She thought it was funny. We thought he was a stalker.
The other was that when a married executive fires an ex-lover because she told his current lover about their relationship. He was very frank about why he was firing her and had no fear of legal retribution. She did get even, but not by pursuing sexual harassment or appealing the job loss.
The movie suddenly takes a serious turn and is absolutely mesmerizing. I absolutely loved the ending, when it seemed that we were going to get a cliche ending and didn’t with my favorite response EVAR to a character being told “I love you.”
Fran simply says, “Shut up and deal,” while playing a card game with Baxter when he confesses his love for her.
It’s a completely charming film with a blunt view of affairs, sexuality and the appetites of powerful men taking full advantage of their place in life. I am sad that the vast majority of women in the film seem to be drunken bimbos, other than the absolutely charming balance of goodness of MacLaine’s Fran and the apartment’s neighbor-wife. There was not a lot of depth given to either, and all the female characters fulfilled a cliche, but for its time that is not a surprise.
While no where near my favorite movie on the list, it’s solidly in the middle and I enjoyed it immensely.
Writers: Dalton Trumbo (screenplay), Howard Fast (novel)
Stars: Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Peter Ustinov, Tony Curtis and Jean Simmons
Overture and opening credits: You definitely get that they were trying to imbue a sense of grandeur and majesty, which usually makes me roll my eyes. Because I know the reputation of this movie, it’s probably well-deserved, so I only half-rolled my eyes.
In this film, Spartacus is a slave and is openly rebellious, as he demonstrates by hamstringing a guard that’s beating him by cutting into the tendon with his teeth. That my friends, is what you call A Bad Ass. He’s sold to a gladiator school for training, with the intent of selling him to win or die in the arena.
He develops friendships (or tries) to, and because of his success is given a female slave to enjoy. He is struck by her beauty and fragility and gently touches her skin and hair, admitting he’d never had a woman before. He’s incredibly smitten and she appears confused at what I’m sure is a completely different meeting than she usually gets.
They are then mocked by voyeur Batiatus which enrages Spartacus, causing him to shout, “I’m not an animal!”
“Neither am I,” Varinia says quietly. This is the first hint that although she is submissive, Spartacus isn’t the only one with some rebellion in him.
The training montage was more interesting than most. How do you train men to fight to the death when you only care a little if they live or die? You have them on a training machine with huge swords attached to give greater motivation to doing well, I suppose.
Burgeoning love growing between Varinia and Spartacus is believable and touching, and how I imagine it may have been a common development in the slave communities throughout history.
As two sets of gladiators at the school are forced to fight to the death, the guard says to those in the spectator box, “Those who are about to die salute you.” I thought I misheard until I saw it repeated with the second set of gladiators.
During that fight, Draba refused to kill Spartacus and instead attacked the spectators. This was quite surprising since he had refused to exchange names or befriend the other gladiators-in-training since they would likely face each other in battle one day. The implication was that he would kill anyone he was put in the arena with, and did not want to make friends with any of them. In hindsight, it seems that Draba was trying to steel himself to be able to kill another in battle so tried to keep a distance, which he was unable to do.
The honorable Draba’s body was hung as an example to the others, “He’ll hang there til he rots” said the head guard and all-around meanie. All the slaves hung their heads as they passed by, but this instead seemed to haunt and motivate Spartacus, and ended up being a big fat mistake on Batiatus’ part.
Evil politician Crassus said to Antonius as he was washing his back in the giant tub, “My taste includes both snails and oysters.” Because of the conversation surrounding that statement, this was only a veiled reference since it was literally spoken behind a veil. Crassus seemed very disappointed when Antonius took that moment to escape.Confession time:
Notes were abandoned after this as I became completely caught up in the movie. Yes, this movie. I’ve dodged it for decades, and it is magnificent. Here are my thoughts after watching:
The complete and utter love and devotion that Spartacus inspired was compelling and well-deserved.
The moment when he kills Antoninus (Tony Curtis) is particularly poignant as they are forced to fight to the death knowing that that victor will be crucified. They fiercely battle to kill the other, only because each wants to save the other from the agony of dying slowly in the heat without food or water while nailed to a cross. Spartacus wins, and you can see it takes all that is left of him as he believes all the people he loves to be dead.
Happily, in a traumatizing and devastatingly bittersweet turn, in the very last scene he sees his wife Varinia after she is freed with their son. She introduces him, and then begs him to let himself die. *ouch*
I remain glad that I avoided this movie until now, as I don’t know that I would have given it as much attention were I not convalescing from the wonderful weekend. All of the performances were perfection, I don’t have a criticism about any point in this movie.
It should also be noted that Kirk Douglas’ physique is insanely ripped in this movie. Insane!
My favorite thing about this movie is having discovered Jean Simmons. In the moment when she was reunited with Spartacus after separately freeing themselves, I found her to be exquisitely joyful and captivating. Her performance was perfection, and I am now picking through her movies and adding them to my Netflix queue. The list is long, and includes How to Make An American Quilt; Guys and Dolls with Brando and Sinatra; Hamlet, when she once again teamed with Olivier; and many other movies which landed her alongside Gregory Peck, Burt Lancaster and Cary Grant.
More recently, she was on an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation and did voice work for Thru the Moebius Strip, (Shepway), Howl’s Moving Castle (Grandma Sophie in the English version), and Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (Council Member #2).
I couldn’t find a photo of her from Spartacus, but have included this one from 1959.
She had the kind of dark-haired ethereal beauty that I find similar to Audrey Hepburn, with a sprinkle of Vivian Leigh.
Shame on me for not having discovered her sooner. She was so very talented!
Next on the AFI list: The Apartment, also from 1960. I have faint recollections of this one, starring Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine, so am guessing I saw all or most of it at some point.
This movie was released in 1927, and while it is easily the oldest movie I’ve ever seen it’s not the oldest movie on the AFI Top 100 Movies list. Since it’s almost 84 years old, I’ll not worry about spoilers. Consider yourself warned.
The imdb.com description is precisely accurate, “A married farmer falls under the spell of a slatternly woman from the city, who tries to convince him to drown his wife.” Yup, that’s what happens. Slatternly is my new favorite word by the way, so consider yourself warned.
Along with womanly wiles, as hubby accused her of using against the simple Farmer, the City Woman briefly performs a bizarre and herky-jerky dance that had her “girls” flying around. This is apparently what finally convince him to go along with her plan for him to murder his wife, sell the farm and move to “the City” with her. Clearly, the Farmer is imbalanced as he attacks the City Woman when she suggests the murder, then later moves to kill his wife, then acts threateningly to a man in the barbershop, then attempts to choke the City Woman to death. The only time he does not stop himself is the last time, when he only stops because he is interrupted with the news that his wife survived a near-drowning during a storm. Can you say irony?
The actors in this silent film do a wonderful job of expressing their emotions and inner struggles, and the director does an equally spectacular job showing us what is going on beyond the action. For instance, the ghost images of the City Woman as the Farmer is trying to decide whether or not to kill his wife beautifully convey both his imbalance and inner conflict.
Yes, some of the more emotional scenes are over-acted, but that is to be expected in a silent film much the same as theater actors must exaggerate their movements more than film actors to convey the scene because of the distance from the action to the audience.
We watched Side A, which was the “Movietone Release.” Side B was the “European Silent Version.” We compared the two briefly, and the only two differences appear to be that the text cards are in English or German (?) and the European version has music and effects over the opening credits while the Movietone version does not.
What I learned from this movie? A plate of bread does not heal all pain. At least, not in this movie. Had it been made after the low-carb/no-carb diet craze, the Farmer may have won his wife back even earlier.
1929 Academy Awards®
Best Actress: Janet Gaynor (Farmers Wife)
Best Art Direction nominee
The next movie is Spartacus, which is another movie I’ve been avoiding.
Titanic was released in 1997, and I won’t bore readers with the usual onslaught of movie facts. We all know who’s in it, who directed it, and every note of that damned song that was played too many times in the intervening years.
Haters hate, but I loved this movie when it came out and on the two or three re-viewings. Tonight is no different, although I feel like I know it so well that I barely need to watch it.
Pointless observation: I still find the red and black beaded gown that Rose wears during her failed suicide attempt to be one of the most beautiful dresses I’ve ever seen. It is breathtaking on her creamy, pale skin.
It’s not a deep or thought-provoking film, but it’s definitely the palate cleanse I need after Easy Rider.
Leo DiCaprio’s baby face makes it seem as thought Rose is robbing the cradle, but it’s Billy Zane’s sexy ways that make me purr. Yes, his character is loathsome, but his delivery is delicious.
Next up is Sunrise (1927). The film title didn’t ring any bells, so I allowed myself a peek at imdb.com to review the actor list. None of the names were familiar, but the description intrigues me:
“A married farmer falls under the spell of a slatternly woman from the city, who tries to convince him to drown his wife.”
Definition of SLATTERNLY from the Merriam-Webster online dictionary slat·tern·ly adj \ˈsla-tərn-lē\
1: untidy and dirty through habitual neglect; also:careless, disorderly
2: of, relating to, or characteristic of a slut or prostitute
I have no problem admitting that I’ve been hitting the snooze bar on this movie. Like the French Connection, it’s exactly the type of movie I typically avoid. The super-stylized-for-the-period-in-which-it-is-made, can make for a great time capsule, but for future generations it can also be a barrier against viewing.
The thing that finally got me off my butt is finding out that it’s written and directed by Dennis Hopper. He’s been one of my favorite actors for decades, so it seems fitting to honor his recent passing (May 29, 2010 of cancer) by finally taking time to watch it. Also, I tend to have trouble getting into druggie movies. There are many I’ve just never bothered to watch, because I have difficulty empathizing with the characters or even having enough interest to try it out.
About halfway through and I’m bored out of my mind. The music is not enjoyable, nor does it seem to fit the mood of the scene in many cases. Chooch thinks it’s meant to be a soundtrack of the time period, but I can think of 20 examples of movies by less respected directors that have done it much better.
The camera angle and scene transitions are jarring, and the whole filming style reminds me of a movie acid movies, shot in a particular style to provide deeper enjoyment for those that were tripping on acid. Maybe you have to be stoned to enjoy Easy Rider? In which case, this is truly not the movie for me.
Jack Nicholson has now joined the traveling party and it’s interesting to see his distinctive acting style on such a young looking face. I’ve seen him in older movies of course (Little Shop of Horrors, 1960). While there’s an exaggerated sense to his character, it’s still the Jack Nicholson I know and respect. The beating and murder of his character is disjointed and anti-climactic, and I feel a bit cheated.
The most compelling part to watch was the graveyard acid trip scene, with the crazy cinematography and trying to figure out if the other people were hallucination or actual mourners being put upon by the stoners. I’ve always taken offense when people use graveyards and cemeteries as party locations, dating back to my teen years. They truly didn’t endear themselves to me in this scene either. But it was a kick to see Toni Basil and Karen Black during the scene.
I’m saddened that Chooch and I have gotten ahead of the “Watching 100 Movies Podcast” as I’m looking forward to hearing out Mike and Christiana’s opinions of the film. I’m utterly disappointed that the movie lived down to my expectations. I’m still not even sure what it was about, as it seemed to be Drug Deal, Travel the Country to Get to Mardi Gras, Drop Acid in a Graveyard at Mardi Gras and Die “Free.”
I’ll have to look up some other reviews and find out what I “didn’t get” from it, but I am glad we finally watched it so we can return it. Apologies to M.A. in PA who has been waiting on it.
And now bring on Titanic! I enjoyed the film when I saw it years ago and am curious to see how it holds up. Although, I’ve heard “My Heart Will Go On” enough times already so will have the ‘Mute’ button handy.
This is my first viewing of a complete Marx Brothers movie. I’ve seen pieces of their movies over the years, so was familiar with the basic idea of their comedy. It was filmed in 1935, and is pretty much exactly what I expected — a wealth of puns and one-liners and physical comedy. Yes, there were some “groaners” at the more obvious bits, but overall it was greatly enjoyable.
I watched it with Chooch and visiting bestie P.G. Holyfield. When I mentioned that we had A Night at the Opera, from Netflix, P.G. and Chooch opted to postpone watching The Walking Dead so we could watch it. Chuckles, guffaws and Bah!s were sprinkled throughout the viewing, as we all enjoyed it.
It’s easy to see how present day comedies continue to be heavily influenced by this and comedies like it. Don’t expect a life-changing experience here, just a light-hearted romp that is fun and funny. It frequently makes no sense, much in the same way that Bringing Up Baby did, but in this case I’m really glad to have seen it. The comedic timing of the physical and verbal jokes was impeccable, and kudos to the actors that were able to stay stoicly in character as they watched the antics of the comedians. I now cannot wait to see Duck Soup, which is reportedly the best of all the Marx Brothers films.
As an aside, Chooch commented on the absurd hat that Groucho was wearing in the ocean liner dinner scene. Now I must have one as it was exquisite in its absurdity.
Directed by Oliver Stone and released in 1986, this movie starts at Day One with a new recruit in the war in Viet Nam. I first saw this on videotape sometime in the late ’80s/early 90s, as it was definitely not the type of movie I wanted to watch on the big screen.
It has a lot of familiar faces, far more than I remember being in this movie. Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe, John McGinley, Forrest Whitaker, Kevin Dillon and Johny Depp are the faces I most easily recognize, but there are others whose names I don’t know. And of course Oliver Stone is in a memorable bunker scene.
Platoon is a tough movie to watch. It just doesn’t get much more brutal than this. You see ugly things happen to American soldiers and you see ugly things done by American soldiers. Heart wrenching, stomach turning, gag inducing and it doesn’t let up for more than a moment before it hits you even harder in the next scene. This kind of stuff overwhelms me so it’s hard to talk about plot points, cinematography or realism of special effects. It’s just damned painful.
That said, it’s impossible to forget that the actors, each one, give their all. It’s difficult at times to remember that this is just a movie as they are immersed so completely in this insane landscape that you find yourself immersed as well. Horrifyingly realistic, it’s one of those movies I’d hoped never to watch again and likely would not have if not for this endeavor. Willem Dafoes’s iconic death scene easily includes the best and worst moments in the entire film.
The evil red glow in Barnes’ eyes as he moves in on Taylor, the deer (?) that Taylor saw or visualized after the deadly ambush – these brief images add to the many reasons that this movie belongs on this list.
“Don’t drink that, asshole. You’ll get malaria.”
“Yeah, I hope so.”
I’ve been really looking forward to this movie, as I’ve always heard of it in such awed tones. We watched the trailer, and I have to say I doubt it would have urged me to the theaters. It’s overly dramatized and under represents this subtle and powerful film.
I also believe it’s the only Henry Ford movie I’ve seen, other than On Golden Pond, and I loved him in that. How could you not?
It also stars Jack Klugman, (who I’ve had a crush on since Quincy), Jack Warden, E.G. Marshall and Ed Begley’s Jr’s dad, Ed Begley. Obviously there are other men in the movie, but these are the actors that I recognized from other movies.
Last but not least of those recognizable, is the man whose face I didn’t recognize but his voice is one I could never forget. John Fiedler is unforgettable as the voice of the sweet and lovable Piglet in all those Winnie the Pooh movies you’ve seen. In checking his IMDB page, I’m sad to say he passed away in 2005.
As for the movie itself, the first thing thing of note was the way many of the jury members stared down the accused. It’s pretty clear their minds were already made up on his guilt. As they file into the room in orderly fashion, we see these formal men relax and get comfy in the deliberation room.
We are immediately introduced to the camaraderie of the jury room, save for one lone man standing by the window. Henry Fonda stands separate from the rest, smoking a cigarette. It’s a simple yet powerful way to differentiate him from the others. Most of them, maybe all, are already stating the defendant’s guilt and he stands silently at the window.
Many times during the film I was struck by the casual and friendly interaction between the men, other than when they were in conflict over the votes to decide guilt. It makes me wonder if that was always the way it was when white men were gathered together. It almost seems as if there was a short hand based on their apparent standing in society.
The balance of tension in this film is masterful, ranging from a tangible suspense that is broken up with some hilarious one-liners. The casting is meticulous and the actors are completely immersed in their roles. They are completely believable as one by one the jurors change their votes after various personal epiphanies regarding the case. One of the most powerful scenes is when one of the jurors raves about how despicable the lower class is, in his opinion. Seeing almost every man silently stand against his comments was a powerful statement in this group of men that at once seemed so unified.
I’m thrilled to see a film that unquestionably belongs on this list, and I won’t be too surprised if this movie is higher on my personal ranking than 87. If you haven’t seen the film, I cannot recommend it highly enough. There are no car chases or sex scenes, but it is a purely enjoyable film with great depth.
Favorite line: “He’s a common, ignorant slob. He don’t even speak good English.” Another gem is “Let’s throw it on the stoop and see if the cat licks it up.”
On a related subject, Christiana Ellis started a 24 hour gaming session in support of The Children’s Miracle Network. I can think of no better person to take on this challenge and OWN IT. So far, she’s raised $696 for this amazing and deserving charity. If you can spare a couple bucks, please make a donation to the cause. While gaming for 24 hours straight sounds awesome, it’s no easy feat, and I applaud her efforts.
Now, pardon me as I go through culture shock. Chooch has fired up the next disc in our mainlining of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. The title of the episode is “Who Pooped the Bed.” Yup, you read that right.
Bringing Up Baby (1938) was released in 1938 and stars Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn. I was VERY excited to watch it because I’ve always heard about how great these two are together. I am completely ambivalent about this film, as it wasn’t terrible but it wasn’t good either. I found it to be nothing more than a bit of fluff, which is actually more disappointing than if I had passionately disliked it. It inspired nothing more from me after viewing than a shrug and a “Meh.”
Talking with friends this weekend, I was struggling with the inclusion of this movie on the list and wondered if it wasn’t another that was there because it represented something rather than by standing on its own merits. I’m even more perplexed as to why this movie is on the list when, in the opinion of my friend Andrea, Philadelphia Story is much better and also stars both Grant and Hepburn. That movie is also on the Top 100, and I’ll get to see it as well.
Susan (Hepburn) may be a “flutter brained vixen with love in her heart,” but she pretty early on reminded me of Sandra Bullock’s character in “All About Steve.” The big difference being that I actually felt empathy for both the lead characters in that movie and I never cared at all about any of the characters in “Bringing Up Baby.”
I found them all unlikable, including the indifferent fiancee, the obnoxious and self-involved socialite (Hepburn), and the oblivious, and in many cases incredibly stupid, paleontologist (Grant). Correction: I cared about the leopard and the dog. I was worried that the dog was going to get eaten by the leopard, and sure enough they had a fight between the two that was pretty shockingly violent, depending on how much was actually done with the two animals. While I don’t belong to PETA, I would be extremely upset if that were a real fight between little dog and leopard. I’m not terribly surprised, because it was 1938 and I have no idea what kind of protections were in place for animals on the set in those days. Guessing there wasn’t much judging by the amount of furs you find in the old movies.
I had marveled at how much interaction there was between the actors and the leopard, but later in the movie, when Hepburn’s Susan is forcibly dragging a wild leopard, Chooch noticed some camera trickery that we felt was actually pretty fantastic for 1938. If you look closely at the leash she’s using, you can see an overlay of another leash at a slightly different angle. Clearly she wasn’t in any danger in that scene. They also used glass in some scenes to keep the leopard contained and unable to attack the actors. Still, better than I expected.
It says a lot for how I felt about the Susan character in that I thought that she was the “Baby” in the film title. Her character was so oblivious and obnoxious in her annoyance directed towards Cary Grant’s David, that it was completely unbelievable to me when she was suddenly in love with him. “Screwball comedy” or not, I feel pretty strongly that this movie is another that doesn’t belong on the list. I hope it gets corrected and more worthy films get added. I may change my mind after I hear what Christiana and Mike have to say, as they typically explain the reason for such things. But for now I just don’t get it, especially with Philadelphia Story coming up at Number 44.
I did find it interesting that David’s fiancee told him not to use slang after he says he’ll “knock him for a loop.” It goes to show how much has changed since then as I find it rare to hold a conversation of any real length without slang being used. It’s definitely a huge part of American vocabulary, although it remains true that some slang is too raw for use when in the workplace or formal environments. “Knock him for a loop” seems so innocuous and descriptive it’s surprising that it ever raised an eyebrow, even with a tight-ass like the fiancee.
I was curious about what the current value of $1,000,000 was since they mentioned it a bajillion times. If the site I used (I didn’t save the name) is correct, then it’s now worth $14,461,800 (1,446.18% x 1,000,000). It’s easy to see why there was such a fuss.
Easily my favorite part of the movie was when Susan was acting like she was a gangster. Chooch may correct me, but I think that may have been the only part I laughed at.
12 Angry Men has just arrived, and I can’t wait to watch it. By all accounts, it will be fantastic.
**Edit: I thought I had posted this a week ago, but found it lazing about in drafts. Better late than never, eh?**