Tuesday, July 1, 2014
At The Movies
I love movies. I have favorites that I can watch over and over and over again. My children do not really understand how I can see the same movie so many times and still enjoy it. I put it down to the fact that I must have a child-like mind.
I like either funny movies or musicals the most. Most of the time when I watch a movie I simply want to be entertained. I am not searching for a deeper meaning to life or the secret to anything. Mindless joy is perhaps a good way to put it. There are a few dramas that I like. Fewer still westerns. I prefer the old cowboy programs from television. I very seldom watch war movies or action thrillers... too much violence for me. Old scary movies are fun but the newer movies are too much blood and gore. I do not watch icky movies.
I will share a few of my favorites with you.
Grease. This is a fun movie. It deals with teenage angst. The music is great. The time it is set in is so familiar to me.
The Sound Of Music. Outstanding music. Beautiful scenes of the Austrian countryside. Even though the movie is not factual it is based on a true family which makes it more enjoyable.
Jungle Book. I love children's cartoon musicals. Jungle Book is my favorite of all of them. The songs are fun, the characters are memorable, and it has a good story.
Star Wars. All six movies and I am anxiously awaiting the seventh. Star Wars are like cowboy movies with the shoot-em ups and the clear definition between bad guys and good guys. The science fiction of the future releases all limits to the types of worlds and characters available. I did not want to go see a science fiction movie but my mother gave me tickets for myself and my children for Christmas and forced me to go. Thanks, Mom.
Indiana Jones. While I am at it these are adventure stories that are well written. They deal with historical politics and religious theories without being offensive. Not easy to do. And they are full of humor that most adventure movies do not have.
Jackie Chan movies. Jackie Chan is a martial arts expert. His movies are written to highlight his prowess. But the humor makes the violence bearable.
Phenomenon. On his birthday a man sees a flash of light in the sky and is knocked down by some force. After that he gains amazing abilities to learn and experiment. He no longer sleeps. The government wants to know why and tries to experiment on him. I like this movie because the star, John Travolta, underplays the character making him just an ordinary person which makes him so much more than that. He does not understand why he was chosen to have these abilities because he was not of more than average intelligence before.
Pirates Of The Caribbean. Old fashioned pirates and their adventures. There are plenty of exciting situations. The humor is laced all the way throughout. When I watched the first of the series of movies I kept saying, "I know that guy!" about Jack Sparrow. The way he moved and the way he talked was somebody I recognized but could not figure out who it was. Later I read that Johnny Depp interpreted the character's personality as being like Kieth Richards of the Rolling Stones. "That's it." It was clear to me.
The Egg And I. When they marry a man decides to surprise his wife with a farm. He has always wanted to be a farmer. Neither of them knows anything about farming. Their mishaps and misunderstandings make for great fun. It is the first movie that Ma and Pa Kettle appear in.
Arsenic And Old Lace. Cary Grant is a comedy genius. In this movie he comes from a strange family. One brother is in prison for cruel murders, an uncle thinks he is Teddy Roosevelt and charges San Juan Hill every time he goes up the stairs. Then there are the lovable old aunts who lovingly raised him. Turns out they are putting lonely old men out of their misery.
First Wives Club. Three women who attended college together become re-acquainted at the funeral of their fourth friend who committed suicide when her wealthy husband left her for a younger woman. They discover that each of them is in similar circumstances. While extracting revenge they realize that they have the opportunity to turn something bad into something worthwhile.
Beaches. Two little girls meet on the beach in Atlantic City. They continue a long distance friendship through letters. When they are grown the poor little rich girl runs from home to stay with her aspiring actress friend. They see each other through trials, tribulations, and even have a serious estrangement for a time. This is a good movie to watch to release all those things that you need to cry about.
Pollyanna. A little girl who is recently orphaned moves in with her wealthy aunt. The aunt is cold and seems to be totally devoid of feeling. She rules the whole town with her iron fist. Little Pollyanna in her innocence goes about melting the coldest of hearts. One of many movies starring Hayley Mills who I adore.
Auntie Mame. Rosalind Russell was at her eccentric best playing Mame. Her young nephew is sent to live with her because she is his only living relative. She falls in love and vows to educate him in every way possible. Her "Bohemian" ways do not always sit well with the staid banker in charge of the estate of the boy. Then there is the running story of Agnes Gooch (played by Peggy Cass) running through the whole movie. All the strange characters that have been "adopted" by Auntie Mame add to the chaos of a little boy's life in which he feels very loved by all of them as he grows to be a man.
West Side Story. An adaptation of Romeo and Juliet set in New York City in the 1950's or very early 60's. The Jets were the gang of white boys who disliked the Puerto Rican gang of the Sharks. Each gang wanted to rule the streets. As expected violence erupts and deaths occur. Natalie Wood plays Maria (Juliet) and Tony (Romeo) is played by Richard Beymer. My favorite song of many favorites from the movie is "Dear Officer Krupke".
The Parent Trap. Hayley Mills plays two young girls who meet at summer camp. Everyone comments on how much they look like each other but they take an instant dislike to one another. Of course they are forced to spend time alone together and they come to the realization that they are twin sisters. They immediately set about plotting to re-unite their divorced parents. Lindsay also made a slightly more modern version with the same name of the movie and it is also excellent.
Alice. Because I love so many children's feature length cartoons I am not listing most of them. It just goes unsaid. Naturally I was excited when Johnny Depp starred as the Mad Hatter in a new version of Alice In Wonderland. As a confused young woman Alice falls again chasing the White Rabbit and finds herself in Underland. she is the only champion who can save Underland from the evil Red Queen and her Jabberwock.
Batman. I am referring to the trilogy starring Christian Bale. I felt they explained the origins and mindset of Batman better than any of the others. I also felt that it was more than possible that his gadgets might work. As a side note the company i worked for made shocks that made Batman's cape look like it could really stiffen and soar.
Darby O'Gill And The Little People. Acute little movie that at least mentions most of the strange creatures that are commonly referred to as Irish. Darby has captured a leprechaun and no one believes him. Darby is a good-hearted man but some think he stretches the truth a wee bit. In the end the Leprechaun helps Darby spare the life of his beloved daughter from the Banshee. Sean Connery (James Bond himself) sang a song ("Pretty Irish Girl") that I sing to all my little girls.
The Wizard Of Oz. Dorothy is being raised by her aunt and uncle in Kansas. She gets caught up in a tornado and she and her dog Toto plump down in Oz, a magically colorful land with a lot of weird happenings. Yet all she wants to do is go home to Kansas.
Miss Congeniality. Both I and II. An FBI agent is a reluctant entrant in the Miss United States contest to investigate a bomb threat. She has never been particularly feminine so it takes a major make-over to make her presentable and try to keep her that way. Some false leads and humorous situations later she gets her bomber. In the sequel she has become too famous to work in the field so she becomes "The Face Of The FBI". But the winner of the Miss United States contest is kidnapped and she partners with an antagonistic FBI partner to try to rescue her.
The Blind Side. The true story of a southern family who adopt a homeless young man who goes on to become a football player for the NFL. It is a very moving story.
Seven Brides For Seven Brothers. Taken from the ancient Roman legend of the Rape Of The Sabine Women. The oldest of seven brothers goes to town to get a wife to take care of household duties for himself and his brothers. When he finds a willing woman and brings her home the brothers decide to go to town and kidnap brides for themselves. A lot of singing and dancing are in order while the girls wait to be rescued.
Hamlet. Starring Mel Gibson. Who knew he could do that? The classic Shakespeare Hamlet and it is wonderful.
Singin' In The Rain.This musical attempts to show us what it was like when silent movies became talkies. The story itself is a little lame but the actors bring their characters to life in such a way that you forget it's a silly story. Some great musical numbers that are classics.
Mermaids. A fluffy little movie about a confused teenager who has to deal with her mother who moves a lot to shelter herself from infidelities. In the process she has a fling of her own and almost causes her little sister's death.
Mamma Mia. This movie is an excuse to listen ABBA's music. A 20 year old woman being raised by her single mother is planning her wedding. She comes across her mother's old diary and discovers that she may be the the daughter of one of three men. She invites them all to the wedding thinking that she will know which one is her father. But she does not tell her mother they are coming.
Rio Bravo. Dean Martin, John Wayne, and RICKY NELSON all in on movie. Oh yes Angie Dickenson was there too. It is a western with all that westerns have. One of my favorite songs is from this movie. My Rifle, My Pony, and Me
McClintock. John Wayne plays the owner of the biggest ranch in the area. His daughter is coming home from school "back East". His estranged wife comes too because she wants the daughter to live with her. It is the movie where his quote "But I won't, I won't The hell I won't" before he slugs a man who falls into the muddy sluice.
Fort Apache and She Wore A Yellow Ribbon. Two more John Wayne Movies. In the first Henry Fonda is the star playing a rigid commanding officer type who cannot allow himself to bend at all. His daughter is played by Shirley Temple all grown up who falls in love with the son of a lowly Sergeant. In the second movie John Wayne's character is ready to retire when the Indians stage an uprisiing.
Mr Roberts. Here is Henry Fonda again. He plays the Moral Officer of a supply ship at the end of World War II. He longs to be on a battleship where he feels he will be more of a contributor to the war effort. In the meantime the dictatorial captain of the ship seems to have no feelings for anything except discipline and a palm tree he is growing on deck. The sequel Ensign Pulver deserves honorable mention.
White Christmas. Two war buddies follow two sisters they have taken a liking to up to a New England hotel for Christmas vacation. They are surprised to find no snow and their former commanding officer running the place. They decide to help him out. Romance and misunderstandings are mixed in with the musical numbers.
Some Like It Hot. Musicians witness a massacre at a meeting of mobsters. They manage to escape but the mob is hunting them. They go into hiding by masquerading as female musicians in an all-girl band.
Father Of The Bride. I like the original starring Spencer Tracy. The remake is just not as good. Spencer Tracy plays the father of the beautiful Elizabeth Taylor who is being married. He does not want to lose his little girl to anyone. Then he gets lost in all the chaos of planning the wedding.
Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. Written by Tennessee Williams it is the story of a most dysfunctional southern family. The failed football hero is married to Maggie "the Cat" who is a beautiful but unfulfilled wife. The domineering father is dying and family members are combating to see who will inherit his estate. This is a powerful movie.
Gypsy. Based on the life story of Stripper Gypsy Rose Lee. Her mother is a pushy stage mother trying to live through her daughter June who has some talent. But June runs off to get married and she is left with other daughter Louise who has less talent and less interest in becoming a "star". As a last resort to make money Louise agrees to do a strip act and becomes Gypsy Rose Lee.
How The West Was Won. An epic tale of a family through the homesteading days through the Civil War and on until everyone has sort of settled down. Just the list of famous movie stars who appear is enough to make you want to watch but it is a compelling story too.
The Silence Of The Lambs. I read this book when it first came out. It is one of my favorites because there is not a wasted word in the whole book. I knew they could not do justice to the story if they made a movie of it but they proved me wrong. The movie follows the book perfectly. A young FBI agent is sent to interview a notorious killer about solving a string of murders to see if he has insight into who they might look for.
Willy Wonka and Charlie And The Chocolate Factory. Both are based on the same story. Willy Wonka is a musical made to draw in a children's audience. There are weird spots but most are merely humorous. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is darker but I think children still like it. The owner of a candy factory that has been closed to the public decides to issue 5 tickets to choose a person to take over when he can no longer run the factory.
Born Yesterday. There are two versions and they are almost identical. A young woman endures all sorts of indignities from her boyfriend who has illegally become wealthy. He is exerting pressure on his politicians to make sure that his wealth could expand. While they are in Washington DC the boyfriend hires a newspaperman to educate her enough that she would not embarrass him at meetings. Guess what happens then.
No Time For Sergeants. A naive backwoods boy is drafted into the army. He has been so isolated that he does not realize that he is being belittled. He takes all his punishments as chores he must do to the best of his ability.
The Music Man. A con man rolls into River City to sell musical instruments, uniforms, and instruction to the boys of the town. There is a lot of great music. And a love story. And the ending of the movie where the drab looking uniforms and a few children trying to play their instruments turns into a huge marching band with 76 trombones and so forth.
Guarding Tess. A former first lady of the Untied States is guarded by a loyal contingent of Secret Servicemen. The leader of the group had also been one of the president's security team when the president died in office. She is a demanding person who consistently irritates everyone. Then she is kidnapped and the whole nation is searching for her.
Nanny McPhee And Nanny McPhee Returns. Nanny McPhee appears as an ugly woman to people who need help with unruly children. She simply appears at the door and tells them she is there to teach five lessons (different in each movie). As each lesson is accomplished she loses an ugly part until she becomes a lovely young woman when the lessons are complete. In the meantime a lot of magical things happen.
The Mating Game.A big rambunctious rural family lives a carefree life. Their neighbor is a wealthy man who wants more, more, more. Because the rambunctious family lives for today the wealthy neighbor decodes to call the IRS to have their taxes audited. The representative who arrives is attracted to the oldest daughter and away we go with hilarity.
The Quiet Man. A man returns to Ireland where he was born. His mother had taken him to the United States after his father was sent to a penal colony. When his mother died he decided to go back to where he came from. He falls instantly in love with a beautiful woman from the village whose brother does not want her to marry him. It is a small glimpse of the old Irish way of life.
The Philadelphia Story. This is not the story starring Tom Hanks about AIDS. That is an extremely good movie too. This Philadelphia story is a comedy. A young woman is getting married but her first husband shows up. Sparks fly and laughs are plentiful.
It Happened One Night. An heiress runs away from home. There is a national manhunt for her and a huge reward is offered. A newspaperman stumbles upon her and decides to not only collect the reward but get an exclusive story while he's at it. He doesn't count on falling in love with her.
It Could Happen To You. A policeman is god, and honest, and true. He and his partner stop at a diner for lunch where they get an emergency call and have to leave quickly. As he goes to pay for the lunch he discovers that he has no money for a tip. He tells the waitress that he has a lottery ticket and he will give her the choice; either she can split the lottery ticket with him or he will return the next day with the tip. She chooses the ticket feeling that she will never see him again either way. The ticket is worth millions and the waitress is shocked when he returns to tell her she is also a millionaire as is his wife. His wife becomes more and more greedy. He and the waitress set out having fun by doing good deeds. The marriage falls apart and the cop and the waitress are in love. The ending is one of justice.
Peggy Sue Got Married. Peggy Sue of the famous Buddy Holly song has not only gotten married but she is now divorced. At a high school reunion she loses consciousness and travels back to her high school days. This is where she tries to change her life so the bad things will not happen.
Cheaper by the Dozen. Written by two of the 12 children of the Gilbreth family. The parents were efficiency experts who taught and lectured about the most efficient ways to almost everything. They decided to have 12 children because most things were cheaper if you purchased a dozen. The father is a strict disciplinarian but his children know how much he loves them. There are a lot of funny moments in this cumbersome family.
Calamity Jane. Calamity Jane is a heroine of the old west. She was a real person who rode and performed with the Wild Bill Hickok Wild West Show. In this movie Calamity Jane is a wild woman who is considered more male than female. Until a lovely dancehall singer arrives and all the men in town drool after her, including Sheriff Wild Bill. Calmity realizes that she loves him. This is the movie that featured the song "Secret Love."
Pillow Talk. Doris Day and Rock Hudson at their best. Doris Day is an uptight interior decorator. Rock Hudson is a freewheeling musician/playboy. The problem is that they share a party line. You will have to watch the movie to find out the rest.
Cat Ballou. After going to finishing school "back east" a young woman travels home to her father and his ranch. There she finds that a big mining company wants the ranch and will stop at nothing to get it. She hires a famous gunman but he turns out to be a hopeless drunk. Her father is drunk and she and her gang work to gain revenge. Lee Marvin won an academy award for this one.
Fargo. I have not seen the full length movie...yet. I have been watching a mini-series on television. It is the creepiest thing I have ever seen. A lot of murder and mayhem are in order. Just remember it's creepy.
This has turned into something very long. I apologize. You would not believe how many movies I deleted and how many did not quite make the list. There were a lot. But I highly recommend each of these if you want a good movie.