Posted by: absntmindedariel | April 17, 2011

Charade (1963)

If you likeThe Tourist, Wanted, Knight and Day

Synopsis– The wealthy but bored Mrs. Regina Lampert (Audrey Hepburn) is vacationing in Switzerland and thinking about divorcing her husband. Someone saves her the trouble, however, and Mr. Lampert is found murdered in his pajamas (All the murder victims in this film seem to die in their pajamas. “What is it, some new American fad?”) As if this weren’t a bizarre enough turn of events, Mrs. Lampert returns to her home in Paris only to find her apartment empty and all of her possessions gone.  She is called into the American embassy and informed that her husband’s wealth was stolen from the American government during World War II, and that three of his old war buddies are desperate to get that money back.  Can Regina evade all three of these war-time thieves and find the money her husband stole? Oh, also Cary Grant pops up to help. Or steal the money himself.

Why it’s better– How is Cary Grant still so attractive in his late fifties?? Anyway, the supporting cast really helps this flick (you have so many bad guys to pick from!)  as well as the playful on-again-off-again banter between Grant and Hepburn.  Fun fact: Cary Grant made them rewrite the script, because he (59) felt like a pedophile hitting on Audrey Hepburn (34). In the finished version, Audrey makes all the romantic advances.

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Posted by: absntmindedariel | April 16, 2011

The Quiet Man (1952)

photo of John Wayne and Maureen O'HaraIf you like- The Fighter, As Good As It Gets, Up in the Air

Synopsis- A wealthy, retired boxer, Sean Thornton (John Wayne), moves from Pittsburgh back to his childhood home in Ireland. Though he plans on settling down and living quietly, Sean’s sudden love for the girl next door (Maureen O’Hara) and, more importantly, the meddling of her beligerent and possessive brother push Sean’s quiet ambitions just out of reach.

Why it’s better– Can I say enough good things about Maureen O’Hara? No. Never ever. She swings from flushed, love-struck maiden to badass, feisty Irishman’s fantasy within seconds. Definitely one of my favorite John Wayne movies (even though he never brandishes a pistol).  Not gonna lie– classifying it as a western was definitely a stretch, as it takes place in Ireland. But seriously! It has the vibe of a western. And get excited for the knock-down, drag-out, village-wide brawl that takes place at the end. Again, suspend your feminism. “Sir!… Sir!… Here’s a good stick, to beat the lovely lady.”

Note: Watch for the scene used in E.T. when Elliot kisses the girl in school!

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Posted by: absntmindedariel | April 15, 2011

Holiday (1938)

If you like27 Dresses, Just Friends, Something Borrowed

Synopsis– In one of New York’s wealthiest families, the most expected of a daughter is to marry well. Alas! Julia Seaton (Doris Nolan) returns from her holiday in Lake Placid engaged to Johnny Case (Cary Grant)– a middle-class dreamer and idealist. Though the rest of the family is confused and unsupportive, Julia’s high-spirited sister Linda (Katharine Hepburn) is more than happy to welcome a fellow “black sheep” into the family. She even supports his crazy plan to quit business as soon as he makes a little money and have some fun in life (a holiday).  As Julia, Linda and their perpetually drunk brother Ned (Lew Ayres) attempt to acclimate the newcomer into the family, Johnny starts to wonder if he should change his crazy plans (or change his fiancee).

Why it’s better– Katharine Hepburn does a diving somersault off of Cary Grant’s shoulders while HE does a diving somersault. It’s the best part of the movie. (Fun fact: Cary Grant originally ran away school to join the circus! He was an expert juggler, tumbler and stilt-walker.) You can tell this film was originally a play, but– besides the abrupt ending– it transitions well to the big screen. The two are not at the peak they reached earlier that same year in Bringing Up Baby, but they bounce off of each other like rubber balls nonetheless! Drunken Brother Ned also steals many of the scenes, as do Johnny’s mentors The Potters.

(I don’t know why, but my favorite line is when Johnny looks hopelessly at Linda and says, “There’s a conspiracy against you and me, child.”)

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Posted by: absntmindedariel | April 14, 2011

Casablanca (1942)

If you likeDefiance, The Notebook, The White Countess

Synopsis– Jaded, cynical night club owner Rick (Humphrey Bogart) is living out his days in Casablanca: a (currently) unoccupied territory during World War II.  His life becomes radically complicated when famous freedom fighter Victor Lazlo (Paul Henreid) arrives in Casablanca with his lovely young wife– the former love of Rick’s life. When he finds himself in possession of the only government documents that can get Lazlo safely to America, Rick must choose between serving the greater good and seizing what might be his last chance at happiness.

Why it’s better– This movie has more famous quotes than ANY other (“Here’s looking at you, kid”  “We’ll always have Paris”  “This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship”  “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine”)  And– I’m not gonna lie– it’s one of the few movies in which I find Bogey sexy. He’s just so darn mysterious!  ( Also, don’t be turned off by all the chick flicks in “If you like”, fellas! There are plenty of double-crosses and shootings to balance the estrogen.)

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Posted by: absntmindedariel | April 11, 2011

Funny Face (1957)

If you like- She’s All That, Just Go With It, Maid In Manhattan

Synopsis– Sulky beatnik bookstore employee Jo Stockton (Audrey Hepburn) is horrified when a fleet of fashion magazine executives, photographers and models turn her bookstore into a photo shoot backdrop.  She’s even angrier, however, when photographer Dick Avery (Fred Astaire) summons her to the magazine’s headquarters and tries to persuade her to be the face of their new campaign! Indignation turns to submission, however, when Jo finds that the offer will allow her to meet her philosophical idol Dr. Flostre in Paris, and the unwilling intellectual begins her transformation from bookworm to glamor girl.

Why it’s better– Okay, you WILL have to suspend any modern feminist ideals and bow your head to the rampant sexism of the fifties. The film is kind of centered on the idea that being a brainy beatnik is completely inferior to being a shallow super model… but the clothes are so pretty!! (Yes, those ARE Givenchy.)  And you get to see former ballerina Audrey Hepburn dance with one of the best –although not so attractive– dancers of all time! If you can manage to not be a feminist for two hours, it’s fantastic.

Note: Look for Audrey’s famous bongo dance number GAP used in their 2006 skinny jeans commercial

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Posted by: absntmindedariel | April 9, 2011

Rebecca (1940)

If you likeShutter Island, Chocolat, The Adjustment Bureau

Synopsis– While accompanying her employer to Monte Carlo, a shy, naive secretary (Joan Fontaine) meets handsome, wealthy  widower Maxim de Winter (Laurence Olivier). After a whirlwind romance and elopement, the two return to the de Winter estate, “Manderlay”.  At Manderlay, however, the new bride finds herself overwhelmed by comparisons and references to the last Mrs. de Winter– Rebecca– and begins to wonder if her husband has, indeed, moved on. Her suspicions are confirmed as Maxim’s growing temper and depression combine with the housekeeper’s ominous suggestions and threats: there is no room for a new Mrs. de Winter at Manderlay.

Why it’s better- I know, I know, I have a weakness for Hitchcock movies. But even aside from the world-class directing, Rebecca is a fantastic movie. Why? Mrs. Danvers: one of the most quietly terrifying females in classic film history. She gives Nurse Ratched a run for her money.  Also, Laurence Olivier is at the top of his game (before his voice got weird. The Prince and The Showgirl anyone?)  The cherry on top? You don’t realize until the very end of the movie that you have no idea what Joan Fontaine’s character’s name is. (It’s a fun detail taken from the original Daphne du Morier novel.)

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Posted by: absntmindedariel | April 8, 2011

Some Like It Hot (1959)

If you likeHot Chicks, I Love You Man, The Other Guys

Synopsis– Two broke musicians (Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon) accidentally witness a mob hit and have to dress in drag and hide out in an all-girls band. To make matters worse, one of them falls in love with the band’s singer/ukulele player (Marilyn Monroe). Yes, it IS that outrageous. But in a good way! Watch as the pair try to evade the mob and find true love, all at the same time.

Why it’s better- I’ll admit it up front: I am not a Marilyn Monroe fan. At all. But I will admit that she is tolerable in this flick, and with Tony Curtis being so smokin’ hot and Jack Lemmon being so endearing/hilarious/out-of-control, the movie manages to make me forget my biases. Also, it’s the AFI pick for funniest movie of all time…so it’s probably worth a watch, eh?

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Posted by: absntmindedariel | April 5, 2011

An Affair to Remember (1957)

If you like– Sleepless in Seattle, Message in a Bottle, Return to Me

Synopsis– Returning to her boyfriend in New York, ex-night club singer Terry McKay (Deborah Kerr) sets off on a cruise from Europe.  While at sea she meets fellow passenger and newly-engaged playboy Nickie Ferrante (Cary Grant), who is quick to try his old romantic tricks on Ms. McKay.  The two become fast (and, at first, platonic) friends, but Ferrante’s charms are soon too much for Terry to resist. But how can two “kept” socialites give up their spouses’ wealth and support themselves?

Why it’s better– Most viewers will recognize many scenes from the nineties classic Sleepless in Seattle (particularly Meg and Rosie’s tearful “Winter must be cold for those with no warm memories. We’ve already missed the spring!”)  An Affair to Remember, however, is (in my opinion) far sweeter and definitely more tragic and bittersweet than the Meg Ryan homage.  You will probably sob through the middle, but it’s worth it in the end!

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Posted by: absntmindedariel | November 16, 2010

Boys Night Out (1962)

If you like– She’s Out of My League, Date Night, Down With Love

Synopsis– For three married men, commuting from work in New York City every day, only to come home to wives who don’t appreciate them, is proving unrewarding (at best.)  To gain respite from this doomed existence, the fellas hatch a plan to convince their best  friend Fred (James Garner) to rent a swingin’ bachelor pad for them in the city– complete with a “luscious blonde companion”. Fred reluctantly agrees to use his single status to rent the apartment, but refuses to do anything about the blonde.  However, when the blonde (Kim Novak) seemingly shows up on her own, everyone is surprised, confused, and ecstatic.

Why it’s better- One critic calls Boys Night Out “a squeaky clean sex comedy.” That pretty much sums it up.  While a modern version of the film would come across as completely chauvinistic, adulterous and offensive, this sixties rom com just makes you giggle at the absurdity of the plot. The supporting cast is perfect, and James Garner is dreamy, per usual.  Sure, Kim Novak’s breathy voice makes you want to punch her half the time, but it’s all part of the ridiculousness that makes the whole movie so fun!

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Posted by: absntmindedariel | November 16, 2010

The Big Sleep (1946)

If you like– Patriot Games, Wall Street, Goodfellas

Synopsis– An ailing millionaire hires private detective Phillip Marlowe (Humphrey Bogart) to locate his missing chauffeur. The detective soon finds this mystery shifting from the chauffeur to the millionaire’s daughters to a larger conspiracy of money, casinos and murder. Along the way, Marlowe becomes romantically entangled with Vivian Rutledge, his client’s eldest daughter.  Will Vivian’s increasingly obvious involvement in the conspiracy effect Marlowe’s judgment in the case? Probably.

Why it’s better– This movie has kind of a labyrinthine plot, but the newly-married Bogart and Bacall are as compelling as ever.  This is also one of the few films in which Lauren Bacall uses that smoky voice of hers to sing. It’s an acquired taste, but pretty sexy.

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