Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Oh dahling, just throw it in the pool and let's have another martini

I realized the other day that my movie reviews are quite outdated--that is, I haven't really reviewed anything recent. That's because I spend most of my movie viewing time watching old movies. For reasons I choose not to psychoanalyze, I am drawn like a moth to the flame to stuff from the early 50s through the early 60s. As the Age of Aquarius kicks in, I lose interest. And then I perk up again for the early 80s (e.g. Woman in Red--a stupid, excellent movie).

So I'm going to blather on about old movies for a while. Let's start in 1950 at the genesis of classic film* , with All About Eve, (*in my opinion, and mostly so I could cleverly pair 'genesis' with 'Eve').

All About Eve >> Bette Davis, you fabulous thing. This is what I would call a 'perfect' film, in terms of craftsmanship and performance. The writing is beautiful. The acting is provocative. The direction is unique. And, frankly, the whole thing just makes you want to walk around smoking cigarettes and drinking bourbon out of cut-crystal lowball glasses, and calling everyone 'dahling.' I credit this film with my over-active fantasy life.

(As an aside, if you could travel back in the 20th century, what decade would you choose? There's something about the late 40s, early 50s that's just magnetic to me. But I'd only go there if I could also choose to be extremely wealthy, since women's rights took a big nose-dive after WW2. I'd also love to visit the 20s, when women were liberated, society was libertine, and people were thinking deep thoughts all over the place. But on my girly days, I'm loving the 50s.)

The Star>> Okay, next movie. The Star, also with Bette Davis. 1952. Have you seen this film? It's tres bizarre, but I love it. Davis plays Margaret Elliot, a former superstar on a slow decline into poverty and obscurity. Davis' Elliot is the hardass to beat all hardasses. I especially love the scene where she drives around town gulping down whiskey, and crashes into a tree. And I can't get enough of the many scenes where she just goes ballistic and throws massive hissy-fits for nothing. It's awesome. Watch it, and tell me what you think of the ending.

Sabrina>> And now let's take a moment to meditate on the divinity of Audrey Hepburn. I've seen most of her films (though not all). Sabrina is one of my favourites. The Givenchy dress. Shut up. I think it's also one of her best acting performances. She's probably one of the most graceful humans I've ever seen. Sometimes her acting can be a little stagey and, well, squeaky, (which was part of the era), but she moves so beautifully and is in such command of her physical presence that it doesn't matter. And her style. I read that she decorated her whole house in yellow and white. Sigh.

Roman Holiday>> If you haven't seen Roman Holiday, you must immediately. I mean, she plays a princess for God's sake. What more could you ask for? Also, Gregory Peck is so dreamy...This is a great little film and Audrey won an Oscar for her performance. It was her first major performance--she was basically unknown. Also among my favourites are:

Funny Face with Fred Astaire>> Warning: if you don't like musicals, you'll be in hell watching this. But there's a really cool dance sequence in a beatnik bar in Paris. Also, Kaye Thompson is just a really weird actress. It seems like she was on barbituates during filming...What do you think?

My Fair Lady>> Let's face it, this film is pretty much the centre of the cellulose universe. I love it when Colonel Pickering says 'dash it.' Makes me want to sport a pipe and smoking jacket.

B.A.T.>> If you don't know what that means, you don't know fabulousness. Love this film. Want to marry it.

Paris--When it Sizzles>> It was 1964, okay? Go easy. This film is so stylin', though. Makes up for the weirdness.

How to Steal a Million>> Peter O'Toole, you are one sexy man. This is an example of a mid-60s braincramp that actually still works really well. Great story. I adore the booths in the hotel restaurant.

Okay, this is getting much too long. I'm going to break here and will move on to Marilyn Monroe films next..."Fasten your seatbelts..."


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