From Here to Eternity (1953)

b0508-from_here_to_eternity_film_posterDirected by Fred Zinnemann, the film has an all star cast including Burt Lancaster, Monty Clift, Deborah Kerr, Donna Reed, and Frank Sinatra. Clift is a former boxer and bugler who has been transferred to a post in Hawaii. The commanding officer wants to have him fight for the company but Clift is adamant that he will not. From that point on life is made difficult for him on the base. However, he still finds time to go to a club with his friend Maggio (Sinatra) where he meets Lorean (Reed) and falls in love. At the same time the intelligent company sergeant Lancaster, finds himself falling for the commander’s wife (Kerr) who has an unhappy marriage. However, he feels he cannot become an officer effectively terminating their relationship. The dramatic events culminate in the attack on Pearl Harbor which overshadows a smaller tragedy. This movie certainly had a cast full of famous people, but I have to say it was not my favorite film. All the same there definitely are some good moments.

4/5 Stars

Unforgiven (1992)

e1e9a-unforgiven_2Starring Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, and Morgan Freeman, the film opens with two cowboys who disfigure a prostitute. The sheriff, Little Bill (Hackman) gives them a punishment but the other women pool their funds to pay for bounty hunters. A young gun requests the help of a former outlaw Will Munny (Eastwood) so they can collect the payment. However, because his deceased wife changed his ways, at first Will is reluctant. In need of money, he eventually heads off and brings along his old partner Ned (Freeman). After an initial conflict in the town of Big Whiskey, they kill the first one of their targets. Ned backs out and leaves the other two to get the second victim. After they do it, they find out Ned met trouble from the merciless sheriff. The young gunslinger gets cold feet and so an angry Munny heads into town for the final showdown. Eastwood’s character is interesting because he starts out trying to be good but he finally reverts back to his old ways. In this film it is difficult to tell who is bad or good. Everyone is simply human.

4.5/5 Stars

The Apartment (1960)

Starring Jack Lemmon, Shirley Maclaine, and Fred McMurray, with director Billy Wilder, the film follows C. C. Baxter (Lemmon). He is a young man working in a large corporation that is very difficult to get ahead in. His only chance of moving up is through loaning his apartment to company executives so they can entertain their lady friends. This set up causes him constant inconveniences and leads to complaints from neighbors.  One of these complications involves a elevator girl from work (Maclaine) who was left sleeping in his bed. Soon Baxter must figure out how to nurse her to health and cover for the executive who left her. During the process he slowly feels himself falling in love but it all ends there when she is to be married to the recently-divorced executive. Finally, finding his backbone, Baxter quits his new high-level job and eventually reunites with his love. Wilder and Lemmon teamed up again following Some Like it Hot and this one is pretty good movie-wise!

4.5/5 Stars

Apollo 13 (1995)

Directed by Ron Howard and headlined by Tom Hanks, this film opens with the landing of Neil Armstrong on the moon. It then leads up to the Apollo 13 mission led by Jim Lovell (Hanks). We see his life, his colleagues, and the hard work that goes into such an undertaking. There are several hitches in preparation but the takeoff is smooth, beginning a supposedly routine mission. However, after a malfunction the situation turns dire very fast and the men who looked forward to walking on the moon now must struggle just to get home. They make difficult decisions and Lovell keeps them level-headed while Houston scrambles to problem solve and bring them home. This film is powerful and ultimately cheering with a good accompanying score. Howard does a wonderful job transporting us back to that time however I would have liked more back story on the astronauts leading up to their mission.

It seems only fitting that I would see this movie for the first time the same day that Neil Armstrong passed away. This film certainly would not be the same with out him because even though he did not play a major role, he impacted space exploration forever.

4/5 Stars

Gene Kelly!

Before I forget I just want to point out that today
would have been the 100th birthday of the great
performer Gene Kelly. Although he is remembered
mostly for his performance in Singin’ in the Rain
he was in other classics including On the Town,
An American in Paris, and Inherit the Wind.

Happy Birthday Gene Kelly

 

 

The Magnificent Seven (1960)

544c6-magnificent_originalIn honor of my Dad’s birthday I wanted to review his favorite movie of all time.

Adapted as a western from Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, Yul Brynner is a hired gun who agrees to take a job from Mexican farmers protecting their village from bandits. Gradually, he enlists the help of old friends and new acquaintances who are all handy with a gun. Working with the village men, they are able to deter the bandits. However, the threat of the marauders returning has the villagers scared so they turn against their hired guns. In a fit of bravery, Brynner returns with the others fighting desperately to liberate the village. They are ultimately victorious, but not without causalities with four of the men dying. These men were the seven who fought like 700 and they did something seemingly ludicrous because it was the courageous thing to do. This great cast includes Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, Robert Vaughan, Horst Buckholz, Brad Dexter, and Eli Wallach. The score by Elmer Bernstein is one of the best. If you want to see a good western then look no further.

4.5/5 Stars

King Kong (1933)

Starring Fay Wray, this Pre-Code film starts with a movie director who wants to travel by ship to a wilderness in order to shoot his next picture. However, he needs a leading lady and that is where Ann Darrow (Wray) comes in. He finds her in New York and brings her along to use in his film. All too soon the filming plans go awry after natives take Ann as an offering for Kong. The filmmaker, first mate, and some crewmen go looking for her only to run into enormous trouble. Kong proves to be deadly but he is brought down and Ann is saved from her giant suitor. The movie man takes Kong to New York as a show attraction. The Beast cannot be contained and escapes going on to terrorize the inhabitants of the city. In the climatic scene atop the Empire State Building the story is finally resolved. The special effects are obviously not great compared to modern standards but that is part of the charm. With its pulse pounding score and many harrowing moments, King Kong certainly has its thrills.

5/5 Stars

The Last Picture Show (1971)

df52d-the_last_picture_show_28movie_poster29Starring Timothy Bottoms, Jeff Bridges, Cybil Sheppard, and Ben Johnson, with director Peter Bogdanovich, the film revolves around young people in a small Texas town during the early 1950s. Although at first glance it seems simple and innocent, there is another side to the town, full of romantic entanglements, fights, and even deaths. Sonny (Bottoms) and Duane (Bridges) are best friends without any real parents, only each other and some of the town folk. They have a falling out over a girl (Sheppard) and then Sonny sees the girl go off to college while Duane returns shortly only to ship out to Korea. However, Sonny is able to make amends with his friend and they see the last picture show. In the absence of his friends, Sonny is left in need of someone to fill the void. This film is interesting because it is shot with black and white cinematography and it only uses period music. This effectively creates a setting that appears to be very realistic.

4.5/5 Stars

Raging Bull (1980)

This autobiographical boxing film directed by Martin Scorsese, stars Robert De Niro, Kathy Moriarty, and Joe Pesci. The film begins with a flashback to 1941 when Jake LaMotta (De Niro) lost a close fight. However, after that loss he begins his run for the middle weight title. Despite a difficult marriage, Jake’s brother and manager introduces him to the young and beautiful Vickie. He continues to fight and in 1947 he is married once again. LaMotta has his share of troubles in the ring but he eventually becomes champion. At the same time his personal life is in a shambles thanks to his constant jealousy and paranoia towards his wife and brother. First, he is estranged from Joey and his career declines. Then after his retirement, Vickie files for a divorce. His days are spent entertaining in nightclubs as a washed up boxer. I enjoyed the reference to On the Waterfront at the end and despite the coarse language, the film had good characters, cinematography, and directing. LaMotta’s life is one that I hope no one would have to experience because there is so much pain and anger in it.

5/5 Stars

Chariots of Fire (1981)

In honor of these London games I thought I would review one of the best Olympic films in Chariots of Fire .

Telling the intertwining stories of two runners, Eric Liddel and Harold Abrams, the film leads up to their trials and triumphs in the 1924 Olympics. Liddel is a Christian Scot who believes he has been called to run and he takes his faith very seriously. Abrams on the other hand is a proud Jewish runner who wants to be the best. Liddel is faced with the prospect of running on the Sabbath which goes against his beliefs. Abrams is extremely afraid of failure because running is his life. With those problems they enter the Olympics and end up flourishing for Britain. After the two men are deceased two of their mates reflect on those great days that they experienced together. This film may seem simple but that does not make it any less powerful. The main theme reverberates through your head hours after wards. What more of a compliment do you need then a Mr. Bean parody at the London games?

                                                        4.5/5 Stars