Sunday, December 21, 2014

Movie – Ninotchka (1939)

As you can see from the poster to the right this film was marketed as “Garbo Laughs”.  Although popular with audiences she had a reputation for playing stern or melancholy characters in dramas and melodramas.  This marketing plan was quite successful, but also misleading.  Greta Garbo had laughed onscreen in quite a few of her movies – Queen Christina (1933) comes to mind – but she had not been in a big out and out comedy.  With a co-writing credit from Billy Wilder and direction from Ernst Lubitsch Garbo was certainly in good hands.  This is a predictable, but entertaining, movie.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Movie – Only Angels Have Wings (1939)

In the crowded year that was 1939 Only Angels Have Wings still managed to get two Oscar nominations.  It didn’t win either of them, but this isn’t the kind of film that would really win Oscars anyway.  This is far more Adventure Theater than Masterpiece Theater.  It has manly men performing daring feats of flying and the women who love/lust after them.  It is directed by Howard Hawks who had a talent for comedy, drama, and adventure.  This is a film that should certainly entertain you.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Movie – Stagecoach (1939)

Stagecoach was the first of many collaborations between director John Ford and actor John Wayne.  It was very influential both in presentation and plot.  The concept of having a group of people in a hostile situation, some of them with secrets, has been used many times since, in almost every setting.  There’s an adage that says that a villain is the hero of his own story.  Well, the travelers aren’t really villains, but what Stagecoach gets right is that each of them is the lead of their own story.  They just happen to come together on a stagecoach that is traversing hostile territory.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Movie – Gone with the Wind (1939)

Gone with the Wind, based on the Margaret Mitchell novel of the same name, was the pop culture phenomenon of the late 1930s.  The book had created a sensation when it came out, and almost immediately people started talking about making a movie from it.  There was no doubt in people’s minds who should play Rhett Butler – Clark Gable.  On the other hand, the casting of Scarlett O’Hara has become the stuff of legend – so much so, that no one alive today even knows the true story anymore of exactly how Vivien Leigh got the part.

Monday, December 1, 2014

November Movie Status

I watched 32 new movies in November, plus rewatched 1 movie, plus watched a TV miniseries/season. 

I continued to work on the They Shoot Pictures Don’t They list.  I passed 900 of the 1,000 entries.  As of this writing I have 83 left to see.  And after a year of trying to get Heimat from Netflix they moved it to Unavailable status this month.  I appealed for help in getting it to watch and a very kind person was able to do that for me.  I finally knocked off the longest entry on the list – all 16 hours of it.  I now have only one entry longer than 2.5 hours left and only ten longer than 2 hours.

I once again worked on completing directors with at least four entries on the list.  In November I finished off the last of: 7 von Sternberg, 15 Bunuel, 7 Mizoguchi, 5 Melville, 5 McCarey, 8 Huston, and 9 Scorcese.  I still have 17 more directors like this to go (out of 77), including the two with the most entries – Godard and Ford.

Here are the 32 new movies I saw in November.  Highlighted films are ones to which I would give at least three stars out of five.

Monday, November 24, 2014

There Will Be a Pause in Posting, and I Have a Request

Hopefully it will be a short pause.  I was going to write my next review tonight, but when I got home I found my house had been broken into.  No one was harmed, but damage was done.  I’m going to have to deal with this first.  Then when you throw in the Thanksgiving holiday this Thursday it may be a week or more before I post again.

Oh, and there is also what I believe to be transmission problems with my vehicle that I was trying to get the dealer to look at before Thanksgiving.

And it’s only Monday.

So now that I’ve depressed some/all of you, how is your week going so far?  J

I suppose now that I’ve banked a little sympathy I might as well go ahead and see if anyone can help me with something movie related.

Heimat, the 1984 German TV Miniseries, has just gone to Unavailable status on Netflix.  The first disk had been in Very Long Wait status ever since I added it to my queue a year ago.  The other five disks were all readily available, but Netflix has now made all six Unavailable.  Maybe I should have watched disks 2-6 when I had the chance.

Amazon is selling Heimat…for $369.95.  That’s somewhere north of ridiculous.  And that only gets you what reviewers say is a crappy DVD transfer that apparently came from a video cassette.  The price also means Netflix will not be replenishing their inventory of it anytime soon.  Finally, I can’t find it at any of the online sites I’ve used to find other movies Netflix does not offer.

Heimat is on the They Shoot Pictures Don’t They list, the New York Times Top 1,000 Movies list, the Empire Top 500 movies list, and the Empire Top 100 World Films list.  I’ve been working on the TSPDT list and I’m down to less than 100.  I had located all the remaining ones, but Heimat has now become an issue.

Does anyone know of a place to find Heimat?  If you are uncomfortable leaving a comment here you can email me at with the particulars.

Please note that there were follow-up TV miniseries Heimat 2 (1992) and Heimat 3 (2004).  It’s the original from 1984 I’m looking for.  Its full title is Heimat: A Chronicle of Germany (aka Heimat: Eine Deutsche Chronik).

I hope all the folks in the U.S. have a Happy Thanksgiving.  And for the folks outside the U.S., I hope you have a better than usual Thursday.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Movie – Wuthering Heights (1939)

Wuthering Heights is based on the 1857 novel of the same name by Emily Bronte.  I have not read the book, so I cannot compare the two.  I checked and apparently this film adapts only the first half of the book.  It concentrates on Heathcliff and Cathy and removes all plot related to the second generation that followed them.  I knew none of this when I saw it so I had no expectations.  I was able to go into it not knowing what was supposed to happen and I feel that allowed me to enjoy the film more.