Thursday, August 19, 2010

Movie Project: 1933 & 1934

1933: Cavalcade
Sadly, this is another movie that's not available to me to watch. Too bad - it sounds kind of interesting. A little bit like Cimarron in that it follows the story of one family over about 40 years, although this family is British and high-class. A little research shows that it's only available on VHS, so even if I could find a copy, I don't have anything to play it on (no VCR).

Stars: a bunch of people I've never heard of

1934: It Happened One Night
I've seen this movie multiple times. It's one of those movies that probably should offend my modern sensibilities but is enjoyable enough to transcend all that.

It Happened One Night is the story of a poor little rich girl who gets fed up with her controlling father and runs away. A newspaper reporter looking to get a scoop on the story finds her and steers her back towards her family, but along the way, they fall in love.

This is a classic romantic comedy - Hollywood has continued to do romantic comedies like this over and over throughout the years. The two leads have great chemistry, and there's a lot of humor. 4 out of 5 stars.

Stars: Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert

Movie Project: 1931 & 1932

1931: Cimarron
I just watched this one a few days ago. I'm not sure if this is one of those movies where my modern sensibilities are getting in the way of my enjoyment, or if this movie wasn't very good.

Cimarron (the film adaptation of a popular book) is the story of Yancey and Sabra Cravat, a young couple who move to one of the wild new "boomtowns" in Oklahoma after the territory opens to settlers. Yancey starts a newspaper, runs the bad guys out of town, protects the downtrodden (including Jews, Native Americans, and harlots), and essentially becomes the town hero while Sabra mostly simpers. That is, until he gets itchy feet and abandons his family for five years. Sabra runs the paper in his stead (although she never takes his name as editor off the front page) and raises their children single-handed. Then he comes back for a couple of years, where he proceeds to lecture Sabra about how wrong-headed she is about pretty much everything, before disappearing for another 20-odd years. He comes back one last time, only to die immediately in Sabra's arms. A statue honoring him is unveiled. The End.

Of course, the message of this film annoyed the heck out of me. The guy abandons his family, but everybody talks about how awesome he is and Sabra remains devoted to him always. Even though, at the end of the film, she is elected to Congress, he's still the hero, not her? Puh-lease.

Also, the racist caricature of the only black person in the film was seriously cringe-inducing. However, he did get perhaps the most epic death scene of any movie character I've ever seen, so there's that. The treatment of other minorities is done very sympathetically, especially for a 1930s movie, so I was impressed by that. And once I realized that the opening scene of the movie (men on horses, carriages, and bikes racing for a plot of land when the Oklahoma territory opens up) was essentially a 1930s car chase, I was highly amused by it. 2.5 out of 5 stars.

Stars: Irene Dunn, Richard Dix

1932: Grand Hotel
This is another one that I saw probably 15 years ago, and I don't remember a whole lot about it. It's about a bunch of people staying in a fancy hotel and all the drama that goes on in their lives. I really only clearly remember the last scene, which I won't spoil, because it's pretty epic. I hardly remember enough to rate it, so I shouldn't, but I'm going to give it 3.5 out of 5 stars. I remember liking it. I'd watch it again except I have too much other stuff to watch.

Stars: Greta Garbo, John Barrymore, Joan Crawford

Monday, August 16, 2010

Movie Project: 1929 & 1930

I forgot to say in my first movie post that some of my reviews will contain spoilers. I will mark said reviews with a spoiler warning.

1929: The Broadway Melody
Two sisters with a popular song-and-dance act in the West head to the Big Apple to make it big, with help from the elder sister's fiancee. They get into an act, but the younger sister's star shines brighter. At the same time, she begins to fall in love with her sister's fiancee. After much screaming and yelling, the elder sister eventually realizes that her sister and fiancee are in love and lets her fiancee go in order to make her sister happy. While they get married, she goes off on a traveling act with a woman she hates. The End.

I give this movie 2.5 out of 5 stars. The arguments between the sisters over the younger one's pursuit of an unwise romance (which she is pursuing in an attempt to forget her sister's fiancee) seemed to make up the bulk of the movie and they were interminable. And the overall message left this modern woman a little cold: young, beautiful woman with talent leaves her career behind for a man while the older, less pretty (not in my opinion; I thought she was prettier) and less talented one is left man-less and unhappy in her career. Yuck.

However, I was touched by the older sister's sacrifice and I loved the song and dance routines.

Stars: Bessie Love, Anita Page, and Charles King

1930: All Quiet on the Western Front
Honestly, it's probably been a good 15 years since I saw this movie. It is, of course, an adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque's classic novel of World War I - one of my favorite books of all time. I remember not like it as much as the book, although I by no means think of it as a bad movie. In all honesty, I would do well to both read the book and watch the movie again, but I have time for neither.

One thing I do remember from this movie is the beautiful, gripping ending. 3 out of 5 stars.

Stars: Lew Ayres, John Wray, and Louis Wolheim

Movie Project

I recently decided to watch all of the Academy Award winners, or, at least, all the ones that I hadn't previously seen. It's not the most original of ideas. I'm sure I'm not the first to have ever done so, and I'm sure I won't be the last.

But I thought it would be fun to watch them and write brief reviews. Because these reviews will be relatively brief, I'll probably list a few at a time. Today I was thinking that after watching the Best Movie winners, I might watch the Best Foreign Films. That will probably be way more interesting.

So, away we go!

1928: Wings
Sadly, I have not been able to watch the first Academy Award winner. All of the movie rental places in my town have gone out of business, and Netflix doesn't have this one. Neither does my local library.

I did find a copy on Amazon for $15.00. However, I'm not dedicated enough to the Awards quest to shell out extra money for it. So I "saved" it on Netflix. Hopefully it will come in some day. But I'm a little sad that I couldn't start out My Quest with the actual first winner.