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Discussion Starter #121
Jesus of Nazareth (1977)
Shout !Factory Blu-ray
also on Free TUBI

Beginning before the Nativity and extending through the Crucifixion and Resurrection, this mini-series brings to life all of the sweeping drama in the life of Jesus, as told by the Gospels.
Stars:Robert Powell, Olivia Hussey, Laurence Olivier
The life of Jesus is majestically and movingly portrayed in one of the most magnificent miniseries ever created. Acclaimed director Franco Zeffirelli and an all-star cast come together to deliver a powerful adaptation of the Gospels in 1977's Jesus of Nazareth. From the Nativity to the Crucifixion and Resurrection, the life of Jesus (played by Robert Powell) is presented with stunning depth, gravity, and emotion. Acclaimed by critics and viewers alike, Jesus of Nazareth remains one of the finest depictions of the story of Christ nearly 45 years after its release. Olivia Hussey, Anne Bancroft, Ernest Borgnine, Valentina Cortese, James Earl Jones, James Mason, Ian McShane, Christopher Plummer, Donald Pleasance, and Sir Laurence Olivier co-star in this rewarding, uplifting and faith-affirming portrayal.
This film by Franco Zeffirelli is a masterpiece, as moving as it is profound, as well documented as inspired. It is a perfect illustration of the life and teaching of Christ, in a Palestine occupied by the Romans, with all possible political games in this situation.

Robert Powell and His Portrayal of Jesus : Apr 29, 2013 — "Before I began this film, I had no particular interest in religion and absolutely no opinion of Christ. Now I do believe in Christ and His divinity".

Robert Powell in Jesus of Nazareth (1977)

Ernest Borgnine on the film "Jesus of Nazareth" -

 

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Discussion Starter #122
Kick-*** 2 (2013)
Blu-ray
First Time View



Kick *** will not appeal to everyone. It is a very dark and violent "superhero" movie, where the heroes are real people who have no powers which of course puts them in real jeopardy.
Chloë Grace Moretz in Kick-*** 2 (2013)

A sequel to the highly successful Kick-*** movie in 2010, Kick-*** 2 features several returning actors from the original film reprising their roles. Jim Carrey fills the void of Nicholas Cage with the meta-joke that they hire one of the most well known names in Hollywood to play a character that neither acts nor sounds nor even looks like Jim Carrey. The main characters are holding up well in their roles with some standout moments and some interesting character arcs. Now grown up, Chloe Moretz fits into the kick ***, cursing Hit-Girl and the more ordinary high school student Mindy. Christopher Mintz-Plasse is a great villain for this comedy film. Kick-*** 2 also has a nice set of supporting casts to boot.

The movie picks up after Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) retires from being Kick-*** but because he was bored began training again with Mindy Macready (Chloe Grace Moretz) aka Hit-Girl. Chris D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), after his father’s death and after accidentally killing his mother, takes over his father’s criminal empire and dons an S&M outfit to become super-villain The Motherf%&*^r.




Chloe Grace Mortez is a wonder as the character Hit Girl, and she manages to bring a glorious sense of fun to her morally questionable and selfish anti-hero. While it took a bit for me to appreciate the grandiose display of exaggerated violence intermixed with a bit of reality, it became harder and harder to resist as its less than two hour run time went on. It’s good in that it has all the signature elements of the Kick-*** movie series. Self-aware, in your face and refusing to apologize for it. 8/10


Kick-*** 2 - Chloe Grace Moretz is Hit Girl
 

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Discussion Starter #123
Turner Classic Movies
Wed, March 31, 2021


Godzilla, King of the Monsters!
1h 20m 1956

8:00
PM EST



King Kong
1h 40m 1933
9:30 PM EST


Godzilla vs. The Thing
1h 30m 1964
11:30 Pm EST
 

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Discussion Starter #124
When a naive novice nun is discovered with a dead newborn in her convent quarters, a court-appointed psychiatrist investigates her case.

Director: Norman Jewison
Writers: John Pielmeier (screenplay), John Pielmeier (play)
Stars: Jane Fonda, Anne Bancroft, Meg Tilly
While AGNES OF GOD is an excellent film . The convoluted extraordinary , intense source material really gets under ones/my skin. Meg Tilly plays a young nun who secretly gives birth to a baby; the child's body is later found strangled to death. Court-appointed psychiatrist Jane Fonda is sent to the convent to investigate, a task made difficult by the weather vane behavior of mother superior Anne Bancroft. To draw out Tilly, who remembers nothing of the birth, Fonda suggests that hypnosis is called for. Playwright Pielmeier poses many questions--is Tilly a pure-and-simple murderess, or was there something "divine" in her act?--but offers frustratingly few answers.

It is Meg Tilly who makes the movie live. Her performance, which works on both realistic and symbolic levels, allows you to believe in the story. Psychiatrist Jane Fonda and mother superior Anne Bancroft round out the excellent acting. All three stars do smart, honorable work. Controversial religion themed story worth seeing; based on stage success. Just be ready to brace yourself this was a powerful film dealing with innocence and guilt and faith versus skepticism in a wholly believable manner.

Best Actress
1986 · Anne Bancroft
Nominee

Best Supporting Actress
1986 · Meg Tilly
Nominee

Best Original Score
1986 · Georges Delerue
Nominee

 

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Discussion Starter #125
Gojira (1954)
Godzilla (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]

There is no topping the original. The original Godzilla is a perfect monster movie.

More than straight monster-movie fare, Gojira offers potent, sobering postwar commentary.(1954) When a Japanese steamer sinks in flames after the sea seems to erupt, survivors talk of a legendary monster...Godzilla! The picture that started it all . There is no topping the original.
The original Godzilla is a perfect monster movie. It is a simple story that channels a country's fear of atomic destruction in the form of a giant monster. Every scene of destruction carries with it a weight. In later films, when Godzilla comes rumbling through a city, it's presented as a loving, fun way of showing the monsters have come to town. Here, it's a solemn affair, full of dread and tension. People die, and their deaths are felt.

 

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Discussion Starter #126
The Son of Kong (1933)
Turner Classic Movies
First Time View
The showman who brought Kong to New York returns to Skull Island and finds Kong's son, a spunky 12-footer with a winning personality and his dad's awesome strength.
Director:Ernest B. Schoedsack
Writer:Ruth Rose (story)
Stars:Robert Armstrong, Helen Mack, Frank Reicher

After the breakthrough success of the 1933 smash hit "King Kong", which brought RKO back to their roots as a total powerhouse, the producers were looking to continue exactly where it left off, and that is where "Son of Kong" comes in, the direct follow-up that had such rushed production values that it was released the EXACT same year as the original. It really shows based on its run-time (which is only about an hour and ten minutes) and wonderful stop motion effects by the brilliant Willis O'Brien, but despite being inferior in almost every way, they really tried the best they could. The final result is an entertaining fast-paced adventure that really develops the characters further and actually makes them a lot more enjoyable than they were in its predecessor, as well as the return of the great Max Steiner composing the score. Although the ending didn't really make any sense to me, which I won't give away if you haven't seen it, the movie is still a lot of fun, and if you're fan of the original Kong then this one may give you some enjoyment as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #127

King Kong (1976)
Ordered Shout! Blu-ray
On HBOMAX



Introducing Jessica Lange in her film debut.....

A petroleum exploration expedition comes to an isolated island and encounters a colossal giant gorilla.
Director:John Guillermin
Writers:James Ashmore Creelman (based on the {1933} screenplay) (as James Creelman), Ruth Rose (based on the {1933} screenplay)
Stars:Jeff Bridges, Charles Grodin, Jessica Lange

You all know the story; a shipload of men are going to Skull Island and along the way they pick up an attractive young woman who was "saved by Deep Throat". Once they arrive, they discover a giant wall, a tribe of natives, and soon realize that the tribe is involved in sacrificing women to a giant ape. The natives eventually kidnap the aspiring actress and offer her to the huge primate named Kong. He takes her, and the adventure begins.

With a script by Lorenzo Semple Jr., creator of the similarly tongue-in-cheek Batman television series, this version of Kong is loaded with silly dialogue and situations.

Jessica Lange was indeed recruited out of 'nowhere' to be 'discovered' by Dino De Laurentiis. Before Kong Lange was mainly a model with an impressive education and some stage and dance experience. Jessica Lange was sensational as sexualized Dwan ! She could act in her debut role and it shows . Lange a very alluring . She has sexy vulnerability about her spirit. Her talent is very obvious. She was panned by some critics who apparently can not spot talent . She had many lines that she delivered with her Veronica Lake Marilyn Monroe influences. And Jessica Lange used that sexualized persona brilliantly. Because of her terrific performance she retains her dignity! I have pre-ordered the Shout ! King Kong (1976) Collector's Edition - Blu-ray releasing on my Birthday May 11 2021. I think that Jessica Lange is the biggest reason that audiences stick with the movie. Her silly 'conversations' with Kong are reasonably funny.
Quotable's :

Jessica Lange : Sometimes I get too physical, it's a sign of insecurity, you know, like when you knock down trees. ... Such a nice ape. Such a nice, sweet - nice, sweet, sweet monkey. You know, we're gonna be great friends. I'm a Libra. What sign are you? Nice, sweet monkey. We're gonna be great friends." -- Dwan to King Kong.

Jessica Lange: Hey, Kong. Remember me from before, your blind date? Why are you waking up all these sleepy people? -- Dwan to King Kong.

Jessica Lange: " Did you ever meet anyone before whose life was saved by "Deep Throat"? --Dwan to ship crew

Jessica Lange : "You God **** chauvinist pig ape! What are you waiting for? You wanna eat me? Then go ahead! Do it! Go ahead and eat me! Go ahead! Choke on me! -- Dwan to King Kong.



Jessica Lange : "Oh, come on, Kong. Forget about me. This things just never gonna work. Can't you see? -- Dwan to King Kong.

What makes King Kong such an exciting monster was the production team. They Employed Carlo Rambaldi, Rick Baker, and Rob Bottin in the effects department. The creature effects for 100% practical using a ape bodysuit and some Animatronics ..... mechatronic puppets.The film was released on December 17, 1976 to mixed reviews from film critics, but was a box office success. It won a noncompetitive Special Achievement Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, and was also nominated for Best Cinematography and Best Sound.

Overall, the story is presented with heart (thanks, in large part to Jessica Lange's performance) and spirited work by Jeff Bridges who both make the show watchable and even fun. 9/10.

 

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Discussion Starter #128 (Edited)

Anatomy of a Murder (1959)


Nominated for 7 Oscars.
In a murder trial, the defendant says he suffered temporary insanity after the victim raped his wife. What is the truth, and will he win his case?

Director:Otto Preminger
Writers:Wendell Mayes (screenplay), John D. Voelker (based on the novel by) (as Robert Traver)
Stars:James Stewart, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara

First Time View. How I have missed this film all these years is beyond me. I am so glad I watched it. Anatomy of a murder is an excellent film with an extremely tight and well written script. Add to that a sensational cast, starting of course with the leads, Jimmy Stewart, George C. Scott, Lee Remick, and Ben Gazarra, but also the rest of the cast, filled as it is with numerous accomplished and veterans of stage and screen.

Courtroom histrionics (exaggerated dramatic behavior designed to attract attention) given sizzle and sex by Otto Preminger and Duke Ellington's jazz score. Never a dull moment, which, considering the film's length is saying something. Anatomy of a Murder is a very complex movie, with multitudes of layers and texturing, where much is deftly explored, but precious little is resolved. It's a movie that leaves you thinking and pondering. Nominated for several prestigious Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Writing and Best Actor awards nominations for several of the cast members. I highly recommend it.
Lee Remick in Anatomy of a Murder (1959)
American actress known especially for her portrayals of sensual, often erotic women in crisis.


Saul Bass is the artist for the poster.I really dig his style

 

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Discussion Starter #129
British POWs are forced to build a railway bridge across the river Kwai for their Japanese captors, not knowing that the allied forces are planning to destroy it.
EN
Director:David Lean
Writers:Pierre Boulle (novel), Carl Foreman (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Stars:William Holden, Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins

The Bridge on the River Kwai opens in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp in Burma in 1943, where a battle of wills rages between camp commander Colonel Saito (Sessue Hayakawa) and newly arrived British colonel Nicholson (Alec Guinness). Saito insists that Nicholson order his men to build a bridge over the river Kwai, which will be used to transport Japanese munitions. Nicholson refuses, despite all the various "persuasive" devices at Saito's disposal. Finally, Nicholson agrees, not so much to cooperate with his captor as to provide a morale-boosting project for the military engineers under his command. The colonel will prove that, by building a better bridge than Saito's men could build, the British soldier is a superior being even when under the thumb of the enemy.
As the bridge goes up, Nicholson becomes obsessed with completing it to perfection, eventually losing sight of the fact that it will benefit the Japanese. Meanwhile, American POW Shears (William Holden), having escaped from the camp, agrees to save himself from a court martial by leading a group of British soldiers back to the camp to destroy Nicholson's bridge. Upon his return, Shears realizes that Nicholson's mania to complete his project has driven him mad. Filmed in Ceylon, Bridge on the River Kwai won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director for the legendary British filmmaker David Lean, and Best Actor for Guinness. It also won Best Screenplay for Pierre Boulle, the author of the novel on which the film was based, even though the actual writers were blacklisted writers Carl Foreman and Michael Wilson, who were given their Oscars under the table.



WILLIAM HOLDEN GOT A BETTER DEAL THAN THE DIRECTOR.
Lean wanted Holden, a big star and recent Oscar winner (for Stalag 17), to play American prisoner Major Shears, over the objections of producer Spiegel, who wanted Cary Grant. Once Spiegel relented, he realized Holden was a box office draw and offered him a great deal: $300,000 salary (about $2.5 million in 2016 dollars), plus 10 percent of the gross. Lean only got $150,000 himself, but he always said Holden was worth it.

THE MOVIE'S FAMOUS TUNE WAS A WORLD WAR I MARCH THAT HAD NAUGHTY LYRICS.
The “Colonel Bogey March" was composed in 1914 by Kenneth Alford, a military band conductor. During World War II, British soldiers added lyrics to the tune that went approximately along these lines:​
Hitler
Has only got one ball!
Goering
Has two but they are small.
Himmler
Has something sim'lar
But poor old Goebbels
Has no balls
At all.
(There were other verses, too, which treated in more depth the number, location, and status of Hitler's anatomy, but you get the idea.) Lean wanted to use the tune in Kwai, figured those lyrics wouldn't pass the censors (or the approval of the composer's widow), and opted to have the troops whistle it instead. Kwai's composer, Malcolm Arnold, wove the march into his Oscar-winning score so seamlessly that modern viewers may assume it was original to the film.
 

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Discussion Starter #130

How the West Was Won (1962)
Blu-ray



Underrated . This is one **** of an epic film . Loaded with many favorite stars James Stewart, John Wayne, Gregory Peck, Carroll Baker, Lee J. Cobb, Henry Fonda, Carolyn Jones, Karl Malden, George Peppard, Debbie Reynolds, Richard Widmark, Robert Preston, Eli Wallach, Brigid Bazlen, Walter Brennan, David Brian, Raymond Massey, Agnes Moorehead, Harry Morgan, Thelma Ritter, Mickey Shaughnessy, Russ Tamblyn, Spencer Tracy ...Narrated by (voice) Just rap your brain around these actors .


Karl Malden, Agnes Moorehead, Debbie Reynolds, Carroll Baker,


Gregory Peck, Debbie Reynolds, Robert Preston, and Thelma Ritter


Filmed in panoramic Cinerama, this star-studded, epic Western adventure is a true cinematic classic. Three legendary directors (Henry Hathaway, John Ford and George Marshall) combine their skills to tell the story of three families and their travels from the Erie Canal to California between 1839 and 1889. Spencer Tracy narrates the film, which cost an estimated $15 million to complete. Westward expansion shows scenes of the Indian's sorrow, the white man's greed, river pirates, outlaws, lawmen, and life and death on the Western plains. Dozens of marquee names worked with over 12,000 extras, 630 horses, hundreds of horse drawn wagons, and a stampede of 2,000 buffalo. The human cost of the concept of Manifest Destiny is revealed in all its colorful and violent glory. How the West Was Won garnered three Oscars, for screenplay, film editing, and sound production.

John Ford



A story as big, as brash, and as exciting as the west itself. You have to hand it to everyone involved, this is one mammoth viewing experience. This covers generations as well as historical events like no other movie has attempted to do. I think the wisest decision was having multiple directors so each time period has a different feeling and vision. There is no denying the spectacle, the adventure, and the romance in How the West Was Won. It really is true to say they don't make them like this any more.




Cinerama "How The West Was Won" - Hollywood Premiere (1963)
 

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Discussion Starter #131
Director:
John Ford
Writers:
Mari Sandoz (suggested by "Cheyenne Autumn"), James R. Webb (screenplay)
Stars:
Richard Widmark, Carroll Baker, Karl Malden

Wonderful underrated classic Ford western

Great American director, John Ford, brings to the screen an homage to the American Indian with this, his last epic. The idea was brought to Ford by Richard Widmark years before, and Widmark was rewarded by being cast in the lead role, heading an excellent cast which included Carol Baker, Karl Malden, Gilbert Roland, Ricardo Montalban, Sal Mineo and Dolores Del Rio.

Dolores del Rio, Carroll Baker, and Gilbert Roland in Cheyenne Autumn (1964)

Appearing as "guest stars" were the always excellent James Stewart, and a personal favorite, indomitable Edward G. Robinson as the Secretary of Defense. This was the pinnacle of Widmark's career, as he had major roles in three best film nominees in four years (The Alamo, Judgment at Nuremberg, and How the West Was Won) and was a the time a major Hollywood star.


Cheyenne Autumn is a ravishingly beautiful, exquisitely detailed movie. A magnificent recreation of a time and place long gone.

 

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Discussion Starter #132
Director:Irving Pichel
Writers:Alford Van Ronkel (written for the screen by) (as Rip Van Ronkel), Robert A. Heinlein (written for the screen by)
Stars:John Archer, Warner Anderson, Tom Powers

John Archer and Warner Anderson in Destination Moon (1950


George Pal's movie directing career began in the 1930s. He was a leading Hollywood proponent of science fiction and fantasy special effects in the late 1940s through the mid 1960s. His production of Destination Moon was released in 1950, years before spaceflight actually began. Think of the greatest sci-fi movies of the 50s and one name keeps hitting the headlines - that of GEORGE PAL, visionary producer of such classics as:

Conquest of Space 1955 ,War of the Worlds 1953 ,When Worlds Collide 1951 and DESTINATION MOON 1950.


When production on Destination Moon began in 1949, everything about the project was state of the art. The film's astronomical visions were realized by Chesley Bonestell, whose artwork virtually defined the look of space travel at the dawn of the rocket era. Destination Moon is even noted in NASA's official timeline of space-travel history, and almost inevitably won the Academy Award for Best Special Effects. One of the earliest sci-fi films about the first moon expedition and the terrors of outer space.


 

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Discussion Starter #133
Director:
Thornton Freeland
Writers:
Cyril Hume (screen play), H.W. Hanemann (screen play)
Stars:
Dolores del Rio, Gene Raymond, Raul Roulien ,Ginger Rogers ,Fred Astaire

There was pre-code golden age of cinema lasting only four or five years - from the end of the silent era to the beginning of the Hays Code, the severe censorship rules which sought to turn cinema from naughty to nice, but in actuality sapped them of their truth and energy.

As a finale, of those smiling girls strapped to planes soaring up above the landscape.
Real footage from Flying Down to Rio (1933)


'Flying Down to Rio' is a classic pre-Hayes code talkie, and its characters have a quality of frankness which endears them to modern audience far more than many later films, whose stilted, conservative quality is somewhat alienating. You'd be surprised at what they could get away with in those days - it would be forty years before a film could get away with a line like that spoken by a starlet of her South American rivals - this is pretty sexy stuff in terms of transparent clothes; not a bra on the hundreds of candidates. And the original dirty dancing before it was outlawed, and that crack about what Brazilian women have "below the equator."

Also, this being the first Astaire-Rogers pairing.Entertainment, pure and simple.Although slightly dated in some ways it still has a great deal of appeal for those who enjoy well staged musicals. Sure there were more streamlined musical productions to follow at a later date, but I feel this one has an exciting atmosphere as far as musical content is concerned (dancing), not to mention the episode, as a finale, of those smiling girls strapped to planes soaring up above the landscape. I wonder if they'd dare to do such high flying films again in our time.
Dolores del Rio certainly was exquisite, which no one can deny. The teaming of Fred and Ginger here is probably well documented many times over by others so suffice to say they sure started something in the history of dance! Pass the popcorn please and just enjoy.
8/10
 

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Discussion Starter #134
Godzilla vs. Kong (2021)
Cinema showing Cinemark XD enhanced Dolby Atmos. Wearing my mask and I've been vaccinated.
Then I watched a second time on HBOMAX
in one 24 hour period !




#I'm team Godzilla



The film roars out at you from the first moment, and generally speaking it does not let up until the end. My only critique is at Kong is too dang big and it takes away from the human relationship that King Kong is known for just a wee bit . There's enough iconic monster Mayhem that this is easily overlooked however.

Godzilla's atomic breath was a high-light in the visual category .



One of the rays of light in the film was Kaylee Hottle as young Jia. It takes a lot to steal a scene when your scene partner is a giant ape, but Kaylee did it. Thankfully, like the previous films, this one does not live or die with the humans that are in it. You are going to love this film on big a screen where you can see the fight explode around you while the score shook your seat. The bass is out of control good. Whether you watch the film in the Cinema or on the your Television ; Godzilla vs.Kong is an epic Creature Feature.

 

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Discussion Starter #135

Caged (1950)
An excellent example of Suspense-Film Noir and probably the best woman's prison film ever!
A naive 19-year-old widow becomes coarsened and cynical when she is sent to a women's prison and is exposed to hardened criminals and sadistic guards.
Director:John Cromwell
Writers:Virginia Kellogg, Bernard C. Schoenfeld
Stars:Eleanor Parker, Agnes Moorehead, Ellen Corby
Brilliant performances by Eleanor Parker, Agnes Moorehead, and especially, Hope Emerson, as the prison matron... were all outstanding!! Parker & Emerson were Oscar nominated, and in a year (1950) which gave us, "All About Eve" , "Sunset Blvd", and others, that was no easy feat!!...Parkers beauty and innocence gave the film its sensitivity & vulnerability... Moorehead was also outstanding (as always) but Emerson defined the role of prison matron.. forever!!. Wow what a monster....!!! what a performance.. !! An excellent example of Suspense-Film Noir and probably the best woman's prison film ever!
Agnes Moorehead and Eleanor Parker in Caged (1950)

Nominated for 3 Oscars
 

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Discussion Starter #136
The Inn of the Sixth
Happiness (1958)

blu-ray
10/10


The Inn of the Sixth Happiness: Joy, Sadness and Love



Some movies are so good, so good that it should be illegal. The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (Mark Robson, 1958), is one of them. It would be impossible for me to describe how much I love this film, from the beginning to the end. There is not a moment in this 2h30 film that I find boring or too long. Yes, it's a long film, but I wouldn't mind if it was longer! It's the kind of movie that makes you want to change the world, that makes you feel strong. It's a movie that makes you live various emotions: happiness, love, sadness, hope, etc. The best adjective to describe The Inn of the Sixth would be: POWERFUL. Powerful because it has a strong impact on you. Being a real tearjerker, you can't not feel moved after having seen it. Oh, and it has Ingrid Bergman. What more can we ask? I believe this was Ingrid Bergman's most touching performance. I simply love her in this. Her acting is so honest, so strong. We really connect with her. The Inn of the Sixth Happiness was nominated for Best Director Oscar (but didn't win). It won a Golden Globes for Best Film Promoting International Understanding and was nominated for Best Motion Picture Actress " Drama (Ingrid Bergman) and Best Motion Picture Actor " Drama (Robert Donat). Ingrid Bergman and Kurt Jurgens were also both nominated for a BAFTA Award (Best Foreign Actor and Best Foreign Actress). Mark Robson received a DGA Award nomination for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures. Finally, both Ingrid Bergman and Robert Donat won a Best Actress and Best Actor National Board of Review, USA Award. The film was the second most popular film at the British Box Office in 1959. In other words, the reception was good.

Ingrid Bergman was so beautiful


 

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Discussion Starter #137
On the eve of World War II, a young American reporter tries to expose enemy agents in London.
Director:Alfred Hitchcock
Writers:Charles Bennett (screenplay), Joan Harrison (screenplay)
Stars: Joel McCrea, Laraine Day, Herbert Marshall

Foreign Correspondent (1940) is another of director Alfred Hitchcock's spy thrillers. It was his second American film (and hired out by David O. Selznick to independent producer Walter Wanger) one that closely resembled his earlier British spy thrillers: The 39 Steps (1935, UK) and The Lady Vanishes (1938, UK), although more attuned for US audiences.

The film has a number of memorable scenes or set-pieces, including a political assassination in the rain on the steps of the Amsterdam Town Hall (and the assassin's escape trail shot from a high-angle and visible through a sea of umbrellas), a mysterious Dutch windmill (with Nazis hiding inside , Hitler gets one brief mention in the beginning, but the film is otherwise Swastika-free), where the reporter's trench-coat was momentarily caught in the gears of the windmill, a thwarted assassination attempt on the observation deck of Westminster Cathedral's Tower, and an incredible trans-oceanic clipper plane crash into the Atlantic.



The under-rated, semi-neglected but enjoyable film didn't receive any Academy Awards, but it was nominated for six Oscars: Best Picture (producer Walter Wanger), Best Supporting Actor (Albert Bassermann who learned all his dialogue phonetically),

Best Original Screenplay, Best B/W Art Direction (Alexander Golitzen), Best Special Effects (Thomas T. Moulton and Paul Eagler) and Best B/W Cinematography (Rudolph Mate). Joan Harrison became the first screenwriter to be nominated in two different categories in the same year: for Rebecca (1940) (Best Screenplay) and for Foreign Correspondent (1940) (Best Original Screenplay).

In the same year, Hitchcock was nominated for Best Director for the Best Picture-winning film Rebecca (1940) - his first American film (Foreign Correspondent was Hitchcock's second film in 1940). He had wanted Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck (and Joan Fontaine) in the lead roles, but had to settle for Joel McCrea and Laraine Day. Both of which did a fine job in there roles.

For anyone questioning the seriousness of this pre-war propaganda piece, there is a sharp turn at about the 3/4 mark that reminds us just how dangerous and of-the-moment the threats must have seemed to Hitch and his crew.

There is a lot in Foreign Correspondent that Hitchcock aficionados can dissect and examine to understand how the director builds suspense. The film has some notoriety for how much Hitch pushed the envelope and advanced special effects in order to make his action pieces come alive. He used miniatures and rear projection, as well as stage trickery, in ways that remain impressive, even if a modern eye can spot the seams.

Foreign Correspondent is a wonderful example of the master working at his craft, that deserves to be dusted off and enjoyed alongside some of his more celebrated thrillers. 7.5/10
 

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Discussion Starter #138
Camp X-Ray (2014)
Blu-ray
The independent film is excellent. A a pair of impressive performances from Kristen Stewart and Peyman Moaadi.

Kristen Stewart plays guard Amy Cole, a young marine from a small town who joined the military to escape her life. The movie centers around the conflict of her growing relationship with a prisoner, Moaadi, who has been in Gitmo for eight years.

This film affected me very deeply in a way I was not expecting.


Kristen Stewart and Peyman Moaadi deliver stunning performances which take your breathe away. You really feel for this guy and Stewart has never been more convincing. I thought it would be a stretch to imagine her as a tough soldier and it is kind of surreal yet she manages to create a credible person out of the role. Her emotional distress as the contradictions of her job as camp guard begin to overwhelm her, is very powerful and a pleasure to watch.

The independent film is excellent. It is well written and engaging, as well as caries a great story, tone, and pace with it. A a pair of impressive performances from Kristen Stewart and Peyman Moaadi.
 

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Discussion Starter #139

Director: Stanley Kramer
Writers: Nedrick Young, Harold Jacob Smith
Stars: Tony Curtis, Sidney Poitier, Theodore Bikel , Charles McGraw, Cara Williams, Lon Chaney, Jr., Little Rascal Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer


Tony Curtis, Lon Chaney Jr., and Sidney Poitier


A prison truck is transporting a group of convicts when it runs off the road and crashes. Two convicts escape - Johnny (Tony Curtis), a white man, and Cullen (Sydney Poitier), a black man. They loathe each other, especially as Johnny is an ignorant racist. However, they are chained together and have to rely on each other to escape and survive. Meanwhile, the State Police plus the local Sheriff and a ragtag bunch of deputies, assisted by tracker dogs, are hot on their trail.



With enough thrilling action to keep it enjoyable today, this is an important film that provided Poitier with a breakthrough role and helped Curtis to escape the simplistic hero mode in which his talents had too often been wasted. If you look closely, you'll notice that the actor playing Angus is former Little Rascal Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer, making his last screen appearance. This is one of underrated producer/director Stanley Kramer's finest humanitarian films. The Defiant Ones won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. The performances by Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier are virtually flawless. Both Curtis and Poitier deservedly received Best Actor Oscar nominations. 9/10

 

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Discussion Starter #140

Gaslight (1944)

Quintessential psychological thriller

Years after her aunt was murdered in her home, a young woman moves back into the house with her new husband. However, he has a secret that he will do anything to protect, even if it means driving his wife insane.

Director:George Cukor
Writers:John Van Druten (screenplay), Walter Reisch (screenplay)
Stars:Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman, Joseph Cotten

Gaslight is the story of a beautiful, innocent woman (Ingrid Bergman) who marries a charming man (Charles Boyer) who tries to drive her insane. Boasting a lavish, detailed production that perfectly recreates the Victorian era, Gaslight is one of the greatest psychological thrillers ever made, thanks to Bergman's stellar, Oscar-winning performance.
If you're looking for everything you've ever wanted to know about horror, mystery, depression, and suspense, go take a peek into Ingrid Bergman's eyes. This 1944 film is one of the few psychological thrillers that is genuinely psychological, depending on subtle clues -- a gesture, an intonation -- to thought and character. The actress -- who would soon become blacklisted after her marriage to Italian director Roberto Rossellini , can convey every emotion and nuance of her character through her amazingly expressive eyes.


Completely believable in George Cukor's Gaslight as a wife whose husband (Charles Boyer) is trying to make insane, Bergman can show you all her turmoil and emotional stress just by looking around. Charles Boyer is excellent smarmy, deceptive, and ultimately evil, leading his new wife down a path of mental anguish and, he hopes, madness. Beautifully filmed in a gloomy, atmospheric black-and-white, Gaslight exhibits all the classic visual elements of '40s film noir. Psychological terror distilled and made utterly palpable by its iconic stars. Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman and Joseph Cotten and debut of Angela Lansbury.For playing the maid with lip in Gaslight, Angela Lansbury was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, her very first nomination. The honor was an achievement, but an even greater achievement for an actress just breaking into the movie business because Gaslight was Lansbury's film debut.
Gaslight is an extraordinary film, generating its suspense not from an evil lurking in the shadows, but from the psychology of the mind itself. Perhaps one of the first "pure" psychological thrillers, Gaslight, just like Ingrid Bergman's eyes, contains the perfect blend of mystery, suspense, and beauty.

Ingrid Bergman at the 17th Academy Awards Gaslight (1944)
Ingrid Bergman was so beautiful
 
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