Continuing with Noirvember, I decided to write about a proto-noir, William Wyler’s Dead End. This is a fabulous example of crime cinema, coming at the end of the thirties and a wave of films like Scarface and The Petrified Forest. Dead End takes a look at the life of several residents who live in tenements located below luxury apartments built for the view of the picturesque East River. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards, though it didn’t win any: Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Supporting Actress Claire Trevor and Best Picture. The other films nominated for Best Picture that year were The Awful Truth, Captains Courageous, The Good Earth, In Old Chicago, Lost Horizon, One Hundred Men and a Girl, Stage Door, A Star Is Born and winner The Life of Emile Zola.
Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack’s The Most Dangerous Game has been one of my favorite films since I first saw it about four years ago. I’m pretty sure Joel McCrea (man’s man), never looked better than he does running around the jungle in this film.
Also included in this set is Gow, The Headhunter, which was released in various forms starting in 1928. The film is an exploration picture made by the same team and is a very interesting travelogue of the South Seas Islands. The version on this edition includes some pretty great/awful commentary by expedition member William Peck. It sort of reminds me of the commentary on The Endless Summer, only the comedy this time seems to be not on purpose.
Both restorations on this release are from the original 35mm fine gain master positives and boy to do they look amazing. This edition also comes with two full-length audio essays, a booklet containing notes on each film by Merian C. Cooper as quoted in David O. Selznick’s Hollywood by Ronald Haver and Eric Schaefer, and excerpts from an original audio interview with Merian C. Cooper conducted by film historian Kevin Brownlow. I would have included screencaps to show you how beautifully crisp this transfer is, but I don’t have a Blu-ray drive on my computer, so you’ll just have to trust me on this. The region free Blu-ray is available for pre-order now and will be released on July 3rd.
Disclaimer: This review is based on a review disc given to me by Flicker Alley, though the opinions are all my own.
Last year I watched 517 new-to-me films and I thought that number was ridiculously large. Well, this year not only did I reach that number, I surpassed it with an additional 600 new-to-me films, bringing my grand total to 1,117 new-to-me films for 2011. Don’t believe me? There’s a list after the cut of every film, broken down by month so you can see just exactly what films I watched. I don’t know how to explain how I watched so many films. I will say, it all started with a bet from CybelDP on Twitter. The rest, as they say, is history.
Some life information: for the first half of the year I worked as a substitute teacher (which meant only 1 to 2 days of work a week) and lived in the back of my parents’ house and watched Turner Classic Movies non-stop. From the end of May on I moved to San Francisco, where I now go to the Academy of Art University working towards an MFA in film editing. Yet, somehow amongst all that I managed to watch A LOT OF FRICKIN’ MOVIES. I also watched a lot of movies in theaters (thank you very much Castro Theatre) for the first time that were films I’d already seen. If you take a look at each of my monthly wrap-ups, I talk about what films those were.
Last year in my end of the year post I wrote about how many films with certain stars that I’d seen and stuff like that. The sheer volume of films I saw this year makes that task pretty difficult. I will say, I saw a lot of films featuring the following and if you want to try to look through my list and figure out exact numbers, be my guest: Orson Welles, Buster Keaton, James Cagney, Lew Ayres, Joseph Cotten, Joel McCrea, Glenn Ford, Henry Fonda, Ray Milland, Robert Taylor, Ryan O’Neal, Joan Blondell, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis and Jean Harlow. There are probably others whose filmographies I put giant dents in this year, but those are the ones that really stuck out. Speaking of filmographies, I also finished a handful of director filmographies this year: Woody Allen, Jim Jarmusch and Martin Scorsese. I also came close to finishing off Orson Welles, Stanley Kubrick and Elia Kazan and watched a bunch of films by Robert Altman, Peter Bogdanovich, Fritz Lang and John Ford. I also discovered a love for Westerns that I never knew I had (well, other than Clint Eastwood westerns, which I always loved). Oh, and I’ve only got 76 Best Picture nominated films left to see. That’s out of 487 films total, so I think I’m doing pretty well there.
One last thing before I reveal the list and my favorite new-to-me film of the year: in this past year I have felt more intellectually stimulated than I have ever felt before. Everyday I watched films and every film that I watched I gathered new information and my brain felt so alive and so active; it’s an amazing feeling for sure. I would go to bed thinking about the films I’d watched that day and the actors and directors and screenwriters that I learned about. I would think about Cedric Gibbons and Douglas Shearer and the amazing jobs they did at MGM and Irving Thalberg’s genius and how I wish I could be as prolific as Woody Allen. Then I would wake up the next day and start all over again and the more I watched the more everything fit together, the more I got from every film because I could see how it fit within the framework of cinema’s history. It was an amazing year of discovery and reflection and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.
And, now, without further ado, the list. Ps. there’s more writing after the list, so please keep reading! Also, for some reason WordPress can’t handle a bulleted list that has four digits, so it cuts off the numbers towards the end of the list. But I think you can still figure out what’s what.
Read the rest of this entry
It’s hard to write about any film that was nominated for Best Picture in 1943 since the winner that year is almost universally thought to be one of, if not the greatest film of all time – Casablanca. That being said, there were some other really great films that came out in 1943. I decided to go with one of my favorite recently discovered classic comedies, George Stevens’ The More the Merrier. The film was nominated for six Academy Awards, winning one: Best Writing – Original Story, Best Writing – Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor Charles Coburn (won), Best Actress Jean Arthur, Best Director and Best Picture. The other films nominated for Best Picture that year were: For Whom the Bell Tolls, Heaven Can Wait, The Human Comedy, In Which We Serve, Madame Curie, The Ox-Bow Incident, The Song of Bernadette, Watch on the Rhine and winner Casablanca.
Sorry I’ve been m.i.a. since the Oscars. I’ve been having some problems at work. Long story short work’s no longer a problem, so I’m back. I’ve got a few posts related to film in 2010 that I want to post, but I’ve got to flesh them out a little before I post them.
However, today I spent quite a bit of time watching Turner Classic Movies. They had an amazing line-up today. I’d recommend all four of the films I watched today, but each one for very different reasons.
The first film I watched was Some Like It Hot. I’ve seen this film numerous times. It is definitely one of the absolute funniest films of all time. Billy Wilder truly is a genius.