December 2017 in Films
Posted by Marya E. Gates
I had a pretty long vacation so I filled it with way too many films (that’s not true; there’s no such thing as too many films!) Before I get to December, do check out my Favorite Fifteen Films of 2017 here and know that my year long round up will be posted tomorrow. Back to December, due to this prolonged vacation and access to FilmStruck and TCM, I watched a whopping 77 new-to-me films this month! 17 of those films were directed by Shirley Clarke and 31 of those films featured the inimitable Lana Turner. It was a great month.
- Daisy Miller
- Thelma (2017)
- The Crow
- Times Square
- Local Hero
- What’s Love Got To Do With It
- The Mark of Zorro (1940)
- Dramatic School
- They Won’t Forget
- Dancing Co-Ed
- Honky Tonk
- Umirayushchii lebed (The Dying Swan)
- The Great Garrick
- The Cossacks (1928)
- Star Wars: The Last Jedi
- Lady on a Train
- We Who Are Young
- Two Girls on Broadway
- Somewhere I’ll Find You
- The Youngest Profession
- Slightly Dangerous
- Keep Your Powder Dry
- Sumerki zhenskoi dushi (Twilight of a Woman’s Soul)
- Posle smerti (After Death)
- Peyton Place
- Tom of Finland
- Un conte de Noël (A Christmas Tale)
- Dance in the Sun
- In Paris Parks
- Bullfight (1955)
- Brussels Loops
- A Moment in Love
- A Scary Time
- Robert Frost: A Lover’s Quarrel with the World
- 24 Frames Per Second
- Four Journeys Into Mystic Time: Initiation
- Four Journeys Into Mystic Time: Mysterium
- Four Journeys Into Mystic Time: One-Two-Three
- Four Journeys Into Mystic Time: Trans
- The Disaster Artist
- Tomka dhe shokët e tij (Tomka And His Friends)
- La petite vendeuse de soleil (The Little Girl Who Sold The Sun)
- Princess Cyd
- Remember The Night
- Marriage Is a Private Affair
- Week-End at the Waldorf
- Cass Timberlane
- Call Me by Your Name
- L’assassinat du Père Noël (Who Killed Santa Claus?)
- Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence
- Love Finds Andy Hardy
- The Merry Widow (1952)
- Latin Lovers
- Madame X (1962)
- Portrait in Black
- Bachelor in Paradise
- The Big Cube
- Mr. Imperium
- The Sea Chase
- The Prodigal
- By Love Possessed
- Love Has Many Faces
- Bittersweet Love
- Forever Amber
- Dawson City: Frozen Time
- Chemi Bednieri Ojakhi (My Happy Family)
Honestly, you should just watch every single Lana Turner. It will do your body good. But I won’t write about them all here (I did review them all on my YouTube channel though). These are some of the films that stood out the most to me this month.
Times Square, 1980 (dir. Allan Moyle)
An urban fantasy set in Times Square before it got all cleaned up, this film follows two lonely girls who find each other when they need a friend the most. It was supposed to be overtly lesbian, but a lot of the more explicate content got trimmed; however the sparks are still there. Also features a great performance by Tim Curry as a seedy late night DJ.
The Mark of Zorro, 1940 (dir. Rouben Mamoulian)
I just love Tyrone Power. He’s charming and fun and oh-so dashing as Don Diego Vega, the California nobleman who decides to rob from the rich and feed the poor. Although there had been a silent Zorro film, this is definitely capitalizing on the popularity of 1939’s The Adventures of Robin Hood, so much so that the villain is also played by Basil Rathbone. Linda Darnell is swoony as all hell.
The Dying Swan, 1917 (dir. Yevgeni Bauer)
This was one of the last films made in Russia before the Soviet revolution; Yevgeni Bauer actually died during the revolution so his entire filmography is pre-Soviet cinema. This film is nothing like our preconceived notions of what silent films from Russia are like. It’s romantic and poetic and dark af.
Butterfly, 1967 (dir. Wendy Clarke & Shirley Clarke)
Part of a series of anti-war films, this short experimental collaboration between mother and daughter features the women together and apart, as they go through the stages of life. Double exposures of butterflies as well as etchings on the film by artist Wendy Clarke are coupled with the sounds of babies crying and machine guns.
The Merry Widow, 1952 (dir. Curtis Bernhardt)
This is hands down my favorite version of this story. Not only is it the most feminist, it also features utterly charming performances from leads Lana Turner and Fernando Lamas. The production is lush, filled with beautiful colors and sets and gowns and jewels! It’s got all the trappings of a 50s MGM musical with little of the aspects of musicals that I dislike. Everyone feels real, even when the world around them feels heightened to access.
Madame X, 1966 (dir. David Lowell Rich)
Let me tell you about my girl Lana and her love of scarves. She wears a scarf in pretty much all of her films post-Imitation of Life and it gives me such life. In this film I think she wore no less than 10 different scarves! This is the third adaptation of the Madame X story (though the first I have seen!) and in its melodramatic trappings sits one of Turner’s greatest performances. She is in her element here, bringing her passion and style and spunk to a head in a daring and devastating take on a desperate woman. This film may be a bit campy, but it has a heart and a pulse that digs deeper than a lot of similar films, and at its heart is the one and only Lana Turner.
Forever Amber, 1947 (dir. Otto Preminger)
Lastly, I must discuss this riveting Linda Darnell star vehicle. Based on the best-selling novel of the entire 1940s, this film unfortunately suffered from the production code (the novel itself was banned in 14 states!) and the raciest (and frankly, most feminist) aspects of the story did not make it on to the screen. What did, though, is some stellar acting from Linda Darnell in a powerful role about a woman who does her damnedest to make the most out of life and for her child, despite all the obstacles in her way.
December really was a great month filled with cinema. I can’t believe the year is already over! Tomorrow I will do a big epic recap of everything I watched in 2017 filled with all its highs and lows. I hope you all have a marvelous new year!
About Marya E. GatesCinephile to the max.
Posted on December 31, 2017, in 2017 in Films and tagged Butterfly, Forever Amber, Lana Turner, Linda Darnell, Madame X, Otto Preminger, Shirley Clarke, The Dying Swan, The Mark of Zorro, The Merry Widow, Times Square. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.
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