Wick Birnam: All right, maybe you’re not a writer. Why don’t you do something else?
Don Birnam: Sure, take a nice job. Public accountant, real estate salesman. I haven’t the guts, Helen. Most men lead lives of quiet desperation. I can’t take quiet desperation.
Helen St. James: But you are a writer. You have every quality for it. Imagination, wit, pity. . .
This looks to be a really great line up of films. If you are in L.A. I definitely recommend you head out to these. I am a big fan of Easy Living, Death Takes a Holiday and Midnight, but if you can only see one of these films make it 1945’s Kitty with Paulette Goddard and Ray Milland. Basically, it is Pygmalion, but with prostitutes. It’s not on DVD and it’s a real treat.
- Midnight (1939); Easy Living (1937) November 16, 2012 – 7:30 pm
- Death Takes a Holiday (1934); Murder at the Vanities (1934) November 18, 2012 – 7:00 pm
- Hold Back the Dawn (1941); Swing High, Swing Low (1937) November 30, 2012 – 7:30 pm
- No Man of Her Own (1950); The Mating Season (1951) December 2, 2012 – 7:00 pm
- Lady in the Dark (1944); Take a Letter, Darling (1942) December 9, 2012 – 7:00 pm
- Kitty (1945); Frenchman’s Creek (1944) December 10, 2012 – 7:30 pm
- Remember the Night (1940); Hands Across the Table (1935) December 14, 2012 – 7:30 pm
- To Each His Own (1946); No Time For Love (1943) December 16, 2012 – 7:00 pm
Often cited as one of the films that started the “Paramount Renaissance” in the 1970s, Love Story was nothing short of a phenomenon when it was released. Erich Segal, who wrote the screenplay, was asked by Paramount to write a novelization of the film in to create pre-publicity; it became a best seller. I have a sort of love/hate relationship with this film. Mostly this is because I think it is really poorly written. I hate the characters. I don’t think they are really developed at all. But, I love the art direction and the cinematography and most of the performances. As I was watching it, I felt like it was this perfectly crafted film wasted on a mediocre screenplay and that just feels like a shame to me. Love Story was nominated for seven Academy Awards, winning one: Best Original Score (won), Best Original Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor John Marley, Best Actor Ryan O’Neal, Best Actress in a Leading Role Ali MacGraw, Best Director and Best Picture. The other films nominated for Best Picture that year were: Airport, Five Easy Pieces, MASH and winner Patton.
Mary Smith: Didn’t you study to be anything?
John Ball Jr.: Anything like what?
Mary Smith: Oh, like a dentist or something?
John Ball Jr.: Uh-uh.
Mary Smith: Well, how did you expect to while away the hours after you grew up?
John Ball Jr.: I didn’t have to study to do that. In training, I’ve whiled away an hour in 26 minutes flat. Oh course, I’ve always had the dream I could do it in 25, but. . .
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.
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Pat Brady: [after a film screening] What’s Eddie, asleep? Jesus. Goddamn movie even puts the editor to sleep.
Assistant editor: He’s not asleep, Mr. Brady.
Pat Brady: What do you mean, he’s not asleep?
Assistant editor: He’s dead, Mr. Brady.
Pat Brady: Dead? What do you mean, he’s dead!
Assistant editor: He must have died during the. . .
Pat Brady: How can he be dead? We were just watching the rough cut! Jesus, I didn’t hear anything. Did you hear anything?
Fleishacker: Not a thing.
Assistant editor: Eddie. . .he probably didn’t want to disturb the screening, Mr. Brady.