Alan: Is that why Ann, am I trying to please you?
Ann: Whether you’re trying or not, you are.
Dr. Ann Lorrison: What’s the matter, Mr. Kenet? Something seems to be disturbing you. What is it?
Steven Kenet: I don’t know.
Dr. Ann Lorrison: Something bothering you?
Steven Kenet: Could it happen in a single second?
Dr. Ann Lorrison: What, Mr. Kenet?
Steven Kenet: Could you strangle someone in just one second?
Jeff Hartnett: I seem to have offended your light of love by using a polysyllabic word.
Johnny Eager: You’re drunk.
Jeff Hartnett: Now, Eager. . .that’s. . .obvious. Very obvious. Don’t be obvious. You’re out of character when you’re obvious. Adroitness is your racket. Hard, clever and. . .adroit. That’s your description.
Johnny Eager: Oh, now not again, Jeff.
Jeff Hartnett: Just because I’ve said it before, doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Eager, you’re. . .a man. . .you shouldn’t be obvious. Observed, analyzed and recorded for history because you’re unique. Absolutely unique!
Johnny Eager: Here we go again, kids.
Prior to the Warner Archive’s releases of this collection earlier this month, I had actually never heard of these MGM-produced shorts. I have now watched all fifty of the Crime Does Not Pay shorts, and I must say I kind of really loved them. You could argue that something like these shorts is what led to the original crime procedurals like Dragnet, but also, since they are told mostly from the point of view of the criminals, something like Law and Order: Criminal Intent. If you love those shows, you will love these shorts.
Now available from the Warner Archive, William A. Wellman’s western drama Westward The Women is not only an impressive feat in cinematic storytelling, but also features one of the best ensembles of women in the classical Hollywood era. I’m really quite surprised this film isn’t more highly regarded than it is. It definitely packs the kind of shocking punch you come to expect from a Bill Wellman picture. In fact, it almost feels like some of his pre-code films and contains some elements that I found rather shocking in a film from 1951.
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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