The Biggest Romantic Movie of All Time That No One Had Faith In

It’s been a while since I made my last post, but don’t worry I haven’t given up on my AFI Challenge which looks set to take longer than I thought. The truth is I’ve been pretty lazy over the last few months being a man of leisure. But I have managed to catch the ultimate classic movie whilst on my way to Kenya on my first African visit.

The best thing about flying (other than the beaming obvious trip to a destination that is guaranteed to be at least five degrees warmer than London) is I get to catch up on movies I haven’t watched yet as there is pretty much nothing else to do. Despite being a big classic movie fan (who would have thought it) the idea of sitting through more than three hours of Charlton Heston’s overacting in ‘Ben Hur’ doesn’t always fill me with the most excitement. With plane TV screens you feel obliged to watch a movie from start to finish to feel like you are making most of your time in the air. I kind of feel like Malcolm McDowell in ‘A Clockwork Orange’ when his eyes were clamped open when watching the small screen on aircrafts, but with less agony.

I managed to catch some new releases that I wouldn’t dream of watching in the cinema like ‘Southpaw’ which although had an extremely cliché and predictable storyline it had a heartfelt performance from Jake Gyllenhaal. Kenya Airways had a questionable classic movie category in their inflight entertainment, which included masterpieces like the intellectually simulating ‘The Hangover’, but I think they used the term loosely to describe anything that wasn’t released within last twelve months. They got it right with two movies – ‘Northby Northwest’ (1959, AFI 1998 #40, 2007 #55) and ‘Casablanca’ (1942, AFI: 1998 #2, 2007 #3) – I’ve seen these bonafide classic movies before, but as I’ve already reviewed the Hitchcock masterpiece I thought I’d re-familiarise regularly with the most famous romantic movie of all time.

7oth Anniversary trailer for ‘Casablanca’

It’s hard to believe that the most iconic on screen romance all time was considered a side project for movie executives at Warner Bros – despite the flick having two of the biggest stars at the time Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman insiders thought it wouldn’t be a hit – there were even rumours that the script was incomplete when filming and so at times the actors had to improvise – with the huge budgets Hollywood films have nowadays this would simply be unheard of.  So why did this film with a relatively straight forward storyline, which was filmed mostly in a bar and one that people that little expectations of become the greatest love story of all time?

casablanca_colorized

Bogart must choose between his former lover and helping her husband

The movie which was directed by Michael Curtiz tells the story of American expatriate (Rick Blaine played by Bogart) who runs a successful casino and nightclub in Casablanca during World War Two. His world turns upside down when his former lover Ilsa Lund (Bergman) comes back into his life after abandoning him without explanation, but this time she is with her husband Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid) who is a notorious Czech-resistance leader on the run from the Nazis. Blaine must decide whether to help this man escape or to be with the woman he loves.

For me it’s pretty hard to pinpoint what made this black and white classic such a timeless piece that people of all ages flock to see when played at the outdoor cinema at Somerset House every summer over other romantic masterpieces such as ‘It Happened in One Night’ (1934, AFI 1998 #35, 2007 #46)? Bogart’s cool portrayal of selfless Rick Blaine is so memorable and the character is so likable that the AFI voted him as the fourth greatest hero on the big screen – which definitely separates this movie from other romances over the years. The movie is far from cheesy or soppy and although I’m not a huge fan of Bergman (who looks like she is about to burst into tears in every scene) you can’t deny the chemistry between the who main leads. This along with the beautiful theme song ‘As time goes by’ and the famous, sharp and witty one liners (“Here’s looking a you kid”, “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship”, “We will always have Paris” (is this were the silly American romantic obsession with Paris began?),  “Of all the Gin Joints..”) makes ‘Casablanca’ pretty much a perfect movie – the blueprint for all romances that followed over the last 70 years.

The most famous lines from ‘Casablanca’

The movie which is a concise 108 minutes makes this classic pretty easy viewing compared to ‘Gone with The Wind” (1939, AFI 1998 #4, 2007 #6) or ‘Giant” (1956, AFI 1998 #82) where you have to invest your whole afternoon watching is perhaps another reason why people revisit this romance year after year. I give this culturally significant and iconic movie a 5 out of 5.

 

 

 

 

Hoffman Blows Childhood Favourite Creation Out of The Water

Long before the late Robin Williams did his best drag impression in ‘Mrs Doubtfire’(1993) Dustin Hoffman arguably played it more convincingly in ‘Tootsie’ (1982: AFI 1996 #62, 2007 #69). Sure Williams had the advantage of superior make-up to effectively disguise his identity, but Hoffman’s character was better developed and it always bugged me that Mrs Doubtfire introduced herself as English rather than Scottish (those darn Americans!) in the 1993 film set in San Francisco based on a book by British author Anne Fine (those darn Americans!).

When I sat down to watch the 1982 Oscar Winning movie for my AFI 100 movie challenge I definitely had my favourite childhood film to compare it to, but to be honest the only similarities are that the protagonists dress up as women to deceive people close to them with hilarious consequences. That’s where the comparison ends.

In ‘Tootsie’ Hoffman plays Michael Dorsey an out of work actor who has a reputation of being difficult so no one in the industry wants to work with him. He hears of a upcoming role in a soap opera and auditions for the part of ‘Dorothy Michaels’ disguised as a woman and wins the part.  Much to Dorsey’s shock his creation becomes an overnight sensation because of ‘her’ feisty and no nonsense attitude. But things get a bit awkward when Dorsey falls for his co-star Julie Nichols played by innocent and timid Jessica Lange. There is even a really cringy scene where Michaels who is meant to be a middle-aged feminist tries to kiss Lange.

Lange and Hoffman get cosy

Although the movie is entertaining and Hoffman is brilliant as the eccentric Michael Dorsey and equally nuts Dorothy Michaels I wondered if the flick was good enough to make it on AFIs list of 100 movies of all time. What separates it from all the other comedies where the main character cross-dresses to trick people? Firstly the script is sharp and punchy and unlike family friendly ‘Mrs Doubtfire’ this film is for the adults. The supporting cast is terrific, Teri Garr (Phoebe’s mum in Friends) plays the ditsy and hopeless romantic acting student of Hoffman and I think she should have taken the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress rather than wooden Jessica Lange.  Bill Murry brings in his typical dry wit dry humour as Hoffman’s roommate in his pre-Ghostbuster superstardom days.

Dustin Hoffman, Terri Garr & Sydney Pollack on the set of ‘Tootsie’

But most importantly Michael Dorsey /Dorothy Michaels is believable and more likable than William’s creation in this Sydney Pollack classic. There are a few flaws in ‘Mrs Doubtfire’ that I’ve come to realise as I’ve grown older. Firstly Robin Williams character is pretty much a loser, he lives off his wife, behaves likes a big kid and we are supposed to feel empathy for him when she throws him out? In real life a character like that wouldn’t have the intelligence or guts to pull of Mrs Doubtfire. In fact he would probably break down in tears the moment he steps into his old family home again. Hoffman’s character is a go-getter, a perfectionist who knows what he wants and is ruthless in his pursuit which makes the movie more realistic than the similar plots made before and after the 1982 classic flick. Although one can argue Williams complete and utter dedication towards his children gives him the courage and determination to succeed in his trickery.

Robin Williams On Dustin Hoffman’s ‘Tootsie’ Performance

Dustin Hoffman is perhaps the most underrated performer of his generation. In the 1970s only he and Jack Nicholson were able to immerse themselves in completely different roles in a believable manner. So it’s sometimes frustrating that De Niro and Pacino gets all the praise when most of the time they often played one dimensional characters (but brilliantly nevertheless). For the shear genius of Hoffman who despite having a stellar supporting cast can carry this movie by himself I give ‘Tootsie’ a 4.5 out 5.

Angelina Jolie’s Dad Tries To Make It In The Big Apple

I’ve been slacking with my American Film Institute challenge this week – my good friend Cam brought me a copy of ‘2001: A Space Odyssey (1968: AFI 1998#22, 2007#15) for my birthday way back in March, but I haven’t got around to watching it yet. But I did oddly enough catch Michael Douglas promote his new comic film on the ‘One Show’ on BBC1.

I was definitely not interested in hearing what he had to say about his new movie ‘Ant-Man’ (2015, seriously? An Ant like superhero? Is there a Daddy Longlegs Man movie in the works?) starring Paul Rudd, the man who I was convinced got his big break in ‘Clueless’ (1995) from being a top movie executive’s son because I can’t imagine what made a casting director say ‘That plain looking dude with mediocre acting skills is our man! He’ll play the star’s love interest!’ What I really wanted to hear was how his legendary dad Kirk Douglas was keeping. This man is truly one of the last remaining actors of the Golden Age in Hollywood and at 98 he is the oldest active blogger for the Huffington Post. But unfortunately the presenters only briefly mentioned his father and talked about more trivial things like how good his Welsh is – that’s what you get for BBC early evening family viewing.

Jon Voight & Dustin Hoffman living rough in ‘Midnight Cowboy’

Having a super-famous dad like Kirk must have helped Michael Douglas get his foot into acting, but I refuse to believe that he is the sole reason for his son’s success – why weren’t the other brothers Oscar winners like Mr Zeta-Jones? Another star whose Dad probably gave her a helping hand into the world of cinema is Angelina Jolie – although she is arguably more successful than her father Jon Voight, she definitely hasn’t starred in an iconic movie (The closest she has got is ‘Girl Interrupted’ (1999) but that’s a bit of a stretch) like ‘Midnight Cowboy’ (1969: AFI 1998#36 2007#43) – the only X-rated Best Winner Picture at the Academy Awards.

Like ‘Easy Rider’ (1969: AFI 1998#88 2007#84) the movie explores taboos themes of promiscuity, drugs and life in 1960’s America, but unlike ‘Easy Rider’ the film has a solid plot and superb acting from Voight and Dustin Hoffman. The story revolves around Joe Buck a naïve Texan who goes to New York in hopes of becoming a male prostitute, things don’t go to plan and he becomes so desperate that he ends up staying with Ratzo, (Hoffman), a crippled con man who ripped Voight off money when he first arrived in the city. The two form a close bond and try their luck at becoming hustlers together.

The famous ‘I’m walking here’ quote was apparently improvised by Hoffman

The story has similarities to perhaps my favourite novel ‘Catcher in the Rye’ (1951) – the protagonist in both plots are naïve yet good hearted anti-heroes who struggle with their sexuality and face alienation and loneliness in cities that are too big and intimidating for them. Although it’s unlikely we will ever get to see Holden Caulfield on the big screen (thanks to author J. D. Salinger vetoing a big screen adaptation of the book) Joe Buck is the closest we’ll ever get. For the moving, but utterly devastating ending to the film it alone deserves a 4.5 out of 5.

Harry Nilsson’s iconic ‘Everybody’s Talkin’ was played throughout the movie

The Closest Hollywood Got To A South Asian Leading Man

On Friday afternoon I was listening to the Steve Wright show on BBC Radio 2 like all thirty-year olds do when the newsreader suddenly announced breaking news; ‘Oh no! This can’t be good’ I thought. I was right; Omar Sharif, the star of two of the biggest movies of all time Dr Zhivago (1965; AFI 1998 #39) and Lawrence of Arabia (1962; 1998 #5, 2007 #7) which are both featured on the American Film Institute’s greatest films of all-time list had passed away from a heart attack aged eighty-three.

And like the social media sheep I am I immediately checked Twitter to see if he was trending and what other people had to say about the tragic news. Most tweeters were complementary of the legendary actor, but what struck me was a Tweet from a news agency – it stated the star who only earlier in the year confessed he had been suffering from dementia had been so far into the illness that he could not remember his career highlights.

Iconic : Peter O Toole and Omar Sharif

The first memory I had of him on screen was when he killed a man in the middle of a desert for drinking out of his well without permission (he was a badass!) in ‘Lawrence of Arabia’. How could a man with such presence have been in such a hopeless state fifty years later? That’s probably the most depressing thing about doing the AFI challenge of watching all the movies featured on the list is that most of the stars I’ve come to admire in these classics have either passed on or now a shadow of their former self. What’s worse is most of my colleagues didn’t know who he was or how important he was to the film industry when I expressed my sadness when downing a pint of soda water later in the day.

Sherif Ali makes an unforgettable entrance in ‘Lawrence of Arabia’

Omar Sharif was not only an exceptional and charismatic actor; he was a ground-breaker who broke down racial stereotypes in Hollywood. He was the first and arguably the only non- white or black leading man and a heart-throb. Someone who I could identify with as he was the closest there was to a South Asian making it as the big box office draw in Hollywood – something rare today, but unheard of in the 1960s.

Today most of the South Asian and Middle-Eastern actors in TV and film play support roles and usually likable, but typically dippy and unlucky with the opposite sex. Take Raj from the ‘Big Bang Theory’ (2007 – to date) – on paper he seems like the biggest catch of the lot – smart, sensitive and from a wealthy family – yet for the first few series the writers of the show decided he was too intimidated by the opposite sex that he wouldn’t be able to talk to a woman unless he was drunk and it took him forever to find a girlfriend – even Sheldon found love before him! This man comes from the land of action heroes like Rishi Kapoor and Amitabh Bachchan who never shied away from a woman, yet these characters are never portrayed in Western movies. Look at Dev Patel – he may have got the girl in the end of ‘Slumdog Millionaire (2009)’ but ladies weren’t exactly getting hot and bothered for a skinny boy who literately came from the gutter. In fact director Danny Boyle deliberately did not want to hire a Bollywood hunk for the movie because he felt neither would fit in the role – he may have a point but, it seems Asian men in Western movies either play a bumbling character with zero sex appeal or a terrorist.

Sharif: Timeless heartthrob – ‘Little Britain’

But David Lean, the director of ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ and ‘Dr Zhivago’ saw something in Sharif which I wish directors today had the balls to see with other ethnic minority actors – and casted him in pivot roles for two of his most ambitious projects (although frustratingly other Caucasian actors were considered for the role of Arab Sherif Ali before Sharif in Lawrence). In ‘Dr Zhivago’ Sharif plays the title character who finds himself in a love triangle between Julie Christie and Rita Tushingham during Soviet ruling of Russia at the beginning of the Twentieth-Century. Although the movie received mixed reviews at the time of release for being too long and not focusing enough on historical significance of the Russian Revolution, like fine wine the movie has aged well over the years and people have come to appreciate the convincing romantic magnetism between Sharif and Christie. This epic definitely gave Sharif that superstar stud status – he once boasted to receive over twenty-thousand marriage proposals in a month. But more importantly the movie proved that a man of brown skin could carry a Hollywood funded movie and have mass appeal. For this magnetic and intense love story set against a beautiful backdrop I give it 4 out of 5.

Love affair:  Omar Sharif & Julie Christie 

Like ‘The Wizard of Oz’ (1939: AFI 1998 #6, 2007 #8) and ‘Ben Hur’ (1959: AFI 1998 #72, 2007 #100) everyone has at least heard of ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ and understands its cultural significance. Peter O’Toole was robbed of a Best Actor for his portrayal of flamboyant T.E. Lawrence, a British Army lieutenant sent to Arabia to unite the British forces and Arabs against the Turks during the First World War. Despite being an epic adventure the movie subtlety tackles the moral dilemmas of fighting in combat as well the emotional effect killing has on the main character. Although the movie feels at times too long it wouldn’t been classified as an epic if it didn’t. It is perfectly told, acted and directed- I also give the movie 4 out of 5.

Sharif speaks about his friendship with Peter O’ Toole 

Even if Omar Sharif couldn’t recall the greatness of his two breakout roles in his final days – movie goers will fondly remember his contribution to cinema for years to come.

Sharif wins Golden Globe for his starring role in ‘Doctor Zhivago’

Do You Belong Here?

My friend Sunny who told me on the weekend that when he reads my blogs he is hoping to one day find a review on a film he’s actually watched – I guess he is expecting something like ‘Iron Man(2008)’ or ‘Training Day (2001)’ to be featured.

Perhaps in the twentieth anniversary there might be some representation of the modern comic, superhero, fantasy genre which seems to be lacking in the current list. But I can put my money on a film like ‘Superman (1978)’ being added long before ‘The Avengers’ (2012) is.  Not because it is necessarily better or more popular than the blockbuster starring Scarlett Johansson, but it did the genre first and is therefore arguably more culturally significant, which is a major criteria for the movies to be considered for the countdown.  Just as I explained why ‘Jaws’ (1975, AFI 1998: #46, 2007:#56) deserved its spot on the AFI top 100 list – It influenced countless of (mostly terrible) horror movies that followed suit or why ‘On the Waterfront (1954, 1998:#8, 2007:#19)’ is regarded so highly on the list. Not only because is it a terrific movie, but it has the timeless “I could have been somebody” line that everyone seems to know (but sadly more and more non classic movies lovers are forgetting where it originated from).

I’ve probably so far watched around sixty classic movies featured on the American Film Institute’s top 100 movies of all time lists and so I’ve agreed that most films earned a place on the prestigious countdown.  But there are some movies that I just don’t understand how they made the cut.

Fonda and Hopper speak on Jack Nicholson’s role in ‘Easy Rider’

For example I don’t see what the big deal is about ‘East Rider (1969, 1998:#88, 2007:#84)’, a coming of age movie about two bikers who travel through the South. It stars Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda who with the money they made through drug smuggling go on an adventure across America where they meet some characters along the way. One of them is pre-frame and very young Jack Nicholson who even though is my favourite modern movie star and plays the role of a drunken Lawyer very convincingly, doesn’t regain my interest in the movie. Although the feature gives a good insight to life in late sixties America the plot is really thin and at times I had to rewind the film because I was getting distracted. The ending is the biggest shock of the film and comes totally unexpected and is definitely the highlight of the film.

Trailer for ‘Easy Rider’

I guess the movie was very unique and taboo busting at the time because it dealt with the hippie movement, recreational use of drugs and promiscuity – all pretty tame by modern standards and done better by Midnight Cowboy (1969, 1998;#36, 2007: #43). I give the movie 2 out of 5 and that’s mostly for the killer soundtrack!

Jack Nicholson seals the show in ‘Easy Rider’

Things Get Heated Up In The Newsroom

“I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” are the famous words echoed by troubled Howard Beale throughout ‘Network’ (1976: AFI 1998, #66, 2007 #64) the movie I watched this weekend as part of my challenge to watch all films featured on the American Film Institute top 100 movies of all time. The quote is so iconic that after more than 40years it is still being used; most recently for an advert on UK television – I forgot what to promote (it must be one of those ‘wacky’ phone providers) but I remember asking my brother and sister; Sati and Nicky ”Do you know where this line is from?” Obviously they looked at me as if I was the insane Howard Beatle, but terrifically honest (“Life is bullshit!”) and said “What film?”

Iconic scene from ‘Network’

It a shame that a movie as great as ‘Network’ isn’t remembered as well as other iconic 1970s films like ‘The Godfather’ (1972: 1998 #3, 2007 #2), ‘Taxi Driver’(1976: 1998 #47, 2007 #52) or ‘The Deer Hunter’ (1978: 1998 #79, 2007 #53) but it is definitely just as good. It is probably the only movie on the list that deals that takes place in a newsroom and highlights how fickle the broadcasting industry is – I should know, I’ve done my fair share of volunteering and work experience in TV and radio newsrooms across the UK to know that no one really gives a rat’s ass about you, not even your mates (get the violins out). This what poor anchor man Howard Beale played by Peter Finch discovers when he is told he only has two-weeks left on air as he is being cut for low ratings. Rather than bow out gracefully he tells his audience he will commit suicide live in air- ironically this gives him a ratings boost and network executives exploit the broadcaster who is obviously mentally unstable by giving him his own show where he vents his anger to a cult following.

Icy Faye Dunaway and William Holden

The film stars the crème de la crème of 70s A-listers; legendary William Holden in his last memorable role plays Max Schumacher the Head Of News who faces a moral dilemma whether to help his friend who clearly needs medical attention or keep him on air to attract more viewers. Matters are made worse when he becomes involved with cold hearted Diana Christensen who is head of programming and is played by the top notch Faye Dunaway who was as big and perhaps more talented than Meryl Streep in the 70s (definitely better looking) but failed to maintain the legendary status of the three time Oscar winner. I hear that when she portrayed Joan Crawford in an unfavourable light in the camp cult favourite and winner of the Golden Raspberries ‘Worst film’ award ‘Mommie Dearest’ (1981), friends and colleagues of the 1940s star vowed to destroy her career. Nevertheless actress won a much deserved Academy award for Best Actress, but the real star of the movie was obviously Peter Finch who also nabbed the Best Actor award but unfortunately died of a heart attack before he was given the accolade.

Peter Finch was the only posthumous winner of an Oscar in an acting category until Heath Ledger won for Best Supporting Actor in 2009

From the moment the movie begins you are gripped in; the eerie narration reminded me of Wilder’s classic ‘Sunset Boulevard’(1950: 2007 #12, 2007 #16) which also starred Holden and the subject matter of the movie like ‘All about Eve’ (1950: 1998 #16, 2007 #28) is just as timeless and relevant today as it was four decades ago. One could say the movie is one of the first to touch on the idea of reality TV that has plagued our television over the last fifteen or so years – but obviously in a much more classy and thought provoking manner then ‘Big Brother’ or ‘Googlebox’. 5 out of 5 for me

How The Prototype For ‘White Chicks’ Became The Greatest Comedy Of All Time

I shouldn’t really be admitting this but ‘White Chicks’ (2004) is probably my biggest movie guilty pleasure – it’s predictable, crass and pretty offensive to caucasian people, but I can’t help but chuckle when clueless Terry Crews pursues Marlon Wayne’s character. Despite its massive cult following and box office success, the movie, unsurprisingly was a critical disaster and was nominated for five Razzies (the awards for the year’s worst films) which, is a far cry from the legacy ‘Some like it hot’ (1960, AFI 1998 # 14, 2007 #22), the movie it ‘borrowed heavily’ from has garnered over the years.

It was my second time watching the Billy Wilder classic which is featured in The American Film Institute’s 100 movies of all time this Sunday – I was actually geared up to view ‘The Searchers’ (1956 AFI #96, #12) which was the John Wayne western that has been in my Sky Player for the last three months but, I’ve been dreading to watch so I put off selecting the play button for as long as I can. This weekend I had no excuse so got up early before anyone at home was awake and before they had the chance to roll their eyes at me for ‘hogging the TV with ancient movies’. But when I finally got round to starting the film the TV box recorded only the title credits and stopped. Damn you Sky Player! I probably deserved that – nevertheless I was wide awake and didn’t quite fancy watching an ex-member of JLS plugging his new music to the disinterested presenters on ‘Sunday Brunch’ so I thought I’d again familiarise myself with Marilyn Monroe’s most iconic movie.

I was certain I saw ‘Some like it hot’ with my Dad when I was younger, but forgot some of the plot and the small details which made the film so memorable and iconic. The movie which is set during the prohibition era stars Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon who are musicians that go on the run from the mob after witnessing a murder – they disguise themselves as ladies and join an all-female band who are travelling to Florida. There they both meet and fall head over heels for the beautiful and flirtatious Sugar played by legendary Monroe who has no idea they are actually men.

Despite colour films becoming increasingly popular in the late 50s Wilder shot ‘Some like it hot’ in black and white

The plot is pretty straight forward and pretty tame by today’s standard, but the homosexual undertones throughout the movie along with Monroe’s blunt sex appeal makes it hard to believe it was certified a U in 1959. It was definitely a bold move by Wilder which paid off – I can imagine cinema goers raising their eyebrows during film’s initial screening when Sugar and Joe in drag share a passionate kiss. This is probably Monroe’s best performance (for which she won a Golden Globe, her only major acting accolade) and although she plays the same ditsy blonde – she displays a genuine talent for comedy and has perfect timing.

                 Monroe wins Golden Globe for her portrayal of Sugar in ‘Some like it hot’

Tony Curtis is impressive as Joe and “Josephine”, however he shows his true comedic flair when he plays ‘millionaire’ Shell Oil Junior to woo Sugar – His awkward British accent alone is genius and is much more likeable then Shawn Wayne’s Miami vice, LL Cool J ‘lick your lips’ like stud character he plays in ‘White Chicks’ to court Denise. But the real star for me is Jack Lemmon who I would say is perhaps the greatest comedian film star off all time. His ‘romance’ with Osgood Fielding played Joe E Brown (the equivalent to Terry Crews character in White Chicks) is pure comedy gold. It’s a shame that Lemmon was overlooked for an Oscar for his comedic roles such in this, the magnificent The Apartment (1960, AFI #93, #80)’ and ‘The Odd Couple’ (1968) where he shines rather than serious drama ‘Save the Tiger’ (1973). The two of the movies funniest characters are responsible for perhaps the most memorable ending in a film movie:

‘Some like it hot’ is perhaps one of the rare movies on the AFI’s top 100 movies of all-time list that you can watch over again and again without feeling the need to concentrate, it’s light hearted fun that is done well – I give this 5 out 5. The only thing that left a bad taste after watching it is that it gives a clear reminder how unoriginal and lazy Hollywood has become in recent years and that plots are recycled with gimmicks to make it appear new. My sister, Nicky asked how the movie was when she got up – I tried to tell her my frustration on how similar the Wayne brother’s movie was to the Wilder one, she replied: ‘Oh really that’s really cool they remade it – so what are we eating for breakfast?’

Fear of Heights, Assistants & Wolves

The second bank holiday just passed in the UK and you know what that means – more classic movies to catch up with. I managed to watch 3 films featured on The American Film Institute’s top 100 movies of all-time list over the long weekend. I’m trying to cut back on big nights out to get that toned abs look in time for the Summer – so pretty much stayed home all weekend and thought I’d make a dent on the list.

First up was a movie I have been anticipating since I staggered upon the countdown all those years ago and that was ‘Vertigo’. Considered Hitchcock’s finest work and starring one of the classic period’s biggest stars James Stewart – the movie had a lot to live up to and it climbed up an astounding 52 spots on the revised list from #62 to #9. I even convinced my sister Nicky who doesn’t think any movie made before 1985 is worthy of her time that “This is the one to watch”. I was expecting suspense, superb acting and a gripping plot – it had all that, but something was missing. Maybe the hype was too high that it could never live up to it, but I felt it was at times too slow and perhaps too long (it didn’t help that Nicky kept asking how long left). The movie though was shot beautifully and the chemistry between Kim Novak and Stewart was electric, but I’m not too sure how this could be Hitchcock’s highest place movie on the chart (don’t tell anyone, but I liked ‘Dial M for Murder’ more) I’d give it 3 out of 5 – perhaps like contemporary critics my appreciation for the ‘Vertigo’ will increase over time.

James Stewart & Kim Novak in ‘Vertigo’

Next up is perhaps my favourite picture of all time so five out of five even before I review. I’ve seen it before, but I again convinced Nicky to watch ‘All about Eve’ (1998 #16, 2007 #28) on Sunday night. I was slightly nervous because I love the film so much and would be so disappointed if she didn’t feel the same – thankfully she did. What I love about this picture apart from the witty screenplay, immense acting and all around awesomeness is how relevant the plot is today 65 years after it was released. Everyone wants to be famous and they will do anything to get there – we’ve seen it before, I can imagine one of the Kardashians relating to Eve so the film is timeless. Perhaps the dinner party is my favourite scene, Davies (who should have taken a joint Oscar with Gloria Swanson that year. Judy who?) is as catty and sharp as ever and Marilyn Monroe makes a pre-superstar appearance playing her ditsy self. The camera loves her and she is indeed a star, but I couldn’t help but share the same sentiments as Nicky when she said “She plays the same dumb blonde role all the time with the stupid voice”- Perhaps someone like Gloria Swanson, Shelly Winters or Natalie Wood deserved her place on the 50 Greatest Stars of all time.

Watch the gala premiere of ‘ All about Eve’ – Davies brings her mother as her plus one. How cute.

The final film I forced myself to watch was ‘Dances with Wolves’ which was on TV yesterday- actually my Brother Sati convinced me to see it – you see I’m pretty reluctant to see anything Western (I still haven’t seen ‘The Searchers’ yet) and especially if it has Kevin Costner in it, but it was featured at #75 on 1998 list, so it would be another one to cross off. I was pretty surprised to see the movie trending on Twitter when it aired and I even tweeted ‘Not bad for a Kevin Costner movie’. The plot was solid but what particularly impressed me was Costner’s directing which won an Academy award it was far better than his at times stiff acting and unbearable narration. The film is worth seeing even if just for the scene where they chase the buffalos – I really hope no animals were hurt during the filming of this epic movie that took five years to make and at times felt as long to watch. But what do you expect from a Western War film? I’d give it three stars.

See Kevin Costner winning Best Director at the 1991 Oscars

I’ve set my Sky Planner for ‘North by Northwest’ and ‘Rear Window’ – Come on Hitchcock, Grant and Stewart! Don’t disappoint!