Monday, September 24, 2007

Cinema Scope

As my celluloid fever rages, I am often asked what films I think are worth watching. While I certainly have guilty pleasure films – “Mean Girls,” “Van Wilder,” “Something’s Gotta Give” (don’t ask) – I also keep a list of movies that need to be watched. Movies that will change your life and blow your mind, or at least provide 90 minutes of laughs.

Brining you the first installment of this series – The Classics – Part I:

“It Happened One Night” (1943):
Starring Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable and directed by the great Frank Capra, this film tells the story of a run-away heiress, Ellie Andrews (Colbert), who ends up on the lam with a scheming newspaper reporter, Peter Warne (Gable) when she tries to get away from her controlling father. As usually follows in the boy meets heiress story, Peter falls for Ellie, despite his intentions to try to cash in on her story. What's impressive about this film is the strength of both its lead characters – especially Ellie. Considering it was released in 1934, Ellie is an exceedingly strong and stubborn female - who doesn't let up or back down for most of the film. She willingly pits herself against Peter and gives us that fabulous hitchhiking scene where she "shows some leg" to catch a ride.

"The Thin Man" (1943):
This comedy-mystery revolves around a husband and wife team - Nick and Nora Charles (William Powell, Myrna Loy) - who set out to solve a murder case that may or may not involve the inventor-father of Dorothy Wynant (Maureen O'Sullivan). When other characters become suspects as well, the Charles couple takes action to solve the mystery – clearly, the best way to figure out who dunnit is to throw a dinner party. I don't know about you, but throwing a dinner party where all the guests are suspects in a murder case sounds a bit risky… "The Thin Man" is quite brilliant in its blend of suspense and humor. Powell and Loy play off each other exceedingly well and create a cohesive team. And while "It Happened One Night" swept the Oscars for best picture, best director, best lead female actress (Colbert) and best lead male actor (Gable) - "The Thin Man" took home a statue for best writing (adapted screenplay), and it shows. The film is really quite witty - best showcased though the dialogue between Nick and Nora.

Worth a second (or 14th) viewing:
“The Wizard Of Oz”
“The Sound Of Music”

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