Movie Roundup: Two Weekends Per Week Edition

What Price Hollywood? – An early version of the A Star is Born formula, directed by George Cukor (who would remake William Wellman’s original Star in the 50s) and starring Constance Bennett as the girl who talks her way into an acting gig, becomes a big star and suffers the consequences. Lowell Sherman is occasionally quite good as the drunken director who gives her a shot. Filled with cool little inside-Hollywood details, in particular Bennett working all night to perfect her first line reading is a nice demonstration of the art of acting and just how hard it really is. For a great in-depth look at the film, check out the always awesome The Self-Styled Siren. The #12 film of 1932.

Theodora Goes Wild – Irene Dunne stars as the daughter of the most powerful family in a small New England town dominated by a cabal of repressed old ladies. She is also the anonymous author of a scandalous romance novel, one that every woman in town reads in private and denounces in public. Melvyn Douglas discovers her true identity and tries to get her to expose herself and publicly rebel. The plot gets more dizzying from there, with more personae for Dunne and Douglas, a teenage pregnancy and a visit from the governor. Less a hysterical screwball comedy than it is a fascinatingly complex one, its array of masked identities and social critiques are brilliantly discussed in James Harvey’s Romantic Comedy in Hollywood. Dunne is terrific and Douglas is as serviceable as ever: he’s basically just a blander Don Ameche. The #7 film of 1936.

Japanese Girls at the Harbor – I spent much of the time watching this silent film trying to figure out the plot, not because it’s complicated (it isn’t at all) but because it’s so beautifully composed that I found myself still thinking about the images when I should have been reading the title cards. It’s one of the prettiest films I’ve ever seen, classically Japanese and wholly different in look from the other film by director Hiroshi Shimizu I’ve seen (Mr. Thank You, which I’ll get to in a later Roundup). The plot, as much as I could piece together, that is, concerns two girls, one of whom starts dating a low-level gangster. When they catch the gangster cheating, one girl shoots the cheatee and runs off to become a prostitute. Years later she meets the gangster again, who has now married her former friend. To be reductive, you could say it combines the best elements of Ozu (formal composition) with a Mizoguchi plot (prostitutes!) while expressing both directors humanistic generosity. But it’s better than any of the 1930s films I’ve seen from either of those two greats. As elemental as Sunrise or The Docks of New York, it immediately joins those two among my favorite silent films. The #2 film of 1933.

Coney Island – A Fatty Arbuckle-Buster Keaton short that does about all you can with the “fat guy in a tight dress” comedy premise. It’s has some fun playing with gender roles, I guess, but mostly it’s only notable for the pre-star performance of Keaton, who steals the show. The #3 film of 1917.

Sundown – I managed to tivo a half dozen or so Gene Tierney movies during TCM’s Gene Tierney Day in August (shouldn’t every day be Gene Tierney Day?) and this is the first. It’s a throughly entertaining Henry Hathaway African Adventure movie, if you can call a film that appears to have been made on three sets an adventure film. Tierney plays the daughter of a trader who gets mixed up in a branch of World War II in East Africa with Brits fighting Nazis (both sides want to arm the Masai, or something). Bruce Cabot’s the star of the film, the leader of the English outpost possessed of a charmingly British benevolent imperialist point of view (think David Farrar in Black Narcissus). George Sanders plays his by-the-book superior and Harry Carey plays a craggly hunter. The #16 film of 1941.

China Girl – The next in the Tierney marathon (which will continue in future Roundups), this time she plays a half Chinese girl who bewitches George Montgomery’s dashing photojournalist in another Henry Hathaway World War II film. Montgomery’s trying to cover the Japanese invasion of China, Tierney’s trying to help her dad talk about peace and teach children English, and Victor McLaglen and Lynn Bari are Japanese agents (but not actually Japanese, to be clear) trying to either co-opt or kill Montgomery. And the 9-year old Robert Blake (that really creepy guy from Lost Highway) plays Montgomery’s child guide. The screenplay by Ben Hecht is tight, this is one of those films Spielberg and Lucas and Kasdan must have been thinking of when they wrote Raiders of the Lost Ark. The #11 film of 1942.

Petulia – I don’t know much about Richard Lester. He directed some wacky comedies in Britain in the 1960s (A Hard Day’s Night is the only one I’ve seen) and he directed the middle two Christopher Reeve Superman films. He also directed my mom’s favorite Three Musketeers film. None of that is helpful preparation for this film, which feels like a culmination of 60s cinema. Like Blow-Up, it’s an art movie set in a pop world, but unlike Antonioni’s film, it adopts a free-wheeling candy-colored style that owes a lot to Godard but that Lester had used in A Hard Day’s Night as well. It also features some quick associational cuts that immediately reminded me of Nicolas Roeg, who I was pleased to find out was this film’s cinematographer. Plotwise, it’s plays like a sequel to Breakfast at Tiffany’s, with Julie Christie’s title character playing the manic pixie of divorced doctor George C. Scott’s dreams. Christie, though, is married to Richard Chamberlin’s handsome rich guy who is also, of course, totally evil. Where Blake Edwards’s Tiffany’s film edited out all the darkness from the book, Lester manages to balance the whimsy with a whole lot of darkness, and the film is all the more heart-breaking for it. The road from this to Superman III has to be a great story. The #6 film of 1968.

The Big Parade – King Vidor’s World War I epic was one of the most successful films of the silent era. It stars John Gilbert, most famous for his pairings with Greta Garbo and his squeaky-voiced failure to transition to talking pictures (which may very well be a myth). Gilbert plays a rich guy who signs up for the war, makes friends with a bartender and construction worker, falls in love with a French girl and goes to the trenches. The battle sequences are terrific, as harrowing and horrifying as anything we see now, almost 100 years later (The Pacific, for example, may be more graphically violent, but the emotional devastation isn’t any more real). It’s easy to see why Gilbert was so popular: he’s totally charming and graceful in the comic sequences and very moving in the dramatic. I can’t say he looks like he should have a very deep voice though. The #2 film of 1925.

The Phenix City Story – Reputed to be Phil Karlson’s B movie masterpiece, and I’m not going to disagree with that. It’s a recreation of the fight against corruption in a small Alabama town (seems the local military base uses the town as a rec center, replete with gambling halls and prostitutes) that opens with a lengthy news report on the reality of what we’re about to see, featuring interviews with local citizens. The noirish documentary style is a pulpier version of the procedurals of the late 40s (Jules Dassin’s The Naked City, Anthony Mann’s T-Men, which also features a documentary opening sequence, as I recall), but with the nastiness of late 50s noir (Kiss Me Deadly, various Samuel Fuller films). More than those films, though, Karlson creates a palpable sense of a real community, albeit one dramatically at war with itself. Not the least interesting thing about the film is the way it obliquely deals with race: one of the heroes is black, and his daughter is one of the gangster’s victims. The parallels between the criminal gang running the town and the KKK gangsterism of the era (which would become famous a decade later during the peak of the Civil Rights movement) are inescapable, but Karlson never draws attention to the issue. The equation of mob to mob is made elegantly and inarguably. The #7 film of 1955.

The Black Swan – The first part of a TCM-enabled Maureen O’Hara Pirate Movie Double Feature (the second part being a rewatch of Frank Borzage’s The Spanish Main, which I enjoyed a lot more the second time around). Tyrone Power stars as a pirate who goes straight when his boss Captain Morgan (Laird Cregar) becomes the legitimate governor of Jamaica. Not that that helps him much in his romance with O’Hara, the former governor’s hot daughter. Villainy comes in the form of an absurdly red-haired and -bearded George Sanders, a pirate who refuses to sell out to the man. Thomas Mitchell and Anthony Quinn also star in what adds up to a whole lot of fun, much more so than the other adaptation of a Rafael Sabatini novel I’ve seen, 1935’s Captain Blood (despite that film’s memorable combination of Errol Flynn, Basil Rathbone, Olivia DeHaviland and Michael Curtiz, for most of its run it’s boring as hell), for which I’m going to credit screenwriter Ben Hecht. O’Hara and Sanders are as wonderful as ever here, and Power is at his Clooneyest. The #12 film of 1942.

My Top 600 Films of All-Time

Two years ago, I made a Top 150 Films of All-Time list. That wasn’t enough, so last year, I came up with a Top 250. This year, I had to stop at 600. The idea of ranking 600 movies is, of course, ridiculous. But look, cool pictures!

1. Seven Samurai

2. Chungking Express

3. Casablanca

4. Singin’ in the Rain

5. Annie Hall

6. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans

7. The Red Shoes

8. The Searchers

9. Days of Heaven

10. Duck Soup

11. The Rules of the Game

12. The Big Lebowski

13. Pierrot le fou

14. Manhattan

15. Playtime

16. Millennium Mambo

17. Touch of Evil

18. The New World

19. Bringing Up Baby

20. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

21. The Shop Around the Corner

22. Miller’s Crossing

23. Rear Window

24. Citizen Kane

25. Rio Bravo

26. All About Eve

27. Black Narcissus

28. A Woman is a Woman

29. Ugetsu

30. Vertigo

31. Stranger than Paradise

32. The Docks of New York

33. A Canterbury Tale

34. Mulholland Dr.

35. City Lights

36. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

37. A Matter of Life and Death

38. North By Northwest

39. Stagecoach

40. The General

41. Ran

42. It’s a Wonderful Life

43. Once Upon a Time in the West

44. The Quiet Man

45. Late Spring

46. M. Hulot’s Holiday

47. Two-Lane Blacktop

48. The Big Sleep

49. The 36th Chamber of Shaolin

50. The Adventures of Robin Hood

51. Dead Man

52. Hard-Boiled

53. Make Way for Tomorrow

54. Tokyo Story

55. The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

56. Psycho

57. Three Colors: Blue

58. The Philadelphia Story

59. The Royal Tenenbaums

60. I Am Cuba

61. All That Jazz

62. Gone with the Wind

63. Zulu

64. Voyage in Italy

65. L’Eclisse

66. Morocco

67. The Wind That Shakes the Barley

68. Out of the Past

69. Punch-Drunk Love

70. House of Flying Daggers

71. Funny Face

72. Swing Time

73. Last Year at Marienbad

74. Dazed and Confused

75. Celine and Julie Go Boating

76. Pulp Fiction

77. The Godfather Part II

78. Andrei Rublev

79. Rushmore

80. Histoire(s) du cinema

81. Only Angels Have Wings

82. The Third Man

83. Apocalypse Now

84. Satantango

85. 2046

86. The Band Wagon

87. The Birds

88. Sherlock Jr

89. Au hasard Balthazar

90. Sans soleil

91. The Pirate

92. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

93. The Lady Eve

94. Slacker

95. Fallen Angels

96. An American in Paris

97. Johnny Guitar

98. Miami Vice

99. My Night at Maud’s

100. Japanese Girls at the Harbor

101. Raiders of the Lost Ark
102. 2001: A Space Odyssey
103. To Have and Have Not
104. 8 1/2
105. In a Lonely Place
106. Trouble in Paradise
107. Rashomon
108. Gunga Din
109. Day of Wrath
110. LA Story
111. Steamboat Bill Jr.
112. Young Mr. Lincoln
113. Jaws
114. Chimes at Midnight
115. Red River
116. The Lion in Winter
117. L’Atalante
118. Tabu
119. In the Mood for Love
120. Lola
121. Contempt
122. Double Indemnity
123. All That Heaven Allows
124. The Princess Bride
125. F For Fake

126. My Darling Clementine
127. Hiroshima, mon amour
128. Ivan the Terrible Part 1
129. Eyes Wide Shut
130. Fitzcarraldo
131. 7 Women
132. Cat People
133. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
134. Kill Bill Vol. 1
135. The Empire Strikes Back
136. Tropical Malady
137. Les Amants du Pont-Neuf
138. Intolerance
139. Hannah and Her Sisters
140. Boogie Nights
141. The Manchurian Candidate
142. The Battle of Algiers
143. Harvey
144. Unforgiven
145. Do the Right Thing
146. The Thin Red Line
147. Top Hat
148. M
149. Ikiru
150. L’Avventura

151. Dr. Strangelove
152. Chinatown
153. Battleship Potemkin
154. The Passion of Joan of Arc
155. Mean Streets
156. The Awful Truth
157. Trainspotting
158. A History of Violence
159. Lawrence of Arabia
160. There Will Be Blood
161. Airplane!
162. Dragon Inn
163. Charade
164. Rome, Open City
165. Taxi Driver
166. Heaven’s Gate
167. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
168. The Life of Brian
169. Three Times
170. The Leopard
171. Shoot the Piano Player
172. Throne of Blood
173. The Lady from Shanghai
174. Don’t Look Back
175. Kicking and Screaming

176. Oxhide II
177. McCabe & Mrs. Miller
178. Last Life in the Universe
179. The Godfather
180. Some Came Running
181. Kiss Me Deadly
182. Unfaithfully Yours
183. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
184. The Lady Vanishes
185. Ghost Dog
186. Ashes of Time
187. The Gang’s All Here
188. The Seventh Seal
189. Pennies from Heaven
190. Shanghai Express
191. Sleeping Beauty
192. The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp
193. Inglourious Basterds
194. The Man with a Movie Camera
195. The Double Life of Veronique
196. Blow-Up
197. The World
198. Stromboli
199. The Wizard of Oz
200. Notorious

201. Ivan the Terrible Part 2
202. A Touch of Zen
203. Vampyr
204. Cranes Are Flying
205. His Girl Friday
206. Children of Paradise
207. WALL-E
208. Sansho the Bailiff
209. The Steel Helmet
210. The Last of the Mohicans
211. Ruggles of Red Gap
212. Big Night
213. Sunset Blvd.
214. Cabaret
215. Fantasia
216. Claire’s Knee
217. The Outlaw Josey Wales
218. Yojimbo
219. Glengarry Glen Ross
220. Wild Grass
221. My Winnipeg
222. The Blue Angel
223. Written on the Wind
224. Taste of Cherry
225. Sita Sings the Blues

226. Park Row
227. Letter from an Unknown Woman
228. The Passenger
229. Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles
230. Hero
231. Walkabout
232. Early Summer
233. Jezebel
234. Some Like it Hot
235. Star Wars
236. Laura
237. Rosemary’s Baby
238. Frankenstein
239. La Danse
240. Now, Voyager
241. Nights of Cabiria
242. A Christmas Tale
243. Underworld
244. The Green Ray
245. Still Life
246. Orlando
247. The Right Stuff
248. Zelig
249. Reservoir Dogs
250. Platoon

251. Paths of Glory
252. City Girl
253. Dangerous Liaisons
254. Kiss Me Kate
255. Alien
256. Fight Club
257. I’m Not There
258. Mogambo
259. Spirited Away
260. The Gold Rush
261. Goodbye, Dragon Inn
262. Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
263. The Exterminating Angel
264. The Young Girls of Rochefort
265. The Great Escape
266. Don’t Look Now
267. Scarlet Street
268. New Rose Hotel
269. Cleo from 5 To 7
270. Hallelujah, I’m a Bum
271. The Big Red One
272. Brief Encounter
273. Sanjuro
274. The 400 Blows
275. Madame de. . .

276. Six Degrees of Separation
277. The Matrix
278. The Naked Spur
279. Henry V (1989)
280. Anchorman
281. Days of Being Wild
282. Going My Way
283. Lost Highway
284. Night of the Living Dead
285. Metropolitan
286. Wagon Master
287. Kill Bill Vol. 2
288. Ratatouille
289. The River (1951)
290. Kings and Queen
291. The Atomic Café
292. Three Colors: Red
293. Le Samourai
294. Alexander Nevsky
295. Godzilla
296. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
297. Yi yi
298. Winchester ’73
299. The Departed
300. The Road Warrior

301. Broken Blossoms
302. Syndromes and a Century
303. The Age of the Medici
304. Rebecca
305. The Palm Beach Story
306. This is Spinal Tap
307. Badlands
308. Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)
309. Ninotchka
310. On Dangerous Ground
311. Devil’s Doorway
312. Platform
313. Stalker
314. They Were Expendable
315. The Tai Chi Master
316. Pickpocket
317. Twentieth Century
318. The Girl Can’t Help It
319. Groundhog Day
320. The Long Goodbye
321. Quiz Show
322. Police Story
323. The Fellowship of the Ring
324. King Kong (1933)
325. The Killer

326. Night of the Hunter
327. The Purple Rose of Cairo
328. The Sword of Doom
329. There’s Always Tomorrow
330. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
331. Scarface
332. Muriel
333. Amadeus
334. Hell in the Pacific
335. Meet Me in St. Louis
336. The Last Days of Disco
337. She Wore a Yellow Ribbon
338. The Limits of Control
339. Under the Roofs of Paris
340. Midnight
341. Exiled
342. Detour
343. Breathless
344. Ghostbusters
345. The Maltese Falcon
346. The Scarlet Empress
347. The Wind Will Carry Us
348. Suspicion
349. The Grand Illusion
350. Age of Consent

351. Petulia
352. Come Drink With Me
353. New York, New York
354. Judge Priest
355. Once Upon a Time in China
356. Waterloo Bridge
357. Kind Hearts and Coronets
358. Leave Her to Heaven
359. High and Low
360. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
361. Dodsworth
362. Pandora and the Flying Dutchman
363. On the Waterfront
364. The Thing from Another World
365. The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail
366. What Time is it There?
367. Kung Fu Hustle
368. Fantastic Mr. Fox
369. Happy Together
370. Gun Crazy
371. Nanook of the North
372. The Story of the Late Chrysanthemums
373. Three Comrades
374. The Blues Brothers
375. Tokyo Twilight

376. Drunken Master II
377. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
378. The Bells of St. Mary’s
379. The Puppetmaster
380. The French Connection
381. Centre Stage
382. The Set-Up
383. My Own Private Idaho
384. Modern Times
385. Barry Lyndon
386. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter. . . and Spring
387. Caddyshack
388. The Last Waltz
389. Ordet
390. Paisan
391. Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror
392. The English Patient
393. PTU
394. The Ox-Bow Incident
395. Week End
396. The Mission
397. Sleeper
398. Pi
399. Die Hard
400. The Best Years of Our Lives

401. The Shining
402. Mr. Arkadin
403. Harakiri
404. Bull Durham
405. 42nd Street
406. Archangel
407. Fort Apache
408. Mon Oncle
409. The Dawn Patrol
410. Barton Fink
411. Almost Famous
412. Seven Men From Now
413. Point Blank
414. Tokyo Chorus
415. Killer of Sheep
416. Man of the West
417. Our Daily Bread
418. 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days . . .
419. Aguirre: The Wrath of God
420. Empire of the Sun
421. Pickup on South Street
422. I Walked with a Zombie
423. Starship Troopers
424. Destry Rides Again
425. Jackie Brown

426. How Green Was My Valley
427. Goodbye South, Goodbye
428. The Last Laugh
429. The Conformist
430. The Ghost & Mrs. Muir
431. April Story
432. Seventh Heaven
433. Princess Raccoon
434. Morvern Callar
435. Lola Montes
436. I Know Where I’m Going!
437. The Thin Man
438. Joe vs. the Volcano
439. Breakfast at Tiffany’s
440. Orphans of the Storm
441. The 39 Steps
442. Summer Hours
443. Magnolia
444. Sabrina
445. Irma Vep
446. Gilda
447. Flight of the Red Balloon
448. Air Force
449. You, the Living
450. The Wild Bunch

451. The Legend of Fong Sai Yuk
452. It Happened One Night
453. The Big Heat
454. The Shanghai Gesture
455. Wee Willie Winkie
456. No Country for Old Men
457. Blissfully Yours
458. Fist of Legend
459. Heaven Can Wait (1943)
460. Love and Death
461. Like You Know it All
462. Grindhouse
463. The Killing
464. The Flowers of Shanghai
465. Shutter Island
466. Eccentricities of a Blond Hair Girl
467. Le Cercle rouge
468. Le Million
469. Nosferatu, the Vampyre
470. Le Jour se leve
471. American Graffiti
472. Red Cliff
473. Stolen Kisses
474. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
475. Lancelot du lac

476. The Tall T
477. 24 City
478. Baby Face
479. Donovan’s Reef
480. True Romance
481. Masculin feminin
482. Predator
483. Bottle Rocket
484. Climates
485. The Sweet Smell of Success
486. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie
487. Out of Africa
488. Shadow of a Doubt
489. Full Metal Jacket
490. Floating Weeds
491. Bend of the River
492. Anatomy of a Murder
493. Grizzly Man
494. Limelight
495. Red Dust
496. Fucking Åmål
497. Nashville
498. Run Lola Run
499. Shock Corridor
500. Blade Runner

501. Alice in Wonderland (1951)
502. A Bridge Too Far
503. Broadcast News
504. Early Spring
505. Magnificent Obsession
506. Reds
507. Private Fears in Public Places
508. Picnic at Hanging Rock
509. Thieves’ Highway
510. Jour de fete
511. Army of Shadows
512. Brigadoon
513. True Heart Susie
514. Spring in a Small Town
515. A Letter to Three Wives
516. Café Lumiere
517. Patton
518. Stray Dog
519. Woodstock
520. La Strada
521. The Deer Hunter
522. Sisters of the Gion
523. Odd Man Out
524. Gates of Heaven
525. Before Sunrise

526. 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her
527. Love Affair
528. Goodfellas
529. The Big Parade
530. The Death of Mr. Lazarescu
531. Ong Bak: Muay Thai Warrior
532. I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone
533. Existenz
534. Seven
535. A Time to Love and a Time to Die
536. Bigger Than Life
537. The Magnificent Ambersons
538. My Life to Live
539. The Devil is a Woman
540. The Phenix City Story
541. The Letter
542. To Be or Not To Be
543. The Tarnished Angels
544. The Hidden Fortress
545. Still Walking
546. The Black Stallion
547. Aliens
548. I Married a Witch
549. Every Man for Himself and God Against All
550. The Conversation

551. The Color of Pomegranates
552. The Asphalt Jungle
553. Bonnie and Clyde
554. Alphaville
555. After Life
556. Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid
557. 3 Bad Men
558. Simon of the Desert
559. Monsieur Verdoux
560. The Story of a Cheat
561. Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?
562. I Love Melvin
563. The Taking of Power by Louis XIV
564. Fireworks
565. A Story of Floating Weeds
566. The Adventures of Prince Achmed
567. Othello
568. Europa ’51
569. Night and the City
570. Animal House
571. A Clockwork Orange
572. The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)
573. The Life of Oharu
574. The Last Command
575. Tout va bien

576. Ishtar
577. The Verdict
578. Waltz with Bashir
579. Wings
580. You Think You’re the Prettiest but You Are the Sluttiest
581. Mirror
582. I Was Born But. . .
583. Greed
584. AI: Artificial Inteligence
585. Street of Shame
586. Earth
587. The Last Temptation of Christ
588. The Hitch-Hiker
589. The Jerk
590. My Blueberry Nights
591. Close-Up
592. Babes in Arms
593. The Iron Horse
594. Passion
595. The Spirit of the Beehive
596. The Last Emperor
597. Crimes and Misdemeanors
598. Solaris
599. Woman on the Beach (2006)
600. The Kid