March was a great month for me, as it usually is because it’s my birthday month. I watched a lot of movies that I found quite enjoyable, even ones that aren’t considered “great” (such as The Towering Inferno, I really liked it, though a lot of that might be due to the all-star cast). Then again, I found myself watching several movies that I just didn’t care for, but that’s something I don’t like to dwell on in these monthly wrap-ups, so onto the positives…
New-to-Me Films by Decade:
- 1920s – 1
- 1930s – 2
- 1940s – 12
- 1950s – 6
- 1960s – 7
- 1970s – 3
- 1980s – 2
- 1990s – 2
- 2000s – 3
- 2010s – 3
List of New-to-Me Films:
- All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
- Witness for the Prosecution (1957)
- The Fortune Cookie (1966)
- The English Patient (1996)
- The Pink Panther (1963)
- Pygmalion (1938)
- The King and I (1956)
- Anchors Aweigh (1945)
- Picnic (1955)
- Black Narcissus (1947)
- Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (2011)
- The Painted Veil (2006)
- Oz: The Great and Powerful (2013)
- The Harvey Girls (1946)
- The Major and the Minor (1942)
- You Belong to Me (1941)
- Madame Curie (1943)
- Amélie (2011)
- Purple Noon (1960)
- Three Days of the Condor (1975)
- The Towering Inferno (1974)
- Volver (2006)
- Barry Lyndon (1975)
- The Quiet Man (1952)
- Santa Fe Trail (1940)
- Too Many Husbands (1940)
- Portrait of Jennie (1948)
- Primrose Path (1940)
- The Hidden Fortress (1958)
- Spring Breakers (2013)
- The Sandpiper (1965)
- High and Low (1963)
- The Talk of the Town (1942)
- Foreign Correspondent (1940)
- The Night of the Iguana (1964)
- Rio Bravo (1959)
- Top Gun (1986)
- The Last Temptation of Christ (1989)
- The Broadway Melody (1929)
- Le Samouraï (1967)
- Shallow Grave (1994)
Trends and Notes
- Watched 3 movies directed by Billy Wilder (2 of them in a row).
- Watched 3 movies featuring/starring Deborah Kerr.
- Watched my first 2013 releases this month, and both movies happen to star James Franco.
- Barry Lyndon is the 7th movie I’ve seen directed by Stanley Kubrick, so I’m now more than halfway through his filmography (not counting the 3 documentary shorts he did).
- Santa Fe Trail marked my halfway point in Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland’s pairing filmography.
- One of my goals for this year is to watch more and more films in the Criterion Collection, and this month I watched 8 of them! Additionally, half of them were foreign (another goal for me this year is to watch more foreign films)…and 2 of them were directed by Akira Kurosawa, and the other 2 starred Alain Delon.
Five Favorite Discoveries:
Before I delve a bit into my favorite film discoveries of the month, I must say it was especially difficult this month narrowing it down to a top 5. So this month it’ll be a top 6. Plus I usually like to only include one film per director in the top 5, and I couldn’t decide between two Billy Wilder movies to talk about, so why not include both!
This was one of the last movies I watched for TCM’s 31 Days of Oscar, and it was a lot of fun to watch (I also want to say thanks to Todd for giving me that extra push to finally check this out). The cast is excellent in this, and I have to single out Marlene Dietrich since the Academy failed to recognize her, she was phenomenal in this. I’m surprised I didn’t get to watch this sooner since it has elements that I love in films, such as it being a courtroom drama and all the twists and turns it takes to keep your interest.
Can’t think of any specific films that are similar to this at the moment, but if you’re a fan of Billy Wilder or Alfred Hitchcock then you’re in for a treat. I’m not very familiar with Agatha Christie but I’m sure if you’re a fan of her work you’ll enjoy this adaptation as well.
Every year I try to watch a movie I know I’ll love on my birthday (usually it’s one I’ve seen before though). This year I chose Black Narcissus because of all the acclaim it has, and also because I was on a bit of a Deborah Kerr kick. Anyway, watching this film really took my breath away. I’m not exaggerating when I say this is one of the most beautifully filmed movies I’ve seen. Not only that but the location and story heightened Jack Cardiff’s cinematography, as everything was so mysterious.
Recommended if you enjoy: Jack Cardiff’s cinematography in The African Queen and The Red Shoes (also directed by Powell and Pressburger).
Only Billy Wilder could pull off a film like this with its premise of Ginger Rogers posing as a 12-year-old girl. Rogers really breathes life into this role, I can’t imagine anyone else playing Susan Applegate as realistically as she did. Ray Milland is also equally charismatic in this romantic comedy. It amazes me that this was Wilder’s directorial debut, what a way to start a directing career.
Recommended if you enjoy: The works of Billy Wilder (such as Sabrina), and Ginger Rogers (such as Vivacious Lady), and screwball comedies in general.
It took me way too long to finally watch this. This film was really a joy to watch, and the story is just so lovely and sincere. Audrey Tautou really captivated me as she gives such a charming performance as the title character. I honestly can’t imagine anyone hating this film as it can easily cheer you up and put a big grin on your face.
Recommended if you enjoy: The only film that comes to mind is Big Fish, though Amélie also has qualities that remind me a lot of a Wes Anderson film.
Criterion celebrated Akira Kurosawa’s birthday weekend with free access to many of his films on Hulu. It was a perfect time to finally introduce myself to his films as I’ve heard so many great things about them. I only managed to watch two (this and The Hidden Fortress), and I enjoyed both immensely. High and Low seems to be a little underrated as I don’t hear it mentioned as often as Seven Samurai and Rashomon, which I’m certain are masterpieces themselves and I’ll definitely check them out when I can. But anyway, High and Low is interesting as in some ways, it’s almost like two separate films. The first half deals with a millionaire stuck in a situation where he has to do either what’s morally right, or stick with what he’s worked all his life to accomplish. And then the second half shifts gears a bit when it follows the police chasing the criminal that originally put said millionaire in a tough situation. This film really keeps your interest the whole time with its thrills, and though it’s almost 2 1/2 hours, it isn’t slow at all.
Recommended if you enjoy: Films by the Coen brothers such as The Big Lebowski (which references High and Low) and Blood Simple. And crime dramas in general.
I had to include a film starring Alain Delon as he’s one of my favorite new discoveries in film this year. He plays the cool, distant hitman Jef Costello so well. I also have to say, I love the look of this film, it’s as cold as its protagonist who is driven by money. Jef isn’t an easily identifiable character, but he’s certainly intriguing and keeps the film moving.
No specific films come to mind that is similar to this, but you’ll enjoy this if you love films in the noir and crime genres.