Films in 2013: December

December was filled with holiday cheer, but also some sadness over the loss of great actors that I admired (RIP Eleanor Parker, Peter O’Toole, and Joan Fontaine!). I’ve only seen a few films each of Parker and O’Toole, but it’s easy to see how good they were in what I’d seen of them. Parker was an actress I grew up with thanks to The Sound of Music, and just a few months ago I was praising her performance in Caged. O’Toole gave one of my favorite movie monologues in his voice-over work in Ratatouille, and of course, he leaves a permanent mark in cinema thanks to Lawrence of Arabia, among other great performances. Unlike Parker and O’Toole, I have seen a good number of Fontaine’s films, and Rebecca was one of the first classic films I fell in love with, so she’s someone I’ve enjoyed seeing on the screen for a while. Anyway, that’s my small little tribute to three great movie legends! Aside from that, I watched a good number of movies and ended the year well!

New-to-Me: 40

Re-Watched: 9

New-to-Me Films by Decade:

  • 1920s – 1
  • 1930s – 3
  • 1940s – 15
  • 1950s – 6
  • 1960s – 4
  • 1970s – 1
  • 1980s – 4
  • 1990s – 3
  • 2000s – 2
  • 2010s – 1

List of New-to-Me Films:

  1. Going My Way (1944)
  2. The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945)
  3. Christmas in July (1940)
  4. Pierrot le fou (1965)
  5. The Clock (1945)
  6. The Mortal Storm (1940)
  7. While You Were Sleeping (1995)
  8. The Bride Wore Boots (1946)
  9. The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (1940)
  10. The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)
  11. Never Say Goodbye (1946)
  12. Second Chorus (1941)
  13. The Sky’s the Limit (1943)
  14. Yolanda and the Thief (1945)
  15. Ziegfeld Follies (1945)
  16. Three Little Words (1950)
  17. The Belle of New York (1952)
  18. Evelyn Prentice (1934)
  19. A Christmas Tale (2008)
  20. Presenting Lily Mars (1943)
  21. Scaramouche (1952)
  22. Interrupted Melody (1955)
  23. Bachelor Mother (1939)
  24. Finian’s Rainbow (1968)
  25. A Christmas Carol (1951)
  26. Joyeux Noël (2005)
  27. Double Wedding (1937)
  28. Amarcord (1973)
  29. A Christmas Story (1983)
  30. This Above All (1942)
  31. The Cameraman (1928)
  32. Little Women (1949)
  33. Lover Come Back (1961)
  34. Out of Africa (1985)
  35. Lolita (1962)
  36. Life is Beautiful (1997)
  37. Ivanhoe (1952)
  38. My Favorite Year (1982)
  39. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
  40. The Last Emperor (1987)

Trends and Notes

  • Watched 5 movies from the year 1945 (one of them was a re-watch).
  • Watched 4 movies directed by Vincente Minnelli (one of them was a re-watch).
  • Watched 4 movies starring/featuring Judy Garland (one of them was a re-watch).
  • One of my favorites Fred Astaire was TCM’s Star of the Month for December! So I ended up watching 9 of his films (7 of the new-to-me ones were viewed on the Watch TCM app, and I watched 6 of those 7 in a row). After watching 7 new Astaire movies, there are now only 7 left that I need to see from his filmography! And only 2 of them are musicals! Will be sad when I eventually won’t have a new Astaire musical to watch…so I’ll probably be putting off finishing his filmography for a while (or at least watch his older, non-musical movies first).
  • Watched 4 movies from the year 1952 (one of them was a re-watch of my favorite movie of all time, Singin’ in the Rain).
  • Watched 3 movies directed by Richard Thorpe.
  • After watching Double Wedding, I’ve completed William Powell’s and Myrna Loy’s partnership filmography (excluding a movie that Powell did where Loy made a cameo appearance).
  • As mentioned above, it was a sad month for classic movie fans. I watched 3 movies this month in honor of Eleanor Parker (2 in a row on TCM) and watched 2 movies each starring/featuring Joan Fontaine and Peter O’Toole. I was already planning on watching Never Say Goodbye and The Last Emperor this month though.
  • After watching Lolita, I’ve finished Stanley Kubrick’s filmography!
  • And after watching The Last Emperor, I have now seen EVERY BEST PICTURE WINNER! Now I can cross that off my movie bucket list.

Five Favorite Discoveries:

The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (1944)

The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (1944), directed by Preston Sturges

This is definitely the screwiest of Sturges’ screwball comedies, but what an enjoyable movie! I especially loved the scenes involving the father, played by the wonderful character actor (and a frequent player in Sturges’ films) William Demarest. Another clever screenplay from Sturges, it’s amazing this movie passed the censors given the subject matter.

Recommended if you enjoy: Preston Sturges! Also The Major and the Minor.

Never Say Goodbye (1946)

Never Say Goodbye (1946), directed by James V. Kern

My favorite holiday classic discovery this month! This film easily put a smile on my face the whole time, Errol Flynn is charming as usual and Eleanor Parker is a delight in this lighter role. And both actors had great chemistry and worked off each other well. Another one of my favorite character actors, S.Z. Sakall is great in this too, his scenes with Flynn in his restaurant were funny. There’s a hilarious scene in this movie where Flynn acts like a tough guy character in the vein of Humphrey Bogart…and none other than Bogart himself dubbed Flynn’s lines in this scene! For that reason alone I’d say this movie is worth checking out.

Recommended if you enjoy: Light romantic comedies.

Bachelor Mother (1939)

Bachelor Mother (1939), directed by Garson Kanin

This was my other favorite holiday classic this month. Ginger Rogers and David Niven are wonderful together, and it’s funny seeing them trying to work through misunderstandings while taking care of a baby. There are also some nice romantic scenes between the two along with the comedy. And Charles Coburn is a great addition to the cast as Niven’s father who wants a grandson of his own.

Recommended if you enjoy: Screwball comedies.

Life Is Beautiful (1997)

Life Is Beautiful (1997), directed by Roberto Benigni

I had actually seen most of the first half years ago when my parents were watching it (at that time I was very young so I didn’t remember it too well). It’s a movie that’s been on my watch list for some time, and I’m very glad I finally got around to watching it. Roberto Benigni is incredible in the Chaplin-esque role of Guido, I was laughing through much of the film (sometimes through tears given the situation). Speaking of the situation, it may not have shown a lot of the true horrors of the concentration camp, but I love that it instilled hope and what’s, for lack of a better word, beautiful about life. Sometimes ignorance is bliss, and in this case, it helped in keeping Guido’s son sane, and in some ways, Guido himself. This is really one of the most touching, lovely films I’ve seen. I also need to note how great Nicola Piovani’s score is!

Recommended if you enjoy: This movie is kind of a mix of Bicycle Thieves and It’s a Wonderful Life, at least in my opinion.

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), directed by Martin Scorsese

Unfortunately, I didn’t watch a lot of 2013 releases this year, but I’m sure this would still be near the top of the list. This is Martin Scorsese’s longest film to date, and there’s never a dull moment. It moves at a frenetic pace, fitting with the manic characters and their actions. Leonardo DiCaprio gives a hell of a performance as Jordan Belfort, my favorite of his to date (previously my favorite performance of his was in Scorsese’s The Aviator). The cast as a whole gave really solid performances, especially from Jonah Hill as Belfort’s confidante, Margot Robbie as Belfort’s second wife, Kyle Chandler as the FBI agent investigating Belfort, and Rob Reiner as Belfort’s father. And on a personal, minor note, it was great seeing Jean Dujardin in a Scorsese movie! I’m glad he’s getting more exposure in films now after his Oscar win for The Artist.

Recommended if you enjoyGoodfellas…anything Scorsese really.

Next week I’ll make a wrap-up post on movies I watched overall in 2013!

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