Films in 2016: April

In April I ended up watching more musicals than usual and even started the month off with one that was Oscar-nominated for Best Picture. This was also due in part to Judy Garland being TCM’s Star of the Month, though most of what I saw that I hadn’t seen previously were movies that showcased the musical abilities of MGM’s stars. Alongside all the musicals, I also watched a few of Gregory Peck’s films throughout the month in honor of his centennial. And finally, I finished Billy Wilder’s filmography, having watched his last three films in April. So sadly I have no more new movies of his to look forward to, at least of the ones he directed in Hollywood. But at least he left behind some great films that I’ll continue to re-watch again and again. Anyway, let’s take a look at what I watched over the past 30 days.

New-to-Me: 34

Re-Watched: 8

New-to-Me Films by Decade:

  • 1920s – 1
  • 1930s – 2
  • 1940s – 5
  • 1950s – 8
  • 1960s – 3
  • 1970s – 4
  • 1980s – 4
  • 1990s – 2
  • 2000s – 4
  • 2010s – 1

List of New-to-Me Films:

  1. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)
  2. Murder on the Orient Express (1974)
  3. Away from Her (2006)
  4. Little Children (2006)
  5. The Keys of the Kingdom (1944)
  6. A Conversation with Gregory Peck (1999)
  7. Mogambo (1953)
  8. The Front Page (1974)
  9. S.O.B. (1981)
  10. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: 50 Years of Magic (1990)
  11. The Macomber Affair (1947)
  12. Pandora’s Box (1929)
  13. Deathtrap (1982)
  14. Kiss Me Kate (1953)
  15. Beloved Infidel (1959)
  16. Une chambre en ville (1982)
  17. Fedora (1978)
  18. North Country (2005)
  19. Give a Girl a Break (1953)
  20. Kid Nightingale (1939)
  21. The Main Event (1979)
  22. The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952)
  23. Model Shop (1969)
  24. Girl Crazy (1943)
  25. Thousands Cheer (1943)
  26. The Jungle Book (2016)
  27. History Is Made at Night (1937)
  28. Bus Stop (1956)
  29. Sweet Bird of Youth (1962)
  30. Till the Clouds Roll By (1946)
  31. The Best of Everything (1959)
  32. The Savages (2007)
  33. Buddy Buddy (1981)
  34. Marriage Italian Style (1964)

A Few Favorite Discoveries:

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954), directed by Stanley Donen

I enjoyed this movie a lot more than I thought I would, as I had put it off for a while because of its premise. But with Stanley Donen at the helm, it made for a fun musical. The barn raising scene exceeded my expectations as I had always heard how great it was, and it’s definitely one of my favorite dance scenes from a musical now. I also loved the “Lonesome Polecat” number, which was amazingly done in a single shot. The actors portraying the brothers and brides were all wonderful too, but the ones that stood out the most were Russ Tamblyn, Tommy Rall, and the film’s stars Jane Powell and Howard Keel.

Kiss Me Kate (1953)

Kiss Me Kate (1953), directed by George Sidney

About a week after watching Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, I checked out this movie from the library as both Howard Keel and Tommy Rall were in it, along with Kathryn Grayson and Ann Miller. I liked Keel and Grayson together in Show Boat, but I really loved them here as they had a heated relationship. And their operatic voices blend perfectly together. But Ann Miller was the one that stole the show for me, and I loved seeing her paired with Rall. And it was a real treat to see young Bob Fosse dancing. Anyway, this movie was a real joy for me to watch, and I’ve been listening to the Cole Porter songs on its soundtrack since.

History Is Made at Night (1937)

History Is Made at Night (1937), directed by Frank Borzage

This movie had been sitting in my Hulu queue for a couple of years, but I’m glad I finally got around to watching it (though its print isn’t the best). Jean Arthur is one of my favorite actresses, and she’s great as she usually is as a woman trying to escape from her possessive, jealous husband. Colin Clive plays the man, and he’s truly one of the scariest husbands I’ve seen in a movie, the lengths he’ll go to to keep Arthur as his wife. Charles Boyer is terrific as a charming French waiter, with whom Arthur falls in love. She and Boyer make a good pair, and you really hope that it works out for them. I also have to say, the climax of the movie is eerily similar to James Cameron’s Titanic, even aside from the ship being hit by an iceberg. If you haven’t seen the movie, I recommend checking it out, and it’s streaming for free on Hulu now.

This was another movie that I ended up enjoying more than I thought I would. It follows three secretaries trying to navigate their way through the workplace and in their respective love lives. Hope Lange, Diane Baker, and Suzy Parker play the three young women, and the rapport between them is wonderful. The film itself boasts quite a cast, which includes Brian Aherne, Louis Jourdan, and the great Joan Crawford. Though Crawford has a supporting role, her presence is magnetic, and your eyes always go to her whenever she’s in a scene. It’s surely a melodramatic film (especially the scenes with Parker and Jourdan), but it has some interesting things to say about the struggle women face in the workplace.

Marriage Italian Style (1964)

Marriage Italian Style (1964), directed by Vittorio De Sica

TCM had an evening dedicated to Sophia Loren a few nights ago, which included her interview from the TCM Film Festival last year. This was a movie she was very fond of, and she said of all the films she did with co-star Marcello Mastroianni it was her favorite. And after watching it I can see why, as they both play characters that I’m sure were fun to play. Though Mastroianni is great here, this movie really belongs to Loren, and I was amazed by her performance in it. She does an excellent job of balancing both the comedy and drama in the film, and her Oscar nomination for it was very well deserved. This is only the second movie I’ve seen starring the two Italian icons (the other being Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow), and I can’t wait to see more of their films together.

8 thoughts on “Films in 2016: April

  1. So you saw Fedora, with Bill, which I still have to see. We actually saw most of the same films, I was so happy to watch a bunch of musicals as well!

  2. Loren and Mastroianni are wonderful together, aren’t they? I’ve only seen three of their films — the two that you’ve seen and Sunflower — and I need to see more. I actually recorded The Priest’s Wife during TCM’s Loren marathon the other night but haven’t gotten around to watching it yet. (I suspect it might be terrible, but I really don’t care.) Also, I’ve heard great things about A Special Day, which has been on my watch list forever.

    • I’m gonna try to watch The Priest’s Wife sometime this week, even though the premise is pretty strange. I really want to see A Special Day too, Loren said that was her favorite collaboration with Mastroianni after Marriage Italian Style. How did you like Sunflower?

      • I like Sunflower a lot, even if it’s not quite as good as the other two that I’ve seen. Without spoiling too much, I’ll just say that it’s the kind of movie that can move you to tears. (And now I want to rewatch it.)

      • That’s good to hear! I’ll have to see if my library has it, the synopsis for it sounds promising.

      • It’s available in a box set called the Sophia Loren Award Collection, along with Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow and Marriage Italian Style (as well as a documentary on Vittorio De Sica, who directed all three). It also used to be streaming on Netflix and, I think, Hulu, but it doesn’t seem to be available on either at the moment. Supposedly, it was the first Western film shot in the USSR, which is pretty interesting.

      • That is interesting, and thanks for all the information! I’ll check to see if it’s streaming on Amazon, if not the box set sounds like a worthwhile purchase.

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