Films in 2020: June

It’s almost hard to believe we’re just now halfway through the year, but here we are. I hope everyone is staying as safe and healthy as can be, and that the rest of the year might be a little better. At least we have movies to comfort us when we need them, right? June was a good movie-watching month for me. As usual, I watched a lot from TCM and especially enjoyed the spotlight “Jazz in Film” and Ann Sheridan as Star of the Month. And I watched a bunch more from the Criterion Channel as some of the films I’d been meaning to check out from collections focused on Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur to film noir at Columbia were expiring at June’s end. I also watched some films centered on the Black experience such as I Am Not Your Negro and Losing Ground, and I look forward to seeing some more and expanding my cinematic horizons. But before we move on to July, a look back at what I watched over the past 30 days.

New-to-Me: 56

Re-Watched: 12

New-to-Me Films by Decade:

  • 1910s – 0
  • 1920s – 1
  • 1930s – 10
  • 1940s – 20
  • 1950s – 16
  • 1960s – 2
  • 1970s – 1
  • 1980s – 1
  • 1990s – 1
  • 2000s – 0
  • 2010s – 2
  • 2020s – 2

List of New-to-Me Films:

  1. The Mating Season (1951)
  2. The Egg and I (1947)
  3. The Girl in White (1952)
  4. The White Angel (1936)
  5. Mourning Becomes Electra (1947)
  6. Lilac Time (1928)
  7. The Wedding Night (1935)
  8. The Hanging Tree (1959)
  9. Task Force (1949)
  10. D-Day the Sixth of June (1956)
  11. Blind Alley (1939)
  12. The Dark Past (1948)
  13. Johnny O’Clock (1947)
  14. The Burglar (1957)
  15. The Underworld Story (1950)
  16. Man of the World (1931)
  17. A Man Called Adam (1966)
  18. The Five Pennies (1959)
  19. Edge of Darkness (1943)
  20. Torrid Zone (1940)
  21. Down to Earth (1947)
  22. 10 (1979)
  23. Sweet and Low-Down (1944)
  24. Ransom! (1956)
  25. I Am Not Your Negro (2016)
  26. 13th (2016)
  27. Da 5 Bloods (2020)
  28. 5 Against the House (1955)
  29. Tight Spot (1955)
  30. The Brothers Rico (1957)
  31. Dangerous When Wet (1953)
  32. The Gene Krupa Story (1959)
  33. Daughters of the Dust (1991)
  34. Losing Ground (1982)
  35. The Impatient Years (1944)
  36. Public Hero Number 1 (1935)
  37. Whirlpool (1934)
  38. Tarzan the Ape Man (1932)
  39. Tarzan and His Mate (1934)
  40. Onward (2020)
  41. Blue Hawaii (1961)
  42. Vera Cruz (1954)
  43. Crime in the Streets (1956)
  44. Jazz on a Summer’s Day (1959)
  45. Honeymoon for Three (1941)
  46. The Doughgirls (1944)
  47. It All Came True (1940)
  48. Blues in the Night (1941)
  49. Rhapsody in Blue (1945)
  50. New Orleans (1947)
  51. A Scandal in Paris (1946)
  52. Slightly French (1949)
  53. The Adventures of Marco Polo (1938)
  54. The Real Glory (1939)
  55. City for Conquest (1940)
  56. Silver River (1948)

A Few Favorite Discoveries:

The Mating Season (1951)

The Mating Season (1951), directed by Mitchell Leisen

I had been wanting to see The Mating Season for a while now, mostly because it earned Thelma Ritter an Oscar nomination, and after watching it I must say it is a well-deserved nod! She’s definitely the best part of the film and it’s a good enough reason to watch just for her. Gene Tierney is also delightful in this, and Miriam Hopkins is pretty entertaining as well.

The Hanging Tree (1959)

The Hanging Tree (1959), directed by Delmer Daves

The Hanging Tree is a film I wasn’t expecting to be as engrossed with as I was when I watched it, and I found myself thinking about this western long afterward. It’s one of the last movies Gary Cooper made (so far it’s the oldest I’ve seen him), and here he gives one of his best performances playing a morally complex character with a mysterious past; it’s unlike any other role I’ve seen him in. It boasts a great supporting cast too, with fantastic performances from Maria Schell and Karl Malden, and George C. Scott already turning standout work in his film debut.

The Five Pennies (1959)

The Five Pennies (1959), directed by Melville Shavelson

I was excited about TCM’s spotlight for June called “Jazz in Film” as it’s a music genre I enjoy and I was eager to learn more, especially in relation to the movies. I loved the insight host Eddie Muller and his distinguished guests provided with the films throughout the month; this programming was probably the highlight of June for me, at least movie-wise. One thing I enjoyed the most through the films I watched from this was the appearances of the legendary Louis Armstrong, and my favorite that was new to me was his extended cameo in The Five Pennies, which originally wasn’t even on my radar until TCM posted this wonderful clip on Twitter. It also didn’t hurt that this biopic about Red Nichols starred Danny Kaye, whose movies have provided some nice comfort in recent months. Along with the great music, I also really liked the colorful, Oscar-nominated cinematography by Daniel L. Fapp.

Edge of Darkness (1943)

Edge of Darkness (1943), directed by Lewis Milestone

As I mentioned earlier, the other piece of TCM programming I enjoyed a bit of in June was the Star of the Month tribute to Ann Sheridan; I only wish I had time to watch more, as she’s always a welcome presence onscreen, no matter the quality of the movie. In Edge of Darkness, she stars alongside one of her frequent screen partners Errol Flynn as resistance fighters in Nazi-occupied Norway. It’s a good WWII action film, much unlike any other of the similar war propaganda movies I’ve seen from the period, with an especially well-crafted final act.

Da 5 Bloods (2020)

Da 5 Bloods (2020), directed by Spike Lee

Talk about timing. That’s something I feel that’s always said about the newest Spike Lee Joint, as his films often feel so prescient to the current moment. And that’s of course no different with his latest feature, Da 5 Bloods. It’s a little scrappier than his previous success, BlacKkKlansman, but it didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the movie any less, and in fact, may have enhanced the experience for me with this story. I haven’t been doing a good job at all in keeping up with the 2020 movie releases considering the circumstances, but as of now, it is my favorite movie of the year so far. Though that may change later on, I do think it’ll be hard for any other actor to top the magnificent performance Delroy Lindo gives here, I just hope Academy members don’t forget about it come Oscar time next April.

Slightly French (1949)

Slightly French (1949), directed by Douglas Sirk

While Douglas Sirk is best known for his Technicolor melodramas in the 1950s, he still has some nice, hidden gems from earlier on in his career, such as the film noir Lured and this light comedy Slightly French. It’s a fun take on the Pygmalion story; in this case, it’s a film director played by Don Ameche who works to turn Dorothy Lamour’s carnival dancer into a French movie star. The two are always a joy on screen, so both of them combined make for an enjoyable time in less than 90 minutes.

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