Films in 2020: July

July was a bittersweet month. The very first day marked Olivia de Havilland’s 104th birthday, and in the last weekend she passed away. She’s one of my very favorite actresses and a woman I admire deeply, so her passing has really affected me, though as I’ve said elsewhere (including in my small remembrance post here), I’m truly grateful she was able to live such a fulfilling life, and my heart is full knowing she died peacefully in her sleep after living to an impressive age. So with her birthday and her death, July was bookended with me re-watching some of my favorite of her films, along with a couple of movies of hers I hadn’t seen before (there’s only a small handful left that I haven’t seen!). Between those movies, I caught up with offerings from TCM and the Criterion Channel as usual. In fact, the films I’m highlighting at the end of this post are all ones I watched on the Criterion Channel, though unfortunately, I watched them before they left the streaming service at the end of the month. Still, they’re worth checking out if you can watch them somewhere else, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they popped up on the service again in the future. Anyway, before getting into July’s favorites, a look back at what I watched.

New-to-Me: 48

Re-Watched: 17

New-to-Me Films by Decade:

  • 1910s – 0
  • 1920s – 3
  • 1930s – 11
  • 1940s – 7
  • 1950s – 11
  • 1960s – 6
  • 1970s – 0
  • 1980s – 1
  • 1990s – 1
  • 2000s – 3
  • 2010s – 1
  • 2020s – 4

List of New-to-Me Films:

  1. The Bachelor Party (1957)
  2. Made in U.S.A. (1966)
  3. Down in the Delta (1998)
  4. Hamilton (2020)
  5. Stella Dallas (1925)
  6. Cynara (1932)
  7. The Sign of the Ram (1948)
  8. Lady in a Cage (1964)
  9. The Boy with Green Hair (1948)
  10. Walk on the Wild Side (1962)
  11. Trapeze (1956)
  12. Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (2020)
  13. Lovely & Amazing (2001)
  14. Friends with Money (2006)
  15. Please Give (2010)
  16. Palm Springs (2020)
  17. Blondie of the Follies (1932)
  18. Min and Bill (1930)
  19. Bodyguard (1948)
  20. Each Dawn I Die (1939)
  21. Storm Center (1956)
  22. Park Row (1952)
  23. The Baron of Arizona (1950)
  24. Oliver Twist (1948)
  25. The First Traveling Saleslady (1956)
  26. In Person (1935)
  27. The Last Hurrah (1958)
  28. The Long Gray Line (1955)
  29. Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935)
  30. Broadway Melody of 1938 (1937)
  31. Two Tickets to Broadway (1951)
  32. Riffraff (1936)
  33. Secrets (1933)
  34. Three Strangers (1946)
  35. Who Was That Lady? (1960)
  36. Captain Newman, M.D. (1963)
  37. Consolation Marriage (1931)
  38. Marriage Is a Private Affair (1944)
  39. Casanova Brown (1944)
  40. Please Believe Me (1950)
  41. Gloria (1980)
  42. The Lost Patrol (1934)
  43. 7 Women (1966)
  44. The Old Guard (2020)
  45. The Scarlet Letter (1926)
  46. The Wind (1928)
  47. Without Lying Down: Frances Marion and the Power of Women in Hollywood (2000)
  48. Not as a Stranger (1955)

A Few Favorite Discoveries:

Stella Dallas (1925)

Stella Dallas (1925), directed by Henry King

The story of Stella Dallas is better known in the version led by Barbara Stanwyck in an Oscar-nominated performance, which I love but so far have only seen once because it is quite a heartbreaking tale. But I was curious to see this previous, silent iteration as a part of the Criterion Channel’s spotlight on films written by Frances Marion, and I was not disappointed. Belle Bennett is just as captivating in the titular role. Ronald Colman is great to watch as usual too, though he’s much more of a supporting player here despite the top billing.

Gloria (1980)

Gloria (1980), directed by John Cassavetes

With my viewing of Gloria, I reached my 300th new-to-me discovery of the year (who else has been watching a ton of movies this year?). This one was a good one to mark that particular milestone, as I’ve been trying to make a better effort at watching more of John Cassavetes’ work, especially with Gena Rowlands. From what I’ve seen in his filmography and from what I’ve read elsewhere, this is his most mainstream movie, but it still has the makings of a Cassavetes picture. Rowlands is fantastic as a woman who suddenly finds herself as the guardian of a boy whose family was killed by the mob. I know a lot of people find the kid obnoxious (he even got a Razzie for his performance), but I personally wasn’t too bothered. Even so, this is worthwhile just to see Rowlands in one of her Oscar-nominated performances.

The Scarlet Letter (1926)

The Scarlet Letter (1926), directed by Victor Sjöström

The Scarlet Letter was another film I discovered through the Criterion Channel’s collection on Frances Marion, and it was a movie I wasn’t expecting to be as engrossed with as I was. It’s hard to look away whenever Lillian Gish is on screen, she imbues so much into a really nuanced performance. She also has wonderful chemistry with Lars Hanson, and together they give a lot of heart to their characters’ doomed relationship. I watched this back-to-back with The Wind, and now I’m curious to see more of Gish’s silent film work (the only silent film of hers I’d seen previously was Intolerance a few years ago).

3 thoughts on “Films in 2020: July

Leave a Reply