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Full Version: TM2YC's 1001 Movies (Chronological up to page 48/post 480)
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81 years ago...

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Camille (1936)
Director: George Cukor
Country: United States
Length: 109 minutes
Type: Romance, Tragedy

You can sense the tragedy approaching from the very start of 'Camille'. Like a flower in a vase, you know it isn't going to last forever (flower imagery is all over this film). Greta Garbo plays a Parisian socialite/courtesan who embraces life with no caution, spending money as if the next day will be her last. Robert Taylor plays Garbo's handsome young love interest and it's interesting to see him being given the soft-focus close-ups. The finale gives Romeo and Juliet a run for it's money in the heartbreak stakes.

Another early Hitchcock film next.
81 years ago...

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Sabotage (1936)
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Country: United Kingdom
Length: 76 minutes
Type: Thriller, Drama

'Sabotage' (aka 'The Woman Alone') is based on Joseph Conrad's novel 'The Secret Agent' but Alfred Hitchcock changes the profession of the agent to a Cinema owner and so cleverly uses the extreme flammability of Nitrate-Stock as a plot point. The scene involving the film-stock shows Hitchcock is already becoming "the master of suspense", something we also see in this scene of a wife contemplating murdering the husband that has betrayed her:

A William Wyler film next.
81 years ago...

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Dodsworth (1936)
Director: William Wyler
Country: United States
Length: 101 minutes
Type: Drama, Romance

I wasn't surprised to read afterwards that 'Dodsworth' was based on a stage play because with all it's hotel-room settings, it never quite manages to escape those dramatic confines. William Wyler does his best though, with excellent composition and lots of different European locations. The performances are superbly subtle and well drawn, describing the slow collapse of a marriage. Walter Huston brilliantly plays the title character, a kind man, perhaps too decent for his own good. The end was very satisfying, helped out enormously by Alfred Newman's bittersweet score.

An early Sci-Fi film next.
(03-08-2018, 04:02 AM)TM2YC Wrote: [ -> ]An early Sci-Fi film next.

Oooh, I think I know whats coming next! Cool
(03-08-2018, 02:26 PM)Rogue-theX Wrote: [ -> ]
(03-08-2018, 04:02 AM)TM2YC Wrote: [ -> ]An early Sci-Fi film next.

Oooh, I think I know whats coming next! Cool

Did you guess the things to come correctly...?

82 years ago...

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Things To Come (1936)
Director: William Cameron Menzies
Country: United Kingdom
Length: 96 minutes
Type: Science-Fiction

'Things To Come' is somewhat lacking in the character department but it's a fascinating technical achievement. This 1936 British Sci-Fi film (written by H.G. Welles) is probably the earliest entry in the Post-Apocalyptic film Genre (It's also maybe the first ever serious Science-Fiction film overall, since some consider 1927's 'Metropolis' as more fantasy, than reasoned speculation). So we get a vision of a society regressing to a time of warlords obsessed by oil, several decades before Immortan Joe and The Humongous.

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The scenes of "Everytown" being bombed at night look astonishingly like actual newsreels from 'The Blitz' but that was still 5-years away. After a campaign of chemical and biological warfare there is a plague of infected zombies being shot at by the living, straight out of 'Night of the Living Dead'. The future tanks still look futuristic, even if the aircraft look a little more like something from Thunderbirds. The subterranean science-city looks a lot like the one in the latest 'Fallout 4' video game and it's a similar concept to 'Tomorrowland'.

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It may not have accurately predicted the course of the late 20th Century exactly but it did predicted the pop-culture themes we'd still be exploring today and is clearly influential. I don't think I'll be watching this again for it's paper-thin characters but I look forward to marveling at the Miniature-FX work a second time. Sadly we only have a surviving 96 minute cut, when it was originally around 2 hours long.

A Sacha Guitry fillm next.
81 years ago...

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The Story of a Cheat (1936)
Director: Sacha Guitry
Country: France
Length: 81 minutes
Type: Comedy, Drama

'The Story of a Cheat' ('Le Roman d'un Tricheur') is told in flashback, which I'm a fan of. The eponymous "Cheat" sits in a café recounting blackly comic tales from his life. Sacha Guitry stars, writes and Directs, doing all three with total charm. I suspect his narration and the style of the opening intro are primary influences on Orson Welles 'The Magnificent Ambersons'. This is his only film in the book and the only one of his films I've ever seen. I shall have to seek out more of his work on my own, so it's fortunate that Arrow are releasing a new Blu-Ray boxset in a fortnight:

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A Rudyard Kipling film next (He makes such exceedingly good cakes).
80 years ago...

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Captains Courageous (1937)
Director: Victor Fleming
Country: United States
Length: 115 minutes
Type: Drama, Adventure

Harvey, a rich and spoiled boy falls off an ocean liner, gets rescued and so spends 3-months with a crew of hardy Atlantic fisherman. The central role by 12-year old Freddie Bartholomew, might just be the best child performance I've ever seen. He manages to play Harvey as initially cruel and deceitful but keeps our sympathy and finally in love with him by the time the credits role. His scenes with surrogate father-figure Manuel (Spencer Tracy) had me dabbing the corner of my eyes on more than one occasion. 'Captains Courageous' is another movie I'm putting straight on my all-time favourites list.

I'd wager the makers of 1975's 'Jaws' have seen this. Some of Franz Waxman's score sounds quite similar to the brighter sections of John William's. The fast paced energy and excitement of fishing is reminiscent of Spielberg's shooting during the third act. Lionel Barrymore's Captain Disko sounds the spit of Quint (although somewhat more loveable).

Next up is the first film in the book from China.

(By the way, I realised I've passed a hundred films, a few movies back, so only about 900 hundred more to go!)
80 years ago...

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Song At Midnight (1937)
Director: Ma-Xu Weibang
Country: China
Length: 118 minutes
Type: Horror, Drama, Musical

'The Phantom of the Opera' is transposed to (then) present-day China. The phantom is renamed 'Song', who in this reimagining is not only a famed Opera singer but also a Che Guevara-esque figure in pre-revolution China. For politics and for his love for a girl, he is cruelly disfigured in an acid-throwing attack. 10-years later he is an outcast but helps tutor a young Opera singer much like himself, and serenades his lost love with a "song at midnight".

Out-of-print and out-of-copyright, purchasing a decent copy of 'Song At Midnight' ('Yè Bàn Gē Shēng') proved impossible, so I had to resort to a poor youtube upload. The video was unwatchable, the sound was unlistenable and English subtitles were unreadable Big Grin . Some mental agility was needed to simultaneously watch the actors, read the subtitles and work out what the hell they were supposed to mean! It speaks well of the film, that despite all that, I was able to enjoy the movie and follow the narrative quite easily.

A few examples of the "Backstroke of the West" level subtitles I had to work with:

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I'd love to revisit this one day if it ever gets a restoration because beneath all the film damage and distorted audio there is clearly a beautiful looking Gothic Horror film. I'm sure fans of the classic Universal Horror movies would enjoy this too.

Next up is a Jean Renoir masterpiece, which thankfully I already own in a great DVD transfer.
80 years ago...

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The Grand Illusion (1937)
Director: Jean Renoir
Country: France
Length: 114 minutes
Type: War, Drama

I've watched 'La Grande Illusion' before and was delighted to have an excuse to watch it again. The most humane of anti-war movies, which doesn't actually contain any war. It's about French POWs who have been through WWI, seen it's futility and so are almost as friendly with their German captors, as with their countrymen. They all have their different reasons but are united by the goal to escape. Nationality, military-rank, religion and race are all ignored in the confines of the prison but somehow class can never be quite forgotten.

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Erich von Stroheim comes out of the Director's chair to play a German aristocratic Aviator, appearing more constricted by his code of honour, than by the neck-brace that protects his damaged spine. Jean Gabin is the standout as the rough working-class Maréchal. They are both supported by a superb cast including Dita Parlo (in the only female role), Marcel Dalio as Rosenthal (the son of a wealthy Jewish family, who keeps his fellow prisoner's spirits up with generous food parcels) and Pierre Fresnay as a French Aristocratic officer. Fresnay and Stroheim's characters have a note of sad mortality, seeming to know that the WWI catastrophe spells the end of an era where their class held sway over Europe.

Next up is another Barbara Stanwyck picture (always a good thing!).
80 years ago...

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Stella Dallas (1937)
Director: King Vidor
Country: United States
Length: 106 minutes
Type: Drama

'Stella Dallas' follows the rise and fall of a working-class girl who dreams of being a part of the "smart set". She seduces a well to do man who marries her but she soon finds she cannot change who she truly is and can never be a part of his world.  So her ambitions for respectability switch to their daughter but she must sacrifice everything for it. The well-to-do people see only the worst in Stella but Director King Vidor shows us the audience, the private moments where she shows her worth.

Every time I watch another Barbara Stanwyck film I become more impressed with her acting abilities. This is the best I've yet seen, in a title role of deep emotional complexity. Two scenes really stood out for me, both relying on long slow closeups of Stanwyck's face. The ending scene of Stella secretly watching her daughter being married from behind jail-like railings, tears mixed with rain pouring down her face and a look quavering between sadness and joy, is unforgettable.

Next up is another Paul Muni film.