My Favorite William Wyler Films

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* * * * (Out of * * * *)

1.   The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

2.   Dodsworth (1936)

3.   Hell’s Heroes (1929)

4.   Counselor at Law (1933)

5.   Come and Get It (1936)
(co-directed with Howard Hawks)

* * * 1/2 (Out of * * * *)

1.   The Heiress (1949)

2.   The Letter (1940)

3.   The Collector (1965)

4.   The Little Foxes (1941)

5.   Roman Holiday (1953)

6.   Jezebel (1938)

Moviedrome Mondays: Cry-Baby (1990) and Lenny (1974)

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This week’s Moviedrome Monday is a double bill consisting of two very different films set during the 1950’s.

Cry-Baby (1990)

I have posted a youtube video link below to Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox’s introduction to cult director John Waters 1990 teen comedy/musical/romance Cry-Baby. Readers can also read Cox’s intro transcript here. The episode’s original airdate was June 27, 1993 (read here). Not much to add here except that I agree with everything Cox says here. With the exceptions of Polyester and Hairspray, all of Waters more mainstream films are only good, as opposed to great or very good. In other words, I prefer his edgier work from the 1970’s. If any of you readers are interested, here is a link to my favorite John Waters films (read here).

Here is a youtube video link to Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox’s intro to Cry-Baby

Here is a youtube video link to the film’s original theatrical trailer

Lenny (1974)

I have posted a youtube video link below to Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox’s introduction to famed actor/choreographer/dancer/director Bob Fosse’s 1974 biographical drama Lenny. Readers can also read Cox’s intro transcript here. The episode’s original airdate was June 27, 1993 (read here). Though I agree with Cox to an extent regarding the technical aspects of Fosse’s films, I (rather unfortunately) do not share his enthusiasm for Fosse as a filmmaker. Notwithstanding Star 80 (for me his masterpiece), when it comes to Fosse’s films as a director, the sum of it’s parts is greater than the whole and Lenny is no exception.

Here is a youtube video link to Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox’s intro to Lenny

Here is a youtube video link to what may be the film’s UK theatrical trailer – I can’t seem to find the US trailer for it.

Moviedrome Mondays: The Hill (1965)

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I have posted a youtube video link below to Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox’s introduction to director Sidney Lumet’s 1965 WWII prison drama The Hill. Readers can also read Cox intro transcript here. The episode’s original airdate was June 20, 1993 (read here). Though I agree with Cox regarding The Hill’s opening shot (he compares it to Touch of Evil), Oswald Morris cinematography, the cast and the execution of it’s drama, his problem with the film’s stage play origins (it became apparent for him near the end) was an obvious one for myself from the very start. In other words, The Hill feels too theatrical and not cinematic enough. Nevertheless, The Hill’s aforementioned virtues are so strong that it really does come off as a good (in my opinion), If not excellent (in Cox’s view) film.

Here is a youtube video link to Alex Cox’s Moviedrome intro to The Hill

Here is another youtube video link to Alex Cox’s Moviedrome intro to The Hill

Here is a youtube video link to the film’s original theatrical trailer

Moviedrome Mondays: Escape from Alcatraz (1979) and A Man Escaped (1956)

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This week’s Moviedrome Monday entry is a double bill consisting of two cinematic prison escape classics.

Escape from Alcatraz (1979)

Since I could not find a youtube video link to Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox’s introduction to director Don Siegel’s 1979 prison escape thriller Escape from Alcatraz, readers will have to rely on Cox’s intro transcript here. The episode’s original airdate was June 13, 1993 (read here). Despite not talking much about the film (though I am assuming that he loves it like I do), I really appreciated his in-depth discussion on the cult British television classic The Prisoner (1967-68) – I too am a huge fan of the aforementioned series. If any of you readers are interested, here is a link to my favorite Don Siegel films (read here).

Here is a youtube video link to the film’s original theatrical trailer

A Man Escaped (1956)

I have posted a youtube video link below to Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox’s introduction to French filmmaker Robert Bresson’s masterful 1956 POW (prisoner of war) drama A Man Escaped. Readers can also read Cox’s intro transcript here. The episode’s original airdate was June 14, 1993 (read here). Not much to add here except that I agree with all of Cox’s sentiments on this undisputed masterpiece of French cinema. If any of you readers are interested, here is a link to my favorite Robert Bresson films (read here).

Here is a youtube video link to Alex Cox’s Moviedrome intro to A Man Escaped

Here is a youtube video link to the film’s original theatrical trailer

Moviedrome Mondays: House of Games (1987)

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Since I could not find a youtube video link to Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox’s introduction to famed playwright David Mamet’s 1987 directorial debut House of Games, readers will have to rely on Cox’s intro transcript here. The episode’s original airdate was June 6, 1993 (read here). While I personally believe that David Mamet is a much better writer than director, I will happily admit that House of Games is an exception to this rule. Though it does come off looking stagy on occasions (after all, Mamet’s career is rooted in the theatre), his direction is (rather surprisingly) tightly executed here. Aside from the intriguing twists and turns that fuel this Neo-noir, we get great acting (especially from Lindsay Crouse and Joe Mantegna) and last, but not least, electrifying dialogue courtesy of screenwriter Mamet (from a story he concocted with Jonathan Katz).

Here is a youtube video link to the film’s original theatrical trailer

Moviedrome Mondays: Darkman (1990)

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First off, Happy 2021 to all of my dear readers and let us hope it is a much better year than 2020 was. This new year begins with a new Moviedrome Monday entry covering the first episode of Moviedrome series 6. I have posted a youtube video link below to Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox introducing director Sam Raimi’s 1990 superhero film Darkman. Readers can also read Cox’s intro transcript here. The episode’s original airdate was May 30, 1993 (read here). While Cox’s statement about racism in American films is far from false, I personally believe that he is blowing it out of proportion here regarding not only this film, but David Lynch’s Wild at Heart (from that same year) and Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven (from two years later). Darkman may not be a great film, but it is a ferociously entertaining one. If any of you readers are interested, here is a link to my favorite Sam Raimi films (read here).

Here is a youtube video link to Alex Cox’s Moviedrome intro to Darkman

Here is another youtube video link to Alex Cox’s Moviedrome intro to Darkman

Here is a youtube video link to the film’s original theatrical trailer

Here is a youtube video link to another theatrical trailer for the film

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to All of My Readers

I just want to wish all of my readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy 2021 🙂 Also, let us hope that 2021 is better than 2020 (i.e. Covid-19). As usual, look forward to more blog entries from me in the New Year 🙂

Now I would like to conclude this year with a youtube video link to Country singing legend Dolly Parton’s delightful 2020 rendition of A Holly Jolly Christmas (click here) 🙂

Moviedrome Mondays: The Day of the Locust (1975) and The Big Knife (1955)

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The last episode in series 5 of Moviedrome also happens to be another double bill. In this case, the theme revolves around the darker side of Hollywood.

The Day of the Locust (1975)

Since I could not find a youtube video link of Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox introducing British director John Schlesinger’s 1975 period drama The Day of the Locust, readers will have to rely on Cox’s intro transcript (read here). The episode’s original airdate was August 30, 1992 (read here). Though I do not share Cox’s enthusiasm for 1969’s Midnight Cowboy (also from Schlesinger and screenwriter Waldo Salt), I do agree with everything else he states here regarding The Day of the Locust. Compared to writer Nathanael West’s great 1939 novel of the same name about 1930’s Hollywood, this film adaptation of The Day of the Locust is a hit-and-miss affair. Unfortunately, that same sentiment can also be applied when standing on it’s own. The standout aspects of this film lie in Richard Macdonald’s Art-Direction, Conrad L. Hall’s cinematography, Ann Roth’s costumes, it’s ensemble cast and as Cox notes – two highly impressive disasters and the constant threat of a city-leveling earthquake. What’s lacking here is the satire/social comment and symbolism that shaped the book’s narrative as a whole. All in all, a misfire, albeit an intriguing one.

Here is a youtube video link to the film’s original theatrical trailer

The Big Knife (1955)

Once again, I could not find a youtube video link of Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox introducing cult director Robert Aldrich’s 1955 film noir drama The Big Knife, readers will have to rely on Cox’s intro transcript (read here). The episode’s original airdate was August 31, 1992 (read here). I agree with Cox’s opinion concerning Jack Palance’s lead performance in the film, but I would like to single out another aspect for praise here. Based on legendary playwright Clifford Odets 1949 stage play of the same name, The Big Knife is confined mostly to a single set. Nevertheless, Aldrich symbolically uses the film’s long shot technique to his advantage by involving the audience on both a cinematic and theatrical level. On the one hand, actor Charlie Castle’s (Palance) personal life plays out like a melodrama in regards to how his relationships with wife Marion (Ida Lupino), the flirtatious Connie (Jean Hagen) and struggling actress Dixie Evans (Shelley Winters) are depicted. When it comes to Castle’s professional life though, The Big Knife becomes an expose on the seedy business practices of major Hollywood studios – this comes in the form of a ruthless and unethical studio boss named Stanley Shriner Hoff (Rod Steiger). Last, but not least, we get a typically expressive and stylish title sequence designed by the late great Saul Bass. If any of you readers are interested, here is a link to my favorite Robert Aldrich films (read here).

Here is a youtube video link to the film’s original theatrical trailer

Here is a youtube video link to Saul Bass opening title sequence for the film

While this will not be my last blog entry for 2020, it will be my last one concerning the Moviedrome Mondays entries. I will resume my Moviedrome Mondays blog series in the new year (Sunday, January 10, 2021) beginning with season 6 of Moviedrome 🙂

Moviedrome Mondays: Tracks (1976)

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I have posted a youtube video link below to Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox’s introduction to actor-turned-director/writer Henry Jaglom’s 1976 drama Tracks. Readers can also read Cox’s intro transcript here. The episode’s original airdate was August 23, 1992 (read here). Contrary to Cox’s opinion, I neither adore nor admire Tracks as much as I respect it, albeit mildly. Compared to Jaglom’s other films as a director, Tracks comes off (at least for me) as his strongest one to date. As deeply flawed as it is, Tracks has three things going for it. The first comes from Dennis Hopper’s riveting central performance. The second comes from Jaglom’s inspired mixing of form (flashback structure) with content (PTSD among a Vietnam war veteran). Speaking of that last aspect, Tracks was one of the earliest American films to touch upon the subject of the Vietnam war and If nothing else, deserves a better reputation than it’s current status as an obscurity.

Here is a youtube video link to Alex Cox’s Moviedrome intro to Tracks

Here is a youtube video link to the film’s original theatrical trailer

Moviedrome Mondays: Walker (1987)

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I have posted a youtube video link below to Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox’s introduction to his 1987 acid western Walker. Readers can also read Cox’s intro transcript here. The episode’s original airdate was August 16, 1992 (read here). Since Cox has frequently cited Walker as his personal favorite of all the films he directed (read here, here and here), all I can do is nod in agreement with him. I absolutely adore this film – it is a hallucinatory acid western/biographical historical drama/satire/social commentary with an electrifying score by late great legendary British punk rock musician Joe Strummer. Last, but not least, Cox and screenwriter Rudy Wurlitzer’s bold use of anachronisms not only adds to the fun, but it can also be seen as a still timely metaphor for U.S. involvement in regime change. If any of you readers are interested, here is a link to my favorite Alex Cox films (read here).

Here is a youtube video link to Alex Cox’s Moviedrome intro to Walker

Here is a youtube video link to what may be the film’s original theatrical trailer