Did you ever look for something and it’s not where you remember putting it but the next time you look, it’s there? Sure, it happens to all of us occasionally and we think “I’m losing my mind.” In a second or two, that thought is replaced with something else and we forget about our minor brain lapse. But, what if things like that would continue to happen? What if we kept seeing things and hearing thing and doubting our sanity…little occurrences at first and then major things like losing pieces of jewelry and misplacing practically everything…? Well, Ingrid Bergman in Gaslight experiences all of these things plus more. Her husband, played with cruel intensity by Charles Boyer, might or might not be “helping” her out in the insanity department. Regardless, he becomes less and less sympathetic with her as she slips more and more out of reality. The audience never really knows whether Bergman is insane or not. I mean she hears footsteps above her…and we hear them too…but it’s not until the end until the plot is uncovered. Director George Cukor directs this so passionately that at times it has the feel of a horror film. When the light from the gaslights dims, the look on Bergman’s face is pure terror…as if she was being tortured. And…as you come to find out…she is. But how…and by whom????

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The film that forced married men to think twice before straying…as well as reviving Michael Douglas’ acting career…is a top-notch thriller. It got a lot of attention when it came out in 1987 because of its graphic violence and (especially) sexuality. Sometimes, when you strip the controversy from a film, what you’re left with is a movie that really was not worth all of the attention. I would say that is not true here…this is a great film that knows how to convey fear to the audience. Never would I say something is Hitchcockian (I believe that NOTHING will ever be worthy of that label since the Master of Suspense was, just that, a Master…the one and only), but I think that IF Hitchcock would have been working in 1987, he might have made a film in this same vein. The vein being a continual threat of menacing terror that keeps growing and growing until it just cannot do anything else other than explode! So, watch this one for the thrills…not for the attention it got when it came out. And, whatever you do, please do not call it Hitchcockian. If necessary…maybe pseudo-Hitchcockian, or semi-Hitchcockian? But, only if necessary!

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I know I often begin these reviews saying I don’t like something or someone but I took a chance and saw such-and-such movie anyway. Well, here I go again. I do not like Nicole Kidman, but I took a chance and watched this one after I’d heard quite a few positive things. And, I was pleasantly surprised. I always like Sam Neill so that part wasn’t much of a stretch, but I usually try to give Kidman movies a wide birth. Ignore my rant about that, it is a good thriller…and even if you don’t like Nicole, try it. Why? Well, it would have to be something pretty good to overlook the “Kidman” factor. And, it is. This is a methodical thriller that takes place almost entirely on two boats. Neill and Kidman are husband and wife who’ve just lost their only child. Neill, a naval officer, takes his wife on a long sailboat trip to try and ease her pain and guilt (the child died while she was driving) of losing her son. While at sea, Neill spots a boat that appears to be in trouble. One of its passengers is heading toward them in a dingy. They take him aboard and he tells the couple that all of the passengers he was sailing with have died. Neill, not believing this story, heads to the other boat…finding out that the people didn’t just die…they were murdered. That’s a big problem, especially since he left his wife on his boat alone…with the murderer! Neill gives an excellent performance and Billy Zane is particularly menacing as the psychotic murderer. And, Kidman is…OK, which is pretty high praise from me. Dead Calm does one of the best jobs ever of giving a realistic feeling of claustrophobia. Even though they are in the middle of the ocean, we continuously feel trapped…which is something that only heightens the suspense. A great thriller!

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A fledging office clerk finds out the hard way that getting to the top of the corporate ladder is not easy after he falls for a lady he is unknowingly sharing with his boss. Sounds simple, right? Well, it is. It’s not the plot that makes The Apartment a masterpiece…it’s Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray and director Billy Wilder all working together to make one of the best comedies ever. Or is it one of the best dramas ever? Some of the funniest movie moments ever are captured in this film…just as some of the darkest are as well. Before this, Wilder had proven he could excel at any genre of filmmaking…out-and-out comedies, dramas, thrillers, romances, and even other dark comedies (Stalag 17). With The Apartment, Wilder really sealed his mastery of cinema by combining most of those genres to make one fabulous film. Sadly, this is his last great public or critical success. Talk about going out with a bang!

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The post Pillow Talk 1960s romantic comedies could be summed up in two words: Doris Day. The country was heading into a total transformation but good old Doris was trying her best to keep the American public firmly planted in the 1940s and 1950s, which is when romantic comedies like this shined and didn’t seem as tarnished. Don’t get me wrong…I love Doris Day. I can belt out “Que Sera Sera” in the shower with the best of ‘um (you’re going to have to take my word for it). But, by the mid-1960s, her clean image as the “good” girl was wearing a little thin. This film (one of her two pairings with co-star James Garner) is no exception. Garner (as Day’s husband) seems like a caveman in this film, always barking that his wife is not home since she’s out working! The horror!!!! But, all kidding aside, this would have to be one of my most guilty pleasures. I used to say that about Pillow Talk, but at least that film won an Oscar! This one didn’t come close but it’s just as much fun and just as sweet. The plot is silly and the dialogue is very outdated by today’s standards (or even by the mid-1960s standards) but it’s just a fun film to watch. Any film that has a pool explode into a yard-full of suds can’t be half bad, right?

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A hypochondriac misunderstands his doctor and believes he only has days to live. So, he tries to set his wife up with a potential new husband, but along the way she believes he’s having an affair. I know what you’re thinking….another cutesy comedy from Doris Day and Rock Hudson. And, if you’re thinking that, you would be right. But, because Day and Hudson only made three movies together (also Pillow Talk and Lover Come Back), we should savor all of them, especially Send Me No Flowers since it is their last movie together. Unlike their other two screen pairings, here Day and Hudson play a married couple at the beginning of this film, so the love story ending where they come together in mad passion is not there, right? Well, I’ll keep you guessing.

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A true, classic tearjerker that makes other melodramas look like cutesy comedies. Cary Grant and Irene Dunne star as young lovers who experience hardship after hardship, usually leaning on the other for support. First, shortly after their honeymoon, Dunne’s character miscarries and finds out she will not be able to get pregnant again. Then, they have a series of adoption disappointments, finally ending with them getting a child. During all of this, Grant’s newspaperman character has occupational/financial ups and downs (mostly downs). Just when the adoption seems to be going through, his career setbacks almost jeopardize the whole thing. And, it does not end there…yes, I know it’s hard to believe but there is even more heartache. Why, you might ask, would I recommend this film? Well, many people love tearjerkers and, like I said, weepers do not get any better than this. And also, it is a good story with two solid performances by Grant and Dunne (who usually work together in romantic comedies…such as My Favorite Wife and The Awful Truth) and directed by legendary filmmaker George Stevens. So, hunker down on the couch with a large box of tissues for this one.

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An American businessman (Cary Grant) visiting London falls in love with a London stage actress (Ingrid Bergman). The only problem is that he is married…or is he? This confusion leads to a hilarious ending of mistaken identity and comical twists. This is Grant and Bergman’s second pairing (the first being 1946’s Notorious). Years have not affected this duo’s chemistry at all, allowing them to portray characters just as passionate and in love as they did over a decade earlier.

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What can I say? Venice. Rossano Brazzi (tall, dark, handsome, and Italian) and summer. What more is there? Add into the already-perfect mix director David Lean and star Katharine Hepburn and what you end up with is simply magical. Summertime is a movie for everyone who has ever been in love, ever wanted to be in love or ever even thought of falling head of heels in bliss. Hepburn plays a single woman in the prime of her life (someone who might be derogatorily called an old maid or a spinster) who finally fulfills her dreams of venturing to Venice. While she loves the beauty of the city, she feels forlorn at seeing all of the couples enjoying the splendors of Venice together. Soon, she encounters a shop owner (played by Brazzi) who sweeps her off her feet, even though he has more than his fair share of secrets. Their love affair changes her life and her outlook on everything, especially Venice. Director Lean (best know for his sweeping epics including Lawrence of Arabia and The Bridge on the River Kwai) uses his mastery in both capturing the magnificence of Venice and the delicateness and wonder of a love affair. Once you watch this one, you might want to head to Venice and fall in love, so be prepared to call the airlines!

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A great screwball comedy from one of screwball masters, Howard Hawks. Not as good as Hawks’ 1940 classic His Girl Friday, this one is still better than most. Featuring Marilyn Monroe in one of her big roles, this film, like Friday, also stars screwball master Cary Grant in one of his goofiest roles ever. Parts of this film get way too silly but over-all, the combination of Hawks and Grant is just too much to resist.

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