Dark Passage:

A lesser-known Humphrey Bogart/Lauren Bacall film that, despite an un-Hollywood ending, is one of their best (THE best in my opinion). The chemistry between the two has never been better. The film begins from the visual perspective of Bogart’s wronged-criminal character. The camera moves with Bogart’s eyes, so the audience only hears his voice and does not see his face for the first part of the film. Once we see Bogart, the film picks up its pace some, but throughout, this film is a strong thriller. Don’t look for everything to be resolved in the end – but aside from that, this one will keep you guessing.

Written on the Wind:

Melodrama at its finest! Directed by high-drama master Douglas Sirk, this film will make you run the gamut of all emotions. There is scandal, affairs, wronged love, unabated passions, alcoholism, miscarriages, infertility, guns, murder, etc. Sounds good, right? Well, it is. It’s like one big soap opera, but, don’t worry…it’s a top-notch soap…with Rock Hudson, Bacall, Kirk Douglas and Dorothy Malone, who won a Supporting Actress Oscar for her role.

Designing Woman:

A great romantic comedy with a twist. Here, the couple gets married first and then they decide to get to know each other. When they do, they find out how little they have in common. This would be just a typical run-of-the-mill rom com if it weren’t for the quick, super-sharp script (which won an Oscar) and the talents of Gregory Peck and Bacall, who have fabulous chemistry that translates perfectly on the screen. A must see for any romantic comedy fans!

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cinema-retro

When looking back throughout the history of cinema, there are years that standout: 1941 (Citizen Kane, The Maltese Falcon, Sergeant York, How Green Was My Valley, Ball of Fire, The Lady Eve and Sullivan’s Travels (both from Preston Sturges) and Joan Fontaine’s Oscar-winning performance in Alfred Hitchcock’s Suspicion), 1951 (The African Queen, A Streetcar Named Desire, An American in Paris, A Place in the Sun), 1969, (Midnight Cowboy, Easy Rider, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Wild Bunch) and 1974 (Chinatown, The Conversation, The Godfather, Part II, A Woman Under the Influence and Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein (both by Mel Brooks)) are all good film years. But, 1939 stands alone as the film year to beat all other film years.

Here’s a list of noted films that were released 75 years ago in 1939:

Babes in Arms

Beau Geste

Dark Victory (Best Picture (Outstanding Production) nominee)

Destry Rides Again

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eli-wallach

Most remembered for playing hard-boiled characters in classic westerns The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and The Magnificent Seven, Wallach was much more than just a gritty character actor. He could play sensitive, as well as tough, sweet and compassionate, as well was strong and fearless. In later years, he turned to television and prize smaller roles in films such as The Godfather, Part III, The Holiday and, most recently, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. Surprisingly, he was never nominated for an Oscar, so the Academy rectified that in in 2010 when they gave Wallach an honorary Oscar “for a lifetime’s worth of indelible screen characters.”

Check out these Eli Wallach movies at the Niles Public Library:

The Associate

Baby Doll

The Brain

The Executioner’s Song

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her-dvd

Set in the near future (specific year unnamed), Theodore is a sad sack. His marriage just broke up, he does not want to go out or do things, like hang out with friends, and his day job is writing personal letters (love letters, thank you letters, etc.) for other people who are just as pathetic as he is. So, what does he do to try to change things up some in his life: he buys a new computer with a personal, talking, interactive, emotive operating system (OS). And this OS changes his life.

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rubydee

Known for her ground-breaking activism during the Civil Rights era, as well as her equally radical acting career, Ruby Dee died at the age of 91. She was one of the first black actresses to make her mark on Hollywood, along side her husband of over 55 years, Ozzie Davis. In the beginning of her career, as well as working with Davis, she often worked with Sidney Poitier, and later in life, she worked twice with Spike Lee and received her only Oscar nomination, for Best Supporting Actor, in 2007′s American Gangster, directed by Ridley Scott.

Check out these Ruby Dee movies at the Niles Public Library:

America

American Gangster (also on Blu-ray)

Betty and Coretta

Decoration Day

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On Sunday, March 2, 2014 we held our 10th Annual Oscar Night Party. It was a roaring success. We had almost 70 attendees, all of whom enjoyed the show and winning the fantastic door prizes.

As for the Oscar winners, there were very little surprises over-all. At our Year in Movies: 2013 program on February 25, 2014, I announced the top picks, based on previous award wins. Seven of the top eight on that list ended up winning Oscars, the only non-winner being Chiwetel Ejiofor for “12 Years a Slave”. And I was also off some with my picks. I picked six of the eight top winners, being only wrong with American Hustle for both Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay.

Here are the Top Winners:

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oscar

On Tuesday, February 25, we had the program The Year in Movies: 2013. It was an encapsulation of the films of 2013 and a little bit of an Oscar preview. Here is a wrap-up of the program:

Based on awards already won, here are the front runners for the Oscars on Sunday, March 2:

BEST PICTURE: “12 Years a Slave”

BEST DIRECTOR: Alfonso Cuarón - “Gravity”

LEAD ACTOR: Chiwetel Ejiofor - “12 Years a Slave”

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oscar

If you feel as passionately about film and the Oscars as I do, join me (Cecilia, Adult Services Librarian) as I review and discuss the best and the worst of Hollywood on Thursday, February 25, 2014 at 7:30pm.

I will talk about the major films of 2013, what the critics thought, and even have some good tips on predicting Oscar winners. I will guess who I think will walk away with the Oscars come Sunday, March 2, 2014 or better yet…what long-shots I would love to see carry awards home.

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Schell

Of Austrian and Swiss heritage, Maximilian Schell won a Best Actor Oscar for his role in Judgment at Nuremberg, which as only his second Hollywood film. Never really becoming a megastar, Schell took smaller roles in a variety of interesting and artistic films, though he did get two more Oscar nominations, one for Julia (Best Supporting Actor) and one for The Man in the Glass Booth (Best Actor).

Check out these Maximilian Schell movies at the Niles Public Library:

Abraham

A Bridge Too Far (blu-ray)

The Brothers Bloom

Coast to Coast

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dbc

Much like several recent Oscar-winning and nominated films of the past years (Saving Private Ryan, The Hurt Locker, Amour), Dallas Buyers Club is not a movie I’m going to RUN out and re-watch. It’s a tough movie to watch…the subject matter is harsh, the characters are sad and highly flawed, the dialogue is filled with homosexual abuses. All that said, is this still a movie you should watch? Yes. One reason: the performances. This is not to say the story is not good. It is. And the entire film on the whole is worth watching. But, the focus here should be the performances, since I feel they make this hard movie well worth watching.

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