When I first saw this one years ago, I thought it was too much of a farce…too over the top…too silly. But, re-watching it, I am able now to see it’s fine details as one of America’s great broad comedies. Cary Grant is at his wackiest here…as the nephew of two matronly ladies who have begun an unusual pastime…murdering lonely old men and having them buried in the basement. We’ve all seen (and loved) Grant do screwball…but this is pretty much as slapstick as comedy can get. He’s physical and very expressive…perfect for this role as the befuddled nephew of these two crazy killers. Directed by Frank Capra, I think one of the reasons this one took a while to sink in is because it’s almost TOO over the top. But, I guess as I’m getting older, I find the need for more and more comedy. And this one will sure satisfy that need!

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I think Lilies of the Field is a great movie, though I believe Sidney Poitier has done some better work, even though he won the Oscar for this role. I mean, this is a good movie with a ton of wonderful, uplifting messages, but it is not what I would call powerful like some of Poitier’s other work of this period, such as The Defiant Ones or No Way Out (1950). This one is just a sweet, innocent film about a man who comes across some German nuns and eventually helps them build the chapel they have been praying for. The camaraderie between the nuns and Poitier really “make” the film for me. The sisters do not speak any English and Poitier has a good deal of fun teaching them. It is a heart-warming film that prove Poitier can do it all…even teach a bunch of nuns to speak English!

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If you’ve seen Laura or any other of Gene Tierney’s films, you know she usually plays a good woman. Maybe not always a perfect lady but a law-abiding, seemingly moral character. In Leave Her to Heaven, any question of morality, honor, and integrity flies out of window. Tierney plays an evil woman. This is not giving anything away or being too harsh. Right from the beginning, we find out Tierney’s not quite right, though it’s not until later in the film that she reveals her true viciousness. And, viciousness might be putting it mildly. The story revolves around Tierney’s character’s relationship with Cornel Wilde. Some of the things her character does in this film…well, they are just unspeakable. And, Tierney pulls them all off with conviction and believability. This woman who can be so innocent and naïve in other films becomes this ruthless devil without skipping a beat. Watch this one because it’s a good film, but mostly because of the GREAT performance by a truly underrated actress.

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The teaming of the comedy team of Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and director George Cukor leads to comic mayhem as a bright rich girl steals her sister’s fiancée, a struggling young lawyer. Not the most famous of the Grant/Hepburn/Cukor pairings (The Philadelphia Story would have to take that prize) but I feel it’s the best. The comedy has a quirky, strange quality that makes it unconventional, which might be why it was not initially received as a classic, but it’s not too strange to miss this wonderful film.

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Not having a sister, I’m not sure I complete understand the family dynamic in this film, but putting that aside, I feel this is a good film about love and relationships that neither gets too gooey or too preachy. It starts off like a lot of films have in the past…two siblings have more than their fair share of issues because they could not be more different. One sister is sleazy and superficial, whereas the other is brainy and slower in the “love” department. Sleazy sister likes loafing off her relatives. Brainy sister always is the responsible one who has to pick up the pieces of Sleazy sister’s life. After the Brainy sister finally gives up and kicks Sleazy sister out, the film takes an unconventional turn. Instead of having the typical resolution of “accepting each other’s faults” this one actually allows the characters to change and grow. Enter Shirley MacLaine, who plays the sisters’ estranged grandmother, and there suddenly are three intelligent female characters who are capable of transforming themselves without the help of a “good man” or constant attention from others. The three main characters use what they’ve learned from each other but on their own create their own change.

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A touching, subtle film that unravels slowly and delicately. The story of a woman who has just been released from 15 years in prison for killing her 6-year-old son…we don’t know why or how. We don’t even find out what crime she committed until more than a half-hour into the film. It’s like a present that we unwrapped…savoring the gift inside so we keep the suspense high. Kristen Scott Thomas uses this slow, methodical storytelling to her advantage…creating one of the most complex, disturbed, misread and misunderstood characters in recent cinema. She does not push the character to be liked…or push the character to be absolved of sin. She lets the audience’s opinion unfold slowly…just like the slowness of the film. A great movie!

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