Out of all of the Spencer Tracy/Katharine Hepburn comedies, this one might be the least known but happens to be my favorite. Hepburn plays a corporate librarian and Tracy comes into the company with his new “computer” to try and replace Hepburn and her research staff. Aside from the always-wonderful comic/sexual tension between Tracy and Hepburn, one of the charming things about this film is the way the technology of the day was portrayed, since Tracy’s computer takes up an entire room. Aside from the out-datedness of that, this film stands the test of time because of the two phenomenal actors in the kind of movie they both seem to shine in.
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One man stands alone against 11 others at the beginning of this movie. Henry Fonda plays the only juror who buys the defendant’s version of events and his innocence. Little by little, Fonda convinces the other jurors of the defendant’s lack of guilt and by the end of the movie, the tables have completely changed. This is the type of film that you know going into it how it just has to turn out. But, you watch it anyway…mesmerized by the performances and amount of sheer power coming through on the screen. Fonda was never better as this lone man, plodding his case among his peers, trying everything he can before he is forced to give up and cave in to pressure. Also features some great actors in their early roles, such as Jack Warden and Jack Klugman. Directed by Sidney Lumet, who became synonymous with New York City and crime/legal dramas after this film’s success.
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 Lauren Bacall. Bacall and Peck have fabulous chemistry that translates perfectly on the screen. A must see for any romantic comedy fans!
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, Lauren Bacall, Kirk Douglas and Dorothy Malone, who won a Supporting Actress Oscar for her role.
Civil War veteran Ethan spends more time wandering the West than he does with his family. When he finally comes home, he soon finds himself searching once again: this time, for his sole-surviving nieces who were kidnapped after a raid on his brother’s home by Indian chief Scar. Many consider (including myself) this the best work from the frequent collaboration of John Wayne and director John Ford. The vistas from Ford’s famed location Monument Valley never looked more stunning. Wayne never was more tormented and troubled, really showing his acting range in this one. What a brilliant combination!
Once again Judy Holliday steals the show as the quintessential ditzy blonde. Like she did in her Oscar-winning performance in Born Yesterday, Judy uses her sweet looks and high-pitched voice to full-advantage. I wouldn’t go as far as to use to word “bimbo” but you get the idea. Judy here plays a naive lady who is determined find out about the company in which she owns a few shares of stock. She attends a stockholder meeting, which throws the board members into a tizzy, especially when she digs deeper into the company and uncovers the board’s shady activities. A fun film!
Evil Robert Mitchum comes to a small, sleepy town posing as a preacher to try and win over the hearts and bank accounts of unsuspecting ladies, preferably the desperate ones. Enter Shelley Winters with no husband and two kids, making the perfect target. The best thing about this movie is Robert Mitchum. Normally a good actor who is able to play any kind of role (cowboy, cop, soldier, good guy, bad guy, etc.), this movie took the “bad guy” role to new heights. Here his devilish acts focus around children. Even with a subject matter that can be very touchy, Mitchum gives this role his all. The end result is one of the creepiest, meanest and most ruthless characters in American cinema.
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!
This 1955 British comedy from Ealing Studios may be one of most riotous dark comedies in history. The story starts off easy enough (an old London lady serves as the facilitator of criminal activities for five men until their “perfect” plan goes horribly awry) but quickly turns into a series of farcical errors, most of which end in tragedy. This film seems to use the right combination of terror and comedy to create a funny yet dark tale. Alec Guinness is the main star of the film, even though a young Peter Sellers also appears as one of the five criminals, and the “Lady” played by adorable Katie Johnson does steal the show.
Rivaling Gone with the Wind as one of the most picturesque, epic love stories ever, this one is set in Hong Kong, after WWII. Unlike GWTW, this one ends tragic, though of course, that is all I will say. Starring William Holden, who plays a war reporter, and Jennifer Jones, who plays a Eurasian doctor from China who encounters prejudice in Hong Kong, this is a sweeping tale of love and loss, happiness and sadness. With the Oscar-winning song playing in the background constantly, this film is sure to make any romantic satisfied.