Monday, February 28, 2011

A Majority of One (1961)

Notes: 2/28/11
Brooklyn, NY! Reference to Nostrand Ave.
Mae Questel is memorable.
Rosalind Russell does an interesting Jewish widow.
Alec Guinness as a Japanese man? Not so unbelievable.
Interesting story of overcoming prejudice.
Surprisingly long for this kind of story. There aren't even any songs!
Some parts are stage-bound, but it's actually a pretty good film.

Review: B-
Pretty interesting story is aided by a sweet performance by Roselind Russell as a Jewish widow from Brooklyn who ends up meeting and falling in love with a Japanese gentleman, played by Alex Guinness. Despite its length, the film offers an entertaining account of an interracial relationship and its ability to defy the expectations of society.

Too Late Blues (1961)

Notes: 2/28/11
John Cassavetes directs. Should have some improvisational honesty.
Bobby Darin's first dramatic role.
David Raksin does the music. He did Laura.
I can tell that this movie is going to be depressing.
Lots of angry, pathetic people. If only Bobby and Stella could escape.
Ultimately sad and pathetic.
Love the curtain call. Nice performances from all.

Review: C
Good performances and a tight sense of direction by John Cassavetes are what makes this rather depressing film worth your time. Bobby Darin and Stella Stevens are both stand-outs in uncharacteristically dramatic roles. Despite this, they are surrounded by sad, pathetic people and situations that do nothing by make the viewer uncomfortable.

The Sky Above, the Mud Below (1961)

Notes: 2/28/11
Best Documentary Feature Oscar Winner
Kind of plodding.
Footage of Papua New Guinea certainly doesn't make me want to visit.
Narration carries the movie
Quite a journey, admittedly.


Review: C
Oscar-winning documentary takes viewers on a journey through the jungles of Papua New Guinea, exploring natural and man-made obstacles that make it one of the more intriguing places in the world. Unfortunately, the film is rather plodding and is kept alive by its narration and a handful of memorable images.

Two Rode Together (1961)

Notes: 2/28/11
John Ford always assembled an awesome cast.
Actors followed him for most of his career.
James Stewart was such a comforting presence.
Richard Widmark is a memorable scene partner.
Lots of bickering that isn't all that fun.
Shirley Jones has kind of a boring saintly character. So different from her great work in Elmer Gantry. Perhaps she was just never able to top that role.
Some shades of tough guy James Stewart.
Missing stronger themes. There's nothing new to say.

Review: C+
OK John Ford Western highlighted by the cool pairing of James Stewart and Richard Widmark. The supporting cast is peppered with Ford's usual actors, but most of them have little to do. Even Shirley Jones is wasted in a fairly boring role. Lots of bickering and not enough good drama. The elements are there, but Ford seems to avoid exploring deeper themes, making this an average title in his filmography.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Hey, Let's Twist! (1961)

Notes: 2/27/11
Paper-thin movie with amateur direction
The mother is the only memorable part.
Reminded me of The Jazz Singer.
Can't tell if the boys are cute or just really young.

Review: D+
Paper-thin plot reminded me of The Jazz Singer as a group of teens defy disapproving adults by embracing the latest music played at a local hang-out. Strictly amateur with almost nothing memorable to offer.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Romanoff and Juliet (1961)

Notes: 2/27/11
John Gavin was so hot, but the Russian accent just doesn't work.
Sandra Dee was so pretty.
Peter Ustinov was very talented. Directing, writing, and acting.
Akim Tamiroff is very memorable in his role.
The United Nations footage at the beginning is cool.

Review: C
A talented cast, particularly writer-director-star Ustinov, keeps this riff on Romeo and Juliet only slightly entertaining. Sandra Dee and John Gavin make a gorgeous couple, though Gavin's Russian accent just doesn't work.

Sanctuary (1961)

Notes: 2/26/11
Lee Remick was pretty and certainly dedicated.
Bradford Dillman is hot but has a nothing role.
Yves Montand does absolutely nothing for me. Not a fan of his character.
Uninteresting, rather boring story lacking any energy.
With better music, editing, and direction, this could have been better.
Don't really care much about anything or anyone.

Review: C-
Uninteresting, rather boring story is lacking any energy, despite an attractive cast. Lee Remick makes the best of her role, but nothing else really stands out. Bradford Dillman suffers from a thankless role, and Yves Montand is very unlikable as a creepy Creole. Better direction and a more interesting script could have conjured more effective Southern drama from this wasted effort.

The Mask (1961)

Notes: 2/26/11
Put the mask on NOW!
Unusual dream sequences. Rather ridiculous.
3-D stuff is limited to the dreams.
Nothing special. Certainly not scary.
The mask itself is interesting looking.
Campy midnight movie.
Introduced by Elvira on the VHS copy. Her commentary is the best part of the whole experience.

Review: D+
Unusual, but rather ridiculous horror film that offers strange visuals in lieu of scares. 3-D sequences are the highlight but are only slightly creative. The mask itself is memorably creepy. Nothing special, unless you've run out of campy midnight movies.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Where the Boys Are (1961)

Notes: 2/15/11
Fun, young, sexy cast!
This movie is fun. Cute couplings. Amusing dialogue.
There's a very youthful feeling and attitude that is attractive.
Lots of sex talk!
Connie Francis is so pretty. In fact, everyone is!
The Yvette Mimieux subplot really sucks the joy out of this movie. Rape? Seriously?!
Nice characters that we care about. Cute finale.

Review: B-
Cute romp follows the adventures of three college girls visiting the beaches of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Attractive cast makes this a lot of fun. Paula Prentiss steals the show and proves to be a great on-screen match for Jim Hutton. Lots of frank sex talk lends a youthful energy to this entertaining film.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Whistle Down the Wind (1961)

Notes: 2/12/11
You can tell immediately that it's British. Good atmosphere.
Bernard Lee, one year before his signature role.
Certainly has an interesting story. Not preachy.
Alan Bates has a bit of a presence.
Hayley Mills is quite a little actress in this. Quite different from her Disney films.
Very evident allegory. Not really a children's movie. Actually a pretty thought-provoking story.

Review: B-
Thought-provoking drama, told from a child's perspective, about the discovery of a mysterious man whose presence causes an uproar among the young mind's of a small British town. Hayley Mills marvelously takes a mature detour from her Disney career and Alan Bates creates a strong screen presence in one of his first roles. Often surprising tale is told quite well.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Millionairess (1961)

Notes: 2/9/11
Sophia Loren was SO beautiful. “Stunning”.
Alistair Sim is such a delight.
Directed by Anthony Asquith
Interesting pairing or Loren and Peter Sellers.
Vittorio de Sica! So interesting to see him here after General Della Rovere.
Lovely showcase for Loren's beauty.
Unmemorable role for Sellers. Not worth his considerable talent.

Review: C
Sellers is wasted, making this well made romance a bit uninteresting. Interesting cast makes it worth seeing, including the delightful Alistair Sim and the enigmatic Vittorio de Sica. The best part, however, is the stunningly gorgeous Sophia Loren. It's too bad the talented Sellers was not given a worthy part, otherwise this could have been much more enjoyable.

Come September (1961)

Notes: 2/9/11
Interesting cast, good use of CinemaScope.
Music is good. Catchy international beat.
Skeptical about Gina Lollabrigida. I thought she was perfect in Beat the Devil, but annoying Go Naked in the World. Perhaps she's better suited for comedy?
Lots of energy and a good pace.
Perhaps the romance elements are the least interesting.
Pretty good entertainment. No big problems. Just not a classic.

Review: C+
Energetic romantic comedy with Hudson meeting Lollabrigida in Italy every September. When Hudson unexpectedly shows up in an off month, no one is more surprised than he is. Fun cast makes this entertaining, despite being rather unmemorable.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Blue Hawaii (1961)

Notes: 2/1/11
Angela Lansbury in an Elvis movie?
Actor who plays patrolman is amateurly bad.
Story is dull, but the photography is lovely.
Elvis is good-looking for sure. His presence is one-of-a-kind.
Angela is sparkling.
'I Can't Help Falling in Love' – perhaps my favorite Elvis song?
'Rock-a-Hula' – Very memorable

Review: C+
Sunny Elvis film offers a dull story and some weak acting, but who cares? Elvis proves to be a one-of-a-kind entertainer singing the fun “Rock-a-Hula” and the unforgettable “Can't Help Falling in Love”. Another major highlight is the presence of Angela Lansbury as Elvis's mother. She is sparkling and provides the film with some genuine laughs and her unmistakable class.