Friday, June 24, 2011

Through a Glass Darkly (1961)

Notes: 6/24/11
Four character chamber play. Fascinating character interactions.
Daughter suffered an illness and was hospitalized.
Ingmar Bergman's quiet moments are on display.
Harriet Andersson plays the mentally ill daughter.
Sven Nykvist does the cinematography – great lighting.
A bit uninvolving, unfortunately.
Not the most entertaining but still thought-provoking.

Review: B-
Quiet, experimental chamber piece from Swedish visionary Ingmar Bergman. Sven Nykvist photographs the film beautifully, capturing the contrasts in indoor and outdoor scenes. Harriet Andersson, a favorite of Bergman's, portrays Karin, a young girl falling deeper into mental illness while vacationing with her husband, father, and brother. The cast does well with their characters and Bergman's screenplay doesn't overdo it with the religious overtones. Despite Bergman's skills, this ranks as one of his least involving efforts.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Children's Hour (1961)

Notes: 6/16/11
Two women are accused of 'unnatural behavior'.
The situation that the three leads are in is tragic and frustrating.
Fay Bainter has a few good scenes. Makes it clear she's the HBIC.
Karen Balkin has a bullying physical presence, but is an embarrassing actress.
Miriam Hopkins is memorable as MacLaine's aunt.
Wyler gets some solid performances and doesn't let things get too maudlin.

Review: B
Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine are close friends who run a school for young girls. When one of the girls decides to spread a false rumor about them, a frustrating and tragic series of events unfolds. Effective performances and a controversial subject are well-handled by director William Wyler. Audrey and Shirley are ideally matched in the lead roles, while Bainter and Hopkins are most entertaining in support.

A Raisin in the Sun (1961)

Notes: 6/16/11
Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, Claudia McNeil, Diana Sands – all excellent.
Daniel Petrie directs while Lorraine Hansberry adapted her own play.
Louis Gossett Jr. and his 'faggotty white shoes'.
John Fiedler says 'you people' a lot.
Great set design. Subtle music.
Claudia McNeil does great work as the family matriarch.
Great glimpse of African American life.

Review: B
Sidney Poitier stars as Walter Lee Younger in this film adaptation of Lorraine Hansberry's play about a black family getting by in their tiny Chicago apartment. The ensemble cast is quite talented with Poitier portraying the right levels of maturity and immaturity in Walter. Claudia McNeil is the standout as Walter's mother, while Ruby Dee and Diana Sands as Poitier's wife and sister, respectively, each deliver sparks. No signs of static or stagy elements keep the play's impact intact.

Splendor in the Grass (1961)

Notes: 6/16/11
Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty. Both young and beautiful.
Elia Kazan directs a William Inge script.
The music and cinematography are perfect for the time and place.
Bath tub scene! Fabulous. Electric. Natalie Wood is terrific.
Thoughtful, adult, well-written, and well-directed.
Kazan's direction, particularly in scenes with the parents, is vivid and superb.

Review: B+
The hopes of youth and the sacrifices of adulthood are bittersweetly conveyed by director Elia Kazan in this thoughtful film. Warren Beatty is Bud, a handsome upper class high school football star who is loved unconditionally by Natalie Wood's Deanie in simple 1920s Kansas town. Bud's oppressive father has greater things in mind, and Deanie's love for Bud turns unrequited. Beatty shows an early confidence in a complicated role, while Wood is marvelous as a young girl struggling through emotions far beyond her experience. Fine screenplay by William Inge, brought to life by a strong cast and expert direction.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Lover Come Back (1961)

Notes: 6/9/11
Ann B. Davis plays Doris Day's secretary.
'Just a touch' of more bourbon. Jack Oakie as Southern Mr. Miller.
Edie Adams has a a lot of fun as a wannabe actress.
The hats are ridiculous. At the beach Doris wears what looks like a party hat.
Great chemistry between Doris Day and Rock Hudson.
Tony Randall is very funny in support. Drunk on Vip.
If only everyone was as cute as Doris and Rock.

Review: B
Rock Hudson-Doris Day sex comedy sparkles with fun dialogue and cute 60s set pieces. Rock and Doris are advertising agents competing for a product that doesn't actually exist. Colorful and energetic with a fine supporting cast, including Tony Randall in a very funny performance. Best parts are the hilarious ways the screenplay touches upon taboo subjects like homosexuality and drug use.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

La Dolce Vita (1961)

Notes: 6/8/11
Grotesque fun house of people.
Fellini offers little innocence in his vision of Rome.
One of those movies that you can't take your eyes off of.
Hypnotic and slightly nauseating visuals and characters.
Marcello Mastroianni is perfect.
Anita Ekberg is the best part of the film as Sylvia.
Anouk Aimee is beautiful as Maddalena..
Paparazzi. Like swarming vultures.

Review: A-
Decadently grotesque film from Italian maestro Federico Fellini offers us a hynotic and slightly nauseating view of Rome through the eyes of Marcelo, a journalist played by the magnetic Marcello Mastroianni. Fellini paints Rome in a lurid, passionate light, peppering it with strangely ponderous characters searching for fulfillment. Mastroianni's episodic encounters take him from a helicopter carrying a statue of Christ, to the Trevi Fountain with a buxom, brilliant Anita Ekberg, to a beach house of depravity, to who knows where else. Marcelo appears to be looking for a sense of purpose; perhaps something sweet as the title suggests. Unforgettable images, philosophical dialogue, and the dizzying style of Fellini make this a film to admire.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Mr. Sardonicus (1961)

Notes: 6/7/11
William Castle introduces this chiller. References Homicidal, his other 1961 film.
Oscar Homolka (with stitched-up eye) plays Krull.
Creepy black-and-white photography.
Castle is lit like a grinning skull.
Baron Sardonicus. He wears a mask?! What's up with his face?
Punishment Poll. Audience can decide the fate of Sardonicus.
Has Mr. Sardonicus been punished enough?

Review: B-
Creepy black-and-white chiller from William Castle owes many elements to 1930s horror films. An English doctor is called to the home of Baron Sardonicus, an unusual masked gentleman, for an equally unusual favor. Castle's brand of audience interaction is clever this time around asking audiences to vote in a Punishment Poll to decide a character's fate. Oscar Homolka provides a memorable character role as Krull, the manservant to Sardonicus. Overall, the film is relatively on par with Castle's previous efforts, offering enough shocks to keep an audience amused.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Summer and Smoke (1961)

Notes: 6/2/11
Based on a Tennessee Williams play.
Eternity. It goes on and on.
Lots of Southern flavor. “I do declare!”
Geraldine Page plays Alma. Alma means 'soul'.
Laurence Harvey is the epitome of Southern hotness.
Una Merkel plays Alma's mother. It appears she is a nutjob.
Typically tragic, ironic, yearning Tennessee Williams drama.
Geraldine Page wears all of her emotion on her face.

Review: B
Well-acted Tennessee Williams drama focuses on Alma who is on the verge of a spinster's life while caring for her disturbed mother. Alma is in love with a young doctor who prefers a life of decadence to Alma's simpler ways. Geraldine Page wears every emotion on her face for her portrayal of Alma. Supporting cast is quite good, especially Una Merkel who makes her mother character sympathetic and believable in a handful of scenes. Not the most fascinating of all Williams adaptations but still entertaining.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Goodbye Again (1961)

Notes: 6/1/11
Ingrid Bergman is beautiful. Characters keep asking her when she was born. She looks quite lovely.
Yves Montand are Anthony Perkins are competing for her.
Directed by Anatole Litvak.
Cougar alert! Bergman and Perkins spark a romance.
Only Bergman could play this role successfully.
Diahann Carroll shows up as a songtress. Sings title song.
Ending in front of the mirror. Perfect Bergman.

Review: B-
Ingrid Bergman plays Paula, still attractive in her forties, who pines for classy, handsome Yves Montand, a ladies man with commitment issues. To complicate matters, suave young lawyer Anthony Perkins meets and falls in love with Bergman, who insists she is too old for him. Soap opera story is elevated by talented actors and the stunning beauty of Ingrid, who is marvelous.

The Deadly Companions (1961)

Notes: 6/1/11
Much different roles for Brian Keith and Maureen O'Hara after The Parent Trap.
Steve Cochran, Chill Wills, and Strother Martin have supporting roles.
First feature of director Sam Peckinpah.
O'Hara is a bit miscast. She's a bit old and doesn't deliver believable emotion.
A bit too much happening when the central story is the most interesting.

Review: C
Keith accidentally kills O'Hara's young son in a shoot-out and makes amends by escorting her through Indian territory to give the boy a proper burial. Dramatic Western veers away from the main plot a bit too much and misses an opporunity for true dramatic fireworks between the two leads. While Keith possesses just enough grit for his role, O'Hara is miscast and lacks the proper range for her complicated character. First feature by director Sam Peckinpah is OK and nothing more.