Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Hustler (1961)

Notes: 8/11/11
Directed by Robert Rossen.
Jazzy music by Kenyon Hopkins.
Paul Newman is convincing, particularly in the picnic scene with Piper Laurie.
You're not a loser, Eddie. You're a winner. Best scene.
Piper Laurie and George C. Scott are a potent pair. She calls him “Bastard!”
Jackie Gleason is all body language.
Characters are very real and portayed realistically.

Review: A-
Hotshot pool player 'Fast Eddie' Felson (an arrogantly charming Paul Newman) is an ambitious punk who thinks he can hustle a win over renowned champion Minnesota Fats (a larger-than-life Jackie Gleason). Eddie eventually hits rock bottom until he meets Sarah (a tough, bruised Piper Laurie), who could be his soul mate, and Bert Gordon (startling work by George C. Scott), who could be his biggest gamble. Honest performances and a sharp screenplay evoke a highly realistic story of ambition.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Judgement at Nuremberg (1961)

Notes: 8/9/11
Star-studded cast directed by Stanley Kramer.
Literate and powerful screenplay by Abby Mann.
Ernest Laszlo has a very active camera. Lots of rapid zooms.
Great German music during overture and credits.
Powerhouse performances all around.
Actual footage from concentration camps is devastating.
Never feels stage-bound. Constant excitement.

Review: A
Powerhouse account of Nazi war crime trials in Nuremberg featuring staggering performances by a star-studded cast. Stanley Kramer expertly directs an exciting and literate script by Abby Mann and is aided by Ernest Laszlo's constantly active camerawork. Spencer Tracy is an American judge chosen to preside over the case of four German judges accused of aiding the Nazi party. Maximilian Schell is ferocious as the defense attorney representing defendant Burt Lancaster's repentant judge. Judy Garland and Montgomery Clift offer brief, emotionally-charged performances as victims of Nazi atrocities. Clocking in at just over three hours, this is a constantly entertaining and stirring film experience that is not to be missed.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Mark (1961)

Notes: 8/7/11
Guy Green directs a terrific international cast.
Stuart Whitman is a perfect everyman.
Rod Steiger with an Irish accent.
Maria Schell is icy and attractive.
Brenda de Banzie is his landlady. Marvelous.
Serious story told very well. Great drama.
Whitman is just fine in Oscar nominated role.
Fine performances and very dramatic and honest.
Great mix of British and American filmmaking.

Review: B
Fine performances throughout this film including Stuart Whitman as a man attempting to build a normal life after serving time for kidnapping a young girl. Rod Steiger is memorable as Whitman's patient therapist and Maria Schell is heartbreaking as the woman who loves Whitman while avoiding the truth of his past. Guy Green fuses British and American sensibilities to create an honest and dramatic telling of a complicated man searching for a new life.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

One-Eyed Jacks (1961)

Notes: 8/6/11
Marlon Brando directs!
Brando is slimy and still manages to be fairly hot.
Brando and Karl Malden. Two powerhouse actors.
Ben Johnson had striking eyes.
Katy Jurado has a classy presence. Gorgeous.
Slim Pickens shows up with his twangy voice.
Overlong portrait of men behaving badly.
Strong leading performances.
Top-notch supporting cast.

Review: B-
Overlong portrait of men behaving badly in Mexico. Helped by strong leading performances from Marlon Brando and Karl Malden and a top-notch supporting cast, lead by Ben Johnson and Katy Jurado. Not as great as it should have been. Brando directed this sporadically compelling cat-and-mouse Western.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (1961)

Notes: 8/4/11
Vivien Leigh is a classy, talented actress.
Scheming Lotte Lenya is very good.
Warren Beatty's accent is just no good. But he's adorable.
Interesting narration to move the exposition along.
Who is this guy stalking Mrs. Stone?!
Jill St. John is a cute American actress.
Lenya is so devious in her role.
Leigh is OK but offers mostly the same stare.

Review: B-
Unusual soaper involves Vivien Leigh as a widowed actress who escapes to Rome finding loneliness to be a harsh lifestyle. As Leigh's friend, the marvelous Lotte Lenya introduces her to handsome gigolo Warren Beatty. Leigh and Beatty are fine, despite having little chemistry, while it's Lenya who delivers the sparks. Great Rome locations and a fine cast. Well made, but a little bit underwhelming.