Start here

Captains Courageous- 1937


Captains_Courageous_VHS_cover

Summer is over and I finally have an opportunity to revisit some of my favorite movies and this blog. I had the chance to take my two boys fishing off the coast of North Carolina last week and in honor of that trip I bring you this Spencer Tracy award winner from 1937.

Captains Courageous is the film adaptation of a Rudyard Kipling novel of the same name.The film was directed by Victor Fleming who also directed The Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind and holds the honor of being the only director with two films in the top 10 of the 2007 American Film Institutes 100 years…100 movies list.

Spencer Tracy plays Manuel in this coming of age/adventure movie and is joined by Lionel Barrymore who plays Captain Disko Troop, Mickey Rooney who plays Dan Troop and Freddie Bartholomew, who also played the title character in Little Lord Fauntleroy as well as in David Copperfield, as Harvey Cheyne the boy who is lost at sea .

Spencer Tracy earned the second of nine Oscar Award nominations playing Manuel in Captains Courageous and the first of his two (consecutive) Oscar Wins. The nine nominations are a record that he shares with Sir Laurence Olivier. And he is one of only two (Tom Hanks) to win consecutive Oscars.

Harvey Cheyne is a spoiled son of an absentee father and rich business man who is suspended from his boarding school for bad behavior. His father played by Melvyn Douglas takes him on a business trip to Europe travelling on a trans-Atlantic voyage. Harvey’s spoiled behavior puts him in danger and he quietly falls into the ocean without any other passengers noticing.

Harvey is discovered by Manuel (Spencer Tracy) a Portugese-American fisherman who takes him aboard the ship for which he is fishing. Harvey is unable to convince captain Troop to take him back to shore or of his family wealth.  Instead Disko puts him to work on the ship and because of Manuel’s tough love and despite the meanness of some of the other crew members Harvey takes to the hard life of a fisherman.

Manuel becomes something of a father-figure to Harvey and Harvey becomes very attached to Manuel. Manuel is killed in a desperate schooner race back to Gloucester and Harvey is left to mourn his friend alone when he returns home.

James Bond—have you heard of him?


bond
I have been getting razzed lately by some of my film loving friends regarding what has been considered to be my cinematic blind spot. Until this past March 2013 I have never seen any of the 23 James Bond movies. Not one! I never saw Sean Connery play Bond, never saw Ursula Andress on the beach in her little bikini and sheath. I never went to the theatre in my youth to see Grace Jones and Roger Moore battle and jam to the musical stylings of Duran Duran and more recently I haven’t even seen the latest chapters, Quantum of Solace or Skyfall.

I do not turn my nose up to “spy” movies. I have enjoyed many other films in the genre. I liked Robert Redford in The Three Days of the Condor and Fred Zinnemann’s film from 1973 The Day of the Jackal but until March my reaction to watching a Bond movie…any Bond movie was, “Meh”.

We decided to take the plunge, and watch all 23 Bond movies. We decided to watch them in Chronological order. Last night we saw George Lazenby try his hand playing the British Spy in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and in a few weeks Diamonds are Forever will pop up on our Netflix queue and we will get the chance to see Sean Connery reprise the Bond role. In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy the Gangster flicks, the Westerns and the little known Film Noir piece and hopefully by the time the 24th Bond film hits theatres in 2014 I will have joined the rest of the Bond loving world in the 21st century. And when one moves me to the point of blogging…I will share it here.

The Man Who Would Be King-1975


the man who would
The Man Who Would Be King is an adaptation of a similarly titled Rudyard Kipling short story from 1888. Starring Sean Connery and Michael Caine as two friends and ex non-commissioned officers of the Indian Army who leave British India and head of to current day Afghanistan in search of adventure and riches, but mostly riches.  Here is a movie with equal parts “believable” action and “witty” comedy. You don’t find that combination in many films today…you rarely find either of those things in many films today.

The anonymous narrator of the movie played by Christopher Plummer goes by the name Kipling in an homage to the author. The movie begins in Kipling’s office where is approached by a sunburned scruffy nearly-dead “wanderer” who claims to be the narrator old acquaintance “Peachy” played by Caine. Kipling doesn’t believe him  so “Peachy” tells him of his and Daniel “Danny” Dravot’s adventure to Kafiristan ruled a people, became gods and then lost everything.

The lead characters “Danny” played by Connery and “Peachy” played by Caine pledge a mutual contract swearing off of women and drink while on their adventure smuggling rifles to the King in Kafiristan helping him to defeat his enemies so they, Danny and Peachy, could then overthrow him a rule the entire region. Their adventure takes them North through the dreaded Khyber Pass dealing with bandits and avalanches on their way to Kafiristan.

They happen upon a Gurkha soldier who has survived a mapping expedition years earlier who acts as their translator. With the aid of the translator the two adventurers gain the trust of a local tribe who are consistently attacked, harassed and pillaged. They agree to be the tribe’s military advisors and with Danny and Peachy’s help defeat the stronger tribe. During the battle Danny is struck, but not harmed, by an arrow. The tribesmen believe this means he is a god and treat him accordingly. Danny lets this new worship go to his head and as he gets more belligerent Peachy decides to take his portion of the treasure and head back to India.

Connery decides to take a bride, played by Michael Caine’s real life wife, but she is afraid to consummate the marriage with a god for fear that she will burst into flames. She draws blood from Danny in a struggle prior to the wedding and the “gig” is  up. Danny and Peachy head for the hills. Danny is trapped on a rope bridge and falls to his death. Peachy is crucified and cut down the next day.

The film cuts back to the first scene where Peachy provides a wary Kipling the head of a crown adorned Danny as proof of his story.

The Man Who Would Be King is a movie I love to love. Unfortunately it is rarely available to watch on TV so each time I get a hankering to see it I must put in my Netflix queue. I reccomend putting this one in your queue this weekend.

Memorial Day Movies


american-flag-2a

Good morning and Happy Memorial Day. Memorial Day is my favorite holiday for movie watching. There are scores of great movies to view during this weekend every year and I could never list them but here a few favorites.

I am sure you have all seen Saving Private Ryan starring Tom Hanks and Matt Damon but I wanted to take up a few words to introduce or re-introduce some of the less heralded or forgotten Memorial Day favorites. Check your local listingsBattleground-1949 features Van Johnson and Ricardo Montalban and follows the 101st airborne during the Siege of Bastogne. The Guns of Navarone-1961 stars Gregory Peck, David Niven and Anthony Quinn who lead a commando team against an impregnable German gun fortress overlooking the Aegean Sea. Most of these movies are true stories or at least based on true events with a little Hollywood story telling magic sprinkled in. Other films are all Hollywood magic. The Bridge on the River Kwai stars William Holden and Sir Alec Guinness. The Bridge on the River Kwai-1957 a fictional account of the building of the Burma Railway in 1942-43. Alec Guinness is a POW commander who wants to complete a bridge that William Holden, who plays an escaped POW turned commando, is determined to blow up. Where Eagles Dare starring Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood is a 1968 classic. Eastwood and Burton play commandos who infiltrate a German mountain fortress to save a Brigadier General who was taken there for interigation. Sergeant York is a 1941 biographical film of Alvin York played by Gary Cooper, a “Tennessee Hillbilly”, conscientious objector and Medal of Honor winner who takes 130 German prisoners during the Meuse-Argonne offensive during World War I.

There are so many stories provided to us by the brave men and women of our military that I could spend all day listing them all here. I won’t, but please be sure to check back as I will post about them each individually, here. Happy Memorial Day and thank you to all those who have served.

Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid- 1969


butch

This film is on the U.S.National Film Registry for being “Culturally, Historically or Aesthically Significant” and now it is on the PrintTheLegendBlog list too. This is a F-U-N movie. Paul Newman plays “Butch Cassidy” and Robert Redford plays “Sundance”. These two will pop up on this blog many more times, trust me. We can only wonder if the real life Butch and Sundance had the same chemistry as Newman and Redford display in this film. In my opinion it is their chemistry and banter that makes this movie a classic. Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid is chock full of memorable, witty dialogue that will have you quoting it time and time again.

This film has one of the best end shots in cinmatic history. Don’t believe me…take a look for yourself.

The movie begins with Butch and Sundance returning to their hideout  only to find that his gang the “Hole in the Wall Gang” has elected a new leader and  Butch is out. Butch and the new leader Harvey decide to fight to see who retains the title. Butch defeats him less than honestly and the understated banter between the two title characters begin. Butch Harvey’s plans to begin robbing the Wells Fargo train and the first attempt is succesful, the second time Butch uses too much dynamite and blows the safe and money nearly to smithereens.  They don’t have time to gather the money because a fast arriving “Super Posse” unloads from an oncoming traincar and is on their trail. What happens next is possibly the most iconic chase scene next to the French Connection that you will ever see. The gang splits up but the “Super Posse” keeps after Butch and Sundance who at this time think they are being tracked by “Lord Baltimore” and lawman Joe LeFors. They finally get away after jumping off of a cliff into a river even though Sundance finally admits hilariously  that “I can’t swim”. Etta Place played by Katherine Ross convinces the two fugitives that the Union Pacific railway paid the “Super Posse” to trail Butch and Sundance until they are dead so Butch convinces the trio to move to Bolivia to “play it safe”.

They are not happy with what they find, poverty, in Bolivia. Sundance remarks what “could they have there that you want to buy” in Bolivia when Butch says “you can get a lot more for your money” there. Etta tries to teach Los Banditos Yanquis, as they have become known, Spanish so the can rob banks.They are succesful but give it up when they think they see Joe Lefors in the village. They decide to go straight and take honest jobs as morning company payroll guards. They are ambushed by bandits on their job and Strother Martin, who is a  memorable character actor in Cool Hand Luke, SlapShotRooster Cogburn and The Wild Bunch  plays their boss Percy Garris is killed in.  They kill the bandits , Sundance is suprised to learn that it is Butch’s first kill, and decide the straight life isn’t for them; they return to robbing banks.

The two bandits rob a payroll delivery but are found out by a local boy. They are cornered by the Bolivian police, both wounded they decide to make one last charge. The movie ends with a freeze frame of Butch and Sundance charging the police and the sound of Bolivian police commander signaling Fuego…Fuego!

Great movie. No better way to spend two hours. Get it on Netflix if you don’t want to wait around for it to be shown on cable.

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre-1948


Treasuremadre
“Badges? We ain’t got no badges! We don’t need no badges! I don’t have to show you any stinking badges!” You know the quote…have you seen the movie? If you haven’t, you should. Don’t be afraid because it was shot in black and white and was released in the late 1940′s. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is a great movie. It is one of my favorites but please don’t take my word for it, check it our for yourself. It popped up last night on Turner Classic Movie channel at 8pm and it eased me comfortably into the next work week.
The movie poster reads “They sold their souls for….The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Humphrey Bogart “Dobbs” and Tim Holt “Curtin” play two penniless Americans pan-handling in Mexico during the 1920′s who after meeting a peculiar old-timer, played by director John Houston’s father Walter, decide to put in together and mine for Gold in the mountains. The old-timer turns out to be the most skilled of the three at surviving in the elements and is the one responsible for discovering the Gold. They build a mine and begin to sack up their Booty or “Goods” as they like to call it. As time goes by Dobb played by Bogart begins to mentally unravel. He thinks Howard and Curtin plan on killing him to steal his share of the “goods” while simultaneously coveting their “goods” for himself. They successfully escape a bandit attack and decide to return to civilization with all of the gold dust that they have discovered. The old man, Howard, leaves to nurse a sick Indian boy and entrusts his “goods” to a deteriorating Dobbs and Curtin for the trek back to town. I can’t bring myself to ruin the end of the movie but Howard and Curtin literally have the last laugh.

The Great Escape-1963


great-escape-2

The Great Escape is one of those fun movies that hooks you from the beginning and has you wishing it won’t end. I never pass up a chance to watch this film and if you have never seen it please be sure to put it on your movie bucket list. Based on a first hand account of a prisoner of war camp mass escape in modern-day Poland then Nazi Germany this movie will not disappoint. The Germans decide to lock up “every escape artist in Germany” in this camp guarded by the Gestapo and the movie begins with several feeble, unsuccessful attempts to escape. The list of actors in this movie could fill an entire post. Steve McQueen plays an  American Pilot with an authority problem.  James Garner is a second American flyer, known as “the scrounger”, Charles Bronson is the slightly clausterphobic Eastern European “tunnel king” and  Donald Pleasence plays a British Gentleman as “the forger”. Richard Attenborough is Roger Bartlett of the Royal airforce who is introduced in the beginning of the film as principal organizer of escapes in other Luftwaffe prison camps and is warned that he will be shot if he attempts another at this camp. He begins organizing a grand attempt as soon as he is led to his quarters with the rest of the prisoners. The group led by Attenborough decides to tunnel out of the camp three ways in case one of the tunnels is discovered. McQueen playing his usual lone wolf character wants to escape on his own terms and he quickly earns his “cooler king” nickname after several failed attempts to escape with his sidekick and several visits to the “cooler”.  After his sidekick is killed in a botched suicidal escape attempt McQueen agrees to help the group complete their plans of a camp-wide escape. There are several near misses where you think the Germans have caught on to the plan and excellent scenes detailing how the group is putting the plan in action but the ultimate scene is the “Moonshine” scene where the 3 Americans including McQueen and Garner use all of the potatoes in an effort to make a batch of “smooth” shine to celebrate Independence Day in a camp full of Brits.

The Penultimate scene in the film details the night of the escape and the film ends following those who got out and what happens when they do finally escape the camp. The Cast is awesome, the story is riveting, the dialogue is funny and the ending is exciting but, you will agree, comes to soon even though the movie has a running time of nearly 3 hours.

Jeremiah Johnson-1972


Jeremiah-Johnson-movie-poster-1020192497This Robert Redford film can be seen several times a month and each time I see it, no matter which scene, I stop and watch. Men want to be Jeremiah Johnson and women want to be with Jermiah Johnson it cannot be argued, it a fact. If you like your movies to be fast-moving and action packed this is a film that you will enjoy. If you like Westerns, if you like films about the Human Spirit this film is for you. If you liked Dances With Wolves this blows that movie out of the water.
Robert Redford plays Jeremiah Johnson (a veteran of the Mexican-American War) who wants to escape into the Rocky Mountains and live his life as a “Mountain Man”. The movie follows Johnson through his first year as he struggles to survive and glimpses the protagonist Paints-His-Shirt-Red, the Crow Indian Chief who sees and pities a starving Johnson trying to fish with his bare hands. Johnson meets up with a more seasoned Mountain Man, Bear Claw, who is played by Will Geer but sounds an awful lot like the voice of “Sam the Snowman” of Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer fame.
Bear Claw mentors Jeremiah even though their initial meeting is rocky. “I know who you are; you’re the same dumb pilgrim I’ve been hearin’ for twenty days and smellin’ for three.” The two mountain men have a brush with the Crow Indians and Paints-His-Shirt-Red and then part company. Johnson is a bit more capable surviving the high country after having spent time learing from Bear Claw important physical and mental survival skills.
Jermiah increases his party by one when he stumbles upon the survivors of family just massacred by the Blackfoot Warriors. The stricken mother demands that Jeremiah take custody of her son who does not speak. After leaving the homestead Johnson finds the most colorful character of the movie. Del Gue is a bald mountain man and trapper who is buried up to his neck by the Blackfeet Indians. Johnson rescues Del and next Jeremiah finds himself having to refuse the Flathead Indian chief’s gift of his daughter Swan. Del leaves after the Flatheads marry Jermiah to his Indian wife, Swan.  Jermiah, Swan and the boy (Caleb) are forced to become a family of sorts.
Time goes by and the three, who have since built a cabin and life, begin to grow closer. As his life begins to “normalize” the US Calvary enlist him to guide them to find a missing wagon train. Against his wishes they pass through a Crow burial ground and upon returning he senses something his wrong when he notices a few of Swan’s trinkets have been added to the “memorials”. He leaves the Calvary only to find Swan and Caleb have been murdered by the Crows in retaliation for his trespass. Johnson sets off to kill the raiding party who killed his family and lets one of them escape. The escapee tells the tale of his quest  for revenge. Now Jeremiah is in the midst of a bloody feud with the Crows who send warriors one at a time to kill him. The film breaks into a great 5 minute sequence of ambushes and fights which is the most memorable part of the movie.
Jeremiah returns to Caleb’s cabin only to find a new family there and a monument built to honor his fighting prowess. As Johnson sits grilling a rabbit, his old mentor “Bear Claw” makes a visit and shares some rabbit. The conversation is almost ghostly and Johnson finally admits that he is tired. “Bear Claw” leaves and in the final scene Johnson finds himself face to face with his the Chief of the Crows, Jeremiah reaches for his rifle thinking this is the final battle and Paints-His-Shirt-Red raises his palm in a sign of peace. The film ends with “The Ballad of Jeremiah Johnson”.  As thesong plays and the credits roll you will find yourself wishing it would play again.

The Quiet Man-1952


quietman

I absolutely love this movie. It just so happens that this weekend is St. Patrick’s Day weekend– I chose The Quiet Man because it is one of only four movies that I actually own. A film has to be extraordinary for me to own it in the days of streaming and this movie is special. It is a Drama, a Comedy a Romance…there is an epic fight scene, memorable lines and probably the most breath-taking locations in any movie I have ever seen. My wife and I watch this movie at least three times a year and every St. Patrick’s Day.  How can I do The Quiet Man justice?

Sean Thornton (John Wayne) goes back to Ireland, the country of his birth to find  much-needed peace. He finds that peace and much more in Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O’Hara) and he quickly falls in love but he must follow the  customs to court Mary Kate. Sean Thornton’s  reactions to the “Old World” customs and his struggle with the very independent Mary Kate is funny but the laughs come from all directions in this film. “Red” Will Danaher (Victor McLaglen) is Mary Kate’s brother who doesn’t like Sean, mostly because he purchased his childhood home that is adjacent to his farm, and ends up fighting Sean through the countryside in the movie’s penultimate scene.

The character actors fill out The Quiet Man and help to make the film quite memorable. Barry Fitzgerald plays Michaleen Oge Flynn the drinker who ties the movie together and Ward Bond plays the Priest who schemes with Flynn and Rev. Playfair (Arthur Shields) to trick Danaher to allow Mary Kate and Sean to marry which is the main plot in a movie full of one liners and subtle and not so subtle humor. You will have to watch this movie more than twice to really appreciate all of what John Ford (Director) and Maurice Walsh (screenplay) have to offer.

Pour yourself a pint of Guinness or a glass of orange juice because it won’t matter.  If you can get past the odd Technicolor you will love this movie.

Patton-1970


PATTON-550x705 

 

Patton is probably the best Biography in Cinematic history. George C. Scott’s performance makes this movie and is a fitting tribute to one of the most succesful if not colorful General is U.S. History.
Patton is a bit long for my taste usually, but each time I watch this movie I find myself wishing it were longer. The movie begins with Scott as Patton addressing an unseen audience which is actually you and me, the viewers. The speech is Scott’s version of Patton’s “Speech to the 3rd Army” that he delivered the night before the invasion of Europe (D-Day) which he was not chosen to lead. This is as good an introduction to a movie that I can ever remember seeing and it gives you a great idea of what you are in for. One thing I really enjoy thinking about while watching Patton is that no matter how mean, nasty and vulgar Scott portrays Patton, we know that Patton was worse.
After the “Speech to the 3rd Army” we begin in North Africa where Patton is brought to combat Field Marshal Rommel in the desert. Patton succeeds and defeats the Germans but is saddened to learn that Rommel was not on the field that day. Patton is consoled that he beat Rommel’s plan and that is the same as beating Rommel but that wasnt enough for Patton who dreams of being known as top dog. The movie is littered with Patton telling his contemporaries of his past lives spent battling with and against history’s best and most well-known war lords like Napoleon or the Carthaginians.
The movie ends with Patton racing to beat the Russians to Berlin because he believes the Russians will prove to be another front after the Germans are defeated and he is correct. One of the last scenes show Patton speaking to a Russian General at a victory dinner following the war the war through an interpreter. Patton tells the general that he won’t drink with this general or any other Russian sonofabitch. The Russian General replies that he thinks Patton is a sonofabitch too. Patton roars with laughter and proclaims that he “can drink to that” “one sonofabitch to another”. This type of witty dialogue that transforms Patton from an interesting and well acted biography into the Premiere biography and one of the best movies I have ever seen.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 411 other followers