Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)

Spoiler Alert! No one swings on a chandelier in this movie, no matter what you think you remember.

Don't worry, though. There is plenty of this:

And Robin Hood does manage to skillfully knock out two guards with this deer:

Ah, Robin Hood. A real swashbuckler, and played so well by Errol Flynn. Errol Flynn is just so good at being sarcastic and witty.

Marian: "Why, you speak treason!"
Robin Hood: "Fluently."

So, classic story.. and despite the fact that you can find Monty Python moments all throughout a movie that is maybe not supposed to be taken in quite that way, Robin Hood is definitely deserving of four stars. Once I start missing Robin Hood's quips and Will Scarlet's hat, I know I will see this again.

Final warning: If you wish to remain charmed by Errol Flynn's acting, do NOT read up on his personal life.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Penny Serenade (1941)

Four stars, and I'm not sure if I can see it again. At least not for a while. It is just too sad.

I really liked the way the movie was set up. Julie (Irene Dunne) is about to walk away from her failing marriage to Roger (Cary Grant). She picks up an album they have made of records that have been meaningful through the years and begins to play the first one... It's the song that was playing the day they met. Julie was working in the listening booth at a record store. After seeing her through the window, Roger came in and picked out a giant stack of records for her to play for him in the booth. He ended up buying most of them (even though he doesn't own a phonograph) and walked her home. Their meeting is possibly the definition of a meet cute. Most of the movie is told through flash backs like this one... Julie puts a new record on the phonograph, and we flash back to another scene from their relationship as they date, get married, move to Japan, get pregnant, have a miscarriage in an earthquake, buy a struggling little newspaper back in the states, finally adopt a baby, almost have to give the baby up...

The fact that I sometimes wonder if I'm living my life to a soundtrack made me really excited about the concept of this film, and of course Cary Grant and Irene Dunne continue to be amazing together, but - WARNING - The adoption is NOT the happy ending you would like it to be! I think it is important to know this before watching the movie. If I hadn't read the synopsis carefully and known where things were heading, I would not have survived the movie.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Forbidden Planet (1956)

Just one more classic sci-fi movie for now... I've got "Penny Serenade" patiently waiting in its Netflix envelope. I thought I had never seen "Forbidden Planet," just heard about it, but I was wrong. Turns out all it took was seeing the first few scenes to make me remember most of what was going to happen. Three stars, I suppose, but I may not need to see it again.

Our hero Commander Adams (Leslie Nielsen) is the head of an expedition sent to find out what happened to a group of scientists on a distant planet. As Adams and his crew head toward the planet in the lovely craft seen below, we get our first taste of the "electronic tonalities" that invade the entire film. While I was very entertained by the idea of "electronic tonalities," I sometimes wanted to laugh at them and sometimes wanted to mute them.

Adams and his crew discover that there is one scientist remaining on the planet... Dr. Morbius. Dr. Morbius tries to warn the crew away, eventually telling them that he is the lone survivor of terrible attacks by an invisible monster nearly 20 years ago. Dr. Morbius lives alone on the planet with his scantily dressed daughter Alta ("Ann Francis stars in Forbidden Planet") and their charming robot Robby researching the alien Krell, an incredibly advanced society that used to inhabit the planet and experiment with the power of their minds. Men flirt with and take advantage of Alta, Adams and Alta fall in love, Dr. Morbius becomes more and more grumpy, the invisible monster returns and is able to cross through a forcefield to rip good men to shreds... What will become of them all?

Some words about Alta:
*Like Snow White, she can call animals to her and speak to them. Even the tigers are her friends.
*She is not at all shy about going for the guy. While meeting several members of the crew she remarks, "Of course the two end ones are unbelievable."
*She is a semi-fashion designer. "What's wrong with my clothes? I designed them myself?"

Actually, it turns out that Robby is the real designer. Alta tells him her ideas, he makes suggestions, and then he goes off and creates the stunning items. Five stars for Robby. He is polite, helpful, and incapable of hurting humans.

Possible best line: "My evil self is at that door, and I have no power to stop it!"