Saturday, April 25, 2009

Young at Heart (1954)

Do not be fooled by Doris Day's cheeriness, nor by her silly songs on the beach.  Do not be fooled by the light-heartedness of three sisters playing music in the parlor and laughing about men.  This movie is actually dark and tortured.  The Tuttle sisters are all so happy in their lovely Connecticut home, playing music with their father, having witty conversations with Aunt Jessie (Ethel Barrymore), and laughing about their men.  When a composer named Alex arrives to stay, all is still happy and frivolous. Even the fact that all three sisters fall for Alex does not seem serious.  But enter Barney (Frank Sinatra), a troubled pianist, and all goes downhill fast.  Lori Tuttle (Doris Day) ditching Alex at the alter to run off with Barney is only the beginning of the horrifying drama.  Oh, one star.  I was annoyed with this movie and the characters long before it got dark.  The star is because Frank Sinatra sings multiple songs.  I will not see this again, but I am curious about the 1938 movie Four Daughters, of which this movie was apparently a remake.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

From Here to Eternity (1943)

I think I was supposed to love this movie. I have certainly heard it mentioned a lot. I think the problem is that I just don't tend to enjoy war movies (I Was a Male War Bride notwithstanding). How did I not know that this movie involved the bombing of Pearl Harbor? How did I not know so many sad things would happen? I thought it was a love story...

Is this not the only picture anyone ever shows us from the movie?  It is definitely mostly a war movie.  So I guess I will not be seeing it again, but I will give it four stars for being cast entirely of brilliant actors and actresses.

My ambivalence toward war movies allowed me to get the following things done:

*Start sweet potato fries.
Wait, is this a war movie?  How did I not know this was a war movie?  Is that BurtLancaster or Montgomery Clift?

*Organize spice drawer.
Debra Kerr's husband is a real jerk.  Who's going to have an affair with Deborah Kerr?  Oh, Burt Lancaster.  Why does everyone want Montgomery Clift to box so much?  Why are they torturing him like that until he agrees to be on the boxing team?  What's the big deal?

*Make ingenious cardboard inserts to keep spice drawer in order.
So that famous scene on the beach is only five seconds?  Hey!  That's Donna Reed!!!  Is she a cooch dancer, or just a companion?  Oh, Montgomery Clift, does Donna Reed really love you?

*Prepare dinner.
Oh Frank Sinatra.  Things just aren't going to end well for you.  You can't run off and get drunk during guard duty.

*Eat dinner.
Oh no!!!  Oh no!!!  Frank Sinatra!!! I didn't know this was going to be a sad movie!!!

*Pack up left-overs to put them in the frig.
Hey, it's the night of Dec. 6th.  The Japanese are about to bomb, aren't they.  How did I not know this was a Pearl Harbor movie?  Oh no!!!  Why is Montgomery Clift doing that???  Why is he being so stupid?  Now everyone's going to be unhappy.  It's one of those movies.

If all of that sounded a little disjointed, it's because that's how my viewing was.  Thank you to my roommate Barbara for being so willing to answer all of my, "Wait, wait, what just happened?"s.  Maybe I should give the movie another chance.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

You Can't Take It With You (1938)

Fun Fact: My dad was in this play when he was at M.I.T. He played the husband of Jean Arthur's perpetually dancing sister. He got to play the xylophone.  James Woods, also a student, played the James Stewart character.  Confused?  See the movie.

You can definitely tell that this movie is supposed to be a play... A huge ensemble cast of zany relatives and action that takes place almost entirely in one room.  It's play-like quality allowed me to quite easily knit most of a hat my brother commissioned.

Things to ponder:  Is it okay for a wealthy young son (James Stewart) of a banker to marry the beautiful granddaughter (Jean Arthur) of a very unconventional man who believes in eschewing money so as to do only the things that make one truly happy?  Is it still okay if the banker is trying very unsuccessfully to buy said grandfather's house in order to be able to demolish an entire block for a new business compound?  And what if the grandfather's house is inhabited by many eccentric relatives and friends who busy themselves with anything from making mechanical toys to launching fireworks out of the basement?

Three stars.  May have to see again to ponder my father's acting career.  My favorite part of the movie: Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore) as a jovial old grandpa with a harmonica... I wouldn't have recognized him at all if he had not had such a distinctive voice.