Friday, October 16, 2009

Bye Bye Birdie (1963)

Singing star (a la Elvis) Conrad Birdie is going to be drafted! Oh no! But that is not what the teenagers below are discussing in their wonderful "dancing while talking on the phone and clogging up all of the town's phone lines" number... No, just as worthy of hours of phone calls is the fact that Hugo and Kim (Ann-Margret) just got pinned!

"Did he pin the pin on? Or was he too shy?"

Adding more drama to the mix, struggling songwriter Albert (Dick Van Dyke)'s his soon-to-be-fiance Rosie (Janet Leigh) comes up with a brilliant and manipulative scheme to help Albert sell a song. Before Conrad ships off to the army, he will appear on the Ed Sullivan show to sing one last song, "One Last Kiss," and to kiss one last girl goodbye. And which lucky fan club member gets picked to receive the kiss? Kim, of course. Will Hugo like it? Will they remain pinned? Will Conrad and his hip-swinging, faint-inducing antics tear the town apart?

One of my favorite scenes is one in which Conrad sings at the town hall in Kim's town and causes almost everyone in the town to faint by the end of the song. While I don't have a picture of that scence, I do have a picture of my favorite outfit of Kim's. She wore this for a dance number that we may just need to do at my wedding. Or am I being sarcastic?

Four stars for joy inducing songs, animals and people being drugged with speed, crazy outfits, Dick Van Dyke dancing, and a movie that knows it is being over the top. The purpose behind this viewing was that David was Harvey Johnson ("Can I speak to Debra Sue...") in a high school production, and I was hoping to get him to sing along. I will of course see it again and again and again.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Wedding Present (1936)

So, Richard Wallace creates a film in which Cary Grant and Joan Bennett are witty newspaper reporters in love who just can't seem to end up together. Then four years later Howard Hawks makes a film in which Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell are two witty, divorced-from-each-other newspaper reporters who just can't seem to end up back together. Hmmm. Very popular theme of the time?

In this one, Charlie (Cary Grant) and Rusty (Joan Bennett) work on the paper together and are "almost married." After a botched attempt to get a marriage license, Rusty declares that it was silly of them to try, and they should just stay in their happy "almost married" state. Not even a night spent carousing with a silly archduke, about whom they want to write a story, can convince Rusty that really they should just break down and try to get married again. Not even when the archduke tells them, "Oh, but [marriage] is a divine madness."

So on they go with their lives as flirting reporters until Rusty is granted a month's vacation. While she is in New York trying to make Charlie jealous, Charlie gets a surprise promotion to editor. Rusty returns to find him no longer his old fun-loving self. She thinks up a giant prank to help him get his sense of humor back, but ends up getting herself fired.

Rusty meets a new man on her way to New York to find a new job and soon finds herself engaged. What will Charlie do? Why, travel to New York to give her the best wedding present ever (involving fire trucks, ambulances, police sirens...).

No, the wedding movies are not my new theme (did you notice I watched Night of the Living Dead?), but maybe I can gleam some tips from all of these wedding-related movies... In any case, I would see this again (and probably will since David got me a box set that contains it). Probably just two stars from me, though: Fun and silly, but also dopey and silly if I'm thinking seriously about it, and it's definitely not as brilliant as its witty newspaper movie rival.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Classic horror...this fits here, right?

The music is horror movie music...
There are zombies...
There is a little girl zombie who eats her mother, blood dripping from her mouth...
There is a sad ending that may in fact be a social commentary...
and I was a little bored. In fact, had I not been simultaneously putting photos in my photo album, I might not have been able to watch the whole movie. It is definitely a movie to watch with someone, so you can say things like:
"I bet he'll slap the silly hysterical woman."
or "Did he really just say, 'Don't you know what's going on out there...this is no Sunday school picnic'?"
or "Are zombies really so scary when they move so slowly?"
or "Why bother to make the silly hysterical woman afraid of matches if they're not foreshadowing her turning into a zombie?"
or "Zombies, just get on with it! Storm the house already!"

Lesson learned: Without the Bennett sisters, the world is lost in the face of the living dead.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Father of the Bride (1950)

Poor Stanley (Spencer Tracy) has to deal not only with the fact that his daughter is getting married...and he doesn't even know the financial stability or sense of the groom... but also with the fact that the wedding is going to be a humongous, expensive affair.

The conflicts the characters had were just so silly. The wedding was almost called off when the groom had an idea that the bride didn't like for a honeymoon destination. Also, if the family couldn't afford it and the bride, Kay (Elizabeth Taylor), really wanted a small wedding as she claimed, why did the family pay movers to have all of the furniture removed from their home so that they could host almost 500 people at the reception? And why was Kay wearing this dress?

Weddings don't always have to make people crazy, right?
Two stars. I'm not sorry I watched it, but I probably won't watch it again.

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)

David chose this movie for us to watch one night...I waited too long to blog it...
Jessica: Why did you choose this movie?
David: You wanted something you'd never seen before. And you wanted a classic movie.
J: What do you like about it?
D: I don't know. I guess I have good memories of it. I probably watched it for the first time when I was eleven or so. We'd go to Hastings... that was when I started to really like Hitchcock... I like the suspense.
J: What should people know about the plot?
D: Well, I don't want to give it away...
J: A little sound-bite.
D: I don't want to give it away... Family man Jimmy Stewart finds himself in the middle of intrigue along with his lovely wife Doris Day. It would give stuff away if I said anything else. Except I'll say this. There's a scene that can only be explained by the fact that Hitchcock wanted to have a scene in a taxidermist's.
J: Thanks.
D: No, thank you. This interview has been lovely.

Four stars, and I would watch it again. I also want to re-watch Hitchcock's 1934 version, because I saw it too long ago to remember just exactly how different it was...I assume no "Que sera sera..."