Classic of the Week: The Odd Couple (1968)

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The Odd Couple is a 1968 American Technicolor buddy comedy film written by Neil Simon, based on his 1965 platypus of the same name. It was directed by Gene Saks and starred Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. The film follows the story of divorced men, neurotic neat freak Felix Unger and fun filled slob Oscar Madison, who decide to live together, despite their personality differences.

 

Felix Unger (Lemmon) checks into a roach motel near Times Square and attempts. To kill himself by jumping out the window, but fails to get it open and pulls a muscle in his back. He limps back on the street and tries to get drunk at a dance bar and ends up hurting his neck when throws down a shot. He contemplates jumping in to the river.

In the unkempt Upper West Side apartment of divorced sportswriter Oscar Madison (Matthau) on blistering hot summer evening, Oscar and his buddies are playing poker  and discussing their friend Felix Unger, who is unusually late for the game. They also complain about how messy the apartment is. A friend’s wife calls and tells them Felix is missing. Oscar calls Felix’s wife, who says they have split up. Worried Felix might commit suicide, he shows up not knowing his friends already know about his wife kicking him out of the house.

Felix starts crying and his friends comfort him. Oscar then suggests that Felix move in with him, since Oscar has lived alone since his split up with his own wife, Blanche, several months before. Felix agrees and tells Oscar to let him know is he gets on his nerves. Within only a week, Oscar is going crazy.

This is a hilarious movie that many can relate to. Living with someone who has different personality can be difficult, especially when one is tidy and the other isn’t. You both want things a certain way and they often causes chaos. Sometimes you either learn to compromise or just live it and sometimes that works and sometimes, it doesn’t, like in this film. Oscars grows fed up and kicks Felix out for his obsessive compulsive ways. Eventually Oscar lets Felix back in and two realize best friends should have each other’s backs.

This film is filled with laugh out loud humor, fighting and bickering, but it also at times, has heart when the two realize messiness and tidiness isn’t the end of the world, that friendship is more important.

This move will have you laughing at time, but also it will warm your heart at other moments. It teaches you family and friends are the most important thing in life. That despite all their hardships they had to endure living together, Felix and Oscar, remained best friends and vowed to always be there for each other, through thick and thin.

This not just a humorous film, but also one that teaches not just about friendship, but also about how to overcome  misfortune and to never be afraid to ask for help, especially when needed the most. Underneath all the confrontation, this story has true heart. A wonderful film that has inspired two television spin offs. Outstandingly written, directed and acted. A perfectly imperfect movie from beginning to end that never disappoints. 10+ 5/5

Classic of the Week: Animal Crackers (1930)

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Animal Crackers is a 1930 American pre-code comedy and musical film directed by Victor Heerman and stars the Marx Brothers, Groucho, Chico, Harpo and Zeppo with Lillian Roth and Margaret DuPont. It was based on their Broadway musical of the same name. The film follows the story of how a valuable painting goes missing during a party in honor of famous African explorer Captain Jeffrey T. Spaulding.

This is not only a Marx Brothers and comedy classic, but it is truly one of the funniest films of all time. It is clever and funny. There musical numbers and Groucho and Zeppo sing as well and Harpo and Chico both play the piano, Harpo also plays the harp. Like most of the Marx Brothers’ films, Groucho is the ringleader. There is lots of cheesy, yet fun songs (except for one love song), slapstick fighting, clever humor, tricks and flirting.

Groucho is fantastic as Captain Jeffrey T. Spaulding, Harpo is great as the professor, Chico is also great as Signor Emanuel Ravelli and Zeppo does a fine job as Horacio Jamison. Margaret Dumont does a fine job in her role as Mrs. Rittenhouse, owner of the house (on Long Island) and Lillian Roth does equally god as her daughter Arabella.

There are many fun musical numbers in this film such as, “Hello, I Must Be Going,” “Hooray For Captain Spaulding” and “He’s One of Those Men.” There’s also the love song, “Why. Am I So Romantic?” The songs give this film the right amount cheese and excitement.

There is also a lot of jokes, some that have become famous with the brothers like Groucho saying, “One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I don’t know” and when the party guests are giving three cheers to Captain Spaulding, Harpo brings in three chairs. Harpo is the only Marx brother that doesn’t speak in their films, although he occasionally laughs and whistles, he is also very gullible and naive.

This movie will have you laughing, cheering and dancing. There is mild sexual innuendo and flirting and slapstick violence, but no one is seriously injured. There is drinking and smoking throughout, Groucho is seen with his trademark cigar. But other than that, it is very mild and okay for older children, as younger ones won’t understand the jokes.

Never once is this film boring. It is truly hilarious and entertaining and gets that way more and more after viewing. The Marx Brothers were and still are some of not just the funniest, but greatest actors and movie makers of all time. They, to this day, can put a smile on a person’s face and brighten a day with laughter. This is a wonderful movie that is just as quick-witted as it an enjoyment. With music, dancing, humor, peril and romance, this one will never disappoint. 8 & up 5/5

Classic of the Week: Alfie (1966)

 

Alfie is a 1966 British romantic comedy drama film directed by Lewis Gilbert. It is an adaptation by Bill Naughton of his own play of the same name. It says Michael Caine. The film tells the story of a young womanizing man who lives a self centered life, for own enjoyment, until things force him to ask himself about his selfishness, loneliness and his priorities. He cheats on numerous women through the film, treats them with disrespect and calls them each “It.” He uses them purely for sex and private occasions. The Film breaks the forth wall with Alfie talking directly at the camera and arguing about his actions.

This was the first film to receive the “suggest for mature audiences” rating in the United States by the Motion Picture Association of America, which turned into PG or “Parental Guidance.”

Alfie Elkins is a good looking Cockney chauffeur that enjoys women just a little too much, but refuses commitment to all of them. He has an affair with a married woman, gets his girlfriend pregnant, but refuses to marry her and bans him from seeing their son after he is born. Alfie becomes attached to his son, but his refusal to marry his son’s mother Gilda, causes her to break up with him and marry an older man named Humphrey, a bus conductor who is willing to call Malcolm his own son.

After spending a period of time at a rehabilitation house for tubular shadows on his lugs, depressed he becomes friends with another patient, Harry and his wife Lily. He then begins an affair with her while her husband is away, after be released from the center. Drives her home and has a one night stand.

Later, Alfie stops and picks up Annie, a young hitchhiker, who wants to turn her life around in London and moves in with him. She is still in love with a man she left behind. Shen ends up doing all his chores. He gets mad and kicks her out, but the regrets it. Around the same time, Lily informs him that she is pregnant from the one night stand and she plans on having an illegal abortion.

He encounters many misfortunes like these throughout the entire film. He leaves a woman, finds another, over and over, gets two pregnant, leaves both and finds he is in love with one woman, only to find out she has been seeing a younger man. After all the women abandon Alfie, he left wonder about his life decisions.

This was a very adult film for time period and certainly for the “suggested for mature audiences” classification, although it still has a PG rating today, much like other that should be PG-13 like The Graduate and Annie Hall, but that was before the birth of PG-13. They aren’t too mature for an adult rating, but certainly for a family type rating. Lots of adult subjects throughout the film from, affairs, sex, abortion, sleeping around, drinking , smoking and mild violence. So this is certainly not a film for young children.

Michael Caine is outstanding as Allie Elkins, far better than Jude Law in the 2004 remake (although that version is far more adult). His cockney accent and and how he portrays all the main female actresses are great to, all unique but all lead on by Alfie.

This is certainly not a date movie, because the lead character doesn’t find true. He sleeps around because he can’t commit to one woman. Unlike in The Graduate, where even though Benjamin Braddock has an affair with a much older married woman, he gets forgiven and gets love in the end. This one doesn’t start or end happily. Both films have excellent soundtracks, this one being jazz musician Sonny Rollins and the theme sung by Cher in the US version and Millicent Martin in the UK release. Cilla Black and Dionne Warwick also recorded the song right after Cher did.

Sure a film about a womanizing young man may not sound like a good motion picture, but Lewis Gilbert directed this story so well, making it both pleasant and unpleasant, with sexy jazz music and sad theme song and beautiful London. It’s not laugh out loud funny, but more sassy and tongue in cheek humor, some that only people that watch a lot of British stuff or just Brits may get, since Caine talks in a cockney accent. This not just one of the best British films, but best ever. Clever and fantastic. I say watch this one first before you watch the remake. 13 & up 4.5/5

Classic of the Week: Diner (1982)

Diner is a 1982 American comedy drama film written and directed by Barry Levinson, in his film directorial debut. It stars Mickey Rourke, Steven Guttenberg, Daniel Stern, Paul Reiser, Kevin Bacon, Timothy Daly and Ellen Barkin.

The semi-autobiographical film is set in the northwest section of Baltimore, Maryland during the last week of 1959 and tells the story of a circle of friends, now in their twenties, who reunite for the wedding of one of the friends in the group and the title makes reference to their late night hang out, the fictional Fell’s Point Diner in Baltimore’s Fell’s Point neighborhood. The film follows the changing relationships among these friends as they become adults.

This is a film with a simple plot, that most group of friends can relate to. The friends in this movie share a celebration of one getting married. They reunite at the diner they hung out at as kids over food, coffee, music and laughs, they party, dance, drink until they’re drunk, talk about life growing up and as adults, go to the wedding, share tears, hugs and toasts and dance some more. They drink lots of coffee and smoke lots of cigarettes, but nearly everyone smoked back then.

Each character is unique one is getting married, one fears marriage, one has a semi-pregnant girlfriend and one has a high paying job he hates. This film might have inspired other movies as well as television shows featuring groups of friends at their favorite hangout like the films The Big Chill and Grosse Point Blank and television shows Seinfeld and Friends. There are laugh out loud and touching moments in this film.

For such a simple plot, with such simple, (yet relatable) characters, you’d think this film would be completely boring, but it is far from it. It shows a group of buddies getting together again to be there for a member of their circle’s wedding. After being apart, (though they kept in touch), for so long, they still shared a close bond, a brother type relationship that so many, even today, don’t have. It was great how they seemed like they hadn’t been apart for a long time.

Yes, this is pretty much a “guy” comedy, but me, being female, thoroughly enjoyed it. It is very entertaining for the most part, because several scenes are a bit slow, but I know that is for dramatic effect, so can’t really complain when it’s necessary to the plot. This is both a happy and not so happy film. There is a wedding for one character , but their is also the other character who is too afraid to propose to his longtime girlfriend and the one guy who complains about his job. You don’t have to be male, or even in your twenties to relate to any of the main dudes. You don’t have to like football, or even sports, or 50s music, to enjoy this movie, nor do you have to be a fella.

This both a happy and a not so happy film. Some parts are pretty slow, but that’s for dramatic effect, so can’t complain if it’s necessary to the plot. Although the guys are young, many times in the movie they seem much older, because the screenplay is smartly written, making each character have a sense of maturity, unlike most twenty something characters from today, who act more like wasted immature junior or high school students. The guys in Diner are wise beyond their years. A great motion picture from beginning to end. 18+ 4.5/5

Classic of the Week: Baby Doll (1956)

Baby Doll is a 1956 American black comedy film directed by Elia Kazan, starring Carroll Baker, Karl Malden and Eli Wallach. It was adapted from the Tennessee Williams play 27 Wagons Full of Cotton. The film centers on a feud between two rival cotton gin owners in rural Mississippi; after one of the men burns the other’s gin down. The owner fights back by trying to woo the arsonist’s nineteen-year-old virgin bride hoping to receive an acknowledgment of her husband’s guilt.

This film was highly controversial upon its release, largely due to its overly sexual themes. The Roman Catholic National League of Decency, tried to get the film banned, though the responses to the church’s disapproval of the film were varied with Catholic Church and other religious organizations. Despite moral opposition of the film, it was vastly well received by critics and many movie goers. Culturally, the film has been credited with the conceiving the name and making popular of the babydoll nightgown, which derives from the costume worn by Baker’s character.

Although this film was and still is very controversial, it still stands as one of the best “Lolita” type films, where a much older man falls for or becomes infatuated with a much younger girl, tricking by at first asking her to do kind things for him, then he starts to be kind, often fatherly or husbandly, them eventually becomes abusive to her.

Baby Doll ends up being forced to marry Archie Lee Meighan, but he makes an agreement with Baby’s father to wait until her 20th birthday to be consummated. But in the meantime, she sleeps in a crib, wearing short childish nightgowns and sucking her thumb, while Archie, an alcoholic spies on her through a hole in the wall of their dilapidated antebellum house, Tiger Tail. Baby Doll’s crazy Aunt Rose Comfort also lives in the house and is tortured by Archie Lee.

During the era and setting of this film, young girls getting married to wealthy older men was quite common. Some as girls as young as fifteen got married to men in thirties, forties, fifties, maybe even older than that. Young girls getting pregnant was also quite common. Men during this time in the early 20th century (1910’s-30’s), had higher power in most aspects of living, from marriage, to better jobs, higher pay, parenting, etc. Women (or girls in this case), were mostly either schoolteachers, seamstresses, secretaries, or housewives or stay at home mothers. This film shows how life was then in a real southern town.

Sadly, this kind of story really did happen quite a lot during that time in south, especially in small towns. Females, normally didn’t go college unless they were wealthy, lots didn’t even have a high school education. Baby Doll in this film was manipulated by her father and her husband. Her husband forces her to act like a nineteen year old baby and frequently ignores her. Her Aunt Rose is of no help to her because she is senile, so she is oblivious to what is going on with Baby and Archie. Baby and aunt Rose eventually escape from Tiger Tail and Archie is taken to jail, but their lives before that is a living nightmare.

This controversial story is much like a southern version of Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lolita,” although much less humor in my opinion than Stanley Kubrick’s film version of the Nabokov book. Even though this movie is called a black comedy, it’s far too serious to be called that. The film deals with underage marriage, terrible living conditions, mental illness, alcoholism, vandalism, money issues and abuse, none of which is a laughing matter. Not once did I laugh out loud, so this is really a drama film one hundred percent.

The acting is superb from the main stars. Though this film is really slow and drawn out in some scenes, it is still very well done. Not an exciting film at all, in fact, the majority of it, is extremely depressing, like the way Baby Doll is treated throughout. The only real happy moment is when she and Aunt Rose escape Archie Lee and the police pick him up.

There is no nudity. There is lots of sexual moments though, like Silva making Baby horny and she wears childlike “lingerie” during the majority of the movie. There is some pretty violent scenes, lots of smoking and drinking, but not a whole lot foul language, just the “n-word” used a few times, but that fits the time period and location. Some things in this movie might make a more modest or conservative person overly uncomfortable. This isn’t a film that could be watched over and over because of the theme and adult segments. It is still a work of art despite it causing feather ruffling even today. 18 & up 4/5

Classic of the Week: American Graffiti (1973)

American Graffiti is a 1973 American coming of age comedy film directed by George Lucas starring Richard Dreyfuss, Ron HOward, Paul Le Mat, Harrison Ford, Charles Martin Smith, Cindy WIlliams, Candy Clark, Mackenzie Phillips, Bo Hopkins and Wolfman Jack. The film is set in Modesto, California in 1962 and follows the story of the early rock ‘n’ roll and crushing cultures that were poplar among teenagers at the time over the course of a single night.

This film shows how cars, music, friendship, cruising and hooking up were popular among teenagers during the early days of rock ‘n’ roll. You see the different types of vehicles, hear the popular songs, see the types of hangouts and the fashion from that era. This is fun filled film. The teenagers are out passed their curfews, cruising around with their buddies, and/or their boyfriend or girlfriend, or they’re looking for a hookup.

Some of the characters are supposed to be at a school dance, but have skipped out on it. Others are shown hanging out at Mel’s Drive-In. Other ones are shown making out, a few playing pranks on a car of bullies and few more in another scene steal a car from a dealership. There are a few slapstick type fights, lots of mischief, flirting, driving around and rock ‘n’ roll and Doo-wop music from the mid 50’s – to early 60’s.

Each character in this film is unique, yet several of the boys are trying to find a girlfriend, just like serval girls are looking for a boy. Some of the older characters try to flirt with the younger one. A couple of girls in particular are much younger and are inappropriately hanging out with ones much older, who try to kiss them, have sex with them, or get them to drink or smoke, in one scene, all that occurs.

This is a simple film, but not one that is so simple, it’s boring, it’s far from that. It is fantastic from the car chases, to the laugh out loud humor, the vehicles, the characters and the great soundtrack filled with golden oldies to sing along to. Though this film takes place in just one night, it seems so much longer, because so much goes on. Not one time in this movie is it slow. It takes you back in time on rockin’ and rollin’ rides from beginning too end

This movie is one that can make you laugh, cry, angry and sing and tap your foot. It’ll have you wishing you were at Mel’s in the days of soda fountains, checkered floors, jukeboxes and Doo-wop playing DJ’s. A fun, yet naughty and music filled film that didn’t need anymore than it had to be perfect, it was just aa it was. Lucas drew inspiration from his own youth during that era in California.

This film has become a cult classic in the U.S. as well as other countries like France. Fantastic, entertaining, hilarious and clever film with one of the greatest soundtracks of all time. 13 & up 5/5

Classic of the Week: 12 Angry Men (1957)

12 Angry Men is a 1957 American courtroom drama film directed by Sidney Lument, adapted from a teleplay of the same name by Reginald Rose. The film tells the story of a jury of 12 men as they debate on the conviction or acquittal of an 18 year old defendant on the basis of reasonable doubt, forcing the jurors to question their own values and principles.

This film is almost completely filmed in the jury room, with the jurors debating, getting angry, bickering, pounding table, yelling, pacing and getting in each other’s faces. They take breaks, then go back to deliberating. The acting is great. Some may find the it boring that the film is filmed in one room and the jurors just get mad and debate for an hour and thirty-six minutes. They may also find the plot not very unique or gripping. Younger people especially, may not appreciate this movie much, if at all and will probably find it very boring.

This film isn’t exactly exciting. It’s a bit boring at times. There are moments when the movie is getting very slow, then suddenly it gets interesting when a juror yells or pounds his fist on the table. This film would have been more compelling if it had been filmed in more than one room, wasn’t just about the jurors but the other people in the court during this case. But then again, it wouldn’t be called 12 Angry Men.

This isn’t the most boring movie, but it isn’t the most moving either. Hearing the men debate and their take on the conviction is the most intriguing thing about this film. This is a simple film with a deep storyline, that just needs to be simple, but not so lackluster set.

The men get angry from being cooped up for hours at a time in one room together having one big debacle over whether the defendant is guilty or not of stabbing his father. If the boy is found guilty, he will receive a death penalty. Many jurors argue against whether that is ethical or not.

I can’t say this movie is well done, because it’s so basic the way it was filmed, but it’s not awful. Good, not great is all I can say about it. If had been filmed more detailed, as in sets, not just a set, maybe seen the actual trial going on, then it would have probably been outstanding. Just because the acting is great, doesn’t always mean the film is excellent too. You have to have a balance of everything being really good and this motion picture maybe an oldie, but it’s definitely not a goldie. 17+ 3.5/5

Classic of the Week: A Hard Day’s Night (1964)

A Hard Day’s Night is a 1964 comedy film directed by Richard Lester, starring British Invasion band The Beatles – John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr- during the height of Beatlemania. The film follows the band after they are swarmed by fans while boarding a train to London. The band get into mischief running from crowds of screaming fans, they meet schoolgirls on the train and many other good and bad people.

This is fun and humorous filled film, that any fan of musicals, The Beatles, or both will enjoy. It is filled familiar songs to sing along to, a song well as an easy to follow plot that’s never boring. This is a highly entertaining film that anyone will enjoy. You’ll love the laugh out loud humor, the music, the scenery, fashion, accents, everything. It takes you on a train ride with the most famous band of all time.

The band perform live in one scene. They weren’t the best actors, because of course they were (Ringo and Paul still are) mainly musicians. They had acting teaching prior to the filming of this movie. They were only told how they should act in scenes. They weren’t horrible at acting, but that’s not that’s not really their fault.

This is such an iconic film, not just for Beatlemania, the British Invasion, but for music in general. All four members were alike in way, but different too. They had a unique style in their music, fashion sense, hairstyles and Liverpool accents. They are still loved to this day from all ages.

This movie captures the Beatles outstandingly. You see the funny, silly and clever sides of The Fab Four. There is smoking, occasional drinking, flirting and a tad bit of sexual innuendos. Overall this is a fantastic film that everyone should watch at least once in their lives. 7+ 5/5

 

 

Classic of the Week: Ordinary People (1980)

Ordinary People is a 1980 American drama film directed by Robert Redford, in his directorial debut. It his based on the 1976 novel of the same name by Judith Guest. It stars Donald Sutherland, Mary Tyler Moore, Judd Hirsch and Timothy Hutton. The story follows the dissolve of an upper middle class family in Lake Forest, Illinois, after the accidental death of one of their two sons and the attempted suicide of the other.

Judging by the title of this film, it sounds like nothing more than just the story of an average American upper class family, but it’s so much more. It deals with love, tragedy, depression, suicide and marital issues. It is very slow for a good portion of the film, but some scenes are quite intense, especially when it shows how Jordan died and when Conrad is attempting suicide. This is a movie that many families, even today can relate to. So many families go through these things.

This film isn’t really heartwarming much at all, in fact, it is mostly heartbreaking. It is depressing, but truly moving and inspirational. It shows how a family copes with tragedy, how death has an impact on people and how suicide is never the answer. It also deals with marital problems, realizing that sometimes a person falls out f love with their spouse and that separation may the key for two people to be truly happy again. This movie also deals with mental illness, not just someone wanting to kill themselves, because of guilt, but also depression, anger issues, anxiety and insomnia.

This is a film that not just psychiatrists should watch, but anyone who has gone through any like the family portrayed in this story. At times this movie is very slow, almost boring, but it is still very good. All the main stars do equally outstanding in their roles, making it seem like their characters are real and you’re watching a biopic , rather than a fictional movie. So well done, even if some parts are very slow, it does get to the point of making you think of how you’d feel in their situation. Robert Redford did great on this one. 18 & up 4/5

Classic of the Week: The Big Chill (1983)

The Big Chill is a 1983 American drama and comedy film directed by Lawrence Kasdan, starring Tom Berenger, Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum, William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Mary Kay Place, Meg Tilley and JoBeth Williams. The story follows a group of baby boomers who attended the University of Michigan, reuniting after 15 years when their friend Alex commits suicide. It was filmed in Beaufort, South Carolina.

Despite coming together for a funeral, the friends still manage to share, laughter, memories, tears, music, love, friendship, food and drinks, anger, happiness and sadness. They cook, they eat, drink, dance and still have a good time. Maybe they should be mourning more the loss of their friend who was like a brother to them in college. A suicide is not something to celebrate, but maybe they are celebrating the good things about Alex.

All the acting by every lead star is equally outstanding. Every single character is unique in their own ways, making this movie better with every viewing. The fantastic soundtrack features R&B, soul, pop and rock from the 1960s and 70s . This film is equal parts sad, dramatic, funny and moving. You want friends like these.

This film is about friendship, love, death, music, emotions and life. One character is recently divorced, another has never been married, but wants a baby, another talks about how much he hates his job, despite its high pay. Despite it being 15 years after their college graduation, they group had still kept in touch. A couple of characters fall in love. One female character asks her husband to have sex with the female character that wants a baby, because she doesn’t think she’ll ever get married. He does it. There is lots of drinking, conversation, a few scenes of fighting, some making out, some sex, but lots of music.

This film teaches that family and friends are important, suicide is a serious issue, and music and coming together can heal. This movie is as striking as it is comedic, without being over the top. Wonderful throughout. 18+ 4.5/5