Classic of the Week: Dark Victory (1939)

Dark Victory is a 1939 American drama film directed by Edmund Goulding, starting Bette Davis, George Brent, Humphrey Bogart, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Ronald Reagan and Cora Witherspoon.

The plot follows the story of Judith Traherne, a young, carefree Long Island socialite and heiress with a passion for fast cars, horses, partying and too much drinking and smoking. She ignores her severe headaches and brief dizziness, double and blurred vision, but when she falls off a horse, then falls downstairs, her secretary and best friend Ann King insists she visit the family doctor, who sends her to a specialist. Dr. Frederick Steele does a diagnostic test on Judy and confirms that she needs surgery to remove a malignant glioma brain tumor.

Steele discovers the tumor can’t be completely removed and realizes Judy has less than a year to live. The result will be painless and fast, but she will experience complete blindness and will die. Steele lies to Ann and Judy about the success of the surgery. Ann becomes suspicious and confronts him and he admits. He tells Ann Judy mustn’t know ever. Ann agrees to stay silent and continue to fib. Judith and Steele fall in love and eventually engaged.

Her Stablemaster Michael O’Leary, who for years has been in love with her, tells her of her troubled behavior and she confessed that she is dying. Their words convince her that she’s should spend her final months happy with the man she loves. She apologizes to Steele, they marry and move to Vermont.

Thieves film although it came out in 1939, shows how a brain tumor can lead to blindness and how people cope with it, which can be applied to today’s world. Bette Davis does an outstanding job as Judith Traherne, making the character seem like a real person. She doesn’t leave out one single emotion.

George Brent is great as Dr. Frederick Steele. He loves Judy, although he knows he is going to lose her. He gives her a forever within the numbered days they have. Geraldine Fitzgerald is fantastic as Ann King, the secretary and best friend of Judy. She stays by her side throughout the entire film, helping her out along the way. She a wonderful friend.

Humphrey Bogart is good, not great as stablemaster Michael O’Leary. His role isn’t as big as most of his others were. He uses short sentences and he is supposed to be in love with Judy, but only says so in one scene. He could’ve done better in this character, but it have been the screenwriter’s fault.

There is no humor in this film at all. Your heart gets warmed, then broken. This movie isn’t a very happy one, in fact, it’s really pretty depressing, but that doesn’t make it bad. It isn’t one that can be watched over and over again, as it is very sad. But it is wonderful from start to finish. You want it to turn out fine in the end. Despite the depressing nature of this movie, it is still a classic that will always make you cry. It has passion, sadness and friendship. It is such a heartbreaking story, but is so well done. Bette Davis lives on! 4.5/5

 

The Lighthouse (2019)

The Lighthouse is a 2019 psychological thriller horror film directed by Robert Eggers and stars Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe as two lighthouse keepers who lose sanity when a storm leaves them stranded on a mysterious New England island in the 1890s. The film is shot in entirely black and white.

This film has an Edgar Allen Poe meets James Joyce, meets art film feel to it. It starts out really slow, actually very boring, but does eventually pick up, but it then goes in a pattern, intense to slow. It isn’t consistently intense. Some scenes last too long. They go insane from boredom, no other people around, missing their family, the constant sound of the foghorn, cabin fever and drunkenness, so that explains a lot of the bizarre scenes, but there are far too many of those parts.

The two keepers start out as sort of pals, then become best friends, then eventually enemies. They end up hurting each other, physically and mentally. They found out truths about each other, good and bad. They don’t do much but watch, clean, paint, repair, etc. on the lighthouse, fish and trap lobsters, cook clean, eat, sleep, drink and read a few of the books they have. They do sing and dance in a couple of scenes, which are only part of a small portion of happier segments.

This film takes place entirely on the mysterious island, which doesn’t make it extremely interesting, nor entertaining. It is filled with hallucinations, disturbing scenes, depressing parts and slow segments as well. Very little about this film is happy. It has nothing to make you laugh or cry. It is very bizarre and distressing. There is almost too much bizarreness. It needed more happy scenarios.

Both Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe are equally fantastic in this film, but they don’t make the story and the actual film a whole lot better. I hate to say this film was awful, because it has two award winning and outstanding actors in it, but it was still just that bad. Slow, disturbing and depressing and no other setting but that island. I don’t understand how this film has gotten the praise it has, because it doesn’t deserve any of it. I love Pattinson and Dafoe, but they can do MUCH better. 18+ 2/5

Classic of the Week: Blackboard Jungle (1955)

Blackboard Jungle is a 1955 social commentary film about teachers in an interracial inner-city school, directed by Richard Brooks, based on the novel The Blackboard Jungle by Evan Hunter. The film stars Glenn Ford, Sidney Poitier, Vic Morrow, Anne Francis and Louis Calhern. This is the breakout role for Poitier.

The film follows the story of Richard Dadier (Ford), a new teacher at North Manuel Trades High School, an inner-city school of a wide range of ethnic backgrounds where many of the students, led by student Gregory Miller (Poitier), frequently take part in anti social and rebellious behavior.

Though this film takes place in the mid 50s, it is still very much relevant today, as there are still an alarming amount of troubled youth today and still many functioning alternative schools across the country. This film, though fictional, shows how life in an alternative school for boys was back then and can be compared to today’s schools and troubled teen boys. It is educational, even without being factual. Every single lead star is equally great in their roles. This movie is known for its clever use of rock and roll in its soundtrack and for the unusual breakout of an African American cast member, the future Oscar and Golden Globe winner, Sidney Poitier.

This film along with Rebel Without a Cause are two of the greatest movies depicting troubled teenage boys. Adults try to help them, but they refuse it and won’t even help themselves. In Blackboard, just like in Rebel, the boys eventually see the light and realize they can’t go on living their lives the way have been and do try to better themselves. In this movie, it’s an entire school of troubled kids. It’s the students, versus the teachers, and at first, the pupils win, but eventually the teachers win, showing the kids who’s boss and how to better themselves, their lives and their family and friends’ lives as well. They are taught life skills, as well as regular subjects and trades like woodworking.

Many other films have been compared to or inspired by this one, like: Less Than Zero (1987), High School Confidential! (1958), The Outsiders (1983) and Rock and Roll High School (1979). But this classic will always be a moving depiction of difficult, rebellious and violent teen boys, regardless of its time period. It is one that every teen (boy or girl) should watch in high school or college.

Before watching this movie and hearing Bill Haley & His Comets’ “Rock Around the Clock,” you might have thought of a 1950s sock hop with poodle skirts and black leather jackets, not boys in an inner city school. But this song has become an iconic 1950s sock song, as well as being this film’s theme.

This film is a bit violent at times, a tad slow at other times, but eventually inspiring, eye opening and educational. Every teacher, teenager and film lover needs to watch this one at least once in their life. 18+ 4/5

1917 (2019)

1917 is a 2019 epic war film directed by Sam Mendes. The film stars George MacKay, Dean-Charles Chapman, Mark Strong, Richard Madden, Colin Firth, Andrew Scott and Benedict Cumberbatch. The film is based in part on a story told to Mendes by his grandfather, Alfred Mendes.

The film tells the story of two young British soldiers during World War I who are given a mission to call off an attack doomed to fail soon after the German head to the Hindenburg Line during Operation Alberich in 1917.

This film’s effects, the cinematography, scenery, costumes and music is outstanding. This movie is hard-hitting, like a punch in the stomach. It starts out rather slow, then gradually picks up, but the majority of this film is action packed. It captures British troops during World War I, with such raw and shocking emotion. Everything about this motion picture is extraordinary. You feel the characters’ emotions. You get scared, nervous, angry and sad.

George MacKay is fantastic as Lance Corporal William Schofield. Dean Charles Chapman is great as Lance Corporal Tom Blake, though his character is short lived. Mark Strong does a fine job as Captain Smith, Andrew Scott is good as Lieutenant Leslie and Richard Madden is also good as Lieutenant Joseph Blake, though his part is brief.

Whether this film is really based on a true story or not, it is still magnificent. Even if the film is only partly factual or not true at all, it is still a realistic look at British soldiers during the First World War. It shows the extreme violence, the killing, the shooting and bombing, the deaths, the life of the troops. You gain knowledge of how it was during that time in history. This film portrays the horrors of the war perfectly.

True or not and at exactly two hours long, this is a very important war film, next to others like Schindler’s List and All Quiet on the Western Front. It is one that should be watched on the big screen, to get the full effect and take in every emotion. This gripping movie is not one to be missed. It isn’t the happiest film, but it isn’t the saddest either, it has its depressing moments and happier ones too. The ending could have been different in my opinion, instead of just Schofield looking at picture, the end, but that is really all I’d change, everything else is perfect. Powerful and moving. 18+ 4.5/5

 

Classic of the Week: When Harry Met Sally… (1989)

When Harry Met Sally… is a 1989 romantic comedy film written by Nora Ephron and directed by Rob Reiner. It stars Meg Ryan as Sally’s and Billy Crystal as Harry. The film follows the story of the title characters from the time they meet just before driving across the country and through twelve years of chance encounters in New York City.

This is a romantic comedy that isn’t cheesy or predictable. It has laugh out loud moments, as well as heartbreaking and heart warming times too. The main characters’ relationship is off and on, until they realize they were meant to be together. They fight and share laughs throughout. In the beginning, they can’t stand each other, then they warm up to each other and fall in and out of love, until the end, when can’t imagine life apart.

This is a clever film, unlike any other rom-com in history. You laugh, you get angry and you cry. You root for them to find true love. Both characters have become so iconic since this film came out. With some of the most iconic scenes in film history, like Sally’s delicatessen orgasm and the karaoke scene. They are both hilarious and priceless. Only Ryan and Crystal could have pulled off these characters so perfectly. They are goofy, yet have sweet sides as well.

This is the perfect date night movie, or if just need a good laugh, cry, or both. Not many romantic comedies today, come close to the greatness of this one. It is special in every way. Harry Connick Jr. singing popular classic jazz songs, is ideal for the storyline and mood.

This film will break your heart, then put it back together. It tugs on your heartstrings and pulls out every emotion. It is never dull, slow, or unoriginal. It is a movie that just gets better with age. It’s wonderful from beginning to end and makes you believe in true love and that sometimes, they were there all along. Don’t think this is a typical rom-com or chick flick, because it’s not, it is so much more. A delightful, fun and heartwarming movie. 18+ 5/5

Little Women (2019)

Little Women is a 2019 American coming of age period drama film directed by Greta Gerwig. It is the eighth film adaptation of the 1868 novel of the same name by Louisa May Alcott. The film star should Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Laura Dern, Timothee Chalamet, Tracy Letts, Bob Odenkirk, James Norton, Louis Garrel an don’t Meryl Streep. The film follows the March sisters in 1860s New England, in the aftermath of the American Civil War.

Although this story has been done to death on the big screen, on TV and on stage, this is definitely one of, if not, the best productions. No, we didn’t need another’s version of Little Women, just like another Les Miserables, but this one is a close tie to the 1994 film version, as far as being the best. Saoirse Ronan is outstanding as Jo March, Emma Watson is too as Meg March, Florence Pugh is great as Amy March and Eliza Scanlen is equally great as Beth March. Laura Dern is fantastic as their mother Marmee March.

Timothee Chalamet is great a small Theodore “Laurie” Laurence, making the character so believable and realistic, you love him at first, then hate him, then forgive the character and love him again. Meryl Streep does a fine job as Aunt March, as does Tracy Letts as Mr. Dashwood. Chris Cooper does really well as Mr. Laurence, Laurie’s father. Louis Garrel does a good, not great job as Friedrich Bhaer, the German professor Jo meets while living in New York. James Norton does pretty good as John Brooke, Laurie’s tutor, who falls in love with and eventually marries Meg. Bob Odenkirk, who plays Mr. March, the girls’ father, does good, not great, but that is probably because his character is minor, because he is fighting in the war.

This film is filled with romance, struggle, friendship, family, fighting, winning and losing and even death. It shows how life was for lower middle class, upper class and dirt poor families during the Civil War. The costumes and scenery are spot on. Some of the actor’s accents aren’t perfect and with a couple of stars in particular, an almost British voice comes out. The music is beautiful, so is the majority of the backgrounds. Parts of this film are a bit slow, others a bit rushed. A few of the dancing scenes could have been longer, but that might have made the film even longer.

The casting for this movie was nearly perfect. The cinematography was fabulous. No, we didn’t need another Little Women, but we got one anyway. This one is definitely a contender for best version on the story. Louisa May Alcott would have been proud of this movie. Is this one outstanding? Not exactly, but it’s not awful either. It is really good, but nothing more. But with seven other film adaptations to compare this one to, you’d have to watch them all to really say this is the best film version. But out of the ones I’ve seen, this is one of the better ones. Greta Gerwig knew what she was doing as director. She made a very lovely film that can warm and break your heart every time you watch it. Perfect for teenage girls and women. 11+ 4/5