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

 

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

Classic of the Week: Teacher’s Pet (1958)

Teacher’s Pet is a 1958 American romantic comedy film directed George Seaton, starring Clark Gable, Doris Day, Gig Young and Mamie Van Doren.

The film follows the story of night school instructor Erica Stone (Doris Day), who asks journalist James Gannon (Clark Gable) to speak in her class, but he turns her down via a mean letter to her. His managing editor, however forces him to go. He arrives late and finds Stone reading his letter to the class. Humiliated, he decides to join the class as a student. He poses as a wallpaper salesman named Jim Gallagher. He starts falling in love with her and eventually she falls for him too, making it hard for him to keep his alias.

This a fun, funny, cute, romantic and charming film. It is lighthearted at times, but also filled with mischief. Doris and Gable are a great pairing. Throughout the film they outsmart and bicker with each other. Although he was much older than her in the movie and in real life, Gable was still able to put on the charm. Doris put sass and back talking into her character, making it one of her most iconic roles.

The two main characters do fight a lot, but they eventually stop when they start falling in love, making this film or even enjoyable. Some parts are slow, others seem to have a bit too much bantering. It does take place almost entirely in the school, which, does get old. This romantic comedy isn’t super cheesy like most, it has its good and not so good.

Gig Young does a good job as psychologist Dr. Hugo Pine and Mamie Van Doren is equally good as nightclub singer and Gannon’s girlfriend Peggy DeFore. Although both characters are hardly shown throughout the movie.

This film is laugh out loud funny at times, but it is also clever in plot and sweet at times as well. Yes, there could have been less arguing and more scenes outside the school, but it is still a great film that will never cease to brighten your mood. It’s overall a very charming and fun film, though not quite as good as Doris’ “Pillow Talk.” But how can such a witty film go wrong with Doris singing theme song? Just makes it even cuter. 11+ 4/5

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

Classic of the Week: Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

 

Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a 1961 American romantic comedy film directed by Blake Edwards, loosel based on the 1958 Truman Capote novella of the same name. The film stars Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard, Patricia Neal and Mickey Rooney.

The film follows Holly Golightly, a socialite and lady of the night with a love for expensive things, men and lavish parties and Paul Varjak, a writer that moves into Holly’s apartment building, who has a rich interior decorator, Mrs. Emily Eustace, who he occasionally sleeps with for extra money. Holly and Paul eventually fall in love.

Although author Truman Capote stated numerous times that Holly wasn’t exactly a call girl and Hollywood tried hard not to make her a flat out lady of the PM, that is essentially what she is. She visits a man named Sally Tomato, a mobster in jail, to give him the “weather report.” Also in the beginning of the film, after the famous scene of her eating her danish in front of the Tiffany jewelry store, she is seen fighting off the man from the night before. She also throws a party with a man she calls, “the ninth richest man in America under 50,” who she later says she’s going to marry because of his money.

Paul is a bit oblivious to Holly’s lifestyle at first, but does eventually learns about it and tries to help her, but she refuses it at first, but eventually realizes she needs help after all. Paul over time, becomes smitten with Holly and tries to woo her, but she rejects him. He confesses his love for her and she eventually does the same towards him, by kissing him in the rain.

This is a romantic comedy that is different from others, because it isn’t cheesy, boring, or predictable, it is harsh at times, sad at times, sweet and heartwarming at other moments too. Holly Golightly is Audrey Hepburn’s most famous character and it is such an iconic character that has been reproduced on stage, television, magazines, costumes and more. But no one comes close to being as spectacular as Audrey as Holly. Many people don’t realize that Holly is essentially a lady of pleasure, which is totally inappropriate when dressing a little girl up as her, which is sadly done far too often. Still Golightly is one of the greatest film characters of all time.

George Peppard is fantastic as Paul Varjak which is a huge nose thumb to the director who begged the producers not to cast him. Both Steve McQueen and Tony Curtis, although equally attractive most likely couldn’t have portrayed the rom-com role even as greatly as Peppard, even though they were great actors, they were not in romantic roles as much. George had the handsome, bright eyed, sharp as a tack dresser, look down flat in this film. He had the New York accent, that wasn’t over the top. She was cute, mischievous, sexy, yet elegant and beautiful. She mad the little black dress and kitten heels famous.

Patricia Neal is great as Mrs. Emily Eustace, Paul’s decorator who he sometimes sleeps with. She eventually finishes her work for him and he tells her they can’t see each other anymore because he is falling in love. Mickey Rooney does a good job as I. Y. Yunioshi, Holly’s landlord, although his role has always been controversial because he was a white American portaying a Japanese man, that was also dubbed offensive because of the stereotypical way the character is portrayed. Yes, the character should have been recast as an actual Japanese or at last Asian, or changed, even though that would have been different from the book, at least no controversy.

Controversy aside, this is still a wonder film, that anyone should watch at least once in their lives. It has rough scenes and adult themes, but it is done beautifully, making it a film that one will want to watch over and over. You will root for the two to fall in love and they do. An over masterpiece of cinematic history. 13+ 5/5