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: 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

Classic of the Week: Midnight Cowboy (1969)

Midnight Cowboy is a 1969 American buddy drama film directed by John Schlesinger, based on the 1965 novel of the same name by James Leo Herlihy. It stars Jon Voight as Joe Buck, a young Texan dishwasher, who quits his job and heads to New York City to become a male prostitute and Dustin Hoffman as Enrico Salvatore “Ratso” Rizzo, a poor con man, with whom Joe becomes friends and roommates with.

This film got an X rating, the equivalent of NC-17 or R today. It is the only adult film to win Best Picture at the Oscars. It has somewhat happy moments, but overall, it isn’t an uplifting film. That doesn’t make it bad. Voight and Hoffman are equally fantastic in their roles.

This film is filled with adult and controversial content, sex, drugs, stealing, prostitution, strip tease, homosexual moments, drinking and smoking and nudity and violence. Even today, it still shocks With it’s powerful and controversial moments. You see everything, nothing is covered up, complete nudity (at times up close), drugs up close, extreme violence, in your face, but it is all well done.

This film is one that, though extremely adult, is done tastefully, though certain sex scenes that are full on, seem a bit porn like. This film is not for everyone. Most conservatives don’t like it. But it still has its fans and still disturbs and amazes people today. It is quite slow at times, but does pick up. Many scenes are unsettling, the sex and drugs are over the top, but that’s the point of the movie.

This film has gone down to be an adult film, that is both disturbing and wonderful at the same time. Not many movies are like that. This story of a young male hustler in the Big Apple and a con man that become friends, doing illegal things, may not seem exciting and it isn’t supposed to be. It is not one that most people will flock to a theater or television screen to watch, but it is still great. It has gone done in history as one of the greatest films of all time.

From the theme song, “Everybody’s Talkin” by Harry Nilsson, to Ratso’s famous line spoken in a New York accent, “I’m walkin’ here,” this such an iconic film. One that should be on every movie lover’s must watch bucket list. This is a film that is so obscene, but yet, so powerful in the way it was portrayed. Many mature films are all sex or drugs, or both, this one has a lot of that too, but a lot of other things that make it special. This is shocked the world win it won Best Picture and deserved it. – Adults Only 4.5/5

Classic of the Week: The Graduate (1967)

The Graduate is a 1967 American romantic comedy drama film directed by Mike Nichols, based on the 1963 novel of the same name by Charles Webb, who wrote it shortly after graduating from Williams College. The film tells the story of 21 year old Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman), a recent college graduate with no established focus in life, who is seduced by Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), an older woman, then falls in love with her daughter Elaine (Katherine Ross).

There have been many films about younger characters having flings with much older ones like, Alfie, Harold and Maude and Pretty Woman and all are special in their own ways, but none are as special as The Graduate. The story of a college grad with no direction in life, who had probably never had a girlfriend, seduced by a much older housewife, may not seem too original to some, but the way the story is written and the film version is directed, make it unique. With the soundtrack of Simon and Garfunkel and a secret affair becoming not a secret, it is truly a scandalous story.

Dustin Hoffman is outstanding as Benjamin Braddock, his breakout role. Playing such a naive, lustful young man, fresh out of college, he is absolutely perfectly imperfect. Anne Bancroft is equally fantastic as Mrs. Robinson. She plays the bored, lonely, sexually deprived and heavy drinking housewife, whose husband is a workaholic.

Katherine Ross is great as Elaine, Mrs. Robinson’s daughter, who finds out about the affair and refuses to have any contact with Benjamin until she forgives him and eventually falls in love with him. She is beautiful, smart, hard-headed, but kind at times too. Elaine isn’t full of sexual desire like her mother, making her a more likable character.

You start out hating Benjamin, but towards the end of the film, you end up liking him. But Mrs. Robinson, you can’t stand her the entire time, even after Benjamin forgives her and she forgives him.

The inappropriate fling, turns into one of the most iconic love stories of all time, with one of the most iconic soundtracks of all time. It has been parodied many times, but that doesn’t make this an awful film, in fact, it is wonderful, despite being scandalous.

It was given a PG rating then and shockingly still has the same today. It is very unsuitable for that rating. With the the inappropriate affair, talk of sex and rape, the drinking, seducing, smoking, obvious nudity (no body parts shown) and revealing clothing, it deserves a PG-13 or NC-17. No way would I let my seven or eight year old watch this.

Despite the controversy, it is still a remarkable film, one that shocks you, makes you angry, sad and then warms your heart. Still one of the greatest love stories of all time. It’s hard to believe the theme song wasn’t originally written for the movie, since it is one best themes of all time. 13-17 5/5

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

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