Saturday, 27 February 2016

Happy Birthday Joanne!

A very Happy Birthday to one of my favourite people-Joanne Woodward who turns 86!

Happy Birthday lovely Joanne!!

Friday, 26 February 2016

A Night to Remember (1958)

On the 14th of April 1912 the 'unsinkable' RMS Titanic struck an iceberg. The ship was on it's maiden voyage, but it was never to complete it. The iceberg irreparablely damaged the ship and it went down leaving over 1,500 people dead in the icy waters of the Atlantic.

A Night to Remember tells the story of this well known disaster. It was the ninth film to be made about the sinking of the Titanic and was based on the book of the same name by Walter Lord. The film is regarded by most historians as being the best and most historically accurate of all films made about the event.

The film, which stars Kenneth More, Ronald Allen, Robert Ayres, Honor Blackman, Michael Goodlife, David McCallum and Laurence Naismith, tells the story of the fateful voyage in harrowing accuracy. Despite knowing the inevitable outcome from the start it is still a heart breaking, anxious watch as the ship sinks further and further into the icy water.
The film begins with the ships launch and follows the crew and several passengers of all three classes as they entertain themselves in the hours leading up to the collision. The film also serves as a powerful testimony to the politics of class. The snobbery of some and the selflessness of others. The disaster brings out the best and worst of all the classes.

Visually the film is stunning. Shot in black and white it adds an eerie quality to the wide expanse of sea, and the darkness of the night. Most of the characters reflect real people including Captain Smith and the famous 'unsinkable' Molly Brown. The film slowly descends into panic, at first nobody is particularly alarmed, no one really believes the ship will sink, but in the final moments before it descends chaos reigns. It's heartbreaking to watch but incredibly powerful.

"It's different…because we were so sure, because even though its happened it's still unbelievable. I don't think I'll ever feel sure again, about anything"
-Second Officer Charles Lightoller (Kenneth More)


Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Modesty Blaise (1966)

Modesty Blaise (Monica Vitti) is a thief/spy who becomes involved in a complicated jewel heist. Hired by the British secret service and aided by her friend Willie Garvin (Terence Stamp) Modesty must outwit master criminal Gabriel (Dirk Bogarde) and return the diamonds to Middle Eastern sheik Abu Tahir (Clive Revill).

On the one hand this film doesn't make much sense, on the other hand it's so colourful and so sixties, that it doesn't really matter!
The film is full of funky fashions, and ever changing hairstyles, Bogarde's mansion is bizarrely colourful, filled with patterns that make your head spin. The music is also incredibly catchy (and reminded me of the theme to the Natalie Wood film, Penelope).

There is a plot and it does revolve around the jewels, but it frequently goes off track and there are many moments that don't seem to fit into the rest of the film. As a spy spoof it does have some laugh out loud moments (I must admit the end when Modesty and Garvin are rescued on the beach was my favourite!). There are even some moments of random song, a goldfish in a wine glass and a scene which made me think Garvin was a robot (but he's not….)

The film was based on a comic book series of the same name which featured Modesty as a female version of James Bond (the film apparently bears little resemblance to the comics). It was the first of only two English language films that Vitti made.
It may not be the best film ever made, but it certainly is oddly enjoyable!


Blood and Sand (1941)

Juan (Tyrone Power) is a young, arrogant bull fighter who dreams of being the best in the world. He soon reaches his dream and marries his childhood sweetheart (Linda Darnell). At the height of his success he is seduced by wealthy aristocratic Doña Sol des Muire (Rita Hayworth) and his life takes a downward turn.

Blood and Sand was a remake of a silent film of the same tittle starring Rudolph Valentino and released in 1922 (this film in itself was a remake of a 1916 film). Both films were based on a novel by Vicente Blasco Ibáñez.
The film is beautifully shot, bringing together all the colour and vibrancy of Spain. The film won best cinematography at the Academy Awards. The costumes of the characters are also telling. Darnell is dressed in traditional clothes, demure, with high necks and full skirts. Hayworth is dressed in the latest fashions from Paris, she is chic and elegant, this heightens her differences from the other women in the town, she is alien and it attracts Power.  Power's costumes are gaudy, his bullfighting regalia is full of colour and gold, it marks his transition from poor boy to a celebrity akin to royalty. His clothes also serve as a reminder of his obsession with the material, and his lack of spiritual or personal regard for those around him.

Some scenes in the film are hard to watch particularly when they involve the bull fighting. It's cruelty makes it hard to sympathise with any of the characters for that point alone.
The fighters sacrifice their lives for the sport, but a lot is made of their educational sacrifices, none of them can read or write. This serves to highlight how superficially Juan appears to have everything, he is successful, has beautiful clothes and house, but underneath he has little, he is illiterate, he has lost most of his money and has lost his wife and the support of the crowd. In the end Hayworth leaves him for a new up and coming fighter (Anthony Quinn). It soon becomes apparent that the film is a dance towards death, from the opening scenes it feels inevitable that Juan will die in the ring.