Four Star Film Fan's Movie Ratings - Rotten Tomatoes

Movie Ratings and Reviews

The Conspirators

By no means Casablanca, this Warner Bros. film gives the leads to Paul Henreid and Hedy Lamar who were both exiles from the Nazis. The film is a lot about conspirators and spies and yet we never really see the actually sabotage efforts going on except at the very beginning. The rest of the film is a thriller, full of Nazis, tragic love, and treachery. This film is parodied nicely in the film Top Secret!

His Girl Friday

Starring Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell with direction by Howard Hawks, this film's rapid and overlapping dialogue helps make it a witty comedy romance. Grant is a newspaper editor who was formally married to Russell. However, now they are no longer together and she is on the verge of marrying another man. Grant still loves her and tries all the tricks he knows in order to get her back. Soon the two of them are deeply involved in a story having to do with a man who is soon to be hung. As they work to get the scoop, the two of them slowly begin to realize they still leach each other despite their differences. Finally, Russell rejects a normal life with her new fiancée and she and Grant unite once again. A directing legend, Hawks has another success with the screwball comedy. Grant and Russell play well off each other and they have a good supporting cast.


Considered one of the greatest films of all-time this well-loved classic deserves to be here. It is the hallmark of Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman's careers. It has one of the greatest scripts of all time and it has achieved legendary status over the years. Many consider it purely the best film ever made and in all honesty, I would never try to refute that.

The film opens quickly and we are immersed in a world that is at the height of the Nazi terror and many people are fleeing Europe by way of Casablanca. It is a treacherous place full of pickpockets, corrupt authorities, refugees, and some tourists as well. Two German couriers have been murdered and some invaluable letters of transit have been stolen and that's when we are first introduced to Rick's Café Americain and its cynical proprietor Rick Blaine. A shady fellow named Uguarte comes to him with the letters and asks Blaine to keep them for him. However, later that night Uguarte is taken into custody and things get even more complicated. Wanted resistance leader Victor Laszlo is now in Casablanca, however a Major Strasser has arrived from Germany to take him in. To top it off Laszlo's wife Ilsa was Blaine's old flame in Paris and it didn't end well. Laszlo desperately needs the letters of transit to escape and he inquires about them. Soon he is led to Blaine but as he often admits Rick sticks his neck out for nobody. Laszlo shows his defiance against his enemies by leading the people in a round of "La Marseillaise" and as a result Rick's is shut down. All the memories of Paris begin flooding back and then Ilsa confronts Rick in order to get the letters. This is possibly the most critical point in the film because this tense altercation ultimately renews the relationship between Rick and Ilsa. Rick asks her to trust him and he begins to take things into his own hands. The results of his actions created one of the great romantic and cinematic moments in the history of film. The whole film leading up to this point hints at it, but Rick truly is a sentimentalist at heart. He can live with the notion that they will always have Paris and that leads him to commit a selfless act of love.

You do not need explosions and violence, only great characters and a story with both drama and humor. Up until the final moments of the movie you are captivated the entire time. Then fittingly you are left with the two men walking off into the night with the words, "Louis I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship." In fact with this film my thoughts always go back to the script. Lines like "Here's looking at you kid," "We'll always have Paris," and "Round up the usual suspects" are so rampant that you cannot possibly remember them all and I doubt there will ever be another film that is so immersed in American culture. In fact many of my favorite lines in the film are those that get overshadowed by the more famous lines.That is the sign of an amazing film that never grows old. Even those who have not seen this classic film like to think they have because the influence of Casablanca reaches everywhere.

Lawrence of Arabia

A film of truly epic proportions, in length, scenery, and brilliance, Lawrence of Arabia is wonderfully made. Peter O'Toole delivers a stellar performance as T.E. Lawrence, a British soldier during World War I. The movie begins with his death from a motorcycle crash which gives an early view of his character. Then a flashback goes to his time in Africa and the heroics he showed there. Lawrence's task was to unite the Arab tribes and lead them in rebellion against the enemy so the British might win. A very unique, at times controversial, and long unheralded man, Lawrence contributed to the war effort in a far different way. Although it seemed he was soon lost to history his feats of courage and bravery renewed his legacy. This is one of those films you want to see on the big screen because the scenery and cinematography is just that impressive by itself.


Directed by Akira Kurosawa and starring Takashi Shimura, this drama is loaded full of irony. As the film opens, right away we learn the protagonist has stomach cancer, except he has yet to find out. He has spent 30 years of his life working at a monotonous job as a bureaucrat. Only after he discovers that he barely has 6 months left does Watanabe-san actually begin to live his life again. He tries the night life of Japan and it does not satisfy. Then he starts spending time with a lively, young worker that he used to know. All the while he thinks about telling his son about his condition but he cannot bring himself to do it. However, Watanabe-san finally finds a way to leave his mark on this life. And yet 5 months later he is dead and his fellow bureaucrats seemingly dismiss his accomplishment Through a series of flashbacks they ultimately realize what he really did. I found this film to be powerful because this idea is so powerful. It makes me question if I am really living my life to the fullest extent.


Maybe not the greatest film of all time, Rocky is however one of the most heartwarming and greatest sports films ever. Sylvester Stallone gives a likable performance as the title nobody who defies the odds. Combining the cheering story with some famous sequences and a great theme you get something very memorable. The original film that shot Sylvester Stallone to stardom, Rocky tells the tale of a boxer who receives the chance of a lifetime. Rocky Balboa is a mediocre boxer who has no real chance of becoming anything. However he is spotted by a world champion boxer Apollo Creed who wishes to face Rocky as a publicity stunt. Here Rocky finally has the chance to prove himself and become something. In some iconic scenes he trains in his buddy's meat freezer with the famous theme playing in the background. When the day of the fight comes it is evident that Rocky is no fluke and he may even have a chance to win. What makes this movie so touching is Rocky's humble beginnings and his lovable personality. He may be slow but you want him to succeed because he is so kindhearted. This movie was so popular that it led to many sequels but nothing quite beats the original. Yo Adrian!

Get Smart
Get Smart(2008)

Would you believe Steve Carell playing Maxwell Smart? In this remake of the classic TV show he does. Now I am a purist and so I looked down at this film from the beginning. Yes, the show is so much better, but if you think of them completely separately this film can be mildly fun.


This made for TV film is powerful because of the disturbing and sympathetic performance of Sally Field as Sybil. Joanne Woodward is the calming force in this film which is psychologically disturbing at times.


This comedy has some humorous moments but I could never find myself really enjoying it completely. Dudley Moore and Peter Cook seem to play up their Brutishness which is not necessarily a bad thing. If you like British humor or the Swinging Sixties this might be for you.

Knocked Up
Knocked Up(2007)

Here is a film that can often be raunchy and sometimes annoying, however underlining all of that are two people who are intent on raising their child and sticking it out through the good and the bad. Not the best romantic comedy I have seen, but Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl do a solid job. On the other hand I cannot say I approve of Ben's friends. There is quite a bit of star power.

The State I am In (Die Innere Sicherheit)

It certainly is an acquired taste but it follows an interesting family drama that is entirely unique to Germany. Christian Petzold as a methodical and observational style that can be powerful even if it is not what American audiences are often accustomed to.


Another film from the Berlin School's Christian Petzold, Yella is an often interesting drama that showcases a performance by Nina Hoss. This film may easily bore American audiences but that does not make it any less impactful.

The Sixth Man

Okay so this film is pretty stupid but if you like basketball maybe you'll appreciate it. Who Knows? I probably would have liked it more if I grew up with it.

Yankee Doodle Dandy

Starring James Cagney and an array of others, the film tells the real life story of writer, singer, and dancer George M. Cohan. The story begins with an older Cohan recounting his life story. He began his career with his family in Vaudeville. Slowly he made a name for himself in Broadway and married his love. He and his partner kept making musicals and then the Cohans reunited for one last show. Eventually everyone in the family settled down before they died. The only one left was George who was living with his wife. In his final performance, Cohan gets the country to rally around the flag again as he has done his whole life. This movie has many commendable moments but there is an apparent conflict between biography and musical. Cagney for his part gives a stellar performance as the energetic and ambitious Cohan. The film also doubled as a nice piece of propaganda during World War II.

Robin Hood
Robin Hood(1973)

Despite all the film knowledge I have gained I cannot allow myself to reject this childhood gem. It is one of the lesser known Disney films and it garners less respect more often than not. Whatever you may say I must say that I still really enjoy this film. I can quote this film, I can act out scenes still, and I can still hum the theme. There are some great voice actors is this one and it took one of my great childhood heroes and gave him the Disney treatment. Whatever others say I will stick with my heart and always enjoy this one.

Marvel's The Avengers

This has to be one of the best superheroes movies I have ever seen because of the assembly of great heroes and the balance of star power. No one character seems to outshine the others, there is a decently gripping story, and it all culminates in great action sequences with the eye candy you come to expect with Marvel. This film built nicely off of all the individual films and I gather it is not the last we will see of Marvel. Lets get shwarma everybody!


Perhaps slightly over hyped this film is still quite powerful. Certainly it is visually gorgeous and it works in part because of the direction of Alfonso Cuaron. George Clooney and Sandra Bullock for that matter, have had better roles but this one showcases the struggle between man vs. nature, or to put it more correctly man vs. space. It is an entertaining thriller even if it is not always practical and it builds on the sci-fi tradition of such films as 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Bachelor in Paradise

Here is a Bob Hope comedy without much substance but you have Bob Hope so what more do really need to get a decent laugh? After all no one expects a sophisticated comedy from him.

The Lives of Others

I think there is certainly a universal quality to this film because although it is German language and focuses on a subject that is distinctly German, the quality of the characters translates into any language because they are human. The struggle of Wiesler is the same for many of us and we can empathize with his evolution and ultimate resolve. We can only hope that people are not put in these same positions in the future and we must also constantly question our own government so they are never reach this degree.

Raising Arizona

This is an odd, quirky, eccentric, comedy directed by the Coens and starring Nicholas Cage and Holly Hunter. This is probably one of the funkiest romances you've ever seen the strangest way of raising a kid, and all and all a wild ride of a story. I cannot say I particularly liked all the bits and pieces but there is a lot to be said for this screwball film and it is fairly entertaining.

American Hustle

I think what makes the performances good in this film are not the fact that they are life like or even realistic but they are in fact larger than life. Sure, people like Irving, Richie Dimaso, Sydney Prosser, and Rosalyn probably did walk this earth, but the film highlights all their quirks and idiosyncrasies. Whether it is how they talk, dress, or even do their hair. Furthermore, they have even messier and crazier personal lives than their hair, and that's saying a lot. These are not the kind of folks that you would want for friends and yet could it be possible that there is a little bit of these characters in each one of us? Do we still live in a world where the Carmine's are the victims and the real perpetrators get away scotch free? It's something to asks ourselves.

Run Lola Run
Run Lola Run(1999)

Run Lola Run is an adrenaline rush in every sense of the word with its music, editing, and furious pace. It did for modern German film what Breathless did for the French New Wave. It is extremely difficult to try and categorize it but the best I can do is call it a kind of hybrid of Rashomon and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Really it it a completely separate entity.

Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India

If you are going to see anything Bollywood probably start with this film and ease your way in or so I have heard. This one is worth a view telling a tale of triumph in a 19th century cricket world that had for so long been dominated by the imperialistic British.

Ocean's Eleven

Here is one of the rare sequels that I can actually attest is better than the original and I am usually a real stickler for what's original. Here is a high brow cast headed by George Clooney and Brad Pitt with a long list of others and their goal is a high payoff from a Las Vegas casino which is sealed like a steal trap. It is a lot of cool breezy fun which will definitely entertain. The remix of Elvis is a great touch that fits perfectly with this reinvisioning of this 1950s Rat Pack vehicle.

Breaking Away

Here is a great young cast with a fun subject and the ever inspiring ending to the story. It is a film that definitely makes me wish I went to University in Bloomington and I also wish I liked cycling more and could speak Italian. This certainly will not be for everyone but it works as some light and inspiring fun. It includes a young Dennis Quaid, Daniel Stern, and a lead performance by the often forgotten Dennis Christopher.


I'm not big on Zombie films and so I went into this one not expecting much. I still do not really like the Zombie genre but there were some decently funny moments here having to do with the rules Columbus has for surviving the apocalypse, the search for Twinkies, and of course a random cameo by a prominent funny man.

The Narrow Margin

This is a little known film-noir and all I can say is that anyone who truly loves noir needs to watch it. Really anybody should watch it. It is a "B picture" as they were called and it is not very long or fancy but I found it to be very entertaining as only this genre can be. There also is a solid variety of characters and a great twist that completely changes your perspective on the film. Right up there with Detour as one of those unassuming B pictures.


This is one of the highly touted romantic comedies of the 1980s starring Cher and the young buck Nicholas Cage. Although this film was nice at times I never found myself immensely enjoying it. It would much rather see the Princess Bride or even When Harry Met Sally. That is not to take away from the performances of the two leads.

Don Jon
Don Jon(2013)

Covers an important issue and it also suggests the urge of humans to lose themselves in something whether it is pornography, romantic movies, football, etc.

Garfield - The Movie

I have loved the character and the comics most of my life. That does not mean I need to love this film. In fact it should mean the exact opposite.


I would certainly rather watch Postman simply because it is more exciting however Jerichow possibly has a greater sense of humanity and it is more applicable to this generation. Especially contemporary Germany.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit

What a great idea to combine everyone's favorite genre, film-noir with everyone's favorite medium, animation! Anyways this film is a lot of fun with a treasure trove of iconic characters and a decent story line to follow. It now seems slightly dated but that does not mean it cannot still be enjoyable. There's a lot of creative and wonderful stuff in here that should remind us all why we were enchanted by animation so early on.

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

Okay it's obviously stupid but it's supposed to be. Steve Carell and his antagonistic rival Jim Carrey are both battling magicians. Throw in a few more big names like Olivia Wilde and you have a comedy. The last moments of the film were actually relatively funny.


Maybe this film was too raw and edgy for me to truly like it but I will acknowledge that it is a very interesting film with some extraordinary commentary about immigrants and cultural identity. Here two misfits fall eventually fall in love through extenuating circumstances despite being stuck in the in between space between Turkish and German cultures. Certainly not for the faint of heart.

The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer

This is some light fare featuring the ever comically gifted Cary Grant as well as a slightly older Shirley Temple and the often delightful Myrna Loy. Not the best but there is some entertainment value created by this funny pairing.

Real Women Have Curves

This film was not my favorite but it is a different take on the coming of age story so that makes it passable.


Some nostalgia here and it probably would have had a greater impact on someone familiar with Selena's work. Still it was mildly interesting.

Baby Geniuses

I know a pair of twins in it... That would be the only slightly legitimate reason to watch this and that's why I did


This can be a difficult film to watch, a strange film, and even a crass film at times, but for the most part Spike Jonze gives us a very thought provoking piece that is pertinent to this social media and technology saturated culture that is our everyday reality. The world shown to us is washed out in its' pastel shades and yet it does not seem too far removed from us. It certainly brings up some interesting dilemmas about Her, whoever she may be for each and everyone of us. How do you reconcile the technology whether computers, phones, video games, or etc. with the human interactions that still make up (or should make up) most of our existence? For Theodore, Samantha leaves him with wonderment for life and an inquisitiveness which allows him to unplug a little and truly live in the present. Her is sometimes sad but undoubtedly powerful stuff.


This is not your typical Exorcism film partially because of the sense of realism and the biographical nature. It comments on the reconciling of religion vs. science. Although it is not a so called horror film it can still be extremely disconcerting. Maybe that is partially because of the lead performance by Sandra Hueller or the fact that they actually begin to care for these characters a bit.

The Way Way Back

I'm not one to usually laugh out loud during movies but for some reason I felt this sensation during this film. There were a lot of things that seemed to suggest that I should have rated this film lower but I could not help but give it four stars. Maybe it is the nostalgia it created or the typical coming of age story made interesting by some solid characters. Maybe it just reminded me of the times I use to go to water parks. I'm not sure.

Go for Zucker! (Alles auf Zucker!)

This is an often quirky and sometimes funny German film but I could not really get into it. I kept on thinking that there are so many better family drama films and if I wanted to see pool I would watch the Hustler. I guess this one was unique because it focused on the touchy subject of German Jews. I still have no answer to the Hustler though.

In Time
In Time(2011)

Interesting concept for sure but a lot more could have been done with the initial idea. The story could have delved deeper into the issues to develop a more intriguing dystopian society. I had to resort to counting all the time puns with my friends instead. I think we lost count.

Short Term 12

This is an extremely powerful film having to do with a short term living home for abandoned and troubled kids. Brie Larson, who is one of my new favorites, gives a wonderful performance that should have gotten her nominated for an Oscar. Unfortunately this is a little known gem. This film had a gritty and realistic aspect that I could relate to, because its director and writer Destin Daniel Cretton hails from San Diego. He does not shy away from the tough issues, but he also shows a moving and beautiful flip side to this story. Short Term 12 can be hard to watch at times but it seems that what it really depicts is reality for many young people.

The Kings of Summer

I had high hopes for this film after seeing The Spectacular Now and The Way, Way Back, two other coming of age films from 2013. However, this film never brought me in. The characters were either to weird or not especially likable. Overall the film left me somewhat irritated and dissatisfied. Perhaps that was just me.


Diner undoubtedly borrows from the earlier American Graffiti but that being said this film has its own host of interesting characters with its own unique vignettes and touches of nostalgia. Levinson's Baltimore is definitely personal much like Modesto meant a great deal to George Lucas.

Risky Business

A star making role for Tom Cruise laden with pop culture, satire, and the lives of middle class teens. The story spirals out of control after Joel's parents leave him with their home to himself and he enters some very Risky Business to be sure. This one has some great music and some very memorable sequences.


View of a futuristic world where I probably could not survive and where I would never want to live. It certainly is an interesting film with some good moments. It makes us ponder how far science will take us in the near future.


Directed by John Ford and starring a young John Wayne, this classic western opens with various people boarding a stagecoach for various reasons. The passengers include a drunken doctor, a prostitute, a soft-spoken whiskey salesman, a gambling southern gentleman, an impatient banker, and the wife of a cavalry officer. Driving up top is Buck and the Marshall rides with his eyes open for the wanted Ringo Kid (Wayne) and the threat of Apaches. Despite their differences and the imminent danger, these people are forced to push on toward their destination together. They face unexpected challenges including hostile Apaches, but they finally do reach the town of Lordsburg. After the arrival, Ringo must figure out his relationship with Dallas while also facing the foes that are waiting for him. He does what he has to and ultimately his friends show their true colors. This film is a great character study with very good scenery, stunts, and action. As Wayne's first big role, it is easy to see how he became a star after this performance. He was supported nicely by the likes of Claire Trevor, Andy Devine, Thomas Mitchell, and John Carradine.

Duck Soup
Duck Soup(1933)

Arguably the greatest movie of the Marx Brothers, Duck Soup takes place in the country of Freedonia where Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho) is appointed the new leader. All too soon he proves to be incompetent and the ambassador from the rival country of Sylvania wishes to start a war with Freedonia so he can take over the country. He enlists the help of a wily woman as well Chico and Harpo who are spies. Chico is caught and his trial ultimately leads to war. However, he is also Firefly's secretary of War and with the Brothers leading things it is sure to be zany and wild. Beside the ever present puns and quips, some memorable moments include the opening serenade, the street vendor scenes, the famous mirror sequence, and of course the war at the end. This would be the last film with Zeppo but the other brothers would move onto MGM and keep their career going. This film is good but upon seeing more of their films I would say I appreciated A Night at the Opera more.

Dirty Harry
Dirty Harry(1971)

Starring Clint Eastwood as San Francisco police Inspector Harry Callahan, the film opens with a sniper knocking off a young woman. The self-proclaimed Scorpio says he will keep killing a person everyday until the city pays him off. They go on high alert and Callahan stakes out with his new rookie partner Chico. However, Scorpio escapes once again and he is just begun. He kidnaps a young girl and threatens to kill her. Callahan runs all across town to deliver the ransom where upon a confrontation occurs. After they recover the girl they track down the killer but he is released because they had no warrant. A furious Callahan finally hunts down the conniving killer one last time after Scorpio kidnaps a bus load of children. In the ensuing chaos Harry finally gets his man. This is one of the great action films and it spawned a memorable character in Dirty Harry.

Schindler's List

This film is one of the best biographical films and it highlights one of the monstrosities of humanity in the form of the Holocaust. It may be hard to watch and it is overpowering but the fact is the types of events depicted actually happened and must be recognized. The characters of Oskar Schindler and Ammon Goth further make the story come alive serving as a sharp contrast to each other. From the beginning this film opens in black and white making you realize there is something special here. With Speilberg behind the camera, Liam Neeson takes on the role of Oskar Schindler. Historically, this German industrialist aided over a thousand Jews from the Holocaust. Neeson skillful portrays his character revealing the turmoil and peril Schindler faced. The cast is rounded out nicely by Ben Kingsley and Ralph Fiennes. The film effectively moves the viewer to ponder humanity and also causes us to praise Schindler. Fittingly the movie closes with many surviving Jews laying flowers on the grave of their savior.


Having a solid cast headed by James Stewart with support by Josephine Hull, the film follows the life of a very pleasant man, Elwood P. Dowd, who befriends everyone he meets. However, he has a major peculiarity in that his closest companion is a 6 foot 3 1/2 inch rabbit named Harvey. His loving but annoyed sister tries to get Dowd interned at the sanitarium. However, due to circumstances, things do not turn out as she planned. Along the way Dowd captivates and befriends many people with his simple charm. Rather than have her brother injected so he forgets Harvey, Hull's character realizes he needs to stay the same. With everyone in a happy and content mood, Dowd walks off again with his best friend. Stewart is wonderful in this quirky role and overall the cast is very good. I have to say I was wary of this film based on the premise but after you get past the absurdity it really is enjoyable and it reels you in.

Chicken Little

This is a Disney film based on the fable that is not very memorable. There are some great voices in here including Don Knotts but the story line is lacking

The Wild
The Wild(2006)

This film seems to be a knock off of Madagascar in many ways and it is not really worth watching. It is safe to say that if you have seen one you've seen them all in this case.

Home Alone
Home Alone(1990)

This is a Christmas classic so forget the improbabilities and embrace the fun, the humor, the music, and yes, the spirit that comes with the time of year. The sequences of Kevin defending himself are certainly the highlight of the film. Merry Christmas ya filthy animal!

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery

It is at times rude, weird, and lacking in plot but it is hard not to at least appreciate the James Bond spoof here. Mike Myers is over the top as the groovy 60s super spy Austin Powers. I think my favorite part of the whole film may have been the opening title sequence which was a comical nod to A Hard Day's Night. Yeah Baby!

Mean Girls
Mean Girls(2004)

I've always heard this movie quoted and of course it stars the old Lindsay Lohan so I thought it was time to bite the bullet and give it a watch. It was actually a little better than I expected with how it deals with the annoying, ditsy, and popular teenage girl and all the high school cliches in general. Okay so it's not that great but it fits the teen movie mold a bit better than most and it has its share of comedy and drama. She doesn't even go here!

Iron Man 3
Iron Man 3(2013)

I was pleasantly surprised by this film which certainly surpassed Iron Man 2. Although the villain was not my favorite, there was a nice twist with the Mandarin. As always Robert Downey Jr. brings great life to the role of the brash and arrogant Tony Stark. The supporting cast was very good as well.

We're No Angels

This film was low on my radar and at times it seems it would make a better play than a movie, but our three convicts are comical and endearing enough to make it work most of the time. Some Christmas spirit and Adolph the snake do not hurt the film either. If not already, it seems that this should be a Christmas classic.

Christmas Holiday

This film really is not that interesting but it was my introduction to Deanna Durbin and my first time seeing Gene Kelly playing an actual villain. If you're looking for Christmas cheer it is not here but Siodmak did succeed in directing another dark noir. I cannot wait to watch some lighter Deanna Durbin fare for the first time in the near future.


One of the phrases to describe this film is really, really, really, stupid but that is why so many people like superstar fashion model Derek Zoolander and his Blue Steel. Who else would start a school for kids who don't read good and want to do other stuff good too? There also are a few somewhat memorable cameos. If you are entertained by stupid and sometimes rude humor you probably would appreciate Zoolander. That is not to say that there are not some genuinely funny moments, see for yourself.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The film is entertaining and takes the Hunger Games even farther into the darkness. It seemed bleak before and yet that was just the beginning because now the stakes are heightened as Katniss and Peeta grow in fame

Dodgeball - A True Underdog Story

Is this high brow entertainment? No, but is it entertaining? Surprisingly, more often than not I would have to say yes. Maybe you have to be in a certain mood but for the most part I found myself enjoying this stupidly enjoyable underdog story starring Vince Vaughn who must face an arrogant Ben Stiller.

Act of Violence

An interesting post-war moral tale from director Fred Zinnemann. It certainly is not his best work but it brings up some interesting questions as Robert Ryan seeks revenge on his former war buddy played by Van Heflin. Ultimately, however justice is achieved in this noir thriller.

Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

Okay, so this is not as good as the original and the original is simply a perennial Christmas movie at best. However, this film does have another good sequence of Kevin outwitting the two bumbling bandits from Home Alone.

Anchorman - The Legend Of Ron Burgundy

There is a lot of absurdity here and some quotable lines, not to mention the setting of sunny San Diego, and a good soundtrack. However, despite all these positives, I have to admit this film is not that enjoyable for me. My favorite scene has to be the street brawl though. It has nothing to do with anything, but I suppose that is part of its charm. The same can be said of Anchorman.

The Men
The Men(1950)

I was really drawn into this film and I appreciated Zinnemann's realistic style in capturing Marlon Brando's powerful screen debut. I would have rated this film higher because the topic was interesting, the performances were good, the supporting cast was respectable, and so on. The only thing is although Brando is a good actor and I really love Teresa Wright, they just seem wrong opposite each other. Wright was made for a Best Years of Our Lives and Brando for Streetcar or On the Waterfront. I will say I was surprised to see a young Richard Erdman, who is known to modern audiences as Leonard in Community.

The Lemon Drop Kid

Okay so this film can be considered Christmas because it features Silver Bells, but it certainly does not scale the heights of a White Christmas. Still Hope is up to his conning and Marilyn Maxwell plays opposite him. The story is flimsy and it is slow at times but if you are craving Hope or something with Christmas you might like it.

Easy A
Easy A(2010)

Honestly, this high school comedy did not do it for me. Maybe I just had no patience for it but it really did not seem entertaining to me. I did appreciate that it caused me to watch Say Anything... which I very much enjoyed.

The Holiday
The Holiday(2006)

The fact that this is a major chick flick aside, I enjoyed a few aspects of this film. First the house trading because that is something I have actually been able to experience. Then, I really liked Eli Wallach's character who was a screenwriter from Hollywood's Golden Age. I would like to meet him. Furthermore, Jack Black's character is a composer who knows a lot about film scores and there is a great sequence in the dvd store. I've experienced my share of Santa Ana winds as well. I guess these touches made it more personal for me and I appreciated that even if the film itself was not great.

The East
The East(2013)

At times this film was strange but the story of a young woman infiltrating and eco-terrorism group proved interesting. If not the greatest thriller it certainly brought up some interesting moral questions.

Monsters University

Although it does not by any means measure up to its predecessor, it is a worthwhile addition and origin story for Mike and Sulley. I could appreciate much of the college related humor and it was a nice way to further develop our two monstrous heroes.

American Beauty

This film is less a picture of middle class American suburbia reality, and more a dark cautionary tale of what this lifestyle could become if it is totally perverted and distorted. That being said, I did not really care for its style that much and I would certainly not consider it a favorite.

A Christmas Story

This film is quirky, it has a dark sort of humor, and yet it is strangely entertaining and understandably a Christmas classic. Who can forget those funny voice-overs, that pink bunny suit, and of course the all important Red Rider BB gun.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

This special will forever be a perennial Christmas classic. The combination of Dr. Seuss, Chuck Jones, Thurl Ravenscroft, and Boris Karloff is just so great! I can honestly say it never gets old and I enjoy it every year.

A Charlie Brown Christmas

One of the greatest Christmas specials, if not the greatest, of all time. With the iconic Peanuts cast backed by a great score by Vince Guaraldi, the simple story cuts to the core of what Christmas is all about.

Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town

One of the great Rankin/Bass Christmas specials with great songs, memorable characters, good voice work, and a solid story about the origins of Santa Claus. A must every Christmas.

The Year Without a Santa Claus

I usually love Rankin/Bass but for some reason this story just did not do it for me! Maybe since I did not grow up with it there is not as much nostalgia attached. I don't know...

Olympia 1. Teil - Fest der Völker (Olympia Part One: Festival of the Nations)

I went into this film being slightly wary of Nazi propaganda and there are some of those nationalistic type images of Berlin in 1936. However, in this documentary Hitler takes a back seat for the most part and the focus is instead of the games. Interestingly enough, Riefenstahl does not try and hide the success of Jesse Owens who easily blows the rest of his competition out of the water. It was almost comical to watch but is wonderful that it is documented for us to witness so many years later.

Iron Man 2
Iron Man 2(2010)

This film was not as good as the original Iron Man but Robert Downing Jr. does a great job again as Tony Stark. It also introduces Scarlett Johansson's character Black Widow who would play a bigger role in the Avengers. The returning cast includes Gwyneth Paltrow and Don Cheadle. Mickey Rourke is the film's villain bent on revenge.

Phantom Lady
Phantom Lady(1944)

The film uses the motif of a mysterious lady who cannot be found and it stars a cast of only a couple recognizable names, however Robert Siodmak does a decent job at making this noir interesting and it is worth a watch.

Thor: The Dark World

As before I enjoyed the scenes on Earth, specifically London this time, compared with the Asgard sequences. It was the kind of explosive, actionpacked fair you expect from Marvel so in that respect it was decent. I'm not sure I really cared for the villain or the ancient power he used to try and takeover the world but oh well. A lot of the same characters were back and it was enjoyable to see Loki, Jane Foster, Darcy, even Captain America, and of course the every present Stan Lee. Only afterwards did I realize Christopher Eccleston and Zachary Levi were in this film. If you liked Thor before you will probably like this and the opposite is true as well

Hangmen Also Die

This is a nice little piece of intrigue from Fritz Lang based off real events in Czechoslovakia. Anna Lee finds herself admidst a web of trouble when she helps a member of the underground. But the Nazis are soon hounding her and her father's life is put in danger. She is forced to choose where her greatest allegiance stands. At the time it came out this movie functioned as an anti-Nazi film and it still packs a decent punch

Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans

Directed by F.W. Murnau, this silent film follows the lives of a man and his wife. A woman from the city meets the man and suggests that he drown his wife and sell his farm so they can be together. Then, the man takes his innocent wife out on the lake with evil intentions. He is about to go through with it but ultimately cannot. The wife flees and they take a trolley to the city. The man asks for her forgiveness and they walk through the city finally reconciled. Over the day they get their picture taken, go in a barber shop, and have fun at an amusement park. They travel back home by boat and then a massive storm hits. The man searches for his wife to no avail and then he encounters the exuberant city woman. In his anger he begins to choke her but his wife is still alive! He rushes to her bedside and they kiss. This film is wonderfully complex and artistic for a film without any talking. Unlike Chaplin or Keaton this is a great dramatic silent film that does not utilize slapstick comedy.

Confessions of a Nazi Spy

As I have come to know, this film is historically important simply for the fact that it was the first Hollywood film to attack the Nazis. In 1939 the U.S. was not at war and many of the studios were not keen about such controversial fare. However, Warner Bros. had the guts to do it and they used a real story as basis for the drama. Edward G Robinson is solid as usual and he is supported by a cast of mostly unknowns (aside from George Sanders). As a film it is not that amazing and for some reason at times if felt awkward to watch. That does not detract from its importance in history however.

Mr. & Mrs. Smith

It is certainly not one of Hitchcock's best and it really is a run of the mill romantic comedy with rather an abrupt ending. However, it is very unusual territory for Hitch and it features the iconic Carole Lombard so it cannot be considered all bad.

Best in Show
Best in Show(2000)

This is a understated mockumentary comedy with some familiar faces. The film implies man's best friend but it is really about the oddities and quirks of dog owner's as they prepare their pooches for the Mayflower Kennel Club Dog Show. I am not a huge fan of mockumentaries in film or tv, but it is still undeniable that there are some funny moments here.

The Shaggy Dog

A Tim Allen remake of the original Shaggy Dog. Not a good idea and there is something not that appealing about this film. The remake was unnecessary

The Shaggy Dog

The original Shaggy Dog which seems to have all the perennial Disney cast including Fred MacMurray, Tommy Kirk, and Kevin Corcoran. I would probably choose Old Yeller, The Absent-Minded Professor, or The Swiss Family Robinson over this but it is okay.

The General
The General(1927)

This silent film starring the great Buster Keaton, tells a simple story with comical results. Keaton is Johnnie Gray, a Southern engineer who loves his locomotive and his girl. As it turns out Union spies steal his train, The General, and they also take his love captive. Now Johnnie must track them down and save his fair southern belle. After many a comedic antic, Keaton finds himself behind enemy lines and he is now on the run. However, he does eventually get the girl and then warns the Confederates that the Union forces are coming. Because of his great bravery, he is rewarded with the rank of Lieutenant even though he was not enlisted. Although this film might seem slow to the modern audience, if put in context the, the bouncy score, the slapstick comedy, and Keaton can all be enjoyable. "The Great Stone Face" was one of the few who gave Chaplin a run for his money.

The Gold Rush

In this Charlie Chaplin flick we follow the little man or the Tramp as he prospects for gold in the Yukon. All alone and cold he stumbles upon a cabin where a corrupt man lives. However, the weather wreaks havoc and the Tramp finds himself eventually left with a fellow prospector. After a time the two friends split up. In the city the little man finds love while his former partner meets up with trouble on the road. Eventually they do reunite, strike it rich, and become millionaires. Along the way there are many characteristic Charlie Chaplin antics. It is extraordinary, because for a film that is not a "talkie," The Gold Rush is surprisingly complex with humor, drama, and romance. If you take into consideration the era of this film, it is very good.I

Blade Runner
Blade Runner(1982)

This sci-fi, neo-noir directed by Ridley Scott stars Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard. The film opens in Los Angeles in 2019 which is continually dark and perpetually raining. In this futuristic dystopia, several replicants, which are superhumanoids, have escaped and gone rogue. After one man is killed, Rick Deckard is called in to execute them and take up his former job as a blade runner. First he heads to the Tyrell Corporation where he meets Rachael, a woman who is unknowingly a replicant. The fugitive replicants begin to search for their creator and Deckard continues his own search and with a little help he is successful. At the same time the replicants gain access to Tyrell and confront him. Then, ultimately it is down to Deckard and Roy Batty, the leader of the replicants. In a somewhat bizarre ending, Deckard fights to survive and he returns to Rachael, their future unknown. Scott played off his own difficult experiences for this film in order to create a universe full of uncertainty. This environment is paradoxically old and futuristic at the same time. Even the melding of film-noir and sci-fi creates a disconcerting atmosphere of technology but also fear. I think part of the aura surrounding this film also has to do with the fact that Scott made multiple cuts so depending on which one you see the film differs as a whole (I saw the final cut from 2007).

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

As both a political thriller and feel good movie this film cemented James Stewart as a great powerhouse. Furthermore, despite its age it acts as a timeless reminder of the evils of political machines. It makes us root for the underdog who always seems to overcome whatever the opposition and it is distinctively American. It had a wonderful director in Frank Capra and a wonderful supporting cast including Jean Arthur, Claude Rains, Edward Arnold, and Thomas Mitchell who make the story all the more relatable . In one of his best performances, Jimmy Stewart is an idealistic, naive boy's troop leader named Jefferson Smith. Believing he will be a pawn, a powerful man gets Smith a seat in the nation's Senate. However although he is out of place the patriotic Smith does his best to be worthy of his position. His actions soon find him face to face with the political machine that elected him. With all odds and seemingly everyone against him, Smith makes one last monumental effort. With the help of his secretary (Jean Arthur), Smith fights to plead his case through a filibuster. Fatigued by so many hours of talking, Smith finally collapses but not before effectively succeeding at his task. This movie is probably one of the most cheering ever and maybe Frank Capra's best.

Cover Girl
Cover Girl(1944)

Rusty Parker (Rita Hayworth) is a chorus girl at Danny McGuire's place (Gene Kelly), however she has the chance of a lifetime to be the cover girl of a major magazine. She is going places with a rich suitor who wants to hire her and then propose marriage. Rusty neglects her old job and it leaves Danny dejected and angry. He knows that Rusty has a great future in front of her but he cannot stand to break up their team that includes their mutual friend Genius (Phil Silvers). At first Rusty does not understand her true feelings and rashly decides to get married. However, much like her grandmother before her, Rusty realizes in the nick of time how she feels.

This Technicolor film has one or two decent numbers and I was surprised how nimble Phil Silvers is on his toes. He dances well with Kelly and Hayworth. As always Eve Arden is as humorous as ever and Gene Kelly used his artistic control fairly well.


This is a solid romantic comedy which pairs the legendary Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman one last time. Bergman is a well-known actress who has success, but has never experienced true love. Then she meets Philip Adams, a man who literally walks up to her door since he is a friend of her brother-in-law. They become acquainted and they turn into fast friends. Bergman finally feels she has found the one and their love grows. However, the only problem is that he is married and estranged from his wife. Little does she know what is really going on and yet when she does it throws their whole relationship into jeopardy. She has one final plan to get back at Grant and it really backfires, but in the end the two lovers get back together.

In this film it was nice to see to more middle aged stars paired. I enjoy Cary Grant with Audrey Hepburn or Grace Kelly, but I think Ingrid Bergman is more his contemporary. Some of the best sequences had to be during the ball. Here Grant shows he still has the physical comedy ability because at this time he had fell almost completely into the debonair gentleman persona. This is not a great romantic comedy but still a respectable piece from Stanley Donen.

The Ghost Breakers

Two great leads in this horror comedy film. It is not the best of either of them by a long shot and it is not much to write home about but if you like the stars you will probably get some laughs out of it

It is a dark and stormy night in Manhattan when Goddard learns that she is the new owner of a supposedly haunted island. Hope on his part is a radio man who is soon on the run from mobsters after a comment he made on air. After a shooting Hope finds himself face to face Goddard and she helps him out of a pickle. Soon she boards her ship heading for her island and he has no choice but to tag along. There everything comes to fruition and the Ghost Breaksers take on the haunts and the dangers of Castillo Maldito. This is a good example of the horror comedies of the 1930s and 40s. Hope was better with Crosby and Goddard was better with Chaplin, but this film certainly has some hilarity.

Dead Poets Society

While it may not be a great film, and at times overly sentimental and even weak, this film is carried by an excellent performance by Robin Williams who portrays an English teacher who instills his young pupils with an enthusiasm for poetry and a desire to seize the day. I was left wondering at the end, so now what? Despite that it is an uplifting tail that certainly has some enjoyable moments.

A Chump at Oxford

This short comedy film has Laurel and Hardy scrounging around for work and they masquerade as a maid and butler in a well-to-do home. As expected they cause loads of trouble and skip out. Next they are a pair of street sweepers who come upon some luck while on break. They unwittingly capture a bank robber and they are soon rewarded with a free education at Oxford. There they are met with a group of haughty Oxford snobs who cannot wait to mess with the new arrivals. The ensuing moments include getting lost in a maze, dizzy spells, run-ins with the Dean, and a chance encounter with Oxford athletic hero Lord Paddington, who shares an uncanny resemblance to Stan. Despite all the ups and downs, Stan and Ollie make it through and they succeed in making this comedy quite funny.

Apocalypse Now

In this hellish adaption of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness set in Vietnam, Martin Sheen is a captain given a classified mission. He must go down the river into Cambodia to terminate a Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando), who has gone rogue. The main part of the film follows his journey on a boat with a small crew of men. They meet up with a hardened napalm-loving colonel (Robert Duvall), watch a USO show, and witness as well as take part in senseless killing. With the crew whittled down, Willard finally reaches the outpost of Kurtz, only to witness the horror that lies there. After waiting so long to complete his mission, Willard feels conflicted about it upon seeing Kurtz. This is one of Francis Ford Coppola's most famous films and it truly was a labor of love since it took a long time to complete. Although their parts may seem minimal, Brando, Duvall, Dennis Hopper, and even Harrison Ford contribute. Because I read the source novel, I could appreciate the film in that sense but The Godfather is a better film in my opinion.

Sherlock Holmes

This is rather an unusual adaption of the archetypal detective we all know and love. Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Dr. Watson are played rather well by Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. They inhabit a Victorian world and wear the type of clothes that are very different from the BBC's Sherlock. However, the film features the type of action sequences necessary to hold the attention of modern generations. Once you get over this rather odd combination this is a highly entertaining film.

The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming

Rather like It's a mad mad mad mad world, this film may not be quite as good, but it is still chaotic, full of laughs, and it has a pretty good cast including Carl Reiner, Jonathan Winters, and Alan Arkin.

Arsenic and Old Lace

Directed by Frank Capra and starring Cary Grant with a zany and strange supporting cast, this film adapted from a play is a farcical black comedy. Grant is a drama critic who is just recently married and he is about to go on his honeymoon. However, he is horrified to learn that his two unassuming aunts have killed hopeless, old men with arsenic-laced tea. He must also deal with one brother who believes he is Teddy Roosevelt and a recently returned brother who is wanted for murder. Add these crazy characters, a peculiar German doctor, some policemen, and you are in for a wild ride of wacky antics and mock terror. All the while Grant tries to balance his many problems which nearly go awry. Everything gets figured out in the end and Grant carries his bride away. To say the least this film is very odd and perhaps not Capra's best. It does culminate nicely in the end however, closing the story on a high note. The cast includes Priscilla Lane, Raymond Massey, Josephine Hull, Peter Lorre, Jean Adair, Jack Carson, and John Alexander

Take the Money and Run

Woody Allen made this mockumentary about an inept bank robber before it was cool or at least before everyone else was doing it. Whether he is trying to escape San Quentin using a bar of soap, playing the cello, having trouble explaining his hold up in a bank, or escaping with members of a chain gang, this film has genuinely funny moments. The narration is an important touch, there are pretend interviews, and of course Woody Allen playing the inept Virgil as he seemingly plays all his roles. Janet Margolin is funny opposite Allen simply for the fact that she is so beautiful, and he is, well, Virgil Starkwell, the world's most inept, conniving, lying, yet lovable criminal. This is certainly is not Allen's best film and the editing probably could have been better, but he was just getting started.

Road to Zanzibar

This is the second installment in the Road Series and it follows two con men who must go on the run which leads them to Africa. Crosby is pulled into saving Dorothy Lamour from a life of slaver. Little do the hapless con men know what her true motives are. They travel on a safari together and a midst the song and comedy love creeps up. Both believe Lamour has her eyes on them but then they figure out what is really going on and they head off on their own. However, all too soon they are captured by cannibals and it looks like they will become shish kabobs. That's when a little game of "Patty Cake" comes in handy and end the end everyone is reunited. There are some choice moments in this Road Film but I think it was one of the weaker ones.

Road to Singapore

This is the Road film that started all with the brilliant comic pairing of Bing Crosby and Bob Hope. The two bozos both skip out on obligations and relationships back home and together they hightail it to Singapore. There they both fall head over heels for the same girl despite having vowed to give up women. Together the trio hide from their respective pasts. However, with barely any money they must muddle through with cons. Everything comes to fruition at a native marriage ceremony where Mallon's father and fiancee catch up with him. In the end everything works out as it always does and Singapore was only the tip of the iceberg. The film works based on the chemistry of the leading trio and the ad-libbing and various gags such as "Patty-Cake."

Wild Strawberries

Directed by Ingmar Bergman and starring Victor Sjostrom, the film follows an elderly doctor who travels by car to receive an honorary degree. Over the course of the day the old man has strange dreams and he also reminisces about his summers as a child with his family. He travels with his daughter in law and along the way they pick up energetic young people, deal with an unhappy married pair, stop at a gas station, and visit the old man's lonely mother. The days events force him to face his past and realize his various faults. He also recognizes soon enough he will die. However, he finally comes to terms with it all and as a result he treats his daughter in law, son, and housekeeper differently. As with many Bergman films, this one is thought provoking. Some of the dream sequences were a bit odd but many of the characters and scenes were enjoyable.

A Raisin in the Sun

Starring Sidney Poitier and adapted from a stage play, the film chronicles the lives of an African American family residing in Chicago. The whole family including the matriarch, her unsatisfied son, his wife, his son, and his sister wait excitedly for an insurance check for $10,000. The mother receives the money and resolves to use it in order to buy a nice home for her family in a white community. She then gives the rest to her son who has big plans for it. However, he loses it all leaving the family bitter and worried. In the end Walter does show his integrity and despite the bad situation, the family remains close. A great deal of this film is about the conflict of ideas and interests of the different individuals. It is also memorable since the cast is almost all African American. Poitier is good but is seem the mother steals the show.

Diabolique (Les Diaboliques)

This French thriller begins at a small boarding school for boys. The principal is a difficult man who is married to a wealthy but frail teacher, and his mistress is another one of the teachers. Because he has been awful and abusive to both of the they befriend each other and devise a plan to kill him. They lure him away from school and eventually drown him in a bathtub. They go back to the school and dispose of the body in the murky pool. The deed is done and they are both apprehensive, especially the frail wife. When the pool is finally drained there is no body! This and other strange occurrences further frighten the wife and she becomes sickly. However, she could never expect what she saw one night that led her to die of fright. The twist at the end of the film is good. It is rumored that Hitchcock tried to get the rights to this story. He would just have to settle for making Psycho instead. What a shame.

The Big Country

Directed by William Wyler and starring Gregory Peck, Jean Simmons, Charlton Heston, and Carroll Baker, this pacifist western revolves around a feud between two ranching families. A gentleman sea captain comes out west to be with his fiancée on her father's ranch. After his arrival, he encounters a jealous farmhand (Heston), the beautiful schoolteacher friend of his fiancée, and of course the Hannasseys, who are sworn enemies of the Terills. In a sense he is a fish out of water because he never feels a need to try and prove his bravery to others. The schoolmarm is caught between the two families since she owns the vital watering hole "Big Muddy." Mckay buys the land as a wedding present but when the wedding ties are cut now he is the one in the middle of it all. In order to stop the imminent bloodshed, he bravely rides into the Hannassey's territory in order to get both sides to reason. Whether it be the score, the cinematography, or the dialogue, you will certainly come to realize that this is a Big Country.


Starring Sean Connery as Ian Fleming's character James Bond, Agent 007, this installment has him facing off with Goldfinger. After an entertaining opening sequence, Bond is given the assignment of keeping an eye on Auric Goldfinger, a powerful man with a insatiable desire for gold. Along the way he crosses paths with beautiful women, Goldfinger's deadly chauffeur Odd Job, the highly trained pilot Pussy Galore, and of course the criminal mastermind himself. Bond and Goldfinger battle back and forth, first with wits and then everything becomes much more sinister. Bond is taken captive as Goldfinger tries to implememnt his dastardly plan revolving around a vault full of gold. Needless to say, in the end 007 is victorious and he gets the girl. With Bond's modified Ashton Martin, great action, good characters, and a memorable theme, this film is "shocking, positively shocking."

The Pianist
The Pianist(2002)

Directed by Roman Polanski and starring Adrien Brody, the film chronicles the life a brilliant pianist named Wladyslaw Szpilman, who has his life interrupted by the Nazis. It is 1939 and Wladyslaw is living with is family in Warsaw. However, because they are Jewish they become branded by the star of David, then they are sent to a ghetto, and finally concentration camps. They stay together as long as possible but then by pure luck Wladyslaw is saved from the camp. He gains help from non-Jewish friends and desperately struggles to survive. Eventually he is found is his hiding place by a German officer who actually spares him in part because of his musical skill. The Russians march in and Szpilman goes back to being a pianist. This film was near to Polish director Polanski's heart. He might not be thought of as a hero and his survival may have been partly luck, this does not make his story any less inspiring or powerful.

The Gunfighter

Starring Gregory Peck, this enjoyable western is about Jimmy Ringo, a gunfighter who has gained notoriety over the years. He rides his horse into a town and enters a saloon for a quiet drink. A cocky kids eggs him on and Ringo kills him with the boys brothers soon on his tail. He scares them off and heads to the town of Cayenne to see his estranged wife. Most of the film has Ringo resting in the saloon where the bar tender waits on him and the whole town crowds outside to peek at the legendary killer. Ringo is met by the marshall who turns out to be an old friend. He tries to help Ringo, including contacting his wife who is now a schoolteacher. Finally, Ringo is able to see his wife and their young son. Exuberant, he is about to leave town when his assailants are spotted. In the end his name was too big. This film had a striking opening score, good characters, enjoyable dialogue, and some major plot twists.

Twelve O'Clock High

Starring Gregory Peck, the film follows a strick brigadier general who takes command of a group of bombers who fly precision daytime missions during WWII. Frank Savage is sent to relieve his friends because the group has suffered a great deal of poor luck. From the get go this tough leader is at odds with his men. They all want to be transferred and yet with the help of the camp adjutant, Savage is able to lead them effectively. His touch tactics lead to success in the air and a pride in his men develops. However, after one good mission Savage is incapable to go up the enxt day. He becomes a lifeless man and only when his men return does he revert back to normal. All this is remembered by Major Stoval as the film concludes. Peck and Dean Jagger were both very good and the bombing mission was certainly exhilarating to watch. It is more about the people then the war and that still makes it a good film.

The Prestige
The Prestige(2006)

Starring Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, Scarlett Johannson, and Michael Caine with director Christopher Nolan, this film is about two magicians who ultimately become rivals. After the death of Robert Angier's wife, he blames Alfred Borden and thus begins their quest to become the greatest magicians the world has ever seen. Along the way Borden finds a wife and has a daughter, while Angiers tries to discover Borden's secrets various ways. Both men will stop at nothing to succeed even if it means sabotage, wounding, or even traveling to Colorado in Angier's case. With Borden in jail for murder of his rival, it appears as if Angiers has won. However, in the end all is not as it seems and it is revealed to the audience. Once again Nolan uses non linear storytelling to develop this intriguing mystery. I was not much of an authority on magic but now I know you have the pledge, the turn, and of course the prestige.

The Defiant Ones

Starring Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier with director Stanley Kramer, the film opens in the pouring rain with a truck full of convicts. It goes off road and no one is hurt except two men escape. A Sheriff an state policemen begin tracking them on foot. However, this pair is unique since one is the white "Joker" Jackson and the other is a black man named Noah Cullen. Their racial prejudice and conflict of interests causes sparks to fly. Through it all they are forced to work together just to survive, whether it be wading through rapids, climbing out of a ditch, or trying to break their chains. Along the way they narrowly escape a hanging and they meet a lonely white woman. Jackson is forced to make a decision about his newfound comrade and Cullen in turn also makes a sacrifice of his own. This is such an extraordinary story about racial conflict. Ultimately, they are no longer so much black or white as much as they are fellow men. In an era full of racial tensions, this film was extremely relevant and it is still powerful to this day.

The Palm Beach Story

Starring Claudette Colbert and Joel McCrea with direction by Preston Sturges, the film opens with the chaotic marriage of a couple. As the story progresses we learn they are essentially broke because the husband is a lowly architect and his wife cannot do much anything. She resolves to divorce him so that he will not have to support her. She makes her way to Palm Beach by train, using her feminine charm on many men. One such millionaire is especially smitten with her. Despite his awkwardness, she continues the relationship as she wants to send money to her husband so his airport can be built. However, things get complicated when her husband comes for her and the millionaire's chatterbox sister comes to visit as well. In order to save face Colbert's character introduces him as her brother. Now her husband is being pursued by another woman and she is close to being proposed to. Finally, she explains what is going on leaving the brother and sister disappointed. However, there is still hope thanks to a hilarious coincidence. The film ends with there beautiful simultaneous wedding ceremonies. Preston Sturges definitely has a knack for the quirky dialogue and situations. I have to say I personally enjoyed the Lady Eve and Sullivan's Travels more but this film was certainly all over the place.


Starring a cast including Greta Garbo and Melvyn Douglas with director Ernst Lubitsch, the film opens in Paris with three quirky Soviet Russians. They are sent to sell some jewels and at the same time to marvel at the capitalist society. Their curt, robotic, and serious comrade arrives to help them. She meets a Parisian playboy and seriously hopes to learn about his society. However, after he finally makes her laugh the two of them become romantically involved. A jealous duchess manipulates the situation and Ninotchka is back in Moscow. She is reunited with her friends there but still is somber because she is no longer with her love. That changes quickly enough though. Lubitsch gives us another witty comedy that plays off the conflict between ideologies and cultures. Garbo, Douglas, and the three Russians are all likable characters that help make this film fairly good.

Walk, Don't Run

This was the last screen performance of legendary actor Cary Grant and for once he is not the one getting the girl. This time he is the matchmaker in this adaption of the earlier classic The More the Merrier. Grant's character finds himself in Tokyo during the 1964 Olympics and the only room he can get is from a young English girl. This causes some difficulty but they make it work. It gets even more complicated after Grant meets a young American architect who is competing in a mysterious event in the Games. Sir William Rutland secretly puts the two young people together. It seems doomed from the beginning but through a wacky conclusion somehow it all works out in the end. Not a great film, but a decent swan song for Grant and it is certainly fun to have the film set in Tokyo.

What About Bob?

I was not sure I would like this film because honestly Bill Murray is not usually one of my favorite actors. However, his portrayal of Bob Wiley a man with every phobia imaginable is maybe his most lovable. True he is annoying and neurotic but he means well. In many respects he reminds me of Jimmy Stewart as Harvey because both characters were able to captivate most of the people around him. Only with Bob he got under the skin of one man and that man was his psychologist Dr. Leo Marvin (Dreyfuss). Bob tags along on Dr. Leo's family vacation and that is where the conflict really gets started and the laughs begin. All in all this was a pretty entertaining film.

From Russia With Love

This James Bond film starring Sean Connery as 007, finds Bond being thrown together with a beautiful Russian agent in an attempt to steal a Lektor coding device which the woman is willing to take from the Soviets. It began as an obvious trap for Bond but he gathers his briefcase and heads to Istanbul. There he is assisted by Kerim Bey who helps him spy on the Russians, hides him with a group of gypsies, and after escaping he knocks off a Russian agent. There is a small mishap at the hagia Sophia but the infiltration goes as planned and they escape with the Lektor aboard a train. Little do they know what danger they are in and all too soon Bond is fighting for his life against a trained assassin. Only then does he realize the British and Soviets had been manipulated by SPECTRE. Before they can get away completely Bond must stave off a helicopter and a fleet of SPECTRE speed boats. Finally in Venice it looks like Romanova has gotten the best of 007 and yet together they fend off a foe with deadly kicks. All that is left to do is a romantic gondola ride after a job well done. This film has the combo of action and romance that has become the expectation for Bond movies. The supporting cast includes Daniela Bianchi, Robert Shaw, and Pedro Armendariz.

Cleo From 5 to 7 (Cléo de 5 à 7)

This Left-Bank French film starring Corinne Marchand, follows a young singer in a real time as she waits to get back the results which will prove if she has cancer or not. The film has a unique color opening where the superstitious Cleo has her future foretold. The rest of the film follows her as she anxiously waits on her results. To pass the time she buys a new hat, rides in a taxi through Paris with her housekeeper, and also goes to a café. Returning to her flat, we see how privileged and spoiled Cleo is, first being visited by her busy boyfriend and then her joking composters. However, all the while she is constantly being reminded of what she is waiting for and what her fate might be. Cleo then meets with a friend who models and they drive through Paris together. Finally, she ends up at a park and in a quiet spot she becomes involved with a talkative soldier on leave from Algeria. They eventually take the bus to the hospital and she frantically tires to hear her results. Then, abruptly everything is okay and Cleo or Florence as we now know her, can continue living her life in relative peace. This film has many aspects of the New Wave with its often Chic Parisian atmosphere and a camera that constantly seems to be on the move. A memorable moment includes the silent picture starring Jean Luc Godard with Anna Karina.

My Life to Live (It's My Life) (Vivre sa vie: Film en douze tableaux)

Directed by Jean Luc Godard and starring Anna Karina, this French film shot like a documentary begins up close and personal in the life of a 22 year old woman named nana. In 12 separate scenes we slowly are given a view into her life. She goes from leaving her husband, trying to get into the movies, and then finally begins prostituting herself for easy money. All the while this beautiful lady who is sometimes sober and other times light-hearted, struggles with men. Through it all she tries to live her life. She might be playing pinball, working in a record shop, viewing a movie, or attempting to pick someone up. She is so alluring in a quiet sort of way and as observers we begin to feel pity for her. In the end tragedy strikes and all of a sudden it is no longer her life to live. This film had moments where it became talkie however the narrative divided into 12 sequences and the constantly rotating camera were major attributes. Furthermore, this film appears as if it will be an in depth character study and yet by the time it abruptly ends we hardly know much of anything about Nana besides what is on the outside.

Born Yesterday

Starring Judy Holiday, William Holden, and Broderick Crawford, this semi-comedy is about a dumb blonde who becomes cultured with the help of a tutor. Billie starts out as the girl of a gruff an who has made a fortune in metal. They are in D.C. together and he is embarrassed because she does not know how to act around well to do people. He brings in a young journalist to tutor her and over time, her mind and outlook on life changes. She is no longer one to be trifled with and she finally sees things for what they are. There is no doubt that Judy Holiday gave a good performance, I just did not find the film all that funny. I would rather watch My Fair Lady or Mr. Smith Goes to Washington which seemed to share similar aspects with this film.


This movie covers a sensitive topic, it is a little rough around the edges, and oh so quirky, but despite this it comes across as a good film all the same. The cast is led by a strong performance by Ellen Page as a forthright and unique 16 year old named Juno Macguff. Quickly she learns that she is now public and she must figure out how to deal with the situation and she must face her friends and family too. Finally, she realizes she doesn't want an abortion and Juno becomes invested in finding foster parents for the baby inside of her. All the while she is ostracized at school and her relationship with the father Beaker changes. In a moment of providence, Juno seemingly comes across the perfect parents in a Penny Saver and when she meets them they appear to be a perfect fit. They have a perfect marriage, beautiful home, and are unable to have kids. There might be something too perfect here, but Juno pushes forward just relieved to find someone who can take her baby. She keeps them up to date on her condition and forms a bond with the husband (Jason Bateman) who also enjoys rock music and horror movies. However, when the husband gets cold feet which leads to divorce, Juno's situation is thrown into jeopardy. She is still willing to go through with it if the wife (Jennifer Garner) is prepared still. The day of the pregnancy comes and Juno gives birth. The foster mother gets her child and Juno is able to go back to being a teenager, playing guitar and having high school romances. There is not a single throw away character in this film, everyone has some peculiarity that makes them tick. The perpetual group of runners, the happily innocent soundtrack, and the script create a coming of age dramedy that succeeds beyond any doubt.

Groundhog Day

Starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell, this romantic-fantasy-comedy si about a conceited weatherman named Phil Connors who goes to cover Ground Hog Day. After coping with the day once, Phil wakes up and goes through it again realizing he is in a time loop. At first since there are no consequences Phil memorizes every occurrence, takes advantage of situations, and romances any woman he wants. However, over time the novelty wears off and it soon gives way to monotony. He even starts committing elaborate suicides to get out of each day. However, as he continues to fall for his producer, Phil begins to change and decides to use all he knows for good. After one day he is the most loved man in town and surprisingly enough he finally is free. The concept of this film is certainly interesting and it brings up hilarious and thought-provoking situations.

Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted

The film starts of quickly, slows in the middle, and then the latter half is solid with a crescendo at the end. What do you get when you put the four main characters in the circus? Apparently circus afro! Overall a good family film with the same familiar characters and a few new ones. The soundtrack was good and there were several explosively energetic and colorful moments. Probably the better of the two Madagascar films I've seen.

The Women
The Women(1939)

Starring a cast including Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, Paulette Goddard, and Joan Fontaine, this film is all about the lives of these women. Mary is a member of New York high society who is happy with her marriage. However, when her gossipy friends begin to talk about her husband with another women she is hurt. She eventually files for divorce and while waiting for the conformation in Reno she meets some new friends and is finally able to find a way to get her husband back. Needless to say the ending is happy and a few women get what they deserve. This film had an enjoyable introduction, a sequence in Technicolor, and an all female cast. Most of all it characterizes the various women in this walk of life. Some are kindly, others foolish, and still others are treacherous.

Hiroshima Mon Amour

This film is not only a seemingly early form of the French New Wave, it also has many qualities of a documentary, and it is certainly an international film. The film opens with a one night stand between a French actress and a Japanese architect who rendezvous one night in Hiroshima. In the short time they spend together, she reflects on her memories of the city that was not too long ago devastated by the atomic bomb. He often rejects her recollections but nevertheless he cannot bear for her to leave and he continues to pursue her. Eventually in the course of their time together she relates her days back in the town of Nevers in France. During the occupation during the war she had a beau who was German and was eventually killed. The events and aftermath haunted her even many years later. They spend some of their time together walking the streets of Hiroshima and with their time running out they vow to remember each other by Hiroshima and Nevers respectively because their real names are never mentioned. This film begins very much like a documentary on Hiroshima but very quickly it turns into a character study focusing on ideas of love, memory, and personal identity. This film is more about art and expression and it uses quick flashbacks to replicate the past with voice-overs bringing the audience back to the present. That being said it should be treated as such because it truly is a masterpiece from Alain Resnais.

Dark Shadows
Dark Shadows(2012)

I must confess that I haven't seen the original series and I am not much of a fan of Tim Burton, but that being said this film had some potential that was not fleshed out. As with many Burton and Depp collaborations, at times this film is extremely bizarre in between moments of horror then comedy. The cast is top notch, the visuals nice, the nostalgic music fitting, but the story is definitely lacking and that is the main problem here.

They Drive by Night

This is a surprisingly nice little film-noir that follows two brothers (George Raft and Humphrey Bogart) who are in the trucking business. Despite the seemingly mundane topic, They Drive by Night has bits of drama as the brothers struggle to survive and make their way in life. Along the way there is disaster and treachery. Ida Lupino is absolutely psychotic in her role opposite George Raft and Alan Hale. Then Ann Sheridan plays the nice girl role. I wouldn't say that this is a great noir but it certainly is far from boring.

Lucky Number Slevin

When you see the stars and get a hint of what it is about Lucky Number Slevin seems like it could actually be really good. To be frank this film did not do it for me. It was set up to be a clever thriller/mystery with a solid starring cast. The plot was a little incomprehensible, the dialogue was unimpressive, the characters lacked depth, and at times I could not figure out if it was trying to be funny or serious. There were several cultural references such as Lil Abner, James Bond, and North by Northwest, but they were not used very effectively within the confines of the film. It seems like this is trying to be a Pulp Fiction lookalike with the same vibe as Tarrantino. Unfortunately it does not really work out so well. On a positive note I will say that the ending was decent.

Gangs of New York

A film with a lot of entertainment value and a great performance by Daniel Day Lewis, this film portrays the gang violence that broke out in New York in the mid 1800s. At times the film is a little too grimy and bloody for me. Since Scorsese has so many great films it is difficult to compare this one with many of his masterpieces.

Die Hard
Die Hard(1988)

Starring a cast including Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman, the film opens during the Christmas season with cop John McClaine arriving in L.A. to be with his estranged wife and kids. He goes to an office party to meet his wife and that is when terrorists strike. John gets away unnoticed and he must wage a one man war against the criminal mastermind Hans Gruber, and his henchmen. First the police, then the FBI get involved but they can do little to remedy the situation from the outside. It comes down to the grit and determination of McClaine to take on his adversary all throughout the skyscraper. Fittingly, it all culminates with a showdown with the man behind it all. This film is definitely full of action and excitement. Several of the characters are enjoyable to watch and a handful are quite irritating.

The Court Jester

Starring Danny Kaye with Glynis Johns, Basil Rathbone, and Angela Lansbury, this comedy of errors has a man posing as a court jester in order to assist the true heir regain his throne. After infiltrating the castle, Kaye unknowingly gets mixed up in a murder plot, falls under the spell of the witch, and must complete his mission, all the while posing as the funny man. However, he finds himself accidentally jousting for the king's daughter as well as dueling while his beautiful accomplice tries to bail him out and save their plan. Despite all the mishaps, more often then not everything turns out right and that goes for the ending too. Danny Kaye is hilarious and some of the scenes are classic including the snapping spell and the chalice from the palace. It is certainly evident after watching this film that life could not better be!

The Thin Man
The Thin Man(1934)

Starring William Powell and Myrna Loy and adapted from a Dashiel Hammet novel, this comedy-mystery follows a former detective and his rich, loving wife. At first Nick Charles is reluctant to go on a case that revolves around a thin man who he knew and who has disappeared. The police believe he is the culprit behind the three subsequent murders. Other mysterious events and the many suspects, leave both the police and audience unsure. After the constant begging of Nora, Nick follows a hunch and joins the case. He seemingly makes a break through and he and Nora hold a dinner with all the suspects. There the truth is discovered and the culprit is found. This is like a screwball comedy that is further complicated by the mystery. Powell and Loy play off each other very well and the supporting cast is good.

A Shot in the Dark

Starring a cast including Peter Sellers, Elke Sommers, Herbert Lom, and George Sanders, this comedy-mystery opens with several bustling individuals in a mansion, followed by a gunshot. A pretty maid who was found with the gun is assumed to be guilty, but the bumbling Inspector Clouseau thinks otherwise. He has run ins with his crazy boss, his man servant Kato, and the police, while he clumsily tires to solve the case. Everything seems to point to Maria after more murders. However, Clouseau spends time with her and it becomes evident to us that a black-gloved man is after him. In the melodramatic, chaotic final scene, Clouseau attempts to name the murderer, and the case is solved, no thanks to him. This second installment of the Pink Panther had some funny moments and the slapstick was very good.

Good Night, And Good Luck

The film takes place amidst the Red Scare and it chronicles the team behind the CBS show See It Now, with the reporting of Edward R. Murrow. He along with his co-producer Fred Friendly are willing to question the actions of Senator Joseph McCarthy. However, they walk a fin line that could easily lead to controversy and the destruction of their careers. Eventually they do witness McCarthy as he begins to loser popularity, but they have no time to celebrate because they have their own set of problems with the network. Murrow closes a speech by saying television has potential if used correctly. As always he ends with "Good Night, and Good Luck." This film had a pretty good cast, sleek black and white cinematography, and archival footage was used well throughout. It was nothing overly spectacular but it was good.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Starring Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom, and Keira Knightley, the film opens with Elizabeth having her first encounter with Will Tuner and she also sees a mysterious ship. Now in the present, a man recently promoted to Commodore proposes to Elizabeth. Through a series of events she is not able to answer and then ends up meeting the notorious Captain Jack Sparrow. He is taken captive after a duel with Will Tuner. However, his mutinous former crew raid the city from their ship the Black Pearl. Elizabeth is taken captive and Jack and Will join forces to rescue her, while the Commodore makes his own arrangements. Once again they face the pirates and end up in grave trouble. Jack, Will, and Elizabeth all prove their bravery and cleverness. Ultimately, they are able to take down the immortal pirates and Captain Jack is let go once again. This film was entertaining with good action and enjoyable character. I thoroughly understand how Jack Sparrow has become an icon.

Monkey Business

Starring the four Marx Brothers, the film opens with them stowing away aboard an ocean liner. As they try to avoid the crew, they cause trouble as always and then accidentally get involved with rival mobsters. When they finally get off the boat, they attend a party of one of the men.
However, during the festivities mixed with craziness, his beautiful daughter is kidnapped by the other gangsters. In the final showdown, the Brothers lend a hand and save the captive girl being help captive in a barn. Aside from the usual chaos, some notable scenes include the opening sequence, the Punch and Judy Show, the Maurice Chevalier scene, and of the course the barn sequence!

A Day at the Races

Starring the Marx Brothers, the film begins with a pretty young lady who owns a sanitarium near a racetrack. In danger of closing, she brings in a new doctor named Hackenbush (who specializes in horses) and at the same time her love buys a race horse. A powerful man wants the place closed down so he can build a casino and he is in cahoots with the financial adviser, a wily woman, and the police. However, wanting to help the two lovebirds out, Groucho, Chico, and Harpo lend a wild helping hand. It all culminates with an uproarious Day at the Races. This film is full of funny moments such as the code book sequence, the dinner and wall papering scene, the medical exam, and of course the final race. I felt that a lot of the music was an unnecessary added feature.

Horse Feathers

This comedy starring the Marx Brothers opens with Groucho being made the new president of a college. His son Zeppo implores him to get some players to help them win a big football game. However, after going to the Speakeasy Groucho winds up with Harpo and Chico while the professionals are on the other team. At the same time, first Zeppo and then Groucho fall for a girl with bad intentions. The game day comes and things look bad but the Marx Brothers turn the tide with their shananigans on the field. Memorable moments include the opening number, the password gag, anatomy class, and of course the crazy football match! There is also a precursor to the stateroom scene from A Night at the Opera. Fewer people but still craziness.


Depicting the time and place of Swinging London in the 1960s, this film is directed by Michelangelo Antonioni and it stars Peter Hemmings as the protagonist. He is a fashion photographer in a hopping city. He spends his day working with models with countless photo shoot after photo shoot. He is skilled at his job and as such he is temperamental and at times irritated by his fashionable but arduous occupation. After one such string of photo shoots he goes off on an excursion to an antique shop and a park where to lovers has met. He sticks around and snaps pictures of them before he is chased off by the woman. The next day the attractive woman comes to him asking for the negatives and at first he refuses. After she has left he develops the negatives and blows them up only to find something very intriguing. He goes back to the park at night and finds something very perilous. He returns to his flat and then he spots the woman at a club only to loose her during a concert. After the lively evening he returns once more to the park, this time to find something even more unusual. Despite all his efforts everything is still a complete mystery that he cannot hope to solve or understand. There seemed to be some superfluous scenes in this film but it was interesting to watch it unfold. The photographer has an intriguing lifestyle but he is not a very likable character. Following the blow up of the image everything begins to change and we begin to sympathize with him. When the film ends and the mystery is still unresolved, it forces him as well as the audience to simply accept it and move forward.

The Flying Deuces

Is this film high brow? No. Does it have a killer plot with a good script? No way. Yet that does not matter because you have the bumbling of the great Laurel and Hardy to keep you entertained. The story is incredibly simple. Ollie falls for a French girl who rejects him so he want to commit suicide, but instead he and Stan are advised to join the Foreign Legion. As you might have guessed that leads to some of their great comedy. I saw this film before and I was happily surprised again by the Flying Deuces.

Go for Broke!

Starring Van Johnson along with a handful of WW II vets, this film looks like your average war film. It follows this group of soldiers from their initial training all the way to deployment. Then, we follow their exploits in Italy and France that coincide with their everyday interactions. However, this film is very significant because it actually tells the story of Japanese Americans in the 442nd infantry unity. They not only faced the enemy on the battlefield, they also had to deal with a great deal of prejudice within the armed forces. However, as with the example of Van Johnson, the Budha-Heads were able to win respect because of their courageous fighting. In the climatic moments of the film these men save a lost division and then return home as heroes. Since I am half-Japanese it was exciting for me to come across this film because this kind of topic has not been covered often. The fact that it actually had Nisei actors and was made quite soon after the war is also amazing.

Lilies of the Field

Starring Sidney Poitier, the film opens with a black construction worker who has an overheated car in the middle of a desert. He spots at the residence of some European nuns to get water. Homer is intent on making a quick pit stop but the mother superior has other ideas. She sees him as a gift form God so that their Chapel might be built. He reluctantly decides to stick around for a little while to help them out and teach them some English. The stubborn Mother Superior wants everything her way and Homer ends up leaving them. Although he realizes he will not get paid, Homer's ambition to be an architect leads him to eventually start the Chapel for the nuns. He takes on a part time job and starts the undertaking while the nuns request materials. Soon the locals want to help but Homer is adamant that he do everything. Eventually they do join in and more materials come. Progress picks up and Homer becomes the foreman. The building is finally put up and yet the proud Mother will not thank Homer. That night she is finally tricked into thanking him and Homer leads them in a spiritual one last time before driving off into the night. This film is a battle of sorts between two strong-willed people. In the end it brings a great deal of good.

Top Hat
Top Hat(1935)

Starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers with Edward Everett Horton, this musical opens with Astaire in London as he gets ready to star in the show of his good friend Horace (Horton). However, after a late night confrontation with an annoyed neighbor Jerry is hopelessly in love. Multiple times he tries to spend time with her while the show is running. Then, he is eager to travel to Italy when he learns that the woman Dale will be there along with Horace and Madge Hardwicke. After a case of mistaken identity, Dale gets the wrong idea and believes that Jerry is married to her good friend Madge. Unaware of the mix up, he continues to pursue her, madly in love. She feels bad and at the same time tries to stave off Jerry's advances. The whole mess leads her to marry a buffoon of an Italian designer. However, Jerry catches wind of what happened and tries to resolve their relationship. Through a hilarious loophole they get back together and dance off into the sunset. Some memorable routines include "No Strings (I'm Fancy Free)," "Isn't This a Lovely Day (to be Caught in the Rain)," "Top Hat, White Tie, and Tails," then "Cheek to Cheek." I found the supporting cast to be good and aside from Swing Time this is a good Astarie/Rogers pairing.

The Razor's Edge

Adapted from the novel by Somerset Maugham, this drama films stars Tyrone Power, Gene Tierney, John Payne, Anne Baxter, Clifton Webb, and Herbert Marshall. The film opens after WW I with an air force vet who is engaged to a young socialite. They are in love and yet he wants to discover the meaning of life before he settles down. She reluctantly lets him go to Paris while she remains in the states. While Larry lives in Paris and travels to the Himalayas their childhood friend Sophie gets in a car accident which kills her husband and baby. Isabel had tried one last time to win Larry back but with that not working she decides to marry the affluent Grey instead. Soon we learn that Grey lost everything in the Crash and he had a nervous breakdown. In Paris Maugham meets his old acquaintances and Larry helps Grey with his problem. They then encounter a drunken Sophie in a Parisian night club. Larry also helps her and decides to marry her. Isabel will have none of it and she leads Sophie back into alcoholism only for us to find out later that she was murdered later on. With Elliot on his deathbed Larry also does him a favor and afterward he correctly ascertains that Isabel led Sophie to drink. He moves on content and she can only be consoled by Maugham. Some interesting questions were brought up but it doesn't seem that Larry figured everything out completely.

Open City
Open City(1946)

Directed by Roberto Rossellini this Italian neorealist film depicts the harsh realities of life in Rome during WWII during Nazi occupation. We are given an inside look at the bravery and everyday lives of these people. We become familiar with a fugitive engineer and resistance leader. He gains assistance from a kindly and collected priest who also runs a church. Their stories intertwine with a widowed woman who is just about to be remarried, a beautiful girlfriend, and a Gestapo office who is intent on stopping the resistance. After one tragic event everything continues on a downward spiral. The fugitive Manfredi as well as the priest are betrayed. Don Pietro must look on as the other man is brutally tortured to the point of death. Next, Gestapo try to use the priest's own beliefs against him and yet he will not yield either. He too then faces a fate just as horrible. This film at times was brutally realistic and it is perhaps one of the most moving films I have seen. We do not normally think of the struggles of Italians during WWII since Mussolini was allied with Hitler, however much like the French or even Germans, they faced tremendous danger and hardship. Furthermore, it humanized the Italians in my mind a great deal. This is the first film of the war trilogy that I have seen and now I want to see the other two.

Mr. Hulot's Holiday (Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot)

Directed by and starring Jacques Tati, this is the original film that introduced the bumbling but kindly Mr. Hulot. He finds himself staying at a beach side hotel full of various different tourists. The film is not so much about plot but instead it focuses mostly on Hulot's many antics. Whether he is paddling a kayak, playing tennis, changing a tire on his beat up car, trying to mount a horse, or accidentally setting off fireworks, Hulot is bound to cause laughs. This film is unique because as with Tati's other works the pacing is not fast. That means we are able to relax and enjoy this vacation along with Mr. Hulot. We can take in the many sounds and images while we also watch this likable bumbler. Maybe Tati did not know it at the time but he created a memorable persona in Hulot who has his own distinct movement and attire. Without talking at all he leaves such a tremendous mark. If there was ever an influence on Mr. Bean I think the origins would definitely start with monsieur Hulot.

Adam's Rib
Adam's Rib(1949)

Starring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn as a married pair of lawyers on the opposite sides of a case, this film begins with a bang. A distraught wife followed her husband home to find him cheating and she shot a gun off. In the ensuing days she is being charged with assault and the case is getting major publicity. Adam Bonner is the district attorney put on the case believing the law must be upheld but much to his chagrin she chooses to represent the other side. Thus begins an uproarious battle of the sexes. The pair continually spar inside the courtroom then return to their normal lives at home. However, after some bad publicity they are pulled apart by the case and their marriage is in trouble. After the case is won by Amanda Bonner a seemingly angered Adam shows up with a gun. Hilarity ensues along with a fight, however importantly in the end the Bonners reunite. They realize they cannot live apart. As always Tracy and Hepburn are wonderful together and they have a good supporting cast behind them including Judy Holliday, Tom Ewell, and Jean Hagen.


This French film directed by Robert Bresson, begins with voice-over narration of a man recalling his past. Michel is a non-descript person was down on his luck. Then, one day he ineptly tried his hand at pickpocketing and was caught. He got off and over time he sharpened his skills and teamed up with two other men. They successfully bring in a great deal and it becomes Michel's livelihood. At the same time Michel's mother is becoming ill and he meets a young neighbor named Jeanne. Michel's best friend is falling for this girl while Michel himself is continually tempted to steal. This leads to a little trouble from a police inspector and yet he stays out of jail. However, after further discussion with the chief and Jeanne, Michel leaves Paris. He returns later still impoverished to find Jeanne with a child but unmarried He resolves to support her and yet after trying to work, he reverts back to his past vice. This time his guard is down and he winds up in jail. Jeanne comes to visit him a great deal and through this devotion he realizes they both are in love with each other. This film has simple but intriguing topic. Sometimes the pickpocketing scenes are shown almost as a choreographed dance which is done so fluidly. Overall Pickpocket has a striking resemblance to Doestoevsky's Crime and Punishment.

The Departed
The Departed(2006)

Directed by martin Scorsese and starring an all-star cast including Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCapprio, Jack Nicholson, and many others, this is a crime thriller with an interesting concept. The plot has to do with two young men who were in the Massachusetts Police Academy. One is tailored by the Irish mobster Frank Costello to become a mole within the police. The other is called upon to infiltrate the mob before he graduates. Thus begins their dangerous assignments as each tires to find the rat in the other organization while also working to stay out of reproach. Costigan is able to get close to the vile Costello while Sullivan is part of the Special Investigation Unit and also begins a relationship with a psychologist. They must secretly keep contact with the other side but it becomes increasingly treacherous with one encounter leading to a chase and another in the death of a police captain. The heat is on as both men try and reveal the other mole. During a cocaine pick up Costello is traced to the spot and a chaotic shootout ensues. Everything seems calm again and yet Constello's mole is still around and bent on erasing Costigan from record. They agree to meet on a roof top and from that point on the film moves so rapidly it is almost impossible to take in what happens. Everything seems confused and corrupted but ultimately it does not pay to be a rat. This film has a lot of coarse language and violence but in Scorsese's hands it is still an intriguing film to watch.

The Misfits
The Misfits(1961)

The Misfits is a film directed by John Huston and starring the likes of Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, Monty Clift, Thelma Ritter, and Eli Wallach. The story opens in Texas where a young woman is getting a divorce in Texas with the support of another divorced woman. After she goes through with the proceedings she feels bad but her spirits are lifted by a mechanic and then an aging cowboy who both find her extraordinary. She and the cowboy move into the half-finished home of the widowed handy man on his urging. Rosalyn and Gay slowly become closer and then he resolves to rope some wild mustang for money. Later, they go to a rodeo and meet Gay's friend Perce who takes part in the dangerous proceedings. After a night on the town, he eventually joins the other two men in their endeavor. However, when they actually begin Rosalyn is horrified by the whole thing. In the end, Gay is back with Rosalyn but not without a great deal of strife over the horses. In many ways this film can be seen as prophetic and it certainly is historically important because it was the last film of both Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable. Gable looks haggard and Monroe seems highly emotional possibly hinting at their imminent deaths. Both the acting and the script were commendable and I think a good deal of credit has to be given to Eli Wallach and Thelma Ritter along with the main headliners.

Being There
Being There(1979)

Starring Peter Sellers, the film revolves around a gardener named Chance who gains all his social skills from watching television. When his unknown elderly employer dies Chance is forced out of the only world he knows and he just begins to aimlessly walk through Washington D.C. In a freak accident, he is hit by a limo taking a parking space. In a miscommunication he finds himself going to the residence of an influential couple to get medical attention with them his name is Chauncey Gardiner. He quickly gains their admiration because he has such a calm demeanor and Chauncey quickly becomes a respected confident of the sickly Ben Rand. Chauncey even finds himself meeting the president and giving him sagely advice about garden work which is interpreted as an allegory for the economy. The pithy statement finds itself in the president's speech and there is a buzz about this mysterious figure named Chauncey Gardiner. This newfound fame leads to Chauncey ending up on television for an interview and the American public is captivated by his simplistic wisdom. As Ben begins to slowly die, Eve becomes even closer to Chauncey in her grief. At Ben's funeral, the president gives a speech and those carrying the coffin decide Chauncey should be the potential candidate for president. At the same time Chauncey is walking nearby in a forest by a lake and then in a final dreamlike moment he literally walks on water off into the distance. I think Peter Sellers should be lauded for his performance because he could be comedic and then play it straight like in this film. He is like a cross between Harvey and Forrest Gump with a love of T.V. I must say though that the bloopers at the end take away from the illusion that is created by the film as a whole.

When Harry Met Sally

A romantic comedy directed by Rob Reiner, and starring Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan, the film opens in 1977 when Harry and Sally first meet and then share a long car ride to New York. They part ways not expecting to see one another again. Sure enough they meet again and they both are in serious relationships with others. But a few more years down the line they cross paths and they both are having trouble getting over their failed love lives. With the situation the way it is, Harry and Sally decide to become friends and they begin to confide in each other while also spending more time together. However, they want to remain just friends and they set each other up with their best friend respectively. This ends in their best friends becoming romantically involved and it leaves Harry and Sally where they were before. When Sally is going through a tough time Harry comforts her and in the moment they make love. In the aftermath their relationship becomes tense and it ends in a fight. All alone on New Year's Eve they finally make up and share a kiss. They are finally a couple. This film has adult themes but Reiner makes this film a nostalgic feel in a way by using a flashback, voice-over, split screen, and conversations from married couples. Furthermore, the soundtrack by Harry Connick Jr. is reminiscent of crooners from a bygone era. In my mind, this film seemed very similar to some of the old romantic comedies including the Awful Truth.

To Catch a Thief

Starring Cary Grant and Grace Kelly and directed by Alfred Hitchcock, this film follows the life of a former cat burglar who is accused of thievery in France. An outbreak of thefts seem to point to John Robie and he seeks refuge with some old friends. He plans to clear his name by catching the real thief. He learns that a vacationing mother and daughter have the most expensive jewels and he strikes up a relationship. The daughter realizes what he is and goes on to tempt him to steal her valuables. When they actually go missing she suspects him. Trying to figure out what is going on Robie struggles with a possible burglar who falls to his death and he attends a ball with Francie who has pronounced her love for him. After a clever switch Robie waits for the real perpetrator only to be surprised. As a thriller and romance this is a fun film. The cinematography is excellent and Kelly's wardrobe done by Edith Head is memorable. Cary Grant and Grace Kelly are certainly a memorable screen couple.

In the Heat of the Night

With an interesting conflict between two policemen, one white and one black, In the Heat of the Night is a thrilling crime film. Rod Steiger delivers a wonderful performance as the common place and prejudiced officer who heads a southern police force. Things do no start off well when a policeman from Philadelphia, Mr. Tibbs (Poitier) is accused of murder simply because of his race. Only afterwards do they learn he is a highly respected detective. Because they need help, they reluctantly ask for his assistance. Tibbs must learn how to deal with the prejudice while Gillespie (Steiger) must curb his own racism. Over the course of the film, the two men face opposition but they stick with it to see the case through. When the crime is finally solved, Tibbs is about to leave and Gillespie with a new-found respect tells him to come back sometime. In an age where racism was still a tremendous problem, this film combated the issue and created something very special in the process.

This Is Spinal Tap

I have to say there were parts of this rockumentary that were very enjoyable. For every rock fan it salutes every group from the Beatles, Led Zepplin, and onward. Rob Reiner gives it a seemingly realistic feel, going so far as casting him as the interviewer Marty DiBergi. As far as the band goes, they probably could be passed off as a real bad as well, with real songs, album covers, and instrumentation. I think that makes the film so funny because we are seemingly the only ones who realize how silly they are. In their rock world amps that go up to 11 make sense and their everyday interactions are not even a bit funny. They didn't mean them to be but for the audience watching this epic failure of a U.S. tour unfold, we cannot help but smile at Spinal Tap. There was quite a lot of strong language but I thought the concept of the film was clever and there were some decently funny moments such as Stonehenge.

Young Frankenstein

Directed by Mel Brooks and starring Gene Wilder with Marty Feldman and Teri Garr, this comedy films parodies old horror films like the original Frankenstein. However, it also functions as a drama in its own right much like the original Frankenstein films. Wilder is a professor and the grandson of Victor Frankenstein. The thing is, he wants nothing to do with his infamous relative, even going so far as pronouncing his name differently. However, when he inherits the family estate he must face his ancestry head on. There temptation takes over and he begins to build a creature of his very own, with horrifyingly funny results. This film has memorable moments including "Putting on the Ritz" and the Inspector's arm. I still cannot believe that Feldman's eyes get that big either! Wow.


Following the year after A Hard Days Night, Help! is another film featuring the Beatles in an even zanier farce. Members of an eastern religion must give up a sacrifice but the sacrificial ring is gone and you guessed it Ringo is wearing it. For the rest of the film the lads are trying to save Ringo and escape their pursuers. The farcical plot is constantly being interrupted by their songs but if you are a Beatles enthusiast you probably don't care. I would say A Hard Days Night was better and Yellow Submarine was a bit more inventive but if you like zaniness and the Beatles you will probably get a kick out of this.

For a Few Dollars More (Per Qualche Dollaro in Più)

Starring Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef with director Sergio Leone, this Spaghetti western is the second film in the "Dollar Trilogy." The film opens with two bounty hunters, and in two separate instances we quickly realize their skill in bagging their man. However, when a notorious outlaw, "El Indio," and his gang begin to cause trouble, both men are intent on getting the reward. Reluctantly they agree to join forces and Manco (Eastwood) joins Indio in his robbing of a bank so the two mercenaries can bring him down. The bandits get away with the money and then later they overhear the intentions of Manco and the Colonel, and so they rough them up. In secret Indion has them released, then sends his gang after them so he can get away with the money. However, the colonel took the loot and so the next morning he and Manco systematically mow down the bandits. Indo comes for the money and shares a tense moment with the colonel only to have Manco appear too. Using the chime of a pocket watch, they face off. In the end one man leaves, his revenge complete and the other takes the reward. Although this is not the best Eastwood western, it certainly had some action-packed moments that were very entertaining.


Starring Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, and Morgan Freeman, the film opens with two cowboys who disfigure a prostitute. The sheriff, Little Bill (Hackman) gives them a punishment but the other women pool their funds to pay for bounty hunters. A young gun requests the help of a former outlaw Will Mummy (Eastwood) so they can collect the payment. However, because his deceased wife changed his ways, at first Will is reluctant. In need of money, he eventually heads off and brings along his old partner Ned (Freeman). After an initial conflict in the town of Big Whiskey, they kill the first one of their targets. Ned backs out and leaves the other two to get the second victim. After they do it, they find out Ned met trouble from the merciless sheriff. The young gunslinger gets cold feet and so an angry Mummy heads into town for the final showdown. Eastwood's character is interesting because he starts out trying to be good but he finally reverts back to his old ways. In this film it is difficult to tell who is bad or good. Everyone is simply human.

Forrest Gump
Forrest Gump(1994)

In the classic starring Tom Hanks as the slow-witted but kindhearted Forrest, we see him as he takes part in history. From the day we see him teach Elvis how to dance, up to the point he runs across country, he is constantly part of or making history. However despite everything he has accomplished whether it be in Vietnam, playing ping-pong, or in the shrimping business, Forrest still is humble and seemingly oblivious to it all. His innocence is heartwarming amidst all the turmoil around him in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Hanks is supported wonderfully by Robin Wright, Mykelti Williamson, Gary Sinise, and Sally Fields. This film is funny as well as touching, making it wonderful to watch. The soundtrack also helps to transport you back to the different eras.

The Sound of Music

Starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, this musical follows a light-hearted nun who becomes the governess for the seven children of a widowed Austrian naval captain. When she first meets the children they are hostile towards her but they quickly become fond of Maria. However, when the captain gets wind of their adventures he is angry. Initially Maria is sent away but then the captain has a change of heart. After an evening full of fun, Maria is sent off this time by a jealous baroness. She returns later on the urging of a nun and Von Trapp then realizes his true love for Maria. However, everything is not well as the Von Trapps get ready for the Salzburg Music Festival since the Nazis are on the rise. With a little kindly help they are able to make their getaway in the end. I have to say that this is not one of my favorite films but the soundtrack is one of the most memorable of all time and Andrew's voice is truly beautiful.

The Party
The Party(1968)

When you begin to watch the Party it becomes obvious that it is less of a comedy film and more of a comedy concept. Peter Sellers in all his glory is a bumbling Indian actor who is mistakenly invited to an elegant party. He is very much similar to Mr. Hulot. Both are likable mess ups who are constantly getting themselves into trouble. I am of the opinion that Seller's comic genius alone could carry a film. However, the Party has a great multitude of weirdos and snobs that create a great comedic collaboration. Possibly the best example would be the constantly inebriated waiter. Furthermore, by the end the Party is no longer distinguishable and it culminates in a surreal world of bubbles and groovy music. This was the only collaboration of Sellers and Blake Edwards that was not Pink Panther and it honestly is not half bad!


This is an epic film that stars Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, and James Dean, with direction by George Stevens. It shows the ongoing conflict between a rancher (Hudson) and his former hired hand who becomes rich off oil (Dean). As Jett Rink (Dean) exclaims, he becomes even richer than the rancher Bic Benedict (Hudson) ever dreamed. The relationship escalates when Rink makes a rude remark to Leslie Benedict (Taylor), and some punches are traded. From this point on the three main characters slowly grow older and the Benedicts have children. In his final screen appearance, Dean's character is suppose to give a speech at a large banquet. However he is so drunk he falls flat on his face a complete wreck. Giant was ahead of his time by giving commentary about the race relations with Mexicans. It also took young actors and progressively made them look older, something that was quite unusual. Although this was Dean's final movie I think it can be said he came full circle. He began as a youth in East of Eden and by the end of Giant he was an old man.


There is often something special about westerns and Shane is no different. Directed by George Stevens and starring Alan Ladd, Van Heflin, Jean Arthur, and other great character actors, Shane is simple yet charming. It has many of the qualities of a great movie because of what it shows of mankind. Furthermore, it simply makes you feel good. In the film Shane (Ladd) is a wandering ex-gunslinger who decides to live with a frontier family as a hired hand. His presence makes everyone happy because he is quiet, humble, and fundamentally so good. However, there is trouble from a man named Riker and his gang. Heflin's character is adamant he must face the foe and defend his home. Shane will not allow it knowing this is a job for him. The two friends fight it out with Shane winning and riding into town. In the end, he wins the shoot out but more importantly he is reconciled with the family's boy Joey. The time has come for him to move on and Shane rides off into the distance, a humble hero.


Starring Russell Crow, Joaquin Phoenix, and Connie Nielsen, with director Ridley Scott, this film is set during the waning days of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelias. General Maximus is a great and loyal warrior who the old man wants as his successor. However, his jealous son will not have it, killing his father and then ordering the execution of Maximus. He escapes but is mad a slave and then a gladiator. Through this he gains the respect of the masses and is able to defy Commodus. Over time, Maximus is part of a plot to remove Commodus. Once again the enraged emperor wishes to quash the legend of Maximus forever. He does not win in the end and Maximus has aided Rome. This action-epic had a lot of exciting scenes and a good hero. The score was good too but sometimes it seems as if the cinematography could have been better. This film is reminiscent of the classic epic Spartacus and it was a pretty good in it's own right.

The Adventures of Robin Hood

Starring Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Basil Rathbone, and Claude Rains, the film chronicles the legendary exploits of the outlaw Robin Hood. Whether he bolder enters the royal castle, meets Little John, or encounters Friar Tuck, Robin always exhibits bravado and bravery coupled with lightheartedness. Ultimately, he always helps the needy and that makes him the sworn enemy of both Prince John and Guy of Gisbourne. After narrowly escaping death again following an archery match Robin soon returns to the castle to profess his love for Maid Marian. However, after he leaves, Robin learns she has been imprisoned but also King Richard is rumored to have returned. With one final bold and clever move Robin aids Richard and duels Gisbourne to the death. Of course everything ends happily ever after. This film is full of swashbuckling fun, a good score, striking color cinematography, and light moments as well.

The Big Sleep

This noir, crime-drama starring Bogey and Bacall with director Howard Hawks, follows private eye Phillip Marlowe (Bogart) in Los Angeles. His difficult and ever changing case has him interrogating every one under the sun and following every lead. In typical Bogart fashion, Marlowe is a tough guy who does not shy away from danger and he has the eye of many a woman. What starts off as a normal case quickly turns deadly, setting the plot off. The constant twists and new characters complicate Marlowe's case and get him in numerous messes. However, thanks to his grit and wit he comes out on top, falling for the girl, and overcoming his adversary. One word that sums up this film is incomprehensible. Despite the confusion with the plot, this film is very enjoyable and seems to work itself out.

To Have and Have Not

Starring Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Walter Brennan, Hoagy Carmichael, and with director Howard Hawks, this film is very reminiscent of Casablanca. On the small Vichy-controlled island of Martinique, a hardened seaman spends his days steering his boat and his nights at the local hotel. The French resistance stir up his life by asking for his help but he refuses. Everything changes however when he meets a mysterious young woman (Bacall). Their playful banter eventually leads them to a mutual affection. Wanting to help his new found girl get home, Harry Morgan finally does agree to help the French and in the process he shows his true colors. Cementing Bogey and Bacall as a star couple, and immortalizing a certain line about how to whistle, this film is a good one. It has everything you come to expect with Bogart and it gives you something special in Bacall.


Direted by Christopher Nolan and starring Guy Pierce, this thriller has an interesting narrative that stars in descending order, simultaneously goes in ascending order, and then meets in the middle. Leonard is a man whose wife was murdered and he wants to find the culprit. However, he has short term memory loss so he must use Polaroid pictures and tattoos to help himself remember. He talks to a policeman on the phone about a case he recalls. He meets the man Teddy and also gets involved with a woman who wants his help after her boyfriend was killed. However Leonard makes his own truth and when reality is revealed to him, he will not accept it. The story meets and so the audience must come to realize this is in fact true. I feel the storytelling style alone is intriguing because it is so different and it truly makes us think. Nolan made another such film in Inception 10 years later.

Silver Linings Playbook

Starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence with Robert De Niro, this film opens with a man named Pat who is being released from a mental health facility in Philadelphia. As he tries to recover from a tragic event in his marriage, he moves back in with his parents, goes to therapy sessions, and improves himself while struggling to keep his emotions in check. His traumatic past and bipolar disorder make life difficult but then he meets a young, straightforward widow named Tiffany. Because of their unique situations, they form an odd type of friendship. Eventually Tiffany agrees to give a letter to Pat's wife if in return he trains as her partner for a dance competition. At the same time Pat's superstitious father makes a giant bet on an Eagles football game as well as their contest which are both happening on the same day. It finally arrives and they get ready to show off what they practiced only to have the unexpected occur. In the end, a new Pat realizes how he really feels and chooses to live his life the way he wants. This film had a lot of coarse language and it was depressing at times. Despite this, the acting was great and it ultimately gave off a positive outlook that focused on the silver linings in life. The direction was solid and I also appreciated the soundtrack. Furthermore, this film tackled the difficult topic of mental illness head on with a good result.

La Dolce Vita

Starring Marcello Mastroianni and directed by Federico Fellini, this Italian film set in Rome follows a tabloid reporter named Marcello. If he is not finding a scoop with other ravenous reporters, he spends time with his wary girlfriend, falls for an American bombshell, talks with a cultured family man, or spends time with his good natured father who he does not really know. All the while he witnesses the lives of the rich and has many romantic relations. The underlining theme of it all is boredom, unhappiness, and superficial lifestyles. This film is not really about a main plot but rather Marcello's many different episodes and experiences. Some are funny and others maddening, but he muddles his way through. This film, much like Breathless, is international and chic. The cinematography and score are both effective in helping to create this feel.

Inherit the Wind

Starring two battling greats in Spencer Tracy and Frederic March, with Gene Kelly as well, the film chronicles a fictitious version of the controversial Scopes Monkey Trial which acted as an allegory for the McCarthy era. March is the prestigious prosecutor on the side of Creationism and Tracy is the famed defense attorney fighting for a young schoolteacher (Dick York). The two spar back and forth on the touchy subject while staying friends outside the courtroom. The whole town backs Brady, condemning Cates and Drummond as evil. However, despite all that is against them, Drumond saves the case by bringing Brady to the stand. The two stars have commendable performances if not their best. Gene Kelly proves he can be a serious actor, playing the cynical newspaper man. The cast is rounded out nicely by Harry Morgan and Claude Akins. Here Stanley Kramer puts together a respectable movie version of the stage play.

The 400 Blows (Les Quatre cents coups)

This French New Wave film directed by Francois Truffaut, more aptly titled The Wild One or Raising Hell, is about a young boy named Antoine. He comes from a working class family and his parents are struggling and frustrated. In school he gets poor grades and his teacher often punishes him. Annoyed with his life, he runs off for a time committing petty crimes and exploring the streets with a friend. That ends when he is caught stealing his father's typewriter. Fed up for the last time his parents send him away to an observation center for boys. After he arrives Antoine escapes and runs to the ocean a sight he has never seen. With that the camera zooms in and we clearly see the face of this troubled, young boy. It is easy to appreciated this film because it does not glamorize the situation but tries to deal with it sensitively. Truffaut made a very good one here reflecting on his own experiences.

Ball of Fire
Ball of Fire(1941)

Starring Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck, the film revolves around a young man (Cooper) and seven older intellectuals compiling a Encyclopedia who get involved with a burlesque dancer (Stanwyck). They are interested in her constant use of slang and she is happy to use them as a cover to avoid the cops while she waits for her gangster boyfriend. However, things take a turn when the young man falls for her and proposes. Little does he know they are being used until they unknowingly transport her back to the gangster. He feels betrayed and she realizes her love for the corny intellectual. Although they are held by the gangster's thugs, the intellectuals join their wits to overcome their foe. In the nick of time they stop the marriage and the true loves get back together. Howard Hawks directs a nice combination of humor and romance. The story by Billy Wilder, is Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs with some major twists.

The Artist
The Artist(2011)

With a cast of all nationalities and backgrounds, this film is a breath of fresh air for many reasons. Ironically, this freshness comes in a contemporary age thanks to a look back at a former age. In black and white and almost completely silent, the movie begins in 1927. George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is a Hollywood star of the silent era. Quite by accident he makes an up and coming star out of Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo). Soon she makes the transition to stardom and talkies as Valentin slowly fades away. However, Peppy never truly forgets him and in different ways she tries to help him. Eventually her kindness pays off and George is no longer forgotten. All the cast including including John Goodman and James Cromwell do a wonderful job at expressing emotion since this film is so different. There are also many devices used by the director Michael Hazanavicius that help convey the story without a need for words. Furthermore, he draws great influence from films like Sunset Boulevard and Singin' in the Rain to give this new film a touch of nostalgia. In a world that is often loud and busy this film was a nice respite.


Directed by Steven Speilberg and starring Daniel Day-Lewis with Sally Fields, and Tommy Lee Jones, the film focuses on Lincoln's 2nd term as the Civil War comes to a close and he fights to pass the 13th amendment. At home Lincoln deals with his temperamental wife, argues with his older son about joining the war, and plays with his younger boy Tad. At the same time he must work behind the scenes to get enough representatives while also facing the prospect of a Confederate surrender. His life is beyond stressful, with cabinet meetings, speeches, inspections, and touch decisions to make day in and day out. However, despite the toll, he copes and in the process does great things. Within the film we also become with William Seward, Thaddeus Stevens, and other leaders who must make their own difficult decisions on the issue of slavery. Ultimately, the landmark amendment is passed but it is short lived with the assassination of Lincoln. He truly was "a man for the ages" and Lewis does a wonderful job of portraying his every aspect. His voice, his features, his parables, his political savvy, and even his frailty give us a crystal clear picture of the man. The supporting cast and the cinematography were both very good. It proves that a film full of drama and some humor does not need action to make it excellent. It is all about the characters and more importantly our very history.

Million Dollar Baby

Directed and starring Clint Eastwood, with Hilarly Swank, and Morgan Freeman, the film begins with boxing trainer Frankie (Eastwood) who has a girl come into his gym to train. He gives her no attention but she consistently trains by herself and then gets some help from the former boxer and janitor Scrap (Freeman). Frankie finally gives her some tips but when his best fighter leaves him, he agrees to make this spirited girl into a boxer. Soon Maggie gets her chance and wins fight after fight with knockouts. At the same time, boxer and trainer grow close since they have no strong family connections. However, in the biggest fight of her life Maggie is dealt a cruel break and her life will never be the same. I have to say that I felt Eastwood's character did the wrong thing and the end but it shows his humanity. The acting was very good, the story was moving, and Freeman's narration was a nice touch.

My Favorite Brunette

This certainly is not the best of Bob Hope but as a film noir enthusiast I could really appreciate this spoof. You have your femme fatale in Dorothy Lamour, your skulking villain in Peter Lorre, flashback, voice-over, conspiracy, and a hard-boiled detective, or actually a soft baby photographer played by Hope. Add cameos by Alan Ladd and Bing Crosby to give a few more humorous touches. It can drag a bit but if you like Hope you will probably enjoy this film.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation

I did not see the original but I went in with low expectations and I have to say I was thoroughly entertained. If you forget you are watching a movie based on the toys we played with as a kid and just sit back, the film actually is enjoyable. There is nonstop action as expected and a melding of gun play and martial arts. There is not a great deal of character development but you learn enough to root for Dwayne and the rest of the G.I. Joe survivors. This is the kind of film you need to see on the big screen because it makes all the eye candy even more impressive and engrossing. Academy awards no but as for entertaining I would have to say yes.

High and Low (Tengoku to jigoku)

Directed by Akira Kurosawa and starring Toshiro Mifune, the film opens with a wealthy shoe company executive as he tries to struggle for control of the company. He makes a big gamble, waging everything he has to try and succeed. However, things take a bad turn when he believes his son has been kidnapped and the culprit wants an enormous payoff. It turns out that the son of Mr. Gondo's chauffeur was taken but that makes no difference to the kidnapper. Mr. Gondo finally resolves to make the payoff and then the police who have been advising him take it from there. They work diligently to gather all the evidence they can and the net slowly begins to close. The police finally find the culprit, catch him in the act, and recover most of the money. However, in a meeting with Mr. Gondo the man who is about to die wants no pity at all. Despite the relatively long length of this film, it held my interest. All I had seen of Kurosawa before this were samurai films and so this gave me a different look at his work.

Brother Bear
Brother Bear(2003)

Another Disney film that is nothing to write home about. It follows a Native American boy who somehow finds himself turned into a bear. You can decide if that will appeal to you or not

Chariots of Fire

Telling the intertwining stories of two runners, Eric Liddel and Harold Abrams, the film leads up to their trials and triumphs in the 1924 Olympics. Liddel is a Christian Scot who believes he has been called to run and he takes his faith very seriously. Abrams on the other hand is a proud Jewish runner who wants to be the best. Liddel is faced with the prospect of running on the Sabbath which goes against his beliefs. Abrams is extremely afraid of failure because running is his life. With those problems they enter the Olympics and end up flourishing for Britain. After the two men are deceased two of their mates reflect on those great days that they experienced together. This film may seem simple but that does not make it any less powerful. The main theme reverberates through your head hours after wards. What more of a compliment do you need then a Mr. Bean parody at the London games?

Black Hawk Down

This is a war film set in Somalia and U.S. forces are going in to try and kidnap some men they want. There is a large cast but the film focuses more on action then in depth character development. It has a gritty, realistic feel and it helps that it is based on true events. However, the story did not develop that much in my mind.

The Wicker Man

This is an extremely bizarre and at times gross horror film that I didn't much care for. The actual scene with the Wicker Man is quite impressive however and it is a fitting ending.

The Graduate
The Graduate(1967)

Some may see this film as a comedy drama that is not in the category of great movies. However I feel if nothing else, The Graduate is culturally significant because it ushered in an age in the late 1960s where films focused on trying to attract younger audiences. Along with its good writing this film was one of the forerunners in using popular music in its soundtrack. Starring Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, and Katherine Ross with direction by Mike Nichols, the film opens with Benjamin Braddock returning home from college. He has excelled in many ways and yet he feels bored and alienated from his parents. However the naive Benjamin soon finds himself in an affair with an older woman. This further confuses him as he figures out what to do with his life. His unknowing parents want him to date a girl attending Berkeley. Things become complicated since it turns out to be Mrs. Robinson's daughter. Not wanting anything to happen between Benjamin and Elaine, Mrs. Robinson sabotages the relationship and tries to marry her daughter off while her own marriage goes down the tube. Benjamin who is ultimately in love with Elaine crashes the wedding and takes her away to face an unknown life ahead. With the help of a memorable Simon and Garfunkel soundtrack, this film ushered in a new age geared toward the younger generations.

The Breakfast Club

A classic high school coming of age film, the Breakfast Club is very unique in various ways. It takes place on a Saturday when the school is empty and it takes five very different characters and puts them together. You have a brain, an athlete, a social queen, a basket case, and a criminal. Initially they all are annoyed that they have Saturday school and there is tension between them. Over the course of the afternoon they soon open up and realize they have similarities and despite their differences they can be friends. There are other films that are certainly better but it is an interesting social commentary.

Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian

You might call me crazy but I have to say I really enjoyed this film along with the previous edition. It continued with many of the characters from before and then added a spunky Amy Adams and a new evil villain with a lisp. Maybe it was because I have actually seen the Smithsonian in person that I found the scenery and references enjoyable.

The Wizard of Oz

Coming from the great year in film of 1939 this is one of the quintessential musical, fantasy, and family films. It has some of the most famous songs around, a memorable cast including Judy Garland, and serves as a constant reminder that there's no place like home. Furthermore whenever we think villain the film's Wicked Witch is almost always ingrained in our minds. The story is adapted from the L. Frank Baum novel and it follows a young Kansas girl named Dorothy who lives on a farm with her aunt, uncle, the dog Toto, and three farm hands. When a big tornado hits, Dorothy becomes unconscious and when she wakes up she finds herself in Oz. There she encounters the good witch and the land of the Munchkins. As Dorothy begins her journey to the Great Oz to get home, she meets several unique characters. First there is a scarecrow who wants a brain, then a tin man who desires a heart, and finally a lion who aspires for courage. Together they travel to Oz and the wizard tells them they must kill the Wicked Witch of the West. Dorothy finds herself eventually in captivity but her new found friends rally to save her and inadvertently kill the Witch. When she gets back to Kansas Dorothy realizes that there is truly "no place like home." With iconic characters, memorable lines, and infectious songs it is easy to understand how this film became a classic. The added color does not hurt and also the special effects are not too shabby for 1939.

Pitch Perfect

This film was about what I expected plot-wise with college age girls working out their differences in an a cappella group in order to win it all. The Bellas have drama, face tough competition, struggle with romance, crack jokes, and above all they sing a lot. Sure, it's not great but the mashed-up music and dumb lines have a small degree of charm.


When I was younger it was a very entertaining film. The penguins and King Julian made the film for me but the plot and main characters were just okay

The Apple Dumpling Gang

I was drawn to this film because of the pairing of the comedy greats Don Knotts and Tim Conway. As always some of their antics make you laugh but this Disney film is not that amazing overall

The Italian Job

This film is a modern re-imagining of the original 1969 British film starring Michael Caine. It is an entertaining caper film with Mark Wahlberg and Charlize Theron, featuring Mini Coopers, and high-tech thievery. It at times seemed similar to the original Bourne films and other such thriller films. However, it did feature some good characters, some comedic moments, and good action as well.

Tron Legacy
Tron Legacy(2010)

I cannot past judgment on this film because I have not seen the original but I will just say it never really pulled me in. The futuristic world, sleek images, and soundtrack created a pleasing composition. However, the film's plot never interested me much. If you want some sci-fi entertainment though it is good.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

This certainly is not my favorite Disney film (when I was a kid or now)but it must be taken into account how historically important it was in movie history as the first full length animated feature film. Snow White, Prince Charming, the Seven Dwarfs, the Huntsman, and of course the evil queen are forever ingrained in our minds as Disney icons.

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

If you want a movie of comedy legends and who's who, this film has practically everyone you want. Spencer Tracy is a police officer who is tipped off to where a great sum of money is. Close behind are a group of travelers including Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Ethel Merman, Buddy Hackett, Mickey Rooney, Phil Silvers, Dorothy Provine, Edie Adams, and Jonathan Winters. Soon it becomes a mad dash as each group tries to reach the money first. Along the way are many hilarious antics and memorable cameos (including Jack Benny, Jerry Lewis, The Three Stooges, Don Knotts, and Buster Keaton). In the final scenes Tracy has the money but the others are still in pursuit. After some wild events everyone ends up in the hospital without any money. However, they are quickly reminded how madly funny the world is all the same. I really enjoyed this film because of the many great stars and hilarious scenarios. It really had me belly-laughing. This was also the favorite movie of the founder of Inn-N-Out Burger so what more could you want?

It's a Wonderful Life

This is not only a Christmas classic but a classic in any sense of the word. It is the best of Stewart and Capra adding up to one of the most heartwarming stories of all time. This may exhibit Stewart is his every man role once again but it breaks away from Mr. Smith in many ways making it another uniquely great film. A film like this that makes you know and feel for characters is certainly worth watching. Starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed with a fantastic supporting cast, the film tells the life story of George Bailey. We watch with the angel Clarence as he sees George's life unfold. George saves his brother Harry as a boy and as a result loses hearing in his ear. He plans to travel and go to college but once more he sacrifices. He builds up all those around him with selfless kindness while also standing up to the grumpy millionaire Mr. Potter. Eventually he marries the love of his life and has children. Although by unfortunate circumstances Bailey finds himself contemplating suicide. That's when Clarence comes into his life to show George just how important he really is. Once he gets his life back George finds immediate joy and gains so much because of his friends and family. There is nothing much to do after this film but simply be happy. It is a Wonderful film in many ways, with a wonderful cast, and a wonderful message.

Double Indemnity

If the Maltese Falcon was the first great film-noir then this film has to be a refining and improvement of the genre. Billy Wilder put together a crime film that is still intriguing today with its femme fatale and other techniques in storytelling and cinematography. Starring Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, and Edward G. Robinson, this is a classic film-noir. Walter Neff is your average American insurance salesman. However while trying to sell some accident insurance he falls for a woman who is married to a former widower. Together they plot and carry out a murder on her irritable husband trying to cash in on a double indemnity clause. Although everything goes as clockwork the two of them must stay apart and Neff's colleague is hot on their trail. Through a series of visits with Deitrichson's depressed step-daughter, Neff himself finds out Phyllis was seeing someone else. In their final confrontation he figures out she killed her husband's first wife . Then she preceded to use Neff for her own purposes. Following their confrontation Neff feels guilt and so he records all he knows for his colleague Keyes to hear later. This movie was definitely full of suspense as well as great characters. Director Wilder utilizes the voice over with flashback very effectively to tell the story.

Modern Times
Modern Times(1936)

Arguably the first great superstar of film, Charlie Chaplin was the man known simply as the Tramp in his silent movies. For this reason Modern Times seems like the perfect bridge between the early silent era and the age of talkies starting in the late 1920s. Chaplin had many successes earlier including The Gold Rush (1926) and City Lights (1931). However, people wanted to hear talking and soon enough everyone would have to make the transition or else die out. Because of Chaplin's popularity he was able to make one last great silent picture. From that point on however it got a lot louder in theaters. In this film the iconic Tramp character finds himself up against modern technology and the Great Depression. The whole movie seems to be critiquing factories, the police, the economy, and even modern film by using little actual dialogue. With that being said, this is a great film which exhibits everything that made Chaplin famous. He still has that walk, that mustache, and new hilarious antics to accompany everything else. Yet again there is a love story, between a tramp and a beautiful homeless girl played by Paulette Goddard (Only in the movies). Despite all the hardships they face this resilient pair amazingly still have hope. Fittingly, in the end the two lovebirds walk off into the background, seeming to bring the end of the Chaplin golden era, but also leaving us with a feeling of hope for the future.


The debut of Jean Luc Godard and starring Jean-Paul Belmondo with Jean Seberg, this film was influential in starting the French New Wave movement. The story begins with a small time thief named Michel stealing a car and then killing a policeman Quickly, he becomes a fugitive in need of money. This brings him in contact with an American journalist student he had met before. They spend time together with Michel professing his love and Patricia still being unsure if the feeling is mutual. In a final act of reassurance Patricia betrays Michel and he is chased down by the authorities. He is a far cry from the American movie stars and crime films he idolizes. With its jazzy score, bilingual dialogue, jump cuts, and Parisian scenery this film is chic as well as cool. It payed homage to Hollywood but it also paved the way for a new era of films starting in the 60s. I have to admit the film is not that impressive but it certainly has a look that you have to appreciate.

Sergeant York

Starring a wonderful cast including Gary Cooper, Walter Brennan, and Joan Leslie with director Howard Hawks, this is a feel-good film. Alvin C. York (Cooper) lives in a small town in Tennessee where he works hard but also drinks a lot. Over time however he becomes a devout Christian and falls for a girl named Gracie (Leslie). He is hoping to get married and own a piece of bottom farm land. World War I begins and after a great conflict inside of himself, Alvin decides to go fight. While there he proves his valor, helping to capture 132 German soldiers almost single-handed. He returns home a great hero and is reunited with his family and Gracie. Despite being a great war picture, this is also a very nice biography of a simple yet religious man who tried to live his life to the best of his abilities.

Meet John Doe

Starring Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck with direction by Frank Capra, the film begins with a news woman (Stanwyck) creating a made up story about John Doe, a man willing to commit suicide to protest big government. In order to keep the story going, they take a man off the street to effectively be John Doe. At first John (Cooper) and his friend the Colonel (Walter Brennan) are attracted by the chance to work. However, slowly he seems to become John Doe and the whole nation is seemingly behind him with Stanwyck's character falling for his image as well. A political machine tries to discredit him and prove he never was John Doe. Now all along John decides to go through the suicide to prove his point to all. The political machine tries to stop him and Stanwyck finally does saying they can still keep the ideals of John Doe alive. Sharing some similarities with Mr. Smith, this film is one of those feel good films.

The Rules of the Game (La règle du jeu)

This French film directed by Jean Renoir is a light comedy that turns into a critique of the Upper classes. The film involves the superficial events and racy love affairs as only the French can have. It opens as a famous aviator lands his plane only to be disappointed that his married lover did not come to see him. Soon we learn that her husband has a mistress of his own. Put these four together, Renoir in his jolly role of Octave, all the other guests, then the many servants, and soon you have a major spectacle. They dine, hunt, gossip, put on a show, quarrel, and above all fall in love. It is all fun and games however until someone gets hurt. Although this film is not what we may be accustomed to in our present generation, it is easy to appreciate the satire, cinematography, and ensemble cast. Kudos to Renoir for making a very intriguing film.

The Aviator
The Aviator(2004)

Directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo Dicapprio with a good ensemble cast, this biopic chronicle the life of Howard Hughes. The story begins when the ambitious young man begins to direct an epic movie that is nearly a disaster. After his success, we witness the life of this director, playboy, and above all aviator. he makes Scarface and then later The Outlaw. He has relationships with Katharine Hepburn (Cate Blanchet), a young teenage girl, and Ava Garner (Kate Beckinsdale). Then during the war he designs new planes and afterwards Hughes faces his greatest challenge. He is on the brink of disaster in his competition with Pan-Am and he is the subject of a near-damaging senate hearing. All the while his obsessive compulsive disorder gets worse. I found this film fascinating because I knew very little about Hughes. As a director himself, Scorsese also seemed to have sympathy for the man and also admiration for the olden days.

Night at the Museum

It tells the story of a night watchman who finds himself working in the New York Museum of Natural History where everything comes to life at night. At the same time he must navigate his normal life during the day while having a harrowing night at work in the evening. The concept of this film was entertaining when I first saw it and so it may not be the best film but it has its' funny moments.

Robot & Frank

The film revolves around a stubborn old man who is losing his memory and so his concerned son gets him a robot to help him out at home. Originally Frank is not so fond of his robot but soon he sees the value in his new helper. There are good moments but there are also quirky scenes that make you question the film.


Thor is a solid superhero with an decent back story revolving around his past as a god and his banishment to earth. He sticks out on earth and then gets involved with a lady scientist and Thor must protect earth from great evil. Out of all the origin marvel movies this was probably my least favorite ( I didn't like the Asgard sequences) but it had good action and some humorous moments.

Road to Rio
Road to Rio(1947)

This Road film follows two fugitive musicians played by Crosby and Hope as they end up in Rio. It has some bizarre moments but the "You're in the groove Jackson" scene is hilarious and it was especially memorable for some reason. This is another solid film in the series.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

This film was an alright installment and it plays an important role in continuing to give us background into the story of Tom Riddle who would become Voldemort. It was disappointing however that they left out the major battle scene from the book deciding to hold off until the final film.

Captain America: The First Avenger

I enjoyed the World War II, period feel of this film. Captain America is also a classy superhero but I felt the villain was kind of strange and even if it is true to the comics, the ending was slightly disappointing. Overall, this was a decent superhero film with some good action.

Super Size Me

It seems slightly outdated now but still this documentary by Morgan Spurlock is an interesting look at the effect that fast food has on our bodies. America still has an obsession with fast food despite all our efforts to curb it and we are continuing to be a nation of Super Size.

Food, Inc.
Food, Inc.(2009)

It is an important documentary which makes us question the food industry. It at times makes the viewer cringe and also opens our eyes to what we put in our bodies and who is controlling what we eat. It will cause you to look at your food differently.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1

The penultimate Harry Potter film which continues withe the search for Voldemort's horcruxes. It is an obvious set up for part 2 so as a stand alone film it is not that great. However, it does act as a lead in to the final film

Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines

This film has the same wacky mayhem feel of It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World but it instead revolves around an international competition to fly across the English Channel. Perhaps there is not that much substance but there are some hilarious moments

High Society
High Society(1956)

This is a musical adaption of the classic The Philadelphia Story and it boast a stellar cast as well including Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra, and Louis Armstrong. It is light-hearted and not quite as good as Philadelphia Story but it still is worth watching if you like classic musicals.

Swiss Family Robinson

I was always intrigued by this story which always seemed better than Robinson Crusoe because more people were involved. The film has a good cast and it plays out quite well. It is both humorous and exciting as they try and survive to be rescued. It is a testament to its' popularity that it beat out both Psycho and Spartacus at the box office.

Bonnie Scotland (Heroes of the Regiment)

Got to love Laurel and Hardy. There is nothing that amazing about this film but all the same their blunders and mishaps still entertain. First they are in Scotland and then trying to cope in a Scottish regiment. This plot seemed somewhat similar to Flying Deuces but I don't mind that much

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

I have to say that the C.S. Lewis book is better and with that I would have to also add that is probably my least favorite book in the series. The film was alright and a decent adaption but the previous two films were more enjoyable for me. It could be that I like the other two sources novels better.

The Jackie Robinson Story

I have to appreciate this film because it made an effort to tell this incredible story with the only actor who could do it justice and that would be Jackie Robinson himself. The film is not extraordinary (I prefer The Pride of the Yankees) but nevertheless it is important all the same because of what number 42 did for baseball and american society. He is a true hero who deserves recognition and he is close to my heart as a Dodger. I am hopeful that 42 will be a respectable adaption of his story because Jackie Robinson deserves it.

Johnny Tremain

Adapted from the popular book, this is a Disney film that tells the story of young Johnny Tremain as he learns how to be a silversmith on the eve of the Revolutionary War. Disney makes it dramatic as always but it is not an especially good film

The Alamo
The Alamo(1960)

This film stars John Wayne and Richard Widmark so there is star power and it holds historical importance but the film itself is not that memorable. If you are intrigued by the Alamo or just like John Wayne you should watch it. However, Duke seemed a little out of sorts for Davy Crockett and he was just a little too tall for me to believe him.

The Outsiders

Adapted from a book about greasers and gangs that is pretty good, this Francis Ford Coppola film is one of his lesser known and there is a reason for that. If you have the Godfather and the Outsiders to choose from everyone will probably pick the first hands down.


Put Star Wars in the hands of Mel Brooks and this is what you end up with. Spaceballs has some memorable moments full of parody and humor but at other times it is just vulgar.

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

As a Star Wars fan I have to say that I enjoyed this film despite the often poor acting, somewhat weaker characters,and a plot that is not that amazing. Scenes like the pod race and the final lightsaber battle are enjoyable nonetheless


I never really cared for this film but as with all of her films it is difficult not to marvel at the cute little Shirley Temple with her curls. The story line about an orphan was a good fit and she played the part well

The Princess Diaries

This Disney flick certainly was not catering towards me but you can appreciate Anne Hathaway as well as the great Julie Andrews. Nothing amazing but it has your typical Disney charm packed into a high school film.

Jonah - A VeggieTales Movie

This was an ambitious Veggie Tales film that tells an important Biblical story in Jonah in a way only Veggie Tales could. In my mind the original half an hour shows were better.


With an interesting concept and some first class voice actors this movie was okay but it had the potential to be better.

Angels in the Outfield

It was fun when we were kids combining the atrocious Angels baseball team, a real life angel played by Christopher Lloyd, and a little foster kid played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt.Now I am not sure what to think of it. I still want to see the original version with Janet Leigh

The Power of One

Besides featuring Morgan Freeman and a young Daniel Craig this film is not that memorable. It does hold historical importance since it tackles the issue of Apartheid in South Africa through the story of your typical underdog

The Santa Clause 2

The original Santa Clause was a Christmas classic and then this film drifts into the realm of being at times bizarre and forgettable. That is not to say there were not a few good moments.

Pillow Talk
Pillow Talk(1959)

Aside from the very very annoying title song, this is a solid romantic comedy pitting Rock Hudson against Doris Day as they struggle to share a telephone party line. The supporting cast is very good as well including Thelma Ritter and Tony Randall

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

A wonderful conclusion to Peter Jackson's excellent trilogy based off the Tolkien novels. It gives us we want to see with the same great drama, action, cinematography, and locales. In my mind this is probably one of the best films of the 2000s!

Joyeux Noël (Merry Christmas)

A historical depiction of the events surround a Christmas ceasefire during WWI. I found this film fascinating because we go back and forth between both sides. We switch languages and develop an understanding of what the Scottsh, French, and Germans were going through

The Cowboys
The Cowboys(1972)

This is one of John Wayne's later films which has him starring with Roscoe Lee Brown and trying to train young boys as cowboys. It is not Wayne's best films but as always Duke is entertaining

Tora! Tora! Tora!

This film had a very important subject historically but the plot seems to take a very long time to develop fully. It is still necessary that we remember that day which will live in infamy.

Cool Runnings

One of the great underdog stories of a group of Jamaicans who start a bobsled team to enter the winter Olympics. It is a film that is based loosely on a true story and there are many hilarious moments. No one can believe that Jamaica they have a bobsled team!

Ocean's Eleven

This is a vehicle for the Rat Pack that has a lot of glitz and glam but not that much substance. There are certainly a few interesting moments that are fun to watch as they play out but there is not much to remember.

Gone With the Wind

This is the archetypal studio epic from the great film year of 1939. It has a great cast led by Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh, impressive images of the Civil War era, and memorable moments. It is one of the those movies that is central to American culture much like Casablanca or the Godfather. Its main downside would be its monumental length because it begins to drag in the latter half. Besides that Gone With the Wind is a solid film that is worth watching


I have to admit that at first this relatively new Christmas standard did not have me sold the first time around. However, the second and third time around you appreciate it more and more. Whether it is WIll Ferrels's Buddy, Bob Newhart, Ed Asner, Zooey Deschanel, James Caan, or the great dialogue, this film has quite a bit going for it. It is full of hilarity and Christmas cheer for all.

True Grit
True Grit(1969)

I have seen both versions of True Grit and both have their own strengths and weaknesses. What makes this film so great is a wonderful cast headed by John Wayne as the colorful one-eyed Marshall Rooster Cogburn. Then, you have Kim Darby, country singer Glen Cambell, Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper, Strother Martin, and even John Fielder. As always Wayne is larger than life and this is probably one of his most famous performances. Whether he is talking to "Baby Sister," the Texas Ranger, or a wanted criminal he always seems to steal the show. Furthermore, this film has a wonderful showdown that unfolds after the development of a relatively simple plot .

The Killers
The Killers(1946)

Starring Burt Lancaster in his debut as well as Ava Garner, the film begins with two gunmen killing "The Swede" (Lancaster) in a small town. Interested in the mystery, an insurance investigator named Reardon (Edmund O'Brien) tries to piece together the past of the dead man. He works to gather more information and talks to "The Swede's" former friend as well as a hotel worker, and a past cell mate. Through a series of flashbacks Reardon slowly strings together the past including "The Swede's" boxing career, his time in prison, and especially an alluring woman, Kitty Collins (Gardner).In the climatic scene Reardon finally meets the beautiful Kitty. Only after a series of events and her quick getaway does he grasp the whole truth. Kitty was a deadly double crosser. However, in a cruel twist her partner in crime is killed and her fate is sealed. This is an exciting film noir with solid acting and a great style of storytelling.

Out of the Past

Starring Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, and Kirk Douglas, this has every element of a good film noir. Jeff Bailey (Mitchum) makes his living in a small town working at a gas station. He has an honest living and a girl. However, soon his past catches up with him and he must explain it. Once he was a private investigator who got mixed up with a powerful man (Douglas) who wanted some money found. Pretty soon he met a beautiful but deadly woman (Greer) who constantly tested his trust. However, he had tried to forget them and yet they both creep back into his life. With a murder pinned on him, Bailey can do nothing but go along with them. Soon he becomes embroiled in more treachery and backstabbing which all has to do with the woman. With one last entreaty she urges him to flee with her since they both have dark pasts. In the end her fanciful plan is foiled by Bailey and it soon turns fatal. With its dialogue, flashback, voice over, and femme fatale, this is a classic in the film noir genre and simply a good film.


Directed by Otto Preminger and starring Dana Andrews, Gene Tierney, Clifton Webb, Vincent Price, along with Judith Anderson, this is a great film-noir. With its voiceover narration, flashback, close-ups, shadowy atmosphere, plot twists, and hard-boiled detective, Laura is intriguing. From the beginning, this recently murdered woman who has a portrait on the wall, fascinates us. We follow the detective (Andrews) as he questions the columnist who helped make Laura succesful (Clift), and the playboy she was going to marry (Price). Soon Andrews finds himself also falling for this woman. However, everything changes when Laura reappears with seemingly no knowledge of any murder. After this development Andrews tries even harder to get at the truth with much difficulty. On a hunch he seems to crack the case however Laura is still in danger. In the final climax all is right again with the conflict over Laura.

The Sting
The Sting(1973)

Starring Paul Newman, Robert Redford, and Robert Shaw, the film follows a small time con man (Redford) as he joins forces with an old pro (Newman) to pull an elaborate Sting on a shady banker (Shaw). The two meet after the death of a mutual friend and they set up a complicated plan. With the help of their friends, the two of them make contact and thus begins the adventure. Soon the con man gains the trust of the victim. However, the plan gets even more complicated when a heartless cop and the feds come onto the scene. The double-crossing con is then forced to cross his partners and he faces the consequences. Then, one final twist and you have the worlds greatest Sting. With its ragtime music, 1930s setting, and ensemble cast including Ray Walston, Harold Gould, and Dana Elcar, this film is full of excitement and certainly worth seeing.

Cool Hand Luke

In one of his most memorable performances, Paul Newman is Luke Jackson a man put on a chain gang for cutting the heads off parking meters while drunk. Despite the weary and monotonous regiment, Luke will not be cowed and he always keeps his positive demeanor. Originally the newcomer, Luke quickly earns the respect of everyone including Dragline (George Kennedy), whether he is boxing, eating 100 hard-boiled eggs, or bluffing his way through a card game. Even though he is never quite successful, Luke never stops trying to escape either. His numerous clever attempts lead the Captain (Strother Martin) to utter his famous words about their "failure to communicate." Although he never truly succeeds, Luke never allows his spirit to be crushed. So ultimately Cool Hand Luke is a winner.

The Odd Couple

This film adapted from the Neil Simon play and spawning an award-winning TV show, is great in its own right. In probably their greatest and most hilarious pairing, Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau are Felix Ungar and Oscar Madison respectively. Both men are divorced and after Felix almost commits suicide, Oscar allows his friend to live with him. Felix is a neat freak and Oscar is a slob creating conflict and many comedic moments along the way. Besides the main stars who are great, their poker playing buddies add to the humor. To round out the film there is the fantastic theme song which you cannot help from humming and not to mention the comical Pigeon sisters. There is no denying that this is a very funny film collaboration with hilariously volatile results.

The Lady Eve
The Lady Eve(1941)

Starring Henry Fonda and Barbara Stanwyck with director Preston Sturges, this screwball comedy is a good one. The supporting cast is rounded out wonderfully by Charles Coburn, Eugene Pallete, and William Demarest. The story begins on a big ocean liner where a beautiful young woman (Stanwyck) tries to pull a con on a naive, rich bachelor (Fonda). Slowly however they begin to fall in love and they plan to get married. He catches wind of her notoriety and becomes cold and that ends their relationship. In an act of revenge she poses as someone's niece a Lady Eve so that she can be close to him. Through a series of events he thinks she is a different person who looks similar and over time they decide to get married. When Eve tells him about all her boyfriends he feels he has made a mistake. Back on the ship he is ecstatic to see the first girl and they embrace. Fonda's character feels guilty because he is already married but then again she is him. This film has a great combination of wit and slapstick which makes it an enjoyable classic.

The Shop Around the Corner

Starring James Stewart and Margaret Sullivan with direction by Ernst Lubitsch, the film follows the events in a little shop in Budapest Hungary. Alfred Kralik (Stewart) is the most respected employee in the shop and when Ms. Novak (Sullivan) comes in he advises her no jobs are open. However, she does land one and thus begins their rocky relationship. They are constantly at each others throats arguing. Both of them want to end the conflict on a good note as they go their separate ways to marry people that they were corresponding with by letter. When Stewart is to finally meet his unknown lover, he is shocked to look in and see Ms. Novak. Through a series of events she finally figures out he was the writer of all her letters and the two former enemies fall in love. This unorthodox romance has good characters and comedic moments that make it enjoyable to watch.

The Pride of the Yankees

Starring Gary Cooper as Lou Gehrig and Teresa Wright as his wife, this movie honors Gehrig's life after a tragic death from ALS. From the time he was a boy, Lou could play ball but his immigrant mother wants him to become an engineer. The quiet, young man goes to Columbia and plays some ball. There he is seen by the Yankees who agree to sign him. Despite her disapproval at first his mom becomes his biggest fan. With the Yankees Lou seems slightly out of place being an introvert. Pretty soon he meets Eleanor Twitchell (Wright) however and then gains a spot as the starting first baseman. The two of them fall in love and get married as Gehrig flourishes in the shadow of Babe Ruth. With his career still going strong, Gehrig becomes captain and plays 2,000 straight games. It cruelly comes to an end when he begins feeling weak and is diagnosed with ALS. His career is over and yet in his farewell speech Gehrig gratefully considers himself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. He walked out of the limelight and died soon after, dearly missed. This is one of those truly moving films.

Anatomy of a Murder

Starring Jimmy Stewart, George C. Scott, Lee Remick, and a cast of others, the film follows a small town lawyer (Stewart) as he defends a man who has committed murder. The whole case is complicated by the fact that the Lieutenant's beautiful wife was supposedly raped by the murdered man. Now Stewart must battle it out in court using every strategy he knows in order to save his client. With the help of witnesses and evidence both sides have substantial cases. However, Stewart finds the topper in the dead man's daughter, hoping this will save his client's life. With everything in the hands of the jury now all he can do is wait. With an interesting score, a methodical story, and a great cast, this movie was a good one. The judge especially made this film enjoyable and you certainly cannot be Stewart.

Witness for the Prosecution

Starring Charles Laughton, Tyrone Power, and Marlene Dietrich with direction by Billy Wilder, this courtroom drama follows the trial of a man accused of murder. Laughton is an English defense attorney just recovering from a heart attack. However, soon he gets so intrigued by Power's case that he agrees to defend him. Power's character Vole seems to be falsely accused for the murder of a widowed woman he hardly knew. He does have an alibi in his wife (Dietrich) but she seems to refute Vole's words and the case takes a bad turn. Through a flashback we see into their complicated past. The befuddled Laughton finally catches a break and is able to prove Dietrich is lying. He has been victorious in defending Vole but then the plot takes a cruel twist. What was reality before now seems to be completely false. Adapted from a story by Agatha Christie, this film has good characters and a brilliant climax.

The Princess Bride

Directed by Bob Reiner and starring an esemble cast this has to be the best action-comedy-romance-fantasy ever. It starts with a grandpa (Peter Falk), reading his grandson a fairy tale. In the story there was a peasant boy (Cary Elwes) devoted to a beautiful girl (Robin Wright). However, she treated him poorly and is eventually married off to the Prince Humperdink against her will. She is then kidnapped by a group consisting of a giant, a swordsman, and a self-proclaimed genius. Her devoted love comes to the rescue but Humperdink takes her back and has her true love tortured. Joining forces with the giant and the swordsman Inigo, along with the help of Miracle Max, Wesley leads a daring rescue. He arrives in the nick of time and his friends show great bravery. He saves his damsel in distress and they live happily ever after. This film is in a category all by itself and it is very quotable if not in fact inconceivable.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Starring Mathew Broderick, this is the ultimate teen comedy about a guy who has a day on the town with his friends. Using his wits, the teen idol Ferris Bueller gets out of school bringing his friend Cameron and his girlfriend Sloan along for the ride in a red Ferrari. They make stops all throughout Chicago at Wrigley Field, The Sears Tower, The Art Institute of Chicago, and of course the Von Steuben Day Parade. Over the course of the day, the Dean of Students Mr. Rooney goes looking for them along with Bueller's sister. Despite some problems with the Ferrari and getting home undetected, Ferris returns from his adventure without his parents being any the wiser. This film has its memorable moments and Ferris breaking the 4th wall is a unique touch.

Back to the Future

Starring Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd, the movie follows Marty McFly as he befriends the quirky Doc Brown. McFly witnesses the assassination of his friend by terrorists and unwittingly finds himself leaving his peculiar family and pretty girlfriend. He takes Doc's DeLorean time machine back to 1955 and finds himself in a different world practically. Soon Marty finds himself caught up in his own history when he messes with the first meeting between his teenage mom and dad. On the advice of a much younger Doc Brown, Marty tries to repair their relationship while the Doc gets ready to send Marty Back to the Future. Although he alters the past, Marty finds life even better back in 1985. The Doc turns out okay and his family is drastically different in a good way. This film is great fun, full of sci-fi adventure, entertaining sequences, and enjoyable characters

The Quiet Man

Starring John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara with director John Ford, the film follows an ex-American boxer as he returns to his roots in Ireland. Soon he is befriended by the proper yet kindly folk in the quaint town. Also, a beautiful red-haired girl catches his eye one day. Fireworks start between the American and the proud brother, so he will not condone the courtship or marriage of his sister. Finally, Wayne does gain his wife but she is unhappy without her dowry and she believes her husband is a coward since he will not fight for it. Little does she know the past he tried to escape, but once he gets it off his chest, he does fight. Through the exciting event both men grow fond of each other and the town gets a kick out of the entertainment. O'Hara and the rest of the cast including Barry Fitzgerlad are wonderful as the Irish folk, all playing off the Quiet Man.

How Green Was My Valley

Starring a cast including Roddy McDowell, Walter Pidgeon, Maureen O'Hara, and Donald Crisp, with director John Ford, the film is told from the eyes of a young boy (McDowell) from a Welsh mining family. Huw has five older brothers, an older sister, and two strong but goodhearted parents. As times get tougher, he sees one brother get married and two others leave for America. Huw faces his own struggles recuperating from an injury and surviving his schooling. Along the way he is aided by the kindly preacher (Pidgeon). However, soon he sees his family torn apart even more when his sister is unhappily married off, a brother is killed, and two others lose their jobs. Then, finally when his sister returns, the town folk start a scandal, and Mr. Morgan becomes trapped in the mine. It does end on a good not and the family stays resilient. This film is full of adversity but more importantly it has warmth and good people. The camera work is excellent and the Welsh singing is memorable.

Once Upon a Time in the West

Starring Charles Bronson, Henry Fonda, Claudia Cardinale, and Jason Robards with director Sergio Leone, this is another memorable Italian western. The film follows a recently widowed beauty (Cardinale), the villainous killer who is after her (Fonda), a anti-hero bandit (Robards), and of course the man with a harmonica who is looking for revenge (Bronson). The gunman Frank commits murders, turns on his employer the railroad tycoon, and forces the widow to auction off her land. However, "Harmonica" comes to her aid and then he is confronted by Frank several times since he wants to know the man's purpose. After a flashback we know what "Harmonica" wants and another gunfight ensues. The ending is bittersweet but the town's future looks bright thanks to the railroad and the radiant widow. The long opening sequence sets the tone nicely for this visually beautiful film. It moves at its own pace and it has a good score and great characters including an evil Henry Fonda!

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

The first installment in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, based on Tolkien's novels, this film introduces the story. Bilbo Baggins is having his birthday and hands over his fabled ring to his young relative Frodo. Now the fate of Middle Earth is in the hands of the little Hobbit as he makes the long journey to Mount Doom in Mordor. Traveling with Frodo is the wizard Gandalf, his three hobbit friends, an elf, a dwarf, a man, and of course Aragorn. Together they make up the Fellowship bent on protecting Frodo and delivering him safely. Peter Jackson's film is a very good adaption of Tolkien's world. However, it is important to realize this is only the beginning. The story is completed in The Two Towers and The Return of the King.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Starring Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach as the title characters, this is a memorable Spaghetti western. Angel Eyes (Cleef) is on the prowl for a man who stole some gold. Meanwhile Tuco (Wallach) is on the run until three bounty hunters confront him. However, Blondie (Eastwood) is the one who turns him in and then helps Tuco escape after he picks up the reward. Finally, the two accomplices split up on bad terms. The next time Tuco turns the tables capturing Blondie and marching him through the desert. While on their journey they learn where the gold is hidden. First they have run ins with Angel Eyes an the Union and then they got caught up in a Civil War skirmish. The two of them endure it all and go to the cemetary where the gold is. There they have the final showdown with Angel Eyes. This film is great because it is exciting, features an iconic score, and it has great cinematography that is a trademark of Sergio Leone. An Italian western may seem strange but Leone somehow makes it work.

A Fistful of Dollars (Per un Pugno di Dollari)

Starring Clint Eastwood with director Sergio Leone, this western adaption of Yojimbo has a poncho-wearing gunslinger (Eastwood) playing to rival gangs off of each other. Upon entering the town, the man with no name is soon disturbed by the Baxters and he makes light work of four men. Then, he decides to join the rival Rojos gang while spending the rest of his time at the local saloon. After a massacre takes place over some gold, the man uses two of the bodies to lure both sides out to a cemetery In the ensuing chaos, the Rojos capture one man and then the man with no name sends a hostage over the the Baxters. He was able to get money from both sides before the exchange took place. That night the Rojos celebrate and the gunslinger sneaks off to rescue a woman who is captive. He does a virtuous deed but is found out and the Rojos beat him to a pulp. Using his ingenuity yet again, the man escapes to fight another day. Thinking he received help from the Baxters, the Rojos brutally wipe them out. With his friend the innkeeper in trouble, the man returns for the final showdown. He outwits his foe and beats the sharpshooter, Ramon, at his own game. As would become the norm the man would ride off as the victor in one of Leone's famous panoramic shots.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

Starring both John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart, with Lee Marvin, Vera Miles, and direction by John Ford, this is a good western. Stewart, now a successful politician returns to a small town with his wife to pay his respects to an old friend. In the ensuing flashback he retells his story beginning as a young lawyer who had a run in with Liberty Valance (Marvin). After he got well he strove to bring justice and education to the land. Despite their differences, Stewart finds a friend in Wayne who has his eye on Miles. However, everything eventually goes awry when Stewart agrees to face Valance out in the street. He appears to be a goner as he is wounded but miraculously a shot hits Valance and he falls dead. Stewart now a hero gets the girl and agrees to represent the town. Wayne fades into the background also a hero. The supporting cast includes Woody Strode, Edmond O'Brien, Andy Devine, and John Carradine. With two great icons and a great director, this western is certainly a classic.

Rio Bravo
Rio Bravo(1959)

Starring John Wayne, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson, and Angie Dickinson with direction by Howard Hawks, Rio is a great western. A sheriff (Wayne) is faced with a difficult task. He must hold a prisoner in jail while the man's buddies stake out all around town. His only help is the town drunk (Martin) and a crippled old man (Brennan). To make matters more complicated he takes interest in the new girl in town (Dickinson) and to top it off an old friend is shot (Ward Bond). Despite the odds and adversary, the sheriff stays touch and keeps the prisoner. Furthermore, the deputies all prove their value, including a young sharpshooter (Nelson). With a great cast and story line, this movie is well worth watching. Howard Hawks does it again teaming up with John Wayne in the western genre.

Red River
Red River(1948)

In one of Howard Hawk's best westerns, John Wayne plays a rough and callous cattle rancher who adopts an orphaned boy as his son. Wayne attains his dream of a ranch and yet if he wants to survive he must drive his herd somewhere to make a profit. Despite the hardships, the now fanatical Wayne will not turn back or budge on his convictions. As often happens, a conflict builds between Wayne and his son (Monty Clift), ending in Clift taking charge of the herd. The young cow herder succeeds in leading the cattle and yet his step-father is now bent on revenge. In the final showdown the two men face off one against the other. However, by the end their true feelings are revealed and they are reconciled. Overall this is a good western with a supporting cast including Walter Brennan and Noah Beery Jr.

My Darling Clementine

Directed by John Ford and starring a cast including Henry Fonda, Linda Darnell, Victor Mature, Walter Brennan, and Ward Bond, the film retells the story of the gunfight at the O.K. Coral. Wyatt Earp (Fonda) is herding cattle with his brothers near the town of Tombstone. However, his youngest brother is killed and the cattle are stolen. From that point on Earp becomes Marshall and encounters a gruff old man with his sons, a fiery song girl, the complex Doc Holiday, and Doc's former lover Clementine. As Marshall, Earp has his share of conflicts but the town slowly begins to improve. However, the Clanton's lash out and thus starts the legendary gunfight at the O.K. Coral. This is a classic western, with a host of good characters, memorable scenery, and Henry Fonda in a solid leading performance. John Ford proved once again that he knew how to make a western.

The Ox-Bow Incident

Starring Henry Fonda, Dana Andrews, Harry Morgan, Anthony Quinn, and many more, the film begins with two drifters (Fonda and Morgan) who enter a small western town. Soon it gets around that a man is dead and some of his cattle were also stolen. Hurriedly, a posse is put together and they ride off to find the culprits even though the Sheriff is looking already. They come upon three men and the majority of the posse believes the men are the perpetrators even though the trio profess their innocence. The posse votes on the spot whether to hang them or give them a trial and then they act. Only afterward do they discover the whole truth. Although the plot is simple, this western brings up some interesting and difficult questions. It certainly seems to blur the lines between the good and bad guys.

Birdman of Alcatraz

Telling the semi-biographical story of Robert Stroud, Birdman relates his life from violent beginnings until his later years. Burt Lancaster superbly characterizes Stroud as a tragic hero. Despite a relatively simple plot following the progression in a man's life, Birdman is worth seeing. Ultimately, it is the charcters played by Lancaster, Karl Malden, and Thelma Ritter respectively, that make this movie. Ironically, by the end of the film after all he has accomplished the Birdman is still not a free man. Even if it is not completely historically accurate, this movie tells a great story. Having actually toured Alcatraz after viewing this film, I have to say it resonated with me even more.

Judgment at Nuremberg

This epic court drama relates the true story of the War Crime Trials after World War II. With Stanley Kramer directing, this cast is amazing. Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Marlene Dietrich, Montgomery Clift, Judy Garland, Werner Klemperer, and even William Shatner all play a part. However, Maximillian Schell is by far the standout because he is such an amazing defender of his country's honor throughout the entire film. He wants the Holocaust to be known and yet all the while he goes through the case with dignity even though the pressures are so great. For every intense moment the viewer is stuck in their seat and when the verdict comes it is hard to contain the emotion. This movie should be seen by all not only because it is great but it also chronicles an important event in history. Whatever happens we should never forget the events surrounding the Judgment at Nuremberg.

Seven Samurai (Shichinin no Samurai)

Directed by Akira Kurasawa, this is often considered one of the greatest films of all time. The story begins in a small Japanese village that is constantly being tormented by marauders. The bandits are about to strike again but decide to return after the harvest. The village elder advises the people to find some samurai in the time they have. Although they have no money, several men go to a town to look for help. There they witness the skill of an experienced samurai. He agrees to help them and also gathers five other skilled men who have no allegiance. They are followed by a seventh, wild samurai. The rest of the film follows the difficult relations between the anxious villagers and their protectors. The samurai fortify the village and also train the farmers for combat. Three samurai make a raid on the enemy and then later the bandits attack. They are hindered by the fortifications but still wreak havoc. The following day the climatic battle takes place. After the showdown, the village is safe but only 3 of the 7 are still alive.

Tokyo Story (Tôkyô monogatari)

This critically acclaimed Japanese film directed by Yasujiro Ozu has a relatively simple plot having to do with a kind elderly couple going to Tokyo to visit their adult children and extended family. They are excited to see the big city but it is not quite like they had expected. Furthermore, all their relatives and family have very busy lives making it difficult for them to spend time with the couple. The eldest son who is a doctor and then a daughter who owns a salon decide to send their parents off to a spa. Unhappy, the elderly couple return to Tokyo but they feel like they are imposing. Finally, the two of them head home and there the wife becomes ill. Because she is dying, her children do decide to visit. However, after she has passed away it seems they all too soon forget her and go on with life. This film is an interesting study of the void between generations. It also uses realism and focuses on the manners of the Japanese without fully criticizing them.


Directed by the famed Akira Kurosawa, the film starts off with two men eventually joined by a third. Both seem very melancholy and they explain this is because of something that happened three days earlier. Apparently a bandit met a husband and wife on the road and raped the wife with the husband being killed. However, this event is shown in four different accounts all varying greatly and we never learn what is fact and what is actually fiction. Because of this horrible event, one of the men who is a priest loses faith in mankind. The film ends just as it began with the two men alone under a pagoda watching the driving rain. However, an act of kindness quickly renews the priest's belief. Kurasawa's film certainly has an interesting plot device and camera work. Historically, it is also important because it introduced the world to Japanese cinema

Stray Dog (Nora inu)

Directed by Akira Kurosawa and starring Toshiro Mifune and Takashi Shimura, the plot revolves around a rookie cop who has his gun swiped on a trolley in Tokyo. The young man is obsessive about getting his weapon back and after reporting the missing gun, he walks the streets looking for answers. His searching leads to a gun racket and after a crime is committed the rookie partners with an old vet on the case. They eventually wind up at a baseball game and begin searching for a man named Yusa. Another crime is committed and now the pair question a reluctant show girl. The older Sato follows the trail of Yusa and meets with trouble. Finally, the girl talks and the desperate rookie searches for the mysterious Yusa. In their final showdown he rights everything and retrieves his gun. I found this film-noir very atmospheric with post-war Tokyo and heat and humidity that you can almost feel. The two main characters have a solid chemistry because only together can they catch the Stray Dog.

Miracle on 34th Street

Starring Edmund Gwen, Maureen O'Hara, John Payne, and Natalie Wood, the film tells the heartwarming story of an old man who acts as Santa Claus for the Macy department store in New York. However, Kris who is a very warm person (Gwen), truly does believe he is Santa and he is constantly being kind to others. Despite his popularity, a sour psychologist claims Kris is crazy and the case goes to court to decide once and for all if he is Santa. Although the case seems bleak, Kris is enlightened by the fact that his test case family (O'Hara and Wood) finally believe in him. Through a series of extraordinary events his lawyer friend (Payne) is able to win the case right before Christmas. Pretty soon Kris seems to prove that he really is who he said he was. This is one of the great cheering Christmas classics of cinema.

Lost In Translation

Starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johannson with direction by Sofia Coppola, this film is set in the fast-paced, technological, and modern world of Tokyo, Japan. That is where Bob and Charlotte find themselves and they both are lost, simply going through the motions of life. He is a middle-aged, former movie star filming a whiskey commercial. She is a newly-married wife of a fashion photographer. Despite their age differences, they find out that they have a lot in common. Over the week they spend time together in Tokyo and become friends. When the time comes for Bob to leave neither one wants their time to end. They say goodbye but do not forget each other. This film was enjoyable because it portrayed two people who could be good friends without getting romantically involved. That it not to say there were not a few regrettable scenes.

Throne of Blood

Directed by Akira Kurosawa, this film is an adaption of Macbeth placed in a Japanese setting. Two great warriors come before their lord to be honored but before they arrive a spirit gives them a prophecy. One of the men who was initially loyal, decides to take the throne for his own after hearing the prophecy and being goaded by his wife. Soon he has become an overconfident madman bent on defeating everyone. Again the spirit in the forest gives him a prophecy that all but ensures his victory. However, all too soon his good fortune ends and that's not all. This film has some slow parts but many of the images are very striking and atmospheric while the ending is also enjoyable. This is arguably the best adaption of Macbeth to film.

Sullivan's Travels

Starring Joel McCrea and Veronica Lake, with director Preston Sturges, Sullivan's Travels is about a highly successful film director (McCrea) who wants to make a movie about the common man and suffering. However, he usually writes comedies and so he decides to go on the road as a hobo to try and understand the lifestyle. During his adventures he meets a young failed actress (Lake) who is about to leave Hollywood. Wanting to help her, Sully tells the girl what he is doing and they go off together masquerading as tramps. After taking a short respite, he goes on the road again, this time alone. Through a series of events he finds himself in a chain gang while his friends assume he is dead. Eventually he is freed but not before learning a valuable lesson. If he wants to relate with the poor he should give them laughter instead of hardship. I found this movie to be an enjoyable light comedy (even though I had never heard of it beforehand).

Saving Private Ryan

Telling an amazing story of bravery, Saving Private Ryan is both inspiring and moving. Beginning with the invasion of Normandy on D-Day June 6, 1944, the film follows a group of American soldiers as they look for a Francis Ryan. Since all three of his brothers are dead their mission is to find him and send the private home . Despite the dangers and the subsequent deaths of many comrades, they finally complete their mission after one last heroic fight. The movie flashes forward to the present day Ryan as he kneels at the graves of those brave men who saved him. Unsure he asks his wife if he lived a good life because those soldiers payed the ultimate price for him. With director Steven Speilberg, Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, and other good character actors, this is a powerful war film with great battle sequences as well as amazing heroism.

The Birds
The Birds(1963)

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Tippi Hedren, Rod Taylor, and Suzanne Pleshette, this film follows the journey of a rich woman who travels to Bodega Bay in order to visit a man who intrigues her. This love story is already odd to begin with and then add thousands of berserk birds to create far more chaos. Everything is innocent enough at first but Hedren gets attacked by a seagull. Everyone brushes it off but the next day at a birthday party a wave of birds attack. A couple of deaths and many injuries occur causing tumult all over the bay. The birds keep on attacking in cycles so the citizens must either try and flee or barricade themselves in their homes. Soon the threat of the birds seems overwhelming and Hedren and her new relations must fight to survive. Although this film ends with the family finally escaping in Hedren's Ashton Martin Coup, the birds still sit there as ominously as ever. With the use of special effects and no score, this film sends shivers down the spine. However do not think it is just a horror flick. Much like Psycho it is also a very well made film.

The Man Who Knew Too Much

Starring James Stewart and Doris Day with director Alfred Hitchcock, the film follows the couple as they travel to Morocco with their son. Through a series of strange circumstances, Stewart finds himself learning a deadly secret from a dying man he just met the previous night. Soon his son is kidnapped and Stewart along with Day find themselves traveling to England in pursuit. Frantically, they try following leads and by the time they come up with one, the culprits are already gone before the police arrive. Their search finds them at the Royal Albert Hall foiling a plot and then they go to the embassy. Desperately, they keep up the search for their boy and it finally pays off, maybe. With the wonderful direction of Hitchcock and the song Que Sera, Sera, this film is quite good.

Dial M for Murder

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Ray Milland, Grace Kelly, and Robert Cummings, this film tells the story of a married woman who has fallen for another man. However, her suspicious husband finds out and decides to have her murdered. Through a series of events he finds his murderer and sets everything up for the following evening. His plan goes awry and his wife lives so he must rush to cover up all his involvement. In the ensuing days Kelly's character is accused of murder even though she was simply defending herself. She finds herself facing death and yet the clever police detective figures everything out. He realizes her innocence and traps Milland in his own plan. With the typical Hitchcock style and solid acting, this movie is full of many suspenseful moments.

Strangers on a Train

In one of Hitchcock's most intriguing thrillers, we watch events unfold as two distinctly different men meet each other. One is an unassuming tennis player and the other a wild-living rich kid. They both have the same desire though, to have someone out of their lives. With this in mind, Bruno proposes swapping murders. He will kill the tennis player's unfaithful wife and Guy in turn will murder Bruno's domineering father. Bruno goes ahead with the plan while Guy brushes it off and soon forgets it. Only too late does Guy find out what has happened and he is suddenly faced with a great dilemma . He does not want to commit murder but Bruno relentlessly shadows him expecting it to be done. In the final showdown the two men face off and Bruno is still adamant that he and Guy were always in it together. This film is great for many reasons, including the often unconventional cinematography, the intriguing characters who blur the line between good and evil, and of course the carousel scene at the end is always memorable. Farley Granger and Robert Walker both deliver very good performances that are probably the best of their careers.


What is the perfect murder? Hitchcock seemingly toys with this question in Rope . Starring Jimmy Stewart, Farley Granger, and John Dall, the latter two are students who murder their peer from university. Their only reason for doing it however is to see if they can get away with the crime. To complete their little experiment, they invite the boy's family, his girlfriend, and other guests over to dinner, right in the room where they committed the murder. As an after though they invite their former professor (Stewart) who is the only one who would be able to catch them. At first Stewart does not suspect anything but eventually he becomes suspicious without letting on. Finally, the students lose their cool and Stewart catches them red-handed. This quickly puts an end to the perfect crime. This film is interesting because it was made to look like it was shot on one reel. Hitchcock's movies are often known for the editing and yet this film was shot almost like a play in very long takes.


Pairing Cary Grant with Ingrid Bergman along with Hitchcock directing, Notorious tells a story of spies in South America after World War II. Bergman is the daughter of a former Nazi so she is enlisted by a T.R. Devlin (Grant) to spy on other Nazis in South America. Pretty soon Bergman has been accepted and is married to one of the men (Claude Rains). Bitter and cold, Devlin shows no pity for her plight. However, during a party an important discovery is made that puts her in danger. To make matters worse, she is now sick and the others are suspicious. Showing his true loyalty, Devlin comes to her aid before she is harmed and brings her to safety. This is undoubtedly one of Hitchcock's best films with a stellar cast of characters. If Casablanca was the beginning then this seems to be the perfect sequel. But that is a topic for another post in the future!


Directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Gregory Peck and Ingrid Bergman, the film follows the complicated story of an intelligent lady doctor skilled in psychoanalysis. Bergman's character is very focused on her work and often withdrawn. That soon changes when she meets the new doctor (Peck) whom she falls for. However, soon Bergman realizes he is not the real doctor and further uncovers his state of amnesia used to forget his past. Trying to keep him out of the hands of the police, she takes Peck to her former colleague and they try to delve into his dreams. When Bergman finally seems to have all the answers unexpected complications arise. Now she must save her patient and lover before it is too late. Hitchcock's directing, a great score, collaboration with Salvidore Dali, and good acting make this film worth seeing. Michael Chekhov is certainly good for a laugh or two as well.


Directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Tallulah Bankhead, the film follows the passengers of a liner who escape in a lifeboat after the ship is sunk. Together they try and survive in order to make it back to civilization. Along the way they must make many difficult decisions. This includes saving the life of a German who sank their boat as well as amputating a man's leg. Through it all there is ongoing conflict among the people who would normally be genial. However, their circumstances are by no means ordinary. By the end they are so desperate and crazed they seemingly turn against some and fall in love with others. This technical challenge of such a small setting did not disable Hitchcock's storytelling ability. Written by John Steinbeck, the film's story is an interesting view of humanity during World War II. This movie also includes Hitchcock's most ingenious cameo of any of his films.

Shadow of a Doubt

In one of Hitchcock's earlier American films starring Joseph Cotten and Teresa Wright, Uncle Charlie comes to visit his niece namesake "Charlie" and the rest of the family. Initially the whole family seems to be in a funk until they find Charlie (Cotten) is coming to visit them in Santa Rosa. However, what they do not know is that he is a wanted murderer. Over time "Charlie" (Wright) becomes suspicious of her uncle and finally comes across the truth. Her uncle figures out what she knows and decides he must get rid of her. Living in constant peril, "Charlie" finally is forced to face him. In the ensuing struggle she fights madly for her life. With the constant discomfort and suspense, Hitchcock proves how powerful thrillers can be even in the home. Cotten and Wright both do a very good job in this film. Supposedly this was Hitchcock's favorite among his own films. I think it certainly one of the best of his lesser known movies.


Starring Cary Grant and Joan Fontaine with director Alfred Hitchcock, the film follows a young English woman who marries a charming man. However, he has gained notoriety for gambling and he also has a mysterious side. After telling his wife he is done gambling, he goes to find a job. Through a series of conversations however Fontaine's character discovers her husband has been keeping things from her. Because of the tragic death of her husband's good friend and other suspicious events, Fontaine begins to grow paranoid. She fears for her life as she is alone with her husband. In the final dramatic scene her situation takes a great twist. Although not Hitchcock's best, in this film he does play with our minds as we too are constantly suspicious. Grant and Fontaine both give very commendable performances.

Foreign Correspondent

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, this film stars a cast including Joel McCrea, Laraine Day, Herbert Marshall, and George Sanders. Wanting a good scoop about events in Europe a newspaper editor sends a reporter off to dig something up. Joel MCcrea's character finds himself entangled in a complicated kidnapping scheme and assassination. On top of that he falls in love while on the job. With no one believing him at first, he must try and gather the facts that ultimately might lead to a war. Dodging two attempts on his own life, he knows he is getting close. However, little does he know how near he actually is. After more twists and turns MCcrea finally gets his story and the girl but at a cost. From the scenes in the windmill until the tense moments on the plane, this movie does much to intrigue. It serves a double purpose, a decent piece of propaganda and a good thriller.


This film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Laurence Olivier with Joan Fontaine, was adapted from the Daphne du Maurier novel of the same name. The story begins in Monte Carlo where Max De Winter (Olivier) and a young woman (Fontaine) have a chance meeting as she is working for an older lady. Soon she learns that his previous wife died the year before. Fairly soon the two of them are attracted to each other and Max has plans of marriage and returning to his Manderley. However, back home the fairy tale is over and the new Mrs. De Winter is constantly tormented by the housekeeper Mrs. Danvers. Pretty soon Max himself seems to have changed. Confused Mrs. De Winter must learn what happened to Rebecca, the lady who was so enchanting. When she actually finds out the truth it is almost too much to bear. Like many Hitchcock films this one is certainly worth watching and it was actually his first American film. Olivier, Fontaine, George Sanders, and Judith Anderson all have very good performances.

The Lady Vanishes

Margaret Lockwood plays an American socialite in Europe in this Hitchcock mystery thriller. The night before she is to leave, Lockwood meets a kindly middle-aged lady who is fascinated with European music. The next day the two ladies sit together on the train to talk. Being a bit disoriented, Lockwood takes a short nap however when she wakes up Ms. Froy is mysteriously gone. Seemingly no one remembers seeing the woman and no one will believe Lockwood. Finally, she teams up with a man who she had a run in with the night before (Michael Redgrave). Together they try to figure out what has happened to the lady. Finally discovering the truth, they come under great danger and must fight for their lives and those of the other passengers. Hitchcock does it again, bewildering the mind and making us intrigued at the same time.

The 39 Steps
The 39 Steps(1935)

In one of Hitchcock's great English films, he plays with the idea of a man on the run. Robert Donat is just an ordinary Englishman until a strangle woman tells him a deadly secret. Upon finding her murdered by a dangerous foe he flees. However, that puts him under suspicion and the hunt is on. He makes his way up to Scotland and gets some assistance however soon trouble brews. Somehow he finds himself cuffed to a woman he detests and he drags her away with him in order to escape. Due to their predicament, the unlikely pair soften to each other and try to discover the truth. After running for so long the answer finally comes to Donat in the theater. He finally discovers what the 39 Steps are.


Starring Colin Clive and Boris Karloff, this archetypal horror film is loosely based on the novel written by Mary Shelley. Frankenstein is a man intent on creating life. However, his creation is made out of corpses and then comes the fateful day that he brings his Creature to life. Once it is alive his own life will never be the same. Soon it begins to cause havoc by killing a little girl and scaring others. It even attacks Frankenstein and his wife on their wedding day. In the end the Creature meets his demise in a burning barn and Frankenstein seemingly escapes utter disaster. This became the perfect set up for the Bride of Frankenstein (1935).

Easy Rider
Easy Rider(1969)

Starring Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper, this road film follows the two young men traveling across country from L.A., meeting Hippies, experimenting with drugs, and simply living life as they please. Much of the movie comprises of the many pit stops they take. Some people welcome them, and still others are hostile. This film does a decent job of portraying the counter culture generation and the experiences they had. Some of the highlights in the film would be Jack Nicholson's odd ball character and a stellar soundtrack including such 60s groups like the Byrds and the Band. Although it is not the greatest movie, it holds historical importance in order to help us remember this past generation.


Starring Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Peter Finch, and Robert Duvall, this film satirizes the television industry. Howard Beale (Finch) is being fired as a news anchor for the struggling UBS network. On one of his final days on air he begins to rave madly and his industry friend Max (Holden) does not cut him short. At first there is uproar but then a shrewd business man (Duvall) decides to use Beal to boost ratings with the backing of one of the network staff (Dunaway). With her great ambition she moves up and takes Max's place while becoming romantically involved with him. For a time the network thrives off the rants of Beale. However, he begins to change his tune and ratings begin to plummet. With everything in a shambles, they can him literally. This is a biting satire of television with intense performances and some moments that leave you pondering who the real nutcases are.


Starring Jack Nicholson with Faye Dunaway and John Huston, this skillfully written neo-noir is a nod to the work of Chandler and Hammet. J.J. "Jake" Gittes is a P.I. in the L.A. area during the 30s who specializes in marital cases. When a woman calling herself Mrs. Mulwray asks Gittes to watch her supposedly cheating husband, he enters something he does not understand. Soon he meets the real Mrs. Mulwray (Dunaway), learns Mr. Mulwray is dead, and discovers Mrs. Mulwray's father is the powerful water tycoon Noah Cross (Huston). As he tries to uncover the truth behind some odd events, Gittes meets with opposition, more confusion, and eventually some answers. The mystery is twofold and he begins to understand the plot over the L.A. water, however he does not figure out the secret kept by Mrs. Mulwray right away. When he finally does find out he is too late and tragedy ultimately comes in Chinatown. This film was enjoyable in the buildup and the ending was okay if not tragic. However, it did seem that the mystery surrounding the water was predictable.

Bonnie and Clyde

Starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, with director Arthur Penn, the film chronicles the crime life of a group of notorious gangsters during the 1930s. Clyde Barrow (Beatty), a small time thief meets the beautiful young girl Bonnie Parker (Dunaway) and together they begin robbing banks. Soon they enlist the help of a dim-witted mechanic C.W., and then Clyde's brother joins the fray bringing along his wife. They have a string of successes and they become infamous nationwide. Soon they begin to bicker among themselves and the police start to buckle down. In a shootout Buck is shot dead and Bonnie, Clyde, and C.W. just barely escape. However, their actions eventually do catch up with them and thus ends the story of these two figures depicted as anti-heroes. This film is significant because it was influenced by the French New Wave but it in turn ushered in a new era of American film . It has a unique combination of comedy, romance, violence, and of course banjo music.

The Manchurian Candidate

Starring Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Angela Lansbury, and Janet Leigh, the plot revolves around a Korean war hero who is brainwashed to be a weapon for Communists. Several men in the company have recurring nightmares about brainwashing, communists, and murder. Sinatra's character has trouble finding solace, however he does meet a beautiful woman (Leigh). Harvey's character returns home constantly at odds with his domineering mother who is married to a dim-witted senator. He has no idea what deadly purpose he is being used for. His brainwashing causes him to commit several shocking murders. It is up to Sinatra to finally save him and stop his one final violent act. However, Harvey's character does prevail by himself but not without tragedy. Sinatra and Harvey give wonderful performances and Lansbury is especially chilling. As you will find out, this film shows all the twists and thrills that come out of a simple game of solitaire. It was also a sign of the times during the Cold War.

Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope

Arguably one of the most successful franchises ever, it is easy to understand how Star Wars became so popular. This galaxy far far away and the characters that graced the screen were so intriguing. You had Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Han Solo, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, C3PO, R2D2, and of course Darth Vader. The idea of George Lucas which seemed laughable at first, quickly became a hit. I have always been enthralled with Star Wars like many others before me. However, after watching the original saga again it became clear how wonderful these films were because the tales they told were so fun and entertaining. The relatively simple story of this small time farm boy deciding to fight against evil in the galaxy has always been enjoyable. On top of that the action was great and the characters were even better. This is still one of my favorite films all time easily.

City Lights
City Lights(1931)

In this Charlie Chaplin film we follow the Tramp as he romances a blind flower girl and is befriended by a crazy millionaire. In line with all the great Chaplin silent films, this one has many comedic moments but also sentimentality. In one scene the Tramp might find himself dragged along with the millionaire or fighting in a boxing match. However, the next sequence he might be sharing a very nice moment with the girl who only knows him by his voice and kind deeds. Fittingly, in the final moments of the film, the flower girl who can now see is reunited with the humble tramp who showed her so much kindness. Overall this was a very good film and it seemed to have a wonderful balance of humor and romance. It proves that sound is not always needed if you are a good storyteller.


Ben Hur, directed by William Wyler and starring Charlton Heston, tells the tale of Christ in connection with the young nobleman-turned slave, Judah Ben Hur. We follow Hur as a friend turns against him and he and his mother and sister are imprisoned. Soon he is doomed to a life rowing on a galley but on the way there a kind , mysterious stranger gives him a drink to quench his thirst. It takes a few years but Hur's fortune turns and he is no longer a slave but a great chariot racer. The time comes to seek revenge and he beats his former friend in the ultimate chariot race. However, his victory is short lived since he learns his kin are now lepers and the man who showed him kindness years before is now to be crucified. Returning the favor, he gives the suffering man water before He is hung on the cross. Despite the man's death, miraculously his mother and sister are freed from leprosy. This epic is monumental and tells a wonderful story intertwined with the Gospel.

An American in Paris

Starring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron with director Vincent Minneli, this musical follows an American painter in Paris (Kelly) as he struggles with life and love. Jerry Mulligan is a painter who loves Paris and has made friends with many of the locals. The only problem is that he has no money. That all changes when a rich patron begins to sponsor him and his luck begins to change. Soon he becomes enchanted with a French girl (Caron) and after initial conflict they try to meet up whenever they can. At the same time Jerry is tied up with his patron and Lisa is engaged to a kind Frenchman who Jerry knows. When Jerry learns this he is devastated, however in the end he does get the girl. Although the final dance sequence seemed out of place, awkward, and too long, much of the rest of the musical is enjoyable. I Got Rhythm and The American in Paris Theme are catchy Gershwin tunes that Gene Kelly performs to perfection.

Citizen Kane
Citizen Kane(1941)

The brain-child of Orson Welles, Citizen Kane opens somewhat unimpressive, however it is certainly very moody and atmospheric. As the camera closes in on a great mansion we are given a first hand view of a dying man and his mysterious final word "Rosebud." In the following newsreel we learn the man was Charles Foster Kane (Welles), a millionaire tycoon and newspaper man. A journalist is enlisted to find out anything he can about Kane. He scours the memoirs of Kane's deceased childhood guardian. Then, he talks with Mr. Bernstein who worked with Kane's paper the Inquirer. He gets around to talking to Kane's unstable former friend Jedediah Leland as well as Kane's second wife. We learn from these accounts about his early years, his success with yellow journalism, the evolution of his first marriage, and the rise and fall of his political career. Furthermore, we find out about Kane's unhappy second marriage that ultimately left him loveless after looking for affection his whole life. Fittingly, we are again left with the bleak view of his fortress Xanadu and we now have the knowledge that "Rosebud" was in fact utterly trivial. Obviously, Greg Toland's black and white cinematography using deep focus and low camera angles is wonderful. The framing of the narrative with different points of view and flashbacks was unique at the time. The actors age in front of us showing the progression of time and montage is used to effectively condense time. There is the overlapping and fragmentation of dialogue to create a realistic feel throughout the film. Bernard Hermann puts together a score that slowly changes along with Kane. And of course you have the supposed basis of Kane on William Randolph Hearst. Historically, Citizen Kane may in fact be the most important film and artistically it is certainly up there with the best of them. I will let others decide if that makes it the very best film, period.

Midnight Cowboy

The film stars Jon Voight as a naive Texan and Dustin Hoffman as Ratso Rizzo, the bum who initially cons him and eventually befriends him. Voight comes to New York expecting to make money off of rich city women as a male hustler. However, his callowness leaves him broke. That's when the crippled, coughing, stealing, and nasally-voiced Ratso invites him to stay in Rizzo's home on a condemned lot. Because they are both just trying to survive on the streets of New York, they befriend each other. When they are not walking the streets, stealing, or trying to bring in money, they talk and we slowly see into the pitiful lives of Joe and Ratso. Since winter has hit, Ratso gets ill so they decide to head out to Florida. On the way Rico (as he wanted to be called) spent his last breath. Both actors have powerful performances and Nillson's Everybody's Talking is a nice added touch to the soundtrack.

All the President's Men

Starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman, this political thriller follows two young investigative journalists as they try to uncover the truth after a mysterious break in at the Watergate Hotel. The Washington Post is the only paper covering the issue that many have dismissed as an isolated event. These two men try to follow all the leads they have but they reach a dead end since no one seems willing to talk. However, with the help of the anonymous source Deep Throat, tireless searching, and a few witnesses, the pieces begin to come together. Little do they know the extent of what they have happened upon. Ultimately, their story about Watergate would lead to the scandal that ended in Richard Nixon's resignation. This is not only an intriguing film, but it also holds tremendous historical importance.

Bringing Up Baby

In this mile-a-minute screwball comedy directed by Howard Hawks, Cary Grant is forced to deal with Katharine Hepburn's ditsy socialite character. A Paleontologist (Grant) has been trying to assemble a dinosaur but he is missing a bone. On top of that Huxley is about to enter into an unhappy marriage and he also must impress a museum donor. The next day he meets a socialite (Hepburn) by accident and through a mix up he finds himself being taken to her home in order to help take care of a tame leopard named Baby. In the following chaos a dog buries the bone needed for the dinosaur, visitors come, Baby runs away, a wild leopard is on the loose, and the free-spirited girl finds herself falling for "Mr. Bone." To complicate matters, the pair wind up in jail trying to explain their story to a quirky constable. In the end everything works out and despite the craziness, Huxley realizes he cannot live without this girl. This may not be my favorite screwball comedy, but I would say it definitely is the zaniest and that stands for something.


Starring Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro, and Joe Pesci with direction by Martin Scorcese, the film follows the true story of Henry Hill and his life as a mobster. Early on in the 50s Hentry began doing work for the influential mobster Paulie (Paul Sorvino). He began skipping school and slowly begins making a lucrative living with the mob. Soon he meets Jimmy Conway (De Niro) who loves to hijack trucks as well as the foul-mouthed, quick-tempered robber Tommy DeVito (Pesci). Over time Henry becomes successful after an Air France robbery and eventually he gets married to a woman named Karen (Lorraine Bracco). However, Henry gets caught up in a murder and he also starts seeing another woman. He still has problems but he begins a lucrative drug trade and the Lufthansa heist is pulled. The heat is on and Henry is eventually caught and decides to rat on his friends. He is then forced to live life as a nobody. I appreciated the period music, voice over, tracking shots, and freeze frames. The language of DeVito and others is tiresome but it shows how inherently corrupt they are.

A Streetcar Named Desire

The film adaption of the Tennessee Williams' play, A Street Car Named Desire was directed by Elia Kazan and stars Marlon Brando as the rough Polish husband of Stella Kowalski. Vivian Leigh plays the role of Stella's airy and superficial sister Blanche. The film opens in the French Quarter of New Orleans where the Southern Belle Blanche DuBois comes to live with Stella and Stanley. Over time we learn of her past full of forbidden love and other problems. Stanley is a brutish, dominating man and the arrival of Blanche upsets his relationship with his wife. A friend of Stanley's, Mitch (Karl Malden) is drawn to Blanche but the conflict between her and Stanley make the relationship impossible. Now Stanley knows of her past and confronts Blanche about it. His cruelty and violence lead to her final breakdown. Ultimately, Mitch is angered, Stella is grief-stricken, and Stanley shows his dependence on Stella. This film is full of drama and at times you dislike both Stanley and Blanche. Mitch is one of the characters you actually feel for.

The Silence of the Lambs

Starring Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins in two memorable performances, the film opens with a young FBI agent in training, Clarice Starling (Foster). A serial killer nicknamed Buffalo Bill is on the loose and Starling is given the assignment of talking to the incarcerated Hannibal Lecter (Hopkins). He formally was a brilliant psychiatrist and he turned into a cannibalistic killer. Lecter gives Starling hints on how to find the killer but not without forcing her to open up about her past. She closes in on the murderer and after some tense moments she finishes the job a hero. Now a certified FBI agent, Starling gets a call from Lecter who had escaped previously. He bids her farewell as chilling as ever and this time he is a free man. The acting was good and there were definitely some great thrills.


Starring George C. Scott and Karl Malden, the film chronicles the exploits and controversy surrounding the great World War II general. Gaining fame in Africa, Patton would move on to Sicily, and finally march toward Berlin. Patton was a colorful character who was highly religious, a war romantic, and he also had a big mouth. Despite often being tough and unpopular, over time Patton did garner the respect of many an aid, ally, and even enemy. His heroic 3rd army became famous for their exploits all across Europe. By the end of the war, Patton came out a very complex hero from a former age. The reason this film is good not only rest on it being a war movie but also based on character development. George C. Scott does a wonderful job of portraying the larger-than-life persona of Patton.

Pulp Fiction
Pulp Fiction(1994)

Starring a cast including John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, and Bruce Willis, this crime film tells the somewhat inter-related stories of these four main characters. Travolta and Jackson are a pair of hit men who have several adventures having to do with retrieving a briefcase, disposing of a dead body, and eating breakfast at a diner. Separately, Travolta has a somewhat harrowing outing watching the wife of his boss (Thurman). Willis on the other hand does not throw the boxing match he was suppose to. Thus, he finds himself in hiding with his lover, facing his own set of problems. I do have to say this film was interesting because of the nonlinear format almost like chapters. The eclectic pop culture references were classic along with some of the dialogue. However, it gets tiring listening to the strong language and a scene or two are worth skipping in my mind.

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

This film directed by Stanley Kramer, has a relatively simple story line revolving around a major issue. Joanna Drayton has fallen in love with a doctor she met only 10 days before and wishes to get married. Obviously, her parents played by Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, are startled by this whirlwind event. They are even more dismayed when they discover he is a black man. Hepburn's character lightens to the idea while her husband is adamantly against it. Soon everything becomes even more complicated when the man's parents are invited to dinner, only to be equally startled. Eventually giving it more thought, Tracy does condone the marriage realizing how much his daughter is in love. This would be Tracy's final film and he would die only a couple weeks after shooting ended. He and Hepburn do a wonderful job with Sidney Poitier and Katharine Hougton as well. This movie is good and also monumental for the racial issue it covered.

A Night at the Opera

Starring the Marx Brothers, this vehicle for their comedy has Groucho, Harpo, and Chico trying to help two lovers earn positions at the opera. Along the way Groucho tries to marry a rich patron and Chico and Harpo run from the law as stowaways. This film which could be seen as having a dramatic story, is constantly interrupted by Marxian gags. Some memorable moments include the insanity clause, two hard-boiled eggs, Groucho's crowded stateroom, and the final scenes in the opera house. Only with the Marx Brothers would you hear Take Me Out to the Ball Game at the opera. Although Duck Soup has critical acclaim, I find this one more entertaining as comedy with a real story line. The MGM years were ushered in by this film and solidified the Marx Brother's legacy.

2001: A Space Odyssey

I have to admit that this sci-fi film directed by Stanley Kubrick left me feeling let down. The movie itself is split up into four parts, the first beginning in the prehistoric era with a group of apes. Over time a mysterious structure appears and the apes learn how to make tools. From there it cuts to the exploration of space where man goes to Jupiter and beyond with the help of HAL 9000, a skilled but dangerous computer. The classical score is quite good working with the visual but sometimes it seems the movie is lacking in other areas. There is minimal dialogue, it seems that there could be better editing aside from the famous jump cut near the beginning, and the plot jumps all over the place. What I take away from it is the progression of man over time. The fact that there is really no memorable character except the non-human computer is also interesting. Finally, this film was made before the moon landing so in a way it was ahead of its time. That being said it still was not my favorite film.

From Here to Eternity

Directed by Fred Zinneman, the film has an all star cast including Burt Lancaster, Monty Clift, Deborah Kerr, Donna Reed, and Frank Sinatra. Clift is a former boxer and bugler who has been transferred to a post in Hawaii. The commanding officer wants to have him fight for the company but Clift is adamant that he will not. From that point on life is made difficult for him on the base. However, he still finds time to go to a club with his friend Maggio (Sinatra) where he meets Lorean (Reed) and falls in love. At the same time the intelligent company sergeant Lancaster, finds himself falling for the commander's wife (Kerr) who has an unhappy marriage. However, he feels he cannot become an officer effectively terminating their relationship. The dramatic events culminate in the attack on Pearl Harbor which overshadows a smaller tragedy. This movie certainly had a cast full of famous people, but I have to say it was not my favorite film. All the same there definitely are some good moments.

The Apartment

Starring Jack Lemmon, Shirley Maclaine, and Fred McMurray, with director Billy Wilder, the film follows C. C. Baxter (Lemmon). He is a young man working in a large corporation that is very difficult to get ahead in. His only chance of moving up is through loaning his apartment to company executives so they can entertain their lady friends. This set up causes him constant inconveniences and leads to complaints from neighbors. One of these complications involves a elevator girl from work (Maclaine) who was left sleeping in his bed. Soon Baxter must figure out how to nurse her to health and cover for the executive who left her. During the process he slowly feels himself falling in love but it all ends there when she is to be married to the recently-divorced executive. Finally, finding his backbone, Baxter quits his new high-level job and eventually reunites with his love. Wilder and Lemmon teamed up again following Some Like it Hot and this one is pretty good movie-wise!

Apollo 13
Apollo 13(1995)

Directed by Ron Howard and headlined by Tom Hanks, this film opens with the landing of Neil Armstrong on the moon. It then leads up to the Apollo 13 mission led by Jim Lovell (Hanks). We see his life, his colleagues, and the hard work that goes into such an undertaking. There are several hitches in preparation but the takeoff is smooth, beginning a supposedly routine mission. However, after a malfunction the situation turns dire very fast and the men who looked forward to walking on the moon now must struggle just to get home. They make difficult decisions and Lovell keeps them level-headed while Houston scrambles to problem solve and bring them home. This film is powerful and ultimately cheering with a good accompanying score. Howard does a wonderful job transporting us back to that time however I would have liked more back story on the astronauts leading up to their mission.

Sophie's Choice

Starring Meryl Streep in a remarkable performance, the film opens in 1947 with the writing hopeful Stingo. He moves into a room in Brooklyn and quickly befriends the romantic pair of Sophie (Streep) and Nathan (Kevin Kline). However, as their friendship grows Stingo realizes the ghosts in Sohphie's past since she was a Polish concentration camp survivor. Nathan on the other hand can be both charming and cruel thanks in part to his own set of secrets. Stingo feels himself falling for Sophie but she realizes it can never be recalling her last shrouded memory. She was forced to make a choice that would haunt her and ultimately fill her life with tragedy. All I can say is that this film is made by the brilliant acting of Streep. Several of the scenes were very powerful as well. They brought up difficult issues that can be hard to answer.

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton with director Mike Nichols, this taboo-braking adaption of the stage play revolves around a middle-aged couple. George is a proffessor and he and his wife Martha have a love-hate relationship. Urged by her influential father, Martha invites a young couple to their home. Because of the late hour and lots of alcohol, the rest of the evening becomes a wild war full of nasty insults, hurtful games, and manipulation. Martha and George use their guests and go as far as physical violence. However, in the end secrets are uncovered and they realize that they truly are afraid of Virginia Woolf. What began as a joke became all too true. At points this film seemed to elude me but I will say the acting was intense and powerful. There were moments where you disdain these people, then you feel pity for their plight, and other times you may even be able to relate to them in some ways.

A Place in the Sun

In this film starring Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor, and Shelley Winters, with George Stevens directing, a young man (Clift) tries to rise up in his uncle's company. He is poorly-educated yet ambitious and he slowly moves up in the Eastman business. While he works George begins to fall for a modest girl (Winters) who also works in the assembly. They slowly begin to show romantic feelings for each other because they face the same hardships. With a new found position George begins to interact with people of higher social status. Although he feels out of place there, he meets the beautiful and rich Angela (Taylor) who he begins to fall in love with. As he begins to get more involved with Angela, he learns that his former love interest is pregnant and therefore wishes to marry him. Faced with a dilemma, George makes a decision that will ruin him forever, whether he goes through with it or not. A decent movie, and a remake of An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser, the latter half is the best part, including the ending.

Taxi Driver
Taxi Driver(1976)

Directed by Martin Scorsese, the film stars Robert De Niro with Jodie Foster and Cybil Sheppard. The story opens with a Vietnam vet, Travis Bickle (De Niro) who takes a job as a taxi driver. Travis is a quiet and lonely man who is turned off by the scum and filth he sees on the streets of New York. He becomes enthralled with a beautiful campaign worker who eventually turns him off. Then he also comes in contact with a young girl who makes her living working the streets. His frustration deepens and he begins to work out and collect weapons. It becomes obvious he is about to explode and after an initial failed attempt he does just that. However, ironically the aftermath leaves him as a hero. Travis is an interesting character because you feel sorry for him and yet he does things that are truly wrong. I found Bernard Hermann's score, the voice-over narration, and the cryptic ending all to be interesting parts of this film.

It Happened One Night

Starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert with director Frank Capra, this light romance pits a sunk newspaper man with a dissatisfied socialite. Colbert feels stuck in her life with a domineering father who does not approve of her marriage, and so she runs off to get away. While on a bus she meets the recently fired Peter (Gable) and there is immediate friction between them. However, realizing she is inexperienced, Peter watches out for her and they travel together. Finding out who she is, he is even more driven to get a story and stay with her. Along the way Colbert begins to fall in love but he does not immediately react. When he finally realizes his true feelings, the situation becomes complicated when Colbert returns to her father and fiancee. In the midst of the wedding she hears of Peter's true love and runs off to him. By that evening they are married and the "walls of Jericho" come tumbling down. Gable and Colbert both do well in this film and Capra gives us another light classic.


Starring Leonardo DiCapprio with Kate Winslet and director James Cameron, the film opens with an exploration of the submerged Titanic. An interesting discovery puts the explorers in contact with an elderly woman who was there in April 1912. Rose recounts her arrival as a newly engaged 1st class passenger. She felt trapped in her life until she accidentally met Jack, a 3rd class drifter who won his ticket in a poker game. After he saves her life, their forbidden relationship continues as they spend more time together. Jack, who is an artist, even does a charcoal drawing of Rose. However, all too soon the unsinkable ship hits an iceberg and chaos ensues in the following hours. Heroically, once again Jack keeps Rose alive although he himself perishes in the cold. Back in the present Rose now keeps him alive with her memories. This epic romance is fairly good with a semi-autobiographical story, special effects, and a decent score.

The Magnificent Seven

Adapted as a western from Kurosawa's Seven Samurai, Yul Brynner is a hired gun who agrees to take a job from Mexican farmers protecting their village from bandits. Gradually, he enlists the help of old friends and new acquaintances who are all handy with a gun. Working with the village men, they are able to deter the bandits. However, the threat of the marauders returning has the villagers scared so they turn against their hired guns. In a fit of bravery, Brynner returns with the others fighting desperately to liberate the village. They are ultimately victorious, but not without causalities with four of the men dying. These men were the seven who fought like 700 and they did something seemingly ludicrous because it was the courageous thing to do. This great cast includes Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, Robert Vaughan, Horst Buckholz, Brad Dexter, and Eli Wallach. The score by Elmer Bernstein is one of the best. If you want to see a good western then look no further.


Starring Dustin Hoffman, Jessica Lange, Terri Garr, and BIll Murray, this comedy film follows a fiery actor as he tries to find work. Despite his skill, no one wants to work with Michael Dorsey (Hoffman) and so he masquerades as a woman to get a job on a soap. However, soon he gets so caught up in his role as Dorothy, he cannot get himself out. His character is so popular on the soap that she is renewed forcing Dorsey to endure it even longer. Then he finds himself befriending a shy actress on the soap (Lange) while he starts neglecting another actress friend (Garr). Along the way he has many awkward moments and romantic entanglements. The worst of these comes when he must reveal who he is (only his roommate and agent know). At first it causes pain but ultimately honesty is the way to go. This film was reminiscent of screwball comedies and it had some very hilarious moments. I have to say Hoffman pulled it off.

The Third Man

In this film starring Joseph Cotten, Valli, and Orson Welles, an American western writer (Cotten) travels to post-war Vienna to meet a friend. Upon arriving he learns that his buddy has been killed in an accident. Not quite satisfied, he does some of his own investigating and along the way meets his friend's beautiful lover (Valli). Together they try to cope and make sense of the loose ends. However, neither of them expected the shocking evidence which was to come. Who is the Third Man and where is he? Made in the film-noir fashion, The Third Man utilizes lighting and contrasting black and white cinematography effectively. Although simple, the score comprised solely of zither music is no less powerful. This movie will have you engrossed in the mysterious occurrences of Vienna. Furthermore, Orson Welles portrays a very intriguing character in Harry Lime.

King Kong
King Kong(1933)

Starring Fay Wray, this Pre-Code film starts with a movie director who wants to travel by ship to a wilderness in order to shoot his next picture. However, he needs a leading lady and that is where Ann Darrow (Wray) comes in. He finds her in New York and brings her along to use in his film. All too soon the filming plans go awry after natives take Ann as an offering for Kong. The filmmaker, first mate, and some crewmen go looking for her only to run into enormous trouble. Kong proves to be deadly but he is brought down and Ann is saved from her giant suitor. The movie man takes Kong to New York as a show attraction. The Beast cannot be contained and escapes going on to terrorize the inhabitants of the city. In the climatic scene atop the Empire State Building the story is finally resolved. The special effects are obviously not great compared to modern standards but that is part of the charm. With its pulse pounding score and many harrowing moments, King Kong certainly has its thrills.

The Maltese Falcon

This archetypal film-noir directed by John Huston, stars Humphrey Bogart as the detective Sam Spade. After an initial conversation with a mysterious woman, that same night two men end up dead. As Spade tries to understand what is going on, it puts him in contact with a paranoid little man and another man who is trailing him. All of them have something to do with a black bird and the situation gets more complicated when Spade meets the fat man. Rather surprisingly Spade ends up with the falcon but of course there has to be a twist. Soon enough the truth comes out of Brigid O'Shaughnessy and Spade coldly does his work. This film has great characters played by Mary Astor, Peter Lorre, Sidney Greenstreet, Ward Bond, and Elisha Cook Jr. The directing is good as well as the cinematography. This is the film that finally made Bogart a star and he would never look back.

The Best Years of Our Lives

Directed by William Wyler, the film chronicles the lives of three men as they return from World War II. They feel joy and then angst trying to integrate back into society with lives that are strangely different from when they left. They face various struggles like finding a job, holding a marriage together, to just trying to get used to a disability. Although they each have their own lives which we get to see first hand, they are still intertwined. Together these three men find it within themselves to make these the best years possible. Full of both highs and lows, this movie is extremely touching and leaves you with a smile. The cast is superb including Dana Andrews, Fredric March, Harold Russell (real life amputee), Myrna Loy, Teresa Wright, Virginia Mayo, and of course Hoagy Carmichael. This film is great because it does not try to glamorize and it stands the test of time in my mind.