List: Movies of the UK

Continuing our summer vacation in the movies, we’ll go to a different European country each Thursday in August. Starting with movies related to the United Kingdom, this list is not my picks for the best movies that happen to be set in the UK but the best portrayals of the country or part of the country that I’ve seen in the movies.

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10. Mrs. Miniver (1942)

William Wyler’s first WWII film takes us to the home front in a rural village on the outskirts of London. The beauty of the countryside and the strikingly different values of the British home front compared the American home front (at least in the movies) are very special. The movie makes Kay Miniver a real war hero, more intimately involved in the efforts of her husband and son that what we see from the American perspective where soldiers’ wives were most concerned with the affairs at home, doing the work to make up for the absent family member.

 

9. The Ruling Class (1972)

The funniest movie about British parliament ever made, Peter O’Toole’s character becomes an English lord after the death of his father by hanging as the result of a cross-dressing accident. If that’s not weird enough, Peter O’Toole’s character thinks he’s Jesus, and the rest of the political system has to adapt his insane ramblings and quirky ideas that don’t allow anybody to get anything done. The movie harshly criticizes the self-aggrandizement and self-absorption seen in the British politics of the time. But it’s a great movie for Americans right now as this movie’s hilarious portrayal of a chaotic, cult-like political system is something we’ve become very familiar with over the last 6 months.

 

8. The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933)

Now, the funniest movie about British royalty ever made. Charles Laughton plays Henry VIII with all his murderous, sexually immoral, and misogynist ways and an affinity for devouring capons in the funniest scene of the movie. The idea of telling the true, dark, and deeply disturbing story of Henry VIII and the executions of his wives accurately with a crazy comedic twist was unheard of in 1933, making this a landmark, terribly under-seen and underrated masterpiece.

 

7. The Quiet Man (1952)

John Ford’s romantic comedy finds John Wayne in Ireland, and this movie has to be on this for its sheer beauty. Every scene shows a grand picture of rural Ireland that is unforgettable.

 

6. The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)

The greatest of all swashbuckling epics shows an England of a time gone by that continues to live on in legend and imagination. Errol Flynn’s physically demanding performance of Robin Hood takes us to this legendary England of our imaginations.

 

5. Wuthering Heights (1939)

The beautiful home that shares its name with the title of Bronte’s novel is brought to life in William Wyler’s film. The architecture and the courtyard surrounding the house gives some of the best production design in film history to recreate this Victorian set.

 

4. The Queen (2006)

After a couple political comedies earlier on the last, the best British political movie I’ve ever seen is The Queen. Interestingly, the movie doesn’t focus much on politics or what it means to be the queen. It’s about the nation-wide grief that country experienced at the loss of Princess Diana all through the eyes of Diana’s most prominent detractor.

 

3. Mary Poppins (1964)

The magical nanny is our tour guide to a fanciful version of London in the early 1900s. The realistic sets show us a lot what it must’ve looked like until we get to get jump in Burt’s paintings with Burt, Mary and the kids.

 

2. The Full Monty (1997)

Sheffield…a city on the move. So the movie begins, but that beginning is a news reel from quite a while before our story begins. The Sheffield of The Full Monty is not a city on the move but a city of hurt and desperation. Yet the hope that these characters experience as they join together gives a feel for the spirit of Sheffield.

1. Sense and Sensibility (1995)

Ang Lee directs and Emma Thompson stars, but she doesn’t star as much as an actress as she does as a writer. Her adaptation of Jane Austen’s lesser work takes a novel that’s almost incomprehensible in parts and has a terrible ending contrary to the earlier development of the characters and transforms it into one of the most enchanting films ever made. The movie takes us to the location, but much more it transports us to the society of 1700s rural England, to the norms that are unjust but the people who overcome those injustices. Inspiring, funny, romantic, and absolutely joyous in every second we spend in Victorian-era London, Sense and Sensibility is the best movie journey to the UK I’ve ever seen.

Best Film Scores #60-41

Michael CaulfieldMichael Giacchino: #99, Up; #62 Inside Out, & #45 Ratatouille

Thursdays in June I’m giving my picks for the greatest movies scores of all time. Two weeks ago, I listed #100-81 and last week #80-61. Now, here is the list for #60-41. Listen to all scores from #100-41 here.

 

60. John Debney, Elf (2003)

59. David Amram, The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

58. Franz Waxman, My Cousin Rachel (1952)

57. David Raskin, Laura (1944)

56. Charles Chaplin, Limelight (1952)

55. Elmer Bernstein, To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

54.  Clint Eastwood, Unforgiven (1992)

53. Alfonso Vilallonga, Blancanieves (2012)

52. Luis Bacalov, Il Postino (1994)

51. Ennio Morricone, Cinema Paradiso (1988)

50. Quincy Jones, The Color Purple (1985)

49. John Powell & Henry Gregson-Williams, Chicken Run (2000)

48. Victor Young, Around the World in 80 Days (1956)

47. Nino Rota, Amarcord (1974)

46. Alex North, A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

45. Michael Giacchino, Ratatouille (2007)

44. Erich Wolgang Korngold, The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)

43. Bill Conti, The Right Stuff (1983)

42. Burt Bacharach, Casino Royale (1967)

41. Maurice Jarre, A Walk in the Clouds (1995)

 

Cannes Film Festival 1965-1982

Here’s week two of my spotlight on the Cannes Film Festivals. I’m ranking all the films I’ve seen that screened in competition each year of the festival and give grades to each. This week, it’s those that the festival showed between 1965 and 1982.

1965

1. The Knack…And How to Get It (UK) C+ Palm d’Or Winner

 

1966

1. Doctor Zhivago (USA) C+

Palm d’Or: TIE between The Birds, the Bees, and the Italians (Italy) and A Man and a Woman (France)

 

1967

1. Blow-Up (UK) B- Palm d’Or Winner

 

1969 (No festival in 1968)

 

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2. My Night at Maud’s (France) A

1. Easy Rider (UK) A+

Palm d’Or: If… (UK)

 

1970

1. M*A*S*H (USA) C+ Palm d’Or Winner

 

1971

1. Death in Venice (Italy) D

Palm d’Or: The Go-Between (UK)

 

1972

 

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2. Jeremiah Johnson (USA) A-

1. The Ruling Class (UK) A+

Palm d’Or: TIE between The Martei Affair (Italy) and The Working Class Go to Heaven (Italy)

 

1973

1. Godspell (USA) C-

Palm d’Or: TIE between The Hireling (UK) and Scarecrow (USA)

 

1974

 

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2. The Sugarland Express (USA) C-

1. The Conversation (USA) A Palm d’Or Winner

 

1975

Palm d’Or: Chronicle of the Years of Fire (Algeria)

 

1976

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2. Bugsy Malone (USA) B+

1. Taxi Driver (USA) A- Palm d’Or Winner

 

1977

2. Car Wash (USA) C

1. Bound for Glory (USA) B-

Palm d’Or: Padre Padrone (Italy)

 

1978

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1. Coming Home (USA) A+

Palm d’Or: The Tree of Wooden Clogs (Italy)

 

1979

 

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4. Norma Rae (USA) C

3. Days of Heaven (USA) C+

2. The China Syndrome (USA) A-

1. Apocalypse Now (USA) A+

Palm d’Or: TIE between Apocalypse Now (USA) and The Tin Drum (West Germany)

 

1980

1. Breaker Morant (Australia) B+

Palm d’Or: TIE between All that Jazz (USA) and Kagemusha (Japan)

 

1981

1. Chariots of Fire (UK) F

Palm d’Or: Man of Iron (Poland)

 

1982

1. Missing (Greece) D+

Palm d’Or: TIE between Missing (Greece) and The Way (Turkey)

First 50 Masterpieces

Yesterday, I published my fiftieth review of a classic movie. Here is a list of links to all of the first 50. They’re listed in order of premier date.

Intolerance: Love’s Struggle throughout the Ages (1916)

The Gold Rush (1925)

Frankenstein (1931)

A Tale of Two Cities (1935)

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Rebecca (1940)

Citizen Kane (1941)

Saboteur (1942)

Casablanca (1942)

The Ox-Bow Incident (1943)

Gaslight (1944)

Rome, Open City (1945)

The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

Monsieur Vincent (1947)

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

The Snake Pit (1948)

Rashomon (1950)

Sunset Blvd. (1950)

All about Eve (1950)

A Place in the Sun (1951)

Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

Stalag 17 (1953)

River of No Return (1954)

On the Waterfront (1954)

A Star Is Born (1954)

Rebel without a Cause (1955)

Guys and Dolls (1955)

The Killing (1956)

The Bad Seed (1956)

Ben-Hur (1959)

Psycho (1960)

A View from the Bridge (1962)

David and Lisa (1962)

The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964)

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

The Godfather (1972)

The Godfather Part II (1974)

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)

On Golden Pond (1981)

E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

The Right Stuff (1983)

The Color Purple (1985)

Beauty and the Beast (1991)

Forrest Gump (1994)

Home for the Holidays (1995)

Fargo (1996)

Joyeux Noel (2005)

The Yacoubian Building (2006)

Cannes Film Festival 1939-1964

With the Cannes Film Festival later this month, my lists throughout May will all be dedicated to this prestigious event. The early years of the festival were not consistent. They began in 1939 and didn’t hold their second until 1946. Not until 1951 did it become an annual event. My lists will rank the movies I’ve seen for each that were screened in competition for each year along with a grade for each and an acknowledgement for the top prize winner (known as the Grand Prix du Festival International du Film from 1939-1954 and the  Palm d’Or since) if I haven’t seen it. I’ll begin with the first 18 festivals

1939

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2. Goodbye Mr. Chips (UK) C

1. The Wizard of Oz (USA) A+

Grand Prix: Union Pacific (USA)

 

1946

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8. Anna and the King of Siam (UK) B+

7. Rhapsody in Blue (USA) B+

6. Beauty and the Beast (France) A

5. Gaslight (USA) A+

4. The Lost Weekend (USA) A+

3. Gilda (USA) A+

2. Rome, Open City (Italy) A+

1. Notorious (USA) A+

Grand Prix: 11 films were awarded including The Lost Weekend and Rome, Open City, among 45 nominees

 

1947

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2. Boomerang (USA) B

1. Dumbo (USA) A+

No Gran Prix chosen in 1947

 

1949

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1. The Third Man (UK) A+ Grand Prix Winner

 

1951

"All About Eve" Thelma Ritter, Anne Baxter 1950 20th Century Fox ** I.V.

2. A Place in the Sun (USA) A+

1. All about Eve (USA) A+

Grand Prix: TIE, Miracle in Milan (Italy) & Miss Jule (Sweden)

 

1953

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3. Indiscretion of an American Wife (Italy) C

2. Peter Pan (USA) B-

1. Lili (USA) A+

Grand Prix: The Wages of Fear (France)

 

1954

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2. From Here to Eternity (USA) D

1. Gate of Hell (Japan) B+ Grand Prix Winner

 

1955

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5. Bad Day at Black Rock (USA) C-

4. The Country Girl (USA) C+

3. Marty (USA) A- Palm d’Or Winner

2. East of Eden (USA) A+

1. Carmen Jones (USA) A+

 

1956

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3. The Harder They Fall (USA) C

2. The Man Who Knew Too Much (USA) C+

1. I’ll Cry Tomorrow (USA) A-

Palm d’Or: The Silent World (France)

 

1957

1. Funny Face (USA) D+

Palm d’or: Friendly Persuasion (USA)

 

1958

Palm d’or: The Cranes Are Flying (USSR)

 

1959

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2. Black Orpheus (France) B- Palm d’Or Winner

1. The 400 Blows (France) A

 

1960

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2. La dolce vita (Italy) Palm d’Or Winner

1. Never on Sunday (Greece) A-

 

1961

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1. A Raisin in the Sun (USA) A+

Palm d’Or: TIE, The Long Absence (France) & Viridiana (Mexico)

 

1962

Palm d’Or: The Given Promise (Brazil)

 

1963

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1. To Kill a Mockingbird (USA)

Palm d’Or: The Leopard (Italy)

 

1964

 

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2. The World of Henry Orient (USA) A

1. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (France) A+ Palm d’Or Winner

Star Wars (1977)

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Whenever I watch Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, of course I love every second of it and am just as thrilled as the first time I saw it. But there’s a sense of wonder and even sadness beneath that, regretting that I was born too late to know what it was like to experience it in 1977. I grew up knowing all the Star Wars lingo, the characters, and the music before I even saw any of the movies. I have no idea what it’s like to watch the first movie as it was before it became known as A New Hope.

What was it like to see the words scrolling down the screen for the first time and hear the most spectacular music written since the 1800s? I think about what I might have thought watching those scrolling words. What in the world is a death star? Who is this Empire, and what’s kind of rebellion has formed against it? To go into the movie not knowing the answers to these questions must have been like Dorothy telling Toto “we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

What would it have been like to see the opening dialogue between droids, one speaking in a language we can’t understand, having to rely on the other to interpret? Sure the world had seen Robbie the Robot in Forbidden Planet and other robotic characters, but never without any human activity alongside them. And then we have an abrupt transition from this charming and utterly unique relationship between R2-D2 and C3PO into a dark, violent, and terrifying scene where we meet Darth Vader for the first time. How shocking must that have been for people who didn’t know about Darth Vader?

And what would it have been like to see the first unmasked human character revealed in the film? An otherwise attractive young woman with hair that looks like a cross between a 7-year-old girl and a goat! And then not too long a while later, we’re expected to believe she’s a princess? Would I have been so quick to accept that if I didn’t already know about Princee Leia?

What would it have been like to see a light saber in action for the first time? Would I have wondered how a glowing stick can sever a man’s legs, or would I have just accepted it as I did since I already knew about the Force?

I’m not going to attempt any traditional type of review for Star Wars: A New Hope because we all already know it’s a masterpiece. But it’s become such a part of the fabric of the culture, at least in the U.S., that a new movie in the franchise is welcomed and loved without the sense of awe and wonder that George Lucas must have intended. Each movie in the original trilogy (alongside 2015’s The Force Awakens) are all wonderful, and I will probably write about them at some point on this blog. But as far as the original movie, I just want to ponder how original, how audacious, and how awesome (in the truest sense of the word) the first Star Wars film must have been before anybody knew the significance behind the veiled conversations about Luke’s father or that it would be impossible for Luke’s romantic feelings toward Leia to be returned. George Lucas took the world into a completely different world in 1977, and (I apologize if what I am about to say seems melodramatic or hyperbolic, but I do believe it) made the real world a better place because of it.

And the Oscar Should Have Gone to: Best Cinematography

Continuing with lists related to the Oscars, this week I picked an Oscar category at random to list all the movies that one and what I think should have one. The first category for this type of list is Best Cinematography. For the Oscar winner, I’ll give a grade based only on the film’s cinematography, not the overall merit of the movie, and then place my choice for what should have won that year. For several years, the Oscars separated cinematography into black & white and color categories; I will only include one for those years. My rule for eligibility is based on the year of each film’s American theatrical release, and this is not always consistent with the Oscars.

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1927/28 Sunrise (A+); my pick: Wings

1929 White Shadows in the South Sea (Unseen); my pick: The Passion of Joan of Arc

1930 With Byrd at the South Pole (Unseen); my pick: All Quiet on the Western Front

1931 Tabu: A Story of the South Seas (A+); my pick: Little Caesar

1932  Shanghai Express (Unseen); my pick: I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang

1933 A Farewell to Arms (Unseen); my pick: M

1934 Cleopatra (A+); I agree

1935 A Midsummer Night’s Dream (A+); I agree

1936 B&W Anthony Adverse (Unseen); COLOR The Garden of Allah (Unseen); my pick: Modern Times

1937 B&W The Good Earth (B+); COLOR A Star Is Born (B); my pick: Captains Courageous

1938 B&W The Great Waltz (Unseen); COLOR Sweethearts (Unseen); my pick: The Adventures of Robin Hood

1939 B&W Wuthering Heights (A+); COLOR Gone with the Wind (A+); my pick: Gone with the Wind

1940 B&W Rebecca (A+); COLOR The Thief of Bagdad (Unseen); my pick: Rebecca

1941 B&W How Green Was My Valley (A+); COLOR Blood and Sand (Unseen); my pick: Citizen Kane

1942 B&W Mrs. Miniver (A+); COLOR The Black Swan (A-); my pick: Casablanca

1943 B&W The Song of Burnadette (A-); COLOR Phantom of the Opera (Unseen); my pick: The Ox-Bow Incident

1944 B&W Laura (A+); COLOR Wilson (Unseen); my pick: Gaslight

1945 B&W The Picture of Dorian Gray (Unseen); COLOR Leave Her to Heaven; my pick: The Lost Weekend

1946 B&W Anna and the King of Siam (A); COLOR The Yearling (B-); my pick: Notorious

1947 B&W Great Expectations (Unseen); COLOR Black Narcissus (A+); my pick: Black Narcissus

1948 B&W The Naked City (A-); COLOR Joan of Arc (Unseen); my pick: Red River

1949 B&W Battleground (Unseen); COLOR She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (A+); my pick: She Wore a Yellow Ribbon

1950 B&W The Third Man (A+); COLOR King Solomon’s Mines; my pick: The Third Man

1951 B&W A Place in the Sun; COLOR An American in Paris; my pick: Strangers on a Train

1952 B&W The Bad and the Beautiful (Unseen); COLOR The Quiet Man (A+); my pick: The Quiet Man

1953 B&W From Here to Eternity (B-); COLOR Shane (A+); my pick: Shane

1954 B&W On the Waterfront (A+); COLOR Three Coins in the Fountain (Unseen); my pick: On the Waterfront

1955 B&W The Rose Tattoo (B-); COLOR To Catch a Thief (B+); my pick: Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing

1956 B&W Somebody up There Likes Me (A); COLOR Around the World in 80 Days (A+); my pick: The Searchers

1957 The Bridge on the River Kwai (A-); my pick: The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral

1958 B&W The Defiant Ones (A-); COLOR Gigi (B+); my pick: Vertigo

1959 B&W Ben-Hur (A+); COLOR The Diary of Anne Frank (Unseen); my pick: Ben-Hur

1960 B&W Sons and Lovers (Unseen); COLOR Spartacus (A+); my pick: Psycho

1961 B&W The Hustler (B); COLOR West Side Story (D); my pick: Pit and the Pendulum

1962 B&W The Longest Day (Unseen); COLOR Lawrence of Arabia (A+); my pick: Lawrence of Arabia

1963 B&W Hud (B-); COLOR Cleopatra (Unseen); my pick: How the West Was Won

1964 B&W Zorba the Greek (A-); COLOR My Fair Lady (B); my pick: Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

1965 B&W Ship of Fools (A); COLOR Doctor Zhivago (A+); my pick: Doctor Zhivago

1966 B&W Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (A+); COLOR A Man for All Seasons (C); my pick: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

1967 Bonnie and Clyde (A+); my pick: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

1968 Romeo and Juliet (A); my pick: 2001: A Space Odyssey

1969 Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (A); my pick: Easy Rider

1970 Ryan’s Daughter (Unseen); my pick: Patton

1971 Fiddler on the Roof (A+); I agree

1972 Cabaret (A+); I agree

1973 Cries and Whispers (Unseen); my pick: Badlands

1974 The Towering Inferno (Unseen); my pick: The Conversation

1975 Barry Lyndon (A+); I agree

1976 Bound for Glory (Unseen); my pick: Taxi Driver

1977 Close Encounters of the Third Kind (A+); I agree

1978 Days of Heaven (A+); I agree

1979 Apocalypse Now (A+); my pick: The Black Stallion

1980 Tess (Unseen); my pick: Raging Bull

1981 Reds (A); my pick: On Golden Pond

1982 Gandhi (A); my pick: E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial

1983 Fanny and Alexander (Unseen); my pick: The Right Stuff

1984 The Killing Fields (Unseen); my pick: Amadeus

1985 Out of Africa (A+); my pick: Ran

1986 The Mission (Unseen); my pick: Platoon

1987 The Last Emperor (A+); my pick: Lethal Weapon

1988 Mississippi Burning (A); my pick: Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

1989 Glory (A); my pick: The Adventures of Milo and Otis

1990 Dances with Wolves (A); my pick: Goodfellas

1991 JFK (C-); my pick: Backdraft

1992 A River Runs through It (B); my pick: Unforgiven

1993 Schindler’s List (A+); I agree

1994 Legends of the Fall (Unseen); my pick: Ed Wood

1995 Braveheart (B); my pick: Babe

1996 The English Patient (A-); my pick: Fargo

1997 Titanic (C+); my pick: The Sweet Hereafter

1998 Saving Private Ryan (A); my pick: A Simple Plan

1999 American Beauty (A); my pick: Snow Falling on Cedars

2000 Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (A+); I agree

2001 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (A+); my pick: Moulin Rouge

2002 Road to Perdition (Unseen); my pick: Far from Heaven

2003 Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (Unseen); my pick: Mystic River

2004 The Aviator (A); my pick: Hero

2005 Memoirs of a Geisha (A); my pick: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

2006 Pan’s Labyrinth (Unseen); my pick: The Illusionist

2007 There Will Be Blood (A+); I agree

2008 Slumdog Millionaire (A); my pick: Man on Wire

2009 Avatar (A); my pick: Nine

2010 Inception (C); my pick: True Grit

2011 Hugo (A+); my pick: The Tree of Life

2012 Life of Pi (C-); my pick: Zero Dark Thirty

2013 Gravity (A+); I agree

2014 Birdman: Or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance (A); my pick: Ida

2015 The Revenant (A); my pick: Room