Posts Tagged ‘national film registry’

12 Angry Men

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

12 Angry Men (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]

Tagline – Life is in their hands… Death is on their minds!

Starring – Henry Fonda (Juror 8), Lee J. Cobb (Juror 3), E. G. Marshall (Juror 4), Martin Balsam (Juror 1), Jack Warden (Juror 7), John Fielder (Juror 2), Jack Klugman (Juror 5),Edward Binns (Juror 6), Joseph Sweeney (Juror 9), Ed Begley (Juror 10),George Voskovek (Juror 11), Robert Webber (Juror 12).

Released – April, 1957

Directed By – Sidney Lumet

Produced By – Orion-Nova Productions

Distributed By – United Artists

Description – In a New York City courthouse, an eighteen-year-old boy has just been tried for the stabbing murder of his father. Closing arguments have been presented, and the judge has instructed the jury to decide, beyond any reasonable doubt, the boy’s guilt or innocence.

Should the verdict be guilty, a mandatory death sentence is required.

This is an impatient jury. One which seems to have already made up its mind that the defendant is guilty as charged. That is, except for one. Juror 8. It is his belief that most of the evidence is circumstantial, that the two key witnesses are unreliable, and he refuses to vote “guilty” without first discussing the charges and evidence in detail.

This discussion will not be orderly and calm, but rather argumentative and bigoted against “slum children.”

This is no open-and-shut case, and the actions of the jury will reveal more than just the accused’s guilt or innocence. Each juror’s prejudices and pre-conceived notions, about the accused and each other, will come to the surface. Each must be realized and dealt with before justice can be served.

After all, a young man’s life is at stake.

NOTABLE: In 2007, 12 Angry Men was selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

12 Angry Men was nominated for Academy Awards in the categories of Best Director (Sidney Lumet), Best Picture, and Best Writing of Adapted Screenplay.

Included among the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”, edited by Steven Schneider.

12 Angry Men provided the directorial debut of Sidney Lumet.

The ethnic background of the teen-aged suspect was deliberately left unstated. For the purposes of the film, the important facts were that he was NOT Caucasian and that prejudice (or lack of it) would be a major part of the deliberations process.

Out of the Past

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

Out Of The Past [Blu-ray]

Tagline – A MAN – Trying to run away from his past… A WOMAN – Trying to escape her future!

Starring – Robert Mitchum (Jeff Bailey), Jane Greer (Kathie Moffat), Kirk Douglas (Whit Sterling), Rhonda Fleming (Meta Carson), Steve Brodie (Jack Fisher).

Released – November, 1947

Directed By – Jacques Tourneur

Produced By – RKO Radio Pictures

Distributed By – RKO Radio Pictures

Description – When it comes to your past, you can run, but you can’t hide. Jeff Bailey, a man with a mysterious past, pumps gas at a station in the small town of Bridgeport, California. Jeff is dating local girl Ann Miller and, on the surface, life seems good.

However, not everyone is happy about the relationship. Ann’s parents are suspicious of Jeff as is Jim, the local law officer, who also is interested in Ann.

A man arrives in town looking for Jeff and informs him that gambler Whit Sterling wants to see him. This is where Jeff’s past begins to catch up with him.

A little about Jeff’s past.

While Jeff reluctantly agrees and drives with Ann to the meeting he tells her that he was once a private detective who, along with partner Jack Fisher, were hired by Whit to find Whitt’s girlfriend, Kathie Moffat, who shot Whit and left with $40,000 of his money.

He also tells Ann that his real name is Jeff Markham and that he had tracked Kathie to Acapulco where they started an affair. Together they left Acapulco for San Francisco to try and live a quiet life without Whit ever finding them. It didn’t last long.

They were recognized at the racetrack by Jeff’s old partner Fisher. Jeff and Kathie split up, with Jeff intending to throw Fisher off their trail. After believing that he has lost Fisher, Jeff heads for a cabin to reunite with Kathie. Soon after arriving, Fisher also shows up.

Fisher demands the money that Kathie stole from Whitt, and a fight with Jeff ensues. During the fight, Kathie shoots and kills Fisher. She then quickly drives off, leaving Jeff to cover up and run from the crime.

Back to the present.

Jeff and Ann now arrive at Whit’s estate and Jeff goes inside. To his surprise, Whit seems happy to see him and to his greater surprise, Kathie is there. She had gotten back together with Whit shortly after leaving Jeff at the scene of Fisher’s murder.

Whit says that he wants to make things right between himself and Jeff. He offers Jeff another job. Whit needs to recover some tax records that are being used to blackmail him and he says Jeff is the man for the job.

There’s a familiar ring of deceit in Whit’s plan. Another murder will soon follow and, for Jeff, the future doesn’t seem too promising.

NOTABLE: In 1991, Out of the Past, was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

Actor Humphrey Bogart wanted to play the part of Jeff in this film, but Warner Brothers was not interested in the script. RKO was and Robert Mitchum got the role. The lead had been offered to, and turned down, by both John Garfield and Dick Powell. A great break for Mitchum.

Personal Note: Another of my personal favorite film’s noir. This is classic and masterful noir right from the storyline, the cinematography, a lethal femme fatale, and great dialogue. A web of double-crosses and murder.

Miracle on 34th Street

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

Miracle on 34th Street

Tagline – Capture the spirit of Christmas with this timeless classic!

Starring – Maureen O’Hara (Doris Walker), John Payne (Fred Gailey), Edmund Gwenn (Kris Kringle), Gene Lockhart (Judge Henry X. Harper), Natalie Wood (Susan Walker), Porter Hall (Granville Sawyer).

Released – May, 1947

Directed By – George Seaton

Produced By – Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Distributed By – Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

NOTABLE: Miracle on 34th Street won Oscar’s for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Edmund Gwenn), Best Writing, Original Story, and Best Writing, Screenplay. The film was also nominated for Best Picture.

In 2005, Miracle on 34th Street was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

Although a film about Christmas, studio head Darryl F. Zanuck wanted it to be released in May believing that more people went to the movies during the spring and summer.

Actress Natalie Wood was eight years old while playing the role of Susan Walker and was convinced that Edmund Gwenn was the real Santa Claus.

This motion picture was the film debut, for what would be a long and wonderful film career, for actress Thelma Ritter.

In 2006, the American Film Institute ranked this picture #9 on their list of The Most Inspiring Movies of All Time. In 2008, the institute ranked the film #5 on their list of The Ten Greatest Films in the Fantasy Genre.

Kris Kringle’s untranslated dialogue with the young Dutch girl was his asking her what she wanted for Christmas and her reply that she wanted nothing as she had been given everything by being adopted by her new mother.

Newspaper columnist Hedda Hopper reported that, when the film opened, Macy’s would close half a day so that their employee’s could all see the first showing.

With film censorship being such a problem, this film was only given a “B” rating by the Legion of Decency because they thought Maureen O’Hara’s part as a divorced mother was somewhat objectionable.

httpv://youtu.be/-ce_op2qG24

It’s A Wonderful Life

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

It’s a Wonderful Life [Blu-ray]

Tagline – Wonderful! Wonderful! Wonderful!… How Could It Be Anything Else!

Starring – James Stewart (George Bailey), Donna Reed (Mary Hatch Bailey), Henry Travers (Clarence Oddbody), Lionel Barrymore (Mr. Henry F. Potter), Thomas Mitchell (Uncle Billy Bailey).

Released – January, 1947

Directed By – Frank Capra

Produced By – Liberty Films (II)

Distributed By – RKO Radio Pictures

Description – Businessman George Bailey is on the edge, literally. Deeply frustrated and troubled, George’s family and friends are worried enough about him to pray, and pray hard, on this Christmas Eve, 1945.

Their prayers are heard loud and clear in heaven and novice angel (yet to get his wings) Clarence Oddbody is sent to earth to prevent George from taking his own life. Prior to the trip, Clarence is shown George’s life.

And an eventful life it has been. At the tender age of 12, George saves his younger brother Harry from drowning in an icy pond. However, this act of heroism left George with a bad cold that resulted in the loss of hearing in his left ear.

While working a part-time job, after school in the local pharmacy, George notices that the druggist, Mr. Gower, who has recently lost his son, is mistakenly filling a child’s prescription with arsenic. He stops Mr. Gower from a mistake that would have resulted in tragedy and promises to never tell anyone about the incident.

That same evening, at younger brother Harry’s graduation party, George finds himself attracted to Mary Hatch, a girl who has had a secret crush on George since childhood. As the two talk about their idea’s for the future, George’s uncle brings him the news that his father has suffered a stroke which proves fatal.

While planning to leave for college, George learns that his father’s business, the Bailey Building and Loan Association, is in serious financial trouble and that the board of directors will shut it down unless George stays and takes over the management of the business.

In the background, majority shareholder Henry F. Potter is working hard to convince the board to stop making loans to the working poor. George is able to prevent this from happening and gives his college money to his brother Harry with the understanding that when Harry graduates he is to return and take over the business.

Again, George’s dreams for himself are crushed when Harry returns with a wife and an excellent job offer. Unable to deny his brother the opportunity, George continues running the business.

Finally, something positive happens in the life of George Bailey as he and Mary are wed. This new found happiness is short-lived as a run on the bank again puts the Building and Loan on the verge of collapse, World War II erupts, and a company bank deposit of $8,000 never gets to the bank, ending up in the hands of Henry F. Potter.

Always wanting George out of the picture, Potter, as majority shareholder, has an arrest warrant written against George for bank fraud claiming that George has stolen the money.

This has been the life of George Bailey. This collection of events has led him to consider suicide and his only hope is with angel Clarence Odbody whose strategy is to show George what life would have been like had he not been born.

NOTABLE: It’s A Wonderful Life received Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Director (Frank Capra), Best Actor in a Leading Role (James Stewart), Best Film Editing, and Best Sound,
Recording.

In 1990, It’s A Wonderful Life was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

Drained from his service to his country during World War II, James Stewart was hesitant to accept the role of George Bailey. Fortunately for everyone, Lionel Barrymore convinced Stewart to take the role.

Films made prior to this one would use painted corn flakes to give the appearance of snowfall. However, director Capra felt that they were too loud and did not want to add the dialogue after scenes were filmed. To solve the problem of recording the sound live a new method of creating snow was invented. The fire-fighting chemical of foamite, combined with soap and water was pumped at high pressure through a wind machine producing a silent, falling snow. This new method garnered an award for the RKO effects department from the Motion Picture Academy.

Actress Jean Arthur was director Frank Capra’s first choice to play Mary Hatch, but she was committed to a play on Broadway which opened the door for Donna Reed’s first starring role. Popular actress Ginger Rogers also turned down the role.

Actor Cary Grant was to play the role of George Bailey, but when Frank Capra inherited the project from another studio he rewrote the part for James Stewart who would later state that this was his favorite film role.

This was the first, and only time, that Frank Capra would produce, direct, finance, and co-write one of his films.

It’s A Wonderful Life was voted the #1 Inspirational Film of All Time by the American Film Institute as well as the 20th Greatest Movie of All Time.

In the film, actress Beulah Bondi plays the role of Jimmy Stewart’s mother. It was one of five times that she would play the mother of Stewart in his films.

Personal Note: While high production costs and stiff competition at the box office, primarily from the opening of The Best Years of Our Lives, the popularity of this motion picture has done nothing but grow with the passing to time. It’s A Wonderful Life now stands as one of the most loved Christmas films of all-time.

httpv://youtu.be/LJfZaT8ncYk

 

The Awful Truth

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

The Awful Truth

Tagline – It’s a Glorious Comedy… Uproarious Romance!

Starring – Irene Dunne (Lucy Warriner), Cary Grant (Jerry Warriner), Ralph Bellamy (Daniel Leeson), Alexander D’Arcy (Armand Duvalle).

Released – October, 1937

Directed By – Leo McCarey

Produced By – Colombia Pictures Corporation

Distributed By – Colombia Pictures

NOTABLE: The Awful Truth won the Academy Award for Best Director (Leo McCarey), and was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Actress in a Leading Role (Irene Dunne), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Ralph Bellamy), Best Film Editing, and Best Writing, Screenplay.

In 1996, The Awful Truth was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

This motion picture provided Cary Grant with the opportunity to display his light comedy persona which proved to be the basis for nearly all of his subsequent films. Writer/Director Peter Bogdanovich stated that when it comes to light comedy, “there was Cary Grant and everyone else was an also-ran”.

A great deal of the film was improvised by Director Leo McCarey. So much so that, at one point, Cary Grant tried to get out of the film. However, the picture was loved by the public and got Grant’s career off and running.

In 2006, Premiere magazine voted this motion picture one of “The 50 Greatest Comedies of All Time.”

The fox terrier in the film playing Mr. Smith is actually named Skippy, with the previous credit of having played Asta in the Thin Man movies.

The Awful Truth was the first of three screen pairings of Cary Grant and Irene Dunne.

httpv://youtu.be/B0-euBr_vRU