Saturday, September 19, 2015

Jerry Lewis presents... The Nutty Professor (1963)

If you're a regular reader of my blog, you've probably noticed that a lot of my movie discoveries have come from my mom and my sister -- my mom will recommend something or mention someone I should check out, and then I wind up watching it with my sister (which can be good or bad). The same goes for my love of Jerry Lewis. Besides always mixing him up with Jerry Lee Lewis, I never had an encounter with the guy or his work, especially since my main source of films is TCM and they don't show Lewis's movies nearly enough, maybe once every few years. Then came the magical day when my mom recorded a documentary, Method to the Madness of Jerry Lewis, a wonderful piece that I would recommend to everyone. My sister and I were transfixed, laughing hysterically at every film clip we saw. The channel that was airing the documentary also held a marathon of a minor portion of Lewis's films, including the one that many consider his best: The Nutty Professor. It's not often that my sister and I discover a classic film together; usually we make individual discoveries and then share them with the other. But Jerry Lewis has become sacred ground for us, much like Singin' in the Rain and White Christmas, our two favorites being Cinderfella and the one I'm going to blabber on about today, The Nutty Professor. I know that not everyone is aboard the Lewis train -- I totally get it. He can be loud, obnoxious, and unnecessarily silly, normally qualities I would hate. But like Chaplin (gasp!), there's a big heart behind Lewis's filmmaking, something I hope to explain in this post alongside all the hilarity he induces.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Van Johnson gives Esther Williams the... Thrill of a Romance (1945)

When Esther Williams died in 2013, I was only blithely aware of her so when TCM aired a tribute to the million dollar mermaid a few days after her death, I snatched up the opportunity to see just what Ms. Williams was all about. Thrill of a Romance was my first introduction to the wondrous world of Williams, where Technicolor astounds, musical numbers pop up like little surprises, and Esther mesmerizes with the seemingly simple feat of swimming. I fell in love with it all, and the presence of Van Johnson certainly contributed to my feelings, him being a great partner for Williams. Shall we take a dip?

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Bacall and Peck's worlds clash in... Designing Woman (1957)

When you're a classic film fan, finding out about certain movies is like finding a hunk of gold -- you're exhilarated and giddy, and you can't wait to tell everyone you know about it, regardless of whether they care or not. When I discovered that Lauren Bacall and Gregory Peck made a romantic comedy together, I was all sorts of excited. And then you add the fact that Vincente Minnelli directed it -- perfection. Designing Woman is like the best Tracy/Hepburn movie that Tracy and Hepburn never made, and it seriously gets better with every viewing. Before I dive into the film, I want to talk about the interesting framing device it employs. The majority of the movie is a flashback, with the beginning and the end featuring five different characters breaking the fourth wall as they talk directly to the camera. Throughout Designing Woman, each of these five people have alternating narration, which is surprisingly refreshing and well-done. It includes the audience in the story, as it feels like each of the characters are talking to you and you're all just hanging out, listening to a funny anecdote. It creates a warm atmosphere and makes the experience of watching it that much more fun.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Blasphemy!

As a classic film fan, I'm more inclined to watch the oldest Judy Garland over the newest Channing Tatum. If you're reading this blog, maybe you're the same way. There are millions of reasons why I would rather spend my time viewing a gorgeously lit black-and-white film instead of a...well, whatever headache the Transformers series is. However, I'm not immune to our modern movies. I'll admit to being a huge Will Ferrell fan, and I'll certainly catch whatever new thing Disney/Pixar is doing. Being a fan of the oldies, it's sometimes dismissed that you'd like anything else. It's true that Knocked Up isn't my favorite movie (yes, I heard a girl say that once and yes, I cringed), but there are quite a few that rank alongside Dangerous When Wet and The Third Man in my book. I'll limit myself to only eleven here, and I'm excluding Disney/Pixar releases because that could take over all eleven slots.

Disclaimer: The following list is based purely on my opinion -- it's not by any means supposed to suggest that the movies I'm mentioning are giving Citizen Kane or Vertigo a run for their money in the pantheon of Great Movies. This is not meant to induce fisticuffs, I swear. Also, I consider anything after 1970 modern. Strictly my opinion.