Posts Tagged ‘Best 100 films’

Movie Lists

The following film list is my personal choice. There are quite a few others which I could have included but then I had to stick to the number. b.

La Grande Illusion-1937
The Seventh Seal-1956
The Best Years Of Our Lives-1946
Five Easy Pieces-1970
Midnight Cowboy-1969
La Strada-1954
The Passion of Joan of Arc-1928
Goodbye Mr.Chips-1939
Double Indemnity-1944

The Servant-1963
The African Queen-1951
The Bicycle Thief-1947
A Streetcar Named Desire-1951
The Grapes Of Wrath-1940
Wild Strawberries-1957
Singin’ In The Rain-1952

The Third Man-1949
The Treasure Of Sierra Madre-1948
All About Eve-1950
Lawrence Of Arabia-1962
On The Waterfront-1954
Sunset Boulevard-1950
À Nous La Liberté-1931
Two Films By Jean Vigo: 1933-34
Zéro de Conduite
The  Graduate-1967

Some Like It Hot-1959
Bonnie And Clyde-1967
The Philadelphia Story-1940
Mutiny On The Bounty-1935
It’s A Wonderful Life-1946
Battleship Of Potemkin-1925
Seven Samurai-1954
The Informer-1935
La Dolce Vita-1960

The Wizard Of Oz-1939
The Bridge On The River Kwai-1957
Pather Panchali-1955
Les Enfants du Paradis-1945
Citizen Kane-1941
Touch of Evil-1958
How Green Was My Valley-1941

Gone With The Wind-1939
Knife In The Water-1962
The Maltese Falcon-1941
La Symphonie Pastorale-1946
City Lights-1931
Wages Of Fear-1952
My Fair Lady-1964
Great Expectations-1946

Room At The Top-1959
Closely Watched Trains-1966
The Shop On The Main Street-1965
Intimate Lighting, 1965
Los Olvidados-1950
Drifting Clouds- 1996
The Bank Dick-1940
Anne Hall-1977
Jules et Jim-1962

Crime of Monsieur Lange-1936
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest-1975
Kind Hearts And Coronets-1949
Late Spring-1949
Forbidden Games-1952
La Bête Humaine-1938
Poetic Realism
-Le Jour Se Lève-1939
-Le Quai des Brumes-1938
The General-1927

Aguirre, The Wrath of God-1972
Ballad of a Soldier-1959
Raging Bull-1980
L’Age d’Or-1930
Les Diaboliques-1954
Cries And Whispers-1972
The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant-1972
Joyless Street-1925
Pandora’s Box-1929

The Blue Angel -1930
2001: A Space Odyssey- 1968
8½ – 1963
La Règle Du Jeu- 1939
Sunrise- 1927
Il Conformista-1970
The Apartment-1960
Tokyo Story-1953
The Burmese Harp-1956

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Ballad of a Soldier is a feel-good film, which dwells at length into the nobility of Mother Russia: she had so many children she could spare for the Great Patriotic War. Of course there were gulags too. The film is however concerned for soldiers barely out of their teens. Our hero is Alyosha Skvortsov (Vladimir Ivashov) is one such. His is the story of sacrifice. Ballad of a Soldier is all about giving an identifiable face and context to one who ends up as an unknown soldier.
Filmed in 1958 and released the following year, is a product of the post-Stalin Soviet era. It stands as dynamic proof that an apolitical film could be made despite of an oppressive regime had its grip thoroughly on the minds and bodies of the people.
The story of the film is an odyssey. An elderly, melancholy woman walks along a bleak landscape and stops. She is the mother of a Russian hero whose remains are buried in a distant land, identified only as an unknown Russian soldier. It has been two years since she has seen him  and she knows everything about him till he was sent to the front. The flashback follows.

Our hero is Alyosha Skvortsov (Vladimir Ivashov), assigned an humdrum job of a field observer, manning a radio device from a solitary foxhole. But with such intrepid advance of the Germans he is frantically reporting to his unit two tanks bearing directly down upon him. He holds his position until it becomes clear that the lead tank intends to run over his position. So what does he do? He turns and fires on the lead tank with his rifle. One good turn deserves another. Is it not? So he knocks out both tanks and becomes a hero!

His unit commander would like to recommend him for military decoration. But Alyosha wishes to return home to see his mother and help her fix a leaky roof. The commanding officer allows him six days leave – two days travel each way and two days to complete the repair.
Such a journey is a journey in hope as with the soviet style of hope, to co-mingle with those of several others of various ethnic hues and scars of service for the motherland. Then of course he Alyosha has to bribe a soldier in order to hitch a ride on a freight train. He meets another stowaway- a beautiful dark-haired young woman.

She is Shura (Zhanna Prokhorenko), who claims to be traveling to meet her boyfriend. Soon enough they recognize they are cut of the same cloth in hope and goodness. Despite several disruptions they catch up with one another and they know they are made for each other.
But duty demands their ultimate sacrifice. He has barely reached home hugged his mother before he is back to the front again.
The story is well-paced, rolling along inexorably like the rhythm of the wheels of the trains.

Directed by     Grigori Chukhrai
Produced by     M. Chernova
Written by     Valentin Yezhov
Grigori Chukhrai
Starring     Vladimir Ivashov
Zhanna Prokhorenko
Music by     Mikhail Ziv
Cinematography     Vladimir Nikolayev
Era Savelyeva
Editing by     Mariya Timofeyeva
Running time     88 min.

Language     Russian

check out cinebuff.wordpress.com for more on Russian films.


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Directed by Erich von Stroheim and starring Gibson Gowland, Zasu Pitts, Jean Hersholt, Dale Fuller, Tempe Pigott, Sylvia Ashton, Chester Conklin, Joan Standing and Jack Curtis, ‘Greed’ is one of the greatest films ever made. It is a silent film and a morality play: it holds a mirror to our own psyche and though we may never play the part the shapes come to play therein, we may as well accept the truth it reveals.Truth of this film is greed and it is exclusively a human peculiarity that must make even man avowing highest ideals cringe. ‘Out, out with this damn spot,’ we may as well say and yet we shall pursue it with more resolve under some guise or other. Those who want to bring democracy into Iraq shall know that the underbelly of such risky venture only carries the ilks of Halliburton, Bechtel, KBR and what not and yet supposedly the idea ( of democracy)seems more a license than a right to fool the world.

At the opening of the film the title card reads a quote from the author of the book McTeague on which it is based: ‘I never truckled; I never took off the hat to Fashion and held it out for pennies. By God, I told them the truth. They liked it or they didn’t like it. What had that to do with me? I told them the truth; I knew it for the truth then, and I know it for the truth now.
Frank Norris’ powerful novel McTeague first came out in 1902 and was first filmed in 1915. It is the 1924 version is that we are presently concerned with. From early on Erich von Stroheim was attracted to the book and after scoring an enormous financial hit with Foolish Wives, in 1923, he began work on what he hoped would his masterpiece.


Stripped to its bare essentials, McTeague tells the story of a brute but basically good-natured miner named McTeague (played by Gibson Gowland), his wife Trina (ZaSu Pitts) and Marcus(Jean Hersholt), his best friend who later turns out to be his nemesis.
The eponymous character finds his true calling in life by taking over the practice of a traveling dentist. Setting up shop in San Francisco, McTeague falls in love with the daughter of German immigrants. It happens that Trina is the girlfriend of  Marcus who is mildly resentful, but ultimately forgiving, when McTeague and Trina are married. Always seeking out an opportunity to better herself, Trina buys a lottery ticket. When the ticket pays off and she wins a fortune, the previously even-tempered Trina undergoes a complete personality change, metamorphosing into a grasping, greedy, miserly shrew, hoarding huge sums of money while her husband must get by on his meager earnings as a dentist. Trina’s sudden windfall sparks a change in both McTeague and Marcus, as well; driven to distraction by his wife’s avarice, McTeague turns into a violent beast, while Marcus boils with jealousy over losing the now-prosperous Trina to McTeague. Pushed too far, McTeague ultimately murders Trina and escapes to the desert with her money. Appointed a sheriff’s deputy, the envious Marcus heads out to bring McTeague in, and the two men catch up with one another in the middle of Death Valley. Their water supply gone, their packhorse dead, McTeague and Marcus begin a fight to the death. McTeague manages to shoot and kill Marcus — only to discover that Marcus has manacled himself to McTeague. Utterly defeated, he sits benumbed on the scorching rocks, awaiting madness and a horrible death.
Marcus: There’s no water… within a hundred miles o’ here!
[the two men hopelessly stand by the dead mule in the middle of the desert]
Marcus: We… are… dead… men!

Filming at actual locations (the murder scene was shot at a locale where a real murder had occurred, while the sweltering Death Valley sequence was, likewise, made there), Von Stroheim remained doggedly faithful to the Norris original, shooting every page word for word. The end result ran 40 reels, or roughly 10 hours of screen time. Production head Irving Thalberg argued logically that no audience would sit still for ten hours of unrelenting realism. Von Stroheim reluctantly responded by paring his film down to 20 reels, but it was still far too long and depressing for MGM’s taste. It was edited even more – the current release version of the film is now shown at approximately two and a quarter hours (about 10 reels), one quarter of its original length. The severe editing was completed by Joe Farnham and June Mathis, Goldwyn’s story editor, who hadn’t read either the book or the screenplay. Reportedly, the 32 reels of edited negatives were melted down by MGM to extract the valuable silver nitrate from the film stock.

* Gibson Gowland as John McTeague
* Zasu Pitts as Trina
* Jean Hersholt as Marcus
* Dale Fuller as Maria
* Tempe Pigott as McTeague’s mother
* Jack Curtis as McTeague’s father (uncredited)
* Silvia Ashton as ‘Mommer’ Sieppe
* Chester Conklin as ‘Popper’ Sieppe
* Joan Standing as Selina

Directed by     Erich von Stroheim
Produced by     Irving Thalberg
Louis B. Mayer
Written by     June Mathis
Erich von Stroheim
Frank Norris (novel)
Distributed by     Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date(s)     December 4, 1924
Running time     140 min.
239 min. (restored)
Memorable Quote:
Trina: Let’s go sit on the sewer.

* MGM’s first feature-length movie.

* The original 42 reel version is one of the top ten “lost films” of the American Film Institute

* Jean Hersholt was hospitalized after he lost 27 pounds during the filming of the movie’s climax in Death Valley.

* Concerning the editor hired to cut “Greed” down to 2 hours, Erich von Stroheim supposedly commented: “The only thing he had on his mind was his hat!”

* Director Cameo: [Erich von Stroheim] as a balloon vendor (although only in a deleted sequence). McTeague and Trina buy balloons from the vendor on the street.

* The filming of the climax was actually the subject of an early silent newsreel. The facts reported by the newsreel concerning the Death Valley portion of the shooting: it took a day just to reach the location from the town of Keeler, California, they rode in a combination of cars and horses (one of the cars had the word “Greed” stenciled on it), water had to be rationed and they shot in August when temperatures were over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

•    The only screening of the original complete director’s cut was for a small group of reporters. One wrote a glowing review of it, using words like “wonderful” and “brilliant” to describe it, but lamented the fact that nobody else would ever see it.
Similar Movies
29th Street  (1992, George Gallo)
The Barbary Coast  (1935, Howard Hawks)
Citizen Kane  (1941, Orson Welles)
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre  (1948, John Huston)
Wall Street  (1987, Oliver Stone)
L’Argent  (1929, Marcel L’Herbier)
The Trail of ’98  (1928, Clarence Brown)
Intolerance  (1916, D.W. Griffith)
Sátántangó  (1994, Béla Tarr)
Waking Ned Devine  (1998, Kirk Jones)
Movies with the Same Personnel
The Wedding March  (1928, Erich Von Stroheim)
Blind Husbands  (1919, Erich Von Stroheim)
Queen Kelly  (1929, Erich Von Stroheim)
Foolish Wives  (1922, Erich Von Stroheim)
The Devil’s Passkey  (1920, Erich Von Stroheim)
The Merry Widow  (1925, Erich Von Stroheim)
Grand Illusion  (1937, Jean Renoir)
Hello Sister!  (1933, Erich Von Stroheim, Alan Crosland)
Other Related Movies
Grand Illusion  (1937, Jean Renoir)
Life’s a Whirlpool  (1916, Barry O’Neill)


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Five Easy Pieces” refers to a book of piano lessons for beginners. But the five classical piano pieces featured in this film are not necessarily “easy”. Since the film is about the central character who is alienated and a misfit I think the five easy pieces could easily be applied to our misguided notion of putting labels to people  according to their  race, color, beliefs, status or politics. What we end up with? If not misfits we are breeding hypocrites. Man is beyond any easy labeling since he as an individual owes no allegiance to anyone but to himself. Alas he has to reckon with society whose impact often makes him either fall in or turn back on it as the central character does.
Five Easy Pieces is a moody, thoughtful character study of an alienated, misfit. He is a drifter and drop-out. It is an unpalatable  story of a rough-neck California oil rigger Robert Dupea (Nicholson) who has turned his back on his well-to-do upbringing. Why does he do it? As he confesses towards the end.  ‘I mean, I move around a lot because things tend to get bad when I stay. And I’m looking…for auspicious beginnings,..’ A tangible proof of his past is his musical talent and it shall haunt him wherever he looks for auspicious beginnings.
He lives with an ignorant, dim-witted but kind-hearted waitress girlfriend Rayette Dipesto (Karen Black) – an aspiring (and awful) country music singer. She constantly chatters and when he is annoyed she has this to say, “If you wouldn’t open your mouth, everything would be just fine.” She pathetically clings to him and smothers him with love although he is unfaithful and not committed to her:

I’ll go out with you, or I’ll stay in with you, or I’ll do anything that you like for me to do, if you tell me that you love me.

He doesn’t feel settled in the common lifestyle of a hot-tempered, Southern California blue-collar, redneck oil rigger, who drinks beer, bowls, listens to country music, and chases easy women. He might reject the cultured affluent atmosphere of his home but its mark on him is indeliable. During traffic gridlock on a California highway, when the oil-rigger leaves his vehicle, on an impulse he jumps up on a truck stalled ahead, and plays Chopin’s Fantasy in F Minor Op.49 on an upright piano found there. He shall carry home wherever he may go and it shall only make him feel alienated all the more.
Give the modern parable of Cain a period of self-imposed exile of twenty years, does he settle down as the original Cain did? While visiting his sister Partita (Lois Smith) in a Los Angeles recording studio, he learns that his father is seriously ill and dying following two strokes. He plans to return to his home in the Pacific Northwest’s Puget Sound area, for a final reconciling visit before he is gone. In a memorable scene in his car, he struggles with himself about whether his girlfriend (now pregnant) should join him or not, fearing being embarrassed by her lack of class or refinement. In the end he decides to take her along. During the car trip north, he gives a lift to an aggressive, complaining lesbian couple, aggressive Palm Apodaca (Helena Kallianiotes) and passive partner Terry Grouse (Toni Basil). The countercultural pair are on their way to Alaska to escape society and because it’s “cleaner.”

The film is most famous for the classic scene of Nicholson’s outburst while ordering a chicken salad sandwich in a diner – symbolic of the 60s generation’s rebellion and alienation during the Vietnam War Era. In this scene in a roadside diner on his way home a live-by-the-rules waitress (Lorna Thayer) stubbornly refuses to serve him a plain omelette (with tomatoes instead of potatoes), a cup of coffee and a side order of wheat toast, because she dryly explains: “No substitutions”:

Dupea: I’d like a plain omelette, no potatoes, tomatoes instead, a cup of coffee, and wheat toast.
Waitress: (She points to the menu) No substitutions.
Dupea: What do you mean? You don’t have any tomatoes?
Waitress: Only what’s on the menu. You can have a number two – a plain omelette. It comes with cottage fries and rolls.
Dupea: Yeah, I know what it comes with. But it’s not what I want.
Waitress: Well, I’ll come back when you make up your mind.
Dupea: Wait a minute. I have made up my mind. I’d like a plain omelette, no potatoes on the plate, a cup of coffee, and a side order of wheat toast.
Waitress: I’m sorry, we don’t have any side orders of toast…an English muffin or a coffee roll.
Dupea: What do you mean you don’t make side orders of toast? You make sandwiches, don’t you?
Waitress: Would you like to talk to the manager?
Dupea: …You’ve got bread and a toaster of some kind?
Waitress: I don’t make the rules.
Dupea: OK, I’ll make it as easy for you as I can. I’d like an omelette, plain, and a chicken salad sandwich on wheat toast, no mayonnaise, no butter, no lettuce. And a cup of coffee.
Waitress: A number two, chicken sal san, hold the butter, the lettuce and the mayonnaise. And a cup of coffee. Anything else?
Dupea: Yeah. Now all you have to do is hold the chicken, bring me the toast, give me a check for the chicken salad sandwich, and you haven’t broken any rules.
Waitress (spitefully): You want me to hold the chicken, huh?
Dupea: I want you to hold it between your knees.
Waitress (turning and telling him to look at the sign that says, “No Substitutions”) Do you see that sign, sir? Yes, you’ll all have to leave. I’m not taking any more of your smartness and sarcasm.
Dupea: You see this sign? (He sweeps all the water glasses and menus off the table.)
His brief stay at home leads him to a fling with the sophisticated, musical wife of his brother (Anspach) but any love between them is impossible as she tells him, ‘You’re a strange person, Robert…A person who has no love for himself, no respect for himself, no love of his friends, family, work, something – how can he ask for love in return?’
His stay in his father’s house proves a fiasco. As he returns home with Rayette, he ignores her observation:

There isn’t anybody gonna look after you AND love you, as good as I do.

In the bleak final sequence, he abandons her in a Gulf gas station without explanation, leaving her with his wallet and car, while he catches a lift from a northbound lumber truck toward Canada and freedom. The driver promises they will travel to an even colder climate and he could borrow a jacket: “Where we’re goin’, it’s gonna get colder than hell.” He responds: “Nah, it’s okay. I’m fine. Fine. I’m fine.”
The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Jack Nicholson), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Karen Black), Best Picture and Best Writing, Story and Screenplay Based on Factual Material or Material Not Previously Published or Produced.

In 2000, Five Easy Pieces was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

Also the notable filmmakers Lars Von Trier, Joel and Ethan Coen, Ingmar Bergman, and the award-winning novelists Cormac McCarthy and William Gaddis have expressed deep admiration for the movie.
The movie’s most famous scene takes place as mentioned earlier in a roadside restaurant where despite appeals to logic and common sense, the waitress adamantly sticks to the rules of the restaurant, so Bobby comes up with a plan of his own as Rayette and their two hitchhikers (played by Toni Basil and Helena Kallianiotes) look on:
Back in the car:

Palm Apodaca: Fantastic that you could figure that all out and lie that down on her so you could come up with a way to get your toast. Fantastic.

Bobby: Yea, well I didn’t get it, did I?

Palm Apodaca: No, but it was very clever. I would’ve just punched her out.


The roadside diner scene is iconic as a metaphor for the rebellious, free spirit of the youth of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Thirty years later Nicholson would perform a scene in the movie About Schmidt which directly drew from this scene.

Directed by     Bob Rafelson
Produced by     Robert Daley
Written by     Carole Eastman
Bob Rafelson
Starring     Jack Nicholson
Karen Black
Cinematography     László Kovács
Distributed by     Columbia Pictures
Running time     96 min.
Language     English
Memorable Quotes:
Palm Apodaca: Hey, follow that truck. They know the best places to stop.
Rayette: That’s an old maid’s tale.
Palm Apodaca: Bullshit! Truck drivers are the only ones that know the best places to stop on the road.
Rayette: Salesmen and cops are the ones. If you’d ever waitressed, honey, you’d know that.
Palm Apodaca: Don’t call me honey, mac.
Rayette: Don’t call me mac, honey.
Palm Apodaca: You know, I read where they, uh, invented this car that runs on, ummm… that runs on, ummm… when you boil water?
Terry: Steam.
Palm Apodaca: Right, steam. A car that you could ride around in and not cause a stink. But do you know they will not even let us have it? Can you believe it? Why? Man! He likes to create a stink! I mean, I’ve seen filth that you wouldn’t believe. Ugh! What a stink! I don’t even want to talk about it.
Palm Apodaca: People. Animals are not like that. They’re always cleaning themselves. Did you ever see, umm… pigeons? Well, he’s always picking on himself and his friends. They’re always picking bugs out of their hair all the time. Monkeys too. Except they do something out in the open that I don’t go for.
Rayette: I’m not.
Bobby: You’re just gonna sit here?
Rayette: Yes.
Bobby: Okay. I hope no one hits on you.
Rayette: I hope they do.
Bobby: That’s dangerous, you know.
Catherine: Riding?
Bobby: Mm-hmm. You play the piano all day and then jump on a horse, you could get cramps.
Bobby: What are you doing screwing around with all this crap?
Catherine: I do not find your language very charming.
Bobby: It isn’t. It’s direct.
Catherine: I’d like you to leave so that I can take a bath. Is that direct?
Bobby: What else do you do?
Catherine: Well, there’s fishing, boating, and concerts on the mainland.
Catherine: I feel funny telling you this. This is really your home. You probably know better than I what there is to do.
Bobby: Nothing.
Catherine: Nothing?
Bobby: Nothing.
Catherine: Well, it must be very boring for you here.
Bobby: That’s right.
Catherine: I find that very hard to comprehend. I don’t think I’ve ever been bored. Excuse me.
Catherine: You’re a strange person, Robert. I mean, what will you come to? If a person has no love for himself, no respect for himself, no love of his friends, family, work, something – how can he ask for love in return? I mean, why should he ask for it?
Betty: That’s a wig you wear, isn’t it?
Bobby: Me?
Betty: Yeah, I told her it was you but that you were wearin’ a wig because on the TV you’re mostly all, uh -
[pats him on the head]
Betty: bald up there!
Bobby: [laughs] Your, your little friend’s real, real sharp. Uh, I don’t, uh, I don’t wear the wig on TV because if you’re gonna be out there in front of two and a half million people, you’ve got to be sincere. I mean, I like to wear it when I’m in bowling alleys and slipping around, stuff like that. I think it gives me a little class. What do you think?
Betty: When I was four, just four years old, I went to my mother and I said, “What’s this hole in my chin?” – I saw this dimple in my chin in the mirror, and didn’t know what it was. And my mother said – get what my mother says – she says, “When you’re born, you go on a assembly line past God, and if He likes you, He says,
[grabs her cheeks with both her hands]
Betty: “You cute little thing!” and you get dimples there. And if He doesn’t like you, He goes,
[presses one finger on her chin]
Betty: “Go away.” So about six months later, my mother found me saying my prayers, and I was going,
[holds one hand over her chin]
Betty: “Now I lay me down to sleep…” My mother says, “What are you covering up your chin for?” And I said, “Because if I cover up the hole, maybe He’ll listen to me.”
Rayette: That was real good, wasn’t it? I finally did it!
Bobby: Great. You throw the big Z’s for 19 frames, and then you throw a strike on the last ball of a losing game. Wonderful. Just wonderful.
[Turns around to bowlers at next lane]
Bobby: Isn’t that wonderful, ladies?
Twinky: Are you talking to us?
Bobby: Wonderful.
Rayette: You love me, Bobby?
Bobby: What do you think?
[they kiss]
Bobby: [out of his car during a traffic jam, yelling at other motorists] Ants! Why don’t we all line up like a goddamned bunch of ants! Its the most beautiful part of the day!
Bobby: You keep on talking about the good life, Elton, ’cause it makes me puke.
Rayette: I’m gonna play it again.
Bobby: You play that thing one more time, I’m gonna melt it down into hairspray.
Rayette: Let me play the other side then.
Bobby: No, Rayette, it’s not a question of sides. It’s a question of musical integrity.
Samia Glavia: …It was just what I was trying to point out…
Bobby: [interrupting] Don’t sit there pointing at her.
Samia Glavia: I beg your pardon.
Bobby: I said don’t point at her, you creep.
Samia Glavia: But I was just telling about…
Bobby: Where do you get the ass to tell anybody anything about class, or who the hell’s got it, or what she typifies? You shouldn’t even be in the same room with her, you pompous celibate… You’re totally full of shit! You’re all full of shit.
Catherine: It’s useless.
Bobby: Look, give me a chance.
Catherine: I’m trying to be delicate with you, but you just won’t understand. I couldn’t go with you. Not just because of Carl and my music, but because of you.
Catherine: You’re a strange person, Robert. I mean, what would it come to? If a person has no love for himself, no respect for himself, no love of his friends, family, work, something… How can he ask for love in return? I mean, why should he ask for it?
Bobby: Living here in this rest home/asylum – that’s what you want?
Catherine: Yes.
Bobby: That will make you happy?
Catherine: I hope it will. Yes.
Catherine: I’m sorry.

List of Five Easy Pieces:

* Chopin – Fantasy in F Minor Op.49, played by Dupea on the back of a moving truck.
* Bach – Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue, played by Dupea’s sister, Partita, in a recording studio.
* Mozart – E-flat Maj. Concerto K.271, played by Dupea’s brother, Carl, and Catherine upon Bobby’s arrival to the island.
* Chopin – Prelude Opus 28 in E Minor no. 4, played by Dupea for Catherine.
* Mozart – Fantasy in D Minor K.397
This was director Bob Rafelson’s second film (and his best work) after he had directed the television pop band the Monkees in the mind-blowing Head (1968), a surrealistic and psychedelic film that was co-written with unemployed actor Jack Nicholson, the major star in this film, and emulated the European New Wave pictures of the era.

This was Jack Nicholson’s first major acting role. His particular delivery of lines is evident here. His acting reminds one of Brando in his younger days. For example his monologue to his dying, paralyzed father in a wheelchair in the cold outdoors, in the film’s most powerful scene. He apologizes for his abandonment of his family and talent, for giving up on his responsibilities, and for not living up to his father’s high ideals, breaking down in tears mid-speech:

I don’t know if you’d be particularly interested in hearing anything about me. My life, I mean… Most of it doesn’t add up to much… that I could relate as a way of life that you’d approve of…I’d like to be able to tell you why, but I don’t really…I mean, I move around a lot because things tend to get bad when I stay. And I’m looking…for auspicious beginnings, I guess…I’m trying to, you know, imagine your half of this conversation…My feeling is, that if you could talk, we probably wouldn’t be talking. That’s pretty much how it got to be before… I left…Are you all right? I don’t know what to say…Tita suggested that we try to…I don’t know. I think that she…seems to feel we’ve got…some understanding to reach…She totally denies the fact that we were never that comfortable with each other to begin with…The best that I can do, is apologize. We both know that I was never really that good at it, anyway…

He finally bows his head, sighs, and admits with sorrow, “I’m sorry it didn’t work out.”

The soundtrack employed five songs by Tammy Wynette, including “Stand By Your Man.”

Similar Movies
Alice’s Restaurant  (1969, Arthur Penn)
Fingers  (1978, James Toback)
Kings of the Road  (1975, Wim Wenders)
You Can Count On Me  (2000, Kenneth Lonergan)
The Last Detail  (1973, Hal Ashby)
Stay Hungry  (1976, Bob Rafelson)
The Drifter  (1966, Alex Matter)
World Traveler  (2001, Bart Freundlich)
The Brown Bunny  (2003, Vincent Gallo)
Adam at 6 a.m.  (1970, Robert Scheerer)
Movies with the Same Personnel
Easy Rider  (1969, Dennis Hopper)
Stay Hungry  (1976, Bob Rafelson)
The King of Marvin Gardens  (1972, Bob Rafelson)
The Postman Always Rings Twice  (1981, Bob Rafelson)
Head  (1968, Bob Rafelson)
On the Nickel  (1980, Ralph Waite, Robert Waite)
The Secret Life of John Chapman  (1976, David Lowell Rich)
Drive, He Said  (1971, Jack Nicholson)
Other Related Movies
is related to:      The King of Marvin Gardens  (1972, Bob Rafelson)
Man Trouble  (1992, Bob Rafelson)

(ack:wikipedia,allmovie, Filmsite.tim dirks)


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Shichinin no samurai, one of the greatest films in the history of Japanese cinema has its pride of place in the best 100 best films of all time. The film belongs to a genre that is called jidai-gecki( historical swordplay films) and can be rightfully considered the mother of all action films. The number of films it has spawned and and cited at the end attest to my assertion. For those who want to enjoy this film I can recommend – Criterion Collection – 3-Disc Remastered Edition

Seven Samurai is director Akira Kurosawa’s undisputed masterpiece has never been surpassed in terms of sheer power of emotion, kinetic energy, and dynamic character development. It tells the story of a village of Japanese farmers under threat of attack by a gang of forty bandits in the late 16th century (possibly around 1587/1588). The farmers hold a meeting, and decide to fight back by hiring samurai to defend their village. Some are concerned that samurai are expensive and are known to lust after young farm women. A village elder tells them to find “hungry samurai” who will work for the village’s best food (handfuls of rice). An aging warrior, Kambei, assists the farmers in finding five other masterless samurai (“rônin”) to fight with him, together with a sixth clownish “samurai,” Kikuchiyo (Toshiro Mifune).
Offering mere handfuls of rice as payment, the village elder hires seven unemployed “ronin” (masterless samurai), including a boastful swordsman ( Mifune) who is actually a peasant farmer’s son, desperately seeking glory, acceptance, and revenge against those who destroyed his family. Led by the calmly strategic Kambei (Takashi Shimura, star of Kurosawa’s previous classic, Ikiru), the samurai form mutual bonds of honor and respect, but remain distant from the villagers, knowing that their assignment may prove to be fatal.
The samurai construct defenses to fortify the village, and train the villagers to fight. Meanwhile, the youngest samurai, Katsushirô, begins a love affair with the daughter of one of the villagers, who has been masquerading as a boy. The second half of the film chronicles the battle between the samurai-led village militia and the bandits. Katsushirô’s affair is revealed, providing comic relief. The battle is ultimately won by the villagers, leaving three surviving samurai, who are left to observe the villagers planting their next rice crop. It is perhaps the first film to depict action scenes in slow motion.
While he delineates duty and honor which are essential components of samurai tradition Kurosawa masterfully weaves underlying strands of self-interests and exploitation of the weaker by more larger or powerful: he composed his shots to emphasize these group dynamics, and Seven Samurai is a textbook study of the director’s signature techniques. His masterly use of telephoto lenses to compress action, delineate character relationships, and intensify motion, the film shall serve as a benchmark in cinematic art. While the climactic battle against raiding thieves remains one of the most breathtaking sequences ever filmed.
This film is over 3 hours in length but it moves at a brisk pace. The first half builds the charachters and sets the situation while the 2nd half is pure action.
Ack:Jeff Shannon,G. Merritt
Similar Movies
The 47 Ronin, Part 1 (1941, Kenji Mizoguchi)
The 47 Ronin, Part 2 (1941, Kenji Mizoguchi)
The Professionals (1966, Richard Brooks)
Samurai 1: Musashi Miyamoto (1955, Hiroshi Inagaki)
Samurai 2: Duel at Ichijoji Temple (1955, Hiroshi Inagaki)
The Sword of Doom (1967, Kihachi Okamoto)
The Wild Bunch (1969, Sam Peckinpah, Paul Seydor)
The Samurai Trilogy (1954, Hiroshi Inagaki)
The 13th Warrior (1999, John McTiernan)
Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance (1972, Kenji Misumi)
Movies with the Same Personnel
Throne of Blood (1957, Akira Kurosawa)
The Hidden Fortress (1958, Akira Kurosawa)
Yojimbo (1961, Akira Kurosawa)
Stray Dog (1949, Akira Kurosawa)
Drunken Angel (1948, Akira Kurosawa)
Rashomon (1951, Akira Kurosawa)
The Lower Depths (1957, Akira Kurosawa)
Sanshiro Sugata (1943, Akira Kurosawa)
Other Related Movies
is related to: Sanjuro (1962, Akira Kurosawa)
Samurai 7 [Anime Series] (2004)
influenced: Battle Beyond the Stars (1980, Jimmy T. Murakami)
has been remade as: The Magnificent Seven (1960, John Sturges)
The Seven Magnificent Gladiators (1984, Bruno Mattei) (ack:www.allmovie.com)
compiler: benny

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: Fritz Lang’s Dark Masterpiece, Still Shocking After All These Years (also known as M – Mörder unter uns (Germany) Murderers Among Us(working title)
M is for murder. It is as the mark of Cain, a commentary etched into the dehumanised soul of our society, M in the context of the movie holds a visual clue: it is tagged by an informer who is in the guise of a blind. He also serves as the front for the underworld.
The letter M is the same in its mirror image: society as we get to see in everyday world and shown to be something decent and morally uplifting holds a mirror image, the darker face of the underworld.  In Fritz Lang’s bleak vision of humanity dog eats dog. period. Elsewhere we see superimposed shots of police and the underworld  planning a  concerted manhunt with the city map opened out in front. Each has his own self interest and imperative that doesnot necessarily mean murder most foul must be eradicated from their midst. Oh no in the hall of mirrors no one is completely untouched by evil. The police have their own interests to protect as the underworld have theirs.
Now I shall outline the plot that is simple enough.
In an unnamed city (the story was based on a case in Duesseldorf, but many critics place the setting in Berlin, where “M” was filmed), a child murderer is stalking the streets. The Police search is so intense, it is disturbing the ‘normal’ criminals, and the local hoods decide to help find the murderer as quickly as possible.

A psychotic child murderer stalks a city, and despite an exhaustive investigation fueled by public hysteria and outcry, the police have been unable to find him. But the police crackdown does have one side-affect, it makes it very inconvenient for the organized criminal underground to operate. So they decide that the only way to get the police off their backs is to catch the murderer themselves. The film is constructed as a double manhunt.
‘Peter Lorre’s sweaty, puffy, froggy-eyed portrayal of a child murderer remains one of the most frightening images in screen history. All moist flesh and grubby, fat little fingers, infantile and pathetic yet truly monstrous at once, Lorre’s character is one of the great monuments to the true squalor of evil. He is not banal in the least, but neither is he dramatic: He’s a little worm with an unspeakable obsession, insane and yet a horrible reflection of the society that created him.

In a brilliant early montage Lang shows us the young Elsie being suavely picked up by her shadowy killer, led along streets and into the woods. There’s no on-screen violence, of course, but the sense of menace is unbearably intense, particularly as Lang signifies the murderer’s dementia in musical terms, having him whistle a selection from “Peer Gynt” as the demon’s grip on his soul grows more fierce. Lang polishes off the sequence with two horrifying images: Elsie’s ball bouncing across the grass, losing energy, and reaching stasis; and Elsie’s balloon caught (as if in torment) in the suspended telephone wires.’
… The cops, under great pressure, mount a massive manhunt; they attack the only target they have, which is the underworld — these guys are so well organized, they even have a stolen-sandwich ring! — and so the crooks respond by attempting on their own to find the killer.

In allegorical terms, Lang seemed to be getting at the escalating conflict between the increasingly inept Weimar Republic and the increasingly efficient underground Nazi Party, and the underworld, being more merciless and better organized, is able to uncover the villain before police.
But even when Lang documents the final apprehension (in a brilliantly edited and timed sequence where the cops are racing to a building that the gangsters have all but commandeered as they search it), he has a surprise. That is the ironic trial of which the clammy little human mushroom, where at last he speaks for himself, declares his own insanity and the pain it’s caused him and asks them who they are to judge — interesting questions to be asked in the Germany of 1931.

But the movie is, perhaps, just as interesting as a piece of film design as it is as a piece of narrative. It was the domestic high-water mark of German expressionist filmmakers, who were about to be dispersed around the world by the rise of those same Nazis, who would gain power in 1933.

German expressionism, which may have gotten to its strangest moment in 1919’s “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari,” was essentially a visual version of a treacherous universe. It was spread by this diaspora of fleeing German genius (including Lang, who went on to have a distinguished American career) and came to light in the works of Hitchcock and Welles but perhaps most notably in that movie genre known as film noir, which dominated the American screen in the late ’40s.

(ack: Stephen Hunter of The Washington Post published: April 22, 1998)

Germany( The Nazis banned this movie in July1934-1945), Black and White, 117 min / 110 min (2004 Criterion DVD edition)
Memorable Quotes:
Hans Beckert: I can’t help what I do! I can’t help it, I can’t…
Criminal: The old story! We never can help it in court!
Hans Beckert: What do you know about it? Who are you anyway? Who are you? Criminals? Are you proud of yourselves? Proud of breaking safes or cheating at cards? Things you could just as well keep your fingers off. You wouldn’t need to do all that if you’d learn a proper trade or if you’d work. If you weren’t a bunch of lazy bastards. But I… I can’t help myself! I have no control over this, this evil thing inside of me, the fire, the voices, the torment!
Schraenker: Do you mean to say that you have to murder?
Hans Beckert: It’s there all the time, driving me out to wander the streets, following me, silently, but I can feel it there. It’s me, pursuing myself! I want to escape, to escape from myself! But it’s impossible. I can’t escape, I have to obey it. I have to run, run… endless streets. I want to escape, to get away! And I’m pursued by ghosts. Ghosts of mothers and of those children… they never leave me. They are always there… always, always, always!, except when I do it, when I… Then I can’t remember anything. And afterwards I see those posters and read what I’ve done, and read, and read… did I do that? But I can’t remember anything about it! But who will believe me? Who knows what it’s like to be me? How I’m forced to act… how I must, must… don’t want to, must! Don’t want to, but must! And then a voice screams! I can’t bear to hear it! I can’t go on! I can’t… I can’t…

Pickpocket with 6 Watches: There are more police on the street tonight than whores.
Children: [singing] Just you wait, it won’t be long. The man in black will soon be here. With his cleaver’s blade so true. He’ll make mincemeat out of YOU!
[to union member asleep next to him]
Beggar’s Union Member: Stop snoring! You’ll wake up the lice.
Frau Beckmann: Elsie?… Elsie?… ELSIE!
Hans Beckert: That is a nice ball you have.
Franz, the burglar: [Franz is being tricked into thinking he killed the night watchman, and is going to jail for it] Please, Herr Kommissar! I’ll tell you everything; even who we were looking for in that damned building.
Inspector Groeber: Really. Who?
Franz, the burglar: The child murderer, Herr Kommissar!
Woman in Crowd: Shoot him like a mad dog!
Man in Pub: Hey, it’s fatty Lohmann!
Everyone in Pub: [Chanting] Lohmann, Lohmann, Lohmann!
Elisabeth Winkler, Beckert’s landlady: Could you speak louder please, I’m a bit hard of hearing.
Policeman: As if I couldn’t tell.
Inspector Karl Lohmann: Good God! The window sill!
Peter Lorre…     Hans Beckert
Ellen Widmann    …     Frau Beckmann
Inge Landgut    …     Elsie Beckmann
Otto Wernicke    …     Inspector Karl Lohmann
Theodor Loos    …     Inspector Groeber
Gustaf Gründgens    …     Schränker
Friedrich Gnaß    …     Franz, the burglar
Fritz Odemar    …     The cheater
Paul Kemp    …     Pickpocket with six watches
Theo Lingen    …     Bauernfänger
Rudolf Blümner    …     Beckert’s defender
Georg John    …     Blind panhandler
Franz Stein    …     Minister
Ernst Stahl-Nachbaur    …     Police chief
Gerhard Bienert    …     Criminal secretary


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117 mins, 1937, France, Black & White

One of the great achievements in world cinema, Renoir’s “The Grand Illusion” explores the seemingly arbitrary borders of class, language, and citizenship that divide us. Renoir films have a way of talking about one thing while letting us explore layers beneath the obvious. La Grande Illusion is about soldiers escaping war camps to freedom while the subterranean levels show the futility they are escaping to. War is a corrupting influence whichever side you pitch yourselves into. Renoir’s great human drama explores our predicament, on one side heroism and the other the mark of Cain that stamps us as robots perpetuating the plans of some greedy, ambitious war mongers. As true with any great cinema, the narrative while sticking to conventional cinematic idiom transcends its frames. Banned by the Nazis on the eve of WWII, “Illusion” remains a compelling hybrid of the prison-escape genre and Renoir’s own brand of warm, humanistic drama, a pacifist statement as nobly moving as All Quiet on the Western Front.
This film is an archetypal prison camp escape story also outlining a barbed social analysis, demonstrating how shared aristocratic backgrounds (and military professionalism) forge a bond of sympathy between the German commandant (von Stroheim) and the senior French officer (Fresnay); how the exigencies of a wartime situation impel Fresnay to sacrifice himself (and Stroheim to shoot him) so that two of his men may make good their escape; and how those two escapees (Gabin and Dalio), once their roles as hero-warriors are over, will return home reduced. One go back to his working class background and the other shall once again be stamped as a dirty Jew. The war was merely an experience that would barely whitwash the blot of their class or birth.
The movie seems to have influenced Billy Wilder, who directed Stalag 17 another successful escape movie. In Renoir’s classic there is a shot of train wheels moving that dissolves into a gramophone record playing in the German camp. Did this give Henri-Georges Clouzot the idea of that celebrated shot of bathroom scene in Les Diaboliques /Psycho(Hitchcock)? (The montage of shots of the eye of the victim  and the grate on the bathroom floor similarly works on the principle of similitude.)
As for the title illusions refer to the irony of war,- as a cleansing agent, to do away with the social interactions between classes (allowed to settle down and become obligations) The WWI did just that. It tolled the knell of the Hapsburgs, Hohenzollern and the Romanovs. The collapse of European monarchies showed on what illusory foundations were their rights set up.
At the end of the movie Marechal (Jean Gabin) speaks of coming back to Elsa, his newfound love interest. He is sure that before he could do that he has to ‘ finish this bloody war.’ Rosenthal’s reply is:’ That is all an illusion…’
Historically within two years Europe was in to another war more bitter than the one preceded it..
Expertly directed and wonderfully acted by Gabin, Fresnay, Von Stroheim, and Marcel Dalio as French-Jewish compatriot Rosenthal, “Illusion” is ultimately a brilliant critique of war itself. It was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar in 1938.
I first saw this movie (a grainy old 16mm print) while I had enrolled with the Alliance Française in Mumbai, in the eary 70’s. It was a moving experience. Since then I have seen it number of times and it still remains a favorite in my collection.
Raffenstein as the commandment of the fortress camp with a touch of apology explains to his prisoner Boeldieu, “ …Believe me I feel nothing but distaste for my present job, as much as you do.”
Fresnay asks von Stroheim why he has shown special consideration to him and not to Marechal and Rosenthal. Fresnay adds that they are good soldiers.
B: I am afraid we can do nothing to turn back the clock.
R: I do not know who is going to win this war, but I know one thing: the end of it, whatever it may be, will be the end of the Rauffensteins and the Boeldieus.

“Most compelling of all the film’s characters is the aristocratic German officer von Rauffenstein, unforgettably incarnated by stiff-backed Erich von Stroheim; although he runs a prison camp, von Rauffenstein cannot help but strike up a friendship with de Boeldieu, a kindred spirit from the doomed nobility. La Grande Illusion is one of those movies that makes you feel good about such long-outmoded ideas as sacrifice and brotherhood. After it won a prize at the Venice Film Festival in 1937, the Nazis declared the film “Cinematographic Enemy Number One.” There can be no higher praise. “ Robert Horton

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