The Quiet Man (1952)
Grade: B- | 1st Viewing
It is impossible to deny the delightfulness inherent in John Fordâ€™s Irish folk tale, but the first 90 minutes of the film are hardly redeemed by the epic final fight scene. John Wayne is as likable as ever and Maureen Oâ€™Hara is at the top of her game, but to me the first three quarters of the film are dry and mostly humorless; filled with exaggerated stereotypes of Irish characters and one-liners that fell flat.
The film is beautifully shot and may be one of the best presentations of the Irish countryside ever put on film, but Fordâ€™s typical themes were not as clear as they normally are. I hate going against the grain on a film that is pretty much universally loved. Blame it on context, or the fact that Iâ€™m not the biggest John Wayne fan, but The Quiet Man, while undeniably likable, did not click with me.
Scary Movie (2000)
Grade: D | 2nd Viewing
I returned from a mostly exhausting camping trip and put in John Fordâ€™s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance while headed to bed. When I turned on the television Comedy Central was airing the original Scary Movie and I instantly decided that my current physical and emotional state required something that allowed me to shut off my brain.
Reportedly the first Scary Movie is the most tolerable in the franchise, but I canâ€™t say for sure because Iâ€™ve only made it through the first. The problem that I have with the movie is that itâ€™s comedy without any type of risk. I donâ€™t mean risk in terms of pushing the envelope, but the writers and filmmakers behind this movie took such care to make sure there would not be a joke that anybody would not understand. The opportunities for smart comic decisions were prevalent throughout the movieâ€™s running time, but the simple and obvious choice was always made in order to ensure that nothing would go over any audience memberâ€™s head. This type of comedy is the scourge of mainstream films.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)
Grade: A- | 5th+ Viewing
If I were to compile a list of essential childrenâ€™s films, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang would inevitably have a spot. Re-watching it in its entirety years after I stopped watching it annually as part of my childhood VHS collection gave me some new perspective on the film. Most notably the filmâ€™s two and a half hour running time caught me off guard as it was at least an hour and a half into the movie when the family finally arrived in Vulgaria for the most memorable scenes in the movie.
Another important element that it was a pleasure to re-discover was how well director Ken Hughes frames the musical numbers. Too often it seems that modern musicals opt for flashy cinematography with quick cuts in and around the singers. Hughes pulls the camera back and allows the performers to dictate the action with most of the musical numbers shot in straight forward wide shots. Itâ€™s this trust in his cast to carry the scene that makes them so enjoyable.
The Third Man (1949)
Grade: A | 1st Viewing
I finally saw Carol Reedâ€™s film noir masterpiece after years of floating near the top of my Netflix queue. Iâ€™m disappointed to see the brilliance that I had been missing. The Third Man is one of the best shot movies that I have ever seen with wonderfully original camera angles and brilliantly lit exterior scenes. The ever-present shadows creep into the frame giving the film an ominous feel that wonderfully contrasts the optimistic-sounding zither soundtrack.
I wish I could have put myself back to a time where I didnâ€™t already know that Orson Welles was going to appear as the infamous Harry Lime. Throughout the film Lime is described with such profundity and bravura that only an actor like Welles could have matched the enormous persona that is created. The fantastic character introduction of Welles is epic and his mere appearance in the film has to stand out as one of the greatest of all-time.
What movies did you see this weekend?