- Separate Tables (Delbert Mann)
- Sayonara (Joshua Logan)
- Kim (Victor Saville)
- Doctor Faustus (Richard Burton/Nevill Coghill)
- Spring Dreams (Keisuke Kinoshita)
- Blue Sky (Tony Richardson)
- Ex Libris (Frederick Wiseman)
- Farewell to Spring (Keisuke Kinoshita)
- The Pilgrim (Charlie Chaplin)
- The Young Victoria (Jean-Marc Vallée)
1- When I was growing up in New York, one of the local TV networks would show the same movie for a week at 7PM. The show was called Million Dollar Movie. It started with a thrilling drumroll which led into a grand performance of Tara’s Theme. If it were a film that I liked, I would watch every showing of it. A recent viewing of David and Lisa reminded me of the kind of obsessive little kid I was. I fondly recalled Separate Tables from that time. Like David and Lisa, I knew this was an grown-up movie dealing with things I didn’t quite understand, but loved watching. It held up very well. The film is based on a drama by Terrence Rattigan, he of the ‘well-made play’. You just won’t get this kind of movie any more. And what a cast: Burt Lancaster, David Niven, Deborah Kerr, Rita Hayworth and goddess Wendy Hiller. Great to see this again.
2- Sayonara is an Oscar winner that I had long chased (it won both Best Supporting Actor and Actress that year). What a disappointment. Very much rooted in its 1950 sense of social justice laid on with a trowel. Brando doing an extremely annoying Southern accent. Well, check it off my list, I guess.
3- For some reason I decided to read Kim by Rudyard Kipling. It was excruciating. I felt like I could not get a foothold in the book. It kept going on and I had only a slight idea of what was going on. I finally made it to the end, not a moment to soon. I saw that the film version of it was going to be on TCM. Pretty dumb, but young Dean Stockwell was an amazing child actor…..Paul Lukas and Errol Flynn were really miscast. I got absolutely no insight into the book from the film.
4- Spring Dreams was a surprise and delight. I had seen other films by Kinoshita including the famous 24 Eyes. This was so different. It was like a cross between The Man Who Came to Dinner and My Man Godfrey. It is absolutely hilarious.
5- Who remembers Blue Sky? Jessica Lange won the Best Actress for it and it is completely forgotten now. Good, tight story. Over the top characterization, the kind the Academy loves to lavish awards on.
6- Ex Libris is the first Frederick Wiseman film I have watched. It is long (over 3 hours) and about an unpromising topic: The New York Public Library. It was riveting. No voice-overs, no narration. Endless scenes of board meetings, lectures, visits to branches all over the city…and it was endlessly fascinating. Please see it.