The Discreet Bourgeois

Possessed by an urgency to make sure all this stuff I love doesn't just disappear

The Last Ten Films I’ve Seen

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  1. The Last Black Man in San Francisco (Joe Talbot)
  2. Marius (Alexander Korda)
  3. Fanny (Marc Allegret)
  4. César (Marcel Pagnol)
  5. Tab Hunter Confidential (Jeffrey Schwarz)
  6. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick)
  7. Dark Victory (Edmund Goulding)
  8. Juarez (William Dieterle)
  9. Babette’s Feast (Gabriel Axel)
  10. Faithless (Harry Beaumont)

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1- I found The Last Black Man in San Francisco absolute torture to sit through.  A muddled story, a muddled message, clumsy filmmaking. I couldn’t wait for it to be over.

2- Please see my post about Pagnol’s Marseilles Trilogy.  Seeing it again is always nourishing.

3- I had hoped that Tab Hunter Confidential would have had a little more bite to it, kind of like Rock Hudson’s Home Movies. Instead it was a pleasant two hour biography of what seems like a very sweet guy who was able to overcome the difficulties of being Gay in 1950s Hollywood.  Nothing wrong with that.

4- Continuing my rewatching of Bette Davis films, I recently watched Juarez and Dark Victory.  Juarez seems to have been conceived as a showcase for Paul Muni in the title role.  Muni was considered one of the impeachable actors of the time, playing a string of historical figures.  Now he seems like a bit of a shameless scenery chewer.  It is a shame that he has such prominence, because two of the great actresses of the 1930s, Bette Davis and Gale Sondergaard, are eclipsed by Muni’s hamminess.  Davis does well with a Lucia di Lammermoor-like mad scene, but I wish the movie were Empress Carlotta rather than Juarez.  

Dark Victory is unadulterated soap opera.  That’s fine with me, but it is not as ecstatic as it could be.  Compare this to the magnificence of Now, Voyager. It pales.

5- In this time of social distress and baseness and general unkindness, it is wonderful to encounter Babette’s Feast again.  I hadn’t seen it since it was in theaters and it holds up magnificently.  This is due to the beautiful Isak Dinesen (Karin Blixen) story it is based on.  So kind, so loving, so transcendent. Babette’s actions are somewhere on the Maimonides’ ladder of charity. It is a special case, I think. Doing a charity for someone who doesn’t realize what they need and thereby transforming the world.  How often do we see that in popular culture today?

6- I saw that Faithless was going to be shown on TCM and I recorded it mostly because I had never seen Tallulah Bankhead in a movie, besides Lifeboat by Hitchcock.  This looked like it was more typical of what she was famous for. A tale of a high-society dame who falls in love with a humble wage-earner in the Depression.  I thought it was going to be a frothy sex comedy, but pretty soon both characters go bust and it becomes a surprisingly deep and disturbing probing of life in the Depression. It would be a wonderful double-bill with Heroes For Sale (q.v.).   The films about the Depression made during the Depression are among the most powerful of Hollywood products.  It is interesting to me that this era has been completely ignored by current Hollywood.  Too ‘depressing’ I guess.

7- 2001.  See my recent post and please feel free to tell me why I am wrong.

One thought on “The Last Ten Films I’ve Seen

  1. Some interesting films there 🙂 To be honest with you, when I first saw the words Faithless on here, I thought you were referring to Liv Ullman’s 2000 film of the same name but then I saw the name Harry Beaumont and I knew that it was a different film 🙂 Anyway, keep up the great work as always 🙂

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