Films in 2013: September

Another movie-filled month! I don’t have much to say in my introduction for September, so as usual my list of new-to-me films, notes, and my top 5 favorites can be found under the cut.

New-to-Me: 36

Re-Watched: 6

New-to-Me Films by Decade:

  • 1920s – 1
  • 1930s – 6
  • 1940s – 8
  • 1950s – 5
  • 1960s – 5
  • 1970s – 2
  • 1980s – 4
  • 1990s – 1
  • 2000s – 3
  • 2010s – 1

List of New-to-Me Films:

  1. Million Dollar Baby (2004)
  2. The Doctor Takes a Wife (1940)
  3. This Gun for Hire (1942)
  4. The Black Swan (1942)
  5. In the Good Old Summertime (1949)
  6. Escape from New York (1981)
  7. My Dinner with Andre (1981)
  8. Stage Fright (1950)
  9. California (1947)
  10. Once a Thief (1965)
  11. The Crowd (1928)
  12. Bicycle Thieves (1948)
  13. The Desperate Hours (1955)
  14. Soylent Green (1973)
  15. Minority Report (2002)
  16. Logan’s Run (1976)
  17. My Life as a Dog (1985)
  18. The Trouble with Harry (1955)
  19. The Most Dangerous Game (1932)
  20. Lassie Come Home (1943)
  21. Camille (1936)
  22. Kiss Me, Stupid (1964)
  23. The Notorious Landlady (1962)
  24. A.I.: Artificial Intelligence (2001)
  25. The Vanishing (1988)
  26. A Letter to Three Wives (1949)
  27. Shock Corridor (1963)
  28. Grand Illusion (1937)
  29. The Rules of the Game (1939)
  30. Forbidden Planet (1956)
  31. Cimarron (1931)
  32. A Separation (2011)
  33. Cavalcade (1933)
  34. The Organizer (1963)
  35. Rudy (1993)
  36. Throne of Blood (1957)

Trends and Notes

  • Watched 2 movies from the year 1940 in a row.
  • Watched 2 movies from the year 1981 in a row.
  • Stage Fright marked my halfway point in Alfred Hitchcock’s filmography.
  • Watched 2 Jean Renoir movies in a row on TCM.
  • Watched 10 films from the Criterion Collection this month! And I watched 6 of them thanks to Hulu.

Five Favorite Discoveries:

This Gun for Hire (1942)

This Gun for Hire (1942), directed by Frank Tuttle

I watched this on Alan Ladd’s centennial, and this was only the second film I’d seen him in (the other being Shane). He gives one of the greater film noir performances here as a cold-blooded killer, and his chemistry with Veronica Lake is equally matched. Their obviously worked well off of one another, and I look forward to watching the other films they were paired in together. As one of the earlier film noirs, I can see how this film served as a foundation for the genre, and how Ladd’s character inspired other characters in noir and gangster movies.

Recommended if you enjoyThe Killers, The Big Sleep…film noir in general.

Bicycle Thieves (1948)

Bicycle Thieves (1948), directed by Vittorio De Sica

This is certainly one of the most honest, human films I’ve seen. It has a pretty simple story, with a father looking for his stolen bike with his son. But through the way it’s is presented, with unknown actors cast as the leads and all shot on location, the film is brought to greater heights. The characters immediately engaged me with their struggles, and in the beginning I hoped the inevitable wouldn’t happen. The chemistry between Lamberto Maggiorani and Enzo Staiola as the father and son is so natural, and the emotions you see on their faces are powerful. It’s a movie that I still think about weeks after I’ve seen it.

Recommended if you enjoyTwo Women (also directed by De Sica) and The 400 Blows.

Minority Report (2002)

Minority Report (2002), directed by Steven Spielberg

This is one of those movies that I’ve heard so much about and always meant to watch but never did. Well I finally did this month, and it exceeded my expectations! It’s definitely one of my favorites of Spielberg’s more recent films, and of Spielberg’s work I prefer his adventure and sci-fi movies over his more historical and war outings (then again that’s also more of a genre preference). What’s great about this film is how he mixed noir elements, and his frequent cinematographer Janusz Kamiński does a terrific job in incorporating that element with high contrast lighting.

Recommended if you enjoy: Film noir (or neo-noir in this case) like The Maltese Falcon, Chinatown, L.A. Confidential, etc. This film is also pretty reminiscent of the film Spielberg made before this one, A.I.: Artificial Intelligence (which I also watched for the first time this month!).

A Letter to Three Wives (1949)

A Letter to Three Wives (1949), directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz

A Letter to Three Wives is a witty drama that looks at the different roles of wives and their husbands. I especially enjoyed looking at the relationship between Ann Sothern and Kirk Douglas, where the wife was the breadwinner instead of the husband. But the best performance comes from Linda Darnell, it’s a shame she didn’t get more roles like this because she really shined in this. Joseph L. Mankiewicz was really at the top of his game in the late 40s/early 50s.

Recommended if you enjoy: Mankiewicz’s next film…All About Eve!

Grand Illusion (1937)

Grand Illusion (1937), directed by Jean Renoir

It was a toss up between featuring Grand Illusion or The Rules of the Game in my top 5, but I ultimately went with the former. It’s definitely not a typical war film as there are no scenes that actually show men in battle, and it’s not quite like other films with prisoners attempting escape. It has a seemingly simple story but manages to make a great study of the different class systems through the lens of World War I. Jean Renoir excels in his direction here, and the cast is just terrific, especially Jean Gabin and Erich von Stroheim.

Recommended if you enjoyThe Rules of the Game, Casablanca and Stalag 17. I’ve heard it also had an influence on The Great Escape, which I still need to see!

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One thought on “Films in 2013: September

  1. A lot from your list this time that I’ve seen and loved…and yes, I highly recommend ‘The Great Escape’. One of my all-time favorites! Cool that you liked ‘This Gun for Hire’…one of many great noir films out there.

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