Recommended viewing: Films that got away

Turner Classic Movies happens to be showing some great films that got away this month. Check the listings to see when they are airing in May.

 

Nadine 1987

*Nadine is one of the best Kim Basinger films. A quirky actress who worked best playing a vulnerable yet ultimately strong survivor. She is at her nervous best in the title role of this 1987 film with another great actor, Jeff Bridges.
They play a slightly kooky married couple with some issues to work out in their relationship. The two get embroiled in a crooked land deal when Nadine’s nude photos get mixed up with the blueprints of the shady scheme. This Robert Benton comedy shows off Basinger’s greatest features, her breathless beauty and at times inscrutable nature. Basinger is a well-matched foil for Bridges good-natured comic relief.

across the pacific pix 1942

*Across the Pacific is another one that got away. Bogart was at his finest when he was teasing some beautiful woman, and Mary Astor fills the bill in this B-role film shot during World War II. Like Casablanca, the plot is of no consequence, but the part to watch is the episode on the ship when Bogie teases Astor unmercifully while she is laid up in her bunk and seasick. Some of the dialogue is in the best tradition of the Thin Man series.

j guitar 2

*Johnny Guitar could be one of the best of the bad B’s, perhaps? Bad B’s are defined as something you just can’t look away from. They don’t make them like this anymore. Sterling Hayden is the love object and Joan Crawford is ready to fight Mercedes McCambridge for the love of Hayden who is Johnny Guitar.
Crawford in a Western setting is macabre enough. But the quirky nature of the plot simply adds to the delicious awfulness of this film. Johnny Guitar has a history with Crawford’s character, Vienna. He was the one that got away. Now she is determined to keep him safe in the middle of some contrived plot centering on a railroad coming through town and the sudden appearance of the elusive Johnny Guitar. Directed by Nicholas Ray, the plot makes little sense but is memorable for the strong female leads facing off in the end instead of the usual hokum with the men shooting it out.

can't take it with you

*You can’t take it with you is Capracorn at its best! One of my favorite Capra films, as it gives us a whole other dimension of Lionel Barrymore’s range. Barrymore is of course, best known as the infamous villain of the piece, Mr. Potter, from It’s a Wonderful Life. This film was taken from the 1936 play of the same name by George Kaufman and Moss Hart. The film version does seem to work best as a series of acts in the best tradition of theatre.
Jimmy Stewart is young and idealistic, with a scowling Edward Albert as his father. Jean Arthur is wonderful as his effervescent fiancée who must introduce Stewart to her delightfully dippy family. Reminiscent in part of Arsenic and Old Lace, the characters dance and glide through the landscape as the madness unfolds with Barrymore cheerfully holding court in the midst of the madness.
Capra himself had the same type of insouciance and joie de vivre that was captured and is seen as the essence of this film. It’s not as widely shown as It’s a Wonderful Life, but it serves as a great companion piece to that classic tale.

If you have a chance to watch any of these classics, do so, as they are not shown as often as many other lesser films in their respective genres.

The Top Ten Highest Grossing Films of all time

It looks like all Avengers all the time when scrolling through the 6 Degree Magazine on Flipboard. We have listed all the recent articles and they seem to be completely fascinated with the huge box office numbers that the Avengers movie is racking up. So to appease those who may have an interest in box office totals, (Box Office Mojo keeps a running count at www.boxofficemojo.com), we are going to list some of the current film box office champs in the Global race to the top.

Avatar movie

Number One: Avatar. From 2009, James Cameron’s Avatar, the one he had worked for over a decade to bring to the screen, still holds the Number One spot. Special effects and CGI are still the big draws for bringing people in to the movies. (2.78 Billion)

TItanic 1997

Number Two: Titanic and James Cameron again. This is the oldest film on the list, from 1997, and it tells us that some movies contain drawing power with something other than special effects. Of course, the effects of the sinking ship are spectacular, but a young Leonardo DiCaprio and the love story also were a powerful draw. (2.18 Billion)

The Avengers

Number Three: The Avengers. Still. This film from 2012 gives us an idea of the drawing (and staying) power of the Marvel Cinematic Comic Book Universe. The troubling news? 25 films are planned in the next four years. When will the public reach saturation point, I wonder? (Or begin to care about the Infinity Stones?) (1.5 Billion)

H Potter & Deathly Hallows

Number Four: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. from 2011, this film embodies the enduring popularity of the Harry Potter series. The good news is that literary minded people will agree that JK Rowling’s books were the catalyst for this explosion of movie madness. (1.34 Billion)

Frozen pix

Number Five: Frozen.  Girls rule! This film exploded onto the scene in 2013 and quickly overtook many of the classic Disney characters and animated films. Women and young girls are hungry for the role model provided by the Disney character of Queen Elsa of Arendelle. (1.2 Billion)

Iron Man 3

Number Six: Iron Man 3. This comic book series stands apart with the help of a gifted actor in Robert Downey Jr. This film was from 2013. (1.2 Billion)

F & F 7

Number Seven: Fast & Furious 7. The latest installment, released in 2015, has overtaken the competition and landed in the top ten moneymakers of all time. Predictably, F & F 8 is in the works. (1.1 Billion)

Trans Dk of the moon

Number Eight: Transformers: Dark of the Moon from 2011. Another popular series of films that keeps cranking out sequels and will continue to do so as long as they make money! (1.1 Billion)

Lord of rings return of king

Number Nine: Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. This 2003 film is relatively older in the scheme of things. Another book to film series that has kept audiences coming back for more. (1.1 Billion)

Skyfall movie

Number Ten: A Surprise! …at least to me it was. Skyfall, the James Bond movie from 2012 and one of the oldest continuing series of films-over 50 years-that is still incredibly successful thanks to a new lease on life in the form of Daniel Craig. (1.1 Billion)

Next, we’ll look at some of the surprising movies on the list of the top 100 current films making money for Hollywood markets…

What would you guess is the oldest film currently in the top 100 list?
*Hint: May the Force be with you.

Paul Blart Mall Cop 2: Harmless fun for the family

Paul Blart MCPaul Blart Mall Cop 2 was funny. That is, if you accept the premise that Kevin James plays a lovable but hapless schlep named Paul Blart, who will thwart his enemies and overcome adversity after being humiliated along the way. It’s not rocket science, but it’s fairly innocuous entertainment.
The reviewers of Paul Blart Mall Cop 2 may have been expecting something other than what is capable of being delivered here. This is not groundbreaking cinema, but harmless fun for the family.
There’s not a lot of depth here, but when you go into a movie with a fairly low bar of expectation, you are not quite as disappointed. If you were entertained by the antics of Paul Blart in the original film, you may well enjoy this second outing. There is no real difference in anything but the location-Las Vegas. Enough said.