Top 100 Movie Review: #57 – The Third Man (1949)

Sensational Cinematography.

The story was okay to good, but the visuals made the film. 

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Joseph Cotton and Orson Wells.

American Film Institute Ranking: #66/100
Academy Awards: Nominated for three winning best cinematography.
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550

A whodunit wrapped around a historical time piece, “A Third Man” is another entry into the catalogue of film noir. It relies on tension created by relationships rather than overt violence. This doesn’t always keep the pace up, but the shots within the film are so intricate that it adds an artistic crust that makes up for the lack of action.

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Top 100 Movie Review: #91 – My Fair Lady (1964)

Repetitive & Disappointing

Songs are good but repeated ad nauseam while missing on an amazing chance to make a statement. 

screenshot5American Film Institutes Ranking: #91
Academy Awards: Nominated 12 and won eight including Best Picture, Director, & Actor
My Rating: cropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-star

I have two problems with this film.

The first is with the musical pieces: they seem to be more like fragments. Putting together a good, catchy stanza is a start, but then repeating it ad nauseum doesn’t quite cut it. Second, the story should come off better than it does, a common lady trained to upper class, but Henry Higgin’s character is unredeemable — he’s a jerk.

Put them together and you end up with a film that tests your patience.

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Top 100 Movie Review: #27 – Bonnie & Clyde (1967)

The Start of New Hollywood

The movie is enjoyable on its own right, but it gets a bit better when you know the historical significance. 

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American Film Institutes Ranking: #27/100
Awards: Nominated for eight, winning Best Supporting Actress (Estelle Parsons) and Cinematography.
My Rating: cropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-star

The start of New Hollywood!

Directors now had more control since there was no longer a process for code approval and the content could be more risque. This movie couldn’t have been made previously; it glorifies Bonnie and Clyde with gory violence. The movie focuses on the deranged protagonists and never takes a moral stance. It opened up a whole new venue of story telling without the obligatory moral condemnation.

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Top 100 Movie Review: #88 – Easy Rider (1969)

Hippie Junk

A previous cultural force, the movie can only be appreciated for capturing the feelings of a particular segment of a generation. 

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Produced, written and starring Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper.

American Film Institutes Ranking: #88/100
Awards: Nominated for Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor (Jack Nicholson)
My Rating: cropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-star

“Easy Rider” is a hippie anthem: two drug-induced guys traveling the United States looking for their spiritual awakening while living free and sticking it to the man. The movie was a power house in 1969 and pulled in a 60 million return on an Indie budget of 400k. A quick peak at online message boards shows people of the era recalling its impact.

This movie is unique since it was a part of the New Hollywood films of the late 1960s, and Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper wanted to make a film for the counter culture they were a part of, not another mainstream Hollywood film. The time capsule aspect might be the only reason to view this film as it is otherwise a gibberish piece of story telling.

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Top 100 Movie Review: #19 – Chinatown (1974)

Gut Crushing Neo-Noir

I don’t know if the ending could have been any other way.

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Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway.

American Film Institute Ranking: #19/100
Academy Awards: Nominated for 11 winning one: Best Original Screenplay.
My Rating:cropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-star

This movie gets a lot of hyperbole thrown its way with many people describing it as having the best script ever.  I like it, just maybe not on that cataclysmic of a level.

I love noir with the unscrupulous detective, ineffective police, corrupt government, and gritty delivery. “Chinatown” is just another reincarnation, and with an intriguing mystery paired with a stomach-punch ending, it fulfills the expectations of the genre.

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Top 100 Movie: #42 – Rear Window (1954)

A Movie That Does Everything.

Witty dialogue, a unique set up, and tension stick with you the entire way. 

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Jimmy Stuart.

American Film Institutes Ranking: #42/100
Awards: Four Nominations for Director, Adapted Screenplay, Color, and Sound Mixing
My Rating: cropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-star

Some movies struggle to do one thing well, failing to even be a good example of the genre that they are intending to represent.

Rear Window does so many things well. The four main characters are immensely interesting with their banter and witty dialogue moving the film along. The set up is a man stuck at home due to a broken leg with no entertainment other than the lives of his neighbors — voyeurism at its best. Add the murder mystery and you get to see an exquisite example of the great Alfred Hitchcock at work.

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Top 100 Movie Review: #23 – The Maltese Falcon (1941)

Many Firsts.

Bogart’s first big role. A new genre of film. Huston’s directorial debut. The Pairing of Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet.

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Humphrey Bogart with the Maltese Falcon

American Film Institute Ranking: #23/100
Academy Awards: Three nominations and no wins in Best Picture, Supporting Actor and Adapted Screenplay categories.
My Rating: cropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-star

I’m going to be rather worthless on reviewing this film on the merits of being a good movie. I read “The Maltese Falcon” and enjoyed it so much that I decided to watch the movie — immediately after I had finished reading the book. It was a shorter novel, too, meaning it was all very fresh in my mind after just a few days of reading.

The movie was immensely faithful to book and the casting absolutely perfect. I cannot recall how I imagined the characters pre-movie: Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre, and Sydney Greenstreet will be how I remember them going forward.

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Top 100 Movie Review: #92 – A Place in the Sun (1951)

Dated.

Not only is the movie stale, it cycles through several formats never deciding what kind of movie it wants to be. 

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Elizabeth Taylor  and Montgomery Clift — at least they are pretty to look at.

American Film Institutes Ranking: #92
Academy Awards: Nominated for nine winning six, including Best Director and Screenplay
My Rating:cropped-smooth-star

I read about 300 pages of American Tragedy; it’s a behemoth of a book, clocking in at over 900 pages, and when I went to renew it someone had put a hold on it. I just rechecked it out, so I was shocked when I realized that a movie of a completely different name picks up at part 2 of the novel.

Even though I did not finish the book, this movie does it absolutely no justice — it wrings out all the juice leaving us an attempt at a love story. This film is simply dated, and while it might be a top 100 for cultural reasons, it exhibits little power today.

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Top 100 Movie Review: #32 – Godfather Part II (1974)

A Sequel Better Than The Original.

There, I said it. Godfather’s second incarnation is better than the first, having a cleaner plot and an interesting juxtaposition of past and present. 

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Al Pacino as Micheal Corleone.

American Film Institutes Ranking: #32/100
Awards: Nominated for nine Academy Awards, winning Best Picture, Director, Supporting Actor (De Niro), Adapted Screenplay, & Score.
My Rating: cropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-star

Initial reaction to this movie was divided with many people not liking the two story arcs happening at once. Canby writing for the New York Times described the film as “stitched together from leftover parts.” The film later became a focus of reevaluation with some considering it a better film than the first. Roger Ebert even went as far as to re-rate the movie with his highest ranking retrospectively.

Something about this film caught my eye more than the first, and I think it centers around me viewing the two-story arcs positively; it gives us time to breath from present day events while providing a solid, stand-alone story.

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Top 100 Movie Review: #10 – Singing in the Rain (1952)

A Musical with a Story.

Some of the numbers are a bit lame, but the story, acting and sets are intriguing enough to make up for the boring parts.

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Gene Kelly in the famous “Singing in the Rain” scene.

American Film Institute Ranking: #10/100
Academy Awards: Nominated for two – Supporting Actress & Original Music Score
My Rating: cropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-star

The story’s iconic scene with Gene Kelly has been burned into the collective consciousness of Americana, but what about the rest of the movie?

Singing in the Rain pairs an interesting story with some solid musical numbers to be a pretty good film. While some of the lulls can be quite treacherous to get through, there is usually enough interesting things on screen, whether talent, clothing, set, or cinematography to make it bearable.

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