Thursday, 30 August 2007

3:10 to Yuma remake to be released soon

The remake of the classic 1957 western '3:10 to Yuma' is slated to open on September 7th, 2007 in the Unites States. The original film (original film poster, right) starred Glenn Ford as outlaw leader Ben Wade and Van Heflin as Dan Evans. The 1957 was well-received by the critics and the public. The 2007 film (original film poster, below) stars Russell Crowe as Wade and Christian Bale as Evans. It is hoped that the remake will be as good as the original but I know which original film poster I would go for!

Wednesday, 29 August 2007


Humphrey Bogart and director John Huston were an intriguing and memorable combination of talents. Having previously worked together in the celebrated 'The Maltese Falcon' (1941) and the equally lauded 'The Treasure of Sierra Madre' (1948), special things were expected from their next offering, 'Key Largo' (1948).

Bogart plays Major Frank McCloud, a decorated war hero who arrives at a hotel belonging to the family of his friend who had died in action during the war. The father of the deceased and propertor, James Temple (sympathically played by Lionel Barrymore) finds some comfort in talking about his brave son to McCloud and sadly remembers him despite his bravery. However, there are gangsters in his hotel and they begin running things to allow the criminal Johnny Rocco (Edward G. Robinson) to escape Key Largo but this is the night of the big storm.

Robinson's performance as Rocco is electrifying and the epitome of pure evil. The virtues of his characters are clearly the opposite to the James Temple's son not just because he is an evil gangster but that he made a living out of crime when others were dying for their country in the war. Bogart's performance is as reliable as ever, producing a performance that portrays a flawed hero rather than a knight in shining armour. Lauren Bacall's performance as Temple's daughter Nora is vulnerable and so different to her performance as the seductive Marie in 'To Have and Have Not' (1944) but very effective.

Despite the great performances and the technical mastery of the storm sequences (brilliantly photographed by the legendary Karl Freund), it is the writing (by John Huston and Richard Brooks) and the direction that make this fine example of film noir. The film effectively captures the mood of post war despair. The storm itself heightens the moments of claustrophia and tension, creating a masterpiece which is in my opinion the best of the Huston-Bogart classics. RATING: *****
Watched on DVD on August 23rd 2007


Suky's top ten favourite movies are:
Dead Poet's Society (1988)
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
Shirley Valentine (1989)
Educating Rita (1983)
LA Confidential (1997)
The Lavender Hill Mob (1951)
Moonstruck (1987)
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)
All the President's Men (1976)
West Side Story (1961)

Suky's background is Indian therefore her top three Indian (or 'Bollywood') films are:
Veer Zaara (2004)
Lagaan (2001)
Sholay (1975)

Tuesday, 28 August 2007


We live beside the Thames and knowing that the weather has not been great this summer,as well as the fact that I go back to work on Monday, I thought that I should enjoy a life of leisure while it lasts. As a teacher I know that this time next week I will be under so much stress but I doubt that I will be able to receive any sympathy at the moment! I shall return to my blog very soon but until then, cheers!!!! Paul B.

Saturday, 25 August 2007


The wonderful James Cagney stars as a mother-obsessed psychotic thug in Raoul Walsh's gangster classic 'White Heat' (1949) which will be shown on TCM at 19.05 on August 29th, 2007. This is a memorable film about a government agent who manages to infiltrate a group of violent gangsters. A genuinely entertaining film with top notch performances and a wonderful screenplay which includes the classic much-quoted line: "Made it, Ma! Top of the world!"


My own review of 'Mutiny on the Bounty' from September 3rd, 1999

The 1962 remake of the classic 'Mutiny On The Bounty' story has been savaged by the critics thoughout the years. Criticisms have included over-length, poor acting (not forgetting Brando's accent) and an over-dramaticised death scene finale.
After the release of the original 1935 version, many critics were quick to applaud this Frank Lloyd classic as the epitome of modern film-making. However, it can now be regarded as a slackly told adventure, although still very entertaining.
During the making of this version, leaks to the media of the problems which beset the production has not been helpful to its cause. Problems alerted included directorial conflicts (the resignation of Carol Reed for Lewis Milestone), delayed and rewritten screenplays, Marlon Brando becoming difficult onset etc.. It became quite clear that the knives of the critics were beginning to sharpen at the prospect of this remake of a universally acknowledged classic. It would also have been professional suicide for any of these original critics to think that this movie was to be anything other than a "turkey".
The main point of scathing by the critics was Brando's accent. I am Irish and I have had to endure dreadful "oirish" accents in movies throughout the years. So, when a main Hollywood star tries to make an eccentric interpretation of a real life English hero with an English accent, suddenly everybody gets particular to what part of England it is from. What Marlon Brando did was make a spirited if unsuccessful attempt at creating a different and more realistic Fletcher Christian.
The production was fine. The other performances are excellent, especially Trevor Howard's Captain Bligh (much more realistic than Laughton's interpretation) and most importantly, this version entertains. I accept that it could have been better but I do enjoy watching this version than the other two versions. It is not perfect and I appreciate that it is overlong - but even if you hate this remake you must admit that there is no way it deserves the scathing reviews it has received throughout the years. RATING: ****

Friday, 24 August 2007

Meeting Audrey Hepburn

In September 1988 I had the honour of meeting Audrey Hepburn, film star and UNICEF ambassador, at the UNICEF function at the Westbury Hotel in Dublin. A member of the hardworking Irish UNICEF committee allowed me to travel down from Donegal to attend and support the proceedings because I had worked quite actively with voluntary youth work in Donegal. As a classic film enthusiast I never did think that I would ever meet quite the most beautiful movie star of all.

Ms. Hepburn had real star quality, having gained her legendary reputation in such film classics as 'Roman Holiday' (1953), 'Sabrina' (1954), 'Funny Face' (1957) , 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' (1961) and 'My Fair Lady' (1964). She was also a wonderful ambassador for UNICEF. I am delighted to say that I found Ms. Hepburn to be a genuinely kind and friendly person! I still feel really happy when I think about that day and I feel so privileged to have been allowed to meet such a wonderful lady.

Meeting Audrey was one of the happiest moments of my life!
The following organisations are closely linked with Ms. Hepburn and they are full of wonderful people too, as well as the fact that their causes are important. Please contribute when you can. Thank you.

My better half is watching 'The Immigrant'

My better half is currently watching this early masterpiece from Charles Chaplin on DVD called 'the Immigrant' about a penniless immigrant on his way to New York who meets a girl on a boat. Made in 1917 for the Mutual Film Company, this silent comedy was written, directed and starred Chaplin and the film includes his usual ensemble of stars such as Edna Purviance, Eric Campbell and Albert Austin. The film is only 20 minutes long but worth watching. The DVD version includes a recent score by Carl Davis. May I add that several years back we were lucky to attend the very screening at the Royal Festival Hall when Davis played the accompanying score to this film for the first time. RATING: *****

My summer holidays are nearing the last week.
But frankly my dear I don't give a damn!

REVIEW: Billy Liar - The recent screening of the sixties classic at Greenwich Picturehouse

The 1963 John Schlesinger classic 'Billy Liar' was shown at the Greenwich Picturehouse on Tuesday last week as part of the 'Best of British' season. The film print had been recently digitally re-mastered although it was difficult to tell judging from the high quality of the print of the recent DVD release of the film. Based on the novel by Keith Waterhouse and the play by Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall who both wrote the screenplay, we are introduced to Billy Fisher (Tom Courtenay), an undertaker's clerk who resides with his parents and grandmother in a drab north England town during the early 1960's but frequently escapes into his own world of fantasy. He imagines himself as different characters in his own imaginary world of Snowdonia. His parents do not value him for anything other than someone who wastes his time, with his father (Wilfred Pickles) sarcastically referring to him as "his lordship". Even Billy's ambitions are fantastical. Billy tells his closest workmate Arthur Crabtree (Rodney Bewes) that he will be handing in his notice to his boss, Emmanuel Shadrack (Leonard Rossiter) to quit his workplace so that he can create jokes for comedian Danny Boon (Leslie Randall). His lovelife is a tangle but the return of Liz (Julie Christie), a independent girl whom Billy loves would eventually make him face a dilemma: to remain in his own fantasy world or face a reality with Liz in London.

'Billy Liar' is a funny and historical document of a country in transition. This social changes are evident in the many references such as the images of construction work, the comment made by the grandmother (Ethel Griffies) about the new types of foreign workers arriving lately, the nostalgic points made by Counsellor Duxbury (Finlay Currie) about how everything was different was he was a boy and of course the iconic image of Liz (julie Cristie) representing the immediate future of the sexy, independent girl-about-town of swinging London. It is unclear how much the screenwriters or John Schlesinger had predicted about what was about to happen to England but the fact that these images and points are just referred to and not preached gives the film a sense of honesty which makes it one of the best "British kitchen sink" films from the 1960's. The monochrome photography by Denys Coop is rather excellent but alongside the impeccable screenplay and direction, it is the performances, especially from the Tom Courtenay, Julie Christie and the underrated Gwendolyn Watts (Rita) that makes 'Billy Liar' a film experience to cherish. RATING: *****

Thursday, 23 August 2007


my new movie ratings
I shall be review future films using the old film review process similar to how to the process used by the great Leslie Halliwell.

***** Classic
**** Classic but not completely perfect!
*** Good to Classic but not a complete classic!
** Average, with possible interesting moments.
* Average or below.

Stars or technicians or writers or directors or producers written in italics: A unique contribution to the film.

Old Review system:
9 - 10 marks (out of 10): Brilliant
8 marks (out of 10): Excellent
7 marks (out of 10): Very Good
6 marks (out of 10): Good
5 marks (out of 10): Average

3 - 4 marks (out of 10): Below Average
2 marks (out of 10): Poor
1 mark (out of 10): Very Poor

INTRODUCTION: Welcome to my world of classic cinema!

Welcome to my world of classic cinema! When I say my world of classic cinema I usually refer to the golden age of Hollywood cinema during the 1930's and 1940's, silent films, landmark European and world films, the epics from the 1950's and the 1960's, the often-regarded second Hollywood golden age (usually cited as between 1967 and 1977), and modern classics - my list is endless! How I define classic cinema are those movies made that have reached or have almost reached the point of brilliance or movies that strive for greatness but have failed! I am sure that you know that this site contains just another collection of personalised opinions from someone who just loves watching films! I hope that my passion for classic cinema can be shared and that my random comments, however opinionated they can sometimes be, can be helpful in anyway!

How well will 'The Wolf of Wall Street' do at this weekend at the Oscars?

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