Saturday, 10 November 2007

'Portait of Jennie' is unforgettable!

Portrait of Jennie (1948) is a fantasy story about a struggling artist in the depression-hit New York who meets a young girl in old fashioned clothing. He begins to draw a portrait of her from his memory but each time he meets this mysterious girl, she is clearly a few years older. The artist begins to realise that the girl had lived many years before and he is confused to why she is here now. But he is so much in love with the girl...
Although not accepted by the critics at the time, Portrait of Jennie is now regarded as a classic. It boasts another fine performance from Joseph Cotten, who plays the role of Edem Adams, the struggling artist, with a lot of sensitivity and even a sense of loneliness. The talented and beautiful Jennifer Jones is enchanting as well as quite haunting as the mysterious Jennie Appleton! What is also remarkable about this film is Dimitri Tiomkin's use of themes from Debussy in his score and the atmospheric cinematography by Joseph August. It is also finely directed by William Dieterle. Although a black and white film for the most part, the producer (David O' Selznick, who had produced Gone With The Wind almost ten years earlier) added a tinted colour sequence near the end of the film and the final shot is shown in technicolor. Portrait of Jennie is only one of the first films to have no title sequences at the beginning.

Although the narrative does not always flow smoothly,
Portrait of Jennie is a haunting, beautiful and compelling film. Unique and completely unforgettable! RATING *****

'The Ghost and Mrs Muir' to be shown again on the big screen!

The heart-warming comedy The Ghost and Mrs Muir (1947) will be shown at the National Film Theatre in London during December. This atmospheric and romantic film stars Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison. It is one of my personal favourite films which I am sure will delight my fellow classic film enthusiasts.

The best Dracula to get your teeth into!!!!!!

Dracula (1958), otherwise known as Horror of Dracula (for US Audiences) begins with a narration from the diary of Jonathan Harker (John Van Eyssen), who arrives at Castle Dracula at the latter part of the 19th century with the purpose of killing the evil Count Dracula (Christopher Lee). After being bitten by a vampire, Harker succumbs to Dracula's power. He knows that he himself is cursed to walk the earth eternally as a member of the "undead". His only hope is that someone will find his diary and do whatever is necessary to release his soul and to get rid of this evil man.Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) arrives at a nearby inn to find out what happened to Harker and a trip to Castle Dracula awaits him. Can Van Helsing achieve what Harker failed to do?
This is easily the best version of Dracula ever filmed. It began a commercially successful series of Dracula films for the British Hammer studios and made the relatively unknown lead stars into household names. This is also the first Dracula film to be shot in colour, with added blood and an element of sexual overtones which shocked critics when the film was originally released. Dracula may not look so shocking now but it is still compelling entertainment. Despite a modest budget, the film often looks sensational and a unique gothic look. Despite the odd dated moment, there is much to enjoy. The film has colourful set designs, an absorbing screenplay by Jimmy Sangster, a wonderful satanic score by James Bernard and brilliant direction by Terence Fisher (who had a real eye for visual set-pieces). To top all of this, the performances from Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee are truly striking which helps makes this Hammer film stand out as a horror movie to savour. RATING *****

(In order to celebrate the fifty years since the release of the film, a digitally re-mastered version of Dracula has been re-released and shown at selected cinemas during November 2007)

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Classy 'Ninotchka' works on every level!

"Garbo Laughs!" That was the tag on the initial release poster for Ninotchka in 1939. The film begins with three Russians (Sig Ruman, Felix Bressart and Alexander Granach) who are in Paris to sell Jewelry that was taken from the aristocracy during the Russian Revolution of 1917. They meet Count Leon D'Algout (Melvyn Douglas) who is working for a Russian Grand Duchess who wants to retrieve her jewelry.The Russians send their cold-spoken envoy, Nina Yakushova (Garbo), to sell the jewelry and to bring the three men back to the USSR. However, Nina slowly becomes seduced by the west....

A wonderful comedy directed by arguably Hollywood's most sophisticated director, Ernest Lubitsch. The film is also remembered as being the breakthrough success for the legendary Billy Wilder who along with Charles Brackett and Walter Reisch, wrote the sparking screenplay. The performances are sublime too, especially from Garbo. Utterly memorable! RATING *****

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

How well will 'The Wolf of Wall Street' do at this weekend at the Oscars? Brilliantly written by Terence Winter ("The Sopranos&...