THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH: Twenty two years before everyone’s favourite everyman James Stewart and a warbling Doris Day find themselves embroiled in a plot of political intrigue in Marrakesh, an English couple suffered a similar fate in the Swiss Alps. Conspirators, led by the peerless Peter Lorre, seek to assassinate an influential statesman and kidnap their child in the process. Click on Peter to read on!
YOUNG & INNOCENT: In Young and Innocent (also known as The Girl Was Young) the unfortunate Robert Tisdall finds the body of a woman washed up on a beach – an actress he may or may not have been rolling around in the hay with. Witnesses see him fleeing the scene of the crime (never a good idea, Robert) and he duly becomes the prime suspect. Click on Robert to read on…
CITIZEN KANE: The British Film Institute’s annual listing of The Top 50 Greatest Films of All Time came out last month. Having spent half a century in the number one spot, Citizen Kane(Orson Welles 1941) was ousted by Hitchcock’s Vertigo(1958). To be knocked off the top of the podium after spending 50 years as the greatest film of all time, as voted for by the world’s top critics, isn’t such a bad thing – especially if you concede your spot to a masterpiece by the master of suspense. Click on Orson to read on!
ROMAN HOLIDAY: There was a time when the name Audrey Hepburn was not known the world over; a time when her now iconic image did not adorn posters, cushions, clothing, and was not synonymous, as it remains today, with all things chic and fashionable. That time was before she starred, alongside Gregory Peck, in William Wyler’s Roman Holiday. Click on Audrey to read on!
SEVEN SAMURAI: Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai (1954) is an epic in every sense of the word: ‘a long poem, typically one derived from ancient oral tradition, narrating the deeds and adventures of heroic or legendary figures or the history of a nation.’ Defining Kurosawa’s seminal work, which runs for three hours and twenty seven minutes, as a long poem is justifiable given the film’s length, the grandeur and scope of its ambition, and the descriptive beauty of its dialogue and imagery. Click on Toshiro to read on!
LES 400 COUPS: A number of cinema’s greatest directors are famed for their debut feature-length films. Among them are some personal favourites: The Maltese Falcon (John Huston, 1941); À bout de souffle (Breathless – Jean-Luc Godard, 1960); Play Misty for Me (Clint Eastwood, 1971); Reservoir Dogs (Quentin Tarantino, 1992) – the list goes on… None of the above come close – at least in my own estimations – to François Truffaut’s Les 400 Coups (The 400 Blows). Click on Jean-Pierre to read on!
LA DOLCE VITA: Upon receiving his Oscar for Best Foreign Film for The Great Beauty/La grande bellezza, Paolo Sorrentino thanked the usual suspects – the Academy, his producers, actors and family. He also paid homage to his “sources of inspiration” which included Diego Maradonna (as an Englishman this rather angered me), Martin Scorsese (naturally) and a fellow Italian director by the name of Federico Fellini. Click on Anita to read on!
DR. NO: Directed by Terence Young – who would later be behind the camera for From Russia with Love (1963) and Thunderball (1965) – Bond No. 1 sees James in Jamaica, solving the murder of Professor John Strangways and investigating the reclusive Dr. No whose activities on the island of Crab Key are mysterious to say the least. Click on Sean for more…
DOCTOR ZHIVAGO: A young man runs after a streetcar along a snowy Moscow street. Seen through the rear window of the moving car, he struggles to catch up but is determined to do so. He jumps on and finds a seat behind a woman whose face is mostly concealed by a thick black scarf, revealing only her piercing blue eyes. Their gazes, which do not converge, turn in unison to watch a child running by in the street below – he smiles with his mouth, she with her eyes. As they each stand to get off the car they brush past one another, the camera cuts to power lines above where sparks fly, they go their separate ways. Click on Omar to read on!
IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT: 1967 was a pretty stellar year for the movies. Anne Bancroft drew Dustin Hoffman into all sorts of trouble in The Graduate, Paul Newman ate fifty hard boiled eggs and stuck it to ‘the Man’ in Cool Hand Luke, Beatty and Dunaway made multiple withdrawals as Bonnie and Clyde and a little chap called Mowgli, raised by wolves, befriended a bear and a panther in a jungle somewhere. Click on Sidney to read on!
THE STING: Few, if any, onscreen cinematic partnerships attain the same level of charisma, nudge-and-a-wink understanding and all-round roguishness as Paul Newman and Robert Redford – Butch and Sundance, Henry Gondorff and Johnny Hooker. Best known for blowing up trains, making off with the loot and fleeing the law to Bolivia in George Roy Hill’s 1969 semi-Western masterpiece, the dynamic duo paired up with the director again in 1973 to teach ruthless racketeering boss Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw) a well deserved lesson in Prohibition era Illinois. Click on Robert and Paul to read on!
JEAN DE FLORETTE & MANON DES SOURCES: Claude Berri’s Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources, a two-part adaptation of Marcel Pagnol’s “L’Eau des Collines,” constitutes one of the finest examinations of the human condition to exist on film. Spanning a fiercely slow-burning four hours, and four generations of the Soubeyran and Cadoret families in 1920s Provence, its essence lies in the life-giving provision of water to a rural community. From this elemental starting point, the two films – which exist in conjunction and must be seen one after the other – use its importance to those who live off the land to reflect upon what it means to love thy neighbour. Click on Gérard to read on!
WITHNAIL AND I: Although I am not a smoker, I’ll admit it can look cool in the movies. Humphrey Bogart has his fedora/cigarette combo to thank, in some part, for his illustrious career and ladykilling – he wasn’t the best looking chap. However high their theatrical ambitions, this is sadly not the case for either Withnail nor I in Bruce Robinson’s semi-autobiographical and perennially brilliant masterpiece. How dare you! Click on Paul and Richard to read more you swine!
THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS: Jonathan Demme’s direction of Silence of the Lambs generates a sense of menace and unease that pervades every scene, preventing a viewer from ever feeling comfortable in their seat; a discomfort achieved even after these opening seconds. I envy those who may come to this film for the first time but warn you that the grip of its tension will not let go until you hit the final credits, and even then maybe not. Click on Clarissssse to read full review…
THE LAST SEDUCTION: The expression ‘femme fatale’ conjures up images of Rita Hayworth, Barbara Stanwyck and Lana Turner or the dream-like sound of a Velvet Underground song. Film noir’s Mesmerizingly beautiful, manipulative and unscrupulously seductive blond bombshells employed sexuality for all the wrong reasons but forged a path in cinema for female characters who were certainly not afraid to show their male counterparts who was boss. The raven haired Linda Fiorentino’s name is a more recent addition to this list. Click on Linda to read on…!
PULP FICTION: It is hard to believe that it has now been 20 years since Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction was released. QT announced himself to the world with his debut feature,Reservoir Dogs, in 1992; and if the first film was an explosion, the second was an earthquake. His rise to fame is comparable to that of Orson Welles in the early 40s and he has always had the supreme self-confidence and ego to match his cinematic forefather. Click on Mia Wallace to read more but for God’s sake don’t give her a foot rub.