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Second Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge List Thread

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Second Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge List Thread

Old 05-26-11, 11:46 PM
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Re: Second Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge List Thread

"The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there." The Go-Between, L.P. Hartley

1. The Road Home (2000) * 89 min.
2. Snake In The Eagle's Shadow (1978) * 97 min.
3. Shadow Magic (2000) * 116 min. A British showman partners with a Chinese photographer to introduce the movies to Peking in the early 20th century. Inspired by the career of Chinese film pioneer Liu Zhonglun.
4. Surrogate Woman (1987) * 92 min.
5. Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer (1993) * 87 min. Focuses less on Wuornos' story than on the people trying to profit from it, and the result is more interesting than might be expected.
6. Suburban Madness (2004) * 89 min. True crime TV movie tells an interesting story, but doesn't really get beneath the surface.
7. The Crying Game (1992) * 112 min. An IRA volunteer has to balance love and war during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.
8. The Scent of Green Papaya (1993) * 104 min. A young girl becomes a servant to a merchant family in decline in Saigon in 1951; ten years later she begins to make a new life in a changing world.
9. Turkish Delight (1973) * 107 min.
10. Keetje Tippel (1975) * 107 min.
11. The Mark of Zorro (1920) * 107 min. Douglas Fairbanks' Zorro fights for the poor and oppressed in 19th century California.
12. The Iron Horse (1924) * 149 min. John Ford's epic account of the building of the transcontinental railroad.
13. The Three Musketeers (1921) * 119 min. Douglas Fairbanks' D'Artagnan joins the Musketeers in an adventure to save the Queen's honor.
14. Three Bad Men(1926) * 92 min.
15. In Old Arizona (1928) * 99 min. The Cisco Kid playfully tries to evades capture.
16. Michael Collins (1996) * 133 min. Powerful biography of IRA leader from the Easter Rising of 1916 to his leading role in the Irish War of Independence and the Civil War that followed.
17. The Wind That Shakes The Barley (2006) * 127 min.
18. The Unbeliever (1918) * 85 min. Effective WW I propaganda movie with odd religious aspect.
19. Four Sons (1928) * 96 min.


* First time viewing.

Last edited by ororama; 07-04-11 at 04:48 PM.
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Old 05-27-11, 09:21 AM
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Re: Second Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge List Thread



Short reviews and fun facts are placed in [spoiler] tags to quicken loading time.

June 1, 2011
1. CASABLANCA (1943/U.S., b&w, 102 min., Warner Bros., wartime drama) DVD
Dir.: Michael Curtiz. Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, Dooley Wilson.
Spoiler:
It don’t get better than this. This was my mother’s favorite film and I first saw it on my first trip to a revival theater (with my mother, natch), when I was 14, and it played with THE MALTESE FALCON. What’s amazing to me on seeing this for the umpteenth time is the sheer range of ethnic and racial types on display in the film, mostly played by those exact ethnic and racial types, many of whom were actual refugees from the war. Conrad Veidt from THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI, Peter Lorre from Fritz Lang’s M, and Marcel Dalio from Jean Renoir’s GRAND ILLUSION, are only the most prominent, and all on a Hollywood soundstage for a treatise on the war. If you want to understand that whole period, this film is the best place to start. Also, I love the way then-current popular tunes were worked into the fabric of the entire film, not just "As Time Goes By."


June 2, 2011
2. I BOMBED PEARL HARBOR
(1960/1962, Japan, color, 98 min. WWII combat movie) English-dubbed VHS
Dir.: Shue Matsubayashi. Cast: Toshiro Mifune, Yosuke Natsuki, Jun Tazaki.
Spoiler:
Now I know how Indians felt watching a movie about Custer’s Last Stand. Everytime the “enemy” appeared in this film, I cheered and applauded, the “enemy,” of course, being the Americans. Everytime a Jap pilot, one of the “heroes,” got hit or downed, I applauded. The first 19 minutes is about Pearl Harbor. The bulk of the film is about the Battle of Midway, so a more accurate title would have been, “I Got My Ass Kicked at Midway.” I watched the English-dubbed version, which actually got a theatrical release in the U.S. in 1962. Paul Frees seems to do most of the voices, including Mifune’s. It’s 20 min. shorter than the Japanese original, first released in 1960, which I’d love to see someday. The guy who did the special effects for the Godzilla movies, Eiji Tsuburaya, created the miniatures for the battles in this film. Some of the effects shots were used in the American film, MIDWAY (1976), which I intend to see for this challenge.


June 3, 2011
3. MIDWAY
(1976/U.S., color, 131 min., Universal Pictures, WWII combat movie) DVD
Dir.: Jack Smight. Cast: Charlton Heston, Henry Fonda, Glenn Ford, Robert Webber.
Spoiler:
After watching the previous film, I definitely had to put in MIDWAY next. And, yes, MIDWAY uses shots from it. Toshiro Mifune is in both films (as Admiral Yamaguchi in the previous film and as Admiral Yamamoto here) and he’s dubbed by the same American voice actor in both—Paul Frees! Whose voice doesn’t sound remotely like Mifune’s. Mifune had spoken English in a few earlier films (like RED SUN), but my guess here is that since every other Japanese character is played by a Japanese-American actor speaking unaccented English (Pat Morita, James Shigeta, et al), they decided that Mifune’s accent would stand out too much. Even so, every time he opens his mouth and Frees’ voice comes out, it takes me out of the movie. Anyway, once the forces are in motion for the battle to start, it gets really exciting and suspenseful and mixes studio and effects shots with lots of actual color combat footage from the real battle. Lots of big stars in glorified cameos, e.g. Robert Mitchum and James Coburn. Three of the cast of the Japan-set THE YAKUZA, from the year before, are in this: Mitchum, Shigeta and Christina Kokubo.


June 4, 2011
4. A WALK IN THE SUN (1945/U.S., 117 min., b&w, 20th Century Fox, WWII combat movie) DVD
Dir.: Lewis Milestone. Cast: Dana Andrews, Richard Conte, Lloyd Bridges, John Ireland.
Spoiler:
This was in production in the final stages of the war and the makers knew it would come out after the war was over, so they focused more on the moment-to-moment experience of the infantryman in combat. It’s about a platoon in Italy whose objective is a distant farmhouse which they have to make sure is clean of Nazis. One of the sergeants in command cracks up, overwhelmed by fear and doubt, and he has to be left behind. This would never have been allowed in a film made during the war. Lots of forced banter among the men to take up the time till they get to the farmhouse, with catchphrases like “You guys kill me, you really kill me” and “Nobody dies.” One of the soldiers composes letters to his sister in his head—out loud! It’s a bit much at times, but it’s otherwise quite a solid film about the war, almost completely bereft of propaganda. See also William Wellman’s THE STORY OF G.I. JOE (1945) and John Ford’s THEY WERE EXPENDABLE (1945) for similar late takes on the war. The Russian-born Milestone also directed ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT (1930) and THE HALLS OF MONTEZUMA (1951). Has a running ballad soundtrack, “Let them sing of the men of the fighting platoon; Let them sing of the job they done; How they came across the sea to sunny Italy; And took a little walk in the sun…” A number of people involved with the film were leftists who later got in trouble with the House Un-American Activities Committee.


5. TORA! TORA! TORA! (1970/U.S.-Japan, 145 min., color, 20th Century Fox, WWII historical drama) DVD.
Directors: Richard Fleischer, Toshio Masuda, Kinji Fukasaku. Cast: E.G. Marshall, Martin Balsam, Jason Robards, Soh Yamamura.
Spoiler:
Solid account of the events leading up to Pearl Harbor on both sides of the conflict. The best film about Pearl Harbor I’ve ever seen and, arguably, one of the best postwar films about the war. As an American, though, it’s sad to watch the escalating litany of blunders, thanks to government bureaucracy, intra-service rivalry, and the obstacles wrought by the chain of command, that prevent the news of the impending attack, culled in D.C. by two dedicated officers from decoded intercepts of Japanese communiques, from reaching Pearl Harbor in time for the men there to do anything about it. On the Japanese side, we see the failure of the diplomats to achieve their objective—to deliver the declaration of war to the White House before the attack begins. Many of the Japanese officers here were also characters in I BOMBED PEARL HARBOR and MIDWAY. The co-director of the Japanese scenes, Kinji Fukasaku, directed BATTLE ROYALE 30 years later, based on his lingering anger at the way the Japanese wartime government treated his generation.


June 6, 2011
6. THE LONGEST DAY (1962/U.S., 178 min., b&w, 20th Century Fox, WWII combat epic) DVD
Directors: Ken Annakin, Andrew Marton, Bernhard Wicki. Cast: John Wayne Robert Mitchum, Curt Jurgens, Henry Fonda, Fabian.
Spoiler:
If you have to see one film about D-Day, this is it. When I first saw this, the 20th anniversary of D-Day was still many months away. Now it’s the 67th anniversary. Interesting to see how German blunders in the lead-up to the invasion led to their failure to stem it. Just like American blunders in the lead-up to Pearl Harbor (TORA! TORA! TORA!) and Japanese errors in judgment in the Battle of Midway (MIDWAY). The German officers here are much more animated than the Japanese and some are pretty funny in the way they react to the absurdity of it all. The Japanese, as seen in three of the previous films listed here, never allowed themselves to joke or criticize their higher-ups. Speaking of which, there was way more comic schtick among the G.I.'s in this film than was necessary. Sure, some joking is needed to offset the tension, but there seem to be whole routines by Red Buttons (“Ding Dong! Ding Dong!”), Richard Beymer ("Hey fellas!"), and the comedy team of Sean Connery and Norman Rossington, in the middle of deadly serious combat. On the other hand, the horrors of the slaughter at Omaha Beach are adequately portrayed without resorting to the almost pornographic bloodshed and gore that Spielberg dished out with such sadistic glee in SAVING PRIVATE RYAN.


7. JACK LONDON (1943/U.S., 94 min., b&w, United Artists, biographical drama) Dir.: Alfred Santell. Cast: Michael O’Shea, Susan Hayward, Louise Beavers.
Spoiler:
Episodic biography of novelist Jack London (“Call of the Wild,” “The Sea Wolf,” etc.) covering the years 1890-1905. The last third is devoted to the Russo-Japanese War, which London covered for a San Francisco newspaper. London witnesses Japanese atrocities (the slaughter of Russian prisoners) and inroads into Korea and hears a Japanese officer describe his country’s plans for world conquest. This was particularly relevant at the time this film was made--at the height of our war with Japan. Which makes this the fourth film I've watched for this challenge so far to deal with conflict with Japan. Pres. Theodore Roosevelt (played by Wallis Clark) has a short but dramatic scene. Interestingly, his son, also named Theodore, who was a general in World War II, is a character in the previous film I watched for this challenge, THE LONGEST DAY, and was played by Henry Fonda.


June 7, 2011
8. BLOOD ON THE SUN (1945/U.S., 93 min., b&w, United Artists, wartime drama) DVD (Part of Mill Creek's Combat Classics set)
Dir.: Frank Lloyd. Cast: James Cagney, Sylvia Sidney, John Emery, Leonard Strong.
Spoiler:
Very unusual wartime film about things happening in Japan 12 years before the war. Cagney plays an American reporter/editor working on an English-language newspaper in Tokyo in 1929. He gets hold of a document outlining the “Tanaka Plan” for Japanese world conquest. The secret police try to stop him from smuggling it out of Japan. Cagney is seen training in judo and uses it extensively in his fights with the Japanese cops, including one big bald guy named Oshima at the end, in a scene that looks forward to James Bond’s battle with Oddjob in GOLDFINGER, 19 years after this movie. Cagney is doubled for most of the flips, but he does a lot of his own fighting. This film is often cited as the first Hollywood film to feature Asian martial arts. The romantic scenes between Cagney and the half-Chinese character played by Bronx-born Sidney really slow the film down. Colonel Yamamoto, later an Admiral, is a character here, making this the fourth film I’ve seen for this challenge to feature Yamamoto.


June 8, 2011
9. THE JOE LOUIS STORY (1953/U.S., 88 min., b&w, biographical drama)
Dir.: Robert Gordon. Cast: Coley Wallace, Paul Stewart, James Edwards, Hilda Simms.
Spoiler:
Condenses roughly 20 years of the black boxing champ’s life into less than 90 minutes, so a lot of interesting stuff is glossed over or gone through too quickly. The lead actor, Coley Wallace, is a dead ringer for Louis, although he’s not much of an actor. (Neither was Louis himself, who starred in a similarly themed film, THE SPIRIT OF YOUTH, back in 1938!) Wallace’s resemblance to Louis helps in the boxing scenes, which use footage from Louis’s actual fights with Max Baer, James Braddock, Primo Carnera, Max Schmeling, and Rocky Marciano. And there’s a lot of this footage, which is the real selling point of the movie. In fact, I don't think actor Wallace recreates any ring action, other than in training scenes. Louis’s second fight with Schmeling ends with Schmeling going down and then a cut to a scene months later, so we get no sense of Louis’s ascent to national hero status for beating Hitler’s champion. If you want to get that sense, check out Spike Lee’s MALCOLM X (1992), which showed Harlem erupting in ecstatic street celebrations when Louis’s victory was announced over the radio.


June 9, 2011
10. GO FOR BROKE! (1951/U.S., 91 min., b&w, WWII combat movie, MGM) DVD (on the Mill Creek Combat Classics set)
Dir.: Robert Pirosh. Cast: Van Johnson, Lane Nakano, Henry Nakamura.
Spoiler:
After five movies with the Japs as our bitter enemies, I switched over to this one about the 442nd Infantry regiment, made up of Japanese-Americans, or Nisei, many of whom came from the internment camps for Japanese. It’s a straightforward account, following the men from their training to their service in Italy to their famed rescue of “the lost battalion,” pinned down by the Nazis in a forest in France, an action which cost more in casualties than the number of men rescued (a fact the movie doesn’t reveal). But it made the regiment famous and proved the heroism and patriotism of these men. Not much depth in this film, but it does recognize the bigotry the men faced and references the “relocation centers” where the men’s families were confined. It also makes an explicit point about the term "Japs" being offensive and unacceptable when used against Japanese-Americans. There’s a lot more to this story than we see here, but the film does as good a job as you can expect from a major studio in 1951. And the members of the regiment are all played by Japanese-Americans. Very good print, well above average for this set.


11. THE JACKIE ROBINSON STORY (1950/U.S. 76 min., b&w, biographical drama)
Dir.: Alfred E. Green. Cast: Jackie Robinson, Minor Watson, Ruby Dee, Louise Beavers.
Spoiler:
Low-budget sum-up of Robinson's career up to that time, although, given the short running time, it glosses over quite a bit. Robinson plays himself. He's no actor, but there is some raw emotional power in seeing the great baseball player himself recreate key moments of his career, not the least of which are all the racist encounters and taunts he had to endure on his road to becoming the first black player in Major League Baseball. It was fun seeing old character actor Dewey Robinson as a bigoted Brooklyn fan who, as the games progress, becomes Jackie's biggest fan. My chief problem with the film is that the transition between his minor league career and his assignment to Brooklyn happens practically offscreen. Suddenly he's wearing a Brooklyn uniform and I didn't notice any scene or dialogue making it clear that that happened.


June 10, 2011
12. GUNG HO! (1943/U.S., 86 min., b&w, WWII combat movie, Universal Pictures) DVD (on the Mill Creek Combat Classics set)
Dir.: Ray Enright. Cast: Randolph Scott, J. Carrol Naish, Sam Levene, Alan Curtis, Robert Mitchum.
Spoiler:
This was an account of the attack by Carlson’s Raiders on Jap-held Makin Island on August 17, 1942, one of the first ground offensives by U.S. forces in the Pacific War. We see the intense recruiting process and the grueling training the men are put through. The commander, named Colonel Thorwald here (played by Randolph Scott), employs techniques he observed during his service with Mao’s army in China in 1937. There is some judo here, two years before BLOOD ON THE SUN. It’s a long trip by sub to Makin Island, but once they get there, at about the 51 minute mark, it’s nonstop combat the rest of the way as they seek to fulfill their objective—“kill every Jap on the island.” This is a somewhat softened, embellished account of the actual raid and was designed, like so many of the combat movies that came out early in the war, to assure the Americans at home that our fighting boys were doing the job they were given, efficiently and with unshakable resolve. Interestingly, the Colonel’s final speech to his men includes a call for a “just and equitable peace” when the war is all over.



13. DRUMS IN THE DEEP SOUTH (1951/U.S., 86 min., color, Civil War adventure, RKO Pictures) DVD (on the Mill Creek Combat Classics set)
Dir.: William Cameron Menzies. Cast: James Craig, Barbara Payton, Guy Madison, Barton MacLane.

Spoiler:
This is a Civil War movie and, like GONE WITH THE WIND, it’s set in Georgia. Also like GWTW, the production design is by William Cameron Menzies. Menzies also directed this one. The second unit director is B. Reeves Eason, who directed the Burning of Atlanta sequence in GWTW. The lead actor is James Craig who was groomed by MGM in the late 1930s and ‘40s to be the next Clark Gable (star of GWTW). It didn’t quite take (there was only one Gable), but the resemblance is enough to get him the lead role here. It’s pretty low-budget and is largely set in a cave. The Rebs have to set up cannon on a clifftop to blow up the trains carrying General Sherman’s men and equipment for the march on Atlanta. The Rebs are led by Craig. The Union troops are led by Craig’s old West Point buddy, Guy Madison. Generally pro-South, it seems. Pretty downbeat ending, though. Not the best print on this Mill Creek set.


14. HELL TO ETERNITY (1960/U.S., 132 min., b&w, World War II combat movie, Allied Artists) DVD
Dir.: Phil Karlson. Cast: Jeffrey Hunter, David Janssen, Vic Damone, Sessue Hayakawa.
Spoiler:
Quite an astounding movie. Easily one of the most profound I’ve seen for this challenge. The first section deals with a Japanese family in East Los Angeles during the Depression and the white boy they take in as a member of the family after his mother dies. Years later we see the Japanese family react to Pearl Harbor and listen to FDR’s declaration of war on the radio. We see the Japanese family members get trucked off to a “relocation center” (internment camp). So we experience the wartime experience from a rather different perspective. Guy, the white boy, enlists in the marines, pointing out that he speaks Japanese, which comes in handy during combat on Saipan. The fighting on Saipan is quite bloody and intense and was filmed on Okinawa! It all leads up to Guy’s attempt to get the general (Sessue Hayakawa) on the island to surrender. Interestingly, Guy’s Japanese brother, George (played by Star Trek’s George Takei), serves with the 442nd Nisei regiment, featured in GO FOR BROKE, no. 10 on this list. All the Japanese are played by Japanese or Japanese-American actors. There’s a wild scene with two hot Japanese bar girls in Hawaii and a white lady reporter that culminates in an insanely drunk David Janssen and two strip teases!


June 11, 2011
15. MUTINY (1952/U.S., 77 min., color, War of 1812 sea adventure) DVD (on the Mill Creek Combat Classics set)
Dir.: Edward Dmytryk. Cast: Mark Stevens, Angela Lansbury, Patric Knowles, Gene Evans.
Spoiler:
There’s just enough cannonfire exchanged between an American ship and British ships for this to qualify as a War of 1812 combat movie, one of the very few about the subject to come out of Hollywood (see also THE BUCCANEER). An American ship has to ferry $10 million in gold from France to help fund the war effort against England. On the way back, the captain (Mark Stevens) gets trouble from his First Officer, a disgraced former captain (Patric Knowles) who picked up his former lover, an ambitious and greedy woman (Angela Lansbury), in France and is then convinced by her to lead a mutiny and steal the gold. The use of a two-man “submersible” figures in the climactic action. Very well-plotted and exciting sea adventure with Knowles as a man terribly conflicted between loyalty to his onetime protégé, the captain, and a desire for the love of a fickle and no-good woman. In Technicolor, although the print doesn’t quite look it. Again, not the best print on this Mill Creek set.


June 12, 2011
16. THE STORY OF MANKIND (1957/U.S., 100 min., color, dramatic pageant of human history, Warner Bros.) VHS, taped off TCM.
Dir.: Irwin Allen. Cast: Ronald Colman, Vincent Price, Cedric Hardwicke, John Carradine.
Spoiler:
Bizarre adaptation of Hendrik Van Loon’s epic history, “The Story of Mankind,” framed as a heavenly tribunal convened to determine the fate of mankind, with Ronald Colman as the “Spirit of Man,” defending mankind, and Vincent Price as the velvet-voiced Mr. Scratch (aka the Devil) who makes the case for allowing man’s reign on Earth to end. So we’re treated to a series of cheaply shot vignettes intercut with stock footage from bigger-budgeted movies (e.g. LAND OF THE PHARAOHS) and filled with oddly chosen stars in cameo roles, e.g. Peter Lorre as Nero, 22-year-old Dennis Hopper as Napoleon, Virginia Mayo as Cleopatra, and a 45-year-old Hedy Lamarr as the teenaged Joan of Arc. Ironically, Price’s Devil makes the stronger case. I’d always thought this was a comedy, given the participation of the Marx Bros.—each in a separate vignette—Groucho as Peter Minuit, Chico as Christopher Columbus’ father, Harpo as Isaac Newton. But it isn’t. It's meant to be quite serious.


17. MARCO POLO (1975/Hong Kong, 103 min., color, historical martial arts adventure, Shaw Bros.) DVD (R3, in Mandarin with English subs.)
Dir.: Chang Cheh. Cast: Richard Harrison, Alexander Fu Sheng, Chi Kuan Chun, Shih Szu.
Spoiler:
American actor Richard Harrison plays Italian explorer Marco Polo in a Hong Kong kung fu movie set in the 13th century. I love cross-cultural mash-ups like this. Harrison, who was better known for starring in Italian westerns and sword ‘n’ sandal movies (e.g. GUNFIGHT AT RED SANDS, GLADIATORS SEVEN), is dubbed in Mandarin. Marco works for Mongolian ruler Kublai Khan and monitors the activities of four Han rebels who are training in kung fu in secretive methods that hide what they’re doing (e.g. cutting bamboo stalks, operating a mill, clearing stones out of a field). As he watches and waits, Marco begins to sympathize wth them. Eight of the greatest kung fu stars of the 1970s appear in this. Fu Sheng, Chi Kuan Chun and Kuo Chui, along with Billy Tang, play the rebels. Gordon Liu (KILL BILL), Wang Lung Wei, and Leung Kar Yan play the Khan’s enforcers. Shih Szu plays the widow of a murdered rebel (Carter Wong). She doesn’t get any fight scenes, though. Many of the cast, including Harrison, would appear in BOXER REBELLION the following year. That one’s a real epic with massive battle scenes and all.


June 14, 2011
18. WAGON TRAIN (1941/U.S., 59 min., b&w, B-western, RKO Pictures) VHS, taped off TCM.
Dir.: Edward Killy. Cast: Tim Holt, Martha O’Driscoll, Ray Whitley, Emmet Lynn.
Spoiler:
I once taped five Tim Holt B-westerns off TCM in one morning. Two were from 1938, the rest from 1941. I watched the two from 1938 for the B-movie challenge (THE LAW WEST OF TOMBSTONE and THE RENEGADE RANGER) and they were quite good. This one isn’t. It’s actually beautifully photographed and well-staged on location, but the script is really poor. Tim Holt plays Zack Sibley, a courageous and forthright man who leads a train of freight wagons bringing food to the town of Pecos. So what do the local big shots do? Try to have him killed. Why? To jack up the prices of the food they already have. Makes absolutely no sense. In the real west, they would have been all over each other trying to hire Sibley, because men of his skill and daring were at a premium back then. But B-westerns did this a lot. Instead of having the hero fight malcontents, psychopaths, and outlaws, the villains always turned out to be bankers, land owners, cattle ranchers and railroad promoters, as if anyone who tried to get anything done out west was somehow a bad guy. Ridiculous. But this film does offer an exciting shootout-and-chase climax involving the speeding wagons. And Holt is very good at this kind of thing.


19. FIRE OVER ENGLAND (1937/England, 92 min., b&w, historical drama, London Film Productions)
Dir.: William K. Howard. Cast: Flora Robson, Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh, Raymond Massey, Leslie Banks, James Mason.
Spoiler:
Well, time to head back to 16th century England, under the reign of Elizabeth, and its war with Spain (under the reign of Philip II). Very much a melodramatic take on things, with a real breezy approach to the events. The war with the Spanish Armada is dashed off in the final five minutes or so and ends with a maneuver that John Woo would later use for the ship battle in RED CLIFF, PART II. Only Woo's film took two-and-a-half-hours to detail that maneuver while this one takes less than five minutes. Robson, Olivier and Leigh all chew up the scenery, while Massey, Banks, Mason, and Robert Newton, of all people, come off as relatively subdued. Robson plays Elizabeth. Olivier plays an Englishman sent on a spy mission to Spain to uncover the names of the English conspirators who are plotting with Spain against Elizabeth. Leigh plays Olivier's girl. Massey plays Philip II. Very nice production: sets, cinematography, music, costumes. There's a lot of florid dialogue, but not much action until Olivier's rather unlikely escape from Spain and then the armada scene. The actual history is kind of glossed over in the interest of speed--a lot is crammed into 92 min. Directed by an American and produced by a German (Erich Pommer) and a Hungarian (Alexander Korda).


June 17, 2011
20. THE TARTARS (1962/U.S.-Italy, 83 min., color, historical adventure, MGM) VHS (taped off TNT in 1989) Dir.: Richard Thorpe, Ferdinando Baldi. Cast: Victor Mature, Orson Welles, Luciano Marin, Bella Cortez.
Spoiler:
Citizen Kane vs. Samson! And, yes, there are a few shots of Orson Welles swordfighting with Victor Mature. Italian-American brunette Mature plays the leader of the Vikings. Wisconsin-born Welles plays the leader of the Tartars. Most of the rest of the cast is Italian. The Vikings kidnap a Tartar princess (Bella Cortez), and the Tartars abduct Mature’s voluptuous blond wife. The Tartar girl hooks up with Eric, Mature’s brother, and gets pregnant by him. Helga, the Viking woman, doesn’t fare as well. It all leads to a big battle at the end when the Tartars attack the Vikings’ wooden fort. The Tartar tactics are smarter than those of the Vikings. Welles gets to sit down a lot. Almost half of Mature’s lines are dubbed in by another actor, usually within the same scene. Very weird. Aside from that, there are better-than-average production values for this kind of film. Oh, and Bella Cortez is very hot.


21. THE WHITE WARRIOR (1959/Italy, 85 min., color, historical adventure, WB) DVD dubbed in English.
Dir.: Riccardo Freda. Cast: Steve Reeves, Giorgia Moll, Scilla Gabel, Renato Baldini.

Spoiler:
One of Reeves’ earliest Italian costume adventures, probably made right after the first two Hercules movies. This one’s set in the 1850s and details conflict between tribes from the Caucasus, led by warrior chieftain Hadji Murad (Reeves), and Russian troops sent by Czar Nicholas I to subdue them. Factional disputes among the tribes lead to Hadji’s fall from power and imprisonment by the Russians, who try to pressure him into signing a peace treaty. Based on a novel by Leo Tolstoy. Not much action at all. Way too much talk, although Hadji’s got two hot babes pining for him. Interest is kept up by Mario Bava’s beautiful cinematography and above-average production design, which shine through even in this soft, battered, full-frame p.d. TV print. (Bava, of course, went on to become a major genre director in his own right.)


22. KARATE BULL FIGHTER (1975/Japan, 88 min., color, martial arts biopic) DVD, in Japanese with English subs.
Dir.: Kazuhiko Yamaguchi. Cast: Sonny Chiba, Yumi Takigawa, Mikio Narita, Jiro Chiba.
Spoiler:
Opens in Kyoto in 1949 at Japan’s first postwar martial arts tournament. Mas Oyama (Chiba) comes in after three years of training in the mountains and kicks all ass. He disavows the trophy however, dismissing the officials’ notion of karate as a “dance.” He then starts his own school, but gains many enemies. He even gives up karate for a year to help a widow whose husband he’d killed (in self-defense) and assist her on her farm. It all culminates in a massive bone-crunching one-against-all fight in a sprawling field. The first of a trilogy. Based on a true story. And he really does fight a real bull in it. (Don’t know whether the bull is actually killed in the fight or not.) The structure and many of the scenes remind me of the famed SAMURAI trilogy and I would guess that trilogy was the model for this one. I first saw this in a very poor full-frame p.d. DVD transfer under the title, CHAMPION OF DEATH, the English dubbed version. You’re much better off with this box set from Ronin/Adness. Now I need to see the next two in the trilogy.


June 18, 2011
23. ALONG THE RIO GRANDE (1941/U.S., 64 min., b&w, B-western, RKO) VHS (taped off TCM)
Dir.: Edward Killy. Cast: Tim Holt, Emmett Lynn, Betty Jane Rhodes, Ray Whitley.
Spoiler:
Entertaining B-western with the old plot about a cowboy going undercover in an outlaw gang to get the goods on the men who killed his rancher boss. For once in a B-western, the outlaw leader is not a banker, landowner, rancher or railroad man, but just a criminal. He’s pretty inept, though. He doesn’t pull off one successful job in the entire film, despite having an entire band of thugs to support. He lets three strangers (the undercover cowboys) join the gang, only to watch each new caper fail because someone alerted the sheriff first. Well, d’uuuhhh, maybe you should have checked these new guys out first, y’think? There’s a cute female singer who falls for the hero, played by Tim Holt. There are a few songs, too, and I enjoyed them, including a humorous cowboy ditty. The female lead sings the title song, which has the only reference to the Rio Grande in the entire film. Lots’a ridin’ an’a ropin’ an’a shootin’ an’a drinkin’. And all packed into 64 min.


24. KARATE BEAR FIGHTER (1975/Japan, 87 min., color, martial arts biopic) DVD, in Japanese with English subs.
Dir.: Kazuhiko Yamaguchi. Cast: Sonny Chiba, Yumi Takigawa, Yutaka Nakajima.
Spoiler:
The middle of a trilogy. Starts out in 1951. Not much of a plot, just more vignettes of Mas Oyama’s life as a karate expert who’s an outcast in the sport because of his own strict ideas of what karate should be. He even works as a henchman for a gang boss (an old Imperial Air Force buddy) for a while. Lots of action, not much soul-searching. He does fight a bear at one point, put up to it by a timber owner, but it’s a fake bear—clearly a man in a bear suit, so this one’s not up to the previous film where Chiba actually fought a real bull on camera. Oyama’s not a terribly likeable character. Chiba's character in THE STREET FIGHTER, Terry Tsurugi, is actually a more upstanding guy.


June 19, 2011
25. THE BANDIT TRAIL (1941/U.S., 60 min., b&w, B-western, RKO) VHS (taped off TCM)
Dir.: Edward Killy. Cast: Tim Holt, Janet Waldo, Morris Ankrum, Roy Barcroft.
Spoiler:
This is a good one. Nice, intricate plot in which Tim, reluctantly thrust into the outlaw life by his “bad hombre” uncle (Ankrum), winds up getting appointed Marshal of the town of Remington, thanks to thwarting a bank robbery by a rival gang. He likes being a good guy, and stands up to both his uncle and the town boss, Nesbitt (Barcroft). The banker’s daughter (Janet Waldo, later the voice of Judy Jetson on “The Jetsons”) falls for him. Fast-paced, lots of action, including a climactic shootout, and interesting characters. It was films like this that delivered the goods in a tidy, compact package that made the B-western so popular for so long.


26. THE TREE OF LIFE (2011/U.S., 138 min., color, drama) Seen in a theater.
Dir.: Terrence Malick. Cast: Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain, Sean Penn.
Spoiler:
My definition of “historical appreciation” may be narrower than others’ on this board, so I was hesitant to include this because it’s more of an art film than a “historical” film, even though the bulk of it is set in the 1950s. But MinLShaw says, “Our emphasis here is on films that reflect a valid interpretation of an era, from its aesthetics to its ideology.” And I would argue that the 1950s scenes do, in fact, reflect that, from the interior decoration of the home and the costuming to the lifestyle of the family, from the the way the kids play outside instead of sitting inside watching TV, to the way the father alternates between paternal affection and bursts of anger and violence. Still not sure what it all means, though.


June 20, 2011
27. BATTLE TAXI (1955/U.S., 80 min., b&w, Korean War combat movie, United Artists) VHS (taped off TCM)
Dir.: Herbert L. Strock. Cast: Sterling Hayden, Arthur Franz, Marshall Thompson.
Spoiler:
Basically a feature-length commercial for the Air Rescue Service, which used helicopters to rescue wounded infantrymen and downed pilots during the Korean War. It plays like a documentary at times. There’s definite propaganda value in the way it shows how cleanly efficient our fighting men are, but such value was diminished by the fact that the Korean War had ended two years earlier. Needless to say, there was ample cooperation from the Defense Dept. (Unlike those few Korean War movies which were actively anti-war: Sam Fuller’s THE STEEL HELMET and FIXED BAYONETS and Anthony Mann’s MEN IN WAR.) There’s lots of footage of the copters and fighter jets in action. It’s all quite impressive. The slim plot focuses on a former fighter pilot or “jet jockey” (Franz) who resents being transferred to piloting a “battle taxi” and only gradually, after several risky missions, comes to accept the value of what he’s doing and the special skills it requires. No women in the cast.


28. KARATE FOR LIFE (1977/Japan, 90 min., color, martial arts biopic) DVD, in Japanese with English subtitles.
Dir.: Kazuhiko Yamaguchi. Cast: Sonny Chiba, Yoko Natsuki, Hideo Murota, Kojiro Hongo.
Spoiler:
The 3rd in the Mas Oyama trilogy, about the famed Japanese karate champ/instructor. I can see from parts 2 & 3 that this trilogy is, apparently, not modeled on the SAMURAI trilogy as I’d previously suggested. These two parts are just collections of scenes that make excuses to have Chiba fight a lot, so the whole enterprise feels less and less like a biopic than just another Sonny Chiba karate movie. Which is fine with me, except that Part 1, KARATE BULL FIGHTER, came much closer to transcending genre and is clearly the high point of this trilogy. Part 3 is set mostly on Okinawa and includes lots of American servicemen in it. There is a climactic fight in a chamber of mirrors, just like the one at the end of Bruce Lee’s ENTER THE DRAGON. The film starts in 1952. The first one started in 1949 and it sure seems like a lot more years have gone by than just three. The cars are all American cars from the 1960s.


29. A MAN CALLED HERO (1999/Hong Kong, 102 min., color, historical martial arts adventure, Golden Harvest) Fan-subbed VHS, in Cantonese with English subtitles.
Dir.: Andrew Lau. Cast: Ekin Cheng, Kristy Yang, Nic Tse, Shu Qi, Anthony Wong.
Spoiler:
Based on a Hong Kong comic book, this one is set mostly in New York in 1930, with extensive flashbacks to 1914. It’s about a martial artist named Hero who flees China after a revenge killing and settles in New York. His pregnant wife and sidekick come looking for him. And 16 years later, his son and the sidekick come back to look for him again. There’s an elaborate flashback structure that parcels out information a bit at a time. There’s a ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA vibe to it. Japanese ninjas come looking for Hero, which leads to some martial arts battles which rely a lot on CGI. The climactic fight between Hero and “Invincible” is on the Statue of Liberty, which leaves the poor Lady seriously damaged. The film was shot on an elaborate backlot set that’s more often used to recreate pre-war Shanghai but here represents New York’s Chinatown. I’m not sure what film it was originally created for, but I know I’ve seen this set before. Lots of English-speaking non-Asian extras are employed. Ellis Island is recreated also, and it’s pretty magnificent, although I don’t know where it was shot. This was made as a follow-up to 1998’s THE STORM RIDERS, which had quite a bit more action.


June 23, 2011
30. THE FIGHTING PRESIDENT (1933/U.S., 60 min., b&w, documentary, Universal Pictures) Prod.: Carl Laemmle. Documentary about President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first month in office.
Spoiler:
This was produced by Universal Pictures as a very partisan, pro-Roosevelt piece of propaganda. Made up of 99% newsreel footage, with only a handful of shots of FDR that might have been staged for the film, it offers up a history of Roosevelt, starting with his ancestors’ arrival from Holland in 1649 and their settling in New Amsterdam. (And, yes, there is film footage illustrating these long ago pre-camera eras.) It then offers a history of his first 30 or so days in office, primarily straightening out the banking situation and ending Prohibition. No critical voices are heard. The narration is nonstop, except when FDR is speaking (e.g. his inauguration). The timeline gets muddled more than once as the narrator and the footage go back and forth in time. A fascinating historical record.


31. HOPALONG CASSIDY: PUBLIC HERO #1 (2001/U.S., 67 min., color and b&w, documentary, Starz Encore) Dir.: Keith Clarke. Host: Dennis Weaver. Documentary about the famed western movie character, Hopalong Cassidy.
Spoiler:
Hopalong Cassidy, as played by William Boyd, was a hugely popular cowboy character featured in a series of B-westerns produced by Paramount Pictures in the 1930s and ’40s. When the movie series ended, star Boyd went into hock to buy up the rights to the character, particularly the TV rights. He sold the films to TV and they became hugely popular, making enough money for Boyd to produce a whole new series of half-hour programs featuring the character expressly for TV. This documentary covers the whole phenomenon, from the original short stories featuring the character (begun in 1905) to Boyd’s final tour on behalf of the show in the 1960s. Boyd’s widow, Grace Boyd, is interviewed at length, as is movie historian Leonard Maltin. Many clips from the films as well as newsreel footage of Boyd’s tours around the country (and the world) to meet fans. I used to watch Hopalong Cassidy on TV as a kid. Great stuff.


June 24, 2011
32. ABILENE TOWN (1946/U.S., 89 min., b&w, western, United Artists) DVD (on the Mill Creek Western Classics box set)
Dir.: Edwin L. Marin. Cast: Randolph Scott, Ann Dvorak, Edgar Buchanan, Rhonda Fleming, Lloyd Bridges. Based on a novel by Ernest Haycox.
Spoiler:
Homesteaders vs. cattle drivers in 1870 Abilene, Kansas. Scott plays Dan Mitchell, a Wyatt Earp-like Town Marshal who sides with the homesteaders. Buchanan plays a lazy, cowardly, corrupt County Sheriff who’s in the pocket of the saloon owners who cater to the rowdy cowboys. Ann Dvorak is a dance hall performer (there are lots of songs). Rhonda Fleming is the storekeeper’s daughter who fears for Scott’s safety and wants him to quit. Lloyd Bridges is the homesteaders’ spokesman. Everyone makes speeches. It gets really tiresome hearing all these lectures after a while and listening to the homesteaders sing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” ad nauseam. A definite leftist tinge to the proceedings. One of the producers was Herbert Biberman, who would be one of the Hollywood Ten the next year, charged with contempt of Congress and jailed and ultimately blacklisted. Bridges was a Hollywood communist who saved his career by informing on other communists at Congressional hearings in 1952. Scott, of course, would go on to make dozens of westerns without so many damned speeches.


33. THE STORY OF VERNON AND IRENE CASTLE (1939/U.S., 93 min., b&w, musical biopic, RKO Pictures) DVD
Dir.: H.C. Potter. Cast: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Walter Brennan, Edna May Oliver.

Spoiler:
Fred and Ginger’s last b&w RKO musical together. They play a real-life husband-and-wife ballroom dance team who were popular in the 1910s. Many dance scenes, lots of popular tunes of the era (“Oh, you beautiful DOLL, you great big beautiful doll…”). The husband, an English citizen, enlisted to fight in World War I, creating much more dramatic situations than was customary for Fred and Ginger musicals, with tragic elements as well. The war parallels between WWI and the burgeoning world war that was beginning in 1939 when this film came out are made very clear to an audience that was still hesitant about joining the fight. This film starts out in 1911 and ends in 1918, not long after America entered WWI. Much of the film takes place in Paris where the Castles achieved their initial success on the dance circuit. Comedian Lew Fields, who gave Vernon his start in show biz, appears as himself in a recreation of an old comedy routine.


June 25, 2011
34. KANSAS RAIDERS (1950/U.S., 80 min., color, western, Universal Pictures) DVD
Dir.: Ray Enright. Cast: Audie Murphy, Brian Donlevy, Marguerite Chapman, Tony Curtis, Scott Brady, James Best, Richard Arlen.
Spoiler:
Technicolor western starring the most decorated hero of World War II, Audie Murphy, as Jesse James. (He played Billy the Kid that same year, in THE KID FROM TEXAS.) Jesse is one of a group of Missourians, which include Frank James (Richard Long), Cole Younger (James Best), Jim Younger (Dewey Martin) and Kit Dalton (Tony Curtis), who join up with Colonel Quantrill’s guerrilla band during the Civil War. There’s quite a large amount of violence and brutal killings. Audie makes a good Jesse, although his character’s moral ambivalence about the slaughter of innocents was not shared by the real Jesse. Also, the real Jesse was only 15 at the time this film starts (1863) and never, in fact, joined Quantrill, although Frank did. Jesse actually joined up with “Bloody Bill” Anderson’s splinter band a year later. Anderson’s a character here (played by Scott Brady) and Jesse is shown killing him, another major inaccuracy. (In real life, Jesse was riding with Anderson when a Union ambush killed Anderson.) Tony Curtis, a male starlet under contract to Universal at the time, and billed here as “Tony” for the first time, is miscast as Kit Dalton (whose famous brothers formed their own outlaw band after the war). Given the youth of the actors playing the outlaws, there was definitely a “Young Guns” vibe some 38 years before the Brat Pack undertook a similar project.


June 26, 2011
35. THE LAWLESS BREED (1953/U.S., 83 min., color, western biopic, Universal Pictures) DVD
Dir.: Raoul Walsh. Cast: Rock Hudson, Julia Adams, John McIntire, Mary Castle, Lee Van Cleef, Hugh O’Brian, Dennis Weaver.
Spoiler:
The whitewashed story of John Wesley Hardin, an outlaw and killer in Texas after the Civil War, supposedly based on Hardin’s own handwritten account, composed while he was in prison. The film makes him out to be guilty only of shooting in self-defense. He lives on the run with a showgirl named Rosie (Adams) and eventually marries her and runs a horse farm in Alabama. But the Texas Rangers catch up. We see him all the way to his getting out of prison in 1896 and his return to the farm. His real-life ignominious end is considerably softened here. Despite all that, it’s extremely well-acted and concisely told in a nice, concise package. John McIntire (PSYCHO) has a dual role as Hardin’s strict preacher father and his more relaxed uncle. Always fun to see future stars paying their dues—here they’re Lee Van Cleef (FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE), Hugh O’Brian (TV’s Wyatt Earp) and Dennis Weaver (TV’s McCloud). The showdown between Hudson and Van Cleef looks forward to similarly staged showdowns in Leone’s Italian westerns, of which Van Cleef would be a part.


36. MULAN (2009/Hong Kong-China, 114 min., color, live-action historical epic) DVD, in Mandarin with English subtitles.
Dir.: Jingle Ma. Cast: Vicki Zhao Wei, Chen Kun, Hu Jun, Jaycee Chan.
Spoiler:
Live-action film about the famous Chinese woman from the 5th Century A.D. who dressed as a man and took her father’s place in the army and became a famous general. The more well-known film version is, of course, Disney’s 1998 animated feature about her. There was also a Chinese Opera-style film version made by Shaw Bros. in 1964, which I liked a great deal and am hoping to re-watch for this challenge. This 2009 film tries to make Mulan less of a folk hero than a woman with better-than-average kung fu skills who gets caught up in the tide of history. She falls in love with a fellow officer and the film becomes a love story set against a backdrop of sprawling warfare (between the “Wei nation” and the “Rourans”). Mulan is vulnerable. She makes fatal mistakes. She goes off on a bender at one point. She’s a human being. The love story tends to diminish the film’s excitement level, but the whole thing is well shot and staged and keeps our interest throughout. The battle scenes have a good budget. Zhao Wei is quite an actress. She was one of the sisters in SO CLOSE and in John Woo’s RED CLIFF she played the princess who dresses up as a man to infiltrate the enemy camp.


37. FIVE FINGERS (1952/U.S., 108 min., b&w, WWII spy drama, 20th Century Fox) VHS (taped off Fox Movie Channel)
Dir.: Joseph L. Mankiewicz. Cast: James Mason, Danielle Darrieux, Michael Rennie, John Wengraf.
Spoiler:
Extremely well-written spy drama based on a true story. In Ankara, Turkey in 1944, the valet to the British ambassador is secretly opening his boss’s safe and photographing top-secret documents and selling the film to the Germans for lots of money. He uses the money to prop up a Polish countess, living hand-to-mouth in Ankara, whom he used to work for. The Brits take a long time to figure out what’s going on. They even send a counter-espionage agent to try to find out where the leak is. The big joke is that the Nazis are too cautious to act on the information provided to them. James Mason plays the clever valet. Danielle Darrieux plays the sly countess. Michael Rennie plays the somewhat slow-to-action agent. Music by Bernard Herrmann. The sharp and witty screenplay is by Michael Wilson, who was blacklisted that same year. Not the most exciting or suspenseful spy drama I’ve ever seen, but the true story apparently didn’t have much action. Mason and Darrieux are always fun to watch. Exterior scenes filmed on location in Turkey, although only doubles of the actors are used in those scenes.


June 27, 2011
38. DECISIVE VICTORY (U.S., 81 min., b&w & color/compilation WWII documentary with different pieces from different years) DVD (Pearl Harbor: Waking the Sleeping Giant/Mill Creek set)
Spoiler:
One of nine documentaries on the Pearl Harbor set. This one is listed with a 1942 production date, but it includes material that covers the end of the war and postwar activity. It’s basically a compilation of three or four documentaries, mostly about the early stages of the war. One segment is a profile of Admiral Chester Nimitz, who was commander of the Pacific Fleet. So it’s kind of a hodgepodge.


39. LADY GENERAL HUA MULAN (1964/Hong Kong, 100 min., color, Historical operetta, Shaw Bros.) R3 DVD, in Mandarin with English subs.
Dir.: Yueh Feng. Cast: Ivy Ling Po, Chin Han, Chen Yen-yen, Yang Chi-ching.
Spoiler:
Stylized Shaw Bros. production about 5th century Chinese heroine Mulan, with lots of operetta-style singing of the dialogue. There’s one major battle scene, an extensive ambush at night, in shots that are darkened way too much for us to appreciate the action, and a few other brief shots of armies in the field, but otherwise there’s not much combat. The emphasis is on scenes of Mulan getting used to her situation, including a long drinking/getting drunk scene, and her budding relationship with General Li, thus creating a love story at the forefront of it all. They make references to the tale of Zhu Yingtai and Liang Shanbo, the famous “Butterfly Lovers,” in which Yingtai dressed as a male to attend a university and fell in love with a fellow student. This film’s star, Ivy Ling Po, had already played the male scholar, Liang Shanbo, in a film version of that story (LOVE ETERNE). Ivy played quite a few male roles at Shaw Bros. The convention in these films allowed an actress playing a male or a woman disguised as a male to still have full makeup on. She still looked female, but we’re supposed to accept that everyone else in the scene sees her as a male, because of her wardrobe. I like this film, but I appreciate the 2009 dramatic version (see #36) more now.


June 28, 2011
40. ANIMATED CLASSICS OF JAPANESE LITERATURE (1986/Japan, color, anime TV series) DVD
4 episodes:
“The Sound of Waves, Pt. 1”
“The Sound of Waves, Pt. 2”
“Growing Up”
“The Izu Dancer”

Spoiler:
I finished reading The Sound of Waves by Yukio Mishima on the subway ride home and decided to watch the animated adaptation upon getting home. It was pared down to two half-hour TV episodes, so it’s like a Cliff Notes version, cutting to the chase and cutting out all the nuances of Mishima’s characterizations, but it’s still a stirring and faithful work. The book is great. I was hoping to watch Paul Schrader’s biopic, MISHIMA (1985) for this challenge, but haven’t gotten to it. I also recently read the short story, “The Izu Dancer,” so I made sure to watch the episode of this series based on that. The TV episode has more emotion than I remember the story having. It’s beautifully produced, too, recreating in breathtaking detail the autumn landscapes of the region where it takes place.


June 29, 2011
41. JANE EYRE (1944/U.S., 96 min., b&w, gothic drama, 20th Century Fox) VHS (taped off Disney Channel in 1995)
Dir.: Robert Stevenson. Cast: Joan Fontaine, Orson Welles, Margaret O’Brien, Peggy Ann Garner, Agnes Moorehead, Henry Daniell. Adaptation of Charlotte Bronte’s 1847 novel.
Spoiler:
Today is the centennial of composer Bernard Herrmann, who did the score for this film. It’s one of his best scores and this film is one of the best films to feature a Herrmann score. Just a masterful work in every regard: acting, writing, direction, production design, cinematography, costuming and, of course, music. Robert Stevenson never directed another film even as remotely close in quality to this one, so I’m wondering if Welles had a hand in directing it. The screenplay was co-written by Stevenson, Aldous Huxley (Brave New World), and John Houseman.


42. TAXI DRIVER (1976/U.S., 114 min., color, drama, Columbia Pictures) DVD / Wild Card
Dir.: Martin Scorsese. Cast: Robert De Niro, Cybill Shepherd, Jodie Foster, Peter Boyle, Albert Brooks.
Spoiler:
This is my Wild Card--a film that captured the zeitgeist of the time and holds great historical interest now. I also watched it to continue my celebration of the Bernard Herrmann centennial today. I saw this earlier this year at a theatrical revival screening at New York's Film Forum.


43. THE NAKED AND THE DEAD (19587/U.S., 132 min., color, WWII combat film, RKO/Warner Bros.) VHS (taped off TCM)
Dir.: Raoul Walsh. Cast: Aldo Ray, Cliff Robertson, Raymond Massey, Richard Jaeckel.
Spoiler:
I watched this for the Bernard Herrmann centennial. The score intensifies the perils faced by an infantry patrol on a dangerous mission behind enemy lines on a Jap-held island (never i.d.’d) in the Pacific. It was filmed in Panama—great, dramatic locations of a type you never see in one of these combat movies. Based on a novel by Norman Mailer who, like James Jones, actually served in the Pacific. It’s extremely streamlined, but if you ignore the insipid debate between the martinet general and the liberal lieutenant over ruling by fear vs. ruling by respect, it’s a really compelling tale of ordinary men in combat and the effect of dealing with a brutal sergeant (played by Aldo Ray) who happens to be the best soldier in the unit.


Checklist:
Spoiler:
Check List
GENERAL
--- Recreation of a specific Historical Event (like Apollo 13) THE LONGEST DAY
--- Sports film THE JACKIE ROBINSON STORY
--- Biopic JACK LONDON
--- Documentary THE FIGHTING PRESIDENT
--- Folk Hero/Mythological (Robin Hood, Greek gods, etc.)
--- Judeo-Christian (based on stories from the Torah, Mishna, New Testament, etc.)
--- Non-Judeo-Christian religion (may be about an individual holy person, like Kundun)
--- Film about Women's History (prominent woman, feminism, etc.) MULAN
--- Film about minority rights (prominent minority figure, civil rights, etc.) THE JOE LOUIS STORY
--- Film about LGBT rights (prominent LGBT figure, gay rights, etc.)

DECADES - Watch a film set--but not produced--during five different decades no more recent than the 1980s:
--- Movie 1 (Decade) MUTINY (1810s)
--- Movie 2 (Decade) THE WHITE WARRIOR (1850s)
--- Movie 3 (Decade) DRUMS IN THE DEEP SOUTH (1860s)
--- Movie 4 (Decade) JACK LONDON (1890s)
--- Movie 5 (Decade) CASABLANCA (1940s)

Watch a film that takes place during five different centuries prior to the 20th Century (Note Century of setting):
--- Movie 1 (Century) MULAN (5th century)
--- Movie 2 (Century) MARCO POLO (13th century)
--- Movie 3 (Century) FIRE OVER ENGLAND (16th century)
--- Movie 4 (Century) JANE EYRE (19th century)
--- Movie 5 (Century)

Watch 5 movies about historical events of different countries (Note Country of setting).
--- Movie 1 (Country) MARCO POLO (China)
--- Movie 2 (Country) KARATE BULL FIGHTER (Japan)
--- Movie 3 (Country) THE WHITE WARRIOR (Russia)
--- Movie 4 (Country) THE TARTARS (Northern Europe—Viking country—no particular nation specified)
--- Movie 5 (Country) FIRE OVER ENGLAND (England/Spain)

BIOPICS
--- Biopic of a War participant: HELL TO ETERNITY (Guy Gabaldon who served in WWII)
--- Biopic of a Historical Person: MULAN
--- Watch a Western Biopic: THE LAWLESS BREED (John Wesley Hardin)
--- Watch a Sports or Humanities Biopic: JACK LONDON
--- Watch a Biopic about a prominent woman, minority or LGBT figure: THE JACKIE ROBINSON STORY

Watch a Documentary from each of the following (may be as general or specific as you prefer):
--- War: DECISIVE VICTORY
--- Western: HOPALONG CASSIDY: PUBLIC HERO #1
--- Historical Event
--- Biographical: THE FIGHTING PRESIDENT
--- Sports or Humanities

WAR
Watch 5 movies that take place during different American wars. (Civil War, World Wars I or II, Viet Nam, etc.)
--- Movie 1 MUTINY (War of 1812)
--- Movie 2 DRUMS IN THE DEEP SOUTH (Civil War)
--- Movie 3 GUNG HO! (WWII)
--- Movie 4 BATTLE TAXI (Korean War)
--- Movie 5

Watch 5 movies that take place during different countries' wars (Trojan War, Crusades, the Anglo-Zulu wars, etc.)
--- Movie 1 THE WHITE WARRIOR (Chechens vs. Russia)
--- Movie 2 THE TARTARS (Vikings vs. Tartars)
--- Movie 3 FIRE OVER ENGLAND (England vs. Spain)
--- Movie 4 MULAN (Wei vs. Rourans in 5th Century Northern China)
--- Movie 5

WESTERN
--- John Ford Western
--- John Wayne Western
--- "Singing Cowboy" Western: ALONG THE RIO GRANDE
--- Clint Eastwood Western
--- Spaghetti Western (not starring Clint Eastwood)
--- Comedy Western (may be spoof, parody or just humorous)
--- Western based on a novel: ABILENE TOWN (based on “Trail Town,” by Ernest Haycox)
--- Western told from perspective of Native Americans
--- Western told from perspective of Outlaws: THE LAWLESS BREED
--- Western about cross-country travel (wagon train, cattle drive, etc.): WAGON TRAIN (1941)

Wild Cards (3 max): TAXI DRIVER

Last edited by Ash Ketchum; 07-02-11 at 10:32 AM.
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Old 05-28-11, 02:45 AM
  #28  
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Re: Second Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge List Thread

6/1
(1) The 300 Spartans ( 1964 ) Richard Egan. Everybody probably knows about the movie 300 but not a lot of people know about this one. I tell people about this great earlier movie and a lot of people say " what?, huh?" Excellent movie that I have watched forever over the years. 10/10
(2) Broken Arrow (1950) James Stewart. Excellent classic concerning the old west and the Apache's of Arizona. I think this movie could of been even better if it didn't center upon the romance of Jeffords ( Stewart) and a indian girl. 8/10
(3) The Commancheros (1961) John Wayne. Wayne plays a Texas Ranger who goes undercover to bust a group of Comancheros running guns with the Comanches. Ok, not great 6/10

6/4
(4) Gunfight at the OK Corral (1957) Kirk Douglas, Burt Lancaster. Excellent portrayl of the classic Gunfight done with class. A great 50's western battle the way movies should be made. My favorite movie from Kirk Douglas. 10/10

6/6
(5) Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) Charles Bronson, Henry Fonda. Story about revenge around the building of a railroad in the old west. Excellent bluray version. 8/10

6/7
(6) Jeremiah Johnson (1972) Robert Redford. One of my favorite movies. And actually was the first DVD that I ever bought. About a mountain man making a life for himself and battling Indians in the Colorado wilderness. 9/10

6/8
(7) Clash of the Titans (2010) I actually watched this a few days ago but didn't think it would work for the challenge. Then I saw it on someone else's list so i'll put it in. I didn't like this too much. Too much glossy computer graphic stuff. I didn't like the lead character either. Everyone else in the movie is a scruffy bastard while this guy has a buzz cut and clean shaven and just looked out of place to me. I viewed this to see if i would buy it later on and I think i'll pass on it. Besides I have the original movie, i'll just stick with that. 5/10

6/13
(8) War Arrow (1954) Jeff Chandler. Story of a captain sent to a fort to convince a band of Seminole Indians to help fight Kiowas. Excellent old fashioned Calvary vs. Indians fare. They don't make these kinds of movies anymore. Glad to have the DVD. 9/10

6/21
(9) Centurion (2010) Enjoyable movie about the 9th Legion of the Roman army. As the fable goes they marched into the Scotland fog and were never heard from again. 8/10
(10) Hondo (1953) John Wayne. Story about a drifter who moves in on a woman on a ranch surrounded by Indians. One of my favorites 9/10

6/22
(11) The Shakiest Gun in the West (1967) Don Knotts. Enjoyable family comedy here as Knotts stars as a qwirky dentist from Philadelphia who moves out west after graduating from Dentist school. His adventures include Indians, stagecoach robbers, Gunslingers, Gunrunners and a tall red headed beauty. A nice 60's comedy.9/10

6/24
(12) Rio Conchos. (1964?) Stuart Whitman, Jim Brown. Story about a couple of calvary officers undercover to terrorize a cult of gunrunners that supply guns to the Indians 8/10

06/26
(13) The Last of the Mohicans (1992) Daniel Day Lewis. Good adaption of the novel by James Fenimore Cooper. Spiced up a bit for Hollywood but good none the less 9/10

06/28
(14) Pale Rider. Clint Eastwood. A drifter reverend/gunfighter strolls into a Colorado mining community and saves the day ( of course, did you expect anything less? ) Good movie though 8/10
(15) They Died With Their Boots On. (1942) Errol Flynn. Covering the 1942 version of the Custer story. I enjoyed it 8/10

Last edited by JOE29; 06-29-11 at 10:05 AM.
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Old 05-30-11, 06:47 PM
  #29  
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Re: Second Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge List Thread

June 1st
1. The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.: Pilot
2. The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.: Socrates' Sister/The Orb Scholar

June 2nd
3. The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.: No Man's Land/Brisco in Jalisco

June 3rd
4. The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.: Riverboat/Pirates!

June 4th
5. The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.: Senior Spirit/Brisco For the Defense

June 5th
6. The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.: Showdown/Deep in the Heart of Dixie

June 6th
7. The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.: Crystal Hawks/Steel Horses

June 7th
8. The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.: Mail Order Brides/A.K.A Kansas

June 8th
9. The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.: Bounty Hunter's Convention/Fountain of Youth

June 9th
10. The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.: Hard Rock/The Brooklyn Dodgers

June 10th
11. The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.: Bye Bly/Ned Zed

June 11th
12. The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.: Stagecoach/Wild Card

June 12th
13. The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.: And Baby Makes Three/Bad Luck Betty

June 13th
14. The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.: High Treason, Part I/High Treason, Part II

June 16th
15. Unforgiven

June 17th
16. A Fistful of Dollars

June 18th
17. For a Few Dollars More

June 20th
18. The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

June 22nd
19. Pale Rider

June 23rd
20. Once Upon a Time in the West

June 25th
21. Stagecoach

June 26th
22. A Bullet for the General

June 30th
23. True Grit (2010)

Last edited by Cronenbergfan71; 07-01-11 at 10:42 AM.
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Old 05-31-11, 03:02 PM
  #30  
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Location: Rockville, MD
Posts: 1,689
Re: Second Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge List Thread

Reserved

Spoiler:

GENERAL
--- Recreation of a specific Historical Event (like Apollo 13)
--- Sports film
--- Bio Pic
--- Documentary
--- Folk Hero/Mythological (Robin Hood, Greek gods, etc.)
--- Judeo-Christian (based on stories from the Torah, Mishna, New Testament, etc.)
--- Non-Judeo-Christian religion (may be about an individual holy person, like Kundun)
--- Film about Women's History (prominent woman, feminism, etc.)
--- Film about minority rights (prominent minority figure, civil rights, etc.)
--- Film about LGBT rights (prominent LGBT figure, gay rights, etc.)

DECADES - Watch a film set--but not produced--during five different decades no more recent than the 1980s:
--- Movie 1 (Decade)
--- Movie 2 (Decade)
--- Movie 3 (Decade)
--- Movie 4 (Decade)
--- Movie 5 (Decade)

Watch a film that takes place during five different centuries prior to the 20th Century (Note Century of setting):
--- Movie 1 (Century)
--- Movie 2 (Century)
--- Movie 3 (Century)
--- Movie 4 (Century)
--- Movie 5 (Century)

Watch 5 movies about historical events of different countries (Note Country of setting).
--- Movie 1 (Country)
--- Movie 2 (Country)
--- Movie 3 (Country)
--- Movie 4 (Country)
--- Movie 5 (Country)

BIO PICS
--- Bio Pic of a War participant
--- Bio Pic of a Historical Person
--- Watch a Western Bio Pic
--- Watch a Sports or Humanities Bio Pic
--- Watch a Bio Pic about a prominent woman, minority or LGBT figure

Watch a Documentary from each of the following (may be as general or specific as you prefer):
--- War
--- Western
--- Historical Event
--- Biographical
--- Sports or Humanities (Miracle on Ice, Frida, etc.; lots of range here!)

WAR
Watch 5 movies that take place during different American wars. (Civil War, World Wars I or II, Viet Nam, etc.)
--- Movie 1
--- Movie 2
--- Movie 3
--- Movie 4
--- Movie 5

Watch 5 movies that take place during different countries' wars (Trojan War, Crusades, the Anglo-Zulu wars, etc.)
--- Movie 1
--- Movie 2
--- Movie 3
--- Movie 4
--- Movie 5

WESTERN
--- John Ford Western
--- John Wayne Western
--- "Singing Cowboy" Western
--- Clint Eastwood Western
--- Spaghetti Western (not starring Clint Eastwood)
--- Comedy Western (may be spoof, parody or just humorous)
--- Western based on a novel
--- Western told from perspective of Native Americans
--- Western told from perspective of Outlaws
--- Western about cross-country travel (wagon train, cattle drive, etc.)

Wild Cards (3 max): These may be contemporary films that are representative of their era, such as Rebel without a Cause, Easy Rider, Saturday Night Fever, etc.
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Old 05-31-11, 10:05 PM
  #31  
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Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Ga
Posts: 532
Re: Second Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge List Thread



Blu-Ray
DVD
Netflix Instant Watch
Theater
* - First Time Viewing

June 1
1. My Name is Nobody*
2. Destry Rides Again*

June 2
Nothing

June 3
3. X-Men: First Class* *WILDCARD*

June 4
Nothing

June 5
Nothing

June 6
4. The Battleship Potemkin*

June 7
5. The Quick and the Dead

June 8
6. Rescue Dawn

June 9
7. The Hurt Locker

June 10
8. Black Death*

June 11
9. Once Upon A Time in the West
10. Once Upon A Time in America

June 12
Nothing

June 13
11. The Man Who Would Be King*

June 14
12. The Twilight Samurai*

13. The Thin Red Line*

June 15
14. Days of Heaven*

June 16
15. Love and Death: The Story of Bonnie and Clyde*
16. Bonnie and Clyde
17. The Patriot*

June 17
Nothing

June 18
18. Quigley Down Under*
19. The Outlaw Josey Wales

June 19
20. The New World*

June 20
21. Unforgiven
22. The Proposition

June 21
23. L.A. Confidential

June 22
24. The Cowboys*

June 23
25. Yellow Sky*

June 24
26. True Grit (2010)
27. Broken Trail: Part 1
28. Broken Trail: Part 2


June 25 - 30
Nothing

Check List
Spoiler:


GENERAL
X Recreation of a specific Historical Event (like Apollo 13) - The Battleship Potemkin
--- Sports film
X Bio Pic - Rescue Dawn
X Documentary - Love and Death: The Story of Bonnie and Clyde
--- Folk Hero/Mythological (Robin Hood, Greek gods, etc.)
--- Judeo-Christian (based on stories from the Torah, Mishna, New Testament, etc.)
--- Non-Judeo-Christian religion (may be about an individual holy person, like Kundun)
--- Film about Women's History (prominent woman, feminism, etc.)
--- Film about minority rights (prominent minority figure, civil rights, etc.)
--- Film about LGBT rights (prominent LGBT figure, gay rights, etc.)

DECADES - Watch a film set--but not produced--during five different decades no more recent than the 1980s:
X Movie 1 (1900's) The Battleship Potemkin
X Movie 2 (1960s) X-Men: First Class
X Movie 3 (1920's) Once Upon A Time in America
X Movie 4 (1910's) Days of Heaven
X Movie 5 (1930's) Bonnie and Clyde

Watch a film that takes place during five different centuries prior to the 20th Century (Note Century of setting):
X Movie 1 (14th Century) Black Death
X Movie 2 (19th Century) The Twilight Samurai
X Movie 3 (17th Century) The New World
--- Movie 4 (Century)
--- Movie 5 (Century)

Watch 5 movies about historical events of different countries (Note Country of setting).
--- Movie 1 (Country)
--- Movie 2 (Country)
--- Movie 3 (Country)
--- Movie 4 (Country)
--- Movie 5 (Country)

BIO PICS
--- Bio Pic of a War participant
--- Bio Pic of a Historical Person
--- Watch a Western Bio Pic
--- Watch a Sports or Humanities Bio Pic
--- Watch a Bio Pic about a prominent woman, minority or LGBT figure

Watch a Documentary from each of the following (may be as general or specific as you prefer):
--- War
--- Western
--- Historical Event
--- Biographical
--- Sports or Humanities (Miracle on Ice, Frida, etc.; lots of range here!)

WAR
Watch 5 movies that take place during different American wars. (Civil War, World Wars I or II, Viet Nam, etc.)
X The Hurt Locker (Iraq War)
X The Thin Red Line (WWII)
X The Patriot (American Revolutionary War)
X Movie 4 The Outlaw Josey Wales (American Civil War)
--- Movie 5

Watch 5 movies that take place during different countries' wars (Trojan War, Crusades, the Anglo-Zulu wars, etc.)
--- Movie 1
--- Movie 2
--- Movie 3
--- Movie 4
--- Movie 5

WESTERN
--- John Ford Western
X John Wayne Western - The Cowboys
--- "Singing Cowboy" Western
X Clint Eastwood Western - The Outlaw Josey Wales
X Spaghetti Western (not starring Clint Eastwood) - My Name is Nobody
X Comedy Western (may be spoof, parody or just humorous) The Quick and the Dead
X Western based on a novel - Destry Rides Again
--- Western told from perspective of Native Americans
X Western told from perspective of Outlaws - Unforgiven
X Western about cross-country travel (wagon train, cattle drive, etc.) Broken Trail

Wild Cards (3 max): These may be contemporary films that are representative of their era, such as Rebel without a Cause, Easy Rider, Saturday Night Fever, etc.

Last edited by MrTerrific; 06-30-11 at 05:10 PM.
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Old 06-04-11, 10:25 PM
  #32  
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Location: Central Coast, Cali
Posts: 448
Re: Second Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge List Thread

2010 list (14 entries)-http://forum.dvdtalk.com/10180928-post25.html

*=First time viewing
June 4th
1. Band of Brothers "Currahee/"Day of Days" *

June 10th
2. True Grit (2010)
3. Two Mules for Sister Sara *

June 19th
4. Mad Men S.1 "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes"/"Ladies' Room" *
5. Mad Men S.1 "Marriage of Figaro"/"New Amsterdam" *

June 29th
5.5 . Mad Men S.1 ep. 5

Last edited by HyperWeather; 07-01-11 at 02:02 AM.
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Old 06-12-11, 02:52 PM
  #33  
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Location: 9th state to secede from the Union
Posts: 55
Re: Second Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge List Thread

All movies will be rated on the five-star system. FTV- First Time Viewing. All views are on DVD, except B=Blu-ray.
Goal: 30 films.

June 6: Once Upon a Time in the West (1969): I haven't seen this one in a while, but the recent Blu release was a must-have for me. I still feel that this might be Leone's best film, but my personal favorite remains GB&U. B 4.5 stars.

June 10: Newsreel History of the Third Reich Vol. 1: Most of this first volume featured a film that chronicled Hitler's rise to power; it was very critical and blunt about the events, and obviously wasn't a release from the Reich itself. The last film on the disc featured recycled footage from Triumph of the Will. Still, it was a very informative volume, taking time to explain exactly how the madness all came about. 3.5 stars.

Last edited by JOKipper; 06-12-11 at 03:00 PM.
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Old 06-12-11, 06:51 PM
  #34  
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Location: Norman, OK
Posts: 1,530
Re: Second Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge List Thread

*= first viewing

June 6th
1. The Life of Emile Zola (William Dieterle, 1937)*
2. John Adams, "Part I: Join or Die" (Tom Hooper, 2008)*
-- John Adams, "Part II: Independence" (Tom Hooper, 2008)*

June 7th
3. John Adams, "Part III: Don't Tread on Me" (Tom Hooper, 2008)*
-- John Adams, "Part IV: Reunion" (Tom Hooper, 2008)*
4. John Adams, "Part V: Unite or Die" (Tom Hooper, 2008)*
-- John Adams, "Part VI: Unnecessary War" (Tom Hooper, 2008)*

June 8th
5. John Adams, "Part VII: Peacefield" (Tom Hooper, 2008)*
6. X-Men: First Class (Matthew Vaughn, 2011)* wildcard

June 9th
7. The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones, "My First Adventure" (1996)

June 11th
8. The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones, "A Passion for Life" (1996)

June 12th
9. The Private Life of Henry VIII (Alexander Korda, 1933)*
10. Little House on the Prairie, 1.1, "A Harvest of Friends" (1974)

June 13th
-- Little House on the Prairie, 1.2, "Country Girls" (1974)
11. The Texas Rangers (King Vidor, 1936)* - western
12. The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones, "The Perils of Cupid" (1996)

June 14th
13. Canyon Passage (Jacques Tourneur, 1946)* - western
14. The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones, "Travels with Father" (1996)
15. When We Left Earth: The NASA Missions, 1.1, "Mercury: Ordinary Supermen" (2008)* - documentary series

June 16th
-- Little House on the Prairie, 1.3, "100 Mile Walk" (1974)
16. How the West Was Won (Henry Hathaway, John Ford, George Marshall 1962)* - western, American Civil War

June 18th
17. Kansas Raiders (Ray Enright, 1950)* - western, American Civil War
18. The Rise of Catherine the Great (Paul Czinner, 1934)*

June 19th
19. The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones, "Journey of Radiance" (1996)
20. Little House on the Prairie, 1.4, "Mr. Edward's Homecoming" (1974)
-- When We Left Earth: The NASA Missions, 1.2, "Friends and Rivals" (2008)*
21. The Lawless Breed (Raoul Walsh, 1953)* - western

June 20th
22. The Private Life of Don Juan (Alexander Korda, 1934)*
23. Little House on the Prairie, 1.5, "The Love of Johnny Johnson" (1974)
-- Little House on the Prairie, 1.6, "If I Should Wake Before I Die" (1974)
24. The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones, "Spring Break Adventure" (1996)

June 21st
25. Rita (Elaina Archer, 2003)* - documentary about Rita Hayworth
26. When We Left Earth: The NASA Missions, 1.3, "The Eagle Has Landed" (2008)*

June 22nd
-- When We Left Earth: The NASA Missions, 1.4, "The Explorers" (2008)*
27. The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones, "Love's Sweet Song" (1996)
28. Rembrandt (Alexander Korda, 1936)*

June 23rd
29. The Naked Spur (Anthony Mann, 1953)* - western
30. Lorna Doone (Mike Barker, 2000)* - BBC television film

June 24th
31. When We Left Earth: The NASA Missions, 1.5, "The Shuttle" (2008)*
-- When We Left Earth: The NASA Missions, 1.6, "A Home in Space" (2008)*
32. A Single Man (Tom Ford, 2009)*

June 25th
33. American Graffiti (George Lucas, 1973)*

June 28th
34. The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones, "Trenches of Hell" (1996)
35. Me & Orson Welles (Richard Linklater, 2008)*

June 29th
36. Temple Grandin (Mick Jackson, 2010)*

Last edited by mrcellophane; 06-30-11 at 02:54 AM.
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