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Groucho’s Movie Challenge: Week 1

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Groucho’s Movie Challenge: Week 1

Old 03-14-04, 04:12 AM
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The Man Who Laughs (Universal 1928)
Director: Paul Leni (Waxworks, The Cat and the Canary)
Stars:
Conrad Veidt (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Casablanca)
Mary Philbin (The Phantom of the Opera (1925))
Olga Baclanova (Freaks -- Yes, that Freaks!)

Although I am a fan of the silent era (I find silent movies to be surreal and almost other-worldly), I had been putting this one off since I'm not really a fan of costume dramas. I needn't have worried as this movie's pedigree bridges a gap between German expressionism of the 20s and Universal horror of the 30s. (Believe it or not Veidt was considered for the role of Dracula!).

This is an adaptation of a lesser known Victor Hugo novel. Hugo often wrote about outcasts (Phantom of the Opera and Hunchback of Notre Dame). The Man Who Laughs is the story of a man who as a child was kidnaped by a political enemy of his father (a British Lord) and then had an exagerated grin permanently etched on his face. After being abandoned, he is rescued by the owner of a vaudville show and becomes a freak type attaction.

The movie reminded me most of David Lynch's Elephant Man as the bulk of the story deals with the character's quest for love and acceptance.

---

This has been a fun thread. I hope we can keep this idea going for a while!
Old 03-14-04, 05:45 AM
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I'm actually looking forward to week #2!
Old 03-14-04, 07:47 PM
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I'm in
Rebecca (1940) - Hitchcock

Joan Fontaine has the most amazing smile.

Last edited by deadlax; 03-14-04 at 09:28 PM.
Old 03-14-04, 10:13 PM
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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
Milos Forman
Winner of 5 Oscars

I've had this WB 2 discer since the BB 2 for $25 a while back, and I had never made time to watch it.

I thoroughly enjoyed this film, especially for Jack's performance. It seems to me that this is where his character from Five Easy Pieces may have ended up had he checked in to a mental ward.

I've heard many people talk about the power of this movie in their life, but I must've missed that since I didn't grow up or experience the time when the book was written and when the film was made.

reubs's score: ****/*****

I only watched it once, and I hope to dive into the documentary at some point soon and maybe even get into the commentary. This film and Man on the Moon are the only Forman films I've seen so I guess that it's time I get into a few more of them (actually, I watched Amadeus in an 8th grade music class, but I'm not gonna count that).

Thanks for the challenge!
Old 03-14-04, 10:38 PM
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Old 03-15-04, 12:09 PM
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Originally posted by JasonF
Neat thread. I was born in 1974 and have plenty of unwatched pre-1974 movies on my shelf. My wife and I were talking about Whatever Happened to Baby Jane last night (we were watching the Simpsons episode from a few weeks ago with the Baby Jane paordy), so I'll probably pop that in the DVD Player later this week.
Unfortunately, things got busy for me last week, and is it turned out, my wife and I couldn't find two hours where we were both free to watch Baby Jane. We'll try to catch it this week.

Meanwhile, though, I had a few hours ot myself, so I popped in Buck Privates, which is a pre-1974 film I had never seen. This was Abbott and Costello's second movie, and their first starring role. It was a lot of fun. It is set in the army of 1941 -- before we enterred WW2, but after it was clear that we eventually would (the movie opens with the institution of the draft). Abbott and Costello wind up accidentally enlisting while they are trying to get away from a cop (they are con artists). Wacky hijinks ensue. We get to see lots of great Abbott and Costello routines, including Abbott as a drill instructor trying to get Costello to march, Abbott "teaching" Costello to play craps, and Abbott trying to borrow $50 bucks from Costello and somehow winding up with all of Costello's money.

All in all, a fun way to spend 80 minutes.
Old 03-16-04, 01:29 PM
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Finished watching Luchino Visconti's Ossessione (1943) Sunday, a kind of adaptation of "The Postman Always Rings Twice." Fine, fine film, particularly the camera and its movements. Long takes and intricate staging allow the camera to flow in and out of scenes that, frankly, reminded me of Welles' camera in Citizen Kane, though nowhere near as baroque. In fact many things I've read of Visconti label him as a precursor of the neo-realist movement. I'm not well-versed in those films so I can't assert if this is a viable comparison. My impression, having also seen Rocco and His Brothers (and waiting to see The Leopard) is that he's much more stylized. But the feeling is there, an earthiness and appreciation of portraying life in a recognizable context.

As for the characters and story, I didn't really have much interest. I can see how the portrayal of infidelity and murder in an indifferent light raised some ire back then. But appreciation of a movie's historical context only goes so far, especially when the cinematography and mise-en-scene are so interesting.


And I was born in '76
Old 03-16-04, 02:22 PM
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Born in 83...Just watched both verions of Hemingway's The Killers. The 64 version was not very good, but the 46 version I thought was quite good. Also watched the Killing the other day, which is a must IMHO.
Old 03-16-04, 04:02 PM
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Originally posted by NavinJohnson
Just watched The Gospel According to St Matthew (1964). Very poetic, interesting choices for music. I didn't expect to hear African & blues along with Bach. I was born in 1967.
Was this the version that was recently released by (I think) Watermark? I've been wanting to get this but I've heard the quality is terrible. Any input on how it looked to you? Thanks in advance.
Old 03-16-04, 05:15 PM
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I saw this challenge last week and am just now getting around to completing it. My "before-I-was-born" film was Zulu. I can't say I liked it too much, it was okay. I probably won't be picking it up, but it was interesting and kept me entertained for the duration.
Old 03-17-04, 11:55 AM
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Originally posted by reubs82
Was this the version that was recently released by (I think) Watermark? I've been wanting to get this but I've heard the quality is terrible. Any input on how it looked to you? Thanks in advance.
No, I picked up the R2 Tartan version; I'd read somewhere it was a somewhat better disc. It looked OK (could have been better, could have been worse). Sorry, I haven't seen the current R1 from Watermark.
Old 03-20-04, 02:39 AM
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Well, I must thank you, Groucho, for starting these threads . . . you've given me extra incentive to watch some of my blind buys.

For Week 1 (a week late ), I watched Grand Illusion (1937). What an amazing film! Renoir is really able to capture, what has got to be, the last example of civil international policy, demonstrated the various characters from the different nations. The whole film is packed with amazing examples of human interaction that show levels of respect not found anymore (e.g., the treatment of the POW's, the interaction between that classes, the interaction between the different nationalities, etc.). None of the characters in the film have any illusions (pardon the pun) that the "enemy" is anything but people just like themselves, who find themselves in a situation in which they are forced to fight. They are sympathetic for each others' situations, they respect each others' actions (even ones that go against their own goals), and they even go so far as to root for them to do well in their efforts.

The most powerful example that I found of this was . . .

Spoiler:
. . . when the German troops are chasing Maréchal and Rosenthal at the end and are about to shoot them and the one soldier tells the other one not to shoot because they have crossed into Switzerland. The second soldiers response is a heartfelt "Good for them."

Anyway . . . I highly recommend this film. Low action, no special effects, but a dramatic experience that you just don't find anymore in modern film.

Oh, and the film restoration (well documented and demonstrated in the special features), is unlike any I have ever seen. Outstanding!!!

Week 2's Assignment . . . either Ikiru (my original plan) or Rules Of The Game (became a contender after watching Grand illusion tonight ).

Last edited by talemyn; 03-20-04 at 02:43 AM.
Old 03-20-04, 08:45 AM
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so Groucho are you going to force us to watch Gigli one week?
Old 03-20-04, 11:50 AM
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Originally posted by Giles
so Groucho are you going to force us to watch Gigli one week?
No, because I take these challenges myself.
Old 03-20-04, 09:31 PM
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but that would leave me disqualified.
seriously though, one week you should have us watch a movie that we didn't really care for a second time to see our thoughts on it. (it'll give me an excuse to watch clockwork orange and eyes wide shut again)
Old 03-20-04, 11:42 PM
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Are we into Week 2 yet?
Old 03-21-04, 02:03 AM
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Originally posted by jough
Are we into Week 2 yet?
http://www.dvdtalk.com/forum/showthr...hreadid=352876
Old 03-21-04, 10:51 AM
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I was born in 1975. I sat down to watch The Great Escape. Pretty Good movie but I felt the motor cycle chase was a little awkward. A positive experience.
Old 03-22-04, 11:40 AM
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I finally got around to doing this challenge this past weekend. I watched And Then There Were None directed by Rene Clair in 1945. It's been sitting in my collection for a while now, so I figured I should get to it. It was an excellent movie, and I am so glad I watched it. I had never read the book nor seen a version of it done, so it was very enjoyable trying to guess whodunnit.

I don't have any silent or foreign-language films in my collection. So, I'm really going to have to get on the ball to catchup.
Old 03-30-04, 11:59 PM
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Playing catch up. I was born in 1979 so I watched Phantom of the Paradise. It was pretty cheesy, some of the acting was pretty bad but for some reason, I still dug it. It was really entertaining in a campy sort of way.
Old 04-06-04, 12:13 PM
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also playing catch up, so i'll add the last old movie I've watched, which was last night in the midst of some insomniac TCM viewing:

Cecille B. DeMille's The Squaw Man (1914)

It piqued my interest for a number of reasons, mainly that it is apparently the first movie ever made in Hollywood - and I honestly didn't know that they had "talkies" that early. It was a really interesting film to watch...once you got past the very stilted "Indian Talk" Unfortunately it is not on video at all....so I'll be emailing the folks at Criterion with a suggestion.....


here's the plot summary:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0004635/

Captain Wynnegate leaves England, accepting the blame for embezzling charity funds though knowing that his cousin Sir Henry is guilty. Out West he and the Indian girl Nat-U-Rich save each other from the evil cattle rustler Cash Hawkins and marry. Lady Diana shows up to announce Sir Henry's death. After Nat-U-Rich's suicide Wynnegate takes his half-breed son and Lady Diana back to England as the new Earl of Kerhill.
Old 04-09-04, 09:34 PM
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Heh, yet another one playing with ketchup, or something...

I was going to watch Casablanca for the IMDB Top 250 challenge, but I decided to go with Pulp Fiction instead, and leaving Casablanca for the oldie challenge.

This was a great movie, with little bits of humor sandwiched in between the drama. For some reason, though, I was thinking Carrotblanca was one of the older Looney Tunes, instead of a new work... It wasn't as good as I was expecting.
Old 05-31-04, 09:43 AM
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Casablanca is my favorite movie ever .


Anywho, I watched The Great Escape last night. Wonderful film, funny, heartbreaking, dramatic. IMO Steve McQueen may have been the main star, but James Garner stole the show. Fantastic dvd treatment. I don't know what the previous issue's transfer looked like, but this one was near flawless. Highes recommendation.

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