Okey dokey another marathon session was employed today (yesterday at the time of writing this!) Totalling an epic 541 minutes = 9 hours worth of viewing! I am very happy that I got my quota of 7 films in for the week, 3 cinema and 4 IMDb here today – even though these marathon viewing sessions are great for catching upon they absorb time like no other so *note to self* must learn not to ‘put all my eggs in one basket’ !
66 / 365 – ‘Stalag 17′ (1953) – 120 mins
IMDb Challenge #36 / 250 – Ranked #204 – Via DVD collection
Set in a German POW Camp for enlisted American airmen, a spy is discovered to be living in one of the prison barracks after an escape attempt fails resulting in the deaths of two inmates. The prisoners at once suspect Sefton, an unscrupulous inside dealer who trades almost anything with the Germans for extra privileges. After Sefton is beaten up, he himself determines to find the real spy and the result is a mixture of intrigue and betrayal leading to a surprise ending.
Directed by Billy Wilder, one of the most brilliant and versatile filmmakers of Hollywood’s golden age, whose career spanned more than 50 years and 60 films. Stalag 17 is a wonderfully entertaining WWII prisoner-of-war mystery drama mixed with great comedy. Boasting credible performances all round, the ones that stand out from the crowd are wonderful comedic double act of Sgt. Stanislaus ‘Animal’ Kuzawa (Robert Strauss) and Sgt. Harry Shapiro (Harvey Lembeck) along with William Holden for his central Oscar-winning performance as the cynical, sharp-tongued wheeler-dealer Sefton.
This was a first viewing experience for me today and even though Wilder later went onto to receive rightfully critical acclaim for the unforgettable, ‘The Seven Year Itch’, ‘Some Like It Hot’ and ‘The Apartment’ to me Stalag 17 easily deserves its place amongst those classics and one that will be enjoyed timelessly by me again.
67 / 365 – ‘Kind Hearts and Coronets’ (1949) – 106 mins
IMDb Challenge #37 / 250 – Ranked #210 – Via DVD collection
Louis Mazzini’s mother belongs to the aristocratic family D’Ascoyne, but she ran away with an opera singer. Therefore, she and Louis were rejected by the D’Ascoynes. Once adult, Louis decides to avenges his mother and him, by becoming the next Duke of the family. Murdering every potential successor is clearly the safest way to achieve his goal…
Featuring an irreproachable eight character performance from Alec Guinness as each of Louis’s unfortunate victims (The Duke, The Banker, The Parson, The General, The Admiral, Young Ascoyne, Young Henry and Lady Agatha). Kind Hearts and Cornets is a delightful, subtly paced revenge tale set in the prim and proper times of dukes and ladies in the country of Britain, recommended viewing.
68 / 365 – ‘Magnolia’ (1999) – 188 mins
IMDb Challenge #38 / 250 – Ranked #218 – Via DVD collection
24 hours in L.A.; it’s raining cats and dogs. Two parallel and intercut stories dramatize men about to die: both are estranged from a grown child, both want to make contact, and neither child wants anything to do with dad. Earl Partridge’s son is a charismatic misogynist; Jimmy Gator’s daughter is a cokehead and waif. A mild and caring nurse intercedes for Earl, reaching the son; a prayerful and upright beat cop meets the daughter, is attracted to her, and leads her toward a new calm. Meanwhile, guilt consumes Earl’s young wife, while two whiz kids, one grown and a loser and the other young and pressured, face their situations.
Very much in the vein of ‘Crash’ which I throughly enjoyed earlier in the challenge, Paul Thomas Anderson’s (‘Boogie Nights’, ‘There Will Be Blood’) Magnolia (which came before Crash) is a powerful and touching portrayal of human drama that loosely connects a series of stories, exploring the pain and suffering of a number of Los Angeles residents whose life’s ultimately intertwine in a bizarre ‘you’ll never see coming’ ending.
Littered with fantastic performances throughout from a top draw cast of John C Reilly, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jason Robards, William H Macy. However it is Tom Cruise who steals the show with his tour-de-force performance as the very different kind of self-help character in Frank Mackey who spews some very colourful dialogue, and I would long argue here he stretches his acting abilities farther than he has ever done before. Magnolia isn’t without its faults the story does drag in the last act, where it overruns its length by at least 30 minutes.
69 / 365 – ‘Ed Wood’ (1994) – 127 mins
IMDb Challenge #39 / 250 – Ranked #212 – Via DVD collection
A biopic of the life and work of the legendary ‘worst director of all time’, Edward D. Wood Jr., concentrating on the best-known period of his life in the 1950s, when he made I Led 2 Lives (1953), Bride of the Monster (1955) and Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959), and focusing on both his transvestism and his touching friendship with the once great but now ageing and unemployed horror star Bela Lugosi.
Review to follow later…