#168 / 365 – ‘It Happened One Night’ (1934) – 105 mins
IMDb Challenge #99 / 250 – Ranked #140 – Via iTunes
Ellie Andrews (Claudette Colbert) has just tied the knot with society aviator King, Westley (Jameson Thomas) when she is whisked away to her father’s yacht and out of King’s clutches. Ellie jumps ship and eventually winds up on a bus headed back to her husband. Reluctantly she must accept the help of out-of-work reporter Peter Warne (Clark Gable). Actually, Warne doesn’t give her any choice: either she sticks with him until he gets her back to her husband, or he’ll blow the whistle on Ellie to her father. Either way, Peter gets what (he thinks!) he wants …. a really juicy newspaper story.
From one of the masters of the genre Frank Capra (‘Arsenic and Old Lace’) It Happened One Night is a great screwball comedy that can be watched over and over, whilst it’s not quite as screwball as others of its era ‘Bringing up Baby (1938)’ more romantic with its love-hate relationship that’s perfectly developed, but it’s still very funny.
It Happened One Night was the first film to win the big 5 Oscars in 1935 (Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Screenplay) and is only feat that’s only repeated twice by ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’ (1975) and ‘The Silence Of The Lambs’ (1991). A perfectly paced and entertaining watch – recommended viewing.
#169 / 365 – ‘Mr. Poppers Penguins’ – 94 mins
Cinema Challenge #70 / 115
Tom Popper (Jim Carrey) is a stressed-out businessman who one day learns he’s inherited six penguins. Trouble is, Tom lives in a swanky New York apartment. It’s not long before his new chums are creating a mess, sleeping in his bed and generally making it difficult for Tom to find time to go to work. The solution is obvious, isn’t it? Turn that apartment into a snowy winter wonderland for new friends Loudy, Lovey, Bitey, Nimrod, Captain and Stinky. But Tom’s snooty neighbours are less than enthusiastic about his cosseted menagerie.
Despite it being full of the old-school cliché problems. Jim Carrey’s latest outing produces a perfectly positive and pleasant if predictable picture about the part-time pop who learns his priorities upon picking up a package of penguins. Where perhaps it’s Ophelia Lovibond who is having the most fun, playing probably the films quirkiest and standout character Ms. Pippi, Mr. Popper’s assistant.
#170 / 365 – ‘Zookeeper’ – 94 mins
Cinema Challenge #71 / 115
In Zookeeper, the animals at the Franklin Park Zoo love their kindhearted caretaker, Griffin Keyes (Kevin James). Finding himself more comfortable with a lion than a lady, Griffin decides the only way to get a girl in his life is to leave the zoo and find a more glamorous job. The animals, in a panic, decide to break their time-honored code of silence and reveal their biggest secret: they can talk! To keep Griffin from leaving, they decide to teach him the rules of courtship – animal style.
Zookeeper is a poor mans hybrid of ‘Night at the Museum’ and ‘Doctor Doolittle’, where Kevin James turns up playing the same formulaic ‘looking for love’ character. Zookeeper easily shares the prized honour with ‘Your Highness’ as my worst film of the year, where it was 102 minutes of excruciating pain – quite simply avoid.
#171 / 365 – ‘Strangers on a Train’ (1951) – 101 mins
IMDb Challenge #100 / 250 – Ranked #137 – Via iTunes
Psychotic mother’s boy Bruno Anthony (Robert Walker) meets famous tennis professional Guy Haines (Farley Granger) on a train. Guy wants to move into a career in politics and has been dating a senator’s daughter (Ann Morton) while awaiting a divorce from his wife. Bruno wants to kill his father but knows he will be caught because he has a motive. Bruno dreams up a crazy scheme in which he and Guy exchange murders. Guy takes this as a joke, but Bruno is serious and takes things into his own hands.
If you were to ask me to come up with a list of the Alfred Hitchcock films I have repeatedly enjoyed over the years and the ones I would define has his classics; Rear Window, Notorious, North by Northwest, Psycho and To Catch a Thief. These were in the years in which the master of suspense was and quite rightly so firmly entrenched as one of the world’s few superstar directors. Well on this first viewing of Strangers on a Train, I can now add another Hitchcock classic to that list.
The script is superb and dialogue very powerful; sprinkled dark humor. In fact, the brilliance and visual genius of Hitchcock is on show everywhere in this film – in particular the editing. During the Tunnel of Love scene he utilises the use of shadows to great atmospheric effect. Then there’s fantastic use of the camera to create an intense cross cutting sequence between Guy’s fast paced tennis match and Bruno’s return to the crime scene.
Of the characters and the performances, it’s applauds all the way to Robert Walker as the villain Bruno, he’s brilliantly methodical in his planning and wickedly charming. Whilst all the time he emits unnerving menace throughout as sinister psychopath who truly believes he’s doing something great. Sadly and aged only 33, Walker died suddenly after a reaction to a prescription drug shortly after the release of this film.