I don't like to think of myself as a total sap, but when it comes to holiday movies I seem to like them syrupy sweet and starring Bing Crosby. What am I talking about?
I love those movies from the 1940's and 1950's that are my strange harbinger of the holiday season. The holiday movie genre pulls out all the stops when it comes to tugging at your heartstrings. These are tales of generals missing the war, elderly mothers from Ireland reuniting with their priestly sons, mistaken motives, unrequited love, all coupled with people bursting into songs often on elaborate Hollywood backlots. Here are my top three:
Are you experiencing an overload of sweetness this holiday season? Then you may need some respite in the form of movies featuring people not at their best during the festivities.
A Budapest gift shop is the setting for antagonistic co-workers Alfred Kralik (Jimmy Stewart) and Klara Novak (Margaret Sullavan) who are lonelyheart pen pals but don't realize it in The Shop Around the Corner. Here's a clip of Alfred counseling Klara on her choice of blouses:
Shot in 1951 and adapted from the Tennessee Williams play that captivated Broadway audiences, A Streetcar Named Desire was Hollywood's first film made for adult only audiences. Although the script's references to homosexuality and rape had to be toned down to satisfy the Motion Picture Production Code, the film still managed to shock and amaze, and its raw power can be felt six decades later.
As Blanche DuBois, Vivien Leigh gave an anguished, indelible performance that some critics believe reflected her own bipolar condition; she later had trouble distinguishing herself from the character. And Marlon Brando's sly portrayal of crude, sexy Stanley Kowalski made him the crown prince of his generation of actors and helped to redefine American film artistry.
For a non-mumbling version, take home the 1995 CBS Playhouse 90's version with Alec Baldwin, Jessica Lange, John Goodman and Diane Lane.
If the Occupy Wall Street movement has made it onto your radar screen but you aren't quite sure what the fuss is about, here are some documentaries you might be interested in viewing.
Frontline's February 17, 2009 broadcast of Inside the Meltdown might be a good place to start. It examines the 2008 collapse of Bear Stearns and the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, focusing on the response of the Federal Reserve, the White House, Congress, and the Wall Street banks.
The fourth entry in the Pirates of the Caribbean saga, On Stranger Tides, comes to DVD this week. While the films are very popular, it has been a while since pirate movies were successful. For people who want to see other approaches to high seas adventure, the Library has examples of the best (and worst) in genre.
Pirate movies have been around for over a hundred years now, hitting their peak in popularity between the 1940s and 1960s. Pirate movies helped give movie stars like Errol Flynn and Burt Lancaster their start and, eventually, Disney even started making family-minded pirate movies.
Some call it a genre, others a movement, or even a fashion statement, but however one defines noir, with its signature femmes fatales, wisecracking tough guys, and dramatic, high-contrast cinematography, its appeal never seems to wane. Though its origins are in German expressionism and French crime films of the thirties, film noir has always been a distinctly American film movement, influenced and shaped as it was by American pulp fiction, wartime gender politics, and postwar nuclear anxieties.
Fresh City Life at Central is presenting The Bad Seed as a part of their film series this month and it made me think about other movies that I did not realize were based on books. Here are some others that I hadn't realized were inspired by novels: