Movies Seen the Second (or more) Time Around
My cable provider is giving us free viewings of the premium channels this weekend, and I'm watching Dick Tracy. I remember being impressed with this when I first saw it on all fronts, from the set design to the costumes to the performances. This new viewing reminds me how clever and convincing this movie is. First of all, it's physically gorgeous, with everything including the cars in crayon-bright colors. The cross-cutting is wonderfully paced to keep the narrative going without fragmenting everything to smithereens. All the big names featured here seem to be having a grand time. The cast is amazing: Dustin Hoffman, Mandy Patinkin, Warren Beatty as Tracy, Madonna, Al Pacino as Big Boy Caprice (the main villain), and a host of character actors including Charles Durning, Michael J. Pollard and Estelle Parsons (both reunited with Beatty years after Bonnie and Clyde), and child actor Charlie Korsmo. There isn't a dud in the lot. Both as director and as actor, Beatty manages to convey real emotion at the heart of this comic-strip tale. Madonna is the most appealing she's ever been in any movie, I think. Charlie Korsmo is a splendid kid, natural and true. The music is ideal. I think Sondheim did the songs, while Danny Elfman did the orchestral score. Everything is perfectly Thirties, with the exception of Madonna, who when she sings is plainly in a Fifties mood, using the body movements and arm gestures of singers from the 1950s (notably Marilyn Monroe in her musicals). No surprise here. This is a tremendous piece of skillful moviemaking by Beatty et al. Unlike so many comic-book or superhero action movies, it's not overblown or meandering. Every piece fits together. It's really charming, and I recommend it.
Another film I watched recently on TV was the MGM Ivanhoe from the 1950s, starring Robert Taylor, Elizabeth Taylor, George Sanders, and I think Joan Fontaine. My special love in this movie is the music, one of Miklos Rosza's finest scores (along with El Cid). I always thought of Robert Taylor as a bit insipid as an actor, and to me Elizabeth Taylor is rather unconvincing in most of her roles. But seeing this again, I realize that Elizabeth T. infuses Rebecca with great dignity and warmth, and even Robert T. does better than I remembered. As with Dick Tracy, this film uses vibrant hues, but in this case they're the clear colors of a Medieval illuminated manuscript. MGM in this era was noted for its premium production values, and this movie is one of the best of their historical pictures. In the Sir Walter Scott novel, Ivanhoe himself is largely offstage (so to speak) because he's wounded. Here he has more of a role, which suits the rhythm of a film. Scott's Rebecca is one of the greatest literary creations of the nineteenth century, largely because she's based on a woman who actually lived, Rebecca Gratz. I think this movie does pretty well by her. Again, the music is a huge part of the film, giving it far greater life than it would have had otherwise.
Does anyone have any other "second look" movies to tell us about?
Last edited by Olympia; 01-12-2013 at 04:52 PM.
Movies I watch over and over - I have so many - but a few of my favs:
The Producers: The Musical
Pride & Prejudice (Kiera Knightly version)
The Philidelphia Story
Yay, a fellow fan of The Philadelphia Story! I just love the dialogue, the interplay between Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant (a pairing that's just about as felicitous as Hepburn/Tracy), and the hints of A Midsummer Night's Dream in the setup--it's even set around an approaching wedding! Grant, of course, is Oberon. I've never loved him more. I'm also especially fond of Virginia Weidler, the child actress who plays Tracy Lord's kid sister. The one plot element I have no patience with is the insistence that everyone is obligated to put up with the father's philandering, and that Tracy's anger at him shows intolerance on her part. Ba-loney.
The Holiday is a film I always enjoy when it's on. Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jack Black, and Jude Law are all at their sparkling best, and Winslet's friendship with Eli Wallach is delightful. This is the movie that made me realize that Jack Black is more charming, warmer, and more romantic than many far more sculpted (and probably more highly paid) leading men. He's also funny without being obnoxiously aggressive about it.
I enjoy the Keira Knightley Pride and Prejudice also, though it's faded a bit in my mind. I should rewatch it. She's an uncommonly good actress, isn't she. Now, here's a coincidence: as I write this, she's just appeared onscreen in another movie I've come in in the middle of, Love, Actually.
By the way, Toni, since you enjoy The Philadelphia Story, have you happened on the far rarer film Holiday, also based on a play written by Philip Barry, and also starring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant? Not as effervescent as the former, but with some wonderful scenes featuring the two leads.
I am a big fan of Kate and Cary (seperately and together) so yes i have.
Speaking of midsummer nights dream, its a good movie but i love kenneth brannaugh's much ado about nothing more. A very strange cast that works.
Bona Fide Member
Well, I've been obsessively re-watching The Dark Knight Rises ever since I got my hands on the DVD. You don't want to get me started on why - especially snce apparently I'm one of the few people who loved it. Thankfully for all concerned, I've been able to gush to my heart's content by writing to a friend of mine, who is a definite kindred spirit - after having nagged her into watching the trilogy, that is. (It's not normally her kind of thing - but she loved TDKR too, so all is well.)
As for that version of Ivanhoe - I've only seen it once; I didn't find it very Ivanhoe-like - and Rebecca dressed up as a boy? I don't think that's the sort of thing she'd do. I much prefer this version:
It's got a great cast - for example Sam Nell brings off Brian de Bois-Guilbert to perfection; I've always had a soft spot for him, he's a really fascinating character! By the way, I had no idea that Rebecca was based on a real woman, Olympia! Thanks for the info, and yes, that makes so much sense, too! I do think that Olivia Hussey is quite luminous as Rebecca in this version as well.
Talking of Elizabeth Taylor, I came to think of another movie that I love - Life with Father
She's only got a small role in the movie, though, I hasten to add, lest there be some misunderstanding caused, and perhaps resulting in disappointment. But, for anyone who enjoys their old movies, I definitely rec it! It's a warm, charming, funny, quirky movie - and definitely re-watchable!
But I'll stop now - I think I've got what is generally called an "eclectic" taste in movies, so there are quite a few I love.
Oh, by the by, talking of Pride and Prejudice - it's the bicentennial of its publication this year, and I was thinking of rewatching the Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle version this year. I'd have to fit it in with my bicentennial Dickens rewatch - a very leisurely one, started last year, I'm going chronologically, and am through Nicholas Nickleby - and also my constant Babylon 5 rewatch (I can go for only so long without any B5 in my life!)
Basically, a really good movie is worth watching more than once - as is a really good book worth reading more than once. (I would never say that I really liked a book unless I feel willing to re-read it - if I find the time to do so, is another matter; I do have re-reads schedulled into my reading however.)
And now, I really will stop.
You know, I still haven't seen the Branagh Much Ado. Shame on me. I love the cast, from Michael Keaton to Denzel Washington.
Glad you've seen Holiday. I was thrilled to bits when I encountered it. In my opinion the one weak link in the Hepburn/Grant production is the sister, played by Doris Nolan I think. She's rather insipid even from the beginning, and ideally she should be someone that you can imagine Cary Grant's character falling for. One of my goals is somehow to see the even earlier film of Holiday, which stars Ann Harding and Mary Astor as the two sisters. Harding is barely known today. Astor is a lovely presence who began as a teenager in silent films and acted into the 1950s. I could see Johnny Case proposing to Mary Astor and meaning it. I don't recognize the name of the guy who played Johnny, Robert Ames. I wonder whether a print of this production even exists. I've seen about three still photos from it.
Gotta Have Music