Thriller

Maddy’s Pick For The Weekend 5: Niagara (1953)

I have never been to Niagara Falls in Canada, but when I watch this film I am always left feeling as though I have visited. Filmed on location, the falls play a key role (and provide a spectacular backdrop to most scenes)in this superb thriller.

Niagara is directed by Henry Hathaway. Newlyweds, Ray and Polly Cutler(Casey Adams and Jean Peters)are enjoying their honeymoon at a hotel right next to those famous falls when they are caught up in murder, jealousy and betrayal.

Staying at the same hotel is troubled war veteran, George Loomis(Joseph Cotten)and his stunning young wife Rose(Marilyn Monroe). Rose is having an affair and has plotted to have her lover kill George. At first it seems as those Rose’s terrible plans have succeeded, but we soon see that George has a few surprises in store for his wife.

Marilyn was a highly gifted comic actress, but she was also very good in dramatic roles too. I find it a real shame that her dramatic acting isn’t discussed or appreciated very much today, she is still primarily known for those comic, dumb blonde characters. If you want more dramatic Monroe, check her out in these flicks – The Misfits, Clash By Night , River Of No Return and Bus Stop(this has comedy in it, but her performance is quite serious.)

Marilyn does a terrific job of portraying a memorable femme fatal, making Rose sexy, devious and giving her own natural beauty and sexuality a somewhat sleazy quality (similar to Rita Hayworth’s performance in The Lady From Shanghai). As is always the case in a Monroe film, she steals every scene she is in.

Jean Peters(an actress who I think should have gone on to become a much bigger star)is excellent as the young woman who befriends George, and through her pure, girl next door qualities makes him realise not all women are like Rose. I also like how Polly is independent and tries to take care of herself and offer help to George.

I find Rose and Polly to be very interesting characters depicting two different types of women, one good, kind and pure, the other shallow, deceitful, beguiling and seductive. It’s Polly’s qualities that last the longest in life and are the most meaningful, looks fade after a time, and a shallow, selfish person won’t find lasting happiness.

Joseph Cotten superbly portrays a man riddled with jealousy, personal demons and doubts. This is quite a different role to ones he usually took and he gets to show what a good dramatic actor he was.

My favourite scenes are the following. Polly and Ray taking a boat trip to the falls and going under and behind them(and Polly catches sight of Rose and her lover kissing),the falls being lit up at night, Rose singing with a group of teenagers playing records, the nail-biting finale on the runaway boat and Rose trying to escape at the bus station.

A thrilling story, with some twists, Marilyn at her best and some beautiful location work all help to make this a must see.

Any other fans? Never seen it? I hope you check it out sometime.

None Film Related, Uncategorized

Thank You To My Followers

Hi all. Hope your week has been going well, and that you have a relaxing/fun weekend waiting for you.

I just wanted to say a big thank you today to all of my followers.

When I started this blog back in February, I never for one moment expected to get many(if indeed, any)followers; I was just happy to be here writing about films, and hoping that at least one other person might read what I’ve written and share my love of classic cinema.

Now, just a few weeks later, I  have several followers, have taken part in my first blogathon, and I am feeling much more confident about blogging in general. So, whether you follow me from another blog or you follow via email, I just want you to know how much your support, comments and likes are meaning to me. I’ve met some lovely people and am enjoying so many fun and interesting conversations.

I want to give a special mention to Patricia, over at CaftanWoman. Thank you for encouraging me to give blogging a go in the first place and for offering me so much advice/help. It is very much appreciated. Not familiar with her blog? Be sure to stop by and check it out for some terrific reviews and comments.

I’d like to give a special mention to some other bloggers who I’m really chuffed to have come across for various reasons. Not familiar with them? Get yourselves clicking on the links to their sites and see what they’re all about.

Brian, over at Bonnywood Manor is your go to chap for classic film related satire. He knows how to make you giggle. Keep those laughs coming.

Charlene, over at Charlene’s (Mostly)Classic Film Reviews has a love for classic cinema from around the world. Be sure to stop by and check out her comments and feelings about various classics. I was delighted to run into Charlene, as she shares my love for classic era Japanese cinema.

Theresa, over at cinemavensessaysfromthecouch is passionate about the classics, and it really shows in her character and performance focused posts. Classic fans will surely envy her when they learn she met Kirk Douglas, Robert Osborne, and appeared on the TCM channel in America.

Fritzi, over at MoviesSilently  is your go to gal for all things to do with Silent cinema. I will be forever grateful to her for introducing me to some Silent films and stars that I had never heard of.

Ruth, over at SilverScreenings is not only passionate about the classics, but has one of the most lovely looking blogs I’ve come across. I really like the layout and look. Get over to her blog for interesting discussions and posts.

Many thanks once again to you all. I appreciate you stopping by and reading, and replying to my posts.

Maddy X

 

 

Romance

Charade (1963)

Charade is one of the most enjoyable films of the 1960’s. This film has everything. There’s two of the classic eras greatest stars at their best, thrills, romance, twists, deception, interesting and likeable characters, a cracking score and plenty of comedy.

Charade is directed by Stanley Donen, the man who brought us what is possibly the greatest musical, Singin’ In The Rain.)If you only know Donen from that film, then I think you will be in for quite a surprise with this one.

A perfect blend of romance, thrills, suspense and comedy, Charade has some dark moments too(two of the murders are pretty disturbing, despite not being overly graphic)and a suspenseful rooftop fight sequence. It also keeps you guessing until the last few minutes as to the identity/allegiance of two key characters.

Reggie Lambert(Audrey Hepburn)is in the process of divorcing her husband Charles. Reggie is dismayed to learn he has been killed and all their money is gone. Five men soon enter her life who all want something that Charles had in his possession when he died. They all claim it is worth a lot of money and it is vital that it is found. Reggie also learns quite a few things about her husband that she had previously not known.

George Kennedy, Ned Glass and James Coburn play Scobie, Tex and Gideion, three former friends of Charles, who are all convinced Reggie has what they are after. Walter Matthau is Bartholomew, an American agent who is also after the mysterious item claiming it is vital that the US government gets it before the other three men(who only want it for the money it will bring.)

Cary Grant is Peter Joshua, a mysterious man of many aliases who appears to be Reggie’s only friend and hope in all of this, but is he who he claims to be? Just who is telling the truth, and can Reggie trust any of them?Peter and Reggie find themselves falling in love which further complicates matters.

I wish Grant and Hepburn had made more films together after this, they make such a terrific screen team. Their romantic scenes are tender, funny and believable, they make you feel for their characters and look like they are having a great deal of fun. They also make their characters quite emotionally vulnerable at times, especially during scenes where their mutual attraction is developing.

This is one of my favourite films and is one I return to quite often. It cheers me up if I’m feeling down. The twists and turns are still effective even though I know what’s coming. There is some great location work too. Does anyone know the location of the ski resort?

My favourite scenes are the following. Peter taking a shower fully dressed, the scene on the boat between Peter and Reggie after she gets suspicious of him, the opening at the ski resort, the orange game at the club, Reggie and Bartholomew discussing her skill as a potential spy, Reggie trying to follow Peter and not get noticed and pretty much every scene featuring Cary and Audrey together.

Grant is at his most suave and funny here, and despite the age gap between him and Audrey you don’t really notice it as you do with Audrey and Gary Cooper(in Love In The Afternoon). Audrey gets a mix of comic and serious moments in this and excels at each, she really makes you feel for her character.

The rest of the cast are all superb, George Kennedy is extremely menacing, Glass is seemingly unthreatening, when his character is anything but, and Coburn is like a deadly snake waiting to strike. We get to see Matthau in a rare serious role and he has a brilliant serious expression during comic scenes.

Henry Mancini’s music is the perfect accompaniment to the action and romance on screen.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I think the park(with the market and Punch and Judy show)looks like the one featured in How To Steal A Million, has anyone noticed the similarity? Does anyone know the real location used?

Any other fans? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one. If you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend it.

Book Chat, Page To Screen

Make This A Miniseries: Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes Novels by Laurie R. King

I love these books so much. If you have never read them before here is a brief description of what they’re all about.

Mary Russell, is a teenage orphan who meets the retired Sherlock Holmes in Sussex,  during the First World War. Holmes makes her his apprentice and they investigate and solve cases. As the years pass and Mary grows up, the pair realise they are falling in love and eventually marry.

As a massive Sherlock Holmes fan, I was initially sceptical when I read that Holmes marries in these stories. Holmes had no time for romance and I was left wondering how on earth this would be made believable.  I needn’t have worried though,  for believable it is.

The books are very detailed and have interesting plots; as much as I enjoy the stories I confess to mainly reading for the scenes between Holmes and Mary, I love their slow build relationship and how due to his feelings for her, we (occasionally)get a glimpse of the emotional and vulnerable side of the great detective.

This series and the relationship between Mary and Holmes serves as the ultimate fan fiction for those of us who would have loved to have been a friend to Holmes, share his adventures, and have our lives be that bit more interesting due to his presence in it.

I have long thought this would make a perfect miniseries. I would cast Patrick Malahide as Holmes. I always picture Carey Mulligan as Mary when I read the books, but I think she is a bit too old now for the role.

I have always wanted Malahide to play Holmes, he has the look and I think he would be fantastic in the role. I was first struck by his Holmes similarity in his series The Alleyn Mysteries (1990-1994)and I have been hoping ever since that he would don that famous deerstalker. Please, someone out there make this happen!

Any other fans of these novels here? Do you want it to receive the miniseries treatment? If so, who would you cast as Holmes and Russell? What are your favourite novels from this series?

I love A Monstrous Regiment Of Women, The Beekeepers Apprentice and Locked Rooms the most.

I’m pretty chuffed that I have recently made a work friend a fan of these stories, she tells me she is now hooked.

Page To Screen, Western

Maddy’s Pick For The Weekend 4: True Grit(1969)

Hope everyone is enjoying the weekend so far. Today, I want us to saddle up for adventure, action, tears and laughter with this 1969 Western.

The film is based on the 1968 novel by Charles Portis. True Grit is directed by Henry Hathaway, featuring music by Elmer Bernstein.

The film stars John Wayne as the tough, cantankerous, one eyed Marshal, Rooster Cogburn. The Marshal is hired by Mattie Ross(Kim Darby)to track down Tom Chaney (Jeff Corey)her fathers murderer.

The pair are joined by Texas Ranger, La Boeuf(Glenn Campbell) who is also after Chaney for killing a Senator. This trio are all different from each other and disagree more than they agree. As they spend time together they form a bond, with Mattie in particular finding a place in Cogburn’s heart.

At first you think the title refers to Cogburn, but as the film goes on we realise it is Mattie who is full of grit and determination.

Robert Duvall, Jeff Corey, Strother Martin and a young Dennis Hopper, all provide solid support and make quite an impression in their respective roles.

Wayne won his only Oscar for his performance here. At the awards ceremony he joked that he should have put on an eye patch sooner. It’s easy to just say he won this as compensation for never having won an award before, but I really think his performance here actually deserved it.

Wayne makes Rooster a force to be reckoned with, tough and unrelenting. You know you don’t want to cross this man. He gives him heart, and we catch fleeting glimpses of compassion and tenderness beneath that tough exterior.

My favourite scenes are the following. Mattie in her hotel room holding her fathers watch and crying, Rooster telling Mattie about his life as they sit on top of the hill in the dark, all the comic scenes between Mattie and the horse dealer(Strother Martin, stealing every scene he is in) Mattie’s river crossing, the snake pit rescue, and the reins between the teeth shootout.

The music stays in your head, as do several scenes such as the final shootout, Mattie finding Chaney by the river, the shootout inside the hut and the snake pit scene. There is some stunning scenery to behold too.

I like the remake quite a bit, but this one will always be my favourite version. I also think this version makes the characters realistic, people look dirty, tired, edgy, and the film also shows how dark and violent this time period was. The film is dark, but has some very tender scenes too, such as the funeral parlour scene, Mattie and Rooster’s heart to heart conversation, how Rooster gently tends to an injured Mattie, and her distress at what happens to her beloved horse.

Darby is perhaps too old to be playing a teenager, but she gives Mattie so much strength, courage and heart that you believe her in the role. I also think she conveys the reality that young people back then had no choice but to grow up quick, they became adults before their time.

I don’t think Campbell is as bad in his role as some people have made out over the years. I think he’s quite funny in places too.

Any other fans of this? If you’ve never seen it, I hope you check it out sometime.

None Film Related

Spring Has Arrived

I came home from work this afternoon to a lovely sight, a perfect spring day had arrived in my garden.

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The sun was out, it was feeling quite warm, the flowers were blooming, and a very fluffy robin was enjoying a bath(and causing quite a bit of a mess, splashing water everywhere.)

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Following the horror of this Wednesday, this beautiful sight raised my spirits quite a bit. It was a perfect moment of beauty and peace.

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I love this time of year. Everything looks fresh and bright, cute baby animals pop up all over the place, and we see some life continuing around us unblighted by the horrible things we as people can do to one another.

Just wanted to share these spring day pics and say how much this time of year cheers me up.

Welcome to Spring.

 

Blogathons, Romance, Tributes To Classic Stars

The Bette Davis Blogathon: Mr. Skeffington (1944)

 

 

bette-davis-blogathon

Crystal, over at In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood, is hosting this blogathon all about Bette Davis. I’m looking forward to reading all the other posts by those taking part. This is the first time I have ever taken part in a Blogathon, so I’m very excited to be taking part in this.

I’ve decided to write about a great favourite of mine, the 1944 romantic drama, Mr. Skeffington.

Based on the novel by Elizabeth von Arnim; Mr. Skeffington focuses on the beautiful, young socialite, Fanny Trellis(Bette Davis). Fanny can twist men around her little finger, they dote on her, are entranced by her, and she both knows and loves it! From her first scene to her last, Bette makes Fanny the centre of attention as she floats around like a brightly coloured butterfly amongst all those love struck men drawn to her like bees to honey, moths to a…well, by now you should be getting the picture.

Bette was never better than when she was playing bad girls, and her performance here is another good example of this. What I find fascinating about this particular role though is that although Fanny is a selfish heartbreaker, I do find myself wondering if she is always consciously aware of the effect her actions will have?

Sometimes Fanny seems to be pretty naïve, there is a real girlish quality to her, yet at other times it seems she knows exactly what will happen after she says certain things, or goes out with a certain man and uses her apparent innocence as a cover/excuse for her behaviour.

This is precisely why I love Bette so much though, she can let you see the inner workings of her characters; she makes them more complex/human than they may have appeared on paper or possibly when played by another actress.

Fanny marries the kindly Job Skeffington(Claude Rains, delivering one of his most heartbreaking performances)after her brother Trippy(Richard Waring)embezzles money from him. Fanny hopes that her new marriage will allow her access to money which he can pass to her brother. When Trippy (who hates Job)learns what she has done, he leaves home in disgust and is killed in the First World War. Grief stricken by his death, Fanny withholds any affection she once had for Job from him.

Fanny devotes herself to parties and spending time with a number of other men. Job and their daughter rarely see her anymore. Throughout all of this Job’s love for Fanny has never wavered, and seeing him so hurt by her only makes us hate what she is doing. Fanny will come to learn(at great personal cost)that looks are not everything, it is the person inside who counts most. Love isn’t about the physical, it is really all about two souls connecting.

My favourite scenes are the following:

1- Job and Fanny on their honeymoon boat trip, the pair are on deck and see a passionate young couple get serenaded; Fanny is utterly convinced they too will be serenaded by this band who are rumoured to always be able to pick out newlyweds and play for them onboard. The band approach, Fanny looks expectant, satisfied even and then the band members look at one another, shake their heads and walk past leaving a perplexed Fanny in their wake; she didn’t realise(but Job did)that they are not acting like a couple in love.

2- Job sitting by Fanny’s bed when they learn she is pregnant. He is overjoyed and wants to be with her, she is distressed at the thought pregnancy may affect her appearance and she also doesn’t want to have the baby at home. Job is dismissed and we can see the heartbreak it causes.

3-Fanny visiting Job at his company. When news of The First World War being declared comes through, his office is swamped with employees asking what stocks they should buy up etc. For once Fanny is of interest to no one and it throws her somewhat. Bette is very good in this scene, going from in control and flirting, to being completely overwhelmed by something out of her control. I love how she ends up standing on a chair to get out of the way of people barging in and tries to regain Job’s attention.

4- Fanny drinking in a club with a man she is having an affair with. A drunk man keeps telling her she is gorgeous, he invites more drunks over to gaze at her, who all in turn say she is the most beautiful woman they’ve ever seen. Fanny is utterly delighted at this attention and has a right laugh at it all.

Bette is excellent in this film as the flirtatious, fun loving, seductive and enchanting Fanny. One moment she is all childlike innocence, vulnerability, and excitement and the next, she is despicable, cruel, vain and extremely selfish. Throughout all of this though, Bette keeps you interested in the character and even makes her sympathetic during certain scenes, she is not all bad and is more complicated than she may appear to be at first.

I always get the impression that Fanny needs attention and compliments because it makes her feel special; if she accepts her marriage with Job she will no longer feel as unique, desired as she does when she parades around with all the other men. That I can be so intrigued by Fanny is, I think, a real testament to Bette’s abilities as an actress, it is because of her performance and not the writing that makes me so fascinated. I can’t imagine another actress playing this role quite the way Bette does.

Without a doubt this is Bette’s film, but I’d also like to give a shout out to Claude Rains.He is superb here(endless shots of puppy dog eyes), and a sense his character harbours a quiet hope that one day something might change between him and Fanny. This film could so easily have ended up belonging to either of these brilliant actors at the cost of the other, but actually neither of them ends up overshadowing the other. Bette often said that Claude was her favourite co-star and I think they were a perfect screen fit. I really like them together in this, Deception and Now Voyager. I really wish they had made many more films together.

This is a real tearjerker and that ending gets me every time I see it.

Expertly directed by Vincent Sherman. Terrific performances all round, beautiful costumes courtesy of Orry-Kelly and some gorgeous set design courtesy of Fred M. MacLean.  On top of all that, we get Bette at the height of her fame and talent, always a treat to watch. Bette, thank you so much for so many fine performances over the years, you are greatly missed.

I highly recommend this if you haven’t seen it. If you have, please share your thoughts on the film and on Bette’s performance.

 

British Cinema, Musicals, Unsung Classics

Unsung Classics 3: It’s Great To Be Young! (1956)

I wonder how many of you have even heard of this one? I’m betting not very many at all, and that is why I wanted to write about it because it deserves to be better known.

I first saw this on TV many years ago, I missed the first few minutes of it, so I didn’t even know the title of what it was I was watching. I saw that John Mills was in it, and I found myself enjoying the story, so I kept right on watching. Over the years a scene in this stayed with me (the students locking themselves in the music studio refusing to come out)and every now and then I get to thinking about the film. I just wished I knew the film title so I could buy a copy.

It took me some time after this to find a list of John Mills films and read through the plot descriptions, but I kept on going until I discovered it had been called It’s Great To Be Young! A couple of years ago, I was thrilled to see this was available on DVD and I made sure I bought a copy.

This is a film that will bring a smile to your face, and a tear to your eye. Uplifting and touching with some cracking music(courtesy of jazz great, and radio comic genius, Humphrey Lyttelton),this is perfect to watch when you need cheering up.

Beloved music teacher, Mr.Dingle(John Mills)loves music, he loves playing music, teaching music and discussing music. His passion for his subject makes him a big hit with his students. He is easy-going and more of a friend to his pupils than just a teacher. He runs a jazz class for his students which is well received. When the school gets a new headmasterMr. Frome(Cecil Parker), Dingle finds himself being pressured to stop teaching jazz and having to just stick to the regular(boring)curriculum.

The dislike between Dingle and Frome escalates and soon Dingle’s career is on the line. It is up to his students to make a stand for the teacher they love.

John Mills is excellent as the energetic teacher who makes his lessons fun and listens to, and works with his students. Cecil Parker provides solid support as the stuffy headmaster who rigidly imposes his way of teaching on his new colleagues.

The child stars are all superb, with Dorothy Bromiley in particular making a strong impression as Paulette, who is falling in love for the first time in her life. I love the scene between her and John Mills, when Paulette asks him for advice on how to deal with her feelings.

This one makes you think of all those teachers who meant a great deal to you, and had a positive impact on your life. Who wouldn’t want a teacher like Dingle?

The outfits and hairstyles may be outdated now, but the music, and what the characters are going through will never age.

Any other fans of this? To the rest of you, this one comes highly recommended.

 

Horror

The Birds (1963)

I’d like to talk today about one of my favourite Hitchcock films, the nature horror, The Birds. The film is based on the novel by Daphne Du Maurier (whose work had been adapted for the screen by Hitch before)with the story setting changed from Cornwall to a coastal American town.

When this film was released in 1963, Alfred Hitchcock had been the master of suspense for decades, but he had never before made a film that could really be classed as a horror film. Psycho released in 1960, certainly has some horror elements, but it is still essentially a suspense thriller. The Birds however is certainly an all out horror film.

From its opening titles, which feature no music, only the squawking of birds; we know we are in for a very different experience than we are used to from this director. The film makes us afraid of something we share our lives with everyday, the birds we see eating off the floor, flying through the air, and sitting on trees, buildings etc, it makes us think what would we do if they ever decided to attack us all the time. When I first saw this, I have to confess to being wary of birds for a while after viewing.

I like how the ordered lives of the characters are completely destroyed, they find themselves out of control and pursued by something they would never have thought could hurt them.

Wealthy Melanie Daniels(Tippi Hedren)meets lawyer Mitch Brenner(Rod Taylor)in a bird shop. He is trying to find some love birds to give to his younger sister Cathy(Veronica Cartwright), when he recognises Melanie as the woman who is always in the news for practical jokes, and scandals; Mitch decides to have a bit of fun at her expense, and give her a dose of her own medicine. Mitch pretends that he thinks she works in the shop and asks her to show him some birds, this leads to some very amusing scenes until he tells the truth(much to her annoyance).

There is an instant attraction between the two, and Melanie buys a pair of lovebirds, and finds Mitch’s weekend address(family home)out in Bodega Bay. Melanie drives up to leave them for Cathy, she takes a boat over to the house(to arrive unnoticed) as she is trying to leave without being noticed Mitch catches sight of her and drives over to the dock to await her return, as she comes closer to the dock she is attacked by a seagull. From this moment on there are more bird attacks, and large groups of birds congregate in public places. Mitch, Cathy, their mother Lydia(Jessica Tandy), Melanie and schoolteacher(and former girlfriend of Mitch)Annie(Suzanne Pleshette)try and figure out what is causing these attacks, and find a way to survive.

The more I’ve watched this, I’ve picked up on something that I haven’t seen anyone else mention when discussing this. The majority of the bird attacks happen at moments of increasing intimacy between Mitch and Melanie, they increase as Mitch and Melanie’s feelings for one another grow. Hitchcock was a perfectionist and everything in his films was there for a reason, I would find it difficult to believe that the bird attacks coinciding with emotional moments/sexual tension were not intentionally included. If you pick up on this I think it adds another layer to the film. I also love the way Rod and Tippi play these scenes, I love the sexual tension/banter between their characters.

Rod Taylor is superb as the strong, playful Mitch devoted to his family and trying to protect those he loves from these attacks; his performance in this is what made me a fan, I love him in this.

Tippi Hedren makes a strong debut as Melanie, and does a good job of portraying a strong woman becoming vulnerable and falling in love. It is a real shame she didn’t go on to become a bigger star, her performance here and in Hitchcock’s  Marnie are very good indeed.

Suzanne Pleshette steals every scene she is in as the knowing Annie, she can see Mitch and Melanie are falling in love, even if they themselves might not be aware of it.

Jessica Tandy is moving as the widowed mother of Mitch, desperate not to lose her son and being cold towards any woman he loves.

A very young Veronica Cartwright is good as Cathy Brenner, terrified by what she is seeing but still loving towards her lovebirds.

The ending is bleak and we are left hoping the best for these characters, but it doesn’t look likely that there will be a happy ending. The original scripted ending was even bleaker, and I do wish it had been filmed as it shows how far the attacks had spread; they drive through the town to find utter devastation, dead bodies and thousands of birds as far as the eye can see.

My favourite scenes are the following: Mitch and Melanie talking about her mother up on the hill, the banter between Mitch and Melanie when he is treating Melanie’s cut, the attack where Melanie is trapped in the phonebox, Melanie and Annie discussing Mitch and Lydia before the bid hits their door, Lydia finding the dead farmer, the birds gathering behind Melanie at the school, and the scene with the bird expert lady talking about the attacks.

I also love the scene where Melanie is driving, her body leans left and right when she turns corners, on the seat next to her, the lovebirds are leaning left and right too. That scene always makes me laugh whenever I watch this. A brief moment of humour in a very chilling film.

One of Hitchcock’s best films, and a very good horror film in it’s own right. If you’re a fan please leave your thoughts. If you’ve never seen it, I hope you’ll check it out.

 

Science Fiction

Forbidden Planet(1956)

One of the greatest Science Fiction films ever made, and featuring some of the most unforgettable images in the history of the genre. The special effects in this were extremely impressive for the 50’s, and they still impress when viewed today.

This is one that really makes you think about what should be feared more; unknown alien beings , ideas and words? Or our own minds, and the terrible things we’re capable of doing and creating? It poses big questions and there are no easy answers, should our quest for improving ourselves be undertaken  with extreme caution? Incase we should ever grow beyond what we are now and lose what makes us human(compassion, rational thought etc)in the process.

Leslie Nielson plays the heroic, always ready for action, Commander Adams. Adams and his crew are sent out to the planet Altair-4, to investigate why there has been no contact with the human colonists who settled there some years ago. On the planet they discover the only survivors from the colony, the highly intelligent scientist Dr. Morbius(Walter Pidgeon),his equally intelligent, mini-dress clad daughter Altaira(Anne Francis), and their loveable companion Robby the robot, part butler, cook, bodyguard and friend.

Altaira becomes fond of the crew, but Morbius is distrustful of them and openly hostile, he just wants them to be left alone in peace.Things get complicated when Altaira and Adams fall in love, and when the crew are attacked by the terrifying unseen creature responsible for the deaths of the other colonists.

I love this film so much, it is a groundbreaking film in the genre, and I think it would be fair to say this strongly influenced the creator of another favourite of mine, the Star Trek series. The device that the crew step into during the approach to the planet resemble the Star Trek transporters, and Adams is a very similar character to Captain Kirk.

The soundtrack in this film is truly one of a kind, instead of music we have an electronic soundtrack which gives the film and otherworldly quality, and I think it really adds something special to the film.

My favourite scenes are the ship landing on the planet, the whirl of dust crossing the horizon which signals the approach of Robby, Adams protecting Altaira from a potential tiger attack, the attack on the ship and Altaira’s first meeting and flirting with Adams, Ostrow(Warren Stevens)and Farman(Jack Kelly).

I love how this one isn’t your typical alien monster film either, when you learn the identity of the monster, and where it actually comes from it’s pretty mind blowing stuff, and adds another layer of complexity and wonderment to what you’ve been watching. This is a film I never get tired of watching, and it always impresses no matter how many times I’ve seen it before.

Walter Pidgeon is excellent as the tragic Morbius,strong and unrelenting, but powerless to resist what  he has unleashed. It’s nice to see Leslie Nielson in a serious role as the heroic lead character; for more serious Nielson performances, check him out in a guest appearance in The Streets of San Francisco as a boozing detective, and in the 1958 Western, The Sheepman. Nielson is one of my favourite screen comics, but I have really enjoyed seeing him in serious roles, I wish he had played more dramatic roles.

Warren Stevens is terrific as Doc Ostrow, Adams close friend. Stevens is an actor who I haven’t seen in very many other things, but I really like him here and think he had it in him to become a big star/character actor. If you like him here check him out in an episode of One Step Beyond called The Riddle.

Anne Francis is superb as the ethereal Altira, perfectly conveying her trusting nature, and her growing desire to spend time with someone other than her father.

Robby the robot is one of the most instantly recognisable characters in film history, a loveable individual who is probably the first thing that springs to mind when someone mentions this film.

As ever, please leave your thoughts below. If you’ve never seen it, check it out and enjoy.