It's been many years since I've seen "Yojimbo", but I have watched it several times. Terrific film. To say that Fistful of Dollars" is almost an exact remake is a pretty accurate statement. I recall being amazed at how certain scenes were pretty much lifted straight from "Yojimbo", most memorably the coffin escape sequence."Yojimbo"-Akira Kurosawa-1961
Famously Leone's "A Fistful of Dollars" is an almost exact re-make.
Paul Robeson singing "Ol' Man River". Simply amazing. It just doesn't get any better than that."Showboat"-James Whale-1936
This is based on an Edna Ferber novel and a stage musical scripted by Oscar Hammerstein. Universal made a version in 1929 as basically a silent. The head of Universal, Carl Laemmle, wanted to make a sound version. Casting difficulties held up the filming until 1936. It was an expensive film to make; despite positive reviews, and a debut at Radio City Music Hall, the film was not a financial success. Laemmle lost control of the studio, and Whale lost control of his pictures. Kern and Hammerstein wrote 3 new songs for the musical; only two appear in the film. Universal sold the rights to MGM. MGM took all of the prints, and for about 40 years nobody saw this film version. There was an additional problem; Paul Robeson was blacklisted because he was a member of the Communist Party. It now appears occasionally on TCM. It is also available for streaming; just Google "Showboat" 1936.
The film begins with a showboat, the Cotton Palace, traveling the Mississippi. The ship docks at various river ports and passengers come aboard to watch shows. This was actually a real thing. It turns out that the leading lady, June (Helen Morgan), is part black. She is married to a white man; that is illegal; she and her husband leave the show. That opens up the leading roles. Magnolia Hawks, the daughter of the captain (Charlie Winnegar) takesthe female lead (Irene Dunn). A riverboat gambler, Gaylord Ravenal (Alan Jones) becomes the leading man. They marry and leave the riverboat. After a bad losing streak, Gaylord leaves Chicago and his wife and child. Magnolia returns to the musical theater; she achieves great success. After many years, Gaylord returns when his daughter is making her Broadway debut.
There are two significant Afro-American characters the previously mentioned Paul Robeson (Joe) and Hattie McDaniel (Queenie). Hattie McDaniel won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for "Gone With the Wind."
You might be shocked to find out that she was barred from the after party because of the hotel's exclusion policy. It took some doing, but she was admitted, but had to sit in the back. She donated her Oscar to Howard in her will. It was displayed along with Bill "Bojangles" Robinson's tap shoes. It went missing in the '60's; it hasn't re-appeared.
The humor is very dated, but the music remains some of the finest ever written for musical comedies. "Ol' Man River", "Make Believe", and "Bill" are only the most famous. In each case these are arguably the peak performances. Despite how dated some of the scenes appear; in its day this film took enormous risks and great expense to create a spectacle. This is well worth viewing for the great music. The history is an added bonus.
You might like "Pirate Radio" about the off shore Rock'n'Roll broadcasts ti Great Britain in the 60's. It features both Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Bill Nighy.FWIW, we just caught Curtis' About Time the other night. It was pretty enjoyable and fits in with his others. Not afraid to put a heart on a sleeve.
Pirate Radio used to be on cable a ton. Haven't seen it in a couple years though. Pretty thin plot but the characters and music are excellent, which makes it a solid view for me.You might like "Pirate Radio" about the off shore Rock'n'Roll broadcasts ti Great Britain in the 60's. It features both Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Bill Nighy.
This is my favorite Capra film by far, and one of my top four favorite Christmas movies."It's a Wonderful Life"-Frank Capra-1946
Memories, we all are ourselves because of our memories. Memories of Christmas are particularly strong for most of us. I remember the windows at G.Fox and Company at Christmastime. I recently watched "Bad Santa;" I thought it was pretty funny when I first saw it. I suppose it would have been pretty unrealistic to have Billy Bob Thornton become more transformed, but the ending felt pasted on. The film plays with our collective memories of Christmas, and not I believe in a good way. When I was teaching at Weaver, I gave my students a Christmas Quiz; I gave it to friends and family too. I guess that qualifies me as something of a Christmas nut. This movie qualifies as part of a Christmas tradition for millions of Americans. I just watched it in "color" last night; once is more than enough. Artistically the black and white images are superior. Jimmy Stewart testified to that before Congress. I believe that part of his anger was due to a violation of memories. Capra and Stewart were both back from service in WWII when they made this film. Surprisingly, this film was not a success when it was released.
The story of the film's rise illustrates something about the American psyche and copyright law. RKO allowed the copyright to lapse and in the 1970's PBS stations began to show this film as counter programming to holiday spectacles on the networks. The response was amazing. Some entrepreneurs decided to make colorized versions of he film which they copyrighted. I'm satisfied with my black and white memories of this classic; while I don't believe in the morality or efficacy of tampering with your memories; if you watch this film in color because you prefer that inferior representation; you deserve to get coal in your stocking. I remember living in a house with a coal furnace, that dates me, but not this film. Roger Ebert writes in his review for his "The Great Movies" that "It's a Wonderful Life" is a "timeless classic." He mentions that it more than stands up to repeated viewings. I believe that this film and few others have the capacity to reach individuals for whom the setting and back story are unknown territory. The black and white images are part of that unknown territory. They are an indispensable part of the memory. What were the best films of that era like?
Some of the best productions of Shakespeare's plays have transplanted the action into another era. I don't have the same reaction to colorized film versions of classic films. The original text still exists. Screenplays don't have the same weight as the texts for plays. Gus van Sant made a shot for shot re-make of Psycho; it was a failure. We still have re-makes and retrofits, turning films/plays into musicals for instance.
Bosley Crother completed his "New York Times" review with the the following:"...somehow they all resemble
theatrical attitude rather than average realities. And Mr. Capra's "turkey dinners" philosophy while emotionally gratifying, doesn't fill a hungry paunch." Huh!!!?
This was the favorite film of both Jimmy Stewart and Frank Capra. So have yourself a "Merry Little Christmas" while viewing "It's a Wonderful Life."
That's an excellent Christmas Trinity of films. To this Christmas Trinity I add in the 1951 version of "Scrooge" starring Alastair Sim. These are clearly my four favorite Christmas movies, and all four are absolutely terrific films.In my mind it is a step below the Christmas Trinity: "It's a Wonderful Life," "The Miracle on 34th Street," and "Christmas Story."
There is no other Scrooge than Alastair Sim in my book. He is the standard. And it's not even close.That's an excellent Christmas Trinity of films. To this Christmas Trinity I add in the 1951 version of "Scrooge" starring Alastair Sim. These are clearly my four favorite Christmas movies, and all four are absolutely terrific films.
Agreed, Alastair Sim is absolutely magnificent as Scooge. I find the whole production of this version of Christmas Carol to be terrific as well. No other serious versions of "A Christmas Carol" comes close to this one in my mind.There is no other Scrooge than Alastair Sim in my book. He is the standard. And it's not even close.
One of my favorite scenes in this movie is one that never seems to get mentioned. It is near the end of the movie, when Scrooge arrives at his nephew Fred’s house for the Christmas dinner engagement that he had previously refused. Fred’s maid answers the door, and lets Scrooge in. Scrooge hesitates to open the next door to enter the room where the dinner party is, but the maid (who has no lines in the movie) gives him an absolutely wonderful look of encouragement to open the door. Scrooge then enters the room where Fred and his guests are. I just find this little scene between Scrooge and the maid to be really touching and well done."A Christmas Carol"-Brian Desmond Harris-1951
In the UK the film was originally named "Scrooge." It is worth going into the background. Dickens was a well known writer in 1843. His favorite novel, "Martin Chuzzlewitt" was doing poorly. His ability to provide for his family was threatened; he quickly wrote this novella. The edition was bound in leather, on special paper, and filled with quality illustrations. This raised the cost and diminished his profit. Still it went through 14 editions in the first year. In 1849 Dickens began public readings of "A Christmas Carol;" these readings were popular and profitable, and they continued until his death in 1870.
The 1951 film was hardly the first adaptation of the story, and dozens have followed. This adaptation by Noel Jenkins is quite faithful to the original with one exception. In the movie his fiance never marries, but in the book she marries and has a large family. What we remember this film for is Alistair Sim's portrayal of Ebeneezer Scrooge. He commands the screen. His facial expressions are wonderful to behold. Then there are the lines whose resonance has not diminished in 175+ years. "Bah, humbug!;"" Are there no prisons?"; "There's more of gravy than the grave in you;" and my favorite "It's a poor excuse to pick a man's pocket every 25th of December." Other characters have memorable lines. Marley's ghost's has the great "Mankind was my business;" however, the most memorable line belongs to Tiny Tim: "God bless us everyone."
Surprisingly, this film version still delivers an emotional impact. There is a debate about whether the film is secular or religious. That is meaningless to me. The dramatic power of the visits of the three ghosts of Christmas provide the engine which drives the story. There are some singularly memorable moments like the unveiling of the two children from beneath the robe of Christmas Present. Ignorance and Want with Ignorance being the most dangerous, Scrooge is transformed and in time for Christmas. The coda declares that his life is permanently altered. He becomes a good man whose actions and affections for others for others is real, and his life is much the better for it. This is a timeless message. Of all Dickens' works, this s the one which almost every literate native English speaker knows the story. Dickens wrote other Christmas stories, but none of those ever reached a mass audience as effectively. Not only is this film version available to watch for free, but several audio books are also available for free.
This film is a memorable telling of a wonderful story with an impeccable central performance.
I agree. Scrooge is just coming down from several manic scenes: the mad dancing, accosting the boy in the street, and cackling about sending the giant turkey to the Crachits'. He arrives at his nephew's house; he is unsure; he has come down from his manic state. The rest of his life starts, the gentle encouragement from the maid to enter the party is a subtle sign. That is very excellent film making.One of my favorite scenes in this movie is one that never seems to get mentioned. It is near the end of the movie, when Scrooge arrives at his nephew Fred’s house for the Christmas dinner engagement that he had previously refused. Fred’s maid answers the door, and lets Scrooge in. Scrooge hesitates to open the next door to enter the room where the dinner party is, but the maid (who has no lines in the movie) gives him an absolutely wonderful look of encouragement to open the door. Scrooge then enters the room where Fred and his guests are. I just find this little scene between Scrooge and the maid to be really touching and well done.