Saturday, February 25, 2012

Classic Films in Review- Part 2

Part 1 included some awesome classics like Citizen Kane, Psycho, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Now comes Part 2 which includes reviews of a lot more classic films including American Graffiti, Gone with the Wind, Rebel Without A Cause and Singin' in the Rain.


This was the first hit for George Lucas before Star Wars and introduced a new generation of stars to America. American Graffiti follows a group of high school seniors as they prepare to become adults. This coming of age classic stars Richard Dreyfuss, who would later star in Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, as Curt, a teenager who is debating whether to go to college along with his college bound friend Steve (Ron Howard) and his other friends that are not going to college, Terry and John. The film follows their adventures as they discover whether to go to college or stay in their small town home.The film is set in the 1950's and that brings an awesome, nostalgic feel. The ending is fantastic, but the film does move a little slow sometimes. THE FINAL GRADE: 7/10


The American Film Institute has called it the greatest romantic comedy of all time and it places 11th on their list of the 100 greatest films of all time. So this has got to be awesome, right? City Lights was the first Charlie Chaplin film I had ever seen and I didn't know what to really expect. The story is really good. A blind girl becomes involved with this poor tramp (Chaplin) who doesn't have a ton of money. The tramp becomes friends with a millionaire and gets a lot of money from him, and the girl suddenly thinks the tramp is rich. The ending is one of the best I've ever seen, but I was expecting a bit more slapstick and humor from this film. THE FINAL GRADE: 8/10


"Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get." The timeless quote from Forrest Gump defines the movie. Forrest Gump is a great film because it tells a story that becomes woven into history and it does it in a way that is a lot of fun to watch. Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) is a man with an IQ of 75. He was born in Alabama and has one friend: Jenny (Robin Wright). Gump soon becomes a football player on Bear Bryant's Alabama football team, meets three US presidents, goes to fight in the Vietnam war, appears with John Lennon on a talk show and becomes a millionaire. The way that director Robert Zemeckis puts Forrest into these events is superb. Tom Hanks' acting is even better. Gump is a rare film because it is hilarious film that is also touching and sad. I haven't seen many films in my life that do that. THE FINAL GRADE: 10/10


"Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn." By far the greatest quote in movie history does not come in it's greatest movie. Gone with the Wind is widely considered to be one of the greatest films in history.And while Gone with the Wind is a very good movie, it's not quite everything it's built up to be. The story (if you don't already know it) follows Scarlett O'Hara (Vivien Leigh) as she looks for love in the South during the Civil War. The only man she really wants is Ashley (Leslie Howard) but she slowly falls in love with Rhett Butler (Clark Gable). Scarlett is not a likable character and maybe that's why it didn't always work for me. She's mean and does whatever she needs to do to get what she wants. The film doesn't contain many action scenes but it still moves at a decent pace. My biggest problem with Gone with the Wind is that it's long, clocking in at 3 hours and 53 minutes long. The last hour contains some great moments but it just feels tedious eventually. Gone with the Wind introduced epic film making to the general public, but isn't as spectacular now as it probably was then. Even with it's faults, Gone with the Wind is still a fantastic movie.THE FINAL GRADE: 8/10


An average murder mystery with good acting and some heavy themes about race in America. Virgil Tibbs (Sidney Poitier) is a Philadelphia homicide detective that is visiting his mother in Sparta, Mississippi when he is accidentally accused of a crime. When the town chief (Rod Steiger) learns who Tibbs is he begs for his help in finding the killer of Mr.Colbert. The heavy themes about the racist town and discrimination are not always essential to the story but usually a fine addition. My only problems are that none of the major characters are likable. They're either arrogant, or racist. And my other problem is that the plot wasn't all that interesting at times. Not quite enough action or mystery. Overall, a decent film. THE FINAL GRADE: 7/10


Whether or not you consider this a classic, it is 50th on AFI's list and is well respected throughout the film community. Even if you haven't seen the movie, you probably know the story. Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin) are given a task by Gandalf (Ian McKellen) to take the one ring that the evil lord Sauron is hunting to Mount Doom and destroy it. Frodo is accompanied by a fellowship on the way there and faces many dangerous creatures. Being someone who never read Tolkien's books (except for The Hobbit), I found myself confused as to who some of the characters were. Aragorn (Viggo Mortenson) and Legolas (Orlando Bloom) get little to no back story along with Boromir (Sean Bean). Along with that, the action is choppy and hard to follow. While Fellowship of the Ring does have its good moments, I found it to be a little disappointing. THE FINAL GRADE: 6/10


Including a fantastic performance by James Dean, Rebel without a Cause is the teen classic that is simply unforgettable. We first meet Jim Stark (Dean) as he is dragged into the station by an officer. Stark was publicly drunk and drinking underage. Then after a while, as we learn more about this kid, we learn that his life at home is not good and he moves a lot. When he goes to school, Stark makes friends with Plato (Sal Mineo), gets involved with bad kids, drag races, and falls in love with Judy (Natalie Wood). Jim is a kid that wants to do the right thing but can't seem to. Rebel without a Cause is a good film from start to finish and an American classic. THE FINAL GRADE:10/10


Singin in the Rain is simply the greatest movie musical of all time. It's funny, it's got awesome and memorable musical numbers and a good story. Singin in the Rain follows a sound star named Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) trying to make the transition to sound with his friend Cosmo (Donald O'Connor). One night he meets Kathy (Debbie Reynolds) who he soon falls in love with. Once his first sound film with villainous co-star Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) is released; Lockwood, Cosmo, and Kathy must turn the film into a hit musical in 6 weeks. Singin in the Rain isn't revolutionary storytelling, it's just a lot of fun. Just hearing the words will have you humming along. THE FINAL GRADE:10/10


A Streetcar Named Desire contains one of the greatest performances in film history: Marlon Brando as Stanley Kowalski. And while Brando's performances is fantastic, I found the rest of A Streetcar Named Desire to be a dull slog. A Streetcar Named Desire, based off of the play by Tennessee Williams, follows Blanche (An annoying Vivien Leigh) who heads to New Orleans to live with her sister Stella, and Stanley (Brando). Blanche and Stanley don't get along and that results in a massive fight. Parts of the film are entertaining but mix in a boring subplot about Blanche finding love with a man (Karl Malden) and other boring subplots, you get an overlong, overdramatic film. THE FINAL GRADE: 4/10

That's it for now. Look for Part 3 to come real soon with reviews of Dr. Strangelove, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Spartacus, and Lawrence of Arabia.