Movies

The Shootist

ISBN: 
097360890440

A while ago I wrote about one of my favorite John Wayne Movies, The Quiet Man.  The Quiet Man was a romance and a departure from the War and Western films that John Wayne was most well known for.   My second favorite John Wayne film, The Shootist is also a departure from his usual role even though it is a western, it is the story of an older gunfighter now battling a greater battle; cancer. Seeking a place to spend his last days, he takes up residence in a boarding house run by a widow who is against everything the gunfighter’s life represents while her teenage son harbors a secret desires to be just like the old shootist .

The cast for The Shootist is among the best.  Besides “The Duke” as the shootist J.B. Books, the film features Lauren Bacall as boarding house owner Bond Rodgers and Ron Howard as her son Gillom.   Despite the film’s title you won’t find a lot of shoot outs in the film.  It’s the story a dying man, who wants to die with dignity and perhaps regain a little taste of the life he could have had if his life had not taken the violent turn it did.  Yes, John Wayne is still the tough guy, but his view is now tempered as he faces his cancer and the knowledge that there is nothing he can do to win his battle against it.  Each character must in the end examine themselves as they are faced with Books’ mortality and eventual death. 

The Quiet Man

ISBN: 
9781555269005

John Wayne is one of the most famous and beloved actors of all time.  He had an acting style that was uniquely his own.  While he is best known for his westerns and war films, my favorite John Wayne film, The Quiet Man, falls in neither category.  John Wayne plays boxer Sean Thornton returning to his Irish boyhood home from America after retiring from the ring and from fighting altogether after one of his opponents dies from the blows he suffered in their fight.  His desire is to return to the simple life he knew as a boy and the town he grew up in.  It doesn’t take long before he finds love with Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O’hara), but it is this love that is going to make his life far from simple.

The Majestic

ISBN: 
085392211920

Set during the McCarthy hearings of the late 50’s The Majestic tells the story of a blacklisted screen writer named Peter Appleton (Jim Carrey) who, after freeing himself from a car wreck, finds himself in a small town devoid of his memory.  He encounters an older man who mistakenly believes Peter is his long lost son.   Peter,  having no reason to doubt the man, believes this must be who he is and so settles himself down in the town

Cocoanuts and the Marx Brothers

ISBN: 
025192125027

Cocoanuts was the first feature film starring the four Marx Brothers: Groucho, Chico, Harpo and Zeppo.  It may also have the distinction of being the first true movie musical, that is, a movie where the musical numbers were meant to be part of the story telling process rather than a performance for audience within the movie. It wasn’t that the studio didn’t plan to have a band playing with the musical scenes.  A “band” was hired for the first day of shooting.  Apparently they were to follow the actors around ready to play whenever someone was tempted to burst into song, but the director soon realized there was no reason to have them around and that they would distract from the plot of the movie; something that the Marx Brothers were already managing to do pretty well on their own.

Safety Not Guaranteed

ISBN: 
043396407428

“Wanted:  Someone to go back in time with me.  This is not a joke.  You’ll get paid after we get back.  Must bring your own weapons.  I have only done this once before.  SAFTEY NOT GUARANTEED.” 

The above classified advertisement along with a contact PO Box address that appeared in a local paper near Seattle Washington sets the stage for Safety Not Guaranteed.  The ad intrigues a reporter for a Seattle based magazine. Is the man who placed it crazy, disturbed or legit? For reasons of his own he sells his editor on the idea of checking it out as a human interest story.   He takes along two interns: one of whom, Darius, ends up applying for the position in order to get the story behind the ad.

Robin Williams 1951 - 2014

Robin WilliamsLast night I read that we had lost one of the greats; Robin Williams was no longer with us.  When we think of him we most often think of his almost manic comedy.  He was one of the best, and perhaps one of the few that could go one on one with the late great Johnathan Winters in comedy improvisation.   We know however that Robin Williams was also a great actor.  Like many comedians his view of life gave him great insight into the human condition and he was able to bring this to his more serious roles.  He will be missed.  

          Books and Films by Robin Williams

The Lone Ranger (2013)

ISBN: 
786936823455

“Narrator: A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty "Hi-yo Silver" - the Lone Ranger!  With his faithful Indian companion, Tonto, the daring and resourceful masked rider of …..

Wait, wait, wait, wait! – this is not THAT Lone Ranger and perhaps this is one reason why Walt Disney’s reboot of the iconographic persona of this legendary western hero did not do as well as expected at the box office.  From the moment this new production of The Lone Ranger was announced it was compared with the 1950s television show starring Clayton Moore (and for a short while John Hart) and Jay Silverheels.  It seemed it was destined to be a train wreck from the beginning. However, I love trains and as much as I hate to admit it, I’m always willing to look at a train wreck, no matter how much it pains me.   So I dutifully checked out this new version of The Lone Ranger and watched it, knowing from the start that it wasn’t going to be my Lone Ranger and Tonto

Jame Garner

OJames Garnerver the weekend we lost one of my favorite film and television stars, James Garner.  He is perhaps best known for his starring roles in the television series Maverick and The Rockford Files.  His film roles were varied, often funny, but almost always heartwarming.   The link below will provide you with list of movies and books in the MCPL collection featuring this well beloved star.

James Garner – A list of DVDs and Books

Noises Off

Noises off coverI’ve always liked films and plays that are about films and plays themselves.  Maybe it’s because there is still a part of me that would have like to have been “an actor.” (Said term must be pronounced with the air of exaggerated sophistication that implies the lack of same.)  Noises Off is one of my favorites.  It has an all-star comedy cast featuring Michael Caine, Carol Burnett, Denholm Elliott, Julie Hagerty, Marilu Henner, John Ritter, and Christopher Reeve.  The story is about a group of actors in a touring company performing a comedic play that they hope will head to the big time.  In this case the action behind the scenes is as funny, or funnier, than what is taking place on stage.  The film gives us a chance to the see the action from both sides.  From the front we see the play “Nothing On,” from the back we see the interactions among the actors.  There are affairs, personality conflicts, and drinking to the point of drunkenness.  The term “noises off” comes from the direction that backstage sounds are to cease, something that doesn’t exactly happen backstage in the movie.

Noises Off is a comedy based on the play by Michael Frayn. It is a fast paced and driven movie that reminds me quite a bit of some of the best skits from the Carol Burnett Show.  In most plays backstage is an area of controlled chaos.  In the case of the backstage action in Noises Off remove the word controlled.   If you like a good, semi intelligent comedy mixed with slapstick and outrageous personalities you should give Noises Off a try.

Harvey

ISBN: 
9786306242221

“Well, I've wrestled with reality for 35 years, Doctor, and I'm happy to state I finally won out over it.”

Elwood P. Dowd.

Jimmy Stewart once said that his role as Elwood P. Dowd in Harvey was one of his favorites.  It is perhaps his most famous movie role beside that of George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life.”   Harvey is a laid back and enjoyable film about a man who has left the work-a-day world and apparently entered into a life of unreality.

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