Casablanca(1942) Directed by: Michael Curtiz Produced by: Jack L Warner and Hal B Wallis Screenplay by: Julius J Epstein, Phillip J Epstein, and Howard Koch. Based on the play “Everybody Comes to Rick’s” by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Peter Lorre, Conrad Veidt, and Arthur “Dooley” Wilson Oscar Count: 3 (Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Adapted Screenplay. Also nominated for Best Actor (Bogart), Best Supporting Actor (Rains), Best Editing, Best Cinematography, and Best Original Score).
In many ways, it’s fascinating that Casablanca has had the success that it has with everyone. Most modern viewers, when looking at a film like this (or any old film) thinks that it is standard fare, when, in fact, all other films have copied its influence. Continue reading →
Vertigo (1958) Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock Screenplay by: Alec Coopel and Samuel A Taylor Based on the Novel D’Entre Les Morts by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac Produced by: Herbert Coleman Starring: James Stewart, Kim Novak, and Barbara Bel Geddes Oscar Count: 0 (Nominated for Best Sound and Best Art Direction)
After the initial critical and box office failure of Vertigo, famed master of suspense, was never allowed to make another “film.”
Don’t get me wrong. Hitchcock made plenty of crowd pleasing films, that were successful critically and commercial. But except for Psycho, Hitchcock was never free to experiment again (and he only got away with that slasher shocker because it was cheap to make). The rest of his films were fairly standard, designed with the studio’s bottom line in mind. They also conform to the rigid standards of a thriller – good vs evil, intense action sequences, and the use of the Cold War or the media obsession with violent crime in the background. There was never an exploration of humanity or with analyzing what makes us tick. Continue reading →
Chinatown (1974) – Directed by: Roman Polanksi Written by: Polanski (uncredited) and Robert Towne Produced by: Robert Evans and C.O. Erickson Starring: Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Houston, and Diane Ladd Oscar Count: 1 (Best Original Screenplay for Robert Towne. Also nominated for Best Actor (Nicholson), Best Actress (Dunaway), Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Director, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score, Best Sound, and Best Picture.)
No one really understands Chinatown.
Most modern critics view the film as the last of the classic film noirs (released two decades outside the time period) and view it as the final word on noir. Everything that has come after Chinatown is only trying to be ironic and make a knowing film noir. Certainly, everything from Se7en to Who Framed Roger Rabbit have borrowed elements from this film, and have been blatant about what they were trying to do. Chinatown is not. Continue reading →
Crimes and Misdemeanours (1989) Directed and written by: Woody Allen Starring: Martin Landau, Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, Alan Alda, Anjelica Huston, Claire Bloom OSCAR COUNT (0) – Nominated for Director, Original Screenplay and Supporting Actor (Landau)
Crimes and Misdemeanours portrays two loosely linked stories which each show how life affirming notions of virtue and morality serve no real function in a world ruled by the rich and powerful. What makes the film outstanding is that its narrative leads one to anticipate that a sense of justice will prevail only to then to subvert this tone with a cruel ending that mirrors the harsh nature of everyday society. That Allen’s script also manages to incorporate deft comedy within these tragic tales without nullifying the impact of the drama speaks volumes about how masterfully it is crafted. Continue reading →
Once upon a time in the west (1968) – Directed by: Sergio Leone Original Screenplay: Sergio Leone and Sergio Donati Starring: Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson, Jason Robards, Claudia Cardinale OSCAR COUNT (0)
Once upon a time in the west is the story of Charles Bronson’s character Harmonica joining forces with Jason Robards Cheyenne in order to protect Claudia Cardinale’s widow from the grips of Henry Fonda’s villain Frank, a man who Harmonica also has a score to settle with for murdering his brother when he was young.
It is a basic revenge plot which is not unsurprising given that the initial story was co-penned by legendary horror director Dario Argento who within his own directorial work became far more intrigued by imaginative mastery than characterization. What makes the film stand out in its genre however is its technically outstanding style which coats the film in an unforgettable atmosphere and offers it a fresh vitality that makes it hard to believe that it is just over forty years old. Continue reading →
Over the past nine months Couchside View have been counting down what we collectively feel are the 100 greatest films ever made. With our top ten already decided we thought it’d be a cool idea to interact the readers by letting you have the final say on what position these ten films end up in. So simply reacquaint yourself with the classics highlighted below and please do your bit in voting for which film you think deserves to be number one. The poll will be left running for a number of days whilst we continue the countdown from its current position.
Apocalypse Now (1979) – Director: Francis Ford Coppola Adapted Screenplay: Francis Ford Coppola and John Millius Starring: Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall, Marlon Brando, Laurence Fishburne, Dennis Hopper, Harrison Ford, Frederic Forrest OSCAR COUNT (2) – Best Cinematography, Best Sound
I’m not a huge fan of Francis Ford Coppola’s films save three: Godfather Part I and Part II, and Apocalypse Now. I’m not even sure he intended for Apocalypse Now to be seen the way it is by some. Before delving into this bizarre picture, first praise must set at the feet of the actors of this film. This is one of the best ensemble casts in motion picture history. Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, and a very young and green Laurence Fishburne. Albert Hall as the Chief might be the best of the bunch. Finally, there’s the late great Dennis Hopper as the spaced out photojournalist who believes in Kurtz’s greatness. This film has little middle ground; people seem to love or hate it, but most everyone would agree that the performances of Apocalypse Now are stellar. All the performances taken together as a whole, this is easily one of the best acted films of all time. Continue reading →