Film Goodies From A To Z (romasuave WO)May 28, 2005 Write an essay on this topic.
The Bottom Line One film for every letter of the alphabet that may be worthy of your time.
Do you need a good film for every letter in the alphabet? Here are 26 that reflect my varied film tastes. If I have reviewed the film, I have provided a link to that review:
All That Jazz. Roy Scheider stars as a performer who takes the adage "The show must go on" to its most extreme. After experiencing heart trouble, he shows he'd be willing to die for his art. Scheider shows he can sing and dance in a movie that also features Jessica Lange.
The Boys & Girl From County Clare (http://www.epinions.com/content_181782613636). Two musician brothers (Colm Meaney, Bernard Hill) compete against each other to see who has the best cieli band. It's a battle of the bands with a surprise twist. Fans of Irish music will recognize Andrea Corr as a member of Hill's band.
The Caveman's Valentine (http://www.epinions.com/content_15557299844). Samuel L. Jackson is an emotionally disturbed man seeking answers to the death of a homeless friend. Along the way, he shows a gift for music, and gets help from his police officer daughter. It's a most interesting murder mystery, as the investigator thinks he's getting messages from the Chrysler Building.
Duck Soup. Groucho Marx stars as Rufus T. Firefly, the new president of financially-strapped Freedonia, who takes his country to war over an insult made by a neighboring nation. Harpo and Chico are enemy spies who forget who's their enemy. This is the final Marx Brothers film to include Zeppo.
Enter The Dragon. Bruce Lee enters a martial arts tournament to infiltrate the operations of an Asian crime lord. This fast-paced film was the forerunner of the modern martial arts picture, and was the first to be produced by an American studio. It was also the last film Lee completed before his passing.
Four Friends (http://www.epinions.com/content_29892185732). Four young adults from Indiana experience the joys, heartaches, and social changes that changed their lives in the sixties. It's based on the life of Steve Tesich, who wrote the screenplay. It was filmed, in part, in my city.
Gertie The Dinosaur. She may be over ninety, but she doesn't look it. This pioneering piece of animation was made in 1914 by Winsor McCay, who showed the world he could bring one of these prehistoric creatures to life. Not only did he succeed, McCay found a new friend, as he plays with Gertie in this delightful short.
Harmon Of Michigan (http://www.epinions.com/content_116228787844). Tom Harmon (father of Mark) stars in a highly fictionalized version of his life story. While some of the ideals about pro football were already outdated when this film was released in 1941, Harmon shows how much football is still in his blood. It's not a great gridiron film, but it's fun, and it stars one of my many local sports heroes.
It's Always Fair Weather. Gene Kelly, Dan Dailey, and Michael Kidd star in this musical about three World War II friends who reunite ten years after they last saw each other, and see that their fortunes took them in three different directions. It's also the last time Kelly shared directing chores with Stanley Donen, whose previous efforts were "On The Town" and "Singin' In The Rain."
Jail Bait. This lesser-known Ed Wood film has nothing to do with adult men and underage girls. It's about career criminals who push their luck with their gun-toting ways. Dolores Fuller utters the title line, "That gun makes you jail bait," and contains plenty of campy moments for Wood's fans. The movie also features a pre-Hercules Steve Reeves as a police investigator.
Kingpin. Woody Harrelson plays a once-promising bowler who loses his bowling hand, and turns to managing an Amish bowling phenomenon played by Randy Quaid. Their success leads them to a tournament which includes Bill Murray as Harrelson's former ally. The crude, offbeat humor of the Farrelly Brothers is a precursor to their most famous work, "There's Something About Mary."
Let It Be. The final film of the Beatles takes a look at the band's later days, as the group creative process often gives way to egos and conflicts. It also features the final live appearance of the band as they give a concert on the roof of Apple Records.
Million Dollar Legs. This is the first great sound film that starred W. C. Fields. He's the president of his country because he's stronger than any other man in the land. The other men aren't too shabby. They're so athletic, they head to Los Angeles to take the Summer Olympics by storm. This wildly imaginative film was produced in part by Herman J. Mankiewicz, who later collaborated with Orson Welles on the screenplay of "Citizen Kane." Fields teamed with director Edward Cline several more times, with often memorable results.
North Dallas Forty. Nick Nolte stars as Phil Elliott, a player fighting to keep his job on a top pro football team. His wild living serves as both a help and a hindrance to his future in the league. It's a brutal and honest account of the life of a pro football player, based on the novel by former pro Peter Gent.
Original Gangstas. Fred Williamson stars as Marvin Bookman, a retired pro football coach who vows to make life safer from the gangs in his home city. Jim Brown, Pam Grier, and Paul Winfield are members of his clean-up team. It's not great cinema, but it's much better than the Italian knock-off pictures Williamson has made. This picture, like "Four Friends," was filmed, in part, in East Chicago.
Pool Shark (http://www.epinions.com/content_165620452996). The comic curmudgeon of W. C. Fields first came to life in this 1915 short about two men who agree to vie for the hand of a woman over a game of billiards that grows increasingly unfriendly. The trick shots are crudely done, but still funny. Check out Fields' fake mustache for another good laugh.
Quick Change. Bill Murray is Grimm, a New York City planner who's grown tired of life in the big city. He and friends Randy Quaid and Geena Davis hatch an elaborate scheme to rob a bank. Their robbery goes off without a hitch, but nearly everything else goes wrong as they make their escape from New York. Jason Robards is the dogged police detective determined to make sure crime does not pay. This film, which is one of Murray's darker efforts, made clowns everywhere bow to the altar of Emmett Kelly and protest. It's also the only movie where Murray took the director's chair (with Howard Franklin).
The Royal Tenenbaums (http://www.epinions.com/content_52936937092). Gene Hackman is Royal O'Reilly Tenenbaum, the head of a dysfunctional family whose genius children (Luke Wilson, Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow) have all gone home to mother (Anjelica Huston). Faking terminal illness, Royal also moves back in with his estranged wife. Bill Murray, Danny Glover, and Owen Wilson are people close to the Tenenbaums who wonder if they can stop an impending series of debacles. The literate, witty screenplay earned director Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson an Oscar nomination.
The Searchers. This is not your typical John Wayne movie. Wayne is Ethan Edwards, a Civil War veteran who's asked by an old flame (Vera Miles) to rescue her daughter (Natalie Wood) from Indians who had abducted the girl years earlier. Ethan goes, but his agenda is greatly different from the request made. This film is so dark in its nature, Wayne never discussed this classic directed by John Ford with anybody. It's considered by some to be the best western ever made.
Tumbleweeds (http://www.epinions.com/content_159362223748). William S. Hart made his final western appearance as Don Carver, a ranch hand looking to make a new life for himself in the Oklahoma land rush of 1889. Along the way, he meets Molly Lassiter (Barbara Bedford) and her little brother Bart (Jack Murphy) and he decides he wants to share his land with them. However, he must stop a couple of Sooners from jumping claim on everybody. Hart was one of the first cowboy heroes, and this 1925 picture is one of the classics of silent cinema. Some video copies also include a moving prologue made by Hart in 1939.
Up The Creek. Tim Mathieson and Stephen Furst appear in a comedy which reprises the personas they made famous in "National Lampoon's Animal House." They're college slackers who vow to bring glory to their beloved Lepetomaine University by winning a white water rafting race. If you think "Animal House" is sophomoric, then you'll think this picture is infinitely sophomoric - but it's still funny.
A Very Long Engagement (http://www.epinions.com/content_175666925188). Audrey Tautou stars as Mathilde, a young woman who's been told her fiance was killed in combat in World War I. Her heart tells her it can't be true, and she receives evidence to suggest her man did survive. She stops at nothing to learn the truth in this engaging picture. Jodie Foster appears as one of many people who give her clues to the events of that fateful day on the battlefield.
The World According To Garp. Robin Williams is T. S. Garp, a writer whose life has been anything but typical. He was raised by a single parent (Glenn Close) who never wanted marriage. He married Helen Holm (Mary Beth Hurt), the daughter of his high school wrestling coach, and is best friends with Roberta Muldoon (John Lithgow), a pro football player who retired to have sex change surgery. The movie is a humorous, poignant, and occasionally violent look at the vanities of mankind. Steve Tesich captures the mood of John Irving's novel perfectly. This may well have been the best movie directed by George Roy Hill.
Xica. Zeze Motta is Xica da Silva, a slave woman who uses her body to rise to prominence in 18th century Brazil. It's erotic, humorous, and thoroughly enjoyable piece of historical fantasy.
You Can Count On Me (http://www.epinions.com/content_14329220740). Laura Linney stars as Sammy Prescott, a single mother whose life suddenly changes when her estranged brother (Mark Ruffalo) comes for a visit. Kenneth Lonergan wrote and directed this very effective mix of comedy and drama, and has a small role as a minister who offers counsel to Sammy. Lonergan has yet to direct another movie.
Zelig. Woody Allen is Leonard Zelig, the ultimate conformist. He blends into the scenery anyplace he goes, whether he's with Babe Ruth or Adolf Hitler. Mia Farrow plays a therapist who tries to help Leonard be his own man. This is one of many fine comedies from Allen, who places himself in archival footage to create his comic effect.
This list spans over 90 years of cinema, and is part of the A-Z Film write-off hosted by romasuave. For more suggestions and entries, visit this link: http://www.epinions.com/content_4364279940
Happy viewing, and thanks Roman.
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