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Category Archives: Classics Movie Reviews

The Window (1949)


The Window (1949)

(I could not find a trailer for this film to post with my review, so here is a very short clip instead).

I saw this movie for the first time on a 16mm print when I was about 8 years old.  It was enough to spook me back then.  I love watching old movies like The Window and being transported back in time to a simpler time.  You can see what the big city was like back then and how it has vigorously transformed, over the years.

Recently, I got to attend a special showing of this film at The Heights Theater in Columbia Heights, MN as part of an RKO Film Noir Festival.  People often ask me, what “Film Noir” is.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary the definition of “Film Noir” is: “a type of crime film featuring cynical malevolent characters in a sleazy setting and an ominous atmosphere that is conveyed by shadowy photography and foreboding background music; also: a film of this type.”

I do not think that “Film Noir” could be defined any better.

The Window is about a 9-year-old boy who is notorious for crying wolf.  One night he looks through his neighbor’s window and witnesses a murder.  Of course, nobody believes him except for the killers and they want to silence him.

The movie was directed by Ted Tetzlaff and the noteworthy cast includes Bobby Driscoll, Barbara Hale, Arthur Kennedy, Paul Stewart, and Ruth Roman.

The premise of this movie has been duplicated many times (i.e. Rear Window (1954), Disturbia (2007)) because the subject matter itself, is pretty scary.  Could you imagine living next to a killer?

The film holds up today because of the tension that it is able to build up throughout the story.  The length of the movie was quite fitting in order to keep it more intense throughout without it having much of a chance to slow down.

Bobby Driscoll does an exceptional job for his age.  He holds his own throughout the whole movie.  He actually won a special Academy Award for his performance in The Window as the “outstanding juvenile actor” of 1949.

The villains of The Window are quite ruthless for the time that the movie was made.  In particular, Paul Stewart delivers a memorable performance.  Stewart made quite a career as a character actor.  He became typecast as the “bad guy” or gangster, mostly because he was awesome playing those parts.  Besides The Window, I really liked him in Mr. Lucky (1943).

You just cannot get the same shadow effects now as you could in black and white, back in the day.  The malevolent characters, sleazy setting, and foreboding background music all excellently portray an ominous atmosphere that is the classic “Film Noir”, The Window.

If you enjoy a good thriller, The Window still holds up today.  You could even watch it with your kids and help teach them never to “cry wolf.”

I rate this movie a 9 on a scale of 1-10.

 

If you liked this film then you might also enjoy:

 

Rear Window (1954)

Disturbia (2007)

Compulsion (1949)

Shadow of a Doubt (1943)

Murder, My Sweet (1944)

Non-Stop (2014)

Flightplan (2005)

Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

The Girl on the Train (2016)

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The Philadelphia Story (1940)


The Philadelphia Story (1940)

I got to enjoy a special showing of this film in the theater recently.  I love to go back and watch the classics.  Especially, the way that they were meant to be seen, on the big screen.  Usually you cannot go wrong with Cary Grant, James Stewart, or Katharine Hepburn.  The Philadelphia Story gathers the trio together in the same film.  Talk about star power.  Now, the three are silver screen legends.  At the time this movie was released, all of these actors were in their prime.  That is easily why 78 years later, the film is still being played in the theater.  Can you imagine very many movies that were made in our time that will still be played in theaters 78 years from now?  That is, of course, if theaters still exist in 78 years.

The movie is about a wealthy woman who is about to get married for the second time.  However, her ex-husband and a reporter show up shortly before the wedding and stir things up.

The film is based on the play by Philip Barry.  It is directed by George Cukor and the rest of the noteworthy cast includes Ruth Hussey, John Howard, Roland Young, Mary Nash, John Halliday, Virginia Weidler, and Henry Daniell.

This movie feels almost more like a play, because it is all about the dialogue and timing of acting.  It is the conversations and connections between the characters.  The setting does not change much and the audience is more focused on the people instead of the place anyway.  This is all understandable of course, because it is based on a play.

The film is filled with grace, wit, humor, life, flawlessness, class, elegance, and charm.  Those characteristics all together in one movie in today’s world hardly exist.

Hepburn, Stewart, and Grant play off of each other perfectly.  They seem to all equally contribute, which is especially rare in today’s movies for three such big names to carry the film equally.  The dialogue is very amusing throughout.  In a way, I feel like the film captured a little piece of their heart and soul for your enjoyment.  A timeless classic.  Like a fine wine, The Philadelphia Story is aged to perfection.

 

I rate this movie a 10 on a scale of 1-10.

To achieve this 10 rating, you have to understand that the film truly has stood the test of time.  For what it is, it is a 10.  To truly appreciate this however, you have to have an appreciation for old movies.  You have to step outside the box that is the film industry of the present.  Take out the action.  Take out the special effects.  It is heart and soul during the golden age of Hollywood forever captured and preserved for your viewing pleasure.  A taste of the past held onto for so many years.  We held on to it so tight because it is historic and beautiful.

 

If you liked this film, than you might also enjoy:

My Favorite Wife (1940)

Bringing Up Baby (1938)

Holiday (1938)

It’s A Wonderful Life (1939)

His Girl Friday (1940)

The Shop Around the Corner (1940)

Mr. Lucky (1943)

The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947)

Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948)

I Was a Male War Bride (1949)

Monkey Business (1952)

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

Houseboat (1958)

Adam’s Rib (1949)

House on Haunted Hill (1959)


House on Haunted Hill Poster 2

House on Haunted Hill (1959)

To me, old black and white horror movies are much more entertaining than the majority of the horror movies that get made in this day and age.  What I like most about the classics is that they rely mostly on the story, how it is told, and where it is taking place in order to try to frighten the viewers.  Special effects hardly existed in the days of black and white movies, so filmmakers had to get their thrills with a chilling storyline instead of just blood and guts.  House on Haunted Hill is a perfect example of what I’m talking about.

House on Haunted Hill Price Ohmart

The film is about an eccentric millionaire (Vincent Price) who invites 5 people to a spooky overnight party with him and his wife in a rented mansion that is rumored to be haunted.  He offers each person ten thousand dollars if they can live through the night in the locked house.

The movie was directed by William Castle and the rest of the noteworthy cast includes Carol Ohmart, Richard Long, Carolyn Craig, Alan Marshal, Elisha Cook Jr., and Julie Mitchum.

House on Haunted Hill party

The film sets the mood nicely with a creepy character introduction and narration by Price as the guests are headed to the haunted party on the hill.

It is movies like this one that helped to start the horror movie genre.  This is one of the classics.  It is one of the originals.  How many hundreds of movies have been released in recent years that take place in a haunted house?  There are too many to count.  Movies like House on Haunted Hill helped to pave the way for what a haunted house movie should be.

The film is full of spooky music, mysterious characters, and wonderful dialogue. There are excellent shadow affects in the movie that you can only get in a black and white film.  There are slamming doors, falling chandeliers, and creaky floor boards.  There are horrifying visuals and people screaming.  The picture is painted so well for us that you can almost smell death in the air.  All of these little attributes contribute to making House on Haunted Hill a true horror classic.

House on Haunted Hill Caretakers

The entertainment is in the storytelling.  If you enjoy classic films and you like a good ghost story, then this is the movie for you.  For its time, it is a great movie.

I rate this movie a 9 on a scale of 1-10.

Buy, rent, or run?  Buy.

Midnight Cowboy (1969)


Midnight Cowboy Poster

Midnight Cowboy (1969)

 

Midnight Cowboy is a supposed classic that I figured was about time that I watched to see for myself.

The film is about a wannabe cowboy named Joe Buck (Jon Voight) from Texas who moves to New York City to become a gigolo.  Joe becomes friends with a sick and crippled con man named Ratso Rizzo.  Both men struggle for survival living on the streets.

Midnight Cowboy Hoffman Voight

The film was directed by John Schlesinger and the rest of the noteworthy cast includes Sylvia Miles, Bob Balaban, John McGiver, Brenda Vaccaro, Ruth White, and Jennifer Salt.

This movie did not really seem like it would appeal to me.  The only reason I wanted to watch it was to see Hoffman and Voight before they were really famous.  It didn’t look good and the storyline didn’t interest me at all.

I hated this movie.  It was terrible.  That might annoy some people because somehow Midnight Cowboy managed to win 3 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay.  But, I don’t care.  Midnight Cowboy was a joke.

Midnight Cowboy Hoffman

The only decent things about the film were Dustin Hoffman’s performance, the scenery of New York City in the 1960s, and the movie’s theme song “Everybody’s Talking at me” by Harry Nilsson.

The rest of the film was stupid, messed up, a little disturbing, and most of all, pointless.  It is the misadventures of two low-life wannabe hustlers.  An uneducated man travels across the country on a bus to prostitute himself.  It does not sound good and it is not good, plain and simple.

Midnight Cowboy Voight Hoffman bar

True Grit (1969) and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) were both far more deserving of an Academy Award for Best Picture that year.  The fact that Midnight Cowboy won is a travesty.

I rate this movie a 1 on a scale of 1-10.

Buy, rent, or run?  RUN!

The Dark Corner (1946)


The Dark Corner Poster

The Dark Corner (1946)

The Dark Corner Taxi Ball Stevens

The Dark Corner is a black and white film about a private detective (Mark Stevens) who becomes entangled in a web of deceit and murder.  His secretary (Lucille Ball) goes outside of the boundaries of her job description to fight to try to help him survive.

The Dark Corner newspaper

This movie was much better than I anticipated.  Even though the film is 67 years old, it can still pack a punch.  It was all beautifully filmed.  The story had some creative twists and turns and was told at a reasonable pace.  I was thrilled at how exciting this movie was.  It’s classic storytelling at its best.  It was a little slower at times, but just enough to build up the suspense and keep your attention.

The characters were thoroughly developed which made them super fun to watch.  But what made the characters even better were the actors playing them.

The Dark Corner Diner Lucille Ball

It’s my favorite Lucille Ball performance that I have seen so far.  Obviously she isn’t making any more movies, but there are still plenty of her films that I have yet to see.  She brought a level of class to her character that most women are not capable of.  It was one of the stronger performances that I have seen from an actress in a classic film in a long time.

The Dark Corner Webb Painting

Mark Stevens and William Bendix both played their parts well, but Clifton Webb went above and beyond.  He carried himself with a great deal of charm and energy.  His words were not only heard, but felt.  The powerful force that he brought to the film made it that much more enjoyable.

The movie was directed by Henry Hathaway and also starred Kurt Kreuger, Cathy Downs, Reed Hadley, Constance Collier, and Ellen Corby.

The Dark Corner William Bendix

If you are looking for a classic film noir picture to watch, look no further than The Dark Corner.  If you like older movies, this one should not disappoint.

I rate this movie a 9 on a scale of 1-10.

Buy, rent, or run?  Buy.