As I have began this journey having already watched a handful of the films listed, I will not post reviews of them all. Most of them will just be short descriptions, however I do plan on reviewing them all here on out. Enjoy 🙂
A Trip to the Moon (Le Voyage Dans La Lune) (1902)
Directed by: Georges Méliès
Written by: Georges Méliès
French silent film directed by Georges Méliès. I first viewed this film during a lecture on early French filmmaking – more specifically, the impressionist era. Originally I viewed this film in black and white, however Méliès had hand painted most of his films but unfortunately destroyed most these in a fit of depression, only few remain, however they are truly beautiful. Film-nerds that aren’t familiar with his work will probably recognize the notorious scene of the mad scientist’s rocket landing in the eye of the moon.
This scene is often referred to throughout pop culture, for example Itchy and Scratchy. Apologies for the appalling quality of this clip:
Below is a frame of Méliès’ hand-painted film:
Directed by: James Whale
Written by: Garret Fort, Francis Edward Faragoh, Richard Schayer, Robert Florey and John Russell
Novel by: Mary Shelley
Directed by James Whales whom adapted this piece from the play by Peggy Webling.
Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus was written by Mary Shelley in 1818.
I don’t want to patronize you by explaining the narrative of this story, but for those that have literally been living under a rock their whole lives here is a (very) short summary of the novel/play/film:
This crazy ass scientist named Heinrich Frankenstein (Colin Clive), gets a whole load of body parts and sticks them together. He then gives his creation a pretty big electric shock and voila! Frankenstein’s monster (sometimes referred to as ‘Adam’) is born! Then some crazy shit happens, because you know…he’s created a monster and all…
Directed by: Tod Browning
Written by: Clarence Aaron Robbins
Absolutely beautiful and still very scary horror film by Tod Browning. Seriously…the ending still shits me up!
Freaks takes a close look at ‘circus freaks’ and the 1930s view on them, Browning casts real-life ‘circus freaks’ in this film.
When a member (Hans, portrayed by Harry Earles) of the ‘freaks’ becomes engaged to an able bodied woman (Cleopatra, portrayed by Olga Baclanova), the rest of the gang realize that she’s only with him for his inheritance. His friends try to warn him of her antics, but to no avail. After a party (and a very iconic scene), Cleopatra lets her true feelings out about them, after this the rest of the ‘freaks’ decides to take their revenge on Cleopatra, making her one of them. As well as taking revenge on her sidekick. I won’t say how for those of you that want to watch it, but it is pretty horrific. There is a scene that still scares me now, the chase scene between the ‘freaks’ and the gentleman that they have also decided to harm.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1937)
Directed by: William Cottrell, David Hand, Wilfred Jackson, Larry Morey, Perce Pearce, Ben Sharpsteen
Written by: Ted Sheers, Richard Creedon, Otto Englander, Dick Rickard, Earl Hurd, Merrill De Maris, Dorothy Ann Blank and Webb Smith
Novel by: Jacob and Wilhem Grimm
We all know this one don’t we? The seemingly kick-ass bitch that runs away from home after her evil step mother realized that Snow White was more beautiful, and that’s really fucking important. She then becomes subservient for 7 men, until she is tricked into a deep sleep by her evil step-mother and has to be saved by, guess what? A man. Look, I know it shouldn’t matter whether she is female or not, the point should be that anyone could be her – women can be the saviour as men can be the stay at home husband, but then that defies what filmmaking is all about. What kind of social comment is this?
But scepticism aside, this is a very old story, I know there were a lot of old timey ladies and gents that represented women well, but still… I can let it off a bit. The animation was ground breaking for it’s time and as long as your child has a healthy knowledge of gender identity, I think this classic should be viewed by them and loved by them, as we did.
Angels with Dirty Faces (1938)
Directed by: Michael Curtiz
Written by: John Wexley, Warren Duff, Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur
No, not the Sugababes album, although that was 9/10 also.
“All right, fellas… let’s go and say a prayer for a boy who couldn’t run as fast as I could.” – This quote makes me feel all sad and happy and fuzzy and gooey and all other kind of emotions (but not horny, never horny) and once you have watched it to you’ll understand. And for those of you that have seen it and don’t agree, go shove a dolphin shaped bar of soap up your ass and fart bubbles. Seriously, this quote sums up the film from Father Jerry’s perspective and it is perfect.
Now for the more serious stuff *wipes away tear from the sheer emotion of that quote*. Angels with Dirty Faces (directed by Michael Curtiz) is a social comment on America’s prison system. In their youths Rocky (James Cagney) and Father Jerry (Pat O’Brien) committed a crime, however it was only Rocky that was caught. Rocky then served most of his adult life behind bars due to lack of rehabilitation and committing further offences. Rocky and Jerry are reunited as Rocky is let out of prison, when he learns that Jerry has since taken up priesthood and cares for a group of boys that are close to going down the same route as Rocky. Rocky, not understanding that his criminal activities are not admirable, begins persuading the boys to join him in his law resisting ways. Jerry intervenes and, I won’t give away anything else but you don’t think he has gotten through to him right up to a really perfect moment.
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Directed by: Victor Fleming, George Cukor, Mervyn LeRoy, Norman Taurog and King Vidor
Written by: Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, Edgar Allen Woolf, Arthur Freed, Irving Brecher, William H. Cannon, Herbert Fields, Jack Haley, E.Y. Harburg, Samuel Hoffenstein, Bert Lahr, I Bet You’re Not Reading These Names, John Lee Mahin, Herman J. Mankiewicz, Jack Mintz, Ogden Nash, Robert Pirosh, George Seaton and Sid Silvers
An annoying teen named Dorothy (Judy Garland) leads us on an annoying adventure through an annoying dream world she’s cooked up after being knocked out when her annoying Aunt’s farm is annoyingly struck by a tornado. During this annoying dream Dorothy kills an annoying lady and steals her annoying shoes and sets out to find some annoying wizard so she can go home. She then kills some other annoying lady and annoyingly clacks her annoying red heels together and returns home. The end. It’s fun to watch as a kid, but as an adult…it’s fucking annoying.
Directed by: Norman Ferguson, T. Hee, Wilfred Jackson, Jack Kinney, Hamilton Luske, Bill Roberts and Ben Sharpsteen
Written by: Ted Sears, Otto Englander, Webb Smith, William Cottrell, Joseph Sabo, Erdman Penner, Aurelius Battaglia and Bill Peet
Story by: Carlo Collodi
Beautiful animation teaching kids that if they don’t behave they will be turned into donkeys and forced to spend the rest of their lives working their hooves to the bone, crying, missing their mamas and crying some more. That was a truly terrifying scene and still is. Just the thought of it now is enough to make me want to hang myself.
Directed by: Samuel Armstrong, Norman Ferguson, Wilfred Jackson, Jack Kinney, Bill Roberts, Ben Sharpsteen and John Elliotte
Written by: Joe Grant, Dick Huemer, Otto Englander, Bill Peet, Aurelius Battaglia, Joe Rinaldi, Vernon Stallings and Webb Smith
Novel by: Helen Aberson and Harold Pearl
Dumbo is the shortest of all Disney’s major animated films (aka, the good ones) and I don’t think I need to tell you, it’s the best thing ever. Beautiful, warm animation. Beautiful, emotive narrative. Every child’s favourite film (assuming they’ve been brought up right, with decent films – not shitty DreamWorks crap.) Born into a circus, Dumbo has massive ears. Yeah, I know he’s an elephant but seriously, massive ears. His horrible ‘aunts’ ostracize poor Dumbo from the group. But don’t worry, Dumbo has a kick-ass mum that loves him very much…oh she’s locked up for defending him? Shit. I bet that was emotional. It was the saddest scene in film history? Shit. Taken in by a plucky little mouse, Dumbo is reunited with his mother in a very sad scene, so sad that Dumbo turns to alcoholism shortly after.
The scene of which I’m referring to, is the creepiest thing ever but incredibly imaginative and humorous animation.
Playing homage to this, is one of Disney’s later works, Winnie the Pooh.
The heffalumps and woozles nightmare, still makes me cry out in fear.
Anyway, back to Dumbo. Basically, his ears allow him to fly after he is taught to by a bunch of racist blackbirds. Neat!
Directed by: Michael Curtiz
Written by: Julius J. Epstein, Phillip G. Epstein, Howard Koch and Casey Robinson
Ever wondered where the quote “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.” comes from? No? Don’t give a shit? Well it was Casablanca.
Casablanca is an American war time adventure, filled with romance and magic (not Harry Potter magic, the warm, fuzzy stuff). It’s an undisputed classic and if you’re a film fan you’d have watched it 50 times over already, or are planning on doing so, or are a different kind of film fan and have no interest. If you’re the latter, watch it anyway. You uncultured fuck.
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
Directed by: Frank Capra
Written by: Philip Van Doren Stern
This was always a favourite in the Dickinson-Smith house, I remember watching it every Christmas. I assumed everyone did, until I came to University and got caught up in a conversation where everyone said they hated it. Well, they’re wrong. It’s so magical and lovely and mmmmm yes, quite.
Ever felt so down and frustrated that you wonder what life would be like if you never existed? Well you should. Nah I’m kidding. But George Bailey (James Stewart) did, until an angel came along and showed him. And well, it would have been pretty crappy, he feels better. And then the angel gets its wings or some shit. Awh, lovely.
I remember this time that my friend, Kermit the frog, went through the same thing. In fact, don’t bother watching this drippy film, watch that instead. Again, I’m kidding. Watch both!
Directed by: Charles Vidor
Written by: E.A. Ellington
Haven’t heard of it. Nah, that’s where the blog name comes from.
Rita Hayworth as Gilda sings the beautiful ‘Put the Blame on Mame’ whilst performing her infamous ‘one glove striptease’.
Whilst watching this during a lecture, my lecturer said and I quote “It’s strange to think that this goddess, shares the same matter as us mere mortals!”. Yeah, she’s a bit insane. But so right. Look at her. I wish I was her. Apart from the dementia bit.. But she was a real Hollywood princess! She legit married a prince! Ugh, I wish I was her so bad. Ugh.
Below is a clip of the strip tease:
The Bicycle Thief (Ladri di Biciclette) (1948)
Directed by: Vittorio De Sica
Written by: Cesare Zavattini, Suso Cecchi D’Amico, Vittoria De Sica, Oreste Biancoli, Adolfo Franci and Gerardo Guerrieri
Novel by: Luigi Bartolini
I only watched this a week ago during a lecture on Italian Neorealism. My lecture described it as her favourite of this genre. This is one of the first I’ve seen but I really liked it.
About a kind hearted-man, Antonio (Lamberto Maggiorani) and his equally kind-hearted son, Bruno (Enzo Staiola) search for a stolen bike. The bike was stolen from Antonio after his wife kindly sold the bed sheets to get it for him, it was a requirement for a job, one that they needed desperately. I won’t tell you the ending, but it was all of the sad.
Strangers on a Train (1951)
Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Written by: Whitfield Cook
Novel by: Patricia Highsmith
Hitchcock’s ‘Strangers on a Train’ is a very well known classic, and has been paid homage to many times. Two strangers meet (on a train, surprisingly) and agree to commit murders for each other, except one can’t do it. One of the lesser known TV series to pay homage to this, is Psychoville.
If you like weird comedy then you’ll love this.
Directed by: Stanley Kubrick
Written by: Stanley Kubrick
Novel by: Vladimir Nabokov
I first watched this during my Easter film marathon and I promised a review, which I never delivered. And I’m not going to now.
Just kidding. Well I say ‘review’ here are a few words about it. An adaptation from Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita is the 14 year old daughter of a sexually frustrated widow. Prof. Humbert Humbert (James Mason) begins a relationship with Lolita’s mother in order to seduce Lolita. The film is a comment on the obsession of sex, making the film still relevant today (seriously, I’m thinking about it right now.. and I’m in a library!)
Lolita’s promiscuous ways is a social comment on youths as the ending reveals.
Mary Poppins (1964)
Directed by: Robert Stevenson
Written by: Bill Walsh and Don DaGradi
Novels by: P.L. Travers
I was on the phone to my brother the other day and he mentioned Mary Poppins, and how no one can actually remember the story. So I’m going to prove him wrong.
The first scene Dick Van Dyke (the jack of all trades in this film) notices that the wind has changed. You then see Michael (Matthew Garber) and Jane’s (Karen Dotrice) nanny being fired as they’re little shits and she’s clearly under qualified for the job. So Michael and Jane write an advertisement for their ideal nanny. The next day Mr Banks (David Tomlinson) and suffragette, Mrs Banks (Glynis Johns) interview for a new nanny. Then a big gust of wind comes along, bringing Supernanny, Jo Frost (in the form of Mary Poppins played by Julie Andrews) with it. Mary Poppins reads the advertisement that she has responded to, which was Jane and Michael’s advertisement (oh yeah I forgot to say, naturally Mr Banks ripped up his darling children’s letter because he’s a massive bellend -but the letter flies up the chimney). The kids also say they want help mending their broken kite but Mr Banks tells them to ‘sod off’. Mary Poppins then pretty much employs herself because she’s so far up her own arse that she is quite happy not to give the other ladies a fighting chance, and voila! She’s their new nanny. The end. Or is it? No. It actually gets more thrilling, can you believe it? She then begins to unpack from her crazy, bottomless carpet bag. As you do. She even brought a hat stand with her, crazy bitch. She then teaches the children to tidy their room by snapping her fingers and magically doing all the work for them.
Mary Poppins then takes them out (for a walk, unfortunately she’s never violent towards them), and they meet Bert (Dick Van Dyke). Bert is drawing scenes on the pavement and they jump into one and have a lovely day out in the countryside and sing this stupid song about a made up word. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious or something like that, then it starts raining and the chalk is all washed away so they have to leave. Mary Poppins takes them home and sings them to sleep, awh.
The next day they visit her friend that makes them laugh so much they begin floating round the room, they then have a tea party on the ceiling. To come back down they have to think about something sad.
Mr Banks is angry at his kids stupid stories and takes it out on Mary Poppins. In retaliation Mary Poppins manipulates him into taking his brats to his work place. On the way to the bank the kids see a lady feeding the birds, the lady is from Mary Poppins’ lullaby and Michael wants to spend his tuppence on food for the birds. But Mr Banks is a wanker, or should I say ‘Banker’, hey, that’s why he’s called Mr Banks. How have I gone through life not realizing this glaringly obvious fact!? Anyway, he tells the little shit to invest his tuppence in the bank. His weird bank friends sing a song about it and Michael starts crying that they’ve stolen his money. The customers in the bank at the time misunderstand and it causes chaos. Michael and Jane run away from the scene and bump into Bert, who is now dressed as a chimney sweep. They tell Bert that their father hates them and he says it’s not true and that he just has a lot of pressure at work, even though he probably does hate them. I’d hate them too.
Bert takes them home and Mrs Banks employs Bert to clean their chimneys. They then go up the chimney and sing and dance with a bunch of other chimney sweeps. Then Mr Banks arrives home and ruins everything. Mr Banks then gets called back to work, to face disciplinary action for his son’s little tantrum. Bert makes him feel bad about being a shit dad, followed by Jane and Michael apologizing to him and Michael gives him his tuppence, in the hopes that it will save Mr Banks’ job. Upon arriving at work, the dickheads in charge break his hat and fire him. He then tells them a joke that Uncle Albert told the children. I think it was something like “Have you heard about the man with a wooden leg, named Smith?” “No, what does he call the other one?” then the old man in charge starts laughing as Mr banks leaves and floats around the room. The next day the wind changes and Mary Poppins has to leave, meanwhile Mr Banks has not returned home and the police have been called. Then Mr Banks comes home singing Mary Poppins’ song with a gift for Michael and Jane, a fixed kite. “With a tuppence for paper and string, you can have your own set of wings, etc etc”. Mrs Banks ties her suffragette sash on the end as a tail and they all skip off to the park, leaving without saying goodbye to Mary Poppins, pointed out to her by her umbrella…yeah. Anyway, at the park the head of the banks son is there, he tells Mr Banks that his dad died laughing at the joke and therefore Mr Banks will be re-employed with a promotion. Then Mary Poppins flies away and waves goodbye to Bert. The fucking end.
Below is a picture of Mary Poppins looking smug that Mike was wrong:
The Sound of Music (1965)
Directed by: Robert Wise
Written by: George Hurdalek, Howard Lindsay, Russel Crouse and Ernest Lehman
(Based on) Novel by: Maria Von Trapp
Another Julie Andrews film that I LOVED when I was kid. Still do. It’s shit, but I love it (hence the not so great, but pretty good considering score I gave it). If this film doesn’t make you hate Nazis then I honestly don’t know what will…oh wait, yeah. My bad. But still, it’s a great film when you’re a kid and you can sing along to it with your mum.
This actually has just reminded me of something really weird, something I have never shared with anyone. I owned this film on VHS and I used to have a habit of chewing all the plastic off round the edges. Like a hamster. Or a rat. I remember all my videos were chewed up and when it came to donating them to the library my mum had to say the dog did it. What a strange child I was. Hmm.
The Jungle Book (1967)
Directed by: Wolfgang Reitherman
Written by: Larry Clemmons, Ralph Wright, Ken Anderson And Vance Gerry
(Based on) Novel by: Rudyard Kipling
This was one of my favourite Disney films when I was a kid, yet sadly it doesn’t make it to the top of my list now. I love it’s charm and silliness, it’s a lovely film with equally lovely animation.
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)
Directed by: Mel Stuart
Written by: David Seltzer
(Based on) Novel by: Roald Dahl
This will always be up there with my favourite films and I will make sure my kids watch this before they watch Tim Burton’s attempt.
Gene Wilder made a perfect Willy Wonka, and was by far creepier than Johnny Depp’s version of it (in a good way). Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka was, let’s face it, a bit twisted, yet very loveable. His non caring attitude when the kids were in danger was hilarious (“No stop, don’t”) and at one point he almost took Mike TV’s eye out with his cane.
Also, the boat ride in Mel Stuart’s film was far better than Burton’s. Burton’s would have been more scary for the participant, but failed to scare the viewer. Don’t get me wrong, I do like Burton and I appreciate his film.
However one thing I did prefer in Burton’s was that Violet was actually a little shit. In Stuart’s one she was a bit bratty but mainly had bad habits – which meant her punishment went way too far. One thing that annoys me is when people say that Burton’s was better because he stuck to the book. No. That’s not what film-making is about, there’s such a thing as poetic licensing and if something will work better in your film then why not do it? As long as people aren’t ignorant of the literature then why does it matter?
I also preferred Mel Stuart’s candy land room, because it wasn’t as good as Burton’s. I love the fact that you can see the factory windows – it doesn’t deplete from the magic, it just makes it slightly more believable.
And orange oompa loompas ftw. Burton’s ones were shit. And the songs were shit. I don’t care is Dahl wrote them!
I will leave this post here and start a new draft for the second lot, as this is taking too much time and I’m too impatient. So enjoy episode 1, episode 2 will follow when I can be arsed.