I just wanted to start by wishing all of you movie lovers out there a very safe and Merry Christmas. To get into the spirit of Christmas, I wanted to to watch a film that had to do with the very holiday itself so I chose to watch Miracle On 34 Street (the 1947 version). Doris Walker (Maureen O’Hara) is the special events coordinator for Macy’s who has discovered a problem thanks to an old man (Edmund Gwenn). Her Santa Claus for the Thanksgiving Day Parade is drunk and unable to continue. So, she hires the old man to be Santa and after he does a great job, he is then hired to be the Macy’s store Santa. The only problem is that the old man claims to be Kris Kringle himself, but there are people that do not believe him. The film also stars Natalie Wood (Rebel Without A Cause) as Susan Walker, John Payne (The Razor’s Edge) as Fred Gailey, Gene Lockhart (His Girl Friday) as Judge Henry X. Harper, Porter Hall (Mr. Smith Goes To Washington) as Granville Sawyer, William Frawley (I Love Lucy) as Charlie Halloran, Jerome Cowan (The Maltese Falcon) as Dist. Atty. Thomas Mara, Philip Tonge (Witness For The Prosecution) as Julian, and the film was directed by George Seaton (Airport).
This is the very last Sunday at the Classics as far as this challenge is concerned, but I just may keep it going after the challenge is over. I have seen some great films for Sunday at the Classics, but this is by far one of my favorite ones. The film features some amazing performances from the likes of John Payne, Edmund Gwenn, and even little Natalie Wood who would go on to be even more famous for her role in Rebel Without A Cause. The story of the film is just as amazing because it was a well written tale and a different kind of take on Christmas. It was a tale of believing in something not because people tell you to, but because it feels right to you. The trial scenes were amazing and you have to love the judge who constantly looks to his campaign advisor for advice on how to judge the case. The cinematography was pretty good as well and I had the chance to see the colorized version, but I chose to go old school for my first go around. This was an all around great film that featured great writing, actors, costumes, the sets, and even the cinematography. You have to do yourself a favor and check this film out for yourself before you watch the remake (which I also haven’t seen). I am going to give the film an A+ for a final grade.
After today there are only 20 more days to watch 20 more films which also means that there are only two Sundays left in the whole year. So for today’s Sunday At The Classics, I chose to watch a film from the master of suspense in Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch A Thief which stars Cary Grant (North By Northwest) and the beautiful Grace Kelly (Dial M For Murder). John Robie (Grant) is a long retired jewel thief who is just trying to enjoy his time in France until some jewel robberies start to happen. Immediately, John is to blame, but now he wants to prove his innocence by outsmarting the jewel thief so he tags along with a rich American woman named Frances Stevens (Kelly) and her mother until he can figure out who it really is to clear his name. The film also stars Jessie Royce Landis (North By Northwest) as Jessie Stevens, John Williams (Witness For The Prosecution) as H.H. Hughson, Charles Vanel (The Wages Of Fear) as Bertani, Brigitte Auber (The Man In The Iron Mask) as Danielle Foussard, Jean Martinelli (Rouge et Noir) as Foussard, René Blancard (Main Street) as Commissioner Lepic, and Georgette Anys (Four Bags Full) as Germaine.
Grace Kelly was such a beautiful woman who was also an amazing actress and Cary Grant is no push over either in the acting department. Both Grant and Kelly put on excellent performances for the good ol’ Alfred Hitchcock in this film which is different than what I have usually seen from him, but you can also see the similarities. The film had some amazing cinematography which was probably my favorite part of the film. There were some amazing shots of the area of Cannes that they were in and some of the shots of the villas were amazing too. The car chase scene was pretty decent in the way it was shot, but nothing like I saw last week in Bullitt. The film had a pretty amazing story to go along with it, but when it came to those final moments when were going to find out who the real burglar was, I finally guessed it correctly. The whole film I had no idea who it was going to be, but I figured out where they would come from and you’ll know what I am talking about when you watch it. If I am looking at the film stylistically scene by scene then one of my favorite departments for the film was the costumes. One of my favorite segments as far as that is concerned was the ball at the end with their Louie XV themed party. The 50’s was definitely an amazing time for clothing and even film. I think any fan of Hitchcock who hasn’t seen this one should definitely give it a shot. I am going to give the film an A for a final grade.
With only 132 days left in the year and only 18 Sundays left in the calendar year, we are going to try something new here. I am calling it Sunday At The Classics where we review classic cinema and we are starting this week with Alfred Hitchcock’s (Psycho) Dial M For Murder which was released in 1954. Ray Milland (The Lost Weekend) plays Tony Wendice, a former tennis pro who discovers that his wife is having an affair with a writer from New York City. What does he do, well he tries to plan the perfect murder by blackmailing an old college friend, but when that backfires he has to come up with one heck of a plan b just to get the job done. The film also stars Grace Kelly (To Catch A Thief) as Margot Wendice, Robert Cummings (Walt Disney’s Wonderful World Of Color) as Mark Halliday, John Williams (Witness For The Prosecution) as Chief Inspector Hubbard, Anthony Dawson (Death Rides A Horse) as Charles Swan, Robin Hughes (The Flame And The Arrow) as Police Sergeant O’Brien, Leo Britt (The Charge Of The Light) as the storyteller, Patrick Allen (The Black Adder) as Detective Pearson, and George Leigh (Champagne For Caesar) as Detective Williams.
There is one scene that I had always heard about that was revered by many in this film which is why I decided to watch this. It’s the during the beginning of the film when Tony invites Charles Swan to come over to talk about the “car” for sale. He begins to piece Swan’s true identity to Swan as they are talking and then he reveals to him his secret plan. It is then that he let’s us in on how he wants Swan to commit the perfect crime in detail. The conversation goes on for about 15 to 20 minutes and is just masterful as it seems to be one continuous shot. Alfred was a master with his cinematography and how he wanted to see his film unfold. It’s exactly like François Truffaut once said about Hitchcock calling him a true auteur of cinema. Just like any great Film Noir or crime mystery film, there is always the reveal about how they came to discover the master plan. That is another great sequence that you have to check out from the master of suspense. One of the things I enjoyed about this film was seeing the beautiful Grace Kelly who really was the face of perfection in classic Hollywood. There was just no other like her in those times and she was awesome to watch in this film even though she really wasn’t the star of the film. Ray Milland of course was the star and he absolutely shined as the an who thought he could think on his feet and that he had everyone hook, line, and sinker. If you want to be a fan of cinema then I definitely suggest that you stick this on your list of films to watch. I am going to give the film an A- for a final grade.