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12 MOVIES

14 Apr 2016

The challenge came from our friend Jim Lane on Facebook this morning.  Actually I think he posted it several days ago, but I only saw it today.  "List 12 movies that have stayed with you, but only one per director. Don't take too long and don't think too hard."

This is the list I came up with.  The first title on the list...maybe the first two...should not be a surprise:

1. A STAR IS BORN, of course, the 1954 version. (George Cukor)
2. AFFAIR TO REMEMBER (Leo McCary)
3. THE FATAL GLASS OF BEER (Clyde Bruckman)
4. DAVE (Ivan Reitman)
5. GAIJIN, A BRASILIAN ODYSSEY (Tizuka Yamasaki)
6. CHUSHINGURA (Hiroshi Inagaki)
7. ALL THAT JAZZ (Bob Fosse)
8. THE SEVENTH VEIL (Compton Bennett)
9. THE BLUE VEIL (Curtis Bernhardt, Busby Berkley)
10. VERTIG0 (Hitchcock)
11. MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS (Vincent Minnelli)
12.THE RED SHOES (Powell & Pressburger)

Some of the others I have never mentioned in "favorite movies" lists.  I don't know if they are actually favorites, but they are all definitely movies that have stayed with me.  #10 was a toss-up between Vertigo and North by Northwest, both of which are my favorite Hitchcocks, but given that I think of Vertigo every single time we drive down Highway 101 to Santa Barbara (where James Stewart takes Kim Novak), I think that maybe has stayed with me more strongly than the other.  It also has the edge because it was filmed in San Francisco.

The Fatal Glass of Beer is a W.C. Fields short which has been a family favorite for years. It's maybe most famous for the line, "'Tain't a fit night out for man nor beast."  I remember the first time David saw it and said "this is the stupidest movie I've ever seen" and then invited all of his friends over to see it.

Gaijin was one of the movies that got to me very strongly.  It tells the tale of the Japanese coffee plantation workers who immigrate to Brasil to work there.  It follows the life of one couple and the child they eventually have.  The thing about it, though, is that it involves the Japanese workers, their Brasilian bosses, Italians and Americans and all speak their own language.  And you must watch it with subtitles, not dubbed, because if you watch it dubbed, you miss the whole point of the movie.  In the end, when the mother is telling the daughter, in Japanese, that they are going "home" to Japan and the daughter is answering her in Portuguese about her friends, you realize that the daughter is Brasilian.  It's more poignant that this brief description, but I just loved that film.

I honestly don't remember a lot about Chushingura,  also known as The 7 Samurai.  That movie ran at a little art house in Berkeley for at least 6 months.  We thought it would never leave.  But I also still remember that it was one of the most beautifully filmed movies I'd ever seen.  I still remember the breathtaking opening sequence of cherry blossoms.

Of course I also had to add Meet Me in St. Louis, which may have been the movie in which Judy Garland was most beautifully filmed.  Someone says that when she sings "The Boy Next Door," looking out the widow of her family's house that it is like Vincente Minnelli's making love to her with the cameraAlmost as breathtaking as the cherry blossoms of Chushingura.

I haven't seen All that Jazz in years, but it had a profound effect on me at the time and I watched it several times.  The same goes for The Red Shoes, which I might not even like now (I started watching it recently and turned it off), but at the time it was a movie that stuck with me like glue--still does.  The ballerina and the mad choreographer.

The Blue Veil is a movie that never made it to videotape.  It was pure 1950s sentimental schlock, but I still keep trying to find a copy of it.  Jane Wyman plays a woman whose husband is killed in the war. She is pregnant and loses the baby, and unable to have more children, hires herself out as a nanny.  Over the years, she cares for many children and finally is too old do it any more.  The family she is working for at the time gathers together all of the children she cared for over the years and surprises her with them, all grown up now, many married with children of their own.  The end is so touching.

I always thought it would be wonderful to have that happen with the foreign students we hosted here.  There were some 70 of them and how wonderful it would be to be surprised by the return of a lot of them with their spouses or significant others and their children.  That would be a real United Nations assembly here for sure.  It's been so long since I've seen most of them, I probably wouldn't recognize them...or remember who they are!

The Seventh Veil was maybe the movie I remember being the most moved by in my impressionable years.  I also developed a huge crush on James Mason, which was a step up from my previous crush on Claude Rains.  Early on I was finding myself attracted to older, cold, distant types.

In this movie, Ann Todd becomes the ward of her 2nd cousin, a confirmed, grumpy bachelor, James Mason.  They have little to do with each other until he learns that she is a talented pianist.  He then takes over her education and, when he has taught her all he knows, sends her to the Royal Academy for more instruction.

Along the way she falls in love and Mason takes her to France for several years to get her away from the guy.  It gets very convoluted, with her rising fame and insecurity, his beating of her when she tries to defy him, and the auto accident that she thought ruined her playing career.

The title refers to the seven veils of the mind which psychiatrist Herbert Lom says he must remove to get to the core of her problems and of course he does and she can then choose among the 3 men in her life -- Mason, or the other two men she almost married.  Naturally she chooses Mason.

This is another schlocky romance but with beautiful piano music.  After I made out my list, I checked Amazon Prime and lo and behold they had The Seventh Veil, so I sat up until 1 a.m. watching it again...and I loved it as much tonight as when I first saw it in the 1950s.
 

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