Wednesday, December 30, 2009

58. The Public Enemy (1931)

Running Time: 83 minutes
Directed By: William A. Wellman
Written By: Harvey F. Thew, from story by John Bright & Kubec Glasmon
Main Cast: James Cagney, Edward Woods, Jean Harlow, Robert Emmett O'Connor, Leslie Fenton, Joan Blondell, Donald Cook

ON MY JOURNEY I MET A MAN NAMED 'CAGNEY'

I remember when I was younger, watching the film "Yankee Doodle Dandy" and loving James Cagney's portrayl as George M. Cohan, even at that young age. I won't harp about "YDD" because it's a movie that we'll soon be covered on my journey, but I was very excited to see "The Public Enemy" and get another glance at Cagney captivating me on the big sceen...and that's just what he did!

Cagney plays Tom Powers, who starts out at a young age in 1909 robbing department stores with his buddy Matt Doyle and selling the hot goods to Putty Nose, a famous gangster and getting next to nothing in return. Tom is a troubled young kid who doesn't get along with a whole lot of people outside of Matt, especially his brother and recieves lashes from his father with a belt on a seemingly regular basis.

Soon Tom grows up and is still acquainted with Putty Nose and with his friend Matt. When Putty puts the boys onto a scheme to snatch some furs from the local fur warehouse, he promises them that they'll be safe and that if trouble brews, he'll take care of them. Well trouble does brew, and when the boys go looking for Putty he's nowhere to be found. Putty Nose leaves the boys high and dry and Tom, still a young man, is left with the bloodshed of a cop on his hands. Following that mess, they fall in with another famous gangster, Paddy Ryan, owner of a local pub, he's an old gentleman with manners, but who still knows how to get what he wants. Paddy turns the boys into an overnight success as they begin bootlegging beer during prohibition times.

Throughout his bootlegging success Tom still has problems at home as his brother and mother urge him to get out of the crime business and go straight. Tom and his brother fight constantly when put together in the same room and their mother, a sweet old woman who wants nothing but peace in the household, plays the mediator between them. Tom also plays his hand at love, meeting and falling for Kitty. When he grows sick of Kitty, he smashes a grapefruit in her face and sends her packing, only to meet up with the vivacious Gwen.

"The Public Enemy" is just what I was looking for in a 30's gangster flick. "Little Caesar" was good, but this gangster movie knocked it out of the park and after a little bit of research you find out that it set the tone for gangster films from that point on and it's not hard to see why. James Cagney is fantastic and could easily become a favorite actor of mine, as he takes charge of the screen whenever he's on it and you know instantly who the star is. The ending of "The Public Enemy" is very simple, yet very effective and I honestly wouldn't have changed a thing about it. While it wasn't the ending that I was expecting, it was still a great one and one that definitely worked for me. The rest of the acting was also great, as I kind of had a fondness for the character of Paddy Ryan played very well by Robert Emmett O'Connor. "The Public Enemy" is a fantastic film that definitely deserved inclusion in this book and I would easily recommend it to anyone looking to check out some older flicks.

RATING: 10/10 Gotta' go the full monty for this one, it was nothing less of fantastic and I can't wait to buy it and watch it again someday when my journey is through.

NEXT UP: M...Which I've actually seen before and loved it, so I can't wait to take another gander at it and give a fresh opinion. Review will probably come later tonight or early tomorrow.

December 30, 2009 5:14pm

Monday, December 28, 2009

57. City Lights (1931)

Running Time: 87 minutes
Directed By: Charles Chaplin
Written By: Charles Chaplin
Main Cast: Charles Chaplin, Virginia Cherrill, Harry Myers

CHARLIE CHAPLIN STICKS TO HIS SILENT GUNS

With the emergence of talking pictures, it is said that Charlie Chaplin agonized over the production of "City Lights", a film that could've have been his first talking film, but one that ultimately stayed in line with other Chaplin works and remained silent and still fantastic!

Charlie returns to the big screen as the Little Tramp, and doesn't waste too much time running into a beautiful, blind flower-seller on the street corner. The Tramp is captivated by her beauty and stunned when he realizes that she's blind. He buys a flower and moves on, not quite sure if he'll ever see her again.

A little later in the film The Tramp runs into a man on the verge of suicide because his wife has just left him. While he is intoxicated, the man tries to tether himself to a boulder and hurl himself into the river, only to be stopped by The Tramp. With a new zest for life, thanks to the little fellow, he declares the Tramp his new best friend and immediately takes him out for a night on the town, where the Tramp soon finds out he's a millionaire. The next morning when the man awakes, and the Tramp comes calling at his door, the millionaire cannot remember the previous night and therefore cannot remember the Tramp. This is a running plot point throughout the picture, as everytime the man is drunk he knows and loves the Tramp, but as soon as he sobers up, the kind little fellow is a stranger to him.

After numerous further meetings with the blind girl, the Tramp learns that she is very poor and on the cusp of being kicked from her home by her landlord. The Tramp tells her not to worry and promises to return with the funds to save her home. The Tramp takes on a few jobs, including that of a boxer, which provided me with my favorite moment of the entire film, as Chaplin participates in a very well choreographed and hilarious boxing match, with a much bigger and much stronger fellow. As always I certainly won't spoil the ending, but this flick is certainly worth a rent to check out the fantastic open ending and all the rest for that matter.

Along with the boxing sequence, this film provides countless other hilarious and memorable moments: Charlie getting a piece of streamer caught up in his plate of spaghetti and not realizing it as he slurps up his noodles, Charlie swallowing a whistle right as an important party goer is about to give a speech and Charlie final encounter with the blind girl, which provides us, not with a funny moment, but a very romantic and heartwarming one. I liked this movie more than I liked "The Gold Rush" and while I would call them both great films, I still felt myself missing Buster Keaton, as I watched "City Lights". Although, Charlie Chaplin was his own man and did his own things, which were much different than Keaton.

RATING: 8/10 First instinct of a rating was to go with an '8', and as always that's what I went with.

NEXT UP: The Public Enemy...James Cagney enters the stage!! Not expecting anymore films from Netflix until Wednesday, so I'll see 'ya then.

December 27, 2009 10:49pm

Sunday, December 27, 2009

56. Frankenstein (1931)

Running Time: 70 minutes
Directed By: James Whale
Written By: John L. Balderston, Francis Edward Faragoh, Garrett Fort, from play by Peggy Webling and novel by Mary Shelley
Main Cast: Boris Karloff, Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, Edward Van Sloan, John Boles, Dwight Frye

MONSTER MASH: PART TWO OF TWO

I hope anyone out there who is a reader of my blog had a very Merry Christmas. I sure did and while the traditions and fun of my family has passed, I return to the book and my journey through the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die". Just finished watching "Frankenstein" about an hour ago and liked it much more this time around, than the previous time I watched this film, about two years ago.

Henry Frankenstein (Clive) is an eager young scientist who breaks away from his mentor and teacher to pursue his own experiments, most importantly trying to bring what was once dead, back to life. Actually, in this particular case, Henry tries bringing something that has never lived to life. After Henry and his assistant Fritz go around collecting freshly buried corpses and hung criminals, they sew together various parts, from various cadavers and build a human being. All that they lack is a brain and when Fritz goes to the local university to fetch one, he accidentally returns to Henry's castle with an abnormal brain and thus the tale of Frankenstein is set into motion. As you can probably guess, Henry's experiment is a success, as he uses a lightning storm to bring his makeshift human being to life and the Monster is born (played with creepiness by Karloff).

Henry keeps the Monster locked up in a closet and when his fiance, his mentor and his best friend come looking for him, the eventually talk him into returning home. The professor, Dr. Waldman reassures Henry that he'll take care of the Monster. Henry leaves the castle with his fiance and friend and returns to his home so that he can marry. The professor however underestimates the Monster and ends up allowing it to escape. Now with the Monster on the lam, the possibilities for the climax of this picture are endless and everything you can imagine probably happens to Harry and his Monster as this picture reaches it's grand conclusion.

There are so many memorable shots and scenes in this film: the Monster connecting with a little girl and with good intentions, accidentally drowning her, the moment when we first see Karloff as the Monster, with his back to the camera he turns around to reveal his hideous figure, the gorgeous shot as the Monster and his creator square off atop a hill in the films final moments and the final moment of the film, with the Monster trapped inside a windmill, as it is set ablaze by an posse that has been formed to find him and, if need be, kill him. This movie proves to me that you always need to give a movie at least two chances, because if you watch a film for the first time and don't like it, well then, maybe you weren't in the mood for it or maybe you had other things on your mind. I remember watching "Frankenstein" back in January of 2008 and hating it, however, this time I thought it was very watchable and very good. Despite its age, it still holds up as a great horror flick and something that would be lots of fun to take in around Halloween time (along with Dracula - 1931).

RATING: 6.5/10 Not a perfect rating, but certainly better than I remembered it and still a very good film.

NEXT UP: City Lights...More Chaplin, for which I am excited. Review should be up tomorrow.

December 27, 2009 12:00am


Thursday, December 24, 2009

55. Dracula (1931)

Running Time: 74 minutes
Directed By: Tod Browning
Written By: Garrett Fort, from play by John L. Balderston and Hamilton Deane
Main Cast: Bela Lugosi, Dwight Frye, Edward Van Sloan, Helen Chandler, David Manners

Sidenote: You may have noticed that I haven't made a post in nearly a week, and you may also remember that in my last post I mentioned that I'd be taking a few days off to watch a few movies that I recieved as early Christmas presents. That I did, as I watched Whatever Works and Scenes from A Marriage. Whatever Works is the newest Woody Allen movie to be released to DVD and while I am a Woody Allen nut, it is one of the first things I bought when I got some Christmas cash from my parents. It was actually, a bit to my surprise, wonderful. The reason I say "to my surprise" is because I haven't really cared much for the recent Woody Allen films, that are Scoop, Cassandra's Dream and Vicky Cristina Barcelona. This was a total throwback for Allen as he returned to his native New York and returned to the type of comedy that made me fall in love with his films in the first place. Larry David is great as the neurotic Woody Allen character. Scenes from A Marriage is an Ingmar Bergman film that I saw earlier this summer and it quickly became a personal favorite, so I felt the need to quickly add it to my DVD collection and watch it again to make sure those same old feeling were still there. They were!! This film is fantastic, as the characters are fleshed out and the dialogue is perfect, as it totally grabs you and pulls you right into these characters lives. This is a movie that I was shocked to realize is not included in the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die" book. Anyway, two great films and now I'm back to the book and now we must move on to the business at hand...

MONSTER MASH: PART ONE OF TWO

Directed by Tod Browning, Dracula was one that I had mixed feelings about going into. I had an urge to see it, as I loved Browning's previous "1001" entry, "The Unknown", but I really wasn't all that excited, because I figured I'd basically just be seeing the origin of all the parodies, remakes and cliches that I've seen over the years.

While everyone knows the story of Dracula, I'm still going to recount the plot here, because that's my standard format and it's my blog, so I guess I can go ahead and conduct business as usual.

The film starts out with a rickety old carriage taking several people into the hills of Transylvania, including Renfield, a British solicitor. Once arriving at the destination, just before sundown, Renfield requests to be taken farther into the hills to an area known as Borgo Pass, where he must meet with a "man" by the name of Count Dracula. While the driver is hesitant and scared due to some old superstitions and rumors, Renfield is also persistent, and eventually gets his way. He soon arrives at Borgo Pass and to Count Dracula's castle. His business there: to finalize the deal of some property that Dracula has purchased in London, by the name of Carfax Abbey, which is located next to an insane asylum. This is of course where we get our first peek at Lugosi as Dracula and I must say the man certainly looks the part of a creepy, blood sucker, complete with black cape and slicked back, black hair. When Renfield cuts his finger while eating a meal that Dracula prepared for him, the Count nearly leaps on him right then and there, but restrains himself until the papers are finalized. Once the paperwork is finalized, Dracula puts a spell on Renfield, causing him to faint and thus the feast for Count Dracula begins and his new assistant is born, as Renfield will now succumb to all of his masters needs.

Soon after this, Renfield is captured in London and placed into the insane asylum that sits near Carfax Abbey, Drac's new home. Dwight Frye is fantastic as the cackling, lurching Renfield. Dracula begins to prey on the proprietor's of the insane asylum, Dr. Seward, his daughter Mina, her fiance John and Professor Van Helsing. Van Helsing is a great character that allows you to really root for the good guys in the film. While Dracula is slick and almost cool, Van Helsing is there to balance out the good vs. evil formula and give the good side a real hero.

Almost all the roles in the film are fantastic: Van Helsing, Renfield and of course Count Dracula, played superbly by Bela Lugosi. There's even some comic relief in the hospital attendant Martin. While I did have a few small complaints about the film, the big one being the very anti-climatic ending, that is all wrapped up within four minutes, for the majority this is a great film and something that would be awesome to watch when Halloween time rolls around. While, I never really cared much for vampire and/or Dracula stories (see the "Nosferatu" review, earlier in the blog) this one, for some reason, grabbed me and really hooked me into the characters, setting, and performances. Lugosi's Dracula is creepy and his surroundings are even more so, as his crypt is constantly surrounded by rats, spiders or even...armadillos?!

RATING: 7/10 Took off a few points for the ending and a few other dull spots, but all in all Browning is quickly becoming a favorite director of mine and I can't wait for his next addition to my journey.

NEXT UP: Frankenstein...Monster Mash: Part Two of Two. This review probably won't make it up here until Saturday. With it being Christmas Eve, the family plans are starting to take place in full effect.

Merry Christmas!

December 24, 2009 5:51pm

Sunday, December 20, 2009

54. TABU (1931)

Running Time: 81 minutes
Directed By: F.W. Murnau
Written By: Robert J. Flaherty, F.W. Murnau
Main Cast: Reri, Matahi, Hitu, Jean, Jules, Ah Kong, Anne Chevalier

MURNAU'S FINAL FILM AND I CAN'T SAY I'M TOO UPSET ABOUT IT

While "Sunrise" was a fantastic film and one that I enjoyed immensely, the rest of Murnau's work that I've had to view by watching the movies in this book were average at best, and "Tabu" was downright awful.

The film starts out with a bunch of South Sea islanders on the isle of Bora Bora having a good time, hunting, fishing and basically living their lives, as they would on any other normal day. One day, one of the islanders meets and falls in love with Reri. His name is Matahi and soon after he meets Reri, some terrible news comes to the small island...terrible for the two lovers that is. The Tribal Elders arrive from the surrounding islands and inform the Bora Borans that their "maid to the Gods" has passed away and a new "chosen one" must be quickly found as her replacement. Reri is chosen and the ground rules are laid down: if any man so much as casts a lustful eye at her, they are to be punished by death. Bad news for Matahi.

On the day she is set to leave for her new island home, Matahi rescues her and together the flee the island and arrive at a French colony where Matahi is quickly recognized as a fantastic diver. He is also quickly appointed as the colony's top pearl diver and finally the love birds are happy together, without the watchful eye of the Island Elders. But soon, Hitu (the leader of the Island Elders) finds them, and offers Reri a chance to come back with him, while allowing Matahi to keep his life. She has only three days to say her farewells, and if in this time, she does not give herself up, Matahi will be killed and Reri will be taken back to the islands and become the "maid to the Gods".

I had a really hard time getting into this one, as we trekked back to silent cinema. Not that I have a problem with silent films, I just wasn't expecting to go back there all of a sudden. The opening and approximately the first twenty minutes was all island shots, with the islanders dancing around and playing and really doing a whole lot of nothing, except wasting valuable film space that could've been used on something more constructive. The middle and end picked up a little bit, as the love story began to get a bit emotional and I was starting to feel it, but it was too little, too late and I have to give this one the big thumbs down.

RATING: 1/10 Sorry Murnau, but I had to go with the lowest rating possible. I have a hard time believing that this movie was included in this book for its quality, and an easier time believing it was included as an homage to Muranu's final work.

NEXT UP: Dracula...Bela Lugosi in his most famous role, and Tod Browning directs...I'm excited! I'm probably gonna' spend the rest of tonight and all day tomorrow watching some movies that I got as early Christmas presents, but I'll be right back on the horse Monday, so stay tuned!

December 19, 2009 11:15pm

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

53. Le Million/The Million (1931)

Running Time: 81 minutes
Directed By: Rene Clair
Written By: Rene Clair, from play by Georges Berr and Marcel Guillemaud
Main Cast: Rene Lefevre, Jean-Louis Allibert, Annabella, Paul Ollivier

RENE CLAIR TOTALLY REDEEMS HIMSELF WITH 'LE MILLION'

Eventhough I didn't much care for "A Nous la Liberte", I still had high hopes for the second Rene Clair flick on my list, "Le Million" and man, was I right to have those high hopes. I've said it before and I'm gonna say it again: It's movies like this that make me so glad that I decided to do this project, because if I hadn't done this project I would've never seen "Le Million".

Michel is a struggling artist who is engaged to Beatrice and who owes money all over town to various creditors. His best friend is Propser and one day Prosper informs him of the news in the daily paper: That the million dollar lottery has been won and Michel is the big winner. Michel is very much happy about this news, as he recieves right at the end of being chased down by the grocer, the butcher and the dairy maid, among others and all of whom he owes money to. Michel quickly realizes that he kept his lottery ticket in his jacket pocket, which he gave to Beatrice to mend.

There's only one problem, Beatrice gave the jacket to a man named Grandpa Tulip, who was running from the police, so that he'd have a disguise and thus wouldn't be caught. She gave it to Tulip out of spite, after Michel was running around trying to charm a floozy by the name of Wanda. When Michel is informed that the jacket is gone and in the clutches of Grandpa Tulip, he quickly springs into action, prodding Beatrice for Tulip's address. Yet another problem presents itself, as in the meantime, Grandpa Tulip has pawned off the jacket to opera singer Sopranelli, for him to use in his production of "The Bohemians".

The race is on, as Michel promises to split the million with Prosper if he's able to obtain the lottery ticket. The whole film is a madcap ride through the day as Michel races to retrieve the lottery ticket, pay off his creditors, all while trying to make amends with Beatrice for his woman chasing ways. This movie had everything; comedy, drama, romance, music, as throughout the entire film little musical numbers pop up and they fit right in with all of the zaniness of this film. This is the movie I've been looking for since my return to this project, something that really threw me right into the thick of things and gave me what I really wanted out of a movie. I can't say enough good things about "Le Million" but I'll sum it all up with this: It's out there on Criterion DVD and if you haven't seen it, treat yourself to something that is sure to put a smile on your face and give you a really great hour and a half.

RATING: 10/10 Finally I've found that "Perfect 10" and hopefully the hits just keep on comin'.

NEXT UP: Tabu...F.W. Muranu's last film and the review should be up tomorrow. Peace out!

December 16, 2009 5:14pm

52. A Nous la Liberte/Freedom for Us (1931)

Running Time: 87 minutes
Directed By: Rene Clair
Written By: Rene Clair
Main Cast: Raymond Cordy, Henri Marchand, Rolla France

'FREEDOM FOR US' GAVE ME NO FREEDOM FROM OVERRATED FILMS

Rene Clair bursts onto the scene with a film that I thought I'd really like, but was left feeling very unfulfilled.

Louis and Emile are two conmen who conspire to escape from priosn. When they finally make their getaway, Louis is able to get out, but Emile is left behind and eventually re-imprisoned. While on the outside, Louis starts selling record players on the streets and in a brief montage of the film, eventually builds himself an empire, where he is the president of a company that manufactures record players. Louis is now very rich and has many men that work for him, while Emile is still held captive in the prison.

Eventually Emile's ticket comes up and when he tries to hang himself from his prison window, the window breaks out and he's doesn't waste any time escaping. After swooning over a girl he happens upon, Emile makes his way to Louis' factory (without the knowledge that it's owned by Louis) and lands himself a job on the assembly line. He quickly realizes that not only does the girl, for which he has fallen in love with, work there, but Louis is the head cheese.

The one thing that really irked me the most about this film was the lack of subtitles in most areas of the film. The subtitles are there for the important dialogue, but otherwise they are missing and it really took me out of the movie. The quality of this film was also really bad, as the picture was VERY grainy and really bothered me at times. The gags in the movie were great, as we get a lot of one mishap leading to another and so on and so forth. Also, a lot of accidentally eluding danger and gags that normally I would enjoy, but the characters and the plot of this film just really didn't attach themselves at all to me and I just could not get into this film whatsoever. I had really high hopes for this one and it didn't take long for those high hopes to be dashed and within the last twenty minutes of the film, I was really ready to just check out, but I stuck in there and trudged my way to the finale.

RATING: 2/10 I gave it a few points for the gags that I referred to, but thats all I could muster for this one.

NEXT UP: Le Million...Still searching for that "Perfect 10" since my return and hopefully this second of my Rene Clair double feature can deliver.

December 15, 2009 10:12pm

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

51. All Quiet On the Western Front (1930)

Running Time: 133 minutes
Directed By: Lewis Milestone
Written By: Erich Maria Remarque, Maxwell Anderson
Main Cast: Lew Ayres, Louis Wolheim, John Wray, Arnold Lucy, Ben Alexander

ONE OF THE BEST AND MOST REALISTIC WAR MOVIES I'VE EVEN SEEN

This is actually the third time that I've seen this epic World War I film and after going in knowing what to expect, I think I was even more appreciative of this film and what it was trying to get across, much more than I was the previous two times.

"All Quiet On the Western Front" is set in Germany and begins at the dawn of World War I. Our film starts us out inside of a classroom where a schoolmaster gives a rousing and boisterous speech to his innocent young students. As they begin to dream of their lives and what the honor of being a soldier could bring to their lives, they soon rise up in excitement and willingness to go to war and march off to enlist in the Army. We then flash forward a small piece and all of the school chums are again reunited in the military and going through basic training with Sergeant Himmelstoss barking out the orders. Rigorous training and their hatred for Himmelstoss are all these boys know, before they are told they will be "going up front" to fight the good fight.

The young soldiers are then marched into the combat zone and assigned to a unit of older soldiers who quickly inform them that food is scarce. Here we meet a couple of great characters and two of my personal favorites from the film: Tjaden, the usually goofy, but very loveable character and Stanislaus Katczinsky or the Kat for short, a man with a gruff exterior, but with a soft heart and a knack for making the new recruits fit right in and learn their craft.

Soon after the war scenes are in full swing and we're in the trenches with the new recruits and their fellow older soldiers, as guns and explosions can be heard outside, the old pros play cards and fight off rats, while the young guys try their best to keep sane in an insane world. A lot of them lose their cool and the expressions on their faces and the screams that echo from their throats are so realistic that it gives you, the viewer, a real piece of what war life is really like. As the original schoolroom chums are quickly weeded out, the attention of the film quickly goes to Paul, one of the original recruits from the beginning of the film and after death, the mad house and injury take out the rest of the boys, Paul is the only man left for the film to focus in on. Lew Ayres does a terrific job as Paul, and what it's really like to be a new face in a world of explosions, gunfire, trenches and starvation.

Like I said above, I've seen this film three times and I really don't remember enjoying it as much as I did this third time. While I'm not the biggest war film fanatic in the world, this is one of the best war films I've ever seen, as I believe it gives a great account of what life in the war is really like. I myself have never been in a war, or in the military, but after seeing Lewis Milestone's "All Quiet On the Western Front" I feel I can really understand what it is these men go through and what hell it is to be put into the heart of a battle. The men in this film give outstanding depiction, as they scream and wail and cry, just wanting to live long enough to see their homes again. Katczinsky is one of my favorite characters in the film and as he calms the boys down, it's almost as if he's calming you down as well, as the mere presence of his character on the screen and you know the men are in good hands.

RATING: 7.5/10 Which is actually a great rating for me to give to a war film. I had to deduct a few points, as there are a few down times in the picture, but nothing really even worth mentioning. All in all this is a MUST see film.

NEXT UP: A Nous la Liberte...a.k.a. Freedom for Us...It's available for instant viewing on Netflix, so the review shouldn't take too long to get here.

December 15, 2009 12:28am

Sunday, December 13, 2009

50. Little Caesar (1930)

Running Time: 79 minutes
Directed By: Mervyn LeRoy
Written By: Francis Edward Faragoh, Robert N. Lee, from the novel by W.R. Burnett
Main Cast: Edward G. Robinson, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Glenda Farrell, William Collier Jr., Sidney Blackmer

"MOTHER OF MERCY, IS THIS THE END OF RICO?"

Edward G. Robinson plays the title character of Caesar Enrico Bandello, aka Little Caesar, aka Rico and puts on an absolutely outstanding performance, in a film that turns out to be a one man show.

Rico and his partner Joe Massara (Fairbanks) realize that they're small potatoes, working as gangsters in the sticks, robbing two bit gas stations and never making as much loot as they'd like to. When Rico sees a newspaper article about big time mobster Pete Montana, he immediately sees stars and convinces Joe to follow him east, to the city of Chicago, where they can finally make their fortune.

Upon arriving in Chicago, Rico doesn't waste any time getting in good with another big time mobster, Sam Vettori, while Joe follows his aspirations of being a dancer and entertainer. Joe scores a nice spot as a dancer at The Bronze Peacock, where he meets and falls in love with Olga (Farrell), his dancing partner and soon to be lover. When Rico and his new crew get the idea to stick up the Bronze Peacock, they bring Joe in on the scheme and though he's reluctant, helps the gang pull off the heist. During the job, the newly appointed Crime Commissioner McClure gets shot, by none other than Rico and that's where the tide starts to turn.

Soon Rico weasles his way to the top of his own crew, powering out Vettori and taking over the gang. Before too long, Rico finds himself at the top of the crime world, even getting bigger than Pete Montana, the man who made him realize the fame and fortune for the big time, in the first place.

Along with war movies, gangster flicks aren't anywhere near the top on my list of favorite genres, however, I do find it easier to find good mob films and I'd have to brand "Little Caesar" as about an average one. There's no question that Robinson turns in an absolutely stellar performance as Little Caesar Bandello, talking as if his cheeks are stuffed with gauze and his nose is plugged with tissue paper. It's also quite interesting to see Caesar's rise to fame in the crime underworld, only to see him topple back down the ladder of illegal success. Fairbanks also hands in a passable performance as Joe, but it's not hard to identify who the real star of this film is.

RATING: 5/10 We'll cut it right down the middle as far as ratings go, and leave it at that.

NEXT UP: All Quiet On the Western Front...From war on the streets to war in the trenches.

December 13, 2009 12:34am

Thursday, December 10, 2009

49. Zemlya/Earth (1930)

Running Time: 71 minutes
Directed By: Aleksandr Dovzhenko
Written By: Aleksandr Dovzhenko
Main Cast: Stephan Shkurat, Semyon Svashenko, Yuliya Solntseva, Yelena Maksimova

EARTH...NOT JUST A PLANET, BUT A SOVIET PROPAGANDA FILM!

I must say that it is quite nice to be back on the 'ol Blogger, clicking away at the keys and giving my opinions on yet another one of Mr. Schneider's "1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die". Eventhough "Earth" didn't do a whole lot for me, but it's so good to be back on this project.

In the same vein as Eisenstein's work, that I've previously viewed "Earth" seems to me something more suited for the people in which it portrays, in this case Soviet farmers. The cinematography, however, is quite excellent, as we're treated to immaculate views of swaying wheat fields, ripening fruits and sunflowers growing in throughout the fields. Unfortunately the appearance of glistening crops wasn't enough, for me to enjoy this film enough to label it as a "Must See".

The arrival of one of the newest, fanciest tools to the local village, the tractor, is welcomed with open arms, as the townspeople begin to envision how much better and easier their lives are going to be with this impressive new machine that puts the oxen and plow to shame. However, things aren't so rosey, as the film turns the focus to other issues, such as death, violence and sex, as it relates to the farming community.

There's really not a whole lot that I can say about "Earth" as it just left me bored, and really wanting to move on to something else. As I mentioned above the photography is excellent, but that's just not enough to sway my opinion of this film into a positive direction. There are a few key scenes that were also quite interesting to me, such as the opening bit, when a dying man assures his friend, that if he's able he'll surely report back to him about the afterlife. A touching scene, but again not enough for me to give this film a thumbs up or even in the middle for that matter.

RATING: 1.5/10 We'll chalk up the short review to writer's rust and hopefully our next movie can enthrall me enough to get a higher rating.

NEXT UP: Little Caesar...A 1930's gangster flick, for which I have high hopes for. We shall see!

December 10, 2009 5:13pm

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I'M BAAAAAAACK!!

Finally the time has come to return to my journey through the history of cinema and tackle the text known as, "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die". About a month ago, when my interests began to sway away from movies, I decided to take a small break away from my project and focus on some other things. I felt this was the best idea, as I didn't want my opinions of the films in question or the reviews to suffer, due to my lack of enthusiasm for the journey. After recently watching a few innocent and silly Jim Carrey flicks, my passion for movies has returned and I'm ready, once again, to tackle this project head on. I guess I have Jim to thank for getting me back on the horse. We'll pick up right where we left off and continue on our journey. I had a good run the last time, making it all the way through and finishing the 1920's, before barely getting started on the 1930's and then taking my hiatus.

The next film that yearns to be viewed by my eyes is titled "Earth" and it is scheduled to arrive from Netflix tomorrow, so keep your eyes peeled for that reviewed. Until then, my dear readers (if there are any) hang in there just a bit more, and I'll soon return to writing reviews, for you and yours to read.

December 9, 2009 8:44am

SINS OF OMISSION - Entry #63: ALADDIN (1992)

Running Time: 90 minutes Directed By: Ron Clements, John Musker Written By: Ron Clements, John Musker, Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Bu...