The 1001 Movies Podcast

From Chris Fujiwara, 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die:

"In this one-of-a-kind masterpiece by one of the greatest American directors, Victor Moore and Beulah Bondi play Bark and Lucy Cooper, an elderly couple faced with financial disaster and forced to throw themselves on the mercy of their middle-aged children.  The children's first step is to separate the two of them so that the inconvenience of hosting them can be divided.  Gradually, the old people's self-confidence and dignity are eroded, until they submit to an arrangement whereby one of them will stay in a nursing home in New York, and the other will go to California.

"Leo McCarey's direction in Make Way for Tomorrow is beyond praise.  All of the actors are expansive and natural, and the generosity McCarey shows toward his characters is unstinting.  He demonstrates an exquisite sense of when to cut from his central couple to reveal the attitudes of others, without suggesting either that their compassion is condescending or that their indifference is wicked, and without forcing our tears or rage (which would be a way of forfeiting them).  There is nothing contrived about McCarey's handling of the story, and thus no escaping its poignancy.

"Two example will suffice to indicate the film's extraordinary discretion.  During the painful sequence in which Lucy's presence inadvertently interferes with her daughter-in-law's attempt to host a bridge party, Lucy receives a phone call from Bark.  Because she talks loudly on the phone - one of several annoying traits that McCarey and screenwriter Vina Delmar don't hesitate to give the couple - the guests pause in their games to listen.  Their reactions (not emphasized, but merely shown) mix annoyance, discomfort, and sorrow.

"The last section of the film, dealing with the couple's brief reuniting and impromptu last idyll in Manhattan, is sublime.  McCarey keeps us aware of the sympathy of outsiders (a car salesman, a coat-check girl, a hotel manager, a bandleader), but never imposes their reactions on us through superfluous reverse shots.  Meanwhile, Lucy and Bark are constantly shown together in the same compositions.  In its passionate commitment to their private universe, Make Way for Tomorrow is truly, deeply moving."

Have a comment or question for the host?  Email Sean at 1001moviespodcast@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter at @1001MoviesPC.

Direct download: Episode_92_Make_Way_for_Tomorrow_1937.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am CDT

From Jonathan Rosenbaum, 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die:

"Michelangelo Antonioni's first feature in color remains a high-water mark for using color.  To get the precise hues he wanted, Antonioni had entire fields painted.  Restored prints make it clear why audiences were so excited by his innovations, not only for his expressive use of color, but also his striking editing.  Red Desert comes at the tail end of Antonioni's most fertile period, immediately after his remarkable trilogy The Adventure (1960), The Night (1960), and The Eclipse (1962).  Although Red Desert may fall somewhat short of the first and last of these earlier classics. the film's ecological concerns look a lot more prescient today than they seemed at the time of its initial release.

"Monica Vitti plays a neurotic married woman (Giuliana) attracted to industrialist Richard Harris.  Antonioni does eerie, memorable work with the industrial shapes and colors that surround her, shown alternately as threatening and beautiful as she walks through a science-fiction landscape.  Like any self-respecting Antonioni heroine, she is looking for love and meaning - and finds sex.  In one sequence a postcoital melancholy is strikingly conveyed via an expressionist use of color, following Giuliana's shifting moods.

"The film's most spellbinding sequence depicts a pantheistic, utopian fantasy of innocence, which the heroine recounts to her ailing son, implicitly offering a beautiful girl and a beautiful sea as an alternative to the troubled woman and the industrial red desert of the title."

Have a comment or question for the host?  Email Sean at 1001moviespodcast@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter at @1001MoviesPC.

Direct download: Episode_91_Red_Desert_1964.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am CDT

From R. Barton Palmer, 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die:

"In the early 1930s, Hollywood - beset with financial difficulties and production problems related to the conversion to sound cinema - turned to stage performers of proven popularity to lure customers back to the theaters.  Among the most notable of these was Mae West, whose play Diamond Lil (which she wrote as a kind of showcase of her several talents) was immensely successful on Broadway and elsewhere.  West proved a happy choice for Paramount, because her unique brand of sophisticated if bawdy humor easily translated on screen; her first film, Night After Night (1932), was a big hit with audiences.  West's antics, especially her famous double entendres and sleazy style, offended religious conservatives of the time and hastened the foundation of the Breen Office in 1934 to enforce the Production Code (promulgated, but widely ignored, in the early 1930s).  West's post-1934 films, although interesting, never recaptured the appeal of her earlier work, of which She Done Him Wrong - the screen adaptation of Diamond Lil - is the most notable example, even garnering an Academy Award nomination.

"West plays a 'saloon keeper' in New York's Bowery who is involved with various criminals in the neighborhood.  As Lady Lou, West is pursued by two local entrepreneurs and her fiance is just released from jail, but she is hardly in need of a man as she inhabits lavish quarters above her establishment, replete with servants and an impression collection of diamond jewelry.  Lou, however, is smitten by her new neighbor, the head of the Salvation Army mission (Cary Grant).  Her initial appraisal of the younger man's attractiveness is part of Hollywood legend.  To Grant she utters the famous line 'Why don't you come up sometime, see me.'  As a demonstration of her affection (and power), she uses some of her considerable hoard of diamonds to purchase his mission and make him a present of it.  In the end, Grant is revealed as a detective who promptly takes all the crooks into custody, but 'imprisons' Lou quite differently - with a wedding ring.  A classic Hollywood comedy, full of naughtiness and good humor."

Have a comment or question for the host?  Email Sean at 1001moviespodcast@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter at @1001MoviesPC.

Direct download: Episode_90_She_Done_Him_Wrong_1933.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am CDT

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