Hud (1963) Martin Ritt

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Hud (1963)
Directed by Martin Ritt
Produced by Irving Ravetch and Martin Ritt
Written by Irving Ravetch and Harriet Frank, Jr.
Based on the novel Horseman, Pass By by Larry McMurtry
Cinematography by James Wong Howe
Edited by Frank Bracht
Paramount DVD (1:51)
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Early in the film, 17-year-old Lonnie Bannon (Brandon deWilde) leaves a small Texas ranch and heads into town as per the request of his grandfather and ranch owner Homer Bannon (Melvyn Douglas). Lon has been sent on a mission to find his Uncle Hud (Paul Newman), but he’s not anywhere downtown. When Lon comes upon a bar owner sweeping up broken glass from the sidewalk, he asks what happened. “I had Hud in here…” is the bar owner’s answer.

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Murder on the Orient Express (1974) Sidney Lumet

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Murder on the Orient Express (1974)
Directed by Sidney Lumet
Produced by John Brabourne, Richard Goodwin
Screenplay by Paul Dehn, based on the novel by Agatha Christie
Cinematography by Geoffrey Unsworth
Edited by Anne V. Coates
Production Design by Tony Walton
Art Direction by Jack Stephens
Costume and Wardrobe by Brenda Dabbs
Music by Richard Rodney Bennett
Paramount DVD – library (2:11)
2x

I haven’t read one in years, but as I recall, most of Agatha Christie’s mystery novels are far more plot-driven than character-driven. The character of her detectives (usually Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot), however, is solidly built and shaped over the course of several novels; we know them well. What the Christie novels often lack (again, if memory serves me correctly) is a consistent atmosphere, which is often easier to pull off visually, especially in plot-driven stories. (Christie fans, please do not send me hate mail. I think she is wonderful and do not mean to imply that she isn’t. But cinema – by its nature – can obviously show and sustain images easily in a way that’s constantly before our eyes.)

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The Swimmer (1968) Frank Perry

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The Swimmer (1968)
Directed by Frank Perry, Sydney Pollack (uncredited)
Produced by Roger Lewis, Frank Perry
Cinematography by David L. Quaid
Edited by Sidney Katz, Carl Lerner, Pat Somerset
Music by Marvin Hamlisch
Written by Eleanor Perry, based on a short story by John Cheever
Grindhouse Releasing Blu-ray (1:35)

The Swimmer is in many ways a product of the 60s, yet with the exception of a few techniques (and a few swimsuits) that link it to its era, the film transcends its time, making it as relevant in 2017 as it was nearly 50 years ago. (Speaking of 50, let’s just get this out of the way right now. Burt Lancaster was 53 when the film was made. Remember that when you see him diving into swimming pools wearing swimming trunks and moving around like he’s in his 30s. He looks amazing.)

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Saying Goodbye to Broadway, The Hound Noir

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I normally don’t post much personal stuff here, but some you reading this blog know me well, have been to my home, and have met our retired racing greyhound Broadway. We rescued Broadway nearly seven years ago and he was closing in on his 12th birthday, but we had to say goodbye to him today. He had developed blood clots on his aorta and back area, preventing blood flow to his rear legs. He was in a lot of pain, but is now free from suffering.

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I often called him The Hound Noir, even though he didn’t express much interest in watching film noir, as evidenced in the photo above. Oddly enough, he perked up the most for Westerns… Broadway suffered a severe stroke nearly a year ago and my wife and I both felt we were given an extra year with him. He recovered well, gaining most of his strength up until a couple of weeks ago. I watched at least a couple hundred movies with Broadway during the last year or so. Watching movies won’t be the same without him. Life won’t be the same without him. If you have a pet, love ’em lots. Never take them for granted, thank God for them, and cherish every moment. I know we did.

Remembering Robert Osborne (1932-2017)

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Like many movie lovers, I always thought Robert Osborne had the greatest job in the world: talking about movies. Watching him, you felt like he was having the time of his life talking about each movie, whether it was a Hollywood classic or a lesser, more obscure film that you’d forgotten (or never knew existed). Regardless of the film, Osborne’s enthusiasm was infectious. Thanks to Osborne’s introductions, I would often end up watching films that previously had held no interest at all for me.

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Stromboli (1950) Roberto Rossellini

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Stromboli (1950)
Directed and produced by Roberto Rossellini
Story by Roberto Rossellini with collaboration by Sergio Amiedi, G. P. Callegari, Art Cohn, and Renzo Cesana
Screenplay by Rossellini and Father Félix Morlión
Cinematography by Otello Martelli
Edited by Roland Gross (uncut version) and Alfred L. Werker (U.S. version)
FilmStruck (1:47)

Stromboli’s full title in Italian reads Stromboli, terra di Dio or Stromboli, Land of God. The complete title is crucial to understanding what Rossellini is trying to convey. The film goes beyond the concept of Italian neorealism, reaching for something larger and yet personal and intimate. Does it succeed?

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The Great Movies, Episode 15: Phoenix (2014)

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Phoenix (2014) Christian Petzold
Criterion Blu-ray (1:38)
The Great Movies series, Severna Park Library, Severna Park, Maryland

There are few things in life I love more than introducing a good – maybe even great – film to someone who’s never seen it before, someone whom I think will appreciate and tell others about it. In many ways, I have the best job in the world since I’m able to share two of my passions with people: reading and movies. I had the opportunity last night to screen Christian Petzold’s Phoenix (2014) to a group of 30 people. You never quite know until it’s over whether the audience will like a film, especially when you’re showing an international film with subtitles. Would they like Phoenix? Did they like it?

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