Tag: john huston

MOVIE REVIEW | ***AFI WEEKEND*** #21. Chinatown (1974)

“The American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movies was selected by AFI’s blue-ribbon panel of more than 1,500 leaders of the American movie community to commemorate 100 Years of Movies”. Every weekend(ish) during 2015, I’ll review two(ish), counting them down from 100 to 1.
Chinatown
“Course I’m respectable. I’m old. Politicians, ugly buildings, and whores all get respectable if they last long enough.”

Film noir of the 40s and 50s is one of the most quintessentially American contributions to cinema.  But 30 years after its peak, it took a little Polish fella directing and one of the leaders of the American new wave starring, to make what might be one of the best examples of film noir, with Chinatown.


A former cop and now PI in 1930s Los Angeles, Jake Gittes (Jack Nicholson) is fresh off finding one cheating spouse when he’s commissioned to find another.  Evelyn Mulwray (Diane Ladd) is sure her husband Hollis is cheating, and she pays Jake to find the truth.  Tailing Hollis first leads to a town meeting where he opposes the construction of a new dam to help supply the drought ridden LA with water.  Eventually, Jake spots Hollis with a young woman, snaps a few photos and they end up on the cover of the paper the next day. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Prizzi’s Honor (1985)

Prizzis_honor
“Charley, you swore an oath of blood, my blood and yours, that you would always put the family before anything else in your life. We are calling on you to keep that sacred oath.

John Huston is a legendary director who I don’t know nearly enough about and whose movies I haven’t seen nearly enough of. Jack Nicholson is an actor who I generally enjoy, but I would never see him as a reason to see a movie. Kathleen Turner and Angelica Huston are two broads who I don’t really get. But the combination of all of these random people was intriguing enough for me to watch Prizzi’s Honor without knowing a single thing about its story.


Charlie Partanna (Nicholson) is a hitman for the New York Prizzi crime family. At a mob wedding, he sees Irene Walker (Turner) and is immediately obsessed. Tracking her down in LA, Irene initially claims to be some sort of financial adviser. But Charlie soon learns that like him, Irene is also a killer for hire. This only makes his interest in her stronger, and soon, the two have eloped and married. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***AFI WEEKEND*** #31. The Maltese Falcon (1941)

“The American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movies was selected by AFI’s blue-ribbon panel of more than 1,500 leaders of the American movie community to commemorate 100 Years of Movies”. Every weekend(ish) during 2015, I’ll review two(ish), counting them down from 100 to 1.

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“Keep on riding me and they’re gonna be picking iron out of your liver.”

Over its century or so of existence, film has created a few genres that are personified by specific character archetypes and one or two particular actors who made those archetypes their own.  The classic western had John Wayne, while the neo western had Clint Eastwood.  The 80s action movie had Arnold Schwarzenegger.   The earliest romantic screwball comedies were all about the flighty and infuriating, but charming and endearing whirlwind that was Katherine Hepburn.  When it comes to the film noir gumshoe, there’s one name that instantly takes the title.  Humphrey Bogart.  And one of the movies most responsible for that reputation is, The Maltese Falcon.


As the opening title crawl says, “In 1539 the Knight Templars of Malta, paid tribute to Charles V of Spain, by sending him a Golden Falcon encrusted from beak to claw with rarest jewels—but pirates seized the galley carrying this priceless token and the fate of the Maltese Falcon remains a mystery to this day”.  Cut to present day (1941) San Francisco, and private eye Sam Spade (Bogart) receives a visit from Ruth Wonderly (Mary Astor).  Her sister ran off with a man named Thursby, and Ruth wants Sam, and his partner Archer (Jerome Cowan), to find them. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***AFI WEEKEND*** #38. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

“The American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movies was selected by AFI’s blue-ribbon panel of more than 1,500 leaders of the American movie community to commemorate 100 Years of Movies”. Every weekend(ish) during 2015, I’ll review two(ish), counting them down from 100 to 1.

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“I think I’ll go to sleep and dream about piles of gold getting bigger and bigger and bigger.”

When it comes to all time classic movies, you have the ones everyone knows about.  Even if you’ve never seen Citizen Cane, or The Wizard of Oz, or Gone With the Wind.  Even if you have no intention of ever seeing them, you know they exist and probably know one or two things about the cast, or plot, or have some inkling about why it’s a classic.  Then, just below that surface, are the classics that movie nerds and snobs seem to love.


I’d never heard of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre until a few years ago when I watched it for a uni assignment.  But ever since then, I see the title pop constantly in best of lists, and more often, when great directors and actors are talking the movies that inspired them.  I’ve watched it annually since that discovery a few years ago, and each time, all I can think of is, why isn’t The Treasure of the Sierra Madre a public knowledge classic like Citizen Cane, or The Wizard of Oz, or Gone With the Wind. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***AFI WEEKEND*** #65. The African Queen (1951)

“The American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movies was selected by AFI’s blue-ribbon panel of more than 1,500 leaders of the American movie community to commemorate 100 Years of Movies”. Every weekend(ish) during 2015, I’ll review two(ish), counting them down from 100 to 1.
 African Queen
“Well I ain’t sorry for you no more, ya crazy, psalm-singing, skinny old maid!”

Great pairings of legendary actors are almost always a reason to see a movie.  Even if the story and direction aren’t that great, seeing two heavy weights go toe to toe is pretty much guaranteed to be worth your time.  And that is the main reason I was pumped to see The African Queen.  It’s reputation as a classic isn’t as strong as a lot of movies on this countdown, but the combination of Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn is hard to not get excited about.


It’s the First World War, only Rose (Hepburn) and her husband don’t know it yet.  It takes a while for news to reach their isolated African plantation.  And when it does arrive, it’s via the African Queen, a dilapidated old riverboat, captained by a dilapidated old booze hound named Charlie (Bogart).  When the Great War does make its way into Rose’s world, her husband dies of a heart attack and she has nowhere to turn, until Charlie arrives in the African Queen. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***SWANSONG WEEK*** The Misfits (1961)

Misfits

“Honey, nothing can live unless something dies.”

Before I decided to do this Swansong Week, I’d never heard of The Misfits. I just decided Marilyn Monroe was legendary enough to be included and went to the last movie listed on her IMDB page.  Then, as the opening credits began to roll, I discovered I was in for something big.  The actors alone would make The Misfits more than worth your time.  As well as Monroe, you also get Clark Gable (also giving his last movie performance), Eli Wallach and Montgomery Clift.  Plus, behind the camera is director John Huston.  Then, you have all of this immense talent working from an Arthur Miller screenplay.  How could The Misfits be anything less than amazing?


The recently divorced Roslyn (Monroe) is going out to celebrate with her friend Isabelle (Thelma Ritter).  With Roslyn’s car is undrivable after an accident, they get a lift to a divey Reno casino with mechanic Guido (Wallach).  At the casino, they meet Guido’s friend Gay Langland (Gable), an aging cowboy who immediately sets his sights on Roslyn.  Soon, they all end up at Guido’s house out in the desert where he’s let things go after the death of his wife.  Gay convinces Roslyn to take a chance on him and stay in Guido’s house with him.  She does, they begin to fall in love and play house. (more…)