Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Well, I Saw Them All......Almost

Last summer, I wrote a piece on 13 classic movies I'd never seen, but wanted to. After watching about a third of the films listed, I wrote an update on the list, giving my opinion on my first viewing of these films. After several months of searching and watching, this blogger is happy to say that he has successfully watched all but two of the original 13 movies with one of the remaining two in my possession, waiting to be watched. Alas, one film continues to elude me. Hotel for Women (1939). Neither hide nor hair have I seen of this movie my many years on this planet. However, of the rest I wish to offer my take, humble as it may be.

The first four films were covered in the first update. If you haven't read that post, you can catch it here. For some of the movies listed I have written full blown posts and their links are listed below. Here goes.

Citizen Kane (1941) When I let it be known that this screen classic had eluded me the response was overwhelming. So I bit the bullet, snagged a copy and proceeded to watch.

Meet John Doe (1941) I've always enjoyed both Cooper and Stanwyck and Capra's no slouch either. Put them all together and you've got a winning film. Read Full Article

Trade Winds (1938) More than lived up to my expectations, not one of the greatest films ever made, but fluffy entertainment and it indeed entertained. Read Full Article

House Across the Bay (1940) George Raft, Joan Bennett, Walter Pidgeon. A standard yarn of glamorous Bennett waiting for imprisoned Raft, who is in Alcatraz. Pidgeon comes along and, well, you get the picture.
Initial appeal for me: Joan Bennett! One of my favorite female stars of the silver screen, so any opportunity to see her in an obscure film (which this is) is a welcome one.
My opinion: Not the first candidate to win the Oscar for Best Picture for sure, but more than held my interest, especially since it had three good stars leading the cast.

They Won't Forget (1937) Claude Rains, Gloria Dickson, Lana Turner. Based on a novel called Murder in the Deep South, They Won't Forget is the tale of the murder of a young girl in a small southern town and the susequent trial of her accused attacker.
Initial appeal for me: Always a fan of the great Claude Rains, everything I'd read about this film was positive. Also it was an interesting novelty as the first substantial role for future superstar Lana Turner, as the murdered girl.
My opinion: Powerful drama, with Rains first rate as usual and as expected. Turner's not bad either, Southern accent and all.

The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939) Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Richard Greene. Although several film versions of the infamous sleuth Sherlock Holmes were made both before and after this 1939 classic, Rathbone's Holmes is by far the definitive one. This was the first Rathbone/Bruce pairing in the roles of Holmes and his trusty companion Dr. Watson, and spurred an entire series based on the characters.
Initial appeal for me: I've always been a fan of the series but had never been able to see this first film until recently. Holmes will always be the best Holmes in my opinion and 20th Century-Fox gave this the full A picture treatment.
My opinion: Wonderful film with great atmosphere and superb performances from all involved, particularly Basil Rathbone. A follow-up, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, was produced later the same year!

The Sign of the Cross (1932) Fredric March, Claudette Colbert, Charles Laughton. Cecil B. DeMille's epic tale of Rome in the time of the Emperor Nero. A pre-Code spectacle as only DeMille could pull off.
Initial appeal for me: What's not to be intrigued about? Christians being eaten by lions, lesbian dances, baths in asses milk (yes, Miss Colbert is bathing in a gigantic pool of asses milk), orgies, lust, all set to a pace by master showman Cecil.
My opinion: It was quite a show for the eyes, but a little disappointing in script and performance. High camp at times, particularly Charles Laughton as Nero, I'm not sorry I watched The Sign of the Cross, but I expected more.

The final film, aside from Hotel for Women is All Through the Night (1942) starring Humphrey Bogart. I have Night and plan to catch it soon. So there you have it. Pretty good work after six months or so, to collect and watch several movies that I haven't had a chance to see over the years. As stated in the earlier, original post, these aren't the only films I haven't seen that intrigued me just a good example. In the future, I think I'll share a few films that I haven't seen that might surprise you.


  1. Basil Rathbone is the one & only Sherlock! And Claudette Colbert is probably the only woman on earth that I wouldn't mind watching take a bath in asses milk. Glad you're finally getting caught up, Rupert.

  2. Darn -- I thought this entry's title referred to Ms. Colbert's nipples.

  3. i've been wanting to see "sign of the cross" for years. this has inspired me to go get it!



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