Week in Review
I've passed 31 days total viewing time, if I had watched all 444 DVDs back to back, I would have spent a month solid watching movies. Not only am I losing patience with sub-par films, I'm running out of column ideas. After hating Kicking and Screaming and Ladybugs, I thought maybe I should write a column about sports films I like, but I've done that. I also watched two seasons of Little Britain, a huge British success that's still not found an audience, followed by an idea to write a column about under-the-radar British films, but I've done that as well. The rest of the queue was filled with Paul Newman reissues, but they haven't all shown up yet so I'd like to save that for next week. I don't want to give a favorites list for the year yet, since this whole thing ends in another six weeks. So now I've seen 444 DVDs this year, and I have no idea what to write about. But there are a few people involved in films I watched who I think are undernoticed, while rated highly by critics.
Philo Farnsworth was the inventor of the cathode ray tube, along with his company Philco. When you add a couple of doohickies and gizmos to one of those tubes, you have a TV. Of course, TV was invented before there were TV shows, so one of the early producers of TV shows was Philco. Who was going to buy a TV if there was nothing to watch on it? Philco started The Philco Television Playhouse in 1948. Imagine a televison manufacturer today getting involved at that level, or Apple producing music recordings for the Ipod. But that was the way Philco sold their sets, and one of their early directors was Arthur Penn.
Penn has been around the business as long as anyone still alive, and he may yet direct another film. After earning his stripes in the earliest days of television, Penn went on to direct Alice's Restaurant, The Miracle Worker, and Bonnie and Clyde. He received Oscar nominations for each of these films. Other films he directed that are worth seeing are: The Lefthanded Gun, starring Paul Newman as Billy the Kid; The Chase and The Missouri Breaks starring Brando; Little Big Man starring Dustin Hoffman and Faye Dunaway; and Night Moves, starring Gene Hackman. His films have a stark sense of violence that doesn't register the same shock of the time. Bonnie and Clyde was the Reservoir Dogs of the late '60s.
What do the films Hello Dolly!, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Sabrina, North By Northwest, The Sound of Music, The King and I, Somebody Up There Likes Me, and West Side Story all have in common? Ernest Lehman wrote them all. While he never won an Oscar for any of his six nominations, he did receive an honorary Academy Award in 2001 in what I like to call their Lifetime Apology award. There are so many in the history of Hollywood who never got his or her due while the works were contemporary.
Film nerds are no stranger to Malick, but he's not a household name. He's one of the few people in Hollywood who doesn't like attention. His contracts stipulate that he doesn't do publicity for the films he directs nor will he have any current photos published. Before he went on to write and direct masterpieces like Badlands and Days of Heaven, Malick got a degree in Philosophy from Harvard and taught at MIT. As a result, his films have a dark brooding sense about them, and often have existensial attitudes and messages.
Pick of the Week
My favorite film of the week may not have been the best one, but the one I honestly enjoyed the most: The Lords of Flatbush. This is Sylvester Stallone's first screenplay. If you're not aware, Stallone wrote the memorable roles that he starred in, notably the Rambo and Rocky movies. This small film features a pre-Happy Days Henry "The Fonz" Winkler in one of the fun juvenile delinquent films that emerged in the '50s (The Blackboard Jungle) and resurged in the '70s with films like The Wanderers. While Stallone can barely pronounce the words he has typed onto the pages, it's still a good performance, not nearly as beautiful as Rocky, who had the mumbly ineloquence written into the character.
The only real negatives to this DVD are the poor audio and video quality of the transfer. At least there were English subtitles for the extra mumbly scenes.
After Veteran's Day screwed up my mail, I received six DVDs on Monday. That helped me get a headstart on this week. I watched 13 this week, with 2 still at home for Monday, and one that hasn't shown up yet. I'm getting anxiety about all the upcoming holidays messing up the mail delivery. Anyway you cut it, I'm going to be close to make 500. I wouldn't be surprised if I got the last one before I left the house for New Year's celebrations.
13 DVDs this week. 444 DVDs in 323 days. 56 DVDs left in the next 42 days for a pace of 9.33 per week.
Total Viewing Time: 31 days, 22 hours, 27 minutes