Movie

Cat Ballou (1965)

The Great Movie Re-Watch

Cat Ballou (1965)

Director:

Elliot Silverstein

Writers:

Walter Newman

Frank Pierson

Starring:

Jane Fonda

Lee Marvin

Michael Callan

Dwayne Hickman

Nat ‘King’ Cole

Stubby Kaye

Blurb:

A young schoolteacher turns into an outlaw to avenge her murdered father.

Thoughts:

Cat Ballou is another one of my video rental finds. I’d never seen a western led by a woman, and I immediately loved it. Jane Fonda is gorgeous, and I loved how stubborn she was. She knew what she wanted, and when she decided how to do it, she was all in. She was the boss of the crew, and it was great.

While looking up this movie, I was surprised to find it had won an Oscar. Lee Marvin won the Best Actor award for his portrayal of Eli ‘Kid’ Shelleen and Tim Strawn. It won a few other awards and was generally well-received by critics at the time. It was also one of the top-grossing movies of the year. Yet, we never got another female-led western like this one. How disappointing.

Because of the older men in my life, I’ve seen a fair few westerns, and it’s a genre of movies and books that I have enjoyed watching and reading. My problem with it and why I don’t enjoy more of it, is its depiction of women. Most of the time, they’re an afterthought, and other times they’re used as a tragedy to push the hero on to greatness. This isn’t a problem only westerns suffer from. It’s just harder to find female-led stories in the genre. Cat Ballou is one of just a handful of western movies led by women. Wyoming by Zane Grey and Ride the River by Louis L’Amour are my favorite western books. It’s been a while, but I used to re-read them frequently.

The Godless miniseries on Netflix is the last female-led western that I remember happening. Even that, though, had a man come in and save an entire town of women. I was so infuriated by that series, mainly because the trailer sold me something that wasn’t what I got.

I’ll stop before this gets any longer or angrier. Pretty sure more of these rants are to come, though.

Nat ‘King’ Cole and Stubby Kaye sing the narration in this movie, and I will end up having it stuck in my head for days.

There is a comedic element to the film, but it’s more of an undertone than flat out Blazing Saddles.

There are so many things to enjoy about this movie, and I’m happy that it’s one I own.

Bells are Ringing (1960)

The Great Movie Re-Watch

Bells are Ringing (1960)

Director:

Vincente Minnelli

Writers:

Betty Comden

Adolph Green

Starring:

Judy Holliday

Dean Martin

Fred Clark

Eddie Foy Jr.

Jean Stapleton

Blurb:

A Brooklyn answering service operator becomes involved in the lives of her clients, including a struggling playwright with whom she begins to fall in love.

Thoughts:

This is the first movie on my list that is a comfort watch. Bells are Ringing isn’t as good as any of my previous films. Most people probably haven’t heard of it, and I completely understand if people don’t like it. The songs are good, with Dean Martin singing most songs would sound good. There’s nothing remarkable about the dancing. Judy Holliday is pretty funny. The story is dated but entertaining as long as you turn your brain off.

It’s a nostalgia watch for me. I used to rent a VHS copy of Bells are Ringing from my local video store. They had some random musicals, and this happened to be one of them. I was surprised when it was released on DVD and downright shocked to see that it’s on Blu-ray.

It was nominated for a couple of awards. It won one. It did not come even close to making back its money and took a pretty significant loss. It was a movie adaption of a stage production. Really, the biggest thing of note that I’m aware of is that it was Judy Holliday’s final film before she died of breast cancer a few years later.

I like Bells are Ringing and if you’re looking for a musical recommendation and trust my judgment, by all means, try it out. It’s available to rent on Amazon Prime, or if you feel like paying $2 more, you could even own it.

Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

The Great Movie Re-Watch

Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

Directors:

Stanley Donen

Gene Kelly

Writers:

Betty Comden

Adolph Green

Starring:

Gene Kelly

Donald O’Connor

Debbie Reynolds

Jean Hagen

Millard Mitchell

Blurb:

A silent film production company and cast make a difficult transition to sound.

Thoughts:

I watched this movie last night and didn’t give it the attention it deserves. It’s a great musical with fantastic dance routines and good music. Gene Kelly isn’t as good a singer as some of the others I’ve been watching, but he’s possibly the best dancer. There was a lot of talent in this film.

While Gene Kelly is incredibly talented, he sounds like he was an asshole while working on this movie. He was so mean to Debbie Reynolds that she cried. He later said he was surprised she worked with him afterward, which says a lot. Fred Astaire ended up helping Debbie Reynolds with her dancing, which is so cool.

Easily my favorite part of the movie is the Make Em Laugh number performed by Donald O’Connor. It’s hilarious, and even as a child, I could see the skill it took to execute the moves he did.

Singin’ in The Rain is one of those movies that I can see scene by scene in my mind I’ve watched it so many times. It is easily the best musical I own, even if it isn’t my favorite. Some of the musical numbers last too long for me and don’t have much to do with the parts of the movie I enjoy the most.

It wasn’t a huge hit when it was first released, though it did make a profit. Reviewers seemed to like it, but it wasn’t until later that it reached its current popularity. It is yet another of my movies that has been selected by the US Library of Congress for preservation.

After getting rid of a lot of my older Disney movies, this ended up being the only movie from the 50s that I own.

Next up is Bells are Ringing from 1960.

The Shop Around the Corner (1940)

The Great Movie Re-Watch

The Shop Around the Corner (1940)

Director:

Ernst Lubitsch

Writer:

Samson Raphaelson

Starring:

Margaret Sullavan

James Stewart

Frank Morgan

Joseph Schildkraut

Blurb:

Two employees at a gift shop can barely stand each other, without realizing that they are falling in love through the post as each other’s anonymous pen pal.

Thoughts:

You’ve Got Mail was inspired by this movie. Even if you didn’t know, specific conversations in the film should clue you in. At least two are almost verbatim. The Shop Around the Corner is not the original of this story, though. That would belong to a Hungarian play titled Parfumerie by Miklós László. You’ve Got Mail is also not the only adaption. I have another version of this story that is coming up relatively soon, In the Good Old Summertime with Judy Garland. I clearly like this story. I should probably look into the play.

This film is from the 40s, so it’s very dated, especially in its views of women. Clara, Margaret Sullavan, talks a lot about how she won’t have to work anymore because she’ll be married soon. Kralik, James Stewart, discusses supporting a family on his salary.

I want to take a step back and focus on that for a moment. Kralik was a sales clerk. He had worked at the store the longest, so had more responsibilities, but he was still a sales clerk. There was also another clerk there that was married and had children. They were able to support a family on the salary of a sales clerk. Eighty years ago, one person could support themselves, in a city, on the salary of a retail worker. Sure, this was set in Hungary, but it was made for American audiences. Can you imagine a salesperson in a department store being able to support a family nowadays? It’s mind-boggling.

Back to the movie. Writing letters and falling in love in that way is one of my favorite tropes. It feels like the ultimate romantic storyline. Two people, who’ve never met, fall in love through words. In some cases, it’s so much easier to be yourself through words. Of course, it’s also easier to deceive, but I prefer to think of the previous scenario.

Obviously, I’m keeping this movie. It’s one I re-watch fairly frequently, even though I only own it on DVD. I should probably look into upgrading that, actually.

Bumblebee (2018)

Bumblee

Bumblebee (2018)

Director:

Travis Knight

Starring:

Hailee Steinfeld

Jorge Lendeborg Jr.

John Cena

Plot:

On the run in the year of 1987, Bumblebee finds refuge in a junkyard in a small Californian beach town. Charlie, on the cusp of turning 18 and trying to find her place in the world, discovers Bumblebee, battle-scarred and broken.

Review:

I did not grow up watching Transformers, but it felt really clear that this movie was written by a fan. There seemed to be a lot of care and attention taken with the history and Transformers, but by far my favorite part was Charlie, Hailee Steinfeld. It was so clear she was written by a woman, Christina Hodson. When her mother’s boyfriend gave her a book telling her to smile, oh man, that was too real. I loved it.

Charlie has lost her father, but her mother has moved on, and Charlie feels further abandoned. She’s a brooding teenager and unable to see past her own hurt. That is until a VW Bug appears in her life and, oh yeah, turns out to be an alien.

The relationship between her and Bumblebee was super sweet. I loved that even though Memo, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., had a crush on her it barely progressed. There were much bigger things going on.

Bumblebee was a pretty awesome reboot to a franchise with some troubling issues, I’m curious to see what comes next.

4/5