Our culture reveres survivors … and rightly so! The stories of concentration camp and holocaust survivors so stir our emotions, we often see these stories turned into movies. The Diary of Anne Frank was produced multiple times. I’m surprised The Hiding Place (from 1975) hasn’t been remade. In 2014, Unbroken was produced and directed by actress Angelina Jolie who deemed the survivor story of Louis Zamperini compelling.
Cancer survivors have their unique stories. Sexual assault survivors reveal horrific tales of abuse and torture. Given the admiration we accord survivors today, marketers exploit our curiosity by producing numerous movies, games and television series with a survival theme. (I must confess my fascination with Alone, now in its third season on the History Channel.) Continue reading “Survivors All”→
A couple days ago, I posted in this space about the suggestion by a film critic and New York Post columnist to banish one of my favorite all-time books, Gone With the Wind, arguing it was one more remnant of racist history. Seventy-nine years ago today, GWTW debuted on bookstands.
The author, Margaret Mitchell, hoped the book would sell 5,000 copies. To her surprise, during a single day in the summer of 1936, 50,000 copies were sold. The book was her only published novel, earning her the National Book Award for Most Distinguished Novel of 1936 as well as the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1937. Not bad for a first novel, huh? Continue reading “Southern Romantic”→
One of the singers from the 60s was a guy named James Darren. I first remember him from his role as a teen idol on The Donna Reed Show. He was more than a musician though as he enjoyed a varied career on television and in films. His biggest hit on the pop charts was a 1961 song called Goodbye Cruel World.
Motorcycle movies from the 1950s are not normally my cup of tea. I think it may have something to do with the predominant stereotypes on which the movie-makers depend. While exercising today, I found myself sucked into an airing of The Wild One from 1953. (Anything to distract me from the mindlessness of moving on an elliptical!)The plot is predictable – a rebellious young man as the central character, riding his motorcycle, leading a gaggle of motorcycle riders, the Black Rebels Motorcycle Club. It has been described as a “landmark film of 50s rebellion” and the film paved the way for a sub-genre of outlaw biker films. Marlon Brando portrays the sneering central character, sassy Johnny Strabler, who also provides narration. Continue reading “Hot Blood?”→
Elisabeth Elliot died today. For those who aren’t familiar with the name, I suppose she is best known for a tragedy that occurred almost 50 years ago – and her incredible courage in the midst of great personal pain. She and her husband, Jim Elliot, were living in the jungles of Ecuador doing missionary work with several other families.
Jim and four of his associates went further into the jungle where they knew an unreached tribe was known to live. The Huaorani tribe with whom they made contact killed all five of the men and disappeared back into the jungle. Jim and Elisabeth had been married little more than two years. Elisabeth was left to care for their 10-month-old daughter.
Details of the contact between the missionaries and the tribe are documented in a 2005 film, End of the Spear, and I referred to the film in a 2010 post. I won’t repeat what I wrote in that post other than to say I remember when the men were murdered. I was a small child and it left an impression on me. Continue reading “She Followed Far”→
When movie critics and cinema aficionados talk about what they consider the top 100 best movies of all time – at least according to their individual standards – the 1942 film Casablanca usually scores high. Starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman as Rick Blaine and Ilsa Lund, the movie is set during World War II as the Nazis are tightening their grip on north Africa.
Ever since we first viewed the 2007 film Bella, I’ve paid attention to Eduardo Verástegui and the projects with which he’s been involved. Bella tells the story of an international soccer star (José played by Verástegui) whose life takes a sharp turn that abruptly ends the man’s career. As the movie begins, he’s working as a cook in a restaurant.Lest I ruin the pleasure you’d have in watching this film, I won’t provide more details. It is well worth viewing. The movie earned multiple awards and honors, and though it didn’t fare well in reviews from Rotten Tomatoes, audiences liked it well enough to reward the film with RT’s Golden Tomato award. Continue reading “Not A Sour Note”→
Fifteen years ago, the Mel Gibson / Helen Hunt film, What Women Want, was released. The film is an entertaining look at what happens when a charming and seductive man named Nick experiences a freak accident. The morning after his accident, he realizes he has a new ability … he can hear the thoughts of women around him.
The movie presents an interesting dilemma. With the tag line “Finally … a man is listening” giving voice to the almost universal longing of women to have the listening ears of their men, it’s understandable this film was generally well received. Flip that scenario around and Gibson experiences why there are hazards in hearing a woman’s unfiltered innermost thoughts. Continue reading “A Man Who Listens”→
Thanks to the recent release of Disney’s live-action movie, Cinderella, there’s been a resurgent popularity for the romantic fairy tale. In a February post, I mentioned my enthusiasm for the upcoming (at that time) movie and my eagerness to see it. (I’m hopeful to catch it this coming weekend.) Unfortunately, from about the 1960s and forward, the Cinderella mythology fell out of favor because the feminist dogma unofficially rejected her as an undesirable sexist stereotype. Google “feminism and Cinderella” and numerous posts result, many of which attempt to provide a new take on this formerly discarded fairy tale heroine. Continue reading “What Does Cinderella Do?”→
In an earlier post, I referred to the film, The Sound of Music, which marks its fiftieth anniversary big screen release this month. Vanity Fair magazine‘s most recent issue notes the anniversary with an amusing interview of both Maria (Julie Andrews) and Captain Von Trapp (Christopher Plummer). Having enjoyed friendship for these fifty years, the aging pair (she’s 79, he’s 85) reflect a genuine affection, exchanging what VF describes as the “well-worn patter of an old married couple.“
As someone who has watched the film multiple times, I found the VF feature enlightening. Never having delved any deeper into details about the film, I didn’t know Plummer’s antipathy for the film was so ingrained. Watching him on the screen in that film, I always assumed his general aloofness was the result of a director’s instructions for him to play the part that way. Reading the VF piece, I see now it was actually a reflection of Plummer’s overall distaste for the project! Continue reading “A Tale of Elsa and Fred”→