Category Archives: Movies

You Know What’s A Really Good Plane Crash Movie?

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A really good plane crash movie is Robert Aldrich’s The Flight of the Phoenix (1965) starring James Stewart as Frank Towns, a grizzled old veteran pilot from the days when the pleasure of flying could be found in “just getting there.” But, he’s not quite the hotshot pilot of his youth now that he’s flying a rickety old twin engine Fairchild C-82 Packet cargo plane for an oil company insensitively named Arabco (pronounced ah-RAB-coh), shuttling supplies and oil workers across the Sahara desert. As a navigator, Towns’ flying partner Lew Moran (Richard Attenborough), isn’t too bad. However, he spent a little too much time sipping from the bottle to notice the radio equipment was faulty.

The film opens as the flying veterans are transporting several oil workers, an oil company accountant, two British military men, a doctor, his patient, and a rather peevish German engineer to Benghazi. The group are ably played by several great character actors including George Kennedy, Ian Bannen (who was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role), Peter Finch, Dan Duryea, and Ernest Borgnine. But it’s Hardy Kruger who steals the show as he plays the German engineer, Heinrich Dorfmann, who turns out to be the man with the plan.

A sandstorm pushes the plane well off course and forces Towns to make a crash landing as the blowing sand clogs the engines. Two of the passengers are killed in the crash, while a third is seriously injured. The rest face the hostile desert conditions with little water and even less hope of rescue.

Dorfmann has an idea.

Although the plane is totaled, there is enough left intact and plenty of tools and equipment that a new plane could be constructed from the remains. Towns dismisses the idea initially, but the doctor tells him having the men work to build the new plane would give them hope. A baseless hope perhaps, but it would be better than the lot of them just watching each other die. So, the project begins.

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The film follows the men as they labor and lose hope and find resolve again to attempt to escape the desert. There are clashes between the men as the tensions rise and the water runs low, but most contentious of all of the clashes is the constant head butting done between the pilot and the engineer. Towns is certain it won’t fly and is convinced he will cause more deaths if he tries to get the contraption off the ground. Dorfmann seems to be more interested in just seeing it made. Lew keeps finding himself having to act as a go-between to try to keep the two headstrong men on the task of getting back to civilization.

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There’s a scene of very satisfying retribution meted out by the old pilot involving the insubordinate British sergeant after a particularly tragic event. The moment takes advantage of Stewart’s mastery of portraying righteous rage. And then there’s the revelation as to the kind of engineer Dorfmann is that brings Lew close to the edge of mental collapse. Attenborough plays the moment perfectly.

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In 2004, a remake was made that felt it necessary to bring in shoot outs and chase scenes, not realizing the tension, the action, and the story were the men and their desperate attempt to complete the “Phoenix” before their water, their strength, their sanity, and, ultimately, their lives ran out.

The film could use a slight trim as it comes in at 142 minutes, but it holds your attention as you root for these guys to get to safety. And watching Stewart and Kruger spar with each other is very entertaining.

“Get the popcorn ready, kids, we got us a good movie to watch!”

Packing Peanuts!

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“Daddy’s Gonna Kill Ralphie!”

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Christmas is coming again, so I thought I’d reminisce a little about one of my favorite holiday movies: A Christmas Story (1983).

I didn’t see this movie until many, many years after it was released. It was in the mid to late 90s, when I was listening to a couple of talk radio show hosts praising this now holiday classic, that it first time it came to my attention. My curiosity peaked, I sought it out. Finding it wasn’t too difficult, because by that time television had turned it into a holiday programming staple.

“Oh, did you miss it? Change the channel. Someone else will be playing it.”

Television was great at taking modestly successfully theatrical releases and turning them into required viewing classics. It’s A Wonderful Life and The Wizard of Oz are two fine examples of television’s influence. A Christmas Story may be the most recent film to have television help it along in that way.

The story is set in pre-World War II Indiana and is viewed from young Ralphie Parker’s perspective as he attempts to influence his parents, terrifically portrayed by Melinda Dillon and Darren McGavin, into giving him a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. But Mrs. Parker insists they are dangerous and that he’ll shoot his eye out. That’s a recurring phrase in the film. Adults were so worried about kids losing their eyes.

The movie is based on semi-autobiographical stories written by Jean Shepherd. Shepherd is the film’s narrator as the adult version of Ralphie relating this story of his youth. And he is wonderful. There’s a twinkle in the man’s eye, which you can clearly hear in his voice. The man can tell a story!

Although I grew up in a different era than what is shown in the film, the universality of the story – anticipating Christmas, coveted gift items, loving (if somewhat scary) parents, school, teachers, weird gifts from relatives, bullies, friends, and flagpoles –  appeals to my nostalgic feelings for my days as a kid. The way Ralphie feels about Christmas reflects the way I felt. And Ralphie’s fantasies, although silly and over-the-top, are good fun.

By far, my favorite character is Old Man Parker. He makes the film. McGavin is just so good as Ralphie’s furnace-fighting, foul-mouthed, major award-winning, gruff, but loving and lovable dad. Old Man Parker is the key to this movie, if he’s wrong the movie just doesn’t make it. And McGavin nails it.

His gruffness is all just bluster. He loves his wife and his boys. We see it in his reaction to the wife and kids bellowing out Jingle Bells on the drive home from getting their Christmas tree. Sure, he rolls his eyes, but there is love in there. We see it in Old Man Parker’s subtle smirk as he sends his oldest son back into the car after an unsuccessful attempt to help change a tire. An attempt that had young Ralphie accidentally drop an F bomb in front of his father for the first time. Hence the smirk. We also see it as the old man is almost as excited as Ralphie when… Oh, but that would be a spoiler.

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“Oh, wow!”

And, of course, there is the leg lamp!

I just love this movie. I watch it every year and remember all those wonderful Christmases from my youth.

Hard to believe the director of this classic, Bob Clark, also directed Porky’s.

Packing Peanuts!

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Yeah? Well, I like it!

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And so do a lot of horror movie fans, despite critics’ less than enthusiastic reviews at the time.

I’m talking about the 1982 sci-fi/horror classic John Carpenter’s The Thing. I was about 16 or 17 when I first saw it, so that might color how I feel about it, teenagers not necessarily being the most sophisticated of film connoisseurs. After all I thought Porky’s was hilarious when I saw it at roughly the same age. I haven’t watched Porky’s in a very long time, but I watched The Thing again just two nights ago.

And, for me, it still holds up.

It’s a terrific, if very intense and gruesome, popcorn movie!

Film critic Roger Ebert was bothered by the lack of character development and lack of intelligence of those characters. He wondered: If the creature prefers to attack individuals out of sight of the others, why did the fellows keep going off on their own? That is a good point, but I didn’t let that bother me. Good popcorn movies get a pass on such deficiencies. And, in recent years, the attitude toward this movie by critics has been changing. More and more it’s being lauded as one of the 80s’ best sci-fi/horror films.

The story involves a group of American men (no women!) stationed in Antarctica to do science or whatever they do down there, whose day is interrupted by a dog being chased by a couple of crazed Norwegians in a helicopter. The Norwegians, along with being crazed, are pretty bad with their weapons as they attempt to kill the dog. One couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with his high-powered rifle and the other manages to blow himself and the helicopter up with a mishandled hand grenade.

Come to think of it. Why would scientists in the Antarctic need high-powered rifles and hand grenades? Ah, never mind. Where’s that popcorn?

So, the dog is taken in and it is quickly discovered that it ain’t no ordinary dog. We learn that it is a parasitic creature from another world that creates exact duplicates of other living creatures. It duplicates members of the American team so well, right down to being able to talk and act just like the original, that it’s impossible to tell the difference until it’s too late. Well, Kurt Russell’s character, McCready, the hard-drinking, cynical, world-weary, helicopter pilot does devise a way to tell the difference. I won’t say anymore than that.

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McReady conducting tests.

Ebert mentioned that Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979) handled the same basic story (a group of people in an isolated area with a powerful creature hunting them) much better. I agree. The suspense of Alien is more intense than the suspense generated in The Thing, still there is plenty of suspense as no one knows who can be trusted to not be the alien.

Let me praise the special effects of The Thing for a moment. They were excellent 35 years ago and they still look pretty damn good today. (There is a moment where the alien is clearly stop-motion animation, but it’s a fleeting glimpse.) The effects are all practical. There are no computer generated  effects in the film. In fact, in the film (set in the year it was released) we get to see that time period’s level of computer graphics sophistication in a scene with McReady playing chess on a computer. How far we have come in 35 years!

There is one particularly spectacular creature transformation scene. It is completely unexpected. It’s shocking, gruesome, frightening, and hilarious all at the same time. The alien might not be bothered by the intense cold or bullets, but it does burn, so the men use flame throwers to destroy the monster, which still manages to be able to escape. Well, part of it does, as we see in that exciting sequence. And the reaction shot as the men see the alien’s method of escape is terrific. It has to be one of the greatest “you gotta be kidding me” moments in cinematic history.

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Hang on. Why would scientists in the Antarctic need flame throwers? Ah, never mind. Where’s that popcorn?

The ending is bleak. (Sorry if this is a little bit of a spoiler for you, but the movie is 35 years old.) The survivors realize that there is no chance of any of them getting out alive. And they certainly can’t let that creature anywhere near civilization, so they have to flush it out and destroy it once and for all. McReady determines they need to make the area as hot as possible in order to keep the alien from just allowing itself to freeze again and wait for the unsuspecting rescue team to arrive.

They gather up all the dynamite they can carry and blow up the compound.

The survivors, exhausted and not sure if the alien is still among them, decide to wait and see what happens…

Ummm. Why would scientists in the Antarctic need dynamite? Ah, never mind. Where’s that popcorn?

Packing Peanuts!

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Four not to be missed Westerns of the modern era!

I love Westerns. Everyone should love Westerns. The world would be a better place if they did.

The Western is the oldest of all film genres. The first narrative film ever made was The Great Train Robbery (1903) and it was a Western. Hollywood has had a long time in which to get the genre perfected. But, Hollywood being Hollywood, it still doesn’t always get it right.

Because I love Westerns so much I may tend to be a little more forgiving of the lesser ones than a more critical viewer. That said, I still have no interest in watching Young Guns (1988) or Bad Girls (1994).

I got to thinking that there have been a few not too shabby Westerns in the past 25 years. I thought it might be a good idea to take a quick look at four of the more recent ones that I find to be pretty damn good. I won’t include Unforgiven (1992) and Tombstone (1993). They are fantastic, but everybody knows those two. They don’t need my touting.

I’m also going to avoid remakes such as 3:10 to Yuma (2007) and True Grit (2010), both are also very good. But, they found a larger audience.

So, here are four very recent Westerns that were somewhat overlooked, but I think are worth watching:

Bone Tomahawk (2015):

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This genre bending film, the most recent on my list, is about 8 1/2 parts Western and 1 1/2 parts Horror. It stars Kurt Russell as the world-weary sheriff of the small prairie town of Bright Hope. Russell is excellent and definitely needs to make more Westerns!

As the film opens, we come upon two drifters cutting the throats of sleeping cowboys in order to steal their goods. After securing a few valuables, the drifters stumble into a sacred Indian burial land and are attacked for the violation. One drifter (David Arquette) escapes to Bright Hope and ends up in jail with one of the sheriff’s bullets in his leg.

A townswoman (Lil Simmons) who assists the town’s doctor, who was too drunk to be of any help, was summoned to help with the drifter. She, the drifter, and a deputy are abducted during the night by a particularly savage clan of cannibalistic Indians. The sheriff, his “backup” deputy (Richard Jenkins), the town’s wealthiest and most learned man with plenty of Indian killing under his belt (Matthew Fox), and the husband (Patrick Wilson) of the abducted woman set out to rescue the three who had been taken.

The film follows this group into the “troglodyte” clan’s territory and they enter a horrifying world of brutal savagery. The third act of this film displays some very stark and stomach-turning violence inflicted by this Indian clan that pushes this Western into the realm of horror.

The acting is terrific and the dialogue feels authentic, even when people have conversations that are more meant to define their character, not service the plot.

Watch for an amusing cameo by Sean Young.

The Homesman (2014):

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This Western stars Hilary Swank and Tommy Lee Jones (who also directs) as a pair of frontier misfits brought together to see that three prairie dwelling woman, who have lost their minds, are transported safely back to the East where they can get the care they need. The harsh living conditions had driven these women over the edge of sanity and their husbands could no longer care for them, but were unable or unwilling to caravan the sick women back to Iowa.

An old maid, property owner Mary Bee Cuddy (Swank), spurned by men due to her being too ugly and too bossy, volunteers to take the women. As she starts out she encounters George Briggs (Jones) on the verge of being hanged. She rescues him and strikes a bargain for his assistance.

It’s a harsh country. It’s little wonder the three women lost their grip on reality. It takes hard people to tame such a hard land. Is Mary Bee hard enough?

The Dark Valley (2014):

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This Austrian-German Western (Yes! Austrian-German! There are subtitles.) is set in the Austrian Alps where an isolated town is under the thumb of Old Brenner and his six sons. The town holds a dark secret kept from the audience until well into the film.

The townspeople live in fear of the Brenners, but there is little they feel they can do in such an isolated land. As another harsh winter closes in, a wedding between two of the young townspeople is pending. Normally a joyous time elsewhere in the world, in this town there’s a dread of the Brenners that grows as the ceremony approaches.

One day a stranger rides into town…

Open Range (2003):

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My favorite of this batch. This Western feels more like the Westerns of old, but not hokey as many of them could be. There’s a strong sense of being honorable on the part of Boss (Robert Duvall), an old cowboy who doesn’t look to get into a fight, but he won’t be done wrong. Boss is driving a herd of cattle with his longtime partner Charley (Kevin Costner) and two others when they are set upon by an Irish land baron Denton Baxter (Michael Gambon) who hates open range cattle feeders.

One of Boss’s men is killed and another, the youngest of the group, is severally wounded. Boss and Charley take the young man into town to get him treated by the town doctor. There they meet a woman they assume is the doctor’s wife (Annette Bening) and Charley falls in love. It turns out she is the doctor’s sister.

The love story isn’t necessary in the film, but it feels genuine, as they come to realize their feelings for each other.

But, they still need to deal with Baxter and his men. Charley has seen and done his share of killing. He’s good at it, but he wants to leave it behind. He can’t. This wrong must be dealt with.

With the help of the livery owner (Michael Jeter), Charley and Boss take on Baxter and his men in a shoot out that feels real. There’s none of the grab their gut and slowly drop off the roof kind of shooting in this Western. Charley knows how to kill and how to read his opponents and he uses that advantage well. Boss may not be the gunslinger Charley is, but he can take care of himself.

There’s a close quarters gunfight between Boss and Baxter that is sloppy and inefficient and feels so real. None of that quick draw, shoot dead eight opponents with one six shooter kind of gunfighting here. They miss at close range almost more than they hit. That’s how I imagine real gunfights going down.

Open Range feels honest and authentic throughout.

Don’t let anyone tell you good Westerns aren’t being made anymore. Just give them these four examples.

Packing Peanuts!

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I never flip past this one…

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Once again I find myself under the influence of one of the many podcasts to which I listen. There is a question that is asked of the listeners and guests by the hosts of this particular show. They ask: What movie do you stop and watch whenever it’s on?

Pretending they asked me, I found myself stumped for an answer. I really couldn’t think of one and I do like movies. I frequently rewatch my favorites. Still, a film didn’t come to me. So, the question moved its way to the back of my mind.

Flipping channels the other night, I stopped when I noticed Sleuth (1972) was playing. It was at that moment I realized this was the second time in as many weeks I had stopped to watch it after it had been playing for an hour or more. I had my answer!

What a terrific movie!

It consists of just three amazing performances. Sir Laurence Olivier as the wealthy, eccentric, game-playing mystery novelist Andrew Wyke; Michael Caine as the beauty salon owner and not the right sort (according to Wyke) of British person Milo Tindle; and, a new-comer to film at the time, theater veteran Alec Cawthorne as the smarter-than-he-looks Inspector Doppler. And that’s it! No one else appears on camera.

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Watching these actors is a treat.

Now I have to be very careful not to give anything away, but I should give you an idea of what the film is all about…

Andrew Wyke has invited Milo Tindle for a chat at his stately manor. Andrew had done very well with his popular mystery novels featuring his detective St. John (in British it’s pronounced sin-jin) Lord Merridewe, he can afford to be eccentric as Milo finds him writing another masterpiece in the center of a maze made of well manicured shrubs.

We soon learn why this meeting is taking place. Andrew knows that Milo is having an affair with his wife Marguerite. Marguerite is a woman accustomed to having the finest things and Andrew isn’t sure Milo is up to the task. That is if Milo is to take Marguerite off his hands. You see, Andrew doesn’t mind the affair and hopes to be rid of her, but Milo just doesn’t have enough money to keep her happy, so she might try to come back.

However, Andrew has a plan. Milo is to disguise himself (as a clown it turns out) and break into the Wyke estate. There he will steal some very valuable jewels, which he can sell in Amsterdam. He’ll get big money for them. Andrew will collect the insurance and be rid of his wife.

That’s the scheme anyway. It doesn’t quite go as planned. Or does it?

Oh, I wish I could tell you more. The story takes a turn or two before Inspector Doppler even shows up. And then is twists even more.

I won’t say anymore about where the film takes its viewers, because it’s so much fun watching it unfold. And if you haven’t seen it, I don’t want to spoil it for you.

Two incidentals: There is a cameo of sorts by Joanne Woodward. She appears in a portrait painting of Marguerite. And the film was remade in 2007. It starred Michael Caine, as well. This time he plays Wyke’s role.

Now, you’ll excuse me. I need to flip the channels. It might be on.

Packing Peanuts!

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That’s my name. Don’t wear it out!

One of the several podcasts to which I listen has given me a virus. The virus is the observation that Hollywood overuses characters’ names in movies and TV shows. For some reason, scriptwriters feel it necessary to have their characters constantly calling each other by name. Sure, when one character is greeting another or trying to get the attention of another it makes sense, but when you are in conversation with a friend are you constantly saying their name?

“Hey, Dave. Did you watch the Golden Globes last night, Dave? Don’t you, Dave, think it was crazy to award The Martian as the Best Comedy, Dave?”

“Just what to you think you’re doing, Dave?”

Sorry. Slipped into my HAL 9000 impression.

So, since I caught that virus, I have become acutely attuned to noticing name usage.

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“Shhh, Murph. Don’t cry, Murph. Murph, I’ll only be gone, Murph, for most of your life, Murph.”

When I watched Interstellar (2014) I noticed the lead character calls his daughter by her name quite a lot. I counted more than 50 usages of “Murph” in that nearly three hour movie. Now, before you think I’m crazy, I didn’t count the “Murphs” during my first viewing of the film. I counted when I watched it a second time with my wife.

In 1931, Universal’s Dracula was released and it made Bela Lugosi a star. I mention it because during the climax of the film, when John Harker and Professor van Helsing are attempting to rescue Mina Seward (Harker’s and Dracula’s love interest) from the evil vampire’s clutches and to destroy said vampire, Harker calls out “Mina” SEVENTEEN times.

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“Mina! Mina! Mina, Mina!”

OK, that does make sense. He was trying to find her. They weren’t in conversation. What else would he call out? But 17 times in a segment that lasts no more than five minutes?

HBO’s Band of Brothers (2001) has an episode focusing on one private: Albert Blithe. Blithe is having courage under fire problems. He can’t seem to overcome his fear and be able to function in battle. At one point, he temporarily suffers “hysterical blindness”.

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“Say my name! Say it! Say it!”

Blithe doesn’t join the fight on D Day. Blithe doesn’t try very hard to find Blithe’s unit. Blithe gets advice from a couple of Blithe’s superior officers. Blithe can’t get any sleep. Blithe, Blithe, Blithe, Blithe…

See what I did there? That’s pretty much what the episode does. It keeps having characters say “Blithe”. At one point, of all the paratroopers being called into formation, Blithe is the only one singled out by name. “That means you, Blithe!”

I get it. That private is the central focus of this part of the ten part series. You don’t have to say his name more than 25 times in an episode that runs about an hour. I’ve tried to count all the “Blithes”, but a few are obscured by the sounds of battle, so I can’t be more accurate.

Recently, I just watched the Back To The Future trilogy. I had only seen the first one when it was originally released and not again since. And I had never seen the sequels. I was pleasantly surprised to find they are all very entertaining films.

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“Doc? Doc! Doc, where’d the car go? Hey, Doc?!”

Any guesses as to how many times Marty says “Doc” in those three movies?

I don’t know, but I think it’s in the hundreds!

It’s kinda ridiculous.

And now that you’ve read this, I’ve spread the virus to you and you’re gonna start noticing all those names. My apologies.

Oh! Before I sign off. I have a nitpick with Back To The Future Part III.

Marty travels back in time to the 1880s. He meets his great, great grandparents. They are played by Lea Thompson (who also played Marty’s mother in all three films) and Michael J Fox. That was clever having Fox play the great, great grandfather, but hang on a minute…

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Their last name should have been Baines, not McFly.

Lea Thompson played his mother. OK, I can accept she would look very much the same as Marty’s great, great grandmother. And I can accept Seamus McFly looking very much like Marty. But I cannot accept that they were McFlys!

Marty’s mother was a McFly by marriage not blood, so why the hell would she look exactly like great, great grandmother McFly? What kind of incestuous family dynamic have we got going on here?

It’s just a movie. I should really just relax. It’s just a movie. I should really just relax. It’s just a movie…

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The best version of…

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Well, it’s holiday time again and I figured I’d weigh in on this most serious of debates: Which of the 14,398 film and television versions of Charles Dickens’ classic  story  of greed and redemption is the best? It’s difficult to say for certain, because I haven’t seen all 19,573 versions of A Christmas Carol. But that’s not going to stop me from naming the one of the 22,741 versions I think is best.

The story is very familiar to most anyone. (With 27,821 versions it’s hard to believe many people wouldn’t know the story.) Ebenezer Scrooge is a cold, money obsessed man of business. He’s penny-pinching and cruel to all around him, with no charity toward those who are less fortunate. He thinks Christmas is a bother and a humbug.

However, his former business partner, Jacob Marley, who had died on Christmas Eve seven years earlier, visits Scrooge as a ghost who exists in a hellish kind of limbo. The late Marley has taken pity on Scrooge and wants to give him a chance to change his ways and avoid a similar fate. Three spirits will visit Scrooge on Christmas Eve to help convince him of the error of his cruel greediness.

Looking through Christmases of his past, present, and future, Scrooge learns he’s had a wonderful life and that he really shouldn’t kill himself for a bit of insurance…money… Wait. That’s a different movie.

Anyway, the spirits do their job and Scrooge awakens enlightened and inspired to change his ways. He becomes quite the generous soul who henceforth always kept Christmas well.

Yeah, I know! Spoilers! But come on.

As I said, there have been many, many, many versions of this story told since Dickens wrote it. Hell, WKRP in Cincinnati even did a version of the classic tale. But, hands down, my favorite version is the UK’s 1951 Renown Pictures film Scrooge (or A Christmas Carol as it was titled in it’s American release) starring Alastair Sim as the mean old miser himself.

It’s vital that the actor playing Scrooge gets it right. And not just the cold-hearted, money-grubbing, humbug-shouting Scrooge, but the joyous, giddy, warm-hearted redeemed man that he became. And Sim is brilliant! His dark and cruel Scrooge is terrific and his humbled, kind-hearted Scrooge is just as convincing. His supporting cast is filled with wonderful English character actors most of whom rise up to match the caliber of Sim’s performance.

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I have two quibbles: One is the woman who plays the younger Scrooge’s love interest. She acts a bit wooden and is always looking off into the distance. And her crying is about as phony as I’ve ever seen in film. I’m not sure if that was an acting choice or if that was how she was directed to play it. It just felt acted, if you know what I mean.

The second quibble is the whole Cratchit family Christmas celebration. They are so pitifully poor, because Scrooge pays the head of the family so little, and yet theirs will be the finest Christmas goose and the finest Christmas in all of London. They’ll even have enough gin punch for two toasts! And the pudding! Oh, the pudding! Come hear the pudding singing in the copper!

Yeesh! The whole sequence is so sweet I think I develop a cavity every time I watch it. Now, I know the scene is supposed to show how happiness is not tied to money. The Cratchits are joyful despite their poverty, while Scrooge is miserable with all his wealth. But still, I’d advise brushing your teeth immediately after watching that scene.

And Tiny Tim is too tall! OK, that’s three quibbles.

Otherwise, I think the film is wonderful. It has a dark and brooding feel prior to Scrooge’s conversion. And one of the effects of that darkness is to give the feeling of authenticity to the story. It feels real and makes one think the movie goes back much farther than 1951. But, the picture brightens and the world becomes a hopeful place after the spirits have succeeded in their task.

Oh! And as a bonus. There is an excellent continuity error in the film. Christmas morning has arrived and Scrooge’s charwoman (terrifically played by Kathleen Harrison) has come with his breakfast. Scrooge is not acting himself. He’s giddy and happy and she’s terrified.

So, there’s Scrooge dancing around his bedroom, when he stops to look in a mirror to tell himself he doesn’t deserve to be so happy. It’s at that point you need to look in the mirror. Look closely! You will see a man off camera lean in to watch the scene.

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It’s not a ghost! It’s not pareidolia! It’s a member of the crew. And it’s a pretty cool continuity error.

If you have never seen Scrooge or if it’s been a long while, it’s well done and worth your time. The entire film is available on YouTube, but if you watch the colorized version I will be sorely disappointed in you. Colorization is a humbug! HUMBUG!

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Merry Holiday, everyone!

Correction (12-27-15): When originally posted I had listed the wrong character and actor for the scene in which we see the off camera crew member in the mirror. I had said it was the laundress played by Louise Hampton. The character was the charwoman and was played by Kathleen Harrison. I have made the correction.

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