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  • June 10, 2012

    Best Movies by Farr: The French Connection

    by John Farr

    What is the best chase scene ever? John Farr gives you the answer.


    The French Connection (1971)

    What It’s About:
    “Connection” relates the fact-based story of narcotics detective Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle (Gene Hackman) and his partner Buddy Russo (Roy Scheider), who use unorthodox means to track down the source of an upcoming heroin influx to New York City. Their obsessive, hard-driving style leads them to a smooth French drug lord (Fernando Rey) attempting to smuggle in a huge shipment of dope from Europe.

    Why I Love It:
    Gene Hackman’s electrifying performance as Popeye Doyle won him an Oscar and transformed him from supporting player to star. Shot verité-style by William Friedkin, this spellbinding movie evokes the slightly fraying quality of New York thirty years ago, when a fiscal crisis loomed. This only adds to the grit and edginess of this intense film, without question one of the best cop movies ever.

  • May 20, 2012

    Brooklyn Film Festival

    Brooklyn Film Festival

    Brooklyn Film Festival

    This week Reel 13 celebrates the Brooklyn Film Festival. All three of our short film contenders are past BFF selections. The 15th annual Brooklyn Film Festival will take place June 1-10, 2012, and will present over 100 film premieres from around the world.

    Be sure to watch each of the films and vote for your favorite – voting continues through Tuesday, 5/22 at 5pm. The winner will be broadcast this Saturday, May 26th along with our Classic and Indie features, Bullitt and Beneath Clouds.

  • May 11, 2012

    Best Movies by Farr: The Big Sleep

    by John Farr

    John Farr explains why The Big Sleep could be his favorite of the four Bogart-Bacall films.


    The Big Sleep (1946)

    What It’s About:
    Private investigator Philip Marlowe (Humphrey Bogart) gets tangled in a seedy web of murder and vice when he’s hired by wealthy scion General Sternwood (Charles Waldron) to investigate a pornographer with incriminating photos of his daughter, Carmen (Martha Vickers). Marlowe finds the man dead, but this is only the beginning, as plot twists-and bodies- pile up fast. At first, the detective is intrigued by the general’s other daughter, the ravishing Vivian (Lauren Bacall), but keeps her at a safe distance. Events will soon conspire to bring them closer together.

    Why I Love It:
    Scripted by William Faulkner from Raymond Chandler’s complex detective novel, Howard Hawks’s “The Big Sleep” is a Hollywood whodunit of the highest order. Bogart famously cemented his trench-coated, tough-guy persona tackling the role of Chandler’s shamus protagonist, Philip Marlowe, co-starring alongside soon-to-be wife Bacall. “Sleep” piles up so many dense subplots that ultimately you may lose track of who killed whom- apparently, even Chandler lost track of one culprit. Still, that Bogart-Bacall wattage and Hawks’s expert direction are such that you don’t much care.

  • April 23, 2012

    Montclair Film Festival

    Montclair Film Festival

    Montclair Film Festival

    This week Reel 13 celebrates the Montclair Film Festival. All three of our short film contenders are from Montclair FF directors. Be sure to watch each of the films and vote for your favorite – voting continues through Wednesday, April 25th at 5pm.

    The winner will be broadcast this Saturday, April 28th along with our Classic and Indie features, The Great Train Robbery and In the Weeds. The Montclair FF runs from May 1 – 6, 2012 – be sure to visit the Festival’s website for more information!

  • April 13, 2012

    Best Movies by Farr: How about Howard Hawks?

    by John Farr

    Howard Hawks is certainly known for his comedies, but he’s just at the helm of adventure stories with plenty of intrique.


    Only Angels Have Wings (1939)

    What It’s About:
    Classic Howard Hawks picture concerns Geoff Carter (Cary Grant), operator of an air freight service in South America’s fog-enshrouded Andes Mountains. Confronting treacherous flying conditions with regularity, Geoff must make life-or-death decisions about when his men can fly. Further complicating life on the ground is the arrival of Bonnie Lee (Jean Arthur), a showgirl in transit who’s socked in by weather, and Macpherson (silent star Richard Barthelmess), a pilot harboring a dark secret. Macpherson is also joined by young wife Judy (Rita Hayworth), who’d once been involved with Geoff. The plot thickens along with the fog.

    Why I Love It:
    Elements of drama and romance co-mingle with the serious business of men being men in this involving, exciting adventure story. Grant stretches his screen persona effortlessly as a tough guy with little humor and no polish, and Arthur makes a spunky love interest. Hayworth looks particularly stunning in a pivotal early role, and Thomas Mitchell also shines as Kid Dabb, a loyal older pilot who’s losing his bearings. This heroic outing soars.


    To Have and Have Not (1944)

    What It’s About:
    Harry Morgan (Humphrey Bogart), an American skipper in Martinique during the World War II, seems like the self-interested type, but ultimately shows his true colors by aiding the Free French. Still, this risky bit of intrigue is mere pretext for the smoldering romance that ignites on- (and off-) camera between Morgan and alluring chanteuse Marie (Lauren Bacall, then just 19).

    Why I Love It:
    Director Hawks wagered Ernest Hemingway he could make a hit movie out of his worst novel. The author took the bet and once you watch “To Have and Have Not” (1944), you’ll know Hawks won. Still, the only elements Hawks keeps from the book are the title, the hero’s name and the fact he makes his living on the sea. Never mind, the film remains a gripping adventure tale with stand-out performances from the stars and supporting players Walter Brennan and Hoagy Carmichael. But above all, it’s very much a romance: just watch the famous “Just Whistle” scene. Bogie and Bacall fell in love on-set, and married soon after.


    Red River (1968)

    What It’s About:
    Bitter, unyielding cattle breeder Tom Dunson (John Wayne) has been forced to take his large herd through treacherous territory to save his business. His adopted son Matthew (Montgomery Clift, in his film debut)-orphaned years ago in an Indian massacre-joins him, but when the two cross swords over Dunson’s obsessiveness, the older man loses his powerful temper and expels his ward, vowing to kill him if and when he next sees him.

    Why I Love It:
    Director Howard Hawks gave western icon John Wayne another indelible, ruggedly stubborn character to play in his masterful “Red River,” a high point of their many collaborations. Populated by colorful supporting characters, including the salty Walter Brennan as camp cook Groot Nadine, “River” combines psychological drama, action, and suspense in a stirring, expansive western landscape. The final settling of scores between Wayne and Clift is unforgettable.


    Visit Best Movies by Farr for more reviews of the best movies.

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