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  • February 17, 2013

    Best Movies by Farr: Roman Holiday

    by John Farr

    John Farr discusses a romantic comedy starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck, directed by William Wyler.


    Roman Holiday (1953)

    What It’s About:
    A gossamer young Hepburn plays the young Princess Anne, who is making an official visit to Rome. As royalty, she is programmed and scheduled to the hilt and becomes increasingly tired of being cooped up. So one night, she slips out to sample the wonders of the ancient city- incognito. Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck) is the reporter who eventually takes her in for the world’s biggest scoop, and then falls for her. Albert is his photographer friend, who shares Peck’s explosive secret.

    Why I Love It:
    Off-screen, Peck was so convinced Hepburn would be a huge star that he confronted director William Wyler, insisting she share top billing with him. An extremely generous and unusual gesture, it also reflected keen judgment. Virtually an unknown before the picture was released, this often hilarious, extremely touching movie made Hepburn an overnight star. Not only could she act, but the camera loved her as it has loved few actresses. Peck and Albert are both terrific, and Wyler’s on-location shooting is flavorful and evocative. This timeless romance is also ideal for the whole family.

    Visit Best Movies by Farr for more great DVD recommendations.

  • January 20, 2013

    Best Movies by Farr: Bull Durham

    by John Farr

    John Farr discusses one of Kevin Costner’s great baseball movies, directed by Ron Shelton.


    Bull Durham (1988)

    What It’s About:
    Shelton’s winning romantic comedy is set in the special world of minor league baseball, exploring the dynamics (and rivalry) between two very different teammates – seasoned veteran Crash Davis (Kevin Costner), and rookie hot-shot Nuke La Loosh (Tim Robbins). Complicating matters further is the femme fatale that comes between them: a bewitching baseball “groupie” named Annie (Susan Sarandon). Which player will take home that prize?

    Why I Love It:
    This wry comedy delivers irresistible entertainment, evoking the more- shall we say, informal- atmosphere of life in the minors. Star Costner is appealingly mellow, and Sarandon skillfully plays her character as sexy, funny and wise, all at once. Still, Robbins steals the movie in showy role as the dim-bulb rookie. Director Shelton was Oscar-nominated for his salty, funny script- and no wonder. Play ball!

    Visit Best Movies by Farr for more great DVD recommendations.

  • January 14, 2013

    Best Movies by Farr: Indiscreet

    by John Farr

    John Farr discusses a romantic comedy starring Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant, directed by Stanley Donen.


    Indiscreet (1958)

    What It’s About:
    Industrialist Philip Adams (Cary Grant), on business in London, meets famous stage actress Anne Kalman (Ingrid Bergman) and pretends to be married, presumably to avoid the subject further down the road. Anne still can’t help falling in love with him, of course. But when she learnsWhen the fiery Anne learns he’s not married, she schemes to make him pay for his ruse.

    Why I Love It:
    What Director Stanley Donen uses excellently here are two gorgeous, sophisticated stars that fit like a glove. He also creates a deliciously elegant atmosphere with colorful, chic sets, scenic London locales, and stunning Dior gowns and stunning Dior gowns that comprise a feast for the eyes. “Indiscreet” will transport you to another lost, pleasant, and civilized time and place when the words “sophisticated”‘ and “comedy” could actually go together.

    Visit Best Movies by Farr for more great DVD recommendations.

  • January 10, 2013

    Best Movies by Farr: The Flight of the Phoenix

    by John Farr

    John Farr discusses James Stewart’s last great film, directed by Robert Aldrich.


    The Flight of the Phoenix (1965)

    What It’s About:
    After their plane crashes in the Sahara desert, grizzled veteran pilot Frank Towns (James Stewart) and alcoholic navigator Lew Moran (Richard Attenborough) attempt to establish order among a volatile group of male passengers, including British officer Capt. Harris (Peter Finch) and addled mental case Trucker Cobb (Ernest Borgnine), while scrambling for a way to flag down help. All hope seems lost until arrogant German engineer Heinrich (Hardy Krüger) reveals an audacious plan for building a new aircraft from the wreckage.

    Why I Love It:
    A gripping survival film headed by a superlative cast, Aldrich’s gritty “Phoenix” pits Stewart’s irascible, old-school aviator against Kruger’s smug, ultra-rational scientist, a tense war of wills that anchors Lukas Heller’s intelligent storyline. Addressing issues of cowardice and bravery, as well as the antagonisms that divide civilization from the rule of anarchy, Aldrich gets a lot of mileage out of the scorching setting. Attenborough, Finch, Borgnine, and Dan Duryea add a colorful mix of madness and insight to the crew’s efforts in fine support roles. For a manly take on desperation and its discontents, “Phoenix” is one hell of a good ride.

    Visit Best Movies by Farr for more great DVD recommendations.

  • January 4, 2013

    Best Movies by Farr: Black Narcissus

    by John Farr

    John Farr discusses an earlier Deborah Kerr film, directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger.


    Black Narcissus (1947)

    What It’s About:
    When young Sister Clodagh (Deborah Kerr) is asked to open a convent-hospital in a former brothel perched high above a small village in India, she readily agrees, despite knowing hardships lie ahead. Once there, she’s greeted by a sardonic Englishman, Mr. Dean (David Farrar), who takes great delight in ruffling Sister Clodagh’s habit. But it’s jealous, unstable Sister Ruth (Kathleen Byron) who eventually succumbs to the dark allure of the exotic, windswept setting.

    Why I Love It:
    Another great success for “Red Shoes” helmers Powell-Pressburger, “Narcissus” is an absorbing, finely acted British melodrama about the secular problems facing a new mother superior in an unfamiliar, potentially hostile new environment. The directors even stirred controversy by developing a subtle yet credible sexual tension between the luminous Kerr and hunky Farrar. Jack Cardiff’s Oscar-winning Technicolor photography and Alfred Junge’s hand-crafted art design give this film exceptional production values to boot. And Kathleen Byron’s celebrated turn as the unhinged Sister Ruth climaxes in a suspenseful sequence that’s hard to forget.

    Visit Best Movies by Farr for more great DVD recommendations.

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