REEL 13

Read our Blog Posts

REEL 13 Blog
  • April 12, 2011

    Best Movies by Farr: Ernst Lubitsch Love Stories

    by John Farr

    Ernst Lubitsch, director of this week’s Reel 13 Classic Heaven Can Wait, previously helmed two other pictures that set the standard for romcom dialogue.


    Trouble in Paradise (1932)

    WHAT IT’S ABOUT:

    Parisian jewel thieves Gaston (Herbert Marshall) and Lily (Miriam Hopkins) fall in love over dinner-trying to pick each other’s pockets. With a wealthy widow, Mme. Colet (Kay Francis), as their latest mark, they craftily install themselves as her secretary and typist, respectively. But things get complicated when Gaston must pretend to fall for the beautiful heiress (or is he pretending?) and she returns the compliment. Careful, Gaston- you’re playing with fire!

    WHY I LOVE IT:

    This sublime, soufflé-light farce ranks as one of the director’s finest outings. The film pokes sly fun at conventional mores, and cheerily touts the marvels of sex, riches, and the little games we play with both. All the signature ingredients you’d expect from the Master are here in abundance, including rarefied atmosphere, snappy dialogue, and witty ripostes. Marshall and Hopkins create a striking comic chemistry- he the epitome of English coolness, she wonderfully feisty, but no fool. And Ms. Francis makes a stunning complication! If you like your chuckles with a touch of class, here’s your movie.


    The Shop Around the Corner (1940)

    WHAT IT’S ABOUT:

    When Klara Novak (Margaret Sullavan) uses her wily sales technique to impress Hugo (Frank Morgan), a Budapest gift-store owner, she is hired to work alongside clerk Alfred Kralik (James Stewart), but the two don’t hit it off. No matter: Alfred is secretly hoping to meet a woman with whom he’s had a promising written correspondence via the personals. Klara, meanwhile, begins to fall for an anonymous man she’s been writing to as well. So it’s a big surprise-to them, not us-when they discover the true identities of their respective pen-pals.

    WHY I LOVE IT:

    They don’t make romantic comedies like they used to, and no one made them quite like director Ernst Lubitsch, whose famed “touch” lights this wry, poignant, perennially charming film. Veteran players Stewart and Sullavan are a perfect match as comically antagonistic lonelyhearts, conveying their characters’ vulnerabilities with a delicacy too often missing from the tepid Hanks-Ryan remake, “You’ve Got Mail”. Rich subplots involving the wonderful Frank Morgan and Joseph Schildkraut, who plays a scheming, boastful employee, let Lubitsch impart further nuance to this modest but wholly pleasing tale. A delight from start to finish, this is one “Shop” you’ll want to dally in.


    Visit Best Movies by Farr for more great DVD recommendations.

  • April 5, 2011

    Best Movies by Farr: Early Olivier

    by John Farr

    Chances are you’re familiar with these two Laurence Olivier classics, but if you haven’t seen them, or just haven’t in a while, go back and revisit a pair of 1940 pictures that put Olivier (star of this week’s Reel 13 Classic The Entertainer) on the movie map.


    Rebecca (1940)

    Rebecca

    WHAT IT’S ABOUT:

    After meeting on the Riviera, a demure young woman (Joan Fontaine) marries a wealthy widower, Maxim de Winter (Laurence Olivier), and returns to his sprawling English manor at Manderley. But Maxim’s battalion of servants instantly regard her with undisguised hostility, referring reverentially to the deceased Rebecca De Winter, whose death is veiled in secrecy. Bit by bit, she uncovers the truth about Rebecca’s demise…

    WHY I LOVE IT:

    Produced by the great David O. Selznick, Hitchcock’s multiple Oscar-nominated domestic mystery, sort of a cross between Jane Austen and Daphne du Maurier (who penned the novel it’s based on), was Hitch’s maiden outing in Hollywood. And he couldn’t have asked for a better cast: Fontaine is exquisite as the innocent new bride who narrates the film, and super thesp Olivier is masterful as ever playing the urbane tycoon with a secret. But Judith Anderson has the choicest turn as a sadistic housemaid, Mrs. Danvers, who has it in for the timid Fontaine. To top it all off, George Barnes’s expressive black-and-white camerawork marries beautifully with Hitchcock’s inimitable atmosphere of psychological menace.


    Pride and Prejudice (1940)

    WHAT IT’S ABOUT:

    IIn 1835 England, wealthy, class-conscious couple Mr. and Mrs. Bennett (Edmund Gwenn and Mary Boland) have five daughters who are of marriageable age, and they have decided to match them with appropriate suitors. Of all the eligible men in their social circle, the arrogant, dashing Mr. Darcy (Laurence Olivier)-despite his haughty airs–is the real catch, and independent-minded Elizabeth (Greer Garson) might be the only daughter worthy of his attention.

    WHY I LOVE IT:

    Penned by Aldous Huxley, this splendid adaptation of Jane Austen’s satirical novel seamlessly translates her barbed criticisms of upper-class mores to the big screen. Under MGM journeyman Leonard’s guiding hand, Olivier and Garson are a joy to watch as romantic interests whose strained rapport matures from mutual disdain to honest affection. Karl Freund’s magnificent cinematography captures all the period details-like a lawn-party archery lesson-beautifully, while Aldous Huxley’s witty dialogue preserves the spirited flavor of Austen’s text. And I do mean to “Prejudice” you: Avoid the botched 2005 version! .


    Visit Best Movies by Farr for more great DVD recommendations.

Page 19 of 58« First...10...1718192021...304050...Last »