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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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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  • December 28, 2012

    Best Movies by Farr: 3:10 to Yuma

    by John Farr

    John Farr discusses a suspenseful western film, directed by Delmer Daves.


    3:10 to Yuma (1957)

    What It’s About:
    Heflin plays Dan Evans, a local rancher in need of cash due to a drought who, to save his livelihood, takes on the dangerous task of guarding and escorting outlaw Ben Wade (Glenn Ford) to the train which will carry him to the halls of justice. The hitch: Wade’s gang is in town, and they’re determined to prevent their boss from making the 3:10 to Yuma.

    Why I Love It:
    Based on an Elmore Leonard story, Delmer Daves’s film (in a new special edition) is a sharp psychological western in the vein of another better-known classic, “High Noon.” Taut and suspenseful, “Yuma” also tells a very human story, as Evans’s own self-respect and principles are as much at stake in this situation as money. “3:10″ is intelligent and skillfully paced, boasting top-notch turns from the two leads.

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  • December 17, 2012

    Best Movies by Farr: I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang

    by John Farr

    John Farr discusses Mervyn LeRoy’s Oscar-nominated prison movie, starring Paul Muni.


    I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932)

    What It’s About:
    Sentenced to ten years on a chain gang for a restaurant holdup he was forced to participate in, hard-luck WWI vet James Allen (Paul Muni) sees his dreams of becoming an architect vanish. Unable to take the vicious, dehumanizing prison routine he’s been condemned to, Allen escapes, holes up in Chicago, and begins a new life. But his past will not desert him so easily.

    Why I Love It:
    Anchored by Paul Muni’s gut-wrenching performance, Mervyn LeRoy’s socially outraged “Gang” is based on real-life escapee Robert Elliott Burns’s Depression-era memoirs. In fact, LeRoy’s gritty, unflinching depiction of the sadistic brutality of chain gangs proved so unpopular in Georgia, where the practice was perfected, that the state’s governor banned the film! Burns himself helped out with the script, and was eventually pardoned after the film’s release. Nominated for a Best Picture Oscar in 1933, “Chain Gang” set the bar high for future prison movies, and its influence, which extends down to “Cool Hand Luke,” can’t be overstated.

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