Lost in the Movies (formerly The Dancing Image): Remembering the Movies, Jan. 7 - 13

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Remembering the Movies, Jan. 7 - 13

Every Friday, we look back at films released 10-100 years ago this week.
Visit Remembering the Movies to further peruse the past

Sorry for the delay; as of this weekend, I'm making certain that "Remembering the Movies" will appear promptly every Friday at 8am. This week, we've got Edward G. helping to invent the gangster film, two Looney Tunes, and multiple responses to the controversial Not Without My Daughter, released on the eve of the Gulf War.

10 years ago (January 12, 2001)

"Quick. Name an easy corporate target. The majority of people will immediately name one man: Bill Gates. It’s no small coincidence that the software tycoon of AntiTrust looks and sounds like the richest man in the world. It’s even more obvious when it’s revealed that this tycoon is facing charges of creating a monopoly. This real life tie in is by far the most interesting aspect of AntiTrust, a thriller that’s about as boring as watching someone writing computer programming and probably as tedious as actually writing it.

...

AntiTrust suffers mostly because of one major flaw: watching people type on computers is boring. Most of the "excitement" comes from scenes where at least one character is typing. The climax actually pits Milo against Winston in a typing contest. If that sounds thrilling, this may be the movie you’ve been waiting for." - Mark Dujsik, Mark Reviews Movies

Antitrust (2001)

20 years ago (January 11, 1991)

"I think the movie should be seen because it is an invitation to thought. It can be viewed as simply a one-sided and bitter attack. But it also provides an opportunity for testing our own prejudices, our own sense of fairness. Must all movies be taken on their own terms, or do we retain the strength of mind to view them critically - to remain alert to prejudice and single-minded vitriol? It is curious, in a way, that this movie is set in Iran. At the time its events take place - and at the time the film was made - Iran was our enemy and Iraq was our ally. Now times have changed, and Saddam Hussein, president of Iraq, is our enemy. Think of the box office possibilities if the movie had been set in Iraq! That would be right in keeping with the long, sad human history of portraying enemies as godless, inhuman devils. But every soldier is somebody's child, and some, no doubt, hope to have children of their own, and movies fueled by hate are not part of the solution." - Roger Ebert

"Initially depicted as thoroughly assimilated, Moody transforms into a wild-eyed wife-beater in a week's time: The inference is that he has been lying in wait all along. Betty is shown as a trusting naif whose eyes are finally opened ('I thought he was an American,' she sobs). We're given no understanding of Khomeini's dictatorial regime, no historical context, no glimmer of why a westernized Iranian like Moody might return to fundamentalism. Gazing at another culture, the film sees only the shrill horror of what Betty calls a 'backwards, primitive country,' and that's an insult to characters and viewers alike. As for Field, she frets and storms and plots her escape with pluck, and in so doing she endorses Daughter's xenophobic once-a-fur'ner-always-a-fur'ner sentiments. This from an actress who won her Oscars playing women who fight injustice in the blue-collar trenches. That was then, apparently. The difference between Sally Field's current approach and Sissy Spacek's lies in the films themselves. The Long Walk Home is only about racism. Not Without My Daughter embodies it. D-" - Ty Burr, Entertainment Weekly



30 years ago (January 8, 1981)
"The word 'eijanaika' translates roughly as "why not?" or "so what!" & represents a devil-may-care attitude & a movement which spread throughout Japan in the third year of Keio (1867).

Historically the Eijanaika movement is subject to interpretation. Were the peasant riots instigated by anti-Shogunate forces to unsettle the government? Or were they spontaneous eruptions among the general population, pushed too far by the inflation prior to the Meiji Restoration? Shohei Imamura's film Eijanaika (1980) suggests a complex mixture of both." - Paghat the Ratgirl, Wild Ream Reviews
Ejanaika (1981)

40 years ago (January 8, 1971)
 
"This is a film about a group of ten-year-old who are defending their independence at school, in the street and at home. Their methods of resisting brutality and overcoming the lack of understanding are so ingenuous that eventually they succeed in making a laughing stock of their parents, teachers and neighbors. And indeed, compulsion is completely futile if Mitko is to be prevented from moving the ears in class. The unfair punishment only helps spread his fame throughout the school, so that he gets an army of followers and imitators. The war with Uncle Tanas, the cheating grocer of neighborhood store, also ends victoriously. After many ups and downs, and mainly thanks to the solidarity of the children, they manage to get back their football, which has fallen into a passing lorry and disappeared." -  Georgi Djulgerov, IMDb

50 years ago (January 7, 1961)
Cannery Woe (1961)

60 years ago (January 7, 1951)
"Sierra Passage was the first of a brief series of program westerns produced by Monogram and starring Wayne Morris. The film casts Morris as Johnny Yorke, the sharpshooting star of a travelling show run by Sam (Roland Winters) and Thad (Lloyd Corrigan). Johnny hopes someday to run across the man (or men) responsible for the murders of his parents. Meanwhile, he romances the travelling troupe's songstress Ann (Lola Albright). Billy Gray, who later played Bud in TV's 'Father Knows Best,' shows up as the younger Johnny Yorke. The ironic ending of Sierra Passage is but one of the film's many unexpected highlights." - Hal Erickson, Rovi

70 years ago (wide release on January 11, 1941)

80 years ago (January 8, 1931)

"In 1931, Warner Brothers released the compact, brutish gangster classic Little Caesar to a movie-going public that had escaped the eye-opening inhumanity of the Industrial Revolution and World War I, only to land in the thick of Prohibition and the Great Depression. The audience's familiarity and frustration with all four historical events set up the film's success, spurring a subsequent decade-long boom in gangster films. But nothing factored more than Prohibition, which had already given millions of Americans their first real taste of lawlessness. As much as drinkers welcomed Prohibition's end in 1933, some must've missed the illicit thrill of ducking through secret doors and learning code words in order to get a shot of gin. Little Caesar's slangy dialogue and cool hideouts just put people's private vices on a grander scale." - Noel Murray, The A.V. Club


"Even though it set the 'rise and fall' structure of the gangster film, Little Caesar feels stilted when stacked up against its tougher depression-era contemporaries: Howard Hawks's Scarface and The Public Enemy starring James Cagney. There are no moments of vivid ferocity here. Despite Edward G. Robinson's memorably smarmy turn as the wildly ambitious pint-sized thug Caesar Enrico Bandello, Little Caesar plays with kid gloves. The gangland violence is kept to a discreet minimum, drawing its momentum from observing Robinson munching on cigars, bossing around his wooden co-stars, and gloating in corpulent joy as he moves up the mob ladder." - Jeremiah Kipp, Slant

90 years ago (January 9, 1921)

"One of the joys and revelations in seeing the film is Nielsen. One of the first international film stars, most of her films are now either lost or hard to find, which is what makes Hamlet such an unabashed surprise and delight. Nielsen (then 37 years old) in Hamlet overturns any stereotypical thoughts of silent film acting as a style of over-wrought theatricality and facial contortions. Nielsen's acting is completely modern and naturalistic, her great dreamy, haunted eyes speaking for her soul. Nielsen's subtlety and quiet intensity carried over into the film performances of her contemporary Lillian Gish and in the films of Greta Garbo (who said about Nielsen, 'She taught me everything I know'). Her influence continued past the silent era into the films of Carl Dreyer and Ingmar Bergman. This naturalism is on display throughout Hamlet in her tiny, quiet gestures, calm movements, and evocative expressions." - Paul Brenner, Filmcritic.com

Hamlet (1921)

100 years ago (January 10, 1911)

 "Mary Pickford was popular enough in early 1911 to be identified by name in the trade magazine Variety's review of D.W. Griffith's The Italian Barber. Filmed partly on location in Fort Lee, New Jersey, this pleasant little comedy finds the title character falling in love with a cute little newsgirl. But when the "newsie" turns out to be the fickle sort, the barber shifts his attentions to the girl's more stable sister (Pickford). It was curious that Griffith chose to direct this film, since he was usually uncomfortable with comedies and tended to assign such films to his trusted assistant Frank Powell. By the time The Italian Barber was released nationally, Mary Pickford had left Biograph to join the up-and-coming IMP studios." - Allmovie


3 comments:

bobby J. said...

Marvellous and evocative choices. It's always a treat to see the latest, unexpected, selections. Especially the comments chosen to illustrate them.

MovieMan0283 said...

Nice to hear from you, Bobby! January's a weird month for film releases; on the one hand, it can be hard to find the films (I generally do a google search with a date and sometimes it's been a real hunt), on the other they tend to be eccentric and/or obscure and/or offbeat choices which are often the most interesting.

Sam Juliano said...

Yes, another interesting mix with the typically superlative comments. It's always a dynamic opening to have Edward G. on board with his signature performance as Rico, but the Looney Tunes are great too as are the multiple references of NOT WITHOUT MY DAUGHTER. HEDGEHOGS is an eye-opening choices, and the 1911 ITALIAN BARBER and the lovely Mary Pickford are always timeless recalls.