Although the great Burt Lancaster has been dead for over twenty six years his movies hold a special place in my heart as one of the true film legends of the screen, an iconic presence, cheeky smile and steely eyes that could melt or pierce a heart at a thousand paces : starting his career back in the late 40s in Robert Siodmak’s fantastic noir film The Killers Burt Lancaster went on to have a glorious movie career acting with Hollywood legends such as Kirk Douglas, Gary Cooper, Deborah Kerr, Lee Marvin, Claudia Cardinale and so many more : my absolute top four is a small sample in the excellence of his work and in truth I could name so many more movie gems that I consider bonafide classics, films such as The Professionals with the great Lee Marvin, 1968’s The Swimmer, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral alongside Kirk Douglas, Sweet Smell of Success with Tony Curtis, Sydney Pollack’s wonderful Castle Keep and John Frankenheimer’s The Train : my absolute favorite and it’s a Burt Lancaster film I’ve watched more than any other is 1960’s Elmer Gantry directed by Richard Brooks, the film went on to win 5 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Burt taking home the Best Actor that year : so if you’ve not seen many of his movies and fancy a trip back to time when acting legends were truly that then take a peek at some of the films mentioned : Hope you enjoyed another of my Absolute Top Four till the next one….
It’s always tough when listing any Top Movie List but as this will become a steady feature on the site I have decided to start Our Top Four with the enormous talent that is Grace Patricia Kelly : I started my obsession & collecting movies during the early 80s, films from all era’s & genre’s, facinated in general by anything and everything movie orientated and I remember watching Dial M for Murder one afternoon whilst home from school and being mesmerised by this screen goddess, this lady that oozed sex appeal yet had this commanding persona one that filled the screen with a kind of movie magic, I guess Grace Kelly became my first movie love and what a magnificent yet short career this American Sweetheart gave us : I hope you enjoy my ramblings….
Born on the 12th November 1929 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania GRACE KELLY not only had the beauty & elegance of a Hollywood Leading Lady but also had the acting chops of a high quality veteran working & becoming goods friends with the likes of Alfred Hitchcock on three occassions, Rear Window, Dial M for Murder and To Catch a Thief and also winning the Academy Award for Best Actress in the wonderful George Seaton picture The Country Girl, this was viewed as a major shock, many thought Judy Garland would win that year for her turn in A Star is Born : in her short Hollywood career Grace would star with Gary Cooper in the acclaimed western High Noon, William Holden in The Bridges of Toko-Ri and Clark Gable in Mogambo : in 1956 Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier ending her love affair with the screen until her death in 1982
One of my favorite Grace Kelly quotes : Mr. Hitchcock taught me everything about cinema. It was thanks to him that I understood that murder scenes should be shot like love scenes and love scenes like murder scenes
Number 19 of My Top 31 Horror Movies : After switching his child at birth in an Italian Hospital, an American ambassador & his wife start to suspect that the child they are raising could actually be the Antichrist : From the nanny hanging herself in dramatic style at a child’s party, Father Brennan being impaled by a lightning rod from the church roof, the vicious attack by the rottweilers in the cemetery, Lee Remick’s window plunge to Warner’s decapitation THE OMEN has a darkness about it that scared the hell out of me growing up and still does today : I love horror and films that deal with the supernatural and the Devil and they don’t come much better than Richard Donnor’s The Omen, an eerie, slow building low budget chiller that spawned four sequels, a remake and won the great Jerry Goldsmith his first & only Oscar after 18 nominations for original score : my favorite scene in the movie is when Thorn played by Gregory Peck discovers the 666 on his son’s head and is then subsequently attacked by the nanny, the whole scene packs a punch from it’s suspense to the ferocious attack : if you’ve never seen The Omen the film comes highly recommended, it’s not only a creepy bone chilling movie experience but with a cast that includes Peck, Remick and Warner it would be crazy to ignore : SUPERB ★★★★★
One of cinemas finest filmmakers MIKE NICHOLS has died aged 83 – alongside his acclaimed stage career Mike Nichols work behind the movie camera include pictures such as The Graduate, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Fortune, Carnal Knowledge, Silkwood, Heartburn, Wolf & Closer – he directed 17 different actors in Oscar-nominated roles and is one of 7 directors to win the Golden Globe, Director’s Guild, BAFTA, and Oscar for the same movie “The Graduate”
The beautiful and super talented child actress SHIRLEY TEMPLE has died aged 85 – her roles in the Mid to Late 30’s made her a box office draw and in 1935 she was awarded an Academy Award for her outstanding contribution to screen entertainment that year – In her movie career Shirley Temple went on to star alongside some of Hollywood’s finest including John Wayne in Fort Apache, Claudette Colbert in Since You Went Away and Cary Grant in The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer – although the movie world has lost another star Shirley’s beauty, her infectious smile and that sweet singing voice will shine on through her legacy of movies for years to come….
AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY (2014) – Movie Review ★★★★
August: Osage County stars Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, Ewan McGregor, Benedict Cumberbatch, Juliette Lewis, Abigail Breslin, Dermot Mulroney, Sam Shepard, Julianne Nicholson, Margo Martindale and Misty Upham – Written by Tracy Letts, brought to the screen by John Wells (The Company Men) and based on the Pulitzer Prize–winning play of the same name August: Osage County takes a look at the lives of the Weston family, whose paths reunite after a family crisis brings them all back together to the house they all grew up in, and to the dysfunctional woman who raised them – VERDICT Compelling, Exhausting, Depressing and Chaotic just a few words to describe my experience with John Well’s big screen adaption of August: Osage County – I’ve seen some great performances by an actress in 2013/14 but Meryl Streep’s Violet is by far & away the best of the bunch, her passion & energy in displaying the vast emotions of the cancer stricken, pill popping mum who’s pretty much angry or drugged up the majority of the time is fabulous to watch – Julia Roberts gives her best acting display since Erin Brokovich playing the eldest daughter and Chris Cooper, the ever reliable Margo Martindale and Julianne Nicholson are all superb in support – some of my favorite scenes in the movie include that moment when Charlie aka: Chris Cooper says Grace at the dinner table, the wonderful moment when young Charlie sings to Ivy and that delightfully funny scene with Violet, Barbara and Ivy around the table “Eat the Fish Bitch” whilst Ivy is trying to tell her mum that she’s in love with young Charlie – overall August: Osage County is not just a platform for A-List actors to strut their stuff, it’s a beautiful at times depressing story of a dysfunctional family brought together in a time of crisis and what plays out is like a roller coaster ride, that’s intense, riveting and altogether emotionally exhausting….
Like most I first came across the name Mel Gibson back in the 80’s whilst watching the classic movie Mad Max and Its sequel The Road Warrior – after two movies I was already in awe of this actor with his distinct chiseled features, his well formed action physique and his deep piercing blue eyes – you just knew that this actor with a swagger of a more seasoned pro would one day rule the acting boardwalks and that movie greatness was just around the corner. Combining star quality with actual talent is rare amongst the modern crop of Hollywood’s A-List stars but one thing for certain is that Mel Gibson has it in abundance – reminiscence of screen greats of yesteryear Steve McQueen, John Wayne and Kirk Douglas Mel Gibson always manages to fill the screen with this almighty presence, he approaches his work in a very cavalier manner and has this uncanny ability to captivate his audience, whether that be in the action arena or throwing it down on the comedy circuit Mel Gibson has the tools for any occasion.
With the Mad Max and Lethal Weapon film franchises, a Best Director & Best Picture Oscar for 1995’s Brave Heart and his lead starring role in countless other movies throughout the years to only pick 3 of his best most significant films for this post has been beyond difficult – to celebrate his 58th Birthday and my 100th post here’s the Essential Mel Gibson
A deserved mention to notable absentees that are also vintage Mel Gibson – Conspiracy Theory, Mad Max, Maverick, Ransom, Signs, Gallipoli, The Beaver and Tequila Sunrise (and for that matter anything else that Mel Gibson has had a starring role in)
Who would have imagined from them early days playing characters such as Tallulah in Alan Parker’s Bugsy Malone or Iris in Scorsese’s Taxi Driver that this young lady born on this day in 1962 would have become a screen legend and bagged 2 Academy Awards for Best Actress and countless other awards in the process? – It was 12yrs after her brilliant role in Taxi Driver that Jodie Foster delivered one of the best performances of her career as Sarah Tobias who is brutally raped in Kaplan’s The Accused them opening scenes in the bar were pretty horrific, this film sits at number 3 on my Essential Jodie Foster – at number 2 is one of my favorite films of 1997 Robert Zemeckis’s scifi movie Contact starring alongside Matthew McConaughey & William Fichtner – and at number 1 is The Silence of the Lambs playing F.B.I. agent Clarice Starling attempting to catch a serial killer with the help of psychopath Dr. Hannibal Lecter played wonderfully well by Anthony Hopkins, the relationship between Foster & Hopkins is what gave this film it’s bite, them scenes with Clarice trying to gain Lecter’s trust are compelling viewing – the film went on to win the Top 5 Academy Awards – Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Screenplay – now I have named my Essential Jodie Foster it’s only fair to mention the one’s that just missed out but still rank high on her CV : i must confess to having a soft spot for the wonderful Maverick (with Mel Gibson) Jodie looked amazing in this movie and the chemistry between the two is beautiful to watch – Catchfire (with Dennis Hopper) this movie usually gets panned but I really enjoyed it, the film was also directed by Hopper – and David Fincher’s 2002 home invasion movie Panic Room (with Kristen Stewart) such a gripping thriller with a wonderful cast and shot by the the master Fincher….
Not many filmmakers have spanned the decades quite like Martin Scorsese, it was the late 80’s that I first watched his classic, gritty drama 1973’s Mean Streets and since then have watched pretty much everything this New Yorker has set to film, from his early collaborations with De Niro and Keitel in the mid 70s early 80s to this centuries dynamic pairing with DiCaprio, Scorsese is truly one of cinema’s finest Movie Directors – he has received 7 Academy Award Nominations for Best Director (winning for 2006’s The Departed) and in 2010 he was given the Cecil B. DeMille Award – below is what we think are his TOP 10 MOVIES Behind the Camera
Our number 1 choice is 1990’s Goodfellas that stars Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta and Joe Pesci who went on to win an Oscar for his colorful portrayal of Tommy “What do you mean I’m funny?” Devito, the film is the best gangster movie I’ve ever seen and in my opinion the crown jewels on Martin Scorsese’s incredible CV – following close behind is the electric Taxi Driver, the brutal Gangs of the New York and boxing drama Raging Bull – at number 5 is the Howard Hughes tale The Aviator and at number 6 De Niro re-teams with Joe Pesci for the epic mobster, gambling drama Casino – at number 7 is the return of the hustler in 1986’s The Color of Money that’s followed by a trip down the streets of Little Italy in Mean Streets and the uncompromising movie remake of Cape Fear – finally at number 10 sees Daniel Day Lewis in 19th Century New York in The Age of Innocence
Martin Scorsese was born on this day in 1942 in Queens, New York – his latest movie is The Wolf of Wall Street that stars Leonardo DiCaprio and lands Christmas in the US and early next year internationally….