All posts under Vintage

Anna and the King of Siam

Anna and the King of Siam

If you get a sense of déjà vu watching ANNA AND THE KING OF SIAM, then you may be more familiar with the story’s more popular incarnation, the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, THE KING AND I. The 1946 film, based on Margaret Landon’s memoir, stars Irene Dunne as Anna, an English widow who comes to Siam to teach the royal children of the King (Rex Harrison in his first American film role) to support herself and her young son. In the process, Anna overcomes the culture’s narrow-minded view of women as the…

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I Coulda Been a Contenduh!

On the Waterfront

Few films are as raw and powerful as Elia Kazan’s ON THE WATERFRONT. Marlon Brando stars as Terry Maloy, an ex-boxer who questions his guilt over his part in a mob death and blows the whistle on union corruption on the New Jersey docks. Terry became one of Brando’s signature roles and he leads an impressive cast that includes Eva Marie Saint as Terry’s love interest, Lee J. Cobb as the corrupt head of the union, Rod Steiger as Terry’s brother and Cobb’s right hand man, and Karl Malden as…

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The Good German

The Good German

I’ve made no bones about my love of Thomas Newman‘s work. And THE GOOD GERMAN is one of my favorites. The film is director Steven Soderbergh’s interesting, yet ultimately misguided, attempt to film a 1940’s film 60 years too late. Based on Joseph Kanon’s 2001 bestseller, George Clooney stars as a journalist who returns to Berlin in the months following World War II and gets mixed up in political and romantic intrigue with his prewar mistress (Cate Blanchett). Much of the pre-release publicity for the film focused on Soderbergh’s gimmick of…

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From Here To Eternity

From Here to Eternity

In 1953, Oscar decided to make up for the embarrassment of 1952’s Best Picture THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH (though a guilty pleasure) by awarding its top prize to the stellar FROM HERE TO ETERNITY. The film was only the second film since GONE WITH THE WIND to receive 13 nominations, yet fell just short the record set in 1950 by ALL ABOUT EVE with 14. So there was no doubt which film was going to emerge triumphant at the awards. Fred Zinnemann (himself an Oscar winner) directs the taut story based on…

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Born Free

Born Free

Sometimes the historical success of a film rests solely on its music, at least with us film score fans. Such is the case with BORN FREE. Based on naturalist Joy Adamson’s bestselling book, the film chronicles the African adventures of Joy (Virginia McKenna) and her husband George (Bill Travers), including bringing up a lioness cub. Because of the film’s episodic nature, it lacks much of a dramatic drive. But John Barry’s Oscar-winning song and score enrich the African vistas. Barry’s innocent, childlike approach to the score was far different than…

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Frida

Frida

Elliot Goldenthal always seems to produce his best work when he’s collaborating with his real life partner, director Julie Taymor. And such was the case with his Oscar-winning score to FRIDA (2002). Selma Hayak lustily portrays the tortured life of painter Frida Kahlo in the captivating biopic, from Frida’s humble beginnings, her marriage to legendary revolutionary painter Diego Rivera (Alfred Molina), and her affair with Leon Trotsky (Geoffrey Rush). Hayak’s performance is marvelous and matched by Molina’s. Goldenthal’s evocative score perfectly captures Frida’s pain-filled life, reflected in her paintings. Goldenthal described the…

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The Artist Who Did Not Want to Paint

sistinechapel

In 1965, studio execs at 20th Century Fox probably thought that audiences were, shall we say, art-impaired. And if today’s audiences are anything like those 45 years ago, they were right. So after filming on THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY—Irving Stone’s story of Michelangelo, Pope Julius II and the creation of the murals of the Sistine Chapel—was finished, a 12-minute documentary prologue was added detailing Michelangelo’s life and his many famous frescoes and sculptures. Entitled “The Artist Who Did Not Want to Paint,” the segment was written and directed by Vincenzo…

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The Agony and the Ecstasy

The Agony and the Ecstasy

Film is the ideal medium to showcase the visual arts. The lives and work of Frida Kallo (FRIDA), Van Gogh (LUST FOR LIFE) and Jackson Pollock (POLLOCK) have all had varying success in film. While not every painter’s life is necessarily worth exploring, there is something indefinable and inspirational about the visual creation of a work of art that makes their stories compelling. THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY (1965) tackles one of the giants—Michelangelo. Based on Irving Stone’s bestseller, the film paints the tensions, trials, and tribulations between Michelangelo (Charlton…

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Searching for Bobby Fischer

Searching for Bobby Fischer

Can anyone make watching chess exciting? If you’re writer/director Steven Zaillian you can. In SEARCHING FOR BOBBY FISCHER, chess is the backdrop for this moving story of a young chess wiz (Max Pomeranc) who is caught between the rigidity of rules from his renowned coach (Ben Kingsley), the sheer joy of the game from a local hustler (Laurence Fishburne) in Washington Square Park, and the opposing views of his parents (Joe Mantegna and Joan Allen). This heartwarming and emotionally riveting film moves on the beautiful strains of James Horner’s lovely score. Horner’s…

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Double Indemnity

Double Indemnity

Billy Wilder’s DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944) wasn’t the first film noir, but it was the beginning of a new phase in Miklos Rozsa’s already stellar career. Adapted from James M. Cain’s classic crime novel, Fred MacMurray stars as insurance salesman Walter Neff, Barbara Stanwyck is the sultry housewife Phyllis who convinces him to bump off her husband for the insurance money, and Edward G. Robinson is the claims adjuster who smells something fishy. Rozsa’s music matches the film noir genre with its light and shadows, tension and release. The score contains few themes and the music…

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