Blogathon: Cool Off With The Classics

Another month, another movie blogathon! Marc over at Go, See, Talk came up with another great idea that is sure to start making its rounds in the film blogging community. The idea here is to “Cool Off With The Classics” — that is, to compile a list of black & white classics you would watch to “beat the heat.” Since I have been digging into more classics than usual lately, I thought this would be a fun event to participate in. So here we go… ten of my favorite B&W movies.

12 Angry Men [1957]
1) 12 Angry Men [1957]
Sidney Lumet’s early classic was one of my first experiences with a black & white film. I watched this for the first time in high school and could not believe that an “old movie” set in a courtroom could maintain my interest from beginning to end. An incredible film, and one that I absolutely must see again soon.

The Third Man [1949]
2) The Third Man [1949]
I saw this for the first time earlier this year and fell in love with it. There is so much to like about this movie, and of course it has some of the most memorable moments in cinematic history (such as Orson Welles’ big reveal). The closing shot is one of the best I have ever seen.

Crashout [1955]
3) Crashout [1955]
I caught this earlier this month at the Music Box Theatre’s awesome Noir City Festival. This rarely-seen prison break movie is a lot of fun, and surprisingly brutal for its time period.

Among the Living [1941]
4) Among the Living [1941]
Another rarely-screened movie that I caught at the Noir City Festival. This is a wonderful noir/horror hybrid with great performances from Albert Dekker and Susan Hayward.

Citizen Kane [1941]
5) Citizen Kane [1941]
This is the movie that made me excited to see more classics. We watched the entirety of the film in my university’s Music & Film class, and I was quite frankly amazed. One of the best of all time, obviously, and it felt great to finally understand the lyrics to the Kane-referencing White Stripes song, “The Union Forever“.

City Lights
6) City Lights [1931]
My 50 Movies Project is already reaping dividends, as it provided the means for me to catch this Chaplin silent classic. Words are not needed for Chaplin’s dynamic Tramp character, and his endless pursuit of love is inspiring (with hilarious results).

The Day The Earth Stood Still [1951]
7) The Day The Earth Stood Still [1951]
I am not a big sci-fi fan, so I was a little skeptical about this movie. I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed it. Intelligent, entertaining and backed by Bernard Herrmann’s incredible therimin-driven score, this is one of the better sci-fi films I have seen, regardless of age.

The Killing [1956]
8 ) The Killing [1956]
One of Kubrick’s earliest films is one of my favorites from him, and it has been heavily influential over the years (most notably for Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs). An exciting, well-crafted heist noir.

Steamboat Bill, Jr. [1928]
9) Steamboat Bill, Jr. [1928]
I have only seen two, maybe three, Buster Keaton movies, but this is the one I have enjoyed the most. Lots of laughs and some ridiculous physical stunts make this one of the more memorable silent films I have seen.

Seven Samurai [1954]
10) Seven Samurai [1954]
It is a testament to the film’s brilliance that I am able to sit through the full three hours without ever once growing bored or impatient. I saw it for the first time last year and it just blew me away. The quintessential samurai film.

Be sure to check out the rest of the participants in this blogathon, and feel free to join in on the fun as well.

Music Box Theatre’s Noir City: Chicago 3: Among the Living [1941] and The Glass Key [1935]

I had such a great time on Tuesday night with the “Men and Women of Conviction” double feature that I had to go back the next evening for another pairing of Film Noir. Wednesday’s selections were to be a double bill of Stuart Heisler films: Among the Living and The Glass Key. Unfortunately, there was a mix-up with the film company and the Music Box received the original 1935 version of The Glass Key instead. I was looking forward to seeing the 1942 remake, which is said to be the better of the two, but it was still a fun evening all the same.
Among the Living [1941, Stuart Heisler]
Among the Living [1941, Stuart Heisler]
A rarely screened noir/horror hybrid about twin brothers — one insane, one not. After their father passes away, the mentally ill brother escapes from the mansion where he was secretly locked up and leaves to start a new life. Problem is that this man is not properly suited for reality and ends up becoming a serial killer on the loose.

Albert Dekker plays the twins, the main difference being one is clean shaven and one is not. He is quite excellent in the lead role(s), especially when he is acting peculiar as the evil brother. Some of his interactions with his newfound gold-digging lady friend (played by Susan Hayward, who just oozes sex appeal) are hilarious. In fact, this movie was a hell of a lot funnier than I expected it to be, and it was a blast throughout. Definitely look it up if you get a chance. 8/10

The Glass Key [1935, Frank Tuttle]
The Glass Key [1935, Frank Tuttle]
This early adaptation of Dashiell Hammett’s classic novel was noticeably different from the other three films I had seen at the festival. A heavier emphasis was placed on dialogue, and the movie was lacking in some of the more traditional noir elements. Still, it proved to be a capable replacement.

I enjoyed George Raft’s lead performance as the slick-talking “fixer” who is trying to clear his politician employer’s name from a possible murder charge. I didn’t feel that this movie was as memorable as the others, and it took me a while to get a feel for what exactly was going on in the first 1/4 of the film. However, the ending moments were brilliant, and the major plot twist was an unexpected surprise. Now I’m curious to see the 1942 remake. 6.5/10