Entries Tagged 'Classics' ↓

rachel, rachel

Joanne Woodward stars in this Paul Newman-directed indie film about a repressed small-town schoolteacher. Rachel is nagged by her lonely mother while she’s haunted by memories of her kind but aloof undertaker father. She’s resigned to her lonely existence until a series of events including a Christian revival meeting and a chance encounter with a childhood friend shock her out of her complacency. Well-acted. Well-shot. A small gem. [us, 1968]

desk set

It’s 1957 and the patriarchy is in full thrust at the swank Manhattan offices of the Federal Broadcasting Corporation. Information wonk, classy dame and all around dynamo Bunny Watson (Katharine Hepburn) runs the Reference Department like a Swiss watch, only more fun. At FBC, all of the indignities suffered by women in the 1950s workplace are played out for us; today’s sexual harassment laws are shattered, but the girls triumph in the end by employing that timeless gem of truth that empowers still: don’t make yourself too available. A visual feast for retro lovers. Great fun. [usa, 1957] ~ reviewed by nancy brown

sunset boulevard

This classic tale of Norma Desmond, darling of the silent screen, who clings to the idea of a comeback, features the classic line “I’m ready for my close-up Mr. DeMille.” Gloria Swanson made this picture her own, portraying the fine line between beloved star and pitiful has-been. This film is fascinating for its contrast of the possibilities for men and women in the film industry—De Mille (played by himself) is the most powerful man in Hollywood while well into his seventies, while Norma is a washed up pariah while only in her fifties because she doesn’t want to fade into the woodwork. And don’t get us started on William Holden’s character… [us, 1950]

adam’s rib

This chestnut is one of many films in the infamous on and off screen partnership between Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, and often considered to be the most successful. The dueling couple stars as a husband/wife team on opposite sides of a murder trial that questions whether men and women should be judged by the same laws. During the rapid fire arguments some interesting questions are raised about equality and justice. [us, 1949]

the african queen

She may start out as a wallflower, but by the time Katherine Hepburn convinces Humphrey Bogart to bomb a German gunboat she’s a full-fledged dame. This classic flick is the story of a bible-thumping spinster and hard-drinking captain escaping Africa during WW1. Snappy dialogue, and loads of sexual tension make the story, which features mainly Kate and Bogie’s characters and is set on a small boat, zip by. [us, 1951]

all about eve

Bette Davis, quintessential dame, stars in this story of Margo Channing, a glamourous stage star who realizes she’s about to be usurped by her too efficient assistant, Eve. Eve weasels her way into Margo’s life with a hard-luck story, but her real motives are to steal Margo’s fame, position, and boyfriend. Watch it for the rapid fire dialogue and startling innuendos. [us, 1950]

national velvet

Any horse-crazy young girl knows the story of the piebald long shot that wins the Grand National Steeplechase. A 12-year old Elizabeth Taylor stars as Velvet, a young girl determined to race her horse in the biggest of all races. When no other jockey is available, Velvet breaks the rules and races herself. Also starring Mickey Rooney as her trainer, and Angela Landsbury as her boy-crazed older sister. A must see for those in the horse-obsessed years. [us, 1944]

little women

This sepia toned film is a tribute to the original book. Starring Winona Ryder as the ever-independent Jo, it also features a strong ensemble cast including Susan Sarandon and Kirsten Dunst. Re-read the book, and then rent the film on a cozy autumn night. You won’t be disappointed. [us, 1994]

cat on a hot tin roof

Essentially the story of family greed over the death of the wealthy patriarch Big Daddy, it’s also a fascinating look at the destructive relationship of two beautiful people played by Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman. Taylor is the sensual cat of the title and Newman is her alcoholic husband. Some of the films most charged scenes feature these two. Greed, sex, lust, money, death, and Taylor and Newman to boot. What else do you need? [us, 1958]

the women

This 1939 film based on the stage play by Clare Booth Luce features an all female cast–and we mean all female. There are no male actors in the 100+ cast. Joan Crawford is especially wicked as a social climbing seductress but she meets her match in Norma Shearer. Bitchy, bitter, and beautiful. [us, 1939]