Saturday, January 01, 2011

Tonight's Movie in 2010: The Year in Review

2010 was a great year for watching movies. I saw 211 films in 2010, down slightly from a total of 220 films in 2009, but still exceeding my goal of 208 films for the year.

Only 13 of the films were repeat viewings, contrasted with approximately 3 dozen repeats last year. The rest of the titles were all seen by me for the very first time. I have a feeling my repeat viewings will go up again this year, as the more films I see, the more there are I'd like to revisit!

As a side note, I don't watch any current primetime television shows, other than catching THE GOOD WIFE on DVD and skimming through MAD MEN thanks to my DVR. I occasionally watch episodes of older shows on DVD or via my DVR, but for the most part I've invested my viewing time for the last few years in movies rather than television. I wrote more about fitting movies into my schedule last year.

One of the great pleasures of blogging is being able to share my movie viewing experiences with others, hopefully leading fellow film fans to look for some of the same titles I've enjoyed. Below is a look back at some of the highlights of last year's viewing. It's impossible to list all the films seen last year or go into great detail in this post, but I hope the links shared here might provide a resource for readers to explore ideas for their own viewing in the months to come.

Onward to the look back!

...I believe Claudette Colbert was again in the lead for the actress seen the most in 2010; I saw eight of her films, compared to nine in 2009. All of this year's films were new to me, and the list includes all three of her films made with one of my favorite actors, Ray Milland, which was exciting as their films have been so hard to find. The Colbert titles seen this year were MAID OF SALEM (1937), ARISE, MY LOVE (1940), SKYLARK (1941), CLEOPATRA (1934), SINCE YOU WENT AWAY (1944), THE GILDED LILY (1935), SECRETS OF A SECRETARY (1931), and SLEEP, MY LOVE (1948). (It's interesting two of these titles end with the words MY LOVE.) I liked most of these; ARISE, MY LOVE, SINCE YOU WENT AWAY, and CLEOPATRA made the biggest impressions.

...Longtime readers know that Robert Montgomery is one of my favorite actors; this year I saw seven of his films for the first time, down from eight last year. The list starts with the very enjoyable EYE WITNESS (1950), which Montgomery also directed. Other titles seen last year were FAITHLESS (1932), BLONDIE OF THE FOLLIES (1932), THE SAXON CHARM (1948), THE MYSTERY OF MR. X (1934), BUT THE FLESH IS WEAK (1932), and one of the last movies seen in 2010, UNFINISHED BUSINESS (1941). I found EYE WITNESS particularly memorable, with Montgomery playing an American lawyer trying to clear a friend of murder while learning to navigate the British legal system.

...I was surprised to discover I saw more Melvyn Douglas films than Robert Montgomery films in 2010! I saw a grand total of nine Douglas films. Dick Powell also ranked highly, with half a dozen films seen last year. Randolph Scott, Joel McCrea, George Brent, Joseph Cotten, Robert Taylor, Fred MacMurray, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Stewart Granger, and Robert Young were also seen regularly in 2010.

...Actresses seen multiple times in 2010 included Madeleine Carroll, Margaret Lockwood, Irene Dunne, Hedy Lamarr, Loretta Young, Ann Sothern, Barbara Stanwyck, Paulette Goddard, and Joan Bennett.

...I continued filling in my Alfred Hitchcock education, seeing four new-to-me Hitchcock films last year: YOUNG AND INNOCENT (1937), MURDER! (1930), STAGE FRIGHT (1950), and SECRET AGENT (1935). Unfortunately, MURDER! probably qualifies as the worst film I saw this past year; it alternated between being dull and baffling. I enjoyed the other three very much.

...We began attending events at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, starting with seeing SO EVIL MY LOVE (1948) and EXPERIMENT PERILOUS (1944) at the Noir City Film Festival. Jacques Tourneur's EXPERIMENT PERILOUS, which starred George Brent and Hedy Lamarr, was one of my favorite two dozen or so films seen in 2010; it had great visual style...Cecil B. DeMille biographer Scott Eyman and DeMille's granddaughter Cecilia were present at CLEOPATRA (1934)...we watched THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (1956) with the Heston family...George Chakiris spoke at WEST SIDE STORY (1961)...and Leslie Caron and Patricia Ward Kelly gave talks at AN AMERICAN IN PARIS (1951).

...New (or newish) titles seen in theaters or on DVD this year were THE BLIND SIDE (2009), IT'S COMPLICATED (2009), WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY (2009), TOY STORY 3 (2010), TANGLED (2010), ME AND ORSON WELLES (2008), UNSTOPPABLE (2010), MORNING GLORY (2010), LEAP YEAR (2010), THE TOURIST (2010), THE KING'S SPEECH (2010), and KNIGHT AND DAY (2010). That's roughly comparable to my 2009 numbers. I choose the "new" movies I see carefully, and I liked them all. I was fortunate to see WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY and TANGLED in theaters on the Disney Studios lot in Burbank, and I look forward to seeing 101 DALMATIANS (1961) there later this month.

...We also enjoyed the early entries in Tom Selleck's JESSE STONE series of TV-movies, beginning with STONE COLD (2005) and continuing with DEATH IN PARADISE (2006), NIGHT PASSAGE (2006), and SEA CHANGE (2007). More to come in 2011!

...January and February's viewing included a miniature Melvyn Douglas festival: THE AMAZING MR. WILLIAMS (1939), MY FORBIDDEN PAST (1951), GOOD GIRLS GO TO PARIS (1939), COUNSELLOR AT LAW (1933), AND SO THEY WERE MARRIED (1936), THREE HEARTS FOR JULIA (1943), and an old friend, THEODORA GOES WILD (1936). My favorites from this batch were GOOD GIRLS GO TO PARIS, a very good screwball comedy with Joan Blondell, and the deliciously soapy MY FORBIDDEN PAST, with Douglas, Ava Gardner, and Robert Mitchum conniving in New Orleans. COUNSELLOR AT LAW, in which Douglas had a supporting role, was an excellent pre-Code drama directed by William Wyler, starring John Barrymore and Bebe Daniels.

...Other films which particularly made an impression in the first couple months of 2010 were SORORITY HOUSE (1939), a very enjoyable programmer with Anne Shirley, James Ellison, and Barbara Read...SHADOW ON THE WALL (1950), with a child psychiatrist (Nancy Davis) working with a traumatized child to clear an innocent man (Zachary Scott) of murder...SMALL TOWN GIRL (1953), a relatively minor but entertaining MGM musical with great production values...SCARLET DAWN (1932), a short but extremely memorable film with Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Nancy Carroll trying to survive the Bolshevik Revolution...PENTHOUSE (1933), a terrific pre-Code crime drama starring Warner Baxter and Myrna Loy, which hints at the THIN MAN movies soon to come from many in the production team...MGM gloss at its peak in THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL (1952), a well-cast story of Hollywood...and ON THE AVENUE (1937), with a charming Dick Powell and Madeleine Carroll, not to mention Alice Faye, introducing standards like "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm."

...March viewing included a slew of stars, including Tyrone Power and Loretta Young, in LADIES IN LOVE (1936)...the classic THE PRISONER OF ZENDA (1937), with Douglas Fairbanks Jr. just about stealing the movie -- hard to do with a cast including Ronald Colman, Madeleine Carroll, David Niven, Raymond Massey, and Mary Astor...the little-known DESIRABLE (1934) was one of my very favorite movies of the year, with playboy George Brent falling head over heels for a coltish 19-year-old (Jean Muir)...CAUGHT (1949), starring James Mason, Robert Ryan, and Barbara Bel Geddes, was a terrific drama with Gothic romance and noir overtones...Dick Powell crooned "You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby" to Olivia deHavilland in HARD TO GET (1938)...Joel McCrea and Veronica Lake starred in the noirish Western RAMROD (1947)...and Loretta Young starred in a pair of engrossing pre-Code titles, PLAY-GIRL (1932) and the mind-bending SHE HAD TO SAY YES (1933).

...April started off well with IMPACT (1949), a most enjoyable film noir with amnesia victim Brian Donlevy falling in love with gas station owner Ella Raines...Madeleine Carroll was terrific opposite Bob Hope in the espionage comedy MY FAVORITE BLONDE (1942)...I adored SONG OF RUSSIA (1944), starring Robert Taylor and Susan Peters, despite...because of?...its strange depiction of Stalinist Russia during WWII. Loved the music...Irene Dunne tried to free new husband Joel McCrea from his mother's obsessive grip in THE SILVER CORD (1933)...Joseph Cotten and Jean Peters were excellent in A BLUEPRINT FOR MURDER (1953), with Cotten discovering sister-in-law Peters might be a very baaaad stepmother to his brother's children...Anna Neagle and Richard Greene did a good job as agents in the WWII spy thriller YELLOW CANARY (1943)...and I enjoyed Gene Tierney in the luscious Fox Technicolor of the WWII drama THUNDER BIRDS (1942).

...May was a terrific movie month, starting with Joel McCrea playing Dr. Kildare opposite Barbara Stanwyck in INTERNES CAN'T TAKE MONEY (1937)...MY NAME IS JULIA ROSS (1945) was a very entertaining hour of melodrama starring Nina Foch...THE MACOMBER AFFAIR (1947) was an absorbing safari drama starring Gregory Peck, Joan Bennett, and Robert Preston...I followed a recommendation from Moira Finnie and loved the colorful German-language films SISSI (1955) and SISSI: THE YOUNG EMPRESS (1956), about Austrian royalty...I finally saw Joan Crawford in MILDRED PIERCE (1945) for the first time ever and loved it...Mark Stevens and Lucille Ball were great as a gumshoe and his loyal Gal Friday in THE DARK CORNER (1946)...Glynis Johns was marvelous as a mermaid -- you read that correctly -- in the very well-done British fantasy MIRANDA (1948)...and movies don't come more fun than the highly entertaining AIRPORT 1975 (1974), with pilot Charlton Heston being lowered from a jet helicopter into a flying passenger jet in a rescue operation after the entire jet crew is taken out in a mid-air crash.

...Summertime viewing in June and July included NO HIGHWAY IN THE SKY (1951), with James Stewart as an American-born scientist in England who's convinced a jetliner design is doomed to fail, and Glynis Johns and Marlene Dietrich in strong support as a stewardess and a movie first viewing of Danny Kaye and Glynis Johns in THE COURT JESTER (1956) was lots of fun...I rewatched one of my very favorite Westerns, John Ford's simple, poetic WAGON MASTER (1950)...13 HOURS BY AIR (1936), with Fred MacMurray and Joan Bennett, was another interesting aviation drama...I loved Margaret Lockwood in NIGHT TRAIN TO MUNICH (1940) and BANK HOLIDAY (1938)...TWO O'CLOCK COURAGE (1945) was one of the best "B" films of the year, with spunky cabbie Ann Rutherford helping to clear amnesiac Tom Conway of murder...and Douglas Sirk's TAKE ME TO TOWN (1953) was charming Americana, with saloon singer Ann Sheridan falling for a minister (Sterling Hayden) and his three little boys.

...Movie treats in August and September included NEVER LET ME GO (1953) with journalist Clark Gable romancing Russian ballerina Gene Tierney. I guess I'm a sucker for behind-the-Iron Curtain love stories...I had the chance to see HIGH, WIDE AND HANDSOME (1937) for the first time in many years, with Irene Dunne memorably singing "The Folks Who Live on the Hill"...I thought the film noir JOHNNY O'CLOCK (1947) with Dick Powell and Evelyn Keyes was quite a discovery...I also loved George Sanders and Lucille Ball in Douglas Sirk's thriller LURED (1947)...Steven McQueen and Natalie Wood gave outstanding performances as young adults maturing and tentatively developing a relationship in LOVE WITH THE PROPER STRANGER (1963)...there were lots of good film noir and mystery titles in September, including FLY-BY-NIGHT (1942), THE KILLER THAT STALKED NEW YORK (1950), NIAGARA (1953), and GUILTY HANDS (1931)...CODE TWO (1953) was a good MGM procedural about L.A. motorcycle cops...THE PETTY GIRL (1950), a musical remake of THEODORA GOES WILD (1936) with Robert Cummings and Joan Caulfield, was a charmer...and the romance of a small-time hood (Dane Clark) and a dying girl (Geraldine Brooks) was the focus of another of my favorite films of the year, EMBRACEABLE YOU (1948).

...October viewing included Robert Stack, Dorothy Malone, and George Sanders in the nail-biting disaster film THE LAST VOYAGE (1960)...LOVE STORY (1944) was a very memorable WWII romance with Stewart Granger, Margaret Lockwood, and the "Cornish Rhapsody"...Granger was also good in the entertaining CAPTAIN BOYCOTT (1947)...THE ARNELO AFFAIR (1947) was an interesting MGM crime drama with John Hodiak, Frances Gifford, and George Murphy...COLT .45 (1950) was my favorite Randolph Scott Western of the year.

...November was one of the best movie months of the year, starting with James Mason and Joan Bennett in the superb film noir THE RECKLESS MOMENT (1949), with Bennett as an ordinary Balboa Island housewife improbably caught up in a blackmail plot...HOLD BACK THE DAWN (1941) was worth the inconvenience of watching on YouTube, with an outstanding performance by Olivia deHavilland, and good roles for Charles Boyer and Paulette Goddard...thanks to a friend I finally saw George C. Scott and Susannah York in JANE EYRE (1971), which also had a fine John Williams score...there was excellent Gothic intrigue in THE MAN WITH A CLOAK (1951), starring Joseph Cotten, Leslie Caron, and Barbara Stanwyck...I was delighted to see BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (1976), starring George C. Scott and Trish Van Devere, for the first time in decades...STANDING ROOM ONLY (1944) with Fred MacMurray and Paulette Goddard was one of my favorite romantic comedies of the year...I also liked PRIVATE NUMBER (1936) with Loretta Young and Robert Taylor...and in early December I loved TAMMY AND THE BACHELOR (1957) and DEAR RUTH (1947).

It may be hard to believe, but I had to skip over a number of worthy titles seen last year, or this post would have been twice as long!

I deeply appreciate those of you who stop by regularly to check out "Tonight's Movie," and I wish my readers happiness -- and lots of classic movies -- in 2011!

Previously: Tonight's Movie in 2009: The Year in Review.

Update: My thanks to the Siren and J.C. Loophole for their feedback and encouragement!


Blogger Aleatory said...

Was just wondering which version of Hitchcock's Murder you watched, the US or UK?

2:32 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi there,

I saw it on TCM and believe it was the UK print.

Best wishes,

3:16 PM  
Blogger Raquelle said...

Wow! You've had quite a busy 2010! I hope your 2011 will be filled with wonderful classic movies. Love your reviews and your news updates. I admire how consistent, prolific and organized you are. Keep up the great work.

3:21 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thank you so much, Raquelle, that means a lot. Interacting with other classic film bloggers such as yourself, who share my love for old movies, is a real pleasure. Happy New Year!

Best wishes,

3:22 PM  
Blogger Elisabeth said...

Wow, that's quite a list of films. I've actually only seen a couple of these, but some of them look really interesting.

After reading your review of Internes Can't Take Money I was amazed at how different the plot is from the original short story. Well, maybe not too amazed - that seemed to happen a lot to literary adaptations in the 1930s.

I've been wanting to see Wagon Master for some time, and your review of it encourages me!

6:00 AM  
Blogger Jacqueline T Lynch said...

An impressive list of films (or should I say workload, for I admire your workmanlike attitude to sharing these films and your astute and well-written impressions with us.)

Looking forward to what you have for us in 2011.

6:06 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Welcome, Elisabeth! I hope you'll enjoy WAGON MASTER -- it's a beautiful movie and my appreciation for it grows with each viewing.

Hope you'll have the chance to see INTERNES CAN'T TAKE MONEY as well and make further comparisons. It's a fun film.

Best wishes,

9:01 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thank you so much, Jacqueline. Your comments and feedback are always valued! Wishing you happiness in 2011!

Best wishes,

9:02 AM  
Blogger Judy said...

What an amazing year of movie viewing! I will enjoy dipping into your archives as I see some of these films in the future, as well as reading your new postings.

12:29 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thank you, Judy, and welcome! I hope you enjoy visiting the site, as I've enjoyed beginning to explore your blog.

Best wishes,

12:36 PM  
Blogger Ms.Daisy said...

Hi Laura,
I haven't commented in awhile, but I just wanted to let you know how much I have enjoyed some of the movies that you have recommended this year. I also enjoyed reading seven of the Poldark books and loved them. Thanks!


3:28 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Jean,

It's wonderful to hear from you! Hope you and yours are all doing well.

I'm so glad to know you've enjoyed some of the movies I've written about here, and I'm delighted to know you enjoyed the POLDARK books! I think the first seven books are the best. :)

Best wishes,

4:05 PM  

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