2014 was a very exciting movie year in which I saw a record-breaking 286 films.
That's slightly higher than the 277 films seen in 2013. I saw 220 films in both 2012 and 2009, 226 in 2011, and 211 titles in 2010.
I attributed last year's significant increase in viewing to my younger daughter leaving for college in the fall of 2013. This year she and my older son were both away at college for the full year so I'm sure that had an impact on my ability to see more movies in 2014. Attendance at film festivals and a love for short pre-Code, "B" Westerns, and "B" series films also enabled me to fit in more movies.
As I've noted in the past, I don't watch any prime time TV shows, although I do watch a couple of TV shows such as DOWNTON ABBEY or BLUE BLOODS weeks -- or years -- later via DVR and DVD; instead my evening viewing is movies.
Other stats jumped significantly this year as well. 68 films were repeat viewings this year, quite an increase from 41 repeat viewings last year. The "repeat" number was 36 in 2012 and 2009, 15 in 2011, and just 13 in 2010. The film festivals I attended showed a number of movies I'd previously seen, and there were also a lot of movies this year I simply wanted to revisit!
I saw a whopping 78 films on a big screen in 2014, a notable increase from 50 big-screen viewings in 2013 and 55 in 2012. That's an especially exciting statistic for me as it represents so many great viewing experiences, almost always a beautiful print, often enjoyed with friends or with filmmakers present for interviews.
As always, the top half of this post will look at various stats, including films seen at festivals and lists of most-seen actors. The second half is a month-by-month review of additional titles not mentioned earlier in the post.
Here we go with a look back at the exciting viewing year of 2014!
Anthony Mann series which ran from January to March. I initially intended to go for a couple of nights but found each evening of films directed by Mann to be such compelling viewing that I ended up attending eight screenings in all, seeing a total of 16 films, nine of which were first-time viewings: DR. BROADWAY (1942), THE MAN FROM LARAMIE (1955), THE NAKED SPUR (1953), THE LAST FRONTIER (1955), RAILROADED! (1947), RAW DEAL (1948), SIDE STREET (1950), WINCHESTER '73 (1950), and THE FAR COUNTRY (1954).
Repeat viewings at the Mann festival were TWO O'CLOCK COURAGE (1945), STRANGERS IN THE NIGHT (1944), HE WALKED BY NIGHT (1948), STRANGE IMPERSONATION (1946), DESPERATE (1947), T-MEN (1947), and THE TALL TARGET (1951). What a thrill to see each of these on the huge screen at UCLA's Billy Wilder Theater!
16th Annual Noir City Film Festival, where I saw 13 films in 2014, eight of which were first-time viewings: TOO LATE FOR TEARS (1949), IVY (1947), ROADBLOCK (1951), ALIAS NICK BEAL (1949), HARDLY A CRIMINAL (1949), ONE WAY STREET (1950), M (1951), and THE HITCH-HIKER (1953).
At Noir City I also revisited LARCENY (1948), BORN TO BE BAD (1950), SOUTHSIDE 1-1000 (1950), TENSION (1949), and NIGHTFALL (1957). As always, Noir City was a great experience!
...The TCM Classic Film Festival is an unforgettable experience for any film fan, and I was again privileged to cover the festival as a member of the credentialed media. Seeing so many wonderful movies with my film-loving friends from all around the country was an amazing, uplifting time I'll always remember. I saw 14 films at this year's festival, up from 11 in 2013; four of the titles were first time viewings. Seeing so many films in such a short time frame, I didn't have time to review every title individually, but I reviewed a number of them, including CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN (1950), STAGECOACH (1939), TOUCH OF EVIL (1958), THE JUNGLE BOOK (1967), HER SISTER'S SECRET (1946), WRITTEN ON THE WIND (1956), and WHY WORRY? (1923). One of the very nice experiences I had post festival was hearing from Winston Severn, the cute little boy in HER SISTER'S SECRET, after he came across my post!
...This fall I was also credentialed media at the 25th Lone Pine Film Festival, an intimate, really wonderful festival which gives fans the chance to tour the locations where movies shown at the festival were filmed. Along with attending several tours and panels, I saw GUNGA DIN (1939) and Tim Holt's DYNAMITE PASS (1950) for the first time, and I revisited the TV-movie THE MACAHANS (1976), starring James Arness and Eva Marie Saint, for the first time since I was a kid.
...I also had a very special experience attending a celebration of the life of producer Stanley Rubin at the Egyptian Theatre in April. Seeing THE NARROW MARGIN (1952) at the tribute made me realize anew just how much I love that movie!
...Although there wasn't a complete film shown, I'd also like to mention in this retrospective how wonderful the Loretta Young Centennial Tribute was last January. I was so glad to be able to cover it and meet Loretta's son Christopher and his wife Linda, who are wonderful people.
...I enjoyed writing for the ClassicFlix site again this year, and along with a number of columns (which can be found here), I just reviewed Lloyd Nolan, Carole Landis, and Cornel Wilde in the WWII film MANILA CALLING (1942).
...There was a three-way tie for the most-seen actor of 2014, with George Brent, Dan Duryea, and Steve Cochran seen in eight films apiece. That's an interesting group of actors, with the genial, reassuring Brent quite a contrast from frequent noir and Western villains Duryea and Cochran.
...Preston Foster ranked next with seven of his films seen in 2014. Other frequently seen actors in 2014: George Montgomery, James Stewart, Walter Pidgeon, Joel McCrea, John Wayne, and Johnny Mack Brown with half a dozen films each, followed by Frank Lovejoy, Edmond O'Brien, George Sanders, Rod Cameron, Robert Mitchum, Clark Gable, and Tyrone Power with five films apiece. That list is definitely a good representation of many of my favorite actors!
...Further down the list, with three or four films apiece, are names like Kent Taylor, Chester Morris, Richard Dix, Richard Todd, Glenn Ford, Cornel Wilde, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Dennis Morgan, Pat O'Brien, Errol Flynn, Alan Ladd, Danny Kaye, George O'Brien, Tim Holt, Gary Cooper, Zachary Scott, Stephen McNally, Dennis O'Keefe, William Lundigan, Jack Webb,Tom Conway, John Garfield, Jeffrey Hunter, John Payne, and George Kennedy (Kennedy by virtue of having seen three AIRPORT films this year!). Kevin Costner is the sole "new" actor to come in at three or more films, thanks to his starring in three new films in 2014.
...Virginia Mayo was far and away the most-seen actress of 2014, with 10 Mayo films watched this year! I really enjoyed catching up with a number of musicals, crime films, and Westerns starring this multi-talented actress, as well as revisiting most of the movies she made with Danny Kaye; she and frequently seen actor Steve Cochran were also regular costars.
...Curiously, my most-seen actress of 2013, Joan Blondell, was only watched in one film this year, after I saw her in eight last year. Second place after Virginia Mayo this year was a tie beween Joan Fontaine and Audrey Long, with five films seen starring each lady. Several actresses were seen in four films apiece, including Olivia de Havilland, Joan Crawford, Peggie Castle, Kay Francis, Yvonne DeCarlo, Marie Windsor, and Janet Leigh. On the list at three films apiece: Greer Garson, Ruth Roman, Jane Wyatt, and Teala Loring; I saw Loring in more films than her better-known sister Debra Paget this year, as I only saw two Paget films.
...Last year the only new films I saw were a trio of Disney movies. This was a much better year for new movies which appealed to me, including three films with a favorite of mine, Kevin Costner. Brand-new films seen in theaters this year: JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT (2014), THE MONUMENTS MEN (2014), THE LEGO MOVIE (2014), THE WIND RISES (2013), NON-STOP (2014), 3 DAYS TO KILL (2014), DRAFT DAY (2014), MILLION DOLLAR ARM (2014), THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY (2014), and BIG HERO 6 (2014). Even better, I enjoyed them all!
...Of those new films, MILLION DOLLAR ARM and BIG HERO 6 were Disney films, and THE WIND RISES was distributed by Disney in the U.S. Older Disney films seen on a big screen this year were SLEEPING BEAUTY (1959), THE JUNGLE BOOK (1967), and SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON (1960), all watched at the El Capitan Theatre -- THE JUNGLE BOOK was also part of the TCM Classic Film Festival -- and Annual Passholder sing-along screenings of THE LITTLE MERMAID (1989) and ALADDIN (1992) at Disneyland. Rounding out Disney films seen this year: THE ADVENTURES OF ICHABOD AND MR. TOAD (1949), ROB ROY: THE HIGHLAND ROGUE (1953), THE SWORD AND THE ROSE (1953), and BOLT (2008).
10 Classics to be sure to finally see for the first time in 2014. So far I've posted reviews of six of them: THE FRESHMAN (Fred C. Newmeyer and Sam Taylor, 1925), BABY FACE (Alfred E. Green, 1933), STARS IN MY CROWN (Jacques Tourneur, 1950), WINCHESTER '73 (Anthony Mann, 1950), KISS ME DEADLY (Robert Aldrich, 1955), and 3:10 TO YUMA (Delmer Daves, 1957). WINCHESTER '73 was one of my very favorite films of the year, and STARS IN MY CROWN was also an especially valued movie for me in 2014. I'll be adding links to the final four reviews to this paragraph as soon as I have time to write them; the other titles were SUNRISE (1927), NOW, VOYAGER (1942), THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE (1946), and LATE SPRING (1949). I tend to leave watching many of the films on the list till I have lots of time off at the end of the year! I'll also be posting my list of 10 films to see in 2015 in the next few days.
...I find things to like in the vast majority of the films I see, but there are always a handful of clunkers which stand out. Contenders for the "Worst Film of 2014" included the incredibly depressing MOKEY (1942) and the overwrought, unbelievable TRIAL (1955), but in the end my vote goes to the Peter Graves Western FORT YUMA (1955), which was both depressing and overly violent. I saw it early in 2014 so after that there was nowhere to go but up! Previous Worst Picture "winners": HULLABALOO (1940) from my 2009 list, FORT BOWIE (1958), seen in 2011, INHERIT THE WIND (1960) in 2012, and a tie between DAVY CROCKETT, INDIAN SCOUT (1950) and FLYING BLIND (1941) in 2013.
...I caught up with three Tyrone Power films I'd not seen before thanks to my participation in a trio of blogathons: THIS ABOVE ALL (1942) for May's Power-Mad blogathon, PONY SOLDIER (1952) for the O Canada blogathon in October, and KING OF THE KHYBER RIFLES (1953) for the British Empire in Film Blogathon in November. I also wrote about BELLES ON THEIR TOES (1952) for the August "Build Your Own Blogathon" and the DRAGNET (1954) feature film for October's Jack Webb blogathon. I very much appreciate the hard work of the blogathon hosts; the blogathons do a lot to foster a sense of community among classic film fans.
...As a side note, I've written a post on a dozen Favorite Discoveries of 2014 which will be appearing in the future at the site Rupert Pupkin Speaks. I'll add a link to this post once it's up. (Update: Here it is!)
...Below is a month-by-month look at additional titles not already listed above which made some of the biggest impressions in 2014. Believe it or not, I have to leave a significant number of movies seen out of this year-end review or it would be twice as long!
THE SAINT IN NEW YORK (1938) and found it very interesting to compare his hard-boiled take on the role with the elegant George Sanders...Recent films seen that month were the enjoyable "foodie" film HAUTE CUISINE (2012) and a procedural about the medical staff who tried to save President Kennedy's life in Dallas, PARKLAND (2013)...I fell in love with '50s British films with U.S. stars, such as George Brent in MAN BAIT (1952), Cesar Romero in SCOTLAND YARD INSPECTOR (1952), Dan Duryea in TERROR STREET (1953), and Zachary Scott in WINGS OF DANGER (1953)...Kay Francis was great fun in her late-career Monogram films WIFE WANTED (1946) and ALLOTMENT WIVES (1945)...I caught another very enjoyable George O'Brien-Virginia Vale Western, PRAIRIE LAW (1940); always love their teaming...I had a great time seeing an evening of films celebrating Mexican actor Arturo de Cordova at UCLA, FRENCHMAN'S CREEK (1944), starring Joan Fontaine, and ADVENTURES OF CASANOVA (1948), costarring Lucille Bremer. FRENCHMAN'S CREEK was a Technicolor dazzler!...I very much enjoyed Peggie Castle and William Talman in the low-budget TWO-GUN LADY (1955), watched via Amazon Prime streaming...and I thought the George Montgomery Western BADMAN'S COUNTRY (1958) was a lot of fun despite its modest production values. Buster Crabbe costarred as Wyatt Earp.
GROUNDHOG DAY (1993), on Groundhog Day! Since I missed seeing it in a theater on its original release that was a treat...I saw Joan Crawford and Sterling Hayden in the wild, crazy, and ultra-colorful JOHNNY GUITAR (1954) for the very first time...A wonderful return visit to the Joel McCrea Ranch included watching a favorite McCrea film, THE MORE THE MERRIER (1943), also starring Jean Arthur...TOUGHEST GUN IN TOMBSTONE (1958) was another nice late '50s George Montgomery Western...and I saw one of my all-time favorite films, THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1938), in a gorgeous 35mm print in a free screening at UCLA's Billy Wilder Theater.
SINK THE BISMARCK! (1960), a WWII "procedural" about high-level decision making by British Navy commanders, starring Kenneth More and Dana Wynter...I revisited SADDLE TRAMP (1950), a longtime favorite Joel McCrea film which helped fuel my love of classic films when I was growing up...I always enjoy Tim Holt and Richard Martin Westerns, and LAW OF THE BADLANDS (1951) was a solid example...and I really enjoyed Dale Robertson and Debra Paget in the Universal Western THE GAMBLER FROM NATCHEZ (1954). I saw so many good Universal films in 2014!
NORTH TO ALASKA (1960)...THE BIG GUSHER (1951), a satisfying "B" film starring Preston Foster, Wayne Morris, and Dorothy Patrick, directed by Lew Landers...I watched Tom Conway in the thirteenth and final film in the FALCON series, THE FALCON'S ADVENTURE (1946)...and I especially enjoyed revisiting Doris Day and Clark Gable in TEACHER'S PET (1958) for the first time in many years. What a pair of pros! They were delightful.
IRENE (1940), starring Irene Dunne and Ray Milland...I loved the Universal Western BLACK BART (1948) starring Yvonne DeCarlo and Dan Duryea...HI-JACKED (1950) was a fun low-budget crime film with Jim Davis and Marcia Mae Jones, billed in this as Marsha Jones...Thanks to my friend Carrie I enjoyed another fun Yvonne DeCarlo film, THE DESERT HAWK (1950), this time costarring Richard Greene...Greene also starred with Barbara Hale in the well-done LORNA DOONE (1951) which I saw at last thanks to my friend Mel...THE DUEL AT SILVER CREEK (1952) was one of my favorite Westerns of the year, simply a really good Universal Western with a wonderful cast in Audie Murphy, Susan Cabot, and Stephen McNally...The Warner Archive Blu-ray release of HIT THE DECK (1955) was gorgeous, a visual treat along with lots of great music...Clark Gable was outstanding making life and death decisions in the WWII drama COMMAND DECISION (1948), which also starred Walter Pidgeon, Brian Donlevy, and Van Johnson...I watched two more excellent WWII films Memorial Day weekend, THE LONGEST DAY (1962) and THEY WERE EXPENDABLE (1945)...I revisited Anthony Mann's THUNDER BAY (1953) on DVD for the first time in several years and found I liked it much better the second time around. James Stewart and Dan Duryea star...THE ROUNDUP (1941) was an excellent ranching drama starring Richard Dix, Patricia Morison, and Preston Foster. Thanks to John for making it possible for me to see it.
DAWN AT SOCORRO (1954), a favorite discovery this year, with Rory Calhoun playing a character inspired by Doc Holliday and James Millican as a marshal modeled on Wyatt Earp. Like so many films seen this year it was a Universal Western...THE MISSISSIPPI GAMBLER (1953), yet another Universal film, was also another favorite film of the year. I'd wanted to see this Tyrone Power film for a long time, and it did not disappoint...TOMBSTONE: THE TOWN TOO TOUGH TO DIE (1942) was another interesting Richard Dix Western, this time costarring Kent Taylor. I was fascinated by the point-blank staging of the OK Corral shootout...John Garfield and Priscilla Lane were wonderful teamed in DUST BE MY DESTINY (1939)...BOSTON BLACKIE BOOKED ON SUSPICION (1945) was a good entry in the long-running series starring Chester Morris, with Steve Cochran making his film debut...and it was time for more of George Sanders in THE SAINT IN LONDON (1939), one of two Sanders SAINT films seen in 2014.
STEP BY STEP (1946) and Scott Brady and Mala Powers in the Western THE STORM RIDER (1957)...EAST OF THE RIVER (1940) is a good Warner Bros. drama with John Garfield, William Lundigan, and an especially strong Brenda Marshall...SHE'S BACK ON BROADWAY (1953) was a colorful, entertaining musical starring Virginia Mayo and Steve Cochran...FIVE CAME BACK (1939) is one of the best "B" films ever, and it was a treat to watch it again for the first time in many years, with a wonderful cast including Chester Morris, Kent Taylor, Lucille Ball, and Wendy Barrie...I love the gorgeous Fox Technicolor in the musical WEEK-END IN HAVANA (1941), an old favorite with Alice Faye and John Payne...Robert Young was excellent in the Western RELENTLESS (1948), although I would have preferred fewer scenes with animals in distress!...The French heist film RIFIFI (1955), seen in UCLA's "Hollywood Exiles in Europe" series, was an especially memorable experience for me, absolutely riveting...PERSONS IN HIDING (1939) anticipates GUN CRAZY (1950) by a decade and features a mesmerizing performance by the young Patricia Morison, seen here...THE SECRET HEART (1946) is a very enjoyable drama with Claudette Colbert and Walter Pidgeon delightful, with June Allyson as Colbert's neurotic stepdaughter...YANKS (1979) with Richard Gere and Lisa Eichhorn was a solid film about the American "invasion" of England during WWII...The Glenn Ford submarine movie TORPEDO RUN (1958) was fun for me due to its nice role for the young British actor Robert Hardy, who is still acting decades later...STAGE STRUCK (1948) was a really entertaining Monogram crime film starring Audrey Long, who passed away the following month...THE GIRL FROM JONES BEACH (1949) with Ronald Reagan and Virginia Mayo is a delightful summertime comedy...The silent film THE WINNING OF BARBARA WORTH (1926) was a favorite discovery this year; Ronald Colman, Gary Cooper, and Vilma Banky starred in a beautifully filmed movie...FORCE OF ARMS (1951) is my favorite of the four films costarring William Holden and Nancy Olson, a very moving WWII romance...What a thrill to see a favorite minor noir, THE HUNTED (1948), again thanks to a beautiful new Warner Archive DVD. Preston Foster and Belita star...and I began watching Johnny Mack Brown's "B" Westerns with THE MAN FROM SONORA (1951). By year's end I'd seen several!
RIVER LADY (1948), which like so many other Universal Westerns of the late '40s and '50s was very colorful and enjoyable...HOMECOMING (1948) was a favorite drama this year, with lonely front lines doctor Clark Gable becoming close to nurse Lana Turner while his loving wife, played by Anne Baxter, waits for him at home during WWII...I love Richard Carlson and it was great fun to see of one of his '40s "B" films, HIGHWAYS BY NIGHT (1942)...Revisiting UP IN ARMS (1944) with Danny Kaye was a treat, as was the case with WONDER MAN (1945) and THE KID FROM BROOKLYN (1946), all in gorgeous Technicolor...The new Blu-ray of the classic noir OUT OF THE PAST (1947) was stunningly beautiful...John Ford's STEAMBOAT ROUND THE BEND (1935), starring Will Rogers and Anne Shirley, was a wonderful, very different slice of Americana...SECRET COMMAND (1944) was a little WWII homefront espionage film which was a favorite film this year, with Pat O'Brien and Carole Landis as spies who pose as a married couple who are the parents of two young children...It was a thrill to see Dennis Morgan in the gorgeous musical THE DESERT SONG (1943), finally freed from rights issues and released on a beautiful Warner Archive DVD...Morgan also starred in the very interesting Western noir RATON PASS (1951), battling a conniving wife (Patricia Neal) and the villain (Steve Cochran) who joins forces with her...Thanks to the Exile Noir series at UCLA I saw the very good film noir CITY THAT NEVER SLEEPS (1953) along with Paul Henreid and Joan Bennett in the fun HOLLOW TRIUMPH (1948), aka THE SCAR.
GUNSMOKE IN TUCSON (1958) with Forrest Tucker and the always-riveting Mark Stevens, seen in October...I saw one more Danny Kaye-Virginia Mayo-Steve Cochran film, A SONG IS BORN (1948)...Gary Cooper starred in TASK FORCE (1949), an interesting film about the origins of the U.S. aircraft carrier program...Jane Wyatt played Cooper's wife in TASK FORCE, and she also starred with Preston Foster in WE'RE ONLY HUMAN (1935), an engaging little newspaper movie...WINGS OF THE NAVY (1939) starred a trio of favorites, George Brent, Olivia de Havilland, and John Payne...BRIMSTONE (1949) was a good Rod Cameron Western with Walter Brennan channeling his famed Old Man Clanton role from MY DARLING CLEMENTINE (1946)...RETURN OF THE GUNFIGHTER (1967) was a really excellent late-career Robert Taylor Western...and I revisited one of my all-time favorite films, Tyrone Power's THE MARK OF ZORRO (1940).
TERROR ON A TRAIN (1953) with Glenn Ford...I started watching the DR. KILDARE series with YOUNG DR. KILDARE (1938)...HER CARDBOARD LOVER (1942), with Norma Shearer, Robert Taylor, and George Sanders, was goofy fun...POSSESSED (1947) was an interesting psychological drama starring Joan Crawford, Van Heflin, and Raymond Massey...and Thanksgiving week I watched MGM's Pilgrim drama PLYMOUTH ADVENTURE (1952) starring Spencer Tracy, Gene Tierney, and Van Johnson.
...There wasn't as much movie viewing time in December, but I still fit in a few films, starting with Rock Hudson, Marcia Henderson, and Steve Cochran in the "Northerner" BACK TO GOD'S COUNTRY (1953)...James Stewart and Hedy Lamarr are charming as their marriage "in name only" begins to turn real in COME LIVE WITH ME (1941)...I revisited a pair of favorite Western noir titles, RAMROD (1947) and STATION WEST (1948), in my first visit to the New Beverly Cinema in decades...It was also a pleasure to revisit the excellent WWII homecoming drama TILL THE END OF TIME (1946), which has good performances by Guy Madison, Dorothy McGuire, and Robert Mitchum...and I liked watching the MGM British drama IF WINTER COMES (1947) with Walter Pidgeon, Deborah Kerr, Janet Leigh, and Angela Lansbury, an imperfect yet enjoyable movie.
Previously: Tonight's Movie in 2009: The Year in Review; Tonight's Movie in 2010: The Year in Review; Tonight's Movie in 2011: The Year in Review; Tonight's Movie in 2012: The Year in Review; Tonight's Movie in 2013: The Year in Review.
Update: Please enjoy the brief video my husband created to celebrate my 2014 movie year!