This year I saw 275 movies! That's quite a satisfactory number, although lower than last year's all-time record of 310. I'd been on track to see around 300 films until my business became unusually busy in the last two months of the year. Hopefully in 2017 I can pick up the pace a bit!
For comparison, I saw 286 movies in 2014, 277 films in 2013, 220 in both 2012 and 2009, 226 in 2011, and 211 movies in 2010.
62 of the films I saw this year were repeats, with 22 of those repeat viewings coming on a big screen. That stacks up against "repeat" numbers of 76 in 2015, 68 in 2014, 41 in 2013, 36 in 2012 and 2009, 15 in 2011, and only 13 in 2010.
75 of my 275 titles seen this year were viewed in a theater. That's down from 115 last year, but roughly consistent with 78 seen on a big screen in 2014. One of the biggest reasons for the change was that unlike 2015, I was unable to attend the 2016 Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival in Palm Springs, plus the Palm Springs Classic Science Fiction Film Festival didn't take place in 2016.
Each of the hyperlinked titles in this post links to my past reviews. As I always note in my "year in review" posts, it's impossible to list every movie seen or go into extensive detail here, but it's my hope that the linked reviews will provide inspiration and resources for readers to explore ideas for their own future viewing.
Each linked review includes a list of varied options available for watching each title, including DVD, Blu-ray, streaming, and even VHS, a format I know some readers continue to utilize along with me!
As always, the next section of this post will look at some additional stats, including films seen at festivals and lists of most-seen actors. The final section of the post is a month-by-month review of additional titles not mentioned earlier in the post.
Here's a look back at my movie watching in 2016!
...I attended three film festivals in 2016. The TCM Classic Film Festival continues to be a highlight of the year, with the chance to spend time with friends from across the U.S., Canada, and the UK along with seeing movies. I saw 15 films at this year's festival, including A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN (1945), HE RAN ALL THE WAY (1951), A HOUSE DIVIDED (1931), SHANGHAI EXPRESS (1932), BRIEF ENCOUNTER (1946), TRAPEZE (1956), IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946), BAMBI (1942), OLD YELLER (1957), and THE BAND WAGON (1953). Previously reviewed films seen at the TCM festival were REPEAT PERFORMANCE (1947), THE WAR OF THE WORLDS (1953), MIDNIGHT (1939), ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS (1955), and SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON (1949).
18th Annual Noir City Film Festival was compressed into 10 straight days, rather than spread over three weekends. I got a lot out of my American Cinematheque membership, making the drive from Orange County to the Egyptian most nights of the festival! I managed to see 16 movies, including many wonderful first-time discoveries. The titles seen were THE BITTER STEMS (1956), ALL MY SONS (1948), TAKE ONE FALSE STEP (1949), FLESH AND FANTASY (1943), DESTINY (1944), FLESH AND FURY (1952), OUTSIDE THE WALL (1950), MEET DANNY WILSON (1951), YOUNG MAN WITH A HORN (1950), DEAD RECKONING (1947), KEY WITNESS (1947), DECEPTION (1946), THE CAPTIVE CITY (1952), and BUY ME THAT TOWN (1941), plus two previously reviewed films, RIFFRAFF (1947) and TOO LATE FOR TEARS (1949) (there's more on that film here).
...I saw eight films at this year's 27th Lone Pine Film Festival: STRANGER AT MY DOOR (1956), THE PRAIRIE PIRATE (1925), 3 GODFATHERS (1948), TRAIL OF THE VIGILANTES (1940), DESERT PURSUIT (1952) and MYSTERY MAN (1945), plus the previously reviewed 3 BAD MEN (1926) and RAWHIDE (1951).
...Again this year I saw many films at UCLA, which is probably my favorite venue for enjoying classic films. The first series of the year for me was Out of the Ether: Radio Mysteries and Thrillers On Screen, where I saw three films: THE TRIAL OF VIVIENNE WARE (1932), I LOVE A MYSTERY (1945), and THE UNKNOWN (1946).
...Also seen at UCLA in 2016: TO BE OR NOT TO BE (1942) and IN NAME ONLY (1939) from the series Independent Stardom on Screen: Freelance Women in Hollywood; THIS WAY PLEASE (1937) and the previously reviewed FOOTLIGHT PARADE (1933) in the Marquee Movies series; THE STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS (1946) along with the previously reviewed OUT OF THE PAST (1947) in the Kirk Douglas Centennial Celebration; plus THREE ON A MATCH (1932), THREE BROADWAY GIRLS (1932), I'VE GOT YOUR NUMBER (1934), and the previously reviewed DAMES (1934) in the series Joan Blondell: Blonde Crazy.
...Other very special big screen experiences: Seeing CRISS CROSS (1949) at Union Station, just steps from where scenes were filmed; CASABLANCA (1942) in nitrate with a packed house at the Egyptian Theatre; and Clara Bow in the restored GET YOUR MAN (1927) and Mary Philbin in THE BLAZING TRAIL (1927) at the Academy's Linwood Dunn Theatre.
...This was a very good year for "new" films seen in a theater; I saw 13, surpassing 10 new films seen in both 2014 and 2015. Seven of the 13 films came from various divisions of Disney, which releases reliably consistent entertainment: THE FINEST HOURS (2016), ZOOTOPIA (2016), FINDING DORY (2016), CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR (2016), DOCTOR STRANGE (2016), MOANA (2016), and ROGUE ONE (2016).
JASON BOURNE (2016), SULLY (2016), DEEPWATER HORIZON (2016), MISS SLOANE (2016), LA LA LAND (2016), and JACKIE (2016).
...At home, I added to my list of Marvel films seen with first-time viewings of THOR: THE DARK WORLD (2013) and AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015). I also enjoyed a number of recent action movies with our oldest daughter, some of which will be mentioned in the last section of this post.
ATLANTIS: THE LOST EMPIRE (2001), MAKE MINE MUSIC (1946), FUN AND FANCY FREE (1947), COOL RUNNINGS (1993), and THE MANY ADVENTURES OF WINNIE THE POOH (1977). Sadly, the Disney Screen series has now come to an end, but it was great while it lasted!
...I also had an especially wonderful big screen Disney experience attending a 75th anniversary presentation of The RELUCTANT DRAGON (1941) on the Disney lot! It was a very special afternoon including "Destination D" style panel presentations before the movie, and a party and autograph session afterwards!
...Bill Elliott was my most-seen actor of 2016, clocking in at 13 films thanks to his Western and Detective collections from the Warner Archive. I especially loved his detective movies, short and entertaining films which I found reminiscent of DRAGNET episodes. I might add that if I were to add in Elliott's pre-stardom bit roles in '30s films it would up the total considerably!
...Further down the list, seen three or four times apiece, are names like Randolph Scott, Barry Sullivan, Richard Dix, Warren William, Tony Curtis, Burt Lancaster, Lee Bowman, Johnny Mack Brown, Walter Pidgeon, Robert Taylor, Robert Montgomery, Dick Powell, Cary Grant, Robert Benchley, Kirk Douglas, Dick Foran, Bruce Bennett, and Rory Calhoun.
...Joan Blondell, my most-seen actress of 2013, makes a return to the top of the list with seven films seen in 2016. This was thanks in part to the wonderful series honoring her at UCLA this fall!
...Tied for second were Joan Bennett and Jeanette MacDonald, seen in five films apiece. Tied at four films each: Cyd Charisse, Kay Francis, Ann Dvorak, Lauren Bacall, Glenda Farrell, and Bette Davis. A look at both the most-seen actor and actress lists underlines there was a whole lot of Warner Bros. viewing going on this year!
...Actresses also seen regularly in 2016, in three films each: Susan Hayward, Lizabeth Scott, Virginia Grey, Ruth Hussey, Cecilia Parker, Doris Day, Kristine Miller, and Ann Sheridan.
...For the sixth year in a row I made a list of 10 Classics to see for the first time. I've always successfully completed viewing my lists, but for various reasons I tend to leave watching most of them until my vacation time at year's end, with writing the reviews hanging over into early the following year! So far I've reviewed JUDGE PRIEST (1934) and SHANGHAI EXPRESS (1932), with reviews to follow of 7TH HEAVEN (1927), A CANTERBURY TALE (1944), A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1951), TOKYO STORY (1953), THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (1960), YOJIMBO (1961), TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962), and THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG (1964). As always, I'll be adding the links to this post as they go up!
...I find things to appreciate in most movies I watch, but once in a while I run into a real clunker. This year's Worst Picture: the anthology film MAKE MINE LAUGHS (1949), which was so "low rent" it was hard to believe it was released in theaters. My previous Worst Picture "winners" were HULLABALOO (1940) from my 2009 list, FORT BOWIE (1958) in 2011, INHERIT THE WIND (1960) in 2012, a tie between DAVY CROCKETT, INDIAN SCOUT (1950) and FLYING BLIND (1941) in 2013, FORT YUMA (1955) in 2014, and THE ROBIN HOOD OF EL DORADO (1936) in 2015.
...I was delighted to be able to participate in an increased number of blogathons this year! Blogathons foster a wonderful sense of community among classic film bloggers, as we gather to celebrate various aspects of classic filmdom. This year I wrote about AND NOW TOMORROW (1944) for the Loretta Young Blogathon, SCARLET STREET (1945) for the Classic Symbiotic Collaborations Blogathon, LOOPHOLE (1954) and QUANTRILL'S RAIDERS (1958) for the Allied Artists Blogathon, CANADIAN PACIFIC (1949) for the O Canada Blogathon, GUNSIGHT RIDGE (1957) for the Joel McCrea Blogathon, and THE BIG CIRCUS (1959) for the At the Circus Blogathon. I'm already signed up for the 2017 edition of the O Canada Blogathon!
...I enjoyed writing for the ClassicFlix site again this year; my columns can be found here.
...Again this year I'll be contributing a list of Favorite Discoveries to the blog Rupert Pupkin Speaks, and I'll be adding the link here once that post is up! (Update: Here is the post!)
...Below is a month-by-month look at some additional titles not already listed above which I found especially memorable viewing in 2016.
PILLOW TO POST (1945), a WWII housing shortage comedy with fun performances by Ida Lupino and Sydney Greenstreet...DIAL RED O (1955) was the first of five Bill Elliott Detective Mysteries, which I really enjoyed...I revisited the special MGM musical THE GLASS SLIPPER (1955), a Cinderella tale with Leslie Caron, for the first time in years...DRAGOON WELLS MASSACRE (1957) was one of my favorite Westerns of the year, starring Dennis O'Keefe, Barry Sullivan, Mona Freeman, and Katy Jurado...I fell in love with the song "Oh, But I Do" thanks to hearing it in THE TIME, THE PLACE AND THE GIRL (1946) with Dennis Morgan and Jack Carson costarring with Janis Paige and Martha Vickers...I loved reviewing the Warner Archive's MacDonald-Eddy sets this year, including great films like SWEETHEARTS (1938) and NEW MOON (1940).
...Favorite films in February included the Westerns DOMINO KID (1957), with Rory Calhoun and Kristine Miller, and SHOWDOWN AT BOOT HILL (1958) with Charles Bronson...the Alaska-set movie ARCTIC FLIGHT (1952), with Wayne Morris and Lola Albright, was fun...the chase film MEXICAN MANHUNT (1953) was the last starring feature with a real favorite, George Brent...THE MAN TRAILER (1934) was my introduction to Buck Jones Westerns, and it was love at first watch -- the titles I've seen have all been very well done...little Sharyn Moffett was excellent in the fine family film MY PAL, WOLF (1944)...the RKO Western ROUGHSHOD (1949), with a great cast led by Robert Sterling and Gloria Grahame, deserves to be better known...SIERRA PASSAGE (1951), another film with Wayne Morris and Lola Albright, was a very well-done minor Western I liked a great deal.
ROCK ISLAND TRAIL (1950)...I had a great time watching (or rewatching!) the movies in the nine-film George O'Brien Western set, including LAWLESS VALLEY (1938)...THE BIG CAPER (1957) was an interesting minor noir with Rory Calhoun and Mary Costa...I caught up with some unseen Harold Lloyd in March, including DR. JACK (1922)...Eleanor Powell was charming in HONOLULU (1939)...BULLET CODE (1940) is a favorite among the many George O'Brien Westerns seen, teaming him with six-time leading lady Virginia Vale...THE DESPERADO (1954) was an excellent Wayne Morris Western, costarring Jimmy Lydon and Beverly Garland...Jeanette and Nelson are movie magic in ROSE-MARIE (1936).
...There was more Wayne Morris in April, in a good supporting role in Randolph Scott's SHOTGUN (1954)...and more Jeanette and Nelson in I MARRIED AN ANGEL (1942)...THE KANSAN (1943), a very good film, was one of several Richard Dix films seen last spring...I loved revisiting Colleen Moore in the silent flapper romance WHY BE GOOD? (1929), first seen at the 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival...Most of my April viewing was at the Noir City Film Festival!
...May was mostly "big screen" viewings already linked above, including the TCM Classic Film Festival...Also seen in May were a pair of films with Robert Montgomery and Virginia Bruce, THE FIRST HUNDRED YEARS (1938) and YELLOW JACK (1938)...SHADOW ON THE WALL (1950) is an engrossing crime film with a great cast, including Zachary Scott, Nancy Davis, Ann Sothern, Kristine Miller, and Gigi Perreau...VALLEY OF THE KINGS (1954) with Robert Taylor and Eleanor Parker is a fun adventure film...the visually gorgeous SUSAN SLEPT HERE (1954) with Dick Powell and Debbie Reynolds has become a real favorite...the musical propaganda film SONG OF RUSSIA (1944) may be a bit crazy seen from the vantage point of 2016, but I love the great music plus Robert Taylor and luminous Susan Peters.
SEVEN MILES FROM ALCATRAZ (1942) with James Craig and Bonita Granville, A NIGHT OF ADVENTURE (1944) with Tom Conway and Audrey Long, GAMBLING ON THE HIGH SEAS (1940) with Wayne Morris, Jane Wyman, and Gilbert Roland, and I WAS FRAMED (1942) with Julie Bishop...I enjoyed revisiting FATHER OF THE BRIDE (1950) for the first time in many years...PRAIRIE LAW (1940) and STAGE TO CHINO (1940) were two more favorite O'Brien-Vale Westerns...I enjoyed all four of Hallmark's "Murder She Baked" series this year, starting with MURDER, SHE BAKED: A CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE MYSTERY (2015)...Joan Fontaine is a lot of fun in THE AFFAIRS OF SUSAN (1945), also starring George Brent and Dennis O'Keefe...the mystery CRACK-UP (1946) was one of a number of films I saw this year with Pat O'Brien; Claire Trevor and Herbert Marshall costar...and there was more Jeanette and Nelson in the delightful THE GIRL OF THE GOLDEN WEST (1938), costarring Walter Pidgeon.
four-film action movies marathon consisting of THE ITALIAN JOB (2003), THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS (2001), THE BOURNE IDENTITY (2002), and RED (2010). Since then I've also seen several more FAST AND FURIOUS movies, all of the Jason Bourne titles, and the sequel to RED...HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON (2010) was an excellent animated film...I've never seen a film directed by Yasujiro Ozu I didn't like, including THE END OF SUMMER (1961)...UTAH BLAINE (1957) was another solid Rory Calhoun Western...I liked HIS GIRL FRIDAY (1940) more in this year's viewing than I have in the past...thanks to a Lee Tracy set from the Warner Archive, I saw a number of Tracy films this year, including my favorite, CRASHING HOLLYWOOD (1938)...a great MGM cast headed by Barry Sullivan and Arlene Dahl makes NO QUESTIONS ASKED (1951) a fun watch...BOSS OF LONELY VALLEY (1937) was another good Buck Jones Western...THE GOOSE AND THE GANDER (1935) is a favorite '30s romantic comedy, starring George Brent and Kay Francis, with delightful Genevieve Tobin in support; they're seen at the left with Bill Elliott, who has a supporting part...GUN THE MAN DOWN (1956) was a solid James Arness Western, with excellent support from the team of Emile Meyer and Harry Carey Jr.
RIDIN' FOR JUSTICE (1932) and THE DEADLINE (1931)...You can't ever go wrong with Deanna Durbin, Kay Francis, or Walter Pidgeon, seen together in IT'S A DATE (1940)...FLAME OF THE WEST (1945) was a terrific Johnny Mack Brown Western, with a very good script and solid support from Douglass Dumbrille, Joan Woodbury, and Lynne Carver...Warren William is terrific as a mob lawyer in THE MOUTHPIECE (1932)...My first "Rough Riders" Western, starring Buck Jones, Tim McCoy, and Raymond Hatton, was ARIZONA BOUND (1941)...Lee Tracy and Gloria Stuart are an engaging team as sparring postal investigators in WANTED! JANE TURNER (1936).
STRANDED (1935) costarring Kay Francis and HOUSEWIFE (1934) with Ann Dvorak and Bette Davis...I continued to enjoy the Rough Riders in THE GUNMAN FROM BODIE (1941)...Howard Hawks' TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT (1944) starring Bogart and Bacall, is perfect '40s moviemaking...the "straight drama" version of STATE FAIR (1933), starring Will Rogers, Janet Gaynor, and Lew Ayres, was a favorite discovery for me in 2016...I checked another silent movie off my list when I watched Buck Jones in John Ford's JUST PALS (1920)...WOMEN FROM HEADQUARTERS (1950), starring Virginia Huston, admittedly isn't a very good movie, but I had a very good time watching it...Robert Montgomery is at his best in PICCADILLY JIM (1936), with a great cast including Madge Evans, Robert Benchley, Frank Morgan, and Billie Burke.
MEN IN WHITE (1934) was an interesting pre-Code medical drama with Clark Gable and Myrna Loy...I love Fred and Cyd's dances in SILK STOCKINGS (1957)...A YANK AT OXFORD (1938) may have needed a dozen screenwriters, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, but this Robert Taylor movie turned out well, a good exemplar of MGM quality...THE WILD NORTH (1952) is a colorful and engaging "Northerner" adventure starring Stewart Granger, Cyd Charisse, and Wendell Corey...I watched all four of Ronald Reagan's Brass Bancroft of the Secret Service mysteries, starting with CODE OF THE SECRET SERVICE (1939).
STRATEGIC AIR COMMAND (1955), with Jimmy Stewart heading a super cast in a visually beautiful film...HAPPINESS AHEAD (1934) with Dick Powell is a real charmer...I enjoyed Pat O'Brien and Humphrey Bogart in CHINA CLIPPER (1936); it occurs to me I could add this film to the year-end tally for both Bill Elliott and Wayne Morris, but I haven't included it as they were bit parts...Doris Day is superb in LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME (1955), starring with James Cagney.
...December included a number of new films seen on the big screen! I also watched ONE OF OUR AIRCRAFT IS MISSING (1942), a terrific film from the team of Powell and Pressburger...ON DANGEROUS GROUND (1951) is a beautiful film with Robert Ryan and Ida Lupino...MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL (1997) was an interesting crime drama directed by Clint Eastwood...and I closed out the year watching Spencer Tracy, John Hodiak, Pat O'Brien, and a great MGM cast in THE PEOPLE AGAINST O'HARA (1951).
...Coming soon: A movie posters video celebrating the films seen last year! Update: Here it is!
As this year's review comes to a close, I'd like to once again most sincerely thank each and every visitor to this blog. You are each deeply appreciated! I wish all my readers good health, happiness, and lots of classic movies in 2017!
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; Tonight's Movie in 2014: The Year in Review; Tonight's Movie in 2015: The Year in Review.