Friday, January 01, 2010

Tonight's Movie in 2009: The Year in Review

I watched 220 movies in 2009, passing my goal of 208 by a dozen. That figure includes watching a couple of movies more than once, including THE YOUNG VICTORIA (2009) and NO TIME FOR LOVE (1943). I had seen roughly 3 dozen of the films previously; the rest were first-time viewings.

For everything in life there's a season...between roughly 1994 and 2004 I watched 60 new-to-me movies in that entire decade. I was simply too busy with very young children, starting my proofreading business, remodeling our house, beginning homeschooling, and otherwise to have much time for movies, despite how much I have always loved them.

The last few years have been quite a different story, with our children not only older, but they are all film fans themselves! As I write, two of my children are watching THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES (1946) and another is watching BURKE'S LAW, a '60s series which features classic film stars in every episode.

Finding leisure time to see movies can still be a challenge, especially due to the demands of my business. Sometimes it takes me three different sittings to finish a movie, squeezing the time in at lunch or late in the evening, but I somehow manage to see them, and what fun it is!

The opportunity to share my viewing experiences here, hopefully leading others to enjoy some of the same films, is the proverbial icing on the cake.

I've been looking back at the year's's impossible to share thoughts on so many movies in one post either concisely or with depth, but I thought it would be fun to link to a variety of the movies seen this year.

...2009 began well with Hitchcock's THE 39 STEPS as one of the first movies seen last year; it was also my first time to see that classic. I went on to see Hitchcock's I CONFESS (1953), DIAL M FOR MURDER (1954), and THE LADY VANISHES (1938), all for the very first time. I liked them all but if I had to choose, I think THE LADY VANISHES made the biggest impression on first viewing.

I also revisited two old Hitchcock favorites, FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT (1940) and TO CATCH A THIEF (1955).

...I saw half a dozen Deanna Durbin movies for the first time: THREE SMART GIRLS GROW UP (1939), IT STARTED WITH EVE (1941), CAN'T HELP SINGING (1944), HERS TO HOLD (1943), IT'S A DATE (1940), and LADY ON A TRAIN (1945). These were all very enjoyable, with IT STARTED WITH EVE, CAN'T HELP SINGING, and LADY ON A TRAIN being my favorites.

...In 2009 I saw eight Robert Montgomery movies for the first time: THE EASIEST WAY (1931), STRANGERS MAY KISS (1931), PRIVATE LIVES (1931), YELLOW JACK (1938), OUR BLUSHING BRIDES (1930), RIPTIDE (1934), THE FIRST HUNDRED YEARS (1938), and FUGITIVE LOVERS (1934). I also revisited HERE COMES MR. JORDAN (1941) for the first time in years. It's hard to choose from a number of excellent movies, but I think YELLOW JACK and THE FIRST HUNDRED YEARS, which both costarred Virginia Bruce, and FUGITIVE LOVERS (costarring Madge Evans) made the biggest impressions. I was also extremely impressed by my fresh look at MR. JORDAN, being able to view Montgomery's performance in the context of having seen such a large percentage of his work.

...This past year I saw six Robert Taylor movies for the first time: WEST POINT OF THE AIR (1935), AMBUSH (1950), WHEN LADIES MEET (1941), THE POWER AND THE PRIZE (1956) BROADWAY MELODY OF 1936 (1936), and THE BRIBE (1949). The Western AMBUSH and the film noir THE BRIBE were the Taylor films I liked best this year.

...Another favorite, Tyrone Power, was the star of four films I saw this year: THE LUCK OF THE IRISH (1948), GIRLS' DORMITORY (1936), CAFE METROPOLE (1937), and CRASH DIVE (1943). I particularly liked THE LUCK OF THE IRISH, which I suspect I will be watching on future St. Patrick's Days.

...In January I fought an ear infection with a Fred Astaire festival: THE BELLE OF NEW YORK (1952), THE SKY'S THE LIMIT (1943), DADDY LONG LEGS (1955), DANCING LADY (1933), and SECOND CHORUS (1940).

...It was a Claudette Colbert year with nine of her films, a mix of old favorites and titles I'd never seen before: SHE MARRIED HER BOSS (1935), NO TIME FOR LOVE (1943), THE EGG AND I (1947), THE PALM BEACH STORY (1942), TORCH SINGER (1933), WITHOUT RESERVATIONS (1946), LET'S MAKE IT LEGAL (1951), I MET HIM IN PARIS (1937), and THREE-CORNERED MOON (1931). I liked NO TIME FOR LOVE so much I watched it again this past week with some of my children. Lots of fun there. TORCH SINGER was a "wow" for me, and I loved the fresh air location skating sequences in I MET HIM IN PARIS.

...The worst movie I saw last year was probably the bizarre HULLABALOO (1940).

...I thought the best movie released in 2009 was THE YOUNG VICTORIA, which rated a second post a few months later.

...Favorite discoveries in January and February: Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Danielle Darrieux in the delightful THE RAGE OF PARIS (1938) -- I still think about the charming scene where she wakes up in the hotel bed...Dana Andrews and Merle Oberon, ably supported by Ethel Barrymore and Hoagy Carmichael, in NIGHT SONG (1948) sorority shenanigans in TAKE CARE OF MY LITTLE GIRL (1951)...the fabulous set design of THE BIG CLOCK (1948)...a charming little RKO musical, Ann Sothern's WALKING ON AIR (1936)...June Haver and Gloria DeHaven as musical sisters in the song-filled I'LL GET BY (1951)...and Ella Raines as the determined secretary solving a murder mystery in PHANTOM LADY (1944).

...March and April brought one of my favorite films of the year, Dick Powell and Linda Darnell in Rene Clair's fantasy IT HAPPENED TOMORROW (1944)...I saw THE MAJOR AND THE MINOR (1942) for the first time in years and found it as funny as ever...the little-known CARNIVAL IN COSTA RICA (1947) was filled with eye-popping Technicolor, as was THAT NIGHT IN RIO (1941) with Don Ameche and Alice Faye...KEEP YOUR POWDER DRY was a fun look at women in the military with three interesting actresses, Lana Turner, Susan Peters, and Laraine Day...William Holden and Nancy Olson were a wonderful team in UNION STATION (1950)...THE GOOSE AND THE GANDER (1935) was a delightful country house farce with Kay Francis and George Brent...and THIRTY DAY PRINCESS (1934) was a marvelous little Cary Grant comedy from the pen of Preston Sturges, with Sylvia Sidney in the title role.

...There wasn't as much viewing in May and June, thanks to our anniversary trip to England in May, but I still saw a number of good movies. I liked Van Johnson and Tom Drake as cops in SCENE OF THE CRIME (1949)...THE NAKED CITY was an even better police procedural with Barry Fitzgerald and Don Taylor on the case...I'D CLIMB THE HIGHEST MOUNTAIN (1951) was a heart-warming film about a minister (William Lundigan) and his wife (Susan Hayward)...Jeanne Crain and Dan Dailey were touching in YOU WERE MEANT FOR ME (1948), a partial remake of ORCHESTRA WIVES...SUNDAY DINNER FOR A SOLDIER (1944) was WWII homefront drama at its best...I enjoyed another teaming of William Holden and Nancy Olson in SUBMARINE COMMAND (1951)...Stewart Granger and Jean Simmons were charming in the British romantic comedy ADAM AND EVELYNE (1949).

...In July I loved the British WWII mystery GREEN FOR DANGER (1946) first viewing of CLUNY BROWN (1946) in years was a great treat...Deborah Kerr was memorable as the zany Irish girl in I SEE A DARK STRANGER (1946)...and I was thrilled to see Jeanne Crain's MARGIE (1946) and Dick Powell's MRS. MIKE (1949) after many years...and Loretta Young and Brian Aherne were lots of fun in the spooky comedy A NIGHT TO REMEMBER (1943).

...August and September brought the fun '60s romantic comedy COME FLY WITH ME (1963)...Robert Sterling's rugged performance in the Western ROUGHSHOD (1949) was a nice surprise...Sterling was also wonderful paired with Marsha Hunt in I'LL WAIT FOR YOU (1941), a remake of HIDE-OUT (1934)...Joel McCrea, Miriam Hopkins, Reginald Denny, and Fay Wray were a delightful quartet in THE RICHEST GIRL IN THE WORLD (1934)...the British comedy THE DIVORCE OF LADY X (1938), costarring a pre-WUTHERING HEIGHTS Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon, had fascinating Technicolor design...I loved taking a new look at old favorites ANGEL AND THE BADMAN (1947) and HOME IN INDIANA (1944)...TILL THE END OF TIME (1946) was a memorable look at soldiers returning from WWII...THE LOCKET (1946) was a fascinating psychological noir...Joan Fontaine led a deep cast in the very enjoyable BORN TO BE BAD (1950)...and I loved Gary Cooper and company in the laugh-out-loud funny YOU'RE IN THE NAVY NOW (1951).

...October brought CLOSE TO MY HEART (1950), a touching adoption drama with Gene Tierney and Ray Milland...CONFIRM OR DENY (1941), with Don Ameche trying to run a newspaper during the London Blitz...THE NARROW MARGIN (1952), a great film noir set on a train (love those train movies!)...a viewing of Ray Milland's A MAN ALONE (1955), still a favorite after all these years...James Mason chewed the scenery as the villain in the British melodrama THE MAN IN GREY (1943)...I liked John Wayne romancing Nancy Olson in Hawaii in BIG JIM MCLAIN (1952) husband and I had a wonderful evening out seeing Audrey Hepburn's SABRINA (1954) and LOVE IN THE AFTERNOON (1957).

Finally, November and December found me watching Dunne and Boyer TOGETHER AGAIN (1944)...taking another look at one of Joel McCrea's best movies, FOUR FACES WEST (1948)...laughing at another '60s romantic comedy, SUNDAY IN NEW YORK (1963)...watching remarkable performances by Robert Donat and Deborah Kerr in VACATION FROM MARRIAGE (1945)...the goofy SALLY AND SAINT ANNE (1952) was fun to see again...LADY BE GOOD (1941) is a relatively little-known musical which has tons of entertainment value...I'LL BE SEEING YOU (1944) is a Christmastime favorite...and THE SECRET OF CONVICT LAKE (1951) is a nifty little Western with a great cast that I wish had been even longer.

I've left out many links of films I liked as this post is already far longer than average, but I hope the links above will provide an enjoyable starting point for readers to discover ideas for their own viewing this coming year. I appreciate those of you who drop in regularly to check out "Tonight's Movie"!

Happy 2010!!

Update: Tonight's Movie in 2010: The Year in Review.


Blogger Tom said...

Wow, thanks for posting this recap, Laura and all your great recommendations. Missed your original posts on lots of these, many I'd like to see and ultimately review on my blog too (Gonna have to bookmark this page!) I share your great taste in movies, new and old, and I value your opinions. I'm so happy I found your blog.


4:59 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thank you for the feedback, Tom! I'd be delighted if this look back at my 2009 viewing leads you to some good movies in 2010. :)

Best wishes,

5:27 PM  
Blogger Irene said...

That's quite a list of movies you saw this year. I read you all the time but didn't realize until you put them all in one post just how many there were! You can of course count me as one of those who discovers an old movie based on your recommendation. I wish many of them were available to me through the library. It is sometimes surprising to me which ones do show up in the system. I just got the Sweet Heart Collection again (probably my third time) from them and unfortunately the disc with "Lady on the Train" is cracked and won't play. It's the only one in the system, so that's a shame. I'm still waiting for "Young Victoria" to come to a theater near me! A movie we did go see that I found amazing was "Me and Orson Wells". It is rated PG13 and the language is more than what I like. But I love "period" pieces with sets, clothing, cars, etc. The performance of Christian McKay as Orson Wells was amazing and spot on. I hope he gets nominated for many awards this season.

Looking forward to more movie discoveries in 2010 :)

10:55 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Love that photo of June Haver from
"I'll Get By"! Thanks for the many helpful reviews!

10:57 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks so much for your nice note, Irene! It's great fun to be able to share -- I love that you have checked out that Durbin Sweetheart set more than once. What a shame that you can't play LADY ON A TRAIN!! It was a really different Durbin film and perfect for the season.

We are anxious to see the ORSON WELLES film and have been looking for it to play around here. Where did you see it? Thanks very much for sharing your thoughts on it, that is encouraging to hear.

It looks like YOUNG VICTORIA expanded to a couple more theaters but I haven't noticed it anywhere in the LB/OC area yet.

Here's to 2010 movies! :)

Happy New Year,

11:07 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

You're very welcome, Grable! Thanks so much for being a regular visitor.

I'll be doing a post on a Betty Grable movie this weekend, BTW! Just have to watch the last half hour.

Happy New Year,

11:09 AM  
Blogger Tom said...

If I may jump in here, the movie "Lady on a Train" is available to watch for free from You Tube (Click this link to watch). It's my favorite Deanna Durbin movie. :) P.S. I agree with Irene on the movie "Me and Orson Welles".

11:14 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks very much for the information on both movies, Tom!

Best wishes,

11:35 AM  
Blogger Irene said...

Me and Orson Wells played for only one week at the UA Marketplace Long Beach 6 on PCH. Not a very big theater and somewhat uncomfortable seats but sometimes they are the only ones to play these kinds of movies. But, in searching I found the only place where it is still playing is at CinemaFusion Sky Lobby 21+ Theaters, 321 W. Katella Ave., Anaheim. Showtimes are 1 PM and 7 PM this weekend and 7 PM only Monday through Thursday. I suspect it will go off the radar very soon. My search for Young Victoria shows it is not playing anywhere :((

4:23 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks very much for the info, Irene! I hope we're able to see it.

Best wishes,

7:56 PM  
Blogger Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

What an impressive list! Thanks for this peek into your diligent movie watching schedule.

1:44 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thank you for visiting, Jacqueline! I appreciate it very much as I so enjoy your blog. :)

Best wishes,

4:37 PM  

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