Saturday, January 01, 2022

Tonight's Movie in 2021: The Year in Review

Happy New Year!!

It's time once again for a look back at the movie viewing year that was! As always, 2021 was yet another terrific viewing year, filled with a wide variety of films. And I was especially thrilled to see some movies in a theater again this year, given that between March 2020 and July 2021 my theatrical viewing consisted solely of drive-in movies.

I saw 190 films in 2021, which rather interestingly was down slightly from last year, which was in turn my lowest tally since 2010. You'd think that pandemic restrictions would lead to my viewing more films rather than fewer.

Although I attended two film festivals in 2021, seeing a total of 19 films at those events, I also did more traveling last year which didn't involve seeing movies...or at least many at once! And fine TV series such as the Disney+ Marvel programs also periodically lured me away from movie viewing.

For comparison, I saw 198 films in 2020, 238 films in 2019, 282 films in 2018, 284 films in 2017, 275 in 2016, 310 movies in 2015 (my record to date!), 286 movies in 2014, 277 films in 2013, 220 in both 2012 and 2009, 226 in 2011, and 211 movies in 2010.

I saw 28 films theatrically this year, including 2 drive-in films in that tally. I thought that was a pretty good number considering that theaters were shut down in California for a significant chunk of 2021. Looking back in time, I only saw 9 big screen films in "locked down" 2020, 91 big screen films in 2019, 116 theatrical films in 2018, 102 in 2017, 75 in 2016, 115 in 2015, 78 in 2014, 50 in 2013, and 55 in 2012.

Seven of my theatrical viewings were brand-new films released in 2021. More information on the new titles seen last year follows below.

74 of this year's 190 films were repeat watches, with eight of those repeat viewings coming on a big screen at one of the two film festivals I attended in 2021.

For comparison, in 2020 there were 64 repeat watches and in 2019 there were 81 repeat watches, so this year's rewatch number falls in the middle of the last couple years. Further back in time, in 2018 there were a whopping 92 repeat watches, while in 2017 there were 68 repeat films, 62 in 2016, 76 in 2015, 68 in 2014, 41 in 2013, 36 in 2012 and 2009, 15 in 2011, and only 13 in 2010.

As usual, each hyperlinked title which follows in this post links to my past review. While I haven't listed every movie seen or gone into extensive detail here, it's always my hope that the linked reviews will provide resources for further exploration and inspiration for future viewing.

Each linked review includes options available for watching each title, including DVD, Blu-ray, streaming, and even VHS, a format I continue to utilize periodically. I know the same is true for some of my readers!

The next section of this post will look at some additional statistics, including films seen at festivals and lists of most-seen actors. The last section of the post is a month-by-month review of additional notable titles not already mentioned.

Here's a look back at the great movie viewing year which was 2021!

...I attended two film festivals this year, both in October. First up was the Lone Pine Film Festival, where I saw eight films, six of which were new to me. The new titles were BAR 20 (1943), WESTWARD HO (1935), HANGMAN'S KNOT (1952), THE CATTLE THIEF (1936), THE CISCO KID AND THE LADY (1939), and the TV-movie RED RIVER (1988).

...Previously reviewed films seen at the Lone Pine Film Festival were RIO GRANDE (1950) and BORDER TREASURE (1950).

...At the Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival, held in Palm Springs, I saw 11 films, five for the first time. New to me at the festival were: THE CRUEL TOWER (1956), ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES (1938), and VIOLENT SATURDAY (1955), along with the only two foreign films I saw in 2021, JENNY LAMOUR (1947), also known in France as QUAI DES ORFEVRES, and THE BLACK VAMPIRE (1953), known in Argentina as EL VAMPIRO NEGRO.

...Previously reviewed movies seen at the Arthur Lyons Fest were WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS (1950), NIGHT HAS A THOUSAND EYES (1948), THE BIG SLEEP (1946), HIGH WALL (1947), PLAYGIRL (1954), and THE RECKLESS MOMENT (1949).

...I attended two drive-in screenings last year: STEAMBOAT BILL, JR. (1928) at the Hollywood Legion Drive-In Theater in March and FLYING DOWN TO RIO (1933), hosted by the Art Deco Society of Los Angeles at Mess Hall Market in Tustin at the end of July.

...In addition to STEAMBOAT BILL, JR., the seven silent films I saw this year included the new-to-me SENSATION SEEKERS (1927), A CHAPTER IN HER LIFE (1923), LIGHTS OF OLD BROADWAY (1925), CHILDREN OF DIVORCE (1927), and 13 WASHINGTON SQUARE (1928). I also revisited THE DELICIOUS LITTLE DEVIL (1919).

...I resumed attending indoor movies in July 2021. Brand-new movies seen theatrically last year were: F9: THE FAST SAGA (2021), BLACK WIDOW (2021), JUNGLE CRUISE (2021), FREE GUY (2021), SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS (2021), ENCANTO (2021), and SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME (2021).

...I only saw one feature-length documentary in 2021, THE DONUT KING (2020).

...I enjoyed 11 Hallmark TV-movies in 2021: CHRISTMAS IN MONTANA (2020), SENSE, SENSIBILITY & SNOWMEN (2019), USS CHRISTMAS (2020), TIME FOR US TO COME HOME FOR CHRISTMAS (2020), HARVEST LOVE (2017), GOURMET DETECTIVE: EAT, DRINK AND BE BURIED (2017), ROUX THE DAY: A GOURMET DETECTIVE MYSTERY (2020), THE SECRET INGREDIENT (2020), SNOWKISSED (2021), MERRY & BRIGHT (2019), and WELCOME TO CHRISTMAS (2018). I liked them all to varying degrees, with CHRISTMAS IN MONTANA and MERRY & BRIGHT probably being my favorites among this group.

...The worst picture I saw in 2021 was unquestionably THE ART OF LOVE (1965) starring James Garner. Past "winners" in this category: 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, THE ROBIN HOOD OF EL DORADO (1936) in 2015, MAKE MINE LAUGHS (1949) in 2016, DEJA VU (1985) in 2017, GOLDIE GETS ALONG (1933) in 2018, MADAME X (1966) in 2019, and THE MOONLIGHTER (1953) in 2020. Fortunately it's quite rare when I don't find at least some things in a film to enjoy!

...Fred MacMurray was my most-seen actor in 2021, with seven films. Just behind MacMurray, at six films, was Rock Hudson.

...Actors seen in five films apiece last year: Cary Grant, Bob Hope, William Powell, Randolph Scott, and John Wayne. I saw Van Heflin, Ralph Bellamy, and Ray Milland in four films each in 2020.

...Also seen regularly in 2021, in three films apiece: Fred Astaire, Noah Beery Jr., Humphrey Bogart, Gary Cooper, Preston Foster, William Holden, Tim Holt, Richard Martin, Barton MacLane, Anthony Quinn, Lyle Talbot, and Robert Young.

...Thanks to watching the majority of her films this year, Mae West was my most-seen actress of 2021, with eight movies. Claudette Colbert followed closely, with seven films.

...Ranking at five films apiece were Carole Lombard, Myrna Loy, and Barbara Stanwyck. I also saw Doris Day and Glenda Farrell in four films each.

...Seen in three films apiece were Judy Garland, Paulette Goddard, Bonita Granville, Donna Reed, Maureen O'Hara, Ginger Rogers, Angie Dickinson, and my most-seen actress of 2020, Marjorie Woodworth.

...Below is a month-by-month look at some additional titles not already listed above which I found especially memorable viewing in 2021.

...January started off well with Billy Wilder's FIVE GRAVES TO CAIRO (1942), starring Franchot Tone and Anne Baxter; it was one of my favorite new-to-me discoveries of 2021...I revisited Robert Mitchum and Janet Leigh in the excellent HOLIDAY AFFAIR (1949) thanks to a new Blu-ray release...I always enjoy revisiting Jack Webb's DRAGNET (1954) with its great cast and dialogue...I think RIO GRANDE (1950), which I saw twice in 2021, might have just barely edged out SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON (1949) as my favorite of John Ford's Cavalry trilogy this year; at minimum, it's now a tie...I appreciated Judy Garland more than ever when I revisited THE PIRATE (1948) for the first time in years...WAKE ISLAND (1942) was sad, stirring, and educational...THE FOUNDER (2015), about Ray Kroc of McDonald's fame, wasn't a perfect movie, but there was much to appreciate and it was an interesting film to critique...CALCUTTA (1947) is always fun to watch thanks to favorites Alan Ladd and Gail Russell...BLIND ADVENTURE (1933) was an enjoyable little "B" mystery set in foggy London starring Robert Armstrong...I enjoyed Jean Muir in the romantic melodrama HER HUSBAND'S SECRETARY (1937).

...February viewing kicked off with the Blu-ray release of AFTER THE THIN MAN (1936), the first of several films in the series which I rewatched last year...THE SHEPHERD OF THE HILLS (1941), starring John Wayne and Harry Carey Sr., was an unusual and interesting film...I love THE PAJAMA GAME (1957) and its music and was delighted to revisit it...CALL IT A DAY (1937) was a pleasant family drama with an excellent cast...THUNDER ON THE HILL (1951) is an outstanding mystery with Claudette Colbert trying to aid convicted murderess Ann Blyth...THE GOLDEN BLADE (1953) was swashbuckling fun with Rock Hudson and Piper Laurie...UNKNOWN (2011) was a most enjoyable mystery starring Liam Neeson as a man injured in an accident, only to find no one seems to remember him once he recovers...ROOM FOR ONE MORE (1952) has been a favorite Cary Grant film since I was very young, and my 2021 viewing cemented my good impression of it...Jean Muir appeared in my viewing again in the most enjoyable "B" aviation drama FUGITIVE IN THE SKY (1937)...Belita's charismatic skating performances elevated the mystery SUSPENSE (1946)...SMART BLONDE (1937) introduced me to crime-solving reporter Torchy Blane (Glenda Farrell)...GOOD NEWS (1947) is one of my all-time favorite MGM musicals, and the new Blu-ray was a stunning pleasure to watch...I also love Doris Day and Jack Carson in MY DREAM IS YOURS (1949), another great Blu-ray release...TAXI, MISTER (1943) was a fun film in the "Streamliner" series of short movies, with Grace Bradley a comic delight...I always love watching Tim Holt and Richard Martin and saw them in HOT LEAD (1951) in February...I also revisited the Western SEMINOLE (1953), starring Rock Hudson, Anthony Quinn, and Barbara Hale.

...March began with a fun new-to-me Bing Crosby movie, HERE COME THE WAVES (1944)...Every time I revisit SAN FRANCISCO (1936), starring Clark Gable, Jeanette MacDonald, and Spencer Tracy, it impresses me anew, including the special effects, still stunning after all these years...SHOW BOAT (1951) is a beautiful MGM musical...Julie Adams played an unusual leading role as a Mexican revolutionary in WINGS OF THE HAWK (1953)...Dorothy Lamour was particularly charming in the Bob Hope comedy CAUGHT IN THE DRAFT (1941)...PRAIRIE CHICKENS (1943) was a Western "Streamliner"...I also caught another Torchy Blane film, FLY AWAY BABY (1937)...NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH (1941) reunited the team of Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard...ON MOONLIGHT BAY (1951) is a favorite Doris Day film...MAN FROM DEL RIO (1956) featured an interesting performance by Anthony Quinn...I love watching the "three Roberts" -- Mitchum, Ryan, and Young -- in CROSSFIRE (1947)...and there was more Bob Hope in MY FAVORITE BLONDE (1942), opposite Madeleine Carroll.

...I'd forgotten just how enjoyable NO MAN OF HER OWN (1932) is, starring Clark Gable and Carole Lombard, and am glad I revisited it in April...I saw the visually beautiful animated film RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON (2021) streaming on Disney+...Van Heflin and Ruth Hussey played TENNESSEE JOHNSON (1942) and his wife in an MGM biopic...Western favorite George O'Brien starred in O'MALLEY OF THE MOUNTED (1936)...I found MAN OF THE WORLD (1931), with William Powell and Carole Lombard, better than I had on first viewing...I really enjoyed GALLANT SONS (1940), about a group of teenagers solving a crime; a good cast makes it quite entertaining...Carole Lombard and Fred MacMurray shine in THE PRINCESS COMES ACROSS (1936)...BROADWAY MELODY OF 1940 (1940) featured the sublime dancing of Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell...THE RIDE BACK (1957), starring Anthony Quinn and William Conrad, was one of my favorite discoveries of 2021, a really well-done Western...and I revisited another Lombard film, LOVE BEFORE BREAKFAST (1936), which I like a lot despite its silliness; Preston Foster costars.

...In May I saw another Thin Man movie, ANOTHER THIN MAN (1939)...There was also more Lombard and MacMurray, this time in HANDS ACROSS THE TABLE (1936)...Cary Grant and Myrna Loy are delightful in MR. BLANDINGS BUILDS HIS DREAM HOUSE (1948)...I very much enjoyed revisiting the silent romantic comedy THE DELICIOUS LITTLE DEVIL (1919), starring Mae Murray and Rudolph Valentino...BATTLE HYMN (1957) was a fairly good film starring Rock Hudson and Dan Duryea...What a thrill to see the terrific film noir THEY WON'T BELIEVE ME (1947) with 15 long-missing minutes restored!...QUANTEZ (1957) is a well-done "chamber Western" with Fred MacMurray in the lead...ARSON, INC. (1949) was a very fun "B" (or maybe "C"!) movie from Lippert Pictures, just the kind of film I like to explore...STAGECOACH KID (1949) was an entertaining Tim Holt film with outstanding Lone Pine locations filmed by Nicholas Musuraca...I had mixed feelings about the Jeff Chandler Cavalry film PILLARS OF THE SKY (1956), which was quite violent but had lovely locations and a good performance by Ward Bond...I hadn't seen ANNIE GET YOUR GUN (1950) in many years and enjoyed it more than I expected, thanks to Irving Berlin's score and a spectacularly good Blu-ray print...The Universal Pictures Western HORIZONS WEST (1952), starring Robert Ryan, Rock Hudson, and Julie Adams, was another film which improved on closer acquaintance.

...June kicked off with a very enjoyable "old favorite" MGM musical, the wacky, colorful ATHENA (1954), starring Jane Powell and Debbie Reynolds...THE FINAL COUNTDOWN (1980) was a fun WWII time travel thriller...THE TENDER TRAP (1955), starring Frank Sinatra and Debbie Reynolds, is a film I've been fond of for most of my life...I love the candy-colored ("California coral!") palette of BACHELOR IN PARADISE (1961), starring Bob Hope and Lana Turner...SENSATION SEEKERS (1927) was an interesting silent film directed by Lois Weber...IT HAPPENED TOMORROW (1944) is a favorite comedic fantasy starring Dick Powell and Linda Darnell...I also enjoyed revisiting the delightful team of Ray Milland and Paulette Goddard in THE CRYSTAL BALL (1943)...LIGHTS OF OLD BROADWAY (1925) was a particularly charming silent film starring Marion Davies...I also really liked Lois Weber's A CHAPTER IN HER LIFE (1923)...NIGHT AFTER NIGHT (1932) introduced me to Mae West...West later wowed me in SHE DONE HIM WRONG (1933) with Cary Grant, one of my favorite discoveries of the year...I've always liked the idea of MGM's review musical ZIEGFELD FOLLIES (1946) better than the end result, which is still worthwhile for some excellent dance sequences featuring Fred Astaire and Lucille Bremer...GREEN DOLPHIN STREET (1947) is a top-quality MGM period drama with outstanding special effects, starring Lana Turner, Richard Hart, Donna Reed, and Van Heflin.

...July had a fairly low film tally due to travel, and I also saw some new theatrical films listed higher up in this piece. At home I enjoyed a very good Cavalry Western, ESCAPE FROM FORT BRAVO (1953), starring William Holden and Eleanor Parker, directed by John Sturges...I really love Edmond O'Brien and Ella Raines in THE WEB (1947), which has a snappy script cowritten by the great William Bowers, and am so glad it's come to home viewing at last...STEP BY STEP (1946) is a quite enjoyable "B" film starring Lawrence Tierney and Anne Jeffreys, and it was a particularly nice surprise having a relatively minor film of that type released on Blu-ray by the Warner Archive...Bob Hope's ALIAS JESSE JAMES (1959) is uneven, but it boasts a cute song, a very fun shootout featuring a bunch of TV Western stars, and lovely Rhonda Fleming...I'M NO ANGEL (1933) was another strong Mae West-Cary Grant film which I enjoyed quite well...and I WOULDN'T BE IN YOUR SHOES (1948) was another fun "B" surprise from the Warner Archive, featuring Don Castle and Elyse Knox. I'm hoping there will be more such releases from them in 2022!

...In August I saw Elvis in IT HAPPENED AT THE WORLD'S FAIR (1963), which had great location shooting...I also saw another Fred MacMurray Western, GUN FOR A COWARD (1956), which costarred Dean Stockwell, who passed away later in the year...I'm very fond of the Colbert-MacMurray romantic comedy NO TIME FOR LOVE (1943) and enjoyed revisiting it...I always like a good aviation drama and thus enjoyed CHAIN LIGHTNING (1950), starring Humphrey Bogart and Eleanor Parker...Mae West starred as the BELLE OF THE NINETIES (1934)...There was more Colbert and MacMurray in THE BRIDE COMES HOME (1935)...I saw MGM's THE GREAT CARUSO (1951) for the first time, starring Mario Lanza and Ann Blyth, and enjoyed it...I watched even more Mae West in GOIN' TO TOWN (1935)...THE GILDED LILY (1935) is another good Colbert-MacMurray film, also featuring Ray Milland...Gary Cooper and Clara Bow starred in the silent melodrama CHILDREN OF DIVORCE (1927)...Liam Neeson's THE ICE ROAD (2021), streamed via Netflix, was a lot of improbable fun...I really enjoyed finally catching up with THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS: TOKYO DRIFT (2006)...I also liked MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE II (2000) and MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III (2006).

...One of my favorite Mae West films last year was KLONDIKE ANNIE (1936), seen in September...There was more William Powell and Myrna Loy in September as well, thanks to SHADOW OF THE THIN MAN (1941)...THE DUKE OF WEST POINT (1938) was a moving drama starring Louis Hayward and Joan Fontaine...I also saw Fontaine in THE EMPEROR WALTZ (1948), starring Bing Crosby, which I rewatched for the first time in years...I described DESIRE (1936), starring Marlene Dietrich and Gary Cooper, as "pure movie joy"...Mae West starred again in GO WEST YOUNG MAN (1936)...I caught up with another Clint Eastwood-Don Siegel film in COOGAN'S BLUFF (1968), which was mildly entertaining but could have done more with its concept...Ginger Rogers and Ronald Colman starred in the modestly entertaining LUCKY PARTNERS (1940)...ALIAS NICK BEAL (1948) is an outstanding fantasy noir with Ray Milland leading a top cast...and my final Mae West of 2021 came in EVERY DAY'S A HOLIDAY (1937).

...There are only a few films to list here for October, since the majority of films I saw that month were at film festivals, listed earlier in this post. Among the films seen at home, I really like LARCENY (1948), starring John Payne and Joan Caulfield, which I've seen several times...MARY STEVENS, M.D. (1933) is delicious pre-Code fun starring Kay Francis and Glenda Farrell...and FOUR FRIGHTENED PEOPLE (1934) is an enjoyable, atypical DeMille film with Claudette Colbert, Herbert Marshall, and scene-stealing Mary Boland.

...In November I revisited Ginger Rogers and George Brent in IN PERSON (1935), finding it somewhat more enjoyable than my first viewing years ago...I quite liked the amusing farce YOUNG AND WILLING (1943), with a terrific cast headed by William Holden and Susan Hayward...ARISE, MY LOVE (1940) is a superb film starring Ray Milland and Claudette Colbert which I highly recommend...LADIES THEY TALK ABOUT (1933) is lots of pre-Code goodness with Barbara Stanwyck...There was even more pre-Code fun in TORCH SINGER (1933), starring Claudette Colbert ("Give me liberty or give me love!")...MIDNIGHT (1934) was an interesting Poverty Row drama from a new Flicker Alley set...and I enjoy the sunny comedy COME SEPTEMBER (1961), with Rock Hudson, Gina Lollobrigida, Bobby Darin, and Sandra Dee, plus lovely Italian locations.

...The year wrapped up in December with THE THIN MAN GOES HOME (1944)...HOT SATURDAY (1932) was an interesting pre-Code drama starring Nancy Carroll, Cary Grant, and Randolph Scott...I really appreciate the WWII drama O.S.S. (1946) starring Alan Ladd and Geraldine Fitzgerald...I always wish I'd like SANTA FE TRAIL (1940) more when I return to it, but its pleasures include Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland...I thoroughly enjoyed DeMille's UNCONQUERED (1947), with Gary Cooper and Paulette Goddard heading a great cast...MGM's IN THE GOOD OLD SUMMERTIME (1949), starring Judy Garland and Van Johnson, is wonderful Christmastime viewing...I saw DEAD MEN DON'T WEAR PLAID (1982) for the first time since its release, and while I was able to appreciate the gimmicks more thanks to all my film noir viewing of the past four decades, it's kind of a one-joke movie...I loved Fay Wray in WOMAN IN THE DARK (1934)...ARTHUR CHRISTMAS (2011) is a truly marvelous Christmas film which I saw for the first time in years...I loved Doris Day and Gene Nelson in LULLABY OF BROADWAY (1951)...and my viewing year concluded with the surprisingly fun INTERNATIONAL LADY (1941), a WWII spy thrilled with George Brent and Basil Rathbone as spies on the trail of Ilona Massey, whose radio performances include coded information used to sabotage Allied planes.

...A few final notes: I anticipate my annual "year in review" movie poster video will post sometime in January and will include the link here along with featuring the video in a separate post. (Update: Here is the video!)

...This year I was delighted to continue contributing a monthly Westerns column for the terrific Classic Movie Hub site. My Western RoundUp columns may be found here. In addition to articles on a variety of Western-related topics, I wrote longer-form reviews of four films in 2021: RIO BRAVO (1959), WILL PENNY (1967), HOUR OF THE GUN (1967), and CATTLE DRIVE (1951).


Blogger mel said...

Laura, I just don't know where you find the time to (a) watch all these movies, (b) keep all the statistics meticulously updated, and (c) write about them (and lots of other things) in your blog! Do you ever get time to sleep?

Looking forward to your annual "year in review" movie poster video.

Best wishes for 2022.

11:09 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks, Mel! I appreciate that, as I was feeling a tad disappointed I was under 200 movies again this year! My goal for 2022 is to get past 200 again (grin).

Over the years I've developed some systems which enable me to track things as efficiently as possible...once upon a time I waited until New Year's Day to put all the numbers together and it took the better part of the day. It's much easier now.

Thank you for being such a longtime supporter!

Best wishes to you and yours,

11:38 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older