Monday, January 02, 2012

My Week of Movie Watching

Topkapi – I’ve always had a thing for caper movies, and this lesser known 1964 offering from Jules Dassin is one of my favorites. Peter Ustinov plays a petty con man who finds himself swept up in a plot to steal a priceless dagger from an Istanbul museum. Melina Mercouri (aka Mrs. Jules Dassin) and Maximilian Schell star as the leaders of the thieves. The mechanics of the robbery are drawn out in detail, much like in Dassin’s Rififi, and the film greatly benefits from some splendid location cinematography by Henri Anikan. A couple of other notes: The film is always remembered for a peculiar mass wrestling match that has a definite homoerotic vibe. Images of sweaty, hulking males turned up in Dassin movies more than once. It is also cited as the inspiration for the TV series Mission: Impossible. Recommended.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail – You know those people who know entire Python routines by heart, and recite them back and forth to others?

“Bring me ….. a SHRUBBERY!”

“This is a happy occasion! – Lets not bicker and argue over who killed who!”

“I fart in your general direction!”

Sorry, I’m one of ‘em. I’ll be watching this film when they close the box on me.

LauraLaura is always recognized as one of the great Noirs, but when you watch it, you sure can’t help but notice how many implausible plot points there are. For instance, how Detective McPherson allows one murder suspect to tag along as he interviews another one, or how when he finds the murder weapon, he puts it back in its hiding place rather than taking it. This movie might have been forgotten long ago, but for one thing – The performance by Clifton Webb as Waldo Lydecker. Webb as Waldo is so over the top pompous and supercilious that he is completely unforgettable, and he makes the film worth watching. That’s fortunate, because there’s not much going on with Gene Tierney in the title role or especially with Dana Andrews who doesn’t manage to inject the detective with even an iota of humanity. Not a great film, but recommended.

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