My Life In Film: Part Seventeen

As sure as tock follows tick, night follows day, Part Seventeen must surely follow Part Sixteen.  Another batch of ten films in my ever multiplying list of favourites from over the years.  As a great man once said: “It’s not the years honey, it’s the mileage” – some of these films really have the mileage…see if you can spot the curve ball in this rundown!

 

ANCHORS AWEIGH (1945)

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Two sailors on a four day shore leave in Hollywood meet an aspiring young singer (played by Kathryn Grayson) and try to get her signed to MGM.  It’s pretty much standard movie musical fare when it comes to plot but that’s not the reason to watch it.  Gene Kelly is, as always, magnificent alongside fellow sailor Frank Sinatra.  A young Dean Stockwell plays Grayson’s nephew who wants to join the navy and grows attached to the two sailors.  There are some great song and dance numbers, none more so than the brilliant Jerry Mouse routine.

WATCH IT FOR: Gene Kelly dances with Jerry Mouse – “Look at me, I’m dancing!”

 

GALAXY QUEST (1999)

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Sci-fi conventions are THE place to go to catch a glimpse of your favourite stars from television and film.  When a group of TV stars of the past reunite at a convention they get a little more than they bargained for.  Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver and the ever brilliant (and much missed) Alan Rickman play the stars of TV’s ‘Galaxy Quest’ and are approached at a convention by real aliens believing their characters to be the real deal.  Their help is needed to solve a problem of intergalactic proportion!

WATCH IT FOR: The show must go on!

 

BIRDMAN or (THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE) (2014)

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Michael Keaton knows a thing or two about playing a famous superhero, having played Batman twice, so it’s interesting to see him here playing an actor trying to shake off the spectre of an all-encompassing role and be taken seriously.  Keaton plays Riggan Thomson, an actor who made his name playing Birdman in three movies, who is trying to stage an epic comeback by writing, directing, starring-in and co-producing a play on Broadway.  What we see is a man in meltdown and the consequences this has on the people around him.  His daughter, played by Emma Stone, his friend and co-producer Zach Galifinakis and temperamental star Edward Norton.  It is a daring, imaginative piece of filmmaking from Alejandro G. Innaritu which rightly won four Academy Awards, including a nomination for Keaton.

WATCH IT FOR: “Does she talk?”

 

THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN: THE SECRET OF THE UNICORN (2011)

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Based on the classic comic books by Herge, this is the first animated feature film from director Steven Spielberg about the intrepid young reporter Tintin (Jamie Bell) and his faithful dog, Snowy.  In this story he goes on a treasure hunt for sunken treasure with help from drunken sea-dog Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis).  Using motion-capture and animation techniques, its a fun thrill-ride of an adventure and, according to IMDb a sequel is on the way!

WATCH IT FOR: Falcon chase

 

REMO: UNARMED AND DANGEROUS (1985)

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Or Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, to give it it’s original title.  A James Bond-style franchise was planned with this film based on “The Destroyer” novels but this film didn’t play well and all we’re left with is this bizarre gem of an action flick.  Fred Ward stars as Remo Williams a cop who is supposedly killed in the line of duty and subsequently trained as a lethal assassin to work for the US President.  With a strange mix of action, martial arts and just a hint of the supernatural, Remo is an underrated cult classic with an iconic scene atop the Statue of Liberty.  Stellar support from Wilford Brimley and the ever wonderful Joel Grey as Remo’s mentor.

WATCH IT FOR: Statue of Liberty and walking on cement!

 

ROXANNE (1987)

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This is one of my favourite Steve Martin performances.  Based on the play “Cyrano De Bergerac” he plays C.D. Bales who, while having an unusually large nose, falls for the beautiful Roxanne (Daryl Hannah).  Unfortunately, though she’s attracted to his personality she falls for the looks of another man (Rick Rossovich) who seeks Bales’ advice on wooing Roxanne.  It’s a delightful comedy that showcases Martin’s charm and wit.

WATCH IT FOR: Insults to a nose

 

FARGO (1996)

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Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy) works in his father-in-laws car dealership and has got himself into some serious financial strife.  He sets a plan in motion for two men (Peter Stormare and Steve Buscemi) to kidnap his wife and hold her for ransom but he didn’t bet on the men being inept at their job and the amount of bloodshed it entails.  He is further hampered by the local Sheriff, played to perfection in an Oscar-winning role by Frances McDormand who is determined to find the killers whilst nine months pregnant.  This is a brilliant and twisted thriller from The Coen Brothers which has since gone on to spawn a very successful television series.

WATCH IT FOR: Frances McDormand’s wonderful performance

 

DOC SAVAGE: THE MAN OF BRONZE (1975)

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This is one of those films that is just so bad it’s actually pretty awful but still ok to watch every now and then.  Based on the pulp novels about an intelligent superhero in the 1930s and starring Ron Ely as the titular title character.  Doc Savage returns home to find his father has died and that he has become the target of an assassination plot.  He assembles his team “The Fabulous Five” (Paul Gleason, William Lucking, Michael Miller, Eldon Quick and Darrell Zwerling) and vows to solve his father’s murder.  It’s cheesy, camp and over the top but with enough action and humour to keep you watching.  This film used to be shown quite a lot during the school holidays but has since been banished to the “best left forgotten” pile.

WATCH IT FOR: The cheesiest of cheesy trailers!

 

QUICK CHANGE (1990)

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Grimm (Bill Murray) enters a New York bank dressed as a clown in order to commit a robbery.  With the help of his two friends (Geena Davis and Randy Quaid) the pull off the heist but their biggest problem is escaping the city and getting to the airport.  Murray acted as co-director on this film with his co-writer Howard Franklin.  The idea of Murray, with his deadpan demeanour, dressed as a clown is superb and the supporting cast are excellent.  It’s surprising then, that the film isn’t as fondly remembered as it should be.  It’s certainly one of Murray’s best performances, if not his famous.

WATCH IT FOR: The trailer

 

THE GREAT ESCAPE (1963)

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This is one of those films that Hollywood used to do so well.  A massive, ensemble piece with glorious scenery, plenty of action and a leading man so damn cool it should be illegal.  Steve McQueen leads the all-star cast as Allied soldiers plan a daring escape from their Nazi camp during World War II.  Richard Attenborough, Donald Pleasence, James Garner, James Coburn, David McCallum, Charles Bronson and Gordon Jackson are just some of the stellar line-up in John Sturges‘ epic (almost 3 hours!) perennial favourite that features some of the most iconic scenes in movie history not to mention one of the most famous pieces of film music ever written!

WATCH IT FOR: McQueen’s motorcycle escape

 

If you were to look up the word “eclectic” in the dictionary I’m pretty sure you’d find this edition of My Life In Film… From singing sailors to deadpan bank robbers, ace reporters to The King of Cool this has a little bit of everything.  That’s pretty much how my taste in film goes as well, a veritable concoction of movie genres and a cornucopia of actors and actresses.  If you liked what you saw here today, please feel free to get in touch – you can message me direct on here or find me on Twitter as @Shadow_Chaser – I’d love to hear your thoughts.  I’m off to throw a baseball against the wall for a few hours!

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