Kim Novak

lionel barrymore, james stewart, jean arthur & edward arnold - you can

The short answer: because Hollywood declared it so. Of course, that was before 1939 came along and actually became the unofficial greatest year of movies of all time, including the releases of Gone With the Wind, Stagecoach, The Wizard of Oz, Dark Victory, Wuthering Heights, Of Mice and Men, Ninotchka, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Love Affair and Goodbye, Mr. Chips. And those were just the Best Picture nominees, excluding The Rules of the Game, The Women and Gunga Din and many more. Well, 1938 did have Bringing Up Baby, Holiday, Jezebel and Best Picture winner You Can’t Take It With You, which I honestly adore. Yeah, there’s something of an imbalance there. The claim that 1938 was the greatest came before the year was through as part of a marketing campaign to get Americans back to the movies. It was still the Great Depression, and by some theories that should’ve meant people sought out more escapist entertainment with whatever spending money they could manage, but the fact was that radio was enough of a distraction and it was free. In spite of a contest gimmick tie-in that I would love to see done today (with or without the cash prize), the plan was a big failure, according to Karina Longworth on the latest episode of her You Must Remember This podcast.

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be-kind-rewind-17

There’s no need to fix the Oscars, at least as far as the Academy and ABC are concerned. The ratings for Sunday’s telecast were huge. But those of us who wish for a better show can still try to come up with ideas for how the event can improve. My suggestion: they should embrace remakes. I don’t mean specifically honoring remakes, though 12 Years a Slave was basically the second remake in a decade to win Best Picture (and if Steven Spielberg really remakes West Side Story, maybe we can see a remake of a Best Picture win Best Picture). I mean more along the lines of recreating scenes from new and old movies specifically for the ceremony. Not a lot is different between the concepts of a remake and a recreated movie. The latter might be more faithful and intended for tribute, though. Examples may include the continued art of sweding and “parody” videos that have a loving approach and the popular attraction of live celebrity script-readings, whether cast with the original or new actors and actresses. In the middle group there have been such memorable instances as the Max Fischer Players renditions of the 1999 MTV Movie Awards nominees and this year’s separate instances of kids acting out the Best Picture contenders. 

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Vertigo - Alfred Hitchcock

Looking for any excuse, Landon Palmer and Cole Abaius are using the Sight & Sound poll results as a reason to take different angles on the greatest movies of all time. Every week, they’ll discuss another entry in the list, dissecting old favorites from odd angles, discovering movies they haven’t seen before and asking you to join in on the conversation. Of course it helps if you’ve seen the movie because there will be plenty of spoilers. This week, they attempt to avoid the stigma that comes with being number one while considering the flawed hero of Alfred Hitchcock‘s Vertigo. Is the sleazy way we see Scottie born solely from his introduction? Was the film unique in its time for making the audience feel the main character’s obsessions?

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Editor’s Note: Max Allan Collins has written over 50 novels and 17 movie tie-in books. He’s also the author of the Road to Perdition graphic novel, off which the film was based. With his new Mickey Spillane collaboration “Lady, Go Die” in great bookstores everywhere, we thought it would be fun to ask him for his ten best films noir. In true noir fashion, we bit off more than we could handle… We have to begin with a definition of noir, which is tricky, because nobody agrees on one. The historical roots are in French film criticism, borrowing the term noir (black) from the black-covered paperbacks in publisher Gallimard’s Serie Noire, which in 1945 began reprinting American crime writers such as Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain, Raymond Chandler, Chester Himes, Horace McCoy, Jim Thompson, Mickey Spillane, W.R. Burnett and many others. The films the term was first applied to were low-budget American crime thrillers made during the war and not seen in France till after it. The expressionistic lighting techniques of those films had as much to do with hiding low production values as setting mood. In publishing circles, the term has come to replace “hardboiled” because it sounds hipper and not old-fashioned. I tend to look at dark themes and expressionistic cinematography when I’m making such lists, which usually means black-and-white only; but three color films are represented below, all beyond the unofficial cut-off of the first noir cycle (Kiss Me Deadly, 1955). Mystery genre expert Otto Penzler has […]

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published: 12.17.2014
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published: 12.15.2014
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published: 12.12.2014
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published: 12.05.2014
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