Sunday, April 02, 2006

Bullitt Finally Discharged

At last I finished the final twenty minutes of Bullitt. McQueen remained ultra-cool and near-mute until the end (there's virtually no dialogue during the last 10-15 minutes of the film). Vaughn, although he didn't do anything too nefarious, still acted slimy and greedy enough to fill the 'villian' role satisfactorily.

I really got testosteroned-out, movie-wise, also watching Battleground, Island in the Sky and McLintock. MGM's big 1949 post-WWII WWII epic is notable chiefly for its huge roster of old and new players (Van Johnson, George Murphy, John Hodiak, Ricardo Montalban, Richard Jaeckel, and Oscar-nominee James Whitmore among them) and for Paul C. Vogel's amazing B&W cinematography, which manages to convey a you-are-there feeling to the battle scenes shot on the studio's soundstages. William Wellman directs as proficiently as ever; Academy Awards went to Vogel and to Robert Pirosh (for "Story and Screenplay").

Of the two John Wayne pictures, Island (also directed by Wellman), is probably the superior film, with it's earnest depiction of a group of men stranded on a mountain, waiting to be rescued, after their plane goes down; however, I found the good-natured high-jinks of McLintock easier to take, primarily because Wayne is paired with his favorite co-star (the beautiful Maureen O'Hara) and, armed with their incredible onscreen chemistry, these two make a lively, ingratiating pair.

Well past my quota for he-man theatrics, I opted for the other extreme by watching 1959's remake of Imitation of Life for about the tenth time. Do not view this Douglas Sirk-directed classic unless you're in the mood for the biggest crying jag of your life. Over the last two decades, I've screen this gem for several friends and family members, and it never fails to produce the waterworks, as two young mothers, Lora and Annie (played by Lana Turner and Juanita Moore), meet, bond, and struggle through the lean years. Turner finally makes it as a Broadway star, yet finds "Something is missing." Conflicts abound when their daughters, Susie and Sarah Jane (portrayed by Sandra Dee and Susan Kohner) reach maturity and strive for independence. The scenes between Moore and Kohner are emotionally-shattering stunners, as is the incredible finale. Turner's love interests appear in the forms of the (unbelievably gorgeous) John Gavin and Dan O'Herlihy, who, as witty, sophisticated playwright "David Edwards" utters one of my all-time favorite lines: when Lora discloses she's considering appearing in one of his rival's works, Edwards pooh-poohs his antagonist's play, claiming "It's drama- no clothes, no sex, no fun." Great opening credit sequence with Earl Grant singing the title tune as a wealth of diamonds fill the screen. A huge hit, the film reaped Supporting Actress Oscar nods for Moore and Kohner, who also won the Golden Globe. Universal's "twofer" disc also includes the fine 1934 original version starring Claudette Colbert and Louise Beavers.


At 11:32 AM, Blogger britpopbaby said...

I loooooooooooooooove Steve McQueen and Bullitt is the most amazing piece of cinema!


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