Forgotten Gems: Max Ophuls’ ‘Caught’

Throughout my life, I’ve been told that it’s just as easy to fall in love with a rich man as it is a poor man. No doubt an adage from a different time, I’m fairly sure it’s my mom’s ambition in life to marry me off to a rich man. Okay, so maybe I’m being a bit extreme. She also wants him to be nice and have good values and stuff. But, rich is up there…

Over this labor day weekend, I was introduced to a film that attempts to answer the question, “Does marrying rich equal happiness?” The film is Caught. Made in 1949, Caught marked the first film that James Mason made in America. I’m ashamed to say I didn’t want to see it when my dad first pitched it to me – I said “Another film noir?” I tend to get annoyed because the only thing my dad wants to watch is film noir, but this one is different and well worth the watch.

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Every girl’s dream…apparently. #FANTASY

If you’re unfamiliar, Caught follows Leonora Eames (Barbara Bel Geddes), a young, idealistic, poor girl. She wants to move up in life and so, decides to go to charm school where she’ll be given the tools she need to not just have the job she wants, but the husband she wants too. She gets lucky, marrying Smith Ohlrig (Robert Ryan), but she quickly finds out wealth is not enough alone to make her happy. Ohlrig, who treats her like his employee, tells her to take a trip. Instead, she decides to get a job as a receptionist in a doctor’s office. It’s there that she meets Dr. Larry Quinada (James Mason) who she develops an attraction to. Only one problem – she’s still married! Let’s just say DRAMA ENSUES.

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RICH!!! #MoneyFixesEverythingRight?

Here are just a few reasons you need to check out Caught ASAP:

The Cast

The cast is everything in Caught. Although the film was marketed using James Mason, its star was really Barbara Bel Geddes. Though most know her from the long running TV soap Dallas or her small role in Vertigo, Bel Geddes had quite an impressive early career. She starred in films made by George Stevens and Elia Kazan and played opposite stars like Henry Fonda and Irene Dunne. But, this film is really her shining moment. In watching her, it’s easy to see how naturally talented she was. As my dad put it, she was not a drop-dead gorgeous beauty like Ava Gardner; instead, she was a softer beauty, the “girl next door.” In essence, she looked like someone you could actually know.

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I’m sorry…why did everyone want mink coats again? #HAIRGOALS

As I already said, Caught was James Mason’s first film in America. At the time, he was already known across the pond in England. I had, of course, seen James Mason in many films before this, but I’d never thought of him as a romantic lead. This film changed my mind. He was around forty at the time he made Caught and probably at his most handsome. But, really what was so attractive about him in this film is the intelligence he exudes. He’s attractive, yes. But, he also seems like a real person. He’s believable and genuine and I’m gonna say it, sexy.

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Look at those dimples. #SWOON

Robert Ryan is also wonderful as Smith Ohlrig, the Howard Hughes-inspired millionaire Leonora marries. So easily this character could have been one note – the evil villain. But there are moments when he seems human too and that, I think, is thanks Ryan’s nuanced performance.

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What a “silly girl!” #DatingIsFun

The Script

The script was written by Arthur Laurents, who also wrote West Side Story, Rope and The Way We Were. Though the film was adapted from Libbie Block’s book Wild Calendar, much inspiration was taken from director Ophuls experience working for Howard Hughes.

I was surprised at how frank the film was, not just in regards to marriage but also in its recognition of a woman’s position in the late 1940’s. This is from a female point of view and it recognizes that a woman’s options during that time were limited. I love that Mason’s character tells her not to make decisions because of social conventions, i.e. how it’s going to look.

I was particularly fascinated by the lack of options Leonora had. She couldn’t just get divorced from her husband. Beyond how her reputation would have been ruined (which IMHO is bullshit), there was unequal power. Her husband had immense resources at his disposal and she had none. He could ruin her and would ruin her if she crossed him.

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James Mason doesn’t mess around. #RealTalk

The Romance

If you’ve read any of my other posts, you know I’m obsessed with romance and Caught is no exception. Even though there are only a few romantic scenes in the film, I couldn’t help but ship James Mason and Barbara Bel Geddes’ affair. Their chemistry is real and understated. It kind of reminded me of the romance in Waitress or Suspicion. Get ready to swoon!

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My heart drops.
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That smile when he says OK….#ThoseSuspendersTHOUGH
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First comes love, then comes marriage…
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Something about black&white, amiright?

The Direction 

Max Ophuls, also known as Max Oppenheimer, made most of his films in France. He was only in the U.S. from 1941 to 1950. Most of the films he made were period romances. Max had been fired from Vendetta, a film which was produced by Howard Hughes. Caught is an amalgam of genres. It’s a melodrama and a thriller, but also, based on the stylistic choices and subject matter, a film noir. A famous, talented filmmaker in his own right, Jean Luc Godard called Caught,“Max’s best American film (Godard, TCM Article).”

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Uh oh….#WomanInPeril

The Cinematography

Though this was not an A-film, the production values were high. This is especially true in regards to the cinematography. Lee Garmes, who was famous for films like Scarface (the original 30’s film) and Duel in the Sun, shot the film with subtlety, letting moments unfold organically. He worked for producer David O. Selznick quite a bit and it is rumored that shot a large portion of Gone With the Wind.

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Those angles THOUGH.

It’s a thrilling, thought-provoking melodrama with incredible performances

The world has changed quite a bit since the late 1940’s, especially in regards to the way we define traditional male and female roles in society. However, this film is still relevant. It comments on society’s expectations and also criticizes them. It’s true that with wealth comes security, but that’s only in regards to financial matters. True security comes with accepting and loving both yourself and your partner. One without the other does not equal fulfillment.

It’s always a joy when I see a wonderful film which is not as well known as the major classics. It’s like uncovering treasure. Imagine this: this film was made almost seventy years ago and yet, there’s a lot to say.

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#REALTALK

I would put a link to the trailer below, but the whole movie happens to be on Youtube. So, happy watching!

 

The Charms and Flaws of ‘Tuck Everlasting’

One day in the 4th grade, while in my elementary school discovery club (which is really just a fancy word for day care), I found a worn out copy of Tuck Everlasting on their book shelf. At nine years old, I had already become a bit of a reader. But, Tuck Everlasting, written by Natalie Babbitt, was the book that me fall in love with reading.

For those not in the know, Tuck Everlasting, which takes place in the late 19th century (in the film the early 20th), follows Winifred (Winnie) Foster, a ten-year old girl who upon running away meets a family that is immortal. Her life is so rigid that she can’t help but fall in love with the slower way the Tucks live their lives. At its heart though, the book is about death and the fear we all have surrounding the idea.

In fact, Natalie Babbitt recently discussed what influenced her to write the novel, saying “One day she [her daughter] had trouble sleeping, woke up crying from a nap. And we looked into it together, as well as you can with a 4-year-old, and she was very scared with the idea of dying. And it seemed to me that that was the kind of thing you could be scared of for the rest of your life. And so I wanted to make sure that she would understand what it was more. And it seemed to me that I could write a story about how it’s something that everybody has to do and it’s not a bad thing” (Babbitt, NPR). To listen to her full interview, click here.

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The Original 1975 Cover

Since the book was just adapted into a Broadway musical, I thought this would be the perfect time to re-examine the film adaptation from 2002. The film meant a lot to me at the time. I was just about ten years old when the film was released. Looking bad on it, the film is not without flaws, but despite its imperfections, I still love it.

Here are just a few reasons Tuck Everlasting is worth a watch:

The Cast

Truly, this is one of the film’s greatest strengths. Alexis Bledel was still at the beginning of her years playing her most famous role: Rory Gilmore on the WB dramedy, Gilmore Girls. She was twenty-one when she stepped into the role of Winnie Foster. The late Edward Herrmann who played the patriarch of the Gilmore family said of Alexis: “[She’s] like Audrey Hepburn. The camera absolutely adores [her]. [She] can’t say anything wrong, [she] can’t do anything wrong. It’s a gift” (Herrmann, AV Club Interview).

She was perfect for the role because she had an intrinsic childlike innocence. Obviously, Winnie was ten in the book, but for the purposes of the film, they made her fifteen and added a love story.

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Those flower crown things are still modern, no?

Jonathan Jackson, who’s now known as Avery Barkley on ABC’s Nashville was cast opposite Alexis as Jesse Tuck. He was about twenty and not very well-known. As Jesse, he’s charming and energetic. You can’t help but fall for him just as Winnie does.

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If there was a deer that close to me, I’d probably be screaming.

The real weight of the cast is in its strong supporting cast. William Hurt and Sissy Spacek play Angus and Mae Tuck with strength and sensitivity. They both, of course, had already had massively successful film careers. Thus, they took a back seat in this film and let the story shine.

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Love this scene…

Ben Kingsley played the villain of the tale, The Man in the Yellow Suit. I remember some of my first impressions after my first viewing of the film and one of them was pure terror of Ben Kingsley’s character. There’s a scene where he’s talking to a Priest in a graveyard that still sends a chill down my spine.

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TUCK EVERLASTING, Ben Kingsley, Victor Garber, Amy Irving, 2002, (c) Walt Disney

Additionally, Amy Irving and Victor Garber are wonderful as Winnie’s parents. Irving especially affected me when I first saw the film. When her own mother is dying and she climbs into bed with her, I can’t help but tear up.

The Story

The material is what makes this film worthwhile. While the film is a bit Disney-fied in retrospect, the story is told in a restrained, yet sensitive way. At the age I first read the book and saw the movie,  I had a lot of fear surrounding the idea of death. I remember having nightmares about it and while I’m still not comfortable with it (who is??), this story did comfort me and help me come to terms with the concept of death.

Obviously, the film, for commercial reasons, added a teenage love story. While I understand the filmmakers and studio’s thought process, that may be the major flaw of the film. The original story was not meant to be a teen romance. It was a small tale which posed the question: Does it pay to live forever if you’re not really living?

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#RealTalk

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been exposed to many more films and obviously, learned a lot about the history of film. When re-examining this film, I couldn’t help but think of Producer Irving Thalberg. He famously became the head of Universal at the age of twenty and was nicknamed “the boy wonder.” Irving was born with a heart condition and was told he would not live past the age of thirty. Thus, there was an urgency in his life. He knew he would not live a long time and was determined to make the most of it.

This is a theme that always fascinates me: how people react in knowing that their deaths are imminent. Some films that come to mind are Stanley Kramer’s On the Beach and Mark Romanek’s Never Let Me Go, two films which I’m sure to cover sometime in the future.

The Romance

Even though this didn’t exist in the book really, I couldn’t help but enjoy it. It’s a bit saccharine, yes, but it’s also charming. I like romance. Sue me.

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Remember when he laughed at her thinking she might drown? #Jerk
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I would have been telling him to slow down…
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Overdramatic? A bit. #IStillLoveIt

 

The Score

Maybe it’s because music is so attached to our memories, but I can’t help but melt at Tuck Everlasting’s score composed by William Ross. It evokes a little Titanic magic, which makes sense, considering Ross was an arranger for the film.

It’s universal and thought-provoking.

So much of the time, children’s films condescend. They usually don’t dare to discuss real issues, although the recent Pixar film Inside Out did an excellent job in talking about depression.

Tuck Everlasting was not a bomb by any means, but it also wasn’t a big box office success. So, now, it seems the film has been relegated to almost obscurity. For all its flaws, it’s a film which attempts to explain death to children with sensitivity and charm. For me, it will always hold a nostalgia factor so I know I’m biased. However, even if this is not something you would usually watch, I urge you to give it a chance, if only to hear Natalie Babbitt’s beautiful words.

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Vintage trailer below:

P.S. – Here’s a song from the Broadway show which just closed on Broadway. For the purposes of the show, they went to the story’s roots and let Winnie be a ten year-old girl. Young Sarah Charles Lewis is pretty talented, no?

 

 

 

 

 

 

#FeministClassics: ‘Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore’

I first saw this film as a teenager. I wasn’t super excited when my dad pitched this movie to me. I had seen Taxi Driver and Raging Bull and though I had liked both of them, I found them to be fairly male oriented films. The female characters seemed secondary. My dad countered, telling me that it wasn’t really Scorsese’s film. It was Actress Ellen Burstyn’s.

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Ellen Burstyn had just finished making a little picture called The Exorcist and after seeing dailies, Warner Brothers told Burstyn they wanted to make another picture with her. They sent her several scripts, but in each of them, the woman wasn’t the protagonist. Her agent found the script for Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore and Burstyn ended up bringing everyone on board, from producers to Director Martin Scorsese.

If you’re not familiar, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore follows Alice (Ellen Burstyn), a woman in her mid-thirties whose semi-neglectful husband dies suddenly. This leaves Alice with no money and her eleven year-old smart ass son, Tommy (Alfred Lutter III), to take care of. She decides to get back to Monterey, California, where she grew up. But since she has very little money, she stops along the way to save up, meets a couple of men, makes a few mistakes, and in the process finds out who she is and what she wants.

Here are just a few reasons Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore is a feminist classic:

The Cast

As I mentioned, this film belongs to Ellen Burstyn. She really was the driving force behind getting it made and in watching her performance, you can see she put a lot of her personal experiences into it. Also, she won the Oscar that year, though she wasn’t there to accept the award. Since she was in a Broadway show at the time, Scorsese accepted the award on her behalf, thanking everyone she had to told him to thank, including himself.

Alfred Lutter III made his feature debut in this film playing Burstyn’s eleven year-old son, Tommy. I’ve talked about him once before in my post on The Bad News Bears. He was only in four films before he retired from acting at the age of fifteen. Still, Lutter made quite the impression, in this film especially. He seemed like a real kid and he could be both hilarious and heartbreaking at the same time.

Funny side story: On the drive to set one day, Martin Scorsese was riding with Alfred. Alfred told Marty a story over and over, asking if he understood. By the time they got to set, Marty was completely annoyed but also thought it was hilarious – so much so that he put it in the movie (seen in the gif below).

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Poor Ellen Burstyn. #IStillDontUnderstandThisStory

Kris Kristofferson was relatively new to film when he played David, Burstyn’s love interest. Scorsese tried to put him at ease, telling him to ignore the script and say the lines in the way that felt most natural to him. He was understated and (even with that crazy beard) incredibly sexy. You just can’t NOT like him.

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A man’s MAN if I ever saw one. #SWOON

Harvey Keitel wasn’t in much of the film, but he certainly made an impression during his few scenes. Keitel played a man Alice meets while working as a singer, but he reveals himself to be CRAY. When I first saw this film, he scared the shit out of me. He still kinda does…

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Keitel is TERRIFYING, amiright?

Diane Ladd was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance as Alice’s co-worker, Flo. When her character is first shown onscreen, she kind of seems like a bitch. The best part is that Flo and Alice’s relationship very organically becomes a friendship and their scenes together maybe mean more than Alice’s scenes with David.

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That hair THOUGH. #1970sStyle

Special mentions:

Two young, very talented actresses. The first is a twelve year-old Jodie Foster. She played Audrey, Tommy’s friend. As with Keitel, her part is not a big one, but she makes a major impression.

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Oh, the 70’s…#shorthairdontcare

The second is actress Laura Dern, who was just seven years-old. She, of course, is Diane Ladd’s daughter and so, was in a scene in the diner, eating an ice cream cone.

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Does your eye spy little Laura Dern?

The Script

The script was written by Robert Getchell, who also wrote Mommie Dearest and This Boy’s Life. This is where the feminist aspect comes in. Although, of course, Robert Getchell is a man, this story was told from a female point of view. It was making a statement about what it was like to be a woman at that time and exploring how we define our happiness as human beings.

There was a major controversy over how to end the film. Burstyn believed the film was about Alice standing on her own two feet without a man by her side. The studio wanted David and Alice to get married at the end. They needed to find a compromise. So, Kris said, “Jeez, if he loves this girl – if I did – I’d just say pack your fuckin’ bags. I’ll go with you” (Kristofferson, Second Chances Doc). I  actually really loved the ending because it wasn’t saying that you needed a man to make you happy. Alice stood up for the things she wanted and she ended up getting all of them, including David.

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Her face THOUGH. 

The Direction

Even though Scorsese was a hired hand on this film, he made it his own. He told Burstyn from the get-go that he didn’t know much about women, but that he was eager to learn. He was only 34 years old when he directed the film, but already he was experienced. He had already made Mean Streets, which is what got him the meeting with Burstyn in the first place and as my dad reminded me, he was an assistant director on Woodstock.

It was Scorsese’s idea to start the film with a semi-fantasy sequence which was shot on the old Colombia Pictures lot. It was weird and interesting and kind of gritty, much like the film itself. As a film buff himself, Scorsese saw the film as a Joan Crawford or Bette Davis vehicle. Without his direction, I believe the film would have been more of just a straight melodrama. He added humor, sensitivity and humanity to the story.

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Scorsese on set with Burstyn and Kristofferson

It’s funny, sad, and brilliant in its simplicity.

At its core, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore is about human beings – all imperfect, all trying to figure out what’s going to make them happy. Beyond the style and music, the film hasn’t aged a day and I think that’s ultimately because it’s about human beings. It’s not a big story, but it hits on an emotional level. Burstyn’s contributions were major – she wanted to make sure this film was told through the eyes of a woman.

The film went on to be adapted to a very successful tv sitcom which ran from 1976-1985. With great performances and a legendary director, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore is well worth the watch. IMHO, it’s a film which doesn’t get praised often enough, probably because Scorsese has gone on to direct so many classics.

My challenge to you: watch the film and try to tell the “Shoot the Dog” story to someone. I don’t know why. That just sounds fun.

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I feel so bad for Alice here…

Vintage trailer below:

‘Baby It’s You’: A Forgotten Classic

I’m gonna be honest. Ninety percent of why I’m writing this post is because of my dad. Since I’ve been highlighting forgotten films, my dad has been hardcore campaigning for me to write about this movie since it’s one of his favorites. Personally, it’s not one of mine so you won’t hear me “fangirling” in this one. However, even though it’s not my cup of tea, this film definitely fits in with the other films I’ve covered in this blog. It’s romance. It’s high school. It’s a period piece.

If you’re not familiar, Baby it’s you, written and directed by John Sayles, takes place in the 1960’s and follows Jill Rosen (Rosanna Arquette) and Albert ‘Sheik’ Capadilupo (Vincent Spano), a young, slightly unorthodox couple in high school. It’s not a new premise: they come from different worlds. She has money. He doesn’t. She’s popular. He’s an outcast. Their romance isn’t exactly an obvious match to the rest of the world. And with Jill’s transition to college, the relationship certainly has some growing pains! It’s DRAMATIC.

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DRAMAAAAAA. #IntenseAF

Here are just a few reasons you should watch Baby It’s You:

The Actors

When Rosanna Arquette was in Baby It’s You, she was just 24 years old. She had been in a few films before, but this was her first real starring role. And it shows in the best possible way! She’s natural, bubbly, and genuine as Jill.

Vincent Spano, funnily enough, was younger than Arquette. He was just 21 years old when he stepped in the Sheik’s shoes and similarly to Arquette, it showed. In essence, both of these young actors had something to prove and it’s easy to see, they put everything they had into this film.

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I just want to say I never had a fight like this in high school. The sixties were a bit MELODRAMATIC.

The Time Period

I’ll admit it. I’m a sucker for period pieces. Probably one reason my dad loves it. This is when he grew up and where he grew up: New Jersey, 1960s. I think because of that it scratches a specific itch he has, the nostalgia he has for his childhood. Certainly, Sayles knew that world well. He also grew up in that period, though he was in Schenectady, New York. The time and place are like a character in the film, the details are specific and all-encompassing.

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Do me a favor – play “Baby it’s You” by The Shirelles when you watch this. Makes ALL the difference. 

The Music

Sayles apparently had to work hard to get Paramount to let him score the film with classic rock songs. Luckily, it was one battle he ended up winning. To me, this is one of the film’s greatest strengths. I kind of feel like music-wise, I belong in the 60’s FO-REAL. Listen to this piece and bask in its awesomeness.

The Script

John Sayles wrote the script which was based on Producer Amy Robinson’s upbringing. Though there are other films of this kind which I think cover this ground (teenage romance) better than this one, there is a sincerity to the way this story is told that makes it stand out.

In relationships, there’s usually one person that holds on a little harder than the other. The Sheik is definitely that person. Whereas for Jill, he’s simply a high school boyfriend, the Sheik thinks their relationship has a future. Funnily enough, it’s not until they both face those facts that I think Jill really treats him like a person. By the end of the film, they’ve both matured and are able to treat each other with respect.

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The truth hurts. #RealTalk

The Direction

This was not an independent film. In fact, it was Sayles’ first studio film. He didn’t particularly like the loss of control, especially in regards to the ending. Sayles won the fight to keep the rather downtrodden ending that he wanted, but the studio retaliated by only half-heartedly publicizing the film.

Still, with all that going on behind the scenes, Sayles made a film that would now only be made as an indie. It’s quiet and reserved and thoughtful. He brought the best out of his young cast and made a film that wasn’t scared to have complex characters, who were more than a stereotype.

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#Maturity

It’s nostalgic and truthful

While I still wasn’t deeply affected by this film the second time around, I appreciate the fact that it was made by people that obviously cared. The actors cared, the producers cared and their director cared. It’s not my favorite film but it is one that deserves to be remembered and highlighted. There, dad. You happy?

Also, shout out to my Jew girls out there!

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Stereotypes, man. 

Vintage trailer below:

 

Why ‘Short Term 12’ is a Modern Classic

At the first TCM Film Festival, back in 2010, I think it’s safe to say my brothers and I were the youngest people there. We cornered Ben Mankiewicz (just kidding – he loved talking to us!) and asked him if he thought good movies were still being made today. We were trying to settle an argument in which my dad had asserted that most movies made after 1990 were of mediocre quality. Ben laughed and told us that of course, good movies were still being made. He said that whether it was 1940 or 2010, there are good movies and there are bad movies. No time is perfect. Short Term 12, made in 2013, is a perfect example for anyone who thinks that new movies are all crap.

I remember very distinctly seeing the trailer for this movie and saying, “Ooh, Brie Larson and John Gallagher Jr!” Yes, I was literally seeing it because of the stars. I never thought it would become one of my favorite movies, but it did. When it came out in Los Angeles, I dragged my roommate to see it with me. We were two of four people in the theater…mind you, it was a week day, but still…

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Brie is EVERYTHING

It was one of those experiences you have where you come out of the theater and can’t believe something that amazing exists, something that touches you on such a deep level and is actually about an important issue. I was in awe of this film and so, went back to see it in theaters multiple times, each time dragging a new person with me. I was a little obsessive.

If you’ve never seen the film, here’s the 411: Short Term 12 follows a group of line staff at a short-term care center for foster kids. The place is essentially a halfway house – as Brie says in the film, “they just keep them [the kids] until the state figures out where they’re gonna go next” (Cretton). Brie’s character, Grace, is leader of the line staff. She’s a girl who has a few demons of her own. She takes her job very seriously and when they take in a new girl, Jayden (Kaitlyn Dever), Grace is forced to face those demons. And of course, that complicates her relationship with her boyfriend and fellow line staff member, Mason (John Gallagher Jr.) and drama ensues!

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#drama

So, even though this blog is dedicated almost exclusively to older films, I wanted to take a minute and talk about this film because it is already a classic. And here are a few reasons why:

The Cast

Obviously, Brie Larson won the Oscar this past year for her performance in Room, (which is also great), but I believe her performance in Short Term 12 was just as Oscar worthy. I remember hearing a story about James Cagney in which he gave advice on acting. He said, “You walk in, plant yourself, look the other fella in the eye, and tell the truth” (Cagney). Brie Larson, whether she’s heard that advice or not, reflects that ideal in this film. She’s so genuine in every moment. This movie would be worth watching just for her performance which is subtle, relatable, and heartbreaking.

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I think she pulls off this look pretty well…

John Gallagher Jr. is also wonderful as Mason. I’ve been a fan of John since he was in the original cast of Spring Awakening on Broadway. And then, of course, he was on The Newsroom, a show which I worship in a god-like way. He shares that same verisimilitude that Brie has. In every moment of everything I’ve seen him in, there’s never been one false moment. Maybe that’s why it’s so easy to fall in love with him, in The Newsroom and in Short Term 12. Plus, he’s hilarious!

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Be still my beating Newsroom-loving heart…

Kaitlyn Dever was quite the discovery as Jayden, the new girl with an attitude problem. It’s easy when you first see her on screen to put her in a box, but she’s got layers upon layers and took her big emotional moments in the film and played them with subtlety. I’m sure we’re going to see great things from her.

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Love the eyeliner action.

Keith Stanfield had been in the original short that Director Destin Cretton made on the subject. He shines as Marcus, a quiet, smart, but insecure kid who’s about to turn eighteen, and thus, be thrown out into the real world, with no one to help him. He wrote original raps for the film and they are heart-wrenching and powerful.

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Powerful words, no?

Finally, Rami Malek (who, of course now, has had great success with USA’s Mr. Robot) is great as the newest line staff member, Nate. His part may be small, but he makes the most of it and actually has some of the funniest moments in the film.

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A slightly different character than he plays in Mr. Robot…

The Screenplay

Destin Daniel Cretton first made a short about this subject and then decided to expand it into a feature. He based on his time working in residential foster care. As such, there’s a weight to it beyond just being an entertaining story. He obviously wanted to tell this story because his experiences and what he observed were close to his heart. His story is what all great stories are about: human beings. Flawed as the characters might be, they’re completely relatable and feel true.

As a writer, his screenplay is truly inspiring to me.

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#HeartBreaking

The Music 

The original score for Short Term 12 was written by Joel P. West, who’s only just now, starting to garner some attention. To me, his music is vital to the film. It almost feels like another character. It’s subtle and somehow fits these people and their journeys perfectly.

As I mentioned, though, Keith Stanfield wrote some raps for the film and they are incredible. This one, especially:

The Cinematography

Brett Pawlak served as DP on the film and the results are incredible. This also goes hand in hand with the direction of the film. There’s a scene where Jayden is waiting to be picked up, listening to a song on headphones. Cretton and Pawlak do such a great job of making you feel like you’re in her head, going through it along with her.

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When she looks up THOUGH

It’s heartfelt and deeply moving

This movie left an impression on me. It’s special because it’s not exploitative. It’s coming from the heart and you can tell. Some people, like my dad, have a bias against new films simply because they’re new. And mind you, I think there are a lot of bad movies being made today. But, this movie is a reminder that a good story is a good story, no matter when it’s made. Cretton established himself as a filmmaker interested in characters and I can’t wait to see his next film!

 

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Great line.

Watch the trailer below. The film is available to stream on Netflix. 😍

 

The Genius of Natalie Wood in ‘Splendor in the Grass’

I’ve discussed Natalie Wood once before on this blog in my post about West Side Story. Natalie was given the role of Maria based on the film I want to discuss today, Splendor in the Grass. Even more than West Side Story, Natalie Wood’s performance in this film affected me profoundly.

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This scene THOUGH. #ImNotCryingYoureCrying

I first saw this film in high school. So, of course, it struck a cord with me since I was in that stage where obsessing over a guy was eh, extremely common. Crushes felt like life or death situations. Thus, I immediately felt a kinship to Natalie Wood’s Deannie, a girl who felt stuck between following her heart and making her parents proud. She wanted to be the good girl her parents believed her to be, but also would do anything to keep Bud Stamper interested.

If you’re unfamiliar with the film, here’s my short synopsis. Splendor in the Grass, made in 1961, follows Bud Stamper (Warren Beatty) and Deannie Loomis (Natalie Wood) in 1920s Kansas. They’re teenagers in love for the first time. But, they have one overwhelming obstacle: sex. While both of them are ready and willing to give that part of themselves to the other, they’re both fed poor advice by their parents and so, end up breaking up. Deannie doesn’t handle it well. In fact, she has a nervous breakdown. And of course, drama ensues.

Here are a few reasons Splendor in the Grass is a classic film staple:

Natalie Wood

Without Natalie Wood, this film would be only moderately interesting. She was 23 when she starred in this film, but was already a seasoned actress. She had been in the business since she was five years old. Still, Splendor in the Grass was really her foray into adult roles. And though she was young, her talent was clear. She had something inside her. Her vulnerabilities and emotions were out for everyone to see and that’s especially true in this film. Her range as an actress was clear – she was interested in characters and wanted desperately to be taken seriously as an actress.

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I mean, Felicity wasn’t the first girl to cut her hair after a breakup…

Warren Beatty

Beatty made his feature film debut in this film. William Inge, the writer, had cast him in a play a few years earlier, and so when Splendor in the Grass came along, he’s who Inge first thought of. Beatty and Wood apparently had an affair on the project, which Elia Kazan (the director) only encouraged, believing it would only make their love scenes better. Beatty was given this chance and it catapulted him to stardom overnight. There’s no doubt that he was very attractive, but like Wood, he had a certain X factor which made him a star. His intensity with his father and with Wood in the film is palpable.

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He definitely could have been like a hunky football player or something, amiright?

The Supporting Cast

Kazan and Inge knew how important the supporting players were and chose well, casting Pat Hingle as Bud’s father and Audrey Christie as Deannie’s mother. He also cast Barbara Loden as Bud’s wild sister, Ginny. They all brought gusto to their roles and Barbara Loden actually ended up becoming Mrs. Kazan a few years later. Loden also went on to write and direct Wanda in 1970, a raw film which was completely from the female point of view!

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A woman doesn’t enjoy sex. Just a male thing….obviously. #1920s

The Screenplay

The screenplay was written by the famous playwright and author, William Inge. His other film credits include Bus Stop, Picnic, and All Fall Down. Inge and Kazan worked together on a play and wanted to find another project to collaborate on. Inge told Kazan about an idea he had based on people he knew growing up in Kansas. Inge first wrote the book and then adapted it into a screenplay.

As a story, the film reminds me of a musical from a few years back: Spring Awakening. While Spring Awakening took place in the 1890’s, both stories were essentially about the same thing – society presenting misinformation and prudishness regarding sex. The conflict in Splendor in the Grass comes regarding a young couple’s inability to be together without sex being a factor.

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Aw, Spring Awakening…

Deannie’s mother tells her sex is not something a woman does because she wants to. A “good girl” doesn’t have those feelings, her mother tells her. Conversely, Bud’s father understands his son’s sexual urges and tells him to find solace in another kind of a girl. When Bud dumps Deannie, she goes mad, unable to eat, sleep, or find meaning in her life.

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This bath scene seriously is frightening…

The Score

Splendor in the Grass’s score was composed by David Amram who’s also known for his score for The Manchurian Candidate. His score is sweeping, melancholy, and somehow reflective of the 1920’s.

The Cinematography

Boris Kaufman, who also shot On the Waterfront and 12 Angry Men shot the film beautifully, with rich color and fascinating close ups.

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I don’t think she’s alright. #NervousBreakdown

The Direction

This is the biggy. Elia Kazan, known for many other films including On the Waterfront and A Streetcar Named Desire, knew how to get the best performances out of his actors. Natalie Wood, who was famously afraid of water, had apprehension even about shooting the bathtub scene. Kazan told her that he would focus the camera on Christie and just get reaction shots. This got Wood upset and thus, she shot the scene in one take and it may be her strongest scene in anything she ever did.

Kazan said “It’s not my favorite of my films, but the last reel is my favorite last reel, at once the saddest and the happiest…What I like about this ending is its bittersweet ambivalence, full of what Bill had learned from his own life; that you have to accept limited happiness, because all happiness is limited, and that to expect perfection is the most neurotic thing of all; you must live with the sadness as well as with the joy” (Kazan, TCM Article).

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Kazan on set with Beatty and Wood

Those Random things…

Trivia tidbit – Natalie Wood and husband Robert Wagner named their boat the Splendour after the film. It was that boat that Natalie fell off in 1981, drowning.

I came across this video of Robert Redford discussing Natalie Wood and just thought it was too good not to share. It gives you a view into who Natalie was as a person, separate from her on-screen persona.

I love this film because it’s honest. It’s about idealistic love and the idea that life doesn’t work out the way you think it will. It’s also commenting on a time period where sex was very much a taboo thing. At that time, there was no sex education. As such, their was a stigma with sex before marriage. There were no open lines of communication.

The last scene in the film, there’s a lot that’s left unsaid. But, it doesn’t need to be. Natalie Wood, with just a glance, could express everything she was feeling. And thus, her performance makes this film what it is: a true classic.

Plus, it’s just fun to watch the crazy parents give their awful advice which ends up messing everything up!

Vintage trailer below:

 

Why ‘The Story of Adele H’ is worth the subtitles

There’s a portion (okay, maybe most) of the film that’s in French, but don’t let that discourage you: The Story of Adele H is totally worth the subtitles.

I first saw this film in my early teens. I had seen a few other Truffaut films at the time – The 400 Blows, Antoine and Colette, Jules and Jim. The major reason I fell in love with The Story of Adele H was because it was about unrequited love…and I was in THAT phase – you know the one – where tragedy and loss of love you just can’t help but romanticize. Well, that was me.

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Ah, Adele, hate to break it to you, but he’s just not that into you…

Directed by the renowned French filmmaker Francois Truffaut, it’s based on the true story of Adele Hugo, the daughter of Les Miserables author Victor Hugo. The film follows Adele, who’s in love with an officer, and adores him so much that she gives up her life in France and follows him to Canada. Some light stalking occurs really…well, more than light.

If you’ve never seen the madness that is The Story of Adele H, here are just a few reasons I love it:

The Cast

The film is based on Adele Hugo’s diaries. In actuality, Adele was in her thirties when she went through everything. However, Truffaut decided to cast Isabelle Adjani who was just twenty. Still, whether it’s historically accurate or not, Adjani’s performance makes the film. She’s beautiful and vulnerable and relatable and heartbreaking. Also, she was nominated for an Oscar for her performance…which she totally deserved IMHO.

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Her costumes are EPIC.

Bruce Robinson plays Lt. Pinson, the man Adele gives up everything for. He’s aloof and handsome…everything Pinson needs to be.

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Pretty handsome guy. #youcankindofseewhyAdelewasobsessed

 

The Script

The very nuanced script was written by Truffaut and, of course, adapted from Adele’s journal. The script trails her delusions and complete descent into madness. It’s truly a heartbreaking film, partly because you know it’s based on a real person.

However, there is a truth in the film – we, as human beings, tend to pick a person and then put them on some imaginary pedestal whereby they are the only person we could possibly love. It almost doesn’t matter if they don’t like you back. They are secondary to the person we’ve imagined in our heads.

The film is about obsession. You can’t even blame Pinson completely. Think about it: If you were him, would you want to be with someone who was SO desperate to be with you? Although, I will say, Adjani is so beautiful that it stretches believability that anyone would refuse her. #OnlyInTheMovies

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The Real Adele Hugo

Some great lines too:

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#RelationshipGoals…maybe, maybe not?

The Direction

This may seem like somewhat of a repeat as I’m just going to sing Truffaut’s praises…again. But, directing is a different skill than writing, a different muscle. The film flows in a really interesting way. It’s quiet – it’s not an epic by any stretch of the imagination. However, his strength comes in eliciting Adjani’s strong performance. He once said of her, “She acts as though as her life depended on it” (Pop Matters Review).

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Isabelle Adjani and Truffaut on set

The Cinematography

Néstor Almendros shot Adele H and the results are stunning. There’s something about the colors. The film is dark and at the same time, almost pale, like Adele’s face at the end of the film, drained of color.

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Desperate much?
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But are you? #Delusions

The Creation of the Time Period

Usually, I wouldn’t mention this, but when you look at the artistry that went into creating 19th century Nova Scotia, it really is awe inspiring. The detail of the costumes and the setting is incredible.

Director Martin Scorsese once spoke about the costuming for his film, The Age of Innocence, saying that he specifically made sure the costumes weren’t perfect. In period pieces, the people almost tend to look like statues, not a hair or a button out of place.

I believe Truffaut’s Adele H follows Scorsese’s rule. The time period is believable precisely because it is not perfect.

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Just look at her hair …#GirlsIn19thCenturyHadHairProblemsToo

It’s Moody, Thought Provoking and Just Plain Fun

The film is moody. We are put so completely into Adele’s head that you almost feel like you are going mad yourself. Even though Adele lived in the 19th century and by all accounts, she was certifiably cray, she’s still intensely relatable – and not just if you’re a teenage girl in her romanticizing impossible love phase.

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Not completely out of line IMHO.

Most of the time, you just want to tell her, “Adele, he’s just not that into you.” But, alas, it’s hard to give advice to movie characters.

Vintage trailer below:

 

‘Young and Innocent’: Hitchcock’s Most Obscure Masterpiece

This past Saturday marked the 117th birthday of legendary director Alfred Hitchcock. The occasion made me think of one of my favorite Hitchcock films, Young and Innocent, or as it’s also known, The Girl Was Young. It was one of his early British films, which he made in between The 39 Steps and The Lady Vanishes! 

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Nova Pilbeam and Derrick De Marney in Young and Innocent

It’s not one of the acclaimed Hitchcock films you’ll see on those lists of the best movies ever made. It is a quiet film, one which was made on the cheap (Hitch used lots of set-models in this one) and which is not perfect by any means. Still, it’s immensely enjoyable due in large part to its charming leads.

If you’ve never seen Young and Innocent, here’s my quick synopsis. Nova Pilbeam plays Erica, a policeman’s daughter who befriends an escaped convict. Her co-star, the escaped convict, Robert Driscoll, was played by the handsome and witty, Derrick De Marney. Driscoll is accused of murdering a famous film actress and with the evidence stacked against him, he runs away. Erica ends up helping him, first reluctantly – then, because she believes in his innocence…and y’know, ends up falling in love with him.

Here are just a few reasons Young and Innocent is a Hitchcock staple:

The Cast

Nova Pilbeam is a revelation in this film. She was only eighteen at the time, but she projected supreme confidence and poise beyond her years. She’s also a kick-ass feminist heroine, using razor-sharp quips as her weapons.

Pilbeam was a famous child actress who also starred in Hitchcock’s original British The Man Who Knew Too Much in 1934. Although, she didn’t star in much after this film – she retired in the 1940’s – it’s easy to recognize her deep talent. She had an expressive face and personality. Her performance in this film is memorizing.

Also, how great is her name? Just imagine introducing yourself as Nova Pilbeam. Talk about original.

 

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Meet-cute time. 

Similarly, Derrick De Marney is also ridiculously likeable in this film. The way he looks at Pilbeam should make any girl swoon. Or, I should say, it makes THIS girl swoon. Robert is witty and snarky, but sweet and he makes it clear early on, that he’ll do anything for Pilbeam’s Erica.

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#SWOON

The Script

The script was adapted from a mystery novel called A Shilling for Candles which was written by Josephine Tay. Several writers worked on the script including Charles Bennett, Edwin Greenwood, Anthony Armstrong, Gerald Savory and Hitchcock’s wife, Alma Reville. Still, with so many cooks, the script turned out quite strong. It was curt and to the point, while still having wonderful, snappy dialogue.

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Erica’s one tough broad…#WittyGirl

The cinematography

One of Hitchcock’s greatest strengths was in knowing how to tell a story visually. Since he started in the days of silent films, he was used to it. Thus, his shots were more dynamic. He was interested in putting you in the character’s shoes – small looks where decisions were being made. He teamed with cinematographer Bernard Knowles on Young and Innocent, who also shot The 39 Steps.

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Such an expressive face Ms. Pilbeam had…

Additionally, I think Hitchcock’s use of models was very interesting. He believed that whether the setting was “real” or not was of little importance. If the audience believed in the characters and the plot, then what did it matter?

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Real people in that car? I don’t think so…

BONUS: If you’re at all interested in Hitchcock, I think you’ll find this clip interesting. In it, he discusses visual storytelling and it’s fascinating.

 

The Romance

The romance is really the center of this film, although, of course, it’s all implied. The chemistry of Pilbeam and De Marney carries the film, even though shooting it wasn’t always so easy. Hitchcock wanted the scenes to be fast and he would apparently time them. Also, it was Pilbeam’s first romantic role.

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THIS SCENE THOUGH. #HeartSwelling

It’s frothy, light, suspenseful fun

Nova Pilbeam, who passed away only last year, was interviewed in 1990. She recalled seeing the film in a theater with her daughter years after she made it, saying, “What amazed me was that, firstly, the cinema was full and, secondly, it was full of young people. I would have thought that “Young and Innocent” was a very dated film, yet they seemed to find it fascinating” (Pilbeam). Great films and performances are never old. The same goes for Hitchcock himself. His films will surely be remembered as long as cinema is alive.

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Light and frothy fun…

The film is now in the public domain and as such, is available to watch on Youtube for free. I found one that is wonderful quality. Enjoy the film and let me know what you think of it in the comments!

 

P.S.  – If you’re looking for Hitch’s cameo….

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I spy…

Happy birthday, Hitch! 🎉

The Weight of ‘A Place in the Sun’

I didn’t always like A Place in the Sun. In fact, I pretty adamantly hated it. I still remember the first time I saw it. I turned to my dad after the film ended and said, “That’s it?” He nodded, “Yep, that’s it.” I was LIVID. What was the point?

I felt like the time I had put in to watching the film was a waste. I was young, maybe twelve or so. I think, at that point, I still believed that every story needed to have a happy ending. Since A Place in the Sun did not, I dismissed it. It wasn’t until a few years after that when I decided to watch the film again, that I realized everything I had been missing.

A Place in the Sun, made in 1951, follows George Eastman (Montgomery Clift), a poor young man who moves to the big city just looking for a job. His uncle gives him a job at his factory. There, George meets and starts a relationship with Alice Tripp (Shelley Winters), a quiet young woman who works at the factory. Feeling obligated, George’s uncle invites George to a party at his house. There, everything changes because he meets Angela Vickers (Elizabeth Taylor), a gorgeous, young socialite. They quickly fall in love. Only problem is Alice becomes pregnant. Let’s just say DRAMA ENSUES.

Since TCM is honoring Montgomery Clift this month, I decided this would be a perfect time to discuss this film and my introduction to him as an actor. I’ve spoken about him on this blog before, when I discussed The Heiress. He made that film a few years earlier, in 1949.

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Just look at that boyish smile…

If you’ve never seen the film, here are just a few reasons A Place in the Sun still affects me:

The Cast

I don’t think there have ever been two parts more perfectly cast than George Eastman and Angela Vickers. Elizabeth Taylor was a child star, known for the Lassie films and National Velvet. She credited Clift with teaching her what acting was, for he, of course, was one of the first method actors. Their chemistry is palpable and really is the major reason the film works. Both of them seem so genuinely in love with each other. Taylor was in love with Clift, even though he was gay. Their friendship is legendary and Taylor was fierce about protecting Clift.

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That dress though…#FashionGoals

Shelley Winters had the unfortunate circumstance of being cast as Alice Tripp, aka the only thing that stands in the way of George and Angela’s great love. The audience feels contentious towards her which she doesn’t deserve. Funnily enough, I found in my research that she campaigned for the part and only got it when she agreed to play the part sans makeup with an unflattering hairstyle.

Looking back at it, Winters playing her part so well is a huge reason the film works. She’s not evil, but she certainly can manipulate and is fierce about staking her claim on George. She has a way of making her human, complex, more than one thing – the mark of a great performance!

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Isn’t this just heartbreaking? 

The Direction

I’ve already discussed a George Stevens movie already on this blog, although it was very different tonally. The More the Merrier was a light screwball comedy. As I discussed in that post, Stevens was changed after witnessing the horrors of World War 2. He didn’t see the point in making comedies anymore – he wanted to make films that meant something.

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George Stevens on set with Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift

Stevens was meticulous and precise. He spent two years making A Place in the Sun. Years later, Shelley Winters recalled working with Stevens in her autobiography, saying, “He was the greatest director I’ve ever worked for. He made me understand that acting, especially film acting, is not emotion, but thinking. He had been a famous cameraman since the Keystone Kops days, and he showed me how the camera photographs your thoughts and sometimes your soul.” (Shelley Winters).

Stevens won an Academy Award for his direction of the film, but lost out on Best Picture to An American in Paris.

The Score

Franz Waxman won an Academy Award for composing the score of A Place in the Sun and it was well deserved. It’s melancholy and full of jazzy emotion. Don’t believe me: just take a listen!

The Screenplay

The screenplay was written by Michael Wilson and Harry Brown, but was adapted from a novel called An American Tragedy which was written by Theodore Dreiser. Dreiser based his novel on a real trial from 1906. A young woman’s body was found in a lake, having been overturned by a boat. The man she was with stood trial for killing her, even though he insisted she committed suicide. He was executed by electric chair in 1908.

The novel had already been adapted for the screen once in 1931 when it was directed Josef von Sternberg. Apparently, Dreiser did not like how it was adapted. Wilson and Brown treated the story with delicacy. The film was revolutionary in that it dealt with complex human beings. The characters weren’t simply the good guy or the bad guy. They were shades of grey. This is especially true with Clift’s character. We go through everything with him and so, at the end, when he’s pleading for his life, we don’t know how to feel.

Michael Wilson and Harry Brown won the Academy Award that year for Best Screenplay.

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Awwww. 

The Legendary Friendship

Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift met on this film and became lifelong friends. They both give wonderful performances and obviously brought out the best in one another. A few years back, before Elizabeth Taylor passed away, TCM made a tribute video for Clift narrated by Taylor. It’s a great view into their relationship.

Critical Reception

Charlie Chaplin went to an advanced screening of the film in Hollywood and told director George Stevens that “This is the greatest movie ever made about America.” Only, now, looking back on it, do I understand what he meant. It certainly made an impression on me. I was lucky enough to see it on the big screen at The TCM Film Festival a few years back, just after Elizabeth Taylor passed away.

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I’m not crying. YOU’RE CRYING.

It’s a powerful film and one that takes maturity to appreciate. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll wish you could go back in time and steal all of Elizabeth Taylor’s outfits. I sure did.

Vintage trailer is below:

 

The Angsty Magic of ‘Some Kind of Wonderful’

I remember a stray Friday night in my preteen years roaming around our neighborhood Blockbuster with my family. For all you youngins out there, Blockbuster is a place where people used to go and pick out one movie to watch because they couldn’t just look it up on their computer or smartphone…okay rant over. I saw the cover for Some Kind of Wonderful and showed it to my dad – he nodded and said, “Yeah, you’d like it.”

At this point, I had already seen the other John Hughes staples – Pretty in Pink, The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles. Although I loved them, once I saw Some Kind of Wonderful, it blew them all out of the water. My twelve year-old self related to Keith (Eric Stoltz) more than I related to any of Molly Ringwald’s characters.

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Misfits = RELATABLE

If you’ve never seen Some Kind of Wonderful, here’s the 411. The film was made in 1987 and was written by John Hughes and directed by Howard Deutch (who, at the time, had only directed Pretty in Pink). It is said that Hughes wrote the film partly because he was upset about how Pretty in Pink turned out. Both films follow the ‘best friend secretly in love archetype’ but the way they end is, shall we say, DIFFERENT.

Some Kind of Wonderful follows Keith (Eric Stoltz), a quiet artist-type, and his best friend Watts (Mary Stuart-Masterson), a tomboy with a bit of a crush. *Cough Cough* Meanwhile, Keith becomes interested in Amanda Jones (Lea Thompson), a beautiful and popular girl at school. Class wars and teen drama ensues. Oh, and all that 80’s stuff too!

Here are just a few reasons why I’m still in love with Some Kind of Wonderful‘s angsty magic:

The Cast

The cast is EVERYTHING in this film. Eric Stoltz, who is famously known to have been the original Marty McFly in Back to the Future before being replaced by Michael J. Fox, plays Keith, a loner artist with a big heart. Apparently, filming was a bit contentious as director Howard Deutch and Stoltz did not get along. Nevertheless, it’s hard to imagine the film without Stoltz’s quiet charm.

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There’s something about his hair…amiright?

Lea Thompson, known for her role in Back to the Future and more recently, Switched at Birth, wasn’t particularly interested in the part. Howard the Duck, which she had starred in, had just been released. It was one of the biggest flops in film history. Stoltz apparently biked up Laurel Canyon to give her the script and urge her to play the role. And good thing she did, because she sorta kinda met her husband on the project, one Howard Deutch. That’s right, folks. She married the director. Like Stoltz, Lea was understated and obviously gorgeous – the perfect fit for Amanda Jones.

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Me too, Lea, me too!

Mary Stuart-Masterson was quite the revelation as Watts. She could play tough, while also exposing her vulnerability. With her short hair and don’t care attitude, she was pretty much my preteen hero, or heroine, as it were!

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Her one-liners were killer!

The perfect casting extends into supporting characters. Elias Koteas is wonderful as the bully-turned-friend. He gives what could have been a throw away part, personality, and makes Duncan memorable and truly hilarious!

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Personality incarnate

Maddie Corman was perfect as Keith’s sister Laura. I’m embarrassed to say I related to her character a bit too much – she was a bit of a tattler. But, she did have some great one-liners. Her story is very interesting. She was a teenage actress and she went in to audition for the part in Some Kind of Wonderful during her mother’s battle with cancer. Knowing her mother was dying, she lied and told her she had gotten the part when, of course, she didn’t know that. She, of course, did get it and she’s brilliant.

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Might be my favorite line…

Craig Sheffer is also wonderful as Hardy Jenns, the villain of our tale. He’s Amanda’s asshole boyfriend. He cheats on her, treats her like dirt, but he’s still kinda charming.

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What a LINE.

You also might notice little Candace Cameron Bure as Keith’s youngest sister. Not a big part, but definitely some memorable moments…

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Full House was just a glint in her eye…

The Script

John Hughes wrote an amazing script. It wasn’t just filled with brilliant one-liners, though, of course, it had those! Hughes had an amazing talent for writing teenagers. He didn’t talk down to the audience and as such, his films still hold up today. Obviously, they’re very rooted in the time they were made, but when you think of the other films and filmmakers he inspired, it’s remarkable.

Additionally, I loved how he wrote the Amanda Jones character. She’s working class, beautiful, insecure, popular, sweet. In other words, she’s complex, like a REAL PERSON.

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I’m still wondering how they got into The Hollywood Bowl…

The parent dynamics were also great. Now, obviously, this is not new ground teen movie-wise, but I love the conflict between Keith and his dad. Keith’s dad wants him to go to college; Keith has different priorities.

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How many of us said something similar to our parents at 18??

The Soundtrack

The soundtrack is incredible and inextricable from the film. Like Hughes’ other films, the soundtrack serves as another character, giving the characters and their world life! Two of my favorites from the soundtrack are below: the March Violets cover of “Miss Amanda Jones” and Lick the Tins’ cover of Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”

The Romance

Like most films of this kind, the end is a couple getting together. It’s about the journey getting there. And what a fun, angsty journey it is!

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The despair!
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Can someone say DUHHHH?
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I love this line and know I could never say it to someone without them laughing. HA
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Probably one of the hottest kisses in film history…

While there is truth in it, I found that the best friend trope is really just that, a trope. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy it. I just don’t think it’s as real as my preteen self did. The ending of this film ALWAYS gets me. I cry happy tears, cause I can’t NOT.

 

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Already crying just looking at this GIF. 

The Nostalgia Factor

I saw this movie as a preteen and it made a huge impression on me. Obviously, I wasn’t born until 1992, so this was before my time. But, for all its flaws, I love this film unabashedly.

If a film still resonates, has it really aged?

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Ah, 1987. I was just a glint in my parents’ eyes…

Random Tidbits

A few years back, when I had just moved to Los Angeles, I remember seeing Some Kind of Wonderful on the American Cinematheque’s schedule. Unfortunately, I had no car that summer and also no friends willing to accompany me. I still haven’t forgiven myself for missing it. Lea Thompson and Howard Deutch were both there!

Their daughter, Zoey Deutch is now a star in her own right – however, it’s clear, having Lea and Howard as parents, she was born for this! She recently starred in Richard Linklater’s last film, Everybody Wants Some.

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Howard Deutch, Zoey Deutch and Lea Thompson pose together as the Alzheimer’s Association gathers to celebrate the 19th Annual Night at Sardi’s at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. on March 16, 2011 (Alex J. Berliner/ABImages)

The film captured the awkwardness of romance in high school. No doubt that its zingers definitely inspired the too-sophisticated dialogue of Dawson’s Creek which came a decade later. If you’re looking for an angsty, romantic, Saturday night watch, Some Kind of Wonderful is one of the best and certainly one of my all time favorites!

Vintage trailer below: