Weekly Film Recap #15 (Golden Age of Hollywood)

Hollywood Golden Age.jpg

Never in the history of time has their been a more influential and powerful movement in cinema as the Hollywood Golden Age. Also known as Classical Hollywood, the 20’s to the 60’s introduced some of the finest filmmakers and actors in history. While the Hollywood New Wave might have changed how cinema was perceived, the Golden Age is what made cinema a staple of pop culture. People were lining up in droves to see the newest John Wayne, Cary Grant, and Marilyn Monroe films and now, nearly 100 years after the start of the Classical era of Hollywood, we still find ourselves going back to this time to find inspiration, influence, and entertainment. While the French New Wave, B-movies, and European Art films all helped shape the climate of cinema today, none of these influential movements in film history would have been possible without the Golden Age of Hollywood!

Citizen Kane     (dir. Orson Welles)   Orson Welles’ masterpiece of a debut is consistently ranked as one of the greatest films to ever be made.  Citizen Kane  has stood the test of time and as it nears it’s 80th anniversary in just a couple of years, it’s still a beautiful representation of how a trailblazing auteur ought to make films.   Citizen Kane  is the story of Charles Foster Kane, a newspaper tycoon who’s constantly testing the reach of his power. Sent off to live with Mr. Thatcher, a powerful banker, young Charles Kane is to be educated so he can properly manage the funds set aside for him in a trust that he will then access when he turns 25. The whole film is told in a flashback structure from the POV of a current newspaper trying to run a story on the meaning behind Kane’s famous last words: “Rosebud.”   Citizen Kane  has been held in such high regard for many years thanks to Welles daring willingness to break all the traditional rules of cinema, and through the process, create his own language with the camera. Through the use of his storytelling and visual literacy, Welles innovated and in turn created new ‘rules’ for aspiring filmmakers everywhere. Although  Citizen Kane  was heavily slept on upon it’s release, French critic Andre Bazin brought it back to the mainstream’s attention for a critical re-evaluation in the mid 50’s. Now, it’s practically undisputed that  Citizen Kane  is the work of a true genius.    5/5     WATCH: iTunes

Citizen Kane

(dir. Orson Welles)

Orson Welles’ masterpiece of a debut is consistently ranked as one of the greatest films to ever be made. Citizen Kane has stood the test of time and as it nears it’s 80th anniversary in just a couple of years, it’s still a beautiful representation of how a trailblazing auteur ought to make films.

Citizen Kane is the story of Charles Foster Kane, a newspaper tycoon who’s constantly testing the reach of his power. Sent off to live with Mr. Thatcher, a powerful banker, young Charles Kane is to be educated so he can properly manage the funds set aside for him in a trust that he will then access when he turns 25. The whole film is told in a flashback structure from the POV of a current newspaper trying to run a story on the meaning behind Kane’s famous last words: “Rosebud.”

Citizen Kane has been held in such high regard for many years thanks to Welles daring willingness to break all the traditional rules of cinema, and through the process, create his own language with the camera. Through the use of his storytelling and visual literacy, Welles innovated and in turn created new ‘rules’ for aspiring filmmakers everywhere. Although Citizen Kane was heavily slept on upon it’s release, French critic Andre Bazin brought it back to the mainstream’s attention for a critical re-evaluation in the mid 50’s. Now, it’s practically undisputed that Citizen Kane is the work of a true genius.

5/5

WATCH: iTunes

Casablanca     (dir. Michael Curtiz)   Another highly recognized piece of cinema history comes with  Casablanca . This Hollywood classic stars some of the biggest names in Hollywood at the time with Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains, and more!  Humphrey Bogart stars as Rick, an expatriate who was forced to leave Paris after the Nazis invaded. He fled to Casablanca in Northern Africa where he runs an American themed nightclub. While working one night, his old lvoer from Paris, played by Ingrid Bergman, arrives with her new husband. He’s a Czech Resistance leader and they need exit visas to get to America and Rick is the only one who can help them.   Casablanca  works because it’s not just one film. It’s a film about many different people from many different places.  Casablanca  is a melting pot of different cultures and points of view that help establish connections with all types of people. Because of that,  Casablanca  becomes one of the most inclusive and relatable films in history.    4.5/5     WATCH: iTunes

Casablanca

(dir. Michael Curtiz)

Another highly recognized piece of cinema history comes with Casablanca. This Hollywood classic stars some of the biggest names in Hollywood at the time with Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains, and more!

Humphrey Bogart stars as Rick, an expatriate who was forced to leave Paris after the Nazis invaded. He fled to Casablanca in Northern Africa where he runs an American themed nightclub. While working one night, his old lvoer from Paris, played by Ingrid Bergman, arrives with her new husband. He’s a Czech Resistance leader and they need exit visas to get to America and Rick is the only one who can help them.

Casablanca works because it’s not just one film. It’s a film about many different people from many different places. Casablanca is a melting pot of different cultures and points of view that help establish connections with all types of people. Because of that, Casablanca becomes one of the most inclusive and relatable films in history.

4.5/5

WATCH: iTunes

Arsenic & Old Lace     (dir, Frank Capra)   Frank Capra, best known perhaps for directing the Christmas classic  It’s a Wonderful Life , came through with  Arsenic & Old Lace  in 1946! A wildly clever and hilarious film starring some of the biggest names in Hollywood at the time.  Cary Grant stars as Mortimer Brewster, a theater critic who’s strongly against marriage. Nonetheless, he still decides to go through with marrying his sweetheart Elaine, played by Priscilla Lane. When the two go to visit Mortimer’s two sweet old aunts. Mortimer discovers that they actually have quite the secret… One involving murdering old men that come to stay in their rented room.  Cary Grant gives one of his best performances, while at the same time giving his funniest performance to date. Capra’s inventive concoction of death and comedy give us one of the earliest examples of the Dark Comedy. A genre that’s constantly being toyed around with today!    5/5     WATCH: iTunes

Arsenic & Old Lace

(dir, Frank Capra)

Frank Capra, best known perhaps for directing the Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life, came through with Arsenic & Old Lace in 1946! A wildly clever and hilarious film starring some of the biggest names in Hollywood at the time.

Cary Grant stars as Mortimer Brewster, a theater critic who’s strongly against marriage. Nonetheless, he still decides to go through with marrying his sweetheart Elaine, played by Priscilla Lane. When the two go to visit Mortimer’s two sweet old aunts. Mortimer discovers that they actually have quite the secret… One involving murdering old men that come to stay in their rented room.

Cary Grant gives one of his best performances, while at the same time giving his funniest performance to date. Capra’s inventive concoction of death and comedy give us one of the earliest examples of the Dark Comedy. A genre that’s constantly being toyed around with today!

5/5

WATCH: iTunes

The Killers     (dir. Robert Siodmak)   Burt Lancaster was one of the biggest names in the Golden Age of Hollywood and he got his start right here in 1946 with Robert Siodmak’s  The Killers .  Lancaster stars as The Swede, who in the opening minutes of the film is gunned down by two killers on the hunt for them. Employing a flashback approach similar to  Citizen Kane,  a PI investigating the case in the wake of an insurance policy taken out on The Swede, begins to uncover The Swede’s messy past that led to him being killed all alone in his bed… Ava Garner, another classical Hollywood legend, got her first noticed role under Siodmak in  The Killers .  While  The Killers  may be more well recognized as staple in the film noir genre, it still acted as an important piece of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Lancaster and Garner would end up being some of the biggest stars of the era, the latter even marrying Frank Sinatra for some time. If it wasn’t for  The Killers , the Golden Age’s identity would be nowhere close to where it is now!    4/5     WATCH: YouTube

The Killers

(dir. Robert Siodmak)

Burt Lancaster was one of the biggest names in the Golden Age of Hollywood and he got his start right here in 1946 with Robert Siodmak’s The Killers.

Lancaster stars as The Swede, who in the opening minutes of the film is gunned down by two killers on the hunt for them. Employing a flashback approach similar to Citizen Kane, a PI investigating the case in the wake of an insurance policy taken out on The Swede, begins to uncover The Swede’s messy past that led to him being killed all alone in his bed… Ava Garner, another classical Hollywood legend, got her first noticed role under Siodmak in The Killers.

While The Killers may be more well recognized as staple in the film noir genre, it still acted as an important piece of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Lancaster and Garner would end up being some of the biggest stars of the era, the latter even marrying Frank Sinatra for some time. If it wasn’t for The Killers, the Golden Age’s identity would be nowhere close to where it is now!

4/5

WATCH: YouTube

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes     (dir. Howard Hawks)   Howard Hawks is often seen as the most important filmmaker of all time. His impeccable sense for storytelling melded with his fluid and exciting use of the camera makes for some of the most memorable moments in cinema history, and  Gentlemen Prefer Blondes  is filled with moments like these.  Starring Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell,  Gentlemen Prefer Blondes  is a story about two showgirls who set sail from the US to Europe on a luxury cruise liner. Monroes character, Lorelei is engaged to be married to some dopey nerd because he has a lot of money. Russell’s character, Dorothy, however has a much different approach to men, in that she’s simply interested in the most attractive men life has to offer. Whilese these two very different friends spend time on this ship, they start to realize that Lorelei’s fiancé has sent an investigator on the ship to make sure that she remains faithful to him while he’s away/  Moments from this film have been constantly parodied and paid homage to, specifically with Monroe’s ‘Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend’ routine.  Hawks’ film is a big reason why Monroe became such a staple in pop culture as both her and Russell’s performances were thoroughly praised by fans and critics alike.  Gentlemen  is the perfect musical to highlight the Golden Age of Hollywood’s true form.    4/5     WATCH: iTunes

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

(dir. Howard Hawks)

Howard Hawks is often seen as the most important filmmaker of all time. His impeccable sense for storytelling melded with his fluid and exciting use of the camera makes for some of the most memorable moments in cinema history, and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is filled with moments like these.

Starring Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is a story about two showgirls who set sail from the US to Europe on a luxury cruise liner. Monroes character, Lorelei is engaged to be married to some dopey nerd because he has a lot of money. Russell’s character, Dorothy, however has a much different approach to men, in that she’s simply interested in the most attractive men life has to offer. Whilese these two very different friends spend time on this ship, they start to realize that Lorelei’s fiancé has sent an investigator on the ship to make sure that she remains faithful to him while he’s away/

Moments from this film have been constantly parodied and paid homage to, specifically with Monroe’s ‘Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend’ routine.

Hawks’ film is a big reason why Monroe became such a staple in pop culture as both her and Russell’s performances were thoroughly praised by fans and critics alike. Gentlemen is the perfect musical to highlight the Golden Age of Hollywood’s true form.

4/5

WATCH: iTunes

Rear Window     (dir. Alfred Hitchcock)    Rear Window  is easily one of Hitchcock’s most respected films and is frequently cited as the ultimate James Stewart as well!   Rear Window  stars James Stewart as L.B. Jeffries, a photographer who suffered a leg injury after a risky attempt at capturing a photo at a car race. Now wheelchair bound with a heavy cast formed on his leg, Jeffries spends his time as a voyeur spying out of his rear window at the lives of his neighbors. While balancing conflicting feelings for his girlfriend Lisa, played by the jaw dropping Grace Kelly, Jeffries believes that his neighbor, whose house he’s been spying in on, has actually killed his wife. It’s up to Jeffries to find proof and convince the detective of his findings!  Even after the releases of subsequent Hitchcock classics like  Vertigo ,  Psycho , and  The Birds .  Rear Window  is still regarded as the Master of Suspense’s best work. Hitchcock always finds unique ways to attach us to his characters and in  Rear Window , he does so by having us take part in the voyeurism that Jeffries kills his time with. This connection makes us just as part of Jeffries mess as he is!    5/5     WATCH: iTunes

Rear Window

(dir. Alfred Hitchcock)

Rear Window is easily one of Hitchcock’s most respected films and is frequently cited as the ultimate James Stewart as well!

Rear Window stars James Stewart as L.B. Jeffries, a photographer who suffered a leg injury after a risky attempt at capturing a photo at a car race. Now wheelchair bound with a heavy cast formed on his leg, Jeffries spends his time as a voyeur spying out of his rear window at the lives of his neighbors. While balancing conflicting feelings for his girlfriend Lisa, played by the jaw dropping Grace Kelly, Jeffries believes that his neighbor, whose house he’s been spying in on, has actually killed his wife. It’s up to Jeffries to find proof and convince the detective of his findings!

Even after the releases of subsequent Hitchcock classics like Vertigo, Psycho, and The Birds. Rear Window is still regarded as the Master of Suspense’s best work. Hitchcock always finds unique ways to attach us to his characters and in Rear Window, he does so by having us take part in the voyeurism that Jeffries kills his time with. This connection makes us just as part of Jeffries mess as he is!

5/5

WATCH: iTunes

The Searchers     (dir. John Ford)   John Ford and John Wayne’s 10th collaboration together came with  The Searchers , one of the most revered Western's ever made.  John Wayne stars as Ethan Edwards, a racist loner with nothing but hatred for the Indians on his mind. However, the Indians don’t really help the situation when they take Ethan’s niece and kill off his brother and his wife in a raid. Ethan goes on a long journey to bring his niece back, but since she’s been away so long she begins to identify with the Comanche tribe more than she did her own background. Ethan must make a choice to either bring her back to where she belongs or to kill her off now that she’s one of ‘them.’   The Searchers  is regarded, time and time again, as the greatest Western ever made. Ford’s visual literacy is at an all time high in this film and his closing shot of John Wayne standing through the doorway, with his back to the Wild West he calls his home, is one of the most famous shots in cinema!    5/5     WATCH: iTunes

The Searchers

(dir. John Ford)

John Ford and John Wayne’s 10th collaboration together came with The Searchers, one of the most revered Western's ever made.

John Wayne stars as Ethan Edwards, a racist loner with nothing but hatred for the Indians on his mind. However, the Indians don’t really help the situation when they take Ethan’s niece and kill off his brother and his wife in a raid. Ethan goes on a long journey to bring his niece back, but since she’s been away so long she begins to identify with the Comanche tribe more than she did her own background. Ethan must make a choice to either bring her back to where she belongs or to kill her off now that she’s one of ‘them.’

The Searchers is regarded, time and time again, as the greatest Western ever made. Ford’s visual literacy is at an all time high in this film and his closing shot of John Wayne standing through the doorway, with his back to the Wild West he calls his home, is one of the most famous shots in cinema!

5/5

WATCH: iTunes