May 26, 2006

Respectable Collection

There are only so many things a girl can do in a large and lonely apartment all day as she waits for her energy level to slow down and her summer job to start up. I've no cable as of yet, but I do have boxes full of books (all read, of course), stacks of last year's magazines, half-filled sketchbooks, and a refrigerator containing yogurt, orange juice, and a bottle of apple-flavored Bartleby & Jaymes that may or may not be consumable. My uber-friendly new neighbors are on vacation, my roommate took a three-week sabbatical to her hometown, and the flock of friends in my vicinity have flown to Florida for a conference that will last well into June. Je suis seule, mes amis...seule.
In the midst of all this boredom, I've come to rely quite a lot on the trusty cd case that houses my beloved collection of dvds. Movies I haven't watched in months were brought out for re-assessment, and I was definitely surprised at how much I enjoyed some of the discs I've owned for ages and never viewed:

To Catch A Thief, 1955 - Grace and Cary's camraderie seems funnier, and wrought with more sexy tension, than the last few times I've sat through it. The special edition dvd that I own boasts a plethora of extra features, including a documentary on the making of the film, a short biography on the private life of Alfred Hitchcock, and a very interesting look at famed costume designer Edith Head's contributions to Paramount films during her six-decade career. This is delightfully lightweight Hitchcock at its finest....
'Do you want a leg or a breast?'

The Philadelphia Story, 1940 - This week marks the first time I watched this vividly-dialogued spitfire of a romantic comedy after having gained greater appreciation of all four leads: Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, George Brent, and Miss Kate the Great. Everyone from the bitter little Dinah to sour old Uncle Willie the pincher has a memorable and amusing scene, and if the pace saps for even a second (though it rarely does), you can always just marvel at all of the legendary talent squeezed into one screen. Plus, where else will you see Jimmy Stewart drunk in a wicker wheelchair?

'Can you have a drink, or will Kittredge spank?'

Ball of Fire, 1941 - I would be lying if I said that I've owned this movie forever, and it would most definitely be a falsehood if I claimed to never watch it: I bought it just last month and in fact, have watched it practically once a week ever since. Once you get the plot down pat with an initial viewing, Ball of Fire should be watched just to fall in love with its characters and its marvelous acting over and over again. This is the film that not only sold me on Barbara Stanwyck and her be-all, end-all seductiveness, but it endeared me completely to quiet, sensitive Gary Cooper and cemented the lyrics to "Drum Boogie" in my mind forever (Stany sings it in a number with Gene Krupa). I don't care if you've never heard of any of these cats - just Netflix it already, will ya? You won't regret it.

'This is the kind of woman that makes whole civilzations topple!'

Victor Victoria, 1982 - Okay, okay, so it's not classic cinema. But V/V is nearly 25 years old, and it does feature three eminent talents that factor largely into moviemaking of the 1960's: director Blake Edwards, composer (and frequent Edwards collaborator) Henry Mancini, and the beautiful, multi-talented Julie Andrews. Set in Paris in the 1930's (perhaps this lends it its "classic movie" feel), the film follows the struggles of desperately poor young soprano Victoria Grant (Andrews), who soon meets her personal Svengali in flamboyant nightclub singer Carroll Todd (Robert Preston and his ginormous hair). His solution to Victoria's lack of employment involves a short haircut with plenty of brilliantine, disguising a non-existent Adam's apple, and James Garner's greasy gangster character falling in love with a man. That is a man, right...? Either way, Victor/Victoria is a delightful musical with a decidedly adult feel, a sparkling score, and Edwards' signature comedic shots (look for the telltale flaming umbrella).

'Well Greta, whatever he is, I think he's divine.'

What excellent films do you have in your collection that never lose their appeal?

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