Wednesday, 24 December 2008

The Apartment

The last movie to win Oscar Best Picture in Black ‘n’ White was this movie. Of course, it was before Schindler’s list (1993). The Apartment made in 1960 was classic with reputed performers like Jack Lemmon (I cant stop ravishing about him), Shirley Maclaine aptly directed by Billy Wilder. This was a follow up from his previous smash hit comedy ‘Some Like it Hot’.

I was in tears, because I was touched by the simplicity in which Jack Lemmon suppresses his feelings. The feelings when his boss played by Fred McMurray out of his marriage has an affair with Shirley Maclaine and he can just stand and do nothing about it.

It is the apartment, which is in demand for few employees working at an insurance company in New York. The Apartment belongs to Mr. C.C Baxter played by Jack Lemmon. To climb up the corporate ladder, he lends his apartment to his fellow selected higher officials to spend time with their muses outside house. The four managers keep their promise by spending positive appraisals to the personnel director, Mr. Sheldrake played by Fred McMurray.

C.C Baxter is attracted to the elevator operator Miss Fran Kubelik played by Shirley Maclaine. It turns out, Mr. Sheldrake had sights on Miss Kubelik and they were involved in a relationship, which ceases to have an identity.

In adverse circumstances, Miss Kubelik cannot tolerate the mystery of their relationship contemplates suicide and consumes sleeping pills at the Apartment.

C.C Baxter to his shock finds Miss Kubelik in a state of horror. Next few days, he consoles Miss Kubelik and even tries to bring a smile.

While his heroics of saving Mr. Sheldrake gave him a chance to become Asst. director. He always dreamt of this position, now he stalls himself to enjoy the newfound position.


Jack Lemmon puts a remarkable performance. Shirley Maclaine looks cute in her hairstyle.
Fast forward 37 years, Bollywood had its own movie in Yes Boss loosely inspired by the theme where Shahrukh Khan helping his boss Aditya Pancholi to get Juhi Chawla in return for a better corporate future.

And in 2006, another Bollywood movie ‘Life in a Metro’ finds a sub-plot similar to the screenplay of ‘The Apartment’. Sharman Joshi does justice to his role similar to Jack Lemmon while Kangana Ranaut and Kay Kay Menon plays Shirley Maclaine and Fred McMurray to perfection.


However, according to director Billy Wilder, The Apartment was inspired when he had seen the movie ‘Brief encounter’ in 1945.

I quite like the ending scene…. Its about time when C.C Baxter and Miss Kubelik about to start a game of cards….
C.C. Baxter: You hear what I said, Miss Kubelik? I absolutely adore you.
Fran Kubelik: Shut up and deal.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Its a Wonderful Life

I always wondered, why life has lot to give to us when least expected. Is it its own way of testing one’s response? In any case, this movie gave an insight as to how situations pan out which are very different from one’s dream.
This is a story of George Bailey (James Stewart) and his altruism. He always dreamt of traveling places. However, due to his sudden death of his father, his plans had to take a back step, instead he takes over his father’s loan and building company. Mr. Potter’s (Lionel Barrymore) malicious intentions are always cut short by Bailey’s love and affection for his town and the people.



Just to give a glimpse of what this movie is about:
Few days before Christmas, disaster strikes and some part of company’s money is lost when Bailey’s uncle was depositing in the bank. Mr. Potter who was well aware of the possible consequences would hide the money. Fearing about his company shutdown for the loss of money, a frustrated and clueless Bailey contemplates suicide.
His years of goodwill ensured, an angel named Clarence who wants to earn his wings comes to earth. He shows Bailey how his town was if he hadn’t been born. The town would have been in shambles under Potter’s reign. His family members are either dead or led a life of misery.
This probably made Bailey understand the positive impact he had on people’s lives and did re-consider his suicide and also realize what a wonderful life he has had. He did want his life back and more than ever, he wanted to live again.


This was the first movie I had seen of James Stewart and also that of Frank Capra. This was starring debut for Donna Reed who plays Mary Bailey.
Movie has many claims, and is widely rated as one of the top films never to have won Best Picture Oscar only behind Shawshank Redemption. On technical front, this film did innovate a unique method of creating snowfall.

Released in 1947, this movie will go down as one of all time classics not to have won any Oscar.

Personally, this movie was one of the first Black ‘N’ White movies I had seen as a college student. It did have a positive impact on my life then. 4 years hence, I still feel the same vibes when I think about this movie.
The Last scene when Bailey’s daughter is very apt looking at the situation he had to deal with the angel.
At his home when party is on, sound from Christmas bells…
Zuzu Bailey: Look, Daddy. Teacher says, every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings.
George Bailey: That's right, that's right. Attaboy, Clarence.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Charade

A viewer's delight. This movie had two of the great movie stars seen on screen and this marked the first time they starred together. This is Stanley Donen’s romantic-suspense drama ‘Charade’.
The first time when I heard about this movie was in a local quiz competition. Our team didn’t get the answer to the introduction scene of this movie. The movie title always fascinated me. That was just one of many reasons to watch this movie. Little did I know then, it would star Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn?
Cary Grant was 59 and hence wasn’t convinced about the idea of romancing Audrey Hepburn who was just 33 at that time. He did refuse the offers made to him because of the age-difference.
Finally, Cary Grant did agree because of a certain change in the script by Peter Stone, the writer. It was decided that Audrey Hepburn would be pursuing him and promptly the romantically aggressive lines were shifted to Audrey Hepburn's character.
This film also reiterated the fact of Cary Grant playing action roles with ease. He refused James Bond owing to age. Apart from these legendary actors, Walter Matthau plays a pivotal character.

Audrey Hepburn plays the character of Regina Lampert, who would lose her husband through murder. Many of his friends would come to take the money, which was stolen in the form of gold from US Government during WW II. She is ignorant about his past and plot continues when three of her husband’s ex-partners in crime, US Government all chase her in search of the money. Screen name of Cary Grant changes every 20-minutes in the movie who has protective as well as selfish motive in the movie. The movie is shot mainly in Paris and Switzerland.
This movie made in 1963 was a box office hit and this movie happened to be the only time, Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn appeared together on screen. Cary Grant had refused ‘Roman Holiday’ earlier. This movie was listed in Time’s 100 Greatest Movies.
Apart from the lines of Audrey Hepburn, i love the last scene where Cary Grant chases Audrey Hepburn.

Monday, 6 October 2008

His Girl Friday

Call it front-page news or inspired by a drama called “The Front Page”, His Girl Friday will be my pick for all time favorite Cary Grant movies.
This was the second Cary Grant movie for me, and to be frank, I became a big fan of his after watching this movie.
Cary Grant (Walter Burns) plays the role of a Chicago based newspaper editor and the story starts with him losing his main editor, who coincidentally happened to be his ex-wife played by Rosalind Russell (Hildy Johnson).
She would visit him to say that she would be getting married in two days time. She even introduces her to be husband played by Ralph Bellamy (Bruce Baldwin) to Walter.
More than losing his wife, he wouldn’t want to lose his main weapon in Hildy, who had quit the job for marrying Bruce.
Watch the movie to see the events, which keeps rolling while Walter makes every effort to get Hildy back in the job. He ensures Bruce is placed outside the equation so that she doesn’t have to marry him.
Quite a selfish guy to be honest, but it’s the dialogues and the way he convinces Hildy to cover one final story about a convict.
Coming to the origins, the original story had a guy playing Hildy’s role. But director Howard Hawks was convinced the dialogues would suit better if a female plays the role.
The script was altered and rest is a masterpiece with respect to situational comedy.
I have read a lot about this movie and I also came to know that this movie was one of the first, if not the first, films to have characters talk over the lines of other characters, for a more realistic sound. Prior to this, movie characters completed their lines before the next lines were started. I have just put a scene, which showcases this…
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Released in 1940, this movie is one of my favorite. Directed by Howard Hawks, it starred Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, Ralph Bellamy and others.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Sabrina

The aura doesn’t diminish and the role of Sabrina Fairchild will be an all time favourite character of mine. Surprisingly, this was the first Humphrey Bogart movie I saw. Well, the well-known films of his were all before this movie.
Audrey Hepburn overnight became one of my favourite actress is because of this movie. The role of Sabrina has such innocence that one would fall in love with her immediately.

The story goes this way as narrated by Sabrina.
“Once upon a time, on the north shore of Long Island, some 30 miles from New York, there lived a small girl on a large estate. The estate was very large indeed and had many servants. There were gardeners to take care of the gardens, and a tree surgeon on a retainer. There was a boatman to take care of the boats: to put them in the water in the spring, and scrape their bottoms in the winter. There were specialists to take care of the grounds: the outdoor tennis court and the indoor tennis court, the outdoor swimming pool and the indoor swimming pool. And there was a man of no particular title who took care of a small pool in the garden for a goldfish named George. Also on the estate, there was a chauffeur by the name of Fairchild, who had been imported from England, years ago, together with a new Rolls Royce. Fairchild was a fine chauffeur of considerable polish, like the eight cars in his care, and he had a daughter by the name of Sabrina. It was the eve of the annual six-meter yacht races, and as had been tradition on Long Island for the past 30 years; the Larrabees were giving a party. It never rained on the night of the Larrabee party; the Larrabees wouldn't have stood for it. There were four Larrabees in all: father, mother and two sons. Maude and Oliver Larrabee were married in nineteen hundred and six and among their many wedding presents was a townhouse in New York and this estate for weekends. The town house has since been converted into Saks Fifth Avenue. Linus Larrabee, the elder son, graduated from Yale, where his classmates voted him the man Most Likely to leave his Alma Mater Fifty Million Dollars. His brother, David, went through several of the best eastern colleges for short periods of time, and through several marriages for even shorter periods of time. He is now a successful six-goal polo player, and is listed on Linus's tax return as a six hundred dollar deduction. Life was pleasant among the Larrabees, for this was as close to heaven as one could get on Long Island.”
Sabrina, since childhood was infatuated with David (played by William Holden). He hardly notices her, but still cannot keep an eye off him.
When things hardly seem to move, she is sent to Paris to learn cookery so that she takes the place of her mom as a cook in the estate. It is in Paris, she undergoes a lot of changes intellectually, and when she is back to Long Island, she returns as a gorgeous lady.
One scene that attracts is when Sabrina, while she waits for a cab, is noticed by David and offers her to give a lift without realizing she was Sabrina, the daughter of the chauffeur.
Oh, Hello… How are you?? Asks Sabrina
Hello…. I am fine… How are you? I mean who are you? David replies….
Now all this time, Sabrina was warned that she was trying to reach the moon, but after her transformation, she believed the moon was trying to reach her.
The rich and poor status quo comes in between and this is when Linus (Humphrey Bogart) brother of David steps in to resolve it.
Rest is something; I would love the movie to narrate because there are some of the best dialogues and scenes reserved for Sabrina and Linus.
Linus Larrabee: [while slow dancing with Sabrina] How do you say in French my sister has a yellow pencil?
Sabrina Fairchild: Ma soeur a un crayon jaune.
Linus Larrabee: How do you say my brother has a lovely girl?
Sabrina Fairchild: Mon frere a une gentille petite amie.
Linus Larrabee: And how do you say I wish I were my brother?
This was my first movie of Audrey Hepburn. Cary Grant refused the role and Bogie was a late replacement for him.
This movie was later made in 1995 with the same name, starring Harrison Ford playing Linus, Julia Ormond playing Sabrina and Greg Kinnear playing David.
This is not all, 1994 Bollywood movie “Yeh Dillagi” was inspired by the 1954 movie. Scene to scene one can see the resemblance. Kajol playing the Sabrina while Saif Ali khan plays David and Akshay Kumar playing Linus.
Directed by Billy Wilder, this 1954 movie earned Audrey Hepburn an Oscar nomination for best actress. Her haircut became a sensation. This movie managed to bag the Best Costume design (B/W) Oscar nevertheless.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

The Aweful Truth

This movie will be remembered as the first Cary Grant movie I ever picked up. Unlike his other classics, this movie doesn’t have a great story, but if one went back to the era of 30’s I am pretty sure, the theme of the movie would have reflected the mood of many people especially after their marriage.

He stars as a husband who ends up having differences with his wife played by Irene Dunne. Well it starts with the introductory scene itself and what happens later is a series of funny conversations and situations that kept me going till the end of the movie.



Cary Grant who makes every attempt to ruin his wife’s future marriage prospects, by constantly interfering in her personal life while both wait for the divorce, played the role of a married bachelor to perfection.

The same is complimented by Irene Dunne to upset Cary’s future prospects. Since I am a big fan of Cary Grant, I would say this movie was first to showcase his comic persona, which became his trademark as he went on to become a legend in the world of cinema.

This movie is about married couples, their differences, divorce, J factor etc.

Released in 1937, The Awful Truth starring Cary Grant, Irene Dunne, Ralph Bellamy to name a few was voted as the best screwball comedies of 1930’s. This effort also won director Leo McCarey the best director Oscar.

For Fashion pundits, this movie is stylish with respect to its outfits especially the one worn by Irene Dunne in the first scene.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Some Like it Hot

This movie was a debut for me in many aspects. First and foremost attraction was Marilyn Monroe. All I heard previously, she was beautiful, she died young and she was a good friend of John F Kennedy. Ofcourse she was married to baseball player Joe Di Maggio briefly.

I wanted to watch this movie mainly to see Monroe. One isnt disappointed with the introductory scene where in the steam exhaust just kindles her hip as she is walking on a railway platform. She plays the role of Sugar Kane Kowalczyk, a lead singer in a all female band.

If Monroe’s looks were something, check out Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon in their comical best. The story starts with a massacre on St. Valentine’s Day which is witnessed by Joe (Tony Curtis) and Jerry (Jack Lemmon) in Chicago. The mob is after these two and to escape from the city they find themselves disguising as Josephine (Tony Curtis) and Daphne (Jack Lemmon). They end up joining the All-Female music band. They head to Miami for a performance.

Left is Josephine (Tony Curtis) and to the right is Daphne (Jack Lemmon)
Joe falls for Sugar but cannot reveal his identity. Jerry is also attracted to Sugar but he is last in this race as a rich millionaire (Joe Brown) falls for Daphne.

Joe dressed like a rich man impresses Sugar and utilizes the millionaire’s yatch while Daphne is busy with the millionaire. Joe uses Cary Grant’s accent while he seduces Sugar.

Apart from a romantic scene where Joe and Sugar seduce each other, most of the thunder is stolen by Jack Lemmon’s portrayal of Daphne.
The Tango scene picturised on Daphne and millionaire is one of many comical moments which are to be treasured in one’s memory.

The dialogue delivery and the dialogues are hilarious. Look out for series of comical events when mob come to Miami for a convention. They encounter Joe and Jerry and rest is funny.

The movie was shot in black and white much against the contract which stated all Monroe’s movies to be pictured in color at that time. Due to the green tinge prominent on both Tony and Jack’s face, color movie didn’t seem to be the way to go.

This movie was so inspiring that in 1975 Bollywood made a movie called “Rafoo Chakkar” staring Rishi Kapoor, Neetu Singh and Paintlal. Each frame resembles ‘Some like it hot’ barring songs.

Released in 1959, this movie won an Oscar for best costume design for a black and white movie and Jack Lemmon was nominated for Best Actor in a leading role for his cross-dressing portrayal of Jerry and Daphne.

Directed by Billy Wilder, this movie ends with one of the all time favorite dialogues when Daphne reveals he is a man and he cannot marry to the millionaire….. Millionaire coolly replies “Well nobody is perfect”.

A must watch comedy .......

Monday, 8 September 2008

Roman Holiday

Many movies were made in 1950’s; I enjoyed watching the lead actors and mainly actresses of that era essaying the roles with their own screen brilliance… One that comes to my mind is “Audrey Hepburn”. I had watched Sabrina and Charade before I could get a grab on “Roman Holiday”.

Her portrayal of Princess Ann was picture perfect. Her boredom of being the princess and not getting a chance to lead the life she wanted made her uncomfortable, almost every time. She decides Rome to be the place; for her to escape from the monotonous routine and get a breather. She happens to bump into Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck), a press reporter who is in serious need of a story. His discovery of Princess Ann makes him interested all the more than just be captured by beauty. And she was unaware of his motives.

Princess Ann: I could do some of the things I've always wanted to.
Joe Bradley: Like what?
Princess Ann: Oh, you can't imagine. I-I'd do just whatever I liked all day long.
Joe Bradley: Tell you what. Why don't we do all those things, together?
Princess Ann: But don't you have to work?
Joe Bradley: Work? No. Today's going to be a holiday.
Princess Ann: But you want to do a lot of silly things?
Joe Bradley: [He takes her hand] ... First wish? One sidewalk cafe, coming' right up. I know just the place. Rocca's.

She wants to tour Rome…. Smokes her first cigarette, Dance, have a haircut, ride a Vespa, swim, and what not…. Basically, she wanted to have a holiday just the way she would have preferred. Photos were clicked; most of them would have been an embarrassment for the princess but a fortune for Joe and his photographer friend. This is just one of them.As the day comes to an end, Romance does creep in…. And it was in the end when she realizes it is just about the time to get back, she asks Joe to drop her back. Joe knew, and he didn’t try to stop her. Suddenly the motive of using photographs didnt seem to be the way to go.

Princess Ann: I have to leave you now. I'm going to that corner there and turn. You must stay in the car and drive away. Promise not to watch me go beyond the corner. Just drive away and leave me as I leave you.
Joe Bradley: All right.
Princess Ann: I don't know how to say goodbye. I can't think of any words.
Joe Bradley: Don't try.
Princess Ann: At midnight, I'll turn into a pumpkin and drive away in my glass slipper.
Joe Bradley: And that will be the end of the fairy tale.

The last part when Princess Anne comes in terms with her responsibility openly faces the press of Rome. She gets to see Joe and his photographer friend.

Reporter: And what, in the opinion of Your Highness, is the outlook for friendship among nations?
Princess Ann: I have every faith in it... as I have faith in relations between people.
Joe Bradley: May I say, speaking for my own... press service: we believe Your Highness's faith will not be unjustified.
Princess Ann: I am so glad to hear you say it.
Another reporter: Which of the cities visited did Your Highness enjoy the most?
Princess Ann: Each, in its own way, was unforgettable. It would be difficult to - Rome! By all means, Rome. I will cherish my visit here in memory as long as I live.
The last handshake before they part ways. And the long walk wondering ........ which makes us wonder .... "What If???"
The highlight of this movie is this scene for me: Such beautiful improvisation by Gregory Peck towards the end.

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A lot has been expressed in this scene… And this to me is the favorite scene in the movie….
Rather than narrating.... Its worth watching this classic.....Released in 1953, Roman holiday was the biggest grosser and an all time classic. Starring: Audrey Hepburn (debut as leading actress, and eventually won Best Actress Oscar), Gregory Peck whose expressions and deep voice is simply breathtaking. Watch out for the Vespa adventure. And this film is entirely shot in Rome, Italy.