I am writing this with my eyes half open but I want to get this done and ready for tomorrow. There are so many great films out there it was hard to choose. Wandering Through The Shelves is a great blog where anyone can join in and find 3 films that fit the theme. This week it is about the Best Director and no Alfred Hitchcock in sight this week since he never won an Oscar. Here are my 3...
1. ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT-1930-DIRECTOR: LEWIS MILESTONE
I saw this film when I was in my 20s and was taken by the reality of this film. It is based on the famous book, of the same name, by Erich Maria Remarque from the German's viewpoint but it could be any soldier's view to be honest. We see a group of idealistic German students who decide to volunteer for war. As the years pass, we see the youthfulness fade as death and destruction take hold in their eyes. The lead is played by Lew Ayes who became a pacifist because of this film and was labelled a coward when he refused to bear arms in WW2. He did work for the ambulance corp finding himself in very many tough situations but his heroism has gone unnoticed. When we see documentaries about WW1, they often show clips from this film because of its realism. This was Lewis Milestone's baby who created a masterpiece in story telling even though it is in the early days of sound.
2. CASABLANCA-1943-DIRECTOR: MICHAEL CURTIZ
Well, we all know this film even if we have not seen it because it is justifiably famous. There are so many characters in this film that are given airtime, even though it stars Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, that you are left bummed when the film ends. This whole film is held together by Michael Curtiz, a Hungarian who never quite mastered the English language and could be brutish to work for. This film is about a man(Bogie) who owns a club filled with dissidents, political and otherwise, fleeing the Nazis and stuck at Casablanca because they have no exit visas. Enter Ilse (Bergman) and her husband, Victor(played by Paul Henreid) who are escaping the Nazis because he is wanted by them. He has no clue that his wife and Rick were lovers in Paris before The Nazis stormed in. Their main goal is to get the Letters of Transit that Rick has and everybody wants. This is one of the best films ever made and does not age despite it taking place during WW2. Curtiz kept everything together when no one knew what was truly happening since the writers were writing and re-writing the screenplay during the shoot.
3. THE QUIET MAN-1952-DIRECTOR-JOHN FORD
I love, I repeat, I love this scene where John Wayne's character, Sean Thornton, has had enough of Maureen O'Hara's, Mary-Kate, high minded attitude about her husband, and not getting her dowry which her brother, Will Danaher (Victor McLaglen) has. They think Sean is a coward for not fighting for her not realizing Sean's past as a boxer. This is funny, rip-roaring and great fun with one of the best fights right after this scene. I have to admit, I love it when a man knows how to treat a lady when she deserves a kick in the ass. I am certain this is another movie that many today would squawk at because of this scene not taking in the whole picture and what it means. John Ford is considered one of the best directors ever and has won more than one Oscar. This film was one of his favourites because he loved his native Ireland, grouped his stars that he worked with many times and considered friends. Maureen O'Hara was one of the very few women who would meet with them off screen on their boats since they all loved boating. I think this is a must see film.
OK, I am hoping to relax now
I hope you are feeling more like yourself by now, dear friend. I am happy to join you today "At The Movies." Remember Rex Reed? He'll be 83 later this year. Hard to fathom! The TV station where I worked in the 80s carried At The Movies. I voiced promos for the series and loved watching it.
I'm pretty sure I studied all three of these in my film history course at college. I know for sure we studied the first two. All Quiet On The Western Front reminds me of another great war movie we studied, Stanley Kubrick's Paths Of Glory starring Kirk Douglas. I love the story of how Casablanca, a "difficult birth," emerged as one of the best films of all time even though it was being rewritten while shot and only the director had the vision to see how the pieces fit together. Mrs. Shady is part Irish and together we watched The Quiet Man a few years ago.
Thanks for the entertaining clips and commentary, dear friend BB. I'm thinking about you and hoping you are feeling better by the hour. Enjoy the rest of your week and weekend!
I am slowly feeling better and am going in the right direction. I’m glad you like my picks and Paths of Glory is a stellar film. I’m glad you saw The Quiet Man and Casablanca is such a great film. Curtis rightly deserved the Oscar but can you imagine Ronald Reagan in the lead? Yikes! Oh yes, I know Rex Reed and never liked him even when he was on The Gong Show.Delete
I've seen all three of those movies!ReplyDelete
I have to go with Peter Jackson for LOTR Return of the King.
I love that trilogy and he deserved all the accoladesDelete
I've never seen any of these films, but have always wanted to see Casablanca. I'm not sure what I'm seeing in the clip on The Quiet Man, but John Wayne looked like a bully to me. Maybe I don't get it, but that is no way to treat any human being.ReplyDelete
Hope you are feeling much better now.
Oh no....you have to see the film because she deserved that kick in the ass! Throughout most of the film, Wayne’s character is soft and gentle with her and refuses to fight so his wife and the townsfolk think he is a coward. She treats him with disdain and is condescending to him making him walk home, many miles at one point. This is because he refuses to fight her brutish bully of a brother who will not give her her dowry. When he finds out she is leaving him, Wayne has finally had enough and this is the precursor to the big fight.Delete
Casablanca truly is timeless.ReplyDelete
Glad you are better today and trust tomorrow you'll be better yet.
It is timeless. I am slowly getting better.Delete
I love Casablanca. That was every bit as good as I heard it would be. I haven't seen your other two picks.ReplyDelete
It’s excellent and I hope you will see the other 2 one day.Delete
Fantastic cherces! I'm especially fond of 'THE QUIET MAN' and 'CASABLANCA'. (The former might be on my list of 'Top Ten All-Time Favorite Movies', and the latter is definitely #2 on my list of 'All-Time Favorite Film Noir'. Yes, despite what some naysayers try to claim, 'Casablanca' is ABSOLUTELY Film Noir!!)
When I first read the category 'Thursday Movie Picks: Best Director', I assumed the game was to pick an overall favorite director and then list 3 of what the participant feels is his best work. So, like Frank Sinatra did, I'm going to play this game "MY WAY".
OVERALL FAVORITE DIRECTOR:
MY FAVORITE OF THE DIRECTOR'S WORK:
ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST
A flawless movie, loaded with humor and pathos. Without a doubt one of my all-time Top 5 favorite films! Oscar wins: Best Picture, Best Director.
What can I say about this that hasn't already been said? Great, great movie. Oscar wins: Best Picture, and another Best Director award for Forman.
Yeah, some people don't like it. It's a musical, so that probably doesn't appeal to some folks. But I LOVE the originality of it -- the colors -- the choreography -- most of the music -- the wild, wild humor in it.
TREAT WILLIAMS just EXPLODES with charisma on the screen, and the story has one of the all-time greatest twist endings I've ever seen. I think it's a GREAT musical, and even though the New York Times placed the film on its Best 1000 Movies Ever list, I still consider it very underrated.
'STEPHEN T. McCARTHY REVIEWS...'
Well, hello! I hope you are doing well and are not too busy. I’m glad you like my picks and very cool to go with one director and you picked a good one! One Flew is such a great film and I love the scene when Jack creates the ball game when that twisted nurse turns the tv off. I love Amadeus from the fantastic music which can not be denied to the great acting, costumes, art direction etc... I have not seen the last film though which I should see one day.Delete
I'll go the Frank Sinatra route but in a different way that Stephen did above.ReplyDelete
3 of my favorite directors are:
Federico Fellini with his film Roma at the top of my list.
Francis Ford Coppola with Apocalypse Now as my favorite.
Roman Polanski with more than one, but today I'll put Chinatown at the top of my list.
And that's that.
Tossing It Out
I have not seen Roma but I have seen the other 2 and Apocalypse Now is a true classic. Chinatown is also excellent even though it is not a favourite of mine I do think it deserves the accolades.Delete
Well, if we play the overall best director then I am definitely going with Hitchcock. Is there anything eerier than Manderley and Rebecca?ReplyDelete
You are taking another route and that is great because Hitchcock deserved an Oscar more than once.Delete
I hope you got some good sleep. I have, of course, seen Casablanca. Not the others, I'm afraid.ReplyDelete
I have been sleeping quite a bit. I hope you can see the others one day.Delete
All Quiet is astonishing for so many reasons but the fluidity that Milestone managed this early in the sound era is amazing. It's a sobering watch but an essential one.
I'm not a huge lover of The Quiet Man. It's fine, well-directed and acted but it's never pulled me in the way it does others. My grandmother LOVED IT and it just won't be Easter at her house if we didn't watch the movie. :-)
We match!! Thought we might with Casablanca, I was tempted to forego it but it really is such an exemplary example of studio filmmaking at its best I just couldn't. Endlessly rewatchable.
I tried to really focus in on choosing pictures where I agreed with the Academy's choice for direction not just ones I liked.
The Awful Truth (1937)-Leo McCarey-A nearly divorced couple (Cary Grant & Irene Dunne) sense that they are making a mistake. Rather than saying it out loud they resort to outlandish pranks to ruin the new relationships the other partner has started. While it’s true McCarey has three of the best comic performers of the day (Grant, Dunne and Ralph Bellamy) at his disposal his deftness and surety of pace and camera angle capture them at peak performance.
Casablanca (1942)-Michael Curtiz-Of all the gin joints in all the world Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) walks into cynical ex-lover Rick’s (Humphrey Bogart) with freedom fighting husband Victor (Paul Henreid) while Sam (Dooley Wilson) plays “As Time Goes By” until gendarme Louis (Claude Rains) rounds up the usual suspects. Never has a sturdy directorial hand’s great influence been better illustrated. The filming was famously fraught with complications (the cast went through multiple changes before shooting started, the script wasn’t finished almost up to the final day of filming, writers came and went, two endings were filmed etc.) but that master of all genres Curtiz guided it along seamlessly never letting the havoc show onscreen.
A Letter to Three Wives (1949)-Joseph L. Mankiewicz-Three well-heeled ladies (Linda Darnell, Ann Sothern and Jeanne Crain) are about to take a boatload of children on a picnic to an isolated island when a letter arrives from their frenemy Addie Ross stating she has run off with one of their husbands…. without naming who. The women spend the day reflecting on whether it might be their man who has taken a powder. Mankiewicz directs his own screenplay with a just the right balance of humor and pathos eliciting superior performances from the cast.
Yeah to us matching on a brilliant film and I love your opening sentence...hahahaa. I still have to see The Awful Truth believe it or not. I have to see this film one day since I love all 3 stars. Do you know I almost went with ALetter To Three Wives which is such a good film that goes unnoticed despite the leads. Linda Darnell shines and so does Jeanne Crain, one of my favourites. I just had to go with The Quiet Man which I just love.Delete
I love your choices, although I wasn't fond of The Quiet Man. Still, John Ford was a brilliant director, and if you love The Quiet Man, then I want to give it another try. My choices: 1. The most recent winner of the Best Director award, Chloe Zhao, for Nomadland. Such a beautiful movie. Of course, Frances McDormand won her third Best Actress award, and then received a fourth Oscar as one of the producers of this Best Picture winner. 2. Two-time winner Steven Spielberg for Saving Private Ryan and Schindler's List--both huge achievements with large casts and all sorts of logistics to consider, and I think, masterpieces. 3. Three-time winner Frank Capra for It Happened One Night, Mr. Deeds Goes To Town, and You Can't Take It With You--all movies that I enjoy, especially You Can't Take It With You. Capra made so many great movies, including the amazing Mr. Smith Goes To Washington and your favorite and mine: It's A Wonderful Life.ReplyDelete
It's hard to make these choices when great directors abound.
I just love The Quiet Man With it’s humour, love of Ireland and the great chemistry of Wayne and O’Hara. I have to see Nomadland and I will because of France’s McDormand who is a much better actress than Meryl Streep. To me, Streep is very over-rated. I think Schindler’s List is a masterpiece in filmmaking even though I have not found the strength to see it since it came out. I love all the Capra films you chose which are great.Delete
Casablanca is such a great pick. That's a movie I definitely need to rewatch.ReplyDelete
It’s one I can watch over and over.Delete
Great choice, Birgit. Thanks to everyone's recommendations on my 50 stars list I'm familiar with the names of these films now. Casablanca is a wonderful film.ReplyDelete
Glad you know these and Casablanca is brilliant.Delete
Loved Maureen O'Hara.ReplyDelete
She is one of my favouritesDelete
Hey we have a match this week, Birgit! I absolutely adore Casablanca. Haven't seen your other two but really intrigued by ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT.ReplyDelete
Cool that we match! All Quiet is an excellent film.Delete
"Casablanca" is a great old film! Humphrey Bogart was a unique actor with his tough guy exterior. Nice movie line up!
He was unique and one you would not think would become a romantic lead.Delete
I hope you got some well deserved rest, Birgit.ReplyDelete
The Quiet Man, which I never heard of, appears to be a fun-filled time. The Irish scenery and accent, that scene --I bet by this time in the movie, you want him to be rougher with her. Ha. Great, lesser known (I assume) pick.