Saturday, August 23, 2008

The 12 Movies Meme: Better Late Than Never

Steve from  The Last Picture Show tagged me to fill out my imaginary 12 film retrospective at the venerated New Beverly Cinema.  The object is to submit your choices and tag five more bloggers.  I found out about Steve's tag a little late so this is coming a few weeks after most everyone else's lists.  The 12 Movies Meme originated at Lazy Eye Theatre:

Pre-Code: The Story of Temple Drake (1933, Stephen Roberts) & Convention City (1933, Archie Mayo)
This is truly a fantasy since Jack Warner junked all materials including, crucially, the original negative for Convention City amidst pressure from Joseph Breen and the Legion of Decency. Temple Drake still exists, but it is very difficult to track down.  The latter was one of the most attacked films of the pre-Code era and it still manages to shock even if it is a diluted version of the original William Faulkner story upon which it is based.

Gangs of '79: The Warriors (1979, Walter Hill) & The Wanderers (1979, Philip Kaufman)
Two of my favorite films of any genre or period, unquestionably different, but forever tied together by their being part of the "gang cycle" of 1979.  It's been said that "Alien is to the Stones as Star Wars is to the Beatles."  How would that analogy work for these two (in)famous gang pictures?  Related to these two films is an amusing anecdote from Larry Gross's meeting with Lindsay Anderson on the set of Walter Hill's 48 Hrs.

'68: The Swimmer (1968, Frank Perry) & Petulia (1968, Richard Lester)
Technically, The Swimmer was produced in '65-'66, but was shelved, re-shot, and re-edited by its studio Columbia, producer Sam Spiegel, and Sidney Pollack amongst several others. However, its portrait of a corroding suburbia fits with the tumult of '68.  To say nothing of Ned Merrill and the Lucinda River.  After repeated viewings, Petulia, shot in San Francisco in the wake of the Summer of Love continues to move me in ways I find difficult to put into words.

Lee Marvin: Point Blank (1967, John Boorman) & Prime Cut (1972, Michael Ritchie)
Two of the most enduring and entertaining films from Marvin's post-Cat Ballou and Dirty Dozen heyday.

Noir: The Breaking Point (1950, Michael Curtiz) & On Dangerous Ground (1952, Nicholas Ray)
Two of my favorite examples of films noir because of my great affinity for stars John Garfield and Robert Ryan and because of the melodramatic elements--Garfield and his relationship with his wife (Phyllis Thaxter) and daughters; Ryan's life affirming bond with Ida Lupino--that raise these pictures to greatness.

Western: The Naked Spur (1953, Anthony Mann) & Ride Lonesome (1959, Budd Boetticher)
The current placeholders for the top spots on my Mann and Boetticher lists, filmmakers responsible for two of the most sublime director/star partnerships in the annals of cinema, let alone the Western.

Some runners-up: The Thing (82)/Dawn of the Dead, Pretty Poison/Blue Velvet, The Phenix City Story/Rolling ThunderGun Crazy/Something Wild (86), The Leopard/The Age of Innocence

I'm tagging:


Unknown said...

The Lee Marvin double bill is my fave of the bunch. I really need to see PRIME CUT again. The first time I saw it, I liked it but it didn't really wow me like some other Marvin staples: POINT BLANK, THE KILLERS, etc.

Your runner-ups were awesome, btw.

Ned Merrill said...

PRIME CUT is prime Marvin delivered in a very compact 88 minute running time. A lot of fun and one of those DVDs I marvel at every time I look at it because I can't believe it was actually released.

Thanks for the props on the runners-up. It was really hard to pick 12 so I cheated a bit. I was going a lot for bills that paired a "template film" along with an exceptional film that it influenced.