This tradition began four years ago when I thought of no better way to share the joy of the season on this blog than to spread the magic of movies. In a Christmassy sort of way. ‘Tis the season, after all and paying movies forward in hopes that these memorable distractions take your minds off negative goings on is now my December lot in life. I’m asking that you join me, recommend your favorites and #PayClassicsForward on your blogs and across social media.
Give the gift of movies
I realize I am publishing this post much later in December than I have in the past, which leaves you little time to play with it if you are up for the challenge. However, if you are interested here’s the challenge…pick movie recommendations to the “12 Days of Christmas” theme as I’ve done below. Keep in mind that movie choices should be those you think would appeal to non classics fans and there can be no repeats. Let’s grow our community and #PayClassicsForward
On the first day of Christmas, etc., etc., etc…
Excluding the mother of all dream sequences, that is when Dorothy befriends a Tin Man, a Scarecrow, and a lion in a magical land, then I must go with a telling of Charles Dickens’ 1843 classics, A Christmas Carol. I didn’t set out to choose a Christmas story for this, but perused several lists of dream sequences in movies and was shocked that Ebenezer Scrooge’s legendary journey was not even mentioned. I correct that oversight with this entry as it is a dream to fill the heart.
Of all the adaptations of Dickens’ story about morality, human frailty, and redemption the best is Brian Desmond-Hurst’s 1951 movie starring Alastair Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge. This version of A Christmas Carol is good enough to watch all the year with Sim’s nuanced, affecting performance a standout. If you are a rotten person you might want to dream as Scrooge does in this movie and if you are a kind-hearted sort you might want to be reminded of why that matters.
I could have gone with fun times and music for this category, but decided on gloom and doom instead. Take a look and you won’t forget Earle C. Kenton’s Island of Lost Souls (1932), which features a terrifically creepy performance by Charles Laughton. Next I suggest you gather with seven guests who are picked off one by one in Rene Clair’s And Then There Were None (1945) based on one of Agatha Christie’s most famous whodunnits.
No surprise here. See everything they’ve ever done.
From Chaplin’s The Great Dictator (1940)
Hynkel/A Jewish Barber:
“I should like to help everyone if possible; Jew, Gentile, black man, white. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness, not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone, and the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way…”
From Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather (1972)
Don Vito Corleone:
“But I’m a superstitious man, and if some unlucky accident should befall him… if he should be shot in the head by a police officer, or if he should hang himself in his jail cell, or if he’s struck by a bolt of lightning, then I’m going to blame some of the people in this room, and that I do not forgive.”
From Capra’s Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
“Liberty’s too precious a thing to be buried in books, Miss Saunders. Men should hold it up in front of them every single day of their lives and say: I’m free to think and to speak. My ancestors couldn’t, I can, and my children will. Boys ought to grow up remembering that.”
From Robert Mulligan’s To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
“Now, gentlemen, in this country, our courts are the great levelers. In our courts, all men are created equal. I’m no idealist to believe firmly in the integrity of our courts and of our jury system – that’s no ideal to me. That is a living, working reality! Now I am confident that you gentlemen will review, without passion, the evidence that you have heard, come to a decision and restore this man to his family. In the name of GOD, do your duty. In the name of God, believe… Tom Robinson.”
Five golden rings
Not that kind of ring! This kind…
Mark Robson’s The Harder They Fall (1956)
Robert Rossen’s Body and Soul (1947)
Reuben Mamoulian’s Golden Boy (1939)
Michael Curtiz’s Kid Galahad (1937)
Eddie Buzzell’s The Big Timer (1932)
There are quite a few great boxing movies that most have seen like the ones with that Balboa guy. I chose a few that you may not have and should. By the way, I want extra points with Santa for not listing Elvis’ Kid Galahad (1962).
Six Acting-related Stories
Assuming everyone has seen Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard, Joseph Mankiewicz’s All About Eve, and the Donen/Kelly vehicle with dignity, always dignity, Singin’ in the Rain then I suggest the following glittering stories…
Victor Fleming’s Bombshell 1933)
George Cukor’s A Double Life (1947)
Robert Florey’s Hollywood Boulevard (1936)
Joseph Pevney’s Man of a Thousand Faces (1957)
Graeme Clifford’s Frances (1982)
Stuart Heisler’s The Star (1952)
I thought it’d be fun to spread the joy with ideas for classic imbibing. Here are just seven of the many drinks had throughout yesteryear in the movies.
- The Thin Man Martini
“…a Manhattan you shake to a Foxtrot, a Bronx to a two-step, but a Dry martini you should always shake to waltz time.”
1 1/2 oz Dry Gin
3/4 oz Dry Vermouth
Pour into a cocktail shaker, shake and strain into a chilled martini glass.
- The Casablanca Champagne Cocktail
Victor Laszlo’s drink.
1 bitters-soaked sugar cube
1 oz brandy or cognac
Twist of lemon, for garnish
Place your sugar cube on top of the bitters bottle. While holding it in place with your finger, flip the bottle upside down until the sugar cube is saturated. Drop the sugar cube into a champagne flute and add your cognac or brandy. Top with Brut champagne, garnish with lemon and enjoy.
- Margo Channing and the “bumpy night” Gibson
This cocktail is also notable for making a cameo in the train car in North by Northwest, but Margot gets the official shout out today.
Gibson Classic Cocktail
4 parts gin
1 part dry vermouth
pearl cocktail onion
Combine the gin and vermouth in a shaker over ice. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a pearl onion.
- The Some Like it Hot Manhattan
This whiskey cocktail is popular in Wilder’s film and best served after stirring/mixing with a drumstick, cymbal, and hot water bottle on a trail with Sweet Sue and Her Society Syncopaters.
2 oz bourbon
1 ox Italian sweet vermouth
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Combine all the ingredients in a shaker.
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and enjoy.
- Blue Hawaii Mai Tai
1 oz white rum
½ oz Orgeat syrup
½ oz Cointreau
2 oz pineapple juice
1 oz orange juice
Dark Rum float (such as Koloa dark rum)
Pineapple spear and lime (for garnish)
Mix white rum, Orgeat, Cointreau, pineapple and orange juices in a shaker filled with ice. Pour drink into a glass with the ice, and float the dark rum on top. Top with pineapple spear and lime wedge.
Made by Angela Lansbury this is sure to be a hit at any party.
- The Breakfast at Tiffany’s Mississippi Punch
2 oz / 50 ml cognac
1 oz / 25 ml bourbon
1⁄2 oz / 12.5 ml lemon juice
1⁄2 oz / 12.5 ml sugar syrup
1 oz / 25 ml dark rum
- The Scotch Mist from The Big Sleep
It’s important to offer a darker choice so I went for the kind of drink a femme fatale would order when sitting next to Humphrey Bogart.
2 oz. whiskey (whiskey, bourbon)
2 oz. crushed ice
1 twist lemon peel
Pack a collins glass with crushed ice. Pour in scotch. Add the twist of lemon peel and serve with a straw. No garnish because garnish doesn’t fit in a dirty little world.
I know many classic film fans that have not taken the journey into silent film. That was me when I started this blog, but since I’ve made a concerted effort to watch a silent film when time allows. There’s no doubt I would recommend some of the popular greats to the silent movie novice, or films made by the three comedy megastars and the likes of Metropolis or Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, to name just two. This past year I saw most of the following lesser-known gems for the first time and recommend them without hesitation.
Victor Sjöström’s The Wind (1928)
Erich von Stroheim’s Foolish Wives (1922)
Per Lindberg’s Norrtullsligan (The Nortull Gang ) (1923)
Leo McCarey’s Mighty Like a Moose (1926)
Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle’s The Cook (1918)
Lois Weber’s Suspense (1913)
Paul Leni’s The Cat and the Canary (1927)
Fred Guiol’s Duck Soup (1927)
Nine Child Performances
No explanation needed for this lot of talented young ‘uns.
Roddy McDowall in John Ford’s How Green Was My Valley (1941)
Patty McCormack as Rhoda in Mervyn LeRoy’s The Bad Seed (1956)
Jackie Coogan in Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid (1921)
George Winslow in anything, but for now I’ll go for his performance in Howard Hawks’ Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)
Enzo Staiola as Bruno in Vittorio De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves (1948)
Virginia Weidler as Dinah Lord in George Cukor’s The Philadelphia Story (1940)
Patty Duke as Helen Keller in Arthur Penn’s The Miracle Worker (1962)
Eva Lee Kuney as Trina in George Stevens’ Penny Serenade (1941)
Ten Stars and their Dogs
I recently read a startling statistic. It turns out that dogs given to children for Christmas often end up in pounds. Having a pet is a huge responsibility and it should be a choice for life, rather than looked at as a toy. So, if you are inclined to purchase a puppy or kitten for Christmas and haven’t thought about it carefully, spend your time looking at these images instead…
Cat lovers can feast their eyes on this gallery of Cats and Movie Stars.
Eleven heist movies
Jules Dassin’s Rififi (1955)
Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing (1956)
Sidney Lumet’s Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
John Huston’s The Asphalt Jungle (1950)
Joseph Sargent’s The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974)
Norman Jewison’s The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)
Raoul Walsh’s High Sierra (1941)
Jean-Pierre Melville‘s Bob Le Flambeur (1956)
Robert Siodmak’s Criss Cross (1949)
Mario Monicelli‘s Big Deal on Madonna Street (1958)
Fabián Bielinsky‘s Nueve Reinas (Nice Queens) (2000) – I was introduced to this Argentine gem during a course I took on heist films. It immediately became a favorite. Although it’s a contemporary movie, I know all classics fans would love it. It’s a twisty, well-acted labyrinth that’s well worth your time.
I would have included Dog Day Afternoon and The Taking of Pelham… here, but no repeats allowed. These are movies with stories that take place in one day.
Fred Zinnemann’s High Noon (1952)
George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope (1958)
Sidney Lumet’s 12 Angry Men (1957)
Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979)
Frank Capra’s Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)
Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon (1950)
Mike Nichols’ Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolfe? (1966)
Sidney Lumet’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night (1962)
Walter Hill’s The Warriors (1979)
Carl Th. Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)
Fleming, Cukor et al…The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Till next year, my friends.