2022: Year In Review + Top 10 Movies Watched

Well, it’s New Year’s Eve, everybody, and it’s time to take a look back at the year 2022. The year started off normally enough (although I did try to pull back from doing entries in my “What’s Old Is A New Release Again” series every week like I’ve done in the past, as that had felt like I was doing too much). I renamed my February 1 posts (which have generally been on films starring Clark Gable) as The King Of Hollywood And I: A Birthday Celebration, due to my shared birthday with him. However, that was as far as I got, as I never finished my logo for that series before events at home delayed a number of things I was trying to do (as I hinted at in my Upcoming Changes For The “Thoughts From The Music(al) Man” Blog post), and left me with no choice but to take the month of April off (apart from my Easter Sunday post). In May, I was able to resume my Thoughts From The Music(al) Man and Star/Genre Of The Month series on Sundays (albeit with biweekly posts as opposed to weekly like I had been doing since I started blogging), and I started doing roundups on multiple films (instead of individuals) for my What’s Old Is A New Release Again series.

Regrettably, those changes haven’t quite been enough, as I referenced more recently in my Changes Ahead Again post. I am still trying to continue into 2023, but, like I had thought when I wrote that post, I have to pull back even further by ending the Star/Genre Of The Month series that I’ve been doing since 2021, and just do one regular Thoughts From The Music(al) Man post per month (although there might be a few exceptions here and there). I will be trying to continue my What’s Old Is A New Release Again series as roundups, but with a few new changes. I’m going to finish out the series on 2022 releases the same way that I’ve been doing so far (which at most means one or two new posts along with some updates to the 4K UHD Roundup and Bob Hope And Dorothy Lamour Roundup, since they’re the only two posts with more releases that I haven’t seen yet). Once I start in on the 2023 releases (which is likely to be in May), I will be doing one post per month in the series (regardless of format, star, etc.). The plan will be to do either a regular review if I only saw one new release the month before, or do roundups for two or more titles (still debating whether or not I will impose a maximum of four films per post every month with the possible exceptions of November and March, although multi-film box sets *might* get their own posts). The big change is that this series will no longer be posted on Wednesdays, but Sundays. My plan is to do my Thoughts From The Music(al) Man posts on the first or second Sundays of the month (although there may occasionally be exceptions) and What’s Old Is A New Release Again Roundups two weeks after that, with the exceptions for the roundups in November (where it will be the last Sunday before Thanksgiving) and March (the last Sunday of the month). Outside of special posts (mostly the “Year In Review” and “Top 10 Disc Releases” plus whatever might be centered on special days), all other posts will also be on Sundays from now on. Hopefully, doing things this way will allow me to keep going for a bit longer.

But, enough about the changes to the blog. What we were all here for was the movies, and, even though I had to pull back on how many films I reviewed per month, I still got in a number of good movies for the year. Like in 2021, I spent most of the year focusing on various movie stars every month (albeit not in blogathon form after the first few months), featuring actors and actresses (and screen teams) like Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy (January), Deanna Durbin (February), Bing Crosby (March), Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour (May), Frank Sinatra (June), Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers (July), Audrey Hepburn (August) and W. C. Fields (November), with one detour in September focusing on musical screen teams. There really wasn’t much of a focus on anything besides that, since everything that happened forced me to pull back almost entirely in April, and, outside of this month’s two Christmas films and finishing up the Thin Man film series earlier this year, I didn’t really go in for anything specific (just watching a few of the movies I was given for Christmas 2021 and my birthday). I had a handful of big discoveries this year, particularly The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm (1962), a bunch of new-to-me W. C. Fields films and the new West Side Story (2021). Almost everything else was movies I had seen before (or films that I didn’t have *quite* as high an opinion of). But, I still enjoyed watching more movies with familiar stars and genres, so there was that!

And with all that said, here’s my list of the top 10 movies that I watched/reviewed for the year 2022, culled from the list of 2022 reviews, plus 2021 releases reviewed after January 1, 2021 and 2022 releases reviewed before December 31, 2022 (also a few films released on disc in prior years, but obviously they’re included in the 2022 reviews).  While I was able to enjoy watching a great many movies, some new and some I’ve seen before, the movies on this list are those I enjoyed the most, and would recommend to anybody that is interested!  And if any of these appeal to you, be sure to click on the movie titles to go to Amazon and support this site!

  1. Top Hat (1935) (Warner Home Video, DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Previously reviewed in: Top Hat (1935)
    • The top spot for 2022 belongs to the one and only Top Hat! Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers play a couple who meet in London, England, but quickly go to Venice, Italy when she mistakes him for the husband of her good friend. The plot may not be the film’s strength, but we’re not here for that, as we want to see Fred and Ginger dance! And dance they do, to a score of some of (in my opinion) Irving Berlin’s best music, including “Cheek To Cheek” and the title tune. Add in a memorable supporting cast, including Edward Everett Horton and Eric Blore, and we’ve got a winner that’s always fun to see!
  1. Funny Face (1957) (Paramount Pictures, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Previously reviewed in: Funny Face (1957)
    • In this musical, Fred Astaire portrays photographer Dick Avery, who convinces Jo Stockton (Audrey Hepburn), an assistant in a Greenwich Village shop, to go to Paris, France as a model for Quality Magazine. It’s a lot of fun, with the beautiful music of George and Ira Gerswhin (and a few newer tunes), plus the dancing of Fred and Audrey in their only film together. With all of that, it’s a film that can’t miss, and is highly recommended!
  1. Monte Carlo (1930) (Criterion Collection, DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Previously reviewed in: Monte Carlo (1930)
    • In Monte Carlo (1930), Jeanette MacDonald plays a broke countess who goes to Monte Carlo to avoid a marriage to a wealthy duke that she doesn’t love. In the process, she falls for her hairdresser (who is actually a count in disguise). As usual, Jeanette is in fine voice, especially for her signature tune “Beyond The Blue Horizon” (which was introduced here).  There are a few other very fun tunes and various bits of comedy to help fill out this wonderful pre-Code, making it well worth seeing!
  1. Can’t Help Singing (1944) (Universal Studios, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Previously reviewed in: Can’t Help Singing (1944)
    • In her only Technicolor film, Deanna Durbin stars as a senator’s daughter who goes west to marry the soldier she thinks she loves, but finds real love on the way with a card sharp. It’s a fun film, with Deanna singing a number of memorable tunes, including the title song and “Californ-I-Ay.” It might be a little too similar to the classic screwball comedy It Happened One Night (1934), but it’s still entertaining, and worth being recommended!
  1. Kiss Me Kate (1953) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Previously reviewed in: Kiss Me Kate (1953)
    • In this classic musical, Kathryn Grayson and Howard Keel star as a divorced couple who co-star (and fight both on- and off-stage) in a musical version of Shakespeare’s Taming Of The Shrew.  It’s an overall fun film, with the benefits of beautiful and/or entertaining music by Cole Porter, plus some fantastic dancing by the likes of Ann Miller, Bob Fosse, Tommy Rall, Bobby Van and others!  It’s a well-regarded film musical for a reason, and I can’t recommend it enough!
  1. West Side Story (2021) (20th Century Studios/Disney, 4K UHD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Previously reviewed in: What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2022) 4K UHD Roundup
    • With regard to this film, the needle may be stuck in a crack, but I can’t help repeating myself. I did not care for the original 1961 film and had no intention of seeing this one. But I decided to give it a shot anyway when it showed up on Disney+, and I was floored by just how much fun this film was! I thought the cast did really well, the songs were fun and memorable (and made me want to get up and dance to them), and the cinematography was beautiful! Plain and simple, this one was a pleasant surprise (and I can’t help but feel like it should have done better, not only financially, but at the Oscars as well), and highly recommended!
  1. Charade (1963) (Universal Studios, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Previously reviewed in: Charade (1963)
    • In this film, Audrey Hepburn stars as Regina Lampert, who has returned home from a vacation in the Swiss Alps, only to find her husband dead and several men trying to shake her down for some money he had stashed somewhere. I’ve said before that I’m no fan of director Alfred Hitchcock (or the types of films he was known for), but this film, Stanley Donen’s homage to Hitchcock, is a thrill from start to finish! I love seeing Audrey and Cary Grant working together, as she makes us cheer for her, while he manages to stay just mysterious enough that we don’t know whether he is a good guy or a bad one. I know the ending, and yet I still feel the suspense every time I see this film. So this is an easy recommendation because of the leads and the story!
  1. The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm (1962) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 9/10)
    • Previously reviewed in: What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2022) Blu-ray Roundup #1
    • The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm tells the tale of the Grimm brothers Jacob (Karl Boehm) and Wilhelm (Laurence Harvey), as Wilhelm seeks out various fairy tales while his workaholic brother insists on doing their job of writing a duke’s family history.  This was very much a new film to me, and it was fantastic from start to finish!  The three fairy tale sections were the best part of the movie (especially with their more musical moments), but the film really shines with all of its scenery, filmed in its original Cinerama glory.  The recent Blu-ray release of this long-forgotten (and long thought to be too difficult/expensive to restore) movie made me a fan, and I heartily recommend it to others!
  1. Murder By Death (1976) (Shout! Factory, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Previously reviewed in: Murder By Death (1976)
    • In Murder By Death (1976), a group of famous detectives and their associates are invited to dinner and a murder. After the murder is committed, the race is on to prove who is the best detective! I’ve seen this spoof numerous times over the years, and it’s one that continues to make me laugh from start to finish, with memorable lines and ridiculous situations. It’s not the most politically correct film (as I mentioned in the original review), but it’s enough fun to recommend it with great enthusiasm!
  1. The Ten Commandments (1956) (Paramount Pictures, 4K UHD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Previously reviewed in: The Ten Commandments (1956)
    • It’s The Ten Commandments (1956).  It’s director Cecil B. DeMille at his very best, bringing all the spectacle and drama of the classic biblical tale to life on the big screen.  With Charlton Heston in the lead role as Moses and a host of many famous names in support, this film is certainly one of the greats of classic cinema.  It may run a bit long for some, but it more than makes up for it in entertainment value in my mind.  I would easily classify it as one of the better movies that I’ve seen this year!

Honorable mentions: You Can’t Cheat An Honest Man (1939) (Kino Lorber Studio Classics, Blu-ray), The Three Musketeers (1948) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray), The Clock (1945) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray), Angels With Dirty Faces (1938) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray)

So thank you all for sticking with me in 2022, and I wish you a Happy New Year as we head into 2023! And please let me know what movies you’ve enjoyed this year as well (whether those you’ve seen or whatever movies I’ve reviewed, whatever works for you)!

Previous Years

2021

2020

2019

2018

“Star Of The Month (August 2022)” Featuring Audrey Hepburn in… Paris When It Sizzles (1964)

We’re back for the second and final post on an Audrey Hepburn film (my Star Of The Month for August 2022). This time, it’s her 1964 film Paris When It Sizzles, also starring William Holden!

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Bird Who Came To Dinner (1961)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Woody Woodpecker Screwball Collection from Universal Studios)

(Length: 6 minutes, 17 seconds)

Woody Woodpecker thinks he’s got it made when he poses as a toy woodpecker that a wealthy woman buys for her son. However, the son is very abusive towards all his toys, and intends to “play” the same way with his new toy! This one was entertaining, giving Woody a villain to fight against (one that seems very much to be the predecessor to Sid from the first Toy Story). It takes a moment for Woody to start fighting back, but it feels worthwhile watching the son get what’s coming to him. Not one of the best Woody Woodpecker cartoons, but it certainly did its job in providing a few good laughs.

And Now For The Main Feature…

Movie producer Alexander Meyerheim (Noël Coward) is currently awaiting the screenplay for his next movie. His screenwriter, Richard Benson (William Holden) has assured him that the script for the movie, currently titled The Girl Who Stole The Eiffel Tower, is almost finished. Alexander is suspicious of that claim, and has decided to visit Richard in Paris to see for himself. Since Richard hasn’t really written it yet (and only has two days to get it done), he hires a secretary, Gabrielle Simpson (Audrey Hepburn), to move in for those two days and help him finish it. On the first day, there are several starts and stops as Richard tries to piece together his ideas, but things go out of control when Gabrielle gets a little drunk and has to call it a night. Inspired by Gabrielle, Richard writes up most of a screenplay, and shares it with her the next day. The two then figure out where to go from there. As they write the screenplay, Richard and Gabrielle fall for each other, but he resists the idea strongly, having been through several failed marriages already. Will the two end up together movie-style when they finish, or will his past (and current issues) come between them?

There was a lot of behind-the-scenes drama in the making of Paris When It Sizzles (which was based on an earlier 1952 French film called La fête à Henriette), with some of those problems being started nearly a decade earlier. After enjoying some early success in her film career with Roman Holiday (1953), Audrey Hepburn had followed that up with the 1954 film Sabrina. During the making of that film, Audrey had an affair with her co-star, William Holden. The affair ended after the film wrapped, although it’s reported that the married William still carried a torch for Audrey. He also had a bit of a drinking problem that had been hurting his career for some time, and it really worsened during Paris When It Sizzles (which was indeed filmed in Paris). It got so bad that director Richard Quine rented a place next to William to help keep him in check. That wasn’t quite enough, and the director had to convince William to undergo treatment for one week. During that time, Tony Curtis was brought in for a quick appearance. Audrey herself was even guilty of causing some trouble, getting the original cinematographer Claude Renoir fired when she didn’t like how the dailies were turning out. In spite of that, Claude was helpful in getting Charles Lang (who had done Sabrina) to be his replacement. Filming was completed in late 1962, but when the Paramount executives saw it, they felt it was unreleasable and held it back until 1964 (which still wasn’t enough for audiences or critics, as the film didn’t do as well as originally hoped).

This does seem to be one of those films that you either love or you hate, and, after finally seeing it for the first time, I would say that I fall into the “love it!” group. The movie is quite enjoyable! Sure, it relies on a lot of romantic comedy clichés, but at the same time, it knows that, which is part of the fun! I know I enjoyed the various “false starts” in them writing the script, and I particularly had a few good laughs out of when the story got derailed completely at the end of the first day, with Richard Benson’s (William Holden) alter ego all of a sudden becoming Dracula and engaging in a madcap chase after Gabrielle’s (Audrey Hepburn) alter ego, in a sequence that was originally intended to be longer but had to be cut short when William Holden got injured in a car crash with one week left to film (although I personally think the shorter length made it better). Tony Curtis’ appearance in the “film-within-a-film” is also entertaining, especially the way that his character is talked about like he was actually a minor character in a movie. And the film’s ending (of Paris When It Sizzles, not the “film-within-a-film”), with all the requisite tropes being discussed by the characters as they engage in them was quite entertaining! And, the movie even threw in a few Easter Eggs referencing Audrey’s films, like Breakfast At Tiffany’s (1961) and My Fair Lady (1964) (although, to be fair, I don’t know how much the reference to My Fair Lady was intentional, since Paris When It Sizzles was filmed BEFORE she filmed Charade but released after it, and I don’t know when she was cast in My Fair Lady, but it’s still fun just the same). I know not everybody will enjoy this movie, but I did! So, I definitely would suggest giving this meta-comedy a chance!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2021) with… Paris When It Sizzles (1964)

This movie is available on Blu-ray either individually or as part of the Audrey Hepburn 7-Movie Collection from Paramount Pictures. My best guess is that it uses the same transfer from the earlier DVD. As a result, the picture looks pretty decent (although probably not *quite* as good on bigger and better screens). There really isn’t much in the way of visible damage, so, while this doesn’t look as good as it could, it’s still probably the best that can be hoped for at the moment (short of a HUGE surge in popularity that would result in them doing right by it).

Film Length: 1 hour, 50 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Forever Female (1953) – William Holden

Charade (1963)Audrey HepburnMy Fair Lady (1964)

Operation Petticoat (1959) – Tony Curtis

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

“Screen Team (Fred Astaire And Ginger Rogers) Of The Month (July 2022)” Featuring Fred Astaire in… Funny Face (1957)

Well, a few weeks back, we looked at one of Ginger Rogers’ solo films, so now we need to look at a solo film for the other half of this month’s featured Screen Team, Fred Astaire!  In this case, we’re going with his 1957 musical Funny Face, also starring Audrey Hepburn!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Termites From Mars (1952)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Woody Woodpecker Screwball Collection from Universal Studios)

(Length: 6 minutes, 21 seconds)

The Earth is being invaded by the Martians!  However, as Woody Woodpecker quickly finds out, these “Martians” are a bunch of termites out to eat up his home!  This one was a bit of a departure from some of the other cartoons in the series.  It’s different seeing Woody be the one getting picked on almost throughout the entire short (until he finally manages to turn the tables).  It has its moments, particularly when the “Martian” invasion is being announced.  It’s not the most original (since, as you can expect, the termites eat up almost everything wooden in sight).  I can’t say as I like this deviation from the regular series that much, but it at least breaks up the monotony (and keeps Woody from becoming too obnoxious).

And Now For The Main Feature…

Quality Magazine editor Maggie Prescott (Kay Thompson) is always in search of starting the next big fashion trend, whether it be everyone wearing pink, or clothing for intellectual women, or finding one woman to represent Quality Magazine itself.  It’s while in search of the second one (clothing for intellectual women) that Maggie and her crew invade a Greenwich Village bookstore to take some photos with their model.  They immediately get on the nerves of the shop owner’s assistant Jo Stockton (Audrey Hepburn), who complains about how they just take over the shop.  When they are finally done, the place is a mess, and Maggie’s head photographer, Dick Avery (Fred Astaire), stays behind to help Jo clean up.  In doing so, he learns of her desire to go to Paris, France and talk to some of the philosophers there.  Later on, when Maggie starts planning out a campaign for the “Quality woman,” Dick suggests using Jo.  Maggie at first dislikes the idea, as does Jo when she is dragged into the Quality offices.  However, when Dick explains to Jo that doing the modeling would result in a trip to Paris, she comes around to the idea.  It’s not smooth sailing at the start, though. Without realizing that she needs to meet with French designer Paul Duval (Robert Flemyng) (who is designing her outfits), Jo goes to a local bohemian café to talk with some of the philosophers there, which prompts Dick to go looking for her.  He helps her to realize her responsibilities, and she shows up for work the next day.  Duval successfully designs a series of outfits for her, and so Dick spends the next week photographing her in those dresses throughout Paris.  However, when they take pictures of her in a wedding gown outside a small country church, she is overwhelmed, and reveals to Dick that she loves him (and he responds in kind).  On the night she is to be presented to the press, she learns that Professor Émile Flostre (Michel Auclair), whom she had come to Paris in hopes of seeing, is speaking at the café, so she stops by to see him.  When Dick comes around to pick her up, he quickly becomes suspicious of Flostre’s intentions and drags her away.  With the two of them arguing, her presentation to the press is a disaster.  Jo decides to not come to the fashion show, and instead goes to a party that Flostre is hosting at his home.  Trying to get her to come to the fashion show, Dick and Maggie go to Flostre’s home in disguise.  But will their efforts work, or will Dick continue to drive a wedge between Jo and himself with his suspicions?

While they may share the same name, the movie is NOT based on the 1927 Broadway show Funny Face that had originally starred Fred Astaire and his sister Adele (although several songs from that show’s score were included in the film).  Instead, the movie was based on an unproduced Leonard Gershe play called Wedding Day.  Producer Roger Edens, working at MGM under famous musical producer Arthur Freed, had bought the rights to the play, intending it as a vehicle for Fred Astaire and then-popular star Audrey Hepburn.  Both Astaire and Hepburn wanted to do the film, but there was one major problem: she was under contract to Paramount Pictures, and they had absolutely no intention of loaning her out to MGM.  So, Arthur Freed let Roger Edens take the project to Paramount, and he brought with him director Stanley Donen and some other MGM talent.  They did some of the location filming in Paris, but the weather caused a number of delays, forcing them to make some adjustments.  Reviews were positive, but the film didn’t do too well at the box office initially.  It wasn’t until the film was reissued in 1964, alongside Audrey’s next big musical, My Fair Lady, that Funny Face was able to become profitable.

I’ve seen Funny Face many times over the years, and it’s a movie that I always love finding an excuse to come back around to!  Fred Astaire’s presence was indeed my original reason for seeing this movie, and he has indeed remained one of the film’s main attractions for me.  And, to be fair, I would say that seeing this film time and time again helped me grow to love Audrey Hepburn as well.  Their three dance duets together (“Funny Face,” “He Loves And She Loves” and “‘S Wonderful”) are definitely the highlights of the film, with the romantic “He Loves And She Loves” being my favorite of the bunch.  Fred and Audrey also get some fun solo routines in the forms of “Let’s Kiss And Make Up” and “Basal Metabolism” (I’ll admit, “Basal Metabolism” took me a while to come around to, since the music and style of dance are so far out of my normal preferences, but it’s grown on me with time).  Kay Thompson adds to the fun in a rare onscreen performance as the no-nonsense magazine editor who usually runs roughshod over everybody to get what she wants (and I wish she had done more work onscreen, she’s so much fun).  All in all, Funny Face is a movie that I love to see again and again, and I certainly recommend it highly!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD either individually or as part of the Audrey Hepburn 7-Movie Collection from Paramount Pictures

Film Length: 1 hour, 43 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #2 in Top 10 Movies Watched In 2022

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Roman Holiday (1953)Audrey HepburnLove In The Afternoon (1957)

The Band Wagon (1953)Fred AstaireSilk Stockings (1957)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you).  If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2022) on… The Ten Commandments (1956)

Since it’s Easter today, I’m back for a brief interruption of my month-long break for another film that’s appropriate for this time of the year!  This time, we’re going with the classic 1956 Cecil B. DeMille biblical epic The Ten Commandments starring Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, Anne Baxter, Edward G. Robinson, Yvonne De Carlo, John Derek, Vincent Price and John Carradine!

When Egyptian Pharaoh Rameses I (Ian Keith) is warned by his wise men that a star has announced the birth of a deliverer for his Hebrew slaves, he orders the death of all the newborn Hebrew boys.  Defying his edict, Yochabel (Martha Scott) puts her newborn son in a basket, and then places the basket in the Nile River.  The basket floats down the river, where it is discovered by the Pharaoh’s daughter, Bithiah (Nina Foch).  Believing the child has been sent from her late husband, she decides to take him in as her new son and names him Moses.  Her servant Memnet (Judith Anderson) sees the Hebrew swaddling cloth and warns her against doing this, but Bithiah forbids her from ever revealing Moses’ Hebrew ancestry.  Fast forward a few decades, and Moses (Charlton Heston) is enjoying great success.  He enjoys the favor of Bithiah’s brother, Pharaoh Sethi (Sir Cedric Harwicke), after a military victory against Ethiopia (and its resulting alliance).  Sethi’s son, Rameses II (Yul Brynner), had been tasked with building a city in time for Sethi’s jubilee, but he has been unable to complete it due to the Hebrew slaves awaiting the arrival of their deliverer.  With the two men vying for the hand of the Egyptian princess Nefretiri (Anne Baxter) (who has been promised to Sethi’s successor), Sethi tasks Moses with the job of finishing the city, and asks Rameses to find the deliverer (if indeed he exists).  When Moses gives the Hebrews one day of rest for every seven days and allows them to raid the temple granaries for food, Rameses and the temple priests try to use this to prove to Sethi that Moses intends to lead the slaves in rebellion against him.  However, Sethi finds that Moses has instead made great progress on building the city, and is now all but assured of being the next pharaoh (to the delight of Nefretiri). Everything is looking up for Moses.

Then things change when Memnet reveals Moses’ Hebrew origins to Nefretiri. While Nefretiri kills Memnet to stop her from spreading the story any further, Moses still learns the truth about his Hebrew ancestry. In the process, he joins with his real family and the other Hebrews in doing slave labor. Nefretiri tries to get him out of there, and reminds him that he could do more good for his people as the next pharaoh. However, Moses still needs to see the master builder, Baka (Vincent Price), before he will do anything more. That proves problematic, as he kills Baka when he finds him torturing the stonecutter, Joshua (John Derek), who had tried to rescue his girlfriend, Lilia (Debra Paget), from being taken advantage of. The Hebrew overseer, Dathan (Edward G. Robinson), sees all this, and, since he was tasked by Rameses to find the so-called Hebrew “deliverer,” he turns Moses in. At Sethi’s jubilee, Rameses reveals Moses “betrayal,” and Sethi has no choice but to make Rameses the next pharaoh. Rameses decides to have Moses exiled in the desert, expecting him to never return. Moses survives the desert, and meets shepherdess Sephora (Yvonne De Carlo), along with her sisters. While he still pines for Nefretiri, he decides to marry Sephora and start a family. One time, while tending sheep near Mount Sinai, he sees a burning bush on the mountain and decides to investigate. There, he hears the voice of God, telling him to go back to Egypt to free the Israelites from their slavery. But will Moses be able to change the heart of the pharaoh with God’s help? (Okay, that question has a VERY obvious answer, but we’ll go with it, anyways.)

In the 1920s, director Cecil B. DeMille filmed a silent film version of The Ten Commandments (which had a prologue that told the story of the biblical exodus before switching to a modern story about two brothers and how they viewed the Ten Commandments). The film was a success, and spawned a “trilogy,” with him doing the silent film The King Of Kings (1927) and later doing the 1932 talkie The Sign Of The Cross. After doing The Greatest Show On Earth (1952), he wanted to remake The Ten Commandments, but this time with a focus on the life of Moses. In spite of his then-recent successes, Paramount’s board of directors were initially hesitant to approve the idea, but they came around at the urging of the studio head, Adolph Zukor. DeMille did a lot of research on the subject, taking inspiration from books like The Prince Of Egypt by Dorothy Clarke Wilson, Pillar Of Fire by Joseph Holt Ingraham and On Eagle’s Wings by Arthur Eustace Southon as well as various historical texts (including the Bible, obviously). He did some location shooting in various places in Egypt, but Charles Heston, Yul Brynner and Henry Wilcoxon were the only major cast members to join him there for the actual shoot (with Yul Brynner really only there to film as Rameses leading the Egyptian chariots after the Hebrew people). The movie proved to be a huge hit with audiences, the biggest of Demille’s career. It also proved to be his last film as director, as his health went downhill (not helped by a heart attack that he suffered from partway through filming, although he was able to quickly return and finish the movie), and he would pass away a few years later in 1959.

I’ve seen The Ten Commandments many times over the years, through VHS, DVD, Blu-ray and now 4K UHD (but more on that in a moment). In short, I like it very much!! It was my first Cecil B. DeMille film, and it’s certainly made it easier for me to try some of the other films that he’s done as a director (even if this one does still remain my favorite of the bunch). And as a DeMille film, I can certainly say that it emphasizes the spectacle over the acting (and boy, does it). Don’t get me wrong, the actors and actresses do pretty well here. Charlton Heston as Moses is very much an iconic role, and I have yet to see any other actor I like better as Moses. That’s just how good he is here. Of course, Yul Brynner makes for a very good villain as Rameses, jealous of Moses’ success and determined not to let Moses get the better of him. Anne Baxter leaves a strong impression as Nefretiri, a temptress bound and determined to get what she wants (and heaven help the people that get in her way, regardless of how she feels for them). And then there’s Edward G. Robinson as the ambitious stool pigeon Dathan (a role that rescued him from being blacklisted at the time), who proves to be just as villainous as he tries everything he can to stay in Egypt after he gains power himself. Seriously, the performances here all make the film enjoyable. While the special effects themselves don’t look the best, I’d still say that they’re quite impressive (especially for a film made WAAAAY before CGI ever became a thing). Arguably, this is my favorite biblical epic, and for that reason, I have no problem whatsoever in recommending it (especially this time of the year)!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2021) with… The Ten Commandments (1956)

This movie is available on 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD from Paramount Pictures. For UHD, there are two options: a regular release that mainly contains the film on one UHD and two Blu-rays (plus some extras on the Blu-rays), or as a limited edition steelbook edition that includes everything in the regular version plus an entire disc of extras (on Blu-ray) that also includes the 1923 silent film version directed by Cecil B. DeMille. The transfer on the UHD still uses the restoration performed for the Blu-ray (released nearly a decade ago), which was already very good, and yet, the extra work done to put this film on 4K UHD shows off this movie just that much more! The colors pop much more, and the textures on everything are even more visible! Honestly, the only times this movie doesn’t look as good (and this is not the fault of the restorationists, but the original filmmakers themselves) are the moments where double exposures are used for the cast members that were not able to film on location. This was the first 4K UHD I was able to see (but, as some may have seen, the second one I have commented on, following my updated review of My Fair Lady, also from Paramount), and it was to my eyes quite spectacular to see. I have no trouble whatsoever in recommending the 4K UHD (especially the limited edition if you can still get it)!

And with that, I bid you “Happy Easter,” as I now resume my break from blogging for the rest of the month. Of course, come the first of May, I will indeed be back to feature my next Screen Team Of The Month (but you’re still going to have to wait until then to see just who I am featuring)! In the meantime, keep enjoying some good (or great) movies!

Film Length: 3 hour, 52 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #10 in Top 10 Movies Watched In 2022

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Charlton Heston – Ben-Hur (1959)

The Sea Wolf (1941) – Edward G. Robinson – Two Weeks In Another Town (1962)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you).  If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

2021: Year In Review + Top 10 Movies Watched

Well, it’s New Year’s Eve, everybody, and it’s time to take a look back at the year 2021. Like the rest of life, change happens here as well, so let’s dig into a couple of things that did change. We’ll start off with one relatively minor one that you probably wouldn’t notice if I didn’t mention it: I’m now making this post an annual thing for New Year’s Eve. Sure, I also did it on New Year’s Eve last year, but the reality is that, apart from my first year when I posted it on Thanksgiving alongside that year’s Top 10 Disc Release post (although it was technically a Top 5 post to start with), I was generally doing it the day after my last review for the year. Plain and simple, I felt this year that it needed to be a New Year’s Eve post every year. Simple as that. I’ve also been working here and there on logos for my various series, and renamed a couple (with one more renamed column making its debut in 2022). I’ve changed a few minor details with my review designs, and made some changes to my homepage’s look.

And there are a few more changes in store going into 2022. I don’t know if many noticed, but I had a HUGE number of posts this year, with my regular Sunday posts, almost every Wednesday (until the last couple of months) for my posts on new physical media releases, plus my newly named Film Legends Of Yesteryear column once a month, as well as entries in my series of The Long And The Short (Series) Of It, Original Vs. Remake, Coming Up Shorts! and Screen Team Edition. It was nice trying to push my limits, just to see how far I could go, but I can’t deny that, for the last few months, I’ve been feeling like I pushed it too far, with too many posts (normally, I like to have my regular Sunday posts written almost two months before they are published, but the last few months, I’ve been finishing a few within the last day before my scheduled publishing date). So, going ahead, I will be pulling back a little. As I mentioned in my last Film Legends Of Yesteryear post, that series will no longer be an extra one, and will instead be part of my regular Sunday or Wednesday posts (whenever I have films that are from 1939, include actress Rita Hayworth amongst the cast, feature screen teams or whatever else I decide to add down the line). I will also no longer be doing any more than two or three posts a month in my What’s Old Is A New Release Again series (if I have more, I’ll just lump all of them into one post with brief descriptions, with a later post to follow in November for titles included in my “Top 10 Disc Release Of The Year” post). How much I do for any of the other non-Sunday series will vary, but the main idea is that I want (and need) to pull back a little for now.

Of course, what we were all here for was the movies, and that didn’t change much. Most of the year has been focused on my various Star Of The Month blogathons, featuring actors and actresses like Doris Day (January), Clark Gable (February), Gene Kelly (March), Cary Grant (May), Claudette Colbert (June), James Cagney (July), Barbara Stanwyck (August) and Humphrey Bogart (November), with one detour in September focusing on the musical genre. Besides all those, I also saw a number of films from writer/director Preston Sturges, with a general emphasis on the comedies, and also had a once-a-month focus on actress Rita Hayworth. My biggest discovery for this year, though, would be the films of child star Deanna Durbin. I had barely heard of her before (but hadn’t seen any of her films), and now, I’ve seen at least six of her films (all of which I thoroughly enjoyed)! I think that more or less sums up my year of movie watching!

And with all that said, here’s my list of the top 10 movies that I watched/reviewed for the year 2021, culled from the list of 2021 reviews, plus 2020 releases reviewed after January 1, 2021 and 2021 releases reviewed before December 31, 2021 (also a few films released on disc in 2018 and 2019, but obviously they’re included in the 2021 reviews).  While I was able to enjoy watching a great many movies, some new and some I’ve seen before, the movies on this list are those I enjoyed the most, and would recommend to anybody that is interested!  And if any of these appeal to you, be sure to click on the movie titles to go to Amazon and support this site!

  1. Singin’ In The Rain (1952) (Warner Home Video, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Taking the top spot for 2021 is the rather obvious choice of Singin’ In The Rain! Very much a tribute to the film’s producer Arthur Freed and his songwriting partner Nacio Herb Brown, this film makes use of some of their best songs, while giving us a story set in the end of the silent film era (close to the time when the tunes were originally written)! Of course, with a cast that includes Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds, the whole affair is top-notch, from the acting to the singing (and especially the dancing!) and always worth seeing (or even just listening to)!
  1. Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • In this biographical musical, James Cagney plays George M. Cohan as he rises to become a famous songwriter and producer. Much of Cohan’s music is here, including the likes of “You’re A Grand Old Flag,” “Over There,” Give My Regards To Broadway” and “Yankee Doodle Boy,” which adds to the fun! But it’s Cagney (in his only Oscar win) that makes the film, as he proves how good he was as a song-and-dance man! Always worth seeing (especially around July 4)!
  1. Naughty Marietta (1934) (Warner Archive, DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • The film that brought America’s “Singing Sweethearts” together for the first time! Jeanette MacDonald plays a princess who escapes to the New World to avoid an arranged marriage, and falls in love with the leader of a group of mercenaries (played by Nelson Eddy, of course). Their chemistry makes the film (especially when they sing the classic “Ah, Sweet Mystery Of Life”), with aid from Frank Morgan and Elsa Lanchester as the Governor and his wife. An easy to recommend classic!
  1. Animal Crackers (1930) (Universal Studios, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • The Marx Brothers are back after the success of The Cocoanuts! Groucho plays Captain Spaulding (“Hooray for Captain Spaulding! The African explorer!”), who is the guest of honor at a weekend party hosted by Mrs. Rittenhouse (played by usual Marx Brothers foil Margaret Dumont). With hilarious comic bits from the Brothers, including “Take A Letter,” Harpo’s thievery, the bridge game and the interactions between Groucho and Chico, this is one of their funniest and most anarchic films (and highly recommended)!
  1. (Tie) It Started With Eve (1941) (Kino Lorber Studio Classics, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Now we have a three-way tie for fifth spot on the list! In It Started With Eve, Deanna Durbin stars alongside Charles Laughton and Robert Cummings in one of her earlier adult roles! She has to pretend to be the girlfriend of Robert Cummings’ Johhny Reynolds, Jr. when his father (Laughton) is on his deathbed (and Johhny’s real girlfriend can’t be found), but she has to maintain the charade when the elder Reynolds recovers! It’s a very heartwarming film, with the song “When I Sing” as its biggest standout tune, and one that I have no trouble recommending for a bit of fun!
  1. (Tie) Mad About Music (1938) (Universal Studios, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • In the second film from the three-way tie, Deanna Durbin is the secret daughter of a Hollywood actress, who can’t tell anybody about her mother, and makes up lies about her father. Her lies catch up with her when, to meet a boy, she says she is meeting her father at the train station, and then has to pick somebody out to maintain her lie! It’s another fun musical from Deanna, with the song “I Love To Whistle” as the film’s big standout! Of course, the comedy works well, too, especially with Herbert Marshall’s composer who must “fill in” as the father! Overall, very fun, and worth seeing!
  1. (Tie) Nice Girl? (1941) (Universal Studios, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • In this third film of the three-way tie, Deanna stars as the middle daughter of a high school principal (played by Robert Benchley). She’s tired of her “nice girl” image, and when a handsome field man (played by Franchot Tone) comes to see whether her father merits a fellowship, she decides to try to do something about her reputation. There’s more fun here with the music, as Deanna sings songs like “Perhaps” and especially “Swanee River.” The comedy works well, especially as she (and her other sisters) try to make up to the field man! Like the other two Deanna Durbin films on this list, it’s a lot of fun, and I think it’s well worth giving a chance!
  1. Roman Holiday (1953) (Paramount Pictures, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Audrey Hepburn’s first starring role! She stars as an over-worked princess who decides to take a day to herself. Gregory Peck co-stars as a reporter who figures out that the girl he helped out is the princess, giving him a potentially big story. An overall very heartwarming film. Audrey’s Oscar win is well-deserved, and the film’s place as a classic certainly merits being on this list!
  1. San Francisco (1936) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • San Francisco features the “team” of Clark Gable and Jeanette MacDonald in their only film together (with Clark being paired up with Spencer Tracy for the first of three films together). In the lead-up to the infamous San Francisco earthquake on April 18, 1906, nightclub owner Blackie Norton (Gable) falls for his new singer, Mary Blake (MacDonald). The earthquake finale is well-done, as we see the city torn apart by mother nature. The movie has some fun musical moments throughout, including the title tune, “Would You” (later used in Singin’ In The Rain) and beautiful renditions by MacDonald of the hymns “Nearer My God To Thee” and “The Battle Hymn Of The Republic.” Overall, a wonderful classic that I love to periodically revisit!
  1. Bringing Up Baby (1938) (Criterion Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn star in this classic screwball comedy about a paleontologist who gets mixed up with a crazy young woman! I took to the film quite well the first time I saw it nearly a decade ago, and after seeing it for the first time since that initial viewing (and newly restored on Blu-ray, to boot!), I think the comedy holds up quite well! From a buried brontosaurus bone to panthers on the loose to time in jail, this film jut gets screwier and screwier (and ever more hilarious), making it one of the better films that I’ve seen this year!

Honorable mentions: The Lady Eve (1941) (Criterion Collection, Blu-ray), It Happened On Fifth Avenue (1947) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray), Libeled Lady (1936) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray)

So thank you all for sticking with me in 2021, and I wish you a Happy New Year as we head into 2022! And please let me know what movies you’ve enjoyed this year as well (whether those you’ve seen or whatever movies I’ve reviewed, whatever works for you)!

Also, if you are interested in joining in on my first month-long “Screen Team Of The Month” blogathon for 2022 (which starts tomorrow) featuring Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy, please be sure to check out my Announcing the Jeanette MacDonald And Nelson Eddy “Screen Team Of The Month (January 2022)” Blogathon post to sign up (or you can wait a few days to see who my star for February will be)!

Previous Years

2020

2019

2018

An Old-Fashioned Christmas Movie On The Farm (2021) with… We’re No Angels (1955)

We’re here today for a slightly-delayed look at the 1955 holiday film We’re No Angels, starring Humphrey Bogart, Aldo Ray and Peter Ustinov!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Come On In! The Water’s Pink (1968)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection: Volume 2 (1966-1968) from Kino Lorber)

(Length: 6 minutes, 4 seconds)

At Bicep Beach, the Pink Panther runs afoul of a muscle-bound freak with his various inflatables.  This one was quite fun, with all the various inflatables that the Panther pulls out of his bag that work well for him (but not so much for the other guy)!  The hunk proves to be a good foe for the Panther as he tries to regain the admiration of the girls on the beach, which certainly adds to the humor.  I know I like this one, and find it worth revisiting!

And Now For The Main Feature…

It’s Christmas Eve, 1895.  Three convicts (Joseph as played by Humphrey Bogart, Albert as played by Aldo Ray and Jules as played by Peter Ustinov) have escaped from Devil’s Island in French Guiana, and made it to the nearby penal colony of Cayenne.  There, the three convicts are able to blend in with other criminals to avoid detection, while making plans to escape via the Paris-bound ship in the harbor.  After giving directions to Medical Officer Arnaud (John Smith), they lift a letter that he was taking to store owner Felix Ducotel (Leo G. Carroll).  The rather inept Felix thinks they are there to help repair his roof, which they agree to do (with plans to later kill and rob him).  While they are on the roof, they overhear a conversation between Felix and his wife, Amelie (Joan Bennett) as they talk about Felix’s rich and miserly cousin, Andre Trochard (Basil Rathbone), who owns the store.  They also talk about how their daughter, Isabelle (Gloria Talbott), has fallen for Andre’s nephew Paul Trochard (John Baer), even though Andre himself will never approve of the relationship.  Once Felix finally opens the letter that the three convicts brought, he learns that his cousin (and Paul) are stuck quarantined on the ship in the harbor, and Andre is demanding Felix’s help getting off the boat.  After Felix runs off, Isabelle reads the letter herself, and faints upon reading about Paul’s engagement (at Andre’s insistence) to the daughter of a wealthy shipbuilder.  Upon seeing Isabelle faint, the three convicts come down from the roof.  Albert and Jules help carry her to her room to recover, while Joseph helps drum up business in the store. Later, to thank them for their help, Felix invites the men to stay for Christmas dinner.  Honored, the three help out by stealing some food and decorations to help make things better for the Ducotels.  With all the kindness and generosity being shown them, the three men reconsider their plans to rob and murder this family. However, things start going downhill when cousin Andre and Paul arrive at the shop in the middle of the night, with Andre demanding their best rooms and the account books without caring about what he’s putting the Ducotels through. Will the three convicts be able to help out their new friends, or will Andre and Paul make trouble for them, too?

Humphrey Bogart and director Michael Curtiz had worked together three times before (Angels With Dirty Faces, Casablanca and Passage To Marseille). For their fourth film together, they went with the story from the 1952 French play La Cuisine Des Anges by Albert Husson (although it later came out that they borrowed a lot without permission from the 1953 English version of the play, My Three Angels by Samuel and Bella Spewack, which forced those authors to sue). The film also featured Bail Rathbone (one of a handful of movies that he had done after the end of the Sherlock Holmes series), and Joan Bennett returned to the screen (with the help and insistence of Bogart) after a scandal nearly three years earlier had effectively blackballed her from Hollywood.

As I hinted at in the start of this post, I had actually intended to review this movie as my final film in November for my Star Of The Month, Humphrey Bogart.  That plan was delayed, as I had never seen the film before, and didn’t get my hands on a copy in time to review it then.  Having seen it now, I can definitely say that it was a lot of fun! It’s a fun story, as we start out with the three convicts trying to evade the authorities while they wait for a Paris-bound ship, and make the decision to rob the Ducotel family (but then find themselves getting involved in helping them out). The film makes use of some dark comedy, particularly with regard to the convicts’ jokes about prison. Some of the films’ most memorable comedic moments for me involve the three men “rushing” to tell Basil Rathbone’s Andre of the poisonous snake in the container he is trying to open (that he thinks they were stealing when it was in fact theirs to begin with), or their lack of worry when SPOILER ALERT the snake also bites Paul. END SPOILER ALERT It’s a different part for Bogart, since he rarely did any screen comedies, but he is effective (and funny!) in this film, which certainly helps make it entertaining. The Christmas holiday angle really makes the film work, as we have the added spirit of the season helping to reform the three convicts (and which also helps make Rathbone’s Andre even more villainous). Speaking of which, while it is a small part, it just goes to show just how good Basil Rathbone is as a villain that he can make us hate him in such a short time, and cheer on the convicts when they hope to do something about him. For being a new (to me) Christmas film, I found this one quite entertaining, and I certainly look forward to coming back to it again and again in the future around this time of the year (so, yes, I definitely recommend it)!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… We’re No Angels (1955)

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Paramount Pictures.  In my opinion, the recent Blu-ray release looks pretty good.  Not having seen the movie before, my best guess is that it is probably the same transfer used for the DVD (but looking better with more space available on the Blu-ray disc).  There are some minor specks here and there, and some scratches more easily visible on bigger/better screens, but nothing too distracting.  For now, this is likely to be as good as this film gets, and I certainly recommend it!

Also, if you are interested in joining in on my first month-long “Screen Team Of The Month” blogathon for 2022 featuring Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy, please be sure to check out my Announcing the Jeanette MacDonald And Nelson Eddy “Screen Team Of The Month (January 2022)” Blogathon post to sign up!

Film Length: 1 hour, 46 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

The Caine Mutiny (1954)Humphrey Bogart

Miss Sadie Thompson (1953) – Aldo Ray

Father Of The Bride (1950) – Joan Bennett

The Adventures Of Ichabod And Mr. Toad (1949) – Basil Rathbone

Father Of The Bride (1950) – Leo G. Carroll

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you).  If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… Roman Holiday (1953)

Today’s post is on a big classic I’ve been waiting a while to see, and that movie would be the 1953 film Roman Holiday, starring Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn! Of course, we’ve got a theatrical short to get through first, and then it’s on to the main feature!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Scratch A Tiger (1970)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of The Ant And The Aardvark from Kino Lorber)

(Length: 6 minutes, 15 seconds)

When the aardvark arrives with a hungry look about him, the ant turns to a tiger he helped out for protection. This one again adds something extra, by having the tiger involved. Obviously, the concept is nothing new, having been done in a number of other cartoons, but it’s still fun here. The ending in particular helps this one stand out a little. I got a few good laughs out of this one, and I don’t mind seeing it every now and then!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Princess Ann (Audrey Hepburn) has been traveling throughout Europe as part of a goodwill tour. When she stops in Rome, Italy, the strain finally gets to her. Her doctor gives her a sedative to help calm her down and allow her to sleep, but she gets away before the sedative starts to take effect. American reporter Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck) is on his way home from a poker game with his friends, when he finds Ann starting to fall asleep. Without knowing who she is, he tries to help her, but she is so out of it, he gets stuck bringing her back to his place for the night. She ends up sleeping on his couch (after he rolls her off the bed). The next morning, Joe is supposed to interview the princess, but he accidentally sleeps in. When he awakes, he rushes in to the office, and tries to fake an interview with his editor. What Joe doesn’t know is that it had been publicly declared earlier that morning that the princess was ill, and would be unable to keep her commitments (including that interview). After the editor lets him dig a deep hole, he then tells Joe off and shows him the news. When Joe recognizes the newspaper photo of the princess, he makes a bet with his editor that he can get an exclusive interview, and then rushes back to his apartment. Ann, unaware that he knows the truth, introduces herself as “Anya,” and gets herself dressed. While she does that, Joe calls his photographer friend Irving Radovich (Eddie Albert) to take some photographs for his story. Ann starts to walk around the city, and Joe follows from a distance. After she buys herself some shoes, gets a haircut and some gellato, Joe “runs into her” at the Trevi Fountain, and the two decide to spend the day together having fun. They are joined by Irving at a restaurant, and, after Joe takes him aside to explain things, he uses a hidden camera in his lighter to take pictures. That night, they go to a dance on a barge. Everything is going fine, until some of the members of her country’s secret service find her and try to take her away. Ann calls out for Joe, who comes to her rescue and starts a brawl. They’re able to get away, and go back to Joe’s apartment. While there, they realize that they love each other. However, they hear on the radio how much her “illness” is affecting the people of her country, and she’s unsure of what to do. Will she stay with Joe, or will she go back and resume her duties as a princess?

Roman Holiday was written by blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo, who had been forced to have a fellow writer, Ian McLellan Hunter, sell it under his name. The story was sold to director Frank Capra, but he ended up not going through with the idea. It was then sold to Paramount Pictures, and director William Wyler jumped at the chance when it was offered to him. His main stipulations would be that the whole thing had to be filmed in Italy (which Paramount initially balked at, but eventually relented on), and he wanted to cast an unknown in the role of the princess. Of course, a big name was still needed, so the director was able to convince Gregory Peck to sign on. As for the princess, Wyler decided to cast Hollywood newcomer Audrey Hepburn (who had heretofore done a few bit parts in some European movies and some small stuff onstage).

While I’ve heard of this movie for a number of years, it wasn’t really until the last half-decade or so that I became interested in seeing it. A lot of that has to do with actress Audrey Hepburn, whom I hadn’t really cared for one way or another, at first. After I finally came around on My Fair Lady, it became a lot easier for me to seek out more of her films since (all of which I have enjoyed). But, Roman Holiday was one that still evaded me (mostly because by that time I had gone to high-definition, and wasn’t going back for standard, especially for a movie that *seemed* popular enough that it should have made the jump to HD). Finally, it made the jump to Blu-ray (more comments on that in a moment), and I got the chance to see it!

In short, I agree with all the high praise I’ve seen doled out to this movie over the years. In her first starring role, Audrey Hepburn gives a breathtaking performance as the princess. From her mental breakdown due to the strain, all through her day of fun, and back to being a princess, it was a pure thrill to see! I definitely would say that she earned that Oscar! And while I’ve never really felt one way or the other about him, Gregory Peck did well, too. I know I enjoyed seeing his character trying to fake the interview with his boss (who obviously knew he was lying through his teeth), and, while his intentions weren’t the best to start, he gradually came around, even though it cost him. And it was fun seeing Green Acres star Eddie Albert here, too (even though he is almost unrecognizable with that beard)! Of course, all the Italian scenery certainly helps sell the movie as well. Seriously, this is a great film, and one I would most certainly recommend!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Paramount Pictures, either individually as part of their Paramount Presents line or as part of the Audrey Hepburn 7-Movie Collection. The movie has been remastered from a 4K transfer, and it looks great! Seriously, this new Blu-ray is the best way to see this wonderful movie, and I would heartily recommend it!!

Film Length: 1 hour, 58 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #8 in Top 10 Movies Watched In 2021

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Gregory Peck – Designing Woman (1957)

Audrey HepburnFunny Face (1957)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you).  If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2019) on… My Fair Lady (1964)

Well, it’s May 20, so let’s celebrate “Eliza Doolittle Day” with My Fair Lady, starring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Spanky (1932)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 3 (1932-1933) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 19 minutes, 52 seconds)

The kids are trying to put on their own production of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, but young Spanky (George McFarland) keeps causing trouble for them. Part of this short’s claim to fame is that it reuses some of Spanky’s screen test, with the bug hunt and the bath, as part of the overall story. Otherwise, it appears to be a talkie remake of an earlier Our Gang short from 1926 called Uncle Tom’s Uncle. Most of the fun here is indeed following Spanky and all the stuff he gets into (including finding his father’s hidden stash of money), along with all the things that the kids in the audience keep throwing at the performers. Given the play that the kids are putting on, some of them are wearing blackface (or something similar), but it’s a relatively minor part of the short (as in, only a few seconds). Overall, I enjoyed this one quite a bit!

And Now For The Main Feature…

This is, obviously, the tale of common flower girl Eliza Doolittle, as played by Audrey Hepburn.  After listening to Professor Henry Higgins (Rex Harrison) bragging that he could help her improve her English enough to work in a flower shop, she comes to his home, offering to pay for some lessons.  Professor Higgins’ guest, Colonel Pickering (Wilfred Hyde-White), makes a bet that Professor Higgins can’t teach her proper English and how to be a lady in time for the Embassy Ball, which Henry takes him up on. Eliza struggles for a while, but finally gets a handle on it.  Sadly, things don’t go quite as well as they had hoped when Professor Higgins and Colonel Pickering take Eliza to the races.  However, Professor Higgins is determined, and they keep working to prepare Eliza for the Embassy Ball.

Playwright George Bernard Shaw first wrote the play Pygmalion in 1912 (which premiered the following year). The play was well-received, and was eventually turned into a movie in 1938 (with Shaw helping to adapt the story). The story begged for a musical adaptation, but it was a bumpy road to get there. For one thing, as I mentioned when I reviewed The Chocolate Soldier (1941), when Shaw’s 1894 play Arms And The Man was adapted into a musical, he despised the results (even if it was popular with audiences) and tried to prevent any more of his plays from being turned into musicals while he was alive (with him finally dying in November 1950). Austro-Hungarian composer Franz Lehár considered setting Pygmalion to music in the early 1920s, but Shaw stopped him. Later on, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein made their attempt at turning it into a musical, but they also had to give up. Finally (in the 1950s, after Shaw had died), composers Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe took on the project, helped by the changing times on the theatrical scene. The final results spoke for themselves, with the 1956 play (now called My Fair Lady) running 2,717 performances.

Of course, with that kind of success, the movie studios came a-calling. Problem was, CBS Chairman Bill Paley had control of the movie rights, since the network had invested $400,000 in the show, and he wouldn’t accept any old offer. Jack Warner (head of Warner Brothers) very much wanted the rights, and finally ended up offering the then-unheard of amount of $5.5 million, which was accepted (and came with some other conditions, one of which amounted to CBS getting the rights to the movie itself after a number of years). With that kind of cost right off the bat, Jack needed a big hit, and, since he himself was producing the movie (a rarity for him), he set out to get some big names for the cast. For the role of Alfred Doolittle, he wanted to get James Cagney (who liked to perform the character’s songs at parties), but the recently retired star refused to come back, especially if he was working under his old boss. So, it was back to Stanley Holloway (who had originated the role on Broadway). For Professor Higgins, Jack wanted Cary Grant, but he, too, refused the role (and after several other big stars were considered, the role went to the Broadway show’s star, Rex Harrison). But when it came to Eliza Doolittle, Jack didn’t want to use the then-unknown Julie Andrews, and very much wanted Audrey Hepburn (who had coveted the role herself after seeing the show). Audrey very much wanted to sing all her songs (even going so far as to work with a vocal coach and spend a lot of time in the recording studio to get things right), Jack felt that she wasn’t up to the task of singing the songs herself and hired Marni Nixon to dub (most of) her songs. He tried to keep that fact a secret, but audiences noticed, and the publicity (not helped by Warner Brother’s publicity department trying to claim, after word got out, that Marni only did half the singing, which her husband angrily denied) resulted in a backlash that saw Audrey fail to receive an Oscar nomination for her role. Still, the film more than made back its cost at the box office, besides winning a number of other Oscars that year.

Of course, we can’t discuss my opinion of My Fair Lady without mentioning the music!  The music is most of the fun with this movie, with songs such as “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly,” “I Could Have Danced All Night,” “On The Street Where You Live” and many others!  I personally enjoy “I Could Have Danced All Night” the most, but I can easily put on the movie’s soundtrack, and be smiling (and dancing) in short order!  It’s just that much fun!

No doubt you also want to know my opinion on the “Audrey Hepburn Vs. Julie Andrews” controversy associated with this movie.  I like Audrey better as an actress and very much prefer her in this role.  I know, she couldn’t handle all of Eliza’s songs, since they weren’t written/arranged specifically for her (unlike the score of the earlier Funny Face, where they were able to pick and choose the songs for her to do her own singing). Whatever we may think, the problem is that, due to the cost of making the film (in between Bill Paley’s asking price and conditions, as well as all the money Jack Warner spent on the film), Jack needed the movie to be a BIG hit, which was way too much of a financial risk to rely on the then-unknown Julie Andrews. For me, Audrey did a wonderful job, and I just can’t imagine anybody else in that role!

It took me some time, but this is a movie I have come to enjoy very, very much!  I mainly saw it at first due to my late grandmother, who really liked it.  I didn’t care for it as much at the time, but I still enjoyed watching it with her. I probably didn’t really start to care for the movie until we finally made the upgrade to Blu-ray and a high-definition television (which happened long after my grandmother passed away). I enjoyed watching it far more than I thought I would. Not much later, I heard about a new restoration of the movie on the way. I ended up seeing that new restoration when it premiered in theatres (the first of two times I have had the good fortune to see this wonderful movie on the big screen), and again (and again) with the Blu-ray for that restoration! I very much understand now why my grandmother enjoyed it, and it has been yearly viewing around May 20 ever since! So, obviously, I recommend this movie!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD either individually or as part of the Audrey Hepburn 7-Movie Collection from CBS Home Entertainment/Paramount Pictures.

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2021) with… My Fair Lady (1964)

On May 25, 2021, Paramount Pictures released My Fair Lady on the 4K UHD format. I fell in love with the movie when I got the 2015 Blu-ray (with the then-new restoration after it had briefly played in theatres), and I was very impressed with the transfer. Quite frankly, I considered that disc to be one of the crown jewels in my physical media collection (if not possibly my favorite, even though I had a number of other movies that I enjoyed even more than this one). It took nearly six-and-a-half years, but the status of that Blu-ray has finally been supplanted (well, five-and-a-half if we allow for when the UHD was actually released instead of when I first got the chance to see it). It still uses that same 2015 restoration, but with all the additional bells and whistles that the UHD format allows for! The detail is much better, as is all the color (especially for scenes like the Ascot races, the Embassy Ball, and a few others that now really pop visually). Quite simply, the picture here is breathtaking throughout the movie! Now, when I first started blogging (and doing the various “Top 10 Disc Releases” of the year posts), it was my intention to update those lists as I saw more and more of the movies released in any given year on physical media. I did so after that first year, but the time and effort proved to be too much, and thus I haven’t updated any of those posts beyond the initial posting. That’s still going to be the case, which is why I feel that I should mention that, for all intents and purposes, I now consider this UHD release of My Fair Lady to be the BEST physical media release of 2021, and therefore have no problem whatsoever in recommending it!

Note: for those who like to “future-proof” their titles by buying combo packs, this release is not recommended, as the two disc set contains the movie (and only the movie) on the UHD disc, and the accompanying Blu-ray is the second disc of extras that has been included with every release of the film since the 2015 Blu-ray. In short, if you are 4K ready, this set is highly recommended (and if you’re not, then I would suggest sticking with the Blu-ray or upgrading to 4K to enjoy the UHD)!

Film Length: 2 hours, 53 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #2 in Top 10 Movies Watched In 2019

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Paris When It Sizzles (1964)Audrey HepburnWait Until Dark (1967)

The Reluctant Debutante (1958) – Rex Harrison

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you).  If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2019) on… Anything Goes (1956)

And here we are, ready to dig into the 1956 film version of Anything Goes, starring Bing Crosby, Donald O’Connor, Jeanmaire, Mitzi Gaynor and Phil Harris.

Broadway legend Bill Benson (Bing Crosby) gets teamed up with television star Ted Adams (Donald O’Connor) for a new show.  They are both allowed to choose the leading lady, although they supposedly agree that Bill can pick, before they take separate trips to Europe.  The trouble starts when they BOTH sign a leading lady, when there is only ONE part!  On the boat trip home, they both do their best to keep the gals from learning the truth, while dealing with a new complication: each is falling for the gal the other signed!

For me, most of the fun with this movie is the music (some of the dancing, as well).  The main highlight of this movie, I think, is the song “It’s De-lovely,” as performed by Donald O’Connor and Mitzi Gaynor.  It’s their romantic duet in the movie, done on the ship’s deck.  I enjoy the music itself, and watching them tap dance together is about as fun as I can hope for.

After that, the two songs with just Bing and Donald are probably the most fun.   The songs “Ya Gotta Give The People Hoke” and “A Second Hand Turban And A Crystal Ball” are two new songs for the movie, supplied by composers Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn, instead of the original show’s composer, Cole Porter.  Both songs essentially allow Bing and Donald to just do pure comedy, as they ham it up together, and they are quite a lot of fun.

The movie is the second film version of the Broadway show from Cole Porter.  The previous film version, back in 1936, also starred Bing Crosby (and sadly, the ’56 version ended up being the last movie he did for Paramount, the studio that he had worked for during most of his career).  I can’t claim to have seen the ’36 film (although it is one I hope to see at some point), but based on the cast, I assume the movie was a bit more centered on singing.  The ’56 version seems to focus more on the dancing, as three of the four main cast members are primarily dancers (with Bing certainly looking out-of-place because of that).  Whatever the case, though, this is a movie that I enjoy, and I would recommend it to anybody that is interested, as it is a lot of fun!

This movie was available on DVD from Paramount Pictures.

Film Length: 1 hour, 46 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

White Christmas (1954)Bing CrosbyHigh Society (1956)

Singin’ In The Rain (1952) – Donald O’Connor

Mitzi Gaynor – Les Girls (1957)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2019) on… Here Comes The Groom (1951)

Time to dig into another Bing Crosby movie, the 1951 Here Comes The Groom, also starring Jane Wyman, Alexis Smith, and Franchot Tone.

Bing plays Pete Garvey, a reporter who has been in Europe a few years covering a story on war orphans, when he receives a message from his girlfriend, Emmadel Jones (Jane Wyman), telling him off for taking so long to marry her when they should have been married and had several kids by now.  After doing a lot of running around to find birth certificates and such for two of the orphans that he had become close to so that he could adopt them, he brings them home to America, with the requirement that he be married within five days.  Of course, he comes home to find out that Emmadel is now engaged to rich Wilbur Stanley (Franchot Tone), which has become a big “Cinderella”-type story for the news media, and she doesn’t want to give him up, even though she comes to care for the two kids.  So Pete wrangles an invitation from Wilbur himself to come stay in the gatehouse of his mansion, where he proceeds to try to win Emmadel back (of course, Wilbur is aware of who he is and what he is trying to do, as well).

Now, the first thing that needs to be mentioned here is the song “In The Cool, Cool, Cool Of The Evening.”  The song won the Oscar that year, the fourth (and final) song to do so that was sung by Bing Crosby.  This song needs to be mentioned, because it is one of those that, if you can’t stand it, then you will have a harder time enjoying the movie.  I say that, because, besides getting a full moment as a musical number, it is also a song that many of the characters are humming and singing throughout the movie, especially since, as we learn early, for both Pete and Emmadel, they “always leave ’em singing.”  Now, I enjoy it (and it always amuses me that Bing’s “rival” Bob Hope was briefly singing it in the next year’s Son of Paleface), so the frequent use works for me.

Of course, another moment worth mentioning is the song “Misto Cristofo Columbo.”  The song occurs on the plane ride over, and is prompted by one of the kids claiming he “discovered America.”  Of course, Bing starts in singing, with a few stars making cameo appearances, including Louis Armstrong, Phil Harris, and Bing’s Road movies co-star, Dorothy Lamour.

As a whole, this movie is one I do enjoy.  It does have its flaws, including the fact that Wilbur’s (fourth) cousin Winifred (Alexis Smith) likes him, and she has Pete and his boss help her to get his attention (including them whistling at her).  In spite of these flaws, this is a movie I recommend, as I always enjoy it when I get the chance to see it!

The movie was available on DVD from Paramount Pictures.

Film Length: 1 hour, 53 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

The Adventures Of Ichabod And Mr. Toad (1949)Bing CrosbySon Of Paleface (1952)

Because Of Him (1946) – Franchot Tone

Lulu Belle (1948)Dorothy LamourRoad To Bali (1952)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!