Category Archives: Classic Film

On My DVR: The Maltese Falcon (1941)

Synopsis (courtesy of IMDb):
A private detective takes on a case that involves him with three eccentric criminals, a gorgeous liar, and their quest for a priceless statuette.

This film is on my 170 list, and I did watch it some years ago, but even then I told myself I’d have to re-watch it someday. I must not have been in the proper mindset the first time because I recall not following the story very well. Any film with the notoriety of The Maltese Falcon and with names like John Huston, Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, and Peter Lorre attached deserves a second watch. This film came out the same year as Citizen Kane and is the iconic Huston’s directorial debut. It earned three Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Screenplay (Huston), and Best Supporting Actor (Sydney Greenstreet).

Director: John Huston
Screenwriter: John Huston
Producer: Hal B. Wallis
Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Peter Lorre, Gladys George, Sydney Greenstreet
Genres: Crime, Noir
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
Runtime: 100 min.


MGM Formally Offers Lead Remake of Stephen King’s CARRIE to Chloë Moretz

(Re-posted from

by Mike Fleming

March 27, 2012

BREAKING: After meeting and reading a group of young actresses for CarrieMGM, Screen Gems and director Kim Peirce have made their decision and made the formal offer today to Chloë Moretz. If negotiations work out, she’ll play the title role in the remake of the Brian De Palma original that was based on the 1974 Stephen King bestseller. She’s expected to play the shy high school student Carrie White, who is raised by a nightmarish religious fanatic mother and comes to grip with devastating telepathic powers just as she reaches puberty. She eventually uses those gifts for lethal means when fellow classmates use the prom as an excuse to humiliate her before the entire school in a parable about bullying. Sissy Spacek played the character in the first movie, with Piper Laurie playing her mother, and Amy Irving, Nancy Allen, John Travolta, Betty Buckley and William Katt rounding out the cast. Both Spacek and Laurie got Oscar nominations for their work in the 1976 film.

The studio and Peirce have been meeting with actresses for the past two weeks. Word all along was that while names like Dakota Fanning were circulating, Peirce and the studio had an eye on Moretz. The studio denied it at the time, but what actually happened is Moretz didn’t meet with Peirce until last weekend. She got the job immediately. Moretz, who first came on with performances in Kick-Ass, (500) Days of Summer and Let Me In, is at the top of the crop of young actresses. Coming off Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, her next major film is the Tim Burton-directed Dark Shadows with Johnny Depp. She’s repped by WME and 3 Arts. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa wrote the script and Kevin Misher’s producing.

Insiders said that once they make Moretz’s deal, they will focus on landing the psycho mom and supporting cast and they will shoot this year.

2012: The Year of the “Best Picture”

After completing the eight-year odyssey that was my 170 list, I’ve turned my sights to a new list: the Oscar Best Picture winners. To date, I’ve seen 65 of the 83 winners (and I’ve seen all Best Picture nominees since 1998).

As the 84th Academy Award nominations are to be announced later today (8:30am EST/5:30am PST), I’m turning my focus to these immortalized films and I’m giving myself until the 2013 Oscars to complete the list. That said, I’m declaring 2012 “The Year of the ‘Best Picture’.”

Here are the remaining 18 Best Picture winners I have left to watch:




Short Film: “A Trip to the Moon”

Martin Scorsese’s recent film Hugo prominently features pioneering French filmmaker Georges Méliès and his works, chief among them is his 1902 short “A Trip to the Moon” (“Le Voyage dans la lune”). This film has the distinction of being the very first science-fiction film. It follows a small group of astronomers who journey to the moon and discover its inhabitants.

This film features innovative animation and special effects. It was named one of the 100 greatest films of the 20th century (#84) in a Village Voice poll.


Official Oscar Poster Unveiled


(Re-posted from The Hollywood Reporter)

by Michael O’Connell
December 28, 2011

For the 84th annual awards, the one-sheet pairs the Oscar statuette with images of eight winning films from eight decades.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released the poster for the 2012 Academy Awards on Wednesday morning. And it promises the 84th annual Oscars will celebrate — as one might expect — movies.

Under the banner “Life. Camera. Action,” the poster features eight Oscar-winning films from eight decades of the show. Gone with the Wind (1939), Casablanca (1943), Giant (1956), The Sound of Music (1965), The Godfather (1972), Driving Miss Daisy (1989), Forrest Gump (1994) and Gladiator (2000) make up the films highlighted. Only one of them, however, did not win best picture. That distinction goes to Giant, which won George Stevens an Oscar for directing.

Academy President Tom Sherak addressed the chosen tagline, “Celebrate the movies in all of us,” in an accompanying release. “Whether it’s a first date or a holiday gathering with friends or family, movies are a big part of our memory,” said Sherak. “The Academy Awards not only honor the excellence of these movies, but also celebrate what they mean to us as a culture and to each of us individually.”

The poster is available for public download on the Oscar website.


After eight years, I finished my 170 list, and I did it one day ahead of schedule (my 30th birthday)! My final film was DW Griffith’s 1916 epic Intolerance, starring Lillian Gish, Mae Marsh, and Robert Harron.

Next up: the remaining 18 Oscar Best Picture winners that I have not yet seen. I’m giving myself until the 2013 Oscars to complete that list.

On My DVR: Spartacus (1960)

One slave leads an uprising in 73 BCE Italy against the Roman Empire. And that’s all we really need to know.

Those who follow this blog know that I put quite a bit of stock in AFI’s “100 Years … 100 Movies” list, which was released in 1997. Those movies (and then some) are all featured on my 170 list. Ten years later, in 2007, AFI decided it was time to revisit its list and reconsider it with a fresh perspective. (View the 10th Anniversary Edition here.) Though Spartacus did not make its way onto the original list, it did find itself placed nicely at #81 on the 2007 list. In fact, several movies off the original list dropped off, making way for several new additions (including Toy Story, Titanic, and The Last Picture Show, among many others). Many of the new additions are on my 170 list, but some are not. I consider those that aren’t as my “170 alternates”: movies that I will watch, but will not include among the others that I intend to watch before my 30th birthday. Spartacus is one of my alternates. (That said, I’ve seen all of my alternates except for Spartacus and Titanic, and I’ve always vowed that Titanic would be the last Best Picture winner that I’d watch.) Titanic aside, by the time of my 30th birthday I would have successfully completed my 170 list and my alternates. Feels good.

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Screenwriter: Dalton Trumbo
Producer: Edward Lewis
Cast: Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Jean Simmons, Charles Laughton, Peter Ustinov, John Gavin, Tony Curtis
Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama, Epic
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Runtime: 184 min.


3 More to Go!

I started my “170” odyssey eight years ago. Now, I have just three movies left to watch before my 30th birthday in five weeks. Here they are:

SUNRISE (1927)

Winner of three Academy Awards during the ceremony’s inaugural year, this is the story of a married farmer who falls in love with a city girl who tries to convince him to drown his wife. This is the first film to win the Oscar for Best Cinematography, and it features Janet Gaynor, the very first Best Actress winner. (In the earlier years, actors could be nominated for their body of work, rather than just one film. Gaynor won her award for this, 7th Heaven, and Street Angel.) Sunrise also won the award for Best Picture, Unique and Artistic Production—a category that existed just that one year.


Joan Fontaine stars in this film about a pianist who receives a letter from a strange woman who may hold the key to his downfall. If there was any film on my 170 list that would have eluded me from reaching my goal, it would have been this one. This was the only movie I couldn’t find anywhere. I began to allow myself to be okay with watching just 169 of the films on my list before my 30th birthday, as this movie seemed “lost.” However, I didn’t give up. I found someone who was selling this movie and I bought it at a good price. It’s now sitting by my TV, waiting to be watched.


DW Griffith followed up his highly controversial The Birth of a Nation (1915) (also on my 170 list) with this epic saga. After Birth, this is the second oldest film on my list. Both star Lillian Gish and Mae Marsh, two highly prolific actresses from the era and arguably among the first bonafide movie stars. This film explores prejudice and intolerance throughout multiple periods in world history. I purposely chose to watch this film last because I’ve owned it for several years and have never been able to bring myself to watch it the whole way through. This film has been with me almost as long as my 170 list, so I thought it would be appropriate to finish off my list with it.

The Homestretch: 10 More to Go!

This past weekend, I watched Patton, the 1970 Best Picture winner that took home a total seven Academy Awards. That’s one more film checked off my 170 list, leaving me with 10 more to go and 127 days left to watch them. Here we go—the final 10:

The Crowd (1928)

Doctor Zhivago (1965)

Continue reading The Homestretch: 10 More to Go!

On My DVR: Sophie’s Choice (1982)

Currently on my DVR is the 1982 classic Sophie’s Choice. This is the story of a Holocaust survivor and her lover as they befriend a writer who lives in their Brooklyn boarding house. This film earned Meryl Streep her fourth Oscar nomination and second win. (She had previously won three years earlier for her supporting role in Robert Benton’s Kramer vs. Kramer.) In total, the film earned a total of five Oscar nominations, with recognition also given to its cinematography, costumes, music, and writing. Sophie’s Choice is based on the William Styron novel of the same title.

This film was not on AFI’s original “100 Years … 100 Movies” list, but it did find a spot on the organization’s 10th anniversary list, creeping in at #91. No doubt, its ranking as one of the greatest 100 American films of all time is partly due to what some consider Streep’s greatest performance.

Director: Alan J. Pakula
Screenwriter: Alan J. Pakula
Producers: Keith Barish, Alan J. Pakula
Cast: Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Peter MacNicol
Genres: Drama, Romance
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Runtime: 150 min.