Wednesday, August 27, 2014

BEST PICTURE SHOWCASE: "The Bridge on the River Kwai" (1957)

War films, from my completely unscientific experience and research, tend to run closer to 3 hours than 2 hours more than any other film genre.  This can be good as long as the story keeps moving and stays logical and interesting.  This can also be bad.  In 1957, it was very good indeed, as The Bridge on the River Kwai opened late in the year and had such a strong following that it wound up being the biggest box-office draw for 1958.  This was in no small part thanks to the fact that the AMPAS feted the film with 7 Oscars in March of 1958, including the one that made it eligible for discussion in the Best Picture Showcase.  The film is based on Pierre Boulle's 1952 novel of the same name, and while it certainly takes liberties with the history that inspired the story (the Burma Railway was indeed built in the early 1940's but very little of the presentation in the movie matches the actual chain of events as they occurred), it still remains a gripping movie and one that plays today just as well as it did 56 years ago.  The star power is also truly A-list, including one name that today very few have even heard of, but in the early days of Hollywood, that name was the biggest male sex symbol on the silver screen.  Let's take a look.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

BEST PICTURE SHOWCASE: "My Fair Lady" (1964)

Musicals won a lot of Best Picture awards in the decade of the 1960's, and we're going to look at one of them here today.  Before Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe created Gigi (which won Best Picture in 1958) for theaters, they actually created My Fair Lady for the stage.  There were a few critics who found similarities in the two stories.  Ironically enough, they saw Gigi get released as a movie first and win Best Picture, then some years later saw My Fair Lady get released as a movie and do the same.  To confuse matters a bit more, while Gigi may have been inspired by Lady, the latter wasn't even an original idea in the first place.  Lady was based on George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion, which first hit the stage in 1912.  None of this really matters but it's fun to follow the timeline, and today My Fair Lady is still very beloved by most.  I say "by most" because that means "not by everyone", and I'm specifically singling out yours truly.  Yes, I do not like this musical, and it's one of the few classic musicals that I dislike.  I'll explain why later.  Let's hit the synopsis!