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Thursday, June 23, 2011

More Movies for the Week... Bond and Hitchcock - Summertime Favorites

James Bond and Alfred Hitchcock - our go-to's for summertime films!  Both have dapper guys - Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, Farley Granger...  Sean Connery, Roger Moore and Daniel Craig...  And dreamy gals - Doris Day, Grace Kelly and Kim Novak...  Ursula Andress, Honor Blackman and Eva Marie Saint.  If nothing else, these men and women know how to dress and how to make an impression.

We have certain movies for certain times, just as we have certain books that we go back to each season.  Each year we stay up very late to watch Rear Window on the Fourth of July - it's a family tradition started by our seventeen year-old daughter many years ago.  We also watch it on very hot summer nights, feeling as if we, too, are in that steaming New York apartment with Jimmy Stewart. 

Vertigo, however, is a cooler affair, not least of which because of the ice-cold blonde Kim Novak and the breezier San Francisco location.  I met Kim Novak, quite by chance, at, of all places, The Olive Garden in Medford, Oregon.  The story is pretty funny, and perhaps I'll write about it in the future.  Suffice it to say that, despite the passage of years, you wouldn't mistake Ms. Novak for anyone else, even today.

If you want to head back to the heat of the summer, Shadow of  Doubt with Joseph Cotten as Uncle Charlie will draw you in like no other Hitchcock film.  The family dynamics in this picture are strange, to say the least, and you can almost feel the tension grow between Uncle Charlie and his namesake niece, played by Teresa Wright.  Its surprising and thrilling ending will delight you!

Farley Granger's rather pathetic tennis player and Robert Walker's very creepy Bruno will leave you wondering in Strangers on a Train.  Hitch's daughter, Patricia, has a pretty hefty role in the film, although you sometimes wish that Bruno would, in fact, strangle her as he often imagines himself doing.  This film seems to be filled with rather annoying women, none more so than Farley's first wife, played by the actress who will later portray Louise Tate on Bewitched.  This woman is pure evil!  As for the ending, it will leave you wary of ever riding an amusement park carousel again.

North by Northwest, is a picture filled with iconic moments.  Cary Grant running from a crop duster somewhere in the Midwest (Cary Grant in the Midwest?  Hmmm.)...  Cary Grant saving Eva Marie Saint from a deathly fall from Mount Rushmore...  Cary Grant being seduced by Eva Marie Saint on a train...  It is impossible to look away from this movie for even a second!  You absolutely can't miss the suggestiveness of the very final scene which includes a speeding train and a dark tunnel.

To Catch a Thief is yet another of Alfred Hitchcock's masterpieces from the 1950's.  I don't say this lightly.  As in almost all of the movies I've mentioned so far, save the black and white selections, the truly absorbing storylines have to compete with the Technicolor beauty of the exotic locations and the dreamy designs for clothes and sets.  To Catch a Thief is a first class thriller, and another film that you'll want to watch again and again.  As in all of his movies, Hitchcock puts together casts that completely take on the roles that they play, despite the fact that they often appear in many of his other films.

My final summertime pick from the Hitchcock collection is The Man Who Knew Too Much.  Showing you just how versatile an actor Jimmy Stewart is, you can watch this film back to back with Vertigo and still believe that Jimmy is now married to Doris Day, rather than romancing Kim Novak.  A truly thrilling movie set in Morocco and London, The Man Who Knew Too Much has many surprising twists and turns.  You also get the bonus of hearing Doris Day sing Que Sera Sera, and learning that she's a much better dramatic actress than you'd ever given her credit for.

Goldfinger, Dr. No, Thunderball and From Russia, With Love - all of the early James Bond's are on the list of heat-beating films for those long summer nights.  Skip anything without Sean Connery, picking up the series again with the Daniel Craig's entries of Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace.  Just watching Dame Judi Dench, a firm Dapper and Dreamy favorite, as M makes these last two pictures worthwhile.  So popular is Daniel Craig in the UK that popsicles (or ice lollies as they are called over there) in the shape of his chest were sellouts in summer's past!

To fully enjoy the earliest Bond movies, you have to suspend belief and accept the rather primitive special effects for the marvel they must have been fifty years ago.  You also have to look past the rather sexist treatment of women while admiring their truly fabulous clothes and hairstyles. 

Now, to be fair, none of these movies have a lot of intellectual merit.  And that's one of the best reason's to watch them!  I don't know about you, but at the end of a long, hot day in July or August, there's nothing I like better than not having to think!

All of the films mentioned above will soon be in the Dapper and Dreamy Bookshop!

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