Critic-proof cinematic behemoth is sweeping, magnificent, and designed simply to exhaust any supply of superlatives you might have lying about. Towering in scale and power, sealed with dynamite performances and a legendary orchestral score, Lawrence Of Arabia remains an enduring cinematic icon, and rightfully so.
A classic Hollywood comedy/musical, teaming Bob Hope and Bing Crosby for the first time, is amusing, fun and cheeky, all within the frame of pre-war American social expectations. Hope and Crosby are a dream cinematic team, while Dorothy Lamour is luminous (although that could have been the lighting and vaseline-smeared lens!) as their love interest. It’s a throwback to vaudevillian whackiness, as the two lads concoct a plan to spend their lives living large and free from obligation and responsibility – overlooking some minor era-specific laughs, the film holds up well.
It takes a while to get going, but eventually Fellini’s film gets to you. The juxtaposition of a new, modern sensuality (in post-war Italy) against the landscape of historical Rome, eventually sizzles, with Anita Ekberg’s vibrant sexuality almost Marilyn Monroe-esque in luminosity. La Dolce Vita isn’t the classic I’d expected, but as one of the most important works of Fellini’s career, it’s certainly enthusiastic, charming, and intelligent – if not always enlightening.
Consider me educated – The African Queen is charming, effective and above all, fun. The sparkling chemistry between Bogart and Hepburn is key to the film’s success as a story, and without them in the form they are, it would almost certainly have been a lesser production. The African Queen is indeed, just that.
As a kid, I thought this film was astonishing – terrific, to say the least – and now, having seen this film for the first time in some twenty five years, I’m still an ardent fan. Time hasn’t been kind to the films visuals, but then again, one could argue the “time capsule” accomplishment of Petersen’s is repeated throughout effects films down the years; as a story, however, Enemy Mine is as powerful and pertinent now as it was upon release. If you ever get a chance, watch this film, and bask in the haunting performances of both Quaid and Gossett Jr, neither of whom shy away from the potency of the social commentary present within the story.
Considered by many as a classic of the horror genre, Rosemary’s Baby hasn’t fared well in the years since its release. As much as it’s a template for many Hollywood films of its type, and Polanski’s direction is faultless, the critical thing to modern eyes is just how…. clunky it all seems. Mia Farrow’s stammering, helpless mother character is probably more a product of the time, a product largely seen as helpless by a society struggling to unshackle itself from rampant misogyny. At times spooky, at times frustratingly tepid, Rosemary’s Baby is certainly worth a look, but passage of time appears to have worn the edges off its once potent mix of unbridled paranoia and demonic illusion.
Lumbered with a plethora of characters, some of whom just don’t work and some of whom are excellent, Wyatt Earp is directed with terrific visual style by Lawrence Kasdan; it’s the Western’s Western, a “definitive” insight into the famous lawman’s controversial life, and whether any or all of it is true probably isn’t the point as much as making it a great story.
Awe inspiring blockbuster monster movie, the original King Kong remains both a significant entry into the annals of cinema and a terrific film to this day. While the technology behind the film may have become obsolete, the sheer storytelling spectacle of this classic creature-feature remains as potent, and as powerful, as ever.
Terrific acting performances and some delicious cinematography and editing make The Hustler a genuine classic. While the story does become somewhat bogged in tangential narrative, and a middle-section slump, the bravura pool sequences and the appearances of Jackie Gleason, George C Scott and leading man Paul Newman more than make up for the minimal shortcomings. This is a terrific film, even today.
The granddaddy of 80’s sci-fi horror, The Thing still brings a chill to your spine thanks to some stunning creature effects, and a Hitchcockian directorial style by John Carpenter. Moody, atmospheric and claustrophobic, the film may show a few of its seams compared to more recent fare of similar ilk, but as a story and with a style years ahead of everyone else, The Thing remains one of the best horror films of all time.
While it may feel a little clunky by modern standards, there’s no denying the manner in which Forbidden Planet influenced science fiction films ever since. The visuals remain pretty awesome considering the vintage of the film, and the concept is pretty fun, even if today’s audiences will find the acting somewhat stiff and hammy, and Robbie The Robot’s first appearance might be something of a headscratcher – all that taken into account, Forbidden Planet is still a fun watch for what it is.
A terrific throwback to the 30’s, The Rocketeer has all the classic hallmarks of the pulp adventure films which inspired it. The charismatic lead, Bill Campbell, and his gorgeous co-star in Jennifer Connelly, are all but upstaged completely by the bit-players here – Dalton, Arkin and Sorvino, not to mention the large-scale action sequences, and yet it matters not because the film sprinkles old-time Hollywood in with a pseudo Indiana Jones flavor. It works well, and although the slower moments do feel a little lengthy for a film supposedly so fun, The Rocketeer is harmless entertainment for all ages.
Stupefyingly magnificent piece of Americana film-making, to this day a genuine classic, and understandably revered as perhaps the greatest film ever made. Every shot, every cut and fade out is masterful, the cinematography is stunning, and the performances are perfect throughout the film. Absurdly magnificent, Citizen Kane remains a giant of a film, even if the story of its creation overshadows the end result somewhat.
Mind bending, game-changing science fiction film that revolutionized cinema forever, it’s hard to completely fathom just how this dense, intellectually action-packed movie managed to become one of the most iconic of all time and yet, at its heart, still be as fresh and original now as it was upon release. Staggering action sequences, as well as layer after layer of mythology and iconography, ensure The Matrix remains a genuine classic of the medium.
It seemed, during the 80’s, that Arnold Schwarzenegger could do no wrong. Almost every film he appeared in was an enormous financial success. His ability to touch a nerve with audiences around the world would not only propel him to stardom, but give us one of Hollywood’s greatest ever box office draws. With a string of relatively successful box office films behind him, including the campy Conan series, The Terminator, Red Sonja and the bloody Commando, Arnie was becoming well known as a major action star. As if he needed to become typecast, producer Joel Silver and his team approached Arnie with the script to a monster flick entitled Predator. Set in a tropical jungle, and featuring an unstoppable alien creature, intent on hunting him down, Arnie saw potential for the role and for the film’s success. Directed by 80’s action supremo John McTiernan, a man who would go on to helm the 1st and 3rd Die Hard films, Predator had the perfect recipe – throw a bunch of brute-force mercenaries armed to the teeth into a jungle, and then have them chased down by an unstoppable alien killing machine.The result: cinema gold.
A while back, we were approached by fellow film blogger Camiele White about writing an article for fernbyfilms.com, an offer to which we quickly agreed. […]
Brilliant bio-pic of Bonnie & Clyde, well acted by the two main leads and featuring a great supporting cast (Including a young Gene Wilder and Gene Hackman!) is well worth a look, even decades after its initial release. Beatty is superb as Clyde Barrow, a sexually frustrated and anti-social bank robber-slash-murderer, and Dunaway is equally up to the challenge of giving us a sympathetic, if somewhat aloof, Bonnie Parker. Violent and sardonic, Bonnie & Clyde still has “great film” stamped all over it.
Anybody who witnesses this amazing film will be astounded at just how detailed and genuine Das Boot is. Filmed over the course of two years, almost entirely within the confines of the U-boat set, which itself is to-the-last-screw accurate, Das Boot is a harrowing adventure/thriller. The story itself, of a collection of random guys put together in a leaky, creaky seagoing craft and sent out to sink Allied ships, is relatively rudimentary. Where the film rises above the ordinary is in its characters, how they react to the pressure (above and below) to the terror of battle and life-and-death hide and seek.
Terrific cinematic triumph, a story of being outcast and non-conformity: Dumbo is both morally true and gorgeous entertainment. Modern audiences may baulk at the somewhat historic style of animation, but those with an eye for true art will certainly want to recapture the magic of the time they first saw Dumbo take flight.
Colonel Ben Willard (Martin Sheen) is a man on a mental precipice. His post traumatic stress disorder has manifested itself with some severe alcoholism and drug dependency: as the film opens he’s in a near catatonic state, due to his front line experiences in the Vietnam conflict. His superiors, sensing perhaps a chance to exploit his fragile mind, send him on a mission up the fictional Nung River to locate a fellow officer, Colonel Walter Kurtz (Marlon Brando), who he is told has gone rogue. His mission is to locate Kurtz, and terminate the Colonel’s command. Willard joins a team on a patrol boat, and begins his journey up the river. In what becomes an epic journey, Willard begins to question his orders, the motives of those around him, and even his very sanity, as he struggles to understand a war as pointless as it is needless.