Saturday, January 31, 2009

I Heart Ernest Borgnine

If reading his biography wasn't enough (read my review of it here), watching the great Ernest Borgnine on TCM's Private Screenings made me half-fall in love with the man. Borgnine is a cheerful, optomistic, hardworking actor who pursued his craft for pure love of it. He has just such a great attitude about the life he's led. His enthusiasm just rubbed off on me.

I promise Ernest Borgnine that I will watch more of his films, for sure. He has garnered so much of my respect that I at least owe him that. And I want to thank Ernest Borgnine for making Marty (1955), which is very high on my list of all-time favorites. I really identified with the Marty character and he played the role so well, I often find myself confusing Ernie with Marty. While I don't make such a huge fuss about the Oscars, I am really glad that he won Best Actor Oscar for this movie. Marty was a little film that almost didn't get made and Borgnine was a man who almost didn't go into show business (if it wasn't for his mother). And Borgnine is one of the few character actors to get the Best Actor Oscar!

So do any Ernest Borgnine enthusiasts have any recommendations for this budding fan? I would love to beef up my Netflix queue with some goodies. I've only seen Marty and From Here to Eternity (1953) thus far and already have Poseidon Adventure (1972) and The Catered Affair (1956) on my list. And if you saw the Private Screenings episode on TCM, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

I don't want to set the world on fire, I just want to keep my nuts warm. - Ernie


Friday, January 30, 2009

Breaking the Code Boxed Set

If you haven't already, please check out my Breaking the Code Boxed Set project I did for Graduate school back '07. I mapped out the whole process from conception to creation. I picked out the movies, designed and created the slipcase for the boxed set, a booklet, naughty promotional postcards and web banner advertisement. I even wrote all the articles for the booklet. A lot of time, effort and love went into the project and although it was a while back, it still holds a very special place in my heart and it hurts me to see it collect dust back in the recesses of my archives. So please check it out!

If you haven't already noticed, the boxed set is not really for sale! It's just a school project. It's not real!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Good Heavens: Heaven Can Wait (1943)

It's funny how over time elements of a movie fade from memory. So much so that most of the particulars are forgotten. When the movie is seen again years later, the film feels brand new and fresh rather than familiar. It's as though those elements were pulled out of the memory vault and not only dusted off put thoroughly cleaned and shined until sparkly.

Watching Ernst Lubitsch' Heaven Can Wait (1943) recently, after a few years hiatus from my last viewing, felt like I had watched the film for the first time. Out of all the 5 heaven movies I'm reviewing (see original list here), this is the only one that actually involves the concept of heaven (and hell) as a place one goes after death. Henry Van Cleeve (Don Ameche) is at the gates of hell, where he expects to be, and his life is being reviewed by Satan, who is reluctant to let him in. What proceeds is a visual journey through the life and times of bad boy Cleeve, from infancy to death. The most moving part of his story is his relationship with his wife Martha (Gene Tierney). He steals her away from his cousin and they elope on his 26th birthday. They continue on to have a passionate and tumultuous marriage that is based on their intense love for one another.

I have to say, this was probably the worst film for me to watch at this stage of my life, as opposed to when I first saw it a few years back. Mortality has been ever-present on my mind lately and the thought of what happens when I die looms around me like a pesky mosquito that won't leave me be. Basically, I'm not in the right place right now to enjoy this film without being depressed by it. Maybe a few years from now, I can watch this film again with a different outlook. I'll put back the elements of this film in my memory vault and leave them there for now.

While most people will look forward to seeing Gene Tierney and Don Ameche in this film, I most enjoyed most of the other actors in the cast. They delighted me immensely when their presence graced the screen for a few or for numerous scenes. Those include Louis Calhern as the doting and befuddled father of Henry, Charles Coburn as the mischevious grandfather of Henry, Dickie Moore as the teenage Henry, Marjorie Main as Martha's stubborn mother and Eugene Pallette as Martha's equally stubborn father. Such a great ensemble of superb actors!

I really hope the title sequence panels for this movie were sewn by hand. Because that would be so cool!

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