#286 In Cold Blood

Watched: December 6 2020

Director: Richard Brooks

Starring: Robert Blake, Scott Wilson, John Forsythe, Paul Stewart

Year: 1967

Runtime: 2h 14min

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Perry (Blake) is a slightly simple ex-con who dreams of fame and fortune. He breaks his parole so he can return to Kansas in order to meet up with old cell mate Dick (Wilson), who can offer him a sure thing. Monetary wise, that is. Not a date or anything.

If you can think of a single date idea which would require a trip to the hardware store in preparation, we’d like to know. Then, leave your contact information and the number for your local police.

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Another old prison buddy has told Dick about a hidden safe in the basement of a farmer, and the pair plan to get their hands on it. However, what could have been a simple burglary soon turns into a bloodbath…

“Bubble bath. I said I wanted a BUBBLE bath. You need to get your hearing aid fixed.”

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We don’t want to reveal too much here even though it’s a 50 year old film based on an even older book based on a yet older real crime… Suffice to say investigators are soon on the criminals’ trails. But what really happened? And who pulled the trigger?

Also, who wore the easily identifiable shoes to a crime scene???

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This movie is amazing and you should watch it. We loved the build up to the crime and the fact that we then skipped neatly to the aftermath without seeing it play out. It is excellently structured, well acted and overall really well done. The 2+ hours fly by!

Like the lit-up club, casino and hotel signs in old-timey montages! Imagine “Mas Que Nada” playing in the background.

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Now, Dick is a dick from the beginning. Perry is perhaps a bit more sympathetic, but they both share the same anger issues. They are disenfranchised young men with a murderous streak and little left to lose.

They are also traumatized by abusive childhoods and war. Sorry, it’s hard to make hilarious captions about this story…

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As the movie plays out, you keep forgetting that Perry and Dick have killed an entire family – probably because you don’t actually see them do it. Which is somewhat unsettling and uncomfortable when you find yourself giggling at their shenanigans and sort of hoping they’ll get away.

On the other hand, we’re also introduced to this ridiculously wholesome family, who certainly did not deserve their fate. Our loyalties are torn, is all we’re saying. And we guess that’s sort of the point…

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Real question though, are trials in the USA that revenge-driven, or are they just that way in movies? Because for us rational (some would say cold and unfeeling, we prefer logical and Spock-like) Norwegians, emotions and ideas of revenge are not what should decide the outcome of a trial… Just a thought there, America.

What we learned: American trials are insane… Also, sometimes things just don’t make sense.

Next time: In the Heat of the Night (1967)

#145 12 Angry Men

Watched: November 12 2017

Director: Sidney Lumet

Starring: Henry Fonda, Martin Balsam, John Fielder, Lee J. Cobb, E.G. Marshall, Jack Klugman, Edward Binns, Jack Warden, Joseph Sweeney, Ed Begley, George Voskovec, Robert Webber

Year: 1957

Runtime: 1h 36min

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12 jury members are in a locked room deliberating a murder case. That’s it. That’s the plot. Sound boring? Not at all! It’s tense, dramatic and very well acted, and it will keep you engaged throughout the entire 96 minutes.

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“Raise your hand if you think this film makes the most of its premise!”

 

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There’s really not much to say about this film which hasn’t been said before, and better than we could ever do, so we’ll keep it short and sweet.

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“Really? You’ll spare us your ramblings?”

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Human nature, society, male pride, racism and prejudice all play a part in the “neutrality” of the justice system, and it’s important to question what people tell you is the truth. Also, Juror #8 should have been the defense lawyer. And that’s all we’ll say, apart from watch this film. It’s fantastic.

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Enjoy an out-of-context knife

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What we learned: The system is flawed. Also, there’s always room for doubt.

Next time: A Face in the Crowd (1957)

#87 The Fallen Idol

Watched: February 16 2017

Director: Carol Reed

Starring: Ralph Richardson, Bobby Henrey, Michèle Morgan, Sonia Dresdel

Year: 1948

Runtime: 1h 35min

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A recent addition to the list, The Fallen Idol did not disappoint. French ambassador’s son Phillipe (Henrey) is left home alone with his good friend and idol butler Baines (Richardson) and his less pleasant wife (Dresdel) for a few days. Like his namesake (and also ambassador’s son?) in Venom (1981), Phillipe has a penchant for snakes which Mrs Baines is not particularly impressed with.

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For supper: fried snake!

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Mrs Baines quickly establishes herself as an antagonist by killing the boy’s snake, and it comes as no surprise then that her husband is having an affair (she may have killed his snake too, if you know what we mean). Phillipe comes across Baines and girlfriend Julie (Morgan) although he is too young to figure out what their relationship is and assumes that Julie is Baines’ niece.

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Phillipe crashes their secret rendez-vous in a scene very reminiscent of Brief Encounter

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After Mrs Baines denies her husband a divorce, the unhappy spouses each manipulate Phillipe to learn and/or hide secrets and the poor kid is caught in the middle of the sordid affairs of two grown people who should know better than to involve him. As their conflict escalates, so does the situation – Mrs Baines falls down the stairs and dies. Phillipe, having witnessed a fight immediately preceding the fall, runs away and right into the hands of a (very clever and kind) police officer.

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The boy also runs into the arms of a sweet prostitute, but again is too young to truly appreciate the experience.

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Police officers investigate the death of Mrs Baines, and Phillipe, trying to protect his friend, weaves a web of lies which does more damage than good, and the last half of the film is a tense investigative affair which we found almost unbearable. The relationship between Baines and Phillipe will most likely never be the same, and Phillipe’s innocence is also lost forever. And not because of the prostitute.

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Because of the dead-wife-who-Baines-kinda-hated thing

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The Fallen Idol is a great and tense drama, beautifully shot with a very dramatic score. Although we must admit, knowing that Mrs Baines would fall down the stairs (it says so right on the DVD cover), we spent the first half of the film betting on when it would happen. Every time she walked up or down the stairs, we were at the edge of our seats, waiting for her to die (you will not believe the amount of times that woman survives a trip up or down the stairs!). We loved it!

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That poor kid is traumatised for life, though

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What we learned: A great many things. Do not involve children in your sordid marital drama. Admitting to an affair is better than a murder charge. Also, WTF is “Nosegay”? And where can we get some?

Next time: The Red Shoes (1948)

#50 His Girl Friday

Watched: October 28 2016

Director: Howard Hawks

Starring: Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, Ralph Bellamy

Year: 1940

Runtime: 1h 32min

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Pop the champagne, people! We have reached #50! *sounds of corks popping and (two) people cheering* And what a way to celebrate – with our favourite comedy on the list so far, Howard Hawks’ His Girl Friday.

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Featuring two familiar guys and a girl who can give them a run for their money any day!

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Newspaper editor Walter Burns (Grant) learns that his ex-wife Hildy Johnson (Russell) is getting remarried and he’ll have none of it! Not necessarily out of jealousy (although that plays a part in it), but because bad-ass newswoman Hildy is planning on marrying boring insurance salesman Bruce Baldwin (Bellamy) and retiring from being awesome. So he does the only reasonable thing he can think of: he ropes Hildy into doing one last story for him while continuously getting Baldwin arrested for various offences.

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“Seriously, where on earth did you get that hat, and can you get me one too?”

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Despite Hildy’s insistence that she is done with the news business and is looking forward to a quiet existence with Bruce and his mother, she is clearly in her element tackling other newsmen, law officials and a convicted murderer.

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Including her at one point physically tackling a guy, but we can’t find any pictures of that, so here’s one of her just being generally awesome instead.

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The dialogue is incredibly fast and funny with lots of overlapping lines (which probably has a technical film term with which we are unacquainted). Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell have wonderful chemistry and despite new boyfriend Bruce not being a bad guy at all (in fact, he’s rather sweet) we are rooting for them from their first scene together.

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Poor Bruce is so clearly out of his league with these two

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When you take the dialogue, the chemistry of the two stars, the funny and occasionally farcical plot and add one of the best female characters we’ve seen so far, you get movie brilliance. Despite being over 75 years old, His Girl Friday never seems dated and it will continue to stand the test of time.

What we learned: we’ll take a kick-ass career over safety and starting a family any day. Also, characters played by Ralph Bellamy tend to look like Ralph Bellamy.

Next time: Pinocchio (1940)