Arsenic and Old Lace

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Directed by Frank Capra. Starring Cary Grant, Raymond Massey, and Peter Lorre. 1944.

Viewed: Saturday, March 23rd.

Who Hadn’t Seen It: Brad and Monica

When we started pulling together the list of of films we wanted to watch for this project, we split our focus between films we’d always meant to see but never gotten around to and those that were recommended from ‘Best Of’ and canon lists. Sometimes they are under the radar things that sound fantastic, and sometimes they are waiting for us, like medicine we feel we should take. Arsenic and Old Lace was one of these frequently recommended titles.

In this dark screwball comedy, Mortimer Brewster (Cary Grant) is a drama critic who is about to be married after a public life denouncing matrimony. Moments before her plans to leave for his honeymoon, he discovers his two elderly maiden aunts (Jean Adair and Josephine Hall) have just poisoned a man. Things are complicated when Mortimer’s deranged long lost brother (Raymond Massey) returns to the family home unexpectedly. Continue reading

Cool Hand Luke

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Directed by Stuart Rosenberg. Starring Paul Newman and George Kennedy. 1967.

Viewed: Sunday, March 17th

Who Hadn’t Seen It: Brad and Monica

1967. The year that the Golden Age transformed into New Hollywood. Monica recently finished reading Mark Harris’ transcendent film history of the Best Picture nominees from that year, Pictures at a Revolution. This was after sitting through all five Best Picture nominees from that year (including the especially dreadful Doctor Doolittle starring Rex Harrison) with Brad after years and years of talking about it. Of course, there were plenty of great films that didn’t get nominated that year. Cool Hand Luke is one of them. And neither of us had seen it.

Cool Hand Luke focuses on a decorated veteran (Paul Newman) who is picked up for vandalism and sentenced to two years on a Southern chain gang. Luke refuses to bend in the face of any challenge, earning him respect from his fellow inmates and growing resentment from the Boss and his henchmen. It is also the sweatiest movie of all time.

Brad: In the debate of the sweatiest film of all time, this one wins hands down. Not even a debate.  I double dog dare you to find a sweatier film. Can’t be done. Also the sheer volume of grit and grime that collects in that sweat can’t be overlooked. I recommend watching this film while submerged in an ice bath. Continue reading

Dial “M” for Murder

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Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Starring Ray Milland, Grace Kelly, and Robert Cummings. 1954.

Viewed: Saturday, March 9th

Who Hadn’t Seen It: Brad and Monica

We spent a great 24-hour vacation in Detroit last September, and part of that great tiny trip was a lovely hotel room downtown. While getting ready to go out to dinner we had the television turned to the local PBS station, and it was showing the Hitchcock classic Dial “M” for Murder. The introduction was all about the 3D aspects of the film, and the early performance from Grace Kelly. We were mesmerized, and we were slow heading down to dinner so we could get a couple more minutes with it.

We’ve both seen our fair share of Hitchcock, but there are still a lot of films that we’re collectively missing – including this 1954 classic. It centers on a former-professional tennis player (Ray Milland) who’s discovered his wife (Grace Kelly) is cheating on him with a crime novelist and blackmails a former college acquaintance and small time thief to kill her and make it look like a botched burglary attempt. Continue reading

The Sound of Music

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Directed by Robert Wise. Starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. 1965.

Viewed: Friday, March 1st

Who hadn’t seen it: Brad

This is the one that got us started. How could it be that anyone over 25 hasn’t seen this film? Even by accident? The missed cultural references alone would have been worth spending the three hours years ago. In case you’re one of the seven US citizens that hasn’t seen this, let’s do a rundown.

Maria (Julie Andrews) is a high-spirited nun-in-training who’s called to serve as a governess for the children of a widowed former Austrian war hero. The incorrigible seven children grow to love Maria as she wins them over with music and kindness, and then the strict Captain von Trapp (Christopher) falls for her as well. There is also a subplot about the looming war and the Nazi pressure for the Captain to report to active duty for Germany.

Brad: The embarrassing thing is not that I hadn’t seen The Sound of Music before (musicals we not part of my upbringing), the embarrassing thing is that it took Seth MacFarlane’s hacky bit at the recent Oscars to spark my interest to finally get off my duff and see this classic (and subsequently to start this project. Please don’t abandon us just yet). As the joke proceeding Academy Award winner Christopher Plummer’s introduction fell flat, I turned to Monica and said, “Let me guess, that’s how The Sound of Music ends, right?” Like a lot of people from our over-programmed generation, I get most of the pop culture references I get without a having any real experience of the item being referenced. I’m a bit of an oaf, but with great context clue comprehension. Let’s change this. I not only want to get the reference, I want to know that I get it. Kind of like the pop culture version of showing your work with an algebraic problem.
Continue reading

The Games are Beginning.

We’re going to be really brave right now, and admit that Monica has never actually seen All the Presidents Men. And that Brad has never seen Lawrence of Arabia. And that neither of us has actually watched The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.  We were lamenting our collective ignorance and wondering why all of the films moldering on our Netflix queue since 2009 have never been touched while we have to continue to make our way through the entire catalog of Dora the Explorer.

So, we’re embarking on a project with rules.

1. One film a week.

2. Either one or both of us needs to have not already seen it.

3. Films must have been made before we were born (1980).

So hopefully, this time next year when someone asks Monica if she’s seen Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid she doesn’t need to evade with a “not recently” and can just say “yeah.”

Comment or email us at cinematicidiotinfo at gmail for suggestions. We’re also keeping a running spreadsheet with possible contenders if you want to weigh in on what we should watch next. Looking forward to sharing some new experiences through the blog.

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