Well Did You Evah’s Guide To WWI Films

In this household we watch a lot of films. I have a love for war films but I tend to find that the majority I do watch are WWII based. With this week being special, it’s remembrance day on the 11th November in the Centenary year of the start of WWI, I thought It’d be a good idea to educate you in the world of World War I films. Here I’ll pick 5 of my favourites that are memorable, shocking, and very different from each other.

 

War Horse (2011)

WAR HORSEHow this film makes me sob every time I watch it. Poor horses. This film is directed by Steven Spielberg and is based on the Michael Morpurgo book of the same name. The story revolves around Albert, a Devon lad, who joins up the war just to find his horse who was sold to the cavalry to aid the military effort. He vows to find the horse no matter what. The film basically follows the horse around and we see different aspects of the war from the frontline to a small devastated family who come to be in possession of the horse. It’s a touching story because it leaves none of the brutality and scariness out of the war. You basically fear for the horse. You fear for Albert searching for his horse. It’s a war film that takes you on a journey and makes you think more about what you’re seeing.

Paths of Glory (1957)

Paths of Glory is such a great World War I film because it shows the so called coward best-paths-glory-1957side of the war. Again this is based on a book, Paths of Glory by Humphrey Cobb, and the film is directed by Stanley Kubrick. The film follows four French soldiers who refuse to follow orders to undertake a mission because it is a suicide mission. Set in black and white we see the gore and devastation of the war, especially from a French perspective. The men are tried for cowardice and are eventually executed by firing squad even though their Colonel has fought their side. Paths of Glory is a film that really needs paying attention to, the cinematography and story are fantastic with so many twists and lots of WWI politics involved.

Wings (1927)

Wings is a silent film that still maintains and shows all the drama involved with war. It’s kind of light hearted for a war film in that Clara Bow’s character is in a love triangle, the wings-1927-002-mary-david-and-jacktwo guys go off to war thinking they’ve both won her heart then she becomes an ambulance driver in the war and unintentionally meets one of the guys in Paris, France. As in all silent films the drama seems a lot more intense with the music. The acting is superb and the romantic storyline running along the war will make it a hit for a broader audience. The ending is quite emotional with a twist of fate. It doesn’t seem as realistic a war film in todays terms but you have to remember before the 1950’s they made films on what sold well.

Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

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I chose this one because it’s based on factual events and looks at T.E. Lawrence’s time in the Arabian Peninsula during WWI so is completely different to the fighting and side of war a lot of films depict. Lawrence of Arabia shows us a lot of customs and difficulties a Western man might face in Arabia during the first world war. The fighting bares no resemblance to what the front lines in Belgium were seeing and the military there appear to be doing something completely different to the military in Europe. Peter O’ Toole and Omar Sharif bring life to the characters they play yet manage to have a military seriousness to the end. A great film to watch to get a different perspective on the war

African Queen (1951)

Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn star in this brilliant film set at the beginning Hepburn_bogart_african_queenof WWI in German owned East Africa. Again this is a different side of the war. Hepburn plays a missionary and Bogart is the captain of the little boat, The African Queen, who brings in all the mail. War breaks out and they watch the Germans destroy the villages. Brilliantly Hepburn decides that the little boat can be modified into a torpedo boat to sink the big German gunboat that is blocking the river, and the way out. Fun ensues and the chemistry between Bogart and Hepburn makes the film enjoyable while still being a serious war film at the same time. The African Queen is a film that you can learn a lot from while smiling as well.

 

These are just five of the films that I love to watch and find entertaining, daunting and educational at the same time. War films can be scary but some can be fun and romantic so everyone can watch.

Just remember, what those brave men and women did for us will never be correctly or sufficiently shown in a film. All that can be done is recreations for us to watch, and ultimately, enjoy.

War Horse is on BBC One this Sunday 16th November at 8pm. 

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Happy 85th Birthday Audrey Hepburn!

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Google’s doodle for Hepburn’s 85th Birthday

Today’s birthday girl, Audrey Hepburn, really needs no introduction. Her films have become classics, her charity work changed the world and made her legendary and she still remains a fashion icon 21 years after her death. Even today she’s on TV in the Galaxy chocolate advert. Hepburn took what we knew of the film industry and films themselves and gave us a fresh, brand new perspective. She worked with all the greats, won plenty of awards and was best friends with Givenchy (yes the famous fashion designer) and still remained humble and down to earth.

Here we look at five of the films we deem as classic Hepburn films… Enjoy!

Roman Holiday (1953)

tumblr_n51hjzdJ8y1tymyz0o1_500The first film Audrey was credited for, had a leading role in and won an Academy Award for. Here she plays Princess Ann who sneaks out to explore Rome on her own. She meets Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck) who’s a reporter. The film is wonderfully light hearted and has some lovely funny parts. Hepburn’s performance shows why she won Best Actress and with her age in the film, she was 24 at the time, makes her stand out as one to watch.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

Well what do we really say about Breakfast at Tiffany’s? I suppose (and hope) we’ve all seen it. Hepburn tumblr_n50hm1Spix1qa70eyo2_r1_500plays Holly Golightly a very fun, outgoing, party girl type in public but seemingly very quiet in public. Paul Varjak (George Peppard) plays opposite. Hepburn said the film was one of her biggest challenges because she had to play an extrovert when she herself is an introvert. The film shows so much emotions and has some very memorable scenes and fashion choices.

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My Fair Lady (1964)

my-fair-lady-1964-the-real-thingA very loveable musical with songs everyone remembers. Hepburn plays Cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle who get’s picked by phonetics professor Henry Higgins (Rex Harrison) to show that he can teach her to speak correct English so she can be presented in Edwardian Society. It’s fun seeing Hepburn talk in Cockney and see how she blossoms into a lady of society at the end. Her character changes throughout the film and she pulls it off fantastically. Hepburn doesn’t sing herself in the film but it certainly doesn’t detract from her performance.

How to Steal A Million (1966)

I love this film. Audrey stars with Peter O’Toole in this comedy heist film. It’s all about art forgery and claiming offtumblr_n517wfOVL01qiawh2o1_500 scams when art work goes missing. At some point in the film you realise that Hepburn and O’Toole’s characters aren’t as serious as you may have expected them to be, but their partnership works very well on screen and is very believable. The cupboard under the stairs scene is fantastic. It’s well worth a watch because it’s quite different to Hepburn’s other works.

Funny Face (1957)

tumblr_n51i3ie1QX1ttqe7vo1_500Another musical with Audrey playing Jo Stockton a very shy bookshop clerk who’s bookshop is used in a fashion magazine’s photoshoot. The photographer is none other that Fred Astaire. Lots of Hepburn and Astaire dancing and a great Hepburn makeover turn Stockton into the next big model in the industry. The songs work well and the change of clothes is a plenty. We also here Hepburn’s true singing voice for the first time ever.

This is just a mix of a few of Hepburn’s films. Remember she’s not just an actress, she was a woman who we can call a role model and someone who’ll be remembered forever for her work on screen and throughout the world. Even Google have acknowledged her birthday.

Happy Birthday Audrey. It truly is a day for celebrations.

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Happy 100th Birthday Alec Guinness!

tumblr_n0qyneBwz61r31mkdo1_500British screen legend Alec Guinness de Cuffe, better known to you and me as Alec Guinness, is an actor everyone has had the pleasure of watching on the big screen. As today would have been Guinness’ 100th birthday I was given the very hard job of selecting 3 films of his that I love because of Guinness’ superb performance and how the film fits perfectly to him. Please believe me ALL his films are worth a watch, he, like many other actors of bygone eras, just has something that the actors of today can’t perfect on screen. After many hours of great deliberation I narrowed it down to these three:

 

The Malta Story (1953)

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Muriel Pavlow & Alec Guinness in The Malta Story

From the first time I saw this film I loved it. From the outside it’s a classic war film of the British trying to hang onto the island of Malta as the German’s and Italian’s bomb and try to kill off any hopes of the Maltese people yet on the inside it’s a true romantic tale with Flight lt. Peter Ross (Guinness) falling in love with local girl Maria (Muriel Pavlow). Guinness plays this role wonderfully and manages to be a true RAF officer we’d expect to see but have a playful and caring side when it comes to his free time with Maria. The story itself really opens your eyes to Malta’s story during WWII and the great range of actors certainly gives you a film you’ll remember.

 

Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)

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Alec Guinness as Lady Agatha D’Ascoyne in Kind Hearts and Coronets

This was one of Guinness’ first big films and he nailed it, not just in one role but by playing EIGHT different characters. Kind Hearts and Coronets is an Ealing comedy and like all Ealing comedies it has a really different twist. Guinness plays eight members of the D’Ascoyne family including Lady D’Ascoyne. Unfortunately they all come to a particularly sticky end, all in their own ways. The make up and costume changes Guinness must have gone through for each character must have been tiring but in some occasions on screen you can’t even tell it’s him. He brings something unique to each character which is a true indication of his talent. Not many actors can pull off acting serious while being murdered in a, quite frankly unusual way, in an Ealing comedy.

 

 

The Ladykillers (1955)

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The Cast of The Ladykillers.

This is a film I knew I couldn’t miss out because it was one of the first Alec Guinness films I watched when I was younger. Again it’s an Ealing comedy and will
appeal to those who like a bit of dark humour. Please do not get this mixed up with Tom Hank’s 2004 remake, they’re both completely different and the Guinness version is far superior in every way. The Ladykillers is a great concept for a film and the 1955 cast perfects the overall film. Guinness role has ‘Professor’ Marcus is as sinister as he is charming, especially towards the Old Lady who owns the house he’s renting a room in. The film is all about criminals, imagination, police chases and great acting. In a weird way it makes for great family viewing, just like many of Alec Guinness’ other films.

 

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John Mills & Guinness in Great Expectations

Some films that nearly made it onto this very short list that are well worth a watch are: Lawrence of Arabia (1962) Peter O’Toole plays the lead but Guinness plays an excellent Prince Feisal. Bridge On the River Kwai (1957) A very well known war story and a must watch, also stars William Holden. Great Expectations (1946) Guinness’ first credited film. He was the perfect friend to John Mill’s Pip in this film and he looks so young.

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Peter O’Toole as T.E. Lawrence & Guinness as Prince Faisal

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Bridge on the River Kwai

There’s plenty more films that you could watch and enjoy in which Guinness stars. He starred in many genres so there’s something there for everyone. You maytumblr_n3ds83EaKz1qh3tpwo1_500
have noticed the lack of Star Wars on here. Guinness’ is said to have disliked his time in the films and, to me, it isn’t really his best performance.

Happy Birthday Alec! You may be gone but your work and talent will be enjoyed forever!

Eleanor Parker, Peter O’Toole & Joan Fontaine

This week has been tough for Old Hollywood fans everywhere. Two of our beloved actresses and one actor have died in the same week. Eleanor Parker, Peter O’Toole and Joan Fontaine are world famous and rightly so, they’ll be sorely missed.

Eleanor Parker- 26th June 1922- 9th December 2013

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Many people don’t realise who this lady is and you really should do. Parker is most famous for playing the Baroness in The Sound of Music. She was an actress that went against convention in the 1940’s and 50’s and this is why she doesn’t get the recognition of some actresses in that era. Parker wouldn’t be pigeonholed into playing one type of character, she wanted to play a variety and she was brilliant at it even if her own personality never shone through.

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Parker as the Baroness

Throughout her career she had ups and downs, as everyone does. She starred with some very well know actors such as Kirk Douglas, Julie Andrews and Errol Flynn. She was also nominated for three Academy Awards. When you watch any of her films you can see she worked hard at her roles and even went as far as to perfect a posh English accent in The Woman in White (1948). She starred in over 80 films and TV series throughout her career venturing into series like the original Hawaii Five-O and Murder, She Wrote. No matter what you films, TV series or stage productions you mention most people will only see her as the Baroness… and even then they don’t know her real name.

Peter O’Toole- 2nd August 1932- 14th December 2013

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Peter O’Toole. Fantastic Actor. Hellraiser. True Legend of the big screen. The guy who liked a few drinks too many. O’Toole was a man with many sides and yet each side defined his work and made it successful. In the 60’s he Richard Burton, Richard Harris and Oliver Reed became known as the Hellraisers and the name stuck.

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O’Toole & Hepburn in How to Steal a Million

O’Toole starred in many films that are still famous and well watched today. He played T.E. Lawrence in Lawrence of Arabia (1962) he played opposite Katharine Hepburn in The Lion in Winter (1968) and no one can forget his fun performance with Audrey Hepburn in How to Steal a Million (1966). He must have starred in close to one hundred films throughout his long career and officially retired last year with this statement: ”It is time for me to chuck in the sponge. To retire from films and stage. The heart for it has gone out of me: it won’t come back.” Said in true O’Toole style. He is one of those unlucky actors never to have won the Best Actor Oscar even though he was nominated 8 times. The Academy Awards gave him an honorary one in 2003.

Peter O’Toole was great because of his commitment and love for the films he was in. Yes he had drink problems but like many of that era it helped his fame. He gave everything 100% and after his performance in Lawrence of Arabia everyone knew his career was destined for bigger things. He also has beautiful blue eyes which really didn’t hurt his chances in colour films.

Joan Fontaine- 22nd October 1917- 15th December 2013

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I was shocked when I heard of Fontaine’s death at 1am this morning. I honestly thought it was a hoax, it seemed too soon after O’Toole’s death to be real. It is however very real with reports from her family that she died in her sleep.

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Courtesy of Getty Images

Fontaine’s sibling rivalry may, to some people, have made her more famous than her acting work did. I don’t believe this one bit. Joan Fontaine was born Joan de Havilland and is Olivia de Havilland’s younger sister. They’ve had a feud for over 50 years and I’m hoping they straightened it out before she passed away.

Fontaine was a well deserved Oscar winner winning in 1947 for To Each His Own. She impressed Alfred Hitchcock with her soft features and big frightened eyes and she starred in two of his films Suspicion and the film that made her famous, Rebecca, opposite Laurence Olivier. Fontaine starred in over 30 films with some of the most recognised stars and directors of the day. She was directed by Billy Wilder in The Emperor Waltz and Fritz Lang in Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.

She made each film her own and didn’t allow the famous men to take the spotlight off of her. She starred opposite Orson Welles, Bing Crosby and Cary Grant and yet never appeared phased or awestruck. She was a strong woman who knew what she wanted and turned her career into a competition with her sister. Fontaine was a graceful beauty that knew how to speak out in a world where that wasn’t the norm.

Hollywood and the rest of the world should mourn the loss of these three Old Hollywood giants. We’re slowly loosing an era that shaped the film industry we know today. The natural beauty of Parker and Fontaine will never be seen in the same way again and the confidence and skill of O’Toole was second to none.

Our thoughts and prayers are with all their families and we hope that you’ll watch one of their films just to prove to yourself the talent that as left the world.

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Clark Gable and Eleanor Parker in The King & Four Queens (1956)

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Joan Fontaine as Mrs. de Winter in Rebecca (1940)

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Peter O’Toole

Peter O’Toole dies aged 81

It’s with sorrowful hearts we tell you Peter O’Toole, star of Lawrence of Arabia, as died aged 81. His family released a statement today informing the press of his passing.

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O’Toole retired only last year but will remain one of the best actors to come out of Britain. He did live in Leeds, Yorkshire for a while growing up meaning Yorkshire as lost a hero.

Our prayers and thoughts are with his family at this time and we’ll obviously update you all when more comes to light.

For now lets remember the great actor who deserved all the praise and fame he got and unfortunately never won an Oscar outright. That my friends is an outrage.

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