That Old Frank (Film) Magic

This is obviously a bit belated but I wanted this to be perfect.

 

tumblr_nzqc9riaOE1r0dj31o1_500On the 12th December the great Frank Sinatra turned 100. Everyone was jumping on the band wagon by playing his great songs and telling us stories about his less than perfect private life. I’ve actually heard someone say they don’t like the guy now they’ve heard some of the sordid tales from his Vegas and married days. Let me assure you these probably are true, there’s lots of other similar tales from friends, family and acquaintances, but this shouldn’t put you off his magnificent work whether it be his song writing, his singing or his acting.

His acting is where we come in. I could spend days talking about his music and his Rat Pack singing days. I could tell you tales of who he inspired, how he was one of the few celebrities of the time who basically needed the press to survive.tumblr_nz9e4vfjJR1r3rmj3o1_500

High Society (1956)

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Grace Kelly & Frank Sinatra

One of the first films I ever watched that starred Sinatra and, to this day, it is still one of my favourite films. Sinatra stars with Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly and Celeste Holm in this fun musical based on The Philadelphia Story. Sinatra is Mike Connor the journalist who is picked to report on the wedding of socialite Tracy Lord. True love ensues for Connor and Holm’s character, Liz Imbrie, yet it’s fun to watch them get to this point. The film has some great songs, some classic funny moments and an all over light hearted feel.

Anchors Aweigh (1945)

One of the first films Sinatra did with Gene Kelly.tumblr_mg8uq2h4IO1qapcnno1_250 This is a great film where Clarence Doolittle (Sinatra) and Joe Brady (Kelly) are on 4 days shore leave in Hollywood. They go on a musical journey where Joe teaches Clarence to pick up girls and he eventually finds an aspiring actress (Kathryn Grayson) who is the love of his life. There’s a mix of animation with Kelly dancing with Jerry Mouse. There’s some excellent songs and it is a lovely story. You’ve probably heard of another sailor themed film, On The Town, featuring Sinatra and Kelly but this one is well worth a watch too.

Von Ryan’s Express (1965)

tumblr_mx3cqlhmkh1r3mh0to1_400.gifA Sinatra film that everyone should know about and one that’s a bit different to the others he was famous for. A war film in every sense the film is set in WWII and sees a group of allied soldiers try to escape by hijacking a train. Sinatra plays Joseph Ryan who is a US Air Corps pilot and gets taken to a concentration camp after being shot down. Here the film unfolds into a thrilling story of bravery and courage. Sinatra gives one of his best performances in this role. If you’ve read the book you’ll notice a few differences but I think you’ll agree they work perfectly in the film.

Robin and the 7 Hoods (1964)

A true Rat Pack film, maybe not as famous as Ocean’s Eleven but this is still everything that made the Rat Pack films fun and enjoyable to watch. Sinatra truly made this film brilliant with a glittering cast and some memorable songs all done to the storyline of Robin Hood. Sinatra obviously has the leading role of Robbo and sees that fun, adventure and true spirit takes place in the ranks of Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Bing Crosby and Peter Falk. It’s fun to watch while still teaching the meaning of Robin Hood.

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From Here to Eternity (1953)

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This film basically relaunched Sinatra’s film career and was nominated for and won many awards. It’s based on the book by James Jones and makes for the perfect movie. Sinatra, Montgomery Clift and Burt Lancaster play three US Army soldiers stationed in Hawaii months before Pearl Harbour. They each have their different problems and we learn a great deal about them throughout the film, as well as the jobs they do. Maggio (Sinatra) is a fun character and yet suffers terribly throughout the film. Sinatra, rightly so, won Best Supporting actor at the Oscars for his role.

Guys and Dolls (1955)

Where to start with the film. It’s based on thetumblr_n8aeofHfwt1sjmaqio1_500 Broadway musical but there are some differences most noticeably with there been extra songs written for the film. Sinatra plays gambler Nathan Detroit who’s finding it difficult to find somewhere to hold an illegal crap game because of the police. Then comes in Marlon Brando’s Sky Masterson and they bet on taking a girl out to dinner. Detroit also has to deal with his fiancé of 14 years wanting to tie the knot. The film is very upbeat and has some great romance to it. Sinatra fits the role of Detroit extremely well as if the part was made for him. If you’ve never seen it you’re missing one of the greatest musicals ever.

 

Frank Sinatra made films his own and brought so much emotion and drama to both the big and tv screen it’s a wonder his films aren’t more famous. He’ll always be remembered for his stunning vocals, even in films, but remember the guy won Academy Awards so he definitely did something right somewhere.

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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!

The Book Thief Film

thebookthiefposterLast week me and Cat went to see The Book Thief. It’s one of the films I’ve been dying to see since it was released in the US. The book is one of my all time favourites and I love everything about it. In this sense seeing the film scared me… A lot. What if the film has been destroyed through all the changes that might have to be made? We all know what happens with artistic license in films.

I’m here to tell you that it was fantastic. The film and storyline made it easier to picture certain scenes from the book but to me that wasn’t the best part. It was the cast that made the film perfect. Sometimes when you watch a film you find yourself hating or loving an actor because of what they’ve done to the character. In The Book Thief you’ll find Liesel, Hans and Rosa fit Markus Zusak’s character profiles brilliantly, even Death fits in well.

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One of Death’s more memorable quotes

Now what would The Book Thief be without Death? Nothing. Death is integral to the film has he is to the book. During Death’s narration we found ourselves wracking our brains because we knew the voice from somewhere. Roger Allam voices Death and his lovely voice makes you feel all at ease, quite like some of us weirdly felt during Death’s time in the book. Allam has been in just about everything British and US audiences may recognise him from his short time in Game of Thrones.

Onto the main characters…

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Liesel after attending a book burning

I fell in love with Sophie Nélisse’s portrayal of Liesel Meminger. I’ve never seen Nélisse in anything before but her face will stick with me forever. Her eyes are stunning and draw you into her on the screen. She fits what I came to expect of Liesel though out the film; quiet but confident, a good friend with knowledge beyond her years but, most importantly, she fit the genre of the film like she’d actually lived through it. We all know these are emotional films to make yet the way she play’s Liesel is full of emotion for a child of her age. She’s not scared of the role or detached from it and when you watch certain emotional scenes she doesn’t struggle, she draws off those actors around her. Sophie Nélisse is someone to look out for if her role in this film is anything to go by.

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Liesel & Rudy

I’ve always been a big fan of Geoffrey Rush and we all know who he is. When it was first announced that The Book Thief had been optioned it was like no one could begin to speculate who would play who. When Rush was announced to play Hans Hubermann no one complained. Everyone knew he could pull it off. Hans is exactly how he is in the book and it’s all down to how Rush plays him. He plays such a playful, helpful soul with a big heart, enough to encompass everyone around him. It was fun to see him being berated by his wife but watch him still be the man of the house (even though we know that’s technically Rosa.) We’ve seen Rush play all types of roles and he made this one work for him too although after watching the film and re-reading the book I’m convinced the role was made for him. Rush and Nélisse’s pairing as father and daughter was brilliant casting because of the way they acted and had fun together. Just look at the way they smile (in the films momentary happy moments) and bond over sadness when it occurs.

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Liesel, Rosa & Hans

Rosa Hubermann, in the book, reminds me of a few of my German friends Oma’s (grandma’s) They take no crap from no one and you do as you’re told or else. Might sound strange to us but I’ve seen them in action and they are basically leader’s of the household. Rosa is played by Emily Watson in the film and she certainly pulls off this demeanour throughout the film, even seeming harsh when she’s trying to be loving. She has a few choice phrases throughout the film which definitely brought a smile to my face, she calls Liesel Saumensch a lot through the film which means “female pig”. Watson keeps Rosa on the same level as the book by making her strict but not abusive. You can imagine the upheaval caused bringing an unknown child and then man into the house but Watson quietly but surely shows us that Rosa does have a heart and does care in her own way. The relationship she has with Rush is fantastic and the fact that everyone outside the household knows she’s boss really makes clear the divides in society at that time.

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Max & Liesel in hiding

So these four are the characters that really set the film apart for me. I could probably go on forever about them that’s why I’m not writing too much on Rudy and Max. I don’t think they really need words because they fit what Zusak cast in the book. Nico Liersch plays Liesel’s best friend Rudy and will have you crying by the end of the film. He makes you remember young love. Ben Schnetzer takes on the role of Max and gives a very believable performance of a man not just on the run and in hiding but misses the real world and things we, today, take for granted.

The film is well worth seeing even if you haven’t read the book and will give you a great insight into the other side of  WWII. There’s also a chance you’ll shed some tears, you’ve been warned.

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