So I’m probably never going to watch ‘Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer’. My 2019 Shame Statement

2019 means a clean slate. 2019 means a brand new Shame Statement.

To recap, my 2018 list:

Five Easy Pieces
Lifeboat
Stop Making Sense
The Black Pirate
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
Paris, Texas
Wuthering Heights
Paper Moon

Sunrise
The Conversation
Victor/Victoria
Once Upon a Time in the West
Ikiru
Help!

Additionally, I watched the following for the Cinema Shame podcast:

Musical Shamedown:

Footlight Parade
The Harvey Girls
The Flower Drum Song
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

Burt Reynolds Memorial:

The End
Semi-Tough

Hammer Horror Shamedown:

Kiss of the Vampire
Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter

I could have done better. I am shamed. BUT BUT BUT THE PODCAST. I had to do a lot of work on the podcast! Yeah, but you watched almost 300 movies last year and I assume some of them featured Judge Reinhold. Fine. Fine. I could have watched Ikiru or Victor/Victoria. I put off watching Sunrise because it was announced as a TCMFF 2019 movie. I did have The Conversation in the Blu-ray player a couple of times. And then there’s Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer that’s been on my list for three years now. I should just give up or something and just watch Seinfeld on DVD.

I don’t have time for your nonsense. 

Fine. 

Fine!

Now let’s hash out some new targets for 2019, and I’ll definitely watch all of those plus the ones I missed in 2018. There. Are you happy now?

Maybe. Time will tell. You do constantly disappoint me.

I’ll pull some ideas from my old familiar EW Guide to the Greatest Movies Ever Made, but I’ll also consult some other essential tomes: The Best Film You’ve Never Seen by Robert K. Elder and Danny Peary’s Cult Movies Vol. 1. I’ll denote the book in which the movies appeared with EW, BFYNS or DP. Ready?

Get on with it already. This ain’t Al Capone’s Vault.


Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955) – #25 Drama EW

Dangerous Liaisons (Stephen Frears, 1988) – #31 Drama EW

Aquirre, The Wrath of God (Werner Herzog, 1972) – #13 Foreign EW, DP

Can’t Stop the Music (Nancy Walker, 1980) –  Jonathan Levine – BFYNS

Cinema Paradiso (Giuseppe Tornatore, 1988) – #30 Foreign EW

The Last Waltz (Martin Scorcese, 1978) – #5 Music EW

McCabe and Mrs. Miller (Robert Altman, 1971) – #17 Western EW

Tarzan the Ape Man (W.S. Van Dyke, 1932) & Tarzan and His Mate (Cedric Gibbons, 1934) – #5 Action/Adventure EW

Patton (Franklin J. Schaffner, 1970) courtesy of @elcinemonster

Shane (George Stevens, 1953) – #4 Western EW

She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (John Ford, 1949) – #11 Western EW

The Right Stuff (Philip Kaufman, 1983) – #83 Drama EW

The Bellboy (Jerry Lewis, 1960) – #68 Comedy EW

The Verdict (Sidney Lumet, 1982) – #55 Drama EW

Plus those that I avoided in 2018, of course. You’re damn right you will.

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2019 Shame Statement

Time for another year of penance. I know I haven’t been consistently writing, but I definitely am still consistently watching. One thing I try to do each year is expand my knowledge of a genre. Last year it was supposed to be westerns and I managed to get a few first time watches in. This year I’m going to move onto comedies.

The journey into comedies is inspired by my discovery and newfound love of screwball comedies after watching His Girl Friday for the first time in November 2018. I followed up with Bringing Up Baby and His Favorite Wife and wouldn’t you know? I liked something new that I had no idea I would. Hence 2019 will be exploring humor. Here’s gonna be some of them I certainly plan to watch:

The Naked Gun Trilogy – All I’ve seen of these films is the “that’s my policy” bit that spoofs Dirty Harry. That’s all I needed to see to decide it’s finally time to knock these off the list.

Joes vs The Volcano

Inspired by CinemaShame’s very own James Patrick, I hear about how much this film means to him, so I need to see what is going on. I like hearing when movies are special to people that aren’t the usual suspects.

Young Frankenstein

I’ve been working on my Mel Brooks watching for a while now. Yet I’ve still haven’t seen his magnum opus. I own it, so it should be one of the first I knock off this year.

That Thing You Do!

Some more Tom Hanks here.

Chasing Amy

One of many still unwatched Criterion disc. Also the one Kevin Smith film I was always genuinely interested in.

So this is the opening salvo. Obviously subject to change. Or not at all. Here’s to 2019 and all your first time viewing!

Calling All 2019 Cinema Shame Statements

A new year is upon us, which means another year of knocking off those unwatched films that might bring out a little bit of shame. It doesn’t matter where they come from, it could be a movie gathering dust on an unsteady ‘to-watch’ pile, or a film you’ve heard mentioned on multiple podcasts, or a film you just haven’t found the time to watch it.

This month we request contributors to proclaim the films they plan to take on in 2019. Create your list, post it and we will share it (shame it but in a loving manner). Feel free to add some background details for your picks, such as why you are picking it or the reason you haven’t had to chance to view this film.

I will be stating my shame this weekend, building my list from books (Danny Peary’s multiple books), podcasts (Cinema Shame’s episode on Hammer Horror and Pure Cinema Podcast’s recent episode on Martin Scorcese’s filmography), and some statistical data (letterboxd).

If you need ideas, you can check out the Shame Statements from previous years.

As the months roll around we will provide a specific prompt which may focus on an unwatched film from a specific genre, a favorite director or a favorite actor or actress. We still want you to discuss the films from your shame statements these prompts are meant to increase discussion of films and hopefully help everybody uncover some hidden gems.

Contact us by email cinemashame@gmail.com or tweet at us @Cinemashame.

Class of 2018 Cinema Shame

We are at the cusp of ending another successful year of Cinema Shame. The flurry of everyone’s best of lists for 2018 is starting to fall upon the internet. David Ehrlich’s release of his top 25 countdown is what I view as the first signal of this time of year. I think the end of the year gives us a perfect opportunity to focus on recent releases and announce our views on what current releases will be future Cinema Shames, years down the road. Does the cinematic class of 2018 include some future Cinema Shames? We need to know.

If you have a list of your top five, top ten, or top whatever feel free to shout them out on Cinema Shame. If you want to focus on several movies from this year, write up a post and let us know what needs to join the ranks of future Cinema Shame lists. I look forward to sharing my favorites from 2018 and I hope to hear about yours I missed from our contributors.

Submit what you think will be future Cinema Shame by tweeting  @CinemaShame or emailing us at cinemashame@gmail.com.

Only Angels Have Wings

“Only Angels Have Wings” was inducted into the National Film Registry in 2017. I didn’t know it was held in such high regard, its release on Criterion should have been a hint. I watched this directly after “His Girl Friday,” a screwball comedy directed by the masterful Howard Hawks. Knowing “Only Angels Have Wings” starred Grant, I was thinking it would be a natural follow-up to “His Girl Friday.” I went in completely blind and was expecting a comedy with a dash of romantic elements, the Criterion cover art should have clued me in that it was more action-oriented. “Only Angels Have Wings” could easily be classified as an early precursor to “Top Gun.” An action, adventure movie spilling over the brim with masculinity, pilots proving themselves by flying dangerous missions in some South America village. Jean Arthur plays Bonnie Lee, a character who arrives by boat to the tiny village. A simple layover ends when she becomes enchanted with Geoff Carter played by Cary Grant, the lead pilot of Barranaca Airways. Lee pines for Carter and tries to understand him and why he chooses to fly these ridiculous missions. As a viewer, we don’t get any real reasoning for their need to fly, in fact when Lee asks The Kid (Thomas Mitchell) his response is “I couldn’t give you an answer that would make any sense.” Basically, it’s dangerous or being one with the sky, or to touch the limits, or insert any type of daredevil statement. I find it easier imagining Humphrey Bogart giving a no response and throwing back a shot versus the responses from Mitchell and Carter. While I found the story to be a letdown, the action is top notch. There is pure craftsmanship in the flight scenes, remarkable effects that build a lot of tension as you wonder if they can land the aircraft. One amazing scene is the landing of a plane on a plateau, still an impressive feat 79 years later.

Jean Arthur should have put this film over the top for me. However, after watching “His Girl Friday” I was expecting a groundbreaking female character like Hildy Johnson. Bonnie Lee had no real purpose besides pining over Grant’s character. Arthur’s performance is good, she brings a lot to of a character to one that is basically one note. I read there were issues between Arthur and Hawks but in the end, I think it was the screenplay that hampered her versus direction or acting. All the males in this film are the same, stoic men unable to emote until they are on their deathbeds. The inability to show emotions reminds me of the recent release of “First Man,” where Neil Armstrong struggles to discuss his feelings with anyone. Another movie around flying and men. Maybe the correlation is that a career in flying impacts emotion instead of gender.

I didn’t dislike “Only Angels Have Wings” just disappointed. “To Have and Have Not”  fits in the same genre and does a better job of creating more realistic and interesting characters. I wonder if the World War II backdrop adds more gravitas to the movie versus mail delivery in South America. The stakes were higher with a war backdrop instead of trying to win some contract for postal service. I look forward to a rewatch of “Only Angels Have Wings”  (seems to be the case for a lot of Cinema Shame films) and hopefully I won’t hold this up so closely to “His Girl Friday.”

“His Girl Friday”

The director of “The Big Sleep” and “To Have and Have Not” is not who I would expect to be the director of “His Girl Friday”, a fast-paced, screwball comedy. Not to say there aren’t comedic moments to those first two films mentioned. The encounter between Bogart and the Acme book clerk in “The Big Sleep” shows comedic undertones, even though its covered by a thick layer of seduction. For Hawks to go from a classic standard of noir to a screwball comedy is a big leap in my view. The change to various film genres embodies the skill Hawks had as a filmmaker. Several features on the Criterion edition reiterate this point, stating his ability to work in a wide range of genres. Hawks was a director who placed a lot of emphasis on a good story and characters.

In “His Girl Friday” we have Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell) appearing with her new finance to break the news to her ex husband and former boss, newspaper editor Walter Burns (Cary Grant). Burns is shocked, not by the fact she will have a new husband but by the fact that she is leaving the newspaper business to be a housewife. Burns recognizes Johnson’s skill as a reporter. The wheels start churning for Burns to prevent her from leaving the paper. Burns hatches multiple plans, lies, and schemes to draw Hildy in with one more story.  Once Grant and Russell are on the screen together, the movie kicks into high gear, with its overlapping dialogue and multiple storylines. A lot of the reviews give more positive words to Grant but I think Russell The one aspect I was surprised by regarding the story, was the lack of views from characters stating that a woman couldn’t be a reporter or shouldn’t be in his business. She was viewed as an equal by the other reporters and viewed as the best by Burns. A surprising development considering the movie’s release was in 1940. Not to say that Johnson’s new beau doesn’t expect their marriage to be following the more stereotypical gender roles, such as him being the breadwinner and her staying home with the kids. Excluding Bruce, everyone defines Russell as a news reporter, not by her gender or as a female reporter, she is their superior if not their equal. Her peers state disbelief in the fact she could only be a housewife, the newspaper business is a career she could never leave behind.

The film’s pace and dialogue are insanely fast. This will require will require a rewatch because I’m sure there are jokes and even storylines I wasn’t able to comprehend or completely missed. As soon as Russell and Grant appear together the movie is moving along at a breakneck speed, slowing down only when Russell interviews a convict. This slowdown could be a potential way to place emphasis on skill as a reporter. The introduction of new characters is nonstop. Not simple characters stating a few lines and then never to be seen again. We get characters who get involved and drive the story. A few examples include Johnson’s new mother-in-law, the sheriff, the mayor, the waiter, the convict’s friend, and even the waiter at the local restaurant play parts in moving the plot forward.

I definitely recommend everyone to check this movie out. It is worth your money and time. Criterion’s version comes with the original film “His Girl Friday” was based on “The Front Page”, here is a link to the release on Barnes and Noble website, which is currently having their 50% off sale (https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dvd-his-girl-friday-cary-grant/3622238?ean=0715515189514).  I’m looking forward to a rewatch of “His Girl Friday” and deeper dives into the filmographies of Rosalind Russell and Howard Hawks.

Getting on the Same Page: His Girl Friday and How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Comedy

HIS GIRL FRIDAY is a film that I hadn’t seen and hadn’t sought because it was one that I thought I would never have had an interest in. I like comedy, but I never had an interest in classic Hollywood screwball comedy. That is until earlier in 2018 when I watched Greta Garbo in NINOTCHKA via FilmStruck (RIP’). I found myself rolling with laughter at deadpan humor exhibited by the amazing Garbo. Had I been wrong all these years? Can I, a man born in the 1980s find humor in classic cinema? I love classic cinema and was surprised that this was an area that I never broke into. I purchased HIS GIRL FRIDAY, during the July 2018 sale at Barnes and Noble. Since this was not only an unopened Criterion, it was a film I never saw as well and therefore was perfect for this November 2018 prompt.

In the supplemental features of the Criterion edition of HIS GIRL FRIDAY, film scholar David Bordwell discusses how the film is one of the most American films ever made. This wasn’t just in terms of the ideology or sensibilities portrayed on screen, but in the filmmaking process. Director Howard Hawks was considered to be one of the great American directors who is not a household name. I can see why this is. Hawks manages to keep your eyes strictly on what is on screen without you paying attention to how he sets up, blocks, lights and all those things related to the process of filming. This is the opposite of someone like Stanley Kubrick (one of my favorite directors), who has your eyes on screen and you notice how he puts it on screen. While both ways work perfectly, you can see why a defined visual style sticks in folks memory much longer. However with HIS GIRL FRIDAY, you don’t need a visual style. For this film, the viewers are given one of the fastest, snappiest and wittiest films ever.

HIS GIRL FRIDAY, is the second adaptation of the play The Front Page by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur. The first was directed by Lewis Milestone in 1931 under the same name. That film, also included on the Criterion, I felt had a bit more flourishes in regards to the direction as opposed to Hawks. It also felt like a filmed stage play. Yet while entertaining it lacks Rosalind Russell who outshines Cary Grant like the sun sitting next to a light bulb. Her breakneck delivery of the film’s razor sharp dialogue is one of the best performances I’ve seen. It’s also quite physical without becoming slapstick. This is where my eyes opened to classical Hollywood comedy. It was the delivery that made me laugh, even if the joke itself was outdated. I will say, the Ralph Bellamy bit was a fantastic piece of fourth wall breaking.

This film also doesn’t let you forget that it’s based around the world of newspapers and newspaper writing. The film’s humor never detracts from this premise and also manages to never go into parody no matter what left turns the story takes. Hawks excelled in keeping the whole thing balanced and none of the film’s strengths ever got so high that it felt it was covering up a weakness.

HIS GIRL FRIDAY, is a great piece of cinema comedy and engaging as a look into the journalism business. The back and forth humor was some of the best I’ve ever seen in a film and the world of classic Hollywood comedy is a bit broader to me now and something I seek to understand much more thoroughly.