Monday, February 27, 2017

Did You Watch . . .

Last night's 89th Academy Awards ceremony presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences?

Many did; I did not. Truth be told I was unaware of this televised broadcast. A perk of having "cut the cable" several years ago. I know that there has been much speculation on the winners (and losers) for weeks, I bypassed those stories and also admit to not having seen any of the nominated films, not even La La Land.

Of course, not watching a live presentation had its upsides. First, I didn't waste consume several hours watching and, reading about it afterwards condensed it a lot, including the biggest gaffe in the event's history.

What I was did instead this weekend was watch several classic films on YouTube, all filmed in what I consider the best medium, black and white. All viewed at no cost (other than an Internet connection) and in the comfort of my living room. Best of all there were no commercial interruptions. 

The List of Adrian Messenger, a 1963 American mystery film directed by John Huston and featuring George C. Scott as the lead actor. The supporting cast includes Kirk Douglas, Tony Curtis, Frank Sinatra, Burt Lancaster, Robert Mitchum  Dana Wynter, Gladys Cooper, Herbert Marshall.

Here's a quick synopsis: Adrian Messenger, a writer, who is working on a new book, believes a series of apparently unrelated "accidental" deaths are actually linked murders. He asks his friend, Anthony Gethryn (Scott's character), recently retired from military intelligence, to help clear up the mystery. However, Messenger's plane is bombed while he is on his way to collect evidence to confirm his suspicions and, with his dying breath, he tries to tell a fellow passenger the key to the mystery. What happens to Messenger is part of how the mystery unfolds. 

The Upturned Glass (1947) is a stylistic British crime drama in the film noir tradition, a low-key black and white visual style. It stars James Mason as a leading brain surgeon who murders a woman he believes responsible for the death of the woman he loved. The suspected villain, fellow performer, Pamela Kellino, was actually Mason's wife at the time. The photo poster at the left shows Mason and Kellino in a scene from the film.

Here's a quick synopsis: A medical school class attends a lecture on the psychology of crime. The unnamed lecturer (James Mason) announces that while his past lectures have covered criminals with abnormal psychology, today's lecture will focus on the sane criminal who may have a strong sense of justice. He describes the case of a murderer who is perfectly sane, valuable member of society and a skilled surgeon who he fictitiously names Michael Joyce (also played by Mason). The film depicts Michael's story in flashbacks narrated by the lecturer. Unknown to the class, but shared with the film viewing audience, the lecturer is telling his own story as he and Michael Joyce are the same man. When the lecture is over, the drama continues as the lecturer/surgeon continues with his plan with an unexpected twist, but you'll have to watch the film to learn it.

Turn the Key Softly (1953) is another British film. The story deals with the first 24 hours in the lives of three women of widely different backgrounds, who are released from London's Holloway Prison on the same morning. It's memorable in part for the appearance of a young Joan Collins as one of the main characters. (You may be able to guess which one from the synopsis below.)

Here's a quick synopsis: One woman is a well-bred young woman, who was led into crime by her boyfriend, then sentenced for a crime he committed. Another is an attractive working-class girl who found prostitution was a better paying job. The last was an elderly widow who was jailed for repeated shoplifting, who as her neighbor said, "never took anything of value." The movie unfolds to reveal the pressures the women face not to slip back into their old ways. If you're at all curious as to whether they fail or succeed, watch the film, it's FREE.

YouTube has become my favorite film way to view films that I would otherwise not know about. It's not the only way to view classics. Another favorite online source is This non-profit internet library offers films, books, software, music, and more. And that's how I watched this classic film last week.

The Lady Vanishes is a 1938 British thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Margaret Lockwood and Michael Redgrave. It was filmed at the Gainsborough Studios in Islington, London and was Hitchcock's last British film until the 1970s. The film was widely successful and has been celebrated as a dramatic melodrama, a who-done-it, and a comedy. It's considered one of Hitchcock's most renowned films; he relocated to Hollywood soon after its release.

Here's a quick synopsis: Most of the film's action occurs on a train. An attractive English tourist travelling by train in continental Europe to meet her fiancĂ©. She soon finds out that her elderly travelling companion seems to have disappeared from the train. After her fellow passengers deny ever having seen the elderly lady, the young woman is helped by a young musicologist, the two proceeding to search the train for clues to the old lady's disappearance.

As you have figured out by now, I am a fan of classic films and like the books I enjoy reading, my only lament is: so many great books films, so little time.

What are your film preferences, current or classics (or both) ?


Emma Springfield said...

I did not watch either. The largest parts of awards shows bore me. I too watched some classic movies instead.

Sandra said...

we watch a movie every night, either from our TV channels or from Amazon Prime, if not a movie we watch 3 TV series, from 5 to 7, every night. the thing is we have watched so many we have a hard time finding one we haven't seen. we are waiting for the new from the awards to hit the tv channels.

Connie said...

I watched the beginning of the awards show last night, but did not see the middle or end. I did hear about the mistake that was made and the commotion it caused. I like to watch both classic and current movies, but I think I usually prefer more current films.

William Kendall said...

I've heard of two of the three films I hadn't seen, and love that Hitchcock film.

I didn't watch the Oscars. I'd much rather listen to fingernails scraping on a blackboard than watch an awards show.

Michelle said...

I didn't watch, either. Read a book.

Lynn said...

I did watch the Oscars (until bedtime, so missed the infamous gaffe), and marveled at all the film titles I've never heard of. I just don't keep up anymore.

The black and white films are my favorite, too. You've given me some to put on my list to watch - thank you.

DeniseinVA said...

Great old movies. I didn't' watch the Oscars, though read a few related articles yesterday.

A Quiet Corner said...

We did not watch the Oscars...and I love old classics while hubby loves the old Westerns. Well, heck, we're just "old"...:)JP

Karen Lakis said...

I don't watch movies very often and never watch the academy awards - snore... I don't pay much attention to what the stars do or say and don't care about their political thoughts. About the only thing I will do - at some point I'll look at some pictures of what they wear to the awards. I'm not sure why, but I enjoy that. I'm happy you had a good weekend watching movies on YouTube!