Thursday, February 9, 2017

Thursday movie picks #135: Prodigy/Genius

This being Thursday, it's time for another Thursday Movie Picks, run by the Wandering Through the Shelves blog. This week's theme is movies about prodigies and geniuses. I shouldn't have used up Running on Empty earlier, since that one would fit in well here. But I've got three other movies that fit the theme well.

First is Bobbikins (1959). The prodigy here is a kid who can talk, but only talks to his father (Max Bygraves). The kid overhears politicians talking about business deals, and uses the insider information to tell his father what stocks to buy, these being the days when stock ownership wasn't so common, especially not among people of this family's economic status. Of course, nobody believes Dad. Shirley Jones, presumably brought into this British production distributed by Fox so that there would be appeal on this side of the Atlantic, plays the baby's mother.

Village of the Damned (1960). I don't think the these says the prodigies have to be fully human children. Here, the children are aliens who are born of the women of a rural English village. The children evolve frighteningly quickly, to the point that anybody who questions them is in for severe punishment, as they can read minds. George Sanders plays a scientist and foster father of one of the children who thinks science should research the children, while most people think the children need to be destroyed.

Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993). This is the more or less true story of Joshua Waitzkin, who was recognized as a chess prodigy at a very young age. Joshua's father wrote the book when Joshua was 11; a time when Bobby Fischer was remembered for his brief stint as world chess champion and then becoming a crazy recluse. Fischer himself doesn't appear in the book and it's not really about the search for Bobby, but about Joshua's attempt to become the US scholastic chess champion. That, and the strains put upon a family who have a child prodigy. Ben Kingsley plays Waitzkin's coach, Bruce Pandolfini.


joel65913 said...

Love these! Village of the Damned is a great way to look at the theme, eerie and chilling with a just right George Sanders.

I took me a while to get into Searching for Bobby Fischer but I did ultimately enjoy it. Excellent work by all, it put me in mind somewhat of Jodie Foster's Little Man Tate.

I've long wanted to see Bobbikins, I tried to record it once but the schedule was wrong and I missed it. I don't expect an undiscovered classic but it sounds appealing and I love Shirley Jones.

I went for a theme within the theme and chose three that deal with musical prodigies.

The Legend of 1900 (1998)-In the year 1900 Danny Boodmann, a stoker (Bill Nunn) on an American ship discovers an abandoned baby left on board. Taking him in to raise as his own he gives him a long unwieldy name eventually shortened to 1900 as the pair live their life at sea. As 1900 grows his musical genius becomes apparent and he becomes the ship’s mascot. After a tragedy befalls Danny 1900 remains on board growing to manhood (where he is played by Tim Roth) never touching dry land but continuing to hone his skill (including a fantastic sequence where he plays a waltz during a storm at sea). In time he befriends Max, a trumpeter in the ship orchestra (Taylor Pruitt Vince) and it is through his reverie we learn 1900’s story.

Poor Little Rich Girl (1936)-Starring Shirley Temple, one of Hollywood’s premier musical prodigies (in terms of dollars & cents THE musical prodigy) as the rich girl of the title. Barbara (that would be Shirl) on her way to boarding school is left to her own devices when her nanny is killed in an accident. Barbara unaware of this but not wanting to go to the school wanders the city until she becomes acquainted with and is taken in by a pair of down on their luck performers Jimmy & Jerry Dolan (Jack Oakie & Alice Faye). Thinking she’s an orphan and realizing that she’s a musical prodigy they put Barbara in their act as their daughter. Soon they hit the big time with their own radio show overseen by ad exec Margaret Allen (Gloria Stuart of Titanic fame) where they’re heard by Barbara’s widowed father who has been searching for her frantically. One of the better Temple vehicles with a first rate supporting cast, both Oakie and Alice Faye get several chances to strut their stuff, and no matter how you feel about her Shirley was a bundle of talent.

Amadeus (1984)-Multi Oscar winning story of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Tom Hulce) and Antonio Salieri (an Oscar winning F. Murray Abraham) and how Salieri’s jealousy of Mozart’s genius lead to great tragedy for both. Amazing music, performances, set design and direction. An essential film.

Birgit said...

Inspired choices! I have not seen Bobbikins but have it on my list. Love that you picked Village of The Dammed...great choice since these kids are downright freaky. I haven't seen the last film choice but I have it on my list

Wendell Ottley said...

We have a match! I also went with Searching for Bobby Fischer. Haven't seen the other two, though Village of the Damned has been on my watchlist for a while. Quite surprised to see it turn up this week. Inspired pick.

Sonia Cerca said...

This is the second time I see Searching for Bobby Fischer popping out. I guess I'll have to check it out.

Cathy Kennedy said...

You've peaked my interest with "Village of the Damned". I will see if I can find it. Thanks for sharing and have a filmtastic weekend!

Katie Hogan said...

VOTD is so damn good, brilliant sci-fi. Not seen the others but Bobby Fischer sure is popular.