Thursday, April 6, 2017

Thursday Movie Picks #143: Cars/Car racing

This being Thursday, it's time for another edition of "Thursday Movie Picks", the blogathon run by Wandering Through the Shelves. This week's theme is cars and car racing. I being a fan of older movies, am selecting three older movies:

Angel Face (1953). Robert Mitchum plays a paramedic and would be mechanic who meets Jean Simmons when her stepmother tries to commit suicide. Mitchum falls for her, and she starts asking him "innocent" questions about the workings of cars. It seems those questions might not be so innocent, however, and that perhaps Jean is trying to engineer a car accident that would kill Jean's father and stepmother. Nice daughter there. Mitchum is his usual self here, and the movie is entertaining if not without its problems.

If I Had a Million (1932). Anthology movie about an extremely wealthy man who, told he's going to die, starts picking names at random from the phone book and giving $1 million to each of the people he picks. One of the recipients is a couple played by W.C. Fields and Alison Skipworth. She doesn't like the way other people drive, so he buys a whole bunch of automobiles and engineers car crashes, just to tick the other people off. Even though a million went a lot farther back in 1932, you'd think they'd burn through that money pretty quickly.

The Hitchhiker (1953). Edmond O'Brien and Frank Lovejoy play a pair of friends who are driving down to Baja California for a fishing trip, in the days when driving through Mexico was still safe. Except of course in this movie it isn't safe. The two men pick up an American hitch-hiker (William Talman), who turns out to be an escaped convict, and a psychopath to boot. If the two men try not to drive him where he wants to go, he'll kill them and take the car; if they do driv him, he'll kill them at the end of the ride! Directed by Ida Lupino.


joel65913 said...

I wasn't crazy about If I Had a Million, I didn't dislike it but for the talent involved I found it underwhelming. However I'm a big fan of those other two.

Angel Face is one of the few times Jean Simmons got to be bad on screen and it uses her tranquil placidity with hints of danger underneath to excellent effect. It's not perfect as you say but an interesting noir with a great cast.

All of Ida Lupino's independent features have interesting concepts and fine execution thanks to her steady eye but The Hitch-Hiker is her best film, lean and taut.

I also reached back to older films, including my bonus which is a craptastic mess but so of its period I had to throw it in, however I love The Great Race so much.

Winning (1969)-Frank Capua’s (Paul Newman) dream is to win the Indy 500 and he is spurred on by his messy private life including a troubled marriage to Elora (Joanne Woodward) who is also involved with his main rival Luther Erding (Robert Wagner). The film inspired Newman’s lifelong love of racing and has some exciting scenes of the sport. While it doesn’t deliver on its ambitious tagline “WINNING is for men who live dangerously! WINNING is for women who love recklessly! WINNING is for young people who live for now! for everybody!” it’s a decent film with many of the stars of the racing circuit making appearances.

The Great Race (1965)-At the beginning of the 1900’s The Great Leslie (an all in white clad Tony Curtis) and his arch nemesis Professor Fate (Jack Lemmon equally black covered with a handlebar moustache and top hat to boot) compete in the title race from New York to Paris with henchmen in tow, Hezekiah (Keenan Wynn) for Curtis and Max (a hilarious Peter Falk) for Lemmon. Also competing and covering the race for The Sentinel newspaper is pioneering and rambunctious reporter Maggie DuBois (Natalie Wood at her most beautiful). MANY complications occur along the way including a western town brawl and shootout and an enormous pie fight. Blake Edwards directed tribute to slapstick and old time serials is zany fun with beautiful costume & set design, a game cast and for car lovers fantastic automobiles. The score was provided by Henry Mancini and includes the Oscar nominated “The Sweetheart Tree”.

The Big Wheel (1949)-Watch out Mickey Rooney’s on the skids in more ways than one! Billy Coy (Rooney) has something to prove, his father was a legend in the midget race car game until his death in a crackup, now Billy is trying to show his worth. The story is standard cocky hothead knocked down a few pegs until his learns the necessary life lessons junk but if you're a race fan and don't mind the obvious rear projection shots it has a certain entertainment value. Additionally parts were filmed at the Indy 500 raceway providing a glimpse of it in its infancy. Aside from Rooney there’s a good cast including Spring Byington, Thomas Mitchell and in a small part Hattie McDaniel in her last theatrical feature. This was made just as the Mick’s major star period was ending.

80’s Flashback Bonus-Catch Me If You Can (1989)-When her small Midwest high school faces closure class president Melissa Hanson (Loryn Locklin) is persuaded by school bad boy Dylan Malone (Matt Lattanzi) to gamble on the illegal car races he runs. Everything goes well at first but then the local mob moves in so Melissa and Dylan take drastic measures to save ol’ Cathedral High! Full of 80’s music (the film’s score is composed and performed by Tangerine Dream) 80’s fashion and of course 80’s hair complete with headbands!

Myerla said...

Some oldies in here...none of which I have seen. They're on the list though.

Birgit said...

I love to see all of these but I haven't seen any of them....bummer. To see Jean Simmons as bad would be great to see

Wendell Ottley said...

Haven't seen any of these. Angel Face sounds really interesting, though.

Katie Hogan said...

Oooh Angel Face sounds disturbingly good and I still haven't seen The Hitchiker!