Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thursday Movie Picks #176: Origin Stories

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 "origin stories", which I assume has to do with all those superhero movies and how the superheroes became heroes in the first place. That's not a genre of movies I know much about, so I came up with a couple of movies that kinda, sorta fit the idea of "origin story" in a different way:

The Bible: In the Beginning... (1966). Dino de Laurentiis produced this oversized look at the Book of Genesis and a cast of stars: Richard Harris, George C. Scott, Ava Gardner, and Peter O'Toole show up. Directed by John Huston, who also plays Noah.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Here we learn about how man descended from the apes, and how the apes learned to use tools. The final third, which frankly makes no sense at all, is supposedly about human origins or something. Every time TCM shows this one I watch the last third with the descriptive audio in the second audio channel turned on, and it still makes no sense.

The Story of Mankind (1957). The voice of good (Ronald Colman) is up against evil (Vincent Price) in a heavenly court to determine whether man should be allowed to continue existing in the age of nuclear weapons. We then get a series of vignettes showing various scenes from history including an all-star cast, or should I say an all-star miscast (Harpo Marx as Isaac Newton? Peter Lorre as Nero?) -- this one goes off the rails in an unintentionally hilarious way.


Sonia Cerca said...

I've only seen 2001: A Space Odyssey and I hated it.

Birgit said...

Ok...I must see The Story of Mankind! Does Harpo talk?? I have to look this up. Love your picks as the are original as compared to the superhero movies that are everywhere. The Bible is such a big splash and I have to love John Wayne as a Roman officer.

Birgit said...

My memory banks are bad...2001 is truly an LSD trip in the second part of the film

joel65913 said...

Love the unusual picks even if I don't love the pictures.

I never got all the raves for 2001 which I found dull even if I appreciated the innovation involved. There were parts of The Bible I though were decent but it was far too drawn out. Yikes!! The Story of Mankind is such a disaster-all star miscast is a perfect description. But as a chance to star gaze while having a good unintentional laugh it can't be beat.

I shied away from superheros as well:

The Bourne Identity (2002)-A young man (Matt Damon) is found floating in the ocean by fisherman, bullet riddled and with no memory of who he is or how he came to be in his situation. As he recovers he discovers he knows many languages, is versed in complex defensive skills and for some reason has a computer chip implanted in his hip. Sensing danger he assumes the identity Jason Bourne, the name on his passport and sets off to discover the facts of his life. He is actually a pursued agent with the bulk of the film following efforts to eliminate him during which he uses his skills to defend himself helped by a young woman (Franka Potente) he enlists along the way. Kinetic, exciting opener to the series followed by several excellent (and a few not so hot) sequels.

Dirty Harry (1971)-With San Francisco in the grip of a maniac known as Scorpio police inspector “Dirty” Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) is put on the case since others have been ineffective. Harry, untroubled by things like procedure and rules, opens a can of whoop-ass on a variety of lowlifes and criminals in his pursuit of the lunatic. Responsible for the catch phrase "You've got to ask yourself a question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya, punk?" this massively successful film lead to four sequels.

A Family Affair (1937)-First film of the enormously successful Andy Hardy series follows the everyday adventures of small town California Judge Hardy (Lionel Barrymore in the first/Lewis Stone in the series), his wife (Spring Byington in the original/Fay Holden series), two children Marion (always Cecilia Parker) and Andy (Mickey Rooney) and their live in Aunt Millie (Sara Haden). This time out the judge is up for reelection but crooked politicians and a hack at the local paper try to throw the vote. Meanwhile oldest daughter Joan (who more or less vanished later on) returns home because of troubles in her marriage but after Andy jumps into action and has a man to man talk with his dad all turns out A-Okay! Sprightly piece of Americana was so successful (earning over 2 ½ million on a budget of less than 200 thousand) it begat a series of 15 follow-ups that proved such a money mill MGM used them to introduce their most promising up and comers including Lana Turner, Kathryn Grayson, Esther Williams and Judy Garland who became a semi-regular as next door neighbor Betsy Booth who pined for Andy though he was going steady with the short tempered Polly Benedict (Ann Rutherford). These helped turn Rooney into a top 10 box office attraction for many years including twice at number one.

Ted S. (Just a Cineast) said...

No; Harpo doesn't talk.

One thing that I should have thought of with origin stories is those movies that are told in flashback, starting near the end and going back to the beginning, such as Sunset Blvd. where we see Joe Gillis dead in the swimming pool and then find out how he wound up meeting his doom.

There's also the genre of movies that begin with a funeral for the main character and then we go back to the character's life: think Chariots of Fire or The Barefoot Contessa.