Thursday, April 19, 2018

Thursday Movie Picks #197: Meltdowns

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 meltdowns. I'm assuming the figurative meaning of meltdown was intended, although I already used Now, Voyager late last year. And that's more of a breakdown than a meltdown. At any rate, I was able to come up with three movies that have real, no-foolin' melting to use for this theme:

The China Syndrome (1979). Jack Lemmon plays a technicial at a nuclear power plant who discovers that in building the plant, the builders skimped on safety, so there's actually a higher risk of a catastrophic meltdown. He tries to get the material out to a reporter (Jane Fonda) and her cameraman (Michael Douglas), but when that's thwarted, he locks himself in the control room and threatens to melt the reactor down.

The Lavender Hill Mob (1951). Alec Guinness plays a man who works for the Bank of England guarding shipments of gold bullion. He fantasizes about what he could do with all that gold, and decides he's actually going to rob a shipment. Of course, using those numbered gold bars is going to cause problems, so he finds a friend who's a smelter (Stanley Holloway) who could melt the gold down and turn it into miniature Eiffel Tower souvenirs, enabling them to smuggle the gold out of the country! Of course, the plan ultimately goes awry.

The Wizard of Oz (1939). Margaret Hamilton has a memorable meltdown after Judy Garland throws a bucket of water on her.

Now to see if everybody else went for the figurative meltdown.


Daniel said...

Well, you definitely win this week with that Oz pick!

I'm sad to say that while I've heard of both of your other picks, I haven't ever seen them.

Birgit said... that you picked the Wizard of Oz...hahahaaa. I’ve seen The China Syndrome which is quite good and considering what happened at 3 Mile Island shortly after the film came out, a bit too accurate. I still have to see The Lavender Hill Mob

joel65913 said...

Love the imaginative literal spin on the theme!

China Syndrome is a great film-involving, compelling, frightening and brilliantly acted. While I like The Lavender Hill Mob well enough I've never loved it as much as it seems to be by others. And what can I say The Wizard of Oz is a perfect finish.

I went for the figurative take on the meltdown.

They Drive by Night (1940)-Joe and Paul Fabini (George Raft & Humphrey Bogart) are wildcat truckers struggling to make enough to get their own business off the ground. When Paul is seriously injured in an accident Joe goes to work for old friend Ed Carlsen (Alan Hale) the owner of a successful trucking firm and all seems well. The problems start when Ed’s much younger wife Lana (a riveting Ida Lupino) discovers that Joe is seriously involved with Cassie (Ann Sheridan) and allows her (unreciprocated) desire for Joe to take extreme measures leading to betrayal and death. Rough, tough Warner’s drama climaxes in a high grade courtroom meltdown.

Mommie Dearest (1981)-Joan Crawford (Faye Dunaway) is a huge star at a crossroads in her life and career. Released after decades by MGM and between husbands she decides to start the family she’s always wanted by adopting several children with the oldest being Christina (Mara Hobel as a child/Diana Scarwid as an adult). Madly ambitious and competitive she is not suited to motherhood and rides the children relentlessly meting out hard punishments for small infractions. Among these is a spectacular meltdown late at night when she discovers that the young Christiana has failed to take her expensive dresses off wire hangers from the dry cleaners. While Crawford was a tough customer and a harsh taskmaster and child abuse is no joke this hatchet job reeks of score settling and has been largely discredited. Faye however pours her guts into the role giving almost a kabuki performance.

Falling Down (1993)-William Foster known through most of the film by his license plate moniker D-FENS (Michael Douglas) an unemployed defense worker frustrated with the various flaws he sees in society abandons his car in LA gridlock and begins to psychotically and violently lash out against most everyone he encounters as he makes his way across the city to attend his daughter’s birthday party. The entire film is really one long meltdown.

Brittani Burnham said...

Ha! I love what you did here.

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

Actually, I have the same feeling about The Ladykillers that you have about The Lavender Hill Mob. It's good, but everybody else gives it an even higher rating than I do. I've got both of them on a DVD set that also includes The Man in the White Suit, which I love, although I can understand why some people might not. It's a rather less manic version than the same sort of story told in I'm Alright Jack.

I'm actually kind of surprised nobody else thought of the Wicked Witch's melting in The Wizard of Oz.