Thursday, July 20, 2017

Thursday Movie Picks #158: The Chosen One

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 The Chosen One. I'm not certain if this was conceived as having some sort of religious significance as in people thinking they're called by God to do something (pick your favorite version of the Joan of Arc story), but in any case I decided to pick movies with people chosen in other ways:

Great Expectations (1946). Pip (John Mills) plays a young man in early 19th century England who has a really difficult life, being orphaned and living with a tough aunt and uncle, until he suddenly is told of a benefactor who has left him a substantial sum of money. Miss Havisham (Martita Hunt) introduces him to Estella (Valerie Hobson), and things proceed from there. There have been other movie versions of the Dickens story, although this is the one I've seen.

The Best Man (1964). Henry Fonda and Cliff Robertson play two candidates who are the two leaders for the presidential nomination at their party's convention, although neither has a majority of the delegates, so they have to work other delegates to try to gain a majority and become the nominee. Needless to say they resort to all sorts of underhanded tactics, especially Cliff Robertson's character. Lee Tracy is excellent as the dying ex-president who represented the party back in the day.

42nd Street (1933). Ruby Keeler is chosen to be the understudy for a new Broadway show, but she ultimately gets to be the star after the original lead (Bebe Daniels) injures her leg and can't dance. Of course, Ruby Keeler couldn't really dance, either, but that's another story. This is the ultimate backstage musical, and the one that made Busby Berkeley a star, although his choreography would become much more elaborate in later movies.

I'll be really curious to see what other people picked.


Daniel said...

I'm actually pissed off now that I never even considered Joan of Arc as a version of this trope. LOVE your inclusion of 42nd Street here, as every young chorus girl dreams of being Peggy Sawyer. I've seen the play the Best Man, but not the movie.

joel65913 said...

Like the angle you looked at the theme.

There are so many versions of Great Expectations but this is one of the best with a great English cast.

The Best Man takes a little while to get moving but is an interesting political drama, I always think of it paired with Advice and Consent.

42nd Street is such a prototype though I prefer Gold Diggers of 1933. I've never understood Ruby Keeler's appeal and she really couldn't dance very well.

I went with three that are more traditionally about The Chosen One but avoided franchises.

Excalibur (1981) - Director John Boorman’s amazingly evocative version of Le Morte d’Arthur where all the elements-casting, cinematography, acting, music, visual style and direction blend seamlessly. Following a prologue explaining how Excalibur came to be in the stone we meet the young squire Arthur (Nigel Terry) who is guided by Merlin (a brilliant Nicol Williamson) to the realization that he is The Chosen One by removing the Sword in the Stone. Initially as King Arthur he unites England, befriends Lancelot, takes Guenevere as his Queen and formulates the Knights of the Round Table but then his malicious half-sister Morgana (Helen Mirren) begins to take her revenge for the grudge she’s long held against both Arthur’s father and Merlin and a darkness descends on the land. Loaded with performers who went on to greater fame-Gabriel Bryne, Liam Neeson, Patrick Stewart and Mirren among them.

The Ten Commandments (1956)-C.B. DeMille’s final film is a huge pageant telling the story of how Moses came to realize he is The Chosen One to lead the Exodus to Mount Sinai and receive the Ten Commandments. Florid and often arch but loaded with great set design and effects that are still impressive 60 years later. Charlton Heston’s granite stiffness is actually a perfect fit for Moses, MISS Anne Baxter could not be more dramatically entertaining as Nefretiri torn between two men and emoting for all she’s worth over it and they are not alone, everybody more or less projects to the back row. Both Yul Brynner and Yvonne de Carlo are more naturalistic but they’re exceptions. If you enjoy BIG pictures making BIG statements this is one of the best.

The Last Starfighter (1984)-Teenager Alex Rogan (Lance Guest) spends all his free time playing the video game Starfighter at which he’s expert. He doesn’t think much of it when the new guy in his trailer court (Robert Preston) notices how good he is but the next thing he knows Preston has spirited him away to the edge of the galaxy and told him that he is The Chosen One who can save the universe! Turns out the video game was a test and Alex and his compatriot lizard/man Grig (Dan O'Herlihy) are leading the Star League in fighting the evil Kodan forces.

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

Well, I didn't think of Harry Potter, but then, I haven't seen any of the Harry Potter movies. A whole bunch of what I watch is stuff made before I was born.

Dell said...

Sadly, I haven't seen any of these.

Birgit said...

I really enjoyed Great Expectations and found it so well acted and the moodiness created by the camerawork is excellent. I haven't seen your second pick but I also like your last one as well. I also never understood how Ruby Keeler became such a big dance star even though she is known for this....she's not that great. I do love this movie with the really quite wicked dance at the end...who knew someone would commit suicide in the musical number

Brittani Burnham said...

Great Expectations is the only one I've seen, and I wasn't a fan. I went with easy picks, but you mentioned Joan of Arc and I didn't even think of her. Damn. lol

Katie Hogan said...

Ah excellent theme within a theme!