I’ve always been a huge film fan (some say fanatical), but the pandemic has allowed me to re-visit many films which I hadn’t seen in quite a while. I thought I’d briefly review of a few of my favorite films and hope you have an opportunity to enjoy them. Each is a different genre of film. All of these films have had a profound impact on me, to the point where I’ve watched them all many times. Don’t forget the popcorn!
David and Lisa (1962)
This poignant look at mental illness among institutionalized young adults is a truly a gem. The Frank Perry directed film stars Keir Dullea as David and Janet Margolin as Lisa and was filmed on location in the Philadelphia area. “David and Lisa” is impressive for its sympathetic portrayal of the main characters and gradual development of their loving relationship.
“David and Lisa” is the story of self-discovery and growing attachment between an emotionally disturbed young man and woman. Interestingly, Dullea and Margolin had very little acting experience prior to this film, but both gave memorable performances. It was unusual for a film to address the subject of mental illness in the early ’60s, but Frank and Eleanor Perry (the film’s screenwriters) — in their feature debut — treated this semi-documentary with maturity and discretion.
Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
From the esteemed British director David Lean, this gripping wartime adventure film is a must-see. The universally acclaimed film won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Director. Without any hesitation, I would consider “Bridge on the River Kwai” to be among my top 10 favorite films. The wonderful international cast includes Alec Guinness, William Holden, Jack Hawkins, Sessue Hayakawa and James Donald. This superbly directed and acted film includes some of the most memorable adventure scenes ever to appear on celluloid — in particular, the long and torturous march into the Burmese Jungle, led by Major Warden (Jack Hawkins) and Lieutenant Commander Major Shears (William Holden). The ending is absolutely spectacular.
“Blow-Up,” a British film directed by Michelangelo Antonioni, presents a snapshot of London in the Swinging Sixties. I thoroughly enjoy British films, and “Blow-Up” is a great one. This mystery thriller film follows a day in the life of Thomas (David Hemmings), a young fashion photographer who takes his craft seriously. Although Thomas is immediately unlikeable, we are instantly drawn into his unconventional world. The film’s visual images, from Thomas’ photography studio to his Rolls Royce convertible to the scenes in the park, are unforgettable. And let’s not forget the music, which was scored by jazz legend Herbie Hancock. The film also features a scene with the Yardbirds, a famous British rock group of the ’60s.
To say that “Blow-Up” is ambiguous is an understatement. This film is not recommended for viewers who seek a clear resolution tied up in a neat little bow.
Cape Fear (1962)
I am a huge fan of suspense films, especially those directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Cape Fear, directed by J. Lee Thompson, is one of the best of the genre. Many of you are probably familiar with the remake, starring Robert De Niro, but I find the original to be more gripping and raw. (I generally don’t care for remakes.) Max Cady (Robert Mitchum) is a pathological ex-con who holds Sam Bowden (Gregory Peck), a lawyer, personally responsible for being sentenced to eight years in prison for rape. Bowden had served as a witness in Cady’s trial. Cady begins a campaign of terror against Bowden and his family, which will seemingly continue until he gets complete revenge. Mitchum gives an unforgettable, creepy performance as the despicable Max Cady. The film also features excellent performances from Polly Bergen, Martin Balsam and Telly Savalas. The chilling Bernard Hermann score adds to the suspense, which ratchets up as the plot progresses.
With a lot of chaos and turmoil in this country and around the world, sometimes it can be nice to lay back, relax and enjoy a good movie.