Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Young and Innocent / The Girl Was Young (Movie Review)

Nine year before he directed the previously reviewed "Notorious", Alfred Hitchcock made a film in 1937 titled, Young and Innocent!

Title

You may have noticed I have titled this review "Young and Innocent / The Girl Was Young". This is because both are names for this same movie. Technically this started out as a British film titled Young and Innocent. However, when it came over to America, it was named The Girl Was Young. Why it was changed I'm not sure, but it is a nice piece of trivia. Of course, if you are looking to purchase a copy of this movie, I would search for Young and Innocent.


Plot

Basically, a woman is murdered by her jealous husband and one of the woman's boy friends, one Robert Tisdall, is framed for the crime. Determined to prove his innocence, Robert Tisdall (played here by Derrick De Marney) escapes police custody only to find himself with the Chief Constable's daughter.

My Review

I must say, this isn't one of Hitchcock's best films. It is a nice film and has some funny spots to it, but it isn't as great as say North by Northwest or other films Hitchcock would make later on. However, it does have some good spots to it.

It does host a nice romance between Erica Burgoyne (played by Nova Pilbeam) and Robert Tisdall (Derrick De Marney). Maybe its just me, but I'm not drawn into this couple as much as say Notorious. Perhaps its the fact that the characters are not as defined as the other films and therefore less concrete. I'm not sure. It could be the fact we don't see as many twists in the plot of this movie as we usually see in Hitchcock films.

I'm not sure. It just feels...I don't know...off to be a Hitchcock film. As a Hitchcock film, its really unremarkable. If it wasn't for the director, my expectations would not be so high. As a regular film, it's pretty good. There are a couple of funny lines which keeps the movie interesting. The cast is good. Admittedly, I have to say this has to be most of the actors biggest roles, which is a pity because Derrick De Marney is really quite charming. No Cary Grant, but charming nevertheless.

Even though the plot is unremarkable, I must admit we do get to see some Hitchcockian camera angles in this film which act as highlights in this film. There is a wonderful scene where the whole camera focus is one man's eyes. This adds drama to the scene and makes it enjoyable.

Conclusion
While not in the best Hitchcock film, Young and Innocent does show where he began. It is a playful romance with some nice scenes with this fugitive from justice. If you want to see every Alfred Hitchcock movie, then you should see this one. If you don't, I will say this a nice film some people could enjoy.

Quote
“Ha Ha! So I have won you over!"
--Derrick De Marney (as Robert Tisdall / Beachcroft Manningtree in Alfred Hitchcock’s Young and Innocent aka Girl Was Young 1937 General Film Distributors Ltd.)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Novel Review)


 To start off the New Year’s book reviews, I thought I would give a review of a very amusing book. Written by Douglas Adams, this 1979 novel is called The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy!


Plot
What is this story about? When I told someone about having read this first book in the so called “Hitchhiker’s Trilogy”, I explained I couldn’t really tell what it was about exactly, which is why it took me a little bit to write this review. Basically, it is an EXTREMELY peculiar tale about Arthur Dent (a human from the newly destroyed Earth), Ford Prefect (an alien who had been stuck on Earth for 15 years), Zaphod Beeblebrox (the President of the Universe), Trillian (another human) and Marvin (a depressed robot). It contains the meaning of life and bad poetry.

Writing Style
Douglas Adams has a zany writing style unlike anything I have ever read and most likely I will ever read. Its meaning and message leave me with questions and honestly I don’t know if I really want the answers. In reading this, I did realize that it is not necessarily the answer you get that is important, but the questions you ask. Are you asking the right questions? Douglas Adams explores the unknown by presenting us with one of the strangest stories ever told and that is why his writing could be considered a classic. It is an easy read (it actually took less than a day to read), so it is a piece of cake to read; whether you completely understand it is another story…

The Meaning of Life, Universe and Everything!
I really don’t want to spoil anything (though anything I say won’t prepare you for Douglas’ language and universe…even though I watched the movie I did not expect the whacky story which appeared here). The meaning of life is a big subject when talking about The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Most people would say the answer is, “42!” because that answer (provided in this book) is now part of pop culture. However, that is not necessarily the meaning of life. In fact (spoiler???) it is not even the question. Douglas not only boggles the mind with two headed, three armed politicians, but he questions humanity’s purpose as a whole. Are we just some science experiment to discover to the ultimate truth? Or is there something more? Douglas provides, but it leaves more questions than answers (in fact there are two questions and one answer…)

Conclusion
I really don’t know what to say about this book. This is a wonderful read and I recommend it. Even if you have watched the movie or see one of the many other adaptations, you can not match Douglas Adams. I am really interested and when I finish the book I am reading now (stay tuned on that btw), I will try to tackle the sequels, because this is just a pure fun novel. I don’t usually laugh out loud when reading a book, but this is a definitely one I can laugh with its strange characters and plot. Check it out!

Quote/Picture of Author
 "DON'T PANIC,"
--The Cover of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (which appeared in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams 1979)

Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious (Movie Review)


 For the first movie review of the year, I thought I would go with a movie by one of my favorite directors. Alfred Hitchcock was a cinematic genius and an auteur. He was born in 1899 and directed over (according to one source) 66 movies, made 2 TV shows, and appeared several books. The first Hitchcock movie I will review here (the first of many I’m sure!) is the 1946 movie starring Cary Grant, Ingred Bergman, and Claud Rains titled Notorious!



Plot
Cary Grant’s character in this movie is a CIA agent by the name of T.R. Devlin. To quote Hitchcock from a radio interview on this movie, 
“his [Devlin’s] job is to get the girl in bed with the other man.” 
Essentially, the girl (aka Alicia Huberman played by Ingred Bergman) is supposed to sleep with Alex Sebastian (Claude Rains). Of course, Devlin and Alica actually love each other. So as Hitchock commented, “It’s an ironic thing, really.”

Cast
Cary Grant was in a total of four Hitchcock movies in his carrier (most famous of which is “North by Northwest”). I have actually talked about Grant before for his role in Arsenic and Old Lace. Devlin is very different from Mortimer Brewster in that Devlin is very serious. He does not show any emotion through his body. It is his actions which really shows how he feels about Alicia which really counts. Those Casablanca fans might recognize Ingred Bergman as the same actress who played llsa Lund. In contrast to Grant’s role, Bergman’s role as Alica Huberman shows her emotions through his words. Her lines are the most moving through the whole movie. Claude Rains is perhaps best known as the loony Invisible man and Senator Joseph Harrison Paine from Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Interestingly, Claude Rains was also part of the cast of Casablanca. His role is very entertaining and I sort of feel sorry for him in the end (no spoilers…).

MacGuffin
You can’t talk about an Alfred Hitchcock Film without mentioning the MacGuffin of the film. What is a MacGuffin you ask? Well, lets quote the master himself on the subject,
“It might be a Scottish name, taken from a story about two men in a train. One man says "What's that package up there in the baggage rack?", and the other answers "Oh, that's a McGuffin". The first one asks "What's a McGuffin?". "Well", the other man says, "It's an apparatus for trapping lions in the Scottish Highlands". The first man says "But there are no lions in the Scottish Highlands", and the other one answers "Well, then that's no McGuffin!". So you see, a McGuffin is nothing at all.”
In other words, a MacGuffin is a "a plot element that catches the viewers' attention or drives the plot of a work of fiction" (to quote Wikipedia). This movies McGuffin (or MacGuffin…the spelling doesn’t matter) is uranium. Hitchcock’s timing could not be greater as a Atom Bomb had just been on Japan and of course uranium is a key element in the making of an Atom bomb—something the Nazis in real life would be interested in.

Cinematic Notes
Hitchcock is famous for his cinematic genius. At the very beginning of this film when Alica has a hangover, the camera twists and turns not unlike the human eye (thus giving you the impression of being in her shoes). Hitchcock also used a hanging camera (which he also used on Psycho) to give wonderful shots which you couldn’t get normally. There are so many wonderful cinematic notes when talking about Hitchcock I really just advice you to watch one and you can figure it out.

Conclusion
This is a wonderful movie. It cost 2 million to make but it collected over 8 million in profits, so I would say this is a successful movie. It is a wonderful love story if you are interested in that and is most definitely a classic. Check it out if you like Hitchcock!

Quote/Trailer
 
“There's nothing like a love song to give you a good laugh,”
--Ingrid Bergman (as Alicia Huberman in Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious 1946 RKO Radio Pictures)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Reviewing the year's Reviews 2011

I thought as we are now in 2012 I would look back at the reviews!

Movies
I think my favorite movie I have reviewed for this blog is Finding Forrester for is message (and actor), followed by Arsenic and Old Lace, then Abbot & Costello, Patriot Games and then Seventh Seal.


Musicals
I think my favorite has to be a tie between How to succeed in business without really trying, Catch Me if you can, and Addams Family. Spider-Man comes in second place.

Novels
I think my favorite book I have reviewed for this blog would have to be Catch Me if You can. Followed by: Casino Royale, Patriot Games, King Solomon's Mines and then finally Cannery Row, though the order of the books is really hard...

Other Posts
Well, that's it! Done with 2011 reviews! check in soon for the first 2012 review! I hope to bring some interesting classics to the blog and ones which SHOULD have been classics...Here to the future! "Here's looking at ya'!"