Starring Robert Stephens, Colin Blakely, Christopher Lee, Genevieve Page, Tamara Toumanova
Years after his death, the letters of Dr. John H. Watson, one of literature’s most famous narrators and chronicler of the eminent Sherlock Holmes are found. In them, he relates a Sherlock Holmes story theretofore untold, deemed to private for the public. In Sherlock’s most personal case of his career, a strange and beautiful woman with amnesia winds up on his doorstep. Deducing that she’s looking for a missing husband, Sherlock sets out to solve the mystery, all the while falling for the woman. This is a later work from Billy Wilder, and probably his last great film. It’s beautifully, lavishly constructed sets, wit, and style belie the poignant sadness at its core which make it a special take on the character. A late sequence featuring a Morse code message by way of umbrella is an indelible, agonizing image.
Starring Audrey Hepburn, Rex Harrison, Stanley Holloway, Jeremy Brett, Wilfrid Hyde-White
Henry Higgins (Harrison), a renowned phonetics professor wagers that he can turn a common flower girl, Eliza Doolittle (Hepburn), into a duchess by improving her speech. A musical adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s play, Pygmalion, and it’s tops for me. The dialogue which is predominantly Shaw, the lyrics, the music, the costumes, the art direction, staging, the performances, are all exceptional. Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle are two of my favorite characters across all entertainment. They are both heavyweights, equals, and watching the two spar is a joy to me. Easily my favorite variant of the Pygmalion story, and probably my favorite musical.
Starring Hayley Mills, Brian Keith, Maureen O’Hara
Long lost twin sisters (Mills) meet at a summer camp and collude to get their divorced parents back together. The biggest problem, their dad’s new girlfriend, the young and attractive Vicky. The acting, production values, and script all stand-out. One of the best Disney live-action films.
Starring Adam Sandler, Emily Watson, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Luis Guzman
An implosive and lonely bathroom supply salesman, Barry (Sandler), constantly bullied by his seven sisters, finds love when he meets one of those sister’s coworker, Lena (Watson). It’s probably too strange for the mainstream, and some might find its peculiar soundtrack grating, but this is a great movie. The movement, that soundtrack, and the suspense of watching an always on-edge Sandler give the film a sense of energy and a tone sustained to the end. I think it’s the best depiction of the anxiety and desperation that can sometimes come with love.
Starring Julie Andrews, James Garner, Robert Preston, Leslie Ann Warren, Alex Karras, John Rhys-Davies
Desperate in the extreme to eke out a living in ’30s Paris, two American entertainers (Victoria played by Andrews and Toddy played by Robert Preston) cook up a scheme that can make them rich and famous. Victoria will pretend to be a man who pretends to be a woman on stage. Things grow complicated when an American gangster (Garner) falls for her, and she for him. It’s an elaborate and exuberant farce that features fantastic musical numbers, a torrent of gags, and witty one-liners. Feels old-fashioned and edgy, which is why, even today, the film seems progressive. Rather than being laugh out loud funny, Victor/Victoria has a tremendous energy, and even amidst the madcap plot and never ending misunderstandings, the characters are authentic.
Starring Roger Moore, Barbara Bach, Curd Jürgens, Richard Kiel
The threat of a complete psychopath bent on sparking World War III forces James Bond (Moore) to team up with Russian spy, XXX (a female counterpart equal to him), to take the villain down. Meanwhile, a henchman named Jaws with metal teeth stalks the heroic duo. I thought about my feelings for this movie long and hard. Many of the elements are great and very memorable. The intro song by Carly Simon might be my favorite Bond song. The villain, who wants to start a new world under water, and his silly but terrifying henchman, Jaws, are unforgettable. I also like that Agent XXX (Lord, that name) is seen as a sort of parallel to Bond. My main problem was that I didn’t find a majority of the action sequences thrilling, and that severely dampened my overall enjoyment of the film.
Starring Alain Delon, Romy Schneider, Micheline Presle, Fernand Ledoux
Tragedy about a young officer (Delon) caught in an affair with the wife of his superior, just as he has fallen in love with a local Austrian girl named Christine (Schneider). The fatalism of its ending was, for me, contrived, but that didn’t keep me from caring. The stars-Schneider and Delon- are two of the most beautiful and photogenic ever to be on screen, and their romance is brief but sweet.