Starring Loretta Young, Brian Aherne, Jeff Donnell, Sidney Toler
A happy couple, the husband, an amateur mystery writer (Aherne), and the wife, a quick-witted beauty (Young), move into a seemingly nice apartment, but the neighbors act strange, and soon a dead body turns up. The two decide to investigate, and stumble upon a large blackmailing scheme. Perhaps spurred on by the success of Nick and Nora in the Thin Man series, this mystery film’s best quality is the chemistry between the charming lead couple. The actual mystery has an intriguing premise but isn’t fully developed and lacks suspense.
Starring Don Ameche, Gene Tierney, Charles Coburn, Eugene Palette, Marjorie Main
Not to be confused with Warren Beatty’s ’70s film, this comedy starts with Henry Van Cleve descending to hell where he must explain to the head honcho there why he belongs. The film then flashes back as he tells his life story from his days as a precocious kid to meeting his wife to his tenth wedding anniversary when she walks out and he has to win her back. It’s a unique comedy, and a perfect example of the “Lubitsch touch,” the quality this film’s director gives his comedies that make even the darkest of material seem light and charming. Don Ameche, remarkable for the matinee idol type, has incredible comedic range and a very expressive face. He’s fantastic, and the aging process he goes throughout his story is rendered better than many modern films.
Starring Jason Segel, Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Russell Brand, Bill Hader, Jack McBrayer, Paul Rud, Jonah Hill
Crappy television composer Peter Bretter (Segel) is left by his perfect girlfriend, T.V star Sarah Marshall (Bell), for a bohemian rockstar, Aldous Snow (Brand). Wanting to get away from her and all things that remind him of her, Peter takes a vacation to beautiful Hawaii, but she turns out to be there as well. Dealing with that awkwardness, Peter meets several characters at the Hawaiian resort, one being the lovely receptionist, Rachel Jansen (Kunis). Segel is such an affable personality that we feel for him through each humiliation, and cheer for him in his moments of triumph. Paul Rudd, Jonah Hill, and Russell Brand (before the persona became stale) provide a lot of laughs in the supporting cast, and Forgetting Sarah Marshall is rock-solid romantic comedy.
Starring Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Kyle Chandler, Billy Magnussen, Jesse Plemons, Kylie Burnbury, Lamorne Morris, Sharon Horgan
Married couple, Max (Bateman) and Annie (McAdams), love to host game nights for their friends-Ryan (Magnussen), Kevin (Morris), and Michelle (Burnbury)-but when Max’s hotshot brother, Brooks (Chandler), comes to town, he hijacks the party. Relocating game night to his mansion, he sets up a more dangerous game involving a kidnapping and detective work, but things become a little more intense than planned, and the rest of the party begin to wonder what’s real and what’s just part of the game. Rapid-fire dialogue and cultural references, a devious, ever-spinning plot, and excellent performances, especially from the very loveable leads Bateman and McAdams, make Game Night a blast.
Starring Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart, William Holden, John Williams
Updating the Cinderella story, chauffeur’s daughter, Sabrina (Hepburn) dreams of spending her life with David Larrabee (Holden)- the womanizing son in the family her father works for-but he never notices her. Sent to Paris to learn how to cook, she returns years later as a beautiful woman, and soon finds David infatuated with her. David’s older brother, Linus (Bogart), a workaholic and ruthless businessman, sees Sabrina as a hitch in his grand plan for a merger, so he sets about getting rid of her, though he ends up falling for her. Wonderfully romantic, old-fashioned, and timeless thanks to the actors. It’s a fairly simple story, but told so well by a great filmmaker working with three great movie stars.
Starring Doris Day, Frank Sinatra, Gig Young, Dorothy Malone, Ethel Barrymore, Elisabeth Fraser
With their sister’s engagement, Laurie (Day) and Amy (Fraser) contemplate their own impending spinsterhood. Then a brash musician named Alex (Young) enters the picture, and both sisters fall for him. As if that weren’t complicated enough, Alex’s depressive friend and music partner, Barney Sloan (Sinatra), arrives, and Laurie can’t help but be drawn to him, despite his moods. Finely tuned melodrama in the mold of a Douglas Sirk movie, which were popular around the same time, though not quite as effective. It is well-acted, particularly by Sinatra, and any time he or Doris Day break out in song, it’s a beautiful thing. The ending loses something by not following through on what it setup so well.
Starring Michael Moriarty, Andrea Marcovicci, Garret Morris, Paul Sorvino, Danny Aiello
It’s the new sensation. “The Stuff” in marquee letters. But what is “the Stuff.” Some sort of white yogurt substance being advertised like it’s ice cream, but being sold and consumed like a legal form of crack. Industrial saboteur Mo Rutherford (Moriarty) is hired to investigate and destroy the new hotseller, but what he finds is darker than he ever imagined. The Stuff is actually a living organism that slowly takes over the brain of whoever eats it. Okay, so obviously super-silly movie, that balances over-the-top satire with cheesy eighties horror tastes. While the film is not scary at all, or particularly well-acted, it is highly entertaining and creative.