A Night to Remember (1942, Directed by Richard Wallace) English 5

Starring Loretta Young, Brian Aherne, Jeff Donnell, Sidney Toler

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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.

Road to Rio (1947, Directed by Norman Z. McLeod) English 7

Starring Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour, Frank Puglia, Gale Sondergaard

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(7-Very Good Film)

Funny. Clever. Zany.

The fifth in the series of Road to…movies, Road to Rio features Bing Crosby and Bob Hope as two musicians on the lamb, who stow away on a ship to Brazil, and get mixed up in a nefarious plot that involves the beautiful Dorothy Lamour. Not the best in the series, but still full of inspired silliness, clever one-liners, and self-deprecating humor. Excellent combination of music and comedy.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


The Birds (1963, Directed by Alfred Hitchcock) English 9

Starring Tippi Hedren, Rod Taylor, Jessica Tandy, Veronica Cartwright, Suzanne Pleshette

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(9-Great Film)

Thrilling. Odd. Masterful.

Melanie Daniels (Hedren), beautiful socialite and subject of much tabloid gossip meets Mitch Brenner (Taylor) in a bird shop in San Francisco. Presumably smitten with him, or perhaps intrigued by the brush-off he gives her, she follows him to his family’s home in the small, California town of Bodega Bay. There, unexplained mass attacks of birds terrorize the residents, and soon Melanie is fighting to survive. From a pretty silly premise comes what I would call the best disaster film in history. I like that it starts as an odd romantic scenario before veering into sheer madness and terror. It does what most films of the genre fail to do and that is to make me care about the characters before it puts them in these horrifying situations. While the special effects are certainly outdated, the film is still effective thanks to imaginative sequences and the already mentioned establishment of characters.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


Let Me In (2010, Directed by Matt Reeves) English 9

Starring Kodi Smit-McPhee, Chloe Grace Moretz, Richard Jenkins, Cara Buono, Elias Koteas, Dylan Minette

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(9-Great Film)

Beautiful. Dark. Disturbing.

A bullied 12 year old, Owen (Smit-McPhee), finds a friend in the odd girl who moved across the hall in his apartment, Abby (Grace Moretz). Around the same time, a string of grisly murders have shocked their small town in New Mexico, baffling the police, and putting families on edge. Soon, Owen finds that Abby is a vampire, and his growing love for her is tested. As a close remake of the Swedish Let the Right One In, many devotees of the original might not be able to see this film for what it’s worth. This is a gorgeously filmed, beautifully acted horror film that lingers in your thoughts for long after its finish.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


The Band Wagon (1953, Directed by Vincente Minnelli) English 10

Starring Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse, Oscar Levant, Nanette Fabray, Jack Buchanan

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Poignant. Revealing. Stunning.

Fred Astaire is Tony Hunter, a once famous song and dance movie star, now attempting to make a comeback on the stage. Joining him in the production of The Band Wagon are the quarreling married couple, writers Lily and Lester Marton (Fabray and Levant), the egotistical director, Jeffrey Cordova (Buchanan), and the young and beautiful Gabriel Gerard (Charisse) who bickers relentlessly with Tony before the two fall hopelessly in love. The best of Vincente Minnelli’s musicals, which is to say the best of all musicals. Unique for its early use of meta humor with Astaire playing a caricature of himself at that point of his career. What’s best is its undertones of sadness in portraying the rigors of putting on a show filled with joy. Minnelli and Astaire were tremendous artists and this was their masterpiece.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom (1984, Directed by Steven Spielberg) English 10

Starring Harrison Ford, Kate Capshaw, Amrish Puri, Roshan Seth, Jonathan Ke Quan

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Exhilirating. Bizarre. Scary.

Indy (Ford) returns, though set before the events of the first one, here, stumbling upon a small village in India losing its children to a Thuggee cult. He investigates with the help of Short Round, his young Chinese sidekick, and the diva-esque Willie Scott (Capshaw), leading him to a remote temple full of bizarre rituals and horrors in every corner. My favorite popcorn flick. I adore this movie and every odd choice. No one is better than Spielberg at layering the suspense, or raising the stakes mid-action scene. Superior to the original, thanks to Short Round and the compelling, exotic location. Countless memorable moments including the killer opening.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


Gigi (1958, Directed by Vincente Minnelli) English 6

Starring Leslie Caron, Maurice Chevalier, Louis Jourdan, Hermione Gingold, Eva Gabor

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(6-Good Film)

Beautiful. Superficial. Underwhelming.

Set in 1900s Paris, Gigi tells the story of a young courtesan in training named Gilberte (Caron) who attracts the attention of a bored aristocrat and family friend, Gaston (Jourdan). The level of craftsmanship on display by Minnelli, the director, and his cast and crew is remarkable. Truly one of the most beautiful films you’ll ever see. However, I’ve always found the film lacking in anything substantial. As a classic musical, it’s meant as pure escapism and so it isn’t necessary that it be profound or dramatic, but this film lacks any drama. The main conflict is essentially a matter of how much Gaston loves Gilberte. Does he want her just as a mistress or as a wife? I didn’t find that gripping enough. The soundtrack has some nice moments, but pales in comparison with Lerner and Loew’s other work, in particular, their masterpiece My Fair Lady.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-