Saturday, April 11, 2009

Marvelous Movies - Anna Campbell

by Anna Campbell

As those of you who visit my website know, every month I do a column called My Favorite Things. It's pure self-indulgence, really, but it gives me a chance to write about stuff I like. Among an assortment of topics, I talk about places I've been and books and movies that are particular favorites.

The last two months (March and April), I've been talking about movies. March's topic was THE BIG EASY which is such a great romance and so much fun. And April's is THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS starring Daniel Day-Lewis and his flowing hair. An absolutely magnificent film and one I'd highly recommend if you haven't seen it.

You can see what I said about the film here. And also feast your eyes on some yummy pictures - love this one of him staring stalwartly into the distance! You'll also find links back to previous columns, including a list of my top 11 favorite films.

I thought it might be fun to think of my top three films - for today that is, as this list tends to change hourly if not daily! If you ask me tomorrow to name my top three, you'll get a different answer.

But today, the first of my favorites is LAWRENCE OF ARABIA which is where that spectacular still at the top of this blog comes from.

I was lucky enough to be living in a major city when the restored version of this masterpiece was released in the cinemas. I think I went to it about ten times. It became a bit of an obsession. But the chance to see that magnificent photography in 70mm as David Lean intended and to hear Maurice Jarre's haunting score in full surround sound was too precious to waste. I've always had a soft spot for Peter O'Toole and my crush was reawakened big time, seeing his wonderful performance over and over again. Mind you, Omar Sharif isn't exactly tough to look at in this film either.
My next film is a real girly classic. DIRTY DANCING! Nobody puts Baby in a corner! This was another film I went to see a couple of times in the cinema although it works much better on TV than LAWRENCE OF ARABIA. This is a wonderful coming of age story about two people who are so much more than they realize they are.

What works for me in this film is that for all its fantasy elements, it's very real. The relationships have that awkwardness that real relationships have. For example, I always cry when Baby/Frances finally confronts her father on the porch in the rain. They love each other so much which is why they manage to hurt each other so profoundly.

The last of my short list is an oldie but a goodie. THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR was made in 1947 and it's one of the most poignant, magical romances I know on film. Gene Tierney is luminous as young widow, Lucy Muir, who moves into a haunted house on the English coast. Rex Harrison was never so warm and human as he is here, playing the ghost of sea captain Daniel Gregg. Quite ironic, really. But he makes the most wonderful romantic hero in this film.

On my website, I make the comment about THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS that one of the most compelling things about the hero in that film is that he knows he's met his destiny the moment he lays eyes on the heroine. There's a similar dynamic in THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR and it works in spades! But of course, a ghost and a living woman can't have a happy ending in this life, which is where the heart-wrenching poignancy comes from.

If you haven't seen this film, get it. It's breathtakingly romantic and I bet you cry at the end. I always do!

So what are your three favorite films and why? I'd love to hear your lists!


Fiona Lowe said...

Wow, am I first? Anna I LOVED the TV series of the Ghost and Mrs Muir when I was a kid but not certain I have ever seen the movie that must have spawned the TV series.

Annie West said...

Hi Anna,

Now that's really interesting. I can't imagine seeing Dirty Dancing more than once. Maybe because I saw it on TV with lots of interruptions.

Ghost and Mrs Muir is a favourite - so poignant and lovely. That one really hits at the heart. I was only thinking the other day about George Sanders in that film - he had the most amazing, mellow voice (he was the voice of Shere Khan in the cartoon of the Jungle Book).

Lawrence of Arabia? Fantastic! Still remember those vivid blue eyes in the sun tanned face. What a film that was.

Hm, can't pick favourites myself as they change from day to day. Though I have to say if Casablanca is on TV late at night I won't miss it.

PinkPeony said...

Anna...first of all, I'm not stalking you. Saw your post on my Facebook page.

Favorite movies...
1. Empire of the Sun
2. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (loved the relationship between Hepburn and Spencer)
3. From the Terrace (Paul Newman leaves his nasty Upper East Side wife and finds true love)
4/5...sorry...Breakfast at Tiffany's/Roman Holiday. Gregory Peck knows Audrey is beyond reach but he still pines for her. (sob)
I loved the movie The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. Talk about unrequited love. I watched the t.v. series as a kid too and I always wanted Mrs. Muir to get it on with the Ghost!

Helen said...


I love the Ghost and Mrs Muir I haven't seen it for a while but always loved it and Dirty Dancing I can watch that one over and over and I too love The Last Of The Mochicans. I love your web page as well I do enjoy reading the latest and your favourites every month

As for my 3 favourite movies

Gone With The Wind
I love the determination of Scarlett and Rhett even though there isn't a happy ending they both are such strong people

Seven Brides For Seven Brothers
I love singing to the music and the dancing for me this is a movie I love

An Affair To Remember
What can I say about this movie it just gets me everytime I watch it that has been a few times

I am going to add another and I have no real reason why I love this movie but I love it Jaws

Have Fun

SueO said...

I'm now going to have to go back and read the other articles about your faves. It really gets you thinking!

And I must say that the combined 'light' O'Toole and the 'dark' Sharif makes a delicious contrast, doesn't it? Sorta like Tuxedo Cheesecake or Chocolate Fudge Swirl ice cream!

Thanks for the viewpoint.

Beth said...

Hi Anna,

Well you know from an earlier conversation that none of Woody Allen's movies made my list. I'd have to say that my all time favorite movie is Casablanca. "Of all the gin joints in all the world. . ." gets me every time. I also really love the Lord of the Rings trilogy - movie making doesn't get any better than that IMO.

A cheesy movie that I really like is CLUE. Not a great movie, but it has some great lines.

Another great movie with great lines is The Princess Bride. A true fairy tale that I can watch again and again.

Now this last one that I love is by no means a romance but it has a great heroine. Sigourney Weaver kicks but in Aliens and I never get tired of watching her arm herself to the teeth in that elevator as she goes to rescue Newt. I always am on the edge of my seat until they reach "minimum safe distance."

PJ said...

Wonderful movies on your list, Anna! I have so many favorites and, like you, the top three would probably change daily. Today, my top three, in no particular order, are:

1. The Sound of Music - the music, the scenery, the fairy tale true-life story. I've seen it more than 50 times over the past 40 years and haven't tired of it yet.

2. Dirty Dancing - I have a much used DVD and still can't click past it whenever I see it on TV. Wonderful story, dancing and music. Patrick Swayze and (pre-plastic surgery) Jennifer Grey are terrific and I love that it's set in my teen era.

3. Last of the Mohicans - for all the reasons you mentioned and for the waterfall scene - one of the best ever!

Anna Campbell said...

Fiona, the movie is marvelous. You really should see if you can get it. MUCH better than the TV series, which I too remember from my childhood.

Annie, you're not a Dirty Dancing fan? It's a fab film! We'll have to get it out on DVD some time when you come up for a visit. It's a movie it's fun to watch with your girlfriends.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Jen, it's always a pleasure to see you, of course you're not stalking me! ;-)

I haven't seen From the Terrace. It turns up on Turner Classic Movies now and again. I'll have to check it out. I haven't seen Guess Who's... since I was a kid. Will have to check it out again. And I've never seen Empire of the Sun. Clearly I'll have to pull my finger out.

Audrey! Oh, she's up there in my favorites. In fact, today, Breakfast at Tiffany's might just edge out Dirty Dancing. It's hard when you have to pick just three, isn't it? Love Roman Holiday - such a fantastic film. And I really love How to Steal a Million. Peter O'Toole is gorgeous in that too.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Helen, great to see you too! It's always fun writing the favorite things column every month. Thanks for checking them out!

What a great choice! GWTW is such a classic. It's not my absolute fave but I can see why people love it. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers also pops up on TCM now and again. That dance scene where the brothers go to town and help with the barn building is just fantastic! And you know I love an Affair to Remember, which was my mother's favorite movie. Tempt the Devil was inspired by that particular film. Do you know - I've never seen Jaws!

Treethyme said...

I like the movies you listed, but they aren't in my top ten. I love movies, and would have a hard time picking a top three. In fact, I can only do a top ten by genre -- favorite mystery movie, favorite comedy, favorite chick flick, etc.

Here are a few, based on the first ones to come to mind:

American Dreamer with Tom Conti
That Thing You Do! with Tom Hanks
Notting Hill with Julia Roberts
You Can't Take it With You with James Stewart
The Philadelphia Story (all star cast)
You've Got Mail (Hanks and Ryan)
V for Vendetta
Harvey (James Stewart again)
Only You with Robert Downey, Jr.
Sabrina (Bogart and Hepburn)
Fiddler on the Roof

I could go on for hours!

Treethyme said...

Oh -- The Graduate! How could I forget The Graduate!

Treethyme said...

And Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Paul Newman, Elizabeth Taylor)

Stop me now!

Anna Campbell said...

Ooh, Sue, what a lovely description of Omar and Peter in Lawrence (hmm, this is starting to sound a bit perverse!). My best friend who also got a bit of an obsession about the film liked Omar and I liked Peter. Nice when you're not fighting over the leading man! ;-)

Hey, Beth, my fellow Woody Allen NON-fan! I must watch Casablanca again. I absolutely adored it as a teenager but haven't seen it for ages. To confess to my lack of knowledge of action movies, I've never seen Alien or Aliens either! Yeah, I know - where have I been? Love the Princess Bride - I am Inigo Montoya! And I agree about LOTR, especially the first one which to me was the best of the trilogy. Goodness, wasn't Viggo gorgeous in that? I'll have to check out Clue. I haven't seen it either!

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, PJ, your three movies are all on my list of all-time faves. I adore the Sound of Music. Can watch it again and again. I love the way they develop the romance between Maria and the Captain. Great choices! And wonderful to meet another DD fan.

Goodness, Becke, what an interesting list! I've seen a lot of those but I'm not sure they'd crack my top 10 but they're sure great movies. Just watched The Philadelphia Story the other day and was reminded what a sharp, perceptive script that is. Imagine having to choose between Jimmy S and Cary G, though? What would a girl do???!!!

Anna Campbell said...

Snort, Miss Becke. You did see the THREE part of the question, didn't you? Hey, good choices as the additions, though!

Hey, I'm really enjoying seeing everybody's selections. Thanks for playing.

~ Paula Roe ~ said...

Movies? Now we're talking!

- Dirty Dancing, of course :)
- Titanic - because it's just so beautiful and has a wonderful story arc to it (yeah, okay, that's the writer in me)
Star Wars trilogy - The original three because they were the best. How weird is it that a movie made in 1977, one I saw at the cinema, is now being thoroughly and repeatedly enjoyed by my 8yo on DVD? The story never gets old (and I could watch Han Solo over and over.. yum! My idea of a bad boy alpha male :D )
then there's a bunch of movies that really show my mental age ;) - 10 Things I Hate About You, Detroit Rock City, Empire Records, Can't Hardly Wait, Airheads... aimed at teenagers but with a lot more depth than you'd expect.

Anna Campbell said...

Paula, 10 Things is one of my favorite movies! It's such a clever take on the Taming of the Shrew. So sad to think Heath Ledger has left us now. I agree with you about those first three Star Wars. I have a theory that when directors have TOO much money, it doesn't do them any good. I much prefer the first Terminator film (which also has a fantastic story arc) to the later ones when there was so much money to splash around on special effects. The first one was really low budget and they had to work on script and acting and story to get the impact across. And it works in spades.

Michele L. said...

Hi Anna,

I don't think I have ever watched the Ghost and Mrs. Muir all the way through. I never saw the show either. Sounds like a really good movie!

I love all the movies with Audrey Hepburn in them. Other movies that were my favs,

STAR WARS, very first one
ROMANCING THE STONE, love all the characters especially Danny Devito
HARRY POTTER movies, loved the books!
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING with Sandra Bullock, she is so funny!
AS GOOD AS IT GETS, Jack Nicholsen is wonderful! Keaneau Reeves is so handsome in it!
FINDING NEMO, I love animated movies and this one is the best!
ET, THE EXTRATERRESTRIAL, I just loved this movie!

I too loved Jaws! There are so many good movies out there! I think my list will change to as I see more movies.

Anna Campbell said...

Michele, try and get yourself some space to watch The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. It's quiet and a lot of it works on the gradual build-up of emotion and atmosphere. I don't think you'd enjoy it much if you had to keep dipping in and out of it. But definitely worth a look.

Great list!

~ Paula Roe ~ said...

Anna, I think you're spot on with the whole money thing. Special effects just muscles in, leaving what could be a damn good story lacking. I loved Warlock, which had a great story behind it. Then I saw the 2nd one and it was just purely schlock horror. Really awful. Ditto with Alien (although Alien 2 was actually better!) 3 and 4 were just truly terrible. And Rocky... 1 and 2 were great, but from then on, they went downhill.

Michele L - I'm way excited about the new Ice Age movie coming in July!! I use both 1 & 2 as examples when I talk about GMC. In fact, a lot of animated movies have solid story arcs - Nemo, Monsters Inc, Bolt, Toy Story. Why is that, I wonder?

Anna Campbell said...

Paula, I think the animation companies actually put a lot of money and energy into getting the scripts right.

SueO said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SueO said...

Yanno, I got so sidetracked by thinking of Sharif and O'Toole, I forgot to list my faves (and why).

GETTYSBURG: Mainly because the first part illustrates the actions of one of my personal heroes Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain who came from being the son of a Maine farmer, was a college professor, well versed in 7 languages, taught himself (at a young age) a method to overcome his stutter, worked to make Bowdoin College co-ed back when this was rare indeed, was governor of Maine for four terms, and generally was quite a noble figure of history.

APOLLO 13: Terrific story that everyone (or nearly everyone) knows, yet Ron Howard and Tom Hanks made everyone sit on the edge of his/her seat even to the very end. Besides, it takes talent to make physics and engineering seems sexy! ;-)

A HARD DAYS NIGHT: Ground breaking musical cinematography in an era that was making Beach Blanket Bingo and of course, it has the Beatles! Yeahahahah!

Pamela Cayne said...

I'm sorry--did you write anything after the picture of Daniel Day Lewis in his most amazing, heart-fluttering role? My eyes had trouble focusing on anything else.

P.S. I'm still Lucky Penny Pam, but am breaking in my new pseudonym--you can't get rid of me that easily!

Anna Campbell said...

Sue, laughing at the eye candy proving a bit of a distraction. Strangely, all my movies include really compelling performances from the central male character. I think Patrick Swayze is great in Dirty Dancing and Rex Harrison is to die for (pun intended) in TGAMM.

You know, I haven't seen Gettysburg or Apollo 13. I should! They sound like my sort of movies. I love that epic sweep in a story. A Hard Day's Night is great, isn't it? Years since I've seen it.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Pam, always great to see you even when you sidle in under a pseudonym ;-) Love the new name, by the way. Isn't that a great shot of DDL? He really is magnetic in that role. Sigh!

SueO said...

I should have analyzed it better. I love movies with LOTS OF MEN! Even geeky ones! ;-)

Anna Campbell said...

The Dirty Dozen???!!! The Magnificent Seven?

SueO said...

I was rather partial to Monty Python and the Holy Grail as well as The Guns of Navarone. Oh, and Blazing Saddles, and...

Anna Campbell said...

Actually next month's MFT column is about Red River. That's another movie FULL of blokes!

Pat Cochran said...

My three are four:

Knock On Any Door - A troubled young man with a criminal background kills an officer, his attorney tries to place blame for his life on society. It's Humphrey Bogart and John Derek, no need to say more.

Love With A Proper Stranger - She's
preganant & doesn't want a forced
marriage, He wants to do the "right
thing", Love wins out over all.
Steve McQueen & Natalie Wood are
so good together!

Dirty Dancing - Love it, my thanks
to Patsy Swayze, she taught Patrick
to dance!

Princess Bride - A lovely fairy tale that won the hearts of three
generations of my family. Six y/o
Mason would go about quoting the
Inigo Montoya lines!

Pat Cochran

Anna Campbell said...

Pat, I haven't seen the first movie you mention. Sounds great! I love Love with a Proper Stranger. I love the way Natalie's character develops into a strong independent woman and then she and Steve actually have a chance together which they wouldn't have had earlier on. And he's so charismatic, isn't he? And another Dirty Dancing fan. But of course, we already know you're a woman of exquisite taste ;-) Did you see the Princess Bride has already scored a mention or two? A true classic! Thanks for coming by and playing.