After one of the earliest examples of film noir, the next entry in Roger Ebert’s The Great Movies – Lawrence Kasdan’s Body Heat – is a great instance of neo-noir, the pseudo-genre that has grown out of those movies like The Big Sleep from the 40s and 50s.
Another day, another film out of Roger Ebert’s The Great Movies. But this one is a little different. I actually saw Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up for the first time a little over a month ago, in the middle of April. It is rare for me to rewatch a movie so quickly, but I liked it well enough the first time. Might as well check it out again.
After my brain failed me at the movie theater last night, I took solace in the idea that I could return to Roger Ebert’s compilation of The Great Movies. The next film on the alphabetical list is 1946’s The Big Sleep, directed by Howard Hawks and written by William Faulkner, Leigh Brackett, and Jules Furthman. But upon seeing the almost two-hour runtime, I realized watching and reviewing the film would interfere with my own big sleep (not the big sleep referenced by the title, just my shot at a full eight hours). So – much like the scholars have always espoused – I put off for tomorrow what I technically could have done today. Well, just like that, tomorrow has arrived and so has The Big Sleep.
After a few weeks I return to Roger Ebert and his list of The Great Movies. The latest entry is Vittorio De Sica’s 1948 picture, The Bicycle Thief. I have been on a bit of an Italian cinema role after watching Il Sorpasso last night. The two movies are very different, but both act as tours of different parts of the country; Il Sorpasso shows us the country as lived in by the rich and free, while The Bicycle Thief acts as an accounting of Rome’s poorer districts, and the lengths people go to survive there.
Roger Ebert was notorious for his love of the “boob” films of directors like Russ Meyer – so much so that the two men eventually worked together in a creative capacity. Of his many vices, “women” was probably the least harmful, but perhaps the most addictive. Despite his admiration of the female form, Ebert was far from a misogynist. His inclusion of Luis Buñuel’s Belle de Jour in The Great Movies is a testament to his dual fascinations with both sensuality and empowerment.
Three The Great Movies reviews in a row? I’m on a roll. Today’s entry from Roger Ebert’s cataloging of essential films is Beauty and the Beast. But it’s probably not the one you’re thinking of. For clarity’s sake, let’s refer to today’s film as La Belle et la Bête, so as to remember we are talking about Jean Cocteau’s 1946 live action film, rather than the 1991 animated musical.
It has been quite a while since I logged another entry from Roger Ebert’s The Great Movies. A couple reasons for that: (1) The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is keeping me real busy (donate here, tickets here and here), and (2) the next movie in the book is actually three movies. The films that comprise Satyajit Ray’s The Apu Trilogy were released throughout the 50’s, and represent an evolution of filmmaking akin to what Francois Truffaut and his contemporaries were doing in France around the same time.
Apocalypse Now is the first film in Roger Ebert’s The Great Movies that I have already seen. Looking ahead in the table of contents I can see that this is not the only such film. Boy, that’s a relief. At the very least I can rest easy in the knowledge that Roger would not have been completely disappointed in my personal film history.
Ten years pass as I follow Roger Ebert’s spirit down the The Great Movies rabbit hole and arrive in 1960 for Billy Wilder’s The Apartment.