Rupert Pupkin Speaks: My Favorite Film Discoveries of 2013 (Part Two) ""

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

My Favorite Film Discoveries of 2013 (Part Two)

I added so many films to my 2013 Discoveries list on Letterboxd  that I truly have enough movies for like 5 lists at least, maybe more. Might have to whittle these down a bit, but here is the next batch of movies that I found to be pretty darned great when I first laid my peepers on them in the past year:

CHEYENNE (1947; Raoul Walsh)
This is a well-made, twisty-turny,  little mystery western from the great Raoul Walsh. I've truly come to appreciate Walsh as the master that he was over the past 3-4 years. I recalled hearing
Kudos to Warner Archive for putting it out. 

FLAMINGO ROAD (1949; Michael Curtiz)
Curtiz, like Raoul Walsh has provided me with a lot of wonderful gems in the past few years. Both great craftsmen of the Hollywood Studio era. This one features Joan Crawford butting heads with Sydney Greenstreet (and Greenstreet's character in this movie feels like he bunked with Hank Quinlan back in  their police academy days). On Warner Archive Instant.
HOLD BACK THE DAWN (1941; Mitchell Leisen)
This feels like a lost Billy Wilder film and Like Leisen's MIDNIGHT (also great), this one was also written by Wilder and Charles Brackett. 

KENTUCKY KERNELS (1934; George Stevens)
Wheeler and Woolsey inherit a southern estate through Spanky (of The Little Rascals), but find themselves embroiled in a Hatfields/McCoys type feud when they arrive. Fun times. Directed by THE George Stevens and it shows. One of my favorite W&W films for sure. Also, maybe one of the 1st instances of the "split car" gag. Like Leo McCarey, the great George Stevens also shows how well he can work with an established comedic team. Currently on Warner Archive Instant in HD. By the way, 2013 was a great year for fans of these two as it saw the release of a nice set from Warner Archive as well.
FROM BEYOND (1986; Stuart Gordon)
This film haunted me from its perch on the shelves of the video stores in my hometown, but I never got around to seeing it until 2013. Even though RE-ANIMATOR was a very early formative high school viewing experience (along with EVIL DEAD II and A CLOCKWORK ORANGE), I somehow never felt quite compelled to enter this universe. Well I am glad I waited, because Scream Factory's Blu-ray is of course gorgeous and absolutely increased my enjoyment of this bizarro horror classic.

SKIN DEEP (1989; Blake Edwards)
I'm pretty sure I'd seen this film(it was one of my old video store manager's favorites back in the 90s), but I really can't be quite sure if I ever saw the whole thing so I'm counting it here to help celebrate it/get the word out. I was inspired to "rewatch" it based on the excellent Ain't It Cool News series "The Vulcan Vault" (this film was a pick by Bryan Connolly):
This is kinda like Blake Edwards' ANNIE HALL. Definitely one of his best scripts and also one of his best films. WILD ROVERS my is favorite Edwards, but this is probably my #2.

THE INCUBUS (1981; John Hough)
From the director of WATCHER IN THE WOODS, DIRTY MARY CRAZY LARRY and THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE comes this ominous, disturbing bit of darkness. Cassavetes in an odd but very interesting role. This one stuck with me.

STORM WARNING (1951; Stuart Heisler)
Tension-filled story of a young woman (Ginger Rogers) who witnesses a murder by the KKK while visiting her sister in a small town (Doris Day). This one is drenched in dread and quite a ride. Also features one of my favorite Ronald Reagan performances. I caught this on Warner Archive Instant and it is sill available there.

THE COBWEB (1955; Vincente Minnelli)
Richard Widmark runs an exclusive psychiatric clinic and this movie shows a slice of the drama that goes on between the doctors and the patients and how they are all kind of crazy. Cast includes Lauren Bacall, Charles Boyer, Lillian Gish, Gloria Grahame, Susan Strasberg and Fay Wray. A wild soap opera, also available on Warner Archive Instant (in HD even)!

I WALK ALONE (1948; Byron Haskin)
A great little noir tangle-up with Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Wendell Corey and Lizabeth all in the mix. Surprisingly unheralded these days though it should be talked about with OUT OF THE PAST and ACE IN THE HOLE.

36 HOURS (1965; George Seaton)
Nearly Hitchcockian bit of WWII trickery with Rod Taylor trying to dupe secrets out of James Garner. Elaborate and interesting chess match of a flick.

HEAT (1986; Dick Richards)
Surprisingly good and gritty little neo-noir with Burt. And who woulda thought that he and Peter MacNicol would be so good together? One of Burt's underrated best.

BROTHER ORCHID (1940; Lloyd Bacon)
Delightful Capra-esque feeling gangster comedy that I found quite affecting. Great cast too. The 1st film I watched via Warner Archive Instant(beta).

HUNTER'S BLOOD (1986' Robert C. Hughes)
Low budget thriller cut from the same cloth as DELIVERANCE and SOUTHERN COMFORT. Very effective.

SANTA FE PASSAGE (1955; William Whitney)
My first discovery of 2013 was this stripped down, gritty little western from Tarantino favorite William Witney. John Payne and Slim Pickens work well together. Also has Rod Cameron who I just started to become familiar with in 2013.

MACAO (1952; Josef von Sternberg)
Good looking von Sternberg flick that is a nice companion to HIS KIND OF WOMAN (which also stars Mitchum and Jane Russell. I prefer WOMAN, but my gosh does Russell look gorgeous in this film! Maybe the best I've ever seen her look and she always looks great.

YOUNG DR. KILDARE (1938; Harold S. Bucquet)
I watched several of the Lew Ayres Dr. Kildare films this year and this was by far my favorite. Never been too hot on Ayres in general, but this brought me around a bit. Plus, it helps to have Lionel Barrymore as the grumpy older doctor that Ayres is trying to impress.

ROPE OF SAND (1949; William Dieterle)
Pretty solid noir drama about diamonds and what they do to people. Great cast includes Burt Lancaster, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains and Peter Lorre(mini-CASABLANCA reunion).

MAN WITHOUT A STAR (1955; King Vidor)
I read an interview excerpt with Tarantino where he sort of mentioned this being an influence on the relationship between Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz's characters in DJANGO UNCHAINED and that was enough to make me want to pursue it. That and the fact that I am a big lover of Kirk Douglas movies from this period and I'd never heard of this one before for some reason.

THE MAYOR OF HELL (1933; Archie Mayo/Michael Curtiz)
Excellent prison movie, with a twist. This one takes place in a State Reformatory and the "inmates" are young boys. Great stuff from Cagney. Also on Warner Archive Instant.

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