Mr. Deeds Goes to Town is a 1936 American screwball comedy film directed by Frank Capra, starring Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur in her first featured role. Based on the 1935 short story “Opera Hat” by Clarence Budington Kelland, which appeared in serial form in the Saturday Evening Post, the screenplay was written by Robert Riskin in his fifth collaboration with Frank Capra.
In 1964, with the Cuban Missile Crisis fresh in viewers’ minds, the Cold War at its frostiest, and the hydrogen bomb relatively new and frightening, Stanley Kubrick dared to make a film about what could happen if the wrong person pushed the wrong button — and played the situation for laughs.
Dr. Strangelove’s jet-black satire (from a script by director Stanley Kubrick, Peter George, and Terry Southern) and a host of superb comic performances (including three from Peter Sellers) have kept the film fresh and entertaining, even as its issues have become (slightly) less timely. Loaded with thermonuclear weapons, a U.S. bomber piloted by Maj. T.J. “King” Kong (Slim Pickens) is on a routine flight pattern near the Soviet Union when they receive orders to commence Wing Attack Plan R, best summarized by Maj. Kong as “Nuclear combat! Toe to toe with the Russkies!” On the ground at Burpleson Air Force Base, Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake (Peter Sellers) notices nothing on the news about America being at war. Continue reading
You Can’t Take It with You is a classic case of good old-fashioned American optimism, a celebration of family and small-town values courtesy of Frank Capra, who made a distinguished career out of such things. By the time of its release in 1938 films like It Happened One Night and Mr. Deeds Goes to Town had already made Capra a household name, a premiere chronicler of the Depression era national mood and a primary spokesman for cinema’s ability to serve as a tonic, spreading good cheer among audiences that had experienced too little of it.
That history looms over every frame of what is one of the original quirky family dramedies, a direct ancestor of the entire genre of independent filmmaking devoted to such ventures today. It instills even the more banal, dated moments with particular resonance. One can sense in Capra’s joyful indulgence of the sheer chaotic nature of the life of the Sycamore family a fervent quest to entertain by outdoing even the most outlandish antics displayed in the film’s contemporaries, which remain some of the most memorable screwball comedies ever made. Continue reading
A busy attorney, worried that his anorexic daughter Olga might try to harm herself, since she’s still grieving over her recently deceased mother, sends her to see a psychiatrist, Anna, who’s dealing with her own loss in an unusual way. Continue reading
Marisa Paredes is Leocadia (“Leo”) Macias, a woman writing “pink” romance novels under the alias of Amanda Gris that are very popular all across Spain. Unlike her romantic novels, her own love life is troubled. Leo has a less than happy relationship with her husband Paco, a military officer stationed in Brussels then later in Bosnia, who is distant both physically and emotionally.
Leo begins to change the direction of her writing, wanting to focus more on darker themes such as pain and loss, and can no longer write her Amanda Gris novels, whose publishers demand sentimental happy-endings, at least until her contract is up. Continue reading
Returning to the dysfunctional family dynamic and generational saga of Anna and the Wolves in its psychological exposition into the root of ingrained human cruelty and repression, Mama Turns 100 Years Old is a wry, eccentric, and provocative, if underformed satire on the latent trauma and moral repercussions of emotional subjugation, manipulation, and corruption. On the eve of the indomitable family matriarch, Mama’s (Rafaela Aparicio) centenary, former domestic servant Ana (Geraldine Chaplin), now the happily settled wife of a devoted, bohemian husband named Antonio (Norman Briski), has received a personal invitation from Mama herself to stay as a guest in the secluded family estate and celebrate the festivities – an unexpected request that, as Mama subsequently reveals, stems from the inescapable conviction that her family, goaded in part by her conniving daughter-in-law, Luchi (Charo Soriano) and enabled by her dotty, gullible son, Fernando (Fernando Fernán Gómez), has been underhandedly plotting to kill her before she reaches the all-important milestone. However, as Ana and Antonio alternately settle into their awkward roles as accommodating guests of absurd, idiosyncratic rituals and bemused observers of a deeply rended (if superficially intact) familial intimacy, the couple, too, inevitably becomes caught up in the corrosive atmosphere of petty infighting, superficial civility, aimless distraction, nebulous alliances, and emotional deception (a figurative entrapment that is visually encapsulated in Anna accidentally stepping into a rabbit trap within the estate grounds). Continue reading
Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? was a run-away success. The film is known as Mansfield’s “signature film.”
Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? is a 1957 American satiric comedy film starring Jayne Mansfield and Tony Randall, with Betsy Drake, Joan Blondell, John Williams, Henry Jones, Lili Gentle, Mickey Hargitay, and a cameo by Groucho Marx. The film is a satire on popular fan culture, Hollywood hype and the ad industry, which was making millions of dollars off the growing revenue from television ads. The film also takes aim at television and the damage it was doing to movie attendance in the 1950s.
It was produced and directed by Frank Tashlin, who also wrote the largely original screenplay, utilizing little more than the title and the character of Rita Marlowe from the successful Broadway play Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? by George Axelrod. The play had run from 1955 to 1956 and also starred Mansfield as Rita. Continue reading