In with the New BLOGATHON: 4 remakes we think are better than the original films

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Happy Weekend everyone! Today I’m participating in Wendell’s In With the New Blogathon, and here’s the gist of it from Dell himself:

In movies, we tend to look upon the new version of things with disdain or, at best, cautious optimism. By new version, I am of course talking about remakes and re-imaginings. Let’s be honest, we have good reason to be skeptical of these movies. They often pale in comparison to the original. Every once in a while, though, one comes along that blows its predecessor out of the water.

I think remakes that are better than the originals are still uncommon, but here are four films my pal Ted S. and I think are on par or better than the original. Anyway, the two films that Ted picks are taken from this previous post that compares remakes from their originals.

Ted’s Picks:

Man on Fire

1987 Original: Speaking of Tony Scott, he was actually set to direct this film way back in the 80s but at the time he was still new in the industry, so the studio didn’t want him to take over the project. They let some French director named Elie Chouraqui do the film instead. The original starred Scott Glen as Creasy and Joe Pesci as David, his character is that of Christopher Walken’s in the remake. I saw this version years ago at the recommendation of Quentin Tarantino, he loves the film and can’t stop talking about it while he was promoting Pulp Fiction. To be honest with you, the film wasn’t that good. The first 30 minutes or so was hard to sit through, but the rest of the film was pretty decent. The film was badly directed and acted, especially Joe Pesci, he was quite awful in the film. Also it was a very low budget film so it looked very cheap.

2004 Remake: So 17 years later, Tony Scott was finally able to make the film he wanted to do years back. He has more prominent stars with Denzel Washington and Christopher Walken, and a bigger budget. The remake is pretty much the same as the original, except this one took place in Mexico while the original was set in Italy. Also the remake was much more violent and since it cost $70mil to make, so the action scenes were bigger and louder than the original.

 

Infernal Affairs/The Departed

2002 Original: The original version from Hong Kong was a very slick and cool thriller, and I knew Hollywood would do a remake of it right after I saw it back in early 2000s. In fact, Brad Pitt bought the rights to the film after he saw it and was going to star in it himself but he decided to just be the producer. The film was very fast paced with great cinematography and a cool soundtrack. To me though, the film didn’t spend enough time on character development, so we didn’t really know about them all that much. The women in the film were simply there just for eye candy purposes and the main gangster (Nicholson’s character in the remake) was played by a very weak actor.

2006 Remake: So the remake is pretty much the same as the original plot wise with the exception of the ending, I wouldn’t ruin it for those who haven’t seen either the original or the remake. In my opinion, the remake did a better job when it comes to developing the main characters, we know more about them and their motivations as to why they’re doing what they’re doing. Of course it helps a lot when it was directed by the master Martin Scorsese and the fact that Jack Nicholson played the Irish gangster.

 


Ruth’s Picks:

The Shop Around the Corner/You’ve Got Mail

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1940 Original: I saw this movie a year ago or so, and given that I like Jimmy Stewart, I was prepared to be wowed by it. Well, it didn’t quite make an impression to me as much as had hoped. I find it odd that the film was set in Hungary and Stewart playing Hungarian, and that fact didn’t really add much to the story. The beginning the story was more about the various human relationships of the store in that gift shop. Stewart was okay here, but I personally prefer him in other films. There’s not much chemistry between him and Margaret Sullavan either, and so when they ended up together, it wasn’t emotionally involving. It’s not a bad movie per se, and I’m glad I saw it, just not something I’d ever see again.

1998 Remake: It’s loosely based on the same story, with some technological changes of course, it’s email vs letters, and in the remake, the characters are more of a business rival. I really think that the pairing of Tom Hanks & Meg Ryan (the queen of rom-coms back then) made the movie for me, and Ephron infused the story with such wit and irony that it’s such a delight to watch this one repeatedly. Of course the technology is so dated, it’s hilarious to hear that modem sound and that cutesy ‘you’ve got mail’ icon, but I think the story still holds up. I also love the two supporting cast here: Parker Posey and Greg Kinnear as Hanks’ girlfriend and Ryan’s boyfriend, respectively. It also boasts one of the loveliest New York City scenery in a movie.

Sabrina

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1954 original: I also saw this film years after I saw the remake. Now people might say that usually we prefer films that we saw first and be that as it may, the original has one of my favorite classic actresses of all time: Audrey Hepburn. So she was really the main draw for me here, yet I didn’t really like her in this role as much as I had hoped. Similar to how I felt about Stewart, I prefer her in other films of similar genres, i.e. Roman Holiday, My Fair Lady. Well for one, Hepburn never really looked that shy or awkward to me nor did she come across as being desperate despite the attempted suicide scene. Now, suicide is obviously a dark subject matter but here it comes across rather silly and Sabrina seems like a petulant girl who’s upset things don’t go her way instead of someone who’s deeply brokenhearted. I also feel that Humphrey Bogart, who was three decades older than Hepburn, looked old enough to be her dad so their scenes are kind of creepy. William Holden was fun to watch as the rich playboy David but I too feel there’s not much chemistry between him and Hepburn. I still enjoyed the movie, but I expected more from Billy Wilder.

1995 Remake: I absolutely adore this movie the first time I saw it years ago, and I’ve seen it countless times since. I really connected with Sabrina Fairchild right from the start and Julia Ormond might not have the movie star charisma as Audrey Hepburn, but she more than made up for that in earnestness. I like how Sydney Pollack made her look plain, almost like an ugly duckling in the beginning, as she watched David with googley eyes from a tree. There is something so beguiling about Sabrina’s vulnerability here that I didn’t find in the original, and her narration really helps me get into her character’s head. Harrison Ford might seem like unlikely casting here but I actually really like him in the role of Linus, he’s such a contrast to the charming rascal younger brother David, played with such wonderful comic timing by Greg Kinnear. Ford was actually two decades older than Ormond but somehow it didn’t feel creepy as Ormond looked far more mature than Hepburn. I love everything about this movie, the look, the setting, the supporting cast (especially all the servants in the Larrabee’s mansion) and the absolutely gorgeous music by John Williams.

 


What do you think of our picks? Let us know in the comments!

Classic Actor Spotlight: Walter Matthau – Showing his Chops

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Greetings and all sundry!

Given the success of my earlier three article arc on the career of Jack Lemmon. And to steal a suggestion from Nostra. Allow me a few moments of your time to focus some attention and love towards a consummate character actor. Utilized and cozily comfortable as part of an ensemble or team. Who earned his stripes and reputation in the fledgling years of television. Gathering attention and notoriety. While honing his talents for the better part of a decade before his stars finally aligned. To that end. Allow me to introduce.

Walter Matthau: Finding What Works.

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Not many actors can claim esteemed director, Nicholas Ray on their early Curriculum Vitae. Though Mr. Matthau can. Given a small but important role as Wally Gibbs. Concerned co-worker, teacher, friend and neighbor of Manic-Depressive, Bi-Polar and soon to be self medicating Cortizone addict, Ed Avery (James Mason). In a little 1950s, suburban ‘Fathers Knows Best’ from Hell masterpiece:

#1: The Fortune Cookie: (1966)

Mr. Matthau’s Wally is content early on to sit on the sidelines and watch as Mason’s Ed Avery grows ever more distant, manic and eventually dangerous to himself, his family and the “Ain’t life swell!” facade of the white picket fences, manicured lawns of the perfect suburban ‘Atomic family’.

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Granted, the film is Ray’s and Mason’s to build a slowly frightening, often shadowy foundation upon. And some may argue that Matthau’s Wally responds with too little and too late. Especially with an undercurrent of an evening dinner scene with Ed, his wife, Lou (Barbara Rush) and son, Richie (Christopher Olsen) that leaves the same seen used in American Beauty forty plus years later far in the dust. The Olsen family is afraid to breathe. Lest delusional daddy, Ed goes into an Old Testament shouting, dinner and silverware throwing and smashing tirade.

But that is what makes Bigger Than Life near essential viewing in the small, yet frightening  realm of ‘Suburban Horror’. All the parts mesh together. Humanly and with errors. Through confrontations, denials and lies stacked upon lies from Ed. Which makes you not believe for a second the triumphant, dried out and rehabilitated Ed’s joyous, tearful, family hugging, “Happily ever after” return to family, hearth and home before the film’s final credits!

Overall Consensus:

To be given even a small part in a memorable and ground breaking film that dared to mess with the well marketed and maintained myth of opulent “perfection” of Post War America would be any actor’s dream. Especially if that film’s director had just delivered Rebel Without a Cause a year earlier. A very heady task. To be a small cog inside a much larger machine.And Mr. Matthau delivers! Quietly and with reserve. Letting his concern and emotions show through his face and gestures. Until it is almost too late.

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Which may piqued director Elia Kazan to contact Mr. Matthau for another slightly larger supporting role. As Mel Miller. The quiet, smitten, unassuming assistant to roving radio radio reporter, Marcia Jeffries (Patricia Neal) in Kazan’s Magnum Opus to the power of charisma and media in culture and politics.

#2: A Face in the Crowd (1957)

Which begins back in the Ouachita hills of Arkansas. Where roving reporter and hostess, Marcia Jeffries records her human interest stories for A Face in the Crowd. And finds smooth talking, itinerant hobo and spinner of yarns, Larry “Lonesome” Rhodes (Andy Griffith. Never better!) behind bars and sweating out a hangover from a night of carousing. “Lonesome” is also full of down home humor and charm. When not belting out Gospel tunes with the aid of his guitar. Which gets him out of jail and into popularity amongst the locals. And the hosting radio station. Where “Lonesome” starts to come under the scrutiny of Mel. Who knows bad news when he sees it. And tries to warn Marcia as Rhodes starts growing in popularity and starts believing his own hype. Marcia is swept away as events start controlling events and actions.

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A local Senator up for re-election, Worthington Fuller needs a bump in the polls and used “Lonesome”, radio and television to fill that void on stump speeches. Where Rhodes shows a proclivity for a naive, teen aged baton twirling Majorette, Betty Lou Fleckum (Lee Remick in her first film role). Things start going bad as “Lonesome” pursues Betty Lou. Indulges in too much booze and letting his mouth rum while his brain is not engaged. Marcia catches him after a fundraising soiree. Stupid drunk and showing contempt for all the hicks, hayseeds and rednecks that make up his audience. Marcia’s tide starts to change and takes a decision to ambush her creation after an episode of “The Lonesome Rhodes Show” featuring the Senator.

Mel watches from the wings as Marcia opens a microphone and catches Larry in the middle of a particular nasty vent aimed at his unseen, but listening audience. Who are flabbergasted and angered that their media idol would think so lowly of them. Massive numbers of complaining phone calls flood both the radio and television stations as Larry and his entourage head towards a victory dinner where the Senator is supposed to announce his candidacy.

Or not. While Larry is en route. The radio and television stations start calling Senator Fuller’s campaign workers. As contributors and backers turn their backs and abandon ship on Fuller and Rhodes. Who arrives at a spectacularly decorated, nearly empty and opulent penthouse suite. Crestfallen, rambling and confused. Larry lashes out at everyone and everything. Until Marcia arrive and tells him that she opened the off stage microphone and helped Larry commit Celebrity Seppuku.

Marcia leaves and Mel lays into Larry most prophetically. Giving him a heads up to his immediate future with an appropriate cool down period and anonymity. A change of name and venue. And the long lingering aftermath of fallen, faded glory.

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Overall Consensus:

In another role of quiet fortitude, Mr. Matthau wisely saves his best lines (And he has many quickly, dryly delivered lines in this film!) until the final reel. And the moment “Lonesome” Rhodes realizes that the curtain is quickly, finally raining down on his present career. Mr. Matthau delivers the soliloquy matter of factly. Yet devastatingly. Without well deserved malice. Just a prediction on how the media system works, Often fails. And quickly repairs and re-imagines itself for continued contented consumer consumption.

Under the masterful, sometimes creepy touch of Elia Kazan. In a far ahead of its time film that prophetically, scathingly screams to the rafters about the dangers of charisma, charm, celebrity and mass, instant exposure. A roughly sketched and filled in canvas portraying sweetly played out seduction and love between “Lonesome” and Marcia (Essential for it all to work). Egos, power, back room deals for more of the same. And the foretelling of insidious mass marketed “Info-Tainment” as news we all either enjoy. Or tolerate and endure today!

Giving Mr. Matthau a few years’ respite to hone his skills in television and lesser known films. Before signing on to what many (myself included) believe is the favorite, most personal film of Kirk Douglas.

#3: Lonely Are the Brave (1962)

With a screenplay by Dalton Trumbo. From the novel “The Brave Cowboy” by Edward Abbey. Directed by veteran, David Miller and set in the rough country and mountains outside Albuquerque, New Mexico. Mr. Matthau finds himself as Sheriff Morey Johnson. The over seer and protector of many, many miles of sun bleached desert, scrub and terrain better left avoided. And slowly drawn into the manhunt for John W. “Jack” Burns. One of the last great non conformists Cowboys (Who doesn’t even have a Drivers License!) rebelling against the onset of changing times. Flawlessly brought to life by Kirk Douglas.

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It seems that Burns got himself arrested in a bar fight. So he could be put in the Duke City lock up to help his long time friend, Paul Bondi (Michael Kane) break out before being shipped to the penitentiary. The break out worked well enough. For Burns. With the aid of two hacksaw blades hidden inside his boots. After getting some payback for abuses delivered by Deputy Sheriff Guitierrez (George Kennedy) and discovering Bondi wants to just do his time. Burns slips through the weakened and pulled apart bars. Mounts his horse, “Whiskey” and starts riding towards the mountains and the Mexican border.

Sheriff Johnson is called to intervene. In a Jeep and with the help of his annoying, repetitive radio operator, Harry (William Schallert). A course is plotted. As far away, a semi tractor trailer full of toilets is driven by ‘Hinton” (Carroll O’Connor in full Archie Bunker mode) for an oblique date with destiny.

Burns uses every trick he knows to stay ahead of the law as he rides and walks Whiskey through soft soil, slick rocks and an ever increasing incline. To be glimpsed through binoculars by Sheriff Johnson. Who has Harry call the nearby Air Base (Kirkland, AFB) and ask to have a helicopter help out. Morey and Harry argument about everything and nothing as the glass bubble canopied Bell helicopter arrives on station, piloted by an uncredited, debuting Bill Bixby (‘My Favorite Martian’, ‘The Courtship of Eddie’s Father’). Who is too anxious by half. Flies too close and hovers too long dropping a rope ladder. And allows Burns to shoot at the helicopter’s tail rotor with his lever action Winchester rifle. Sending it screaming off to crash in the boonies.

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The sun starts to meet the rugged horizon as Burns crests one range and walks Whiskey down towards the wide and imposing super highway. Knowing that freedom lay just a short distance beyond. He mounts Whiskey for the hesitant trip across. As Hinton and his semi full of toilets makes up for lost time and Morey and Harry and many unseen police units head towards the same location.

I’ll end it here. Lest I venture too far into Spoiler Territory.

Overall Consensus:

Mr. Matthau is given more free rein and lines to expound upon his character. A career law man, who kind of empathizes with his quarry, Burns. Half understanding what motivates him. And using that knowledge to help track and estimate Burns’ responses and actions. Slowly getting used to his hang dog, long jawed visage. And letting it become part of his persona.

Again, not a large, singular role. More a part of an ensemble. In a film that would a lot of future talent if not on the map. Then certainly under some serious scrutiny.

More than enough to be considered for a kind of out of line of sight referee for the many juggling balls and plot twists under Stanley Donen’s whimsical touch in a splashy, location filled Parisian romantic variant of Hitchcock’s North by Northwest.

#4: Charade (1963)

An elegant, sophisticated and very cleverly written Cary Grant romance with Audrey Hepbuen filling in for Eva Marie Saint in and around The City of Lights. Where no one beside Ms. Hepburn’s recently widowed Reggie Lampert is who or what they proclaim to be. In a game of multiple easily forgettable names, low level treachery. And one goal in common. $250,000 in gold that had been bagged, tagged and slated to be delivered courtesy of the O.S.S.to the French Resistance in WWII. And never arrived!

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The surviving members of the O.S.S. team (James Coburn, George Kennedy, Ned Glass) whose leader was the recently murdered Charles Lampert show up at the funeral and go through ways fair and foul to verify the death. And smart guys that they are, determine Reggie must know where the swag is stashed!

Add to this mix suave, smooth, debonair Cary Grant in full Irresistible mode and a delightful full court press is on! As Reggie flightily accompanies Cary to one new hotel and another. Names and characters change at the drop of a hat. More and more of Mr. Matthau’s master puppeteer, CIA station chief, Hamilton Bartholomew is more than a Federal Super Grade looking for ancient loose change to bring back to its rightful Treasury coffers. Suspense is heightened as threats overt and covert are made and Cary Grant gets to play the knight in shining armor between shard flirtations with Reggie. While distrust and impatience seems to boil up within the survivors of the O.S.S. Jedburgh team as its members start showing up dead. Suspects and clues are winnowed down as romance fills the air. The topic of stamps is broached. Rare stamps that may be hiding in plain sight. Purchased by Charles and the $250,000 before being shot and dumped from a train leaving Paris.

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With the final piece of the puzzle in place (Or is it?). Reggie calls Bartholomew for a meeting on the Paris subway. I’ll leave it here, so as to not reveal and last minute spoilers.

Overall Consensus:

Director Donen may have out clevered and outdone himself in an attempt to tops Hitchcock’s North by Northwest. Coming very close with sublimely romantic locations. A light, often moody Henry Mancini soundtrack. And Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn at the tops of their games. In a story that may become a bit convoluted if not not paid attention to early on. A little too egg crated with a few too many names to keep track of. Though Mr. Mathau delivers quite well as the man in the shadows. Never really fully fleshed out until well into the tale. In a pivotal role that moves him as far away from his previous “Nice Guy” category as possible.

A trait master director, Sidney Lumet may have noticed when giving Mr. Matthau the chance to expand on break a bit. As Presidential Adviser Groeteschele. An eerie, close to emotionless mix of Henry Kissinger and Professor Edmund Teller, the Father of the Hydrogen Bomb. In the 1964 Nuclear Doomsday thriller.

#5: Fail Safe (1964)

Where Mr. Matthau’s Groeteschele holds court at Washington, DC cocktail parties that run into the morning. Tossing around “Throw Weights” and the destructive power of Soviet warheads that can destroy a major city in a millionth of a second. As easily as the young, monied socialites in attendance ask for their drinks to be freshened. A man who has the President’s ear and is completely attuned and comfortable with the inside the Beltway idea of “Power as an Aphrodisiac”.

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While over at SAC (Strategic Air Command) Headquarters at Offutt AFB in Omaha Nebraska. A group of VIPs are visiting as a wing of B-58 supersonic bombers at put on alert. It seems that radar stations have picked up a UFO entering American airspace and the “Hustler” bombers are on their way to their “Fail Safe” points to orbit and waiting until the orders come to obliterate Moscow.

The UFO is revealed to be a non air breathing, reciprocating engine, propeller airliner strayed off course. The Recall Order is sent to the waiting bombers, but signal is scramble by either solar flares or something. And the bombers starts proceeding north towards Alaska. With every intent of turning west and doing what they’ve been trained to do.

The extended “Oops! Form” is sent to the Pentagon. The President (Henry Fonda) is called down to the Bunker. Three and four star generals start pondering the imponderable as fighters are dispatched to intercept. Communications are opened between the President and the errant wing commander. Even though SAC training and tenets demand radio silence once the bombers go beyond their “Fail Safe” points. Groeteschele shows up. Takes everything in. Starts discussing the numerical advantages of a First Strike and states the obvious. “Let the bombers to proceed their targets. And let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

Which goes over as well as a lead balloon. Since US Nuclear Doctrine dictates that our weapons are only to be used defensively (Which is Iffy at best.) As a line of communication is established between the White House and the Kremlin. Where a young State Department translator named “Buck” (Larry Hagman) is on hand. While the intercepting US fighters are ordered to Afterburner. Only to fall from the sky and nowhere near missile range as their fuel expires.

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The Soviet Chairman is wary at first as The President explains to the Kremlin’s translator. SAM batteries pick up the encroaching B-58s and MiGs are sent to intercept, but as always. Some bombers get through. And Moscow is the target.

I’ll leave it right here. So as to not unsettle one of the great Freeze Frame endings in film.

Overall Consensus:

Mr. Matthau excels in playing a cold blooded, inhumane SOB. So enthralled with his expertise, numbers and statistics that he does not see beyond his own massive ego. While Henry Fonda’s President is much more like Solomon when dealing the horrors and ramifications of Mutual Assured Destruction. In a much more dramatic and humane way that Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb only gives a humorous wink and a nod to. Courtesy of George C. Scott and his General “Buck” Turgidson.

Kudos to director Lumet in staying faithful to Eugene Burdick’s novel and staying in the realms of suspense and drama. Which his film seethes with. Even if the B-58 “Hustler” bomber was incredibly fast. It had short range and could not have hit its targets without at least one more mid air refueling. The fact is glossed over nicely by lighting, shadow and a taut sound score. High marks also to Mr. Matthau for his character’s ramrod straight posture. Slow gestures, measured speech patterns and inflection that heighten the tension. Holds the camera and gives Groeteschelle a less than human aura.


Check out Jack’s other posts and reviews



Well, do add your thoughts on Mr. Matthau. And what’s your favorite film from his illustrious career?

Valentine Special – 59 Reasons I LOVE Roman Holiday!

Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody!

May love – romantic or otherwise – fills your heart and puts a smile on your face. Well, a movie that always makes me smile as well as tear up with heartache and joy at the same time is none other than William Wyler’s 1953 masterpiece rom-com Roman Holiday. And since I promised you here that I’d give a special tribute to this fine movie, well what could be a more fitting time than Valentine’s Day?

The number 59 isn’t exactly a random number, it was fifty nine years ago that this movie was released on September 2, 1953. Of course there are easily hundreds more reasons why I love this movie, but then I’d never be done with this post 😀 So without further ado, here we go:

1. Well you’ve got to start with the best part obviously… the cast…
23-year-old Audrey Hepburn in her first feature film role is exquisite. I have no words for her delicate beauty, she’s the epitome of graceful loveliness and magnetic charm. She has a perfect blend of innocence and regal aura that is just perfect for the role of the bored Princess Ann. I really can’t imagine anyone else playing this role.

2. Gregory Peck in his most delightfully playful role as the American journalist Joe Bradley. Despite not being the go-to-guy for rom-coms, I really think Gregory’s comic timing is far better than people gave him credit for. It’s a shame he wasn’t at least nominated for his role as I really think the film works so well because of the genius pairing of these two. Plus, despite all the dashing leading men Audrey’s been paired with in her time, I do believe the tall, dark and ridiculously handsome Gregory was perhaps the only one who could match her beauty.

3. The simple but immensely charming original story by Oscar-winning screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, too bad he was blacklisted by the studios as part of the Hollywood 10 that he couldn’t receive credit for it.

4. William Wyler’s direction… It’s amazing how different three of my favorite films of his are, Ben-Hur, The Big Country and this one couldn’t be more different from each other yet they are all masterpieces of their respective genres. Under a less-capable director, this simple story would not have been the masterpiece of timeless classic the way Roman Holiday is now.

5. Rome… By all means, Rome. This city is as much a character in this movie than the human cast. Even in black and white, it’s impossible not to be enchanted by the Eternal City. No wonder Rome’s tourism business still benefits from this movie with all kinds of Roman-Holiday city tours such as this one to various locations depicted here.

6. The witty script. No matter how charismatic and gorgeous the cast is, the movie just won’t have such an enduring quality without the sharp and memorable dialog.

Princess Ann: Do you have a silk nightgown with rosebuds?
Joe Bradley: I’m afraid you’re gonna have to rough it out tonight… in these [handing her his striped pajamas]. Sorry honey, I haven’t worn a nightgown in years!

7. Audrey’s regal look when she’s first introduced at the royal ball… hard to imagine she’s not an actual princess!

8. The whole scene of Princess Ann escaping her palace. If there is such a thing as comic suspense, then Wyler captures it beautifully. The cinematography captures all the wonderful detail of her palace’s interior, the Renaissance-style decor and that majestic bed, etc.

9. The opening scene at the Princess’ embassy when she is receiving guests. There’s so much humor even in this short scene, from the way the princess glance over at the announcer when he struggles to spit out an especially long and difficult foreign name, and when she lost one of her shoes under that giant dress!

10. Audrey’s adorable smile as she rides in the back of a delivery truck, waving giddily at a couple riding a Vespa.

11. Ann’s adorable state of wooziness. Audrey’s absolutely beguiling as she mumbles a poem and statements from her royal speeches…

What the world needs… is a return to sweetness and decency in the souls of its young men and… [dozes off again].

12. Joe’s chivalry as he offers to take a sleepy stranger back home and hearing Gregory utter some Italian words to the cab driver.

13. Gregory’s breathtaking good looks the moment he walks into the Roman Forum. I must say I breath a sigh every time I watch Audrey lean against Gregory’s strong shoulder 😀

14. The way Joe catches Ann just in time as she was about to fall over from the park bench.

15. The part where Joe takes her up to her apartment… the more I watch this movie, the more I find that the dialog free and subtle gestures during the quiet scenes are hilarious, such as the part at the apartment’s front entrance as Ann leans on Joe’s back and he leans back to straighten her and when Ann almost knocks on the wrong apartment door and Joe catches her just before her hand touches the door. It’s the small things like this that make this film so fun to watch over and over again.

16. Joe’s scene with his boss Henessy. I LOVE the way he lies up a storm and pretend that he’s already got the Princess interview in the can, Gregory’s comic timing here is just spot on, it comes out so natural that I wish he’d done more comedic roles. When he discovered just what the Princess look like from the newspaper, his facial expression is priceless!

I plan to enter her sick room disguised as a thermometer.
– Joe telling his boss of his plan on obtaining an exclusive interview with the Princess

17. Via Margutta 51. Even the address of Joe’s apartment has such a romantic ring to it.

18. Princess Ann asking Joe to undress her…

“I’ve never been alone with a man before, even with my dress on. With my dress off, it’s most unusual.” 😀

19. Audrey’s amusing wide-eyed expression as Ann wakes up, finding out she’s not in her room and that the man standing in front of her is NOT Dr. Bonnachoven…

20. … and her self-satisfied giggle following the wry Q&A with Joe as she realizes she’s broken every royal rule by spending the night in a male stranger’s apartment!

21. Audrey’s simple yet chic outfit, especially that long swing-y skirt that goes so well with her ankle-tie ballet flats. It’s the way she carries herself that make even the most ordinary outfit look so stylish and classy.

22. Ann’s darling haircut... only someone of Audrey’s beauty can pull off such a cut. I also love her Italian barber who’s so taken with her that he asks her out dancing afterwards.

23. Ann revealing her deepest wishes to Joe at Piazza di Spagna whilst eating Gelatto…

I’d like to do just whatever I like, the whole day long…

24. The lively music by George Auric… I love how perky and slightly mischievous-sounding it is as it’s playing during Ann’s first taste of freedom roaming around the city whilst Joe is secretly following her every trail.

25. The conversation at the sidewalk cafe as both Joe and Ann are lying profusely trying to cover up their true identity. Joe claims he’s a fertilizer salesman and Ann pretending she’s a student running away from school.

26. Eddie Albert as Irving Radovich, Joe’s carefree photographer friend… the way he secretly takes pictures of the Princess is fun to watch!

27. The not-so-courteous way Joe tries to hint at Irving about the Princess by spilling coffee on him, knocking him off his chair, etc. Gregory and Eddie has such a wonderful and effortless rapport, you totally believe they’ve been friends forever.

28. The riotous Vespa scene. It just never gets old… especially when Ann is behind the wheel with Joe riding behind her, wreaking havoc on the side streets.


29.
Princess Ann smoking her first cigarette… and nonchalantly quipped, ‘There’s nothing to it…” Who can’t relate to that rebellious streak we all had at one point of our lives?

30. The delightful spontaneity of the Mouth of Truth scene. As you can read on my trivia page, thanks to Gregory’s genius idea of not telling Audrey what he was about to do, that scene of Audrey screaming was done in one take!

31. Night of Dancing on the Tiber River… I love this whole setting, the lights, the orchestra music, the romantic vibe… I love the fact that it was shot on location with Italian extras instead of a closed set.

32. Gregory Peck in a pajama… ’nuff said.

33. The extremely conspicuous men in black hired to retrieve the Princess… funny how they all stick out like a sore thumb!

34. The dance scene…

Ann: Hello

Joe: Hello

And in that moment, they suddenly realize there might be something there…

35. Joe’s completely guilty manner when Ann compliments him for being so selfless. This is when subtlety is so key in Joe’s role and Gregory pulls it off time and again beautifully.

36. Irving taking pictures from behind the bar… the whole set-up of having Joe covering up the camera and movie just in the nick of time for Irving to take the picture.

37. The barber fixing Ann’s hair right in the middle of the dance.

38. The way Ann calls on Bradley to rescue her from the secret service squadron… followed by that jolly good fight scene between that got everyone at the party fighting the secret police. The part of Ann hitting an agent with a guitar is such a hoot and failing to take a shot of that priceless moment, Irving tells her to do it again…

Hit him again, Smithy!

39. Audrey and Gregory looking so darn bewitching even drenched from falling into the river, which leads to…

40.that impromptu first kiss… I’ve always wondered how long Joe’s been waiting to do that…

41. Joe’s world-weariness in contrast to Ann’s naivete… 

Life isn’t always what one likes, is it?

Perhaps it’s this very comment that made Ann seal her decision to follow her duty instead of carrying on a romance with the man she loves.

42. The transformation of Joe Bradley from the rogue-ish, self-serving reporter to the sincere, compassionate, love-stricken man that he’s no longer had it in him to sell the Princess story for his own gain.

43. The amazing view of the city from Joe Bradley’s apartment’s balcony. Apparently the apartment interior and spiral staircase were a studio set, but the courtyard is real and the view from the terrace was shot from one of those courtyard apartments. I wish I had remembered this when we went to Italy a few years ago so I could pay a visit.

44. Joe trying to steal a little girl’s camera. It’s such a silly moment set against one of the most popular Italian setting, the Trevi Fountain.

45. The not-so-chivalrous way Joe moves Ann over from the bed to the chaise… I couldn’t believe it when I saw it the first time, but given that he had no idea who she was at the time, I guess you couldn’t really blame him.

46. Despite the age difference, Joe and Ann’s courtship never feels creepy or inappropriate… there’s something so decent and sweet about the manner of their romance but yet the impact is just as heartfelt as contemporary love stories, if not more so.

47. The way Joe stops Ann and takes her into his embrace moments before he drives her home. There’s so much emotion going on in this scene… Ann stops him from telling the truth, it’s as if the truth no longer matters as she knew they couldn’t be together.

48. Close-ups of misty-eyed Gregory in the heart-rending finale… that’s really what the pause button is invented for 😉

49. Ann finally standing up for herself… refusing the milk and crackers her aide gives her in an assertive manner. The princess grows up in a matter of 24-hours and learn for the first time the joy and pain of falling in love.

50. The longing look as she gazes outside her palace’s bedroom window, and at the same time Joe is doing the same thing in his apartment just before his boss pays him a visit.

51. The no-fairy-tale ending. Though I very much want these two lovable creatures to end up together, I’m glad that the film ended the way it did. It’s a sobering reality that adds so much more meaning their short-but-sweet holiday together.

52. The Baroque bell tower that wakes Joe up the morning of the interview, and also looms in the background during the Gelatto-scene at the Spanish Steps… I love vintage clocks and this one was apparently built in the mid 1600.

53. The beautiful palace where Princess Ann holds the press junket… I love that shot of Joe and Irving amongst the crowd as Irving sarcastically quipped, “It ain’t much, but it’s home…”

54. The heart-rending finale. Joe walking alone in the empty palace corridor as everyone has left, his steps echoing as he reluctantly leaves the building. As he passes the two guards, he still takes a glimpse towards the stage once more. Empty. The music swells up, forcing us to realize they’re never going to see each other again. Joe keeps on walking towards the camera and disappears, carrying the memory of that day in Rome that he too will cherish for as long as he lives. Best. Finale. Ev-er.

55. Though filled with pathos, this scene was shot in the most stylish and artsy way. The glorious Palazzo Colonna and its wonderful paintings on its high walls inside Sala Grande Galleria did nothing to distract Joe from thinking of his lost love. Gregory looked like a fashion model in this last scene, beautiful beyond words. As someone who has seen dozens of his movies just in the last few months, I can easily say he never looked more dashing than in this movie and especially in this very scene. As I said in my tumblr post, in this movie Gregory did for suits what Cary Grant did for tuxedo.

56. Gregory’s undeniable chemistry with Hepburn. His eyes light up every time he looks at her… and a smile forms on his face almost instantaneously. It’s such a genuine rapport that clearly transcend beyond the movie as both became friends for life.

57. The way Wyler captures the every day sound and sights of the city… the market’s hustle bustle, the sound of traffic, people buzzing about, etc…. it adds so much charm to the already captivating scene of the Princess in the city.

58. The beautifully-scripted conversation of that tearful goodbye… tender and emotional without being overly schmaltzy.

Princess Ann: I have to leave you now. I’m going to that corner there and turn. You must stay in the car and drive away. Promise not to watch me go beyond the corner. Just drive away and leave me as I leave you.
Joe Bradley: All right.
Princess Ann: I don’t know how to say goodbye. I can’t think of any words.
Joe Bradley: Don’t try.


59. And last but not least…. the timeless quality of Roman Holiday. This is one of those few movies with a great re-watchability factor. I’ve watched this so many times and manage to find something new to be enamored and enchanted by.


I hope you enjoy my tribute to this classic rom-com. I REALLY recommend this if you haven’t seen it already. Those who have, what’s YOUR favorite scene(s)?

A Thanksgiving Post: 25 things in movies I’m thankful for

Those celebrating Thanksgiving today, hope it’s been lovely and lively. To those in other parts of the world, I bid you happy-almost-weekend day 😀 Well, it’s not as if you need a special day to give thanks, right? But just for the sake of being timely, I’ve been pondering about my love of movies and I’d post 25 random movie miscellanea I’m thankful for:

1. Cate Blanchett’s narration in the Lord of the Rings trilogy

2. Spanish Buzz in Toy Story 3. I’d never want to switch him back!

3. Smashing Pumpkins’ The Beginning is the End is the Beginning song in Watchmen trailer

4. 1999 Mansfield Park‘s lovely quote: “There are as many forms of love… as there are moments in time.”

5. Timothy Dalton and Alan Rickman’s silky voice and their signature inflection when they speak.

6. The amazing train station staircase scene in The Untouchables.

7. The stunning visuals of Tarsem’s The Fall.

8. Pixar movies… particularly these in my top five.

9. Gabriel Byrne’s soulful portrayal of D’Artagnan in The Man in the Iron Mask.

10. Scorching chemistry between Christian Bale and Emily Watson in Equilibrium.

Click the photo to watch the scene in a music video clip on youtube

11. Fantastic opening credits by Danny Yount (Rocknrolla, Sherlock Holmes, etc.)

12. The awesome clay-mation of Chicken Run

13. When Lizzie first meets The Stranger in a cafe in Dear Frankie … The brooding glances, the awkward silence, the husky voice… ‘Americano. Strong.’ YUM!

14. The haunting music of Somewhere in Time.

15. John Williams’ scores… too many to name just a few!

16. The final redemption scene of Ben Hur.

17. Disney Princesses and their gorgeous, indelible songs… particularly this one

18. Michael Keaton’s hilarious performance playing four different characters in Multiplicity.

19. My Favorite Things scene in The Sound of Music.

20. Stan Lee’s cameos in various Marvel movies.



21. Audrey Hepburn’s breathtaking beauty in practically every film I’ve seen her in.

22. Since today’s his birthday… Dougray Scott’s dashing portrayal of a fairy tale prince in Ever After. Happy Birthday Mr. Scott!

23. Harrison Ford and Sean Connery’s fun rapport in Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade.

24. Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride for his awesome name and indelible declaration: “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

25. The cinematography of Terrence Malick’s films (Days of Heaven, The New World).

Let me also take the time to thank you all for reading and commenting on FlixChatter. Do keep ’em coming 😀

Now, what are you thankful for this holiday season?