Sunday, June 19, 2011

#73 Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

I was told by a coworker that I would enjoy this one, and I definitely did. This movie redeemed Westerns for me. Despite being a seemingly traditional Western with gunfights and violence, it had humor, sarcasm, catchy (but odd) music, and even a tiny bit of romance.

Though it wasn't an incredibly intense movie to me, it was enjoyable to watch. I honestly wasn't ready for it to end. I didn't know the story of the actual Butch Cassidy, Sundance Kid, and Etta Place (the schoolteacher/prostitute who moved to South America with the outlaws,) and I had no expectations of what would happen. The actual Butch and Sundance were members of the "Wild Bunch" in the late 1800's/early 1900's, and no one knows how their story ended.

Interestingly, since The Wild Bunch came out a few months before Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, they changed their gang name to "Hole-in-the-Wall Bunch" so people wouldn't confuse the films. This movie was better than The Wild Bunch in every way imaginable, especially with casting. Paul Newman and Robert Redford were amazingly talented, memorable in their roles, and looked different enough for me to tell them apart!

Rating: 7/10

Big Names: Paul Newman (Butch), Robert Redford (Sundance), Katharine Ross (Etta, also the girl in The Graduate), Cloris Leachman (only realized she was Agnes, the prostitute, after I saw her name in the credits and looked it up on IMDB)

Big Lines:
(during the last gunfight of the film, when they're running low on ammunition)
Butch: We're going to run out unless we can get to that mule and get some more.
Sundance Kid:  I'll go.
Butch: This is no time for bravery. I'll let ya!

Big Songs:
"Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head" by Burt Bacharach

Monday, June 6, 2011

#79 The Wild Bunch (1969)

I've never seen a Western, so I can't compare this one to any others, but I hated it and now think I probably will strongly dislike all Westerns. I started watching it about a month ago, but turned it off when I realized I had watched thirty minutes without having a clue what was happening. Today, I felt motivated to push through to the end.

The story itself has potential. A group of outlaws (The Wild Bunch) are being chased by a gang of bounty hunters all through Texas and Mexico. An interesting twist is that the bounty hunters are led by a former Wild Bunch member, but he was arrested and now is released as long as he captures or kills the ringleader of the Wild Bunch.

I don't agree with the casting. I think the two main guys look too much alike, and so as I was watching, I couldn't keep it straight who was on whose team. (Travis watched about twenty minutes of it with me today when he came home for lunch, and he couldn't tell them apart, either, so I don't think it's just me.) It's also a long 2-1/2 hours of evil, maniacal laughter and unnecessary violence. I'm not against violence in films as long as it actually serves a purpose, but this was over-the-top. At the time of its release, this was possibly the most violent movie ever made. Most action movies nowadays are just as gory, so I don't think this movie would shock anyone now as it probably did in the '60s.

All the shooting and killing is disgusting and...well, boring. I'd much rather see a story develop than to see blood gushing from hundreds of random people.

Rating: 3/10

Big Names: William Holden, Robert Ryan

Big Lines:
"Well, how'd you like to kiss my sister's black cat's ass?" Okay, not a big line, but the most bizarre line I've ever heard someone say as they were dying...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

#75 In the Heat of the Night (1967)

This was a good one. From the moment I turned it on, I couldn't look away, couldn't get up, and I even had to pause the DVD to fold clothes.

Set in the '60s, the middle of the Civil Rights Movement, in the small town of Sparta, Mississippi, a redneck white cop stumbles across a murdered rich, white man and decides to bring in the first black man he finds to call the murderer. Since this man, Virgil Tibbs (Sidney Poitier), has a lot of cash in his pocket, the sheriff is convinced that he MUST be the killer. Of course, this is before he realizes that Tibbs is a successful homicide detective from Philadelphia whose expertise he reluctantly admits to needing.

Aside from the excitement of the murder mystery, this movie perfectly displays the hate and racism of the deep South. I know (or hope) that this isn't entirely the case any more... but I've lived in the South all my life, and the deeply ingrained racism these characters have is absolutely believable to me. Interestingly, it couldn't even be shot on location due to the fear of attack in Mississippi at the time. (It was instead shot in Illinois.)

This movie is known to have the "slap heard 'round the world" when Poitier returns a slap to a prominent, rich, white man. This had never been done before on film, and I've read that audiences applauded the scene in theaters.

There's a lot more I can say about this one, but I'd rather somebody else watch this, and then we can just talk about it. I promise it's worth your time to see it.

This movie beat out The Graduate and Bonnie and Clyde for best picture Oscar in 1967. That was a good year to see some movies!

Rating: 10/10

Big Names: Sidney Poitier, Rod Steiger (won the Oscar for best actor)

Big Lines: They call me MISTER Tibbs! (#16 in AFI's top 100 movie lines)