Roman Holiday (1953) ***
I really liked the non-Hollywood ending. It doesn't matter if they may have feelings for each other, they can't be together and that's why he walks away alone. I also liked how Princess Anna yearned to be able to do things like wash clothes, cook dinner, vacuum, etc.. Things that in today's culture are viewed as almost a death sentence for a woman being free. The acting was also choice throughout, and Hepburn is gorgeous. But, for as much as I liked about it, this was a very flawed movie. There were numerous bad cuts, but most of all there was never any real chemistry between Peck and Hepburn, and that's kind of essential in a love story.
An American In Paris (1951) ***
I'm beginning to notice a trend with Gene Kelly, he likes to knock his movies back a few steps with completely unnecessary numbers right before the big climax. Singin' In The Rain was a darn near perfect movie ruined by the completely unnecessary Broadway show tunes number at the end. An American In Paris was headed towards great movie territory, because just like Singin' In The Rain it was getting the musical theme right. All the song and dance numbers flowed naturally from the story, the singers and dancers were superb, and the story was light, but effective. Then came the ending with the exceedingly long, completely unnecessary and tonally wrong last dance number that just ruined the ending. I realize a lot of people loved the end ballet number, but I felt it was tacked on and really had no place within the movie An American In Paris was trying to be. Plus, Nina Foch's character is just forgotten in the final moments, thrown to the side with no explanation when the story no longer has any use for her. An American In Paris could have been great, but it faltered in the end and because of that it ends up a little bit less, but still good.
Sunset Boulevard (1950) ****
Double Indemnity made me a fan of Billy Wilder, but Sunset Boulevard made me think of the man as a genius. This is his masterwork as far as I'm concerned. It is masterfully crafted from start to finish. It plays with the concept of a linear story, it uses narration in a perfect and haunting fashion. The performances from Holden, Swanson and Von Stroheim are epic. The writing is both witty and snappy, with a hard edge to it while containing immense depth. The plot is tight, concise and it moves along at a brisk pace, never letting up, never allowing a chance for the viewer to breathe. The music is often overlooked, but without it I don't think the movie would have pulled off its foreboding and thick atmosphere anywhere near as well. There is an attractiveness to the film because of how real it is. Sunset Boulevard doesn't hold back at all in regards to Hollywood and films in general. It is an industry that will use and abuse you. Today I think it is harder to relate to because of how much money most actors make, but the story is still very relateable because most people realize there will come a day when their chosen profession won't want them any longer and will toss them to the side for a newer, better model. A tremendous movie, one of my all time favorites and an all time great as well, and a tremendous way to spend a couple of hours immersed in a film.
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