Paths Of Glory & On The Waterfront IMDB Top 250 Reviews

These are my final two IMDB Top 250 Project movies I’ve watched but not yet reviewed (not counting the Clint Eastwood or the Akira Kurosawa films, which I plan to review all together). So from now on I’ll only be reviewing movies for this project on the occasional Tuesday as I happen watch more of them. My Tuesdays are now free! What the heck am I going to post weekly instead of these Top 250 reviews?!? Hmm. Most likely, nothing. I like the idea of a blog-free weekday!

I’ve put off “reviewing” these two as I don’t have much to say about them. They didn’t connect with me like so many of the films that I’ve watched for this project have. I understand why they’re classics & agree that they do deserve to be in the Top 250, though, despite them not working for me. Hey – we can’t all love the same movies! What a boring world this would be if that was the case.

So I’m going to say a very small bit about each film now just to get them off my list. Here you go: Two short paragraphs each for two all-time classics I’m clearly not cultured enough to have fully appreciated! 😉

Paths Of Glory (1957)

Directed by Stanley Kubrick

Based on Paths of Glory by Humphrey Cobb

Starring: Kirk Douglas, Ralph Meeker, Adolphe Menjou, George Macready, Wayne Morris, Richard Anderson

Plot Synopsis:
Set during World War I, the film stars Kirk Douglas as Colonel Dax, the commanding officer of French soldiers who refuse to continue a suicidal attack. Dax attempts to defend them against a charge of cowardice in a court-martial.

My Two Paragraph Opinion:

Wow – I, um, believe this is the only Kirk Douglas movie I’ve ever seen. I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn’t watching Michael Douglas as they’re so similar (I suck). At least I’ve added another Stanley Kubrick to my list of movies seen (I’ve ranked his films HERE – I need to add in Full Metal Jacket at five while Paths Of Glory would be at six).

I preferred Paths Of Glory to On The Waterfront. The pacing was pretty slow so I’ll fully admit that my uncultured, non-war-movie-loving mind wandered quite often but it did have an overall story that I found far more compelling than that in On The Waterfront. I won’t give away the full story for those who know nothing about this but it’s something that should have moved me a bit more than it did. I think that, perhaps, they didn’t spend enough time developing a few characters who really deserved to have more time spent on them. I’ll say that Douglas was great in this so, yes, I really should watch at least one other movie he’s been in. The novel was based on a true story & this practice (what happens in the film) was done during World War I from what I can tell of the very little I read of this movie at Wikipedia (war experts can feel free to chime in on this). I don’t know how often this tactic was used but it’s truly appalling & the movie did finally have my full attention at the end. Honestly, I didn’t have a clue what the outcome would be – I don’t know how I managed to avoid such a huge movie spoiler for all these years. Paths Of Glory is a film deserving of all its praise with great performances & a very important topic that needed to be brought to light (apparently this movie was fairly controversial at the time as it’s a pretty anti-war film). It’s just not my type of thing but I’d certainly not disagree with anyone who says they love it as I can see it being a favorite film for some people. For all lovers of war movies, it’s a must-see.

My Rating: 7/10

On The Waterfront (1954)

Directed by Elia Kazan

Starring: Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Lee J Cobb, Rod Steiger, Eva Marie Saint

Music by Leonard BernsteinIt’s the end of the world as we know it! (And I feel fine)

Running time: 108 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
An ex-prize fighter turned longshoreman struggles to stand up to his corrupt union bosses.

My Two Paragraph Opinion:

I watched this movie on September 9th, 2014. It’s taken me almost two years to muster up the (strength? courage??) to do a little write-up for it. I remember sticking this movie on & kind of half-watching it while doing some housework then finishing it later while in bed. This is when we were working on painting a wall in the bedroom so a big cabinet was in the middle of the room & partially blocking my view of the TV from the bed. So, yeah… this is how I watched On The Waterfront – a huge Oscar-winning, beloved classic. What can I say? I have no class. I’m a bum!

Umm. Unions? Mobs? I think I remember some pigeons. Marlon Brando! He’s in this. I haven’t watched a lot of Brando’s films (but at least I’ve watched more Brando films than Kirk Douglas films). Let’s see: I’ve seen this, The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, and Superman. That’s it. I’m not a fan. Should I delete my blog? Will some big Brando fan come along to yell at me & tell me that my blog should be “taken down” like the Western-loving guy who commented on my review of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance? As much as I’ve moaned about having to watch all the war movies & Westerns in the Top 250, I’ve ended up really liking the ones I’ve watched so far (some are even favorites now, like The Bridge On The River Kwai & The Good, The Bad And The Ugly). So maybe I can’t keep saying they’re “not my type of thing”? The story in On The Waterfront, however, is what I think really isn’t my type of thing. It didn’t connect. I’ve never really gone for movies involving the mob in some way or for this type of drama. When it comes to older films, I prefer the “grand epics” to the types of films involving true-to-life human conflict with Oscar-worthy performances and lots of talking & drama. I find something like a Morricone score coupled with beautiful cinematography far more moving than an intense performance from an actor/actress. That’s just me – we’re all moved by different things & I’m not one to care too much about the “acting” in a movie (as long as the performances don’t totally suck). Brando is great in this, yeah. I didn’t follow the story very well or really find myself caring about any of the characters. I don’t remember it much now but that’s to be expected, I suppose, when you are only partially paying attention to a movie while it’s on. On The Waterfront won loads of Oscars (best picture, director, actor, supporting actress, screenplay, cinematography, art direction & film editing). Oh shit… That’s really a lot of Oscars. I’m going to delete my blog. I coulda had class! I coulda been a contender! I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let’s face it! *blog deleted* (Let’s go ahead & give this the same rating as Paths Of Glory, although I preferred that one. I’m sorry! Don’t hurt my pigeons!)

My Rating: 7/10

**If you can’t bear to see nothing posted on this blog on a Tuesday, here are the remaining films available for guest reviews:

Cool Hand Luke 1967
The Wrestler 2008
The Graduate 1967
The Lives of Others 2006
The Sting 1973
Die Hard 1988
Léon 1994
The Hobbit 2012
Terminator 2: Judgment Day 1991
Rain Man 1988
Taxi Driver 1976
The Best Years of Our Lives 1946
Before Sunrise 1995
Before Sunset 2004
Life Is Beautiful 1997

**Selected for now**
Lock Stock And Two Smoking Barrels 1998 (Tom)
To Kill a Mockingbird 1962 (Tom)
Gone with the Wind 1939 (dbmoviesblog)
2001: A Space Odyssey 1968 (Drew)

The Exorcist (1973) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from C Taylor of Celluloid Junkie. A big thanks to her for taking part in this IMDB project! 🙂 Now let’s see what she has to say about The Exorcist, IMDB rank 205 out of 250…

There are still a few movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.

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After the 12-year old daughter of a famous actress, Chris MacNeil, begins displaying signs of demonic possession, Chris turns to a Catholic priest in hopes that an exorcism will restore her daughter’s health.

Starring Ellen Burstyn as Chris MacNeil, Jason Miller as Father Karras, Max von Sydow as Father Merrin, Linda Blair as Regan, and Mercedes McCambridge as the voice of PazuzuThe Exorcist is directed by William Friedkin based on the novel of the same name by William Peter Blatty.

The Exorcist is a once-in-a-generation film.  It’s the kind of film whose far reaching influence continues to touch and inspire creative endeavors all around the world.  It has been referenced in countless other films, television series, cartoons, and comedic stand-up routines.  This year, December 26th, will mark the 40th anniversary of The Exorcist‘s release.

The version of The Exorcist I screened for this review is the 2000 theatrical re-release entitled The Exorcist: The Version You’ve Never Seen.  I was lucky enough to get a copy of the film on DVD years earlier and am happy to use it now because it includes the restored “spider-walk” scene originally cut from the film by director Friedkin.  It is a scene so chilling, despite it’s short length (from start to finish, I believe it’s less than 30 seconds of screentime), it renewed the fear I felt upon watching The Exorcist for the first time decades earlier.

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Friedkin believed the spider-walk effect didn’t work technically in 1973 because the wires used to aid the contortionist (Linda R. Hager) in the scene could not be fully removed in post-production.  It’s unfortunate because of its importance to the plot.  This scene is arguably the moment when Regan’s mother, Chris (Burstyn), no longer believes her daughter (Blair) is just ill, but, instead, truly possessed by a demonic force.

The spider-walk scene is that “aha!” moment in the storyline that drives the character of Chris , who is an atheist, to seek the help of the Catholic church; specifically Father Karras (Miller).  And while it is a little bit more dramatic than the spider-walking in Blatty’s novel, it remains unnerving and powerful nonetheless. [1]

Much has been said and analyzed and theorized about the use of a young child in a story about demonic possession, particularly a young girl.  I think the crux of the arguments for and against ignore the truth; that Regan is a child or a girl has nothing to do with the demon Pazuzu’s true intent.  Pazuzu’s intent is to chip away at and eventually destroy those around Regan; her atheist mother, Father Karras’ faith, and Father Merrin’s health.  It is the sowing of the grief and despair that interests Pazuzu.

That Regan is a girl is irrelevant.  But not for the audience.

One of the key elements to The Exorcist‘s shock value is Regan.  A fresh-faced, otherwise relatively unknown Linda Blair, embodied a youthful innocence and curiosity.  She is shown as a sweet, horse-obsessed child who, in the wake of her parent’s separation, is just a little unsure of her surroundings.  Her one mistake, finding and playing with a Ouija board she finds in a downstairs closet, like Eve and the Apple, is also her downfall. Regan unwittingly opens a doorway to another realm, inviting in Captain Howdy (Pazuzu).

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As Regan is forced to endure the litany of defilements, violence, and abuse of Pazuzu’s possession, the audience is trapped as a passive observer;  powerless to help, unable to look away.  It’s a brilliant mechanism employed by screenwriter/author Blatty, who,in doing so, extends the reach of Pazuzu’s torments beyond the 4th wall, into the real world.

It is this extension of fiction into the realm of reality that aids the overall feeling of terror The Exorcist exudes.  For those particularly sensitive to religious or supernatural horror, there is possibly no greater film in the horror genre than The Exorcist.  For those of us who could take or leave religiously based horror, there is the psychological element behind Regan’s illness to consider.

That her mother had consulted 88 doctors in a relentless effort to discover what is ailing her, and that search yields nothing more than a final scene in which a doctor, in a room full of doctors, tells her to consider exorcism, is as powerful today as it was in the 1970s.  Potentially more so, as we begin to see cultural shifts in the way we view the dealings of the Catholic church in general.

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It’s this opening of loopholes, of possibilities, of causality, that makes the premise behind The Exorcist so horrifying for any viewer, not just those with religious inclinations.  For me, there is a serious body horror element to The Exorcist that will plague my thoughts as long as I live.

Most things are done right in the film adaptation of The Exorcist, despite the lengths to which the audience is required to go in order to see it through.  The pacing is deliberately slow allowing for a more complete development of the central characters (namely Chris and daughter Regan, and Father Karras).  In fact, this development is implicitly necessary in order for the events of the film to have any meaning and impact.  After all, it’s the connection between mother and daughter that ultimately creates the driving fear behind the girl’s losing battle with Pazuzu.

Although it goes without saying, I’ll say it.  The Exorcist is a horror film classic, suitable for fans of religious and secular horror alike.

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REFERENCES:

[1] ”The Exorcist (film)” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 21 Feb. 2013. Web.  22 Feb. 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Exorcist_(film)>

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-C Taylor (celluloidjunkie.me / @ctaylor on twitter)

about.me/c.taylor