A-Z Film Challenge: Day Six

The weekend is here, and I am up to the letter ‘F’. Thanks again to everyone for your suggestions and additions, and to those of you who are reading, but not commenting.

On this occasion, my daily choice was not cast in stone, so I was able to approach ‘F’ with an open mind. I had forgotten just how many good films started with this letter, so was once again surprised to be presented with such an array of choices. I had over 25 films on the ‘potentials’ list, and the eventual selection was difficult, as was my own final choice. I am expecting some great suggestions, so don’t let me down!

I will start with an overlooked British classic, and the wonderful Ralph Richardson, in Carol Reed’s neglected adaptation of a Grahame Greene story, ‘The Fallen Idol’ (1948). This amazingly ‘small’ film deals with the attraction of a young boy, the son of a diplomat, to an older man in 1940s London. As a neglected child, young Philippe (Bobby Henry) latches on to the family butler, Baines. (A flawless Richardson) This tale of lies, intrigue, adultery, and possible murder, seen through the eyes of a disillusioned child, is British film-making at its best. And the quality never ages.
Going back in time, we have the sublime ‘The Front Page’ (1931). This manic comedy gives us an insight into the sensationalist journalism of the 1930’s, and given the present state of the Press, it never ages. And it has Edward Everett Horton in it too. Enough said.

Moving on to a World Cinema classic. Herzog’s difficult project, ‘Fitzcarraldo’ (1982) is another film that almost defies description. Klaus Kinski stars, as the man determined to get his riverboat up the River Amazon, and bring opera to the natives. If I tell you that Herzog tried to actually kill Kinski during this production, you might get some idea of the intensity that pervades this very different film.

The modern era, and a film that is unsettling as it is beautifully made, Michael Haneke’s Austrian thriller, ‘Funny Games’ (1997) took serial killer films to a different level. This tale of two upper class bored young men, who turn to pointless killing, and terrorising an innocent family just for kicks, took film-watching to a whole new level. Disturbing, compelling, and fascinating in the extreme. Despite a later American remake, this German language film remains firmly planted in my mind. And not in a good way.
In a similar vein, I had to consider the long-banned ‘Freaks’ (1932). Todd Browning’s film used real disabled actors to portray circus sideshow freaks, at a time when even this was considered to be unacceptable. As a result, it was banned by the censors for decades. But I would argue that this uncomfortable film has its merits, as the group of despised ‘Freaks’ take their revenge on the able-bodied members of the circus who betray them.

On to a mainstream gangster drama that has a real place in my heart. Robert Mitchum called upon all of his talents in one of his later films, to portray the hapless criminal in ‘The Friends of Eddie Coyle’. (1973) This cracking crime thriller from Peter Yates also stars Richard Jordan, Peter Boyle, and Alex Rocco, in a tale of a police informer, illegal arms dealers, and the criminal fraternity in Boston at the time. Films dealing with these themes never get better than this, and it almost took my top spot.

A war film next, and a Vietnam War classic. Filmed in part (surprisingly) in East London, in a disused gasworks, ‘Full Metal Jacket’ (1987) is something of a masterpiece, directed by one of the greats, Stanley Kubrick. This is a film of two halves, as the new recruits are terrorised by their drill sergeant during training, (a simply wonderful performance from R. Lee Ermy) before being thrown into the fighting for the city of Hue. (Amazingly rendered by the use of those deserted London Docklands) Convincing, with an authentic feel, this stands out as one of a crop of Vietnam War films that included ‘Platoon’, and ‘Hamburger Hill’. Telling performances are delivered by Matthew Modine, Vincent D’Onofrino, and Adam Baldwin too.

On to my final choice for ‘F’, and my top pick for today. Before writing this post, I had not even considered this film. But it is one that keeps returning to my mind, for reasons I don’t really understand. Never shown on TV here, as far as I know, but available on DVD, ‘Farewell My Concubine’ (1993) is a Chinese film that took my breath away when I saw it at the cinema. I bought the VHS tape, and watched it again, becoming increasingly infatuated by the complex tale, and the wonderful visual and aural experience it provided. It is the only Chinese film to ever win the Palme d’Or at Cannes, and it got the Golden Globe too. And I for one know why. It is a feast for the senses, and a marvellous story too. An intricate historical drama, directed by the brilliant Chen Kaige, and starring some of the best Chinese actors to ever walk on to a film set. You may never have heard of it, but I urge you to seek it out. It is amazing, and Li Gong is in it too.

Here’s a trailer.

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80 thoughts on “A-Z Film Challenge: Day Six

  1. Pingback: Lemon Casting
      1. Now, I know you’re not a Hitchcock fan, Pete, but one movie I remembered studying as part of a course I took in university (movie directors) was “Frenzy”, which was quite memorable and right up there with “Psycho”, “The Birds” & “Marnie”. Other than John Ford, I’m trying to remember the other directors we covered. (This would have been in 1976/77 I took the course, while living in Sudbury.)

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  2. You have some great picks Pete but I have to confess the only one I’ve seen is Full Metal Jacket. I’m bookmarking this though, because you’ve peaked my interest, especially with Farewell My Concubine. Everyone here has also contributed some choices: From Hell, The Fantastic Four (2005), Fargo, etc. I’d also add The Fugitive and Footloose (1984).๐Ÿ˜Š

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    1. Long before the Harrison Ford film, ‘The Fugitive’ TV series went on for years and years, with David Janssen as Kimball. I was already fugitived-out by the time the film came out!
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I am sure you meant ‘Funny Face’, with Hepburn and Fred Astaire. It’s a good choice, Lauren.
      I don’t like Disney Pixar films, and have had to sit through ‘Finding Nemo’ with my step-children too many times for comfort!
      Thanks for joining in.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. wow, a ton of stuff I want to watch, and don’t have time right now. If you’re a “Bullitt” fan you must have enjoyed “The French Connection” scene with Gene Hackman racing under the El in Brooklyn? One of the few car scenes that’s actual adrenaline and not tedium.
    I’d be careful around a log-chipper anyway, but ever since “Fargo” I give them a wide berth
    This is a great survey you’ve got going

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Robert. I found Hackman’s character ‘Popeye’ in FC to be very annoying, though I can’t really explain why. I prefer ‘Bullitt’ visually, because it was ‘cool’ at the time.
      I am pleased that you are enjoying these, and appreciate you sticking with me.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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      1. Hackman often plays abrasive types, he’s not my favorite actor, but I admire actors who take on parts that are unlikable – – not just villains, which can be scenery-chewing fun, but unpleasant & difficult in a real way. Again, not my favorite, but Robbie Coltrane in “Cracker” is a louse, and good for him.

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        1. I like Hackman a lot in some films. ‘The Conversation’ is a big personal favourite. And his Buck in ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ was solid. I just didn’t warm to ‘Popeye’, not Hackman’s fault though.
          Coltrane was great in ‘Cracker’, I watched it all on TV here.
          Best wishes, Pete.

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  4. Frozen and Fox and the Hound, not to mention Malinas current favourite (and mine) Fantastic Mr Fox ๐Ÿ™‚
    Cindy mentions some more recognisable classics to mind, Fargo will always stick with me and I love Fist full of dollars and For a Few Dollars more having recently rediscovered them (just the GBU to go).
    I understand why you never went for top tens Pete, its impossible to choose, so many good movies.

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    1. A huge catalogue of kid’s films to choose from of course. I left out those Eastwood films, as I really cannot stand ‘spaghetti’ westerns.
      Thanks to you (and Malina) for your choices.
      Cheers, Pete.

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  5. Frankenstein! Fargo, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Fistful of Dollars, Foxcatcher, The French Connection, Frida, Foreign correspondent….F is a good one. So far the consonants are winning over the vowels ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. Frida is a great choice, and one of my favourites. I prefer the TV series of ‘Fargo’ to the film, as Frances McDormand drove me insane in that film!
      Best wishes, Pete.

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      1. Ha Ha! I think she’s brilliant. I love her. I hope you get a chance to see her in ‘Hail Caesar’ =. What a bit part. I’m curious if you like that one. People either loved it or hated it. I’m in the love camp.

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  6. Setting aside two films that marked my childhoodโ€””Forbidden Planet” and “Fantastic Voyage”โ€”that somehow have eluded my DVD collection, the “F” films on my shelf that I value the most are: “The Flight of the Phoenix” (1965), “Flesh + Blood” (1985), “The Fly” (1986), “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” (1986), “Falling Down” (1993), “The Fifth Element” (1997), “Femme Fatale” (2002), and “The Fountain” (2006).

    I have a Herzog/Kinski box set that, of course, includes “Fitzcarraldo,” and I’m glad you mentioned it. I write down film titles before calling up beetleypete on my computer subsequent to email notification, and this film was on my short list. I’ve seen “Full Metal Jacket” and “Farewell My Concubine,” but it’s been a long time now, so perhaps I should give them a second viewing. I’ve always liked Robert Mitchum, and have had “The Friends of Eddie Coyle” on my wish list for some time now…

    My #1 choice will be from among the ones mentioned in the opening paragraph. I could write a lengthy essay qualifying each one of them, but… The film I’ve watched more than any other (and that’s saying something!) is “The Flight of the Phoenix.” I consider it James Stewart’s best film, though I’m sure a true film critic would rank it far below “Vertigo” and “Rear Window,” to name only two titles in his excellent filmography. I just find it amazing that a film in which absolutely nothing happens until the end can be so very engrossing. I mentioned in a previous comment that car chases and explosions are not essential to a great film. Here is a perfect example of that.

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  7. Apologies that I have not made many comments on your A-Z film series. I am thoroughly enjoying your descriptions and posts! I have to agree with Elizabeth. From Here to Eternity!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What a “f”antastic letter! “Friends of Eddie Coyle” is great 70’s gritty crime action, with one of Robert Mitchum’s last great performances. If you loved “Fitzcarraldo” remember that a documentary was made about the madness of that effort called “Burden Of Dreams”. Herzog even made a documentary on his wild friendship with Kinski called “My Best Fiend.” Great list Pete!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Another great job here, Pete. Of course Robert Mitchum has always been a long time favorite of mine (no matter what the movie) and Full Metal Jacket hits close to home. I immediately thought of Firestarter with Martin Sheen; not so much as a great film, just because I’ve read a lot of Stephen King.

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  10. Fantastic Four the 2005 version with Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, in the title roles, NOT the 2012 remake which was a major critical and commercial failure. At the 36th Golden Raspberry Awards, it won in the categories for Worst Director, Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-Off, or Sequel, and Worst Picture (the latter tied with Fifty Shades of Grey), and was also nominated for Worst Screen Combo and Worst Screenplay. I have to agree. The 2005 version had great character interplay and fab SFX, if it ain’t broke-don’t fix it as they say.

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    1. FR, I have “Fantastic Four” and its sequel on DVD, and although these two films are generally considered losers, I’ve watched them more than any of my other Marvel films because they’re just so much fun. Although I like Christian Bale’s “Batman” trilogy, it’s just too grim to be all that enjoyable. I was happy to see “Fantastic Four” mentioned here!

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      1. ๐Ÿ˜Š I love marvel movies, especially Captain America with the Avengers. the batman & superman movies are based on the DC comics and yes a bit more grim, but I am liking the new Superman ones, having Amy Adams as Lois Lane goes a long way to improving the franchise I think!

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        1. FR, I mentioned the “Batman” films, knowing they are part of the DC universe, because they are often considered the quintessential superhero films. I’m behind in my DVD purchases, but I’ll eventually get caught up with the “Avengers.”

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  11. At last you’ve chosen one I’ve seen. A great film. It got a cinema release in Australia and has been on TV many times there over the years. Maybe it’s the big Chinese community in Australia. I can’t think of a better choice.

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  12. Okay now I can use it…Five Easy Pieces…..then there was “Funny Girl”…..and my fave “From Hell”…..then there is the one I wanted to make…”Fromage et Tois”…..a love triangle between cheese lovers…LOL…sorry could not resist….chuq

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    1. I left you to add the Nicholson film, chuq. ‘From Hell’ is a good take on the Jack The Ripper story, and I had a fondness for Streisand in ‘Funny Girl’ at the time too.
      As for the cheese film, I think we should pitch that for crowd-funding!
      Best wishes, Pete.

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