A-Z Film Challenge: Day Nine

After a quiet weekend, time to get on with it, and the letter ‘I’. Lots to choose from here, with all those ‘Is’ and ‘Its’. I have left out plenty of films for you to consider, so please add your personal choices in the comments.

I am starting with a sumptuous classic from Douglas Sirk. ‘Imitation of Life’ (1959) is a treat for the eyes, and tackles an issue, as Sirk usually does. This time it is Racism, and attitudes to colour and race in 1950s America. The lovely Lana Turner stars, alongside memorable performances from Juanita Moore, and Sandra Dee. Despite the soap-opera feel, this was an important film, and dealt with sensitive issues that are still relevant as I type this. As always, Sirk delivers with a colour palette, and performances from the leads that will stay in your memory. A similar theme, adding powerful performances from Rod Steiger and Sidney Poitier, ‘In The Heat of The Night'(1967) won five Oscars. Warren Oates and Lee Grant add to a wonderful cast in this murder mystery set in America’s deep south. Poitier is on top form, as the black detective investigating a case, obstructed at every turn by the attitudes of the local police, and Chief Gillespie. (Steiger)

When I first watched ‘The Innocents’ (1961) I had never heard of the Henry James novel, ‘The Turn of The Screw’. I was very young, and almost terrified by the forbidding atmosphere of this British supernatural thriller. Great writing from Truman Capote, and stellar performances from Deborah Kerr, Peter Wyngarde, and Michael Redgrave lent weight to the adult characters. Then the children, played by a young Pamela Franklin, and Martin Stephens, added the innocence necessary for this spooky tale to work so well. This is a simply wonderful ghost story, that does not deserve to be forgotten. Another scary tale, ‘It Follows’ (2014) continued the theme of psychological drama, and moved it up a gear. The unseen presence works so well, and delivers scares alongside some uncomfortable scenes that stay in the memory.

World Cinema delivers with ‘I’ too. The sublime Catherine Deneuve (has any woman ever looked better?) gives one of her regularly delightful performances in ‘Indochine’ (1992). I could watch her read the ‘phone book, but this wonderful 1930s set film looks at the days of French colonial Indochina, long before WW2, or the Vietnam War. It continues to follow events leading up to the partition of Vietnam, and explores many themes. Rarely mentioned, and almost unknown, it will reward your time spent watching it. Moving forward in time, ‘Incendies’ (2010) is a film from current rising star, Denis Villeneuve. It deals with Canadian twins who travel to their county of origin in the Middle East, to investigate the background of their family. Despite using fictional countries and place names, this confronts issues that are still current in places such as Lebanon and Palestine, and is a completely absorbing film.

Way back to the silent era for my next selection. ‘Intolerance’ (1916) is an epic work from American director, D.W. Griffith. In his attempt to examine the themes of Love and Intolerance throughout the ages, Griffith interweaves stories from a time period ranging from ancient Babylon, to a contemporary modern age at the time. Religious repression, Christianity, and a modern story of America in 1914, are all linked by the theme of eternal motherhood, with each segment getting a different colour treatment. Lilian Gish stars, and the amazing ‘fall of Babylon’ is worth seeing on its own. This is an incredible piece of film-making, so don’t be put off by its lack of the spoken word.

I am not usually a fan of Tom Cruise, and Brad Pitt can also be hit and miss at times. However, when they came together for the perfect screen adaptation of the Ann Rice novel, ‘Interview With The Vampire’ (1994) they were part of a film from Neil Jordan that both fascinated and captivated in turn. This was a joy to behold, with wonderful historical authenticity, and a refreshingly different treatment of the vampire genre. With solid support from the likes of Christian Slater and Antonio Banderas, and an unforgettable performance from a young Kirsten Dunst, who stole the film for me, this almost secured my top spot for ‘I’. It is a wonder, and I urge you to see it.

So, what have I chosen? You might be surprised, and I hope that you are.

Robert Blake, Scott Wilson, and John Forsythe, that might give it away. But ‘based on a novel by Truman Capote’ will surely lead you to this amazing film, from 1967. I watched it at the age of 15, and was overwhelmed by the true story of the Clutter family murders, in Kansas. Filmed mainly in the actual locations, ‘In Cold Blood’ has stayed with me for fifty years. This black and white film has never been bettered in the genre. Produced, written, and directed by Richard Brooks, this was film-making at a new level. Flashbacks, many convincing elements, and true to life performances from the cast gave this the feel of a dramatised documentary. But this is Robert Blake’s finest hour, and he delivers a memorable performance as the young killer. This was at a time when people were beginning to be uncomfortable with the death penalty too, and it does not shy away from the details.

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105 thoughts on “A-Z Film Challenge: Day Nine

  1. “In Cold Blood” I only ever saw once, and I read the book as well, but that was enough. The story in both film and book was so well told that it’s still etched in my mind. A very good choice, Pete!

    I will add “I’m Not Scared”, mainly because it’s based on an even better-written Italian novel, and “I Am Sam” for its great soundtrack of Beatles covers. I’m a purist, especially when it comes to The Beatles, but this movie and “Across the Universe” both manage to present that music in a fresh new way that is acceptable to me. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pete, I first thought of two comedies, “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” (1963) and a huge favorite of mine, “Intolerable Cruelty” (2003). Like you, I also gave consideration to “Indochine” (1992) and “In Cold Blood” (1967), both of which I’ve seen, and “Interview with the Vampire” (1994), which I own on DVD. The latter evoked “Innocent Blood” (1992), which is one of my guilty pleasures. Of course, my mind couldn’t slight the two John Cusack films I mentioned previouslyโ€””Identity” (2003) and “The Ice Harvest” (2005). Very high on my short list was “Inception” (2010)โ€”a must see (and more than once!). And how could I not think of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (both 1956 and 1978), especially since I recently read the Jack Finney book (in French) on which those films are based? I figured that someone would bring up James Stewart’s holiday classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life”โ€”I don’t think anyone has mentioned it yet.

    I’m not going to pick any of the films mentioned above, though I was tempted to go with “Inception.” My choice is “The Impossible” (2012), which tells a very powerful, fact-based human survival story (though the nationality of the family has been changed) set against the disastrous 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. I’m not really a fan of Ewan McGregor, but he does a fine job here. Thanks to “Mulholland Drive” and “King Kong,” I am definitely a Naomi Watts fan. She puts in a great and fearless performance. Also noteworthy is a young Tom Holland, who is now familiar to Marvel fans as the new Spider-Man. Although film critics generally like this film (81% at RottenTomatoes), some moviegoers fault itโ€”too sentimental. It definitely is sentimental, but not gratuitously. For me, it’s impossible not to love this film.

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    1. I thought that ‘The Impossible’ was a very powerful film. More so perhaps because it was based on a true story. I like both versions of ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’. This is one of the films I left off, sure that it would be mentioned. You came up with ‘It’s a wonderful life’, which I thought might be the most popular choice. But I was wrong!
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve not seen “in Cold Blood’ unfortunately, but I liked Indochine and hated Imitation of Life (I think Sirk is perhaps an acquired taste).
    My ‘I’s would be In The Mood For Love (Wang Kar Wai’s moody masterpiece), I’ve Loved You For So Long (Kristin Scott Thomas is great as a sorrowful Frenchwoman), and If… (Lindsay Anderson at his best). Cheers

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    1. I saw ‘If ‘ on release, and thought it might be mentioned. Sirk is indeed an acquired taste, but I acquired it at a young age. Thanks for mentioning ‘I’ve loved you so long’. One of my favourite French films, and Scott Thomas is outstanding in that. I liked ‘In The Mood For Love’, and ‘2046’ too, but tend to prefer Chinese period films in the main. Good selections as always, ozflicks.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Happy to see your love of The Innocents. It is one spellbinding example of psychological horror with an excellent Deborah Kerr performance. Interview with the Vampire is a striking movie with an overriding melancholy that haunts, complete with Kirsten Dunst stealing the show as Claudia. She impressed me with how much maturity she brought to the role at such a tender age. I have Imitation of Life on DVD, it is getting watched very soon. As for Indochine , I love Deneuve so that’s being placed highly on my watch list.

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    1. I could never hope to fit them all in, Feilcity. Thanks for adding these two though, both excellent films. And many thanks for the re-blog too!
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

  5. Great choice of films, Pete. We very much like “In cold blood” (and “Capote”), “Inception” and “Indochine”, now I’ll look out for “Imitation of Life”.
    My contribution, my alltime favourite; “I am Dina” ๐Ÿ™‚
    Love to you all from Cley, including a big pat for ๐Ÿพ๐Ÿพ Ollie. x

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The Marvel ‘I’ has to be Iron Man, the ubiquitous character played with panache and pathos by Robert Downey Jr. Three movies of his own and also part of The Avengers team so in all those movies, as well as the new Spiderman origin movie and a cameo in The Incredible Hulk, he gets around.

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  7. In Cold Blood is a great choice, Pete. Inception has been mentioned, but boy is it a great film! I hope you get to see it. A mind bender of the highest kind. I’ll contribute with these films I’ve enjoyed:
    In Bruges, Inglourious Basterds, Inside Llewyn Davis, I, Robot

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I haven’t seen ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ yet. I have the other three on DVD, though I think that IB is Tarantino’s weakest film. Very silly at times, but then it’s supposed to be, I suppose.
      Thanks as always for your valued contribution, and for continuing to play along.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

        1. Ah, my inner cynic would agree, Cindy.
          IB is OK, but I don’t get the love for it.I think the cinema scene is silly too, as well as the scalping, and so on…and on. But I do have it on DVD, and have watched it three times!
          Best wishes, Pete.

          Like

  8. Another great selection, Pete. I must add Incendies to my list, as I’m sure I haven’t watched it. (I’m always intrigued by any versions of the Turn of the Screw but this one is particularly atmospheric). I remember reading ‘In Cold Blood’ many years back and being very impressed but I must watch the movie again. Looking forward to further selections.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Yes Catherine is sublime…..”It Came From Outer Space” the B sciFi flick from the 50’s. and “It’s alive!” starring Tommy Kirk…..sahot my wad time for more coffee…LOL chuq

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ‘Me’ is fine, William.
      I haven’t seen ‘Inception’ yet. It looks very good, but to be honest, I am not a hue fan of Leonardo. I will get around to it one day.
      Thanks as always for your suggestion.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. In Cold Blood was the first one to strike my memory for ‘I’, but you’ve mentioned so many other good one. I did miss Interview With the Vampire, but I read Rice’s book.

    Liked by 1 person

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