A-Z Film Challenge: Day Twelve

The letter ‘L’ seems to be admired by many film makers. The choice of film titles beginning with that letter is huge. No surprise, when you consider that it allows the use of all possible derivations of the words ‘Love’, ‘Long’, and ‘Luck’. My first shortlist was still over thirty films, and I considered doing a double post for this one. As it turned out, my top choice remained unchanged, and I decided to focus on some of the least well-known options for my other suggestions, to leave you free to romp all over the many on offer.

My first choice is an historical drama starring Johnny Depp. (No, nothing to do with Pirates…) I like his style, though not that many of his films. This one is an exception, and should have won him a house full of awards. In many ways, he was born to portray the real-life character of The Earl of Rochester, the womanising, hard-living drunk who scandalised high society in late 17th century England. Poet, gambler, naval officer, Rochester was a man who lived life to the full, until his death from a sexually transmitted disease, aged just 33. Depp dominates ‘The Libertine’ (2004) with a memorable performance, and you also get to see the divine Samantha Morton, and John Malkovitch too.

Still my favourite Dustin Hoffman role, ‘Lenny’ (1974) sees him in a biography of the outrageous American comedian, Lenny Bruce, with the gorgeous Valerie Perrine as his wife, Honey. This film deals with many difficult subjects, not least Bruce’s foul-mouthed comedic performances, as well as his sexual perversions. The film also gave the censors a few problems, just as Bruce himself had done, throughout his turbulent career. Not an easy watch, but Hoffman charts the downward spiral of this man’s life with true talent. I haven’t seen it since it was released, but writing this has just inspired me to buy a used copy of the DVD from Amazon.

Two war films next, and very different ones too. The sprawling epic, ‘The Longest Day’ (1962) is a three-hour look at one of the most famous days in history, June the 6th, 1944. It follows the D-Day landings, the paratroops who jumped behind the lines, and stars just about every macho male lead you could think of at the time. I was just ten years old when I watched it at the cinema, and I thought it was just great.
The claustrophobia of war inside a machine has never been handled better than in the Israeli film, ‘Lebanon’ (2009). With much of the action seen through the confines of a tank periscope, this look at the confusion of a muddled war will surprise you with its invention.

You will rarely see me mention Doris Day in a positive light on my blog. But there is a notable exception. In 1955, she starred as the real singer from the 1920s, Ruth Etting, in the moving musical drama, ‘Love Me Or Leave Me’. An ageing James Cagney is on great form as the mobster who takes her under his wing, and into his bed. Good period feel, some great contemporary songs and music, and convincing turns from the whole cast. It worked for me.
Still on musicals, ‘Let’s Make Love’ (1960) is arguably one of Marilyn Monroe’s lesser films. The British crooner Frankie Vaughan fails to convince, and Yves Montand is mostly just embarrassing to watch. But Monroe has never looked better, or as sexy, at least not to me. I would like to own an edited version, just the bits where she is on screen.

I often use the phrase ‘Less is more’. Sorry if that’s irritating, but I am far too old to change now. So, I won’t be using it to describe this hauntingly good horror film, from 2008. ‘Let The Right One In’ is a Swedish take on the vampire genre that is just stunning to watch. The young actors are so good, it is hard to believe just how young they are. The bleak settings and sombre mood simply ooze atmosphere, and rarely has a modern horror film been better than this.

One more, before my top pick. As I said, I am leaving you most of the ‘best ones’ to comment on.

Crime thrillers come and go, and the genre swings in popularity. Sometimes, one appears that holds up every time you see it, and delivers performances that remain locked in your mind. One such film is ‘The Limey’ (1999), with British actor Terence Stamp giving the performance of his life in this American revenge thriller. Solid support from Peter Fonda and Lesley-Ann Warren help turn what could have been run-of-the-mill into a film of great power.

In 1962, still ten years old. I was taken to one of the best cinemas in London to see the widescreen showing of a new epic film. On arrival, I bought a glossy programme, and was excited by the huge cinema, and the unusually comfortable seats. Then the film came on, and I sat entranced by its wonder for the next 220 minutes. David Lean was a master film-maker who didn’t have to rely on CGI to make a wonderful spectacle. He had vision, great cameramen, and real talent. Not only that, he assembled a perfect cast for his tale of the life of the real British soldier, T. E. Lawrence. ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ remains an enduring masterpiece of cinematic excellence, and was always going to be my choice for ‘L’. Stunning.


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

  1. Some great movie choices you have picked out. ☺ I have Loved.. Leon, L.A. Confidential, Let The Right One In, Lady Killer, Liar, Liar, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Law Abiding Citizen and Lady Vengeance.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I thought someone might pick ‘Lock Stock…’, MV. Many thanks for your other suggestions, though we may have to disagree about Mr Carrey, I’m afraid. The ‘Lady Vengeance’ films are stylish indeed.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I’m not a great fan of Red Nose Day, but I am a huge fan of Blackadder, and own the entire series on box sets. Curtis and Ben Elton did some great work on that programme. It is still shown on TV here, and just as good as ever.
          Best wishes, Pete.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Let the Right One In — I heard the Swedish film was a prize. Then I forgot to rent it. Thanks for reminding me, Pete. Lawrence of Arabia is the quintessential “L” movie, I reckon. You’ve selected some hidden gems. I have lots of L movies that stay with me: L.A. Confidential, Lucy, Lion, La La Land, Les Miserables, the Last Samurai, Laura, Life of Pi, The Lunchbox.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I never saw it, but I have to mention the the 1958 film “The Lovers” because I still vividly remember the uproar over it when I was a child. There was heated debate about it being pornographic, and when it was finally deemed acceptable, I remember my parents going “downtown” to see it.

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  4. Agree that “Lawrence Of Arabia” is a brilliant film, equally brilliant in its own way is “The Limey.” Another great British gangster film is “The Long Good Friday” with Helen Mirren and Bob Hoskins, and of course “Love Actually” for the holidays. My “L” choice was “The Last Of Shiela”, a terrific 1974 whodunnit written by the legendary Stephen Sondheim and Anthony “Psycho” Perkins! – https://johnrieber.com/2017/05/11/my-movie-alphabet-an-a-z-of-my-favorite-and-most-offbeat-films/

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  5. I have all of Marilyn Monroe’s films, save a handful of early efforts in which she was just an extra. With respect to “Let’s Make Love” (1960), I do cringe a little when Frankie Vaughan sings (there’s something repulsive about him), but I actually get a kick out of Yves Montand.

    I was happy to see Lobotero mention “Logan’s Run” (1976). I think Michael York is a bit weak in that film, but he fits the role well. I suspect most people watch it for Jenny Agutter’s somewhat gratuitous nude scenes, or for a glimpse of Farrah Fawcett, whose character is ultimately expendable. I mostly watch it for Peter Ustinov. Overall, it’s an entertaining film. Lobotero also mentioned “Lifeforce” (1985). This is another entertaining film—and one I highly recommend. Aside from an unusual turn by Patrick Stewart, it offers the lovely nude spectacle of Mathilda May. Moreover, her nudity is not in the least bit gratuitous.

    On my short list is a Mexican film that is very dear to me. In the states, it is known as “Like Water for Chocolate” (1992), so I’ll place it under “L”—even though its actual title is “Como agua para chocolate.” When the film premiered in Kansas City, two of its stars, Mario Iván Martínez (Dr. John Brown) and Claudette Maillé (Gertrudis) were on hand to discuss it on stage, and to meet with people and sign autographs in the lobby afterwards. As for me, I just wanted to ask questions about details in the film. I spoke with Claudette twice, each time for about ten minutes. But, after everyone cleared out, I then spoke with Mario Iván…for well over an hour! Of course, he is a Mexican actor. But in the film, he plays an American who speaks Spanish with an American accent! Mario Iván was amazed that my sole interest was in the film—not in an autograph or souvenir photo. He invited me to his ranch in Mexico, but, of course, I’ve never been able to take him up on that offer. The film itself, which I saw multiple times in the theater (and own on DVD), is a love story that overflows with scenes of tragedy and humor, infuses its plot with numerous supernatural elements, and deals with Mexico’s rich food culture. The acting is superb, the cinematography top-notch, and the soundtrack unforgettable (I have it on CD).

    Also on my short list are “The Lady from Shanghai” (1948), “Leave Her to Heaven” (1945), Luc Besson’s “Léon” (1994), and “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy (2001-2003), Of course, I’m a huge fan of Peter O’Toole (mostly, for “The Stunt Man”—which, incidentally, features Steve Railsback, the main protagonist in “Lifeforce”), so “Lawrence of Arabia” is definitely on my short list. I actually assumed this epic film would be your number one pick.

    As much as I respect “Léon,” and am awestruck by “Lawrence of Arabia,” I have to go with my sentimental favorite, even though it only qualifies as an “L” title in English translation. My pick for número uno is…”Like Water for Chocolate.”

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    1. I have ‘Like Water For Chocolate’ on DVD, David. I thought it would get more mentions, so thanks for including it. Frankie Vaughan was one of my Mum’s favourites, but for me, he ruins ‘Let’s Make Love’. I just adore Marilyn in that film though. It goes without saying that ‘Logan’s Run’ is Ustinov and Agutter’s film. He is a thespian, she is nubile and desirable.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Right off the bat two films caught my interest. ‘Lebanon’ and ‘Let the Right Ones In’ Thanks. I will get to both of them. Familiar with some of your choices. ‘Lawrence’ is a fave for so many reasons. ‘Limey’ is just a really good film. Stamp does a great job. Time for a revisit. Your take might nudge me towards ‘Lenny’. I’ve seen a lot of great films from that era, including ones with Hoffman. Docudramas can be tricky for CB. Maybe I’ll take the plunge. Lots of great “L” films have become and are my favorites. Great idea. Enjoyed my first dip into your pool. (Is the pic above near Beetley?)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The photo is nowhere near Beetley, as we have no hills or mountains. (Norfolk is very flat, like Holland) But the foreground is very similar to where I walk my dog every day.
      ‘Lenny’ is a powerful look at Bruce’s life, and much more that a straight ‘biopic’. ‘Lebanon’ is a really claustrophobic war film, and it examines many of the issues in that region too. ‘Let The Right One In’ is set in bleak Swedish housing estates, and really suits the darkness of the vampire genre. (It was remade in America as ‘Let Me In’, so avoid that one)
      Thanks very much for getting into the challenge.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Had a peek at Lebanon. Same “claustrophobic” feel as Das Boot. Will watch for sure. Same for the Swedish film. ( The Bridge series impressed CB). Love a lot of what they do there. I stay away from most American TV. ‘Lenny’ is a strange one for me. I seen all that good film from that time and skipped it. I’m inching towards it.
        (I’ve heard of Norfolk. Will look it up).

        Liked by 1 person

          1. First shot on the trailer, absolutely “Das Tank” feel. The story synopsis grabbed me along with the look. Good call on your part. I don’t watch a lot of TV. I seen the Killing. Enjoyed it . Unfamiliar with ‘Spiral’ but will have a look. The Bridge is in its own league. It came highly recommended by a trusted source. Only other shows that I’ve come across that have the same standard are Breaking Bad and True Detective (First Season). I was dragged to both but glad I was. My visit was fruitful. Two new flicks to watch. Thanks. I’ve been thinking about “L” films. So many good ones.

            Liked by 1 person

  7. Can’t beat Lawrence of Arabia, I have my own remastered copy! However, from D.C we have The Losers, starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Zoe Saldana, Idris Elba and Chris Evans (actor, not obnoxious radio 2 presenter) although from D.C it’s not part of the superhero universe, instead is a kind of Mission Impossible/A-team plot. Silly Fun 😀

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  8. Lawrence Of A is hard to beat, so I won’t try. Lenny and The Longest Day were both good back in the day, though it’s been a long time between drinks.

    There are so many L’s aren’t there. I’ll recite a few of the ones I like, to pass the time.
    – Oz films – Look Both Ways and Lantana are two of my Australian favourites. (William already mentioned Love Serenade below)
    -Comedies – Life of Brian, Love and Death (vintage Woody Allen), The Little Devil (Benigni as a devil and Walter Mathau as an Italian priest), Love and Anarchy (great mix of comedy and 70s politics from Lina Wertmuller), Lost in Translation (Bill Murray doing Japan)
    -Dramas – Little Big Man (Dustin Hoffman on the Indian question), The Lost Honour of Katerina Blum (more 70s politics without the humour), Lolita (Kubrick’s of course), Life is a Miracle (tragicomedy in Bosnia), and Love Letter (a gentle Japanese love story to finish up)
    Did that tick any boxes?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. ‘Lantana’ was on the shortlist, and left off due to post length. It’s a great film, and gets better every time I watch it. ‘Little Big Man’ was a classic in its day, but not sure how it holds up, as I haven’t seen it in so long. ‘Lenny’ and ‘Longest Day’ were both memories of different times in my youth, so they got in. I could go with ‘Lost In Translation’ just for Scarlett, who I can look at all day, but I thought the film had a strange emptiness as a whole. Maybe that was the point of course.
      ‘Katerina Blum’ takes me back. The heady days of German cinema…
      Thanks for the suggestions, and your valued input, ozflicks.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Pete. I had never thought about that with “L”… But you’re right, and it’s an amazing collection of films. Thanks for the tip on The Libertine — I usually enjoy Johnny Depp was not familiar with that one. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Law-rence! Law-rence! Law-rence!!

    The best. My favorite move of all time. As I crossed the coastal desert in Eritrea in an open jeep with a six pack the theme would keep running through my head.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the suggestion, GP. I have never bothered to watch ‘The Longest Yard’, to be honest. That’s because it is about American football (set in a prison of course), and I have no idea about that game. Glad you enjoyed the film though.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I watched LOA the last time you recommended it and remain a fan and whilst reading todays post I was reminded of an ‘I’ choice (I know, but what can I do) Ice Cold in Alex, classic British movie.
    But like V I would go with Leon, it was the first film that came to mind and I would happily watch it again and again.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I loved ‘Leon’, and most films by Luc Besson in fact. I suspected that many others would mention it, so left it off deliberately. As for ‘Ice Cold In Alex’, you are late to class, young Winko!
      Cheers, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for the suggestions, William. I have never seen the Australian film ‘Love Serenade’, but I did watch ‘The Life Aquatic’, which I have to say I didn’t ‘get’ at all.
      Your continuing input is much appreciated.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Lawrence was hated by the Arabs for his betrayal…but the movie was epic. Okay my turn “Logan’s Run”……”Langoleir a Stephen King made for TV……”Laser Mission” with Brandon lee….and finally one of my faves…UK’s “Life Force”…..time for more coffee….chuq

    Liked by 2 people

    1. ‘Logan’s Run’ is a classic for so many reasons, chuq, not least for Jenny Agutter!
      I will have to try to catch ‘LifeForce’, which I have never seen.
      Thanks very much for your suggestions, and enjoy your coffee.
      Regards, Pete

      Liked by 2 people

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