I am really cheered by how so many of you have continued to engage with this challenge, and to add your thoughts and suggestions every day, without fail. It has been genuinely appreciated, as have the numerous re-blogs, re-tweets and other mentions.
We have arrived at the letter ‘P’. What do you think? Lots of choices? There are a great deal, I assure you. And there are three of my all-time favourites, so at least I am happy. I am generously leaving you the obvious titles to explore, and once again concentrating on some that are lesser-known.
In 1960, Michael Powell made what is still perhaps one of the least-known but most effective early psychological horror films, with ‘Peeping Tom’. This British thriller is set in the seedy world of glamour photography, and features Carl Boehm as an aspiring film-maker, earning money to finance his projects by taking photos of young women in saucy underwear. But the amiable young man hides a dark family secret, unknown to the girl who aspires to be his girlfriend. (Anna Massey) With unusual camera angles, a few genuine shocks, and wonderful settings in London before the time of youth culture, this is one of my favourite films in the genre, and worth watching for anyone serious about cinema.
A lot of you are aware of my love for the silent era actress Louise Brooks. She had what is perhaps the best hairstyle of any film star, with her roaring twenties ‘killer bob’. She had beauty too, and an acting talent that made her a box office smash. Her private life was also scandalous. Affairs with both men and women, and living life to the full, in European cities between the wars. ‘Pandora’s Box’, made in 1929, is my favourite film of hers, charting the rise and fall of the vivacious Lulu, as she exploits her career as a courtesan for rich men, until bad luck and murder find her destitute in London, and a chance meeting with a certain Jack The Ripper. Don’t worry about the story, or the holes in the plot, just watch Louise. You will glad you did.
Stanley Kubrick is a rightly-acclaimed director. One of my favorite films of his is the WW1 drama, ‘Paths OF Glory’ (1957). This fact-based tale of events in the French army during that war gives Kirk Douglas one of his best and most satisfying roles. Impressive recreations of trench warfare, sharp black and white filming, and a completely perfect cast, all lend this film a real authenticity. One of the best films ever made about WW1, without a doubt.
Lee Marvin brought gravitas to the wonderful crime thriller, ‘Point Blank’ (1967). John Boorman’s film saw Marvin at his intense best, as the wronged criminal, Walker, seeking revenge on the mob, and his wife, who had both betrayed him. Told in flashback, the superb opening sequence alone is worth the admission ticket, and the relentless pace never ceases to enthrall the viewer. Mel Gibson starred in the remake, ‘Payback’ (1999), changing some elements and names too. Stick with Marvin’s original. You won’t be sorry.
Peter Weir again, this time from 1975, and ‘Picnic At Hanging Rock’. This dream-like fantasy of Australian schoolgirls on a picnic outing to the Hanging Rock in the year 1900 has never been bettered, with an overwhelming sense of mystery, and a surreal feel. Haunting theme music, wonderful casting, and impressive location filming all add up to a complete cinema experience that you will never forget. Great performances from the likes of Helen Morse and Rachel Roberts just pile on the quality.
An unusual choice for me. A ‘Brat-Pack’ romantic drama from 1986, ‘Pretty In Pink’ delivered. With reliable performances from Molly Ringwald, Harry Dean Stanton, and the overlooked Jon Cryer, this film had it all. The teen romance centering on the high school prom, with its ‘rich boy-poor girl’ theme, was re-worked into a convincing adult drama, along with serious performances, and outstanding music. For me, the best of John Hughes’ work, and I still love it, to this day.
Regretting all those left behind, and hoping you mention them, I come to my choice for today.
This haunting Spanish film combines childhood fantasy, with the brutal reality of adult life following the protracted civil war in Spain. ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ (2206) is my favourite film from Guillermo Del Toro, and the dramatic events are interspersed with compelling wonder, anchored by an outstanding central performance from child actress, Ivana Baquero. Escaping from the brutal realities of Fascist repression, and the cruelty of her step-father, young Ofelia descends into a nightmarish dream world, populated by fantastic creatures. It is not only unique in its concept, it is unforgettable.