A-Z Film Challenge: Day Twenty

Even leaving off ‘The’, there is still a large number of films beginning with ‘T’. My top choice was once again exactly what you might expect from me, and I make no apologies for that. As usual, I have tried to leave out the better known films, including that one about a New York cab driver. I will concentrate on the more unusual ones, and leave the field wide open for comments.

Starting with a film I rarely see discussed. Eric Bogosian is the epitome of the fast-talking opinionated character seen in many American films. He was never better than as the obnoxious radio talk-show host Barry Champlain, in Oliver Stone’s film ‘Talk Radio’ (1988). Bogosian is just incredible as the outspoken radio presenter who specialises in putting down the callers, and cutting them dead with sarcasm and rudeness. Events take a dark turn when he upsets someone too much, little realising the consequences. This is based on a real incident, and there is strong support from Alec Baldwin and Ellen Greene too.

Back to 1936, and the screen adaptation from Alexander Korda of the H.G. Wells novel, ‘Things To Come’. Despite its age, this prescient film has great effects, as we see a world ravaged by war into a bleak future, with the only option left for mankind to start a new colony in outer space. Solid performances from Raymond Massey and Ralph Richardson help to make this one of the original ‘Dystopian’ thrillers.

Some World Cinema picks have to include the sheer brilliance of ‘The Tin Drum’ (1979), with a mesmerising performance from David Bennent as Oskar, in this German film. The tale of a boy who decides never to grow up set in the time of the rise of the Nazis, is simply unforgettable, and a faithful adaptation of the Gunter Grass novel. (“Wo ist mein blechtrommel?”)
Almodovar’s ‘Talk to Her’ (2002) examines communication and obsession, with an unusual look at the relationship of two men, both caring for women who are in a coma. Complex and very different, this is unlike many of Almodovar’s madcap farces.
Spain again, and one of my favourite films dealing with the complexities of time travel. ‘Timecrimes’ (2007) is a sci-fi horror with a real diference. With many versions of the same character on screen at the same time, this inventive thriller never fails to fascinate, and it has a great twist too.

Now to a war film, and one that deals with war from another viewpoint. Despite magnificent battle scenes, and some stunning cinematography, Terence Malick’s 1998 film, ‘The Thin Red Line’, is a war epic like few others. Exploring the reluctance to fight, and the fears of the soldiers involved, this recreation of the fighting on Guadalcanal in WW2 is breathtaking to behold. The cast is too long to list here, but there are standout performances from Jim Calveizal, Nick Nolte, and Elias Koteas. Others include Sean Penn, and John Cusack, with a cameo from John Travolta too. The ‘other side’ are also featured, with an examination of the Japanese defenders that looks at them like human beings, with the same hopes and fears. Marvellous.

I could not leave out another of my all-time favourites. Orson Welles, Marlene Dietrich, and one of the best opening sequences ever filmed. Yes, ‘Touch of Evil’ (1958). This film gets better every time I watch it, with Welles nothing short of magnificent as the bloated and corrupt has-been cop, Quinlan. Lovingly filmed in black and white, with every element necessary for a compelling thriller, you can even forget a woefully miscast Charlton Heston, as a Mexican federal officer. This is film-making at its finest, and one of Welles’ best offerings.

I come to my final choice. Having left out so many ‘T’ films, it is wide open for you to comment.

A Japanese historical epic again. (No apologies) Kurosawa again. (No apologies) and Toshiro Mifune again. (Still no apologies.) I went to see this film as a teenager, and it has stayed with me for the fifty years since. Kurosawa used the plot of ‘Macbeth’, transporting the action to feudal Japan, and changing the names and locations. But he left in all the well known parts of the famous ‘Scottish play’, and presented us with an unforgettable version. ‘Throne of Blood’ (1957) might well be one of the best films ever made. Kurosawa’s vision is brought to the screen with amazing performances from Mifune as the Macbeth character, and Isuzu Yamada as a chilling Lady Macbeth, dominating every scene she is in.
The final battle at Spider’s Web Castle is a brilliantly choreographed set piece, as Mifune’s character is hunted down by his own soldiers.


81 thoughts on “A-Z Film Challenge: Day Twenty

  1. I kind of thought you might go for Throne of Blood after ignoring The Seven Samurai, and I’m glad you did – it’s a really memorable version of MacBeth. Now only Yojimbo?

    You also chose my other two arthouse choices – The Tin Drum (as crazy as the war) and The Thin Red Line (a symphony of suffering and Malick’s best I think).
    I must catch up with Talk Radio and Things to Come, so thanks for that. But I’m not a great fan of Orsen, despite liking The Third Man.

    A few other late things for the T-Mix, that I haven’t seen mentioned yet:

    Time of the Gypsies – magically tough world of the Yugoslav Roma by Kusturica;
    Two Women – Sophia Loren in a WW2 heartbreaker;
    The Tracker – a great Australian film on racial violence during Australia’s white settlement;
    That Obscure Object of Desire – Brunuel’s strange teasing romance made a big impression on me when I was younger;
    Three Kings: Clooney & co mixing comedy and outrage in the aftermath of the First Gulf War;
    Tree of the Wooden Clogs – another my 70s Italian favourites about peasant life in a time of troubles; and To Catch A Thief – Hitchcock’s heist-rom-com that is obviously not your taste.

    Oh and one I forgot for S is Sansho The Baliff, a Mizoguchi classic which should be more your cup of green tea.

    Almost caught up ….

    Liked by 2 people

    1. A great list of selections as always, ozflicks, and worth a considered reply too.
      I ignored ‘Seven Samurai’ as too well-known, but will not be ignoring ‘Yojimbo’, as you suspected. I have seen ‘Sansho’, and loved it, also ‘The Tracker’, Bunuel’s film, and ‘Tree of Wooden Clogs’. The problem with these challenges is that the posts get too long. I would love to have included so many more. ‘Three Kings’ is a competent film, and there is nothing wrong with it at all. It just never struck me in the same way as some others.
      I haven’t seen the ‘Time of The Gypsies’, so will look out for that one.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Time sure flies past as we have approached the halfway point.. there are alway many great movies to choose from that begin with the buy that would be an everlasting list and a little bit of a cheat perhaps so I’ve tried to avoid many of them and includes some of my favourites..

    Train to Buscan, The Talented Mr Ripley, The Terminal, That Touch of Mink, Thelma and Louise, They Live, Tightrope, The Troll Hunter, True Lies, The Wind Rises, Thirst, The Quiet Family, The 39 Steps, The Maltese Falcon, The Philadelphia Story, The Thing (1982), Taxi Driver and Total Recall (1990).

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Welcome. Oh so did I awhile ago. It’s refreshing take on a ‘zombie movie’ which Hollywood makes a mistake of failing at lately. And yes I have watched Kurt Russell find out ‘who’s who’ many a times. ☺

        Liked by 1 person

  3. WOW! What happen when you don’t look at yr laptop for a few days or something? Thin Red Line is a great one but did anyone say There Will Be Blood (2007) ??? That would be it for me, cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for adding ‘There Will Be Blood’, William. I left that off, but it’s one of my favourites. Dano is great, and it is beautifully shot too.
      Best wishes, Pete.


  4. Pete, since you brought up Pedro Almodóvar, I could mention “Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!”—even though, technically, it’s an A film (¡Átame!). I’ve enjoyed many of the Spanish director’s films.

    The only film you mention that I’ve seen is “Touch of Evil” (1958). Although I borrowed it from the library, it’s a film I would like to own. I do have “The Third Man” (1949), which also stars Orson Welles.

    Another black and white classic that I have on DVD is “To Have and Have Not” (1944), starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall (“You know you don’t have to act with me, Steve. You don’t have to say anything, and you don’t have to do anything. Not a thing. Oh, maybe just whistle. You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and… blow.”).

    As a Paul Verhoeven fan, I have to mention “Total Recall” (1990) and “Turkish Delight” (“Turks Fruit” [1973]). A few other films in my collection (that have nothing to do with icebergs or cyborgs) are “The Trouble with Harry” (1955), “Thoroughly Modern Millie” (1967), “Tom Horn” (1980), “True Romance” (1993), and “The Thomas Crown Affair” (1999)—I’ve seen the 1968 original, of course. I won’t apologize for “Tucker: The Man and His Dream” (1988). I have two 1:18 scale Tucker 48’s, and have always been fascinated by this car. I have tremors just thinking about all the guilty pleasures on my shelf—too many to mention here!.

    Although I have great admiration for “Touch of Evil” and “To Have and Have Not,” I’m going to go road trippin’ with a film that features a 1966 Ford Thunderbird (but, for the sake of the film’s heroines, should have featured Chitty Chitty Bang Bang instead). Geez, Louise! Do I have to mention the title of Ridley Scott’s 1991 film?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No need to mention the title of that female buddy film at all, David. One of my favourites.
      I have the Almodovar film on DVD, but still have others of his to mention, so left it out.
      Many thanks for your other suggestions, including that Hemingway adaptation.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. If we are going to go with films that impacted us when we were younger, I submit the 1935 version of A Tale of Two Cities. I would hazard I was about 10 when I saw this film on television and scenes from it still live in memory.
    Warmest regards, Theo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”
      Dickens knew how to write, and that film is very good indeed.
      Thanks for the suggestion, Theo.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank goodness for you, Pete, and for all your other readers, because I had nothing today for “T” … until I remembered “A Town Like Alice” – the Bryan Brown TV mini-series version, if that’s allowed. There was also a movie made in 1956, but I haven’t seen that. (Am I the only person in the world who did not like, and I even hesitate adding it here but no one else has mentioned it yet … “Titanic”?)

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I somehow knew I was in discerning company on this blog concerning that movie. I do remember seeing “A Night to Remember”. It was very good. And I will look for the film version of TLA, although I have always quite liked Bryan Brown … The novel has always been one of my favourites, too.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Pete, a great list – you offered up a number of more obscure titles that deserve the attention – and left off more high profile picks as “Taxi Driver”, “Taking Of Pelham 123”, Soderbergh’s “Traffic” and “There’s Something About Mary”…and no, I won’t even mention “Titanic!”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for not mentioning the awful ‘Titanic’, John. Good call with ‘Traffic’. That’s a great film that I have on DVD and it is often overlooked. I prefer the Robert Shaw original of ‘Pelham’ to the remake, though it was a decent effort.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Throne of Blood looks quite a film…. I’m sorry, I would have to go with the very obvious Third Man, and be greedy with Kieslowski’s Three Colours trilogy……

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, Sue. I had to sadly leave out the Three Colours trilogy for want of space. All excellent films. I love Welles in ‘The Third Man’, even though he isn’t on screen that much.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. To start my fave “13th Warrior” with Banderas…..”Time Machine” both old and new….and now my bad “SciFi…..”Tingler” with Vincent Price…..”Them” with Hopper….”They Came From Beyond Space”–Robt. Horton……finally “Top Line” with Franco Nero…and that is today’s choices….chuq

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ’13th Warrior is a ‘numbers title’ film, not strictly a ‘T’. You can use it again, when I get to ‘Numbers’.
      I have seen ‘The Tingler’, but didn’t care much for either of the ‘Time Machine’ films, sorry to say.
      Thanks for your great suggestions, chuq.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi Pete – I was waiting this week for you to get to “T”- I was waiting to pounce on your movie credentials. But you didn’t disappoint,

    You didn’t miss including The Thin Red Line.

    Heehee – Great minds think alike!



    Liked by 1 person

  11. No apologizes accepted, dear Pete. From your list, Touch of Evil would have been my pick. Some T’s other than the obvious cab driver: Two Mules for Sister Sara, The Truman Show–I am sure someone will mention The Terminator and Tarzan…

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Going with my usual ‘oldie’ theme I should say my first thought was ‘The Thin Man’, but it was actually the second one I thought of – the first was ‘Timeline’, despite the fact that I thought the book was better than the movie.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Thin Red Line was awesome Pete, but yay the Marvel Universe gives us Thor 2010 and Thor-The Dark World 2013. Running parallel with the Avengers series as Thor is part of the avengers team and played by the very buff and handsome Chris Hemsworth, cast includes Tom Hiddlestone, Idris Elba, Natalie Portman, and Anthony Hopkins. As always the SFX are beautifully rendered, the script is witty and pithy and everyone acts as if they’re having a great time, can’t wait for Thor-Ragnarok to come out later this year!

    Liked by 3 people

          1. Fantastic 4 is Ok but not as good as The Avengers series, yes indeed, Wonderwoman is on my list. My preference is for the Marvel Universe movies over the DC stuff, I think they have a lighter touch, but enjoyed DC’s reboots of superman and Ben Afflecks older Batman, looking forward also to Justice League which includes all three of those characters.

            Liked by 1 person

          1. The original Alien movies were such a success and rightly so, will no doubt see this when it gets to TV. We gave up cinema a while back, we like to stop and rewind bits lol, and have a glass or 2 while we watch it, plus the chairs are dead uncomfortable if you have a dodgy back like me. 😊

            Liked by 1 person

    1. I love the films of Kurosawa, and many other Japanese film-makers, V. I can also recommend the cop/gangster films from Beat Takeshi, who also made Samurai films, one of which will feature later. I consider Asian horror to be the best, despite many western remakes of original Japanese horror films. Japanese and Chinese cinema is well worth exploring.
      Cheers, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

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