A-Z Film Challenge: Day 23

‘W’ is a real treasure trove of great titles. My original list was up to more than forty, when I decided to once again to stick with mostly little-known titles, and to leave it wide open for your comments. My top pick is quite famous, but I had already decided to go with it.

I will start with two well known epics that have always worked for me. Sergei Bondarchuk is involved with both, and the Russian director knew his stuff. ‘War and Peace’ (1966) is a detailed adaptation of the Tolstoy novel, lovingly recreated in over seven hours of film. It is so long, it was originally shown in instalments. You can still get the multi-disc original on DVD. It is magnificent.
In 1970, the same director brought his skill to the film ‘Waterloo’. With Rod Steiger as Napoleon, and Christopher Plummer as the perfect Wellington, this wonderfully accurate recreation of the battle of Waterloo in 1815 is one of the best epics ever filmed, and a must for history fans too.

Dark and disturbing British drama, with the taboo theme of incest and family betrayal. That doesn’t sound like an easy watch, and it isn’t. But if you want to see a British cast including Tilda Swinton and Ray Winstone at the top of their game, then look no further than ‘The War Zone’ (1999).

A sexy and erotic thriller, with delicious twists and turns, and a screen populated by eye candy that can also act? Not that many films can live up to that idea, but ‘Wild Things’ (1998) is a hugely enjoyable modern film noir, with a great cast too. Denise Richards and Neve Campbell pile on the steam, as Kevin Bacon and Matt Dillon offer strong support. Perhaps a ‘guilty pleasure’, but one of the best of those.

One of my favourite Almodovar films, and a perfect examination of the daily life of a put-upon woman in modern Spain. ‘What Have I Done To Deserve This?’ (1984) has some truly marvellous performances, not least from Carmen Maura in the lead. Poignant, often very funny, and acutely well-observed, we also get a brilliant turn from Chus Lampreave into the bargain. Nobody does ‘old lady’ better than her.

So many left out, but one more before the top pick.

I caught this film on TV some years ago, and was very impressed at the time. Since then, I have never seen it mentioned, so thought I would promote it here. Most people regard Susan Sarandon to be a very good actress, and rightly so. I also have a lot of time for James Spader, though he failed to really exploit his brat-pack stardom. The two come together in the thougthful romantic drama, ‘White Palace’ (1990). The plot is simple enough, and has familiar origins. Rich upper-class widower aged 27 meets a waitress from the other side of the tracks, and falls for her. She is a lot older, at 43, so it is a far from easy basis on which to form a relationship. What could have been a very ordinary film is elevated by a good script, and sensitive performances from the leads. One to watch.

Today’s choice was always going to be the one for ‘W’. I watched Nic Roeg’s film ‘Walkabaout’ (1971) when I was just 19 years old. I had never seen anything like it, and thought it was fantastic. I still do. This story of a teenage school girl and her brother (Jenny Agutter and Luc Roeg) lost in the Australian outback, is something to behold. Great scenery and perfect cinematography picture their wanderings in a surreal landscape, alien to city-dwellers. They are saved when they encounter a young Aboriginal boy (David Gulpilil) who is on his tribal ritual of ‘Walkabout’. This is a fascinating interaction between the young urban children, and the boy who exists in the natural world. Stunning.


86 thoughts on “A-Z Film Challenge: Day 23

  1. Hi Pete-been trying to find Bonderchuk’s War and Peace for awhile now with no luck. Will keep trying! Old retired people have plenty of time for a 7 hour movie with sub-titles!

    Best from Florida.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We’re fast approaching the finish line. I haven’t been on due to poor health. Here are my wonderous favourites..

    Waking Life, WALL-E, Wallice and Gromit, War of the Worlds, West Side Story, (The) Wild Bunch, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Who Framed Roger Rabbit and (The) Wicker Man.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Withnail and I will always have my top spot as it brings back so many memories of when I first watched it, in The London during a week int’ city. Watched it so many times, bought the album soundtrack, the works.
    Watchman is another favourite and well supported it seems, reading Frags comment I must look out for Deadpool.
    I had another in mind, an Australian film called Walter, except I couldn’t find it on IMDB so maybe the wrong title, although I did stumble of the opening film on C4 of the same name and I remembered watching it. It is indeed grim up North πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Eddy. I struggled with an Australian film called ‘Walter’. Can’t find it.
      I did rediscover the moving TV film, ‘Walter’, starring Ian McKellen. I remember that as very powerful indeed.
      Cheers mate, Pete.


      1. Hi Ozflicks, you know I looked last night for about an hour before going to bed and I eventually came up with Malcolm πŸ™‚ So you played a blinder coming up with the same, thank you! I think I managed to get it by searching for an ‘Australian film with a remote controlled bin’ As soon as I saw the cover art I knew I had it. Now all I have to do is reset my memory and wonder why I came up with Walter as the title πŸ™‚ Cheers!

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Hi Eddy, I’m glad that was it. Malcolm and Walter do have a similar ‘al’ sound, but Malcolm was the only single-name title I could think of. It’s a fun film and won the local best film award for 1986. The director’s next 2 comedies are also good: The Big Steal and Waiting, but Malcolm is the best.
          Cheers, Peter

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks as always, Kim. Some excellent choices there. ‘Witness’ would have been high on my list, as I love that film from Peter Weir. I left it for others to pick, and I am glad they did. The first ‘Wall Street’ was a forceful indictment of money-moving at the time, and still good to watch now.
      ‘West Side Story’ featured on my blog before, as a musicals choice, and was a great combination of excellent songs, and great dancing.
      Very best wishes, Pete,

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pete, “Wild Things” (1998) is one of my top guilty pleasures! It’s great to see you mention it here. (I also have Neve Campbell in “When Will I Be Loved” [2004] and Denise Richards in “The World Is Not Enough” [1999], both W films, and both deemed rotten, but still enjoyable to watch.)

    You mentioned that James Spader “failed to really exploit his brat-pack stardom.” Have you seen “Secretary” (2002), starring Spader, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Lesley Ann Warren? It’s an intelligent and touching filmβ€”another guilty pleasure! James Spader plays Mr. Grey, who has a penchant for BDSM. I think E.L. James stole those details for her rotten “Fifty Shades” trilogy.

    I’ve already mentioned “The Wages of Fear” (1953) under its French title, “Le Salaire de la peur,” a great film (and terrific book, too!). So, moving on…

    If you think I’m going to name as my number one pick, “We’re the Millers” (2013), you’re sadly mistaken, though I do somehow relate to the title of this raunchy film that I once borrowed from the library.

    I’ve twice read the French translation of “Women in Love” by D.H. Lawrence, and highly respect this unforgettable film (1969) which stars Oliver Reed, Alan Bates, and Glenda Jackson.

    I know you’re not a fan of the actress, but Audrey Hepburn has her own special collection on my shelf (along with Marilyn Monroe and Brigitte Bardot). It’s one of my favorite Hepburn films that I’m going to pick as #1: “WAIT UNTIL DARK” (1967). This film has simply blinded me to all other candidates.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, David. I do own ‘Secretary’ on DVD, and love that film. But I still feel that Spader had the talent to become a serious star, so it’s a shame he ‘sold out’ for some forgettable roles.
      ‘Wages of Fear’ is an excellent film about the dangers of transporting nitro on country roads. A real nail-biter! I had to leave it out for want of space.
      ‘Wild Things’ is so sexy, it is a shame that the ‘scenery’ almost overshadows a really good plot. But I didn’t mind!
      I will have to leave all you Hepburn addicts to yourselves, I am afraid. Although I have great respect for her output, I really don’t get her ‘gamine’ charm.
      I have a lot of time for the film version of ‘Women in Love’, but could have done without the nude male wrestling scene, to be honest.
      Thanks as always for your valued input.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. The nude male wrestling scene in “Women in Love” is straight out of the novel. As for Audrey Hepburn, she delivers an exceptional performance in “Wait Until Dark” that doesn’t rely upon “gamine” charm in the least. I’m glad to hear that you enjoy “Wild Things.” It has some genuine twists and turns (both plot and bodies) that make it a pleasure to watch. I’m also glad you have great love for “Secretary,” which is distinguished by true psychological depth and features very likable characters.

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        1. True, David. The wrestling scene is in the book, and very well done it is too. I suppose that my dislike of Audrey mainly started when I was unfortunate enough to watch ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’. But she was very good in ‘The Nun’s Story’, and when she was older, in ‘Robin and Marian’.
          Best wishes, Pete.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Loved White Palace Pete, lots of great movies here, but for me I’m going with DC’s Watchmen, not your usual light Marvel stuff, but a dark and dystopian take on the superhero genre set in an alternate reality of 1985. The opening sequence is equally as gobsmacking as the one in Deadpool, and the soundtrack is amazing. If you possess surround sound, treat yourself people.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Surprisingly, I LOVE ‘Watchmen’! I must have seen it about four times now. Dark, sexy, full of atmosphere, and not at all ‘light’ or silly. I left it for you, FR. And you didn’t disappoint me! πŸ™‚
      (And I don’t even have surround sound…)
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

        1. I only ever recall that one famous scene from ‘When Harry…’, John. It obviously didn’t stay with me as a complete film.
          Thanks for your engagement with this challenge. It is much appreciated.
          Best wishes, Pete.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. My wife and I watched When Harry Met Sally recently. I remembered it as a film that wasn’t as good as it’s legendary status would suggest but finding myself closer to the age of the characters more recently it played better. It is rarely laugh out loud funny and it perhaps has dated but we did enjoy it.

            Liked by 1 person

          1. Lloyd, see “The Wild Bunch” – it was so controversial for its time – the most bloodletting ever seen in a film! But it’s a beautiful ballad to the end of the wild west…

            Liked by 2 people

  6. Well done Pete. Walkabout is an Australian classic, filmed by an Englishman, back in the days when most Oz films were British productions.

    I thought you might have gone for Wake in Fright, another 1971 ‘W’ film made in Australia by a foreigner (Canadian Ted Kotcheff). These two films represented the Australian outback better than probably any other film, before or since, though whereas Walkabout looked at the outback as a natural and spiritual phenomenon linked to the indigenous inhabitants and hostile to intruders, Wake in Fright examined the sociology of the white folk who lived far from the rules and norms of the city. Both films, along with a couple of earlier on by Michael Powell, helped inspire the Australian new wave directors of the 70s with Peter Weir, Bruce Beresford, George Miller and the rest.

    Of the others you mentioned, I have only seen Waterloo (back in the day). I somehow I seem to have missed What Have I Done to Deserve This, but it looks like just my cup of sangria, having seen most of the other Almodovars, and loving Carmen Maura. I must also catch up with Wild Things and White Palace (love Sarandon!)

    Other suggestions:
    Almodovar’s Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown;
    Peter Weir’s Witness (his first big film after Australia), and
    Wings of Desire (Wender’s dreamy fantasy)
    I also liked the below-mentioned Wild Strawberries (my first Bergman introducing me to non-action flicks)

    When you said someone with my name should like today’s pick, I had a sudden fear you would surprise us all by picking The Wizard of Oz, but fortunately you went the right way!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Peter. ‘Witness’ is a great film, and I thought it would be a top pick for many. I have seen ‘Wake In Fright’, but always considered Gary Bond to be a so-so actor. I think it could have been a better film with someone else in his role. The other Amodovar film is a classic Spanish farce, and I do own the film. However, it is a bit too madcap for this list.
      As you gathered, my reference to your name was about the country, not the spelling!
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. OK “Walkabout” looks really interesting, thank you!
    I live in a village called Waterloo (we have Borodino, Marengo, Austerlitz, too), but to be honest, I fast-forwarded a bit through the movie, but that was largely due to using a tiny monitor and lame speaker, and I’d like to watch it properly, requires a large screen and really big speaker system. And grog, definitely calls for grog.
    I’ll invite mockery and cast a vote for “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” because it was cleverly done, Bob Hoskins did a great job, and I like old cartoons. cheers, RPT

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ‘Waterloo’ does indeed benefit from 70 MM and a huge cinema, Robert. ‘Walkabout’ is a must for film fans too, and very watchable on a large-screen TV.
      I didn’t mind ‘Roger Rabbit’ at all. It was a great idea, and very well done. I do have an aversion to Hoskins’ American accent though. In his ‘real’ voice, he sounded just like me!
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. A very good selection today, Pete, and only two that I have seen … “War and Peace” (I spent an entire summer reading the novel after we moved to Bequia – the movie-tie-in paperback copy, I might add) and “Walkabout”, which I’d long forgotten, but thoroughly enjoyed when I did see it. Time to rewatch!

    For my “W” selection I’m going to suggest a Jen Reno movie I really enjoyed (and I know someone else among your readers is a JR fan) and that’s “Wasabi” – lots of action, as you would expect from a Reno movie, but also very funny. (And I will give credit to my younger sister here for introducing me to Jean Reno movies in the first place.)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I like Jean Reno too, Susan. I have actually seen ‘Wasabi’ and it is indeed an unusual film, with the culture clash of Europe and Japan. Thanks for the very different selection.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Actually this one was tough for me too. I finally came up with
    War of the Worlds” and “Walking Tall”. Frankly, I’m not certain if I saw ‘Walkabout’ or not, but it interests me, so I’ll be looking into that one! Thanks, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This exercise lets me realize I associate films with particular times in my life. For W, “Wild Strawberries,” a Bergman film I was shown in a class in college about the life span. It totally baffled me. I was way too young then!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. It’s been a long while since I watched White Palace but I like both of them (I agree James Spader should have done better but I guess the TV finally found him…). ΒΏQuΓ© he hecho yo para merecer esto? is another great Almodovar movie. Looking forward to more!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Well it is hot stuff. As for Walkabout, that was a real experience. It was strange seeing Jenny Agutter who was the essence of prim girlhood in Railway Children in something more revealing here.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. I can go wild with “bad classic” SciFi……”Welcome To Blood City” with Jack Palance…..”The Wasp Woman” starring Susan Cabot….”Warning From Space” with Toyomi Karita……”The Wild Women of Wongo” starring Jean Hackshaw and finally “War Of The Robots” with Antonio Sabato Jr….,.\but do not forget “The War Of The Worlds” both versions…..I spent…..coffee time….have a good day my friend….chuq

    Liked by 1 person

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