A-Z Film Challenge: Day 25

I had a top pick in mind for ‘Y’. Some readers have already guessed it, and others might well suspect what it might be. You will be pleased to know that you are right, and it will be the one you thought.

On the way there, I had some real problems with this letter. I could only scrape up three more to feature, and they are mostly well-known. Well maybe not this first one…
‘Yol’ (1982) is a film made in Turkey by Yilmaz Guney. Amazingly, he was in prison when the film was made using his instructions, and unable to edit it for showing until he escaped to Paris. Because of his opposition to the government, Guney’s film was banned in his home country for many years. This powerful and often touching film follows the travels of a group of prisoners They are allowed out of prison on leave to visit their families, and we see the story of each one unfold on screen. Often tragic, examining family issues, cultural problems, and with some hard themes, this is film-making of the highest order.

A comedy by contrast, and one of Mel Brooks’ fine spoofs. ‘Young Frankenstein’ (1974) rips into the horror genre with gusto, and delivers in every scene. With Gene Wilder as the young doctor, Peter Boyle as the monster, and great support as always from Madeline Kahn, Cloris Leachman, and Terri Garr, this is still as funny as when I first watched it. “Pardon me, boy. Is this the Transylvania Station?”

Mel Gibson doesn’t usually deliver thoughtful and restrained performances. Not these days, anyway. Back in 1982, he managed a convincing turn as the young journalist, in Peter Weir’s excellent drama, ‘The Year of Living Dangerously’. Set in turbulent times in Indonesia, in 1965, this thriller sees Gibson’s character embroiled in the coup attempt that happened at the time. Always exciting, with convincing performances, this is something of an overlooked classic that deserves more praise. If you don’t care for Gibson, don’t worry. You also get some stalwart Australian character actors, Sigourney Weaver, and the Oscar-winning performance from Linda Hunt. The diminutive Hunt actually plays an Asian man in this film. She completely steals it, and really deserved the Best-Supporting Oscar.

Before ‘The Magnificent Seven’, there was ‘The Seven Samurai’. Before ‘Star Wars’, there was ‘The Hidden Fortress’. The influence of Japanese cinema on later western productions is undeniable. Another example of this, and my top pick for ‘Y’, is ‘Yojimbo’ (1961). Kurosawa once again directs the flawless Toshiro Mifune, in an historical tale of a traveling samurai warrior who plays one side against the other in a dramatic yet often amusing film that is a sheer delight. Arriving at a town torn apart by two warring gangs, he sells his skills to one group, before changing allegiance to the other. Or does he? Mifune is perfect for the role, and the set pieces are a sight to behold too.
This may remind you of the story-line of a later film, and that’s because it is. Sergio Leone ripped off the idea for his film ‘A Fistful of Dollars'(1964). Transferring the action to the wild west, he set in motion one of the most successful film franchises ever seen, and made an international star of Clint Eastwood. Leone later had to pay for his plagiarism, but he had cash to spare…

Yojimbo is much better though. believe me.

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48 thoughts on “A-Z Film Challenge: Day 25

  1. Yojimbo was also remade by Walter Hill as Last Man Standing. It starred Bruce Willis and was set in the 1930s. I look forward to seeing the original and best. The Magnificent Seven was a terrible disappointment whereas The Seven Samurai remains one of the best films ever made.

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  2. Late to the party today, but no-one’s chosen my fave so here it is – The Yellow Rolls Royce (far more classy than a submarine BTW 😉 ) 1964 and starring Rex Harrison, Ingrid Bergman, Shirley MacLaine, Omar Sharif, George C. Scott, Isa Miranda, Alain Delon and Jeanne Moreau. It didn’t get as good reviews as you would think, but I was young and impressionable and loved it 🙂

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  3. No one has mentioned “The Yearling” (1946), starring Gregory Peck and Jane Wyman. I don’t have this film on DVD, but watched it as a child, and wonder if it holds up today. Maybe too sentimental?

    Pete, you may not be a Beatles fan, but I am. And so I do have “Yellow Submarine” (1968) on DVD. I agree that it’s silly—too silly! But sometimes one is in the mood for silliness.

    I’d never heard of “Yojimbo.” As for “The Year of Living Dangerously,” it’s been on my wish list for some time now. Because my DVD drive hasn’t worked for a couple of years, I haven’t been able to convert wishes to purchases.

    Because I tend to identify with Abby Normal, I’m going to pick a brilliantly scripted and hilariously performed movie that I never tire of watching: “YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN” (1974).

    Pete: “Thank you, David.”
    David: “Wait! Where are you going? I was going to make Espresso!”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cindy mentioned ‘The Yearling’ lower down in the comments, David. Peck is too stiff for me, and the subject rather sentimental, as you suggest. We will also have to agree to differ on ‘Yellow Submarine’, but you are in the majority there. When I am in the mood for silliness, I tend to watch an episode of ‘Blackadder’.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackadder
      Good to see your vote for ‘Young Frankenstein’. It was very nearly my top pick.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I can’t remember seeing Yojimbo, though the dude with the neckerchief looks familiar so maybe I saw it at Uni. But I really must see it, given my memory is so unreliable.

    I’ve not seen Yol either, but am glad that Young Frankenstein got your commendation – it’s hilarious!

    Nice to see The Year of Living Dangerously get up – I haven’t seen that since it came out and really need to watch it now I’m older.
    Another Aussie flick which I recommend is The Year My Voice Broke, a 60s coming-of-age story told in the 80s.

    Paulo Sorrentino’s recent ‘Youth’ is a wry, almost surreal look at the ageing process, starring a very wrinkly Harvey Keitel and Michael Caine reflecting on their lives at a Swiss Alpine resort, amongst a parade of the beautiful and the absurd. If you liked The Great Beauty, you might like this.

    But my number one Y choice is Edward Yang’s Yi Yi – it’s a real delight.
    Thanks Pete for a lot of fun!

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    1. Thanks, Peter. I must try to catch ‘Yi Yi’. I have heard of it, but not seen it. I am still trying to muster the enthusiasm to bother with ‘Youth’. It has been on my PVR for ages, and I have not got around to it yet.
      Thanks for all the suggestions, and for playing along so enthusiastically. One more to go, then look out for Day 27, when I will set you a small challenge.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I really recommend both these films, which both have a lot in them, though watch Yi Yi if you only have time for one.

        Re Japanese cinema, which I sense you may like, you may be interested to know that the summer cinemas here in Athens (where I am currently) are showing Rashomon, Sansho the Baliff and Ugetsu! Unfortunately, though I studied Japanese in a past life, it won’t really get me through these so I’ll have to struggle with my poor Greek with the subtitles.
        Fortunately, they’re also showing Down By Law, which I’d love to see on the big screen again.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Formerly studying Japanese, living in Athens. Watching classic Japanese films with Greek subtitles. That all makes my quiet retirement in Beetley seem very tame, Peter. Perhaps you should meet up with two fellow bloggers who live in Athens, are both extremely nice people, and speak English too.
          I would love to get to know them better, if I lived there.
          Marina. https://athensletters.com/
          Nicholas. http://nicholasrossis.me/
          Enjoy those films!
          Best wishes, Pete.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Thanks Pete. Living in Athens is what happens when you marry a nostalgic Greek in Sydney. The summer (outdoor) cinemas here are a real treat, and often show classic films which you can watch on a warm evening with a cold beer. Sydney has only just rediscovered the outdoor cinema, but gets a lot more rain than Athens, so it’s always hit and miss. Best regards. Peter

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          2. I would say I am envious, as I have been to Athens, and enjoyed it. However, the summer heat there would be too much for me, I’m afraid. (And the mosquitoes…)

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  5. ‘The Year of Living Dangerously’. I’m a fan of Mel and always will be. Faults and all. So I’m surprised I haven’t seen this! Especially with Hunt playing a man and the interesting plot. So I will rent this as soon as I can. Thanks for the tip, Pete.
    Here are some oldies but goodies: The Yearling, Yolanda and the Thief, You Can’t Take it With You.

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  6. Another great choice, Pete! While not a great film, “Yellow Submarine” is a weird little film that is fun to watch – as long as you have a nice bottle of wine nearby! Barbra Streisand received much critical acclaim for “Yentl”, while progressive rock fans will make a claim that “Yessongs” is a movie, when in fact it was a very popular filmed concert!

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    1. Thanks, John. I watched ‘Yentl’, but I don’t think I was Jewish enough to appreciate it!
      As for ‘Yellow Submarine’, that’s one for Beatles fans, so not really my thing.
      One more to go with ‘Z’!
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  7. “Young Frankenstein” was it for me! Thanks for those memories …

    But looking ahead to tomorrow and the last installment of your brilliant series, Pete, I wonder whether you have been keeping a list (either as a spreadsheet, which my engineer-nephew would love) or just as an alphabetical list of all the movies covered, both by you and in the comments, through this series of posts. I was going to start one on my own, but thought that if “someone” was already compiling one, why reinvent the wheel. Would love to eventually work my way through the many excellent films that have been mentioned here!

    Thanks for creating the series, Pete! I may think about doing the same alphabetical-style listing on my own blog … but about books or authors instead.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Susan, I am now wondering why I didn’t do that! I jotted notes down on scrap paper during this challenge, and didn’t think to keep a record of it at all, as it is here on the blog. (Minus those that were considered and not used of course) There are comprehensive A-Z lists of films on the Internet, and the Wikipedia entries mostly provide direct links to the films. I had to use these for research on the more ‘difficult’ letters.
      I have never had a ‘spreadsheet’, and wouldn’t have a clue how to even start one.
      Maybe if he jotted down the 26 top picks, that might be a start?
      Glad you liked the Mel Brooks film, and thanks for all your involvement during this long haul. Watch out for Day 28, which is my conclusion about doing this challenge.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Okay, I will begin compiling then (unless one of the other readers has already begun). But it won’t be a spreadsheet … I could just go to those online A-Z listings, but then I’d lose the personal endorsements of these films made by you and other readers. So many of us seem to have the same taste, and “ahem” experience of having known these films since they were first released.

        This may take me some time as I have about a bajillion other projects on the go right now, but I will share with all of you when I have finished. If, in the meantime, any of you here have other rip-snorting movies you’d like to see on my final list – but, like me, you forgot to mention them at the time their letter was posted – please send me a message and I will include those titles, as well. (Check me out at my blog for contact info.)

        It was very enjoyable, as well, to meet all of Pete’s other readers here on this series of posts. I love that so many of us think alike and that so many have contributed titles of many foreign (to me) and classic movies that I will particularly enjoy searching out.

        Cheers!
        Susan

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  8. I don’t need to tell you I agree with number one and the others. Joy of joys! I’m not sure I have many suggestions either. ‘Your sister’s sister’ is a movie I watched a few years back and it’s one of those movies I enjoy sometimes. A few characters who chat and get to know each other, pretty normal people (a bit goofy). There’s a movie by Francis Ford Coppola (I can never remember if he’s using Ford or not at any given moment) ‘Youth Without Youth’ that is extremely beautiful and has a fascinating plot, although it cannot compete with some of his other movies. Ah, on the bizarre, nostalgic touch, I was reading a post yesterday where Maria Popova shared her contribution to a book collecting articles about Beatles’ songs, and she talked about ‘Yellow Submarine’ and of course, mentioned the movie. Not something one forgets in a hurry! Tomorrow, Z! Thanks, Pete!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your suggestions, Olga, I haven’t seen those two, but the Coppola film has a good cast.
      I personally found ‘Yellow Submarine’ indulgent and silly, but I can understand why Beatles fans love it.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  9. Before I begin….”X” one more “Xanadu” with Olivia……you scooped up all the best ones…..all I have is “Yours, Mine Ours” both versions…..Bond’s “You Only Live Twice”…..then a really bad movie….”You Don’t Mess With Zohan”….finally Robt. Mitchum in “The Yakuza”…..onward…have a good day….chuq

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