Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Movie: A Christmas Movie

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Spotlight Movie is “Brother Orchid” (1940):

It’s getting harder and harder to find a good Christmas movie to recommend. All the usual suspects have been seen so many times.

“It’s a Wonderful Life”? Ain’t that the one Jimmy Stewart gets to see all those reruns of scenes from his life. “White Christmas”? Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye get to dance and sing. Love their dancing and singing but it’s time to take a break.

“A Christmas Story”? Okay, the kid doesn’t shoot his eye out. “The Polar Express”? I wasn’t that bowled over with Tom Hanks as a cartoon character. “How the Grinch stole Christmas”? Too much like real life this year. “Elf”? Will Farrell isn’t my cup of coffee. Or tea either.

“Home Alone”? Seems that’s the “Die Hard” of kids’ movies. “A Christmas Carol”? Way too many Scrooges for me. ‘Course there’s always “Bad Santa” “The Santa Clause” and “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”. Seen about one hundred fifty-five and a half times or less.

So I went searching through the vault and found this one. It’s got Edward G. Robinson as the mob boss. He’s been so good at mobbing he decides it’s time he took a respite. He’s off to Europe and culture.

He leaves his girl, Ann Sothern, back in the states. And, oh yeah, he’s leaving his second-in- command in charge, Humphrey Bogart, in charge of the piggy bank.

“Take good care of things till I get back,” he orders.

Right. I’ve seen Bogie in too many tough guy movies from the thirties to know that he’s going to hand the goodies back over to his ex-boss. And, for good measure, he’ll take charge of the girl as well.

Edward G. returns with all sorts of class and culture. And what do you know. He finds himself on the run. Where to hide out? Where to hide out? In a monastery, of course.

Little does he know that his wise guy is going to turn into a truly wise man.

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Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Movie: A saint in a roughneck’s clothing

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Spotlight Movie is “Joe” (2013):

Sometimes saints don’t have halos. Sometimes saints drink whiskey and are violent men like Joe (Nicholas Cage).

I am not saying that Joe is the kind of guy I would hang with. Most likely not. But I can say this. Joe is the kind of man I’d want with me if I landed in a dark alley on a Saturday night and a bunch of men were trying to rob me.

Joe has one heck of a temper. It’s that anger that landed him in prison for twenty-seven months. Now that he’s out he has one purpose in life. That purpose is to restrain that tiger of a rage. Once it’s let out of its cage there may be no stopping it. That anger only comes out when somebody starts messing with him or doing his friends wrong.

Joe manages a crew. Their job is to poison brush trees. Then others can come and clear the land and plant pine trees. One day a fifteen year old drifter name of Gary (Tye Sheridan) asks for a job.

“I pay an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work,” Joe says.

The boy is agreeable. The boy fits right in with Joe’s crew. But soon Joe finds out he has a new purpose in life. To rescue that boy from the cold-blooded mistreatment of the boy’s pappy (Gary Poulter).

I first met Joe in Larry Brown’s novel, Joe. The opening chapter really had me going and I didn’t want to stop. And what a read it was. At the time I said, “This is Hemingway in Steinbeck territory.”

With “Joe”, director David Gordon Green has given us a film about a people that don’t have movies made about them much. The hard working blue collar folk who live close to  the edge.

Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Movie: A Woman on the Run

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Spotlight Movie is “Double Jeopardy” (1999):

I’m always up for a good suspense thriller. And “Double Jeopardy” is one of the best. When I saw “Gone Girl”, it reminded me so much of “Double Jeopardy” I went and re-saw “Double Jeopardy” again. As you can see, if I like a movie a lot, often I will re-see the movie again. And again. And again. Those are usually the kinds of movies i spotlight here on Uncle Bardie’s.

I love a good opening for a film. When I get that, I am assured I am in the hands of a professional filmmaker. Bruce Beresford is that kind of director. Before he directed “Double Jeopardy”, he made “Breaker Morant”, “Crimes of the Heart”, and “Mister Johnson” among others.

There in that opening scene is Libby (Ashley Judd) with her son, fishing. She says to her son, “One day I am going to teach you how to sail.” Then she says, “But maybe I won’t. One day you’ll meet a beautiful girl. You’ll get married. Then who will I sail with?” Her son says, “Daddy.” She responds, “Fat chance.”

In that opening scene is the movie. The viewer has been warned that there is a marriage in trouble. How much trouble we are about to find out.

Before the movie is done, Libby will be sent through the wringer. Only Tommy Lee Jones will come to believe her. And before the movie is over, the viewer will see two superb performances.  From the moment you start the journey of “Double Jeopardy”, you are in a for a roller coaster ride.

 

 

Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Movie: The Perfect Halloween Movie

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Spotlight Movie is one for Halloween, “Arsenic & Old Lace” (1944):

Cary Grant meant to be here to tell you about Frank Capra’s “Arsenic and Old Lace”. But, as you can see, he’s all tied up. So he’s left it to me.

Seems that there were some strange events going on at the Brewster house. You see it all started when Mortimer Brewster (Cary Grant) showed up to let his aunts, Abby Brewster (Josephine Hull) and her sister Martha (Jean Adair), know he was getting married. To the daughter of their next door neighbor, Elaine Harper (Priscilla Lane), of all people.

And to think he had the bad fortune to find out about the aunts and their particular cure for loneliness. Psst. It’s elderberry wine. If that wasn’t enough, his uncle, Teddy Roosevelt (John Alexander) , has a number of yellow fever victims in the basement. He’s convinced they’ve been working on the Panama Canal.

Well, before you can count the yellow fever victims, Dr. Einstein (Peter Lorre) showed up to do a facelift on Boris Karloff (Raymond Massey). Before you know it, the Brewster place was looking like Grand Central Station with all the people passing through. They include the Judge, the Psychiatrist and the police led by the cop on the beat (Jack Carson).

But no worries. Dr. Einstein went off to treat another patient. Boris Karloff returned to Hollywood (or some such similar place). The sisters and Teddy are off vacationing at Happy Vale Rest Home. Teddy’s been assured that “Happy Vale is full of staircases.” So there’ll be plenty of room for him to lead a charge up San Juan Hill.

And Mortimer? Rumor has it that he and his new bride have taken a barrel down Niagara Falls.

Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Movie: A champion

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Spotlight Movie is the documentary “Harry & Snowman”:

We know who Seabiscuit was. We know who Secretariat was. We know who Trigger was. One horse that captured the imagination of the American public in the 1950s has almost been forgotten. Now director Ron Davis has reminded us of one of the greatest horses of the twentieth century, Snowman, with his documentary.

The documentary begins with a voice-over by Snowman’s owner, a man with a Dutch accent. “My name is Harry DeLeyer and I’ve spent my whole life with horses. I connect with them and they connect with me…I still love to be in the morning with my horses. I got many wonderful horses in my life. But Snowman was the most wonderful to me.”

Harry saved Snowman from the slaughterhouse. When Harry looked the horse in the eye and the horse looked Harry in the eye, there was a connection between the two that would last for the rest of the horse’s life. Harry paid $80 for a white English plow horse. The horse was filthy with only one shoe and a mark on his neck from pulling a plow.

The documentary is an American story. With hard work, commitment and talent, anything is possible. In 1958, a twelve-year-old plow horse beat the best show jumpers in the United States. By the end of the season, he won the triple crown of show jumping: the National Championship at Madison Square Garden and the year-end Jumper Championship Award, and and was named the Horse of the Year.

Harry was offered $100.000 for the horse he paid $80 for. He never sold. Snowman was too much a part of his family. At the end of his career, Snowman, “The Cinderella Horse”, took his final appearance at Madison Square Garden as one of the greatest snow jumpers of all time. He received a standing ovation.

This documentary reminds us that we never know when greatness will show its face. So let’s celebrate second chances. Just think of some of the great Second Chancers: Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Colonel Sanders, Grandma Moses. And Snowman.