Thursday, January 10, 2013

Favorite Film Discoveries of 2012

I was asked to put together a list of my favorite films that I saw for the first time in 2012. The list (along with other lists by wonderful people) is posted here on

I have waited to repost this here because I wanted to give Rupert the page views.

Now I figure it's a good time to archive it here as well:

This year I kept a 'film journal' for the first time. It certainly made it easy to put this list together! 
The films below were all movies I had never seen before this year, and stood out to me as exceptional (in one way or another.) 
To be honest, I go pretty easy on films. The only films I REALLY disliked this year were the 1967 comedy The President's Analyst and the 1983 Robin Williams vehicle The Survivors. 
I was baffled by the 1982 film National Lampoon's Movie Madness which didn't even resemble a movie. I also saw some so-so films like Good Morning Vietnam, The Land Before Time and Hollywood Barn Dance, none of which I felt deserved a place in the list below.
I prefer older films to new films and like to watch films from a variety of different genres. While I do have favorites I watch over and over, I really like watching a film for the first time. As you'll see, I watched some classic examples of fine cinema and some total trash yet I enjoyed all of it.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1966)
Witty, silly, wonderful music and well acted! I enjoyed this so much that I actually re-watched it later that day and found I missed a few jokes because I was laughing out loud.

Valley Girl (1983)
I had always assumed that I had watched this film. However, about 15 minutes into it I realized I never had. I likely had a memory based on a movie poster and trailer and (perhaps) confusing it with Fast Times At Ridgemont High.
Regardless, I liked it a whole lot. It was not the film I thought it was, it was much better.

Just You and Me Kid (1979)
I love George Burns, especially films made during his "second run" in Hollywood. I had never stumbled across this one, it's not out on DVD/BluRay, but luckily it showed up on TCM.
Burns is in his element, slinging one liners about age with a young Brooke Shields. Wonderful supporting cast including Ray Bolger, Burl Ives, Carl Ballantine and Keye Luke.

Billy The Kid Returns (1938)
This is a Roy Rogers B movie with a running time under an hour. I have a handful of public domain Roy Rogers sets and like to watch 'em early on a Sunday morning. It sets the pace for a relaxed day. This particular one was new to me and stood out a bit from the pack. Roy is terrific in a double role (he's both the virtuous Roy and the villainous Billy the Kid) and there is plenty of fun moments throughout.

Harlem Globetrotters (1951)
A mediocre story about a newly recruited Globetrotter is bolstered by some fantastic game footage. Really great to see the classic Globetrotters do their thing.

Go, Man, Go! (1954)
This film tells the story of how the Globetrotters came to be. Its more fun than the 1951 film and features more great Globetrotter action.

Rhubarb (1951)
A silly little film where a cat inherits a baseball team. I tracked this down after seeing Orangey (the cat who plays Rhubarb) in the Vincent Prince film The Comedy of Terrors.
The cat is impeccably trained and is a marvel to watch throughout. There is also a 'hard to spot' Leonard Nimoy appearing (uncredited) as a baseball player.

Casey's Shadow (1978)
A delightful Walter Matthau drama, telling the story of a  down on his luck horse trainer who risks it all.

All Hands on Deck (1961)
Buddy Hackett is charming in an over the top (and borderline racist) portrayal of a sailor named Shrieking Eagle Garfield. Pat Boone and the lovely Barbra Eden fill out the cast.

Beware! The Blob (1972)
Every year I attend "Blobfest" in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. It's a festival dedicated to the 1958 film "The Blob" and it takes place in (and in front of) the iconic Colonial Theatre (which is the theater the Blob attacks in the film.)
Having seen the original many times (and the remake) I decided to finally track down this Larry Hagman directed sequel.
It's not bad. I can't say I recommend it highly, but I had a blast watching it. Great scenes of the Blob at a bowling alley and a skating rink and numerous shots from Blob's perspective. It's not as good as the original (or the remake) but it's a fun little romp.

Here Comes The Tigers (1978)
I picked up this Bad News Bears rip off in a discount bin for $3. It certainly doesn't have the charm of Bears, but it's a neat little film and fun trip down memory lane. Nostalgia overload when the Tigers go to the local arcade to play video games and to the local cinema to see Star Wars!

Leave 'Em Laughing (1981)
This Mickey Rooney TV movie tells the true story of a wonderful man named Jack Thum who was a clown who entertained children. This bittersweet film features him at the end of his life and his friendship with his hospital roommate played by Red Buttons.

Scenes From A Mall (1991)
Woody Allen and Bette Midler spend a day at the mall arguing about their marriage. Woody is really good in this part and the setting itself is really fun. I found myself glancing at the background constantly for a nostalgic look at a 1991 mall.

Dick Tracy (1945)
Wrestling legend Mike Mazurki plays the evil Splitface in this Dick Tracy caper.

The Sad Sack (1957)
Jerry Lewis brings the comic book solider to life. Private Meredith Bixby, The Sad Sack, ends up in Morocco and Lewis gleefully squeezes every bit of humor out of the situation.

Kramer vs Kramer (1979)
I have often heard this film mentioned during discussions about Academy Award winning films. I wasn't sure what to expect, but it was a very touching story and Dustin Hoffman is masterful in the lead.

No Hold Barred (1952)
This was a Bowery Boys comedy and came during the era where The Bowery Boys were essentially just the duo of Huntz Hall and Leo Gorcery . This is a wrestling picture and is full of funny gags.

Circus Clown (1934)
Joe E. Brown was an actor I did not know by name (despite having seen a few of his films) but I will never forget him after his fun turn in this part as an acrobatic clown. He was an amazing performer.

Carbon Copy (1981)
I considered this a first viewing, but that's not entirely correct. I do have vague memories of doing homework in the living room as my dad watched this film. I didn't remember the plot, but I did recall Dad really enjoyed some of the jokes Denzel Washington's character had.
It's a fun, if dated, comedy and Denzel is very funny in this. Also, it's surprising how little he has aged since this film. Denzel of 2012 only looks like the older brother of Denzel of 1981. 

Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown (1977)
This feature length Peanuts adventure tells the story of a boat race. Snoopy and Woodstock provide some wonderful comic relief throughout. 

Around the World in 80 Days (1956)
After seeing Cantinflas, in the 1960 film Pepe, a few years ago I became a fan of his work. He was called the 'Mexican Charlie Chaplin' and it's a very good comparison.
He steals this movie from David Niven with his charming every-man qualities.
The film also plays as a wonderful travelogue and really gives you a glimpse at some far off places, in a time long ago.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)
This is one of the films I was embarrassed to say I had never seen. It's very well written and Michael Caine is superbly funny in this.

The Rope (1948)
This was one of those films I knew I 'had' to see some day. It's as good as I had heard. The film is noted for being shot in very few takes and it is interesting to watch it with that in mind.

Solid Gold Cadillac (1956)
A cute little comedy starring the adorable Judy Holliday. 

Urban Cowboy (1980)
I had this DVD sitting on the shelf for a long time. The subject matter really intrigued me, but the 135 minute running time scared me away. Not that I don't enjoy an "epic" story, but this seemed like it wouldn't be epic and it would just be a movie that  was 45 minutes too long.
When I finally did watch it , it flew by. It's a great story and is, dare I say, it's epic.

Kill the Umpire (1950)
William Bendix is superb in this baseball comedy, particularly in the crazy chase scene that concludes the film.

Holiday Inn (1942)
This classic is famous for the inclusion of the song "White Christmas" but interestingly showcases many different holidays from throughout the year.

The Bishops Wife (1947)
I had seen the remake, The Preacher's Wife, in theaters in 1996 and it didn't impress me. This film, on the other hand, was a delight. Cary Grant is really fantastic and it's fun to see the actors who played "Young George Bailey" and "Zuzu Bailey" from It's a Wonderful Life show up in THIS Christmas classic.

Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toymaker (1991)
I went into this with low expectations and that certainly helped. A low budget slasher film with Mickey Rooney playing a crazed Santa! It's not The Bishops Wife, but this may just become a yearly tradition at my house.

New Years Evil (1980)
A tightly wound slasher film about a killer that is racking up victims at the stroke of midnight in each US time zone and phoning the Los Angeles New Years Eve TV host after each kill.
It won't replace The Poseidon Adventure as my 'favorite New Years Eve film', but it's a fun little flick!

No comments:

Post a Comment