Family Movie Night

“Yanda lies the castle of ma fatha.”

Tony Curtis in "The Sweet Smell of Success," picture from

 This quote is perhaps the most famous for who reportedly said it although no one has ever actually heard it. Allegededly uttered by Tony Curtis during his early days in Hollywood in the movie The Black Shield of Falworth, it is the reminder he was born in the Bronx.

Last week we said goodby forever to Curtis who was a fine actor in a variety of roles from a knight to a cross dressing musician to the Boston Strangler. Granted, his personal life was a mess but apparently he was forgiven by at least one of his children.

Also going up to the big movie house is Arthur Penn, who crafted the masterful Bonnie and Clyde which starred Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway. I know there are talks to re-make this movie but it will never live up to the original unless it is far, far better.

 Finally, I want to remember Sally Menke, a film editor who died  during a hike in the mountains of California. She worked on all of Quentin Tarratino’s films, helping him achieve his signature look and style. Plus, she is credited with making the opening of Inglorious Basterds the imcomperable thing of beauty it is.

When you consider how many hours of film the editor gets, the different shots and angles and points of view, it is amazing that we get good films, let alone great ones. Sally is going to be missed for her Oscar-nominated artistry.

 Now that we have remembered the dead lets get to the start of my October series on spooky/scary movies. I am not sure that these movies are appropriate for kids under the pre-teen years. Some of these choices are too close in some ways to real life and may be too scary for young ones.

Movie Poster, Picture from

 Perhaps the best vampire movie ever made was Nosferatu (1922) by director F.W. Murneau. It was during the hey-day of German film-making and no one has ever matched it for creepiness. Max Schreck was a genius in his role. I would like to see it again, especially on the big screen. Gary Oldman’s turn in Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) is nothing but a huge homage to that movie.

 The one movie that people remember the most is Count Dracula (1931) starring Bela Lugosi. He would forever have that character

Bela Lugosi as Dracula, picture from

etched on him but Lugosi really was a good actor. In this movie, Lugosi makes the count romantic and campy. He is a safe monster. Perhaps that is the biggest appeal of Edward Cullen from Twilight.

 Next, there is James Whale’s Frankenstein (1931). The

Boris Karloff as Frankenstein, picture from

first ‘monster’ movie for the talkies, it may be most memorable for not being like the book and for being as scary as Mary Shelley’s work. There are murders and fear and gentleness and tragedy rolled up in 70 minutes with little or no musical soundtrack.

 Last but not least is The Wolfman (1941) starring Lon Chaney Jr. as the ill-fated American. The sets are cheap, the dry ice is plentiful and yet, there is a

Lon Chaney Jr. as The Wolf Man, picture from

sadness to this movie like none other. Claude Rains plays the father and gives a performance that is simple, stark and powerful. I saw this reflected in David Thewlis’s performance as Lupin in the Harry Potter film series. It is a movie that is scary because of the emotion and not the actual scares because Larry Talbot is such a grounded ‘everyman.’

 What movies do you consider to be in the ‘classic’ definition of scary movies? And what do you think are the best ‘zombie’ or ‘slasher’ movies?

 Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

 Let the world know about your latest pick for Family Movie Night and drop a note in the comment scetion.  Become my friend on Facebook.