Genre: Comedy Drama
Director: Preston Sturges
Starring: Joel McCrea, Veronica Lake, Robert Warwick, William Demarest, Franklin Pangborn, Robert Greig, Eric BloreIn Brief: This classic Preston Sturges comedy is about a popular movie director (Joel McCrea) who wants to make a serious movie called O Brother, Where Art Thou? When the studio points out to him that he has no clue what poverty is like, he agrees -- and sets out on the road to discover it for himself. Funny, insightful and altogether a unique -- and uniquely American -- film.
Genre: Fantasticated Biographical Drama
Director: Tim Burton
Starring: Johnny Depp, Martin Landau, Sarah Jessica Parker, Patricia Arquette, Jeffrey JonesIn Brief: More or less true -- but more true in spirit than fact -- this is the story of bargain-basement, cross-dressing filmmaker Edward D. Wood, Jr. (Johnny Depp), centering on his strange relationship with down-on-his-luck horror icon Bela Lugosi (Martin Landau). A quirky, warm and loving tribute to one of cinema's most original characters. So what if he couldn't make a good movie? Possibly Tim Burton's best film. Landau won a well-deserved Oscar for his Bela Lugosi.
Director: Woody Allen
Starring: Woody Allen, Michael Caine, Barbara Hershey, Mia Farrow, Diane Weist, Max von SydowIn Brief: Over the years, Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) has come to be regarded in many quarters as Woody Allen's best movie. Is it? Maybe. Maybe not. One thing is certain, it's one of his most finely tuned ensemble pieces, with every character having a feeling of reality to them. It's rich, warm in its humanity, perceptive -- and very, very funny.
Director: John G. Adolfi
Starring: George Arliss, Mary Astor, Evelyn Knapp, Grant Mitchell, Hardie Albright, William Janney, David Torrence, Randolph ScottIn Brief: The once highly acclaimed, now sadly forgotten actor George Arliss stars as a multimillionaire financial wizard who returns home after a year straightening out U.S. interests in Europe to find his family so involved in their own pursuits that they scarcely have time for him. Taking a tip from his butler, he decides to pretend to be financially ruined in order to reign them in. A charming little comedy that shows Arliss at his most appealing and humorous.
Director: Alexander Hall (Little Miss Marker)
Starring: Mae West, Paul Cavanagh, Gilbert Emery, Fred Kohler, Marjorie Gateson, Tito Coral, Ivan LebedeffIn Brief: Mae West's fifth movie suffers a bit from censorship woes thanks to the ever more powerful Breen Office, but a surprising amount of cheeky irreverence gets through in this tale of a suddenly wealthy dance-hall girl who decides to become a lady in order to snag a "proper" Englishman.
Genre: Dark Comedy-Drama
Director: Joel and Ethan Coen
Starring: John Turturro, John Goodman, Judy Davis, Michael Lerner, John Mahoney, Tony ShalhoubIn Brief: John Turturro plays a thinly veiled version of playwright Clifford Odets in this 1991, Cannes-winning Coen Brothers film. The film is a very disturbing, but sometimes funny, look at an artist (maybe a little bit of a fake) descending into madness and self-absorption in old Hollywood.
Genre: Black Comedy Fantasy
Director: Bruce Robinson
Starring: Richard E. Grant, Rachel Ward, Richard Wilson, Jacqueline Tong, John ShrapnelIn Brief: Bruce Robinson's blistering -- and hysterically funny -- attack on both advertising and consumer culpability, How to Get Ahead in Advertising, is a fantasticated satire about an advertising whiz who suffers a crise de conscience that is followed by a bizarre physical change in the form of a talking boil that ultimately becomes a second head, which takes over -- creating a true monster of the advertising kind. Hard to describe without it sounding ridiculous, but the film is actually anything but, and the line between reality and fantasy is much more defined than is often assumed.
Director: H. Bruce Humberstone
Starring: Warner Oland, Keye Luke, Helen Wood, Thomas BeckIn Brief: The title kind of says it all -- the famous Chinese detective Charlie Chan (Warner Oland) solves a murder at the race track. (OK, the murder actually took place on ship.) Fast-paced, clever mystery with solid production values and the inimtable pairing of Oland and Keye Luke.
Director: William Friedkin
Starring: Kenneth Nelson, Frederick Combs, Cliff Gorman, Leonard FreyIn Brief: William Friedkin's landmark film version of Mart Crowley's landmark play that addressed homosexuality and the gay world in ways that had previously been considered strictly taboo. It all unfolds at a birthday party with an all-gay guest list that gets invaded by an unexpected -- presumably straight -- outsider. Yes, it's very much "of its time" and some of the attitudes are dated, but the film remains brilliant, brittle, bitchy -- and finally devastating.
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