Indiscreet

  • Title:  Indiscreet
  • Director:  Stanley Donen
  • Date:  1958
  • Studio:  Republic Pictures
  • Genre:  Romance
  • Cast:  Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman
  • Format:  Technicolor, Widescreen
  • Format:  R1, NTSC

“I’m the wrongest woman you’ve ever seen and I’m going to pay him back with interest!”  — Ingrid Bergman

Probably one of Cary Grant’s less-known romances, I picked it up in a bargain bin someplace.  However, the presence of Ingrid Bergman makes the film watchable.  The plot is also a bit backwards or reversed — where else would one see a woman get extremely angry and plotting her revenge when she discovers her lover of several months is not married.

Bergman plays Anna, a well-known actress of some acclaim.  She’s wealthy and independent, and bored stiff by the parade of suitors at her door.

Grant is Philip, a diplomat, who bores easily and thus has come to the conclusion he should remain a bachelor.

Anna and Philip meet thanks to another couple and go to a dinner together, they have a marvelous time, and Anna invites Philip to her apartment for a “nightcap”.  Philip accepts the invitation, then tells her he’s married, he’s separated from his wife, and he can’t get a divorce.  And so begins their affair.  Philip turns down a job in Mexico and accepts a job working for NATO in Paris, then flies to London every weekend to spend time with Anna.  The two attend ballets and gallery openings and they enjoy dinners and long walks.  They spend several months together in their “illicit” affair.  And slowly the two fall in love.

Things begin to unravel when Philip is “offered” a job in New York, a job he has to take that will take him away from London for five months.  Anna is heart-broken that he will leave her.  But Philip has a surprise, he talks her into toasting him at midnight, on her birthday, the next day — when he’s supposed to be on a boat for the US.  Anna’s brother-in-law confronts him about his secret — he’s not married, he’s single. Philip explains he came up with the lie of a non-existent wife to avoid having to say “He’s not the marrying kind”, but admits his plan to surprise Anna on her birthday.  The brother-in-law, finding out from Anna that she plans to fly to the US to meet Philip, talks her out of it by saying, essentially, “but he plans on surprising you by being here”.  Unfortunately, he slips up and also tells her Philip is single, which enrages Anna.

That night there’s a big dance at the same place where Philip and Anna had their first date.  Anna seethes through the entire evening; and plots her revenge when she sees an old suitor at the dance, and someone sends her a red rose – she assumes it’s from the old suitor.  There is a very nice scene of country dancing by the way!

That night, supposedly their last night together, Anna plays games with Philip.  Bergman’s performance, like the scene where she loses it when she learns the truth about Philip, is brilliant.  She can bring so many emotions to relatively simple dialogue!  The next night, her birthday, Anna’s filled her flat with roses and candles, and plans for David to meet her for dinner, half an hour before Philip is due to surprise her. David, fortunately, is struck down with appendicitis and doesn’t make it.  Anna attempts to substitute Karl, her Chauffeur for David, only to have the mess backfire on her.  Fortunately, Philip comes in to give her a second chance, after all he did propose to her!  And they all live happily ever after.

Again, a fairly standard romantic movie, not a lot of entanglements.  If David, Anna’s old suitor, has actually been a character in the film and not just someone who’s mentioned (even if played by Ralph Bellamy) it would have worked a bit better and given the film some more tension.  But still, the leads are good actors, and it has a slightly unusual plot.

Recommendation:  Not bad if you’re in the mood for romance
Rating:  3 out of 5 Stars
Next Film:  It Happened One Night

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Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

  • Title:  Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
  • Director:  Steven Spielburg
  • Date:  1989
  • Studio:  Paramount Pictures
  • Genre:  Adventure, Action
  • Cast:  Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, River Phoenix, Denholm Elliott, John Rhys-Davies, Julian Glover
  • Format:  Color, Widescreen
  • Format:  R1, NTSC
“That cross is a important artifact, it belongs in a museum!”  — Young Indy
 
“Nazis, I hate these guys.” — Indiana Jones
 
“I wrote it down in my diary so I wouldn’t have to remember!” — Henry Jones, Senior
 
“You call this archaeology?”  — Henry Jones, Senior

It’s always hard for me to say which is my favorite Indiana Jones movie — “Raiders” or “Last Crusade“.  “Raiders” introduces the great character, and Marion is a great, feisty, independent woman, and it has a good plot — but the snakes still gross me out.  On the other hand, “Last Crusade“, is, again, like “Raiders” a great adventure, set in relatively short “episodes” that span the world, from Indy’s childhood in Utah to his working as a college professor, to Venice, to Berlin, to Austria, to the hiding place of the Holy Grail. But “Last Crusade” also brings back the great secondary characters of Marcus Brody and Sallah who were missing from “Temple of Doom“.  And there’s the great relationship between Indiana Jones and Henry Jones, Sr.

Which is why, though it wouldn’t exist without “Raiders“, Last Crusade slightly edges out “Raiders” as my favorite.  “Last Crusade”, at its core is about a father and son journeying to discover each other as much as it is a great adventure tale about a search for the Holy Grail.  And the film, as I briefly mentioned before, brings back Marcus Brody and Sallah, both from “Raiders” and both sorely missed in “Temple of  Doom“. And neither character just appears just so they can be listed in the credits — both have important parts to play in the plot, especially Marcus. Sean Connery, is perfectly cast as Indiana Jones’ father.  I love the relationship between the two — prickly, yet fun. “Last Crusade” is a fun adventure-filled movie, with lots of great and quotable lines. But it also has heart — when Henry Jones Sr. thinks Indy has died he is truly crushed, and we feel his pain. When the Nazis shoot Indy’s father in front of him to force Indy to get the Grail, it’s a shocking moment, and we feel Indy’s shock and pain — not to mention he’s about to lose his father. Indiana ends up obtaining the Grail to save his father, not for his own aggrandizement, like Harry Potter with the Philosopher’s Stone in that film and book. In other words, he didn’t want it to keep it.  And like the Stone, the Grail heals Henry Sr.

And isn’t Julian Glover just a perfect villain?

River Phoenix really is well cast as young Indiana Jones.  The opening sequence is also great — not only is it full of adventure itself, but we see Indiana become our Indiana, the hero we love.  The transition from the treasure hunter putting the hat on Indiana to the shot of Harrison Ford in the rain, attempting to recover the same artifact, is perfect. And speaking of great shots – the first shot of Sean Connery as Henry Jones, Sr, as he steps into the light is also perfect.  And what can be a more satisfying a ending to a movie than our heroes, Indiana, Henry, Sallah, and Marcus, as riding off into the sunset?

The structure of the film, like Raiders, is again of short episodes, linked into a longer story, which keeps the film moving and the adventure level high. In some ways, the film is a chase film, as much as it is a Quest. And it’s also a Quest of characters of the Joneses coming to know each other as well as the Quest for the Holy Grail.

Recommendation:  See it!  And, again, a great film for kids and teenagers.
Rating:  5 of 5 Stars
Next Film:  Indiscreet

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

  • Title:  Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
  • Director:  Steven Spielburg
  • Date:  1984
  • Studio:  Paramount
  • Genre:  Adventure, Action
  • Cast:  Harrison Ford, Kate Capshaw
  • Format:  Color, Widescreen
  • DVD Format:  R1, NTSC

Indiana Jones and the Temple of  Doom is important to cinema history because it’s the film that introduced the PG-13 rating to American movies.  Or rather, the controversy did (the film carries a PG rating).  “Temple of Doom” was criticized for it’s dark plot and violence, though admirers of  “Raiders” and “Last Crusade” also criticized it for sticking Indy with a screaming, whiny girl and a kid.  And for such a dark film, having a child in it as Indy’s “companion” seems a poor choice.  The film also lacks Indy’s friends — Sallah and Marcus — who add to the feel of the film series, generally.

Temple of  Doom is set in 1935, or three years prior to “Raiders”.  It opens in Shanghai with a 1930s-style musical number led by Willie (Kate Capshaw) singing “Anything Goes”.  Indiana is tougher, meaner, and more world-weary than in Raiders of the Lost Ark, even though the film is set earlier —  he’s in Shanghai  to sell back to a gangster his ancestor’s remains (ashes) probably stolen from an archaeological dig, museum, or grave site.  This Indy sees giving such an artifact to a museum as a waste of time and resources.  But he’s also willing to take the lounge singer, Willie, captive to get his payment (a large diamond) from Lo Chi.  He briefly gets the payment, but is poisoned.  Chaos ensues as Jones tries to get the antidote that’s been dropped on the floor of the ballroom as people stampede all over, while Willie tries to get the diamond. They finally escape out a window and into Indy’s car driven by Short Round, the stereotypical too smart, too cute kid.

Another friend of Indy’s get’s him a flight out of the country, but it’s a Lo Chi cargo plane.  Just shy of some mountains, the pilot and co-pilot dump the fuel and escape in parachutes.  With no parachutes, Jones, Short Round, and Willie escape in a life raft, ski down a slope, and end-up white water rafting.  It’s one of the best sequences in the movie.

The river takes them to India — and the plot gets dark, and at times gross.  Indy is taken to a town, which is dying, the people starving and the children taken.  Indy is talked into going to the palace of the local Maharajah to look for the stone and the children.  After the most disgusting dinner scene ever (snakes stuffed with more live snakes or eel; bugs; monkey brains served in the skull, eyeball soup.  I mean EEEWWW!)  Jones discovers a Thuggee cult in residence.  He also, eventually discovers the missing children are being forced to work as miners in a mine under the palace.

Indy’s about to right all this, when he’s captured, drugged with blood, and his mind is taken over.  He becomes a member of the Thuggee cult, and helps load Willie into a basket to be sacrificed by burning alive in a pit.  He even hits Short Round in the face, knocking him down.  But Short Round also burns Indy with a torch, waking him out of his stupor, and they escape with all three of the Charah stones, including the one for the village.  However, in leaving they have two obstacles — a mine car race (which, unfortunately, looks like a video game) and crossing a narrow bridge over a huge chasm, with crocodiles in the river below.  Indy, Willie, and Short Round are making it — when the cult shows up and there’s a fight on the bridge.  Indy loses two of the three stones, but also defeats the cult, killing it’s high priest and another Thuggee.

However, Indy frees the kids and brings them back to the village.  The village water supply is also back (it had been possibly diverted to the mining operation), and Indy returns their sacred rock.

Still, overall the movie is dark — child labor, a cult that practices human sacrifice, the Thuggee high priest tearing a still beating heart out of a man’s chest — it’s frightening and horrifying.  But the most disturbing is Indy himself falling under the spell of the cult and doing things he normally wouldn’t do — like locking Willie in the sacrifice basket or hitting a child.

But the film also suffers from not having the spirit of high adventure that “Raiders of the Lost Ark” has.  It suffers from not having Indy’s friends Sallah and Marcus in the film.  Willie and Short Round are very annoying companions for Indy — especially Willie who whines and complains and screams an awful lot, and just doesn’t have the fire that Karen Allen had.

Recommendation:  Indiana Jones is only available in multi-film sets, so it’s worth at least watching
Rating:  3 out of  5
Next Film:  Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark

  • Title:  Raiders of the Lost Ark  (Indiana Jones)
  • Director:  Steven Spielburg
  • Date:  1981
  • Studio:  Paramount Pictures
  • Genre:  Action, Adventure
  • Cast:  Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, John Rhys-Davies, Denholm Elliott, Alfred Molina
  • Format:  Color, Widescreen
  • DVD Format;  R1, NTSC
“Asps, very dangerous. You go first.” — Sallah
 
“I don’t know, I’m making this up as I go.”  — Indiana Jones
 
“You’re not the man I knew ten years ago.”  — Marion
“It’s not the years, honey, it’s the mileage.”  — Indiana Jones

One of my favorite movies from my childhood, right along side Star Wars (the original), Indiana Jones is a tour de force of  non-stop action and adventures. From the stirring music to the unforgettable characters, and stunning direction, it’s the movie that made me fascinated with movies. It should be noted that the title of the first Indiana Jones film is Raiders of  the Lost Ark, the “Indiana Jones and the…” was added to the DVD release — fortunately it’s only on the DVD case, the film itself  still has the original title in tact.

Indiana Jones, also like Star Wars, has it’s origin in the old movie serials of the 1930s — full of action and adventure, and continued from week to week with a cliffhanger at the end of each episode. And whereas Star Wars is partially based on the SF serials such as Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers, Indiana Jones is based on the adventure serials in spirit but brings an original twist to the idea with it’s characters. But it does follow the tradition of keeping the audience’s interest by having brief episodic stories within the main story. That is, the settings change frequently in the movie, from the jungles of South America, to an American University, to Nepal, to Egypt, as does the action. This definitely adds to the action and adventure of the film, or as one of the promos has it — “If Adventure has a name, it must be Jones.”

The film begins in the middle of an adventure, with Indiana Jones searching a jungle in South America for a golden idol. It fact, the first shot we see of Indiana Jones is as he steps into the light after using his bullwhip to disarm a native guide who was going to shoot him. Ford, as Jones, in leather jacket and fedora, with bull whip and revolver, steps into the light — and he is the character, this is all we need to know. In fact, for the entire first scene, we don’t even know this explorer’s name. Indiana manages to get the Idol, and escape the temple, only to have the idol stolen from him by a rival French treasure hunter named Rene Belloq.

Next we see mild-mannered Jones teaching archaeology at his university. He’s tracked down by government agents and sent on a race to get the Ark of  the Covenant before the Nazis do. This is the core of the film, the race to find and take the Ark. The film includes the famous “snake” scene, as well as the ultimate torching of the Nazis by the Ark’s power.

But one of the most chilling images in the film is the Ark being boxed up by US Army Intelligence and locked away in a mysterious warehouse, filled with other wooden crates. Makes me wonder every time I re-watch Raiders of  the Lost Ark, just what else is hidden away in that warehouse.

But the film is pure fun — action, adventure, romance (in the old-fashioned sense of the word), fiery women, real men, everything a young girl could want in a film. And the magic doesn’t wear off no matter how many times one watches it. Spielburg and Lucas created a timeless classic that just never gets old or looks dated.

Recommendation:  See it!  This is especially a great film for young teens and pre-teens to adults.
Rating:  5 of 5 Stars
Next Film:  Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom