New Year’s Eve is fast approaching and your classic movie guys, Joe Morella and Frank Segers are here to share their favorite NYE films with you.
Joe says there’s only ONE film to consider for the big night. It’s 1947’s Repeat Performance.
It stars Joan Leslie (above) Louis Hayward and Virginia Field (below), and features Richard Baseheart, Tom Conway, and Natalie Schafer. It’s film noir (with a touch of fantasy) about a lot of unpleasant people in the theatahhh in New York.
The story opens with murder, and when the star wishes she could live the year over again she is, of course, magically able to. But she discovers the results frightening.
We don’t want to give away any of the intricate plot points. Just take our word for it. It’s a unique take on New Year’s resolutions. It’s a true classic.
Then there is one of Orson Welles most scorned movies, which is one of Frank’s all-time favorites. (He tediously repeats section of dialogue from the movie from time to time.) It’s 1955’s Mr. Arkadin, a sort of low-rent Citizen Kane that Welles made in his refuge-in-Europe period after he left Hollywood. It’s about a nasty international business mogul who goes to great lengths to hide his murderous past.
Mr. Arkadin’s cast is marvelous. There is Welles, abetted by superb character actors including Akim Tamiroff, Mischa Auer, Peter van Eyck, the great French actress Suzanne Flon, Greek actress Katina Paxinou and a surprisingly sexy Patricia Medina.
Welles wrote the film noir-ish script, and sports a number of strange wigs and beards in his portrayal of the title role. The sets are a bit cheesy but the locations are for real. The whole thing is very European (filmed in Spain, Munich and in Paris) and very cynical. (Mr. Arkadin nicely retells the legend of the scorpion and the frog taking their ill-fated swim across the river.)
But we advise going easy on the NYE refreshments, though, since the plot points move by very quickly. You have to pay attention to Mr. Arkadin since — depending on the version you see (there were five floating around at one time) — its narrative sometimes doesn’t make a ton of sense. But boy is it fun.
For those who wish to be reminded that NYE can quite literally be life threatening, there are few movies that can top producer Irwin Allen’s 1972’s commercial blockbuster, The Poseidon Adventure. It’s about the fate of passengers celebrating the new year aboard a luxury cruise ship capsized by a giant tital wave.
The picture is a superbly made disaster outing with an entertainingly eclectic cast: Gene Hackman, the superb Ernest Borgnine, Red Buttons, Shelley Winters, Roddy McDowall, Leslie Nielsen and Stella Stevens swimming underwater in a see-through blouse. Critics sniffed when this picture came out, but take a look. It holds up nicely.
For the more romantically inclined there’s always 1989’s “When Harry Met Sally,” costarring Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal. Who can easily forget Ryan’s noisy simulated orgasm in a Jewish delicatessen, and the response of a nearby older woman who tells her waiter, “I’ll have what she’s having.” And the romantics running to each other’s arms on New Year’s Eve.
For our money, few films can match the genuine romanticism of David Lean’s 1945 classic, Brief Encounter. It’s about a proper married woman’s tryst with a man she meets in a train station. The photography is superb, and the leading actors — the magnificent Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard — are remarkably good. Now, that is one romantic movie — one that even softens our cynical souls.
Happy New Year, everyone.