A Guide To A Good Life, Reviews

Random Harvest (1942)

Just saw Random Harvest (1942), and had to blog about it. What a wonderful movie! I had no idea it even existed until tonight. Ligia spotted it on TMC a week or two ago, and we moved it toward the top of the queue of our Netflix account. I’m so glad we did!

The story is fantastically beautiful. A woman (Greer Garson), meets and falls in love with an amnesia patient (Ronald Colman), a convalescing officer from WWI. His life, until then a dreary, monotonous stay in an asylum, begins with their chance meeting.

They move to the country, and he begins to write. He’s quite good at it, and emboldened by his success and the prospect of making a living from writing, he proposes to her. She accepts, of course, and they settle down to a beautiful married life.

They have a boy, and one day he gets a job offer in nearby Liverpool. They’re both very happy about it, and he sets off for the city right away. On his way to the job interview, he has an accident, and a concussion brings back all memory of his previous life, erasing his current one.

Naturally, he goes back to his family home (he happens to be an aristocrat) and picks up his life, troubled as he may be by the lapse of three years from his life. His now ex-wife, desperate, searches everywhere, falls ill and the baby dies. When she sees his photo in a newspaper some time later, she applies to be his secretary, and gets the job, but does not tell him about her identity, hoping that he’ll recognize her. He does not, and things go on like that for years: he, tormented by unrecognizable wisps of memory from the past, and she, so close and yet so far from his heart.

I won’t tell you more, because I don’t want to spoil the movie for you if you haven’t seen it. Suffice it to say that it’s absolutely excellent. It’s a perfect screenplay, and Ms. Garson and Mr. Colman are absolutely marvelous in their parts, and they’ve now made my list of favorite actors and actresses. I was left speechless at the beautiful ending, and could only think “Bis, bis, bis!” I’m truly shocked that I did not hear of this movie until now, and want to find more like it. Record it, rent it or buy it, but see it. You must. You won’t regret it.


Gotta see Stranger Than Fiction (2006)

Just stumbled onto the site for this upcoming movie, in theaters on November 10th, and I’m looking forward to it. The screenplay was written by Zach Helm and it was directed by Marc Forster. The really interesting thing about it is the screenplay, and kudos go out to Zach for a wonderfully quirky and original idea. Who’d ever think of coming up with a plot about a man whose life is literally scripted by a down-and-out writer? He hears her voice in his head as she writes his next actions, and it’s driving him cuckoo, but he can’t do anything about it. Should make for a really, really fun movie! Can’t wait for it to come out!


Two Tickets to Broadway (1951)

Two Tickets to Broadway (1951)The story of this movie is simple, and normally bankable: small town girl makes good in big city. This is a story with plenty of room for nice little twists and turns that make a movie worthwhile. However bankable the story is, the movie feels fake all the way through. Granted it’s a musical, and they’re always a little fake, but still, it’s terrible, and I can point exactly to what’s ruining it: the screenplay. Who wrote this pickle of a screenplay, anyway? Yikes! It’s just not grounded, it goes all over the place and tries to do too much. They should have used it for toilet paper instead of filming it.

It’s a shame, too, because the actors were good, and the singing was good, even great at times. Bugsby Berkeley’s choreography was surprisingly toned down, and it sort of fit in with the atmosphere of the movie. I say sort of, because Bugsby’s stuff never really fits in, it always stands out. When he steps into a movie, it changes. Thank goodness there were none of his usually outlandish dance numbers here, although I have to say the American-Indian dance was too weird. It was just insulting, and I bet it wouldn’t get done nowadays, in our more relaxed culture. What were those people thinking when they left that number in?

Things to watch for if you want to kill some time watching this movie: Janet Leigh is great all the way through, Tony Martin sings beautifully, Ann Miller is her usual self, dancing all over the place and baring her long legs as usual, and the reparte between Charles Dale and Joe Smith, as Leo and Harry, the owners of the deli, is just plain funny.