Movie Characters I’d Want To Be Quarantined With

Greetings, readers! I hope wherever you are that you are safe and healthy. While many of us self isolate, it got me thinking, which fictional characters would you like to be quarantined with? Below are my top 5. Feel free to suggest your own in the comments.

1. Shaun and Ed: Shaun of the Dead

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have been making us laugh on the big and small screen for some time now, going all the way back to their cult sitcom Spaced. If I had to be quarantined with someone, I’d want them to both be capable in an emergency and be fun to be locked up with for an extended period of time. Shaun and Ed from Shaun of the Dead would not only be able to roll with the punches, they’d know how to have a blast in even the most dire of circumstances.

2. Nick and Nora Charles: The Thin Man

If you’re going through a tough time, you might as well be cooped up with people who are witty. And, in the history of cinema, few people have been wittier than Nick and Nora Charles. The banter in quarantine would always be lively. Plus, we could have some great murder mystery dinner parties. That, and they’d bring their adorable dog Asta. Always good to have an emotional support animal.

3. Mark Cardigan: His Kind of Woman

Vincent Price is rightly remembered as a horror movie icon. But he did branch out when given the chance. Of all his non-horror characters, my favorite is Mark Cardigan from His Kind of Woman. Mark is an actor along the lines it Errol Flynn. He also has a wicked sense of humor and a great screening room at his cabin. I’d want to be quarantined with him not only for his devilish charm, but for the opportunity to be enjoying movies in a primo screening room.

4. Ellen Ripley: Alien

If I have to be cooped up for a while, I’d want someone to stay active with. And Ellen Ripley from the Alien franchise would be an amazing workout buddy. We’d pass the time doing CrossFit and HIIT. Plus, she’s resourceful. That’s definitely a quality you want during dark times.

5. Alma : Pillow Talk

Thelma Ritter was one of the greatest character actresses of her time. She specializes in playing the loyal, no nonsense BFF of main characters. While it’s difficult to pick just one of her unforgettable characters, I would want her character from Pillow Talk to be my quarantine buddy. We’d have the best time swapping stories, enjoying a good drink every now and then and she’s probably have some great pearls of wisdom to share about life. I’d come out of quarantine a happier and wiser person.

Movies To Get You Through The Coronavirus Pandemic

These are scary times we live in. With the Coronavirus pandemic, many of us will at some point have to self quarantine. The good news is classic movies are always there for you. Here’s one movie to watch a day if you end up stuck at home for 14 days.

Day 1. The Wizard of Oz

It’s day one of being stuck at home. You want nothing more to escape. What better way to do that than go with Dorothy Gale as she wanders through the magical land of Oz? The Wizard of Oz is over 75 years old and hasn’t lost one bit of magic.

Day 2. His Girl Friday

On day two you’re starting to get stir crazy and just need a laugh. Few movies pack more laughs per minute than His Girl Friday. Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell shine on this quintessential screwball comedy as exes who are reunited when Russell’s character comes to the newspaper office to tell Grant she’s getting remarried. They end up working on a news story in the process and hilarity ensues.

Day 3. Lilo & Stitch

Disney movies are a great way to relive your childhood or just pleasantly escape for a few hours. One of the most underrated Disney movies of the last few decades is Lilo & Stitch. The animation is bright and colorful. The story is not a traditional Disney one by any means. Stitch is an alien who escapes intergalactic prison and crashes in Hawaii. Eventually he crosses paths with little Lilo. Lilo adopts him at the local animal shelter. Stitch eventually becomes a full member of the family. But there are bumps along the way. The relationship between Lilo and her sister, who’s trying to hold down a job and raise Lilo after they lose their parents, tugs at the heart strings she feels very relatable. This movie is heartfelt with great humor and a fun soundtrack.

Day 4. 28 Days Later

You’re likely thinking this is a typo. Why would anyone want to watch a zombie apocalypse movie during a pandemic? Hear me out. This movie is on the list because it could give you perspective. Sure I’m stuck at home. But it could be worse. I could be getting chased by zombies too. Either that or it could be educational if things worsen and you need survival tips.

Day 6. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

Want to help your time in self quarantine really fly by? Then put on The Lord of the Rings. Binge watch them all in a day. Bonus points if you watch the extended editions. The reason I included this on the list (besides it being my favorite book and movie trilogy ever) is that it teaches us to never lose hope.

Day 7. Casablanca

This is probably the least surprising choice on the list. Casablanca is not only a great movie (the greatest ever IMHO), it’s the comfort food of movies. From the great dialogue to the relatable characters, this is a cinematic experience never to be missed. And, for me, every time I watch it a bit of my faith in humanity is restored.

Day 8. Laura

Another good way to get through the pain of being isolated is to distract yourself with a good mystery. And Laura is one of the best. A completely involving thriller, it’s one of the best examples of film noir. Plus you get Dana Andrews, Gene Tierney and Vincent Price. You can’t beat that trio.

Day 9. Singin’ In The Rain

If you’re feeling gloomy, put on Singin’ In The Rain. I guarantee your mood will improve. The songs, the choreography, the script…everything about this movie is perfection. And it’s not just because of the title number with Gene Kelly dancing through the puddles and hanging from that lamppost. The joy on display is simply infectious. Lord knows the world needs more of that.

Day 10. The Shawshank Redemption

Here we go. Another movie about not giving up hope. But the reason I selected this one is that it’s not only a great movie. It shows people surviving over a period of time. It’s rare we get to see a story cover so much of people’s lives. In this case it’s the lives of two prisoners played by Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins. Watching their friendship grow and how they keep each other from giving up is a message that resonates over 25 years after the movie’s release.

Day 11. Raiders of the Lost Ark

This to me along with Star Wars are the two greatest examples of pure escapism in the history of movies. Raiders is one great action sequence after another. While most action movies lose steam halfway through, this one doesn’t. The energy never falls off. Steven Spielberg directs action like nobody’s business. Plus you get Harrison Ford in his prime. This movie is a complete win.

Day 12. The Cameraman

I have a confession to make. I’m a big fan of Buster Keaton. Plus, I had to include at least one silent movie on my list. It follows the misadventures of Buster Shannon (Keaton), a clumsy person who attempts to become a motion picture cameraman. Why? To get a girl of course. The girl is question works for MGM Newsreels. It’s one of my favorite meet cute movies.

Day 13. Young Frankenstein

There sure are a lot of comedies on my list. That’s likely because laughter has always gotten me through tough times. I’m a huge fan of the Universal monster movies. Young Frankenstein is a loving parody of them. While Gene Wilder gets most of the attention for his performance, and rightfully so, I want to give some love to the supporting cast. My two favorites are Madeline Kahn as Gene Wilder’s fiancée and Peter Boyle as the monster. Boyle’s performance often gets overlooked. But, like Karloff, the actor he was paying homage to, Boyle brings real humanity to the monster. And he does it all with few lines of dialogue.

Day 14. The Right Stuff

We’ve taken the space program for granted of late. And that’s a shame. To regain your appreciation for NASA, put on the film version of The Right Stuff. An absolutely absorbing telling of the stories of the Mercury astronauts and the early days oh the space program, it’s one of the most exhilarating movies ever made. It shows not only the heroism but the very human sides of the astronauts. And if the end of the movie doesn’t get you emotional in a good way, I don’t know what will.

Worst Movies I’ve Seen In My Lifetime (So Far)

Greetings, readers! We’ve all watched movies that didn’t meet our expectations. Just for the fun of it, I put together a list of the top 5 (maybe it should be bottom?) worst movies I have seen.

1. Snakes On A Plane

I love Samuel L. Jackson. And I don’t blame him for the cinematic dumpster fire that was Snakes On A Plane. But…damn was this a painful viewing experience! If this had been a short subject movie or something, fine. This could have been a fun B-movie. But there wasn’t enough in the film’s premise to make it a remotely involving story. Samuel L. Jackson almost saves it with his delivery of the movie’s most famous line. Almost.

2. Manos The Hands of Fate

Fans of the TV series Mystery Science Theater 3000 will remember this one. It follows a family who gets lost on a road trip and stumble upon an underground devil-worshiping cult. Road trips gone awry have been the foundation for many great horror movies: The Hills Have Eyes, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,etc. Manos is not one of them. I can take a bad movie if it’s entertainingly bad. Manos is just excruciating. It doesn’t even try to be a remotely competent movie. It’s unwatchable without the MST3K commentary.

3. Punk Vacation

I love a good biker gang movie as much as the next person. But Punk Vacation is not one of them. This movie is so bad that it makes Plan 9 From Outer Space look like Citizen Kane. It starts off as an intriguing enough revenge flick. The owner of a diner in a small California town is brutally murdered. His oldest daughter seeks revenge on the punks responsible. Instead she gets abducted by the gang and a fight breaks out between the punks and the local rednecks. I didn’t expect this to be an exceptional movie. But it’s not even remotely competent. The punks are the least convincing ones I’ve seen in a movie. And the rednecks are recycled stereotypical characters.

4. The Green Slime

I’ll say this much for The Green Slime: it has a very catchy title song. That’s honestly the best part of this hilariously cheesy science fiction flick. Scientists go to destroy an asteroid headed for Earth. They’re successful. But, in the process, they bring back a mysterious green substance. It mutates into a multi tentacled creature that feeds off of electricity and runs amok. Part of the plot sounds like Armageddon. And, as ridiculous as The Green Slime is, it’s Casablanca compared to Armageddon.

5. Red Sonja

And now we come to my favorite bad movie: Red Sonja. It’s a sword and sorcery story that has some of the most hilarious dialogue ever committed to film. These are actual lines from the movie:

-You are mad! The talisman will destroy you.

-In order to be a great swordsmen, you must have a great sword.

The plot is pretty straightforward. Red Sonja is out to avenge the death of her family that case at the hands of Queen Gedren. Red Sonja is so bad that it’s good. If you choose to watch one movie from my list, make it Red Sonja. It’s my favorite guilty pleasure movie. And the score by Ennio Morricone is quite good.

31 Days of Oscar Guide: Week 4

We’re approaching the end of 31 Days of Oscar. Here are my picks for week 4.

Day 23. The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame has been adapted for the large and small screen numerous times. I’m partial to the underrated Disney version from 1996. But the 1939 version with Charles Laughton and Maureen O’ Hara is also excellent. Laughton makes you have real empathy for Quasimodo. And O’ Hara gives one of her best performances as Esmeralda, the Gypsy who saves Quasimodo and becomes his love interest.

Day 24. The Red Shoes

Director William Powell and Emeric Pressburger co-directed a number of classics together: The Life and Death of a Colonel Blimp, Black Narcissus and A Canterbury Tale. My favorite of their collaborations is The Red Shoes. It stars Moira Shearer as Victoria Paige in a mesmerizing and heartbreaking performance. She’s a woman torn between her desire to become a famous ballerina and being with the man she loves. The dancing is superb, especially the Ballet of the Red Shoes sequence. And Jack Cardiff’s cinematography is stunning beyond words.

Day 25. The Sea Wolf

Edward G. Robinson had a knack fir playing menacing characters, going back to his breakout performance in Little Caesar. Right up there with that performance for my money is his role as the power hungry sea captain in The Sea Wolf. The guy could give Captain Bligh a run for his money. The cast also includes John Garfield and Ida Lupino.

Day 26. Foreign Correspondent

It’s hard to imagine any Hitchcock film being underrated. But, IMHO, Foreign Correspondent is. Joel McCrea is probably most famous for westerns and screwball comedies. But in this movie, he proves himself as adept and being in thrillers. McCrea’s character is a journalist who gets involved in an espionage caper. He gets help along the way from George Sanders and Laraine Day. It’s grown on me with each viewing.

Day 27. Kiss of Death

If a movie scoundrel hall of fame is ever built, one of the people sure to get a prime spot is Tommy Udo. Played with perfect maniacal gusto my Richard Widmark in Kiss of Death, he’s one of cinema’s most terrifying villains. I don’t want to spoil the movie’s most iconic moment for first time viewers. Let’s just say it will stay with you forever.

Day 28. Mrs. Miniver

One of the best films to depict the impact of World War II on everyday people is Mrs. Minive. The Minivers are a typical middle class family living in England during the early days of the war. When England is forced to declare war on Germany, their world is torn upside down. They deal with blackouts, air raids and Mrs. Miniver even has to face an escaped German flyer who shows up while she’s home alone. It’s another great movie with the dynamic duo of Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon.

Day 29. Gold Diggers of 1933

I love a good pre-code movie. Gold Diggers of 1933 is one of the best. It’s one of the definitive backstage musicals. The cast features a lot of my favorites, including Joan Blondell, Dick Powell, Ruby Keeler and Ginger Rogers. The Forgotten Man number at the end will hit you right in the feels.

31 Days of Oscar Guide: Week 3

Day 16. The Silence of the Lambs

This is a tough day to pick just one movie. Old school me wants to pick The Lion In Winter. But I love a good TCM premiere. And day 16 brings the premiere of one of my favorite serial killer movies. The Silence of the Lambs has been often imitated but rarely equaled. Anthony Hopkins gives such a commanding performance as Hannibal Lecter that we forget he isn’t even in the movie that much. Add Jodie Foster as a plucky rookie FBI agent and Scott Glenn as her mentor, and you have the recipe for a great thriller.

Day 17. Anchors Aweigh

I picked On The Town earlier in the festival. The dynamic duo of Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra make another appearance for my day 17 pick: Anchors Aweigh. It’s another fun romp with the two in the Navy. This movie features an iconic scene where Gene Kelly dances with Jerry the mouse in a great blend of life action and animation.

Day 18. Brief Encounter

Most people remember David Lean for his sweeping epics like Lawrence of Arabia. But Lean could also tell riveting stories on a smaller scale. A case and point is Brief Encounter, about a woman who has a chance encounter with a stranger at a railway station and is tempted to cheat on her husband. This sounds like predictable melodrama. But not in the hands of this talented cast and crew. It’s riveting with an ending that will leave you needing tissues.

Day 19. Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Dark comedy is really hard to do. But in 1964 director Stanley Kubrick gave us one of the best. Dr. Strangelove mercilessly lampoons the paranoia of the Cold War. It’s most famous for Peter Sellers playing multiple roles. And that’s certainly quite an achievement. But the big surprise for me was George C. Scott. I knew he could act. But I didn’t know how capable he was of doing comedy. He steals the movie IMHO.

Day 20. Mr. Smith Goes To Washington

It’s easy in this day and age to get cynical about politics. Mr. Smith Goes To Washington is a purely idealistic fantasy. But what’s wrong with that? And who wouldn’t want Jimmy Stewart as their Senator taking on the corruption in Washington? It may not be realistic, but that doesn’t matter. Anything that makes people think they can bring about positive change in the world is worth recommending.

Day 21. My Favorite Year

My Favorite Year is a purely fun romp. It puts an exclamation mark on the career of Peter O’ Toole. He plays a fictionalized version of Errol Flynn, preparing to go on a weekly variety show. O’Toole not only shows what a good comedic actor he is, but he brings vulnerability to the role. His character is not just a stereotypical partying star and prima donna. He’s also a human with demons. It’s one of his very best performances.

Day 22. Witness For The Prosecution

If you love a good courtroom drama, then Witness For The Prosecution is the movie for you. Starring Charles Laughton as the feisty lawyer, Tyrone Power as his client accused of murder, and Marlene Dietrich as Power’s wife, the movie packs one dramatic twist after the other. Brilliantly directed by Billy Wilder and based on Agatha Christie’s successful stage play, it has an ending that is one of the great twists in all of cinema.

31 Days of Oscar Guide: Week 2

Hope you all are enjoying TCM’s 31 Days of Oscar festival. Here are my picks for week two.

Day 9. Mystery Street

Before we had the TV show CSI and all its spinoffs/imitators, there was a film noir called Mystery Street. One of the first movies to really show forensic science, it’s a captivating mystery surrounding skeletal remains found on a Massachusetts beach. And it features a superb lead performance by Ricardo Montalban. This was a major turning point in his career. Up until this movie, he had been cast in light fare as Latin lovers. This was his transition into a dramatic actor.

Day 10. Network

“I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” That’s one of the many memorable lines from Network. A ruthless satire about network television, sensational journalism and a movie that predicted the ills of modern media, Network is simply one of the best movies ever made. The cast is loaded with talent. Peter Finch plays protagonist Howard Beale, the mad prophet of the airwaves. We also get Faye Dunaway, Robert Duvall, character actor Ned Beatty (who nearly steals the movie in his one scene) and William Holden in a Stellar performance as an idealistic old school newsman. Network is relevant now more than ever.

Day 11. The Grapes of Wrath

Very rarely is a movie the equal of the book it’s based on. But The Grapes of Wrath is an exception. It brilliantly captures the raw power of John Steinbeck’s novel about the Joad family and their struggle to start a new life in California during the Great Depression. Henry Fonda gave so many amazing performances in his long career. But the one that has stayed with me the most is Tom Joad. This is one of director John Ford’s best. And that’s saying a lot.

Day 12. My Man Godfrey

I love a good screwball comedy. And one of the best of them is My Man Godfrey. William Powell stars as the titular Godfrey, a homeless man discovered in a city dump by socialite Irene Bullock (Carole Lombard). Irene is partaking in a “scavenger hunt.” The first person to bring back a forgotten man wins. Irene then hires Godfrey to be her wealthy family’s new butler. Hilarity ensues as Irene falls for Godfrey and Godfrey interacts with Irene’s nutty family.

Day 13. Little Caesar

The fact that Edward G. Robinson earned not one Oscar nomination in his entire career is mind blowing. But his body of work speaks for itself. The role that made him a star was Little Caesar. As ruthless gangster Caesar Enrico Bandello, Robinson proved he was going to be a force to be reckoned with for years to come in this pre-code classic. It’s a tour de force performance that will stay with you long after the movie ends.

Day 14. The Firm

John Grisham has written a plethora of novels. Many of them are legal thrillers. The film versions have been hit and miss. To me the best one is The Firm, directed by Sydney Pollack and starring Tom Cruise. Whatever your feelings about Tom Cruise’s personal life are, you can’t deny he’s one of our most gifted actors. Here as a lawyer recruited to a prestigious law firm right out of law school. It all seems like he’s living the American dream. But then bodies start piling up at the firm. Lawyers are dying under vary mysterious circumstances. Cruise is recruited by the FBI to uncover the firm’s dark secrets. It’s a labyrinth thriller that is riveting from beginning to end. Look for Ed Harris in a scene stealing role as one of the FBI agents.

Day 15. Casablanca

This is a predicable choice from me and I don’t care. I’m on record as declaring Casablanca the greatest movie ever made. The performances by its stellar cast (Bogie, Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt), its pitch perfect script…everything about this movie is perfect. How many movies can say that? It’s also one of the most moving love stories ever told. Michael Curtiz directed a lot of great movies. But Casablanca is his crowning achievement.

See you next week for my week 3 guide!

31 Days of Oscar Guide: Week 1

Greetings, readers! Today is day 1 of TCM’s 31 Days of Oscar festival. So which films should you watch? I’ll give you a pick a day for each of the festival’s run.

Day 1. Funny Girl

My pick for the first day is Funny Girl. It’s my favorite movie from Barbara Streisand’s body of work. It features some great songs, including Don’t Rain On My Parade. That’s my favorite of the lot. It’s a brilliantly directed musical. Streisand hits it out of the park in her big screen debut. We already knew she could sing. But in Funny Girl she solidified her solid screen presence, proved she had comedic chops, and had wonderful screen chemistry with Omar Sharif.

Day 2. The Maltese Falcon

We had mystery movies before The Maltese Falcon. We’d even had two other film versions of the book prior to the iconic 1941 movie. But The Maltese Falcon kickstarted the film noir movement. It’s an engrossing mystery, has a stellar cast from top to bottom and is a superb directing debut by John Huston. This was the film that gave us the Humphrey Bogart we would come to know and love. Gruff and hard boiled, he was perfect for noir. And here he’s surrounded by a rich ensemble including Mary Astor, Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre.

Day 3. On The Town

Great location shooting in New York? Check. The combined charisma and talent of Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra? Check. Great choreography and songs? Double check. On The Town is not necessarily Gene Kelly’s best film. That would be Singin’ In The Rain. But it has an irresistible charm. A lot of that has to do with the chemistry of its cast. It’s an absolutely charming musical that grows on me with each viewing.

Day 4. White Heat

James Cagney, along with Edward G. Robinson defined the gangster genre in the Golden Age of Hollywood. And White Heat was one of his defining performances. As Cody Jarrett, Cagney brings a charisma and menace that very few actors have ever been able to pull off. The movie has an iconic ending that will leave you spellbound.

Day 5. North By Northwest

Alfred Hitchcock was one of our greatest directors. And North By Northwest is one of his most flat out fun movies. Cary Grant is a sympathetic and fun Everyman who is falsely accused of murder. It’s an enthralling cat and mouse game that also has Grant sharing the screen with the wonderful Eva Marie Saint and the late, great Martin Landau. It’s brilliant from a technical standpoint, but also just a fun romp of a movie.

Day 6. Caged

Eleanor Parker is an actress who I have really come to appreciate in the last few years. And a real discovery during that time has been Caged. When you hear the phrase women in prison picture, you get images of campy fare like Caged Heat. But Caged is nothing of the sort. It’s a hard look at why we need prison reform and what the institution does to its inmates. I should mention that the supporting cast includes one of my favorites: Agnes Moorehead.

Day 7. Madame Curie

I just mentioned how Eleanor Parker is someone who’s work I have come to appreciate in the last few years. Another actress who fits into that category for me is Greer Garson. The movie that really sold me on her was Random Harvest. But my other favorite movie of hers is Madame Curie. Another of her screen pairings with Walter Pidgeon, it tells the real life story of Marie Curie. Curie was a scientist who did groundbreaking work on radioactivity. The movie brilliantly handles showing us the struggles of scientific research and the obstacles women face in scientific fields.

Day 8. Now, Voyager

Bette Davis to me is the greatest actress we ever had. And one of her many brilliant performances is in Now, Voyager. As Charlotte Vale, Davis is heartbreakingly human. Charlotte is having a nervous breakdown thanks to her domineering mother (Gladys Cooper). Charlotte comes out of it thanks to the help of the caring Dr. Jaquith (Claude Rains) and a budding romance with Jerry (Paul Henreid). Now, Voyager is a melodrama that never devolves into a soap opera. It’s an honest look at toxic relationships and the power of sticking up for yourself, even to your family when you need to.

I’ll be back next week with my guide to week two. Happy viewing!