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.