Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Top and Bottom of 2008 - #3

Witness for the Prosecution (1957)
This film tells essentially two stories. First is the story of the trial. Charles Laughton stars as a defense lawyer who is presented with a nearly impossible murder case to defend: lots of circumstantial evidence against the accused and a shaky alibi. And then his only witness, the accused’s wife, testifies for the prosecution, and things really get interesting. Laughton is riveting in the courtroom scenes and I could not take my eyes off his every tic and unorthodox delivery. The second story is Charles Laughton versus his nurse (a very funny Elsa Lanchester). Since he is just coming home from the hospital after a heart attack, her mission in life is to keep him from his favorite vices of whiskey and cigars. It is immensely entertaining to watch the cat-and-mouse game the two of them play as Laughton tries to escape from his nurse for a quick cigar while she is relentless in her attempts to pin him down to take his pills. Both stories are highly entertaining and compliment each other superbly.

Love Story (1970)
"Love means never having to say you're sorry."
"That's the dumbest thing I ever heard."
Those immortal words from What's Up, Doc? pretty much sum up my reaction to both the signature line and the film in general. Ryan O’Neal hates his father, so he ignores his father’s sensible advice and marries his college crush. She tells him "Love means never having to say you’re sorry," then gets sick and dies. His father tries to reach out to him, and he tells his dad, "Love means never having to say you’re sorry," and the credits roll. The line makes no sense and every way I try to figure it out it comes out saying something very incorrect about love. When Ryan O’Neal’s beloved says it, it’s dumb but excusable because she is a free spirit and can get away with saying things like that, but when he utters the silly phrase to conclude the film it makes absolutely no sense and puts a perfectly idiotic ending on an already silly film.

Coming up next: two saviors who save humanity from life-sucking entities.

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