The Sting

The lunch was vegan 3 bean and soyrizo chili & tortilla chips. The Movie was The Sting from 1973.

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Darcy says:

Unsung Heroes – The Sting

Best Picture 1973

Oh those loveable rogues! Not since Elliot Ness rounded up Al Capone – hey, wait a minute – how come there was only one Italian American character in the Sting? Are we to believe Chicago was run by the Irish? I thought the Irish were the crooked cops. Is this non-PC enough yet? The Sting beat out Viskningar och rop by Ingmar Bergman to take top honors. I am outraged on behalf of the Muppet Chef who might have said, “inge furdi gurti vishni singe hurde Svedish meatbole,” which means, “There’s something rotten in Denmark.” American Graffiti was in the running but it decided to spawn Happy Days instead.

The minute you walked in the joint,

I could see you were a man of distinction,

A real big spender,

Good looking, so refined.

Say, wouldn’t you like to know

What’s going on in my mind?

Cy Coleman / Dorothy Fields

Newman and Redford were the cat’s pajamas in 73 and Eileen Brennan was channeling the sultry Tallulah Bankhead to make a period piece that was nothing like the period, but who cares – it was fun and we all sported large lapels and Fedoras for a few months after the Sting was released.

Dimitra Arliss, of Greek parentage, played the only person with an Italian last name and her dark character was notably threatening in such a lighthearted film, but a waitress’s lot is not a happy one..

On The Good Ship Lollipop.

It’s a sweet trip to a candy shop

Where bon-bons play

On the sunny beach of Peppermint Bay.

Richard  A. Whiting, Sidney Clare

The least they could have done was have Shirley Temple singing on the radio as the contract killer prepared to shoot Robert Redford.

Overall it was nice to see it once again and a bit of fun still best pictah? Go figure. Out of 10 maybe 6.

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Eric says:

I love a con movie. I’ve been fairly obsessed with con-artists for years. Going into this movie, I didn’t realize that it was about a con. With the name, I thought it was a cop drama or something. It was slightly confusing to think about it being set in the Depression, but I was willing to go along with it. As soon as I realized what the scope of the film was I got much more excited about watching it!

Redford as the young, handsome upstart grifter, and Newman as the old, washed up, handsome former grifter works really well.

The overarching conceit of the film, of having to essentially avenge the death of the older grifter that Redford’s character was a partner to, works pretty well, too. There are some interesting moments that call into question the value of revenge, and if it’s good for anything. The story seemed to hinge more on the idea that the mob boss responsible for Redford’s former partner’s death had some kind of punishment coming, and the grifters who pulled this scam on him were the only ones who could have. The idea of “living well as the best revenge” kept playing through my head, and I suppose that grifting a killer is living well, if you’re a grifter. They continued to live their best lives and make a score more to remember their friend, punish his killer and teach him a lesson, as opposed to doing so to get rich. When put into context of the Great Depression, that was a pretty interesting way to frame it.

Sound in this movie is really interesting. From the song (played over and over again in different ways), to the opening scene and the footsteps that seem to echo and draw the viewer in, to the sound of water when we meet Henry (Paul Newman).

The costumes were pretty great. Menswear in the 1930s done well. Fullard ties and patterned shirts – always looks legit. Indeed it inspired some sartorial choices of my own for the following week.

There were some really striking shots (especially dealing with the use of reflections) that made this a pretty fantastic thing to watch. It wasn’t overly artsy, but there was enough good film making to count, if that makes sense.

This movie felt quickly paced but not rushed. It didn’t seem just over 2 hours. I was entertained and enjoyed myself. A bit of film-making seemed to creep into this as well.

Watching this movie resulted in a rather interesting and hard to describe discussion about the passage of time and of perception that I won’t attempt to get into here for all of our sakes. That said, this film succeeded on many levels, including that often difficult to describe level of making you have a great conversation afterward.

Was this film a 10? No, but it was good. Really good, actually. I’d probably watch this again and be very happy about it. Rating: 8.5

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Wings – 1927

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The movie was Wings. Dinner was vegan chili and cornbread.

Jil:

Composition of many ground shots blew me away – reminiscent of Millet and Barbizon School.  Air flight screens of planes in flames ballet like – oddly serene. Can’t imagine what this must have been like for audiences of the times. Too many bubbles, not enough Gary Cooper – well it was very early but indicates why he became such an icon.  This deserves to have been the first Oscar winning movie.  Highly recommend.  I’d give it a 9 or 10 if only for the historic place it holds in American film, but really for so much else.  This is a must see.

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Bethany:

Wings (1927) – the FIRST winner of the Best Picture Academy Award

Things I liked:

Loosely based on a midsummer night’s dream

Clara Bow as Mary (meow!) also it is awesome that she helps dummy head Jack work on his car. According to Wikipedia it was rewritten to accommodate Clara Bow, as she was Paramount’s biggest star, but wasn’t happy about her part: “Wings is…a man’s picture and I’m just the whipped cream on top of the pie”.

Brief but wonderful appearance by Gary Cooper

Amazing aerial shots that are still fantastic even by today’s standards

At one of tables in a Paris Café there appears to be a lesbian couple

Fantastic Catholic imagery during David’s death scene

Because this is a silent film it’s fun to read the dialogue in your best ‘old timey newscaster’s voice’

Parts of this film seemed very homoerotic & according to Wikipedia “Wings was one of the first to show two men kissing: when several aviators are presented medals by a French general and are ceremonially pecked on their necks, and a fraternal moment between Rogers and Arlen during the deathbed finale. Marcel Danesi remarks that the Rogers-Arlen kiss was “really not a romantic kiss, reverberating more with the desperate love between two dear friends who are about to be separated by death”, but speculates that the “lingering” aspect of the kiss may have “unconsciously started the process of opening up America’s rigid moral attitudes at the time.”

Things I did NOT like:

At 2h 24min this is a long film.  Fortunately, the copy we watched included a brief intermission & it was very much needed.

Jack gets drunk in Paris & begins to see bubbles everywhere.  Whereas this was some impressive special effects for the time I kept wishing this scene would be over.  Plus what the hell was in that Champagne?

It was hard to believe that both of these men (David & Jack) preferred Sylvia over Mary.

Because once again: Clara Freaking Bow

The character of Jack is just really annoying.  He seems like such an idiot. I guess if I think of him as a teenager is makes more sense, but the actor playing him was about 23 at the time.

Rating: 5 out of 10.  It wasn’t great.  It wasn’t terrible.  I’m glad I watched it, but I probably will not watch it again

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Darcy:
Charles “Buddy” Rogers

 

Well I’m not braggin’ babe so don’t put me down

But I’ve got the fastest set of wheels in town

When something comes up to me he don’t even try

Cause if I had a set of wings man I know she could fly

She’s my little deuce coupe

You don’t know what I got

 

Clara Bow

 

War, huh, good god

What is it good for

Absolutely nothing, listen to me

Oh, war, I despise

‘Cause it means destruction of innocent lives

War means tears to thousands of mothers eyes

When their sons go to fight

And lose their lives

 

Gary Cooper

 

Suddenly I’m not half the man I used to be.

There’s a shadow hanging over me.

Oh, yesterday came suddenly.

Why she had to go, I don’t know, she wouldn’t say.

I said something wrong, now I long for yesterday.

 

Richard Arlen

 

Because I want it all

It started out with a kiss

How did it end up like this

It was only a kiss, it was only a kiss

Now I’m falling asleep

The world is on my side

 

The Flying Circus

 

I have no reason to run

So will someone come and carry me home tonight

The angels never arrived

But I can hear the choir

So will someone come and carry me home

Tonight, we are young

So let’s set the world on fire

We can burn brighter than the sun

 

Arlette Marchal

 

Oh yeah, all right

Are you going to be in my dreams

Tonight?

 

2hr 24 minutes later

 

And in the end

The love you take

Is equal to the love you make.

or

It was a whopping good yarn and technically brilliant for any time but especially 1927.

8/10

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Eric:

Wings – 1927.

Where better to start than at the beginning?

Generally, I like pre-film code stuff. I find the films interesting and engaging. I also like silent films a lot, but I tend to get fantastically sleepy while watching them. This was no different. I almost nodded off twice. That is no indictment of the film itself, just my personal inability to keep it together for long silent pictures.

Plusses: There are beautiful shots, amazing composition, and some overall amazing film-making that seems far ahead of its time. I love how the film starts off with Jack and Mary on the ground and progresses into the sky as the story progresses. There is some interesting thematic visual narrative there, for sure. And, I mean, Clara Bow is just amazing. Other plusses include a scene stolen by a young Gary Cooper, the shot of two women clearly on a date at the bar in Paris, and David’s death scene. As Bethany mentions, the Catholic imagery is amazing and over the top. The aerial shots are AMAZING. The dogfights are impressive by todays flying and filming standards! I kept saying out loud that I couldn’t believe this was made in the 1920s.

I wasn’t crazy about the length. YIKES. This thing is long. Clear the calendar if you take the plunge. The bubbles scene is too long. Jack is a jagoff. The story itself is not my cup of tea. I feel like Jack is given a pass for being a prat, and I’m supposed to be super sad about David, and I really wasn’t. That said, it’s a great piece of film making.

Overall, this film was great. I’m glad I watched it. I most likely won’t watch it again, but if you’re into classic cinema, you probably should.

Rating: 7/10

 

Beginnings

Like any good adventure, we felt it was only fitting to include our origin story.

A while back, after hanging out one evening, the four of us got to talking about how we should watch the Oscar-Winning Best Picture films from the earliest winners on.  Quite a bit of time passed and we were no closer to doing it.

Then, starting in the fall of 2016 and winter of 2017, the four of us started getting together pretty regularly on Sunday afternoons and evenings for a family dinner (mostly to assuage Eric’s freaking about about finishing up school. A nice Sunday dinner with the family was always welcome!). Occasionally these Sundays would also include a movie. This re-started the discussion about watching the Oscar-winners. Then we decided that if we had this blog, we’d have a nice structure to watch and review the films! We printed a list of all the winning films and talked about what we had seen and hadn’t. 4ThumbsUp4ThumbsDown was born.

And that brings us to this point. 4ThumsUp4ThumbsDown is a family film review blog. We hope you find some of this interesting, entertaining, or at least a bit fun. Remember, we’re out here watching stuff like The Broadway Melody so you don’t have to!

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