Director: John Huston
Writers: John Huston (screenplay), B. Traven (novel)
Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston, Tim Holt, Robert Blake as a kid
IF you like film classics with fine performances of actors from another era and can be forgiving of a portrayal of Mexicans more literary device than reflection,
SEE The Treasure of Sierra Madre reverse the alchemical process and turn gold into madness. Spoiler alert: this is an all male, very male, male to bitter end film.
BECAUSE philosophy, a rare theme for movies, makes for insight into human beings that forms a cautionary tale for today as well as the gold rush days.
BTW: Walter Huston, in his mid-60’s was an old man by Hollywood standards, stole the show from Humphrey Bogart who plays one of the best roles of his career in this film.
Writer and Director: Gotz Spielmann
Stars: Johannes Krisch, Irina Potapenko, Andreas Lust
If you’re looking for a lusty psychological drama with striking, symbolic cinematography,
SEE Revanche delve into a man’s crisis of loss that turns him back on himself for salvation.
BECAUSE revenge is a snare, a gun can’t settle a score and women can dispel cobwebs of grief as surely as they spin webs of desire.
BTW: Probably good to know the story going in. An ex-con attempts to liberate himself and his prostitute girlfriend from poverty with a bank robbery in Vienna that goes terribly wrong and leaves him stranded in a forest of emotions seemingly only resolvable by revenge.
Director: Elia Kazan
Based on Novel by Conrad Richter
Starring: Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Melvyn Douglas
IF you are Hepburn/Tracy fans:
SEE The Sea of Grass, a so-so western shows a smart rancher anticipate the disaster of the dustbowl of the 1930’s as farmers pushed into late 19th century cattle land,
BECAUSE Hepburn makes a case for men to honor mothers even when the judgment goes against them – in the end, Hollywood style, Tracy takes her back, but…
BTW: Once pristine grassland as well a prized son dies at the hands of two-fisted justice, let’s applaud young men and women who step away from a ‘sins of the father’ legacy and create a freshened metaphor for future generations.
Director: John Huston
Writers: Tennessee Williams (play), Anthony Veiller (screenplay)
Stars: Richard Burton, Ava Gardner, Deborah Kerr, Sue Lyon
IF you remember the ‘60s when sexuality was threatening to bring down respectability, leave religion in tatters and death was a viable option to living with shame,
SEE The Night of the Iguana for John Huston’s take on Tennessee William’s exploration of sexuality on the loose like an iguana who’s slipped its noose…
BECAUSE feeling dark, ravaging passions without letting them unhinge the mind is, perhaps, the greatest human dilemma of all.
BTW: Each actor carries his or her persona into this film – the hot Ava Gardner, the cool Deborah Kerr and the nubile Sue Lyon (she was Lolita) all orbit the tormented Richard Burton, ever the restrained Shakespearian with his own Elizabeth Taylor at his side!
Written, Directed and Starring: Mel Brooks (^#!*blanketty blank genius)
Screenplay: Mel Brooks, Norman Steinberg, Richard Pryor, A. Bergman, A. Uger
Stars: Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder, Slim Pickens, Harvey Korman, Madeline Kahn
IF you’re a wild thinker who believes the Wild West is still breaking ground for the future,
SEE Mel Brooks play a forerunner election of a black president in Blazing Saddles where he turns spoof into truth…
BECAUSE what’s funny is that what once was funny is no longer funny. Why not a black president.
BTW: How is anyone this smart, so far ahead and down-to-earth hilarious? By the time you catch on to the human need to live illusion, you’re back on the ground laughing out loud.
Director: Rolf Schubel
Writers: Ruth Toma and Rolf Schubel (screenplay
Stars: Joachim Krol, Erika Marozsan, Stefano Dionisi
Song: Performed by Heather Nova, Arranged by Detlef Friedrich Petersen
IF you’re intrigued by a true love triangle spiced with angelic beauty, soulful honesty and sparkling humor,
SEE Gloomy Sunday, a film with a song of dreaded fate that you may think you anticipate but, in the end, you’ll be re-running the opening scene for clues,
BECAUSE the great rift opened in a heart by an unconscionable request causes a crack so deep it goes down forever* – and best not to forget it.
BTW: *I garnered this insight from Louise Erdrich, The Round House, page 213, who writes about the relevance of the American Indian to the lives we live today in a manner as beautiful as this film brings forward an historical legacy from Budapest.
Director: Edward Dmytryk
Writers: Peter Stone (screenplay), Howard Fast (novel)
Stars: Gregory Peck, Diane Baker, Walter Matthau, George Kennedy
If you like your psycho thrillers well done, exciting and suspenseful but buttoned up in metaphor — and are tired of being terrified through a whole movie just to kill off a few bad guys…,
SEE Mirage make amnesia into a captivating premise for suspense before Freud became a thing of the past and billboard psychology took over,
BECAUSE Gregory Peck is an excellent actor, human mystery is always satisfying and following one’s instincts is a motive to be encouraged.
BTW: This film is as close to a Hitchcock film as one can get without his signature. When the power in NYC goes out, Peck’s lost his memory and a CEO falls out of a skyscraper in the first ten minutes, the end is worth waiting for.
Director: Robert Redford
Writers: Lem Dobbs (screenplay), Neil Gordon (novel)
Starring a fabulous cast: Robert Redford, Susan Sarandon, Julie Christie, Chris Cooper, Stanley Tucci, Brit Marling, Nick Nolte, Sam Eliot and more.
IF you missed it, fix that.
SEE The Company You Keep as a reminder that life is long; decisions made with the best of intentions can go awry and secrets discovered…,
BECAUSE idealism is no protection from grief and children inspire truth, be prepared to grab the joyful moments and pause often for humility.
BTW: I lived the protest years of the 60’s, took risks of my own to make things right and agreed with peers who wanted peace, not war. Sadness welled up as I watched this film and realized why I’ve felt a grief I could never explain. Losing ideals is like losing a best friend.
Written by Dr. Jane Alexander Stewart
Newtopia staff writer Jane Alexander Stewart, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in Los Angeles who writes essays about mythic themes in film, creates “Myth in Film; Myth in Your Life” seminars for self-exploration and travels a lot. Her film reviews have been published in the San Francisco C.G. Jung Library Journal, Spring: A Journal of Archetype and Culture and Los Angeles Journal of Psychological Perspectives. Jane’s popular essay on “The Feminine Hero in The Silence of the Lambs” appears in the anthology, The Soul of Popular Culture, and in The Presence of the Feminine in Film as one of its authors. She’s also presented myth in film programs at Los Angeles County Museum, University of Alabama and C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich. A collection of her reviews and other writing can be found at www.CinemaShrink.com.