FilmFanatic.org Year-End Reflection 2020
FilmFanatic.org has been going strong for over 14 years!
It’s remarkable how access to older movies has shifted in recent years, from the days when I could only find obscure titles at a local corner video store to an era when restored copies are available to stream online. (Not everything, of course — but plenty!)
In addition to switching over to a new WordPress theme this year, I’ve been spending many hours cleaning up older reviews, removing or replacing outdated links, and adding new — bigger, clearer — stills, including incorporating images directly into the review narratives themselves.
I’ve also (hopefully) made it easier to find Peary’s recommended movies according to actors (A-J, K-Z), directors, countries-of-origin, genres, and more. It’s not perfect, but it feels like I’m getting closer to the more streamlined and organized site I’ve imagined all along.
For those interested in stats, here are the latest numbers on how many of Peary’s Guide for the Film Fanatic films have been covered on this site so far:
- 1,118 reviews of titles in the front section of Peary’s book
- 1,706 reviews of titles from the back section of Peary’s book
- 41 additional reviews of titles considered “missing” from Peary’s book
That’s a total of 2,842 out of 4,300 Peary-listed titles covered, which is 65.67%.
There is still no rhyme or reason to how or why I choose to cover certain titles, other than occasionally feeling motivated to work my way through all recommended movies with a certain actor, by a certain director, on a certain topic, etc. For instance, I finally finished (re)watching and reviewing all the James Bond movies listed in Peary’s GFTFF. (Go here and search for “James Bond Films” and you’ll see them listed and hyper-linked.) And I watched NEARLY all the Tarzan flicks Peary recommends (just one more left).
My goals for FilmFanatic.org in this next year include the following:
- Keep plugging away at reviews (of course!) and get closer to the finish line. (This is a marathon, not a sprint — and an enjoyable one at that!)
- Make more real-life connections with my fellow bloggers at CMBA (the Classic Movie Blog Association).
- Continue to think about how to introduce newer, younger film fanatics to the wealth of amazing classic and cult movies out there, both must-sees and personal favorites. What’s the best format for this???
- Dream about maybe (maybe) trying out some video reviews to post on YouTube.
Meanwhile, here are some highlights of favorite movies I’ve watched and reviewed in 2020:
- To get your Pre-Code fix, check out the fabulous Edward G. in The Little Giant (1933), which “builds to an enormously satisfying conclusion”.
- For an unexpected treat on New Year’s, watch Angels Over Broadway (1940), a “compact, humanistic thriller about a quartet of down-and-out individuals finding each other one evening and conspiring to pull a fast one on fate”.
- James Mason is one of my favorite actors; this year I watched him in Carol Reed’s Odd Man Out (1947), which I found “consistently engaging, innovative, and touching”, and in the tense spy flick Five Fingers (1952) (one of the few Hollywood films Mason purportedly enjoyed watching himself in).
- If you’re curious to see Humphrey Bogart in his only horror film role, check out The Return of Doctor X (1939) — an “atmospherically shot B-flick” which offers “a pseudo-comedic mad-doctor amateur-sleuth genre-mash”.
- Robert Montgomery is “enigmatic and charming” in Night Must Fall (1937), a “unique and well-acted thriller” which it’s best to watch cold (no spoilers here).
- Seven Days to Noon (1950), about a distressed British scientist who takes lethal matters into his own hands, was an unexpected treat to stumble upon. As I write in my review, “From its opening moments until its almost unspeakably tension-filled finale, we’re held on the edge of our seats during this film.”
- Though I’m not a huge fan of biopics, I was pleasantly surprised to revisit Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon in Madame Curie (1943), finding it “both atmospheric and highly engaging”. It remains “a meticulously told tale of scientific inquiry, rigor, and suspense”.
- Peter Brook’s adaptation of William Golding’s novel Lord of the Flies (1963) is creepy and oh-so unique. It’s tough viewing, but cult-worthy cinema.
- The Wicker Man (1973), Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975), and Being There (1979) all remain justifiable cult favorites from the 1970s — very much worth a revisit if you haven’t seen them in awhile.
- While helping my son with a project-based assignment on the sinking of the Titanic, I watched Roy Ward Baker’s excellent A Night to Remember (1958) and was duly impressed. It’s “notable for its fidelity to historical detail, and for portraying this well-known tragedy in an effectively gripping fashion.”
- Budd Boetticher’s The Tall T (1957), starring Randolph Scott, is a winner: “At just 78 minutes, this nifty western moves swiftly and tells a taut, tense tale from beginning to end.”
- Perhaps you’ll agree with me that there are few better ways to spend your film-viewing hours than watching gorgeous Montgomery Clift on-screen. I revisited several of his titles this year — including Indiscretion of an American Wife (1953) (flawed) and From Here to Eternity (1954) (solid) — but my recommendations are two of his earliest titles: The Search (1948) and Howard Hawks’ Red River (1948).
- Jules Dassin’s Thieves Highway (1949) — co-starring Richard Conte and Lee J. Cobb — offers “an elaborate revenge flick within a landscape of omni-present corruption and hustling.” You’ll never casually eat an apple again without thinking of this film.
- A nearly perfect cult classic to revisit at any time is Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964). You won’t be sorry!
- To get your Elvis fix, definitely check out the engaging documentary Elvis: That’s the Way It Is (1970), with lovely cinematography by Lucien Ballard. Elvis is at his peak here.
- Finally, the perfect COVID-era flicks this year have included Vincent Price in Roger Corman’s Poe-inspired The Masque of the Red Death (1964) (“Famine, pestilence, war, disease, and death — they rule this world!”) and Ingmar Bergman’s timeless classic The Seventh Seal (1957).
Happy 2021 to everyone!