August 24, 2011

#20: It's a Wonderful Life

Despite its classic status, Frank Capra's Christmas weepfest It's a Wonderful Life was not a critical or commercial success when it was released in 1946. In fact, some prognosticators believe that had it been released a few months later, it would have fared better with audiences and particularly with the Oscars, which were not nearly as stacked and competitive in 1947 as they were in 1946, the year The Best Years of Our Lives took home the top prize (a fact that I couldn't dispute). It wasn't really revered the way it is today until it became a rebroadcast staple on television in the 1970s and 1980s. Funny what a few years can do to a film. Maybe in a few years I'll look that way at the movie that had the sole preview on this DVD: Queen Latifah's Last Holiday. (?!?)

Company: alone on this one, though I should have grabbed some friends to well up with. Kecia came in near the middle and declared her distaste for how depressing it is. I hear that, though I think there's more to it.

Cuisine: my fridge is full of leftovers from Stephanie's going-away party this weekend, so I munched on fruit salad, bean dip and multigrain chips, and of course, coffee.

Bedford Falls is an idyllic little town, or so we're led to believe by a couple of angels chatting in the heavens overhead. Someone "down there" is going to take his life in just a few hours, and the angel Clarence (a jovial Henry Travers) is sent down to save him, with the promise of wings and being promoted up from Angel, Second Class. But first, he (and we) are treated to a master class history course called George Always Comes In Second.

George Bailey (played with classic charm by Oscar nominee Jimmy Stewart) has always gotten the fuzzy end of the lollipop. He saved his brother from drowning as a child and as a result lost his hearing in one ear. When his father has a stroke, George is obligated to take over the family lending business, and gives the money he'd saved for college to his brother Harry (Todd Karns) on the promise that Harry will take over when he gets back. Upon his return four years later, Harry has a wife and a job offer too good to pass up. On the night George and his wife are set to leave for their honeymoon, a bank run by most of the town forces the couple to lend what money they'd earmarked for their vacation back to the town so the business wouldn't collapse. George is continually disappointed, never as downtrodden as the proverbial Job but suffering quietly through his life that is not turning out the way he'd hoped.

But all along the way, in between these twists, we are treated to a sweet, almost saccharine love story between George and the woman he's meant for, Mary Hatch (the lovely but underused Donna Reed). As they dance the night away, as they are tricked into falling into a swimming pool (and continue to dance), as they wander home singing "Buffalo gals, won't you come out tonight..." the audience is acutely aware that we are watching something special, a love story that doesn't need to try to be sweet because it already is. Stewart and Reed have remarkable chemistry that looks so effortless you nearly forget they're actors.

"I think I'll go find a girl and do some passionate necking."

The sun starts to set on their romance even on their most romantic evening, after they've fallen in the pool, when a stranger in their neighborhood pleads with George to kiss the girl already, muttering: "Youth is wasted on the wrong people." This line caught my ear, and might be a thesis for the entire film. Love it.

The great foil, however, is that George is in the business of money, and as movie audiences are reminded time and time again, money won't make you happy. George is so distracted here that he can't even notice Mary's sweet devotion and affection for him. You just want to slap him, tell him to snap out of it -- but it will take divine intervention for George to learn The Great Moral.

Lionel Barrymore plays the soulless slumlord Henry Potter, which is not much of a role really, although Barrymore makes a legend out of Potter with every scowl and sly look he can muster. In a way, he doesn't even exist in the narrative except to continually press on the back of George's mind, the happiness that Potter has probably never felt. He's an archetype, the symbol of greed and wealth in the film, and since George has been "a thorn in his side" for a long time, he'll bring him down by any means necessary. When that opportunity to do so literally falls into his lap, he takes it, driving George to the edge.

"How'm I doin', Joseph?"

This happens on Christmas Eve, after which George arrives home to his appropriately cheery family. He's basically an asshole to every one of them and makes his kids cry. Wait, this is an inspirational film? We've been treated to a sweet love story for about an hour and a half and this is where the fantasy element comes to the front. After George storms out in a huff, Mary tells each of her children to pray hard for Daddy, which amount to the prayers heard by the angels at the film's beginning. Way to save your dad with prayers, kids!

George's mind is filled with thoughts of suicide, and it's after Potter proclaims that he'd be "worth more dead than alive" because of his insurance policy that George heads for the town bridge to make a jump for it, but his angel Clarence saves him. Clarence is basically a weird hybrid of the three scepters in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, which show that protagonist unaltered versions of his past and present and a gloomy prediction of his future. Clarence, on the other hand, has a nastier trick up his sleeve, and shows George, without warning, a world without him, one in which he'd never been born. Is this not our greatest collective nightmare?

George does not handle it very well.

No one recognizes him. His town doesn't look right. His mother runs a boarding house and has no children. His wife is an old maid, and a librarian for God's sake! This is what it takes to set him right, to show him how good he's had it despite everything that's gone against his plan for his life. Luckily he's able to snap out of it when Clarence leaves, but this sequence is deeply disturbing. In fact, Rich Cohen (for wrote a fascinating piece last Christmas declaring It's a Wonderful Life to be "the most terrifying movie ever." I can't say I wholly disagree with it. Without any special effects (maybe save the fake snow and Clarence's disappearance), Capra illustrates our deepest fear, a world without us, one that goes on without us. It's the ultimate vanity test, and luckily, like Ebenezer Scrooge, George comes back from the brink of insanity and views his life differently.

Oh, and the town donates the money he needs. And everyone sings Auld Lang Syne.

The movie ends with warm holiday fuzzies and carols and cute children slinging all over Stewart, and a toast from his brother: "To my brother George, the richest man in town." He means it literally now -- the $8,000 George needed now lies in front of him -- but we are meant to hear it in the figurative sense. It's no coincidence that Clarence leaves behind for George a copy of the book he'd been reading, The Adventure of Tom Sawyer, in which a boy with nothing makes a life. George has everything now: what can he do? And what can we do?

It's sweet, it's silly, it's dark, but goddammit if I didn't at least well up at the end. You'd have to have a pretty hard heart not to. It's not the best movie ever made but it's genuine and means well, and it might be hard to find a more universal message than the one It's a Wonderful Life provides.

A slightly darker film up next: more Marlon, in On the Waterfront.

August 15, 2011

Cine-Smackdown: #21-#30

80 movies down! The end is in sight! I can view all the movies left at once on the right side of your screen! Your screen... because I'm standing behind you looking at it. HA! Made you look.

21. Chinatown
22. Some Like It Hot
23. The Grapes of Wrath

24. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

To Kill a Mockingbird
26. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

High Noon
All About Eve
Double Indemnity
30. Apocalypse Now

I had not seen Chinatown (though I had started), The Grapes of Wrath, To Kill a Mockingbird (though I had assumed I had), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, High Noon, Double Indemnity or Apocalypse Now (which I also thought I'd seen) previous to the blogviews. I had seen the comedies and the Spielberg. Nice.

Of these ten, which would I move further up the list?
For all-around brilliance I think it'd be hard to argue for anything but All About Eve. That cast! That screenplay! All the others have their good points but you just can't beat Eve and Margo.

Of these ten, which would I get rid of?
Oh man. Now this gets hard. These are all total classics! This was easier further down the list, but up here where the air is clearer it's harder to find things to pick apart. After lots of consideration, even though I liked it, I think it might be Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, if only because the others seem more singular, and I feel like there's other movies here like Mr. Smith.

Who in these movies do I want as my best friend?
Um, duh: E.T.! You bring the sweetness and the finger-glowing, I'll bring the Reese's Pieces.

Who in these movies do I want to have my back in a bar fight?
Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird) wouldn't really do me much good, I'm guessing, since he's such a pacifist. But in case that would keep me from getting sucker-punched, I'd keep him around. Will Kane (High Noon) might be a little old, but he can keep bad guys at bay all by himself, even if Grace Kelly threatens to leave town right after he put a ring on it. J.J. Gittes (Chinatown), Tom Joad (The Grapes of Wrath) and Captain Willard (Apocalypse Now) are all live wires and might not be the best guys to have around.

Who in these movies is your worst frienemy?
In light of current events, I'd like to say the Congress (Mr. Smith Goes to Washington). I thought they were gonna help me out but then they give me the silent treatment and become total assholes. Phyllis Dietrichson (Double Indemnity) might stab me in the back, or more accurately, choke me from the back. But do frienemies come more glossy and horrible than Eve Harrington (All About Eve)? Whatever, I saw right through her.

Who do I take home to Mom?
Jefferson Smith (Mr. Smith) is totally my mom's type, but she'd probably be creeped out by E.T. like all the adults are. C'mon Mom! He just needs to use the phone!

You're going on a date with these movies. Who do you agree to meet for coffee but never call again?
The Grapes of Wrath: we all know we should appreciate John Steinbeck but man you're a downer, and you ended our date with a weirdly out-of-place diatribe about how you'll be "all around in the dark" and that you'll be "everywhere." Ummmmmmmmmmmmmkay.

Who do you agree to meet for coffee, and then say you'll call but never do?
High Noon. Uh oh, does that make me the cowardly townsfolk who don't help Gary Cooper? I think it does. Whatever, he'll do a better job without me.

Who do you agree to meet for coffee, and then not show up?
Apocalypse Now. Does that mean I'm skipping out on my civic duty? If my civic duty means encountering fat Brando in Cambodia, I think I'll flee to Canada.

Who do you meet for a first date, ends up staying the night and makes you breakfast in the morning?
Mr. Smith totally would, even though we talked all night (I mean, ALLL night) -- I'm seeing that he's one of the only really likable characters in this line-up, and his movie is the one I said I'd get rid of. Oops. Sorry, Jeff. Ma Joad (The Grapes of Wrath) would give me everything she had just out of the kindness of her heart, sweet ol' thing.

Who do you meet for a first date, ends up staying the night and then leaves in the morning without saying goodbye ... and steals your favorite sweater?
Evelyn Mulwray (Chinatown) has some secrets to keep. And which bitch in All About Eve wouldn't screw me over? Maybe not Karen. But she'd drain my gas tank to teach me a lesson!

What other questions would you have asked about these movies? I'd love more ideas! Leave your thoughts, reactions, passionate defenses and harsh critiques in the comments!

August 11, 2011

#21: Chinatown

"Forget it, Jake: it's..."

Roman Polanski's 1974 neonoir thriller Chinatown is like a mash-up between the the great film noir stories of the 1930s and 40s and the modern surrealism of David Lynch. It's set in the 1930s in Los Angeles (roughly where many of Lynch's films take place) but it never feels quite like it gels into its historical setting, feeling instead totally contemporary, maybe because of the recognizable stars and modern, Brando-esque line deliveries. All that aside, it's a thrilling, complex story, seen through the eyes of a private eye.

Company: on my owwwwn

Cuisine: just Jif. I'm without a car this week and last, and as such haven't had much time at the grocery store to obtain snacks.

The story opens on J. J. Gittes (Oscar nominee Jack Nicholson, cementing himself as a leading man), a private eye confronted by a woman named Evelyn Mulwray (Diane Ladd, wonderful) who suspects her husband of infidelity and wants him followed. Things are initially complicated when the real Evelyn Mulwray (a stunning Faye Dunaway) threatens Gittes with a lawsuit for investigating her husband without reason. And this is just the beginning of the complications, all of which are revealed to us at the same time that Gittes discovers them.

The real story revolves around the dispute over land and water rights in the city of Los Angeles and the surrounding area in the 1930s, which was apparently a thing. Fun fact: the head of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power at the time this movie takes place was a man named William Mulholland, whose legacy to the city was such that he has a street named after him -- Mulholland Drive -- inspiring the title for David Lynch's own surreal neonoir thriller!

With so many plot twists and tricky lilts in the story, it would be exhausting to try to synopsize (shut up, that's a word!), but I'll try to hit key points. Evelyn's husband Hollis is discovered dead, perhaps murdered for what he knew, in a reservoir outside the city. But Gittes, like most fascinating cinematic detectives, can't let sleeping dogs lie -- and gets his nose sliced up for his nosiness. (Oops.)

Investigating this scheme is no easy task, given that nobody seems to be telling the truth, and at some point the audience starts to accept that nothing they're being told could be completely true. Part of Polanski's genius is that while the story is linear, the way the murder scheme unfolds for the audience is anything but. Nicholson, in his fourth Oscar-nominated performance, is adept at holding our attention while simultaneously withholding the conclusions he's drawing from the information we are being presented. Polanski doesn't make this easy for us: in the scene pictured above, a young Mexican boy riding a horse comes into the story and has a short conversation with Gittes. What are we to make of this? The director and the actor hide it from us until we can put the pieces together ourselves.

And has there been a more secretive, seductive femme fatale in modern cinema since Faye Dunaway? That jawbone, that bone structure, those smoky eyes, the hand holding her cigarette curled into a claw -- she's a vision, and luckily for Polanski (who had originally considered Jane Fonda, who would have been wrong for the role in my opinion), she acts the hell out of it.

As if the fact that she's played by Faye Dunaway wasn't a tip-off (see also: this), something is not quite right about Evelyn Mulwray's story. But Gittes is slowly falling for his femme fatale, and the penis in his brain is clouding his better judgment. What kind of story would it be without that teensy complication?

And if it weren't for his love and pity for Evelyn, he probably wouldn't have gotten as involved as he did -- and once he's in it, there's no way out. Hollis Mulwray was murdered for knowing too much, and now J. J. Gittes knows too much -- is there a way out? Not without a horrific family secret, a couple more murders, and an ultimate sense of futility at the film's end -- all accompanied by what I think is the film's greatest asset: the phenomenal, relentlessly weird and hypnotic score by perennial Oscar nominee Jerry Goldsmith (Alien, The Omen, etc.) Maybe I'm a little obsessed with the Lynch comparisons, but it stands to reason that Lynch once said this is his favorite film score of all time. Seriously. Just go listen to it. AND he only had ten days to write it. And it's in the AFI's top 25 film scores of all time. So. Yeah.

And what a visually, aurally striking ending when all the secrets have been exposed, accusations have been made, and shots are fired. Oh wow. That moment above. Oh wow. While the film as a whole occasionally lost me, the payoff alone makes me want to watch the whole thing again at some point. Good ol' Roman Polanski. His personal history alone makes me want to do a retrospective on his filmography. I need to start eliciting more ideas for new projects after this one now that I only have TWENTY MOVIES LEFT suckas!

Yes. Anyhow. Onward. Next up is one that will feel weird to watch during the summer: It's a Wonderful Life.

August 5, 2011

#22: Some Like It Hot

After my last blog movie, it's a good thing next one is a fair bit cheerier. Some would argue that there is simply no topping Billy Wilder's 1959 comedy Some Like It Hot. The AFI would actually argue that, as they rated it the greatest American comedy of all time (although there are at least two or three movies above this one on the Top 100 list that I'd categorize as comedies). You'd certainly be hard pressed to find a better constructed comedy with more zingers per minute than this gem.

Company: Stephanie, who had never seen it and chortled throughout

Cuisine: a Diet Coke -- didn't need much else to enjoy such a confection.

I have to note the prologue first, in which policemen chase a hearse through Chicago in 1929 during prohibition. This alone is enough to make us laugh, but the great visual punchline comes when the gangsters in the hearse open the leaking bullet-hole-ridden coffin to expose dozens of bottles of whiskey. What a great heist.

Onto the plot. The premise is ripe for comedy: Joe and Jerry (Tony Curtis and Oscar nominee Jack Lemmon) are down-on-their-luck musicians who disguise themselves as women and join an all-girl band after witnessing the St. Valentine's Day Massacre makes them hunted men. In the eve of the liberal 1960s, cross-dressing was not really being explored in film, and its gay implications were nowhere to be seen. (See the fascinating documentary The Celluloid Closet for more on the subject.)

Josephine and Daphne.

Both men are portrayed as unflinching heterosexual (even though Tony Curtis's purse lips, flawless makeup and made-up confession later about "having this thing about girls" make it harder to believe), which is the only reason the film could have worked at the time. But Wilder takes every joke for its own value, regardless of why we're meant to laugh, either about the men's strong discomfort being women or their equally strong desire not to be discovered. If all the laughs were of the first variety, a contemporary audience might label these portrayals as homophobic, but there's a great balance here, and Curtis and Lemmon are having the time of their lives. I think you can tell that they know they're doing something that had never been done before.

"Get a load of that rhythm section!"
Cue the muted trumpets, here comes Sugar.

Enter Sugar Kane Kowalczyk (the stunning and remarkably at-ease Marilyn Monroe), a knockout ukelele-player/singer who has a thing for saxophone players. Both gents immediately take a liking to her (how could you not!?) but have to keep up appearances as girlfriends. This leads to the hilarious scene in the boxcar when Sugar, hiding from the tyrannical bandleader Sweet Sue (the wonderful Joan Shawlee), gets none too close to Daphne. None of Daphne's responses are funny to Sugar, but they're all funny to the audience, who gets to revel in knowing so much more than the characters on screen do. (Do we get a tiny pleasure from having something that Monroe doesn't?) I've seen this once before but I didn't remember just how funny Monroe is, and how well she keeps up with the screwball pace that Lemmon and Curtis establish.

Plus, there's this (above).

A delicious throwback to A Night at the Opera.

The girls arrive in sunny Florida to play a three-week gig somewhere on the beach, which is what attracted the gentlemen to it in the first place. Little did they know they'd get tangled up in love -- and the "wrong" kind. Daphne strikes the fancy of a many-times-married-and-divorced millionaire Osgood Fielding III (an underappreciated Joe E. Brown), who can't stop thinking about her. Meanwhile, Josephine assumes a "disguise" by dressing once again as a man, a Shell Oil exec named Junior, based on information he extracted from Sugar about her kind of fella. Sugar predictably falls for Junior, which complicates things even further. Zany!

Curtis and Lemmon carry the story equally here but it's Lemmon's Daphne that ends up being the comic foil to Curtis's Josephine, who gets the more traditional storyline. It's one of the great comic performances, in which Lemmon uses his rubbery face and frenetic delivery to full effect. Doesn't he look a little bit like Angela Lansbury?

And no one packs more bang for their buck into each and every delivery than Joe E. Brown as Osgood. Look at that big dumb open mouth! Again, the audience loves to be in on the secret that the characters don't know, and we love Osgood's good nature, naughty mind and total devotion to Daphne, which makes it all the more hilarious when Jerry, blinded by the promise of a sizable dowry, actually accepts Osgood's offer of marriage and can't stop shaking those damn maracas.

The reason they're in drag in the first place comes back to haunt them when the gangsters pursuing them finally trace them to the hotel, effectively knocking them (and us) back to the reality of the situation. The last third of the film then requires them to juggle both personas with ease, and that they do. As pictured above, they run up the stairs away from the gunmen and appear the next moment coming out of an elevator, impossibly changed back into their drag personas. We're ten minutes from the end of the film and Wilder tells us to forget plausibility! Such a bold move, and one that fits the film perfectly.

"Osgood, I'm a man!"
"Well, nobody's perfect."

It's really one of the best endings to any movie -- the final zinger in a movie lousy with zingers. What's more: it spits in the eye of the National Legion of Decency, a Roman Catholic organization dedicated to identifying morally objectionable content in motion pictures which gave the film a "condemned" rating, and homophobes everywhere who, until this moment in the film, hadn't really been presented with specifically homosexual content. No, Osgood isn't gay, but the joke leaves us with the same face that Jerry makes, not of horror or disgust but of delighted confusion. This film, along with Psycho and others, actually helped to bring about the end of the Production Code, Hollywood's moral censorship guidelines that had been in place since 1930, and the beginning of the Motion Picture Association of America's film rating system, spearheaded by Jack Valenti and still in place today. Ratings are a fascinating subject (perhaps one for exploration on this blog), and Some Like It Hot defied so many standards that Hollywood had to change. How many movies can claim that?

It's so much less satisfying to read about this film than to just watch it, so go rent it, y'alls!

Next up: a film I started and never finished. Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway in Roman Polanski's Chinatown.

#23: The Grapes of Wrath

It had always seemed like a good idea to either read or see The Grapes of Wrath, but such dense, morose subject material does not often inspire my fancy. So it was a great surprise and relief to me that John Ford's 1940 adaptation of John Steinbeck's Dust Bowl saga, while dense and morose, also has a lot of heart and even shades of a happy ending, highlighted by solid performances and a wholly American soul.

Company: this one seemed lonely, so I'm alone once more.

Cuisine: how could I chow down on snacks or even make myself a drink for this one? Just didn't seem right. I had a glass of water in hand, and even felt a little guilt about it.

It's Oklahoma in the 1930s, and anyone who took beginning-level American history knows that the Dust Bowl was an incapacitating time for the South. Ravaged by dust storms and drought, large portions of the U.S. were left nearly in ruins, machinery and farmland left under dust. This is the reality inherited by newly paroled felon Tom Joad (Oscar nominee Henry Fonda -- so young!) as the film opens and he walks down a dusty road back to his family after four years in prison.

The people he encounters along the way are rightfully discouraged, as their land has been forcefully taken from them by the deed holders and, in one striking case, their houses are demolished in one fell swoop without warning. Tom's large family has fled their own farm for the sanctuary of their uncle John's farm. Upon his arrival, he finds that this farm also has its trouble: the bank has put a foreclosure on it (contemporary audiences can empathize in our current housing crisis) and the family has made plans to head west to California, hearing promise of abundant work in the fields there.

The Joads are a sturdy bunch, headed by Tom's parents (Russell Simpson and deserving Oscar winner Jane Darwell), but the journey west on Route 66 is a treacherous and painful one in their loaded-down pick-up: two grandparents die, and sorrow and helplessness set in. Having left a gas station along the way, one gas station says to another, "No human being could stand to be so miserable," as though their pain and suffering is a choice rather than a reality of the Dust Bowl. But they persevere. Whittaker Chambers described the Joads in Time magazine as a clan who are "never quite defeated, and their survival is itself a triumph." The film presents one hardship after another, and each time you think they'll give up, they press on against all odds.

When the family finally arrives in California, the prospects are not so sunny: the flyers they saw advertising 800 jobs went out to 15,000 people. They ask anyone they can for work, and the audience starts to recognize the same seedy gentlemen in suits who promise work for less and less money, all the while assuring them that it's the best offer they'll get, despite the terrible pay, and that if they don't take it, someone else will. The Joads are not lazy people, but they don't deserve to be treated the way they are.

This film adaptation arrived on the screen only months after the publication of the novel, and as such, the conditions portrayed were not so far off from reality in 1940. The threat of war was looming but American men and women were not yet being sent to battle, and the prosperity that came with new jobs and morale boosts inspired by the war effort was not yet on its way, so it seems like this time must have been the lowest possible point before things turned around for America. I'm not a history expert but this is my assumption -- anyone care to prove me wrong?

The film functions largely as a call to social justice. The Joads are hardly even fictionalized; their story is hauntingly accurate and detailed. But their sense of right and wrong, even in the leanest of times, is inspiring. Ford chooses to focus heavily on the Joads as a family unit, highlighting their specific struggle as a metaphor, almost a synecdoche (triple word score!), for the plight of the "Okies," where the book shows them in a "family of man" context and includes several characters cut from the film for brevity. Ebert says that the more specific a film is, the more universal it is, so this seems like a wise choice: we are meant to draw conclusions from this particular family's struggles, triumphs, and integrity. But the theme of the universality of man's plight rings true when Tom remarks that "a fellow ain't got a soul of his own, just little piece of a big soul, the one big soul that belongs to everybody."

In a cast of such uniform greatness it's almost unfair to single out one performance, but Jane Darwell's Oscar-winning turn as the Joad matriarch deserves special mention, particularly because she really gets all the good speeches, including the rallying cry that concludes the film:

"I ain't never gonna be scared no more. I was, though. For a while it looked as though we was beat. Good and beat. Looked like we didn't have nobody in the whole wide world but enemies. Like nobody was friendly no more. Made me feel kinda bad and scared too, like we was lost and nobody cared.... Rich fellas come up and they die, and their kids ain't no good and they die out, but we keep on coming. We're the people that live. They can't wipe us out, they can't lick us. We'll go on forever, Pa, cos we're the people."

Darwell's intensity and focus seem so simple for all the effort we see, but she is the heart of the film, and it's because of her that you know the Joads will march on, no matter what happens to them. Yes, the character is written well, but it's no small feat for an actress, so well done, Ms. Darwell.

Less inspiring and a little hokier to me was Tom Joad's comforting farewell to his mother after he once again becomes a fugitive, making his presence a threat to the family's well-being.

"I'll be all around in the dark. I'll be everywhere. Wherever you can look, wherever there's a fight, so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Wherever there's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there. I'll be in the way guys yell when they're mad. I'll be in the way kids laugh when they're hungry and they know supper's ready, and when the people are eatin' the stuff they raise and livin' in the houses they build, I'll be there, too."

Ma's speech seems like all you'd need to get this message across, and Tom's seems almost too flowery and poetic to be accurate for the character. Regardless, Tom's struggle to leave a legacy to a family he may never see again is touching. Who knows what will become of Tom Joad? As we've seen through out the film, it certainly won't be easy. A very moving film, if you can't stand it and not feel guilty for downing a burger afterwards.

Onto something a little cheerier. A little? A lot. One of the great comedies of all time: Jack "Daphne" Lemmon and Tony "Josephine" Curtis with Marilyn "Sugar" Monroe in Some Like It Hot.