Tag Archives: biopic

Hitchcock (2012)

Let me tell you, I was in quite a rut with the movies that have been released in the past year. As I’ve said a million times, technology is replacing the tasteful charm that originally constructed a good film. The authenticity has been lost, I would say. Well, I have been proved wrong once again.

Another perfect cast, another great group of writers. Anthony Hopkins nails it, to say the least. Helen Mirren was Helen Mirren, but her go-to character is so unbelievably likable that we don’t mind. The most pleasant surprise was Scarlett Johansson, who was absolute perfection as Janet Leigh.

The basic premise follows the production of Psycho. Since this is my favorite Hitchcock flick (besides Shadow of a Doubt and Notorious of course), I was totally and completely captivated from beginning to end. If you are a Hitchcock fan, please see it. You won’t regret it. Five stars!

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Gable and Lombard (1976)

I watched this biopic a few days ago with extremely high expectations. James Brolin has that same suave disposition that Clark Gable did, perhaps to a fault. I felt that through the depiction of their relationship, it was Rhett Butler and his relationship with Carole Lombard’s older cousin who lacked the “it” factor in the Lombard family.

What made Carole Lombard special was her fresh face and charming irrationality matched with a good heart. My Man Godfrey is one of my favorite movies, and sure, she was a character actor. Audiences didn’t love her in dramas, and why should they? She was one of those character actors that was already so perfect, there’s no sense in trying to reform that personality. Jill Clayburgh was alright, but she didn’t have it. While Brolin beat the “Gable impression” into the ground, Clayburgh didn’t have enough of the Lombard sparkle, which is what makes her so enchanting.

I’m just a big fan, so my expectations are completely unfair.

Three stars, it is still a beautifully tragic story.

Gable and Lombard (1976)

Lenny (1974)

This biographical film about the rise and fall of Lenny Bruce is one that everyone should see. I added it to my list because his was a name that I had always heard, but I knew absolutely nothing about him. These icons are icons for a specific purpose, and I’m so glad I explored this particular one.

For those of you out there who don’t know, Lenny Bruce was an incredibly influential stand-comedian and satirist in the late 1950s to early 60s. He was one of the pioneers of the early 60s to practice freedom of speech by openly discussing controversial topics within American culture such as politics, religion, race relations and sexuality. He was arrested for “obscenity,” but died at the age of 40 from a morphine overdose prior to his trial. He was the first person in history to receive a posthumous “pardon” 37 years after his death.

The official cause of death was listed as an “accidental morphine overdose.” However, the film definitely suggests suicide. His final scene, Dustin Hoffman gives a fantastic performance of Lenny being dragged from the court hearing after they have refused his request to defend himself.

You are taking away my voice!

This was a very powerful film about a man who set the tone for many stand-up comedians that followed to have the ability to speak their minds. Please watch it if you get the chance!

Five stars! 

Lenny (1974)

Lady Sings the Blues (1972)

I had assumed that this was just a television movie created for the purpose of Diana Ross trying to expand her career to the film industry. Much to my surprise, this film was nominated for several academy awards, including Diana Ross! It was extremely well done, despite many historical inaccuracies.

Diana Ross is fabulous, there is no sense in questioning that. However, I may have a collection of only rough recordings of Billie Holiday, but I really don’t think Ross tried all that much to sound like the protagonist of the film. Billie Holiday‘s voice had this remarkable roughness to its texture, causing every dark and heart breaking jazz tune she recorded to shake you to your very core. Diana Ross has a very 70s pop voice, with her pitch very solid, I just don’t think anyone could be capable of making an accurate impersonation.

Either way, I really enjoyed learning about the tragic life of Billie Holiday. I wish the film had delved more into her story with various contracts and record labels that she worked with, rather than focusing so much on her drug problem. I suppose, though, that what caused her eventual demise could not be anything but the most important thread in this story.

I’m such a sucker for musical biopics, four stars!

The Joker is Wild (1957)

Finally finishing off the wild decade of the 1950s with this Frank Sinatra biopic on Joe Lewis.

Sinatra plays Lewis through his career as a nightclub performer and the mistakes made due to his alcoholism. Jeanne Crain plays the love interest, she is so beautiful, such a sparkle in her eyes. The story itself is quite tragic, yet ends on an uplifting note. Still, mediocre.

But I’ll always have a special place in my heart for Frank Sinatra. The Lost Weekend starring Ray Milland has essentially the same premise with a different occupation – and I couldn’t stand it. I’m beginning to believe that Sinatra can do no wrong in my book.

If you want a fantastic Sinatra movie? I’d go with From Here to Eternity (also tragic), High Society, or The Manchurian Candidate.

The Joker is Wild (1957)