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Posts Tagged ‘Katharine Hepburn’

This weekend I watched three movies – one DVD and two on-line: “The Jericho Mile” (1979), “Bruce Lee – The Legend” (1977), and “Woman of the Year” (1942).  They are all good movies for very different reasons.
The Jericho Mile” stars Peter Strauss as Rain Murphy, a man serving life for murdering his father.  The movie has multiple themes: crime, racism, friendship, corruption, justice and (mainly) running.  Rain is serving his time by running around the exercise yard of Folsom Prison.  He is fast and it gets noticed.  There are three rival racial factions in the prison: the Whites, the Blacks and the Hispanics.  Rain’s black friend and training partner runs afoul of the White gang and is murdered.  The gang tells the Black gang it was Rain’s fault and the leader of the gang beats up Rain.  Behind the scenes, the warden and the prison psych want to use Rain to inspire other prisoners to rehabilitate themselves and arrange for Rain to get a chance to run against some college runners in the hopes of getting a shot at qualifying for the USA Olympic Team.
My favorite line in the movie belongs to Murphy.  After getting beaten up, he promises to nail the Black gang leader for insulting his friend/brother and the leader asks Rain what he intends to do after that.  Rain, who is badly beaten and struggling to breathe, let alone stand up, replies: “I gotta finish my workout.
It is a terrific movie which I saw in it’s original broadcast back in 1979 (as a “Movie of the Week”).  The final running scene set against the Rolling Stones “Sympathy for the Devil” instrumental is a cinema classic (as far as I’m concerned”).  The movie just appeared up on YouTube.com, so you better go see it while it’s still up there!  Strauss won an Emmy for this role.  The movie won a total of three.
Bruce Lee – The Legend” is a documentary about the life and art (martial and theatrical) of Bruce Lee.  This is the first time I’ve seen the documentary and it’s a typical promotion of a dead star by the Chinese movie industry.  Having said that, the individual scenes of Bruce getting interviewed for a job and his describing Jeet Kune Do – the martial arts system Bruce created – is truly outstanding.  If you are interested in the background of a martial arts legend, this is a good place to start.  The question will always remain if Bruce was truly a great martial artist or just a handsome and charismatic actor who was also a superior athlete and martial artist.  Because there is no record (at least I’m not aware of any record) of Bruce Lee appearing in a “real” mixed martial art competition, I’m afraid it’s a question which will never be answered.  I watched this movie on HULU.com, which is a pretty good source of current TV shows and
Woman of the Year” stars Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy.  The film was their first movie together and their chemistry is obvious.  The movie is a about two competing newspaper writers – one on politics and the other on sports.  They meet.  Fall in love.  Marry.  And then the problems begin.  While the movie has some tremendously funny moments – especially when Hepburn’s character attempts to cook Tracy’s character breakfast, the movie is symptomatic of its time and has an incredibly sexist message that ultimately, every woman, no matter how successful, must ultimately define herself within her role as a wife (and eventual mother).  My daughter Sarah watched the movie with Hil and me and I asked her about this message.  She said she really didn’t see it that way at all and it was “just” a funny, but unrealistic movie.  I asked her why, and she replied, “One, she never would have married that far beneath her; and, two, she wouldn’t be able to stay home and live on only his salary when it was obvious she had a much more important (and well paying) job than he did.”  From the mouth of babes……
As I said, all three are entertaining movies for entirely different reasons, but I recommend all three – particularly “The Jericho Mile“.
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Yesterday, I relaxed by watching a couple of movies: Ip Man 2 and Adam’s Rib. Ip Man 2 by myself and Adam’s Rib with Hil.  The former is another of the movies I picked up on Veteran’s Day.  The latter is from the Katharine Hepburn – Turner Classics Collection which I purchased for Hil for her birthday last month.
Movie reviews:
The first movie I watched was “Ip Man 2“, which is the 2010 sequel to “Ip Man” (see my review of the original here) and once again stars Donnie Yen in the title role of Master Ip.  While the first movie was supposed to be quasi-biographical, I don’t think the sequel is based on any historical event.  It is merely the glamorization of the main character who is (historically) a famous Chinese boxing master.  (He was Bruce Lee’s instructor.)  Anyway, the film surprisingly doesn’t add anything to either the “legend” of the man or the art of Kung Fu films.  It is not a re-tread of the original, but neither does it break new ground in film-making.  The fights sequences are mostly excellent choreography, but nothing that leaves you saying “Wow!“, which I must admit I thought several times during the first film.  The climactic boxing match is surprisingly “Rocky-esk”, but unconvincing.
My own opinion of a Kung Fu versus Western boxing match at the “professional” level is that if the Kung Fu fighter is allowed to kick below the waist or use killing blows, he will almost certainly win and win fairly quickly.  If he is restricted in the type of blows he can use and can only kick above the waistline, the advantage probably shifts to the Western style boxer.  My only other comment is the original I viewed was boot-legged in the Philippines and for some reason did not have English dubbing.  It did have English sub-titles, but they were distracting and detracted from the movie.  However, since I don’t speak Mandarin, the sub-titles are required to follow along.  The version of “2” I have was purchased legitimately and has both English dubbing and sub-titles (but for whatever reason I was not able to turn the sub-titles off).  Recommended viewing if you enjoy a well-done martial arts movie.
Incidentally, I also bought a copy of the original and intend to re-watch and re-review it later.  I may even view both and combine the reviews.
The second movie was “Adam’s Rib” starring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn.  The film is from 1949 and involves two married attorney’s on opposite sides of a vigilante case of a wife shooting at her husband when she catches him cheating on her.  The film works because of the obvious chemistry between the two main characters.  There is also an outstanding supporting role for David Wayne playing the scoundrel next door neighbor – Kip Lurie.  I must admit that while I love this film and it is definitely one of my favorites combining these two stars, the court / legal scenes are completely unbelievable – particularly the verdict.  It remains a classic in the battle of the sexes / battle of the spouses movie genres.  Highly recommended if you want to see two old-time Hollywood stars in one of their best roles together.
Hil said she enjoyed the movie (and especially Katharine Hepburn) but didn’t find it particularly comedic.  On reflection, I have to agree with her.  There were funny lines and humorous moments, but all in all, it wasn’t a particularly “funny” comedy.  Interesting…
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Last night I finished reading another of the $2 books I keep picking up at my local used bookstore (Half-Priced Books).  This was not one of the ones I was planning to take with me to Baltimore for my (now) aborted detail, but it was picked up shortly after I wasn’t able to go.
The book is titled: “The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life“, and was written by Alice Schroeder (2008©).  The author spent several years with Mr. Buffett and seems to have had fairly unlimited access to his time and records in order to create this work.  And, it is a “work”, as it’s over 800 pages!   Having cautioned any readers about the volume of the tome, I’ll now state categorically it is well worth the time invested in reading it (pun intended).
If you know anything about Warren Buffett, it’s probably that he is one of the ten richest men in the world.  You may also have heard something about his personal philanthropy – he will be giving away tens of billions of dollars over the next decade.  How does such a man come to be so wealthy?  What “tricks” did he use?  And why does he now plan to give it away?  The answers appear to be he earned it by saving, investing, and having an incredible amount of focus and intensity; and, he plans to give it all away because he can.
That’s all you will really get out the book…  A personality, a philosophy and a lifestyle, but almost no tips of the trade or inside knowledge of how to make “smart” investments.  Sadly (or maybe not), this is what I was hoping to get from reading the book.  Buffett’s suggestion if you want to learn how to invest: read Benjamin Graham’s books.  After all, that’s what he (Buffett) did.  Again, having said the book is not what I hoped for – or expected – it turns out to be a terrific biography about a truly historical figure.  The book covers most of the 20th century and is almost a history book in itself.
I found the book to be extremely well written and I will even go so far as to admit I cried when Mr. Buffett’s wife passed away.  Highly recommended!
Last night I watched “On Golden Pond” with Hil.  We are both Katherine Hepburn fans and we have both seen this movie multiple times, but probably not in the last ten years or so.  Anyway, the movie co-stars Henry Fonda in his final movie role and for which he received an Oscar for Best Actor.   The movie is about an elderly couple trying to come to terms with family issues (cantankerous father and insecure daughter) as they also are trying to come to terms with their own mortality.  I believe it was nominated for ten Oscars and it won three.  I highly recommend it – for the actors, the cinematography and the story – all brilliant!
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I watched Rooster Cogburn with Hil this evening.  I’ve seen it before – many years ago – but had forgotten what a terrific little movie it was.  John Wayne and Katharine Hepburn were terrific together.  The dialogue was witty and they played off each other tremendously.  It was JW’s 2nd to last movie and he was already dying of cancer at the time.
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