Thursday, March 7, 2019

Thursday Movie Picks - Cold War

Written as part of the weekly blogathon hosted by Wandering Through the Shelves. Join in the fun by picking three movies that fit the week's theme and writing about them!

I've been not feeling well and waited too long to do this this week, so let's dispense with the formalities and get down to business, shall we?

North by Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959) One of the most enjoyable of all Hitchcock's films, with a winning leading performance by Cary Grant, a sultry, never-more-beautiful Eva Marie Saint, and a deliciously evil James Mason and Martin Landau. With special appearances by Mt. Rushmore and one PERSISTENT plane. I've probably seen this more times than any other Hitchcock film, because it's seemingly always showing on TV and I can't stop watching no matter when I start.

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Stanley Kubrick, 1964) Kubrick's funniest, most enjoyable film, with indelible performances from Peter Sellers, Sterling Hayden, Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Peter Sellers, and Slim Pickens - not to mention BABY JAMES EARL JONES! The satire is black as pitch and absolutely hysterical, and like the best satires, only seems more prescient as the years go by.

White Nights (Taylor Hackford, 1985) It's been many years since I've seen this movie, about two dancers played by Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gregory Hines, one who has defected from the Soviet Union and one who has defected TO the Soviet Union (unthinkable, right?), but I still remember how incredible the dancing is. It's also remembered as the film where director Hackford first met his wife, one Dame Helen Mirren.


  1. While its not my favorite Hitchcock, that would be Saboteur followed closely by Rear Window & Lifeboat, N by NW is definitely in the top tier. Beautiful to look at and what a cast.

    I respect the artistry of Dr. Stangelove more than I love the film but it is a masterpiece of its type. All the players you mentioned are fantastic and I've always had a soft spot for Keenan Wynn as well.

    I saw White Nights in the theatre and I don't think I've seen it in its entirety since but I did like the film. An imperfect movie but entertaining and Baryshnikov and Gregory Hines are fantastic when they dance.

    I went a trifle more contemporary than I usually do along with a stone classic of the genre.

    Bridge of Spies (2015)-During the Cold War, the Soviet Union captures U.S. pilot Francis Gary Powers after shooting down his U-2 spy plane. Sentenced to 10 years in prison, Powers' only hope is New York lawyer James Donovan (Tom Hanks), recruited by a CIA operative to negotiate his release. Donovan boards a plane to Berlin, hoping to win the young man's freedom through a prisoner exchange. If all goes well, the Russians would get Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance), the convicted spy who Donovan defended in court. Excellent performances by all and strong direction by Steven Spielberg keep this involving throughout.

    Good Luck, and Good Night (2005)-Senator Joseph McCarthy begins a vicious witch hunt to root out Communists in America destroying lives and careers without concern. Powerful CBS News reporter Edward R. Murrow (David Strathairn) dedicates himself to exposing the atrocities being committed by McCarthy's Senate "investigation." Murrow is supported by a news team that includes long-time friend and producer Fred Friendly (George Clooney). The CBS team does its best to point out the senator's lies and excesses, despite pressure from CBS' corporate sponsors to desist. Directed by Clooney in stark black and white to evoke the period this has a stacked cast, Patricia Clarkson, Robert Downey, Jr. and Jeff Daniels among others, all working at top speed but it’s Strathairn’s Oscar nominated turn that makes the film run.

    The Manchurian Candidate (1962)-Near the end of the Korean War, a platoon of U.S. soldiers are captured by communists and brainwashed. Following the war, the platoon returns home, and Sergeant Raymond Shaw (Laurence Harvey) is lauded as a hero by the rest of his platoon. However, the platoon commander, Captain Bennett Marco (Frank Sinatra), finds himself plagued by strange nightmares and, together with fellow soldier Allen Melvin (James Edwards), races to uncover a terrible plot leading to the top tiers of power. John Frankenheimer directs with laser point precision guiding the story without wasting a frame. Angela Lansbury is flat out amazing in a portrait of coiled evil hidden behind a placid veneer.

  2. And White Nights won Lionel Richie an Oscar!

  3. Love NBNW and it is one of the best films by Hitchcock. I love the announcer and wish movie trailers would do that today. I still have to see Dr. Strangelove and I hang my head low that I have not done so yet. White Nights I saw in the theatre and I remember being pissed off about the way the dance sequences were filmed. I felt they went to the actual feet way too often and forgot what Fred Astaire made sure to do with his films...always film so one sees the whole body. I should watch it again to see if I think the same way

  4. Aww I hope you feel better! I've only seen North by Northwest of your picks, but I've got Dr. Strangelove as a Blind Spot this year.

  5. Borth by Northwest is the best Hitchcock.

  6. I know North by Northwest if a lot of people favourite Hitchcock film, I didn't like it all. Your last pick is completely new to me.