Monday, July 22, 2013

Film Gems on YouTube

Of course I’d rather watch a brand new print of any movie than an old beat up print. Likewise, given the choice, I’d rather see that pristine print projected onto a large screen than watch it on a laptop. But if the choice is between seeing or not seeing a film, let’s say it’s old film noir I’ve read about but never seen, the laptop will do.

Enter YouTube.

Over the last few months I’ve watched a bunch of old movies on YouTube at no charge. Apparently, thousands of titles are available. Sometimes the look of the picture has been better than others. Some of the films are in the public domain, others may not be and they might not be available for long, due to rights issues.

Several of the gems I’ve watched recently have been pulled, so don’t wait to see one on the list you really want to see. It might be gone tomorrow.

In particular, I’ve been enjoying the black and white movies from the 1950s and early-‘60s. Of the movies in that category I’ve watched recently on YouTube, my favorite five today (with links that still work at this posting) are as follows:

“The Big Heat” (1953): B&W. Directed by Fritz Lang; Cast: Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame, and Lee Marvin. Note: Ford is the cop who won’t be scared off of investigating the death of a colleague. Grahame is the gangster’s moll who gets caught in the middle. Marvin is the second-in-command in a crime syndicate who routinely terrorizes people, especially women, for his own amusement. Click here to watch it.

“The Hitch-Hiker” (1952): B&W. Directed by Ida Lupino; Cast: Edmund O’Brien, Frank Lovejoy, William Talman. Note: Based on a true crime spree story that had been covered extensively in the press in 1950. For a woman to direct a lean and brutal movie like this one was a breakthrough in its time. Talman’s quirky portrayal as the psychotic murderer is memorable. Click here to watch it.

“Paris Blues” (1961): B&W. Directed by Martin Ritt; Cast: Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Sidney Pointier, Louis Armstrong, Diahann Carroll. Note: Seeing the good looking stars of this story about Americans wrapped up in the jazz scene in Paris is well worth it. Some expatriates were way too cool for the processed rhythm and blues, country & western, and folk music that was dominating the pop charts in the USA. Click here to watch it.

“Patterns” (1956): B&W. Directed by Fielder Cook; Cast: Van Heflin, Everett Sloane, Ed Begley. Note: Written by Rod Serling, “Patterns” was first presented on the Kraft Television Theatre in 1955. A year later it was reworked as a feature film. Perhaps the most amazing thing about this story of dog-eat-dog immorality in the business world is how well it holds up. Click here to watch it.

"Shake Hands With the Devil" (1959): B&W. Directed by Michael Anderson; Cast: James Cagney, Don Murray, Dana Wynter, Richard Harris. Note: This story about an American medical student (of Irish heritage) getting inadvertently involved with revolutionary politics is set in Dublin in 1921. The student, who is also an apolitical WWI veteran, gets dragged into the IRA’s bitter battle with the thuggish Black and Tans. Click here to watch it.

No comments: