Friday, May 31, 2013

My 151 Favorite Films

...because 150 sounds like a way bigger number in my head than 151 and 100 films is simply not enough. These are my favorite films ever! Some films on this list are those I consider the best that cinema has had to offer and some are simply guilty pleasures. And to follow the Criterion way, I've written down three reasons why I love each of these films.
  We've made it halfway through the year so I figured it was high time I updated my list. Head here to view the list.

  Here's an interesting tidbit about my list.

My favorite directors according to the list are:

1) Billy Wilder | Total: 7 films | Highest Ranked: Sunset Boulevard

2) Ingmar Bergman | Total: 6 films | Highest Ranked: Cries And Whispers

3) David Lynch | Total: 5 films | Highest Ranked: Mulholland Drive

3) Federico Fellini | Total: 5 films | Highest Ranked: La Dolce Vita

3) Quentin Tarantino | Total: 5 films | Highest Ranked: Pulp Fiction

3) The Coen Brothers | Total: 5 films | Highest Ranked: No Country For Old Men

3) Alfred Hitchcock | Total: 5 films | Highest Ranked: Rear Window

8) Stanley Kubrick | Total: 4 films | Highest Ranked: A Clockwork Orange

9) Sofia Coppola | Total: 3 films | Highest Ranked: Marie Antoinette

9) Howard Hawks | Total: 3 films | Highest Ranked: Bringing Up Baby

9) Orson Welles | Total: 3 films | Highest Ranked: Citizen Kane

9) Krzysztof Kieslowski | Total: 3 films | Highest Ranked: The Double Life Of 

9) Richard Linklater | Total: 3 films | Highest Ranked: Before Sunrise

  I'd say the list is pretty accurate, although I do love the following directors who each have 2 titles on my list: Alain Resnais, Pedro Almodovar, Darren Aronofsky, Luis Bunuel, David Fincher, Michael Haneke, Elia Kazan, and Lars von Trier.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

It (Clarence G. Badger, 1927)

   A young and vivacious salesgirl falls head over heels in love with her boss. The boss' best friend is also attracted to the young woman, declaring that she has "it" --as coined by British writer Elinor Glyn. Initially, the boss is immune to the girl's charms since he barely notices her. The girl will stop at nothing to gain the heart of her love interest. She accepts a date with the best friend at the Ritz, having overhead that her boss would be dining there that evening. And it is there that the boss finally notices her and too falls madly in love. So begins a hot pursuit that is quickly halted when a press release declares that the girl is an unmarried mother. Big no no during those times.

   A really beautiful silent film and quite possibly one of the best romance films I've ever seen. The performers are nice in their parts but nobody holds a candle to Clara Bow, the titular "It" Girl. Her acting style is impressive. It fits the silent era style of film acting, yet it also possesses a certain naturalism that would be a grace to be seen on modern day screens. It is not hard to imagine just why this film made such a resounding success story out of Clara Bow. Whatever "it" is, she has it aplenty. It just goes to show that great acting is not the only thing that makes a great performer. Screen presence should be equally commended. Whenever she is on the screen, the film lights up in pure magical delight. But, I should not stray from also commending her acting chops. There is a scene in the film where Clara Bow realizes the implications of what her boss is saying to her. Due to her supposed child born out of wedlock, he insinuates that he'd rather have her on as his kept woman rather than wife material. The look that flashes on her eyes is heart-wrenching. Tears flow in her eyes but, as she maintains her strong resolve, she does not let them fall and forcibly holds them back. The tears shift horizontally across her pupils just as the many waves of emotion shift through those dark portals of hers and flash to the audience Bow's character's innermost feelings. This is one of the best acting I've seen. Ever. If only for that scene. Due to the script, she spends the rest of the movie away from showing off her dramatic skills; regardless, her comedic talents more than make up for that. Besides, I find comedic acting much more commendable than dramatic acting. It is much rarer to find a great bout of truly good comedic acting compared to a dramatic one. It is through Clara Bow's vivacity and comedic moments that we get an insight into her character and come to really cherish her. No wonder the public fell in love with her. I did too. This was my first Clara Bow film and certainly not my last.

   It is a must-see. I don't know what it is about modern day romantic comedies, but they lack something that films from Hollywood past seemed to naturally ooze. I don't think this is just a case of nostalgia. I didn't live during the 20s and have no desire to really. Especially not with those social mores (a man rejecting a woman because she had a baby out of marriage. Cringe-worthy!).The strangest thing about this issue is that It should be the film I condemn as being formulaic --not the ones released today-- since the formulas It utilizes have been way overused nowadays. As far as the films today are concerned, I guess it does not matter if you follow the recipe thoroughly; you must add something extra to really bring out the taste in your craft. A sprinkle of magic, fairy dust or whatever the hell these films back then have that I can't put plainly into words. The ingredients used to make them are enriched by something indescribable and intangible. These films had it. Maybe a better analyst and/or writer than I can voice what I'm trying to say. What really matters is that everybody can still experience that thing, that it. What is it?

Ludovico Rating

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick, 1971)

   One big  psychedelic trip into the dystopian world of Alex DeLarge (Malcolm McDowell), a teenager hellbent on a crime spree with his fellow gang members. They have no limits; honey badger just takes and rapes what it wants. However, there are severe consequences when a final criminal act that ends in murder lands Alex in prison. After serving two years out of his fourteen year sentence, Alex realizes that there is a way that can guarantee his release in no more than two weeks. The Ludovico technique is a radical new psychological experiment that promises to reform prisoners through various techniques (see picture above) and have them become harmless citizens of society. Alex becomes the first prisoner to successfully undergo the treatment, creating a mass media frenzy.Yet, with Alex now at the mercy of the society he once savaged, revenge appears to be the first welcome salute just as two differing political parties try to use him for their own devious purposes.

    About time I watched the film that's pretty much the basis for my rating system. I didn't know what I was in for with this film, but by God was it glorious. I watched it once yesterday and again today and am probably going to watch it again tomorrow. Forget the plot and its powerful themes for a second; it's the film's style that truly attracts me. The fashion in the film is amazing! I'm not the most fashionable guy (I've been known to rock a turtleneck with a sweater vest in my days) but I wish fashion like this could exist nowadays. It's perfectly eclectic. Sometimes, it matches the absurdity and excess of the environment the characters are in. Other times, it stands out in stark contrast to the bleak and desolate surroundings. Accompanying the film is the ever-faithful soundtrack featuring only classical music perfectly synchronized with scenes filled with absolute beauty and terror. This double dichotomy creates a sense of disorientation like some drug-filled nightmare where evil lurks and refuses to reveal itself, further increasing the suspense. There's also a scene in the film -- one of many infamous ones -- where Alex and his gang brutalize a couple in their own home while Alex sings the "I'm Singin' In The Rain" tune. This film is schizophrenic heaven.

  The acting style just adds to the film's peculiarity. Over acting at its best. You know how each character feels because not a moment goes by without them going into hysterics or exaggerations to showcase their inner turmoil. This over acting is additionally helped by the slang used in the film. The language is a mixture of several others (Russian, Slavic, English and Cockney). To be honest, some words flew right over my head. Years ago I tried to read the novel the film is based on but quit after the first chapter due to the oft-impenetrable dialogue. In the film such use of language helps. It helps drive the actors' performances into sheer insanity territory. Usually, I find overacting laughable and distasteful. In A Clockwork Orange, it is laughable, but then you question yourself for laughing when an especially gruesome scene starts playing out. Thus, the acting is not really distasteful so much as the scenes are and perhaps your own response to said scenes.This is just another of Kubrick's manipulation attempts to really centralize McDowell's character and make him -- gasp! -- relatable. He's a criminal and is repulsed by reformation. He's a fake and is just trying to use the government's misjudgment to his own advantage. Still, when the revenge spree against him starts, I actually found myself sympathizing with the poor bastard. Of course, I'm sure there are those that won't be affected by this approach. At the very least, I'd hope that if you did not pity the character, the events happening to him could open your eyes to the bigger issues at hand.

   I could continue talking about the film's themes --especially that of free will-- but I find no need to. Everybody will take what they will away from the film. Kubrick does not condemn either camps' ideologies or views. He does condemn the approaches the camps undertake to use Alex as a pawn in their political games. The ending basically crystallizes his take on it. Has Alex changed at all? Kubrick sides more with the camp that promotes free will, but he does let the other side at least voice their arguments. He does show that both camps have their pros and cons. In the end,despite the film containing a lot of substance --more than my mind can presently grasp or choose a side on-- it is the film's style that appeals to me more. The slow-motion sequences, the music, the brutality, the visuals, the excess. It's hard to imagine that this film came out less than a decade after Marilyn Monroe's death (which I use as a symbol for the death of Old Hollywood proper). It seems like A Clockwork Orange is the result of decades worth of an era's repression of several societal crises that could not find the light of day during the studio system.  They could not find a voice. They boiled under the surface until finally reaching their zenith and exploding onto the screen with this movie. They singe and sing through the very celluloid that they occupy to finally reach their destination: our minds. Akin to Moses and his 40-year trek through the desert, for the Hays Code did formally take root in the early 30s. Unlike Moses however, these commentaries about human nature do not die. They continue to live and be relevant even today; even more so in our modern-day society with its progressive technology that brings us ever closer to inhabit a world similar to Alex's. A Clockwork Orange is a masterpiece, weaved from the worst and best that cinema has given, the worst and the best that the world has to offer. As I age, I'm sure I will find more to discover from the film. Whether this will diminish the film's value in my eyes remains to be seen. For now, A Clockwork Orange is one of cinema's greatest treasures, for me still being unearthed.

Ludovico Rating

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Camille (George Cukor, 1936)

   Adapted from the novel La Dame aux Camelias by Alexandre Dumas (fils), Camille's story is a story for the ages that continues to be re-adapted and re-invented to this day -- think Moulin Rouge. Needless to say, the plot of the film is about Marguerite Gautier (Greta Garbo), a high-end courtesan who falls in love with Armand Duval (Robert Taylor) -- a man financially below her requirements for her suitors. However, being the big spender that she is, she has to find another way to balance her debts and ever-increasing expenses. So, she seduces the Baron de Varville (Henry Daniell) to keep her, forming a tense rivalry between her two lovers. Over time, Marguerite begins to realize how fickle money is and how much more important love truly is, though by then it may just be too late.
  I'm in love with this film. Probably one of the best and saddest love stories committed to celluloid. While the cinematography is rich with the lush costumes and dream-like photography, it is the performers that really give the film its magical touch. Camille contains humor, romance and tragedy, skirting around melodrama but never falling into territory that would devalue its themes. The actors find a way to balance their performances and juggle the many themes. Nothing in their act falls flat. You laugh with them and cry with them. Laura Hope Crews (Aunt Pittypat from Gone With The Wind) has never been better. Her character serves as Camille's madam and is the most hysterical character in the entire film. She endeared me throughout the picture; yet, by the end, her character made a complete reversal and became one of the most repulsive in the film just by her actions alone. All of the laughter she provided further drives home the fact that she does not contain much substance beyond that. It's a shocking revelation. Lenore Ulric as Camille's rival is also quite comedic in her role. She gives her performance enough depth to show that Lenore is really not an archetypal villain. She can have fun too, but she is extremely self-centered and only has her best interests at heart. Yet the character is never irritating.
   Robert Taylor does a nice job as Armand, though his naivete does at times become exasperating. In comparing his performance to Ewan McGregor's in Moulin Rouge, I find that Taylor comes out the victor as far as grounding his performance in reality is concerned. Then again, Baz Luhrmann is not exactly known for conforming to reality. Greta Garbo though is undoubtedly the best performer in the entire film. Her screen presence is unquestionable, but her acting prowess should be given more notice. The scene at the end of the film where her character is bedridden and mourning her poor decisions had me in near tears. The emotions that cross her pristine face are far too humane for us not to be able to connect and relate to them. We feel for her character. Being that this was only my second Garbo film after Queen Christina, I thought for sure that she was going to have the same boyish aura that she had in the earlier film. I was pleasantly surprised to see how down-to-earth she played Marguerite, and how ultimately tragic that makes the ending since her character felt so real. I fell in love with the film, but now am also enamored of Greta Garbo. Her legend and mystique have now almost eclipsed her talents. That's a damn shame. The woman could act her heart and soul out!
   Camille is a beautiful film in all aspects. Every principal actor gets to shine, even if it's only towards the end that their screen time increases. I don't believe I've ever seen a film use that technique before. A character you first thought of as only minor then gains more prominence towards the end. It just shows you who your real friends really are and who will rise to the occasion when you've hit rock bottom. Indeed, the actors make this film, but the story further fleshes them out and resonates with an audience, hence its longevity.

Ludovico Rating

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Killing (Stanley Kubrick, 1956)


    Stanley Kubrick's The Killing is a gritty yet honest look at the world of crime through the eyes of a group of average joes (for the most part) as they plan to rob a race track. The plan is complex, but pretty much easy to follow for the viewer. It involves a lot of distractions and requires perfect timing on the part of all those involved. Though the heist seems promising given that some of the men are working from the inside, the problem is that everything is so perfectly planned that there isn't any room for mistake. As with all film noirs, matters are further complicated by an adulterous femme fatale when she sets her sights on obtaining the money for herself and her new beau. She manages to get her husband, one of the men on the job, to spill the beans to her about the heist. This proves to be a huge and fatal mistake as a chain of events engender dire consequences for all parties involved.

     Kubrick's films are all technical achievements, and The Killing is no exception. What I often find missing in a Kubrick film -- at least at first -- is the heart and soul upon which I've grown to feed during my courtship with cinema. Often times, it takes me a second viewing to really fall in love with a Kubrick film, which is the case for two of my faves Eyes Wide Shut and The Shining. What those two films have is layers that need unveiling and demand the chase before they're willing to shed their clothes. And that is why Kubrick's films are so special. All the elements that make a great film are there, but there is always something beneath the surface that stares out at you, yearning to be seen but refusing to be identified as just another performer in the circus. Thus, it hides behind a cloud of smoke and mirrors. Interestingly enough, The Killing lacks those sort of elements that will become Kubrick staple in his later years. Released as his third film feature, Stanley Kubrick's The Killing may lack some of the master's most complex blend of elements but it still makes for a very engaging and entertaining viewing.
    The photography in the film is beautiful. Not as dark as most noirs in its distribution of light and dark. There do not exist deep shadows trying to conceal a character's motivation or the seediness of the world these characters inhabit. This may be due to the fact that nothing is hidden or has to be hidden from us. From the very beginning, we get to see the men plan the crime and carry it out. There is no mystery. We are part of the plan and we watch it unfold right before our eyes. What does make the film more fascinating than what it would have been otherwise is the sumptuous editing. It is one of the first films to use a non-linear narrative and its influence in modern cinema is far-reaching and can still be experienced today in films like Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs. Matter fact, the film does feel like a Tarantino film shot in the 50s. The editing does not so much use flashbacks since the narrator plays no part in the story. Rather, jumps through time reveal what each character was doing at a particular point in the day. Thus, we get to see a character execute his part of the plan while we wait to see if another character carried out his part. For example -- minor spoiler -- a character throws a bag outside of a window where a second character is supposed to be waiting below to retrieve it in his car. However, we have yet to witness whether that second character ever made it to that spot in time. The film then jumps back in time to show that second character working to reach that very spot in time. The editing creates a perfect element of suspense that keeps us on our toes. And boy, the heist is probably one of the most well-thought-out ones I've ever seen on film. Like I said above, it is so good that any mistake can screw the whole thing up. So, when things start going on, you try to replay the events in your head to see where something or other could have been done better.

   The actors are equally as good as their script. The lines are sharp, crisp and biting, sometimes downright cruel and touching, sometimes both. At first, some of the men blend in with each other. There is no identifying them by name or monikers until a bit later in the film when the film wants to show us just why these men chose that path. So, no Mr. Brown, and certainly no Mr. Pink. As the film progresses, everybody begins to assume distinct identities, especially since they are required to carry out distinct tasks. We get a glimpse at their background and are hence given the opportunity to sympathize with them. Should we choose to do so. Because The Killing is not interested in forging cinematic heroes or villains. It's a real look at real people in real circumstances that force them to take extreme measures. Everybody does a great job with their parts, though I can't really say that anybody stands out above the rest. There is not a sore spot in the film. Everything and everyone fall into place and in the grand scheme of things it fits.
    Overall, The Killing may not contain as much depth as the rest of Kubrick's filmography but it does prove to all the naysayers that the man did have the capability to entertain. Kubrick's films are not boring. Kubrick is not boring. He just chooses to provide both entertainment and food for thought. This film speaks volumes for the man's versatility. Fantastic movie and as good as any noir out there. Who would have thought?

Ludovico Rating

Friday, May 17, 2013

My Man Godfrey (Gregory La Cava, 1936)

  I didn't expect much going into this viewing. I finally decided to watch this film on YouTube because not only was it in the public domain, it also would be my first Carole Lombard -- one of the last remaining actresses on AFI's 100 Years...100 Stars list whose filmography I am totally unfamiliar with. Imagine my surprise when what started out as just a minor viewing fare for the night turned into an undisputed classic right before my eyes. Between my nods of shock were clear outbursts of uncontrollable laughter. My Man Godfrey is no doubt one of the funniest movies I've ever seen, I shit you not. Besides I can't shit you because:

      During a game of scavenger hunt (played by a bunch of wealthy people scavenging for the most absurd items), sisters Irene (Carole Lombard) and Cornelia (Gail Patrick) Bullock try to find a "forgotten man" -- code name for a homeless chap -- for the final item on their list. They come across ash heaps and find a forgotten man in the form of Godfrey (William Powell). Godfrey spurns the too-proud Cornelia, but is convinced to help ditzy Irene, mostly to satisfy his curiosity about what sort of game these wealthy people play. After helping Irene win the scavenger hunt, Godfrey is offered a position in the Bullock household as the butler. At first, he is more than happy to be offered a life off the streets. However, he soon begins to notice just how kooky the household is, with the heads of said household Angelica Bullock (Alice Brady) and Alexander Bullock (Eugene Pallette) behaving for the most part just as badly as their spoiled kids. Matters are further complicated when Irene develops an obsessive crush on Godfrey and vows to woo him.

   This is possibly my biggest Old Hollywood oversight thus far due to how much of a gem it really is. The lines fly off the walls but are contained in nuanced performances from the actors. Often times it is not what is said that is funny but how the actor says it. Alice Bradley was the best at this technique, playing the role of the absent-minded matriarch perfectly while managing to hold back and let the true stars of the film shine. Her little giggles and wisecracking had me in fits of laughter and replaying her scenes quite frequently. Gail Patrick does a great job as the villain. Yet, she is never unlikable, which goes to show how great she is at filling her role with enough light-heartedness so as not to detract from the mood of the film. Carlo, Angelica's protege, played by Mischa Auer was also amazing as the faux intellectual/artist. His feud with Alexander provided an interesting and fitting subplot to the film. Still, Carole Lombard and William Powell are the main attractions for this film. It goes without saying how well Carole plays her role. Perhaps, I have a thing for a girl shamelessly and ardently chasing the man in a movie (see: Bringing Up Baby). I've seen some reviewers complain that Carole's character is too immature. That may be true. But, my personal bias aside, Carole gave that role all the right elements it needed. The over exaggerations, the fainting spells, the tail chasing (and I'm not just talking about the tails on Godfrey's uniform) are all exceptionally comical, yet they come across as genuine. She simmers the spoiled heiress role with comedic over exaggerations while still retaining ties with the emotions boiling below the surface. William Powell plays more the role of the straight man, but his Godfrey is so full of charm and woe that you cannot help but root for him.
   My Man Godfrey is the perfect film for a simple night in or family viewing. I assure you the laughs will come aplenty. An amazing film that promises a lot for the rest of each actor's filmography.

Chill out, Irene

Ludovico Rating

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Single Man (Tom Ford, 2009)

     Ah, A Single Man, now undoubtedly one of my favorite movies. I'm just shocked that such a beautiful film could come from the hands of a fashion designer with no prior foray into the world of cinema. Aesthetically, the film is visual orgasm. The unexpected but enriching slow motion sequences, the vivid use of colors, the close ups focusing mostly on the eye all communicate enough to the viewer that we are, briefly, able to glance into the soul of the film's main character, George Falconer.George Falconer (Colin Firth) is an English professor at a university. He is still in mourning over the loss of his partner of 16 years Jim (Matthew Goode) in a car accident that claimed his life nearly a year ago. The film unfolds over the course of a single day as throughout George attempts to reconnect with the world around him, whether it be with his long-time friend and once sexual partner Charley (a flawless Julianne Moore), a random prostitute near a drug store, or an over-eager student.

   In retrospect, I realize now that I cannot give too much away from the plot, so I've cut a lot from what I originally wrote. This is because I didn't realize George's ultimate goal until about halfway through the movie and would hate to spoil it for anybody else, however crucial it is to the plot. Or maybe I'm dumb and just failed to pick up on certain details in the story. Suffice to say that after viewing A Single Man, you will walk away feeling some sort of way. I hope. You may think it is over-indulging or a masterpiece. I fall into the latter category. Either way, you will be forced to contemplate existential questions that the film refuses to provide the answer to. It is up to you to form your own conclusion.
   The acting in this film is top-notch. Colin Firth has never been better, not even in the just-okay The King's Speech. Julianne Moore never fails to disappoint. It is astounding how many fantastic movies she has been in and has constantly delivered. She will win an Oscar within the next five years. Mark my words. She should have definitely been nominated for one in this movie given the tidal wave of emotions she surfs on throughout. From just a silly good fun friend to a relentless seductress and then to a self-pitying sad sack. It's a performance to behold. However, it pales in comparison to Firth's performance, which is the life source on which the film thrives. Firth's George is incredibly humane. He is not out to make us like him or feel sympathy for him. He shows us the real man behind the mask, something he is unable to actually do to the fullest with the people around him. The audience is the only one able to get a glimpse into who the man really is and Firth holds nothing back.
    I could also talk about the fantastic soundtrack, but I'm confident that the images, story and acting performances alone make this movie an understated success. A shame that Tom Ford has yet to direct another film. This film may be simple in its plot, but the questions it poses and the images now ingrained in your head are all the more complex.

Ludovico Rating

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Public Enemy (William A. Wellman, 1931)

  (Officially done with finals and school for the summer so I'm officially back! (not that it matters since I didn't even give an official going away notice #howrudeofme)

    In my absence, I've watched a lot of movies which I plan to review in the next coming days. First up is The Public Enemy, my very first James Cagney movie. And I wasn't Cagney that is. The movie as a whole falls rather flat. Any time that Cagney is not onscreen, it becomes painfully obvious that the only form of life and vitality in the film emanates from Cagney's star presence.
   The Public Enemy is about a young boy named Tom (James Cagney) and his best friend Matt (Edward Woods), both of whom constantly get into mischief in 1909 in-what-I-presume-to-be New York. The two kids make small deals with local gangster Putty Nose, such as selling him stolen items. Tom's older brother Mike (Donald Cook) disapproves of Tom's shenanigans. As they get older in 1917, Tom and Matt are assigned a bigger job, a heist, by ol' Putty Nose. Things go awry, Putty Nose bails on their asses, and Tom and Matt find themselves penniless and seething. News get back to Mike about his brother's latest exploits, but he is unable to intervene as he has been enlisted in the army. Fast forward to 1920 when Prohibition is full in effect and alcohol is officially banned. Tom and Matt are hired by bootlegger Paddy Ryan. The two men get filthy rich and begin to flaunt their wealth, keeping women and dropping them just as fast. Mike returns from the war and confronts his brother yet again, dividing their mother's loyalty. Tom, seduced by the rewarding gangster life, refuses to listen to his brother and continues on with his illegal practices. However, when one of Tom's fellow gang members dies in a horse accident, this provokes rival gangs to challenge Paddy Ryan's gang, resulting in bloodbath, revenge and more bloodbath.
    I struggle on how to rank this film. It's not a bad film, far from it. I just find the editing weird and the acting styles are likewise quite dated, except for Cagney's. A drinking game for this film would be to drink every time there was a fade-to-black into another scene. Boy, I'd be more wasted than Cagney at a latter point in the film. The film contains far too many cuts. The scenes are so short and do not make for a smooth plot or character development. It makes the film feel disjointed, like riding on a bumpy road. No time to really adjust one's self and get accustomed with the new scene. Furthermore, the acting styles are not bad, but like I said earlier most certainly dated. There are awkward pauses and most of the actors suffer from poor timing. Donald Cook is the worst of the bunch, using a very intense acting style better suited for the stage than film. Thankfully, the film features a brilliant scene where people buy alcohol in large quantity when the Prohibition is about to be put into place. Think a happy couple walking down the street, their hands and baby's carriage full of alcohol bottles. The scene is hilarious and deserving of iconic status.
    Incidentally, this was also my first Jean Harlow film. At the end of the film I completely forgot to wonder what happened to her character. She appeared halfway through the film and then disappeared 2/3 in. Her acting style is thankfully not stage-y and far more natural than her co-stars. Still, her acting is so laid back that it comes across as lazy. I'm very much surprised by her high billing given that she really does jack shit in the film. She contributes nothing to the main plot whatsoever. But I will say that onscreen Harlow is breathtaking. I was never that impressed by her in photographs and questioned her sex symbol status. Seeing her onscreen makes me understand. She does have a certain magnetism. Unluckily for her, James Cagney overshadows her and everybody else. I'm excited to watch another Cagney film due to his great performance in this film even if I find the film lacking. It's like he never stops moving even when he's just at rest looking at one of his co-stars. It keeps you anticipating what his next move will be.
    Overall, The Public Enemy rises short of mediocrity. This is Cagney's film through and through. Despite the below low ranking, I would actually watch this film again. James Cagney makes it worthwhile.

Ludovico Rating