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RIP www.moviejustice.com 2002-2010
Top 100
Eighth film


Steamboat Bill Jr. (1928, Charles Reisner)

Thoughts: Here is a movie that features some of the worst carpentry on screen in exchange for a few of the best laughs. I won’t get into the argument over Buster Keaton being an actor or stuntmen, because either way he’s damn entertaining and his physicality sucks the viewer right in. In this movie, which seems is more concise and personal than the chase actioner The General, Keaton plays a young man back from college to visit his estranged father’s steamboat. The comedy staple of having an aloof bumbling idiot play opposite the irritable and ever-aware straight man is honed or perfected in this film. I might say this makes an excellent father’s day picture too.

Playing the father in Steamboat Bill Jr. is Ernest Torrence and the two make a great comedy duo. Keaton at barely 5’6” tall is no match for Torrence at 6’4” and the film caters to the size difference. A lot of comedy comes from the son disappointing the father, who expected him to be manly and the ensuing archetype of getting him to “grow a pair.” There’s also quite a bit of under the radar dry humor – even if it is in bad taste – about the father’s fears his son is homosexual. This doesn’t seem like an issue that would be a gold mine to harvest laughs from, but the scenes play out well if one doesn’t take it too seriously. Despite making valid points, the film hardly seems a commentary, but I could be wrong.

As it turns out Bill Jr. is not gay, at all, and is in fact preoccupied with the daughter of a rival riverboat owner. Shades of Romeo and Juliet; sure. I can’t fault the movie for not developing their relationship as it’s not the point, though it is easy enough to accept the pair and desire for each other despite each of their father’s wishes. What father doesn’t want to live through his son. Another topic that could be the makings of a drama, played for fun and laughs. I can go on about how enjoyable and fast-clipped this film is as it speeds along.

What does it speed along to? The most imaginative and outrageous action sequence I’ve been witness to in a silent movie. The last 15 minutes of the film is an extended “destroy the set” action scene, which works. Keaton sustains the comedy well beyond the point that our minds tell us the film should give up the gimmick. How many structures do we need to see tumble down? Not enough. The carnivalesque pandemonium has houses falling upside down, sinking buildings, cyclonic wind, and trees uprooted flying in the air. It’s beyond surreal, you just have to watch it.



Best Scene: I could easily pick the finale, but I won’t. In my mind the best scene comes in the introduction of the film when Bill Sr. is waiting for Bill Jr. to arrive and makes a bit of a jerk of himself. The preposterousness that everyone would be wearing the identifying carnation is silly and the dry humor doesn’t let up as Bill Sr. mistakes a black man for his son to his shock. Who cares if it is slightly racist, this thing is not meant to be taken seriously. These early moments all set up the polar extremes of father and son later in the film. It’s a gag that functions clockwork.

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RIP www.moviejustice.com 2002-2010
Great pick, Viddy.

If it is a Western, for me it's not, then it's one that even I like.
City Slickers would be better or more specifically described as a modern western. Western fashions, style, and moral coda set to contemporary times. It is along the lines of a Hud, The Lusty Men, Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, Lonely are the Brave, Bronco Billy, Brokeback Mountain, Giant and so on. Modern Westerns are about my favorite sub-genre of film to tell the truth. Something nice and quaint about taking archaic whatevers and setting them against the grind of contemporary society.

If you look up modern western in google most of what you find are a list of films that are not modern westerns, but simply western films that have been released in the last 20 years or so. Not sure why that's so confusing but apparently it is.

So to answer your question.

Is City Slickers a western? No, not when using such a broad category.
Is City Slickers a modern western? Yes.

If that makes sense.



RIP www.moviejustice.com 2002-2010
Top 100
Ninth film

The Maltese Falcon (1941, John Huston)



Thoughts: Bogart’s third best film is good enough to make my top 100 list. The Maltese Falcon is the granddaddy of film noir that dominated in the 1940s into the 1950s. The setup is a bit silly because the plot revolves around a femme fatal (Mary Astor), three petty crooks, and our hero Sam Spade (Bogart) all after the mysterious and extremely valuable macguffin “the black bird” that shares the name of the film’s title. It doesn’t really matter so much, because the film is not about plot, but about character interaction, lies, twists, double crosses, and one upping each other as they raise the ante. This is similar to the material of The Big Sleep, which granted is much darker and sinister, but slightly less charming with an even more incomprehensible story. But like I said, The Maltese Falcon does make perfect sense if the dialogue is thought about and on multiple viewings it all falls together nicely.

The character actors of Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet get a lot of screen time, though Bogart is literally the focus of every single scene except for one in the film. Lorre plays the smooth and refined Joel Cairo, one of the men after the Falcon. In an infamous example of getting around censors, Cairo is portrayed as an openly homosexual man who lusts after wealth and a clean shirt more than anything else. This becomes more clear on subsequent viewings and I admire scriptwriters and directors who were able to sneak this thing in below the radar of the Hayes code censors. Greenstreet is charming as Gutman, the film’s main heavy (yes) and foil to Bogart’s amoral hero. Greenstreet has some excellent moments and is a joy to listen to rolling lines out. Both of these character actors would go on to have minor roles in the overrated Casablanca. I need to also mention poor Elisha Cook Jr. who never gets his day, whether it be in this movie, The Big Sleep, The Killing, or Shane. The poor guy plays second fiddle and the scapegoat so well.

The film is paced at lightspeed, even by today’s standards. A lot of it goes by so quickly that it’s easy to miss key dialogue and plot points, but that tends to be a staple of noir. I also admire the camera work with the low angled shots looking up at the actors, shadows, and street lights. This is just a fun enjoyable movie that holds up to multiple viewings, even if it isn’t as serious or dark as other entries into the genre. The Maltese Falcon was the first Bogart film I ever saw. It was as a senior in high school during film class. The months afterwards I went to the public library and checked out dozens of Bogart films on VHS. I was… am a fan.



Best Scene: Bogart has found out about the death of his partner and has already gone a few rounds with the lying femme fatal played by Mary Astor when Joel Cairo enters his office. Lorre doesn’t bat an eye drawing a gun on Bogart, just after playing with his cane, which prompts our favorite private dick to unarm him. After a nice lengthy conversation Bogart gives the gun back to Lorre, who holds it on Bogart again demanding to search the room. Bogart has nothing left to do but laugh at the persistence and absurdity of the little man, as he’s rendered too amused to challenge him. That right there is pure Bogart.

&feature=related
this is sadly only half of the scene.



RIP www.moviejustice.com 2002-2010
Nice work, keep it up. I doubt I'd ever be able to do this, it's a pretty big undertaking.
Yes. I already have my list made out with 100 films and near misses, but instead of simply posting the titles of the films with a picture and quote and a reason I like it, I want to be very specific, which is why I'm taking the time to rewatch each of these movies before posting about them.

For example, I just rewatched The Maltese Falcon last night for about the 15th time in my life.