Michael O’Sullivan

Aged 63, I am now happily retired/enjoying funemployment with over 1,000 multi-region DVDs to catch up on, as well as commenting on IMDb (where I have been doing a series of appreciations on mainly English and European players) and am about to dig out that unfinished novel/memoir….

  • Blow Up (1966) .. Michelangelo Antonioni
    There is always a movie that hits one like a thunderbolt at just the right moment in one’s life: perhaps you had to be 21 in 1967 (as I was) when this opened in London – but it was like seeing oneself on screen. The park, the studio, Herbie Hancock’s score …. it still works for me.

  • The Passenger (1975) .. Michelangelo Antonioni
    The 70s in aspic as Blow-Up was the 60s. 30 year old me did a full page analysis of it for now defunct “Films Illustrated” in 1976.

  • 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) .. Stanley Kubrick
    Seeing it in Cinerama in 1968, yes on acid, was a trip – its still stunning to look at and lose oneself in.

  • A Star Is Born (1954) .. George Cukor
    One of the first movies I was taken to as a child – the ‘scope compositions were amazing. James Mason’s Norman Maine is one of the great male performances, but it was Brando’s year. The alternate versions of “The Man That Got Away” on the dvd are just as good if not better than the version used – and check out that Hollywood premiere with all the stars of the day attending: Doris, Debbie, Peggy, Joan, Liz, Jack Carson as MC, and Raymond Burr with a cute sailor “just back from Korea”!

  • All About Eve (1950) .. Joseph L. Mankiewicz
    It’s really a variation on “Letter To 3 Wives” as Margo, Eve and Karen all have about equal screentime, with Davis dominating the first half but relegated to the sidelines later as Eve, Addison and Karen take centre stage, when the drama moves away from Margo’s duplex, so we also lose Ritter’s Birdie!

  • Some Like It Hot (1959) .. Billy Wilder
    Certainly the best-constructed comedy ever with the genius use of the maracas to space out the laughs. I never tire of it – just as well, its on every Christmas.

  • I Know Where I'm Going! (1945) .. Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
    Wendy Hiller, Roger Livesey and Pamela Brown are wonderful in this magical Scottish romance – one loves them all so much.

  • Black Narcissus (1947) .. Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
    Jack Cardiff’s wonderful photography makes this a timeless fable, as London magazine “Time Out” said “you could show it backwards and out of focus and it would still be perfect”. The story is so involving too with Kerr and Byron outstanding.

  • The Scarlet Empress (1934) .. Josef von Sternberg
    Difficult to choose a Von Sternberg, but this has a lead over Marlene emerging from the gorilla suit in “Blond Venus” or driving men mad in “The Devil Is A Woman” or regretting bobbing her hair in “Shanghai Express”. The sets alone are stupendous.

  • L'Eclisse (1962) .. Michelangelo Antonioni
    Maybe Antonioni’s very best, with Vitti as the epitome of early 60s chic

  • The Misfits (1961) .. John Huston
    Marilyn becomes a spiritual force as Huston ‘s gang round up horses in the Nevada desert.

  • Double Indemnity (1944) .. Billy Wilder
    Stanwyck’s finest hour as the suburban medusa sending McMurray’s patsy to the electric chair.

  • Sunset Boulevard (1950) .. Billy Wilder

  • The Quiet Man (1952) .. John Ford

  • The Searchers (1956) .. John Ford

  • Psycho (1960) .. Alfred Hitchcock
    Audacious on many levels, not least the first showing of a toilet being flushed in an American film, even if Janet is only disposing of her paper calculations – nothing can dim the first viewing of it at the time.

  • The Birds (1963) .. Alfred Hitchcock
    Was any new leading lady so lovingly showcased?: the suit, the accessories, dialling the telephone with a pencil, then the birds attack…

  • The Leopard (1963) .. Luchino Visconti
    A great film from a great book, at least we now have the full restored version: the ball, the Verdi waltz, Cardinale and Delon in their prime.

  • Johnny Guitar (1954) .. Nicholas Ray
    The first film I saw, aged 8 – what an introduction to cinema! The images are just as vivid now

  • Obsession (1976) .. Brian De Palma
    “Taxi Driver” may have been film of the year for some, but for me its this rhapsodic, swooning riff on “Vertigo” which holds one to the final second, in a nutshell – the essence of cinema, and Genevive Bujold is amazing, and like “Taxi Driver” another pounding final Herrmann score.

  • The Band Wagon (1953) .. Vincente Minnelli
    My very favourite musical: “A Shine On Your Shoes”, “Dancing In The Dark”, “the Girl Hunt Ballet”, Cyd Charisse in that red dress, Ava Gardner on the train, and Jack Buchanan’s very ripe send-up of a Welles like impresario. That’s entertainment indeed.

  • Les Girls (1957) .. George Cukor
    Kay Kendall at her most divine in court and in MGM’s Paris and Cukor’s artful play on artifice versus reality. That’s Gladys Cooper’s corgi June with Kay.

  • Autumn Sonata (1978) .. Ingmar Bergman
    Ingrid Bergman and Liv Ullmann’s riveting scene at the piano

  • Vertigo (1958) .. Alfred Hitchcock

  • Rear Window (1954) .. Alfred Hitchcock

  • Notorious (1946) .. Alfred Hitchcock

  • Rich and Strange (1931) .. Alfred Hitchcock
    My favourite early Hitchcock – very early 1930s and note that cat skin on the wall on the sampan as they hungrily eat….

  • Tokyo Story (1953) .. Yasujiro Ozu

  • Pather Panchali (1955) .. Satyajit Ray

  • Umberto D. (1952) .. Vittorio De Sica
    Heartbreaking to see Umberto and his dog Flick trying to beg in the street….

  • Au Hasard Balthazar (1966) .. Robert Bresson

  • Midnight Mary (1933) .. William A. Wellman
    20 year old Loretta Young is exquisite in Wellman’s snappy pre-Code crime expose.

  • Ladies in Love (1936) .. Edward H. Griffith
    Loretta Young, Constance Bennett and Janet Gaynor shine in one of the first Fox “3 girls sharing an apartment” movie, set inBudapest!

  • The Awful Truth (1937) .. Leo McCarey
    Grant and Dunne are a treat in this champagne movie

  • Bringing Up Baby (1938) .. Howard Hawks
    Katharine Hepburn excels at driving Cary Grant nuts, if not “gay all of a sudden” and when she climbs onto the dinosaur…

  • It's Always Fair Weather (1955) .. Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly
    Gene and Cyd at their best but nothing beats Dolores Gray’s tv star in “The Throb of Manhattan”: “Thanks a lot, but no thanks”. Dan Dailey and Michael Kidd are terrific too.

  • Kiss Me Kate (1953) .. George Sidney
    A cherished re-discovery, Ann Miller’s “Too Darn Hot” and her numbers with Tommy Rall and those iconic Bob Fosse stagings.

  • El Cid (1961) .. Anthony Mann
    Yes, the purest knight of all with Heston and Loren both monumental and its probably the most perfectly realised epic.

  • Modesty Blaise (1966) .. Joseph Losey
    My Number One camp delight as Losey satirises the Bond movies, Vitti and Stamp are the 60s beautiful people and Bogarde never better.

  • North by Northwest (1959) .. Alfred Hitchcock
    Hitchcock reinvents the chase movie for the modern world, Saint is perfectly groomed as the Hitchcock blonde, even wearing white gloves as she dangles from Mount Rushmore and its all wrapped up in the final minute. It just doesn’t look 50 years old and I love that house….

  • Barry Lyndon (1975) .. Stanley Kubrick
    Barry and the Countess of Lyndon lock eyes at the gaming table as that music throbs and are like two marionettes pulled by invisible strings in Kubrick’s recreation of the 18th century

  • New York, New York (1977) .. Martin Scorsese
    My favourite Scorsese and I would choose this over “Annie Hall” or “Close Encounters” as the best of 1977.

  • Days of Wine and Roses (1962) .. Blake Edwards
    Blake Edwards made some terrific movies before those Pink Panthers – this is a perfect early 60s black and white movie with Lee Remick heartbreaking as the alcoholic who cannot give it up. It starts as a romcom and descends to that very bleak ending.

  • The Adventures of Quentin Durward (1955) .. Richard Thorpe
    The high point of MGM ‘50s costume drama, perfectly cast too.

  • A Letter to Three Wives (1949) .. Joseph L. Mankiewicz
    One of my favourite “’40’s dreamworld” movies, with Paul Douglas and Linda Darnell just perfect, as is Thelma Ritter

  • Chimes at Midnight (1965) .. Orson Welles
    On reflection, my favourite Welles.

  • Death Watch (1980) .. Bertrand Tavernier
    Romy Schneider is astounding in this, two years before her early death, as the dying woman whose last days are being recorded by Harvey Keitel with a camera in his brain in this unsettling sci-fi set around Glasgow. Max Von Sydow and Harry Dean Stanton also on hand in this genuine curio.

  • To Have and Have Not (1944) .. Howard Hawks
    This or “Casablanca”? I Today. It’s this.

  • This Happy Breed (1944) .. David Lean
    Coward and Leans’s perfect wartime effort, with Celia Johnson and Kay Walsh perfectly capturing the weary mother and headstrong daughter in this between-the-wars family saga. Luckily, John Mills is on hand and there is that great double act of the bickering spinster sister and mother-in-law.

  • Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928) .. Buster Keaton
    One has to have a Keaton, and this is the best.

Some that didn’t make it:
Anatomy of a Murder
The Girl Can’t Help It
The Vikings
The Parallax View
Heaven Knows Mr Allison
All That Heaven Allows
The Servant
Fox and His Friends
The Innocents
The Women
The Heiress
Old Acquaintance
Queen Christina
Wild Strawberries
Only Angels Have Wings
Letter From an Unknown Woman

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