#205. Gregory Peck

Some years truly define an actor’s career. Sure, they may have had many hits before and after the year in question, but a certain alignment pushed them to the forefront of the movie-going populace’s mind. These are the years that you tend to see these actors in almost every other film that was released. The actors who are truly the best at their craft will have starred in multiple films that garner cultural definition as some of the greatest movies of all time: films that still hold their relevance years after being released. Gregory Peck certainly had this year in his career. The year to which I am referring was 1962. While he starred in three films and a documentary that year, these three films are still cited as some of the best of American cinema. This week’s two films are from that legendary year of Gregory Peck’s acting career.

Cape FearCape Fear
Year: 1962
Rating: Not Rated
Length: 105 minutes / 1.75 hours

Aside from his legendary performance in To Kill a Mockingbird (which we’ll get into in a moment), Peck acted in two other films during 1962 that are still considered excellent, even today. First, as part of an all-star cast, he starred in How the West Was Won, the John Ford epic that was nominated for Best Picture. Secondly, he starred in Cape Fear as Sam Bowden, a lawyer protecting his family from a recently released madman. What’s interesting with this film is that Gregory Peck went on to have a minor role in the 1991 Martin Scorsese remake of the same name. Time and again, we’ve seen Peck star as the hero in films, from Spellbound (1945) to Roman Holiday (1953), to MacArthur (1977). The 1962 version of Cape Fear shows us that this heroic typecast is expertly executed by Gregory Peck.

Eight years ago, Sam Bowden (Gregory Peck) stopped Max Cady (Robert Mitchum) from successfully raping a woman. Because of this, and his incriminating testimony in the courtroom, Cady is now on the hunt for Bowden, having recently been released from prison. Sam soon finds that Cady has begun to stalk and threaten his family; but also finds that, because Cady is doing nothing against the law, he is powerless to stop the intimidation. With each more forceful attempt to get evidence of Max’s wrongdoing, Sam soon finds the threat turned against him directly. Now that everyone is afraid for their lives, Sam gets the family out of town and onto a houseboat in Cape Fear. Unfortunately, Cady is lurking in the shadows nearby, ready to attack Sam’s wife and daughter. It’s up to Bowden to take the law into his hands and deal with Cady once and for all.

To Kill a MockingbirdTo Kill a Mockingbird
Year: 1962
Rating: Not Rated
Length: 129 minutes / 2.15 hours

1962 was a good year for Gregory Peck. Of course, this was merely the culmination of a lifetime of excellent acting work, which makes it no wonder that he is ranked at #12 on the American Film Institute’s list of the top 50 male actors of all time. Before 1962, Peck had been nominated for the Best Actor Oscar four times, all of which were within the first five years of his career. In fact, his first nomination was during the first year of his career for his role in The Keys of the Kingdom (1944). With The Yearling (1946) and Gentleman’s Agreement (1947) bringing his nominations up to three, by 1949, with his fourth nomination for Twelve o’clock High, it would take him more than a decade to be nominated again. This final, penultimate time, he would win with his role as Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird. This role was so defining that the AFI has placed Atticus Finch as the #1 movie hero of all time.

Most likely due to Peck’s superb performance, To Kill a Mockingbird is also ranked at #25 on the most recent AFI top 100 movies list. Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck) is a widowed father of two young children who just so happens to be a lawyer in a small town in Alabama. What sets Finch apart from the other lawyers in the area is that he believes everyone, regardless of their race, religion, or riches, deserves to be treated fairly and to receive justice accordingly. As such, he has been appointed to defend Tom Robinson (Brock Peters), a black man who has been accused of raping a white girl. Even though the entire town has already passed judgment, Atticus still holds to the tenet of Tom being innocent until proven guilty. Because of his strong beliefs, his family is soon persecuted and he must rely on someone else to help protect his family and client.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 perfect Peck performances

Bacon #: 2 (Cape Fear / Antoni Corone -> Wild Things / Kevin Bacon)

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#168. Cary Grant

When the American Film Institute listed the 50 greatest screen legends, many recognizable names were on the list. Having already written posts about the #1 male legend, Humphrey Bogart, and the #3 male legend, James Stewart, it’s about time I cover male legend #2. Cary Grant was a very admirable actor for many reasons. Not only did he not use his stardom to promote any political or ideological ideas, but he actually retired from acting in order to raise his daughter. Such selfless devotion and humility are inspiring, considering the amount of attention that actors receive. While his off-screen persona definitely seemed normal, the roles he played on-screen were exciting as well as humorous. It didn’t hurt that he was handsome to boot. This week’s two films highlight some excellent roles of Cary Grant’s career.

The Philadelphia StoryThe Philadelphia Story
Year: 1940
Rating: Not Rated
Length: 112 minutes / 1.86 hours

Even though Cary Grant is ranked at #2 of the male legends, Katharine Hepburn is ranked at #1 of the female legends. And when you add in James Stewart to the cast of The Philadelphia Story, greatness will ensue. While Grant and Hepburn starred in four different romantic comedies, two of them were directed by the same man: George Cukor (Sylvia Scarlett (1935) and Holiday (1938)). Another director Cary Grant paired with was Howard Hawks, who directed the second of the Grant/Hepburn comedies (Bringing Up Baby (1938)), as well as three other comedies (Only Angels Have Wings (1939), His Girl Friday (1940), and Monkey Business (1952)). Of course, I would be amiss if I didn’t also mention Cary Grant’s involvement in Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), especially after listing so many other great comedies.

If you were divorced from someone, where is the last place you would like to be? If you answered “my former spouse’s next wedding”, most people would agree with you. And yet, C. K. Dexter Haven (Cary Grant) has arrived right before his ex-wife’s wedding to George Kittredge (John Howard). He does this so as to give two reporters the scoop on the wedding so that they won’t release some blackmail on his former father-in-law. Needless to say, the ex-wife, Tracy Lord (Katharine Hepburn), is not pleased by this development at all. Unfortunately, as she starts to fall back in love with Dexter and the magazine reporter, Macaulay “Mike” Connor (James Stewart), her original wedding plans go out the window. Fortunately, with all the guests seated and the orchestra playing the wedding march, Dexter does some quick thinking and proposes to Tracy again, ready to take her down the aisle.

CharadeCharade
Year: 1963
Rating: Not Rated
Length: 113 minutes / 1.88 hours

One other Director that Cary Grant paired with for multiple films was Alfred Hitchcock. While Grant was good at comedies and romances, he also excelled in suspenseful roles. Starting in 1941 with Suspicion, Hitchcock would cast Grant in three more films, each time increasing the greatness of the film. Notorious (1946) and To Catch a Thief (1955) pale in comparison to the success that was North by Northwest (1955). What some people don’t realize is that one of Cary Grant’s last films, Charade, was not in fact directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Sure, it had all the elements of a classic Hitchcock tale, but was actually directed by Stanley Donen. Another thing people don’t realize is that Audrey Hepburn (#3 on AFI’s female legend list) isn’t related to Katharine Hepburn at all. Even so, between The Philadelphia Story and Charade, Cary Grant has acted on screen with both of them.

In Charade, Cary Grant plays not one, but four different characters, even if they’re all the same person. His first persona is that of Peter Joshua, who happens to meet Regina “Reggie” Lampert (Audrey Hepburn) in Megève, France. She has decided to divorce her husband, but does not get the chance because, when she returns to Paris, she finds her apartment empty and officials notifying her of the murder of her husband. When Peter finds Reggie in Paris, he changes his name to Alexander “Alex” Dyle, revealing himself to be the brother of someone who worked with her husband. When confronted with that name, he now admits he’s Adam Canfield, a professional thief, but by now lots of people are after Reggie, since they think she has the fortune that disappeared during her husband’s watch. With one last name change to Brian Cruikshank, the duo figure out that the riches were in plain sight all along.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 great Grant roles

Bacon #: 2 (Charade / Walter Matthau -> JFK / Kevin Bacon)

#167. Katharine Hepburn

As impressive a feat as winning three Oscars for acting may be, one has to consider that some of those wins might be for a Supporting role. For instance, while Meryl Streep has won three Oscars for acting, only two were for Best Actress. The only actor to win all three of his Oscars for Best Actor is Daniel Day-Lewis. Of course, when only five people have won three awards for acting, the feat is hard to match. That is, unless you’ve beaten that record. Katharine Hepburn is just such an actress. Not only has she won four Oscars, but all four were for the Best Actress category. Furthermore, even though she doesn’t have as many nominations as Meryl Streep, all 12 of Hepburn’s nominations were for Best Actress. Even more to the point, Cate Blanchett won an Oscar for her portrayal of Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator (2004). This week’s two films examine some of Katharine Hepburn’s lighter work.

Bringing Up BabyBringing Up Baby
Year: 1938
Rating: G
Length: 102 minutes / 1.7 hours

Even though Katharine Hepburn bookended her career with Best Actress wins, it doesn’t mean that she worked in serious films the entire time. In fact, some of the films she acted in were initially considered failures. While many factors can work against a film being successful, over time its cultural significance emerges and makes it a classic. After all, sometimes we go to the movies not to think about deep subjects, but to laugh and be entertained. And there’s nothing more entertaining than a screwball comedy. Perhaps it was the fact that Bringing Up Baby was filled with screwball characters that alienated its original audience, but when we look at its legacy now, we see a stupendous film, despite its designation as “low comedy” (i.e. slapstick and fart jokes). What really helped cement this film’s greatness were the performances of its lead actors: Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn.

Let’s face it: leopards make lousy pets. Unfortunately, the wealthy seem to gravitate toward keeping exotic animals, despite the challenges in keeping them. Susan Vance (Katharine Hepburn) is now in possession of a leopard she received from her brother. The leopard is meant for their aunt, Elizabeth Random (May Robson), but Susan knows nothing about keeping leopards. In comes David Huxley (Cary Grant), a paleontologist who is looking to impress Mrs. Random in order to receive a large donation to his museum. Unfortunately, Susan does not know the difference between a paleontologist and a zoologist, and so she gets David to help her raise the leopard. Adding to the unfortunate circumstance, David is a day away from marrying Alice Swallow (Virginia Walker) and cannot spare any energy for these crazy antics. Still, Cupid’s arrow is a cruel mistress.

The Philadelphia StoryThe Philadelphia Story
Year: 1940
Rating: Not Rated
Length: 112 minutes / 1.86 hours

When a movie containing Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and James Stewart comes along, there’s no doubt that it will be excellent. The Philadelphia Story does not disappoint on this aspect. Reminiscent of the aforementioned Bringing Up Baby, Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant worked well together to produce another quality comedy. In fact, The Philadelphia Story was the fourth of four comedies featuring the pair, preceded by Sylvia Scarlett (1935), Holiday (1938), and Bringing Up Baby (1938). One of Hepburn’s 12 nominations was for her role in this film, even though the only two Oscars it won were for its writing and for James Stewart’s performance. This Best Actor role was obvious in the film, as Stewart gives one of the best drunk scenes ever seen in cinema. The American Film Institute (AFI) has placed this film at #44 on its top 100 list, whereas Bringing Up Baby only made it to #88.

Hepburn plays a rich woman by the name of Tracy Samantha Lord Haven who is about to be re-married. However, when a tabloid reporter, Macaulay “Mike” Connor (James Stewart), and her ex-husband, C. K. Dexter Haven (Cary Grant), show up, she begins to do a bit of soul searching. While she wants to marry George Kittredge (John Howard), she’s now torn between him, the ex-husband her younger sister adores, and the mysterious reporter. As the wedding approaches, the stress gets to Tracy and she ends up drinking a bit too much, which is somewhat ironic considering one of the reasons she divorced Dexter in the first place was because of his alcoholism. However, she wasn’t the only one drunk, as Mike joined in the festivities. After finding out that Mike and Tracy went for a swim, the fiancé leaves, but the guests are already there! They expect a wedding, and a wedding they will get, but for who?

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 Katharine Hepburn classics

Bacon #: 2 (Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner / Timothy Scott -> Footloose / Kevin Bacon)

#166. Romantic Comedies

Let’s just be honest here: dating is awkward. Not only are there innumerable opportunities to miscommunicate, but when you’re getting to know someone, one wrong word might trigger an embarrassing situation. It’s these embarrassing and awkward situations which are often used in Romantic Comedies. Even if this genre is formulaic, occasionally a few films fit into the category, but don’t end quite the way you’d expect. Most guys can’t stand Romantic Comedies, but at least they’re a little more tolerable than just a straight Romance film because of the humor involved. After all, they still have to be a comedy if they’re to be considered a Romantic Comedy. Besides, men and women are so different, the comedy practically writes itself. This week’s two films are some excellent examples of Romantic Comedies.

Annie HallAnnie Hall
Year: 1977
Rating: PG
Length: 93 minutes / 1.55 hours

Woody Allen has been a staple name in the realm of comedies that it’s no wonder that he’d be associated with one of the best romantic comedies of all time. In terms of awards, the quality of the film speaks for itself. Not only did it win four Oscars in 1978, which included Best Actress for Diane Keaton, Best Director and Best Writing for Woody Allen and the Best Picture Oscar, but it has placed at #35 on the American Film Institute’s (AFI) top 100 films of all time (#31 originally). Since most of the films Woody Allen directed were nominated for Original Screenplay Oscars, the key to a successful Romantic Comedy seems to be in the writing. If you can’t rely on action or explosions to entertain, you really need to make sure the script is solid if you want to get any laughs out of the awkward situations involved with dating.

Annie Hall is about finding love in New York City (where most of Woody Allen’s films are placed), and is perhaps Allen’s best film. Allen portrays writer Alvy Singer, who just can’t get over the relationship he had with aspiring actress, Annie Hall (Diane Keaton). Through some useful techniques, like breaking the fourth wall, the audience gets to see inside the heads of the characters. Even though they attempt to reconcile a few times, the relationship just doesn’t seem to be working. While most Romantic Comedies end with the couple getting back together, getting together in the first place, or getting married, Annie Hall doesn’t end quite in this way. Similarly, a few of the films by James L. Brooks (e.g. Terms of Endearment (1983), Broadcast News (1987)) had similar, non-traditional endings for the Romantic Comedies that they are.

Bringing Up BabyBringing Up Baby
Year: 1938
Rating: G
Length: 102 minutes / 1.7 hours

Have you ever wondered if you’re marrying the wrong person? One of the most common themes found in Romantic Comedies is the introduction of another person into mix of a romance between two people. The “love triangle” is often formed when some driving force brings the third party into the equation, at which point the original relationship is now in jeopardy. While it can be very cliché, most of the initial relationships in these situations are never solid to begin with. Whether it’s a cold and heartless woman, or a neglectful and distant man, the audience is practically screaming at the main character that they shouldn’t go through with the wedding and should instead marry the new, third person. Because this “love triangle” theme is so common, it’s no wonder that it is often seen in some of the earliest Romantic Comedies.

The driving force in Bringing up Baby is the titular “Baby”: a Brazilian leopard. David Huxley (Cary Grant) is set to be married to Alice Swallow (Virginia Walker), but just so happens to run across Susan Vance (Katharine Hepburn) on the eve of his wedding. Because of a miscommunication, Susan gets David to come to her country home in Connecticut to bring up Baby, mistakenly taking him for a zoologist, instead of his actual profession of paleontology. Of course, the mistaken identities continue as another leopard escapes from the circus, thus allowing Susan and David to think that this new leopard is Baby, when in fact it is a very dangerous animal. Hilarity ensues, but Alice now doesn’t want anything to do with David because of his interactions with Susan. Fortunately, Susan has a few connections that David needs to finish his paleontology project. Oh, and they love each other too.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 comedic couplings

#146. Paul Newman

One of the qualms many people have with the Academy Awards is that they aren’t awarded for the right things. What happens is that there’s an upset one year where someone gets an Oscar even though someone else had the better performance. As a result, to reward the previous performance, another upset must occur. This vicious cycle continues on and on with no end and is why some people don’t receive an Oscar for a role where they really deserved it and instead win for a much lesser role later. Paul Newman is just such an actor. For many years, he was snubbed by the Academy until he finally won for his role in 1986’s The Color of Money, which was a reprise of a role he should have won the Oscar for back when he was in The Hustler (1961). This week’s two films look at some great Paul Newman roles.

                                         Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Year: 1969Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Rating: R
Length: 110 minutes / 1.83 hours

It’s quite surprising that Paul Newman wasn’t even nominated for his work on Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, considering that he was one of the title characters and that it’s seen as a classic film (AFI #50/#73). This was one of his defining roles, followed four years later with another film where he was again paired with Robert Redford and Director George Roy Hill: The Sting. Once more, he wasn’t even nominated for an Oscar here, even though Robert Redford was. Paul Newman’s career started way back in the mid-1950’s, so by this point in his career, he had already been nominated for an acting Oscar four times. In fact, it was his cool, tough-guy (but still friendly) persona which helped him to carry his career past the 50’s and onward until his death in 2008. His role as the titular Butch Cassidy was no exception to this rule.

As the leader of the notorious Hole-in-the-Wall gang, Butch Cassidy does whatever he wants, which includes long stints away from the gang hideout. This results in him having to win in a knife fight (in which there are no rules) in order to keep his authority over the group. Having shown his dominance, he proceeds to lead the gang in a two-part train robbery. Since the train company wouldn’t ever expect that the same train would be hit by the same people again, after their first successful robbery he ends up being surprised on their second robbery by a near impenetrable safe. And yet, that’s nothing a little dynamite can’t fix. Of course, with such a flashy robbery, the railroad company has put the best lawmen on Butch and Sundance’s tails. The duo continues to run away, forcing them to flee the country. Unfortunately, it’s not long before they’re in trouble with the law again.

Cool Hand LukeCool Hand Luke
Year: 1967
Rating: PG
Length: 126 minutes / 2.1 hours

Of the multiple nominations Paul Newman received for his acting, Cool Hand Luke was his fourth nomination for Best Actor. This came six years after the role which would eventually earn him that coveted statuette, even if that “eventually” would be 20 years later. As was the case in the aforementioned Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Newman plays a character with no regard for the law, instead relying on luck and his never-give-up attitude to get by. Of course, this film has many iconic sequences, including the famous “failure to communicate” line as well as the eponymous Luke eating 50 hardboiled eggs in an hour. When it comes down to it, the real charm of Cool Hand Luke comes with the title character’s ability to work the prison system to his advantage, while also being the underdog wanting to escape.

Luke doesn’t have his nickname because his hands are cold, but rather that he exhibits exceptional skill at poker: always managing to draw a “cool hand”. This skill at poker comes in handy when he finds himself in prison for decapitating parking meters. As part of a chain gang, he rapidly gets into trouble when he opposes the leader of the prisoners: Dragline (George Kennedy in an Oscar winning performance). After beating Dragline in a boxing match, the rest of the prisoners start to respect and idolize Luke. Even though he pulls off a few stunts to inspire the other prisoners, after a few severe punishments for trying to escape, Luke finds that the system is harder to break than he thought. On the spur of the moment, Luke escapes one last time but finds himself cornered in a church, leading to his eventual sainthood in the eyes of the remaining prisoners.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 of Newman’s Own

Bacon #: 2 (Mr. & Mrs. Bridge / Kyra Sedgwick -> Lemon Sky / Kevin Bacon)

#102. Best Picture Musicals

While not impossible, it is somewhat rare for a musical to win the Oscar for Best Picture. In fact, in the 85 years that the statuette has been given out, only ten films have won the distinction of being the best of the year. That’s a mere 11%. Of course, if we look back to the “golden age” of the Hollywood musical, we’ll find that half of these ten musical Best Pictures were made in a single decade spanning from 1958 (and Gigi) to 1968 (with Oliver!), which includes a back-to-back win with My Fair Lady (1964) and The Sound of Music (1965). Needless to say, since the end of this decade of musicals, we have rarely seen them take the top award, despite the fact that musicals are occasionally nominated. This week’s two films look at the most recent winner and one of the winners in the “decade of musicals”.

ChicagoChicago
Year: 2002
Rating: PG-13
Length: 113 minutes / 1.88 hours

Even though there seem to be more and more categories each year, the fact that a single film can garner 13 nominations is still somewhat of an impressive feat. Now, whether or not the film can win all of these nominations and sweep the Oscars is the more impressive bit, but six wins, including Best Picture, is still very good. And yet, what’s more impressive about Chicago is that it had been 34 years since a musical had won Best Picture, a distinction that marked the end of the Hollywood musical era in 1968. Of course, as was the case with many of its musical predecessors, Chicago was based off of a theatrical musical that did well on Broadway before heading to the big screen. Perhaps the fact that the musical has been tried on the stage first is what allows it to do well as a movie.

What’s nice about film over the stage is that there are certain limitations to live theatre. While I have seen many impressive set changes, it is still much easier to film two separate scenes and splice them together in post production. In Chicago, the musical numbers are often offset from the reality of the actors in order to show a sharp distinction between the two. After all, life in prison isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, especially if you’re a woman. While Roxie Hart (Renée Zellweger) and Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones) are trying to get out of prison for murder, they’re also trying to get in and stay in the limelight, respectively. Media attention is high for these two until Kitty Baxter (Lucy Liu) enters the prison system with a triple homicide on her record. What will they do to direct the attention back to themselves?

West Side StoryWest Side Story
Year: 1961
Rating: Not Rated
Length: 152 minutes / 2.53 hours

Even though Chicago holds the most nominations for a musical at the Academy Awards, West Side Story holds the record for most wins with ten (it was nominated for 11 awards). Only three other films have earned more Oscars than West Side Story, albeit they were not musicals. This is perhaps why this film has been placed as high as #41 on the American Film Institute’s top 100 lists. Of course, as is the case with many musicals, the settings of the film version feel much more realistic than their Broadway counterparts. Now, whether or not gangs would sing and dance in the streets of New York City is up to interpretation; but needless to say, there’s a level of realism attained through the scale of such a production that cannot be reproduced on the stage. After all, in the era of Hollywood musicals, they really knew what they were doing.

Racial gang warfare in Manhattan is the backdrop for this adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. While Tony (Richard Beymer) helped found the gang known as the Jets, he has since removed himself from the gang and now works in a local store. The main rival of the Jets is the Sharks; a group of Puerto Rican immigrants headed by Bernardo (George Chakiris), whose sister Maria (Natalie Wood) runs into Tony at a dance. When the two meet, it’s love at first sight and soon they’re going against the social norms and the resistance of their respective gangs in order to keep their love alive. Even though they get married in secret, the animosity between the two gangs grows until a full-on brawl is called in order to settle the score. Tony gets entangled in the fight and in an attempt to stop the violence just makes things worse. Can Tony and Maria ever be together happily ever after?

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 musical masterpieces

#095. 12 to 12

Every day has a natural beginning and a natural end. And yet, in order to keep track of our days, we have imposed an order of time. While the sunrise and sunset will be at different times based on the season, the middle-ground of our days will always stay the same. The hours of noon and midnight are difficult to distinguish, but still have some significance in our lives. Like the transitioning seasons of spring and fall, 12-o clock marks a transition in our days. When noon arrives, our morning has ended and we are on our way toward sunset. Similarly, when the clock strikes midnight, the night is half-over and dawn is just over the horizon. It seems that so much of our time is spent focused on the time we’ve spent. Even though the past is important, we should look forward to what the future holds. This week’s two films look at those times where the hands of time come together at the top of the clock.

High NoonHigh Noon
Year: 1952
Rating: PG
Length: 85 minutes / 1.42 hours

The concept of high noon is perhaps one of the most cliche western tropes that exists. Since most people’s days are arbitrarily run regardless of the time, why should they focus on that one moment in their day? Of course, since the railways helped to expand the west, time was an important factor in order to understand if events were early or late. As a result, people would live and die by the alignment of those clocks placed prominently in the town. High Noon is perhaps the most quintessential western ever made, and of the four Oscars that it won, Gary Cooper’s Best Actor Oscar was perhaps the most obvious. Placed at #27 on the American Film Institute’s top 100 list, High Noon is a classic tale of revenge and sticking up for what is right, even if no one else will.

As is the case with many westerns, Marshal Will Kane (Gary Cooper) has decided to hang up his gun and settle down with his wife, Amy (Grace Kelly), to whom he was just married. Unfortunately, Frank Miller (Ian MacDonald) has something to say about that. Miller is out of prison and coming back to town to exact his revenge on the lawman who sent him there. The whole Miller gang are now on a train headed to town, set to arrive at the end of the morning. When Kane asks the townspeople that he has spent years protecting for some assistance in taking down Miller, he gets no help whatsoever. As the clock ticks closer and closer to high noon, when Miller’s train is expected in town, Kane prepares his body and his mind to take on Miller’s gang alone.

Midnight CowboyMidnight Cowboy
Year: 1969
Rating: X
Length: 113 minutes / 1.88 hours

Just like so much importance is placed upon high noon in westerns, midnight is often seen as a new beginning. How often have we stayed up until midnight on New Year’s Eve, promising ourselves that we’re going to have a fresh start in the new year? We change our lives and we tell ourselves that things will be different, but unless we’re knowledgeable enough about what we want to change into, there is a chance we will get taken advantage of. Of course, aside from the start of the year, midnight is the playground of the uncouth. When all fine upstanding citizens have gone to bed, many lowlifes are just getting started. Placed as high as #36 on the American Film Institute’s top 100 list, this gritty film about the seedy New York underbelly won Best Picture and Best Director, as well as Best Adapted Screenplay.

Joe Buck (Jon Voight) wants a new start on his life, and has come to New York to fulfill his dreams. Of course, his dreams of being a real hustler get him in trouble when he gets taken advantage of (and not in the good way). With no real understanding of how the city works, Joe’s naivete is his detriment until he comes across a sickly man by the name of Ratso Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman). Ratso is willing to educate Joe on how New York really works. And yet, even though Joe rarely knows what’s going on, he sees that their squalid living conditions are slowly killing Ratso. When he realizes that his time as a hustler isn’t going as well as he had planned, he decides to start over one more time in order to help out Ratso, the only true friend he’s ever really made.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 cowboys at the top of the clock