FilmJerk Favorites

A group of unique directors and the essential works that you've got to see.

||| Frank Capra |||
Frank Capra

It goes without saying that Capra is one of the greatest and most beloved directors of all time, especially renowned for his madcap romantic comedies. He is one of the few directors who ever managed to balance whimsy with meaningfulness without loosing the ability to entertain.

Only Frank Capra, with his light hand and good sense of allowing the actors to be their roles, could carry off this tale of a naive average American used by an unscrupulous politician through a nationwide goodwill drive. No one was ever better at having strong yet vulnerable women not only aid, but often come to the rescue, of the leading man.

Frank Capra's final film is a hilarious translation of a Damon Runyon tale set in 1930s New York, as gangster Glenn Ford repays street peddler Bette Davis for her "good luck" apples by passing her off as a well-to-do society lady for her visiting daughter (Ann-Margret in her film debut). This excellent and thoroughly enjoyable remake of his own 1933 "Lady for a Day" is a beautiful swan song to a master storyteller. Widescreen!

In this black comedy about two sweet old ladies whose basement holds a murderously funny secret, Capra utilizes star Cary Grant to his zany, patented “double take” best. Capra’s brilliance in comic casting is demonstrated with such reliable character actors as Raymond Massey, Peter Lorre and Jack Carson who manage to play their parts to the hilt without chewing up the scenery.

Recommended by CarrieSpecht

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The Nightmare Before Christmas 3D

By EdwardHavens

October 20th, 2006

Re-imagining "The Nightmare Before Christmas" as a three dimensional film has taken Henry Selick's modern masterwork and turned it into a timeless classic. Although the new version is essentially the same as the one film fans fell in love with in the early 1990s, the update gives the film extra depth (no pun intended) and excitement, and brings to the silver screen the single best instance of three dimension cinema moviegoers have ever seen.

The Nightmare Before Christmas 3D

Compare the stereographics from “Nightmare” with the painful images from the three dimensional versions of other recent films utilizing the same processes. Perhaps this is because “Nightmare” was not conceived and produced as an all-CG animated project, giving the film a more natural look and feel due to its “live” action shooting process. One could conceive it to be more convenient to give depth to images that were created in a real-world environment and photographed on a live set. Whatever reason it may be, the clarity of the stereographic images here are astounding, far outpacing the best 3D movies of the past such as “House of Wax” and “The Creature from the Black Lagoon.” Throughout the film, one truly gets the sense of being in Halloween Town with Jack Skellington and his motley group of cretins.

If it’s been a while since you’ve seen the film, this is genuinely a great gift. If you’ve never seen “Nightmare” before, I am honestly jealous. To be able to experience this film for the first time ever in 3D should become one of the greatest cinematic events you will ever get to enjoy. Having seen the film several dozen times since its release in 1993, including a few visits to the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood (where Disney has shown the film every year during Halloween) and one pre-release test screening (where I believe I may have been the only person to have liked the film that night), I have found myself reconnecting with the film in ways I never did before, getting close to sheer giddiness during two of the film’s best set pieces: the film’s opening moments, where we meet the denizens of Halloween Town, when Santa is taunted by Oogie Boogie, and especially during the single greatest moment of the film: when Jack discovers Christmas Town. Like the Pumpkin King, I shared his excitement as he asked “What Is This?” This is brilliance taken to the next level.

The Nightmare Before Christmas” has aged well since its first release, and we can only hope Disney decides to make this a holiday perennial for all (not just those of us who live close to the company’s flagship movie theatre). If ever you needed an excuse to be reminded why we go to the movie theatre sometimes, this is it.

My rating: A+