100 Movies: Update 4

My challenge continues!  See blog posts 100 Movies for my 30th Year! regarding my decision to watch the 100 best American films ever made, and check out my reviews so far: 100 Movies: Update100 Movies Update 2 and 100 Movies Update 3

It’s back to black and white with these reviews of Frankenstein, Yankee Doodle Dandy and Charlie Chaplin’s Gold Rush.


In the beginning of the film, an announcer relays a message to the audience letting them know how truly “horrific” and terrifying the following scenes would be. Nonetheless, the story of a mad scientist doctor and the creature he creates had gone down in history as one of the most memorable ever created. Dr Frankenstein utters the famous words, “Now I know what it is like to BE God,” after creating a monster from the dead, who goes on to terrify the living. I doubt that audiences today will find this horrifying, but it is a classic!

Notice these tidbits:

  • Boris Karloff, who played the monster, was an anonymous actor who was spotted in a commissary by director James Whale

  • Technically this is not considered a horror film, since that term was not coined until 1932

  • The shoes that the monster wears weigh 13 pounds each

  • Based on a book by Mary Shelley, Frankenstein. This Gothic novel was written after Shelley suffered many losses in her own life, including the deaths of three of her children


Yankee Doodle Dandy


Soon after beginning this movie, I realized I had seen this before, but many years ago.  Even so it was fun to watch it again and relive the true story of George M. Cohan while tapping along to songs such as “45 Minutes from Broadway,” and “Over There.”  Cohan was a talented performer: he sang, danced, produced, directed, and composed throughout his career in vaudeville and on Broadway. While Yankee Doodle Dandy is fun, highly patriotic and entertaining, it varies from the actual history of George M. Cohan in many areas. Despite this, the line, “My father thanks you, my mother thanks you, my sister thanks you, and I thank you,” is a line that Cohan would often say to audiences when they demanded encores.

Notice these tidbits:

  • James Cagney was the first actor to receive the Best Actor Academy Award for a musical

  • Joan Leslie, who portrayed Cohan’s wife Mary, was 17 at the time of filming and often interupted schedule because of her school commitments

  • George M. Cohan acted as a consultant for some of the film, despite health issues. He passed away several months after the film’s release, but was able to see the completed picture

  • This film is extremely patriotic and was released soon after the Pearl Harbor attacks

  • Nominated for 8 Academy Awards, this film has been reviewed and applauded by greats such as Robert Ebert, who specially praised Cagney’s singing and dancing (Cagney did not specialize in either talent but he approached it with such joy that audiences are completely drawn into his performances)


Gold Rush


Charlie Chaplin…is there anything new to say about his genius? Probably not, but if you have never seen this silent film, I personally recommend that you do so immediately. Gold Rush focuses on a man with singular charm who, not surprisingly, goes looking for gold in the snowy land of Alaska. Other characters, including Big Jim, Black Larson and Georgia, add dimension to Chaplin’s humorous ability to steal every scene.  Chaplin’s “dancing rolls” scene shows just how talented this actor was; audiences are completed captured by the genius way he makes dinner rolls step in time.

Notice these tidbits:

  • The boot that Chaplin eats for supper was made of licorice. Chaplin was rushed to the hospita from insulin shock after eating so much

  • This was the first Chaplin film that he revived with sound

  • The production team built a model of a home teetering on the edge of a precipice and used it when depicting the “leaning house” scenes


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