Favorite Film Discoveries of 2014: Part Two (The Not-So-Discoveries)

This is the same idea as “Favorite Older Films First Viewed in” which I did since 2011. The idea was one I first saw on Rupert Pupkin Speaks. I have usually done the list in parts. This time I will find ways to group the films.

My first installment can be found here. In this installment I will briefly discuss some films that are not discoveries in the truest sense, but rather ones I either took a while to get to and versions I didn’t know existed.

Christmas in Connecticut (1945)

Christmas in Connecticut (1945, Warner Bros.)

This is one of two on this list that I saw for the first time on the big screen. It’s tremendously funny, zany, permanently S.Z. “Cuddles” Sakall in my head (another tremendous Hungarian ex-pat character actor) and quite romantic too. It was a lot of fun. I saw it after A Christmas Carol (1938) which I believe I had seen before but not on the big screen. It was a great presentation by Fathom Events, which showed the positive side of digital projection.

White Christmas (1954)

White Christmas (1954, 20th Century Fox)

This was a separate Fathom Events presentation, and it was another Holiday standard that I finally got around to. It is a simple, effective through-line and proves once again that Michael Curtiz can do anything.

The Hideaways [a.k.a. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankenweiler] (1973)

The Hideaways (1973, Cinema 5 Distributing)

This story wasn’t new to me. I had seen the ’90s TV version which featured Lauren Bacall. Here it’s Ingrid Bergman as the mysterious woman. The story is rendered better here and equally as capably performed by the young leads. It’s a film I wouldn’t have known of or seen if not for Warner Archive which continues to do great work.

Swiss Family Robinson (1960)

Swiss Family Robinson (1960, Disney)

The first of two Disney films on the list this viewing was a long way coming, because I had it around and because of my having climbed through the Disney World Treehouse inspired by the film a few times. While it was sad to learn that Disney purchased and buried the 1940 RKO version starring Freddie Bartholomew and others, to avoid comparisons this is a very good film with some Disney regulars.

Tarzan (1999)

Tarzan (1999, Disney)

I’ve discussed many a Tarzan film on this site. It was only a matter of time before that theme crossed with my annual devoted to Disney theme and I finally got another film off my list from my hiatus.

Here was my conclusion:

By getting away from certain conventions that other Tarzan movies set, and spinning the tale a Disney way, while also tweaking certain expectations of a Disney film the road to success is already paved. In a pleasurable surprise, however, the film also does manage to tug at the heartstrings like most Disney fare does – more strongly here. Also, Disney flips the script on a template established in The Jungle Book. A successful restructuring of a given pattern can be a joy to watch, conversely a failure of such an attempt is difficult to deal with.

Taking all that in mind, with so many other versions under my belt, and with the hallmark Disney delivery of the origin, this may be the Tarzan film I was looking for all along the one that combines adventure, emotion and the intrinsically fascinating things about this tale in one package.

The Mist (2007) [The Black and White Version]

The Mist (2007, Dimension)

I closed my mostly highly-favorable review of The Mist in 2012 with the following:

The ending is a conversation piece. It is strong and unlike King’s story it’s not open. King approved of this change. Certain elements are very effective some aren’t. What you make of it is up to you. It does not detract from the whole and the film is definitely worth watching.

I still really enjoyed it, I discussed the CG quite a bit. Later on I discovered that there was a black-and-white version, then it clicked. That would probably “deal with” most of the issues I had with it. The film sat around here a while waiting to be seen. When I did my suspicions were confirmed: it’s darn near perfect in monochrome. Check it out if you have a chance.

There will be other themes to follow.