"The Apartment" - Best Picture of 1960 - This is what I called a "grown-up Hollywood movie." After watching a bunch of musicals and big soundstage movies, it was refreshing to watch a good ol' drama with great acting thanks to Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine. It was "Mad Men" done in the age of "Mad Men." Both Kitty and I were impressed by the quality of the story and film making.
"Oliver!" - Best Picture of 1968 - Film adaptation of the musical based on Dickens' "Oliver Twist." And we're back to big-budget movie making with extravagant sets, costumes, and musical numbers. I wanted to see if the child actors who played Oliver and The Artful Dodger went on to have movie careers. Not so much. Mark Lester had one other big role in "Black Beauty," and Jack Wild went on to be Jimmy in "H.R. Puffenstuff."
"Around the World in 80 Days" - Best Picture 1956 - Once again a big budget extravaganza that wasn't all that great in my opinion. The pacing was horrible with a long drawn out bullfight in Spain followed by quick trips to India, China, and Japan. There were lots of racial stereotypes including savage Indians in the Wild West and Phileus Fogg's Spanish assistant as a lecherous womanizer. I also guess they couldn't find any attractive women in India, so they made Shirley MacLaine an Indian princess. It also feels as if they couldn't decide whether it should be an adventure story or a comedy. The movie is also loaded with stars of the day in cameo roles. A piano player at a San Francisco saloon has his back to the camera for most of the scene until he finally turns around to reveal himself as Frank Sinatra.
"On the Town" - honorable mention - Speaking of Frank Sinatra, he's back with Gene Kelly as sailors on shore leave in New York City. It's "Anchors Away" on the East Coast with no dance routine with a cartoon mouse. It does have great singin' and dancin' including the hit song "New York New York" (a wonderful town, not spreadin' the news). It's ranked as one of the best movies of its type, but it only won an Oscar for music direction. It's still a classic. Both Kitty and I commented how entertaining these old movies could be without excessive violence or overt sexuality. I'm not pining for the "good ol' days" but it's great to see "good ol' film making" where there was good writing and acting with no need for non-stop special effects to carry the story.