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CLASSIC BEST PICTURES

Updated: Jan 29, 2022


Classic Best Pictures With Billy Disaster #1

Last night’s movie was Rebecca (1940) starring Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine

Do I need to say **SPOILER ALERT** for a review of a flick that’s 82 years old?

So the 1st act of this movie was as jarring as it was beautiful. The jarring part was the personalities of Mrs. Van Hopper (Florence Bates) and Maxim de Winter (Olivier). Mrs. Van Hopper is a horrible wealthy old bag who is just so snobby and hateful. She hires Joan Fontaine to be her companion on a trip to Monte Carlo to keep up appearances and act as an assistant.

During their stay, Fontaine is swept off of her feet by the super wealthy aristocrat Maxim de Winter who charms her, proposes to her (more like instructs her to marry him), and immediately begins to train her on her future servitude. He really comes across as a pompous true 1%er asshole.

But Fontaine is a young and naive (and smokin’ hot) girl from the other side of the tracks She quickly becomes Mrs. de Winter and moves to Maxim’s gigantic mansion in England. Problem is, she is not the first Mrs. de Winter. Maxim’s 1st wife, Rebecca, died, leaving Maxim with a home full of reminders of her and an evil housekeeper named Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson) who basically worshipped Rebecca.

Mrs. Danvers makes it all too clear to the new Mrs de Winter that she will never fill the void that Rebecca left and sets off being a total bitch to her.

Now, another problem is, it turns out Rebecca wasn’t all that great herself. For one thing, she didn’t really love Maxim and just married him for the money and appearances. For another thing, SHE SAID SHE GOT KNOCKED UP BY HER OWN COUSIN! (George Sanders) and it seems that Rebecca and Sanders are trying to scam Maxim out of his estate.

After a ton of shit goes down, Mr. and Mrs. de Winter return to the mansion only to find that that bitch Mrs. Danvers has burned it down.

Now all of this is done with Hitchcock’s masterful and magical wand. The sets and locations are breathtaking and filmed incredibly. The ever present music by Franz Waxman is elegant and syncs up to the moments of the film perfectly. In fact, pretty much everything about this flick is perfect and is now towards the top of my list of favorite Hitchcock flicks. 5 Oscars for Rebecca 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆. Tonight’s movie will be The Bridge on the River Kwai. ❤️You

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Classic Best Pictures With Billy Disaster #2

Last night’s movie was Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) starring Alec Guinness and William Holden. Directed by David Lean.


If someone told me, “Hey Billy Disaster! You gotta check out this war movie, Bridge on the River Kwai! It’s 2 hours and 41 minutes long with almost no combat scenes!”. I would have said, “Why don’t you go jump off that bridge and get out of my house?”.

I’m so glad that I went into this flick without knowing anything about it. It was awesome.

It’s set in 1943 at a Japanese prison camp in Burma run by Colonel Saito (The terrific Sessue Hayakawa), whose responsibility is to get his American and British prisoners to build a bridge across the River Kwai. Saito has a deadline to finish the project or he has to commit suicide.

William Holden plays the main American prisoner who has been there long enough to get to know the guards and his way around. Alec Guinness plays the main British prisoner who is new to the camp. He’s hard headed and challenges Saito’s rules and ends up in a brutal solitary confinement style “iron box”.

While Guinness is in the box, Holden escapes the camp and eventually finds his way to a British colony with beautiful scenery and lots of hot chicks. But his fun won’t last too long as he’s talked into going back to the camp to destroy the bridge.

But now we have a problem. Guinness has been let out of the box and has agreed to be a good boy and help build the bridge, but on the condition that he and his fellow British prisoners get to build it their way and be treated well.

The result of all of this (and sooo much more) is an epic opus that I wouldn’t have minded if it was 3 hours and 41 minutes long. I loved all of the characters and loved spending all of that time in the killer locations. Even the prison camp. The whole feel of this movie was just perfectly perfect.

I have a question…was the phrase “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” originally coined in this flick?

5 Oscars for Bridge on the River Kwai 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆. Tonight’s movie will be All About Eve. ❤️You.

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Classic Best Pictures With Billy Disaster #3

Last night’s movie was All About Eve (1950) starring Bette Davis and Anne Baxter. Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz.

**SPOILERS**

Ok..so..they got me good with this one. I totally fell for Eve’s act and thought she was as innocent as she seemed in the beginning. And that just speaks to the terrific performance of Anne Baxter. And that’s saying a lot as Baxter is actually one of the weaker links in this flick.


Baxter plays Eve, who is an obsessive fan of of Broadway star, Margo Channing (Davis). Eve goes to all of Channing’s performances and eventually gets to meet her hero. Channing is charmed by Eve’s shy and humble demeanor and is moved by the sad story of her past. So Channing hires Eve to be her live in assistant. But is Eve really who she says she is?

The story has lots of ins and outs, but the real highlights of this movie are the incredible screenplay (and its dozens of killer quotes) and the masterful performance of Bette Davis.

Davis’ character is confident, egotistical, somewhat hateful and yet still very fun loving. I don’t know a hell of a lot about Bette Davis but she played this role so well that I suspect that she was kind of playing a version of herself. All of the actors in this were great, but Davis is another level. I watched this flick twice just to watch her work.

This movie was nominated for 14 Academy Awards and won 6 of them. In fact, both Davis and Baxter were up for Best Actress, cancelling each other out and both losing to Judy Holliday in Born Yesterday.

OH! And Marilyn Monroe makes an appearance in one of her early roles. 5 Oscars for All About Eve 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆. Tonight’s movie will be On the Waterfront. ❤️You.

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Classic Best Pictures With Billy Disaster #4

Last night’s movie was On the Waterfront (1954) starring Marlon Brando and Eva Marie Saint ❤️. Directed by Elia Kazan.

This flick was the 1st gangster flick that I’ve seen that didn’t glorify the mafia lifestyle. It really made the mob guys come across as far more frightening and dangerous. The mob boss, Johnny Friendly (Lee J. Cobb) was truly scary in his realistic brutality.

Another thing about this movie that frightened me was the fact that it was based on a true story of a longshoreman who stood up to the gangsters that control the waterfront.

As smokin’ hot as Eva Marie Saint is in this, Marlon Brando is so beautiful and his expressions so intense, that he dominates the screen. The famous “I could have been a contender” scene with Brando and his gangster brother was a perfect example of how great Brando was. Brando’s reaction of disappointment when his brother, Charlie, pulled the gun on him in the car was so moving that I may have shed a tear.

I’ve read a little bit about the creation of this flick. It turns out that Kazan had ratted on some of his colleagues for being associated with the commies. He used this movie as an expression of that event, as Brando’s character kind of does the same thing to his Mob comrades. What a crazy time the 50’s must’ve been.

My favorite element of this movie was the gritty locations and wonderful passion that was put into filming it in black and white. That, and the Leonard Bernstein score give this an easy 5 Oscars for On the Waterfront 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆. Tonight’s movie will be Gentleman’s Agreement. ❤️You.

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Classic Best Pictures With Billy Disaster #5

Last night’s movie was Gentleman’s Agreement (1947) starring Gregory Peck and Dorothy McGuire. Directed by Elia Kazan.

So this was my 2nd Kazan flick in a row (On the Waterfront was Sunday’s movie..CFWBD#4). It was also 2 Kazan flicks in a row that dealt with controversy. On the Waterfront had the Communist witch hunt of the House Un-American Activities Committee hanging over it as Kazan had named names. Kazan never regretted his decision but apparently, many in Hollywood never forgave him. I read that when he received his Lifetime Achievement Award, some people in the audience refused to applaud.

Gentleman’s Agreement deals with anti-semitism, mainly in New York City. Gregory Peck plays Phillip Green, a widower/single father/journalist who lives with his mother and is assigned the task of writing an article about anti-Semitism. After struggling for a unique angle, he decides to pretend he’s Jewish for 6 weeks.

Along the way, he falls in love with his editor’s niece, Kathy (McGuire) who, as it turns out, isn’t exactly anti-Semitic, but complacent about it enough that she might as well be. As a result, their blossoming relationship takes some shots and Peck is put into the difficult position of including her attitude with the other occurrences he comes across in his undercover reporting.

To be honest, I didn’t really like Dorothy McGuire in this all that much. I’m surprised that she earned a Best Actress nomination for her role. I thought she delivered her lines too “rehearsed” with an odd tempo. And she didn’t have nearly the personalty or presence of the other main women in this flick, mainly the secretary June Havoc (Celeste Holm) and Anne Revere as Peck’s Mom.

There’s a glaring scene that had me laughing at the irony. Peck’s Mom suffers a heart attack. He sends for a doctor who, AS HE LIGHTS UP A CIGARETTE, tells him his Mom should be OK.

Another thing I noticed was the absence of music throughout. The moments of tape hiss silence were actually pretty powerful in this pretty powerful flick. 4 Oscars for Gentleman’s Agreement 🏆🏆🏆🏆. Tonight’s movie will be From Here to Eternity. ❤️You.

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Classic Best Pictures With Billy Disaster #6

Last night’s movie was From Here to Eternity (1953) starring Burt Lancaster and Frank Sinatra. Directed by Fred Zinnemann.

8 Academy Awards? Including Best Supporting Actor for Sinatra? I’m sorry, but something seems suspicious about this.

You know the storyline in The Godfather where Don Corleone and Tom Hagen help Johnny Fontane get a part in a movie to resurrect his career? Well, legend has it (with no evidence) that that story is based on how Sinatra got the role in this flick. However, it doesn’t seem too far fetched as, not only did Sinatra seem out of his league with his awful “drunk soldier” acting, but to win the Academy Award? Sounds like he got a little help.

I also don’t quite get how this movie won Best Picture. It was a terrible storyline told terribly. Montgomery Cliff (who was actually awesome. And incredibly handsome) plays Robert E. Lee Prewitt, who gets stationed at Pearl Harbor just before the Japanese attack. His new boss, Capt. Dana Holmes (asshole) knows that Prewitt is a former boxer. So Capt. Holmes wants Prewitt to get back into boxing to represent the base. But Prewitt insists that he’s done with boxing and refuses. Capt. Holmes, however doesn’t like taking “no” for an answer and goes about making Prewitt’s life a living hell.

Seriously! This whole premise just felt too far fetched and ridiculous.

By the way, This is not a war flick. It’s a romance/borderline chick flick with a couple of different super boring love stories. The acting was great (except Sinatra). The Cinematography was great. And Sgt. Fatso (Ernest Borgnine) was my favorite. But the dumb story and boring love stories equal 2 Oscars for From Here to Eternity 🏆🏆. Tonight’s movie will be Casablanca. ❤️You.

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Classic Best Pictures With Billy Disaster #7

Last night’s movie was Casablanca (1942) starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. Directed by Michael Curtiz.

So, this was the 1st time I’d ever seen this film (as with every review), and it was also my 1st Bogart flick. It was borderline life changing. I’ve heard the famous quotes since I was a mini Disaster…”Here’s looking at you kid”…”Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine”. It was awesome to see those quotes in the actual movie.

I’ll start with this. Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine might be the coolest character I’ve ever seen. His dialogue, along with his delivery, is military grade. And the way he has a drink and smokes his cigarette makes me want to be just like him when I grow up:).

The noir lighting was like another lead actor in this flick. Bogart is often lit half dark and half light, which seemed to represent his surfaced self and his hidden integrity. And you can tell that the way other characters were lit were artistically detailed, particularly the sharp brightness on Laszlo and of course the soft and loving lighting on Bergman.

Speaking of Bergman. It’s almost like there were more lines written for her facial expressions than actual dialogue. Her reaction to everything that was spoken to her could switch from fear, to love, to sadness, to mystery in a single shot. Amazing.

My favorite scene was when the Germans began singing their National Anthem at the bar only for Laszlo to overcome them by leading a powerful belting of the French National Anthem “La Marseillaise”. It gave me chills.

Let’s get back to Bogart’s Rick Blaine. Could he be the most important character of his time? It’s like he represented the failed neutrality of the United States at the the beginning of WWII. On one side, he wanted to just be comfortable and in love, and on the other side, he knew that more had to be done at the expense of true love. The way he reveals his better side by helping the couple with his rigged roulette table, as well as the final scene, added to his coolness tenfold.

The only thing I disagreed with was that I don’t think that it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship between Rick and Louis, I think they had a beautiful friendship all along. 5 Oscars for Casablanca 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆. Tonight’s movie will be Gigi. ❤️You.

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Classic Best Pictures With Billy Disaster #8

Last night’s movie was Gigi (1958) starring Leslie Caron and Louis Jourdan. Directed by Vincente Minnelli.

So, I had to watch this one twice before I did this write up because the 1st time through left a bad taste in my mouth. Perhaps it was because I had just come off of the high of Casablanca and this one required a serious change of gears. I found the pompous characters to be supremely unlikeable, particularly the snobby Aunt Alicia (Isabel Jeans) and the creepy Uncle Lachaille (Maurice Chevalier,) (I’m still not on board with the “Thank Heaven for Little Girls Song”).

I also found the story of the Grandma and Aunt basically pimping out 16 year old Gigi to Gaston a bit jarring. I guess I just wasn’t in the mood for this on my 1st viewing.

HOWEVER!…Like Gaston reconsidering his opinion of Gigi’s dress, I decided to to give it another chance with a better attitude. I’m glad I did.

For one thing, this flick is visually stunning. Shot on location in Paris, the colors are so vibrant that it felt like I had just landed in OZ. The sets and costumes are so intensely extravagant that you can almost understand why the people are so imperious.

There was a bit of dark comedy in this. The scene where it’s discovered that a girl that Gaston had just dumped (Eva Gabor) had just attempted suicide and Lachaille says to Gaston, “Congratulations! It’s your first suicide!”…I might have to put this in the Dark Comedies page on the website.

As much as I dislike Uncle Lachaille, He was part of 2 of my favorite songs. One being “I’m Glad I’m Not Young Anymore” and the other being “I Remember It Well” sung with Madame Alvarez (Hermione Gingold). I should also mention that Chevalier was terrific in this despite the creepiness of his character.

And then there’s Leslie Caron as Gigi. I have never seen her in anything before and I wonder why she wasn’t a bigger star. Perhaps she was and I’m just letting my inexperience show. Not only is she radiant, but she put on one hell of a performance in this. As did everyone.

I’m so glad I gave this a second chance. It went from 2 to 4 Oscars for Gigi 🏆🏆🏆🏆. Tonight’s movie will be Gone With The Wind. ❤️You

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Classic Best Pictures With Billy Disaster #9

Last night’s movie was Gone With The Wind (1939) starring Vivian Leigh and Clark Gable. Directed by Victor Fleming.

After hearing the famous quote “Franky my dear, I don’t give a damn” pretty much all of my life, I now know the enormous weight behind it. It wasn’t just the way Clark Gable said it, it was the tidal wave of emotional circumstances that led up to it. It might be the most powerful moment I’ve ever experienced in watching movies. You know when you’re crying so hard that you hyperventilate a little? That was me during the last 40 minutes or so of this flick. And when CG delivered that line…I fucking lost it. Mrs. Disaster had to pour me a Jameson and console me for an hour.

The one word I think I can use to describe this movie is “conflicting”. Scarlett O’Hara is kind of an anti-hero. Ultimately, she’s just trying to survive and get her life back on track after the war has upended everything. However, she is such a manipulative and flawed woman that it was hard to root for her. But I was rooting for her because I was infected by her strength and charisma. Those eyes didn’t hurt either.

At 3 hours and 41 minutes, I assumed that I would be watching this in 2 parts, but it was so engaging and beautiful that those hours went by like lightning. The biggest thing that engrossed me so much was the music by Max Steiner of which he was nominated for Best Original Score, but lost to The Wizard of Oz. I learned that, at the time, Steiner was juggling a few projects and this score was a bit of a rush job. Astounding.

There are so many intensely great characters and performances in this. I want to have a drink with Rhett. I want to sit with Ashley and hear his war stories. I’m deeply in love with Melanie. And I want to go to their BBQs.

As difficult as it is to see the depictions of slavery, I don’t think movies like this should be banned or canceled. They should be shown to every generation so they can see how wrong it was. In my opinion, the most troubling thing about this flick was learning about how African American actors were treated in those days. Hattie McDaniel, who played Mammy, won Best Supporting Actress. But at the Academy Awards that year, she wasn’t allowed to sit at the “Gone With The Wind” table with everyone else. If it wasn’t for producer David Selznick pulling some strings, she wouldn’t have even been allowed in the building as per the venue rules. Shame on you 1939 Hollywood.

So, yes…conflicting is the word for this flick. But with all of its dark sides, you can’t overlook the epic masterpiece that it is. 5 Oscars for Gone With The Wind 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆. Tonight’s movie will be An American in Paris. ❤️You

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Classic Best Pictures With Billy Disaster #10

Last night’s movie was An American In Paris (1951) starring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron. Directed by Vincente Minnelli.

I knew I was in for an entertaining ride during the opening scene in Gene Kelly’s apartment and his use of the limited space. His bed that pulls up to the ceiling, his little table with the chair efficiently stacked on it from the closet etc. It was all so clever.

The story in this flick is a minor ingredient as a “Milo meets Jerry, Jerry meets Lise (Caron), but Lise has a fiancee (Georges Guetary), but falls in love with Jerry”, story. The whole thing is really just an excuse to produce some killer song and dance scenes.

I felt kinda bad for Milo Roberts (Nina Roberts) who is trying to help Jerry (Kelly) get his art career going. She totally deserved more attention from Jerry with her gracious efforts towards him. Plus she was just a cool chick. And hot. She really should have been helping out Jerry’s pianist friend, Adam (Oscar Levant).

Let’s talk a little bit about Oscar Levant. He was my favorite character in this flick. He was hilarious in the cafe scene where he had the inside information about the love triangle. And his piano playing of Gershwin’s Concerto in F was extraordinary! I read about his crazy cool career on Broadway and in Hollywood and that he was the highest paid concert pianist for a time during the 1940’s. What a guy!

Now let’s get into Leslie Caron (who Gene Kelly nicknamed, “Lester the Pester”). As annoyed as I was at Jerry going for Lise instead of Milo, it wasn’t ENTIRELY out of the question. Caron was next level beautiful and I think I fell in love with her for awhile myself. It’s amazing that when she was cast, she barely spoke any English.

There are a number of great dance productions in this, but the headliner was an unbelievable 20 minute, MASSIVELY layered ballet at the end. I cannot imagine the effort that went into that from the choreography, to the set designs and construction, to the incredible filming of it, and of course, the dancing. It reminded me of the end of Singin’ in the Rain.

Speaking of which, this movie was like a light test run for making Singin’ in the Rain, that was made the following year. As much as I enjoyed this film, it is no Singin’ in the Rain. I’m sure Gene Kelly would agree. 3 Oscars for An American In Paris 🏆🏆🏆. Tonight’s movie will be Marty. ❤️You.

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Classic Best Pictures With Billy Disaster #11

Last night’s movie was Marty (1955), starring Ernest Borgnine and Betsy Blair. Directed by Delbert Mann in his directorial debut.

Made for only $350,000, this flick relied on the performances of Borgnine and the rest of the cast. The studio actually spent more money to promote it than they did to make the film. ($400,000).

Borgnine plays Marty, a 34 year old Italian American bachelor who lives with his Mom (Esther Minciotti). Marty is a big hearted butcher in The Bronx. He hangs out with his buddies who are also single and spend a lot of time trolling for tail.

One evening, Marty meets Clara (Blair), an awkward and lonely young lady. They hit it off and spend the evening getting to know each other. At the end of the evening they express their mutual appreciation for each other and agree to get together the next day.

Sound kind of boring? It wasn’t. This flick was refreshing on a number of levels. 1st of all, Marty is more of a real character than most leading characters. He’s not overly handsome and his vulnerable demeanor is pretty likable. He loves his Mother and so do I. She has a great relationship with Marty’s Aunt Cathrine (Augusta Ciolli) who was living with her son until she got kicked out for being too overbearing. So she moves in with Marty and his mom.

Writing this makes me think it actually was kind of boring, but it won Best Picture for some good reasons. What Delbert Mann did with limited resources in his directorial debut was perfectly perfect. The performance and creativity were so smooth and well executed. 4

Oscars for Marty . Stay tuned for a BIG ANNOUNCEMENT! The next series is a

big next step in Billy Disaster land. You Billydisaster.com

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