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Posted January 14, 2022

Sean Ring

By Sean Ring

Five Movies to Kindle Your Travel Spirit

  • Lets get moving again. Stagnation isnt good.
  • Motivation needs to be maintained and renewed.
  • Time to break through the barriers to see new things or visit old friends.

Happy Friday!

I hope you've had a great week.

We've been busy with the bureaucratically imposed obligations we need to meet before we head out.

But there's a lot to be said for getting that stuff out of the way. But Im pretty sure the relief of getting it done doesnt outweigh the stress of doing it.

But do it we must, so thats that.

With that in mind, Im ready to go. Sure, Ive got another 2.5 months here. But that doesnt mean my mind isnt already out the door.

And with yesterdays Rude tackling an unwelcome specter from our political past, I thought wed go light on this Friday.

But before I do, just a gentle warning: some of these are Oscar-winning classics. Some are just good popcorn movies. Being from Joisey, I dont like getting hoity-toity all the time.

With that out of the way, grab your cup of java and lets get started.

Casablanca

My father was big on Bogie, but I never had really taken to him.

I loved Errol Flynn and Basil Rathbone, but not Bogie and Cagney.

I still dont know why that is.

But while I was in London, the DVD for Casablanca was on sale, so I thought Id break down and get it.

Since that evening, its been my all-time favorite movie. I cant tell you how many times Ive watched it.

First, the screenplay: its simply the tautest of any movie Ive ever watched.

Theres not a word wasted, and the dialogue is perhaps the cleverest in Hollywood history.

But its not condescending, nor is it unintelligible.

The script hit that sweet spot where the viewer is rapt, yet curious, but not confused.

The big three actors in this are all excellent.

Humphrey Bogart is the heartbroken yet tough Rick, running his gin joint in Morocco.

Paul Henreid is Victor Laszlo, the freedom fighter seeking passage to America.

And Ingrid Bergman plays the mysterious Elsa Lund, caught between the two men.

The supporting cast is also a whos who of 1940s Hollywood. Claude Rains as the fickle Captain Renault is brilliantly funny.

Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet, Dooley Wilson, and the rest light up each scene theyre in.

Of course, the films resolution is bittersweet and brilliant, marking a departure from the rather saccharine endings of wartime movies.

Out of Africa

I just watched this last night for the first time in years.

Though Robert Redford was hopelessly miscast as Denys Finch-Hatton, his performance is still great.

(The real Finch-Hatton was as English as clotted cream and jam and as bald as a cue ball.)

Redford gives the mid-Atlantic accent his all, but the rugged manliness comes naturally.

Meryl Streep, of course, got an Oscar nomination for her performance, which she did for nearly all her movies back in the 1980s.

Though her accent is all over the place, it doesnt detract from a robust performance as Karen, the woman who wanted a title but wound up losing everything.

Klaus Maria Brandauer, one of my favorite actors and one whos not nearly as famous as youd expect, plays Bror, Karens philandering husband.

Sydney Pollacks direction and production gives us some amazing scenes in East Africa.

Thats the one part of Africa I havent been to. And every time I watch this movie, it reminds me that I havent seen it all.

To Catch a Thief

Cary Grant is perhaps the most handsome man ever to grace the big screen.

Hes one actor where its perfectly acceptable to think, Ill never look like that in a month of Sundays.

But hes also likable and seemingly accessible in this film, where his former cat burglar John Robie has been framed. So, he needs to catch the thief impersonating him.

Assisting him is the impossibly gorgeous Grace Kelly, fresh off her Oscar win.

Princess Grace died when I was a boy, so I didnt know much about her. But this film is where it all started. Monaco was a European backwater until she showed up and Prince Rainier fell in love with her.

And who could blame him?

She was intelligent, charming, and beautiful.

Alfred Hitchcock gives us some great shots of the French Riviera, while directing us through a plot with many twists and turns.

The Merchant of Venice

I wrote earlier about how I loved Robert DeNiro in Ronin, but no American had seen his performance.

Let me add Al Pacino to my his best role isnt as a gangster list.

It doesnt matter if you havent seen or read the play.

Youll be transported to the Venice of old, back when it was one of the largest trading and naval power of the world.

There, youll meet Shylock, a Jewish moneylender from whom Jeremy Ironss Antonio borrows money.

Bassanio, Antonios poor friend needs the money to marry Portia.

If Antonio doesnt pay the money back, Shylock gets a pound of flesh.

Pacinos performance blew me away. I thought he was fabulous in the role and didnt get enough credit for it.

Perhaps thats because Im not used to Americans playing Shakespearean roles.

Im sure old Billy Wigglestick would have applauded.

The Saint

This last film is a favorite from the 90s when I was young and silly.

But I still enjoy this movie whenever its on, and I think Val Kilmer shouldve done some sequels.

His chemistry with Elisabeth Shue was off the charts.

As shes a Harvard graduate, I dont think she was miscast as an Oxford physics professor. The only thing one could hold against her is her beauty, I suppose.

(Denise Richards playing a nuclear physicist in The World is Not Enough is another matter entirely.)

Radie Serbedzija, who plays the evil Tretiak, is a real treat.

I love how this movie moves from Russia to London to Oxford and then back to Russia and England for the finale.

Its a popcorn movie of the highest order, so you can check your brain at the door and blissfully watch the scenery.

Wrap Up

I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

Youve got some movies to watch if you fancy it. Whatever you do, enjoy it.

Youve earned it.

All the best,

Sean

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