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Poets' Favorite Movies

Judith Hall

A Few Recommended Films Arranged Chronologically

 1.  For the glamour of masochism:
BLONDE VENUS, 1932, US.  Director, Josef von Sternberg.
            Marlene Dietrich, Herbert Marshall, Dickie Moore, Cary Grant.
            [See also NOTORIOUS, 1946, US.  Director, Alfred Hitchcock.  Screenplay, Ben Hecht. 
            Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains, Madame Konstantin.]

2.  For Lubitsch:
THE MERRY WIDOW, 1934, US.  Director, Ernst Lubitsch.  First sound adaptation of Franz Lehar’s operetta.
            Maurice Chevalier, Jeanette MacDonald, Una Merkel, Edward Everett Horton.

3.  For a holiday alternative to It’s a Wonderful Life’s critique of capitalism:
DODSWORTH, 1936, US.  Director, William Wyler.  Screenplay, Sidney Howard from Sinclair Lewis novel.
            Walter Huston, Ruth Chatterton, Mary Astor.

4.  For characters with “too much” imagination:
BRINGING UP BABY, 1938, US.  Director, Howard Hawkes.  Screenplay, Dudley Nichols and Hagar Wilde.
            Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Charles Ruggles, May Robson.
                    [See also THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH, 1955, US.  Director, Billy Wilder.  Screenplay, George Axelrod
                    and Billy Wilder from Axelrod’s play. Tom Ewell, Marilyn Monroe.]

5.  For characters driven to tears – not counting Bogart, who acts, alas, as Louise Brooks noted, mainly with his upper lip:
THE MALTESE FALCON, 1941, US.  Director, John Huston.  Screenplay, John Huston from Dashiell Hammett novel.
            Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet, Elisha Cook, Jr.

6.  For Taylor’s most erotic performance:
NATIONAL VELVET, 1944, US.  Director, Clarence Brown.  Screenplay, Theodore Reeves and Helen Deutsch from Enid Bagnold novel.
            Mickey Rooney, Elizabeth Taylor, Anne Revere.

7.  For the stupid American abroad, outdone by zither music:
THE THIRD MAN, 1949, Britain.  Director, Carol Reed.  Screenplay, Graham Greene.
            Joseph Cotten, Valli, Trevor Howard, Orson Welles.

8.  For the grammar of sadism:
FORBIDDEN GAMES, 1951, France.  Director, Rene Clement.
            Brigitte Fossey.
                       [See also THE SHOP ON MAIN STREET, 1965, Czech.  Director, Jan Kadar.  Ida Kaminska.]

9.  For the artist’s life:  Feast, famine, adaptation:
BABETTE’S FEAST, 1987, Denmark.  Director, Gabriel Axel.  Screenplay, Gabriel Axel from story by Isak Dinesen.
            Stephane Audran.
                        [See also SUPERSTAR: THE KAREN CARPENTER STORY, 1988, US.  Director, Todd Haynes. 
                        Banned by Richard Carpenter and Mattel for telling the sad story with Barbie dolls.]
                        [See also ADAPTATION, 2002, US.  Director, Spike Jonze.  Screenplay, Charlie and Donald Kaufman. 
                        Nicholas Cage, Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper.]


Judith Hall is the author, most recently, of Three Trios, translations of the poet J II, and Poetry Forum: A Play Poem: A Pl’em, a collaboration with David Lehman that she illustrated. She has received awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Ingram Merrill Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. She serves as poetry editor of The Antioch Review and teaches at the California Institute of Technology and with the MFA in Poetry Program at New England College.

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Speechless Spring 2007
Copyright © 2007 Published by
Tebot Bach