Posts Tagged ‘attraction’

Marlon Brando is Johnny Strabler, the leader of a motorbike gang who arrive in the (fictional) town of Wrightsville, California, and, initially just being boisterous are welcomed (or at the least, tolerated) by the residents.  However, when the gang’s behaviour turns dangerous and threatening, the town’s residents decide to take matters into their own hands.  Meanwhille, Johnny meets a young woman named Kathie (played by Mary Murphy), who works in the local cafe, and despite their very different background and lifestyles, there is an attraction between them.

I wasn’t sure whether I would really like this film, but I ended up thoroughly enjoying it.  Brando epitomises 50s rebellion, and (sorry to be shallow) he oozes sex appeal.  I loved his portrayal of Johnny, as a man who is more than what he appears on the surface; it’s clear that Johnny has not known much love and affection in his life, and is looking for something to rebel against (when asked, “What are you rebelling against?” he answers, “Whaddaya got?”).  He almost steals every scene he is in, and would have done, were it not for the fine performance of Mary Murphy as Kathie, who is very attracted to Johnny, but doesn’t understand his lifestyle.  Robert Keith is also notable for his role as Chief Bleeker, the town’s only law enforcement officer, who seems unable to cope with the gang.

The story takes place over just a few days, and despite feeling somewhat aged (but come on, this film is 61 years old!), the film captures the tension and claustrophobic atmosphere of the town.

Overall, this was a pleasant surprise for me, and a film that I would definitely recommend, not only for it’s excellent performances, but also for being a classic, and one of the first films to highlight the issue of gang violence.

Year of release: 1953

Director: Laslo Benedek

Producer: Stanley Kramer

Writers: Frank Rooney (short story), John Paxton, Ben Maddow

Main cast: Marlon Brando, Mary Murphy, Robert Keith, Lee Marvin, Jay C. Flippen, Hugh Sanders, Ray Teal

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Two young people meet on a train in Europe, get off the train together in Vienna and spend the night walking around the city, talking and gradually falling in love.  Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delphy) feel an instant connection, and as they get to know each other, their attraction grows, but they both know that at the end of their one night together, they must decide whether to see each other again, despite the fact that he lives in America and she lives in France, or whether they should agree not to keep in touch, and just have the memory of one wonderful night.  And that’s more or less it.

It’s been a while since I watched this film, but I enjoyed it just as much second time around.  I can see why some people didn’t like it – it’s basically an hour and 40 minutes of people talking.  However, the backdrop is gorgeous – it definitely made me want to visit Vienna – and the conversations range from mundane to profound subjects, as they muse about life, love and everything in between.  It did remind me of being that age – Jesse and Celine are in their early 20s – and feeling both full of hope and full of fear about what lies ahead.  Neither are too sure what they want to do with their lives, and they open up to each other about their insecurities, as they explore the city.

Hawke and Delphy are great together; they are basically on screen the whole time, although they do meet and interact with other people.  The chemistry between them is wonderful (particularly an early scene in a record shop, where the attraction and shyness that they both simultaneously feel is almost palpable), and my goodness, the amount of dialogue is immense, when you consider that most of the film is centred around their ongoing conversations.  Yet it all feels natural and spontaneous.  They really capture that feeling of meeting someone for the first time, and just feeling that there is something there between you.

I wouldn’t recommend this film to everyone; if you like action or heavy drama, then you might not like it…but if you like romance – real, believable romance, rather than hearts and flowers rom-com romance – then I’d definitely suggest giving this a try.

Year of release: 1995

Director: Richard Linklater

Producers: John Sloss, Gregory Jacobs, Wolfgang Ramml, Gernot Schaffler, Anne Walker-McBay, Ellen Winn Wendl

Writers: Richard Linklater, Kim Krazan

Main cast: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delphy


Click here for my review of Before Sunset.

Click here for my review of Before Midnight.


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