Can’t deny that I won’t be sorry to kick this bitch of a year to the curb. I don’t have to go into the gory details, but, if anything, we survivors will be able to tell future generations what it was like to live through this nightmare!
That said, I retreat to my go-to adage for comfort: “Movies never let you down.” And it’s true. In the wake of these disastrous twelve months, there were a number of favorites to constantly revisit, plus, as evidenced here, an astounding array of newly released Blu-Rays and DVDs to help weather the plague and its despicable human counterparts.
For those of you unable to have enjoyed these titles, perhaps you can in the (gotta be) brighter New Year of 2021.
The choices cover all genres and studios (but mostly Kino-Lorber and The Warner Archive Collection); as I’ve long since stopped relegating the annual crop to a mere ten, I’m simply giving readers the links to the more extraordinary cinematic highs of 2020.
Here’s to better times!
Of course, comedies play a big part in making any period of 2020 tolerable, and there was a plethora of grand laff fests to tickle every part of the funny bone, from the witty plateaus of Lubitsch (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2020/12/22/amorous-stocking-stuffer), Wilder (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2020/02/18/wife-swap/; https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2020/02/11/maedchen-n-uniforms/), Stanley Donen faux Lubitsch (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2020/07/14/suggested-for-mature-adulterers/), and Ealing classics (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2020/11/24/the-rolling-in-the-isles-of-england/) to the brilliant animation of Tex Avery (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2020/11/17/the-joy-of-tex/), the outstanding slapstick of Laurel & Hardy (my favorite release of the year, from Kit Parker Films/MVDvisual: https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2020/12/01/the-exhausted-ruler/), plus many other “routes” and variants along the way. Behold the riotous platters of the monstrous funny Fearless Vampire Killers and The Witches (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2020/10/30/roman-with-sharon-through-transylvania/; https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2020/10/27/spell-wishers/), The Whole Town’s Talking, from, of all people, John Ford (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2020/03/31/nice-lice-twice/), and the Cold War slapstick smash The Russians are Coming (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2020/07/28/the-commie-knockers/) . On the TV front, Acorn offered us Seasons 8 & 9 of Doc Martin (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2020/08/11/iclunes/), starring the wonderful Martin Clunes. As a fade-out to this section, early sound and two-strip Technicolor got our attention in the 1929 dramedy Glorifying the American Girl (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2020/04/21/ziggy-stardust/), now fully restored, and in dazzling shape!
On the opposite side of the cinematic pole are the stark nasties that occupy the world of film noir. Some terrific mean street dramas graced us, including The Big Clock (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2020/05/05/killing-time/) and Caught (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2020/05/26/lie-candy/). Neo-noir was magnificently served up by the great Anna Friel and company in the next installment of the British crime series Marcella (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2020/03/03/harmed-and-dangerous/). Noir elements were also served up in the expert dramas, The Bad and the Beautiful (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2020/03/03/harmed-and-dangerous/) and the WWII Fritz Lang spy thriller Cloak and Dagger (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2020/09/29/special-oppenheimer/). Queer cinema, draped in noir, managed to grip us, via the remarkable 1950 French import, Olivia (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2020/01/07/sex-education/), directed by Jacqueline Audry and released through Icarus Films.
World War II provided a terrific springboard for Twilight Time’s action-adventures, including Kings Go Forth, The Train, and Play Dirty (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2020/06/16/world-war-too/). The war also figured in the sordid 1950s CinemaScope entries The Revolt of Mamie Stover, Peyton Place and 10 North Frederick (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2020/06/02/twentieth-century-fox-presents-a-cinemascope-picture/).
An ugly thriller, rife with heinous villainy, surfaced via MGM’s ultra-gritty The Moonshine War (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2020/09/22/alcohol-poisoning/), a 1970 exercise in the depths of humanity. Unsung hero westerns got covered via the release of Jacques Tourneur’s unfairly obscure Great Day in the Morning (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2020/04/28/the-riled-west/).
Horror remains the Blu-Ray/DVD number one collectable, so no surprise that a number of phantasmagorical flicks made the “top” list, including the great Ealing sole foray into the genre, 1946’s Dead of Night (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2020/10/31/gold-as-the-grave-horror-honor-roll-classics/); then there was the stunning 2009 Korean vampiric rendition of Zola’s Therese Raquin, Thirst (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2020/10/29/foreign-bodies/), 1933’s pre-Code pip Supernatural (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2020/10/24/possession-is-good-for-the-soul/), starring Carole Lombard and the stunning newly restored two-strip Technicolor Blu-Ray of Michael Curtiz’ 1933 Mystery of the Wax Museum (https://supervistaramacolorscope.wordpress.com/2020/10/17/lionels-at-will/), starring Lionel Atwill and Fay Wray.
Welcome to 2021, folks.