By John H. Foote
Some of the finest films ever created are celebrating their birthdays this year.
It is exactly 100 years since Cecil B. DeMille took to the deserts outside of California when Hollywood was still in its infancy to make the first version of The Ten Commandments (1923). Two films in one, the first half, the best half, deals with Moses and the Exodus of the slaves from Egypt while the latter half deals with attempts to live by the commandments given to Moses by God. The sites of Egypt were superb, though left in the sand dunes to be buried and later discovered, and the parting of the Red Sea, though clearly gelatin, works for the time.
Hitting 90 is King Kong (1933) still a dazzling example of visual effects that mesmerizes audiences.
Casablanca is 80 this year and remains among the most beloved films of all time.
In 1953 Shane and From Here to Eternity were released, making them each 70 this year.
Turning 60 is Hud (1963), along with the Oscar winning British frolic Tom Jones (1963).
Can it really be half a century since American Graffiti (1973), The Way We Were (1973), The Last Detail (1973) and The Exorcist (1973) were first screened? Each became legendary while in release and maintain their place among the greatest films of the seventies. Each hits the big 5-0 this year.
The greatest film ever made about the mother and daughter dynamic Terms of Endearment (1983) turns 40 this year and carries all of its power forward. The Right Stuff (1983) joins it along with the finale of the first Star Wars trilogy Return of the Jedi (1983).
Turning 30 are Schindler’s List (1993), Steven Spielberg’s masterwork about the Holocaust, Martin Scorsese’s period film The Age of Innocence (1993) and Jane Campion’s haunting The Piano (1993).
Has it really been 20 years since The Lord of the Rings finale came to a close with the third film, The Return of the King (2003), which took home a record tying 11 Academy Awards, all it was nominated for? Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation (2003) also turns 20 and Mystic River (2003), one of the best from Clint Eastwood and Sean Penn, hits two decades.
Turning 10 are The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), the finest film of the second half of Martin Scorsese’s career containing Leonardo di Caprio’s most astounding performance, along with the effects and awards laden Gravity (2013).
Happy Birthday and thanks to all!
John H. Foote is a well-recognized Canadian film critic/historian who has been an active critic for 30 years. His deep love for the movies began at a very young age. He began his career as co-host of the popular TV show Reel to Real where he remained for nine years. While on TV he began dabbling in education, eventually ascending to Director of the Toronto Film School, where he also taught film history. After leaving the college to care for his wife, he returned to teaching at Humber College where he taught both Film History and Method Acting Theory. John has written two books: “Clint Eastwood – Evolution of a Filmmaker” and the upcoming “Spielberg – American Film Visionary”. He is currently working on two books, one about the films of the seventies and another on the films of Martin Scorsese. Through his career he has worked in TV, radio, print and the web. John has interviewed everyone in the industry (more than 300 interviews) except Jack Nicholson, he says sadly. Highlights include Martin Scorsese, Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep Robert Duvall, Jane Fonda, Francis Ford Coppola and Kathryn Bigelow.