Sunday, September 16, 2007

They don't make movies like this anymore

There's a special quality to classic Hollywood movies that I find captivating, a certain je nais se quoi that pulls me in irresistibly. Perhaps it's the old school charm of the studio sets, or the vintage look of the cinematography, or the theatrical feel of the musical scores, or the smart, proper dialogues (by "proper" I mean to say the actors spoke proper English, not the slangy, jargony Americanese that passes for English now). Or perhaps it's simply the classy, genteel glamour of the movie stars back then, marquee names like Humphrey Bogart, Lana Turner, Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, Clark Gable, Bette Davis, Gregory Peck, and Grace Kelly.

Two such names that evoke everything glamorous and golden about old Hollywood are Peter O'Toole and Audrey Hepburn, who star together in the cute romantic comedy called How to Steal a Million (yes, Peter O'Toole in a rom com!). Hepburn in all her lovely luminosity plays the doting daughter of an art forger, and O'Toole, strappingly youthful and vibrantly blue-eyed, plays a disarmingly dashing thief who agrees to help her steal a fake sculpture that could incriminate her father. The chemistry between the 2 is delightful, the kind one rarely sees onscreen anymore, and it's helped along by wonderfully witty lines and improbably hilarious scenarios. As a fashion and beauty icon, Hepburn doesn't disappoint, donning oversized sunglasses decades before Paris Hilton and her ilk, and looking gorgeous in everything from an ordinary hot pink robe to a ridiculously high, space-agey bowler hat. But even dressed as a museum cleaning lady, Hepburn manages to look gorgeous, and one marvels at how someone so refined and delicate-looking takes on physical comedy with such ease. Then again, I never thought Lawrence of Arabia could actually make me laugh with well-delivered, smart-alecky retorts.

Although Roman Holiday remains my favorite Hepburn film (Gregory Peck rocks my world), I really enjoyed How to Steal a Million. It's funny, entertaining, and it has everything I love about old Hollywood movies... even if I'm not sure what it is exactly that I love about them.

P.S. Thanks again to Shirl for lending me the DVD, and to Kato, who actually owns it. :p


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