Re-Watch: Scrooged (1988)

Scrooged
Director: Richard Donner
Writer: Mitch Glazer, Michael O’Donoghue
Based on: Charles Dickens‘ novella A Christmas Carol
Cast: Bill Murray, Karen Allen, John Forsythe, John Glover, Bobcat Goldthwait, David Johansen, Carol Kane, Robert Mitchum, Alfre Woodard, Michael J. Pollard

Plot:
Frank Cross (Bill Murray) is a TV producer. Rich, successful and cynical, he always strives to find the lowest common denominator to make most people watch his station. The current project is a live version of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, which Frank has spiced up, among other things with show girls. But just before the show starts, Frank is visited by his dead mentor Lew Hayward (John Forsythe) who warns him that he will be visited by three (other) ghosts to try to redeem him.

Scrooged was one of the films I used to watch regularly as a child, but I didn’t see it as an adult until now (or actually December, when it was screened at a local cinema). And as usual it is fascinating how different you see a childhood film as an adult. I enjoyed it then, I enjoy it now, but apart from my interestingly selective recollection, there were just so many things I never saw before.

Scrooged

[Spoilers, I guess]

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Cape Fear (1991)

Cape Fear
Director: Martin Scorsese
Writer: Wesley Stick
Based on: John D. MacDonald‘s novel The Executioners
Remake of: Cape Fear
Cast: Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange, Juliette Lewis, Robert Mitchum, Gregory Peck, Joe Don Baker

Plot:
Sam Bowden (Nick Nolte) is a successful lawyer with a nice family. But when Max Cady (Robert De Niro) – who Sam defended for raping a young girl, but not very well – is released from prison, Max starts to threaten Sam’s entire life and family. He stalks all of them, but particularly Sam’s daughter Danielle (Juliette Lewis), but always just within the law – until he forces Sam to resort to desperate measures.

Since I wasn’t that into the original, I didn’t expect much from this film. But this film has three things the original didn’t have: Scorsese, a modern feel and some idea of feminism. I liked it a lot.

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Home from the Hill (1960)

Home from the Hill
Director: Vincente Minnelli
Writer: Harriet Frank Jr., Irving Ravetch
Based on: William Humphrey‘s novel
Cast: Robert Mitchum, Eleanor Parker, George Peppard, George Hamilton, Luana Patten

Plot:
Wade Hunnicutt (Robert Mitchum) dominates not only his entire family but basically his entire town, where he has slept with almost the entire female population. His wife Hannah (Eleanor Parker) tolerates it and compensates by doting on their son Theron (George Hamilton). But when Theron tries to get out from under his mother’s wing, he turns to his father and his father’s loyal employee Rafe (George Peppard) and gets his first hunting lessons.

I went into the film not knowing much about it [I had totally forgotten why I wanted to see it and therefore reserved a ticket – I didn’t even know the general plot anymore], so I wasn’t entirely certain what to expect. That means that for the first bit of the film I was a bit unsure because nothing much happened. But once I realized that this was just a family story and stopped waiting for the big events, I absolutely fell in love with the film.

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Cape Fear (1962)

Cape Fear
Director: J. Lee Thompson
Writer: James R. Webb
Based on: John D. MacDonald‘s novel The Executioners
Cast: Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum, Polly Bergen, Lori Martin

Plot:
Sam Bowden (Gregory Peck) is a successful lawyer with a nice family. But when Max Cady (Robert Mitchum) – who Sam got convicted with his testimony for attacking a young girl – is released from prison, Max starts to threaten Sam’s entire life and family. He stalks all of them, but particularly Sam’s daughter Nancy (Lori Martin), but always just within the law – until he forces Sam to resort to desperate measures.

Despite the excellent performances by both Robert Mitchum and Gregory Peck, that movie was a bit slack and underwhelming.

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The Night of the Hunter (1955)

The Night of the Hunter
Director: Charles Laughton
Writer: James Agee
Based on: Davis Grubb‘s novel
Cast: Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, Peter Graves, Billy Chapin, Gloria Castillo, Lillian Gish, James Gleason

Plot:
Harry Powell (Robert Mitchum) is a religious fanatic serial killer who marries woman after woman, who he then murders for their inheritance. When he is arrested for stealing a car, he becomes the cell mate of Ben Harper (Peter Graves) who is on death row for robbing a bank. Harry tries to get Ben to reveal where he hid the money from the robbery, but only gleans that Ben’s kids John (Billy Chapin) and Pearl (Gloria Castillo) know. So when Ben is executed and Harry released, he goes to find and woo Ben’s widow Willa (Shelley Winters) and find that money.

I don’t really get why this movie is such a classic. I mean, yes, Robert Mitchum is absolutely fantastic in it – charismatic, creepy yet attractive and completely insane. But other than that it is very poorly executed, riddled with mistakes and often veers into the ridiculous.

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