My previous Guaranteed Embarrassment Free post (The Yearling) got me thinking about Gregory Peck---not a bad way to while away a few hours! He started making movies in the 40's, remained very popular for the 50's and 60's and then hit a dry spell after his oscar win. He saw a resurgence of his career with the unexpected 1977 hit, The Omen. More roles appeared after this and he did several turns on television. He was the recipient of many awards, including an Oscar for Best Actor, the Academy's Jean Hershold Humanitarian Award and the Medal of Freedom. On June 12, 2003 just days after the AFI named him as the screen's greatest hero for his role as Atticus Finch, Peck died at the age of 87. Tall, rugged, handsome and by all accounts a very decent human being, he played many a heroic character over the years.
To Kill a Mockingbird---Atticus Finch, a lawyer in the depression-era South, defends a black man against an undeserved rape charge, and his kids against prejudice. Depending on the age of your own children, say about 12 and up, it's one for the whole family to watch and discuss. This won Peck the best actor Oscar and was his own personal favourite from his many roles.
Captain Horatio Hornblower---if you've been reading our blog over the past months you know that we have recommended the Hornblower series from A&E. This film predates it by several years-decades actually, and Peck does an excellent job playing the swashbuckling hero.
Roman Holiday---with Peck and Audrey Hepburn in her Oscar winning role. A lovely, charming movie. Interesting bit of trivia here. The on-screen credit and Academy award for best Screen Writing were originally credited and given to Ian McLellan Hunter. Hunter was the 'beard' for Dalton Trumbo, who was one of several Hollywood writers blacklisted during the infamous McCarthy era. In December 1992 the Academy decided to change the records and to credit Trumbo for his achievment. Ian Hunter was removed from the Motion Picture Story category and the Oscar was posthumously present to Trumbo's widow on May 10 1993.
Boys From Brazil---one of his very few outings as a villian---and what a villian! He plays an aged Doctor Josef Mengele to Lawrence Olivier's equally aged Nazi hunter. I particularly like the scene with the telephone encounter between the two. This is based on the book of the same name by Ira Levin---who wrote many good stories adapted for theatrical release, including Rosemary's Baby.
Cape Fear--- the styish film noir original from 1962 (not the abysmal Robert De Niro remake). He plays another small town lawyer---this time one being stalked by a truly terrifying Robert Mitchum. (This makes the second time we have recommended a movie in which Mitchum is the heavy---the other being Night of the Hunter. One of our regular followers suggested a 'who's afraid of Robert Mitchum' post. After seeing this movie I'm sure you'll agree we ALL are).
Moby Dick---he is riveting as the maniacal, obsessed Captain Ahab. I once heard the book described as 600 pages of how to boil whale blubber, and after two failed attempts at reading it I just gave up. This movie will fair you much better.
On the Beach-based on Aussie writer Nevile Shute's story of the same name. In 1964 after atomic war has wiped out the northerrn hemisphere, all that remains of civilization is to be found in Australia. With the growing realization that their days are numbered as well, people struggle to carry on with a normal life. This is not your typical post apocalpytic movie.
Guns of Navarone--- the plot is so convincing that for years many believed that this movie was a retelling of an actual war time event. It is entirely fictitious and is an above average war/adventure movie.
The Big Country---Peck was no stranger to westerns, and this is a solid offering even though having a fairly well-worn 'fighting over water rights' plot. With Jean Simmons, Charlton Heston, and Burl Ives.