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Spies when you're in from the Cold II

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Something about a blizzard gets me thinking of watching some good spy flicks. A few of them feature the women of espionage, a topic we haven't covered before. I won't be including Ian Fleming's women here.

We have one copy of the original Mata Hari still circulating starring Greta Garbo. By all accounts it is not true to the actual spy's life, but interesting as a film archive item

Better still, Pinewood Studios 1950 production Carve her name with Pride dramatizes the life of Violette Szabo, a Londoner of French descent who agrees to meet Allied operatives by parachuting into occupied France. It's a little anachronistic as the heroine's hairdo and dress are post-war and the film conceals as much as it reveals, but Szabo's sacrifice makes it worth watching. Another famous spy 'Odette' consulted on the details of the movie which stars Virginia Mckenna and Paul Scofield.

Charlotte Gray stars the always great Cate Blanchett as Sebastian Faulks' fictional resistance fighter whose life is similar to the real Violette Szabo's. Gray is also fluent in French and connected to a man fighting in France.

Inglourious Basterds: Yes the misspelling is correct! Be prepared for graphic violence. This popular World War II film features Nazi hunters in France. Diane Kruger stars as a German double agent helping their mission and Melanie Laurent is in the central role as a Parisian theatre owner determined to avenge her family's murder by a Nazi commander: an excellent academy winning film.

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Joust For Fun

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Medieval themed movies have always been very popular. After all, there is lots to draw from--- knights in shining armour, damsels in distress, Arthurian legend, Grail quests, secret societies, dragons and maidens hearing God's voice. Let's see what CPL has to offer in this genre.

Camelot-the Lerner and Lowe musical from 1967 with Richard Harris, Vanessa Redgrave and Franco Nero. Some wonderful music and songs in this. More Arthurian retelling with Merlin (Sam Neill) and King Arthur (Clive Owen).

Ivanhoe-we actually have a couple worth a look. There is a two part mini series from 1997 that is pretty good. And on order is the wonderful 1952 film with Robert Taylor, Elizabeth taylor (not related), and George Sanders. Don't miss this one. Elizabeth was never more beautiful, Robert never more handsome and George never more evil and conflicted !

Kingdom of Heaven-directed by Ridley Scott (Gladiator, Alien) so it is a little over the top, but there is enough here to keep your interest, including Orlando Bloom,Liam Neeson and Jeremy Irons.

Goofy fun with Martin Lawrence in 2001's Black Knight. I always expected them to make a sequel to this, but maybe it just didn't do well enough at the box office. I still get quite a kick out of this movie.

Speaking of goofy, it doesn't get much more so than Monty Python and The Holy Grail. Perhaps the most original reimagining of the Grail quest legend and in typical Python style, something to offend everyone.

A Knights Tale- with Heath Ledger and Paul Bettany. This is lots of fun.

Joan of Arc-we have four here to choose from, including a non fiction. Also the 1999 version with Leelee Sobieski and the 1948 Ingrid Bergman offering. And from 1928 a silent version.

We have a few documentaries on the mysterious Templars. Try either Knights Templar or The Templar Code.

And because your library has something for everyone, we also have Bob the Builders: Knights of Fix-a-lot.

Opie-All Grown Up

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Who would have thought that adorable little Opie from the Andy Griffith show would grow up to be one of the most respected and successful directors of his time? Well Ron Howard did just that and he has an impressive number of hits in his c.v. Try any or all of the following- he is almost without fail a good bet.

Ransom -1996- now I know Mel Gibson isn't on a lot of peoples must see list at the moment, but that aside this is still a good movie. Gary Sinise co-stars.

Backdraft- 1991- Kurt Russell, Scott Glen, Robert deNiro, Donald Sutherland and some really well done pyrotechnics.

da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons---Howards' go-to guy, Tom Hanks stars in both of these movies, which are based on the incredibly popular Dan Brown books. I prefer the second title---suspend disbelief and just go along for the ride.

Apollo 13- 1995--- again with Hanks, Gary Sinise, Ed Harris and a very unhappy Kevin Bacon. Why, you ask? In order to get the amazing shots of weightlessness they filmed in something called the 'vomit comet'. This is the nickname for an aricraft that briefly provides a weightless environment and is used to train astronauts, conduct research and film motion pictures. For about 25 seconds out of a 65 second loop, you become nearly weightless. Kevin Bacon had a particularly hard time with the shoot as the loops can produce extreme nausea. You can see in most of the shots that he is pretty close to loosing his lunch---and it works great because it just looks like extreme anxiety, fitting the situation in which the astrounauts find themselves.

A Beautiful Mind---this won Howard an Oscar for best director and the movie received best picture that year (2002). Starring Russell Crowe, Ed Harris, Jennifer Connelly, and Paul Bettany. Biopic of the famed mathematician John Nash and his lifelong struggles with his mental health.

Splash-largely responsible for launching Hanks movie career, this 1984 film is still good for quite a few laughs. Mermaids and a very funny John Candy.

And of course we have all 8 seasons of the Andy Griffith Show, which is just wholesome fun at its best and a real trip down memory lane for lots of people. Or join Richie Cunningham, Potsie, Ralph Malph and The Fonz in the hugely successful Happy Days, which ran for 11 seasons---which was several more than it should have. But we have the first 4 and they were very good.