Favorite new-to-me films of 2021

At the end of each year, I think back on my favorite new-to-me film discoveries.

For the past few years, I’ve shared these in just a Twitter thread, but this year, I decided to write a formal blog post. As of Dec. 29, 2021, I have watched 517 feature films. The following or the films I’ve continued to think about long after they were over. The first three may be a tie:

crimson

The Crimson Kimono (1959)
Written and directed by Samuel Fuller
Over the past few years, I have really gotten into director Sam Fuller’s films, and I was blown away by THE CRIMSON KIMONO. The story is powerful but it’s also visually stunning.

that man from rio

That Man From Rio/ L’homme de Rio (1964)
Directed by Philippe de Broca
I watched this in memory of Jean-Paul Belmondo and was left in a glittering haze of a love of cinema — in love with this film, Belmondo and the whole idea of traveling to Rio de Janerio. I daydreamed about this movie the whole next day of watching it. Its thoroughly charming.

dog fight max resolution

Dogfight (1991)
Directed by Nancy Savoca
If you follow me on any social media platform or have spoken with me in person, you’ve heard me mention DOGFIGHT.
As of Dec. 29, 2021, I watched DOGFIGHT six times from May 2021 to the end of the year. Why? I don’t really know – do you have to have a reason for why a film moves you? All I know is that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Don’t just go off the plot description that is given for this film. Watch it for yourself.

smallest show

The Smallest Show on Earth (1957)
Directed by Basil Dearden
This is the sweetest, most charming movies. I love to see real-life married couple Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers act together for starters. And then some of the actors are their co-stars, Margaret Rutherford, Peter Sellers and Bernard Miles. It’s just plain lovely.

come next spring

Come Next Spring (1956)
Directed by R.G. Springsteen
Steve Cochran usually plays a bad dude. And here, he plays a reformed bad dude and I loved it. Come Next Spring is really lovely and visually stunning in Technicolor. Ann Sheridan is also a major highlight in this film, but Steve Cochran’s sensitive performance blew me away.

home of the brave3

Home of the Brave (1949)
Directed by Mark Robson
I didn’t expect to cry as much as I did during this movie. Not only does HOME OF THE BRAVE look at racial tensions with Black and White soldiers serving in World War II, but it also looks at the complicated emotions of soldiers when their friends are killed in action. James Edwards is not recognized enough as an actor and he shines here.

no regrets

No Regrets for Our Youth/Waga seishun ni kuinashi (1946)
Directed by Akira Kurosawa
An incredible film that left me speechless. I was blown away. Actress Setsuko Hara is always wonderful, but I enjoyed seeing her play a different type of character than I’m used to seeing. Hara’s character is complex and transforms from a selfish, conflicted youth to a woman who sacrifices her life and reputation for a loved one.

here i am stranger3

Here I am a Stranger (1939)
Directed by Roy Del Ruth
This was my favorite new-to-me film from 1939 of this year. Richard Dix gave an emotional and sensitive performance of a father who reconnects with his son after many years. I also loved seeing Brenda Joyce play against type.
My full review here.

tickle me 7

Tickle Me (1965)
Directed by Norman Taurog
Have you ever remembered a movie scene that you watched as a child but you never knew what it was? Watching Tickle Me solved that mystery for me this year—I remembered Elvis and a woman in a haunted house and never knew what it was. Tickle Me is wacky and ridiculous, but it also made me laugh more than any other new-to-me movie I watched this year. Sometimes a feel good silly film is needed at the right moment. A movie doesn’t have to be the best, most serious Academy Award winner to find its way on a list like this. Shout out to my friend Nikki who loves this film. My full review here.

St. Louis Blues

St. Louis Blues (1958)
Directed by Allen Reisner
After wanting to see this film for years, I was happy to finally discover this musical. It’s interesting to see Nat King Cole in a lead performance, when he generally only appeared as a specialty act in feature films. This film is chock full of musical performances, and Eartha Kitt naturally steals the show. My full review here.

mad

Madeleine (1950)
Directed by David Lean
Why did I put off watching this film for so long? This had me on the edge of my seat, and also feeling heartbroken for Madeleine’s suiter, Mr. Minnoch. Even more interesting that this is based on a true story.

green for

Green for Danger (1946)
Directed by Sidney Gilliat
This “whodunit” had me guessing until the very end of the film. Thoroughly enjoyable, and Alastair Sim was wonderful (per usual).

magnificent

The Magnificent Dope (1942)
Directed by Walter Lang
I didn’t know what to expect from THE MAGNIFICENT DOPE, and judging by the title, I feared it would be an irritating, zany comedy. Far from it. Don Ameche as a bullish, unsuccessful business man and lazy Henry Fonda gets caught up in his success scheme when he wins the “biggest failure” contest. Both are in love with Lynn Bari. It sounds silly but it works in a charming way.

Heres-to-the-young-lady-still-1

Here’s to the Young Lady/Ojôsan kanpai (1949)
Directed by Keisuke Kinoshita
What a joy! This lovely romantic comedy made me laugh and left me feeling wistful.

strange

Strange Bargain (1949)
Directed by Will Price
Martha Scott and Jeffrey Lynn? Sign me up! I thought this was an exciting film noir with interesting twists. Now I need to watch the follow-up “Murder, She Wrote” episode.

song of the open road3

Jackie Moran, Bonita Granville, Jane Powell in SONG OF THE OPEN ROAD

Song of the Open Road (1944)
Directed by S. Sylvan Simon
This was the only Jane Powell film I hadn’t seen, and after she died I sought it out. It may be low budget, but I had such fun watching it. The film begins with teens riding bikes and singing and I was charmed at that moment. My full review here.

under pup3

The Under-Pup (1939)
Directed by Richard Wallace
This was another favorite 1939 new-to-me film discovery. I haven’t seen many Gloria Jean films, because they can be difficult to access. My full review here.

Honorable Mention
Films I loved but didn’t quite make the favorites list
Rembrandt (1936)
Convicts 4 (1962)
The Lovers (1958)
Invitation to Happiness (1939)
Murder at the Vanities (1934)
Seven Keys to Baldpate (1929)
Tennessee Champ (1954)
Crooks and Coronets (1969)
As Long as They’re Happy (1955)

I joined Letterboxd this year, so if you’d like to see my thoughts on other films I watch, you can find me here: https://letterboxd.com/HollywoodComet/

Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page, follow on Twitter at @HollywoodComet or e-mail at cometoverhollywood@gmail.com

Musical Monday: Athena (1954)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

athena-movie-poster-1954-1020706063This week’s musical:
Athena (1954) – Musical #77

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
Richard Thorpe

Starring:
Jane Powell, Jane Powell, Edmund Purdom, Debbie Reynolds, Vic Damone, Louis Calhern, Virginia Gibson, Jane Fischer, Cecile Rogers, Nancy Kilgas, Dolores Starr, Evelyn Varden, Linda Christian, Ray Collins, Richard Sabre, Henry Nakamura, Steve Reeves, Kathleen Freeman, Bess Flowers (uncredited)

Plot:
The life of stuffy Massachusetts lawyer Adam Shaw (Purdom) is turned upside down when he meets Athena (Powell) and her family. Athena is a numerologist and lives with her grandparents and seven sisters. Her family believes in health, exercise and that life is directed by the stars. Athena finds that she and Adam are a love match through numbers and the stars and works to convince him.

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Musical Monday: St. Louis Blues (1958)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
St. Louis Blues (1958) – Musical #659

Studio:
Paramount Pictures

Director:
Allen Reisner

Starring:
Nat ‘King’ Cole, Eartha Kitt, Cab Calloway, Pearl Bailey, Juano Hernandez, Mahalia Jackson, Ella Fitzgerald, Ruby Dee, Billy Preston, C. Bakaleinikoff (uncredited)

Plot:
A biographical film on composer and musician Will C. Handy (Cole), who is considered the Father of the Blues. Will’s father is a pastor who belives any music outside of hymns is devil-worshipping music. Nevertheless, Will is drawn to writing and performing secular music, which causes a divide between he and his father. As Will becomes successful, he is torn between his success and losing his family.

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Musical Monday: Meet Me on Broadway (1946)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
Meet Me on Broadway (1946) – Musical #648

Studio:
Columbia Pictures

Director:
Leigh Jason

Starring:
Marjorie Reynolds, Frederick Brady (billed as Fred Brady), Jinx Falkenburg, Spring Byington, Allen Jenkins, Gene Lockhart, Loren Tindall

Plot:
Broadway director Eddie Dolan (Brady) quits the show he’s directing over artistic differences with his producer. His star (and girlfriend) Ann Stallings (Reynolds) and songwriter Deacon McGill (Jenkins) quit with Eddie. Believing he can stage a better show without the involvement of a producer, Eddie searches for a new show. He lands in a small community who is putting on a country club show for charity, headed by Sylvia Kane Storm (Byington) and her son Bob (Tindall). The show may not be as profitable as he thinks.

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Musical Monday: Joy of Living (1938)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
Joy of Living (1938) – Musical #276

Studio:
RKO Radio Pictures

Director:
Tay Garnett

Starring:
Irene Dunne, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Alice Brady, Guy Kibbee, Jean Dixon, Lucille Ball, Eric Blore, Warren Hymer, Billy Gilbert, Dorothy Steiner, Estelle Steiner, Frank Milan, Franklin Pangborn, John Qualen, Clarence Nash (uncredited), Grady Sutton (uncredited), Charles Lane (uncredited), Richard Alexander (uncredited), Tay Garnett (uncredited)

Plot:
Margaret Garrett (Dunne) is an overworked Broadway star whose family (Brady, Ball, Kibbee) is living off of her. Exhausted and also learning she’s near broke because of the chiseling family, she meets Dan Brewster (Fairbanks), who teaches her how to have fun and relax.

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Musical Monday: Murder in the Blue Room (1944)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
Murder in the Blue Room (1944)– Musical No. 614

Studio: Universal

Director: Leslie Goodwins

Starring:
Anne Gwynne, Donald Cook, John Litel, Grace McDonald, Betty Kean, June Preisser, Regis Toomey, Nella Walker, Andrew Tombes, Ian Wolfe, Bill Williams (as Bill MacWilliams), Frank Marlowe, Milton Parsons (uncredited), Alice Draper (uncredited), Victoria Horne (uncredited)

Plot:
Twenty years ago, Nan’s (Gwynne) father was found dead in the Blue Room of the family home. For the first time since then, Nan and her mother open up the house and Nan invites her jazz singing friends to perform, the Jazzybelles (McDonald, Kean, Preisser). When one of the guests (Williams) wants to stay in the Blue Room, he is missing the next morning and everyone has to stay in the house for the investigation.

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Musical Monday: The Singing Kid (1936)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
The Singing Kid – Musical #613

Studio:
Warner Bros.

Director:
William Keighley

Starring:
Al Jolson, Sybil Jason, Beverly Roberts, Edward Everette Horton, Allen Jenkins, Lyle Talbot, Mary Treen (uncredited), Grady Sutton (uncredited), Milton Kibbee (uncredited), Hattie McDaniel (uncredited), Dennis O’Keefe (uncredited)
Himself: Cab Calloway, The Yacht Club Boys, Wini Shaw

Plot:
Singer and performer Al Jackson (Jolson) loses both his singing voice and all of his money, due to a tax mix-up. Al leaves the city and heads to the country for a rest. He meets Ruth Haines (Roberts) and her niece Sybil (Jason), who rent him their country home. Ruth is an aspiring playwright, who Al falls for while trying to help with her career. Sybil wins over Al’s friends (Horton, Jenkins).

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Musical Monday: Broadway Hostess (1935)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
Broadway Hostess (1935) – Musical #266

Studio: Warner Bros.

Director: Frank McDonald

Starring: Wini Shaw (billed as Winifred Shaw), Genevieve Tobin, Lyle Talbot, Allen Jenkins, Phil Regan, Marie Wilson, Joe King, Donald Ross, Frank Dawson, Spring Byington, Ward Bond (uncredited), Dennis O’Keefe (uncredited), Mary Treen (uncredited), Jane Wyman (uncredited)

Plot:
Winnie (Shaw) wins a popularity contest back home in Ohio and travels to New York to start a singing career. She makes it big in New York as a torch singer, but falls in love with her business manager Lucky (Talbot), who unfortunately is strictly business.

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Musical Monday: The Slipper and the Rose: The Story of Cinderella (1976)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
Slipper and The Rose: The Story of Cinderella (1976) – Musical #567

Studio:
Paradine Co-Productions

Director:
Bryan Forbes

Starring:
Richard Chamberlain, Margaret Lockwood, Kenneth More, Gemma Craven, Annette Crosbie, Edith Evans, Michael Hordern, Lally Bowers, Christopher Gable, Sherrie Hewson, Sherrie Hewson, Julian Orchard

Plot:
Prince Edward (Chamberlain) of the small kingdom of Euphrania wants to marry for love. But his father the King (Hordern) needs to arrange a political marriage with a princess from another kingdom so their small domain is not invaded. Outside the palace walls, Cinderella’s (Craven) father dies and her stepmother (Lockwood) forces her into servitude. The King holds a ball so Prince Edward can find a wife and Cinderella’s fairy godmother (Crosbie) fixes it so Cinderella can go. Prince Edward and Cinderella fall in love, but their romance is complicated because she isn’t of noble blood.

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Musical Monday: Three Little Girls in Blue (1946)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
Three Little Girls In Blue (1946) – Musical #535

Studio:
20th Century Fox

Director:
H. Bruce Humberstone

Starring:
June Haver, George Montgomery, Vivian Blaine, Vera-Ellen, Celeste Holm, Frank Latimore, Charles Smith, Coleen Gray (uncredited), Gary Gray (uncredited), Ruby Dandridge (uncredited)

Plot:
Set in 1902, Pam (Haver), Liz (Blaine) and Myra (Ellen) are three sisters hoping to come into a large inheritance. When their windfall is less than expected, they decide to head to Atlantic City, NJ, to find rich husbands. Pam dresses as an elegant lady while Liz is her secretary and Myra the maid.

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