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Looking Back at The Year That Was … 2020

There’s little doubt that most everyone on Planet Earth was somehow affected by what we went through during the first pandemic in over one hundred years. I can only hope that you have not experienced any personal loss in your life be it a loved one, employment or any number of mishaps we’ve come to hear about on a daily basis.

As for me, I can’t complain. My family has remained safe up to this point and look forward to rounding the curve to a time when we can return to some sort of normality in our daily existence. Now when it comes to movies, I returned to the days of my youth with so much time on my hands.

Meaning I watched one heck of a lot of flicks. Mainly thanks to my being out of work for the better part of 8 weeks and little in the way of pro sports to sit in on. And yes, hung out with Brando the Weiner Dog 24/7.

No I’m not going to list the entire years worth of movies but I am going to break them down into groups so I can at least throw some titles at you for your consideration or in some cases amusement.

Here we go….

New to me titles that deserve a nod and recommendation in no particular order. The Psychopath (1966), Coroner Creek (1948), Green Book (2018) Trapped (1949), Quartet (2012), The Verdict (1946), The Ex-Mrs. Bradford (1936), Conflict (1936), Payback – The Alternate Cut (1999), The Texan (1930), Highway 301 (1950), Face to Face (1967), Knives Out (2019), Late Night (2019), Lifeboat (1944), Passengers (2016), BlacKkKlansman (2018), Ford V Ferrari (2019), The Mysterious Doctor (1943), The Good Liar (2019), More Than a Secretary (1936), The Man and the Monster (1959), I Vampiri (1957), Seven Chances (1925) and incredibly I’d never seen Hitchcock’s Strangers On a Train (1951) .

To this list I’d like to add the entire 26 Zatoichi films that ran from 1962 to 1989. I binged on them during my downtime and they as a whole are probably the movie watching highlight of my entire year when it comes to new to me titles.

If I had to pick the best movie I watched this year from the new to me titles I’ll go with 2. One from yesteryear would be Strangers On a Train. One from a more recent vintage I’ll go with BlacKkKlansman.

Old favorites I make a habit of revisiting every three or four years if not sooner that I squeezed in these past 12 months include Midnight Run (1988), Death Wish (1974), First Men In the Moon (1964), Emperor of the North (1973), The Dirty Dozen (1967), The Train (1965), The Uncanny (1977), House That Dripped Blood (1970), Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957), The Quiet Man (1952), Hound of the Baskervilles (1959), Key Largo (1948), Best Seller (1987), The Wild Bunch (1969), Heart and Souls (1993), True Believer (1990), The Proud Rebel (1958), The Big Heat (1953), Race With the Devil (1975), The Mummy (1959), The Wild Geese (1978), They Live (1988), The Beast Must Die (1974), Planet of the Apes (1968), Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) and the Sergio Leone classic Once Upon a Time In the West (1969).

Rediscoveries represent titles I hadn’t really seen in a number of years and wanted to volunteer them as titles that shouldn’t be neglected and are worth seeking out if you’re unfamiliar with them. O.S.S (1946), Night of the Living Dead (1990), Cat People (1942), Twilight (1998), Hardcore (1979), Men In War (1957), The Rounders (1965), Diagnosis Murder (1975), Venom (1982), And Then There Were None (1944), T-Men (1947), Beat the Devil (1953), The Big Combo (1952), Fanatic (1965), The Boston Strangler (1968), Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950), Dead and Buried (1981), Barbarosa (1982), Point Blank (1967), Never Take Sweets From a Stranger (1960), The Call of the Wild (1935), The French Connection (1971), Witness For the Prosecution (1957) and then I binged on the Randolph Scott/Budd Boetticher westerns. Finally my Number 2 son Kirk binged on the James Stewart/Anthony Mann westerns which I sat in on leading us to also watch Mann’s rugged outing Man of the West (1958) starring Gary Cooper.

I watched most everything from Francis the Talking Mule movies to the Bowery Boys. Joel McCrea and Audie Murphy westerns. John Carradine in most every genre. And to round out the year in December I renewed my love affair with Jean Arthur by watching a 5 film set from TCM.

Guilty Pleasures represent titles that are always fun to revisit or discover for the first time. Usually bashed by the critics they go on to find a place of their own in the hearts of movie lovers who appreciate there sometimes less then stellar productions, shoestring budgets, subject material and overall delivery. Have some fun with Beyond Evil (1982), The Serpent’s Lair (1995), Young Hannah (1973), The Incredible Two Headed Transplant (1971), The Centerfold Girls (1974), Death Ship (1980), The Female Bunch (1970), Crawlspace (1986), Return of the Ape Man (1944), The Hand of Death (1962), Blood For Dracula (1973), Flesh For Frankenstein (1974), Billy the Kid Vs. Dracula (1966) and finally three movies in one where director Al Adamson gives us a distorted Rashomon all his own.

Dishonorable mention? Easy. Worst film I watched this year was seeing Steven Seagal collect a paycheck for a few minutes work in a monstrosity known as Against the Dark (2009).

Considering I watched a total of 535 films in 2020 (with 2 days to go) It’s safe to say I’ve left out naming them all. Movies I enjoyed for a variety of different reasons. I do believe it’s the first year I watched more movies then I purchased. I think….

Top 5 postings people dropped in to read at Mike’s Take…..

What the Peeper Saw (1972), Slumming With Joan Collins, When Bronson Met Boone Part 1, When Bronson Met Boone Part 2 and The Doberman Gang (1972).

The selling of movies on blu ray and to a lesser extent on DVD has changed so much since the rental stores went extinct. No the medium isn’t dead. To a collector of movies we have a number of companies doing a fine job at releasing old gems and long lost titles. Companies I’d recommend include Kino Lorber Studio Classics, Severin, Arrow Video, Vinegar Syndrome, Indicator, Scream and Shout Factory, Criterion, Scorpion Releasing, Mill Creek Entertainment. Among some of the fine additions to my private library this year you’ll find The Al Adamson Collection, Marlene Dietrich and Josef von Sternberg Set, The Complete Gamera Set, Godzilla The Showa-Era Films, The Christopher Lee / Fu Manchu Collection, Deluxe Hammer Horror Titles, sets dedicated to specific film stars, Noir, Giallo and the Friday the 13th Set among others.

Assuming we get the world back in shape during the year to come my movie viewing is bound to fall back to a more familiar number of about 275. That’s assuming my working hours get back to normal and I’ll be able to travel outside of Ontario venturing to Eastern Canada and south of the border to attend some film festivals. Fingers crossed.

Memorabilia? Again my intake dropped significantly with trade shows and film fests cancelled. Early on this year I purchased a number of original one sheets from the 60’s and 70’s and thanks to the world wide web I did land an original 3 Sheet for Hammer’s Phantom of the Opera as the year came to close. Yes I’ll be restoring it via the linen backing process.

Highlight of the year when it comes to collecting movie “stuff” is probably acquiring a super rare copy of the enormous book from Tim Lucas on his favorite subject, Mario Bava. Which means I’ll probably binge on Bava titles in the year ahead as I work my way through this Bava Bible.

Looking ahead to 2021 I hope to not only work my way through the Bava book but to watch one movie a month that I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never seen. Yes every now and then I’ll stun someone by admitting I’ve never seen that well known classic. I think a few musicals are in my future among some others that might shock you.

I’d like to wish each and everyone of you who take the time to visit Mike’s Take On the Movies all the best moving forward and that your 2021 proves to be a far better year than 2020 turned out to be.

And to 2020 I’ll let my favorite tough guy of the movies, Charles Bronson, blast it into the past. “Goodbye.”

12 Comments »

  1. I always enjoy your eclectic selections and deep appreciation of movies, even the ones that others have scorned. Have a great new year, and as speedy a return to normality as soon as possible. And enjoy that Mario Bava book, that is truly a treasure! 🙂

  2. Great way to finish of the year Mikey. Your blog is essential reading for film buffs the world over, I reckon.
    Thank you very much for helpfully listing companies that offer mail-order DVD’s for collectors. I ‘ve been chasing for a while now any of the seven Dracula movies with Christopher Lee in the title role. Any clues where I might start looking for those?

    • Very kind of you. On the Dracula films it’s too bad there isn’t a box set of the entire Hammer series. Hammer sold off the titles to different distributors who still maintain ownership.
      Warner Brothers owns Horror of Dracula, Dracula Has Risen From the Grave, Taste the Blood of Dracula, Dracula A.D. and The Satanic Rites of Dracula. All are available on blu ray.
      Scream Factory put out Dracula Prince of Darkness and the Cushing sequel Brides of Dracula as well as Scars of Dracula.
      Lee’s El Conde Dracula (1970) was put out by Severin if you are interested in that as well.
      As for the comedy Dracula and Son (1978) I only have a bootleg copy….
      Happy hunting.

  3. A nice and varied collection haul and viewing as always Mike. What a crazy #$@%ed up year it has been my friend. There wasn’t too much buying for me this year, a lot of the good stuff came out at about Black Friday through December and I just never like dealing with that traffic volume. There was a lot more from the UK and Germany I wanted to pick up, but COVID made the overseas shipping time a month or longer, so I only picked up what I absolutely wanted to get right then, and some items I’m still waiting on. And the pound to dollar and euro to dollar has been through the roof too, so pricing is steep as well. Luckily a lot of the people in my life were spared being sick, and those who had it are recovered for the most part. When things start getting normal again and I’m back at my summer job, I’ll make up for some items. One of those is the Eureka! release of the Inner Sanctum films. All the best and stay well/safe my friend.

    • I ordered movies throughout the year and went “all in” on Black Friday weekend. Still waiting on three orders. I snagged the Mill Creek Inner Sanctum set for now. They are raising their game with plenty of bonus materials unlike the past when they kept things to a bare minimum and public domain prints. Cheers and stay safe.

  4. Brilliant picture of you and the magnificent Brando.
    You really are a movie machine Mike. 535!!!!
    Another amazing year of great articles and ridiculously amounts of film watching.
    One of the best and most consistent movie blogs on the net.
    Love Bronson blasting goodbye to 2020 lol…
    I wish you a fantastic 2021 with a Bronson finger-gun salute.

  5. Damn, Mike…535! I didn’t work for six months, and my movie watching DROPPED compared to the previous year! A lot of neat movies in your lists above…some great noir films, and a bunch that you watched that I’ve actually seen as well! Still trying to get caught up, so I can put out my own year-in-review before the month winds up…we’ll see if I can do it!

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