North by Northwest

  • Directors: Alfred Hitchcock
  • Producers: Alfred Hitchcock
  • Writers: Ernest Lehman
  • Genres: Adventure, Mystery, Thriller
  • Actors: Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason

A Madison Avenue advertising executive, Roger O. Thornhill (Cary Grant), is mistaken for a Mr. George Kaplan and kidnapped by thugs Valerian (Adam Williams) and Licht (Robert Ellenstein). He is taken to the house of Lester Townsend on Long Island. There he is interrogated by a man he assumes to be Townsend, but who is really Phillip Vandamm (James Mason). When Thornhill repeatedly denies he is Kaplan, Vandamm becomes annoyed and orders his right-hand man Leonard (Martin Landau) to get rid of him.

Thornhill is forced to drink bourbon in an attempt to stage a fatal accident. However, after a car chase on a perilous road, he is rear-ended by a police patrol car and apprehended. He is charged with drunken driving. He is unable to get the police, the judge or even his mother (Jessie Royce Landis) to believe what happened to him, especially when a woman at Townsend’s residence claims he got drunk at a dinner party; she also informs them that Townsend is a United Nations diplomat.

Thornhill and his mother go to Kaplan’s hotel room, but cannot find anyone at the hotel who has seen him.

Narrowly avoiding recapture, Thornhill takes a taxi to the General Assembly building of the United Nations, where Townsend is due to deliver a speech. Thornhill meets Townsend face to face and is surprised to find that the diplomat is not the man who interrogated him. Then Valerian throws a knife that strikes Townsend in the back. He falls forward, dead, into Thornhill’s arms. Unthinkingly, Thornhill removes the knife, making it appear to witnesses that he is the killer, forcing him to flee.

The scene transitions from Thornhill pulling Eve to safety on Mount Rushmore to him pulling her (the new Mrs. Thornhill) up onto an overhead train bunk. The final shot shows their train speeding into a tunnel.

Lolita

  • Directors: Stanley Kubrick
  • Producers: James B Harris
  • Writers: Novel, Vladimir Nabokov, Screenplay, Vladimir Nabokov, Stanley Kubrick
  • Genres: Drama, Romance
  • Actors: James Mason, Shelley Winters, Sue Lyon, Peter Sellers

Set somewhat indeterminately in the 1950s, the film begins in medias res with a confrontation between two men, which ends with one of them, Clare Quilty (Peter Sellers), being shot. The shooter was Humbert Humbert (James Mason), a 40-something British professor of French literature. The film then turns to events 4 years earlier and goes forward as Humbert travels to Ramsdale, New Hampshire, a small town where he will spend the summer before his professorship begins at Beardsley College, Ohio. He searches across the town for room to let, being tempted by widowed, sexually famished mother, Charlotte Haze (Shelley Winters) to stay at her house. He declines until seeing her beautiful 14-year-old daughter, Dolores Haze (Sue Lyon), affectionately called “Lolita”. Lolita is a soda-pop drinking, gum-chewing, overtly flirtatious teenager, with whom Humbert falls hopelessly in love.

In order to become close to Lolita, Humbert accepts Charlotte’s offer and becomes a lodger in the Haze household. Soon, however, Charlotte announces that she will be sending Lolita to an all-girl sleep-away camp for the summer. On the morning of departure, Humbert receives a love confession note from Charlotte, asking Humbert to leave at once. The note says that if Humbert is still in the house when Charlotte returns from driving Lolita to camp, then he must join Charlotte in marriage. Humbert willingly marries Charlotte days later. After the wedding and honeymoon, Charlotte discovers Humbert’s diary entries describing his passion for Lolita, and has an emotional outburst. She threatens to leave forever, taking Lolita far away from Humbert. While Humbert hurriedly fixes martinis in the kitchen to smooth over the situation, Charlotte runs outside, gets hit by a speeding car, and dies.

Several days later Humbert drives to Camp Climax to pick up Lolita, and as they travel from hotel to motel across the United States, they begin a sexual relationship. In public, they act as father and daughter to avoid suspicion. During their travels, Humbert tells Lolita that her mother is not sick in a hospital (as he had previously told her), but dead. Deeply saddened and affected, she stays with Humbert, believing he is her only comfort. Months later, Humbert and Lolita’s car trips are followed by the same car. As Lolita becomes sick from the common cold, she is hospitalized, and eventually kidnapped by the follower, Clare Quilty (played by Peter Sellers), a famous playwright, on whom Lolita had a crush for some time. Years after the kidnapping, Humbert receives a letter from Lolita in which she says that she is now married to a man named Dick, and that she is pregnant and in desperate need of money. Humbert travels to Lolita and Dick’s home, where Lolita is waiting. Humbert finds that she is no longer the precocious young girl he once loved, but a 17-year-old heavily pregnant woman, in a happy relationship – only he is even more in love with her now. Humbert demands that Lolita tell him who kidnapped her three years earlier. She tells him it was “the man that was following us”, Clare Quilty. After meeting Dick, Humbert asks Lolita to come away with him. She declines, preferring her new life. Humbert, deeming Quilty responsible for taking his love, goes off to shoot him in his mansion—where the film began.

A Star Is Born

  • Directors: George Cukor
  • Producers: Sid Luft
  • Writers: Moss Hart, Based on a story by William A Wellman and Robert Carson
  • Genres: Drama, Musical, Romance
  • Actors: Judy Garland, James Mason

Norman Maine is a former matinee idol whose career is in the early stages of decline. When he arrives intoxicated at a function at the Shrine Auditorium, his studio’s publicist attempts to keep him away from reporters, and after an angry exchange, Norman rushes away and bursts onto a stage where an orchestra is performing. Singer Esther Blodgett takes him by the hand and pretends he is part of the act, turning an embarrassing and potentially destructive moment into an opportunity for the audience to greet Norman with applause.

Realizing Esther has saved him from public humiliation, Norman thanks her and draws a heart on the wall with her lipstick, then invites her to dinner. He later watches her perform after-hours in a downtown club and is impressed by her talent. He urges her to follow her dream, and convinces her to try to break into movies. She agrees to meet him the following day, but Norman is called away early in the morning to begin filming on location. He attempts to get a message to Esther but cannot remember her address, and when she doesn’t hear from him, she suspects he was only flirting with her. Having quit her band, she takes jobs as a carhop and TV commercial singer to make ends meet.

Despondent, Vicki becomes a recluse and refuses to see anyone. Finally, her old friend Danny tells her she is wasting the career Norman died trying to save, and she agrees to honor a commitment to appear at a charity function. At the Shine Auditorium, she notices the heart Norman drew on the wall on the night they met and for a moment begins to lose her composure. When Vicki arrives on stage, the emcee tells her the event is being broadcast worlwide and asks her to say a few words to her fans. She says, “Hello everybody. This is Mrs. Norman Maine.”