What is the last film you watched? (2017)

Open, general discussion of classic sound-era films, personalities and history.
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drednm

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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostThu Oct 12, 2017 8:00 pm

A delicious little thriller with several plot twists is Woman of Straw (1964) which boasts Gina Lollobrigida as a nurse in England who gets recruited by slithery Sean Connery to tend to his irascible billionaire uncle (Ralph Richardson) who is confined to a wheelchair. Richardson rules his empire with an iron fist and does not suffer fools gladly. Yet he eventually falls for Gina's charms, unaware that Gina and Sean have plotted and schemed for the marriage and for his money after he dies. The three stars are all terrific as is the barrage of classical music that Richardson constantly blasts thru the loudspeakers placed all over his mansion. Nice gem directed by Basil Dearden.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostFri Oct 13, 2017 4:21 pm

INTERNATIONAL CRIME (1937) is a fast-paced B movie from the short-lived Grand National Pictures. Based on "The Shadow" radio series, the film stars Rod La Rocque as Lamont Cranston but transforms the character into a newspaper and radio crime reporter who uses "THE SHADOW" as his pen name. The video I watched had the great advantage of being copied from a near pristine 35mm print and it showed that the photography, lighting, and editing were every bit as good as in a film from the major studios.

La Rocque was very appealing and adroit in handling the rapid fire dialogue. Astrid Allyn played the female lead as a silly sidekick to Cranston and she was by turns charming and annoying. The supporting cast had some fine old-timers including Thomas Jackson as the police commissioner, who seemed to own that particular role. Even old John St.Polis (PHANTOM OF THE OPERA) turns up. Directed by Charles Lamont who later joined Universal as one of its stalwart directors.

Finally, the funny thing about this film is that it was performed as though it was the second or third film in a series although it was a one-off. La Rocque had made THE SHADOW STRIKES earlier but the cast and characters, including Cranston, were completely different. Perhaps Grand National had meant this film to become part of a series - before the studio closed down.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostFri Oct 13, 2017 10:07 pm

Got into solid Kracauer territory with 1940's Die Rothschilds, a film that is quite possibly even more abhorrent than its black-soul mate, Jud Suss. Purporting to tell the story of the international Jewish conspiracy in the form of the Rothschild banking family's rise to prominence in the late Napoleonic era, it manages to offend virtually everyone. The German aristocracy are lazy oafs, the French are only too ready to deal themselves in, the British are upper-class know-nothing snobs, and of course the Jews are...Well, you can guess. Had it not been for the Prussians, Wellington would never have defeated M. Bonaparte at Waterloo because he was too busy chasing skirts.

Competently made and utterly reprehensible.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Oct 14, 2017 5:32 am

The last production of George Pal, Doc Savage, the Man of Bronze (1975) starts off engagingly enough, with Doc practicing yoga buck nekkid in the Arctic, then returning to New York to people trying to kill him, while he and his Brain Trust clamber around the Chrysler and GE Buildings -- the real one on Lexington and 50th. The story and acting are good, but the visuals are too cartoonish, based, I imagine, on the 1960s paperback logo and the 1940s comic book, and Doc seems to have a Bronze fetish.

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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Oct 14, 2017 12:00 pm

boblipton wrote:The last production of George Pal, Doc Savage, the Man of Bronze (1975) starts off engagingly enough, with Doc practicing yoga buck nekkid in the Arctic, then returning to New York to people trying to kill him, while he and his Brain Trust clamber around the Chrysler and GE Buildings -- the real one on Lexington and 50th. The story and acting are good, but the visuals are too cartoonish, based, I imagine, on the 1960s paperback logo and the 1940s comic book, and Doc seems to have a Bronze fetish.

Bob


I always wondered why they didn't just cast George Hamilton in the role and save themselves a bundle in body makeup.

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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Oct 14, 2017 1:15 pm

Kate Winslett and Idris Elba are in Idaho for their own purposes, but must get to the East Coast. A storm has grounded all commercial flights, but they get Beau Bridges to fly them to Denver in his Piper. When he has a stroke and crashes, leaving himself dead and Miss Winslett and Mr. Elba injured, they must get down off a mountaintop by themselves in The Mountain Between Us (2017).

It's not an amazing movie, but it's a pleasure to watch this combination of two-shots, handsome landscapes, and highly competent actors reciting lines that make sense in a situation where there is actually a story line and room for character change, that I had a very good time.

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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Oct 14, 2017 3:14 pm

Doing a bit of research preparatory to writing some comments about William Comes to Town (1948), I discovered that Richmal Crompton wrote many stories about the youngster and his pals from the 1920s until her death in 1970. They were, apparently very popular in Britain, and two movies were made in the late forties starring William Graham as the eponymous scamp. In this, the second, William goes to London to consult with the pleasant and vague Minister for Economics A.E. Matthews about having Williams' father fix the country's problems, brings a monkey home, then goes to the circus to get Mr. Matthews to write a note to get him out of trouble.

Everyone seems to live in that vague sort of middle-class world in which people keep comic servants and complain about money, where young boys dress in short pants, ties, and schoolboy caps which make perfect targets for water bombs dropped from the third floor (as I am sure Binky can attest to) and nothing bad ever really happens and no one ever quite learns a lesson, despite frequent beatings by the paterfamilias, played here by never-quite-apoplectic Garry Marsh. It's filled out with monkeys, circuses and roller coasters, and there are nice small comic bits for Jon Pertwee and Norman Pierce. And elephants!

It's all very pleasant harmless fun and must have been very comfortable for young parents who had first met William when they were children themselves, to find him just the same as they remembered him.

Bob
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Oct 14, 2017 3:52 pm

boblipton wrote:Doing a bit of research preparatory to writing some comments about William Comes to Town (1948), I discovered that Richmal Crompton wrote many stories about the youngster and his pals from the 1920s until her death in 1970. They were, apparently very popular in Britain, and two movies were made in the late forties starring William Graham as the eponymous scamp. In this, the second, William goes to London to consult with the pleasant and vague Minister for Economics A.E. Matthews about having Williams' father fix the country's problems, brings a monkey home, then goes to the circus to get Mr. Matthews to write a note to get him out of trouble.

Everyone seems to live in that vague sort of middle-class world in which people keep comic servants and complain about money, where young boys dress in short pants, ties, and schoolboy caps which make perfect targets for water bombs dropped from the third floor (as I am sure Binky can attest to) and nothing bad ever really happens and no one ever quite learns a lesson, despite frequent beatings by the paterfamilias, played here by never-quite-apoplectic Garry Marsh. It's filled out with monkeys, circuses and roller coasters, and there are nice small comic bits for Jon Pertwee and Norman Pierce. And elephants!

It's all very pleasant harmless fun and must have been very comfortable for young parents who had first met William when they were children themselves, to find him just the same as they remembered him.

Bob


The "William " books were popular throughout the British Empire! I grew up with them and my role as a schoolboy was indelibly modeled on him. :D I have seen some of the films (although A.E. Mathews in anything is bound to be hilarious - he was much the same in real life as he was in films) and the television series, but somehow they just don't seem to carry the same punch as did the books themselves. I actually still have a few "William" books in my library. They show good use with ink stained pages and a rather battered appearance.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Oct 14, 2017 5:20 pm

For Love of You (1933) is a very early film appearance for Naunton Wayne. He and Arthur Riscoe are a couple of young Englishmen in Venice for Carnevale, but the couple next door, famous tenor Franco Foresta is unreasonably jealous of his wife, Diana Napier, so the two blokes, being good chaps, decide to help her out in a Crazy Comedy manner....

There are many bright spots in this movie, including extensive background shooting in Venice, some excellent operatic interludes, including Offenbach's Baccarole performed on a canal, and even the sort of silly-ass humor that the Brits excelled in during this period. It's not at all well integrated, although apparently this movie was popular enough to be re-issued over the years -- the copy I saw had pre-credit titles that indicated it dated from some time late during the Second World War.

Perhaps it was because by this time Wayne had become indelibly identified with the role of the Englishman abroad, traveling with a buddy. Fortunately, paired with Basil Radford, he was no longer distracted by women, but had his mind on higher things, like cricket.

Bob
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Oct 15, 2017 4:26 am

Donald Binks wrote:
boblipton wrote:Doing a bit of research preparatory to writing some comments about William Comes to Town (1948), I discovered that Richmal Crompton wrote many stories about the youngster and his pals from the 1920s until her death in 1970. They were, apparently very popular in Britain, and two movies were made in the late forties starring William Graham as the eponymous scamp. In this, the second, William goes to London to consult with the pleasant and vague Minister for Economics A.E. Matthews about having Williams' father fix the country's problems, brings a monkey home, then goes to the circus to get Mr. Matthews to write a note to get him out of trouble.

Everyone seems to live in that vague sort of middle-class world in which people keep comic servants and complain about money, where young boys dress in short pants, ties, and schoolboy caps which make perfect targets for water bombs dropped from the third floor (as I am sure Binky can attest to) and nothing bad ever really happens and no one ever quite learns a lesson, despite frequent beatings by the paterfamilias, played here by never-quite-apoplectic Garry Marsh. It's filled out with monkeys, circuses and roller coasters, and there are nice small comic bits for Jon Pertwee and Norman Pierce. And elephants!

It's all very pleasant harmless fun and must have been very comfortable for young parents who had first met William when they were children themselves, to find him just the same as they remembered him.

Bob


The "William " books were popular throughout the British Empire! I grew up with them and my role as a schoolboy was indelibly modeled on him. :D I have seen some of the films (although A.E. Mathews in anything is bound to be hilarious - he was much the same in real life as he was in films) and the television series, but somehow they just don't seem to carry the same punch as did the books themselves. I actually still have a few "William" books in my library. They show good use with ink stained pages and a rather battered appearance.


I too, read and thoroughly enjoyed the 'William' books, although they would seem quite hard to put effectively on screen, from my memories of one TV series of thirty or so years ago (I seem to recall one scene of William's Dad reading his daily paper which was yellowed with age!) and the couple of films I watched from a cheapo set picked up for the princely sum of a pound or two. And they date a lot better when re-read, due to Crompton's delightful satire of the adult characters, from well-meaning aunts, through pompous vicars and ill-tempered retired colonels, as well as the situations set up for ridicule.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Oct 15, 2017 4:43 am

DON'T TELL YOUR WIFE ABOUT IT! (1937), from Japan, is one of those comedies of domestic life, but from an American story or novel by Richard Connell. Two parallel stories are presented: a wife dissatisfied with her weight and a husband who seems to be more interested in his work life and goldfish than her, and a husband who is continually trying to avoid his rather severe spouse's company, often going to ridiculous lengths (sneaking out during a concert intermission with a spectacularly feeble excuse) in his attempts to do so as well as drowning their sorrows in sake and the company of bar-hostesses.

Eventually the two wives have a blazing argument in a store, both insisting that their craven spouses uphold their honour. As both men (or should one say mice) are fearful of injury or death, they hatch plans to avoid any conflict...

Certainly of interest, this sort of comedy is a bit of an acquired taste, and I found it more pleasant than funny, although there is the odd amusing moment. The two husbands are spectacularly misogynistic, and one is not 100% sure if the director / writer is sympathetic to them as they come over as total boobs, incapable of even telling lies or making excuses effectively.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Oct 15, 2017 6:46 am

The Lover Lottery (1954) lampoons Hollywood, more specifically it lampoons movie stardom. In this one, David Niven stars as Rex Allerton, a swashbuckling film stars whose adoring herds of teenagers stampede wherever he appears. He's just so fed up. He quits the movies and hies to a small Italian town where he finds peace ... until he gets caught up in a bizarre love lottery that offers him as first prize. World-wide pandemonium ensues as women everywhere snap up the tickets. Chief among these are a love-struck mathematician (Anne Vernon) who works for the "math factory" that dreams up the lottery stunt, and a love-sick young woman (Peggy Cummins) who adores the movie star. Uneven but amusing. Niven seems miscast but has fun. Co-stars include Gordon Jackson, Herbert Lom, Charles Victor, Felix Aylmer, June Clyde, and Theodore Bikel.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Oct 15, 2017 1:52 pm

The Foreigner (2017) is based on Stephen Leather's novel The Chinaman. That's how the other characters see Jackie Chan's character: as an old Chinaman whose daughter had been killed by an explosion in a dress store, from a bomb planted by a wing of the IRA, breaking 19 years of peace. Jackie's search for the people who killed his daughter lead him to Pierce Brosnan, an old IRA hand, now the British Minister in charge of keeping the peace in Northern Ireland. He tries to comfort Jackie, but can't help him, when Jackie demands names... so Jackie blows up his wash room.

Jackie is not whom he appears to be, but neither is Brosnan, nor, in the end, are any of the main players, kindly, platitudinous politicians. It's a world of lies, corruption, violence and betrayal under a facade of peace and smiles that Jackie's single-minded pursuit of answers reveals: he's almost an anti-MacGuffin, appearing to matter very little to any of the people in the movie, who causes all the fuss.

Pierce Brosnan offers a fine performance as what can only be described as the Minister for IRA Relations in Northern Ireland. Chan's performance is far from his usual work, but he has always been a physical actor, more than one who works with words or facial expressions, and he lived up to my hopes as a long-time fan.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostMon Oct 16, 2017 1:11 pm

boblipton wrote:For Love of You (1933) is a very early film appearance for Naunton Wayne. He and Arthur Riscoe are a couple of young Englishmen in Venice for Carnevale, but the couple next door, famous tenor Franco Foresta is unreasonably jealous of his wife, Diana Napier, so the two blokes, being good chaps, decide to help her out in a Crazy Comedy manner....

There are many bright spots in this movie, including extensive background shooting in Venice, some excellent operatic interludes, including Offenbach's Baccarole performed on a canal, and even the sort of silly-ass humor that the Brits excelled in during this period. It's not at all well integrated, although apparently this movie was popular enough to be re-issued over the years -- the copy I saw had pre-credit titles that indicated it dated from some time late during the Second World War.

Perhaps it was because by this time Wayne had become indelibly identified with the role of the Englishman abroad, traveling with a buddy. Fortunately, paired with Basil Radford, he was no longer distracted by women, but had his mind on higher things, like cricket.

Bob


Denis Gifford's British Film Catalogue states that the film was reissued by Adelphi in 1944, with 450' trimmed from the footage. This seems to tally with David Quinlan's book British Sound Films, which quotes a longer running time than the one uploaded. Personally, apart from the odd spot, and the performance of Pearl Osgood, I found the film almost unendurable. It seems there were at least two 'Jack and Jim' films, the first one being GOING GAY, released slightly earlier than this one...
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostMon Oct 16, 2017 2:25 pm

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:
boblipton wrote:For Love of You (1933) is a very early film appearance for Naunton Wayne. He and Arthur Riscoe are a couple of young Englishmen in Venice for Carnevale, but the couple next door, famous tenor Franco Foresta is unreasonably jealous of his wife, Diana Napier, so the two blokes, being good chaps, decide to help her out in a Crazy Comedy manner....

There are many bright spots in this movie, including extensive background shooting in Venice, some excellent operatic interludes, including Offenbach's Baccarole performed on a canal, and even the sort of silly-ass humor that the Brits excelled in during this period. It's not at all well integrated, although apparently this movie was popular enough to be re-issued over the years -- the copy I saw had pre-credit titles that indicated it dated from some time late during the Second World War.

Perhaps it was because by this time Wayne had become indelibly identified with the role of the Englishman abroad, traveling with a buddy. Fortunately, paired with Basil Radford, he was no longer distracted by women, but had his mind on higher things, like cricket.

Bob


Denis Gifford's British Film Catalogue states that the film was reissued by Adelphi in 1944, with 450' trimmed from the footage. This seems to tally with David Quinlan's book British Sound Films, which quotes a longer running time than the one uploaded. Personally, apart from the odd spot, and the performance of Pearl Osgood, I found the film almost unendurable. It seems there were at least two 'Jack and Jim' films, the first one being GOING GAY, released slightly earlier than this one...


I watched this picture myself yesterday - mainly because of Naunton Wayne and Mrs. Richard Tauber.

Apart from the operatic tenor bits, there is the popular song "For Love of You" -​ words by Edward Pola - music by Franz Vienna (real name Franz Steininger. He took this "comic" name en route from Austria to America where he emigrated in 1935). This song sounds like something that would have been sung by Josef Schmidt - it sounds familiar to me? Anyway it is sung in the film by "Franco Foresta" - another silly name made up for he is really the American tenor Frank Forrest (who was of Hungarian descent - birth name Frank Hayek). It is quite a lovely song - and it is interesting to note how far we have degenerated over the years in to what now passes as "music" in the popular field.

In the film Mr. Wayne dresses up in costume for the Carnivale as "Casablanca" - the great lover - and spends most of his time plastered. Mr. Forrest sings most of his songs from a barge anchored in the middle of a canal opposite the Dodgy Palace - presumably the orchestra are in gondolas surrounding him.

It is really a film of ongoing stupidity that I supposed can raise a slight titter and all is mitigated by the musical excerpts which I gather would have accounted for its popularity more than anything else.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostMon Oct 16, 2017 6:06 pm

Revisited Gregory La Cava's Gabriel Over the White House (1933) on the weekend, one of the most remarkable films of the pre-code period, just as astonishing now as it was 84 years ago.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostMon Oct 16, 2017 6:16 pm

Perhaps the most disturbing film so far of my nazi German cinematic exploration is 1933's Hitlerjunge Quex, I think because it is vastly superior visually and thematically to the later films I've been watching. I suppose because it is so early in the whole regime that there was still a lot of talent and craft available that was missing as the years went by that they were able to make a much more sophisticated movie. It is a complex telling that, really, has more in common with Lang's M than a turgid studio B picture.

Despite the obvious fascist bias, its telling of the story of the street battles between the communists and the nazis had the ring of, well, not 'truth,' but of manipulated realism. Naturally the reds are loathsome murderers and tarts while the nazis are spiffy goosesteppers in smart uniforms but you get a sense of the internal civil unrest that was going on in the country at the time and I truly did not expect that. Frankly, it was a more than a little disturbing considering where we seem to be at in the USA at the moment.

Reading up on director Hans Steinhoff it was amusing to find out that he was shot down by the Soviets on the last plane out for Madrid, on Shicklgruber's birthday no less. How's that for irony?
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostMon Oct 16, 2017 8:09 pm

Over the Hill (1931) is an effective sentimental drama about a small-town family and spans 20 years or so. Mae Marsh, in her talkie debut, stars as Ma Shelby. In the opening scenes, she's a 30-something mothers with four kids and a shiftless husband (James Kirkwood). She works around the house like a fiend and takes in sewing and washing to feed the kids while the husband lies on the couch. The oldest son is a shifty sneak and thief. The story shoots again 20 years and Ma is a white-haired drudge, still bustling around. The kids are now grown up but their basic natures have not changed. The Christmas party and engagement of her youngest son (James Dunn) to the girl next door (Sally Eilers) is marred when Pa stupidly gets caught up in illegal activities. Dunn rescues the old fool and takes the blame and is sent to prison. A while later, all the kids have moved away except the oldest (Olin Howland). After prison, Dunn gets a job with a mining company in Alaska. He sends money every money to his brother to help support the widowed mother. But Howland steals the mother and puts the old mother in the poor farm. When Dunn finally returns and discovers what Howland has done, he makes sure his older brother gets his comeuppance.

Mordaunt Hall, in his 1931 review in the NY Times, states that the audience sprang to its feet and cheered wildly during the comeuppance. He also praised Marsh, Dunn, and Eilers for their natural acting. Excellent little small-town story, filmed several times as silents.
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