What is the last film you watched? (2015)

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earlytalkiebuffRob

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What is the last film you watched? (2015)

PostThu Jan 01, 2015 4:40 pm

[MODERATOR'S NOTE: this thread is a continuation of this locked thread covering 2013-14.]


An unintended viewing, FRENZY (1972), despite its faults, was probably the last watchable film Hitchcock made - for me, that is - as I found FAMILY PLOT very tedious the second and last time I saw it. FRENZY follows the misadventures of ex-RAF man Jon Finch, who is framed for a particularly nasty series of 'necktie' murders for which his hot-temper and self-pity do not help..

The more one sees this film, the more holes appear or seem to appear. Finch is supposed to be an ex-squadron-leader with a fine record, but is too young to have done anything in WWII. The original novel came out in 1949 or thereabouts, so a little tweaking should have been in order. The first murder / rape we see seems to be done in rather too much detail and is possibly too lurid. In addition, there doesn't seem to be anything to tie him up with the previous murders.

These grumbles aside (and one could pick a few more holes if required), FRENZY still holds the attention reasonably well, and although at times it doesn't look too Hitchcockian, there are enough bits to make one aware of his presence. He is ably served by his cast of Barry Foster, Clive Swift (a fellow RAF man, but 'under the thumb'), the late Billie Whitelaw as Swift's acid-tongued wife, Barbara Leigh-Hunt as Finch's successful ex-wife, Anna Massey and Bernard Cribbins, to name a few.

The police are represented by Alec McCowen and Michael Bates, together with a series of running jokes on the frightful dishes McCowen's wife (Vivien Merchant) is serving up as a result of a gourmet course she is attending. FRENZY was Hitchcock's first British film for about twenty years, and had a mixed reception. The years have been kind to it, though, and it seems to have become more generally accepted, and there is enough incident in it to keep one interested.
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Re: What is the last film you watched?

PostThu Jan 01, 2015 8:06 pm

The Southerner (1945) offers fine performances by the cast in a "Tobacco Road" meets "The Grapes of Wrath" sort of film. Directed by Jean Renoir, the film's narrative seems to omit plot in favor of evocative scenes that imply rather than tell. Zachary Scott is the plucky farmer who eschews factory work because in a factory you can't see the sky. So his family suffers in a riverside farm a la swamp that sees a cotton crop washed away while his son suffers from scurvy or whatever. Still, he clings to the earth. The storyline is from another world but the acting is solid as Scott turns in his career-best performance. Also solid are Betty Field as the wife, Beulah Bondi as the grandma, J. Carrol Naish as the nasty neighbor, Norman Lloyd as his nastier nephew, Estelle Taylor as a bar broad, Percy Kilbride and Blanche Yurka as an unlikely couple, and Charles Kemper as Tim. Nestor Paiva and Almira Sessions also co-star, and silent actress Anne Cornwall has a bit part. The film is in the public domain, so only a so-so copy exists and the film will likely never be restored.
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Re: What is the last film you watched?

PostFri Jan 02, 2015 4:08 am

Haven't seen "The Southerner" in many years, but remember it as one of the most beautifully filmed movies I ever watched! A shame if the prints you and I watched are the only - or best - ones. Especially because it's directed by the artist Renoir's son!
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Re: What is the last film you watched?

PostFri Jan 02, 2015 6:12 am

I think that's the only print, unless someone knows of an archival print. If there is one, then maybe there's hope for a commercial release.

The last film appearance of silent star Estelle Taylor.
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Re: What is the last film you watched?

PostFri Jan 02, 2015 9:31 am

drednm wrote:I think that's the only print, unless someone knows of an archival print. If there is one, then maybe there's hope for a commercial release.


Condition of print shown several times on TCM seemed not so bad to me...but maybe that was because it accorded, psychologically, with the grim nature of the tale; had there been scenes of showgirls in brilliant costumes, I'm sure I'd have been more observant. As Joel McCrea's butler tried to make him understand in Sullivan's Travels, hardship & poverty are not fascinating subjects to those who've experienced the real thing.
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Re: What is the last film you watched?

PostFri Jan 02, 2015 2:15 pm

entredeuxguerres wrote:
drednm wrote:I think that's the only print, unless someone knows of an archival print. If there is one, then maybe there's hope for a commercial release.


Condition of print shown several times on TCM seemed not so bad to me...but maybe that was because it accorded, psychologically, with the grim nature of the tale; had there been scenes of showgirls in brilliant costumes, I'm sure I'd have been more observant. As Joel McCrea's butler tried to make him understand in Sullivan's Travels, hardship & poverty are not fascinating subjects to those who've experienced the real thing.


I saw THE SOUTHERNER on BBC-TV a couple of times back in the 1970s, and it seemed a perfectly good copy to me. One would think decent materials exist still and its just PD copies which aren't so good. The film turned up in a Renoir set with Taiwanese subtitles which WAS probably from a PD copy as it was quite cheap.
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Re: What is the last film you watched?

PostFri Jan 02, 2015 7:29 pm

MoMA is currently hosting a Joan Bennett series, and this afternoon I saw her in a lightweight Pre-Code trifle called Careless Lady (1932), co-starring John Boles. It’s a romantic comedy about an innocent young lady (Miss Bennett) who becomes fed up with men ignoring her because she’s inexperienced, i.e. virginal, though they never use that word. Although she's unmarried, she assumes the identity of a millionaire’s frisky wife—an actual millionaire, that is, who happens to be a bachelor—and goes to Paris to party the summer away with a crowd of café society sophisticates. Then the millionaire (Mr. Boles) shows up, discovers that a woman he barely knows is masquerading as his wife, and decides he’d like to enjoy his conjugal privileges.

Even by the standards of farce comedy it’s a flimsy premise, and doesn’t make much sense, but it’s amusing at times. For me, the funniest part was surely unintentional: in the early scenes we’re supposed to believe that all the red-blooded young bucks hanging around the country club won’t give our leading lady the time of day because she’s just an innocent “kid.” Um, fellas, this is 22 year-old Joan Bennett we’re talking about, and you’re ignoring her. Are you CRAZY?

Meanwhile, John Boles provides eye candy for the ladies. I have to say, this was probably the liveliest performance of his I’ve seen. Usually I find him dull, but he must have been enjoying himself here. His character, an affable millionaire with lots of time on his hands, isn’t exactly multi-dimensional, but he endears himself to us because he owns the world’s ugliest bulldog, and seems genuinely fond of him. Until the last scene, anyway, when he’s so keen to drive off with Joan and marry her that he forgets the dog, who is last seen chasing his car.

Careless Lady is no classic, but viewing it is a moderately enjoyable way to spend an afternoon. Five years from now I’ll probably have forgotten I ever saw it.

P.S. No, let’s make that two years.
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Re: What is the last film you watched?

PostFri Jan 02, 2015 7:47 pm

FRANKIE AND JOHNNIE (1936) - I hadn't watched this in at least 25 years and it amazed me with how much of it had stayed with me and how terrific I still think it is. For a low budget feature from Republic Studio, of all places, this one is filled with riches. The camerawork is innovative and atmospheric, the songs and musical score pleasing and lushly orchestrated, and the performances are first rate right down the line. As Frankie, Helen Morgan is given one of the few opportunities in her movie career to really act; she is believable and poignant and sings her two numbers in her inimitably heartbreaking style. Chester Morris manages to show Johnnie's unsavory nature while allowing us to see why both Frankie and Nellie Bly are smitten with him. And as Nellie, Lilyan Tashman delivers a shrewd, calculating portrayal that is one of her best....and she never gave a bad performance in her life. Best of all, for me, is Florence Reed as Lou, the saloon proprietress/madame. A respected stage actor, Reed made very few film appearances, and here she is brilliant, watching over the machinations of the other characters with a cynical, world weary eye. Filmed at the Biograph Studio in the Bronx, this is a curio definitely worth watching.
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Re: What is the last film you watched?

PostFri Jan 02, 2015 7:54 pm

Wm. Charles Morrow wrote:...For me, the funniest part was surely unintentional: in the early scenes we’re supposed to believe that all the red-blooded young bucks hanging around the country club won’t give our leading lady the time of day because she’s just an innocent “kid.” Um, fellas, this is 22 year-old Joan Bennett we’re talking about, and you’re ignoring her. Are you CRAZY?...


Insane...and equally so is the standard movie convention that a girl who looks like Joan, or even Heddy Lamar, has only to be seen wearing spectacles, & every man shuns her.

Boles also cut quite a few capers in Music in the Air (1934).
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Re: What is the last film you watched?

PostFri Jan 02, 2015 8:59 pm

Caught up with Oh, Sailor Behave!, which was apparently a bomb in its 1930 release. After being envisioned as a Technicolor A-list film, it was released in B&W (you can see the make-up designed for color). This Warners film boasted MGM star Charles King in his last starring musical with an odd assortment of players that included Irene Delroy and Lowell Sherman. Given star billing were the Broadway comics Ole Olsen and Chic Johnson in a plot that was not in the original Broadway play by Elmer Rice that starred Claudette Colbert and Roger Pryor. Olsen and Johnson goon their way thru this muddied effort that was originally titled "See Naples and Die." Barrios quips that contemporary film audiences "saw Naples and died."

Inane plot has King as a reporter trying to interview a general but getting involved with a woman (Delroy) involved with a Russian noble (Sherman). King enlists the help of a courtesan (Vivian Oakland) to get the interview but everything is confused. Into this morass Warners injected Olsen and Johnson with the subplot of finding a man with a wooden leg who robbed a navy storehouse. Apparently this man is Noah Beery, who is also the man King is trying to interview. Apparently.

King and Delroy sing a few songs. Oakland also sings. They are fine but the film is a mess and the songs blah. Olsen and Johnson are on par with the Ritz Brothers. If Warners saw them as a new Wheeler and Woolsey, they were very wrong. High point (if there is one) is watching Lowell Sherman bitch about the Italian sun while smoking endless cigarettes and eating an orange. I kid you not.

Charles King's last MGM film was the 1930 Remote Control, starring William Haines. Other than a few shorts, King did not appear in films again. He was on Broadway in several shows through the 30s and died of pneumonia in London in 1944 while on tour entertaining the troops. This was Irene Delroy's talkie debut. She never clicked. She made 4 films in 1930 and 31.
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Re: What is the last film you watched?

PostFri Jan 02, 2015 10:03 pm

entredeuxguerres wrote:
Wm. Charles Morrow wrote:...For me, the funniest part was surely unintentional: in the early scenes we’re supposed to believe that all the red-blooded young bucks hanging around the country club won’t give our leading lady the time of day because she’s just an innocent “kid.” Um, fellas, this is 22 year-old Joan Bennett we’re talking about, and you’re ignoring her. Are you CRAZY?...


Insane...and equally so is the standard movie convention that a girl who looks like Joan, or even Heddy Lamar, has only to be seen wearing spectacles, & every man shuns her.


In one early scene in Careless Lady, Joan sits on a train doing some embroidery while wearing glasses; oddly, it’s the only scene in the film where she wears them. A masher approaches her from behind, and starts to slide into the seat next to her—then sees her face, or rather, her spectacles, and backs away hastily.

This got a laugh at the MoMA screening today, but I don’t think it was the sort of laugh the filmmakers were aiming for.
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Re: What is the last film you watched?

PostSat Jan 03, 2015 4:00 am

I envy you, gentlemen...so many beautiful girls..
Ladies please suggest some movies with handsome actors :)
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Re: What is the last film you watched?

PostSun Jan 04, 2015 7:15 am

An interesting and fairly entertaining mystery from the pen of Dorothy Sayers, THE SILENT PASSENGER (1935) starts with a murdered blackmailer being stuffed into a trunk by Donald Wolfit, and fellow victim's husband John Loder in danger of taking the rap for it when the trunk is opened in France. Fortunately Lord Peter Wimsey is on hand to clear things up. Usually blackmailers' killers are allowed their freedom in the world of 'Golden Age' detective fiction, but whatever excuses Wolfit had are cancelled by the attempts to frame / murder Mr Loder.

Some nice stuff on the railways helps this to be an entertaining hour's worth, although a check on Imdb would suggest the film should be 15-20 minutes longer. Wimsey is played by Peter Haddon, who appears to have specialised in upper-class fellows, retired colonels, or both. A few years after, MGM filmed BUSMAN'S HONEYMOON with Robert Montgomery as Wimsey, but after that he seems to have been abandoned by the big screen. Was surprised to see this film at all as it had been so well hidden as to make one suspect its loss.

Michael Pyle compared this film to Hitchcock in an earlier post, and indeed one suspects Hitch or one of his scenarists had seen the film, in particular the scene with the geese / ducks in the guard's van near the end as well as the business with Wolfit's coat button are redolent of his work.
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Re: What is the last film you watched?

PostSun Jan 04, 2015 8:17 pm

Wm. Charles Morrow wrote:MoMA is currently hosting a Joan Bennett series, and this afternoon I saw her in a lightweight Pre-Code trifle called Careless Lady (1932), co-starring John Boles. It’s a romantic comedy about an innocent young lady (Miss Bennett) who becomes fed up with men ignoring her because she’s inexperienced, i.e. virginal, though they never use that word. Although she's unmarried, she assumes the identity of a millionaire’s frisky wife—an actual millionaire, that is, who happens to be a bachelor—and goes to Paris to party the summer away with a crowd of café society sophisticates. Then the millionaire (Mr. Boles) shows up, discovers that a woman he barely knows is masquerading as his wife, and decides he’d like to enjoy his conjugal privileges.

Even by the standards of farce comedy it’s a flimsy premise, and doesn’t make much sense, but it’s amusing at times. For me, the funniest part was surely unintentional: in the early scenes we’re supposed to believe that all the red-blooded young bucks hanging around the country club won’t give our leading lady the time of day because she’s just an innocent “kid.” Um, fellas, this is 22 year-old Joan Bennett we’re talking about, and you’re ignoring her. Are you CRAZY?

Meanwhile, John Boles provides eye candy for the ladies. I have to say, this was probably the liveliest performance of his I’ve seen. Usually I find him dull, but he must have been enjoying himself here. His character, an affable millionaire with lots of time on his hands, isn’t exactly multi-dimensional, but he endears himself to us because he owns the world’s ugliest bulldog, and seems genuinely fond of him. Until the last scene, anyway, when he’s so keen to drive off with Joan and marry her that he forgets the dog, who is last seen chasing his car.

Careless Lady is no classic, but viewing it is a moderately enjoyable way to spend an afternoon. Five years from now I’ll probably have forgotten I ever saw it.

P.S. No, let’s make that two years.


Very entertaining film and one of Joan Bennett's best early talkies. Good cast with John Boles a lot of fun. His scene with Mathilde Comont is priceless. Also interesting to see Josephine Hull a dozen years before her performance in Arsenic and Old Lace., and Minna Gombell is always a welcomed inclusion.
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Re: What is the last film you watched?

PostTue Jan 06, 2015 1:24 pm

I watched "The Interview" (2014) yesterday - only to see what all the fuss was about. One word comes instantly to mind to describe the product - "puerile".

There must be a new brand of comedy on the market whereby the audience doesn't laugh once. This is it.

The story, if you can call it that, is about two men from TV. One a producer and the other a narcissistic TV host of a tabloid talk show. Both are loathsome individuals. They come up with the idea of interviewing the leader of North Korea. The C.I.A., gets in on the act and asks the pair to assassinate Kim whilst they are in his country. Ludicrous? Yes, but in better hands something ludicrous could be fine fare. This is not in good hands.

The script is peppered with four-letter words and lines that one would normally see scribbled on a lavatory wall.

Whilst the inane nature of the film surely would be aimed at the very young - how could it be seen by them with the obvious restrictions by way of language etc.,?

I cannot see how the North Koreans could possibly be upset by this picture as it displays Americans in the very worst light - as crass, idiotic and foul-mouthed boors. Surely their own propaganda machine couldn't do any better if it tried.

Probably Sony knew the picture was crap so they invented the "hacking scandal" as a means of garnishing some publicity in order to try and sell the rubbish.

In order to regain my sanity I watched "M. Hulot's Holiday" - a picture far removed from what I had just sat through - and, as always, an absolute delight. No wonder we at Nitrateville prefer the older pictures!
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Re: What is the last film you watched?

PostWed Jan 07, 2015 11:39 am

Donald Binks wrote:I watched "The Interview" (2014) yesterday - only to see what all the fuss was about. One word comes instantly to mind to describe the product - "puerile".

There must be a new brand of comedy on the market whereby the audience doesn't laugh once. This is it.

The story, if you can call it that, is about two men from TV. One a producer and the other a narcissistic TV host of a tabloid talk show. Both are loathsome individuals. They come up with the idea of interviewing the leader of North Korea. The C.I.A., gets in on the act and asks the pair to assassinate Kim whilst they are in his country. Ludicrous? Yes, but in better hands something ludicrous could be fine fare. This is not in good hands.

The script is peppered with four-letter words and lines that one would normally see scribbled on a lavatory wall.

Whilst the inane nature of the film surely would be aimed at the very young - how could it be seen by them with the obvious restrictions by way of language etc.,?

I cannot see how the North Koreans could possibly be upset by this picture as it displays Americans in the very worst light - as crass, idiotic and foul-mouthed boors. Surely their own propaganda machine couldn't do any better if it tried.

Probably Sony knew the picture was crap so they invented the "hacking scandal" as a means of garnishing some publicity in order to try and sell the rubbish.

In order to regain my sanity I watched "M. Hulot's Holiday" - a picture far removed from what I had just sat through - and, as always, an absolute delight. No wonder we at Nitrateville prefer the older pictures!

A flawless assessment - I can't imagine a more accurate one. And I'm afraid it will be seen by the very young because in America, parenting is a dying art. Just ask anyone who's been in a restaurant, or a movie theater or any public place, for that matter, where children are present.
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Re: What is the last film you watched?

PostWed Jan 07, 2015 11:40 am

busby1959 wrote:
Donald Binks wrote:I watched "The Interview" (2014) yesterday - only to see what all the fuss was about. One word comes instantly to mind to describe the product - "puerile".

There must be a new brand of comedy on the market whereby the audience doesn't laugh once. This is it.

The story, if you can call it that, is about two men from TV. One a producer and the other a narcissistic TV host of a tabloid talk show. Both are loathsome individuals. They come up with the idea of interviewing the leader of North Korea. The C.I.A., gets in on the act and asks the pair to assassinate Kim whilst they are in his country. Ludicrous? Yes, but in better hands something ludicrous could be fine fare. This is not in good hands.

The script is peppered with four-letter words and lines that one would normally see scribbled on a lavatory wall.

Whilst the inane nature of the film surely would be aimed at the very young - how could it be seen by them with the obvious restrictions by way of language etc.,?

I cannot see how the North Koreans could possibly be upset by this picture as it displays Americans in the very worst light - as crass, idiotic and foul-mouthed boors. Surely their own propaganda machine couldn't do any better if it tried.

Probably Sony knew the picture was crap so they invented the "hacking scandal" as a means of garnishing some publicity in order to try and sell the rubbish.

In order to regain my sanity I watched "M. Hulot's Holiday" - a picture far removed from what I had just sat through - and, as always, an absolute delight. No wonder we at Nitrateville prefer the older pictures!

A flawless assessment - I can't imagine a more accurate one. And I'm afraid it will be seen by the very young because in America, parenting is a dying art. Just ask anyone who's been in a restaurant, or a movie theater or any public place, for that matter, where children are present.

M> HULOT'S HOLIDAY - a fine choice. I cleansed myself with FOOTLIGHT PARADE (1933) after seeing this atrocity.
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Re: What is the last film you watched?

PostWed Jan 07, 2015 12:53 pm

busby1959 wrote:...And I'm afraid it will be seen by the very young because in America, parenting is a dying art. Just ask anyone who's been in a restaurant, or a movie theater or any public place, for that matter, where children are present.


Mustn't repress their natural behavior--might impair their developing genius.
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Re: What is the last film you watched?

PostThu Jan 08, 2015 3:53 am

entredeuxguerres wrote:
busby1959 wrote:...And I'm afraid it will be seen by the very young because in America, parenting is a dying art. Just ask anyone who's been in a restaurant, or a movie theater or any public place, for that matter, where children are present.


Mustn't repress their natural behavior--might impair their developing genius.


Not a new thing - about twenty-five years ago our Mother was 'minding the store' when she noticed a youngster pulling and pushing the books on the shelves. She asked the child politely to stop playing with the books. The father turned round, growled "Stuff your books!" and marched out in a huff. What a nice fellow!
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Re: What is the last film you watched?

PostSat Jan 10, 2015 8:42 pm

Saraband for Dead Lovers (1948) not only has a great title, but this gorgeous Technicolor historical romance also boasts terrific performances from Stewart Granger as a Swedish "foreigner" in Germany, Joan Greenwood as the hapless princess Sophia Dorothea, and Flora Robson as the conniving countess. Greenwood plays the princess trapped in a marriage to George of Hanover who is angling, with the help of his mother, for the crown of England (which he gets). But the princess is discarded and locked up for 33 years after her supposed affair with the Swedish Konigsmarck (Granger). Francoise Rosay, Anthony Quayle, Jill Balcon, Michael Gough co-star. Supposedly Barbara Murray and Christopher Lee are among the extras.
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Re: What is the last film you watched?

PostSat Jan 10, 2015 9:06 pm

When White Sister was mentioned on the "religious film" discussion, I resolved to watch in again, though it's one of those I hold in such high esteem, I entertained a rather superstitious dread of rewatching it, after a lapse of 5 years, for fear it would fail to be as wonderful as I'd remembered. Last night I did & it was...or almost so.

My "almost" pertains to the melodrama that came so thick & fast near the end, when Vesuvius blew his top--a little disappointing compared to the marvelous delicacy, restraint, & grave dignity, that preceded it; the special effects dept. could not be denied its way, I guess. But before the lava & floodwater began to flow, it was as I'd remembered, if not finer. What an opportunity was squandered for a sublime ending--which, with me in the director's chair, would have been a final acceptance by a grieving, but wiser, Colman of Dante's "our peace in His will."

Colman...how did he achieve so stunning a performance in this, his first staring role? And bereft of his beautiful voice? He is magnificent. But so, rather more predictably, is Gish--who else, even, could have made this role believable?

I will acknowledge that part of the power of this picture must be attributed to Garth Neustadler's matchless score for TCM--as restrained & delicate & beautiful as the story & the acting, & always exactly, perfectly, attuned to the screen. Can remember a few others that are its equal, but none that surpass it.
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Re: What is the last film you watched?

PostSat Jan 10, 2015 9:26 pm

entredeuxguerres wrote:When White Sister was mentioned on the "religious film" discussion, I resolved to watch in again, though it's one of those I hold in such high esteem, I entertained a rather superstitious dread of rewatching it, after a lapse of 6-7 years, for fear it would fail to be as wonderful as I'd remembered. Last night I did & it was...or almost so...


Your review of this film matches mine almost to a T. I watched it earlier in the year and was glued to the screen throughout. Whoever it was that said silent pictures can't successfully carry a story to the full, needs to get his bumps read. This picture carried the story brilliantly and as you said, was gentle, caressing and subtlety done - almost to perfection.

I agree with your comments too with the performances of Colman and Gish - absolutely wonderful and showing a very good knowledge of pantomime - a face is worth a thousand words.

Finally the score matched the picture scene for scene and the themes chosen were well worked out and nothing seemed over-powering in any place.

The ending with the volcano erupting and the ensuing flood seemed to me that it could have been tacked on - perhaps an ending more sympathetic to the overall simplistic tone of the picture may have been better - but, after all this film was made in Hollywood!
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Re: What is the last film you watched?

PostSun Jan 11, 2015 9:54 am

Thank you for the WHITE SISTER recommend. Must admit I hadn't realised which version you were referring to. I not that both are available in a combo, so that solves that one. Another to add to the list for when 'Mr Scratch' turns up asking my price...

By the way, THE WHITE SISTER was not Colman's first as he hade mad a few over here in England in the 1910s. They don't appear to have been successful and and are reportedly 'lost', partly due to fire.
Last edited by earlytalkiebuffRob on Sun Sep 13, 2015 3:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What is the last film you watched?

PostSun Jan 11, 2015 10:55 am

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:...By the way, THE WHITE SISTER was not Colman's first as he hade mad a few over here in England in the 1910s. They don't appear to have been successful and appear to have been lost in a fire.


Was aware it wasn't his first time before the camera, but in his previous picture, his part was something like 10th billed. Whoever cast him for this starring role in such a prestigious picture had remarkable insight.

You won't regret laying hands on this one...and accept no substitutes for Neustadler's superb score!
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Re: What is the last film you watched?

PostTue Jan 13, 2015 11:27 am

I got to re-watch CITIZEN KANE last weekend. It's been almost 10 years since I last watched it, and I was surprised to realize how many scenes and details I'd actually forgotten. I always liked and respected it, reluctant to be affected by all the uncritical acclaim it has largely received and instead view it as a very good film regardless of whether it's THE very BEST or not. That said, I now found myself able to appreciate it even more than before. For one thing, I know more about W.R. Hearst now than I once did, so to recognize the parallels between the real and fictitious newspaper empire, and the respective men behind these, was in and of itself quite fascinating. Moreover, the oh-so-often-commented-on cinematography, camera-angles, acting from Welles as well as all the supporting players, and Bernard Herrmann's musical score gives the film a totally stirring atmosphere. Do we really have to decide whether it's THE best film of all time? It seems that in some cases, such debates do more harm than good to a film, and CITIZEN KANE is likely one such example. I almost wish it were more obscure.
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Re: What is the last film you watched?

PostTue Jan 13, 2015 1:29 pm

Smari1989 wrote:...I know more about W.R. Hearst now than I once did, so to recognize the parallels between the real and fictitious newspaper empire, and the respective men behind these, was in and of itself quite fascinating.


Fascinating also would have been an unsensationalized examination of his political aspirations in New York, his fight with Tammany Hall, etc.; but smearing Marion Davies probably sold more tickets.
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Re: What is the last film you watched?

PostTue Jan 13, 2015 2:00 pm

entredeuxguerres wrote:
Smari1989 wrote:...I know more about W.R. Hearst now than I once did, so to recognize the parallels between the real and fictitious newspaper empire, and the respective men behind these, was in and of itself quite fascinating.


Fascinating also would have been an unsensationalized examination of his political aspirations in New York, his fight with Tammany Hall, etc.; but smearing Marion Davies probably sold more tickets.


It may be true that viewers only casually familiar with Hearst's story will likely end up with a rather unfair assessment of Marion Davies, based on the Susan character. However, I don't think we are led to believe that Susan is necessarily untalented; the fact that she's not suited as an opera singer does not mean, in and of itself, that she couldn't have made it good as another, more "light" kind of entertainer. The obvious parallel here, of course, is that it seems to be the general view that Marion was more suited for comedy than drama, despite Hearst's wishes (I don't think I've seen any of her pure "drama" films, so I can't really comment fairly; I do love her in THE PATSY and SHOW PEOPLE, though).

I don't think CITIZEN KANE is necessarily a very sympathetic film, nor do I think the motives behind it seem to be necessarily sympathetic. At the same time, I'm inclined to say that Hearst sort of had it coming to him. Fascinating and influential though Hearst was, he deserved criticism. Lots of it. (I am extremely grateful that he allowed cartoonist George Herriman to continue making his wonderful but not very popular comic strip Krazy Kat, though.)
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Re: What is the last film you watched?

PostTue Jan 13, 2015 2:07 pm

Last night rewatched Alibi, 1929, which I always find exasperating, because it could so easily have been a great picture (three AA nominations), if only director-producer-writer Roland West could have denied himself some easy gimmicks--such as, most revoltingly, Regis Toomey's endlessly protracted death scene with lachrymose Hawaiian music in the background. I could even forgive his casting Toomey, whom I admit I dislike, if he'd not directed him to behave so idiotically in his inebriation scenes--had he (West) ever seen a drunk in such a condition? Impossible.

On the other hand, the sets (William Cameron Menzies) & photography were eye-popping, & everyone else in the cast was outstanding, particularly Chester Morris, though even for him, West devised an ending in which gross excess, absurd excess, displaced all restraint. Harry Stubbs (whom I always like) was great, likewise Mae Busch, but the person I found mesmerizing was lovely Eleanor Griffith--from her pretty, precisely modulated, voice to her beautiful eyes, everything about her was adorable. IMDB tells me this was her second & last picture--a damn shame--and also that she married John Halliday, another favorite of mine, also underrated.
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Re: What is the last film you watched?

PostTue Jan 13, 2015 4:07 pm

Watching old pictures sometimes serves as a reminder at how far we have moved on from the strictures of morality and general behaviour that once constricted society and led, in turn, to so many other problems.

Nancy Carroll in "The Devil's Holiday" (1930) plays a young, worldly woman who baits young men for a confidence trickster in the form of the dead-pan delivery vehicle - Ned Sparks. Her victim is the young Phillips Holmes in probably one of his better roles. He is the son of wealthy farming stock of whom the patriarch is Hobart Bosworth delivering his lines as if preaching a sermon in the quaky-voiced method so fondly used by actors of his august vintage.

Carroll and Holmes marry despite opposition from Bosworth and Holme's fiery brother - James Kirkword. Of course the marriage is a sham, the idea was for Carroll to get a cheque for $50,000 from Bosworth to walk away.

Needless to say, Carroll was really in love with Holmes and the two reconcile and finally receive the family's blessing.

I have necessarily skipped over a lot of the plot detail and just cut it down to the essence as most of these pot-boilers seem to have been brewed from the same recipe.

Audiences today would find the old moral values as displayed in this picture quaint or more to the point would probably not understand them at all. Myself having grown up in an era when they were slowly starting to peel away, I have some empathy for the period which now creaks heavily.

Nancy Carroll became a very popular star in the early reign of talking pictures and perhaps had the good sense to retire at the top of her game in 1938 (she did come back to do some later work from 1948 onwards). She was a vivacious creature and an all-round talent in that she was originally a singer and dancer from the stage. She is an asset to this picture as she appears at all times to be so natural.

Phillips Holmes was a handsome leading man who started off promisingly and then never seemed to go anywhere. Tragically his life was cut short during the war in an aeroplane accident.

Hobart Bosworth was already 68 in 1930 when this picture was made and his style belonged to an age even further back - but it is interesting just for that very fact. He is a living link to the acting style of the last quarter of the 19th Century.

James Kirkwood was an actor who had taken up directing, but as he apparently didn't get many calls for the latter decided to revert to the former. He was around for many years - usually in bit roles as the years progressed.

Also in the cast were Paul Lukas as a forceful psychiatrist and Morton Downey as a tenor.
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Re: What is the last film you watched?

PostWed Jan 14, 2015 6:52 am

Smari1989 wrote:
entredeuxguerres wrote:
Smari1989 wrote:...I know more about W.R. Hearst now than I once did, so to recognize the parallels between the real and fictitious newspaper empire, and the respective men behind these, was in and of itself quite fascinating.


Fascinating also would have been an unsensationalized examination of his political aspirations in New York, his fight with Tammany Hall, etc.; but smearing Marion Davies probably sold more tickets.


It may be true that viewers only casually familiar with Hearst's story will likely end up with a rather unfair assessment of Marion Davies, based on the Susan character. However, I don't think we are led to believe that Susan is necessarily untalented; the fact that she's not suited as an opera singer does not mean, in and of itself, that she couldn't have made it good as another, more "light" kind of entertainer. The obvious parallel here, of course, is that it seems to be the general view that Marion was more suited for comedy than drama, despite Hearst's wishes (I don't think I've seen any of her pure "drama" films, so I can't really comment fairly; I do love her in THE PATSY and SHOW PEOPLE, though).

I don't think CITIZEN KANE is necessarily a very sympathetic film, nor do I think the motives behind it seem to be necessarily sympathetic. At the same time, I'm inclined to say that Hearst sort of had it coming to him. Fascinating and influential though Hearst was, he deserved criticism. Lots of it. (I am extremely grateful that he allowed cartoonist George Herriman to continue making his wonderful but not very popular comic strip Krazy Kat, though.)


It's not just that Hearst preferred Davies in drama films (over comedy films), he preferred COSTUME dramas that required Davies to flounce around in period outfits. Of her talkies, Five and Ten and Peg o' My Heart are contemporary, but Hearts Divided is set in Napoleonic era. Of her silents, the dramas include historical pieces like Quality Street, Janice Meredith, Little Old New York, Beauty's Worth, When Knighthood Was in Flower, Beverly of Graustark. The rest are comedies. But early on in her career she starred in two contemporary romance/drama films: The Restless Sex and Enchantment. There may be others but they are lost/unseen.

The other Hearst mandates were that Davies never appear as a mother, a killer, commit adultery, or play a divorced woman. That left the juicy roles at MGM to Norma Shearer and Joan Crawford. Off hand, the only Davies film I can think of in which kids play a major part is Zander the Great in which orphaned Marion looks after orphaned Zander.
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