What is the last film you watched? (2017)

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

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

PostSun Mar 19, 2017 1:39 pm

I've tried to look at Trainspotting several times in the twenty years since it came out, but failed. Usually when this happens, it is because there is something astoundingly bad about the movie that no one seems to recognize: Gladiator has a high-energy start and then turns into two guys weeping into each other's beards about what a lousy father one of them was; Les Miserables -- the musical, not any other version -- because the music stinks. Trainspotting is different. It's too raw, too real for me to stand being in the world of the movie. I hate these guys.

So why did I go to see T2: Trainspotting with my cousin today? I had the feeling it was either that or the live-action Disney Beauty and the Beast. I consider the animated version a musical version of the Cocteau movie, and am actively offended by Disney's remakes of their classic animation.

Anyway T2 was not just bearable, it was just shy of brilliant.

Bob
Film is not the art of scholars, but of illiterates.

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

PostSun Mar 19, 2017 5:32 pm

In Asking for Trouble (1942), Max Miller is a fishmonger who is arrested for taking bets on horse races and is fined 300 pounds or six months in jail. He escapes and heads to his home, where he finds Carole Lynn. Her father wants her to marry the son of an old Army friend whom she has never met. They agree that Max will impersonate the man to get her out of the fix. Max shows up with an elephant and stooge Billy Percy and the plot, such as it is, begins.

This movie reeks of being expanded from a Pre-War stage farce. All of the army personnel seem to spend their time hunting big game. Very odd for 1942 and no wonder that Miller gave up movies and went back to the stage after this! Still, Max is in fine fettle, bouncing quips off everyone, including the elephant, singing a couple of songs and leading a dancing production number. As a movie, this is dire, but as a showcase for Max and his style of performance, it is amusing.

Bob
Film is not the art of scholars, but of illiterates.

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

PostSun Mar 19, 2017 6:47 pm

boblipton wrote:I've tried to look at Trainspotting several times in the twenty years since it came out, but failed. Usually when this happens, it is because there is something astoundingly bad about the movie that no one seems to recognize: Gladiator has a high-energy start and then turns into two guys weeping into each other's beards about what a lousy father one of them was; Les Miserables -- the musical, not any other version -- because the music stinks. Trainspotting is different. It's too raw, too real for me to stand being in the world of the movie. I hate these guys.

So why did I go to see T2: Trainspotting with my cousin today? I had the feeling it was either that or the live-action Disney Beauty and the Beast. I consider the animated version a musical version of the Cocteau movie, and am actively offended by Disney's remakes of their classic animation.

Anyway T2 was not just bearable, it was just shy of brilliant.

Bob


We must have a few things in common. I never ventured towards "Trainspotting" as I thought it to be depicting a part of life that was so squalid and appalling I had no wish to look at it. I don't think I have been proved wrong. Sometimes films go too close to the real world for one to need bother with them.

I heard the music to "Les Miserables" first before any stage shows were done in English. I though that the music was dull, boring and depressing - living up to the name "miserable". Consequently I haven't bothered seeing the show. I'm afraid my style of musical still hankers after the days of "The Desert Song" or "Showboat" and those of that ilk.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Mar 19, 2017 7:21 pm

Oh, I loved Transpotting back in the day. I was just enough older than them to feel a touch of nostalgia for punked youth, and superior to them throughout.

"The English are wankers-- but we were colonized by wankers!"

Weirdly, apparently Irvine Welsh lives in Chicago now.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Mar 19, 2017 7:40 pm

The Blocked Trail (1943)

My favorite Three Mesquiteers movie starring Tom Tyler, Bob Steele, Jimmie Dodd, and Helen Deverell. Earle Hodgins portrays an Indian snake-oil salesman, a very funny role for him.

The real star of the movie is a miniature horse named Brilliant, and who is the sole witness to the murder of her blind master, for she is also a seeing-eye horse.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Mar 19, 2017 8:14 pm

Mike Gebert wrote:
Cyril Chosack (who?)


I'm always curious about these people who turn up just for a year or two in films. Here's the best information on who Cyril Chosack was: a South African stage actor who apparently made one trip to Britain to be a movie star, made three films, decided to go back and apparently had a reasonably prominent career as a theater actor and director and the same in South African radio.

http://esat.sun.ac.za/index.php/Cyril_Chosack" target="_blank


Caught up with this one and liked it. Zero budget but good story (Hitchcock would have loved it) and fast pace. Cyril Chosack was only 19 at the time and made his third and last film the following year (1936). Moore Marriott turns in an excellent performance as the sympathetic wanderer, and Vi Kaley was also good as the landlady.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostMon Mar 20, 2017 5:18 am

Mike Gebert wrote:Oh, I loved Transpotting back in the day. I was just enough older than them to feel a touch of nostalgia for punked youth, and superior to them throughout.

"The English are wankers-- but we were colonized by wankers!"

Weirdly, apparently Irvine Welsh lives in Chicago now.


So there are wankers in Chicago and you find this weird?

Bob
Film is not the art of scholars, but of illiterates.

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

PostMon Mar 20, 2017 12:34 pm

I finally got round to watching LALA LAND (2016) and loved it. It has amazing cinematography. My wife and I were trying to work out in vain just how the opening sequence could have been filmed. It does not take itself too seriously. It is nicely reminiscent of LES PARAPLUIES DE CHERBOURG not just in that respect. It is very entertaining and despite all the references manages to be quite original.

We also tried to watch MANCHESTER BY THE SEA (2016). We managed 20 minutes. Not recommended.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostMon Mar 20, 2017 2:32 pm

DEATH BY DESIGN (1943) has John Longden as Leonard Gribble's Inspector Slade and Wally Patch as his Sergeant in a very brief murder mystery with rather a lot of smoking-related clues. The surprise ending is not particularly surprising, to say the least, but it remains a pleasant short of interest for those who study the history of detective fiction. Slade was featured earlier in THE ARSENAL STADIUM MYSTERY in 1939, played by Leslie Banks.

A Children's Film Foundation outing, MYSTERY ON BIRD ISLAND (1954) is yet another example of Alexander Gauge's bad luck in selecting his henchmen (see THE HORNET'S NEST) for his criminal activities. This pleasing yarn has a brother and sister on holiday in Alderney spotting something fishy on a nearby island. They (after initial disagreement) chum up with a couple of local children who make themselves useful in the family business. The two holidaymakers then spot the suspicious characters making off with gulls' eggs to sell to a London restaurant - an illegal activity. Trouble then ensues all round as the 'egg trade' is a sideline for the two clumsy crooks who are not satisfied with what they already make illegally, much to Gauge's annoyance.

MYSTERY ON BIRD ISLAND is attractively presented and will have extra appeal for those familiar with the Channel Islands*, as the story makes good use of locations before coming to a head on Guernsey where the youngsters are presenting a petition (raised in super-quick time) to give the bird island better protection. Some very non-PC stuff here, with the girls and boys doing some tricky rock-climbing as well as hunting for fearsome crabs which Roger Corman would have been proud of. And I doubt if a modern children's film would feature any of the smoking and drinking which is so prevalent. The girls too, are presented as more level-headed that the boys, who are stubborn and headstrong at the beginning. An agreeable hour's worth.

*I only know Jersey, Guernsey and Sark.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostTue Mar 21, 2017 1:34 pm

Another from Dorothy Arzner, MERRILY WE GO TO HELL (1932) has a bit of a mixed reputation over the last eighty-five years and is quite different in tone from the last film (SARAH AND SON, 1930) of hers I watched. Presented in a crisp, clear copy, one hopes the others will turn up in this sort of shape, but one is grateful for the chance to see this one so well preserved. Based on a novel, 'I, Jerry, Take Thee, Joan' (which is very scarce and expensive online - search your attics!), it features Fredric March as an alcoholic reporter (Jerry) and aspiring playwright becoming attracted to heiress Joan, played by Sylvia Sidney.

The romance is disapproved of by her father, and with some justification. as Jerry is unreliable and frequently to be found in his cups. Despite misgivings, the marriage goes ahead, and aside from some 'dry' periods, Jerry slips several times, eventually becoming involved with an old flame who is starring in his new play. Joan can only take so much of this, despite her love for Jerry, and decides to give him some of his own medicine, a recipe for disaster in her case, which nearly costs her her life.

Described as a 'comedy' much of the story is too grim to be funny, but it nevertheless holds the attention pretty well. Jerry's cronies are well played by 'Skeets' Gallagher and Esther Howard, who come over as more sympathetic than the leads. Would MERRILY WE GO TO HELL be of such interest without the Arzner name? Impossible to say, as it would be a different movie. Enough of interest to make it worth watching, and an early role for Cary Grant as the actor Sidney takes a shine to.

Note: the film initially had some censorship problems, due in part to the title (some 'dailies' refused to advertise it), and also to the content.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostTue Mar 21, 2017 4:29 pm

Michael Powell was still working his way up the ranks of director with The Murder Party (1935) (also known as The Night of the Party). Malcolm Keen is a rich man who invites a bunch of guests, all of whom have cause to want him dead, first to a party, then to a game called "Murder".... and winds up dead. It's from a stage play co-written by Roland Pertwee, and shows its origins very clearly, despite the agile camerawork of Glen McWilliams.

Although this one-hour mystery is clearly a lesser production, it boasts a good cast, including Ian Hunter, Leslie Banks and an always amusing Ernest Thesiger. Although Michael clearly did not have the budget or time to do much more than produce a good programmer with this one, it would be only two years later that he directed his breakthrough The Edge of the World, and four until he began his great collaborations with Emeric Pressburger.

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Film is not the art of scholars, but of illiterates.

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

PostWed Mar 22, 2017 6:19 am

boblipton wrote:Malcolm Keen is a rich man who invites a bunch of guests, all of whom have cause to want him dead, first to a party, then to a game called "Murder".... and winds up dead.


I'll bet he was surprised.

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

PostWed Mar 22, 2017 7:00 am

Jim Roots wrote:
boblipton wrote:Malcolm Keen is a rich man who invites a bunch of guests, all of whom have cause to want him dead, first to a party, then to a game called "Murder".... and winds up dead.


I'll bet he was surprised.

Jim


Surprised by murder – impatient as Wind
I turned to share the transport – But! With whom?
I’m dead, about to be put in a tomb,
That spot which no vicissitude can find…
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostWed Mar 22, 2017 9:19 am

Goodbye Again (1961) is based on a novel by Francoise Sagan and directed by Anatole Litvak. It's an adult, Paris-based story about a middle-aged couple (Ingrid Bergman, Yves Montand) who have been together but not married for 5 years. He's a businessman who enjoys a series of dalliances, while she is an interior decorator who sits home and waits for him. Meeting with a new client, she encounters the client's aimless son (Anthony Perkins) who is immediately smitten with Bergman and begins pursuit of her. Bergman eventually succumbs to Perkins' charms, and it seems to bring about the end of her relationship with Montand. A long film at 2 hours, but the stars keep you involved and Paris is after all Paris. Jessie Royce Landis, Lee Patrick, Peter Bull, Diahann Carroll also appear. Yul Brynner supposedly shows up in a nightclub but I didn't spot him. Love the cars and the music. Perkins' follow-up film to Psycho. Won some recognition at Cannes Film Festival but was apparently DOA in this country.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostWed Mar 22, 2017 10:26 am

R Michael Pyle wrote:
Jim Roots wrote:
boblipton wrote:Malcolm Keen is a rich man who invites a bunch of guests, all of whom have cause to want him dead, first to a party, then to a game called "Murder".... and winds up dead.


I'll bet he was surprised.

Jim


Surprised by murder – impatient as Wind
I turned to share the transport – But! With whom?
I’m dead, about to be put in a tomb,
That spot which no vicissitude can find…



He was astonished.

Bob
Film is not the art of scholars, but of illiterates.

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

PostWed Mar 22, 2017 12:01 pm

All in all, he was dead.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostWed Mar 22, 2017 2:42 pm

Another from the Children's Film Foundation, WINGS OF MYSTERY (1963) is set in working-class Sheffield near the steelworks, showing a broadening of their audience aims from the middle-class youngsters seen in earlier films. Two youngsters on holiday are friends with an elderly neighbour who keeps pigeons, played by a pre-'Dad's Army' Arnold Ridley. Ridley sprains his ankle in helping an injured bird, and the brother and sister help him out with the coming race.

The mystery involved is industrial espionage, with a local lab worker out to flog a secret formula to the Belgians, sending it via pigeon over to France. The children's elder brother / father (wasn't quite sure) is in danger of being blamed for the dirty work, but is luckily a trainee pilot, which stands him in good stead for the chase.

Some of the sets and process work here are rather poor, which shows the limitations of this organisation. However, there is some nice location work as well as shots of an industry which would decline in later years. Arnold Ridley is enjoyable here, in one of the many character roles the CFF would use, the players giving their time and work for very meagre wages. The lively young girl turned out to be a young Judy Geeson, which was nice confirmation of my talent-spotting. Shame about the timing...

Also watched Paul Rotha's SHIPYARD (1935), an impressive-looking account of the building of the 'Orion' at Barrow-in-Furness. I found some of the overlaid thoughts of the workers a bit distracting, wondering if they were actors and indeed if the thoughts were genuine. Background detail interesting too, and could have done with more of it. Another film of an industry that has declined, with some hair raising stuff on the chaps sauntering across giders, etc. Makes one feel even more of a softie than I am!
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostWed Mar 22, 2017 5:27 pm

In Jack Ahoy (1934), Jack Hulbert is descended from a long line his father told his mother about being descended from naval heroes. Jack, however, failed school, and became an Able Seaman; he meets admiral's daughter Nancy O'Neil and gets involved in rescuing her, her father, and a submarine that has been stolen by Chinese pirates.

Jack was a popular musical comedy star for British Gaumont, and in this one, he sings and dances in one and a half numbers before the movie gets turned over to the comedy direction of Walter Forde. Forde had begun on the stage as a comic, moved into short comedy production and behind the camera in the late 1920s. He excelled in comedies in which the hero bumbled his way to victory, and this is one of them. Although the now old-fashioned comedy tropes of the British film industry have not aged well for this modern American, they were certainly popular in their day and Hulbert starred in a fair number of comedies in which he lampooned the branches of the armed services and even Bulldog Drummond.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostWed Mar 22, 2017 5:48 pm

It's been some weeks since I saw this one now, but just thought I'd make sure to recommend Jim Jarmusch's new film PATERSON to anyone seeking a thought-provoking feel good film. Surprisingly "slow" in a good way (no car-chases here, nohow) I found it highly engaging till the end. Lou Costello (kind of) makes a brief appearance as well.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostWed Mar 22, 2017 5:58 pm

I've just watched Mother Riley Meets the Vampire (1952) and even as I try to recall enough of it to explain it to you, my brain recoils in horror. It involves Arthur Lucan in drag (he sings a song, during which the sound track changes, letting the audience know it is pre-recorded) and Bela Lugosi acting perfectly seriously as someone who believes he is a vampire. Lugosi has just built a prototype robot to conquer the world -- there's uranium involved too -- but the prototype is shipped to Riley's store and he must get it back.

Lugosi starred in a lot of horror movies after he did Dracula, but this is the most horrific of all. It's a musical-comedy vampire movie directed by John Gilling. We all know there are some things man was not meant to know, and songs man was not meant to sing. There are, apparently, some movies man was not meant to see, and this is one of them. As my brain concusses, trying to get away from my eyes, I will call a temporary halt to my survey of British Quota Quickies. I trust you will understand.

Bob
Film is not the art of scholars, but of illiterates.

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

PostThu Mar 23, 2017 7:11 am

boblipton wrote:I've just watched Mother Riley Meets the Vampire (1952) and even as I try to recall enough of it to explain it to you, my brain recoils in horror. It involves Arthur Lucan in drag (he sings a song, during which the sound track changes, letting the audience know it is pre-recorded) and Bela Lugosi acting perfectly seriously as someone who believes he is a vampire. Lugosi has just built a prototype robot to conquer the world -- there's uranium involved too -- but the prototype is shipped to Riley's store and he must get it back.

Lugosi starred in a lot of horror movies after he did Dracula, but this is the most horrific of all. It's a musical-comedy vampire movie directed by John Gilling. We all know there are some things man was not meant to know, and songs man was not meant to sing. There are, apparently, some movies man was not meant to see, and this is one of them. As my brain concusses, trying to get away from my eyes, I will call a temporary halt to my survey of British Quota Quickies. I trust you will understand.

Bob

I feel sorry for you having had to put up with the complete film! I thought it unwatchable - even though I watched it all the way through... By the way, did you notice that Graham Moffat was in it? How about Laurence Naismith? (Off the subject, but did you ever look at Laurence Naismith closely? You might think he was the guy who played Richard in "Keeping Up Appearances". But - nope - that was Clive Smith. They look so much alike they could nearly be twin brothers!) Now - have I made anybody's day? Sometimes twaddle doesn't waddle, but rips like a rocket...
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostThu Mar 23, 2017 3:34 pm

R Michael Pyle wrote:
boblipton wrote:I've just watched Mother Riley Meets the Vampire (1952) and even as I try to recall enough of it to explain it to you, my brain recoils in horror. It involves Arthur Lucan in drag (he sings a song, during which the sound track changes, letting the audience know it is pre-recorded) and Bela Lugosi acting perfectly seriously as someone who believes he is a vampire. Lugosi has just built a prototype robot to conquer the world -- there's uranium involved too -- but the prototype is shipped to Riley's store and he must get it back.

Lugosi starred in a lot of horror movies after he did Dracula, but this is the most horrific of all. It's a musical-comedy vampire movie directed by John Gilling. We all know there are some things man was not meant to know, and songs man was not meant to sing. There are, apparently, some movies man was not meant to see, and this is one of them. As my brain concusses, trying to get away from my eyes, I will call a temporary halt to my survey of British Quota Quickies. I trust you will understand.

Bob

I feel sorry for you having had to put up with the complete film! I thought it unwatchable - even though I watched it all the way through... By the way, did you notice that Graham Moffat was in it? How about Laurence Naismith? (Off the subject, but did you ever look at Laurence Naismith closely? You might think he was the guy who played Richard in "Keeping Up Appearances". But - nope - that was Clive Smith. They look so much alike they could nearly be twin brothers!) Now - have I made anybody's day? Sometimes twaddle doesn't waddle, but rips like a rocket...


It was Clive Swift in 'Keeping Up Appearances'. I suppose after watching RILEY / VAMPIRE ones brains get a bit addled...
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostThu Mar 23, 2017 3:51 pm

In A PASSPORT TO HELL (1932), Elissa Landi gives a splendidly steamy performance as an Englishwoman of ill repute, who, thrown out of one part of Africa ends up in German East Africa just in time for war to be declared. On board ship she encounters callow officer Alexander Kirkland (about ten years or so older in real life than his character) who becomes immediately (and understandably) besotted with her, marrying her to avoid internment.

Despite father Warner Oland's disapproval the marriage continues in very rocky fashion until Kirkland's friend, played by Paul Lukas, turns up, and the sparks missing before begin to make themselves known. By now, Landi is fed up with the decent and well-meaning youth and is determined to leave. She is also propositioned (not in that sense) by British spy Donald Crisp, who wants her help, as an Englishwoman, to pass on some information to the allies.

Despite a soundtrack which is difficult to hear at times, A PASSPORT TO HELL is a nicely atmospheric piece, slightly out of the usual for director Frank Lloyd, and given suitable treatment from cameraman John Seitz. The next-to-last few minutes get a bit convoluted, with several characters out-nobling one another, but this is still an enjoyable piece of exotica, a little like something Von Sternberg might have cooked up for Dietrich.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostThu Mar 23, 2017 6:24 pm

Louis Hayward is the Midnight Intruder (1938). He and J.C. Nugent are broke and caught in the rain and break into a house for shelter. Before they can get comfortable for the night, in come Robert Greig as the inevitable butler and a full staff. They think he is John Reitter Jr., the prodigal son of the house, returned while his parents are on a cruise. They settle in for a taste of the good life, until Sheila Bromley shows up. She is the wife of the real John Jr., who has just been arrested for murdering a political boss...

It's a complicated and nicely ornamented production directed by Arthur Lubin; four years earlier, it would have been a sturdy Pre-Code starring Lew Ayres, but Ayres had left years earlier and was now working at MGM. There are a couple of issues. Hayward is a bit loud in his brashness, and the ending is a little quick and neat. The later issue is caused, no doubt, by the movie's short length (less than 68 minutes), but the intricate plot and screwball overtones make this a pleasing, if minor, story.

Bob
Film is not the art of scholars, but of illiterates.

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

PostFri Mar 24, 2017 6:04 am

The Big Knife (1955) is a searing story by Clifford Odets about Hollywood. Directed by Robert Aldrich, story centers on movie star Charles Castle (Jack Palance) and his battle with studio chief Stanley Hoff (Rod Steiger) over a new 7-year contract. Charlies boy has aspirations to be an artists, but Hoff has him tied up in schlock that makes big BIG money. Also in the mix are a fed-up wife (Ida Lupino), a studio stooge (Wendell Corey), a vicious columnist (Ilka Chase), an ineffective agent (Everett Sloane), a predatory wife (Jean Hagen), and a hapless bit player (Shelley Winters). The subplot involves a drunk-driving accident from a few years earlier and the secrets surrounding it. The usual hifalutin Odets speeches are handled in an over-the-top way, but it's a fascinating look at a story no studio would handle (what a surprise). The Steiger character is patterned after Louis B. Mayer and Harry Cohn. Story was written for John Garfield, who played the role on Broadway but died (life imitating art) before filming began. Others include Wesley Addy as a writer, Paul Langton as a sap, Nick Dennis as the trainer. The living room set has to be one of the ugliest rooms ever seen in a movie. The car accident bit seems to have surfaced a few years later in Aldrich's Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostFri Mar 24, 2017 7:20 pm

George Carney is a local contractor with a brickyard. Gus MacNaughton is a local contractor with a cement plant. They compete and wrangle and their children are in love. When Peter Gawthorne talks about draining the marshland abutting their town, they see the prospect of Easy Riches (1938).

All three men were well known supporting actors in the 1930s and 1940s. Carney is probably best remembered as Wendy Hiller's father in I Know Where I'm Going; MacNaughton appeared in small roles in films for Hitchcock and the Kordas; and Gawthorne was a familiar face in more than a hundred movies. This quota quickie -- from specialist Maclean Rogers -- is a good-natured, minor effort that offers those familiar faces without straining much for the British cinema attendee, with four sets and simple camera set-ups. It's familiar and pleasant and over in seventy minutes.

Bob
Film is not the art of scholars, but of illiterates.

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

PostFri Mar 24, 2017 7:39 pm

boblipton wrote:George Carney is a local contractor with a brickyard. Gus MacNaughton is a local contractor with a cement plant. They compete and wrangle and their children are in love. When Peter Gawthorne talks about draining the marshland abutting their town, they see the prospect of Easy Riches (1938).

All three men were well known supporting actors in the 1930s and 1940s. Carney is probably best remembered as Wendy Hiller's father in I Know Where I'm Going; MacNaughton appeared in small roles in films for Hitchcock and the Kordas; and Gawthorne was a familiar face in more than a hundred movies. This quota quickie -- from specialist Maclean Rogers -- is a good-natured, minor effort that offers those familiar faces without straining much for the British cinema attendee, with four sets and simple camera set-ups. It's familiar and pleasant and over in seventy minutes.

Bob


Quite the trove of British goodies. I watched The Faithful Heart tonight and quite liked it. Herbert Marshall and Edna Best were very good indeed. This one's already been discussed.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostFri Mar 24, 2017 11:16 pm

In "Broken Lullaby" (1932) Ernst Lubitsch has achieved the virtually impossible; for he has crafted a talking picture that carries with it all the mastery of craft that was evidenced in the classic silent pictures, including the strong loading of emotive power. This picture has everything about it that cries out "excellence" and it is still relevant to our times. It is a great anti-war picture and as such it is a pity that sewers such as Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin obviously didn't see it.

Phillip Holmes, who is almost forgotten today has probably given the greatest performance of his career in this picture. He plays a French soldier who has killed a German soldier in the Great War.

We move to 1919, a year after the Armistice and he is still stricken by guilt and remorse, determined to ask forgiveness of the dead German soldier's family. He is a touching, wreck of a man and this is evidenced in his gait, his eyes and even in the slightest of movements he makes.

He comes across the village where the German soldier's family lives and lays flowers on his grave there, espied by the sister. He then meets the father and mother but he cannot bring himself to tell them of the true reason of his visit for the parents make themselves believe that he was a friend of their son and as such can bring his presence to life again through their discovery of that friendship.

Lionel Barrymore is the German father, a caring village doctor but hateful of all Frenchmen. He blames the entire nation for the death of his son. He is not alone in the village in his grief for as it turns out, there were quite a few bereavements and the Frenchman in their midst is not exactly a welcomed presence.

Louise Carter is the German mother and her performance is muted - but this is not to say that is not a strength - for she allows a contrast to be made between herself and the power of Lionel Barrymore's bravura performance.

Nancy Carroll is the German sister who falls in love with this forlorn Frenchman - and eventually finds out his secret.

This film is very moving and will tug at your heart strings at every corner. It's message is told simply and may not be to everyone's taste today because of that. There are those who would feel this simplicity to be unsophisticated. Sometimes though it is the simple that is the strongest.

One is "involved" in this film from near to the outset and drawn in further as it briskly moves along. I cannot understand why it is not seen more widely than it is?

Other players include Lucien Butterfield, Zasu Pitts - devoid of any unnecessary mannerisms, playing it straight, Frank Sheridan as a priest who for once does not have the answers, George Bickel, Emma Dunn and Reinhold Pasch.

I doubt whether I shall forget this film.

(As a Postscript, it is perhaps ironic in a way that Phillip Holmes was killed in the Second World War as part of our gallant Imperial Forces)
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Mar 25, 2017 12:12 am

I suppose someone at Universal was taken by their wife to a concert where Leopold Stokowski was conducting and told that it would be a good idea to put him in a picture with some nice music. Well, the man from Universal did his duty and teamed up the maestro with Deanna Durbin in another of the long line of "let's put on a show" type pictures Hollywood had a penchant for. The result is "100 Men and a Girl" (1937) the title of which in today's world would harbour a more sinful interpretation.

As a churned out entertainment, the film is not too bad. One of the highlights is seeing Adolphe Menjou forced to wear an ill-fitting suit and looking generally disheveled. He must have needed the money to have accepted the role of an out of work musician. Also in the same situation is Mischa Auer and 98 other blokes - who form the "100 Men" in the title.

Deanna comes in as Adolphe's daughter. She returns a purse her father found to the owner who turns out to be a deliriously dimwitted socialite with plenty of money and no brains. She is played delightfully by Alice Brady, anyway she makes some sort of promise that she will sponsor an orchestra comprised of these 100 out of work musicians and even put them on the air over her husband's broadcasting station. Then she takes off for Europe.

Well hubby finds out about the scheme and wants nothing to do with it. Eugene Pallette is ideal to play someone who can bellow and bark and generally convey discontentment in a bellicose and audible fashion. He tells the musicians that if they want to form an orchestra they need a "name" to enable them to get anywhere.

Meanwhile, Deanna makes all the men think they are actually going places so they rehearse in a garage which is naturally owned by Billy Gilbert who also had a talent for having an apocalyptic fit whilst in the throes of trying to get something done - in this case getting his garage rent money paid.

Well, I'm not going to tell you how it all ends - I think you can guess that already - you are ahead of me!

It's all a nice little confection and breezes along merrily and gives us a chance to hear some extracts from mostly classical works such as Symphony # 5, 4th Movement" by Tchiakowsky, "Prelude to Act II" from Richard Wagner's "Lohengrin", Mozart's "Allelua in 'F' Major", "Second Hungarian Rhapsody" by Franz Liszt, and "Libiamo Ne Liete Lauci" from Verdi's "La Traviata" sung by Deanna who also sings a pop number "It's Raining Sunbeams" by Frederick Hollander and Sam Coslow.

The frolic is directed by Henry Koster who was responsible for coaching Ms Durbin and making her a star.

As a footnote I was at first amazed at the size and grandeur of Maestro Stokowski's humble abode in the picture - and then, I realised it had to be of the size it was in order to fit in the 100 piece orchestra.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Mar 25, 2017 3:14 am

boblipton wrote:Louis Hayward is the Midnight Intruder (1938). He and J.C. Nugent are broke and caught in the rain and break into a house for shelter. Before they can get comfortable for the night, in come Robert Greig as the inevitable butler and a full staff. They think he is John Reitter Jr., the prodigal son of the house, returned while his parents are on a cruise. They settle in for a taste of the good life, until Sheila Bromley shows up. She is the wife of the real John Jr., who has just been arrested for murdering a political boss...

It's a complicated and nicely ornamented production directed by Arthur Lubin; four years earlier, it would have been a sturdy Pre-Code starring Lew Ayres, but Ayres had left years earlier and was now working at MGM. There are a couple of issues. Hayward is a bit loud in his brashness, and the ending is a little quick and neat. The later issue is caused, no doubt, by the movie's short length (less than 68 minutes), but the intricate plot and screwball overtones make this a pleasing, if minor, story.

Bob


Glad to see you've recovered from MOTHER RILEY MEETS THE VAMPIRE...
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