What is the last film you watched? (2017)

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Donald Binks

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

PostSun Jul 23, 2017 4:47 pm

I had a bit of a look at the comments on IMDB before wading head-first into "Golden Dawn" (1930). It seems most of the reviewers there fall in to the trap of judging all of it through 21st Century eyes rather than acclimatise themselves with how people actually thought and reacted back in the 1920's. Sure the film could not possibly be made today as it would be regarded as blatantly racist and overtly politically incorrect, however in the last year of the roaring '20's, everything in it would be considered quite "normal".

So what causes everyone to bleat on about the terrible wrongs in this picture? Well firstly, the whole thing is set in colonial Africa. It's sometime during the Great War and The Germans first have the British as prisoners in presumably Tanganyika, then the British have the Germans as prisoners. No-one is locked up and it's all rather like a gentleman's club really. Both sides of white men are keeping the "natives" in check. After all they are a whole bunch of savages likely to go berserk at the drop of a hat. Noah Beery, most probably because of his voice and not his skin colour has been chosen for the role as the despicable head of the natives. Paul Robeson might have been offered the role - but declined it on account he didn't want to appear in such rubbish. In fact you could probably say this was the excuse any number of black actors might have given - and why all the main parts where in the hands of whites in black face. The main effect of all of this apart from anything else is that at most times it looks ludicrous.

Thankfully, there is not much to it in the way of a plot (name me an operetta that has a deep and meaningful plot) - other than some poor native girl is to be married to a totem pole - but is she really black or white. (This was supposed to be a colour picture but it was in black and white). Anyway a British guy is in love with the woman and wants to knock the totem pole for six. Need I go on?

What is lacking in plot is I suppose made up for musically - this is a musical (can you believe it?) - and the singing continues throughout. Whilst having been written by Emmerich Kalman and Herbert Stothart the lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein and Otto Harbach could only be described as inane, to use a complimentary term. One number referring to the white bosses as "Bwana" would certainly have the politically correct brigade having seizures. Most of the songs therefore are completely forgettable and Noah Beery waxing lyrical about a whip takes my prize for the silliest song ever.

Walter Woolf King, the lead, would have been more appropriately cast as the totem pole I was on about earlier. I think he must have been an acting school, drop-out. Vivienne Segal does her best, but could only be described as a flop-artist as everything she appeared in was a complete and utter shower at the box office.

Probably saving the picture from complete oblivion are Lupino Lane who brightens up about two or three minutes with a song and acrobatic dance routine - and Dick Henderson Sr., who unfortunately must have followed the director's instructions rather than do things his own way - which would have been infinitely better.

Apart from the racism and political incorrectness, it is a pretty awful musical. It just doesn't work. Even if a colour print could be found, I doubt whether anyone could persuade me to watch it again.
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she won't polish them..."You know what she's like." So I said:..."
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Corey Ford

PostSun Jul 23, 2017 5:17 pm

Jim Roots wrote:knowing a review he wrote killed a person. (Come to think of it, that may be the critic's ultimate dream...)

Corey Ford, a screenwriter, sportswriter, and humorist - he gave the New Yorker's Eustace Tilley his name- wrote literary reviews in the form of parody for Vanity Fair. His pieces, illustrated by Miguel Covarrubias, were printed under the pen name of John Riddell, and subsequently collected in a series of books. A parody of the author Frances Newman - included in Ford's Meaning No Offense- is thought to have prompted, in part, her suicide.

ImageImage
From Ford's memoir, A Time of Laughter:
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Donald Binks

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

PostSun Jul 23, 2017 5:18 pm

You would think that if someone had made a reasonably good picture, they would have given it a better title than "The Hundred Year-old Man who Climbed out of the Window and Disappeared" (2013). Seeing something like that would tend to put punters off as they would think it all a bit of nonsense.

Actually, the film is quite "normal" despite the avant-garde type title. It's a Swedish black comedy, which takes us on a wild and probably improbable journey as a centenarian "escapes" from a nursing home and goes on an adventure. Well, actually, he stumbles on things that seem to happen around him. He is the innocent observer to nearly all of it. It's all quite bizarre in a way - there are killings - that just happen, there is a suitcase with millions in it in banknotes and there is a girl who has an elephant as a pet. What makes it so funny is that it is all delivered with a great deal of seriousness.

Whilst we are entreated to the joys of what is happening in today's world, we are also given flashbacks into the life of the centenarian. His biographical details are nearly as bizarre as the modern day story. He seemed to have had an overt interest in blowing things up - from a very early age and at one time was involved in the Manhattan project.

I enjoyed this picture. It hit my funny bone in just the right way. I like this type of humour it appears.

Robert Gustafsson endured a lot of make-up transformation to do the role of the old man and he excels. Everyone else is good too.
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"So, she said: "Elly, it's no use letting Lou have the sherry glasses..."She won't appreciate them,
she won't polish them..."You know what she's like." So I said:..."
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Jul 23, 2017 5:28 pm

I was going to write about "His First Command" (1929) with Hoppalong Cassidy in it. The print I had was one of those murky ones where one is trying to discern what is going on through a black cloud. Apart from this, the picture must have been so riveting I fell asleep for most of it. I can though tell you though that I saw William "Hoppalong Cassidy" Boyd when he came to Melbourne in about nontoon-fofty-font. He rode his horse up Swanston Street. I felt as if I was as great a western star as he was at the time as I had a Davy Crockett hat (they were all the rage). (Aren't you glad to know all this!) :D
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"So, she said: "Elly, it's no use letting Lou have the sherry glasses..."She won't appreciate them,
she won't polish them..."You know what she's like." So I said:..."
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Jul 23, 2017 5:37 pm

This last couple of weeks I have had a virtual mini-film season of films concerning bank heists and the like - mostly perpetrated by a lot of old gits. The first two I looked at were British pictures (I think I have nattered on about them), so last night it was the turn of the Yanks with "Going in Style" (2016). Well, mostly Yanks because one of the stars was Sir Michael Caine, one of my all-time favourite picture-players. He is teamed up with Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin. All are losing their pensions because the company they worked for has been taken over and the pension fund has gone.

So what do you do when the poo hits the fan is such circumstances. Why, you plan to rob a bank of course.

Although predictable and a tad formulaic, it is nevertheless a rewarding experience to see these three old men get together and have a good time. Why should our favourite actors and actresses ever retire when they can have such an obvious good time and reward us with good fun entertainment?

I had a good chuckle here and there and also made some notes. Now to just case out a few banks...
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"So, she said: "Elly, it's no use letting Lou have the sherry glasses..."She won't appreciate them,
she won't polish them..."You know what she's like." So I said:..."
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Jul 23, 2017 5:50 pm

Still going through my collection of the films of Louis de Funès, I watched "Faites sauter la banque!" (1964) ("Let's Rob the Bank") and blow me down if it's not another picture about robbing banks! Is this a clue to what's going on in my mind?

Louis on the advice of his bank manager invests in some shares. They end up going completely south causing him to lose the lot. Being Louis, he decides the best thing to do, after having another bout of his trademark seizures, is to rob the bank what pinched his hard-earned. He tells his family and they all agree to help, so we then find them all digging up the basement and making a tunnel which will lead them from Louis' shop to the bank across the street.

It's all a madcap farce and there are little bits of silent comedy lovingly thrown in for good measure. It's a good script and keeps itself focused. The gags keep rolling by and do not out do each other. It's evenly paced and moves along quite nicely. Essentially everything is written around Louis de Funès' amazing ability to give a myriad of facial expressions to everything - at no loss to his adequate gesturing and general excitable personality.

The ensemble cast are talented and add to the overall presentation.
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Donald Binks

"So, she said: "Elly, it's no use letting Lou have the sherry glasses..."She won't appreciate them,
she won't polish them..."You know what she's like." So I said:..."
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Jul 23, 2017 7:12 pm

I've been looking at a bunch of movies set on trains this weekend. At first I thought Romance on the Run (1938) was going to turn out to be another, but after the first third, it turned out to be a chase comedy..... with four sets of people changing places as to who was chasing whom.

Donald Woods is a freelance insurance investigator in this one. He is told to recover a valuable necklace and traces it to Craig Reynolds and his moll, Grace Bradley.... and recovers a paste imitation. This sets police lieutenant William Demarest on his tail, in cooperation with the insurance company's Girl Friday, Patricia Ellis, on the trail. The pursuers wind in in in Cincinnati, and on their way to New Orleans.... but who actually has the jewels keeps shifting.

It's a fast and speedy Republic Pictures comedy, under the direction of Gus Meins. Although some of the situations are stock -- including some Kentucky hillbillies who think Demarest is a revenue agent -- it's handled in a light-hearted manner, and the leads behave charmingly throughout. Demarest is wasted in a role that any of a dozen "dumb cop" specialists could have handled, but Eddie Brophy is good as Woods' thuggish manservant. It's not a classic, but it is constantly amusing.

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

PostMon Jul 24, 2017 5:46 am

Donald Binks wrote:This last couple of weeks I have had a virtual mini-film season of films concerning bank heists and the like - mostly perpetrated by a lot of old gits. The first two I looked at were British pictures (I think I have nattered on about them), so last night it was the turn of the Yanks with "Going in Style" (2016). Well, mostly Yanks because one of the stars was Sir Michael Caine, one of my all-time favourite picture-players. He is teamed up with Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin. All are losing their pensions because the company they worked for has been taken over and the pension fund has gone.

So what do you do when the poo hits the fan is such circumstances. Why, you plan to rob a bank of course.

Although predictable and a tad formulaic, it is nevertheless a rewarding experience to see these three old men get together and have a good time. Why should our favourite actors and actresses ever retire when they can have such an obvious good time and reward us with good fun entertainment?

I had a good chuckle here and there and also made some notes. Now to just case out a few banks...

Saw this a couple of months back and enjoyed it, too. It's just a re-make of the 1979 film of the same name with George Burns, Art Carney, and Lee Strasberg. Well done, but I kept wondering why a re-make and not something perhaps similar but not the same ol' same ol'...
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostMon Jul 24, 2017 5:58 am

The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932) is a fun little film. I remembered Myrna Loy's role as being bigger and that she actually tortured Charles Starrett. But not in this copy. She eggs on the guys whipping him and everything else is implied. Oh well.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostMon Jul 24, 2017 6:12 am

I went to see Dawson City: Frozen Time this weekend and I enjoyed it. The film makers captured a mood and I kept thinking as I was watching how much fun it must have been to go through all the films to find clips. Some of it comes off as gimmicky; the obvious choice to use words over photos versus a voice over harks back to the silent films themselves, and the odd minimalist music conveys the eerie quality of the damaged movies, like the dead coming back to life, but the music would be my biggest complaint. It would have worked if used sparingly, but I think something more historically accurate would have been better. I heard others commenting on their disdain for the music too when walking back to our cars.

What I didn't expect was to get an overall sense of Dawson City from its inception to the period in the 1970s when these films were found. You really get an idea of the way places change over time, but also stay the same. This could be told about any town, but it was wonderful and sometimes heartbreaking to see how much a place can lose its history in a short period of time. Dawson City was ravaged by fires again and again which forced residents to rebuild constantly, and even the building which held the pool where the films were preserved burned down.

It was also fun to hear about all the famous names who had a connection to Dawson City, from Sid Grauman to William Desmond Taylor to Alexander Pantages to Donald Trump's grandfather.

I recommend it!
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostMon Jul 24, 2017 10:13 am

I was curious after seeing Clive of India, did it have a troubled production history? Because it was a bit of a mess. Biopics do often skim the surface but this one rushed at breakneck speed though various life events. Despite that, it felt longer than it was. And it looked expensive--there was a lavish scene of a parade with huge building and tons of extras, yet it lasted less than a minute so that seemed like a waste of money. Even stranger was this huge battle where people and horses flailed around in the dark and long titles would come on and tell you what was going on in the battle, like it was a silent film. It was funny when they wrote that now they were unleashing the most formidable weapon--the Battle Elephants! So then we got impressively armored elephants with spikes on their heads and feet stomping on extras and putting them in their mouths like it was King Kong or something (they later turned up briefly in the parade, not stomping on anybody). I was looking forward to seeing Colin Clive, but despite a promising opening he basically got to briefly sneer at the beginning and come back at the end to briefly sneer again. Ronald Colman (sans mustache) turned on the charm but couldn't disguise the fact that the character was a nutcase, but almost all the other guys were jerks too. Loretta Young only had to look at him adoringly and wear the wrong style crinoline. Given that it was a hagiography of a colonial conqueror, I had frankly expected the movie to be stupid and boring but at least it wasn't as boring as i expected.* Nice part for Montague Love, and another Ian Wolfe sighting.

So is there any backstory on the production of this? I didn't see anything in the IMDB comments.

greta

*Let me put that in another way. I expected it to be an uncritical glorification of the man and his mission as would be customary for its time. And it was, it's just that i don't enjoy that sort of thing. Actually i was surprised that it was more critical of the British than i expected, depicting them at home and abroad as greedy, shortsighted, and duplicitous. So they needed Clive to come repeatedly fix everything. But of course it never questioned the rightness of the colonial enterprise. So while i did not appreciate the content of the film, it was its rather botched execution that gave it some interest.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostMon Jul 24, 2017 11:33 am

Donald Binks wrote:I had a bit of a look at the comments on IMDB before wading head-first into "Golden Dawn" (1930). It seems most of the reviewers there fall in to the trap of judging all of it through 21st Century eyes rather than acclimatise themselves with how people actually thought and reacted back in the 1920's. Sure the film could not possibly be made today as it would be regarded as blatantly racist and overtly politically incorrect, however in the last year of the roaring '20's, everything in it would be considered quite "normal".

So what causes everyone to bleat on about the terrible wrongs in this picture? Well firstly, the whole thing is set in colonial Africa. It's sometime during the Great War and The Germans first have the British as prisoners in presumably Tanganyika, then the British have the Germans as prisoners. No-one is locked up and it's all rather like a gentleman's club really. Both sides of white men are keeping the "natives" in check. After all they are a whole bunch of savages likely to go berserk at the drop of a hat. Noah Beery, most probably because of his voice and not his skin colour has been chosen for the role as the despicable head of the natives. Paul Robeson might have been offered the role - but declined it on account he didn't want to appear in such rubbish. In fact you could probably say this was the excuse any number of black actors might have given - and why all the main parts where in the hands of whites in black face. The main effect of all of this apart from anything else is that at most times it looks ludicrous.

Thankfully, there is not much to it in the way of a plot (name me an operetta that has a deep and meaningful plot) - other than some poor native girl is to be married to a totem pole - but is she really black or white. (This was supposed to be a colour picture but it was in black and white). Anyway a British guy is in love with the woman and wants to knock the totem pole for six. Need I go on?

What is lacking in plot is I suppose made up for musically - this is a musical (can you believe it?) - and the singing continues throughout. Whilst having been written by Emmerich Kalman and Herbert Stothart the lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein and Otto Harbach could only be described as inane, to use a complimentary term. One number referring to the white bosses as "Bwana" would certainly have the politically correct brigade having seizures. Most of the songs therefore are completely forgettable and Noah Beery waxing lyrical about a whip takes my prize for the silliest song ever.

Walter Woolf King, the lead, would have been more appropriately cast as the totem pole I was on about earlier. I think he must have been an acting school, drop-out. Vivienne Segal does her best, but could only be described as a flop-artist as everything she appeared in was a complete and utter shower at the box office.

Probably saving the picture from complete oblivion are Lupino Lane who brightens up about two or three minutes with a song and acrobatic dance routine - and Dick Henderson Sr., who unfortunately must have followed the director's instructions rather than do things his own way - which would have been infinitely better.

Apart from the racism and political incorrectness, it is a pretty awful musical. It just doesn't work. Even if a colour print could be found, I doubt whether anyone could persuade me to watch it again.


Sling it over here, Donald, I'd love to see it!
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostMon Jul 24, 2017 11:49 am

Another from Monogram, the rather portentously titled TOMORROW'S YOUTH (1934) has businessman John Miljan having an affair with blonde (watch for the cleavage!) Gloria Shea. Unfortunately the silly thing has called for him at the office, so not only his secretary is wise, but the Missus (Martha Sleeper) and son Dickie Moore turn up just as he is being whisked away to a weekend of unwedded bliss.

Mother and son leave pretty soon after that, but the Miljan is granted half-custody, a very unsatisfactory and disruptive business. Further complications arise when Moore (quite a substantial part here) becomes friendly with a gang of 'little rascals' and is suspected of being kidnapped. He also manages to hurt himself in a fall, which leads to a question of divorce.

I forgot to mention that this film is graced also with the presence of Jane Darwell as a loyal, no-nonsense Irish housekeeper and the wonderful Franklin Pangborn as the boy's prissy and pedantic private tutor, whose character is summed up neatly when Moore when (in the bathtub scene) denies being a sissy! Not sure if this film is complete, as there is nothing about the operation Moore has to undergo after the doctors state that surgery is essential and that parental permission is needed before they proceed. A minor, but quite enjoyable movie, boosted considerably by Pangborn and Darwell.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostMon Jul 24, 2017 11:50 am

Donald Binks wrote:Still going through my collection of the films of Louis de Funès, I watched "Faites sauter la banque!" (1964) ("Let's Rob the Bank") and blow me down if it's not another picture about robbing banks! Is this a clue to what's going on in my mind?


Standing by with the getaway car, Binky.

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

PostMon Jul 24, 2017 11:57 am

Donald Binks wrote:You would think that if someone had made a reasonably good picture, they would have given it a better title than "The Hundred Year-old Man who Climbed out of the Window and Disappeared" (2013). Seeing something like that would tend to put punters off as they would think it all a bit of nonsense.

Actually, the film is quite "normal" despite the avant-garde type title. It's a Swedish black comedy


The main reason would be the novel on which the movie was based, which seems to have been a pretty hot property, so the film-makers would naturally wish to retain the title for maximum box-office.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostMon Jul 24, 2017 3:00 pm

Ladies Crave Excitement (1935) Norman Foster is a news reel photographer with a healthy disrespect for Evalyn Knapp, daughter of the owner of a competing news reel. When they meet, she passes herself off with another name, and soon romance is a-blooming in this mild screwball comedy.

It's handsomely eked out with the sort of sequences that the newsreels covered in the era, and the out-of-favor but still strong actors Poverty Row producer Mascot could afford. Director Nick Grinde does a decent job, particularly in the visuals -- his career as a director extended back into the Teens, so the visuals are well handled, producing a good, if not startling movie. One of the plot points shows a fictionalized version of THE MARCH OF TIME film series, herein called "The March of Events". It's B film fare all the way through, but engaging for all that.

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

PostMon Jul 24, 2017 6:58 pm

There has been a lot of talk about why John Gilbert was an absolute shower in talkies. Some seem to think it was because of a feud he had with Louis Mayer and maybe that is so - but is there proof that Mayer denigrated him? Others say that his voice was the problem. I can echo this latter opinion up to a point. Watching his silent pictures, one tends to "hear" a voice in one's head and then when one hears the actual voice the actor or actress actually had, it can jar against the preconceived notion. Most real voices I have heard actually do not drift too far away from the preconceived , although I do admit that Gilbert's and for that matter Norman Kerry's, didn't quite match up.

In a few talkies, Gilbert used a rather "correct" stage voice, which was at a baritone pitch rather than the high-pitched squeal as some would have it. When combined with flowery dialogue as in "His Glorious Night", it took on a rather ridiculous effect.

Gilbert and his mentors must have done something about correcting this issue for there seems to have been a complete makeover of Gilbert for a lot of his future talking roles. Gone is the suave sophisticate with the black caterpillar on his upper lip, he is no longer a hoch geboren in a uniform of some description but an ordinary worker with a lower class accent to match.

It was in this new mode that I saw Gilbert in "Way of the Sailor" (1930). He had taken elocution lessons from Wallace Beery, his co-star - he of the elegant class naturally. (I jest). They are both men of the merchant marine and nearly the first half of the picture is taken up with a whole gang of them marauding and carousing through ports in different locales, finally winding up in London where Gilbert falls in love with a pretty young thing. He turns out to be a liar and a cheat for he tells her he is giving up the sea in order to marry her and as soon as the ring is on her finger, he is off again. The cad!

As this picture would be stiflingly boring had it been allowed to continue as it was, the writers and the director conjure up a high seas drama towards the end which sees a ship sink and men rescued. Quite well done in the days when the studio had to rely on water tanks, models, back projection and stage hands pointing hoses and throwing buckets of water around - rather than the CGI of today.

As a picture, I would rate it as average fare for the day and certainly nothing to write home about. There would of course be a market for those pictures of Wallace Beery presenting him as a boorish oaf, but I doubt it would include the countless numbers of silly young things who would swoon away at the dashing Gilbert chasing Garbo. If they had attended this picture to see something of that kind, they would have been bitterly disappointed. Gilbert whilst showing that he was capable of delivering dialogue of this nature, was playing against type, his new persona was unexpected and as there were beefier blokes soon to make an appearance such as Clark Gable, he just couldn't make his mark. (I must say that Gilbert looked frightfully thin and puny in this picture).

As well as Gilbert and Beery, there is Leila Hyams as the love interest and Polly Moran as another shiela.
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she won't polish them..."You know what she's like." So I said:..."
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostTue Jul 25, 2017 5:52 am

I've never been interested in poker, and not just because I play badly; I'm pretty bad at hearts and blackjack too, but I enjoy playing those card games. (I like the simple ones: crazy eights, freecell, war, and yes, go fish -- on the other hand, when I was growing up we passed many an evening at the summer cottage playing bridge and eating ice cream, so I'm capable of playing complex card games while suffering brain-freeze.) So I wasn't expecting to be greatly entertained by The Cincinnati Kid (1965) in which Steve McQueen challenges reigning poker champ Edward Robinson down in N'awleens.

The film managed to hold my interest throughout; yet there was a sense that there was a whole other film they missed making. It seemed very superficial, very desultory.

The cast makes for an impressive listing: McQueen, Robinson, Ann-Margret at the peak of her sexiness, Tuesday Weld as an impossibly young-looking (22 but appears 17) ethereal beauty, Karl Malden as the morally and ethically dithering dealer, Jack Weston sweating it out under the typecasting sobriquet of "Pig", Rip Torn (also impossibly young-looking if you know him best from The Larry Sanders Show) as the bad guy, Cab Calloway putting in a rather puzzling appearance as a gambler, and Joan Blondell being Joan Blondell.

Unhappily, the characters these fine actors are given to play are all one-dimensional and do no growth. Blondell plays up to her image, but it could have been worse: she could have played down to her image. Weld's character is the stereotypical loyal girlfriend, in reality a weakling without the guts to stay away from this totally unsuitable boyfriend. Ann-Margret hugely enjoys herself playing the slut, but that's all she's given by the script. Malden should be in anguish; instead, he looks like he's trying to hold in a fart. Robinson of course plays his role with dignity and professionalism, which is all the script calls for from him. There's just no depth to any of these people.

Norman Jewison's directorial flourishes were undoubtedly hot stuff in 1965. Today, they're embarrassingly obvious and in a few cases outright risible: indicating moral corruption by shadowing Torn's face, indicating suspense by a series of lightning-fast cuts of the eyes of everybody gathered around the poker table, indicating Ann-Margret's shadiness by shooting through a dark lace curtain, etc.

It's not a film that will get your pulse pounding or that will tax your mental energy by tracing the development of strong characters. It's just okay.

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

PostTue Jul 25, 2017 5:06 pm

When Cicely Courtneidge's mother (also played by Miss Courtneidge, albeit in heavy makeup), retires, Cicely succeeds herself as The Woman in Command (1933) of the Marvellos, a family of music-hall performers. However, when young Dorothy Hyson begins an affair with a young soldier, Miss Courtneidge is trapped between her responsibilities and memories of her own affair years ago with another young soldier.

This vehicle for Miss Courtneidge is a fine exercise in British musical comedy, mostly because the director is the canny Maurice Elvey. While other film makers in this era would shoot a number in medium close-up with a stationary camera and quick cuts, Elvey understood what was cinematic: medium long shots, a moving camera and a much slower editing pace to permit the performance to come through. It's particularly memorable in a sequence in which Miss Courtneidge is simultaneously rehearsing a sentimental number for Miss Hyson while barking commands at her troupe, and the burlesque adagio dance she performs later on. It wouldn't be until two years later that the Astaire-Rogers films in the US caught onto this method and they would become standard.

Elvey also takes advantage of the presence of Edward Everett Horton in the cast. Horton usually played comic types in support, treasured for his wonderful triple takes. Here, his performance is given some depth.

While the stage antecedents of this movie are very much in evidence, it remains clearly a cinematic effort, with a couple of good songs (including Miss Courtneidge's hit, "There's Something About a Soldier"), and worthwhile viewing.

Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Wed Jul 26, 2017 10:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostTue Jul 25, 2017 5:25 pm

I suppose nostalgia indulgents like yours truly here can sigh wistfully as we all take in all the sheer pomp and magnificence of the Raj as it once existed in India. The British Empire in all its magnificence. Such is presented in the first few reels of "The Viceroy's House" (2017) which attempts to portray the tumultuous events of 1947 when British rule over India was to come to an end.

Hugh Bonneville, has been elevated from his depiction of Lord Granville in "Downton Abbey" to become the Earl Mountbatten of Burma, last Viceroy of India. Although he looks nothing like the fellow, he nevertheless lends the role his vast experience of playing aristocrats. A surprising entry in the film is the American Gillian Anderson cast as Lady Edwina Mountbatten, and she does a fine job of it too, getting the accent spot on.

It would be a hopeless task to get all of what occurred with the "transition" in India and all one can hope for is a somewhat accurately based precis narrative - which doesn't place anyone in too bad a light. I think this picture has succeeded in that. It has been directed by an Indian - Gurinder Chadha, and while the temptation may have been there for her to "colour things up" somewhat, she resists the temptation. She just presents the scenes and then steps back and leaves the audience to make what they will of it all. The British are shown as trying to do their best in a very difficult situation, made worse by a number of political figures determined to have their own way. This essentially unnecessary aggravation gradually led to increasing violence which saw in its eventuality, over one million lives being lost and five million people trekking to find a place in the two new nations which were created from the one - India and Pakistan.

The big plusses in this picture are the location shooting, the no expense spared attitude in having a "cast of thousands" and dressing a vast number in the elaborate costumes of the period. Everything is lush, lavish and splendid - as far as the Viceroy's palace is concerned, where it seems there were enough servants to fill a small town. In contrast we are also shown where a lot of those servants live.

If I have to find a shortcoming I would put it down to the love story which goes on along on a side track, despite what the film should be concentrating itself on. I suppose it is necessary to throw something like this in just to balance things out, but I found it all a bit distracting - especially when the two lovers are separated towards the end in the turmoil, only to be re-united by finding each other again in a crowd of about fifteen million people. A little bit too much. Manish Dayal and Huma Qureshi play this love interest.

Also in the cast are Sir Michael Gambon, Simon Callow and Lily Travers as part of the Imperial entourage; Tanveer Ghani as Jawaharlal Nehru, Denzil Smith as Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Neeraj Kabi as a convincing Mahatma Gandhi.

One comes out of watching the film with the thought that politicians seem to have no feeling towards the people they are supposed to represent. Maintaining power at all costs is uppermost in their minds. So, compared to today we sadly and reluctantly have to face the fact that nothing much has changed.
Last edited by Donald Binks on Tue Jul 25, 2017 6:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostTue Jul 25, 2017 5:58 pm

"The Hippopotamus" (2017) is based on the best-selling book by Stephen Fry - the man who must have a brain the size of Einstein's in that he has really had a hand in many pursuits over the years and has been successful in 99% of them. He is very much of academia and a literary wit able to churn out a 10,000 word essay at the drop of a hat. He also puts his atheist views to the forefront.

Perhaps a lot of the eccentricities of some lives as observed by Stephen Fry are evident in the film. The main protagonist is a failed poet (Roger Allam), a washed-up old hack soaked in whiskey who goes off to a country manor to find out the "secret" about his God-son (Tommy Knight), at the behest of a close relative of whom he is fond (Emily Berrington) - and who is paying for his services. There is something to do with faith-healing and Fry makes sure that this whole matter is suitably debunked.

This trifle is more or less along the lines of a drawing room comedy and one would think that it could have been more appropriately set in the 1920's or 1930's than in modern day where the style of life shown in the film seems a little out of place in today's world. Do people still dress for dinner in their own houses? (The language and some of the subject matter would of course belie the more antique setting).

So what do we have here? In a nutshell it is a fairly bleak story with the main gist of it existing in a realm of fantasy devoid of any rational basis in ordinary life - well according to my point of view. Sure there is a gay character to add a bit of sparkle in an otherwise rather drab world but there is nothing really much in it.

The supporting players do their best, but in the end I think it has all been an exercise an intellectual has set himself without much thought for the audience at large.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostTue Jul 25, 2017 6:20 pm

Two more Louis de Funes films: "Les Grand Vacances" (released on English screens as "The Exchange Student") (1967) and "Le grand restaurant" ("The Restaurant") (1966)

I was disappointed with both these films in that they took a nosedive towards the unsubtle. The comedy has been forced resultant from rather contrived situations.

In "Vacances" M. Le Funes is the head-master of a boarding school. His son is supposedly going to England as an exchange student, whilst in return he gets a young English hussy. Anyway, his son sends a friend to England in his place and goes yachting - he manages to take the English hussy with him. You can see where all this is going - a case of mistaken identities and mixed-up situations which gets even worse as the film progresses. Still, there is, I suppose, ample excuse for a number of chases - up canals on barges, in wayward motor-boats - and even in a low-flying aeroplane. Yes, there are some funny moments - but unfortunately a lot of it is just to plain ludicrous.

In the "Restaurant" M. Le Funes has turned his attentions to running a high class restaurant. He does it in his own inimitable Gallic style which sees him in charge martinet style over his underlings. The story involves one of his clients - the President of some Spanish speaking republic who gets abducted. M. Le Funes gets involved with trying to find him - which leads to more chases. Again some of the film is funny, but the plot is a little too outrageous.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostWed Jul 26, 2017 7:13 am

There were a lot of cynical movies made about Hollywood. The various versions of A Star is Born are the best known of them. Goldie Gets Along (1933) is a lesser work.

Lily Damita is a French girl stuck in New Jersey. Thinking she has a chance in Hollywood, she breaks with her obnoxious foster family and abandons her fiance, Charles Morton, and strikes out for Tinseltown. She uses various questionable tactics to achieve her goal -- the Production Code had not come into full force when this movie was released -- albeit nothing that would offend Joseph Breen beyond repair. Eventually she winds up in Hollywood, to discover that her struggles have only begun.

While there are some interesting bits and pieces in this movie (keep an eye out for Walter Brennan as a stammering waiter), this movie never aspires to be more than a programmer, leaving its leads to carry it along its over-edited length. Alas, they don't succeed very well. Miss Damita's career would end later in the decade, when she would retire to the career of being Errol Flynn's wife. This would be Mr. Morton's last major credit in any movie, although he would continue for decades as an uncredited extra.

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

PostWed Jul 26, 2017 7:49 am

I vaguely knew that My Darling Clementine was a remake of sorts, but I never knew that it was, like The Maltese Falcon, the third version in not much over a decade. Three movies were made from the book Frontier Marshal by Stuart N. Lake, which basically set the legend of Wyatt Earp. I'm not sure we'd remember Earp if not for Ford, though; the 1939 Frontier Marshal, with Randolph Scott as Earp and directed by Allan Dwan, is a perfectly serviceable, just-above-mediocre western in which Earp cleans up Tombstone (his method, apparently, is to be impervious to bullets and a perfect shot), Cesare Romero as "Doc Halliday" is engaged in a romantic rivalry between the good girl he left when he got TB and a dance hall girl, and nothing remotely iconic about the West happens that we will remember like we do Ford's film. Eddie Foy Jr. turns up playing his father, and demonstrates what comedy was in 1870 (simple and aiming pretty low), much like westerns would have been in 1939, had John Ford never existed.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostWed Jul 26, 2017 8:02 am

Midnight in Paris (2011) is a Nitratevillian's dream come true as Owen Wilson, as a modern-day screenwriter in Paris, is mysteriously transported via a vintage taxi cab to the 1920s where he meets and befriends such notables as Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, the Fitzgeralds and many others. Of course being a Woody Allen confection, there's irony due at the ending and we get it in spades (whatever that means). Wilson is surprisingly good as is the rest of the cast: Kathy Bates, Rachel McAdams, Corey Stoll, Adrien Brody, Mimi Kennedy, Marion Cotillard, Kurt Fuller, Michael Sheen etc. Nice to see Allen's Hemingway as a pompous lout, much as I depicted him in my novel.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostThu Jul 27, 2017 5:00 pm

I can't think of a single bad performance by Conrad Veidt in any movie I've seen him in. That doesn't mean he was not in some poor movies, of course. It means he was always believable and interesting, whether playing Death, Jesus Christ or the Nazi-est of Nazis.

One of the poor movies he was in was King of the Damned (1935), one of British Gaumont's attempts to break into the American market in a big way with an expensive production and American stars -- here Noah Beery and Helen Vinson.

Veidt, Beery and an assortment of actors are prisoners on some sort of international Devil's Island, where Helen Vinson is visiting because her father is commandant. He's dying, and his replacement is so bad, the convicts stage an uprising and win. Of course, Veidt and Vinson fall into Production-Code-limited love, and of course, the evils of the convict system are similarly softened; the sort of sequences that had made I Was a Prisoner on the Chain Gang so powerful three years earlier are missing, and so the entire movie is softened. Perhaps it might have done better under the direction of some one other than comedy/thriller specialist Walter Forde, but I doubt it. This was not a time at which an effective movie of this sort could be made.

Despite the oddity of casting Americans in a British movie, there is little doubt that casting Veidt was a good idea. He makes the entire movie watchable, even though Beery gets to show off a sly sense humor. Miss Vinson is, alas, not up to the standards of her co-stars. Still, Veidt and Beery make this one watchable.

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

PostThu Jul 27, 2017 8:23 pm

Twenty Plus Two (1961) starts with a driving jazz score by Gerald Fried and fritters away a good start and several excellent performances with a way-too-long flashback and a cheesy rear-projection finale in a North Dakota shack that sort of sputters. David Janssen plays a detective who gets involved in a decade-old disappearance of a movie star. Jeanne Crain is wasted as a pest of an ex-wife wife and Brad Dexter is woefully miscast as a movie star. Dina Merrill is a pleasant surprise as Nikki and then there are several others who turn in masterful bits: William Demarest as the boozy ex-reporter, Agnes Moorehead as the flinty mother, Robert Strauss as Janssen's pal, Will Wright as the old records clerk, Jacques Aubuchon as the erudite ex-con, and then there's TCM host Robert Osborne as a drunken sailor with dance tickets. Certainly a case of the parts being better than the whole.

Great quote from Demarest's character: "What's a corpse look like after it's been in the water for two weeks? You wouldn't know your grandmother from a salted mackerel."
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostThu Jul 27, 2017 8:37 pm

Brevity is the soul of wit, so they say. No doubt I shall prove them wrong.

"Norman" (2017). is an Israeli-U.S. co-production who's purpose is I don't know what. The title character is played by Richard Gere. He is a Jewish wheeler-dealer who has his office on the streets of New York. I don't know what type of deals he is supposed to be clinching - that is never really explained - neither is a lot of the story explained - such as how the fellah earns any money or where he lives? He makes some type of deal with the Israeli PM and that leads to his downfall. This film is a bit like attending a seminar.

"Le Gendarme de St. Tropez" (1964) Another from my Louis de Funès collection positively reeking of the 1960's. Funny how a decade can be instantly recognised from the pictures they were making. It's as instantly forgettable as some other 1960's pictures such as "Modesty Blaise" and the Dean Martin "Matt Helm" series. This is a colour picture with a very good black and white sequence before the main title. It goes a bit downhill from then on, but if you are a fan of M. Le Funès, he won't disappoint in most of his scenes.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostThu Jul 27, 2017 9:57 pm

Finally got around to watching INSIDE OUT (2015), which I'd missed theatrically, on 3-D Blu-ray (which are getting harder and harder to find in stores -- I had to order it through Amazon). Glad I did. It's a very good Pixar/Disney character comedy-drama dealing with the delicate balances of human emotions, in this case in a little girl forced to move from Minnesota to San Francisco and finding it difficult to adjust. Like the best Pixar films it's for adults as much if not more for younger viewers with a strong sense of nostalgia and positive thinking. The film is at its best in its first half, then tends to bog down slightly in its last half before a quick final act that gives a rather abrupt sense of resolution but looks more like it's setting up a sequel. Overall it seems too short and a bit truncated. Of course there is beautiful animation and dramatic use of color and lighting effects, along with really good voice acting. It's both entertaining and has some real emotion, but I don't think it quite holds up to the brilliant TOY STORY trilogy or UP. The 3-D is often very good (and well-worth seeing that way rather than just in 2-D) but a number of scenes are less immersive than other scenes. The 7.1 stereo surround sound is excellent. Lots of interesting-looking bonus features I'll need to get to one of these days.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostFri Jul 28, 2017 6:06 am

John Bromfield is an honest young man with a pretty wife and a new baby. He's also a used car salesman, who gets fired for not pushing junk to a customer. That customer turns out to be the owner of a chain of used car lots, looking for someone like Bromfield to sell stolen cars.

Hot Cars (1956), like many a Schenck-Koch production in this period, has an interesting story, people who look good on the screen and fine visuals. Not only is it shot in the "Southwest Noir" style, but there's a fine noir ending on a roller coaster. What it lacks is good performances. The line readings all seem a bit droning, like a bad episode of DRAGNET. It even results in calling attention to the actors. Joi Lansing, in particular, seems to hit her mark and pose before reciting her lines.

Still, the careful visuals and bravura ending add to the story to keep things interesting all the way through.

Bob
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