What is the last film you watched? (2017)

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AlonzoChurch

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

PostTue Nov 28, 2017 10:16 am

Kay Francis ends her film career gracefully in Wife Wanted, looking beautiful, even if it would have been nice if Kay Francis, producer, had allowed Kay Francis, actor, a few more retakes. The r vs. w thing is very evident in this entry, and it is distracting. Otherwise, director Phil Karlson does a good job of disguising the meager budget, and even works in some stylish effects. This may be the only Monogram movie ever made which would cause my wife to exclaim "I want her mink coat".

The plot here is that Kay, an aging movie actress (!) facing a career pause (!!) takes a job as a real estate agent with a shady operator who also runs a shady marriage bureau. Things get very complicated, as Kay slowly gets dragged into shady dealings by lesser actors who are NOT at the top of their game, and a reporter, posing as a rich guy from the West, infiltrates her life trying to get dirt on her partner. The plot is frankly hard to untangle, and involves a lot of people shouting into phones at each other when they are not trying to make murders look like suicide. Still, it's worth a lazy Sunday afternoon, and for a Monogram film, that's an accomplishment.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostTue Nov 28, 2017 12:06 pm

A friend of mine bought a UK blu-ray box set of 1960s titles by the great Satyajit Ray, but didn't know about the region coding, so he brought it by my place and we slapped Ray's 1966 comedy-drama Nayak (The Hero) on the Oppo and enjoyed an involving tale of a Bollywood film star (Uttam Kumar, sending up his own image as a bit of a hellion) who has a transformative train journey from Bombay to Delhi. He reflects on his life, the hollowness of stardom, and the lack of love in his life. Kind of like a Bengali 8 1/2, but much more down-to-earth, as Kumar's Mukherjee considers how he squandered his ideals and talent over the years. Also stars the bewitching Sharmila Tagore (who debuted in The World of Apu) as a feminist journalist who interviews Mukherjee and sends him down a path of self-discovery.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostTue Nov 28, 2017 2:10 pm

Aside from THE HOLLYWOOD REVUE OF 1929, I had never seen the legendary pairing of Marie Dressler and Polly Moran, so took the chance to watch PROSPERITY (1932) last night, a film with a touch of the Capra / Riskin about it.

Miss Dressler plays a bank manager in a small town, who is passing over the reins to her son (Norman Foster, about to get wed to Moran's daughter, played by Anita Page) with the admonition not to do anything foolish with her bonds. Problems arise with best friend and now in-law Moran who decides to take all her money out of the bank, causing a run a la AMERICAN MADNESS. Of course Marie thinks things are ok as she has the bonds in reserve, but Foster has foolishly tied them up in a building project which seems a 'sure thing'...

PROSPERITY was the last of their films together, and comes over a bit hit-and-miss, with some scenes (the Christmas stuff, SPOILER Dressler's suicide plans*) not working, and others very well indeed. There is a villain, of course (John Miljan) who plans to drop Foster# in the you-know-what and scoot with the money, but the Little People manage to lick their problems.

Despite the plot having a rather soggy spot early on, this is still an enjoyable and interesting movie, and one wonders how the others compare and why the series stopped.

*Surely an ex-bank manager would know that a life insurance policy would be invalidated by suicide. The scene comes over as being in poor taste as well.

#When Foster (SPOILER) lets his car run on when chasing Miljan one wonders how he can still afford the thing and the petrol, considering his poverty, not to mention abandoning it to theft or destruction.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostTue Nov 28, 2017 4:20 pm

For medicinal purposes I filled out a prescription to take two more Louis de Funès pictures. (I am slowly working my way through his near entire repertoire). The first was "Comme un Cheveu sur la Soupe" ("Crazy in the Noodle") (1957).

This was M. de Funès' first picture where he was given star billing. In it he plays a composer who cannot make a go of it, that and the fact that he has lost the love of his life, leads him into depression and he contemplates suicide. Naturally this opens the door for M. de Funès to blackly amuse us with a number of botched attempts to try and end it all. Whilst trying to drown himself, he comes across Noëlle Adam who is attempting the same thing. He saves her. Giving up on the idea of taking his own life, he organises some of the criminal fraternity to take care of his demise for him - for a fee. Then, as luck would have it, one of his compositions takes off and he is an overnight sensation - but, he has forgotten about the job he organised to be done...

Probably not as good as some of his later efforts, the story contained in this film seems to be familiar to me in that it has probably been the basis for other pictures? Without M. de Funès though, the picture would have fallen decidedly flat. He seems immediately able to focus attention on whatever he is doing - and he does a lot to take in - so that one finds his appearances quite rivetting. This must have been hard on those having to appear with him. Amongst them in this picture were a number of crazy, comic book characters who round the film out.

It should be pointed out too that M. de Funès as well as being the commensurate farceur, was also quite an accomplished pianist, so he adds extra depth to his character of a composer.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostTue Nov 28, 2017 4:46 pm

The second dosage of M. de Funès came in the form of "Fantômas" (1964), the first in a trilogy of films M. de Funès made about this criminal mastermind. The character first appeared in print in 1911 and the first film was in 1913. This film though is a comedy, taking James Bond that one step further and deliciously sending up the genre. It gains ideas from other pictures too. I can see a bit of "The Phantom of the Opera" in there - and perhaps not surprisingly as Fantômas was known as the man of a thousand faces.

M. de Funès plays the part of the police inspector trying to catch Fantômas (Jean Marais). One would think though that with his level of incompetence he would have had difficulty directing traffic on point duty. Anyway, Fantômas has been unhappy with how he has been reported in the newspapers and goes after the journalist responsible - also played by Jean Marais, kidnapping him and the female interest of the film - Mylène Demongeot. (I hadn't seen her in a while and I felt my face glow as memories came back to me).

I thought that M. de Funès' comedy took a bit of a back seat in this picture and that it was essentially France's answer to James Bond, albeit on steroids. Still, it hitted more than missed and some of the chases - essential in a picture of this kind - were exciting as well as amusing.
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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)

PostTue Nov 28, 2017 5:03 pm

If one ever wishes to see two former silent screen stars waltz effortlessly through a talkie, one need go no further than "Social Register" (1934) where one is treated to Colleen Moore and Pauline Frederick.

"Chorus girl Patsy Shaw (Colleen Moore) crashes a high-society party, meets playboy Charlie Breen (Alexander Kirkland), they fall in love, and are on their merry way to wedded bliss. However, Charlie's snobbish, ever-loving ..."

One gets the gist. It's a comedy of manners, a them and us type of thing. The Breen mater is delightfully played by Ms. Frederick - just watch the electricity in those eyes! Apart from the story which is dross for the most part and would send an insomniac to sleep, it has an interesting cast of supporting players who do their darndest to keep the audience awake, and for the most part they succeed. Amongst them one finds Robert Benchley wandering in as himself, Ross Alexander as the second fiddle leading man, Charles Winninger being much the same as he was in any old picture, "Ramona", who sings a song and Margaret Livingston is there to even up the number of women in it.

Pauline Frederick made another 7 talkies before she tragically died of asthma at the age of 55. Colleen Moore had made enough money to not be bothered with making pictures any more and went into retirement. Both were a great loss to the screen.
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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)

PostWed Nov 29, 2017 7:34 am

I watched a genuine Brit quota quickie, and is it ever a relic!! This was "Landslide" (1937) with Jimmy Hanley and Dinah Sheridan (in her very first film, made when she was only 16!). Takes place in Wales (and 20 years before an actual devastating landslide killed well over 20 schoolchildren) in a local theatre where a manager of the theatre owes all of the actors money. Concurrent with the landslide itself that occurs just after the performance when most of the patrons have left the theatre - actually, only one remains - it is discovered that a murder has taken place. Although this moves rapidly, the first fifteen minutes is still rather stagnant seeming, and the plot is banal. However, Hanley and Sheridan keep the proceedings alive, and the other actors and actresses, albeit over-the-top in their performances, nevertheless keep the viewer tied to the screen. I enjoyed this show - especially after the first 10-15 minutes - but many will find this so antiquated that they'll wonder what hit them. Also, some of the Welsh accents are rough going for Americans who might not be familiar. Hanley and Sheridan are no problem at all, but beware of several other dialects. Enjoyable fluff that isn't around anymore, and for those who appreciate relics of the early days, especially Brit, this will be for you. This is on a DVD (PAL format) from Renown Pictures with another film on it also: "Emergency" (1962).
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostWed Nov 29, 2017 2:05 pm

R Michael Pyle wrote:I watched a genuine Brit quota quickie, and is it ever a relic!! This was "Landslide" (1937) with Jimmy Hanley and Dinah Sheridan (in her very first film, made when she was only 16!). Takes place in Wales (and 20 years before an actual devastating landslide killed well over 20 schoolchildren) in a local theatre where a manager of the theatre owes all of the actors money. Concurrent with the landslide itself that occurs just after the performance when most of the patrons have left the theatre - actually, only one remains - it is discovered that a murder has taken place. Although this moves rapidly, the first fifteen minutes is still rather stagnant seeming, and the plot is banal. However, Hanley and Sheridan keep the proceedings alive, and the other actors and actresses, albeit over-the-top in their performances, nevertheless keep the viewer tied to the screen. I enjoyed this show - especially after the first 10-15 minutes - but many will find this so antiquated that they'll wonder what hit them. Also, some of the Welsh accents are rough going for Americans who might not be familiar. Hanley and Sheridan are no problem at all, but beware of several other dialects. Enjoyable fluff that isn't around anymore, and for those who appreciate relics of the early days, especially Brit, this will be for you. This is on a DVD (PAL format) from Renown Pictures with another film on it also: "Emergency" (1962).


The Aberfan disaster was 29 years later, in 1966.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostWed Nov 29, 2017 6:30 pm

Sam Hardy came from New York to London so he could run night clubs without gangsters muscling in on his business. The gangsters followed to muscle in. Then Along Came Sally (1934) in the person of Cicely Courtneidge to audition, for Hardy, only to be promptly tossed out.

Promptly getting a job as Hardy's parlor maid, she reinvents herself as a French cabaret star and fascinates Mr. Hardy, who decides to star her.... until the gangsters decide to sabotage everything by kidnapping the chanteuse.

The songs in this musical number have not aged well, but they are pretty good for the era, and Miss Courtneidge's mugging and serio-comic Apache dance will please people with a bent for such matters. I was particularly taken by the big production number, "You Ought to See Sally on Sunday." The huge variety of camera angles, including the overheading crane shots, suggest Busby Berkley, but it never loses itself in fantasy, despite the dizzying perspectives. It all clearly takes place within the generous confines of the night club space, even when optical printing offers multiple images. It's a nice variation never pursued in Hollywood.

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

PostWed Nov 29, 2017 8:14 pm

Shirley Temple may have been queen of the child actresses in the late 1930s, but Jane Withers starred in more pictures at 20th Century-Fox in the period and may have been more profitable for the company -- B pictures cost a lot less to make. When she made High School (1940), she had reached the ripe old age of 14, and so there were some uneasy signs of romance in the air.

Jane has been raised on her father's ranch and, despite his hiring tutors to teach her to be a lady, she isn't interested, so he ships her off to San Antonio, where his brother, Lloyd Corrigan, is the principal of the Thomas Jefferson High School in San Antonio. Jane alienates everyone with her brashness and independence, except for Joe Brown Jr. He's rather taken with the forthright young woman. However, when she unwittingly gets him thrown off the football team, she gets snubbed.... until a subplot about a stolen car ring raises its head.

Miss Temple may have held patents on cuteness and pouting, but Miss Withers'' brashness and occasional deviltry has its own fans -- including me! -- and charms, and Fox' B production was probably the strongest in Hollywood in this period. It's a solid, pleasing effort.

While preparing this review, I checked the reviews of this movie on the IMDb. They were all written by San Antonians (I hope I have used the correct term), and were anxious to correct errors about San Antonio in the era. None of them pointed out that the character played by Maurice Cass is touted as a direct descendant of Thomas Jefferson, named Franklin Jefferson; yet none of Jefferson's legitimate sons survived to have children of their own. I suppose that when assessing a work of fiction, we each have different standards of what errors are important.

Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Thu Nov 30, 2017 4:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostWed Nov 29, 2017 10:30 pm

Donald Binks wrote:If one ever wishes to see two former silent screen stars waltz effortlessly through a talkie, one need go no further than "Social Register" (1934) where one is treated to Colleen Moore and Pauline Frederick.

"Chorus girl Patsy Shaw (Colleen Moore) crashes a high-society party, meets playboy Charlie Breen (Alexander Kirkland), they fall in love, and are on their merry way to wedded bliss. However, Charlie's snobbish, ever-loving ..."

One gets the gist. It's a comedy of manners, a them and us type of thing. The Breen mater is delightfully played by Ms. Frederick - just watch the electricity in those eyes! Apart from the story which is dross for the most part and would send an insomniac to sleep, it has an interesting cast of supporting players who do their darndest to keep the audience awake, and for the most part they succeed. Amongst them one finds Robert Benchley wandering in as himself, Ross Alexander as the second fiddle leading man, Charles Winninger being much the same as he was in any old picture, "Ramona", who sings a song and Margaret Livingston is there to even up the number of women in it.

Pauline Frederick made another 7 talkies before she tragically died of asthma at the age of 55. Colleen Moore had made enough money to not be bothered with making pictures any more and went into retirement. Both were a great loss to the screen.


I rather like this film. Frederick played lots of mean moms in her later years, and it's too bad she got typecast as such because she had a much broader range than this. I liked Moore, i often find her too cutesy in her silents but in this she was not only smart but pleasantly oddball as well. Between the two of them, they make this one definitely worthwhile.

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

PostThu Nov 30, 2017 3:33 pm

It's always with a high degree of eager anticipation that one puts on a DVD with one of one's favourite actor/actresses in a picture one hasn't seen. Thus it was so when Will Rogers came into view in "Doubting Thomas" (1935). Now, I wouldn't say this was one of his finer efforts, but it passed the time well and had a number of quite amusing moments.

Mr. Rogers is the boss of a sausage factory and expects his wife to look after the house and have his dinner on the table when he comes home of an evening. This was what was accepted as a normal arrangement back in '35, so you can imagine Mr. Roger's reaction when his wife decides to go on stage acting in a play the local amateur dramatic society is putting on. He has to put a stop to all this foolishness.

What makes this picture fire is the choice made in the supporting players who provide brilliant foil to Mr. Roger's droll delivery. None other than Billie Burke is his wife - not so scatter-brained as usual, but adroitly carressing the comedy the part offers. Alison Skipworth charges magnificently into the role of the women in charge of the amateur dramatic society, taking every opportunity to show she was a great actress. I would give an honourable mention to Andrew Tombes, who, going under the impressive monnicker of "Huxley Hossefrosse" provides much hilarity as he murders the role of an aspiring Lothario in the play being performed. There is also Sterling Holloway in a minor role as a very incompetent sound effects man.

If you have ever been involved with or even viewed an amateur production you will find great affinity with what will appear on the screen. Things can, and do, more often than not, go wrong - and this film captures a whole host of these misadventures in a roller-coaster onslaught of laughs.

Probably the highlight of the film, for me anyway, was the totally unexpected and awesome impersonation Mr. Rogers gives of a crooner channelling Bing Crosby. It is quite unforgetable.

Also in the cast are Gail Patrick and Johnny Arthur with a good dance routine by Frances Grant. It was directed by David Butler. This was Mr. Rogers' final film released at the time of his untimely death due to an aeroplane accident.
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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)

PostThu Nov 30, 2017 3:42 pm

I would like to say something nice about "Let Me Explain Dear" (1932) but really I can't. For a comedy I just didn't find it remotely funny. Everything was just too forced. Then again Gene Gerrard is not someone I am too keen on. Claude Hulbert, who can usually be relied on to do something amusing looked completely out of sorts - as well as looking different from his usual self. A very nice print, but nothing at all to write home about. (I must admit I dropped off a couple of times through it).
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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)

PostThu Nov 30, 2017 7:13 pm

Jane Wither's first starring vehicle, Ginger (1935), has her living on 9th Avenue with her guardian, O.P.Heggie, a washed-up Shakespearean actor. When he gets into a fight and sentenced to thirty days in jail, Park Avenue dame Katherine Alexander, who is writing a book she intends to call ARE CHILDREN PEOPLE, decides to take her home to see if a good environment can save her --it's already turned her son, Jackie Searle, into one of those milquetoast horrors that Our Gang warned us against. Fortunately, Ginger finds an ally in the house's paterfamilias, Walter Woolf King.

It's soapy and sappy and decently done. Clearly the folks at the rapidly disintegrating Fox --- soon to be taken over by Darryl Zanuck's 20th Century -- hoped for another Shirley Temple. Although Miss Withers clearly was not Shirley -- she was tough and pugnacious and her vehicles were clearly B movies. That was all right, since Fox' B division had plenty of talent grown used to doing things on the cheap. Her movies were lively and popular and her career prospered in parallel to Miss Temple's for another seven years.

Happily, Miss Withers is still with us in her nineties and can be seen from time to time. Here's hoping more of her movies can be made available!

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

PostThu Nov 30, 2017 8:37 pm

September 30, 1955 (1977) is one I'd never even heard of and only watched it because of the gloriously off-center Susan Tyrrell was playing a character named Melba Lou. Story is set in Arkansas of 1955 (oh, those accents!) and has Richard Thomas as a college student obsessed with James Dean because Dean says and does everything that he (Richard Thomas) feels and wants to do. He's part of a group of odd misfits and they decide to hold a seance to get in touch with Dean. They get drunk and dress up as famous ghouls and traipse across a cemetery to scale the kids "parking" there (it's Arkansas) but tragedy strikes and their lives are changed forever. They never heard from James Dean either. At one point, Thomas strips down to his underwear and builds an Oscar statuette out of river mud (it's Arkansas). In another instance he blindfolds the kid speeding in his Chevy convertible so that they can feel what Dean felt just before he crashed. Pretty weird. Besides Thomas and Tyrrell (she never disappoints) are some familiar faces like Dennis Quaid, Dennis Christopher, Tom Hulce, Collin Wilcox, Lisa Blount. There's also a long clip from East of Eden with Dean, Julie Harris, and Raymond Massey. Strange but entertaining film.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostFri Dec 01, 2017 1:19 pm

Perhaps I should have waited until a better copy of THE GUV'NOR (1935) came my way before watching this particular upload. It has George Arliss as a cultured French tramp with the name of Rothschild who is roped in by crooked banker Frank Cellier to give his bank a boost. Unfortunately for Frank, Arliss is also onto his nasty scheme to rook a widow and her daughter into selling off their mining shares cheap. Directed by Milton Rosmer, THE GUV'NOR is moderately amusing, but one feels it could have been even more so. Watch out for a brief bit by Cecil Parker.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostFri Dec 01, 2017 3:49 pm

Imagine my shocked and appalled reaction to the discovery that The Divine Lady (1929) does not cleave strictly to history. Has Hollywood no ethics or morality? Umm, moving on quickly ...

The real Lady Emma Hamilton and Admiral Horatio Nelson lived openly in a menage–a-trois with her husband; even in those days when newspapers were the only medium, the whole kingdom peered in through the metaphorical windows to watch them frolic in defiance of the day's morals. In The Divine Lady, Em and Ho barely manage two kisses, and her husband looks the other way.

The acting is not bad, at least among the men. Marie Dressler, as must be expected, hams it up as Emma’s mum in the first reel before disappearing altogether. That leaves the women’s acting standards up to Corinne Griffith to carry. It’s difficult to be fair to her. To our eyes, she is not anywhere near to being a great actress, and is barely a good one, but that’s because her style is completely old-fashioned even for its own time. It’s overacting, calculated, melodramatic. That wouldn’t be so unnerving to the viewer if the men were playing their roles the same way, but Victor Varconi and H.B. Warner use a much more modern and subtle style.

Until he abandons his ship to idle with Griffith, though, Varconi expresses his character’s unsinkable spirit and confidence by grinning incessantly. I started thinking that if he and Norma Shearer had ever made a film of Romeo and Juliet together, they would have retitled it Keep Smilin’!

It’s high melodrama, but the enthusiastic naval battles lift it out of the morass of gooey noble-suffering-lovers stickiness. The damned film works: it’s enjoyable from beginning to end, even if that first reel feels like failed slapstick.

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

PostFri Dec 01, 2017 6:19 pm

I think Zanuck fired Shirley Temple and Jane Withers almost simultaneously .... or maybe he just decided not to pick up their options. Miss Temple went to work for David Selznick. Miss Withers went to Republic, to star in Johnny Doughboy (1942), in which she plays a child star who wants to play adult roles.... fourteen at least. No dice. So she drives into the mountain and falls in love with reclusive writer Henry Wilcoxon. Meanwhile, in walks her exact double from Kansas, who is promptly recruited to impersonate her. A troupe of washed-up child stars want to do camp shows for the USO, but the Army wants Miss Withers so.....

Miss Withers is good as always. She sings a couple of numbers and gets to dance in a big production number at the end with Jack Boyle Jr. If they are not Donald O'Conner & Peggy Ryan, they certainly do well, and the picture garnered a reasonable Academy Award nomination for Best Scoring by Walter Scharf.

What is unnerving about this movie is its exploitation angle: ex-child-stars, washed up by the time they hit puberty: Bobby Green, Carl Switzer (still singing -- yikes!), Spanky MacFarland, even Baby Sandy, a has-been at 4. It's positively ghoulish. It turns a pleasant B picture with a sock-o finish into a bit of an ordeal.

Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Sat Dec 02, 2017 8:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Dec 02, 2017 8:50 am

I suppose there is a type of elderly female relative who would think that Hunted in Holland (1960) is just the sort of movie to see with a youngster. It's filled with such lovely images of Holland. We are still supposed to call it Holland, aren't we? They haven't changed the name because it's an oppressive remnant of some colonial past? No? Well, that's nice. Sean Scully is a nice boy, a bit rambunctious, but he'll settle down, off to visit his pen pal, Jacques Verbrugge, who is so well behaved. He knows all the rules, and no doubt had a fine career as an EU bureaucrat. And then there's Sandra Spurr as Jacques' little sister. She looks so nice and neat and her shoes are so well polished!

It's a shame they had to ge involved with those diamond thieves, but they noticed them, and they actually rescued the diamonds and outwitted the thieves. Because, thieves aren't very bright, dear. They don't think, and if they did, they would make better plans and study hard and go to college and not have to be thieves at all. Now, sit quietly and watch the lovely movie, and if I doze off, don't wake me.

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

PostSat Dec 02, 2017 10:32 am

greta de groat wrote:
Donald Binks wrote:If one ever wishes to see two former silent screen stars waltz effortlessly through a talkie, one need go no further than "Social Register" (1934) where one is treated to Colleen Moore and Pauline Frederick.

"Chorus girl Patsy Shaw (Colleen Moore) crashes a high-society party, meets playboy Charlie Breen (Alexander Kirkland), they fall in love, and are on their merry way to wedded bliss. However, Charlie's snobbish, ever-loving ..."

One gets the gist. It's a comedy of manners, a them and us type of thing. The Breen mater is delightfully played by Ms. Frederick - just watch the electricity in those eyes! Apart from the story which is dross for the most part and would send an insomniac to sleep, it has an interesting cast of supporting players who do their darndest to keep the audience awake, and for the most part they succeed. Amongst them one finds Robert Benchley wandering in as himself, Ross Alexander as the second fiddle leading man, Charles Winninger being much the same as he was in any old picture, "Ramona", who sings a song and Margaret Livingston is there to even up the number of women in it.

Pauline Frederick made another 7 talkies before she tragically died of asthma at the age of 55. Colleen Moore had made enough money to not be bothered with making pictures any more and went into retirement. Both were a great loss to the screen.


I rather like this film. Frederick played lots of mean moms in her later years, and it's too bad she got typecast as such because she had a much broader range than this. I liked Moore, i often find her too cutesy in her silents but in this she was not only smart but pleasantly oddball as well. Between the two of them, they make this one definitely worthwhile.

greta


Aside from being only a so-so copy, The worst thing about Social Register (1934) seems to be Marshall Neilan's direction. In a key scene where Colleen Moore as Patsy gets a tad drunk and dances up a storm at the society party, the camera cuts away from her over and over again to peoples' reactions or people coming into the room, etc. The fun of the scene is in watching Moore, not all this other stuff. Another minus is the blah performance by Alexander Kirkland as the boyfriend. Meanwhile, Pauline Frederick, Margaret Livingston, and Ross Alexander are all quite good, as is Hilda Howe as Muriel, who onl gets a few scenes. The character played by Charles Winninger is more annoying than anything and the story never quite reconciles his being "Jonesy" vs being the stuffed shirt patriarch of the moneybags clan. I've seen comments about Moore's singing, but she really doesn't actually sing a song. And sorry, but Ramona looked like and sang like a drag queen to me.
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earlytalkiebuffRob

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

PostSat Dec 02, 2017 1:34 pm

boblipton wrote:Jane Wither's first starring vehicle, Ginger (1935), has her living on 9th Avenue with her guardian, O.P.Heggie, a washed-up Shakespearean actor. When he gets into a fight and sentenced to thirty days in jail, Park Avenue dame Katherine Alexander, who is writing a book she intends to call ARE CHILDREN PEOPLE, decides to take her home to see if a good environment can save her --it's already turned her son, Jackie Searle, into one of those milquetoast horrors that Our Gang warned us against. Fortunately, Ginger finds an ally in the house's paterfamilias, Walter Woolf King.

It's soapy and sappy and decently done. Clearly the folks at the rapidly disintegrating Fox --- soon to be taken over by Darryl Zanuck's 20th Century -- hoped for another Shirley Temple. Although Miss Withers clearly was not Shirley -- she was tough and pugnacious and her vehicles were clearly B movies. That was all right, since Fox' B division had plenty of talent grown used to doing things on the cheap. Her movies were lively and popular and her career prospered in parallel to Miss Temple's for another seven years.

Happily, Miss Withers is still with us in her nineties and can be seen from time to time. Here's hoping more of her movies can be made available!

Bob


Took your tip and watched this rather pleasing, if formulaic film last night. Can't really add to what you've said, but it was a nice, amusing piece of work. Was the copy you watched the one on YT? This one was not in the best shape, but perhaps the negative and studio copies of GINGER were destroyed in the 1937 fire...
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Dec 02, 2017 1:59 pm

Back on the exploitation front, with the notorious CHAINED FOR LIFE, unleashed in 1951. This one features the 'Siamese' (as they were then called) twins Violet and Daisy Hilton as singers at a burlesque theatre who are on trial for the murder of a fellow who is a total s**theel. The judge's dilemma is that if one is punished, the other will be, too.

The story is mainly told in flashback, with a couple of framing 'square-up' scenes. It seems that one of the sisters agreed to get engaged to this rat-fink as a publicity stunt then ends up falling for him. He goes along with this to the extent of saying he loves her and proposing for real, much to his real girlfriend's disgust*. After an onstage wedding (not agreed to by the sister), he does the dirty and runs out on her. During his act a shot rings out and he falls dead (the manager's line about a 'slight accident' is a classic) causing great panic.

The first few minutes of CHAINED FOR LIFE are a bit of a chore to sit through, as acting, direction, etc. are not of the finest, but the film actually gets fairly interesting after a while. We see a few burlesque acts (no striptease, alas), which are reminiscent of the sort shown in burlesque films (TEASERAMA, etc) proper, and have an historical interest. There are also parallels with the twins' real life, as one was married as a stunt and the other was a wash-out. Both were to gay men, unlike the rat in this one. About the most well-known face (and voice) here is that of Allen Jenkins as their seedy manager who would turn any trick for a dollar. One cannot actually say CHAINED FOR LIFE is a 'good' film, (far from it) but it is quite an interesting one, and not one of those 'why did I bother with that one' affairs.

*In addition to a sequence where the fiancee sister dreams that they have been separated, there are scenes concerning whether such a marriage is legal, culminating with an odd encounter with a blind parson in his garden.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Dec 02, 2017 4:18 pm

I was rambling on the other day about how I look forward to seeing my favourites of the screen coming my way via a "new" picture. In that instance it was Will Rogers, but yesterday I re-made my acquaintance with Marie Dressler. What can I say about her? Only that I relish every moment she spends with me. I think she was absolutely fabulous. She acts with every bit of her most ample body - more than I can say about some actors/actresses of today who just stand there, open their mouths and deliver dialogue. She knows her character, knows every nuance of her lines and above all, knows how to put it all over.

The opening scenes in "Reducing" (1931) one of a string of pictures she made with Polly Moran, shows off Ms. Dressler riotously funny, attempting to buy a railway ticket. Whilst the rest of the picture does not repeat this climatic highlight of continuous comedy - gag after gag, the remaining scenes that are supposed to be funny will bring forth a laugh - only to see Ms. Dressler's myriad expressions.

"Reducing" has Ms. Dressler as the wife of a rather dysfunctional family, brought to New York by her sister (Polly Moran) after their finances have reached rock bottom. Ms. Dressler is to work in her sister's weight reducing clinic although this seems something of an oxymoron. Naturally Ms. Dressler makes a complete and utter shower at any attempt to fit in with the salon or work any of the apparatus thus pertaining.

Relations between sisters sours, one is a social climber, the other isn't. (Guess which one is which). Polly Moran's daughter (Sally Eilers) and Marie Dressler's daughter (Anita Page) fall in love with the same man (William Bakewell) - a man about town who is in fact a bit of a bounder.

Apart from the comedy, there is some pathos thrown in for good measure - we need a bit of light and shade, and Marie Dressler shows she was just as capable of handling the sentimental spots as well as dishing out the mirth.

This is a fun picture, it was made at a time when America had not as yet gone in for "sophisticated comedy" and as such, it is really funny. Lucien Littlefield plays Ms. Dressler's rather inept husband, William Collier Jr. plays Ms. Dressler's daughter's boyfriend from back home and Billy Naylor and Jay Ward play the two brats who are Ms. Dressler's sons. Capably directed by Charles Reisner.
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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 Dec 03, 2017 5:58 am

One of J Arthur Rank's religious co-productions, one wonders what sort of audience received JOHN WESLEY (1954). Lacking actors' credits, but directed (again) by Norman Walker, this film had rather varied reviews on IMDb, but one suspects the main audience was for church groups, despite the use of colour, which was presumably to take advantage of the costumes and linking paintings, and in some ways reminded me of the much more elaborate THE GREAT MR HANDEL (1943).

It stars Leonard Sachs (of BBC-TV's 'The Good Old Days') as said preacher, who as a child was rescued from his burning home (we do not hear what happened to the arsonist/s) and was seen as a Man of Destiny by his mother. We then skip thirty years to his return from a failed ministry in America, his outdoor preaching, and the reaction to it by the Church, with the adoption by his group of the term Methodism, which was normally used as abuse by his opponents, before we do a couple of skips to 1777 and 1784 and the fact that Wesley was then an accepted figure. Obviously there was more to Wesley's life than could be crammed into seventy-five minutes.

There are a few well-known faces and names amongst the cast which I recognised among the wigs and waistcoats including Andrew Cruickshank and John Slater (a condemned prisoner, but we don't know his crime) as well as a couple I failed to put names to. Presumably they gave their services free or for very little as this film couldn't possibly hope to earn its costs back otherwise. Some odd bits which were new to me as well as one section where a rolling title filled in several gaps make for an interesting but unpersuasive film.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Dec 03, 2017 9:20 am

Irma la Douce (1963) is a long-winded cinematic version of a bad joke repeated ad nauseam. Shirley MacLaine plays the worldly Irma to Jack Lemmon's naive Nestor. The films churns on for nearly 150 minutes repeating the various jokes of MacLaine's "working girl" status. Lemmon devises a way to have MacLaine all to himself but the ruse backfires. This Billy Wilder film plays more like a Blake Edwards comedy. This sort of leering stuff was a big hit in 1963, and the film does have some good moments but it is interminable. Wilder wanted Marilyn Monroe for Irma and Charles Laughton for the barman (played by Lou Jacobi) but they died before production started. There's a breath of life in the poule played by Hope Holiday, and both Bill Bixby and James Caan have small bits.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Dec 03, 2017 1:09 pm

An outing from the Children's Film Foundation, HUNTED IN HOLLAND (1960) starts out reasonably well with a smash-and-grab theft of a diamond bracelet, with the crooks pitted against an English schoolboy on holiday with his Dutch penfriend. After the first ten minutes or so, the film becomes rather routine, with an opportunity to see more of the boy's reaction to Dutch life somewhat muffed. The crooks are mainly played for comedy, although there is a spot of violence, and the whole affair is just rather slight, with the odd good moment to liven things up. Begins in Amsterdam, then moves out a little as the three (there is a girl as well) endeavour to hand the bracelet in. In Eastman Colour, but rather washed-out unfortunately.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Dec 03, 2017 2:13 pm

Guillermo del Toro is a real talent, but I think that his latest, The Shape of Water (2017) asks a question that I was not that interested in: given that sexuality is an intensely personal kink, who would be turned on by the Creature from the Black Lagoon? And aren't the people who don't like the Creature from the Black Lagoon just horrid statists?

Well, maybe. We've already agreed that Binky doesn't care about Iron Man, but will award the Matter of Britain a Guernsey (does he mean "gurney", indicating that interest in such things needs to be gotten into ICU, stat, while Doctors Howard, Fine & Howard are summoned, or are breeds of cattle (or perhaps Channel Islands) awarded to scholars in the jolly old land of Oz on subjects grown dim? Ave atque vale!) My interest in the various more popular forms of scifi have never extended to K/S or such. They never brought it up; therefore it didn't happen or was none of my business, and none of yours either. The dirtier, the better, and the less your business. And mine. Good fences make good neighbors, and so do drapes for the windows. And thick walls.

There are some fine images, and Del Toro has gotten some top-notch performers in to offer some wonderful performances, including Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins (a personal best performance) and Octavia Spencer. However, as is often the case with these visual stylists, the pacing becomes uneven in the middle. I get the impression the director is fighting with the editor and the pacing suffers.

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

PostSun Dec 03, 2017 3:13 pm

It would appear that the idiomatic expression "didn't rate a guernsey" is chiefly Australian. "Guernsey" is another term for pullover or jumper or sweater although it probably most particularly relates to the item as worn by a member of a sporting team in which case it usually bears a number. Thus it means that somebody or something was not considered worthwhile. I hope this clears matters up for my American friends. :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 Dec 03, 2017 6:29 pm

George Formby was much the same character in all his pictures - a gawky lad with prominent teeth in a perpetual grin who was a bit of a naive nincompoop and shy with the girls. He can be admired for not wishing to "cultivate" his strong Lancs. accent but one wonders why he achieved such popularity? Methinks it perhaps because audiences tend to show some sympathy towards the hopelessly inept, e.g., Mr. Laurel and Mr. Hardy. George was after all, a harmless and affable character - and why, he could handle a ukelele and warble in tune.

George breezes his way through "Much too Shy" (1942) which has him this time around as a village handyman in love with a local maiden of alluring qualities (Kathleen Harrison) who unfortunately is engaged to someone else (Eric Clavering). He has a little brother aged about 10, played by an actor - Jimmy Clitheroe - who was actually 21 (he had suffered damage to his thyroid gland at birth and never grew beyond 4'2", nor developed a deep voice).

George wants to be an artist but can only draw heads, so he enlists the aid of an art school in order to be able to draw bodies. Here he meets up with Charles Hawtrey, who despite having having a bit of a part, is only given scant mention in the credits. Charles and a bunch of others are heavily into abstract art and manage to fill in one of George's works with some nude (but discrete) representations. One thing leads to another and George's work is sold off to an advertising agency who use it in one of their advertising campaigns. Well, the whole thing creates a scandal in George's village because the heads on the figures are those of local women. They sue, but in the end we can say, along with George "that everything's turned out nice again". (Naturally he also gets the girl in the end.)

Plotwise, it's rubbish, but we take that for granted in films of this nature. Some of the dialogue is witty and funny - courtesy of Ronald Frankau who was one of the writers. There are a lot of nice set-ups and accompanying gags and a rather novel "chase" scene. George gets to sing a bit - well, it wouldn't be a complete picture if he didn't. The songs are of his normal slightly risque nature, pleasant enough at the time, but instantly forgetable after one has seen the picture.

It's interesting to spot the bit players - one of whom is Valentine Dyall (playing a defence barrister). Others partaking include Hilda Bayley, Eileen Bennett, Joss Ambler and Wally Patch. The direction is by Marcel Varnel. Made in 1942 it was surely a picture that would have taken the audience's minds off what was going on in the world around them at this particular time.
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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)

PostMon Dec 04, 2017 6:34 am

Donald Binks wrote:It would appear that the idiomatic expression "didn't rate a guernsey" is chiefly Australian. "Guernsey" is another term for pullover or jumper or sweater although it probably most particularly relates to the item as worn by a member of a sporting team in which case it usually bears a number. Thus it means that somebody or something was not considered worthwhile. I hope this clears matters up for my American friends. :D


Sounds as though the American equivalent would be "doesn't rate a jersey", meaning the kid wasn't good enough to make the varsity football team and get a team jersey with his number on it.

In Canada we call sports tops "sweaters" -- cf Roch Carrier's famous story, The Hockey Sweater.

Jim
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