What is the last film you watched? (2017)

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Mike Gebert

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

PostThu Sep 07, 2017 1:31 pm

I've listened to the radio show a bit (it plays on the BBC streaming service) and I enjoy it-- parts of his character are universal, I've likened him to an English Jackie Gleason-- but I have to admit I'm a bit mystified as to what, precisely, his social class and position are*, which seems such a key to British comedy 99% of the time.

* Just saying it that way, I realize I'm basically imitating Mr. Chomondely-Warner's friend...
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostThu Sep 07, 2017 2:08 pm

The Bride Wore Red (1937), an overlong Euro-souffle, was Dorothy Arzner’s only solo directorial effort for MGM. Joan Crawford plays what on paper is a typical Crawford role - a cabaret girl who poses as a European society heiress at an alpine resort in an attempt to prove a point, but ends up falling in love with the lifestyle. Her subterfuge unravels at length (too much length, frankly), and Crawford is torn between her new life and the temptations of nobleman Rudi (a very young Robert Young), and penniless postman Guilio (Franchot Tone).

It looks absolutely beautiful, I'll give it that. Crawford herself never looked better - it’s too bad she did not keep the lighter pageboy haircut and softer makeup - but her character is just not interesting or colorful enough to be as sympathetic as the usual Crawford underdog. Franchot Tone is one of those actors who never does much for me, and would have been more effectively cast in Young’s role. A potentially interesting theme is set up early in the film - are the rich really different from the peasantry, or is it all a matter of luck? - and nothing is really made of it. You can imagine Lubitsch making this material sing, but as it is, it’s static and predictable.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostThu Sep 07, 2017 2:33 pm

Mike Gebert wrote:I've listened to the radio show a bit (it plays on the BBC streaming service) and I enjoy it-- parts of his character are universal, I've likened him to an English Jackie Gleason-- but I have to admit I'm a bit mystified as to what, precisely, his social class and position are*, which seems such a key to British comedy 99% of the time.

* Just saying it that way, I realize I'm basically imitating Mr. Chomondely-Warner's friend...


Having just seen the one film (so far) it looks Like his character is based on the underdog, and being British, this also means the character has no social position at all. It's hinted in the film that he moves around a lot so he's like a carny worker. Much of the Lady Jane plot has her not wanting to soil her white gloves on anything local. So while the wife idolizes her, Lady J could not care less about anyone but herself. Hancock's character has touches of George Formby and Norman Wisdom and probably Arthur Askey and all the "low" comedians in British films. I liked him and the film quite a lot. There's more going on than just bits of comedy.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostThu Sep 07, 2017 3:39 pm

Is everyone, like me, used to seeing Wilfred Hyde-White as a white-haired aristocratic gentleman, usually in some sort of government job in comedy? If so, you'll be surprised to see him in a serious role as an author of true-crime and mystery books in Murder By Rope.

A maniac who sends warning letters to his victims and then strangles them with a rope is found guilty and hanged. Some time later, some one else does the same thing. The trial's judge, Philip Hewland, is threatened. Of course, this means he must hold a dinner party, during which there are sinister goings-on.

Director George Pearson had a long history in British movies, going back to 1913 as a writer and director for Pathe. Since the coming of sound, he had been relegated to cheap quota quickies. This, alas, is one of them, using all the standard tropes of British mysteries. It's also very talky, with only a few quick visual glosses, none of them offered in an interesting fashion. His screen credits would end with three or four more films over the next three years, then silence, except for a TV interview. He would die in 1973.

Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Sat Sep 16, 2017 7:39 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostThu Sep 07, 2017 3:45 pm

Mike Gebert wrote: but I have to admit I'm a bit mystified as to what, precisely, his social class and position are*, which seems such a key to British comedy 99% of the time.


Idle "upper" working class with delusions of grandeur.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostThu Sep 07, 2017 5:03 pm

The Cowboy Millionaire (1935) starts off pretty good. George O'Brien and Edgar Kennedy are working at a dude ranch to raise money so they can work their gold mine. The have enough... but Evalyn Bostock shows up and George is smitten; she is annoyed at his presumption, but every attempt to take him down a peg results in his being warm, masculine and masterful. While George is trying to make hay, news comes that the mine is a bonanza --but the telegram is read by con man Stephen Chase, who is trying to marry Evalyn for her money. He offers to pay Edgar $25,000 for their mine, which Edgar accepts, except they have to go to England for plot convenience.

The first half of the movie is good, with some nice humor on display, thanks to director Eddie Cline, O'Brien's casual charm and Kennedy's patented slow burn. The last fifteen minutes, however, is all about rear projection shots of London and the inevitable fight between O'Brien and Chase and is pretty much standard.

O'Brien was getting tired of being a western star. The following year, he would cut a deal with George Hirliman that would get him off a horse -- still in action movies that would require him to take off his shirt. That wouldn't last long. Eventually, RKO would buy his contract and put him back in the saddle.

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

PostFri Sep 08, 2017 4:05 pm

I think Fitzcarraldo (1982) is a movie written and directed by a madman (Werner Herzog), starring a madman (Klaus Kinski) about a madman (Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald) who portages a steamship over a mountain, which would, in his mind, let him build an opera house far into the Amazonian jungle at Iquitos, where Caruso could sing. Apparently the production of this movie resulted in more deaths than Michael Curtiz managed in his entire career -- although maybe not, if you count horses.

I think it may be one of those movies which every lover of movies should see once, even though we hate it, like Triumph of the Will and Birth of a Nation. In fact, that may be the point. However, I am not sure.

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

PostFri Sep 08, 2017 6:01 pm

Ronald Howard is a newly-minted engineer Compelled (1960) to help in a jewel robbery. It's a dull little crime drama from the Danziger Brothers, in which the plot is expanded by suspicions of his wife, Beth Rogan, who thinks he is having an affair, and Jack Melford, who turns up a couple of times to threaten the thieves with a gun. It's cheap and tawdry and under an hour and not really worth your time.

Howard is more interesting for being the son of Leslie Howard ; he had small roles in two of his father's movies, and for playing Sherlock Holmes in almost forty episodes of a syndicated show in the 1950s.He had a nice career on the big and little screens, but rarely in anything that makes him stand out.

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Last edited by boblipton on Sat Sep 09, 2017 4:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostFri Sep 08, 2017 7:48 pm

Victor Jory gets drunk and bets he can marry the next girl who comes into town. He finds pretty Jo Ann Sayers, who is the sister of his good friend, Russell Hayden, slugs the sheriff and high-tails it to Mexico, where he becomes a pistolero in The Light of Western Stars (1940).

It's the fifth -- and so far, the latest -- filmed version of the Zane Grey western, and Jory is great in it, big and bluff and talkative, or drunk and self-pitying as the scene calls for. His career was on the downslide and he would take leading roles in westerns and the occasional supporting role in other B productions, but he was recognized as a fine actor and was in demand for small roles through his death in 1982. Miss Sayers is not very good, and her career went to pieces soon afterwards. Her three-year credited career ended with the picture after this one, although she had an uncredited bit a dozen years later. The cast is ably eked out with J. Farrel MacDonald, a brief appearance by Alan Ladd at the beginning and Noah Beery Jr. in a sizable role as a Mexican (!).

It's one of 20 Zane Grey westerns filmed by by Paramount from 1930-1940. It is well directed by Lesley Selander and produced by Harry "Pop" Sherman, Paramount's go-to producer for western programmers. He is probably best remembered for producing the Hopalong Cassidy movies, before William Boyd bought the rights and took the franchise independent.

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

PostFri Sep 08, 2017 7:51 pm

The British TV movie Hancock 1991 stars Alfred Molina as Tony Hancock and shows a bitter and self-destructive man behind the comic veneer. Alcoholic and veering between bombastic ambitions and a total lack of self-confidence, the film shows a man spiraling out of control. Neither his wives nor his friends can help as his career starts to go bad. He rails against his own comic achievements when it seems fans only want to see him repeat the same stuff. He reveres Chaplin and Keaton for their "universality" and bemoans his own limitations because he cannot escape his own comic persona. He keeps talking about playing King Lear and of course no one takes him seriously. A grim picture of a funnyman. Mel Martin and Frances Barber play the abused wives, Jim Carter shows up as a comedy writer. Molina is terrific.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Sep 09, 2017 5:50 am

China Passage (1937): Vinton Hayworth and Gordon Jones are supposed to carry a famous diamond from Shanghai to its destination. A gun battle erupts, and the diamond disappears. Girl detective Constance Worth finds herself on a ship bound from Shanghai to San Francisco with every one who was in that street (except for perpetually sozzled Dick Elliott, who insists he is going to Sydney). Since the trip takes only 50 minutes in this movie, and some one is poisoning suspects, she has to move fast.

It's directed by Edward Killy, an RKO assistant director who occasionally was turned loose on B programmers. He directed six the year he made this one, then went back to managing crowds for others until 1940, whereupon he directed a spate of B westerns, then back to assistant directing.

This one is competently directed for speed, but there is enough humor and even a skeet-shooting match to let the audience relax. Keep an eye out for Skippy, the terrier who's best known for playing Asta in MGM's "Thin Man" movies.

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

PostSat Sep 09, 2017 7:36 am

Having just seen the one film (so far) it looks Like his character is based on the underdog, and being British, this also means the character has no social position at all. It's hinted in the film that he moves around a lot so he's like a carny worker.


Right, he's not obviously cockney, and a bit educated, moreso than other characters. Outside the class system a bit, I guess, as you say. To me there's a bit of proto-Angry Young Man underneath, at least I suspect he was the sort of comedian they liked.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Sep 09, 2017 7:58 am

Mike Gebert wrote:
Having just seen the one film (so far) it looks Like his character is based on the underdog, and being British, this also means the character has no social position at all. It's hinted in the film that he moves around a lot so he's like a carny worker.


Right, he's not obviously cockney, and a bit educated, moreso than other characters. Outside the class system a bit, I guess, as you say. To me there's a bit of proto-Angry Young Man underneath, at least I suspect he was the sort of comedian they liked.


Judging from the biopic, Hancock was an insecure, angry man who drank too much, almost a cliche of the funny man who was severely depressed and unhappy in real life. His marital problems, extra-marital affairs, bad use of writing partners, etc. show a man totally out of control. According to the biopic, The Punch and Judy Man was a failure in its day, especially disappointing after The Rebel in 1961. He blew a big chance after landing a "third lead" role in a Disney film. He was fired because he was bombed all the time and couldn't perform. From that point on, his career was a series of disasters and falling back on his old schtick while bragging about all the big projects he was planning ... of course they never happened.

I've never seen any of the TV stuff where he grudgingly teamed up with Sidney James.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Sep 09, 2017 2:30 pm

One man discovers his sister's fiance's father has called off the wedding; another, that his fiancee's father has done likewise; a third, that his wife is walking out. It takes twenty minutes for them to discover what has disgraced them in the eyes of their village: there's a government campaign to encourage men to get vasectomies, and they're the Poster Boys (2017). Everyone thinks it's disgraceful. The thing is, none of them have done it.

This Bollywood comedy spends the first twenty minutes flailing about, until it settles down and becomes engaging; there are too many loud comedy turns by too many people to offer much beyond comic stereotypes. It is only when calm, rational, moral Sunny Deol loses his temper that he emerges as the leader of the three and balances the comic triad. The story never quite lives up to its promise, as they are frustrated by events, government inertia and continually up the stakes, until they decide -- for no clear reason -- to strip naked in protest. However, there are some bright comic bits along the way.

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

PostSat Sep 09, 2017 3:42 pm

boblipton wrote:I think Fitzcarraldo (1982) is a movie written and directed by a madman (Werner Herzog), starring a madman (Klaus Kinski) about a madman (Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald) who portages a steamship over a mountain, which would, in his mind, let him build an opera house far into the Amazonian jungle at Iquitos, where Caruso could sing. Apparently the production of this movie resulted in more deaths than Michael Curtiz managed in his entire career -- although maybe not, if you count horses.

I think it may be one of those movies which every lover of movies should see once, even though we hate it, like Triumph of the Will and Birth of a Nation. In fact, that may be the point. However, I am not sure.

Bob


I was flipping channels a few years back and came across this just as the singers were sailing down the Amazon belting out the Puritani Quartet. I was absolutely baffled and enchanted with this wonderfully surreal moment. I finally figured out what i was watching and thought i'd have to eventually see the whole film. Still haven't, maybe enduring that would make me no longer enchanted with it, but in isolation, that moment is magical.

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

PostSat Sep 09, 2017 5:58 pm

Did the Rank organization have hopes of competing with the Huggetts series at the competition when they filmed Fly Away Peter (1948)? It's clearly based on a two-act family drama about a family where the children are growing up, the acts separated by a couple of years, and with minimal expansion to account for the fact that not everything has to happen on the same set: a couple of shots in the street and one upstairs manages that.

Also, the Hapgood family is clearly middle class. All the men have office jobs or are in public school or are being sent to Africa by the firms. It's bland and well performed, directed and shot and a good time-waster by all concerned. If there is nothing that stands out as surprisingly good, there's nothing to complain about this mildly old-fashioned storm-in-a-teapot movie.

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

PostSat Sep 09, 2017 6:15 pm

Les Blank's Burden of Dreams is essential viewing for a full appreciation of the madness of Fitzcarraldo. Ideal as a double bill.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Sep 10, 2017 6:56 am

In Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972), Werner Herzog supports Reginald Heber's s line about "Every prospect pleases, and only man is vile" by dropping Klaus Kinski and a bunch of German-speaking Conquistadors into the Amazonian rain forest, to torment themselves and the natives.

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

PostSun Sep 10, 2017 7:55 am

boblipton wrote:In Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972), Werner Herzog supports Reginald Heber's s line about "Every prospect pleases, and only man is vile" by dropping Klaus Kinski and a bunch of German-speaking Conquistadors into the Amazonian rain forest, to torment themselves and the natives.

Bob


That is one of the greatest films I've ever seen. Absolutely captivated me, every time I watched it.

Umm, YMMV.

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

PostSun Sep 10, 2017 7:58 am

The fashion in arrows is longer this year.
“Sentimentality is when it doesn't come off—when it does, you get a true expression of life's sorrows.” —Alain-Fournier
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Sep 10, 2017 9:11 am

I've watched several Brit films lately. "Out of the Fog" (1962), directed by Montgomery Tully and starring David Sumner, Susan Travers, James Hayter, and John Arnatt; "Radio Cab Murder" (1954) with Jimmy Hanley, Lana Morris, and others; "Cover Girl Killer" (1959) and "Life in Danger" (1959), both directed by Terry Bishop - all were quite good, with "Radio Cab Murder" not only 'good' for a "B", but truly memorable, exceptional, something far above routine and worth noting. These are on releases from Renown Pictures LTD where 2 restored releases are on each DVD, and these are PAL. Well worth the investment most of the time. The films are much better than most of the 50's "B" tripe produced in America!

Also have watched "I Live On Danger" (1942) with Chester Morris, Jean Parker, Elisabeth Risdon, Dick Purcell, and others; and then "A Bullet for Joey" (1955) with Edward G. Robinson, George Raft, Audrey Totter, Peter van Eyck, and George Dolenz. The former has a super cast, but the film is definitely "B" material. Nice, but nothing out of the ordinary. The latter has a phenomenal cast, but most of the cast is on the wane career-wise, and besides the stars you'll find Sally Blane and Kaaren Verne in minor roles. Nice to see all these, but the director, Lewis Allen, obviously didn't prepare his cast very well, and some of the scenes appear to be very poorly done, almost amateurish. Too bad, as the film is worthy, but flawed.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Sep 10, 2017 11:38 am

Jim, Greta, I'm not saying these Herzog movies are bad movies. In fact, I think they may be great movies. It's just that they are absolutely mad and hateful. The brevity of my remarks reflects the realization that I have not digested them fully, as opposed to the next George Pearson talkie I look at. That I'll be able to write 500 words about twelve minutes before the credits roll.

Speaking of movies that would do well on a double bill with Fitzcarraldo, my cousin and I saw Greta Goes West (2017) this morning and..... no, it was oldposterho who was talking about how Burden of Dreams would go.... no, I'm not saying Greta Goes West... no, we walked out. Right, right, Ongrid Goes W ... We saw .... will you guys let me finish what I was saying and maybe do some editing and corrections and then you can criticize my typos and look oh so smart?

AHEM!

This morning my cousin and I went to see Ingrid Goes West (2017). Aubrey Plaza has just gotten out of the loony bin, whither she went because she maced a bride for not inviting her to the wedding. Her mom has just died and left her sixty grand, so she converts it to cash and goes to Venice Beach so she can stalk Elizabeth Olsen, a minor social media celebrity. After about thirty minutes, I remarked to my cousin that I had seen two Werner Herzog movies this week, and after he remarked those were "fun", I explained that those made this seem stupid and dull. After about forty-five minutes, I told my cousin I couldn't take these self-absorbed poseurs any more and I was going down to the lobby to read Richard Feynman's memoirs. This caused him to grump and leave, and be annoyed with me.

So. To get back to the point, if you are speaking of movies that would go well on a double bill with Fitzcarraldo, Ingrid Goes West is not one I'd recommend. In fact, it will make you want to attack the screen and then go hunt down the "talent" that made it. Now do you see where that was going?

Which movie? Now that I think of it, both. Although only one because it is bad.

What do you mean the set-uo wasn't worth it? How.... Oh, talk about some movie you've seen recently and I'll criticize your comments.

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

PostSun Sep 10, 2017 1:58 pm

The house is said to be haunted because of the Murder in the Blue Room (1944). To prove it nonsense, a guest decides to sleep in it.... and disappears.

This Universal mystery/comedy/thriller looks like it may have been bought for Abbott & Costello. Later, the comedy stylings were set for the Ritz Brothers, but something happened, so Grace MacDonald, Betty Kean and June Preissler were given some songs, some dances and the comedy gags. Under the direction of Leslie Goodwins, they do just fine, amidst a cast that includes Donald Cook, John Litel, Regis Toomey, and the comic/sinister butler played by Ian Wolfe. Besides the guests disappearing from the Blue Room, there is a piano that plays Beethoven without a player and Robert Cherry as a ghost who wants directions to the graveyard. It moves along at a good clip, blithely bouncing across genres in a script that is the first screen credit for future Billy Wilder collaborator, I.A.L. Diamond.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Sep 10, 2017 2:04 pm

Mike Gebert wrote:The fashion in arrows is longer this year.


And the feather tips have lace trim!

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

PostSun Sep 10, 2017 2:53 pm

Douglas Dumbrille played a lot of villains and pompous targets for comics, but in one or two westerns, he got to play a good guy. In The Mysterious Rider (1938), from a Zane Grey story, he's Pecos Bill, who's heading back to his old stomping grounds. He's working under a fake name, because he's wanted for murder.

It takes half an hour for the details of this story to come out, and another half hour to settle matters, but he's surprisingly warm and straightforward and competent here. There are also a few people playing roles that will surprise you. Sidney Toler shows up as Dumbrille's amiable and nasty sidekick who turns out to be a cook, and Russel Hayden takes a break from the Hopalong Cassidy franchise.

Some good location shooting in the Arizona dessert caps off this Harry Sherman production for Paramount. Doubtless he got to spend more money than a Poverty Row B producer, but it shows on the screen.

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

PostSun Sep 10, 2017 7:18 pm

Cobra Verde (1987) is a relatively straightforward movie by Werner Herzog, now that I know he loves the jungle and hates people. I liked it a lot.

That Man Bolt (1973) is a good, mindless palate cleanser to follow up. Fred Williamson is a courier who is betrayed, so he blows up a lot of stuff and beats up martial artists.

Bob
He was deeply moved, for the whisky had been generously measured.

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

PostMon Sep 11, 2017 5:40 am

boblipton wrote:Sidney Toler shows up as Dumbrille's amiable and nasty sidekick who turns out to be a cook,


Clearly bent on stirring up a pot of trouble...

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

PostMon Sep 11, 2017 11:46 am

All brought to a boil, no doubt.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostMon Sep 11, 2017 2:06 pm

drednm wrote: Judging from the biopic, Hancock was an insecure, angry man who drank too much, almost a cliche of the funny man who was severely depressed and unhappy in real life. His marital problems, extra-marital affairs, bad use of writing partners, etc. show a man totally out of control. According to the biopic, The Punch and Judy Man was a failure in its day, especially disappointing after The Rebel in 1961. He blew a big chance after landing a "third lead" role in a Disney film. He was fired because he was bombed all the time and couldn't perform. From that point on, his career was a series of disasters and falling back on his old schtick while bragging about all the big projects he was planning ... of course they never happened.

I've never seen any of the TV stuff where he grudgingly teamed up with Sidney James.


I must confess to finding THE PUNCH AND JUDY MAN an interesting if uneven movie, partly due to its location work in Bognor Regis, where I attended college in the early 1980s. It seemed more successful in its melancholy side which included a memorable bit from John Le Mesurier as the 'sand-sculptor'. Much of the comedy (the business with the boy and the ice-cream, the Titi-esque) finale seemed to misfire for me. Don't think I've seen the film in about twenty years, but those scenes have stayed with me - even the bad ones.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostMon Sep 11, 2017 2:13 pm

boblipton wrote: I think it may be one of those movies which every lover of movies should see once, even though we hate it, like Triumph of the Will and Birth of a Nation. In fact, that may be the point. However, I am not sure.

Bob


One does not have to admire or condone the attitudes present in such films in order to appreciate them as film-making or as worthwhile pieces of film history, just as one would (or should) not praise a film (play, book, etc) simply because one sympathises with its outlook. Admittedly I have seen neither for thirty years or so, but that is partly due to my catching up with films I haven't seen or which are rarer. Despite the inadequacies of the TV stations, there is now more opportunity to catch such films which one would otherwise have had to travel goodly distances to see.
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