What is the last film you watched? (2017)

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

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

PostWed Oct 25, 2017 2:21 pm

He Found a Star (1940) The daughter of the new Prime Minister and her husband -- Sarah Churchill and Vic Oliver -- star in this musical. He's opening a talent agency for people who never got a break, and it takes him half an hour to find a down-ad-out fellow whose song version of "Invictus" went out of favor twenty years earlier, and transform him into a novelty number, followed by real talent: basso Uriel Porter. By the forty minute mark in this movie, he's found success and lost his soul -- which means moving into sleek new offices and the Original Blonde Bombshell, Evelyn Dall -- until the smash finish, of course.

It's a surprisingly sweet musical, and reliable director John Paddy Carstairs pulls out all the stops with a variety of weird wipes for editing the big production number. Look back more than three quarters of a century, you can see the cheap B values and the attempts to cash in on current notoriety, but also the clear competence of the underlying work.

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

PostWed Oct 25, 2017 2:58 pm

I get a little tired of the cliche that certain novels are "unfilmable". In the first place, if they're truly unfilmable, you wouldn't have anything to put up on that movie screen at all, so what's that we're watching up there? In the second place, no book is unfilmable if you use your creative talents: one need only consider the panache with which De Mille handled the Bible, albeit in sections.

So let's put that lame excuse aside in reviewing 1970's Catch-22.

Yes, I'm a lifelong Joseph Heller fan. I was thrilled a couple of months ago to discover a hard-to-find hardcover copy of his last book, Portrait of the Artist As An Old Man, in a used bookstore in Kingston, ON. I thought God Knows even surpassed the cherished Catch-22 for sheer laughter. And no, I was neither outraged nor disappointed by the Mike Nichols movie.

It probably even seems better with age. Nichols and Buck Henry (who adapted it) managed the narrative and chronological transitions of the book so smoothly and seamlessly, it was a really impressive feat and singlehandedly demolished the "unfilmable" tag.

The cast is spectacular in every regard. Alan Arkin, Art Garfunkle, Martin Balsam, Martin Sheen, Anthony Perkins, Bob Newhart (perfect in his small role as Major Major), Jon Voight, Buck Henry himself, Jack Gilford, a wonderful Orson Welles, and even the odious Richard Benjamin all fill their challenging roles beautifully. I also loved whoever played the old Italian man in the bordello who engages Garfunkle in a delightful, wise, witty philosophical discussion.

The sets are also just right, and are complemented by thoughtful camera direction -- for example, a high long shot held for about five minutes, looking down at Arkin, Perkins, and Benjamin as they talk in a deserted and bombed hospital.

There's quite a bit of repetition, but it works exactly the way Heller wrote it in the book. You never get fed-up with it. I certainly never felt the filmmakers had missed either the point or the feeling of the novel.

It's a film that kept me watching closely for two hours without a lag.

Jim
Last edited by Jim Roots on Wed Oct 25, 2017 3:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostWed Oct 25, 2017 3:00 pm

boblipton wrote:He Found a Star (1940) The daughter of the new Prime Minister and her husband -- Sarah Churchill and Vic Oliver -- star in this musical. He's opening a talent agency for people who never got a break, and it takes him half an hour to find a down-ad-out fellow whose song version of "Invictus" went out of favor twenty years earlier, and transform him into a novelty number, followed by real talent: basso Uriel Porter.


Imagine how long it would take him to do that if he had had the Internet.

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

PostWed Oct 25, 2017 7:49 pm

Dirty Dancing (1987). If you can't say anything good....
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostThu Oct 26, 2017 5:30 am

I watched "She Had to Say Yes" (1933) with Loretta Young, Lyle Talbot, Winnie Lightner, Regis Toomey, Ferdinand Gottschalk, Toby and Pat Wing, Hugh Herbert, and many others. This piece of schlock was actually directed by none other than Busby Berkeley. It plays well and is acted by the pros who could do nothing but professional grade, but the story was like watching Harvey Weinstein or James Tobak or David Russell in action. You'd think that the male species lives for one thing and one thing only. Not that some don't, or think so, or even act so, but this film pretty much defines the sleaze in Pre-Code. It does begin with a runway - a ladies fashion runway - of girls in their underwear - like all good Pre-Codes. Then it truly gets sleazy. The fact that Young ends up with accepting Talbot in the end after how their relationship began - maybe in 1933 on the screen, but not today's screen. The Pre-Code that pretty much shows this plot with true chutzpah was from the same year: "Employee's Entrance": it may be sleazy, but I admit to loving it! "She Had to Say Yes" is a recent Warner Brothers Archive Collection release.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostThu Oct 26, 2017 8:39 am

Jeeves and Wooster is a British TV series that ran for four seasons starting in 1990. It stars Stephen Fry as Jeeves and Hugh Laurie as Wooster. Both actors are impeccable in their portrayals of the P.G. Wodehouse characters and are a delight to watch and listen to. On the down side, many of the stories have a similar plot and many of the supporting characters are a tad tedious. Still, this is an enjoyable show. Oddly absent in film adaptations, Jeeves, in the person of Arthur Treacher, appeared in two B-movies in the 1930s (one minus Wooster altogether), while Wooster made one appearance (David Niven). I don't see any British films based on these characters (but there may be some). Stephen Fry is as perfect as match to the character as any actor is ever likely to be, and Laurie (seemingly channeling Claude Hulbert) is also excellent. Mostly excellent production values (although one marquee blazes an ad for FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS ... off by almost 20 years), one of the manor houses will be instantly recognized as the one that doubled as Downton Abbey.
Last edited by drednm on Thu Oct 26, 2017 11:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostThu Oct 26, 2017 9:23 am

Since Halloween is just around the corner, I watched As Above, So Below (2014) and Interview with the Vampire (1994).

I really enjoyed As Above, So Below, although things kind of fall apart near the end. I especially enjoyed my wife hiding under the covers for most of the movie.

I didn't enjoy Interview very much, but my wife thought it was better than I did. I read the book years ago, and never read any of the subsequent books, so there you go. :lol:
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostThu Oct 26, 2017 10:08 am

drednm wrote:Jeeves and Wooster is a British TV series that ran for four seasons starting in 1990. It stars Stephen Fry as Jeeves and Hugh Laurie as Wooster. Both actors are impeccable in their portrayals of the P.G. Wodehouse characters and are a delight to watch and listen to. On the down side, many of the stories have a similar plot and many of the supporting characters are a tad tedious. Still, this is an enjoyable show. Oddly absent in film adaptations, Jeeves, in the person of Arthur Treacher, appeared in two B-movies in the 1930s (one minus Wooster altogether), while Wooster made one appearance (David Niven). I don't see any British films based on these characters (but there may be some). Stephen Fry is as perfect as match to the character as any actor is ever likely to be, and Laurie (seemingly channeling Claude Hulbert) is also excellent. Mostly excellent production values (although one marquee blazes an ad for FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS ... off by almost 20 years), one of the manor houses will be instantly recognized as one one that doubled as Downton Abbey.

Re-visited this last year and thoroughly enjoyed it - again. Will probably re-visit the series again sometime late next year. My wife and I love the show, never tire of it.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostThu Oct 26, 2017 2:05 pm

drednm wrote:Jeeves and Wooster is a British TV series that ran for four seasons starting in 1990. It stars Stephen Fry as Jeeves and Hugh Laurie as Wooster. ........ I don't see any British films based on these characters (but there may be some). .


There was an earlier TV series (1960's?) with Ian Carmichael as Bertie and Dennis Price as Jeeves. I thought it to be a whole lot better than the Fry/Laurie combination.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostThu Oct 26, 2017 2:46 pm

Donald Binks wrote:
drednm wrote:Jeeves and Wooster is a British TV series that ran for four seasons starting in 1990. It stars Stephen Fry as Jeeves and Hugh Laurie as Wooster. ........ I don't see any British films based on these characters (but there may be some). .


There was an earlier TV series (1960's?) with Ian Carmichael as Bertie and Dennis Price as Jeeves. I thought it to be a whole lot better than the Fry/Laurie combination.


Here's one:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEj2nzKWbf0&t=140s
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostThu Oct 26, 2017 3:26 pm

drednm wrote:
Donald Binks wrote:
drednm wrote:Jeeves and Wooster is a British TV series that ran for four seasons starting in 1990. It stars Stephen Fry as Jeeves and Hugh Laurie as Wooster. ........ I don't see any British films based on these characters (but there may be some). .


There was an earlier TV series (1960's?) with Ian Carmichael as Bertie and Dennis Price as Jeeves. I thought it to be a whole lot better than the Fry/Laurie combination.


Here's one:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEj2nzKWbf0&t=140s" target="_blank


Oh! What ho! Spiffing! Ian Carmichael is your genuine article. Has Bertie orf to a tea -even with the jolly old crumpet.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostThu Oct 26, 2017 3:59 pm

There was an earlier TV series (1960's?) with Ian Carmichael as Bertie and Dennis Price as Jeeves. I thought it to be a whole lot better than the Fry/Laurie combination.[/quote]

Here's one:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEj2nzKWbf0&t=140s" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank[/quote]

Oh! What ho! Spiffing! Ian Carmichael is your genuine article. Has Bertie orf to a tea -even with the jolly old crumpet.[/quote]

LOL....... Apparently not much survives from this series.... Reminds me of Sybil the Tea Lady, the Undercroft, and sherry during tutorials. Days long past.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostFri Oct 27, 2017 12:36 pm

Awhile ago I tried to order The Sam Fuller Collection from amazon, and was rebuffed by their unexplained refusal to ship the set to Canada. I posted a complaint on NitrateVille. About three weeks later, amazon sent me an email ad for the same Collection, so I clicked on it. Lo and behold, this time they had no hesitation in shipping it to me. The moral of the story: either Jeff Bezos lurks here, or nobody dast mess with us NitrateVillains.

Last night I watched the first film in the set, It Happened In Hollywood (1937). It might seem a stretch to call this a Sam Fuller film, as he was last-billed among three writers and did not direct it (Harry Lachman did, with only sporadic enthusiasm). Yet the film fits effortlessly inside the Fuller world.

"Tim Buck" (Richard Dix) is a silent film cowboy star who gets shown the door when the talkies come in. It's not that his voice is the problem; what comes out of that voice is the problem. Not a "dese, dem, dose" accent, but rather an "ain't none" vocabulary which he is both unable and unwilling to upgrade to poetic heights of loquacity. His long-time on-screen love interest, played by a never-lovelier Fay Wray, has no such failing; but when "Tim" walks out on the talkie film that is supposed to cement her solo stardom, they both end up destitute and out of work, a situation both try to hide from the other.

Salvation comes in the form of a kid fan, "Billy", who has survived multiple operations, running away from foster homes, and hitchhiking from New York to Los Angeles to be with his number one hero. "Tim" pulls himself together enough to reclaim his foreclosed ranch and stage a massive party of film stars for "Billy's" sake. Except they aren't (ain't?) the actual film stars: they are their doubles.

The upstanding, unbending, moral hero is a Fuller staple even at this early stage in his career. So is the homage to the kind of supportive, modest, undemanding folks typified by the doubles. They aren't just trotted out for a quick gaping: they're allowed their own star turns. They're quite remarkable, too. Mae West, W.C. Fields, Chaplin, Garbo, Harold Lloyd, Joan Crawford, and Bing Crosby who even gets to sing "Why Don't We Fall In Love?" ... they are all given respectful time to show what they can do. They aren't mere impersonators or impressionists: they are real doubles.

The film is sentimental hokum, needless to say, but fans of old-fashioned self-celebratory movies will pass a very enjoyable 67 minutes.

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

PostFri Oct 27, 2017 1:15 pm

Jim Roots wrote:Awhile ago I tried to order The Sam Fuller Collection from amazon, and was rebuffed by their unexplained refusal to ship the set to Canada. I posted a complaint on NitrateVille. About three weeks later, amazon sent me an email ad for the same Collection, so I clicked on it. Lo and behold, this time they had no hesitation in shipping it to me. The moral of the story: either Jeff Bezos lurks here, or nobody dast mess with us NitrateVillains.

Last night I watched the first film in the set, It Happened In Hollywood (1937). It might seem a stretch to call this a Sam Fuller film, as he was last-billed among three writers and did not direct it (Harry Lachman did, with only sporadic enthusiasm). Yet the film fits effortlessly inside the Fuller world.

"Tim Buck" (Richard Dix) is a silent film cowboy star who gets shown the door when the talkies come in. It's not that his voice is the problem; what comes out of that voice is the problem. Not a "dese, dem, dose" accent, but rather an "ain't none" vocabulary which he is both unable and unwilling to upgrade to poetic heights of loquacity. His long-time on-screen love interest, played by a never-lovelier Fay Wray, has no such failing; but when "Tim" walks out on the talkie film that is supposed to cement her solo stardom, they both end up destitute and out of work, a situation both try to hide from the other.

Salvation comes in the form of a kid fan, "Billy", who has survived multiple operations, running away from foster homes, and hitchhiking from New York to Los Angeles to be with his number one hero. "Tim" pulls himself together enough to reclaim his foreclosed ranch and stage a massive party of film stars for "Billy's" sake. Except they aren't (ain't?) the actual film stars: they are their doubles.

The upstanding, unbending, moral hero is a Fuller staple even at this early stage in his career. So is the homage to the kind of supportive, modest, undemanding folks typified by the doubles. They aren't just trotted out for a quick gaping: they're allowed their own star turns. They're quite remarkable, too. Mae West, W.C. Fields, Chaplin, Garbo, Harold Lloyd, Joan Crawford, and Bing Crosby who even gets to sing "Why Don't We Fall In Love?" ... they are all given respectful time to show what they can do. They aren't mere impersonators or impressionists: they are real doubles.

The film is sentimental hokum, needless to say, but fans of old-fashioned self-celebratory movies will pass a very enjoyable 67 minutes.

Jim

I have to admit that the first time I ever saw that film I was simply bamboozled by the doubles! Myrna Loy's looked so much like her that even I was fooled at first. The film's actually fun for an older guy as I am, but it's really worth a watch just to see those doubles at the end.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostFri Oct 27, 2017 5:38 pm

In False Faces (1932), Lowell Sherman is a doctor and surgeon in New York City who gets kicked out -- quietly -- for taking money at a free hospital for promising extras for his patients. He heads out to Chicago, where he sets up, despite no training, as a plastic surgeon. Doctors are not permitted to advertise -- he gets his name in the paper anyway, he lectures nationwide on the radio, he writes a column in the newspaper. Women come flocking to him and it isn't until the real doctors come down on him that he is arrested for malpractice.

The audience at the Museum of Modern Art didn't care much for this movie, because .... well, I thought it was better than most of they did. About eighty years ago, one of my grandfathers opened a butter-and-eggs store. Every morning, the housewives would come in and ask if there was anything special. After a while he put a crate of eggs beneath the counter and when asked, would produce these. "Double-candled," he would explain. For these, instead of a dime a dozen, he got twelve cents. More recently, I was speaking with a niece about a problem, and noted that not all problems have solutions. "That's pessimistic," she chided me. I shrugged.

Lowell Sherman's black-hearted Pre-Code scoundrel -- his specialty in the movies at least since Griffith's Way Down East -- knows that people believe they can have what they want, and that anyone who tells them they can't is, like all the other doctors in this movie, who decry Sherman's methods, in a conspiracy to deprive them of their just deserts. It's not just medicine; look at cosmetics, or perfumes, or even politics -- if I may bring up the subject -- in which far too many people will believe anyone of expertise who promises them what they want, even if it makes no sense, and blame its unavailability on some malign conspiracy, that the spellbinder will deliver.

Well, best not to get into politics here, given that the people at the Museum would never fall for that line -- just some other. Sherman is good in his role as the stinker, Berton Churchill is fine as his more cautious accomplice and there are plenty of Pre-Code ladies doing things that they could only do for a few years before the Code clamped down.

Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Mon Nov 06, 2017 6:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Oct 28, 2017 6:40 am

Girl of the Night (1960) stars Anne Francis as a call girl who thinks there must be a better life out there somewhere. She happens upon a kindly on psychiatrist (Lloyd Nolan) who helps here find her way, but not before a co-workers falls off a balcony and her pimp (John Kerr) slaps her around a few times. Typical lurid story of the time that can't even use the words "prostitute" or "pimp," but it does offer a good performance by Francis, especially as she writhes of the doctor's couch as she remembers her nasty past. Film was based on a "scientific study" by a real doctor. Kerr makes the most of his against-type casting, and Kay Medford is excellent as a boozy madam. TV soap queen Eileen Fulton makes her film debut as Lisa Mae and someone named Julius Monk appears as a "broker."
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Oct 28, 2017 7:26 am

boblipton wrote:In False Faces (1932), Lowell Sherman is a doctor and surgeon in New York City who gets kicked out...The audience at the Museum of Modern Art didn't care much for this movie, because .... well, I thought it was better than most of them did...Bob


Watched that back in August and really enjoyed it. What was it that most DIDN'T enjoy? I'm curious. It was the same Dr. movie year of "Symphony of Six Million" with Ricardo Cortez and Irene Dunne, "Alias the Doctor" with Richard Barthelmess, and, for that matter, "Doctor X", and even "Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde". What's not to like about "False Faces"? Lowell Sherman is perfection in the part, even if he did direct it also, and he did.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Oct 28, 2017 10:09 am

Miss Morrison's Ghosts (1981) is a TV movie based on real-life events. Story concerns two spinsters who run a college at Oxford. While in France they visit Versailles (this is around 1901) and experience a "time slip" in which they each feel lost and encounter strange sights while fumbling around old pathways. Alarmed, they start to compare notes and discover that while they each experienced something very odd, each had slightly different visions (although much was the same vision). Back at Oxford they jotted down notes, made drawings, and began to research French history. When they take their case to a "psychical" group, they are basically turned away as hysterical women. They eventually published a book called "An Adventure" in 1911, using fake names. Though they used fake names, everyone knows who they really are and they are eventually forced out of their administrative jobs (in the film). The book was reprinted in 1913. Apparently the real women had long histories of paranormal experiences, all of which have been discredited, but their book caused a major stir. Anyway, it makes for an interesting TV film with Wendy Hiller and Hannah Gordon as the spinsters. The subplot involves their school being accredited as an Oxford college. Their scandal did not help.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Oct 28, 2017 11:21 am

The second film I watched from the Sam Fuller collection has even less legitimacy in its claim to being "a Sam Fuller film". He merely supplied the story for The Power of the Press (1943), which is a step down from being last-billed among the writers.

When Guy Kibbee is first-billed among the actors, you know it's a B movie. We all love Kibbee, but as a fourth-billed comic relief in A pictures. Here, he's the hick-town editor who attempts to reform a sleazy NYC newspaper. He's good, but Edgar Buchanan could have cloned him, or would that have been redundant? I think it would have been more fun to have seen someone like Eugene Pallette in the role -- Gene's nasty eyebrows would have given him more credibility than Kibbee has as someone brave enough to take on the NYC media elite. Kibbee has no feistiness or bravado.

Made during wartime, this film is an obvious propaganda effort. It is, however, eerily applicable to the current situation in the USA. There are several references to "fake news", while blatant and provable lying is the default strategy of those in power, and the film ends with Kibbee preaching directly into the camera about racial and religious divisiveness tearing apart the USA.

Banal, melodramatic, and predictable as it is, it remains interesting only for the way it parallels today.

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

PostSat Oct 28, 2017 12:11 pm

Victoria & Abdul (2017) If Judy Dench had been the sovereign instead of Charles I, not only would it have been Noll Cromwell beheaded for treason (if it had gotten that far), but I would be singing "God Save the Queen” at rounders matches.

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

PostSat Oct 28, 2017 1:59 pm

boblipton wrote:.....I would be singing "God Save the Queen” at rounders matches.
Bob


You can of course still do this if the whim overcomes you..... :D
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Oct 29, 2017 6:34 am

Baby Face Nelson (1957) is a really low-budget film directed by Don Siegel and starring Mickey Rooney in a ferocious performance as the infamous killer/bank robber born as Lester Gillis. Set in 1933/34 with Nelson getting out of prison and going right back to his illegal ways, including teaming up with John Dillinger. Along for the ride, in a series of great old cars, is Carolyn Jones as his moll/wife Sue. They are terrific. A major surprise is Cedric Hardwicke as the seedy and alcoholic doctor who runs a "sanitarium" somewhere in the sticks. Lots of time glitches with (view of 1950s cars, etc.) but it hardly matters. Familiar faces include Jack Elam, John Hot, Leo Gordon, George E. Stone, Elisha Cook, Thayer David, Dabbs Greer, and Tom Fadden. Gritty for the time.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Oct 29, 2017 7:29 am

One of my earliest and most influential film books is William K. Everson's Classics of the Horror Film—I went into a kid who liked monster movies and came out a kid who wanted to see this movie Sunrise, that he called "the most beautiful of silent films." (It came up because of Karl Struss, who came up because of Sparrows.) Everson was a generous and welcoming teacher, who understood why you loved the second-rate, but I nevertheless gained a lot from his critical rigor—I always keep in mind a short lecture he gave in Films in Review once on how the word "masterpiece" should not be overused, it literally means the most important piece of a master, and you ought to only have one or, at most, two, at markedly different phases of your artistic development.

Anyway, closer to second-rate than masterpiece now—one of the very last films in that book which I had never seen was a 1931 film called Murder by the Clock, based on an old dark house stage play. And there it was, in an acceptable copy of VHS from 16mm, on YouTube. The Endicotts are rich, but down to the degraded last generation, represented by Irving Pichel as a strong psychopath and Walter McGrail as a whiny cousin married to scheming Lilyan Tashman. Old Mrs. Endicott has her own problems, notably a fear of being buried alive in the family crypt, so her crypt has an alarm built into it, a baleful howl of a siren.

So yes, as you've probably heard, this has slow as molasses pacing and o-ver-em-phat-ic act-ing, but the material is slick barnstormer stuff that would be a lot of fun to stage for Halloween today with a wink, and it gives Tashman a great chance as the scheming hussy who has no trouble conning every guy in the picture into bumping somebody else off for her, except for William "Stage" Boyd as the detective who has her number from the get-go. It's all going to lead to a climax in the crypt, of course, with Pichel on the loose and the siren howling and... so I'm not going to say I didn't let it play at a few of the expository parts while I looked up Walter McGrail on the internet to see what else he'd been in, and then Irving Pichel, and then looked up the 1933 Oliver Twist with Pichel as Fagin, and then its director William Cowen (who directed Kongo for MGM but immediately slipped to Monogram, hmm... I should get back to Murder by the Clock now) but I enjoyed it for what it is. Bill didn't steer me wrong.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Oct 29, 2017 8:50 am

Don't Take It To Heart (1944): When a German bomb lands on a crypt, the explosion lets out the ghost of a bad old earl, and lets loose a roundabout plot involving a decayed aristocrat, his tenant, who wishes to enclose a cricket pitch annoying the local villagers, Richard Greene, who has shown up to look at some recently revealed old manuscripts and his real life wife, Patricia Medina, as the earl's daughter.

There's a fair amount of well-constructed social satire in this production, as well as some good jokes, and the amount of silliness increases at a steady pace throughout, as the ghost becomes more and more active in setting things right. A goodly number of screen comics get a chance to amuse the audience, particularly Edward Rigby as the butler, Moore Marriott as the inevitable ciderhouse layabout and Joan Hickson, when she was merely middle-aged -- doubtless, if she ever appeared in any movies when she was young, they were produced by Robert W. Paul.

Although the movie becomes a bit too cartoonish for my taste at the three-quarters mark, it recovers itself nicely at the end and makes its points, humorous, dramatic and serious, nicely by the end.

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

PostSun Oct 29, 2017 3:07 pm

Finishing up my survey of Will Hay features, I finally took a look at Dandy Dick. Mr. Hay plays a vicar trying to raise a thousand pounds to repair his church's spire. He is persuaded to make a show of offering two hundred fifty of his own if three others will match him, in the confident belief that no one will; when three men do so, he must come up with the money. Fortunately, his sister has a half-interest in a race horse named after him.

This is a variation on Hay's usual corrupt role; he is as befuddled as ever, but the movie, based on a Pinero play, has him as a nice person, although caught up in his usual mischief, as matters go astray. The result, as directed by William Beaudine, is amiable and amusing, although not a patch on Hay's usual cut-glass farces.

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

PostSun Oct 29, 2017 7:57 pm

I did take in a movie with my cousin this morning, and I've been thinking about it all day. It's Suburbicon (2017), with a script by the Coen Brothers, directed by George Clooney. They tackle thrillers and, not unusually for Coen Brothers movies, their contempt for the other practitioners in the genre stand out. In this case, while the movie is unraveling the issue of why two hoods invaded the peaceful 1950s suburb of Suburbicon to rob a home and, along the way, murder Julianne Moore, the rest of the neighborhood is involved in a growing riot because the house's back-fence neighbors are Black. Wake up, sheeple! Stop drugging yourself with the trivia of thrillers! Revolution awaits! Only the Coen Brothers can see this!

Along the way, there are details, mostly borrowed from Eric Rohmer -- even though my cousin insists that I am the only person in America who would recognize his fascination with the trappings of the upper-middle class in France, Sevres and Limoges, in the US, various consumer brands of the era -- with Carol Reed -- the child's-eye view of much of the story, with the growing disillusionment of adults -- and, of course, Hitchcock -- Alexandre Desplat does a dead-on Bernard Hermann imitation. All these only served to emphasize the cold and contemptuous self-absorption of the film-makers that distracted me from what might have been a fine movie.

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

PostMon Oct 30, 2017 7:08 am

Mike Gebert wrote:One of my earliest and most influential film books is William K. Everson's Classics of the Horror Film—I went into a kid who liked monster movies and came out a kid who wanted to see this movie Sunrise, that he called "the most beautiful of silent films." (It came up because of Karl Struss, who came up because of Sparrows.) Everson was a generous and welcoming teacher, who understood why you loved the second-rate, but I nevertheless gained a lot from his critical rigor—I always keep in mind a short lecture he gave in Films in Review once on how the word "masterpiece" should not be overused, it literally means the most important piece of a master, and you ought to only have one or, at most, two, at markedly different phases of your artistic development.

Anyway, closer to second-rate than masterpiece now—one of the very last films in that book which I had never seen was a 1931 film called Murder by the Clock, based on an old dark house stage play. And there it was, in an acceptable copy of VHS from 16mm, on YouTube. The Endicotts are rich, but down to the degraded last generation, represented by Irving Pichel as a strong psychopath and Walter McGrail as a whiny cousin married to scheming Lilyan Tashman. Old Mrs. Endicott has her own problems, notably a fear of being buried alive in the family crypt, so her crypt has an alarm built into it, a baleful howl of a siren.
So yes, as you've probably heard, this has slow as molasses pacing and o-ver-em-phat-ic act-ing, but the material is slick barnstormer stuff that would be a lot of fun to stage for Halloween today with a wink, and it gives Tashman a great chance as the scheming hussy who has no trouble conning every guy in the picture into bumping somebody else off for her, except for William "Stage" Boyd as the detective who has her number from the get-go. It's all going to lead to a climax in the crypt, of course, with Pichel on the loose and the siren howling and... so I'm not going to say I didn't let it play at a few of the expository parts while I looked up Walter McGrail on the internet to see what else he'd been in, and then Irving Pichel, and then looked up the 1933 Oliver Twist with Pichel as Fagin, and then its director William Cowen (who directed Kongo for MGM but immediately slipped to Monogram, hmm... I should get back to Murder by the Clock now) but I enjoyed it for what it is. Bill didn't steer me wrong.


I think the director of this, Edward Sloman, is underrated. A great visual artist. The reason why he isn't better known is because he never really got the hang of dialogue. He could have used a dialogue director on his movies!

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

PostMon Oct 30, 2017 1:03 pm

boblipton wrote:
Mike Gebert wrote:One of my earliest and most influential film books is William K. Everson's Classics of the Horror Film—I went into a kid who liked monster movies and came out a kid who wanted to see this movie Sunrise, that he called "the most beautiful of silent films." (It came up because of Karl Struss, who came up because of Sparrows.) Everson was a generous and welcoming teacher, who understood why you loved the second-rate, but I nevertheless gained a lot from his critical rigor—I always keep in mind a short lecture he gave in Films in Review once on how the word "masterpiece" should not be overused, it literally means the most important piece of a master, and you ought to only have one or, at most, two, at markedly different phases of your artistic development.

Anyway, closer to second-rate than masterpiece now—one of the very last films in that book which I had never seen was a 1931 film called Murder by the Clock, based on an old dark house stage play. And there it was, in an acceptable copy of VHS from 16mm, on YouTube. The Endicotts are rich, but down to the degraded last generation, represented by Irving Pichel as a strong psychopath and Walter McGrail as a whiny cousin married to scheming Lilyan Tashman. Old Mrs. Endicott has her own problems, notably a fear of being buried alive in the family crypt, so her crypt has an alarm built into it, a baleful howl of a siren.
So yes, as you've probably heard, this has slow as molasses pacing and o-ver-em-phat-ic act-ing, but the material is slick barnstormer stuff that would be a lot of fun to stage for Halloween today with a wink, and it gives Tashman a great chance as the scheming hussy who has no trouble conning every guy in the picture into bumping somebody else off for her, except for William "Stage" Boyd as the detective who has her number from the get-go. It's all going to lead to a climax in the crypt, of course, with Pichel on the loose and the siren howling and... so I'm not going to say I didn't let it play at a few of the expository parts while I looked up Walter McGrail on the internet to see what else he'd been in, and then Irving Pichel, and then looked up the 1933 Oliver Twist with Pichel as Fagin, and then its director William Cowen (who directed Kongo for MGM but immediately slipped to Monogram, hmm... I should get back to Murder by the Clock now) but I enjoyed it for what it is. Bill didn't steer me wrong.


I think the director of this, Edward Sloman, is underrated. A great visual artist. The reason why he isn't better known is because he never really got the hang of dialogue. He could have used a dialogue director on his movies!

Bob


Will have to haul it out from wherever, but there was an article on Edward Sloman in 'The Velvet Light Trap' a good many years ago. His SURRENDER (1927) [on YT] is an outstanding film, and one can see a dip if one watches THE LOST ZEPPELIN from two years later...
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostMon Oct 30, 2017 1:50 pm

'Tis the season, so I'm making my way through the Val Lewton DVD box set, and enjoying every minute of it. Hadn't seen The Ghost Ship in years, and forgot what a brisk, often chilling, delight it is. Richard Dix gives a great performance, shortly before winding down his career with a string of titles in The Whistler series. Hard to believe that director Mark Robson, who delivers tight and efficient thrills here, would go on to make Valley of the Dolls and Earthquake later in his career. He also directed the one Lewton title I haven't seen, the juvenile delinquent picture Youth Run Wild, which I guess has yet to bow on DVD. Must keep my eyes peeled for a TCM airing...

This follows a viewing of The Body Snatcher, probably Karloff's best performance this side of a James Whale picture, and I'm about to dive into The Leopard Man. Wish me luck!
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostMon Oct 30, 2017 2:44 pm

Another entry in the "barely a Sam Fuller film" collection is 1938's Adventure In Sahara, for which he provided the story. The odd purging of articles from that title suggests it was taken directly from shorthand notes of a brainstorming session which the secretary didn't bother filling out when turning them into proper minutes. The film itself appears to have been constructed along the same utilitarian lines: "List every cliche in any film about the French Foreign Legion and film them all." The End.

Being less than an hour long, it certainly moves quickly -- after all, there are a lot of French Foreign Legion cliches for it to get through, so it has to be in a hurry to cram them all into 56 minutes. And it does get through every one of them ... the only exception might be the one where survivors prop up dead Legionnaires in the parapets to fool the Arabs into thinking there's no end of reinforcements for the fallen troops. How did they ever forget that?

The dialogue was written by people who, as children, learned all the English they know from D. W. Griffith movies. The performances are adequate, yet as cliched as the rest of the film. And for non-Americans, it is annoying that all the worldly people in the Legion declare they've been waiting for an American to come along and lead them to freedom from tyranny. Team America, World Police. Paul Kelly is appropriately square-jawed, grimly handsome, and adored by the only woman in the movie despite being a completely wooden actor.

There actually is already an American in the Legion, but he's Black, so of course he's nothing more than a servant to the rest of the troops. Certainly not the brave and noble leader of revolt. At least he isn't given the name "Snowball" or "Coalhouse".

C. Henry Gordon is the sadistic commandant as per rote. We never quite learn what his fate is going to be: his case against the mutineers is thrown out on the grounds that they were justified by his unremitting cruelty, but except that he loses his position in the fort, what happens to him? Is he stripped of rank and courtmartialed for being such a meanie?

If you like Legion stories, this is for you.

Jim
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