What is the last film you watched? (2017)

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boblipton

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

PostSat Mar 11, 2017 5:58 am

I just revisited Bureau of Missing Persons (1933) and found it a typically fun high-speed Warner's. Cocky detective Pat O'Brien has just been kicked downstairs to the eponymous branch, wearing a derby hat. Bureau chief Lewis Stone tells him that his old-fashioned brutality won't work here.

the movie starts off as a series of vignettes about the sort of people who go missing and why, ranging from cringeworthy (Hugh Herbert and Alan Jenkins argue about how put together "jigsaws" -- corpses that have been chopped up -- to amusing -- one recovered husband had disappeared because his young wife had been too physically demanding.

Despite the speed of the speech (except by Stone, who maintains the same emphatic style that he would use in Andy Hardy movies) and the zip cuts, the real story doesn't begin until half an hour into this 73-minute movie, when Bette Davis walks in, asking about her missing husband. The story quickly becomes complicated and sustains interest to the end, where O'Brien wears a Fedora to symbolize his redemptive modernity.

It's an unassuming movie , meant for fun, and it goes to demonstrate the brilliance of Warners' production in this period. Both the brutality and gags are kept offstage, lending a blase attitude towards the best and the worst. Herbert gets a rare straight outing, and does a good job. It's a pity that the movies seem incapable of speed and fun like this anymore.

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

PostSat Mar 11, 2017 12:21 pm

I saw the new digital restoration of "The King of Jazz" yesterday at the PFA. It looked great and the sound was very clean. It's a 4K DCP scanned from the two-color camera negative. It's a real shame that Bix Beiderbecke had left Whiteman's band before the movie was filmed. You do get see and hear Joe Venuti & Eddie Lang as well as Whiteman's longtime banjo player, Mike Pingitore. That act with Wilbur Hall playing his violin and pump had me laughing so much I almost fell out of my seat. It was nice seeing Nell 'Day too.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Mar 11, 2017 1:21 pm

Last night I watched Eraserhead (1977), which won't be making it onto Donald Binks' list of favourite films any time soon. Definitely not a film for everybody.

What struck me most was how much influence it had on Alien, which came out only two years later. David Lynch spent five years filming Eraserhead, so I will be skeptical of any claims that Alien was filmed at roughly the same time as Lynch's film.

The "baby" resembles a house-pet-pretty version of the alien in the later film. Both emerge from a human body. The lighting -- a pastiche of shadows and gloominess with scattered bits of blinding light -- are similar, although less noticeable in Alien because the latter is in colour rather than B&W. And so on.

For 40 years I've been mildly intrigued by the prospect of seeing Eraserhead, but couldn't muster enough enthusiasm to actually do so. Now that I've done so, I'm satisfied that I did -- not ecstatic, just satisfied. Sometimes, that's all you can ask for. I might watch it again in another 40 years.

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

PostSat Mar 11, 2017 1:39 pm

"Eraserhead" is well worth seeing. I've seen it a couple of times since first seeing it when it first came out. Very effective.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Mar 11, 2017 1:44 pm

The sound version of HIGH TREASON (1930) has a few oddities about it which will make it essential to watch the silent (1929), which was all that was available until recently. For some reason the talkie is set in 1940, whereas the silent is headed '1950'. In addition (I read that there was a mute print of the sound version at the BFI) it seems that this one, taken from a nitrate original found in Alaska, was shorter than the it should be. Rather confusing, and needs clearing up, although it may explain the brevity of some of the scenes.

That over, HIGH TREASON is a fascinating example of early science-fiction, with prophecy clearly based on the fashions of the 1920s, but with interesting extras, and art direction reminiscent of METROPOLIS (1927) and JUST IMAGINE (1930) although some of the model work is rather absurd. The film suggests a future world divided up differently in order to maintain peace. However, the border guards seem often to be in disagreement over trifles, which blows up (literally) when a bootlegger / smuggler* and his accomplice are killed, followed by a free-for-all which leaves the border littered with corpses.

This diplomatic 'incident' soon escalates into the threat of war. However two of the representatives of both sides, Benita Hume (Peace) and Jameson Thomas (War) are very much in love, with the idea of dinner and a dance taking precedence over trying to prevent war. At times the narrative it a bit confusing, with some scenes not coming over too clearly, and discussions amongst the bad guys coming over as so much rhubarbing in places. Things take a more serious turn when the Channel Tunnel is sabotaged (a scene which fades out too quickly) and the Peace Headquarters is bombed. Hume's father then decides to take drastic action to avert War...

HIGH TREASON was directed by Maurice Elvey, who later filmed THE TUNNEL, another futuristic melodrama, and this film is certainly very striking in its design (both architecturally and in the ladies' fashions) as well as the odd mix of action, drama and sexiness (Hume's preparations for the evening, the girl fencers at the nightclub, the scene where mobilised women are changing into their uniforms). Hume certainly gives a charismatic performance which is almost a cross between Englsh Rose, militant feminist and Maria an METROPOLIS, although some of the other acting / diction is a bit uneven partly due to the fact that parts of it appear to be added over shots of backs of the characters' heads. The copy I watched was on BFI Player and was very clear indeed, with most of the dialogue understandable. And considering that this was considered long lost, one is grateful for the chance to watch such an interesting curate's egg of a film.

One reviewer on IMDb mentioned Prohibition, but I assumed they were just trying to evade excise duty.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Mar 11, 2017 1:46 pm

Jim Roots wrote:Last night I watched Eraserhead (1977), which won't be making it onto Donald Binks' list of favourite films any time soon. Definitely not a film for everybody.

What struck me most was how much influence it had on Alien, which came out only two years later. David Lynch spent five years filming Eraserhead, so I will be skeptical of any claims that Alien was filmed at roughly the same time as Lynch's film.

The "baby" resembles a house-pet-pretty version of the alien in the later film. Both emerge from a human body. The lighting -- a pastiche of shadows and gloominess with scattered bits of blinding light -- are similar, although less noticeable in Alien because the latter is in colour rather than B&W. And so on.

For 40 years I've been mildly intrigued by the prospect of seeing Eraserhead, but couldn't muster enough enthusiasm to actually do so. Now that I've done so, I'm satisfied that I did -- not ecstatic, just satisfied. Sometimes, that's all you can ask for. I might watch it again in another 40 years.

Jim


Come, come! I'm sure Donald plays ERASERHEAD every other Christmas...
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Mar 11, 2017 2:03 pm

Jim Roots wrote:Last night I watched Eraserhead (1977), which won't be making it onto Donald Binks' list of favourite films any time soon. Definitely not a film for everybody.
Jim


You know me very well!

Actually this film seems to be very popular in Oz and has been constantly appearing at fart houses. Probably on a double bill with the sing-a-long version of "Sound of Music".

If memory serves me correctly, I think the film was shown on SBS a few years back and I tentatively looked at it. I lasted about ten minutes.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Mar 11, 2017 9:04 pm

Had absolutely never heard of Johnny Come Lately (1943) and was intrigued to see it starred James Cagney. This was apparently an indie production (no Warners in sight) produced by William Cagney and released thru United Artists. Cagney plays a vagabond in 1907 who gets arrested for vagrancy in a Smalltown USA, run by a corrupt politician. He's 'bailed out by a local newspaper editor (Grace George) who is fighting the political machine but losing the fight. Cagney gets involved and gets things moving as the town eventually rallies behind him and the editor and against the tyrant. A modest production but packed with terrific performances. The storyline probably went over well during the war era. Cagney is restrained and very good. George, a famous stage actress, appears in her only talkie (she made one silent film in 1915) and is excellent. Marjorie Main, as Gashouse Mary, delivers a rousing performance. Also good are Hattie McDaniel, Margaret Hamilton, Edward McNamara, George Cleveland, William Henry, Irving Bacon, Victor Kilian, and Marjorie Lord as the love interest. Seems this film as been rescued from oblivion by Olive Films. Worth a look.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Mar 12, 2017 6:46 am

drednm wrote:Had absolutely never heard of Johnny Come Lately (1943) and was intrigued to see it starred James Cagney. This was apparently an indie production (no Warners in sight) produced by William Cagney and released thru United Artists. Cagney plays a vagabond in 1907 who gets arrested for vagrancy in a Smalltown USA, run by a corrupt politician. He's 'bailed out by a local newspaper editor (Grace George) who is fighting the political machine but losing the fight. Cagney gets involved and gets things moving as the town eventually rallies behind him and the editor and against the tyrant. A modest production but packed with terrific performances. The storyline probably went over well during the war era. Cagney is restrained and very good. George, a famous stage actress, appears in her only talkie (she made one silent film in 1915) and is excellent. Marjorie Main, as Gashouse Mary, delivers a rousing performance. Also good are Hattie McDaniel, Margaret Hamilton, Edward McNamara, George Cleveland, William Henry, Irving Bacon, Victor Kilian, and Marjorie Lord as the love interest. Seems this film as been rescued from oblivion by Olive Films. Worth a look.


Good to hear praise for Gashouse Mary - one of MM's finest hours...
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Mar 12, 2017 6:50 am

Donald Binks wrote:
Jim Roots wrote:Last night I watched Eraserhead (1977), which won't be making it onto Donald Binks' list of favourite films any time soon. Definitely not a film for everybody.
Jim


You know me very well!

Actually this film seems to be very popular in Oz and has been constantly appearing at fart houses. Probably on a double bill with the sing-a-long version of "Sound of Music".

If memory serves me correctly, I think the film was shown on SBS a few years back and I tentatively looked at it. I lasted about ten minutes.


Definitely a film for which the right mood is essential! Some years back a friend was keen to see it. Another friend had a VHS of it, but wasn't keen to lend it out, but said it was ok for me to accompany in, James Card fashion. As my friend hadn't seen ERASERHEAD and I had (twice on 16 mm) , there was certainly a good deal of fun in looking forward to her reactions, which were quite amusing to say the least!
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Mar 12, 2017 6:58 am

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:
drednm wrote:Had absolutely never heard of Johnny Come Lately (1943) and was intrigued to see it starred James Cagney. This was apparently an indie production (no Warners in sight) produced by William Cagney and released thru United Artists. Cagney plays a vagabond in 1907 who gets arrested for vagrancy in a Smalltown USA, run by a corrupt politician. He's 'bailed out by a local newspaper editor (Grace George) who is fighting the political machine but losing the fight. Cagney gets involved and gets things moving as the town eventually rallies behind him and the editor and against the tyrant. A modest production but packed with terrific performances. The storyline probably went over well during the war era. Cagney is restrained and very good. George, a famous stage actress, appears in her only talkie (she made one silent film in 1915) and is excellent. Marjorie Main, as Gashouse Mary, delivers a rousing performance. Also good are Hattie McDaniel, Margaret Hamilton, Edward McNamara, George Cleveland, William Henry, Irving Bacon, Victor Kilian, and Marjorie Lord as the love interest. Seems this film as been rescued from oblivion by Olive Films. Worth a look.


Good to hear praise for Gashouse Mary - one of MM's finest hours...


She was great.

Also interesting to see Grace George, also excellent.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Mar 12, 2017 7:07 am

A vehicle for music-hall star Violet Loraine, BRITANNIA OF BILLINGSGATE (1933) has a good deal to interest and amuse, despite not being completely satisfactory in places. Billingsgate, for those non-Englishfolk, is the big London fish market, and Loraine plays the owner of a fried-fish shop whose spectacular singing voice is discovered when a film is being shot nearby and husband Gordon Harker (a porter) starts mucking around in the sound truck. At first Loraine is reluctant to try the films until her husband and children (John Mills and star-obsessed Kay Hammond) put the pressure on and she relents. During the making of the 'PICCADILLY PLAYGROUND', the family starts to disintegrate, with Hammond hobnobbing with gambling 'friends', Mills's passion for speedway and Harker's interest in the 'high life' and pretty girls giving the poor lady a rough time of it until things come to crisis point during the premiere!

A very nice copy, with some agreeable sentiment for those who care for it, as well as some interesting sidelights on the film-making business.

Note: this was also on BFI Player. When playing, there are a couple of diagonal lines across the image, presumably to deter piracy. After a while, they are not too distracting...
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Mar 12, 2017 7:18 am

I first saw The Four Feathers (1939) some time in the 1970s in a blotchy print at the old 80 St. Marks; the theater seemed to specialize in blotchy prints of Technicolor movies from the 1930s. Even with that handicap, it became one of my favorite movies, with its fine performances and wonky lines; Sir C. Aubrey Smith, with his never-ending recitation of how he personally won the Battle of Balaclava; John Clements telling the Egyptian doctor "I have been a coward, and I was not happy"; Frederick Culley, pointing out that Clements has a gun, and telling him circuitously to blow his brains out; and the always wonderful Ralph Richardson stiff-upper-lipping his way through having his heart broken twice and blindness. I could dimly see the original brilliance of the on-site camerawork on the Nile and clearly see this tale of honor in an era that valued it and a real meditation on the meaning and reality of courage,

This was the only version that was available for almost thirty years and, despite the print's flaws, I saw it many times. A few years ago, It was restored, and looked much better, but there was still that halo effect that indicates that the color elements had shrunk at slightly different rates. However, when TCM ran it last night, it was a new restoration. Gone were the haloes and the print looked as sharp and bright -- and colorful! -- as it should have; the first battle seemed to have had bits restored that made it longer and more exciting. Over all, it was a pleasure to see and if you have not given this a chance, or have found it not to your taste, I urge you to give it another try.

This is a movie that has been remade many times. The 1929 version is excellent but not a patch on this one; Storm Over the Nile (1955) is like many a 1950s remake, tired and rote; the 1978 version has a terribly miscast Beau Bridges as Harry Faversham; and the 2002 version, while a good yarn, misses the entire point of the story. The 1939 version remains a perfect movie.

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

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

PostSun Mar 12, 2017 9:57 am

boblipton wrote:I first saw The Four Feathers (1939) some time in the 1970s in a blotchy print at the old 80 St. Marks; the theater seemed to specialize in blotchy prints of Technicolor movies from the 1930s. Even with that handicap, it became one of my favorite movies...Gone were the haloes and the print looked as sharp and bright -- and colorful! -- as it should have; the first battle seemed to have had bits restored that made it longer and more exciting. Over all, it was a pleasure to see and if you have not given this a chance, or have found it not to your taste, I urge you to give it another try.


Bob

So glad to see that you enjoy this film. Behind "Casablanca", it's my favorite film. I'm surprised to hear about the color, however, because I used to have a beautiful VHS print which - IMHO - had perfectly highlighted Technicolor. I mention this because I, too, watched this yesterday when it was on, and enjoyed it thoroughly again. However, neither the blue nor the green in the technicolor was as striking as I have seen it before. It struck me as strange... I've always thought that the scenes of the boats being pulled down the Nile were the finest Technicolor scenes I have ever watched. They remain among my favorite cinematography points in film. "Guns, guns, guns; the Thin Red Line!"
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Mar 12, 2017 10:38 am

I've had chances to watch one of Fellini's first hits, I Vitelloni, forever. Back in the days when HBO programming wasn't just a concerted effort to keep the memories of the lamest movies of modern times alive ("Look, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry is on!"), I taped it off HBO or Cinemax and had the VHS tape until the day I no longer had VHS tapes. But it wasn't until my son hit his art film phase watching La Dolce Vita that I made an effort to acquire it (Criterion's edition is only DVD, not blu, but the black and white photography looks fantastic nonetheless).

And it's a great film, truly the Fellini film for people who don't like Fellini, as it's a heartfelt and utterly true-feeling picture of aimless young men itching about being stuck in their home town, yet doing their best to avoid growing up and making adult commitments. The most obvious comparison among films Myles had seen was Diner, and he made it quickly, and there are other obvious ones— Mean Streets, American Graffiti, etc. etc.; but really, considering that Fellini made it at the moment in history when these fellows first came into being in the mild prosperity of the postwar era (only the rich had been so idle before), you have to ask, what movie since then isn't influenced by this one? John Podhoretz's review of Moonlight made an interesting point about the most recent Best Picture Oscar winner:

Jenkins and McCraney have both said that the story derives, in part, from their own experiences with drug-addicted mothers; but their own life stories suggest they have sold their own characters short. They didn't end up in Chiron's condition. They ended up with Oscars in their hands. That's a more interesting story than the one they tell here.


Well, Fellini is in exactly the same position— he's telling the story of young men whose ambition falls short of getting them out of their town, but he can only tell it because his fell short of nothing, really, and he was already a screenwriter (of what was then one of the most famous films in the world, Open City), and director (this is his third film). Yet he pulls it off because you can see that all of them represent parts of himself—comical Alberto looks the most like him, the adulterous Riccardo shares his predilections, aspiring playwright Leopoldo burns with his desire to be heard (I'd love to know the real life model for the elderly actor who leads him on), and so on. It's a whole cast of indecisive Hamlets, and he makes you feel what he understands about all of them.

In some ways, this is the film that put the end to the era of pure neorealism; neorealism always had an unspoken identification with the proletariat, stories of ordinary people struggling against the tide of history and class, still true as late as Bitter Rice (1950), but these characters aren't ordinary and we don't feel for them just because this would be a tough historical situation to be in. They're types, maybe, but they're young men whose crisis is internal more than external, and to be solved in ways that involve using their full talents in artistic endeavors and in moral choices, not by gaining control of the means of production. From here neorealism would increasingly become artificial, as in the Chaplinesque pathos of La Strada and then the modernist world of Mastraoanni in La Dolce Vita and 8-1/2.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Mar 12, 2017 10:42 am

Der Grosse König (1942), which is to say The Great King. Directed by Veit Harlan. With Otto Gebühr (The Golem), Kristina Söderbaum (the director’s wife; just died in 2001, last credit Night Train to Venice in 1996), Gustav Frölich (Metropolis, Asphalt, etc.), and a cast of thousands. Dramatization of the turning point in the Seven Years War, Prussia pretty much going it alone against Austria, the latter being supported by most of the major powers of Europe, the focus being on the tribulations of King Frederick the Great into which fabric is woven an additional narrative strand involving a common soldier and a miller’s daughter. As it happens, I’m rather familiar with the life of Frederick the Great; and, aside from the fictional subplot, this film hews pretty closely to the truth, with some telescoping of events. Just as an American film might well rely on a spirit of reverence for Washington or Lincoln or Roosevelt or Kennedy which non-Americans might not have on tap, so is it here with German culture and Frederick, all the more so because of the politics of the era in which it was made. An anguished Frederick has to deal with the arrogant and effete Austrian mind-set, duplicitous Russia, and the flagging spirit of his own court, soldiers, and people in general, while meantime having private sorrows of his own. Acted competently, though without much intensity of feeling, with high production values, and with some bits of imaginative camera-work, the film is well worth a view; and on seeing it suavely promoting certain traditional cultural values which would have supported the WWII German war effort (Discipline! Obedience! Sacrifice!), the contemplative viewer will reflect on how movies of any era and any culture play similar mind-games, perhaps unconsciously, with their audience. An impressive movie about a sophisticated and enlightened historical figure; it will linger in your memory.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Mar 12, 2017 11:51 am

R Michael Pyle wrote:
boblipton wrote:I first saw The Four Feathers (1939) some time in the 1970s in a blotchy print at the old 80 St. Marks; the theater seemed to specialize in blotchy prints of Technicolor movies from the 1930s. Even with that handicap, it became one of my favorite movies...Gone were the haloes and the print looked as sharp and bright -- and colorful! -- as it should have; the first battle seemed to have had bits restored that made it longer and more exciting. Over all, it was a pleasure to see and if you have not given this a chance, or have found it not to your taste, I urge you to give it another try.


Bob

So glad to see that you enjoy this film. Behind "Casablanca", it's my favorite film. I'm surprised to hear about the color, however, because I used to have a beautiful VHS print which - IMHO - had perfectly highlighted Technicolor. I mention this because I, too, watched this yesterday when it was on, and enjoyed it thoroughly again. However, neither the blue nor the green in the technicolor was as striking as I have seen it before. It struck me as strange... I've always thought that the scenes of the boats being pulled down the Nile were the finest Technicolor scenes I have ever watched. They remain among my favorite cinematography points in film. "Guns, guns, guns; the Thin Red Line!"


Sometimes it seems that I hate every movie, doesn't it?

What I loved most about last night's presentation on TCM were the rich, velvety blacks.

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

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

PostSun Mar 12, 2017 1:09 pm

boblipton wrote:I first saw The Four Feathers (1939) some time in the 1970s in a blotchy print at the old 80 St. Marks; the theater seemed to specialize in blotchy prints of Technicolor movies from the 1930s. Even with that handicap, it became one of my favorite movies, with its fine performances and wonky lines; Sir C. Aubrey Smith, with his never-ending recitation of how he personally won the Battle of Balaclava; John Clements telling the Egyptian doctor "I have been a coward, and I was not happy"; Frederick Culley, pointing out that Clements has a gun, and telling him circuitously to blow his brains out; and the always wonderful Ralph Richardson stiff-upper-lipping his way through having his heart broken twice and blindness. I could dimly see the original brilliance of the on-site camerawork on the Nile and clearly see this tale of honor in an era that valued it and a real meditation on the meaning and reality of courage,

This was the only version that was available for almost thirty years and, despite the print's flaws, I saw it many times. A few years ago, It was restored, and looked much better, but there was still that halo effect that indicates that the color elements had shrunk at slightly different rates. However, when TCM ran it last night, it was a new restoration. Gone were the haloes and the print looked as sharp and bright -- and colorful! -- as it should have; the first battle seemed to have had bits restored that made it longer and more exciting. Over all, it was a pleasure to see and if you have not given this a chance, or have found it not to your taste, I urge you to give it another try.

This is a movie that has been remade many times. The 1929 version is excellent but not a patch on this one; Storm Over the Nile (1955) is like many a 1950s remake, tired and rote; the 1978 version has a terribly miscast Beau Bridges as Harry Faversham; and the 2002 version, while a good yarn, misses the entire point of the story. The 1939 version remains a perfect movie.

Bob


Even London's NFT didn't escape ropey copies. In London (1986, I think) with a friend, I (mistake) suggested this one, and not only did she not seem to enjoy it, it was spliced to buggery. TV viewings over here have been pretty good (aside from the blasted ads) but I'm not sure if I've watched the restored one, though my late partner and I did watch it on TV (Film4, if memory serves) a few years back.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Mar 12, 2017 1:17 pm

odinthor wrote:Der Grosse König (1942), which is to say The Great King. Directed by Veit Harlan. With Otto Gebühr (The Golem), Kristina Söderbaum (the director’s wife; just died in 2001, last credit Night Train to Venice in 1996), Gustav Frölich (Metropolis, Asphalt, etc.), and a cast of thousands. Dramatization of the turning point in the Seven Years War, Prussia pretty much going it alone against Austria, the latter being supported by most of the major powers of Europe, the focus being on the tribulations of King Frederick the Great into which fabric is woven an additional narrative strand involving a common soldier and a miller’s daughter. As it happens, I’m rather familiar with the life of Frederick the Great; and, aside from the fictional subplot, this film hews pretty closely to the truth, with some telescoping of events. Just as an American film might well rely on a spirit of reverence for Washington or Lincoln or Roosevelt or Kennedy which non-Americans might not have on tap, so is it here with German culture and Frederick, all the more so because of the politics of the era in which it was made. An anguished Frederick has to deal with the arrogant and effete Austrian mind-set, duplicitous Russia, and the flagging spirit of his own court, soldiers, and people in general, while meantime having private sorrows of his own. Acted competently, though without much intensity of feeling, with high production values, and with some bits of imaginative camera-work, the film is well worth a view; and on seeing it suavely promoting certain traditional cultural values which would have supported the WWII German war effort (Discipline! Obedience! Sacrifice!), the contemplative viewer will reflect on how movies of any era and any culture play similar mind-games, perhaps unconsciously, with their audience. An impressive movie about a sophisticated and enlightened historical figure; it will linger in your memory.


Your comments remind me of an incident at a film (16 mm) studies evening class in the late 1970s. Re DER GROSSE KONIG, I said that films such as this could be enjoyed in the way one might enjoy watching a non-Nazi spectacle, to which one fellow, missing the point entirely, said that he didn't enjoy it! One has to be able to look at the film from a point of view of craftsmanship as well as the propaganda element. In addition, such films were designed to entertain and to maintain the film industry in Germany. Luckily we can now see many of these films to compare our reactions with those of historians such as David Stewart Hull, Julian Petley and Erwin Leiser.
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boblipton

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

PostSun Mar 12, 2017 4:50 pm

In The Gay Intruders (1944) -- my how language has changed -- Godfrey Tearle is a general on the retired list when World War Two breaks out. He offers his services, but he isn't wanted. Despondent, he returns to his home, shuts off the wireless, stops all the papers and tells John Laurie to admit no one. By 1944, when Jeanne de Cassalis -- sporting one of her insane accents -- drags a doctor in to see him, he has had enough. He takes his rifle into the woods and...

That's when Miss de Cassalis shows up again, with six Cockney children who have been reassigned to the district.

It;s the sort of story that turns up often enough: crusty old bachelor (occasionally it's Greer Garson) finds life and purpose in dealing with children. This is a superior version of the story, thanks to the fine performances by Tearle and Miss de Cassalis, a solid script by Elizabeth Baron and the typically impeccable direction of Maurice Elvey.

Earliest screen appearance of Petula Clark.

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

-- Werner Herzog
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drednm

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

PostSun Mar 12, 2017 8:02 pm

Accused (1936) is a British film set in Paris and starring Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and Dolores Del Rio as a professional dance team working in a stage show that stars a nasty and domineering diva (Florence Desmond) who gets bumped off. All signs points toward the jealous Del Rio as the killer, especially since Desmond was chasing after Fairbanks. But who was that man who sneaked into her dressing room on the fateful night? Some musical numbers and a lengthy courtroom finale highlights this one. Fairbanks and Del Rio seems to do a lot of posing in glorious close ups. Yes, they look great. Co-stars include Googie Withers as a showgirls, Esme Percy as the impresario, Edward Rigby as the old actor who worked with Bernhardt, Moore Marriott as the stage doorman, Basil Sydney as the lawyer, and Roland Culver, Leo Genn, Cecil Humphreys, and others. A pity Miss Desmond didn't make more films. She's always terrific.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostMon Mar 13, 2017 11:56 am

Caught a couple of Barbara Stanwyck movies last week. THE WOMAN IN RED was a thin but modestly entertaining about class differences between horse owners and the people they hire to do the actual work. Stanwyck was fine, Gene Raymond was pleasant, Genevieve Tobin and Dorothy Tree were nasty--one of them got to wear a most ridiculous costume in lamé with sort of flaps all over it.

On the bad side, there was HIS BROTHER'S WIFE with Stanwyck and Robert Taylor where all of the characters were reckless, irresponsible and annoying and nothing they did made any sense. A plot synopsis would not do this justice. The best parts were the closeups of Taylor staring dramatically at test tubes looking like a mad-scientist wannabe, which made me wish it were really a horror film instead of just a horrible film.

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

PostMon Mar 13, 2017 12:29 pm

Big Silent Fan wrote:
boblipton wrote:If you've got a spare hour to waste on a British quota quickie, then The Man Without a Face (1935) might be a movie for you.
The principals are bit overwrought. Cyril Chosack (who?) is falsely convicted of murder, but escapes from a train wreck, leaving what he believes is a thoroughly scarred dead man to take his place. He flees with his girl friend, Carol Coombe, encounter Mr. Marriott, and set up housekeeping. However, a newspaper story reveals that the man he thought was dead has survived, thoroughly scarred and amnesiac, scheduled to hang in his stead. Can Mr. Chosack allow him to hang in his place?


Finally was able to see this on YouTube even if TNT said it wasn't available. It was a terrific little story about conscience, but they never fully explained the happy ending when Chosack's character was freed?

An answer to prayer?

I guess it's up to the viewer to imagine what happened?


SPOILER: the corpse Chosack left to take the blame, and who recovered with amnesia on the brain turned out to be the guy who did it.

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

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

PostMon Mar 13, 2017 12:30 pm

Tales of Hoffmann (1951). With Robert Rounseville, Robert Helpmann, Moira Shearer, Ludmilla Tchérina, Ann Ayars, Léonide Massine, Pamela Brown, and Frederick Ashton; directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressberger. Recordings of operas and ballets are not really what we’re about here, unless what is produced is somehow something more than what we’d see onstage (Bergman’s Magic Flute would be a good example); and so it is with this Tales of Hoffmann. This is a visual and conceptual feast unlike anything else; what’s more, what has been imagined by the creators has been carried out exceptionally well. Presented not quite as an opera, not quite as a ballet, the two art forms are combined with stagecraft and cinematic prestidigitation into a presentation which is truly remarkable. A representation of Offenbach’s opera (O. didn’t quite live long enough to complete the final touches on the opera), it is mostly performed by dancers who much of the time (but not always!) mouth what “offstage” singers are singing. (This sounds awkward, but is managed smoothly and unobtrusively.)

This is not the place to go into the details of the plot (and the unfinished state of the original opera has brought about in its presentations as a traditional opera act-swapping and random changes, not always to good effect on the live stage). Anyone trying to grasp the story will be largely flummoxed by this presentation in anything but a general idea of what’s going on; but it doesn’t matter due to the engaging magic of the presentation, which is like a fevered dream or indeed nightmare, appropriate to our tormented hero. Don’t try to make sense of it; just enjoy what you’re seeing and hearing. The Olympia act is particularly well-conceived and well-handled, and is the most dance-like. Massine, one of the greats of modern ballet, is a particular standout throughout. The camera loves him, and it’s surprising that the world of cinema has so little of him. The acting, singing, dancing, and largely surreal or impressionistic sets in this film are all splendid; the color in the restored version is deliciously rich. Really, there is nothing here to dislike in this mind-blowing fantasy; enthusiasm is appropriate.

Best of all, the show exemplifies the artistic ethos which is at the heart of the opera: The world is perverse, cruel, mystifying, antagonistic; it is only by being true to one’s own vision, one’s inspiration, one’s Muse, that one will ultimately find redemption for the world and one’s self.
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"She confessed subsequently to Cottard that she found me remarkably enthusiastic; he replied that I was too emotional, that I needed sedatives, and that I ought to take up knitting." —Marcel Proust (Cities of the Plain).
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostMon Mar 13, 2017 2:25 pm

Another nice find, RYNOX (1931) is one of the earliest extant films directed by Michael Powell. May even be the earliest. A brief crime thriller from a Philip MacDonald novel, it tells of a businessman (Stewart Rome) whose company is in dire danger of going down the tubes. After receiving threats from a huge, fantastically ugly and ill-mannered fellow, Rome is found dead. The business is helped by the huge insurance payout, which means that son John Longden can pay off the creditors, but...

Despite some ragged sound and a not-too-good picture, this is a well-paced and enjoyable movie which keeps one guessing as to who the mystery man really is. And good that previously lost films such as this one should re-surface.

A rare leading role for Robin Bailey, THE DIPLOMATIC CORPSE (1959) features him as a hot-shot crime reporter sent to investigate the mysterious death of a foreigner found floating in the Thames. Unusual to see a young Bailey - and with a blonde in tow. Suspicious money, heroin, murder and other dirty work at a foreign embassy are the ingredients in this outing from Montgomery Tully. Support from Harry Fowler as a wide boy, Bill Shine as an 'expert' on the Diplomatic Service and Liam Redmond as the Police Inspector. Fans of 'Coronation Street' may be amused to see John [Johnny] Briggs ('Mike Baldwin') as the office boy at the 'Sunday Star'. Not really a success as it runs out of steam about the half-way mark. Perhaps being accustomed to seeing Bailey as the pompous and pedantic Judge in 'Rumpole of the Bailey' stops one taking him too seriously, although this one has intentionally comic elements.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostMon Mar 13, 2017 3:38 pm

Congo Maisie. The less said, the better.
Twinkletoes wrote:Oh, ya big blister!
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostMon Mar 13, 2017 6:44 pm

Marjorie Browne is a Lassie From Lancashire (1938). With her father, Mark Daly, she shows up on the Isle of Man to stay at her aunt's boarding house, while the two of them look for something to turn up. Soon enough, she hooks up with Hal Thompson, an aspiring singer-songwriter and, in short order, they conquer the amateur show at Pierrotland and are taken on. However, her aunt, played by Elsie Wagstaff, is opposed to her niece going on the stage.

It's a modest but nice little musical of the diagetic variety -- all the musical numbers take place in "real life" and some of the numbers are very good. Neither of the leads got much of a movie career out of it, but there is some real talent lurking about; it's the first movie appearance of Leslie Phillips. The original songs are all right and there is a fine trio singing "There Is a Tavern in the Town" to cheer up those who like old numbers.

It's directed by John Paddy Carstairs, a good if not particularly distinguished director who took his movies and always made them watchable. His biggest hit was made fifteen years after this, when he directed Norman Wisdom in Trouble in Store.

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

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

PostTue Mar 14, 2017 6:02 am

s.w.a.c. wrote:Congo Maisie. The less said, the better.


Tell us more!

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

PostTue Mar 14, 2017 7:11 am

Hand in Hand is a well intentioned, beautifully executed paean to the idea of ecumenicalism. A little Jewish girl and a little Catholic boy become fast friends despite the prejudice around them in beautiful Upper-Thames Britain -- I noticed that it's not about a little Catholic Irish boy and a little Anglican girl in beautiful rural Northern Ireland, but that's a different matter, I suppose.

The kids are also a little too cute and their line reading is not very natural. However, I award it some kudos for Freddie Young's b&w camerawork.

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

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

PostTue Mar 14, 2017 1:26 pm

After watching A NIGHT IN MONTMARTRE (1931), I turned to my copy of David Quinlan's 'British Sound Films' and was astonished to see a rating of just 1 out of 6! Perhaps he hadn't actually seen the film, as I found it rather an entertaining piece, with attractive art design and some nice camerawork to boot. Hugh Williams plays a penniless artist who owes money to his foul, blackmailer of a landlord (Franklin Dyall), who has threatened to write to his father about his money troubles and is of course implicated when the swine gets his just desserts a few minutes later. An attractive cast (Heather Angel, Kay Hammond*, Austin Trevor etc.) boost the rather silly story, which gets pottier when Williams's father (Horace Hodges), who happens to be an amateur detective on the side, turns up. The main setting is a cabaret / night club with rather seedy lodgings above.

Taken from a play co-written by Miles Malleson, A NIGHT IN MONTMARTRE is an agreeable, lightweight mystery with elements of comedy and a nice performance from Kay Hammond as a permanently sozzled young lady of easy virtue. I noticed Binnie Barnes in the cast list, and presume she is the one who does a high-kicking song in her stockings....

*the English actress, not to be confused with the one who played Mary Todd in Griffith's ABRAHAM LINCOLN (1930)
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