What is the last film you watched? (2017)

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

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

PostThu Aug 03, 2017 12:16 pm

A Letter to Three Wives (1949) is a superior film with a very great screenplay. A talky film, there's not much action, this is totally engrossing because of the clever dialog filled with zingers and smart-aleck retorts. Top-notch cast is a joy to watch. Ann Sothern, Jeanne Crain, and Linda Darnell are the wives. Paul Douglas, Kirk Douglas, and Jeffrey Lynn are the husbands. Thelma Ritter, Connie Gilchrist, Barbara Lawrence, Florence Bates, Hobart Cavanaugh, and George Offerman round out the supporting cast. Mae Marsh has a bit, and of course there's Celeste Holm as the notorious Addie Ross, whom we never see. Brilliant work by Joseph Mankiewicz as director and writer. He won Oscar for both roles, and the film was nominated for best film. No actors were nominated.

Funny story has Mankiewicz pitching this film as A Letter to Four Wives to Darryl Zanuck. The fourth was to be played by Anne Baxter. Zukor complained it was too long and said "Take out one of the wives." So three it was. A high-profile film in its day, nearly every star actress in Hollywood made a pitch for or was considered for the wives' roles.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostThu Aug 03, 2017 3:14 pm

drednm wrote:A Letter to Three Wives (1949) is a superior film with a very great screenplay...


I found a DVD of this at a resale shop about a year ago; I wasn't familiar with it but of course the cast list made it a must-buy and I enjoyed it very much. Of interest - the Blu-ray is currently selling for $5.95 at Hamilton Book: https://www.hamiltonbook.com/a-letter-to-three-wives
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostThu Aug 03, 2017 3:51 pm

As Outlaws of Boulder Pass (1942) begins, George Houston is the Lone Rider, roaming along the road. To emphasize this, he sings a song with the repeated refrain "Oh! Let me keep roaming alone!" Unfortunately, he is riding with Al St. John, who seems smug about it under his beard. Fortunately, George quickly finds a rancher who needs to be helped, and they decide that the best way to do it is to pretend that Al is dead and buried. All too soon, Marjorie Manners turns up as someone's daughter telling men they can't collect toll on her father's land.

It's a PRC western, directed for speed and director Sam Newfield didn't get the big budgets like Edward Ulmer.

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

PostFri Aug 04, 2017 3:05 pm

Lloyd Nolan is Mike Shayne again. This time he's headed to Honolulu after some stolen diamonds -- industrial ones which are not Blue White and Perfect (1942).

This Fox second feature clearly shows it doesn't waste money, but everything about it -- except the script -- is first rate. It has Glenn MacWilliams as cinematographer -- beautiful, sharp, high lighted images -- and some solid talent in the ranks: George Reeves as a suspicious shipboard passenger, Curt Bois as a ship's steward and even Mae Marsh in a sizeable role. The story is a mystery, with its curves disguised by Nolan's wise-cracking. In short, it's a fine little B movie.

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

PostFri Aug 04, 2017 5:22 pm

Bela Lugosi was in England in 1939 to appear in the John Argyle Production "The Dark Eyes of London" based on the Edgar Wallace novel (released in the United States as "The Human Monster").

Why Mr. Lugosi had to sail to England to make this picture - apart from the money involved, is a mystery. Perhaps Mr. Argyle was the only producer around at the time who was willing to make a picture which would accommodate Mr. Lugosi's penchant for the sinister? Anyway, what we have here is a fairly good yarn which has been embellished somewhat for the purposes of picture making. It has a "monster" and two rather annoying side-kicks who happen to be Americans for the sake of trying to flog the film to the United States. It must have been thought that throwing in a bit of gangster type slang would put it over?

The atmospherics of the picture have been well created, but it is let down in the story-telling, in that we are trying to believe a lot that on the face of it, is ludicrously portrayed. Also, trying to fool us that Mr. Lugosi was playing two roles when it was evident from the voice of one character that he wasn't is a bit of a nasty trick. The "monster" too is obviously some form of borrowing heavily from Boris Karloff's monster in "Frankenstein".

The main gist of the story is that of a life insurance fraudster who is killing off policy holders in order to cash in on funds - and using a blind men's home as a front. Had the screenplay adhered to a more plausible plot based on all this, then the film I think could have had more impact.

Some of the players are passable, others are only one step away from an amateur dramatic society whilst Mr. Lugosi looks quite aged and tired.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostFri Aug 04, 2017 5:41 pm

You have to go for an actress who's most memorable line from her silent days was "Let's go sit on the sewer". But, was Zasu Pitts all but washed-up by 1942 - having to go and work for the lesser studio "Monogram" where she made "So's Your Aunt Emma"?

This is not a bad comedy. It sets up quite well. Zasu is part of a trio of maiden aunts who live together in a rural locality. All plain and proper. She though is slightly at odds with her two sisters as she once had "a thing going" with a prize fighter. So when his son is fighting in the big smoke, she gets the train into town to see him. Then we go in for a flight of fancy as Aunt Emma (Zasu) finds herself mistaken for "Ma Parker" a notorious gangsteress.

Happily Ms. Pitts has toned down a lot of her mannerisms and plays a slightly different character from her screen norm up until this film. I liked the way she contrasted the dear, sweet and innocent little old lady from the sticks with the slang-infested gangsteress she impersonates later in the picture. All very cleverly done and verifying Ms. Pitts as a very effective comedienne.

The accompanying players are the usual so-so's who are in the lesser studio's stables and are quite capable without being memorable. This picture is all Ms. Pitts' and is enjoyable all down to her.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostFri Aug 04, 2017 5:59 pm

The television series "Seinfeld" was a comedy show based on nothing. "A Month of Sundays" (2015) is a dramatic film based on the same premise. We are left guessing from the first few seconds until well into the film - "What the blazes is all this about?" We see people wandering around, doing mundane things and uttering little snatches of meaningless dialogue and supposed to find something in all of it for ourselves. Life everything else these days - this is a "Supermarket Picture" where you have to find and do for yourself. Nobody to do with the picture has been in anyway helpful to the audience.

Slowly, after a literal month of Sundays one gets to work out that Anthony LaPaglia is a relatively unhappy man. He is a divorced real estate agent who lost his mother the previous year. He befriends an elderly lady, the result of a wrong number 'phone call and then we get caught up with her family life as well as his. It seems to all finally gel together after taking an eternity to get there. Perhaps with some semblance of a script; a competent director who can do something other than point a camera and get people to walk in front of it and an editor who can make the film move along at an acceptable pace - we might have had something?

Anthony LaPaglia, being a capable actor does his best at what he is given, as does Julia Blake. John Clarke whose estimable talents have been wasted, just appears and the rest of the cast play characters that are not fully developed.

This film is only suitable to watch if you are wide awake and not liable to fall asleep.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostFri Aug 04, 2017 6:03 pm

Donald Binks wrote:The television series "Seinfeld" was a comedy show based on nothing. "A Month of Sundays" (2015) is a dramatic film based on the same premise. We are left guessing from the first few seconds until well into the film - "What the blazes is all this about?" We see people wandering around, doing mundane things and uttering little snatches of meaningless dialogue and supposed to find something in all of it for ourselves. Life everything else these days - this is a "Supermarket Picture" where you have to find and do for yourself. Nobody to do with the picture has been in anyway helpful to the audience.

Slowly, after a literal month of Sundays one gets to work out that Anthony LaPaglia is a relatively unhappy man. He is a divorced real estate agent who lost his mother the previous year. He befriends an elderly lady, the result of a wrong number 'phone call and then we get caught up with her family life as well as his. It seems to all finally gel together after taking an eternity to get there. Perhaps with some semblance of a script; a competent director who can do something other than point a camera and get people to walk in front of it and an editor who can make the film move along at an acceptable pace - we might have had something?

Anthony LaPaglia, being a capable actor does his best at what he is given, as does Julia Blake. John Clarke whose estimable talents have been wasted, just appears and the rest of the cast play characters that are not fully developed.

This film is only suitable to watch if you are wide awake and not liable to fall asleep.


Sounds as if it's suitable to watch only if you are already asleep.

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

PostFri Aug 04, 2017 6:27 pm

Another couple of Louis de Funès pictures as I make my way through a considerable amount of his repertoire.

"Les tortillards" (1960)
("Slow Local Trains") has very lttle to do with trains per se. Louis this time is running a company making insecticides only his flysprays just sedate flies rather than kill them. This would seem enough for him to be in constant bad temper - but he has a son as well, who has gone off with a girl whose father is an actor. Poor Louis has to contend with his son marrying into a family of "acrobats".

Unfortunately M. de Funès is not given all that much to do in this picture. We are more caught up with his son's adventures with the theatrical troupe - and these are, for the most part, quite amusing. Jean Richard is the head of the theatrical family, Roger Pierre is the son and Nicky Valor the object of his affections.

"Le Petit Baigneur" (1968) ("The Little Bather") is the name of a boat the head of a boat-building firm has made. Louis de Funès is the managing director. He mistakenly sacks his boat designer as he thinks he is useless only to discover that the boat "The Little Bather" has won competitions and many people are interested in buying it. The rest of the film is taken up with hilarious adventures as we follow M. de Funès trying to get the designer back into his employ.

There is one scene in this picture, set in a church, the insides of which are in a hopeless state of disrepair, which had me in a fit of hysterics. It is one of the funniest things I have seen in many a long while and I shall be sorely tempted to whizz the DVD through again to this spot and watch it all again. Whilst the rest of the picture is not quite as funny, it nevertheless keeps the funny-bone adequately tickled.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostFri Aug 04, 2017 6:45 pm

Hooper Atchley and Edward Hearn are the local bankers, and not very good ones. The bank is almost broke, so they ship the money by railroad, rob the train and get the money and the insurance. They blame Hoot Gibson, who is The Local Bad Man (1932), with a grudge against the railroad; he has driven the last railroad agent out of town. However, when pretty Sally Blane turns out to be the new one, he is more interested in her than his vendetta.

It's a fairly good B western, but for most of its length, Gibson's humorous charms are wasted. It's only in the last half of the movies, and in the exciting end sequence, when he thwarts the latest scam, that he shows off some trick riding and athletics. I thought that another of the good actors in the B westerns, could have starred in this movie just as well. Clearly, Hoot is present largely for marquee value. The movie seems to concentrate largely on filmizing Peter B. Kyne's novella than on making it a vehicle for Gibson -- not necessarily a bad thing, but not what I -- or, doubtless, its audience, was expecting.

Instead, director Otto Brower seems to focus more on Miss Blane, and who can blame him? Despite the obvious haste with which this was shot, it's very watchable.

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

PostSat Aug 05, 2017 6:41 am

boblipton wrote:Hooper Atchley and Edward Hearn are the local bankers, and not very good ones. The bank is almost broke, so they ship the money by railroad, rob the train and get the money and the insurance. They blame Hoot Gibson, who is The Local Bad Man (1932), with a grudge against the railroad; he has driven the last railroad agent out of town. However, when pretty Sally Blane turns out to be the new one, he is more interested in her than his vendetta.

It's a fairly good B western, but for most of its length, Gibson's humorous charms are wasted. It's only in the last half of the movies, and in the exciting end sequence, when he thwarts the latest scam, that he shows off some trick riding and athletics. I thought that another of the good actors in the B westerns, could have starred in this movie just as well. Clearly, Hoot is present largely for marquee value. The movie seems to concentrate largely on filmizing Peter B. Kyne's novella than on making it a vehicle for Gibson -- not necessarily a bad thing, but not what I -- or, doubtless, its audience, was expecting.

Instead, director Otto Brower seems to focus more on Miss Blane, and who can blame him? Despite the obvious haste with which this was shot, it's very watchable.

Bob

Nice to see someone else besides me here enjoys the "B" Westerns. I watch them regularly. Haven't seen this one for some time, but have seen it a couple of times before and enjoyed it. Interestingly enough, I've seen Hooper Atchley for the last two nights in other films. First was "Cipher Bureau" (1938) with Leon Ames, Charlotte Wynters, Joan Woodbury, Don Dillaway, and Gustav von Seyffertitz, a very fine "B" about breaking up a spy ring of Germans in America - and this two and a half years before we entered WWII. Fascinating for the technology and where it was then versus today. Last night I watched "False Faces" (1932), directed by and starring Lowell Sherman, with Peggy Shannon, Lila Lee, Berton Churchill, David Landau, and others (including Hooper Atchley). Sherman's a nasty doctor who's only out for the buck, and is out for it at any cost and without an iota of compunction. This is quite a wonderfully done "B", and it will remind anyone watching it what a superb actor Lowell Sherman was. He was also a very talented director. Highly recommended. Both of these "B" films are available from Alpha cheaply.

As for Hooper Atchley, he's credited by the IMDb with 213 film appearances, and they don't even begin until 1929 when he was already 42 years of age and had been a stage actor for several years. Poor guy committed suicide in 1943 when he was going blind and had cancer.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Aug 05, 2017 6:51 am

Also re-watched "The Lost Zeppelin" (1929) with Conway Tearle, Virginia Valli, and Ricardo Cortez. Yes, it's a fascinating film for the technology involved, but it's also incredibly dated for its own technology problems. This is early sound (although there was supposedly a silent version made) and the sound problems become annoying at times. Probably weren't when the film was first released. I'm jaded, I admit. Virginia Valli whines all of her lines. She's absolutely terrible; no two ways about it. Conway Tearle is about as interesting as watching paint dry. Ricardo Cortez didn't have to do much here but say his lines. Overall, not the film I thought I remembered. Pretty bad. Other critics I've read really praise it for the technology of the film for a cheap film made in 1929. Sorry, the film just doesn't hold up. The story of the Zeppelin going to the North Pole IS interesting, and is loosely based on a real expedition. The love story for the first half hour of the film is just plain boring. Too bad so many other films from 1929 are lost that would have been wonderful to see now. Really too bad that this one is still around in their place. No, it's nice that it's around, too, so I can stay up late at night and feel myself fall asleep a little easier... Better than pills...
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Aug 05, 2017 7:28 am

The greatest invention producing the most human happiness at the moment is undoubtedly the seatback TV offering your own choice of movies to kill the hours spent flying overseas. I look forward to trips ending so I can catch up on movies, and so on the way to and from France recently I watched Hidden Figures (enjoyable movie about black women doing math for NASA, the real story visible through the simplistic adaptation), Sicario (a good gritty narco drama with the problem that its main character doesn't actually do anything), Trainspotting 2 (high among the movies which did not need a sequel to me, but it does a smart job of taking these losers into middle-age, using Robert Carlisle's insanely violent Begbie to create a plot, and has more to say about globalization in modern life than any movie I can think of), The Town (well-made crime drama from Ben Affleck about mean-ass Boston hoods), and...

Obit is a documentary about the people who do the obituaries for the New York Times. They say it's not a morbid profession; they're catching someone right at the moment they belong to history, and telling the often quirky story of a life. But of course they also have to be sensitive enough to get the story from grieving family; one of them talks about how, when David Foster Wallace died, the rumor was that it was suicide, and so he tracked down Wallace's parents by calling all the Wallaces in the Champaign-Urbana, Illinois phone book, and managed to get the story of Wallace's depression and self-ending straight from them, on deadline.

So partly it's a movie about writers doing their job; I loved that, your mileage may vary. But it's also about the sheer quirkiness of covering people from different eras, their stories for the movie told with clips of newsreel footage. There's no reason for these stories to be in the same movie, except they all happened to die around 2012-2014 when the movie was shot, and that's enough to discover the lives of people like John Fairfax, first man to row across the Atlantic, or William P. Wilson, who went out and bought Max Factor puff powder at the last instant to put on John F. Kennedy before he debated Richard Nixon on TV. For those who want to believe in the New York Times' inescapable liberal bias, note the assumption quickly made while the writer is interviewing Wilson's survivor, which will come back to bite him as an error to be corrected at the end of the movie.

In any case, highly recommended, especially on a long flight where it absorbed my attention for 90 minutes quite satisfactorily, getting me closer to home.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Aug 05, 2017 3:26 pm

A few weeks ago i wrote about the Tanzanian horror film Devil Baby. Since then i've been working on lots of Tanzanian videos at work. Apparently these are also known as Bongo Movies. Most that we've received are from a producer called Steps Entertainment, who i think later morphed into Splash Entertainment and has a side business in solar panels. I don't have to watch them all the way through, just take down the opening and closing credits and, since i usually can't find a synopsis on the box or online, fast forward or drag the slider to read enough subtitles to get the gist of it (and if there are no subtitles i'm out of luck, they are in Swahili). However, i do get to see enough to sometimes get interested, and drag the slider to the end to see how it comes out. And i'm watching with the sound off so i'm seeing them as though they were silent.

Anyway, at this point i'm actually getting to recognize some of the actors. Handsome Slim Omary (or Omar, spelling in these is variable), cool Hemed Suleiman (or Suleimani), character actors Hashim Kambi and Mohamed Fungafunga (love the name, he is also known as Jenua). Hissani Muya (also known as Hissan or Tino Muya) is an intense actor who seems to favor interesting parts, like the disabled man in Sozi or the hapless gambler in Kamari. All of these actors are incredibly prolific, though none so much as King Majuto (Amri Athuman). He turns up in supporting partso or sometimes playing a leading comedy role as in Why This Room, a riff on I Dream of Jeannie. There are pretty leading ladies like Rose Ndauka and Aunt Ezekiel (also known as Aunty, and it is apparently her name), and character actresses like Hidaya Njaidi. Some of these performers are also producing their own films. Among the producers are Jackline Wolper (also Jacqueline), a statuesque woman with a lot of presence who often plays as a tough (a streetwise tough as in Tom Boy, or a glamorous tough as in My Mistake), though she was also effective as the mysterious woman in Kauva, whose second half seemed like a Twilight Zone plot. Riyama Ally also makes her own films, whose apparent popularity goes to show that weight does not appear to be a barrier to Tanzanian stardom--and she's not typecast in comedy, she seems to often be playing in a drama where she is cheating on her husband.

For the most part these films aren't actually very good, but they are interesting glimpses into another culture that we don't see much of on TV (which only wants to show us "anthropological" Africans, not ordinary people's lives). But a funny thing is that they kind of remind me of the Nickelodeon era cinema in the US (though the films are much longer--excessively so for the amount of plot). They seem to be a scrappy, entrepreneurial lot. Crews are small and fluid, they make lots of films and barriers to entry seem to be low. Actors range enormously in skill and they seem to mostly have simple, melodramatic plots. And they are on fragile media (usually burned DVD) and are very poorly documented. It'll be interesting to see if sometime 100 years from now, some researcher of, say, Grace Mapunda or Yusuph Mlela, is combing worldwide library collections for decaying DVDs which may be the last trace of their work.

So, this thread is supposed to be about the last film i saw, so i will give at least a few of the more interesting ones. My Mistake is kind of an interesting murder mystery about Tanzanian movie stars. Tanzania to Denmark is just what it says, with typical fish out of water situation as a couple villagers adjust not only to Denmark but to Dar es Salaam. Watoto wa Mjini is the plot of Two Faced Woman/Her Sister from Paris played as tragic melodrama (trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUDOJ1SARmk" target="_blank" target="_blank). We are Four are the adventures of a gleeful gang of female criminals. Lerato has a man observe a film crew on location and they encourage him to write a script and get his film produced, and recruit a college girl to play the lead--hard to tell how realistic this is but it hints at the informality of the industry (trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxtAttlJ0w0" target="_blank" target="_blank). I think Chupa ya Bibi is a horror film, at least i assume they are not playing having the baby turn into a Coke bottle for laughs. No subtitles, but here's the trailer which has all the good scenes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGxWlTI8k8k" target="_blank" target="_blank If anyone can figure out what's going on here, please let me know!

I've got at least 50 more of these to go, so i'll report if anything else looks interesting.

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

PostSat Aug 05, 2017 3:35 pm

Since I'm supposed to see the uninspiring Dark Tower with my cousin tomorrow and I have no desire to see Al Gore's multi-billion epic explanation of why he should fly around the world, creating global warming, while you need to collect your night soil, so give him an award, I walked over to the 42nd Street theater to see Jab Harry Met Selal (2017). I wonder where they got that name.

Shah Rukh Khan is a tour guide for Indians visiting a rather Disney-fied Europe. He hates tourists, particularly Anushka Sharma, who has lost her heirloom engagement ring and insists that Mr. Khan help her find it before she returns to her upper-class life as a lawyer back home. This leads them in a tour of some beautiful locations in Europe: Amsterdam, Prague, Budapest and Lisbon. They start out with solid anger for each other, of course.

The subtext in this solid romantic comedy examines the fantasy of strangers from different parts of society building a lasting relationship, and makes use of the colorful musical interludes to chart this. The first doesn't occur until a third of the way through the movie. They become more frequent and elaborate, carrying the characters' along with them, while the bouts of (rather depressive) reality become shorter and sharper.

Will the end be fantasy or bitter-sweet submission to reality? I know that i have seen a lot of romcoms which have impelled me to remark as I left the theater, "I give them six weeks."

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

PostSat Aug 05, 2017 6:16 pm

"The New Adventures of Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford" (1931) is a very enjoyable romp about a trio of grifters who are all quite amusing characters. It still plays because there are men like them still with us today - mostly they are politicians or bankers.

The head honcho, and the "Wallingford" of the title is William Haines who's affable personality shines through as he woos all and sundry. A quick fire repartee is also a boon. He is teamed up with a talking Ernest Torrence, who's Scots accent manages to sneak through. It is a delight to see Torrence away from his usual "heavy" roles and here scampering through this picture like a lanky and awkward pixie. The man was quite urbane off-screen and this presence leaks into his portrayal. The third member is Jimmy "Snozzle" Durante who makes his debut in this picture. He has appeared in the oddest combinations in pictures - why he once partnered Richard Tauber, of all people. Here his presence on screen is limited and thus he is kept in check and is tolerable.

There are a lot of plot machinations which makes the picture bright and breezy - and thankfully, it is easy to follow. Mr. Haines' love interest is Leila Hyams - she is the daughter of a man he wishes to defraud (Walter Walker) but the mother (Clara Blandick) is a wily old battle-axe. Then there is the case of a "cashier's cheque" a banker (Hale Hamilton) has given Wallingford for investment in a nefarious scheme. Do we really care if a banker loses his shirt? Then there is Guy Kibbee hanging around to try and get Wallingford's signature on something so he can finally nail him after years chasing him.

Sadly Ernest Torrence died at a relatively early age two years after this picture was made, robbing us of what would have been even more delightful appearances in pictures. William Haines also was to soon leave pictures after an argument with Louis Mayer and take up interior decorating.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Aug 05, 2017 6:34 pm

greta de groat wrote:A few weeks ago i wrote about the Tanzanian horror film Devil Baby. Since then i've been working on lots of Tanzanian videos at work. Apparently these are also known as Bongo Movies. Most that we've received are from a producer called Steps Entertainment, who i think later morphed into Splash Entertainment and has a side business in solar panels. I don't have to watch them all the way through, just take down the opening and closing credits and, since i usually can't find a synopsis on the box or online, fast forward or drag the slider to read enough subtitles to get the gist of it (and if there are no subtitles i'm out of luck, they are in Swahili). However, i do get to see enough to sometimes get interested, and drag the slider to the end to see how it comes out. And i'm watching with the sound off so i'm seeing them as though they were silent.

Anyway, at this point i'm actually getting to recognize some of the actors. Handsome Slim Omary (or Omar, spelling in these is variable), cool Hemed Suleiman (or Suleimani), character actors Hashim Kambi and Mohamed Fungafunga (love the name, he is also known as Jenua). Hissani Muya (also known as Hissan or Tino Muya) is an intense actor who seems to favor interesting parts, like the disabled man in Sozi or the hapless gambler in Kamari. All of these actors are incredibly prolific, though none so much as King Majuto (Amri Athumari). He turns up in supporting partso or sometimes playing a leading comedy role as in Why This Room, a riff on I Dream of Jeannie. There are pretty leading ladies like Rose Ndauka and Aunt Ezekiel (also known as Aunty, and it is apparently her name), and character actresses like Hidaya Njaidi. Some of these performers are also producing their own films. Among the producers are Jackline Wolper (also Jacqueline), a statuesque woman with a lot of presence who often plays as a tough (a streetwise tough as in Tom Boy, or a glamorous tough as in My Mistake), though she was also effective as the mysterious woman in Kauva, whose second half seemed like a Twilight Zone plot. Riyama Ally also makes her own films, whose apparent popularity goes to show that weight does not appear to be a barrier to Tanzanian stardom--and she's not typecast in comedy, she seems to often be playing in a drama where she is cheating on her husband.

For the most part these films aren't actually very good, but they are interesting glimpses into another culture that we don't see much of on TV (which only wants to show us "anthropological" Africans, not ordinary people's lives). But a funny thing is that they kind of remind me of the Nickelodeon era cinema in the US (though the films are much longer--excessively so for the amount of plot). They seem to be a scrappy, entrepreneurial lot. Crews are small and fluid, they make lots of films and barriers to entry seem to be low. Actors range enormously in skill and they seem to mostly have simple, melodramatic plots. And they are on fragile media (usually burned DVD) and are very poorly documented. It'll be interesting to see if sometime 100 years from now, some researcher of, say, Grace Mapunda or Yusuph Mlela, is combing worldwide library collections for decaying DVDs which may be the last trace of their work.

So, this thread is supposed to be about the last film i saw, so i will give at least a few of the more interesting ones. My Mistake is kind of an interesting murder mystery about Tanzanian movie stars. Tanzania to Denmark is just what it says, with typical fish out of water situation as a couple villagers adjust not only to Denmark but to Dar es Salaam. Watoto wa Mjini is the plot of Two Faced Woman/Her Sister from Paris played as tragic melodrama (trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUDOJ1SARmk" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank). We are Four are the adventures of a gleeful gang of female criminals. Lerato has a man observe a film crew on location and they encourage him to write a script and get his film produced, and recruit a college girl to play the lead--hard to tell how realistic this is but it hints at the informality of the industry (trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxtAttlJ0w0" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank). I think Chupa ya Bibi is a horror film, at least i assume they are not playing having the baby turn into a Coke bottle for laughs. No subtitles, but here's the trailer which has all the good scenes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGxWlTI8k8k" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank If anyone can figure out what's going on here, please let me know!

I've got at least 50 more of these to go, so i'll report if anything else looks interesting.


Inputting "bongo movie" into Google yields the usual endless series of links... mostly to Youtube, where the term produces 208,000 results, and the top of the list runs about thirty minutes each. Google ngrams shows no reference to the term; googling "bongo movie etymology" shows nothing closer than "bongo drum". My quick and dirty assessment is it's a pejorative term, derived from the conflation of ideas of "bongo drums" and "jungle drum,"

Top of the list for googling "movie industry Tanzania" is this link:

http://mfditanzania.com/swahiliwood-res ... -industry/" target="_blank

and an article that begins:

If you think there is no film industry in Tanzania, think again! Adding to the well known industries of Hollywood, Bollywood, and Nollywood (Nigeria), there is another, well established but elsewhere unknown, wood- Swahiliwood. And it’s been around for over ten years!


Gadzooks!

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

PostSat Aug 05, 2017 8:36 pm

boblipton wrote:
Inputting "bongo movie" into Google yields the usual endless series of links... mostly to Youtube, where the term produces 208,000 results, and the top of the list runs about thirty minutes each. Google ngrams shows no reference to the term; googling "bongo movie etymology" shows nothing closer than "bongo drum". My quick and dirty assessment is it's a pejorative term, derived from the conflation of ideas of "bongo drums" and "jungle drum,"

Bob
[/quote]

I thought it must be pejorative too, and i found an article about "bongo"-something else where people also said it was pejorative but others added that the term was now slang for excellent among Swahili-speaking youth. I asked our Africana specialist and she'd never heard of bongo films or movies, but when i see the term it's in a Swahili context so it looks like they are applying it themselves. The only website i'd found about these films was http://www.bongocinema.com" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank, but it's been down this week and i'm hoping it's not down for good! There is something calling itself Bongo Film Data Base but it looks like it is just celebrity stuff. But here's a page from Swahiliwood.com: http://www.swahiliwood.com/category/bongo-movies/" target="_blank
. I just searched Google for King Majuto bongo movie and got several films. It's not a reliable keyword term for a youTube search but it is sometimes useful.

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What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Aug 05, 2017 10:18 pm

All of these actors are incredibly prolific, though none so much as King Majuto ...

You would seem to be in an excellent position, should you wish to become their America-based agent.
Most us are, at best, familiar with no more than one, now-retired, Bongo film King
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Aug 06, 2017 4:18 am

Donald Binks wrote:Bela Lugosi was in England in 1939 to appear in the John Argyle Production "The Dark Eyes of London" based on the Edgar Wallace novel (released in the United States as "The Human Monster").

Why Mr. Lugosi had to sail to England to make this picture - apart from the money involved, is a mystery.


It may have been an offshoot of his stage work, although DARK EYES is quite memorable. In fact I recall seeing part of it in the late 1960s [the grisly finale] or early 1970s on TV and being eager to watch the rest. Bela did appear over here on stage, perhaps at the same time he agreed to appear in MOTHER RILEY MEETS THE VAMPIRE in 1952. He also did THE MYSTERY OF THE MARIE CELESTE in 1935.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Aug 06, 2017 5:58 am

greta de groat wrote:ng it themselves. The only website i'd found about these films was http://www.bongocinema.com" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank, but it's been down this week and i'm hoping it's not down for good! There is something calling itself Bongo Film Data Base but it looks like it is just celebrity stuff. But here's a page from Swahiliwood.com: http://www.swahiliwood.com/category/bongo-movies/" target="_blank" target="_blank
. I just searched Google for King Majuto bongo movie and got several films. It's not a reliable keyword term for a youTube search but it is sometimes useful.


Apparently "bongo" is formal Swahili for "brain"

http://en.bab.la/dictionary/swahili-english/bongo

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

PostSun Aug 06, 2017 8:25 am

boblipton wrote: I know that i have seen a lot of romcoms which have impelled me to remark as I left the theater, "I give them six weeks."

Bob


Not 9 1/2?

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

PostSun Aug 06, 2017 8:29 am

Based on Mike's thread "Classics I Haven't Seen In A Long Time", I re-watched "Lost Horizon" (1937) with Ronald Colman, Jane Wyatt, H. B. Warner, Edward Everett Horton, Thomas Mitchell, Isabel Jewell, Margo, John Howard, and so many others. Still enjoy this classic a lot! People who knew him always said that Ronald Colman was born to play that part: it would seem so. I only wish Isabel Jewell's part could have been expanded more: she seemed so at ease in the part, and gives a truly wonderful performance.

This is the story - no, fantasy - of finding a Utopia on earth amidst all the warfare and confusion outside of it. One or two things I hadn't considered before. For example, the death of the pilot who crashes the plane before all the passengers reach Shangri-La...if this was a kidnapping - and it's even called that - of Colman, was the Chinese pilot who must have done away with the other regular pilot(!) part of the Shangri-La team? Was the Shangri-La team complicit in murder? There were a couple of other seeming contradictions I'd never tried to consider before. And Mike's observations about the unabashed bigotry and evident caste system made me watch much more carefully. Makes you realize that Noble Johnson's shooting at the party near the end was probably more - well, not justified - but understandable - or was it?

Anyway, glad I re-visited the film.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Aug 06, 2017 8:33 am

Yes, I wondered about the two pilots as well. I assume the Chinese one was an outsider hired by the Shangri-La folks, as the opportunities to learn aviation within Shangri-La were few (at least till that airbase was built in the early 40s). This being the 1930s, the original (British) pilot could have been chloroformed rather than, say, strangled, but then he's plainly left on the tarmac, where he's presumably butchered. That Chang & Co. have a little blood on their hands in that regard is glossed over, to be sure.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Aug 06, 2017 8:40 am

A long-haired Jean Simmons (looking as odd as a long-haired Audrey Hepburn) is Angel Face (1952) to Bob Mitchum. She lures him away from his beautiful girlfriend (Mona Freeman) and his crappy job as an ambulance driver by promising to fund his dream of owning his own garage. Ah, the simple dreams of the simple folk!

Unfortunately Jean is unhinged by a Freudian complex: she loves her Daddy and wants to off her stepmother. Although she has an angelic face, she also has a demonic mind: she sets up Bob to help her kill off Stepmom. Bob, however, has seen enough films noir to recognize a frame-up before it can be sprung. He and Jean genuinely have the hots for each other, but he steps out of the box long enough for an impatient Jean to go ahead and kill off Stepmom by herself. Unhappily, Daddy is also killed as collateral damage. Our two anti-heroes go through a trial which their lawyer cleverly sabotages by getting them to marry each other. Except once they've been acquitted, Bob wants to dump Jean and her money and head down to Mexico alone. Jean is having none of that.

It's a good, tight noir from Otto Preminger. What I liked best about it is that Bob is no fool: he calls every bluff Jean throws at him, he knows exactly what he's being drawn into, he may lust for Jean but he won't allow her to gain control over him, and when his ex-girlfriend won't take him back, he accepts it instead of punching out the guy she chooses over him.

Question for all the NitrateVillains who mentioned some months ago that they had served on juries. During the trial for murder, one juror stands up and starts lobbing questions at the witness, with the permission of both lawyers and the judge. I have never seen this happen in any American movie before, nor have I read of it happening in any books. It was my understanding a juror could not ask questions in open court; while the jury is recessed, it could collectively request clarification of evidence already presented in court, but again could not question any witnesses. The only exception would be in a grand jury proceeding, and even then it would be highly unusual. Is this correct?

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

PostSun Aug 06, 2017 8:48 am

I can't say that there aren't some circumstances where that couldn't happen (I think grand juries can ask questions in some cases), but in my own case, we definitely could not, we had to issue a request to the judge, and the judge would decide if it was information we were allowed to have or not. (For instance, if it was testimony that we wanted to look over again, we would be allowed a transcript. But at one point we requested a copy of some exhibit that one side had prepared, and it was denied to us because it was something that presumably reflected one side's biases, and was not evidence in a direct sense, as a photograph of what the exhibit represented would be.)
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Aug 06, 2017 10:06 am

Mike Gebert wrote:Yes, I wondered about the two pilots as well. I assume the Chinese one was an outsider hired by the Shangri-La folks, as the opportunities to learn aviation within Shangri-La were few (at least till that airbase was built in the early 40s). This being the 1930s, the original (British) pilot could have been chloroformed rather than, say, strangled, but then he's plainly left on the tarmac, where he's presumably butchered.

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

PostSun Aug 06, 2017 11:08 am

Jim Roots wrote:Question for all the NitrateVillains who mentioned some months ago that they had served on juries. During the trial for murder, one juror stands up and starts lobbing questions at the witness, with the permission of both lawyers and the judge. I have never seen this happen in any American movie before, nor have I read of it happening in any books. It was my understanding a juror could not ask questions in open court; while the jury is recessed, it could collectively request clarification of evidence already presented in court, but again could not question any witnesses. The only exception would be in a grand jury proceeding, and even then it would be highly unusual. Is this correct?

Jim


My understanding is that some states do permit questions from the juries. If New York does, I have never noticed it.

Here's an example from Lowering the Bar, which Nitratevillains who have been following the question of "Will PETA bankrupt a photographer in order to assign picture rights to a monkey?" know is a good source for such legal questions. Or at least, I think it is.

http://loweringthebar.net/2013/03/quest ... -jury.html" target="_blank

Finally, during jury deliberations, we were given free access to exhibits. For testimony we had to go into the courtroom, where the court clerks would read it us.

Although what is permitted may apparently differ from state to state, whether the matter is civil or criminal, or whether the judge is feeling cranky, I thought this was unsatisfactory. I think that the entire process can be streamlined so the juror witness the matter recorded the first time, with testimony that is objected to and sustained edited, as well as the interminable sidebars. We would have been out of there three weeks earlier.

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

PostSun Aug 06, 2017 11:13 am

Jim Roots wrote:Question for all the NitrateVillains who mentioned some months ago that they had served on juries. During the trial for murder, one juror stands up and starts lobbing questions at the witness, with the permission of both lawyers and the judge. I have never seen this happen in any American movie before, nor have I read of it happening in any books. It was my understanding a juror could not ask questions in open court; while the jury is recessed, it could collectively request clarification of evidence already presented in court, but again could not question any witnesses. The only exception would be in a grand jury proceeding, and even then it would be highly unusual. Is this correct?

Jim


I was one of those who mentioned the trials on which they served. We were never allowed to directly question anyone. We did ask for a review of testimony on a couple of trials. I remember one time even this was not granted and no explanation was given. Sometimes we had evidence in front of us (the black tar heroin all sealed in plastic in one case). Our requests were submitted from the jury room, not in open court.

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

PostSun Aug 06, 2017 1:09 pm

I didn't like When Strangers Marry (1944), and I can't figure out why. It has some fine actors, including Kim Hunter (looking about ten years younger than she does in A Matter of Life and Death), who has married traveling man Dean Jagger, with Robert Mitchum as her torch-carrying old boyfriend. There's a mysterious serial murderer, whom police officer Neil Hamilton is pursuing... and Miss Hunter thinks it's her husband, so they go on the run. There are some interesting Dutch angle and the lighting veers into film noir lighting. Could it be the generic set design? The lushly over-the-top music by Dmitri Tiomkin? Jagger's toupee? It's hard to say, but fledgling director William Castle may handle everything too melodramatically.

Bob
His plagiarism was limited only by his faulty technique.

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