What is the last film you watched? (2017)

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

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

PostSun Aug 27, 2017 8:05 am

R Michael Pyle wrote:Jim, sounds to me as if you were watching CNN on-hand reporting in the L.A. area going toward Burbank. Bad outbreak according to Snake Fritzer. Other channels were too busy showing ads to get there in time.


You mean it was a Trump rally? I thought the spiders' hair looked familiar.

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

PostSun Aug 27, 2017 8:59 am

Jim Roots wrote:...2015 film, Mr. Holmes.
...
Those of us, such as Binky, who find today's films lacking in coherent story sense would enjoy this very much. So would anyone who likes darned good films.
Jim


Oh yes indeedy, jolly good show all round!
Regards from
Donald Binks

"So, she said: "Elly, it's no use letting Lou have the sherry glasses..."She won't appreciate them,
she won't polish them..."You know what she's like." So I said:..."
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Aug 27, 2017 11:49 am

Jim Roots wrote:
Ian McKellen plays our hero as a 93-year-old codger who retired 35 years ago to tend bees in Suffolk. That's right, folks: he has survived into 1947, which must boggle the mind of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in his own afterlife.


Jim


According to classical Holmsians, Sherlock Holmes is still alive because his obit has never appeared in The Times.

Actually he's very popular these days, with two recent TV series and a spate of films.

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

PostSun Aug 27, 2017 12:12 pm

Absolutely one of the oddest films I've ever watched is a little number called Baby Jane? (2010). I'm not sure if it's a parody, a spoof, an homage, or a little of all three. It's a retelling of the famous Davis/Crawford film with most of the parts played by drag queens. There's plenty of camp, but the film is done as a straight (ha ha) drama, not a stand-up act. The actors playing Jane and Blanche have a field day of course, and each one of them has an eerie ability to, at times, sound EXACTLY like the famous stars. The film has more fun with the other characters, especially those played by Anna Lee and Marjorie Bennett. The Edwin Flagg character is played straight, and the maid is played by a woman. Here and there, the story veers from the original and the filmmaker walks a fine line in avoiding copyrighted stuff (like the song Jane sings). But made for almost no money (compared to any present-day film budget), the film has a nice crisp B&W look and is well edited. Bizarre and mesmerizing.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Aug 27, 2017 1:42 pm

In Meet Me at Dawn (1947), William Eythe is a professional duelist in fin-de-siecle Paris. If you want your wife's lover put out of action for a precise length of time, so you can win back her affections, he'll injure him with that in mind. It's a peculiar business model, but one that keeps him and his man-of-business Stanley Holloway in a comfortable, if erratic living. However, while at work one job, he winds up rescuing Hazel Court from a wrecked roller-coaster. When she faints before giving him her address, he takes her home. She returns, the next day, to her father, the newspaper baron's wrath.

Complications ensue, as they do in a comedy, and the players are up to the task, including some very reliable comic actors, including Margaret Rutherford, Basil Sydney and Wilfred Hyde-White. To add to the piquancy of this movie, they are all performing outside of the sort of roles in which they would soon be typecast, and acquitting themselves strongly. In all, it's an odd if pleasing romantic comedy.

After that, it was off to aa theater with my cousin.

Movies have many techniques for keeping you interested and making the time go fast. A moving camera, attractive sets and actors speaking witty lines, and a pleasing score will make the 90 minutes or so of a movie fly. Contrariwise, when a moviemaker wishes to instill a sense of oppression, any of these elements can be left out.

Crown Heights (2017) is a movie based on a real event. In 1980, a black man in that troubled Brooklyn neighborhood was found guilty of second degree murder and sentenced to 15-to-life as the driver in a drive-by shooting. The trouble is, he didn't do it; he was busy stealing and running over someone else at the time. This movie recounts the twenty-one-year struggle by him and his brother to get him freed. And during the period of his incarceration, the deadening effect of that imprisonment is made apparent by leaving out all those techniques that would serve to make the lives of the people in this movie more interesting.

The trouble is that the audience is also subject to this oppressive and boring tedium. As a result, this 94-minute feature, which might have made an excellent documentary, fails in the first duty of any piece of art: to engage and, yes, entertain its audience. All we learn is that people make mistakes and take a long time to figure things out.

Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Sat Sep 02, 2017 3:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Aug 27, 2017 7:12 pm

Heatwave (1982), which we never had here in Maine this summer, is a gritty drama about an activist (Judy Davis) and a corrupt corporation (pick a name) coercing people out of housing in Sydney so they can gentrify the area with artsy luxury condos. Things get rough. People get killed. The naive architect gets taken. Judy win s Pyrrhic victory. Good film with only a few familiar faces among the Australian cast. Davis is always worth watching.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Aug 27, 2017 10:17 pm

Just saw a double bill of Island of Terror (1966) and The X From Outer Space (1967), courtesy of friends' annual horror film party.

In Island of Terror, people keep mysteriously dying by having their bones dissolved. Several folks, including Peter Cushing and a particularly useless female, try to figure out they mystery. They soon enough encounter the culprits--a bunch of proto-Hortas that look like a cross between a turtle and a canister vacuum cleaner. They were created by a scientist who was trying to find a cure for cancer, of all things. They are rapidly reproducing by dividing in half with chicken noodle soup pouring out of them. Hacking them with an ax doesn't work so they get a bunch of men together to throw molotov cocktails at them. I'm not sure why they thought that would work. SPOILER ALERT, if you care--they eventually inject all the local cattle with Strontium 90 and let the creatures eat them and they die of radiation poisoning, presumably. I'm not sure what's supposed to happen then with all the irradiated cow and creature carcasses, seems like they would have quite a mess on their hands.

The X From Outer Space involved a group of people on a misssion to Mars via a moon station. The previous voyages were all lost shortly after seeing a UFO so they want to find out what happened. Though it appears to have been filmed in the fog, it has cool retro-60s shiny space ships and space stations that they spend a lot of time on. Eventually they see what appears to be a flying empanada which deposits some white stuff on the wings of their spacecraft, and they make the mistake of going out and collecting some of it. They bring back an egg-like object which escapes from the lab, and 45 minutes into the film, the monster shows up. He's a rather jolly looking monster, with a chicken-like head, glowing red eyes, and muttonchop arms that he waves around with his mouth open looking like he's about to burst into song. He goes on the usual rampage, which the scientists keep track of on a big board (including a monster cut-out that they can move around to its latest location). The film was extremely badly dubbed and the sound kept cutting out and it seemed like parts of the plot was missing, but it was fun.

And we had proper popcorn, yum!
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostMon Aug 28, 2017 7:36 am

I watched "City of Missing Girls" (1941) with H. B. Warner, John Archer, Astrid Allwyn, Sarah Padden, Philip Van Zandt, and others. Story of Hollywood exploitation, but because of code rules, nothing much is seen or even discussed! Not deadly dull, but not very good, either. It was better than some I've recently seen, but I haven't watched any real winners, as far as talkies are concerned, for a few nights now. Did watch "The Black Raven" (1943) with George Zucco, Wanda McKay, Robert Livingston, Noel Madison, Charles Middleton, Byron Foulger, and others. Photography was superb!!! Sets were well done for 10 cents!!! Acting was super: what do you expect from George Zucco? Story was crap.

Greta, I almost envy you...
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostTue Aug 29, 2017 4:43 am

The Honkers (1972) is one of those post-western westerns than were arty in the 1960s and 1970s. James Coburn is a rodeo cowboy in an urbanized west. He ignores wife Lois Nettleton and hooks up with Indian-headbanded Anne Archer (in her first movie role and spiffy red Detommaso Pantera) and bses his way through an world where every man wears a Stetson, because a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.

As usual, Slim Pickens steals every scene he's in.

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

PostTue Aug 29, 2017 8:52 am

Music for Millions (1944) is one of the many patriotic musicals of those war years. This one, in B&W, tells the story of a pregnant young bride (June Allyson) who has not heard from her overseas husband for months. She carries on with her work in a symphonic orchestra run bu Jose Iturbi, along with several others gals ... Marsha Hunt, Marie Wilson, etc.). Along comes little sister, Margaret O'Brien, who acts like Jiminy Cricket (in more ways than one) which is no surprise since she gets first billing. Jimmy Durante and Hugh Herbert spark some humor. Much is made of the shortage of men for the orchestra, but Iturbi smiles and bears it. The actual plot (music aside) deals with a letter from overseas. Co-stars Harry Davenport, Ethel Griffies, Larry Adlier (and his harmonica), Connie Gilchrist, Eddie Jackson (Durante's old partner), and Byron Foulger. I cannot abide O'Brien and yes she does her crying jag act ... twice.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostTue Aug 29, 2017 4:12 pm

There's a bit of satire about atomic research and the official secrets in Child's Play (1954), but it's mostly about a gang of kids in a small English village who invent atomic popcorn. It has a silly and confusing air, told as it is, by the leader of the gang, Christopher Beeny, and there's a rough attempt to emulate Hal Roach's Our Gang series in post-war Britain. However, despite some silly moments and a fine, mildly daft performance by Mona Washbourne as the children's collaborator and saleswoman, it is far too scattered to ever quite gel into something.

The director is Margaret Thomson, a lady who began her career directing informational shorts for the Department of Agriculture, and who later became a specialist in writing and directing children's movies. A couple of later credits as "children's coach" in movies like The Little Kidnappers indicate that she was good at getting performances out of the young 'uns. While Master Beeny has had a good career, and Anneke Willis also -- she had a good run as a companion on Doctor Who -- most of the children's careers seems to have been limited to this one movie.

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

PostTue Aug 29, 2017 5:40 pm

There isn't anything that could be described as a cavalcade in Cavalcade of the West (1936). Hoot Gibson is the first rider signed up for the Pony Express. Rex Lease is the man Hoot aces out for the job, so he takes up robbing Hoot and a stagecoach with the other principal cast on it. There's a bit of a backstory that makes it apparent how it's going to turn out, but there's nothing like a procession, formal or otherwise in the film.

Hoot doesn't get to do much in the way of his sly humor, and it's Rex who gets much of the interesting characterization. Marion Shilling is present for the two leads to compete for, and there's a nice role for Nina Guilbert as Hoot's mother, but except for people who are anxious to see anything Hoot was in -- or Rex -- it's an undistinguished B western.

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

PostWed Aug 30, 2017 4:32 pm

Ruth Dunning was a desperate criminal who escaped from prison, breaking her back as she did so. Now she runs a boarding house for old ladies: former criminal associates of hers. In walks a woman whom she left in prison, who now proposes to blackmail her on a Dangerous Afternoon (1961).

This short quota quickie directed by Charles Saunders is a bang-up affair, with many a funny bit, deliciously delayed by taking time to make the point clear. there are some nice swerves in the plot, and it is a fine way to spend an hour with older, cannier actresses. Long-time director of photography Geoffrey Faithfull -- his credits ranged back to before the First World War, with Hepworth -- does a solid job.

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

PostWed Aug 30, 2017 5:53 pm

One of about twenty Zane Grey novels filmed by Paramount from 1930-1940, Wagon Wheels (1934) is a remake of Fighting Caravan (1931), a movie about the Oregon Trail. It's definitely a B movie, with its running time under an hour, plenty of library footage to give it some size, Charles Barton sitting in the director's chair for the first time and singing to eke it out -- Even Randolph Scott warbles a couple of lines of the title song.

It's worth seeing for Scott in an early western. His first appearance in one had been a bit part in The Virginian (1929), but since his success in Wild Horse Mesa (1932) and The Thundering Herd (1933), Paramount had been giving him one or two oaters a year, in between the usual assortment of comedies, dramas and even lending him to other studios for musicals. He's solid here, opposite Gail Patrick, with some good support from Raymond Hatton as an old Mountain Man. However, it's still an okay B movie, even if he would do great things in the genre over the next three decades.

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

PostWed Aug 30, 2017 6:44 pm

Cairo (1963) is basically The Asphalt Jungle transported to Cairo and surprisingly dull.

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

PostWed Aug 30, 2017 7:35 pm

boblipton wrote:There's a bit of satire about atomic research and the official secrets in Child's Play (1954), but it's mostly about a gang of kids in a small English village who invent atomic popcorn. It has a silly and confusing air, told as it is, by the leader of the gang, Christopher Beeny, and there's a rough attempt to emulate Hal Roach's Our Gang series in post-war Britain. However, despite some silly moments and a fine, mildly daft performance by Mona Washbourne as the children's collaborator and saleswoman, it is far too scattered to ever quite gel into something.

The director is Margaret Thomson, a lady who began her career directing informational shorts for the Department of Agriculture, and who later became a specialist in writing and directing children's movies. A couple of later credits as "children's coach" in movies like The Little Kidnappers indicate that she was good at getting performances out of the young 'uns. While Master Beeny has had a good career, and Anneke Willis also -- she had a good run as a companion on Doctor Who, most of the children's careers seems to have been limited to this one movie.

Bob


Strange movie. Always like Washbourne and there were a few familiar faces (Ballard Berkeley, Barbara Hicks, Peter Sallis, John Sharp, Dorothy Alison, Joan Young), but the film was more annoying than charming. Having worked at Los Alamos National Lab, I found it a bit insulting that a nuclear physicist wold have his "secret papers" in his home and at the mercy of a kid and snooping wife. Be that as it may. It's not every day you get to see Mona Washbourne larking about on a bicycle.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostThu Aug 31, 2017 1:35 am

boblipton wrote:There's a bit of satire about atomic research and the official secrets in Child's Play (1954), but it's mostly about a gang of kids in a small English village who invent atomic popcorn. It has a silly and confusing air, told as it is, by the leader of the gang, Christopher Beeny, and there's a rough attempt to emulate Hal Roach's Our Gang series in post-war Britain. However, despite some silly moments and a fine, mildly daft performance by Mona Washbourne as the children's collaborator and saleswoman, it is far too scattered to ever quite gel into something.

The director is Margaret Thomson, a lady who began her career directing informational shorts for the Department of Agriculture, and who later became a specialist in writing and directing children's movies. A couple of later credits as "children's coach" in movies like The Little Kidnappers indicate that she was good at getting performances out of the young 'uns. While Master Beeny has had a good career, and Anneke Willis also -- she had a good run as a companion on Doctor Who, most of the children's careers seems to have been limited to this one movie.

Bob


Agree in the main with this verdict, and I, too enjoyed the comparatively youthful-looking Washbourne's performance.. There is also a small role for Peter Sallis, who died recently at the ripe old age of 96 as well as Ballard Berkeley, who also gained greater fame on the small screen.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostThu Aug 31, 2017 5:24 am

Bluebeard's 10 Honeymoons (1960) had me scratching my head. It's directed by Billy Wilder's brother and written by his nephew. I wondered if someone thought they were making a comedy, but Billy had gotten all the sense of humor in the family. Either that, or someone thought that Monsieur Verdoux was too silly.

George Sanders plays his usual faux-charming role, but without any wit in the writing, he's very dull. He's in love with a young singer, but all she's interested in is money, so he decides to kill other women so he can give their jewelry to her. This goes on for a while in a manner that is neither horrific nor funny.

This movie was banned in Finland. I'm not sure why they bothered.

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

PostThu Aug 31, 2017 7:34 am

After watching "Foreign Correspondent" (1940) on TCM for about the twentieth time or more, and enjoying it to the hilt - again - I put in a new DVD (for me) of "You Only Live Once" (1937) with Henry Fonda, Sylvia Sidney, Barton MacLane, Jean Dixon, Edward Gargan, Jerome Cowan, Margaret Hamilton, and others. Directed by Fritz Lang and released the year after "Fury", and only his second American film, this resonates very much as did "Fury", though that one was more of a thriller, this one is far more moody and brooding, extremely dark, but also extremely well done. Sidney is always good at parts like the one she plays here, but Fonda must have been nearly a revelation! It's the same year he made "That Certain Woman", a fine dramatic piece with Bette Davis, and "Slim", another fine drama with Pat O'Brien, plus he went to Ireland to make the UK's first full-fledged color film, "Wings of the Morning". He was definitely a good choice for Lang. Here he's a three time loser who gets accused of a crime he doesn't actually commit, though even the viewer isn't sure until later. Nevertheless, he's accused of robbery and murder, sentenced to die. The ending in this film isn't pretty. It's not only sordid, it's grim getting there, too. This is the realist Lang at his best. The couple of twists are actually anticipated, too, a sort of Hitchcockian trait that works here. My only complaint is that I went to sleep depressed, because this is not a film that takes one up...it's rather a downer, even though a good one. What I come away with this morning, though, is the fact that Lang takes the viewer for a ride, and Lang's in the driver's seat all the way - with a rope attached to the viewer and a mind-wrench ground around the viewer's brain so that NO-ONE escapes...
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostThu Aug 31, 2017 6:06 pm

Marcel Varnel, master of cut-glass farce, directed Bebe Daniels and Ben Lyons in Hi, Gang!, based on their popular radio show, with sidekick Vic Oliver credited as "The Pest with Ideas" who keeps getting them into scrapes. They're a married couple and news broadcasters on competing radio networks in America. Eventually Moore Marriott and Graham Moffatt show up and they wind up broadcasting in Britain.

Miss Daniels had certainly changed since she had played Dorothy Gale in 1910's The Wizard of Oz and Mr. Lyons since he had appeared in Hell's Angels. Their careers were over, but they were certainly popular in Great Britain, and there occasional bits that still work. Each sings some good songs (most of whose lyrics were written by co-screenwriter Val Guest). It's the sort of episodic mishmash that Varnel excelled at. The modern viewer will probably find it forced, but it's a fun piece of fluff.

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

PostThu Aug 31, 2017 7:15 pm

boblipton wrote:Marcel Varnel, master of cut-glass farce, directed Bebe Daniels and Ben Lyons in Hi, Gang!, based on their popular radio show, with sidekick Vic Oliver credited as "The Pest with Ideas" who keeps getting them into scrapes. They're a married couple and news broadcasters on competing radio networks in America. Eventually Moore Marriott and Graham Moffatt show up and they wind up broadcasting in Britain.

Miss Daniels had certainly changed since she had played Dorothy Gale in 1910's The Wizard of Oz and Mr. Lyons since he had appeared in Wings. Their careers were over, but they were certainly popular in Great Britain, and there occasional bits that still work. Each sings some good songs (most of whose lyrics were written by co-screenwriter Val Guest. It's the sort of episodic mishmash that Varnel excelled at. The modern viewer will probably find it forced, but it's a fun piece of fluff.

Boib


Vic Oliver married Churchill's daughter. Lyon was in Hell's Angels, not Wings, but your point stands. It's an enjoyable film but a little sad that it's Daniel's final film until she made a couple more in the mid 1950s, based on their TV series.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostFri Sep 01, 2017 5:34 am

Vera Miles is engaged to George Sanders, but rakish Commander James Mason develops a passion for her. He decides that she won't dump Sanders for him because he is not rich, but fortunately he has A Touch of Larceny (1960). He will make things appear as if he has sold secrets to the Russians, disappear, and when he reappears, will sue the newspapers for libel.

It's a low-key comedy, with everyone playing their roles as if it is a straight drama, and suffers from it; George Sanders comes off as a dull stinker (justifying the inevitable happy ending when Miss Miles dumps him); Mason could play things amusingly, but doesn't'. The result had me waiting for a moment when I could crack a smile, but even a couple of scenes which clearly could have been pitched for comic relief -- Mason goes to his office to drop some files behind behind a cabinet while he annoys the staff; Sanders makes drinks amidst tadpoles in mayonnaise jars, collected by his childish father -- and no one ever utters the line about the gutter press deserving to be taken for a boodle. Perhaps that's the responsibility of director and co-screenwriter Guy Hamilton, whose idea of comedy seem to be a lot chillier than mine.

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

PostFri Sep 01, 2017 5:58 am

YT has a version of the Broadway musical Sunset Boulevard from earlier this year. Glenn Close stars as Norma (I had seen her in the Los Angeles production in 1993) and though her singing voice has waned a bit, her acting certainly has not. She's terrific putting over "As If We Never Said Goodbye" and "With One Look." The rest of the cast is adequate, but the scaffold staging is a bit jarring. Still, the lush music remains very effective and haunting. Max's "Great Star of All" makes for an evocative overture. Seems to me many of the non-Close numbers were speeded up, and this bare-bones production clocks in at a tick over 2 hours. Certainly worth a look and listen.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostFri Sep 01, 2017 7:57 am

"Dick Tracy, Detective" (1945) with Morgan Conway, Anne Jeffreys, Mike Mazurki, Jane Greer, and others is a genuine pleasure, really well done, moves like greased lightning, and is acted with grade A aplomb! Frankly, I was expecting this to be much less than it turned out to be. Made by RKO pictures, and featuring top notch people in good roles for them, this film - made from the comic strip, of course - delivers on all accounts. Who is Splitface? Why is he knifing young girls and undertakers? Why is the mayor marked for murder if he doesn't deliver $10,000.00 worth of extortion? Even though someone else DID deliver his $1000.00 extortion money, he was still killed! Why? Oh, why, why, why? Dick Tracy, the best detective on the force, will find out the truth - and does. One of the things that makes this really effective, too, is the gritty photography of Frank Redman who did other Tracy films, plus had already done Saint films and Falcon films. He knew the genre, and he knew how to film it. Snappily directed by William Berke who was mainly a director of Westerns, but had also helmed Falcon films and a lot of "B" second features.

"Doomed to Die" (1940) is one of the Mr. Wong detective films of Boris Karloff. He made five of the six of them. This is the last one featuring Karloff. Been a while since I'd seen this, but was very pleasantly surprised at its quality. I had remembered the frenzied acting of Grant Withers as the police inspector in a couple of others and expected that here, too, but the director, William Nigh, must have roped him in, and he's effective here. Besides Karloff and Withers, Marjorie Reynolds, Catherine Craig, William Stelling, Guy Usher, Henry Brandon, and others are featured. A rather pat plot that you've seen before, here was probably one of its seminal times, as a man and another are arguing - the one man older and owner of a shipping company, the other the son of a rival company who wants to marry the older competitor's daughter. The old man is shot and killed. The young man is suspected, of course. Grant Withers suspects it's an open-and-shut case. Mr. Wong and the daughter don't think so. Lots and lots of red herrings throughout this make it difficult to conclude early who did it, or why. Really worth seeking out.
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boblipton

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

PostFri Sep 01, 2017 8:58 pm

Over to the Museum of Modern Art for the first two shows in Mssrs. Theakston, Furmanek et Cie's presentation of 3-d rareties, like it says on the banner up there. Jack did the intros in a polished manner.

First up was 3-D Rarities (2015), which is a lovely compilation of early 3-D efforts, running back to the 1920s and up through the 1960s. Giving how the first "break-out" of 3-D was in the 1950s, it's hard to realize that that people had been working on the technique for 30 years, but then, Edison produced a sound movie in the 1890s, and there was a regular series of them directed by Alice Guy a decade later, so 30-year lags from experiment to commercial success isn't that unheard of.

A few random thoughts: I was getting some eye strain through the 1930s, but I sat myself in the front row. By the time we hit the Chrysler promotional 3-D film from 1940, I was fine... and privately speculating that the stop-motion work looked a lot like George Pal's work. Didn't he do the stop-motion work for Jam Handy in Auto-Lite on Parade the same year?

When Lee DeForest wanted to make a test film for his sound-on-film technique, he got Eddie Cantor. Why did the people who made promotional fillers for 3-D film two burlesque comics trying to get the brassiere off a stripper? Well, it must be admitted that DeForest also also recorded Calvin Coolidge, and Theodore Case a duck.

When John Ireland is talking up the 3-D western he is going to be in, the horse he is sitting on doesn't look interested. What does he know that Ireland isn't telling us?

Why is it so difficult to find Dr. Brown's Diet Cream soda at the supermarket, yet they always have a plentiful supply of celery tonic?

Why is it when I tell my nieces I'm paranoid, they nod like they understand, yet when I say something that is paranoid, they act surprised?

Anyway, those random thoughts dealt with -- or at least the questions raised -- let us continue with.... oh yes, 3-D pictures. I said hello to the Nitratevillains, ducked out to recaffeinate myself, then back for September Storm (1960). Jack explained that Leonard Maltin gave this a Bomb rating and speculated that it was because he had seen it in a flat pan-and-scan version on tv; if one looked on it as an ordinary programmer, he said, agreeing with himself, it was pretty good.

Yes and no. Anything with a screenplay by W.R. Burnett will have my respectful attention, and I have long liked Joanne Dru, well more than her career calls for; her appearance in two John Ford westerns and Red River is more than enough in the way of credentials for me. Also, Byron Haskins uses the 3-D cameras to record underwater Technicolor like nobody's business. As the first half of the story progressed, I was uncomfortable with Asher Dann's monotonic performance as Majorcan eye candy for the girls, but could see the way that Burnett's script was leading the cast into a sordid tale of cross and double cross, with a fight over sunken gold and Joanne Dru. True, Robert Strauss as the dumb wisecracker he had played in Stalag 17 couldn't manage a decent line reading either, but at least Miss Dru and Mark Stevens could... and some of the lines were stinkers. Still, it was going along well enough. Until the intermission, and when we returned, three sailors couldn't figure out how to get sea weed out of the propellers. Nor do Portugese man-of-wars act like that. So long as the plot dealt with human greed and weakness, it was fine. Apparently Burnett has no interest in the sea, its flora and its fauna, even though that's about half the movie.

As a result, my opinion of this movie went from "Very good. Maybe excellent" to "Watchable". It stayed that way for the rest of the picture, even as I noted the sharks made of rubber and the plot holes; the camerawork remained great.

Which means that Jack was right. It didn't deserve the Bomb rating that Maltin gave it. But neither should you watch it except in 3-D.

Bob
The matter is complicated, and I shall proceed to complicate it still more.

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

PostSat Sep 02, 2017 6:39 am

I watched "Mystery Liner" (1934) with Noah Beery, Sr., Astrid Allwyn, Edwin Maxwell, Cornelius Keefe, Gustav von Seyffertitz, Zeffie Tilbury, Boothe Howard, Ralph Lewis, and others. Very little thriller that moves far too slowly. Premise uses every 30's cliché it's possible to use. Sci-fi's electronic gadgets that began sparkling so well in "Frankenstein" and so, so many others is used here, too, as a way to remote control/automatic pilot an ocean liner. Well, "enemy agents" want the machine. Who's who on the liner? Who's the thief(ves) and who's the good guy(s)? It's a Monogram programmer, so you get what you asked for. I've seen much, much worse. But I've been entertained on a much higher level, too. Zeffie Tilbury is fun up to a point, but, unfortunately, it's the breaking point...she becomes just plain annoying. Noah Beery - top-billed - is barely in it. Too bad. And he's usually a baddie, and he's good at being a baddie: here he's a goodie - too bad...

Also watched "Shock" (1946) with Vincent Price, Lynn Bari, Frank Latimore, Anabel Shaw, Reed Hadley, and others. Decent little thriller with Price getting to show off his chops a bit as a nasty doc who kills his wife but unfortunately is seen by someone who goes into shock after witnessing the incident. What the someone doesn't realize is that Price is the doc who's assigned to get her out of shock! When she sees him... Lynn Bari is Price's assistant and lover and one of the nastiest ladies you'll ever see. Lady MacBeth never was this good! Bari steals the picture right out from Price. She's worth the watch, though Price is so smarmy. I enjoyed this one, although I figured it would end as it did. So will you. So what? That's okay...
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Sep 02, 2017 8:04 am

I was surprised to see an English-language film directed by Maurice Tourneur after he left the US at the dawn of the Sound era. I was equally astonished to see a surprisingly fluent Pierre Fresnay in the lead of Crimson Dynasty (aka Königsmark 1935), but there it is. Perhaps they wanted one and had to take the other. In any case, both hurried back to France after this.

Elissa Landi is ordered to marry Grand Duke Allan Jeayes, but she doesn't love him in any sense of the word; she refers to him as "the Walrus". When the Kaiser asks him to go to Africa for a mission, he dies there.... or does he? And what does a centuries-old tale of two doomed lovers have to do with it?

Based on the novel by Pierre Benoit, this story of intrigue and forbidden love is competently handled, but the fireworks are limited to literal ones about a third of the way through. Otherwise, the screen story becomes a mish-mash of late 19th-century tropes, like Benoit's other oft-screened novel, L'Atlantide. Everyone behaves in a stodgily proper way all the time, except for Hay Petrie as a chemistry tutor. It's all right, but of the genre is much better served by movies like The Prisoner of Zenda and The Swan.

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

PostSat Sep 02, 2017 12:00 pm

boblipton wrote:Well, it must be admitted that DeForest also also recorded Calvin Coolidge,


How could that have been a sound film?

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

PostSat Sep 02, 2017 12:23 pm

The Black Orchid (1958) boasts Sophia Loren early in her Hollywood career and oddly cast in this dour women's weepie as young widow (I'll say ... she is 23 or 24 here) of a New York mobster who finds new romance with a middle-aged neighbor (Anthony Quinn). But oh the problems! The state has taken away her 12-year-old son and sent him upstate to a work farm (probably the Berkshire Farm for Boy in Canaan). On top of that, Quinn's engaged daughter (Ina Balin, in her film debut) is starting to exhibit the same signs her nutty mother did 20 years before. When her intended husband (Peter Mark Richman) suggests she stop "playing house" with daddy, she gets all huffy and locks herself in her bedroom .. just like mama used to! Poor Sophia has to deal with all of this. Quinn pines to move to Somerville, NJ, and Richman pines to move to Atlantic City, NJ. But Sophia can't get the kid out of the farm system, and Quinn can't get the daughter out of her bedroom. Director Martin Ritt does his best with this soggy material and the stars manage to keep straight faces. La Loren manages to look ravishing even in her cheap black widow's weeds.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Sep 02, 2017 7:28 pm

Note to self: stop sitting in the front row for 3-D movies.

Today's viewing was Gog (1954) and I was greatly impressed. Yes, there was the usual problems with "serious" sf movies of the 1950s. The characters explain things they all know to each other, and they get things wrong. Nonetheless, there is a real story, the visuals are superb -- they made sure that the various manufacturers' logos were clear -- and the camerawork was top notch, even if the robots were dumb.

Particularly noteworthy is the superb restoration work. One of the two elements of the 3-D Pathecolor prints was missing for 40 years, and the other was worn out for color -- anyone who has seen how unstable the color elements are can appreciate how difficult it would be to use the better preserved color elements as a guide for the worse. It's hard enough to look at a new color print struck from the Technicolor camera negatives, stored in the same location -- the halos from negatives that shrink at infinitesimally different rates can produce enormous registration problems.

There were no such problems with the restored Gog. It is a humbling reminder that this is a techical artifact, worked over on a computer -- and it still requires an artist like Greg Kintz to do as good a job as I saw.

Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Sun Sep 03, 2017 1:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
The matter is complicated, and I shall proceed to complicate it still more.

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