What is the last film you watched? (2017)

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R Michael Pyle

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

PostSun Sep 17, 2017 6:42 am

Donald Binks wrote:"Lonely Road" (1936) (Known in America as "Scotland Yard Commands") features Clive Brook as an ex-Navy Commander who harbours memories of a bad incident he was involved in during the war. He is well off and quite urbane and drives a natty little roadster - which in the opening of the film he operates whilst intoxicated. He ends up in the sand at the seaside and manages to witness a smuggling operation going on. He is hit over the head - and the rest of the film is taken up with him assisting Scotland Yard in catching the villains.

A lot of the story and plot in this film is absolute tripe and full of coincidences and sheer silliness - but we go along with it, because for the most part it is all quite well done and so, entertaining.

In his travels Clive Brook meets Victoria Hopper - she is the sister of the man who drove the lorry and who the police are after. She is a taxi-dancer at a Hop in Leeds. Being from Leeds one would expect a Yorkshire accent, but no, she talks freightfullay nacelay. Naturally, Mr. Brook becomes enamoured of her - and the picture goes along in this direction as well.

It is a compliment to the acting abilities of the cast and the direction of James Flood that despite some degree of ludicrousness, they got away with such an entertaining picture.

I wrote this here last 16 March 2016:
"... "Lonely Road" (1936) with Clive Brook, Victoria Hopper, Nora Swinburne, Malcolm Keen, Cecil Ramage, and others. Funny, I bought the re-release version of this film, I thought, though it turned out to be the original version (thank goodness!) You see, the cover of the version I bought is entitled "Scotland Yard Commands", so I thought I'd never seen this Clive Brook film. When I began watching it, I realized I'd just seen this about six or eight months ago, but I couldn't place where. Then I did some research and found that it's on the anthology DVD "The Ealing Studios Rarities Collection", volume 14. I have all 14 volumes of that series of films. What I had not done, however, was to catalogue the film in my database of films - for whatever reason. Anyway, I watched it again and enjoyed it, although I must admit that its plot is so preposterous as to be laughable if one thinks about it. If one doesn't, it's a good film. Just take my word for it - especially if you're a Clive Brook fan. If you're not, well, watch something else."
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Sep 17, 2017 7:31 am

The Naked Hills (1956) stars David Wayne in a rare serious role as a man with gold fever. It's a decently produced effort with some fine actors, including Jim Backus as a smirking villain and Keenan Wynn as his snarling strong arm, but there are a few too many cliches, like James Barton as Wayne's absurdly brogued partner to raise it out of the ranks of the Bs.

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

PostSun Sep 17, 2017 8:00 am

boblipton wrote:[b] ... like James Barton as Wayne's absurdly brogued partner ...

Bob


Shoes, or accent?

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

PostSun Sep 17, 2017 11:55 am

I watched "Jew Süss" (1934) again. Think this is a stunning film for its day. About a Jew who decides to get ahead basically by sucking up to a rising Count. He becomes a finance minister. The year is 1730. For 1934 this was a very hot subject to tell on film. It is said that some American theaters would not allowed show it unless it were expurgated. Also, there's a jab at Hitler's rise early on in a very subtle way! The anti-antisemitism of that day does come forth in a couple of scenes, but overall the film is manipulatively progressive. Stars Conrad Veidt in a performance that could - read, "should" - have been Academy Award. Benita Hume is a nasty one here, and she's quite good. Worth seeking out.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Sep 17, 2017 2:10 pm

Carole Lombard is a showgirl in The Gay Bride (1934) who marries gangster Shoots Magiz (Nat Pendleton), hoping she'll inherit his fortune once he meets the inevitable demise of a mobster. Of course, Shoots' handsome aide-de-camp Chester Morris, who everyone calls "Office Boy", complicates things with his love/hate relationship with his boss's wife.

Add Zasu Pitts as Lombard's dresser/maid and Leo Carillo as a shifty Greek mobster, and you've got my kinda movie. Late 1934, so it's post-code, but has some early elements of screwball that would soon become Lombard's stock-in-trade, and Morris is quite funny throughout.

Then, for a complete change of pace, watched Mark Rydell's Cinderella Liberty (1973), charming drama with James Caan, fresh off The Godfather, as a Navy bos'n stuck in Seattle who falls for a b-girl played by Marsha Mason in her first starring role. Caan gives an amiable, low key performance, especially once he befriend's Mason's troubled son, and Mason is cute and sexy when she isn't drinking or making things awkward with her chosen profession. In the pre-film interview on TCM, Rydell says the studio wanted a name like Faye Dunaway for the role, but thank goodness he fought for Mason, Dunaway would have been completely wrong as a welfare mom with dreams of escaping gritty early '70s Seattle, which is well utilized for locations. Bonus points for great character roles for an impossibly young Bruno Kirby, Burt Young, Eli Wallach, as Caan's former drill instructor, and Dabney Coleman as the imperious staff officer at the Navy hospital where Caan is stuck due to a bureaucratic SNAFU.

This is one of those films that I've known about for years, due to seeing the soundtrack LP repeatedly growing up (John Williams score, Paul Williams songs), but never had a chance to see until now. Oddly enough, another film with a similar quirk, The Strawberry Statement, also aired on TCM recently, and will soon be a welcome addition to my ongoing compendium of Bud Cort films.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Sep 17, 2017 2:44 pm

Evensong (1934) is one of those interesting misfires that happens when no one is looking because no one is quite sure what story they want to tell. Is it the story of a young Irish woman anxious to make good in the world of opera in fashionable Paris? A showcase for a opera diva in the pre-war years? One of a woman who sacrifices everything for her art? The story of how the Great War destroys everything for one woman? The sad tale of a washed-up artist unwilling to let go of past glories? You might cram all of them into a novel, and possibly into a three-act play that might please a contemporary audience, but it's too much to stick into a movie. It's too crammed with details, with great songs, with great performances, with great montages, with great thises and great thats for the audience to catch its breath.

Evelyn Laye is Maggie O'Neill in Ireland. She runs away with Emlyn Williams to Paris, he to study music, she to study opera. Boom! She is ready for her audition and Williams is going to shoot her because she is going to leave him, but her singing is so wonderful, he writes her a note and leaves. Boom! She reinvents herself as Madame Irela! Montage of triumph, with showers of gold coins! Boom! Affair with Austrian Archduke, who insists on marrying her, but World War One is Declared! Boom!

Victor Saville is in charge of this great mass of plot and music and acting and he does much better than you could imagine from what I've written up there, thanks, in no small part, to some superb montage work by Otto Ludwig. Also praiseworthy is the performance of Fritz Kortner as Miss Laye's impressario. In fact, there is nothing in this movie that is not, in itself, good. It's just that there's just too much of it.

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

PostSun Sep 17, 2017 6:15 pm

Bob Steele may not be tops in the dialogue department in The Man from Hell's Edges (1932), but he offers a fine physical performance in a good story. He escapes from prison in a fine, shot-by-torchlight night shoot, ahead of his buddies' release, and makes his way to his side kicks: Gilbert Holmes and Gabby Hayes -- the latter sporting an Irish accent. While the sidekicks hang back, Steele heads into town, where someone is about to kill the sheriff, until Bob wings him and the assassin high-tails it. The sheriff offers him a deputy's badge, and Steele accepts after he meets the sheriff's pretty daughter, Nancy Drexel. It's clear there's something going on, but that's something for the plot to work on.

There's a great extended action sequence about twenty minutes into this western, involving a fight on a roof, a dive into the water and a lot of rough riding. Julian Rivero, who usually played tiny roles, has a sizable part as the main villain, and he is wonderfully oily. If you enjoy B westerns, you'll like this one a lot!

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

PostSun Sep 17, 2017 8:09 pm

Watched Criterion's stunning restoration of Blithe Spirit (1945), a delicious comedy that stars Rex Harrison, Constance Cummings, Kay Hammond, and Margaret Rutherford (in an Oscar-worthy performance) as the dotty spiritualist. Very clever dialog (Noel Coward) and rather risque for the time. Film won an Oscar for special effects. And it's never been remade as a feature film.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostMon Sep 18, 2017 5:57 am

boblipton wrote:... Gilbert Holmes and Gabby Hayes -- the latter sporting an Irish accent.


Just gotta ask: brogues, too?

Sorry, it's a nervous tic left over from watching Kingsman: The Secret Service on Saturday night.

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

PostMon Sep 18, 2017 6:01 am

Jim Roots wrote:
boblipton wrote:... Gilbert Holmes and Gabby Hayes -- the latter sporting an Irish accent.


Just gotta ask: brogues, too?

Sorry, it's a nervous tic left over from watching Kingsman: The Secret Service on Saturday night.

Jim
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Ah, the James Bond movie for people who don't like James Bond movies.

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

PostMon Sep 18, 2017 9:45 am

boblipton wrote:
Jim Roots wrote:
boblipton wrote:... Gilbert Holmes and Gabby Hayes -- the latter sporting an Irish accent.


Just gotta ask: brogues, too?

Sorry, it's a nervous tic left over from watching Kingsman: The Secret Service on Saturday night.

Jim
(Oxfords, my good man.)



Ah, the James Bond movie for people who don't like James Bond movies.

Bob


I like the Bond movies, except for the Roger Moore ones which I refuse to watch. I like Moore, but as I've said a few times already (notably in the "Roger Moore Has Died" thread here), he turned Bond into a cartoon. (As opposed to the stringent realism of the rest of the series, of course.) (Is there a tongue-in-cheek emoji on this board?)

Kingsman was certainly entertaining, although even more hogwashery than the Moore Bonds. And the violence was such that if Uncle Donald visits from Australia, I'll have to dust off the fainting-couch for him when he watches it on our telly.

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

PostMon Sep 18, 2017 12:51 pm

One of Douglas Sirk's less well-known movies, THE FIRST LEGION (1951) is set in a Jesuit community and tells of the changes incurred when one of their members (H B Warner) recovers from having been paralysed for several years, especially as one expects him to peg out any minute.. Talk of a 'miracle' hits the headlines, together with all the tawdry exploitation which goes with it. Lyle Bettger plays the local doctor, who despite being an atheist or agnostic, does nothing to stop the illusion, even after a child dies after his mother has sacrificed her assets to bring her boy to this place. Intertwined is a local girl (Barbara Rush) who is unable to walk and ever hoping for the miracle...

One of the chief attractions of this film is the strong cast, which includes Charles Boyer, Leo G Carroll (as the head Jesuit), George Zucco, and William Demarest as the local Catholic priest, who seems to have wandered in from another film. At times the community seems more like a gentlemen's club, with a seemingly endless supply of cigars on tap. Based on a lay, THE FIRST LEGION is generally quite an absorbing work and with some interesting points on questions of faith and belief, although at times one isn't sure where the film's sympathies lie. Certainly undeserving of its relative obscurity, and an example of the idea that a good deal of talk doesn't necessarily kill a film.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostMon Sep 18, 2017 2:44 pm

I watched Days of Heaven (1978), directed by Terrence Malick. Known for its cinematography, which is amazing -- I also enjoy the voice-over narration done by actress Linda Manz. I think I remember reading that the director had her view the movie after it was already completed and say whatever came into her head (some of it was rather rambling and odd) - and he added most of this into the movie. I first saw this in the theater in the 70s, when it was new, and I was pretty young but remember how really impressed I was with the way this looked visually on-screen. I seem to rewatch this one every couple of years. This movie includes a brief scene where the characters are viewing the Chaplin film The Immigrant (1917).
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostMon Sep 18, 2017 6:48 pm

Temptations (1949; aka The Man from Yesterday) is of most interest as an early script by John Gilling and an early performance by Laurence Harvey. Henry Oscar shows up at John Stuart's luxurious country home, where Harvey is engaged to Stuart's daughter, Gwynneth Vaughan. He's just back from India, spouting some vague tosh about transmigration of the souls which everyone talks about about as if they'd never been to Church. Miss Vaughan tootles a tune on the piano she can't identify and quarrels with Harvey, and gradually Oscar's malign influence seeps throughout the household.

I suppose it's a bit much to ask of a quota quickie and of a genre I don't particularly care for, but as I watched this, I kept wondering what country they were living in and if there were any religious convictions lurking about the landscape. For solid country people dressed in good British tweed, eating hearty breakfasts to listen to talk about the Dalai Lama being reborn as a young child, and responding with a vague hope of some sort of afterlife in the garden, while there's not even a shaken head in the servants' quarters strikes me as beyond straw man arguments -- it's the sort of intellectual gammon that makes me think these people are idiots who deserve whatever happens to them. One would think none of these people had never heard of the Church of England. Since that seems impossible, and since they place no credence in it, do any of them deserve to be saved?

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

PostMon Sep 18, 2017 7:09 pm

I was watching a silent picture the other day - "The Pride of Palomar" and "The Lash" (1930) with Dickie Bathtub-Mess on first glance would seem to be a continuation of it. Once again we are in the new state of California and there is a lot of antagonism between the Spanish Californians and the new masters - the Americans. Dickie owns a ginormous el rancho and has a bit of a run in with the Americans. He becomes a rebel and sort of Spanish Robin Hood to try and get things back to the good old ways. In the end he manages to sort things out and marries the bit of fluff he has been chasing around and skedaddles orf to Mexico as the sun sinks slowly in the West.

I have missed a bit out in my summation, but it doesn't matter all that much, because the picture goes all over the place at times and never really hits the nail on the head. Having said that about the basic story, I counter by saying that the photography at most times is excellent and shows a great deal of fluidity for an early talkie. The picture is also let down by Dickie who seems to be completely uncomfortable at times and makes no attempt whatsover to even give a hint of an accent - whereas Dickie's love interest - Mary Astor does at least have a go at it.

Others in the cast include Marian Nixon as Dickie's little sister. She is in love with hero No. 2 James Rennie. He is a rather effete Sheriff; Arthur Stone plays Dickie's side-kick Juan; Fred Kohler plays the very uncouth villain and Erville Alderson is an equally ill-mannered Judge. (The Americans are certainly not shown in a good light). Also, just to give some more glamour, Barbara Bedford plays a vamp called Lupe. (I pity someone who has to introduce herself by saying, "Hello, I'm Lupe" - if it is pronounced "Loopey".) The spectacle was directed by an uncredited Frank Lloyd - did he not like it?

The print I saw was of the "rather battered" variety and the sound makes the later "noiseless recording" title a good idea at the time - for the noise at times in this gets louder than the dialogue or music.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostMon Sep 18, 2017 7:29 pm

I was rummaging around the pile trying to find another Louis de Funes picture as I was in the mood for a guffaw, when I came across another Ronald Shiner film "Not Wanted on Voyage" (1957). This was a bit better than the Ronald Shiner picture I watched the other day as it featured Mr. Shiner more in his usual con man, on the take persona. He is a ship's steward and his partner in crime is the dim-witted Brian Rix from Bolton, Lancs. To say Mr. Rix's character is dim-witted is understating it. He is rather annoying if you ask me and the seat of his trousers are itching for a good-sized boot.

Mr. Shiner is the very model of a good ship's steward, ever eager to attend to all the needs of his passengers - and eking out enormous tips for his various attendances and services. And what a motley lot all these passengers are. There's a woman passenger with a parrot who is a medium (Janet Barrow), a young married couple (John T. Chapman and Therese Burton) - she has a tiny little voice; the obligatory retired Colonel (Michael Shepley) who has done service in the Raj; a rich woman from "oop Norf" (Fabia Drake) sporting a diamond as large as the one in the Imperial State Crown and which is the goal of a couple of thieves (Griffith Jones and Catherine Boyle). In fact the main plot of the picture centres around the lunatic adventures inherent in this diamond's theft. For good measure, the hofficah in charge of the stewards is of the loud-mouth barking orders variety (Michael Brennan) who of course gets his comeuppance a number of times.

The writers have taken good advantage of the setting and the characters and there is a lot of quite funny bits of business going on here and there. Some of the scenes though do take it all a bit far and it gets slightly over the top at times. Still, it is nice to see a comedy back in the old days when they could still get away with it without being blue. One of Mr. Shiner's better vehicles.
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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)

PostTue Sep 19, 2017 5:27 am

It Started in Naples (1960) is a gorgeous romp of a romantic comedy that stars Clark Gable as a Philadelphia lawyer come to Naples to clean up his dead brother's affairs. On arrival he discover that the brother, who went out for a short beer 10 years ago and never came back, married and fathered a child. The kid is now living with his aunt, the ravishingly beautiful Sophia Loren, who works in a cellar nightclub on the Isle of Capri. The plot and romance angle are all familiar but Gable has a way with dropping acid asides and Loren, got up in a green bathing suit with a purple fringed skirt gets to prance and sing "Tu vuo fa l'Americano" in her club act. The location shooting is sumptuous and the Blue Grotto scene is a dreamlike silhouette set on the shimmering blue water. The kid is fetchingly played by Marietto and Vittorio De Sica shows up as a wily lawyer. And Loren's full-out laugh is one of the great events of cinema!
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostTue Sep 19, 2017 6:05 am

I watched 4 Thelma Todd/ZaSu Pitts short comedies this evening. I must admit that I wasn't anywhere near as taken with these as I was last night with the 3 Anita Garvin/Marion Byron silent comedies I watched then. These just weren't any where near as funny. They certainly had their moments, but overall weren't the laugh-fest I was expecting. I watched "The Pajama Party" (1931), "On the Loose" (1931), "Show Business" (1932), and "Asleep in the Feet" (1933). "On the Loose" had the best cast, with John Loder, Claud Allister, and a cameo show-up of Oliver Hardy and Stan Laurel at the end, but it just was pretty flat. What was far more interesting was seeing Coney Island in its hey-day, all the rides and what appear to be dangerous, but very fun other amusements! The last film, "Asleep in the Feet" had me laughing - finally! It was pretty decent, if not a tad stale in the plot, but well done. "The Pajama Party" had its moments, too. "Show Business", the one that I thought would be best - even had a blond Paulette Goddard in one scene! - not only fell flat, but I agree with another viewer who wrote that he thought the film was "annoying". I did, too. I'd like to see some others of the pairs' shorts just to see if there weren't much better ones because I've always heard that they were.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostTue Sep 19, 2017 10:33 am

mother! is something some people should see, preferably with a large audience, for the fun of watching people get fed up and walk out. Other people here should very, very definitely not see it.

I saw it with no audience, literally the theater to myself, so I can't tell you about that. But if it's an offense against the audience for many audiences, this Biblical allegory-meets-black comedy out of Bunuel and Polanski (lots of echoes of the Rosemary's Baby shot made famous in Visions of Light) didn't shock me beyond the pale. It goes further and farther into allegorical horror than maybe any American film ever, or at least since Ken Russell's The Devils, but I found myself admiring technique (a party of sorts turning into a mob, and then the next thing, and the next thing and the next thing, with undeniable no-time-to-catch-your-breath filmmaking brio). To that extent the later scenes in Aronofsky's Noah, in which Russell Crowe contemplates finishing God's work on humanity, were more profound and disturbing because they were logical within the story. Ironically, what offended me here was not the most awful thing in the movie, which you can see coming a mile away, but what follows it, which seemed a conceit of the director's just for the sake of having a Twilight Zone frame to the story, which seems to suggest that it all has a kind of logic, in which case I'm offended that anyone would think that, logically.

It's a sort of allegory about the artist and the artist's long-suffering romantic victim. It also apparently thinks it's about abusing Mother Earth but suffice it to say that one of these interpretations is well thought out and dramatized with the artist's full powers, and the other is something he says in interviews, possibly as a feint.

I see no way to make this review make more sense for those who haven't seen it. It's that kind of movie.

By the way, lots of critical mentions of Rosemary's Baby and Repulsion, I saw one perceptive comment that the camera style echoes Chinatown in always showing us stuff only as the main character discovers it, over the shoulder and a bit unsteadily. But no mention of Polanski's Cul-De-Sac, which in many ways comes the closest in outline—it's about a remote house invaded by a couple of gangsters, not precisely what happens here but the comedy of awkward manners that results from the first two visitors (very canny performances by Ed Harris and especially Michelle Pfeiffer) is very similar.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostTue Sep 19, 2017 10:49 am

Mike Gebert wrote:mother! is something some people should see, preferably with a large audience, for the fun of watching people get fed up and walk out. Other people here should very, very definitely not see it.

I saw it with no audience, literally the theater to myself, so I can't tell you about that. But if it's an offense against the audience for many audiences, this Biblical allegory-meets-black comedy out of Bunuel and Polanski (lots of echoes of the Rosemary's Baby shot made famous in Visions of Light) didn't shock me beyond the pale. It goes further and farther into allegorical horror than maybe any American film ever, or at least since Ken Russell's The Devils, but I found myself admiring technique (a party of sorts turning into a mob, and then the next thing, and the next thing and the next thing, with undeniable no-time-to-catch-your-breath filmmaking brio). To that extent the later scenes in Aronofsky's Noah, in which Russell Crowe contemplates finishing God's work on humanity, were more profound and disturbing because they were logical within the story. Ironically, what offended me here was not the most awful thing in the movie, which you can see coming a mile away, but what follows it, which seemed a conceit of the director's just for the sake of having a Twilight Zone frame to the story, which seems to suggest that it all has a kind of logic, in which case I'm offended that anyone would think that, logically.

It's a sort of allegory about the artist and the artist's long-suffering romantic victim. It also apparently thinks it's about abusing Mother Earth but suffice it to say that one of these interpretations is well thought out and dramatized with the artist's full powers, and the other is something he says in interviews, possibly as a feint.

I see no way to make this review make more sense for those who haven't seen it. It's that kind of movie.

By the way, lots of critical mentions of Rosemary's Baby and Repulsion, I saw one perceptive comment that the camera style echoes Chinatown in always showing us stuff only as the main character discovers it, over the shoulder and a bit unsteadily. But no mention of Polanski's Cul-De-Sac, which in many ways comes the closest in outline—it's about a remote house invaded by a couple of gangsters, not precisely what happens here but the comedy of awkward manners that results from the first two visitors (very canny performances by Ed Harris and especially Michelle Pfeiffer) is very similar.


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

PostTue Sep 19, 2017 10:59 am

That's one way to look at it, and "it's just plain bad" is an equally legitimate one. Not a movie where I would tell anyone what they should think about it.

I've watched Aronofsky's ultimate hopeful and humanist The Fountain three times. (It has the reputation of being his worst film, by the way.) Once was enough here.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostTue Sep 19, 2017 11:38 am

Mike Gebert wrote:That's one way to look at it, and "it's just plain bad" is an equally legitimate one. Not a movie where I would tell anyone what they should think about it.

I've watched Aronofsky's ultimate hopeful and humanist The Fountain three times. (It has the reputation of being his worst film, by the way.) Once was enough here.


THAT one I remember. WOOF.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostTue Sep 19, 2017 11:50 am

Mike Gebert wrote:That's one way to look at it, and "it's just plain bad" is an equally legitimate one. Not a movie where I would tell anyone what they should think about it.

I've watched Aronofsky's ultimate hopeful and humanist The Fountain three times. (It has the reputation of being his worst film, by the way.) Once was enough here.




That statement makes no sense. I've seen a couple of his movies, but have not found them involving enough to cause me to seek out the others. Nor would Mother, which looks to be a horror flick, judging from the trailers, attract me.

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

PostTue Sep 19, 2017 12:59 pm

Donald Binks wrote:I was rummaging around the pile trying to find another Louis de Funes picture as I was in the mood for a guffaw, when I came across another Ronald Shiner film "Not Wanted on Voyage" (1957). This was a bit better than the Ronald Shiner picture I watched the other day as it featured Mr. Shiner more in his usual con man, on the take persona. He is a ship's steward and his partner in crime is the dim-witted Brian Rix from Bolton, Lancs. To say Mr. Rix's character is dim-witted is understating it. He is rather annoying if you ask me and the seat of his trousers are itching for a good-sized boot.

Mr. Shiner is the very model of a good ship's steward, ever eager to attend to all the needs of his passengers - and eking out enormous tips for his various attendances and services. And what a motley lot all these passengers are. There's a woman passenger with a parrot who is a medium (Janet Barrow), a young married couple (John T. Chapman and Therese Burton) - she has a tiny little voice; the obligatory retired Colonel (Michael Shepley) who has done service in the Raj; a rich woman from "oop Norf" (Fabia Drake) sporting a diamond as large as the one in the Imperial State Crown and which is the goal of a couple of thieves (Griffith Jones and Catherine Boyle). In fact the main plot of the picture centres around the lunatic adventures inherent in this diamond's theft. For good measure, the hofficah in charge of the stewards is of the loud-mouth barking orders variety (Michael Brennan) who of course gets his comeuppance a number of times.

The writers have taken good advantage of the setting and the characters and there is a lot of quite funny bits of business going on here and there. Some of the scenes though do take it all a bit far and it gets slightly over the top at times. Still, it is nice to see a comedy back in the old days when they could still get away with it without being blue. One of Mr. Shiner's better vehicles.


Another one from the seemingly tireless Maclean Rogers. I first heard of this some forty years ago when a pal remarked on the suitability of its title. Can't remember a lot about it aside from it being an easy-going sort of movie.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostTue Sep 19, 2017 1:14 pm

JOURNEY TO ITALY (1954) is a remarkably sour film of a marriage which has gone dreadfully wrong. Alex (George Sanders) and Katherine (Ingrid Bergman) have been married eight years and feel that they know nothing about each other after all this time. Travelling to Italy to sell a relative's property, Alex is bored with Katherine and longs to get back home and to work. Katherine is unhappy with Alex's treatment of her and his contempt for her interests. Although they are together, they lead separate existences, sleeping apart and not even sharing a kiss before going to their respective beds. At the same time, Alex seems to be searching for his lost youth, chatting up girls less than half his age, whilst Katherine lives both in her past as well as Italy's history.

Episodic, (sections of the film are separated by fades) and uncomfortably bitter at times, Rossellini's film is handsomely shot (and has been recently restored), but oddly detached at times. What will be the outcome of all this discontent? Watch it and see!
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostTue Sep 19, 2017 7:55 pm

The Last Word (2017) is fairly predictable but with Shirley MacLaine as the star, it's certainly fine to be familiar. As an irascible and bored woman, she decides to take control of the last word on her life: her obituary. She bullies a mousey obit writer at a failing local paper to write something. When the young woman (Amanda Seyfried) can't do it, they dissect the older woman's life and set about to fix it. Along the way, the young woman also finds her voice. Maybe not a tearjerker because of MacLaine's skill at keeping her character edgy. Philip Baker Hall and Anne Heche are among the co-stars. I don't think this film even got released in theaters. Pity.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostWed Sep 20, 2017 11:14 am

Watched two more short comedies with Thelma Todd, one co-starring ZaSu Pitts, the other Patsy Kelly. Patsy Kelly's such a piece of work that I enjoyed that outing. Thelma and ZaSu were alright in "The Bargain of the Century" (1933), but it wasn't as good as "Beauty and the Bus" (1933). Both were a tad too slapsticky for my taste, but I still wanted to watch - and did...
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostWed Sep 20, 2017 12:55 pm

After a couple of serious pictures, I plumped for Maurice Chevalier in PLAYBOY OF PARIS (1930), which I felt could have been better. A remake of a Max Linder title, LE PETIT CAFE (1919/20), Maurice plays a waiter who is unaware that he has been left a million francs. His employer (O P Heggie) is, though, having been informed by the fellow sniffing around after daughter Frances Dee that there is money to be made. Loading Maurice up with wine, he is tricked into signing an agreement that if he breaks his work contract he will have to cough up 400,000 francs. Maurice decides he will just have to stay on and earn some money as well. His problem is in in balancing his new night life with his 12-hours a day job, particularly when new girlfriend Dorothy Christy (a scene-stealer here) wonders why he can't be around in the daytime.

I must admit to finding PLAYBOY OF PARIS a bit laboured and windy at times, with rather too much plot convolutions and too little music and song. The jaunty music over the opening credits seems to set that note. There are some lively nighclub scenes, where washer-upper Stu Erwin has to cope with Maurice's complicated love life, which explodes when his other flame, singer (!) Cecil Cunningham goes on the warpath at the same time as Dee (in her debut) comes on the scene in what is probably the funniest part of the show. A mixed bag of a movie, but presented in a mainly decent copy.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostThu Sep 21, 2017 11:22 am

I saw a DCP screening of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) at a movie theater. I loved the film. Creepy story, great direction by Robert Aldrich, great sets. Of course Bette Davis and Joan Crawford were excellent. Victor Buono was very good too as the penniless songwriter. The only thing that I didn't like was that the music was a bit over-the-top.

African-American actress Madie Norman was also good as the maid who is almost the hero of the film.

I'm still not sure if I want to watch the Feud mini-series though...
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostThu Sep 21, 2017 4:59 pm

Revolution threatens! In the main it can be averted only by Princess Evelyn Laye marrying King George Grossmith, although stopgaps like Max Miller selling someone insurance or Miss Laye singing a revolutionary song or even marrying Captain Herbert Wilcoxon will get everyone to the the next scene.

Alexandra (1934; aka Princess Charming) is adapted from a stage show. Miss Laye had been a musical-comedy star in the West End for a decade and a half and was making her big move in the talkies and this operetta was clearly chosen as a major vehicle for her; the director was Maurice Elvey, who directed impeccably, as he always did, but seems to have had no idea of what to do other than keep the camera moving as Miller wanders across the studio, babbling about insurance, kittens and elbows. It's entertaining, but after it's all over, it left me with the feeling that I had had my pocket picked.

Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Fri Sep 22, 2017 7:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
The matter is complicated, and I shall proceed to complicate it still more.

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