What is the last film you watched? (2017)

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Paul Penna

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

PostWed Nov 15, 2017 12:46 pm

drednm wrote:Very odd drama from 1951 called The Family Secret...


Was this the Columbia MOD DVD? If so, how did the image/sound measure up?
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostWed Nov 15, 2017 1:27 pm

Paul Penna wrote:
drednm wrote:Very odd drama from 1951 called The Family Secret...


Was this the Columbia MOD DVD? If so, how did the image/sound measure up?



Yes. It was just fine.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostWed Nov 15, 2017 3:08 pm

boblipton wrote:You can tell that För att inte tala om alla dessa kvinnor (1964; aka All These Women) is a comedy. It's not simply the jazzy version of "Yes, We Have No Bananas" they play at scene changes. It begins with a funeral, and that's a rule: comedies start with funerals, tragedies start with peasants dancing around singing "Oh, We are happy peasants!" -- preferably in Italian. It also looks like Ingmar Bergman was tired of being called a grim symbolic genius, so he included titles noting that various things are not symbolic.

My personal interpretation is that he had one movie left on his contract and was angry with the front office for some reason, so he decided to make a Jerry Lewis movie and in color to boot, because he was tired of dealing with the critics.

Anyway, after the half dozen or so Bergman leading ladies come up and say the same thing over the unseen corpse -- translated as "So like him and so unlike him" -- we drop back five days to witness Carl Bilquist show up as the home of the great cellist to write his stuffy biography and deal with his mistresses -- the Great Man never appears. I think Bergman was fooling everyone and wanted to get back to the theater for a while.

Bob


Yes, yes, yes, yes, and, um [checks notes], yes.

Carl Bilquist? Cornelius, ja?

And--to finally come clean with my opinion--I very strongly think that Bergman, with characteristic absolutely deadpan humor, made his next film Persona for Cornelius. In my opinion, you can't understand Persona if you don't understand För att inte tala om alla dessa kvinnor. Så skjut mig.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostWed Nov 15, 2017 3:54 pm

Finally got around to watching the Barrymore family's battle royale, Rasputin & the Empress (1932), with three Barrymore siblings for the price of one ticket (or one title DVR'd off TCM), now at popular prices! Lionel is suitably menacing as the mad Russian mystic, at a time when the events of 1917 would still be reasonably fresh in many viewers' minds.

I can see why this was treated as something of an epic in its day, higher-than-average production values for a 1932 feature (plus, over two hours in length, which also seems unusual for the time), and some grand performances from its three stars, plus reliable faces like Ralph Morgan (as the Czar), Edward Arnold and C. Henry Gordon for good measure. Also famous as the film responsible for the "All characters are fictitious, any similarity to persons living or dead is purely coincidental" credit, after an exiled couple from the Russian nobility successfully sued MGM for their portrayal in the film, even in fictitious form.

The lawsuit required MGM to cut the scene where Rasputin rapes Princess Natasha (Diana Wynyard), which makes a mystery of why she switches from adoration to fear so suddenly in the edited version, but footage from this scene remains in the original trailer, seen here at the 1:50 mark:

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

PostWed Nov 15, 2017 8:19 pm

For a feast of acting, a 2011 Australian film called The Eye of the Storm would be hard to beat, especially considering the sad state contemporary films. Charlotte Rampling stars as a dying matriarch in the suburbs of Sydney. She's attended by a household staff and nurses. She seems to float amid her memories and the present day. On the arrival of her two children, from whom she is estranged. things heat up. Geoffrey Rush plays her son, a so-so actor on the London stage who can't quite grasp the concept of reality. Judy Davis plays her daughter, a bitter divorced woman who lives in Paris and was married to a prince. The "kiddies" as Rampling calls them are treated as intruders by the doting nurses and the Holocaust survivor cook (Helen Morse). Of course the staff are living the high life while the old lady (sidelined by a stroke) slowly dies in her bed. The story uncovers the brittle relationship among the family as they each air their grievances and disappointments with each other and with life in general. In the back of all their minds is who gets the money? The three stars are astonishingly good and Morse gets a few moments to shine performing German cabaret songs for the old lady. Based on a famous novel by the Australian writer Patrick White, the film was produced by Davis and Rush.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostThu Nov 16, 2017 10:09 am

Miriam Hopkins is very good in The Stranger's Return (1933), as a divorcee from New York who returns home to her hometown to visit with her grandfather, played in high old coot style by Lionel Barrymore. She falls for the married farmer next door (Franchot Tone), and they have pretty good chemistry together, which isn't always the case with Hopkins and her co-stars. Late n the film, Barrymore starts imagining that the Civil War is still being fought, shades of Arsenic & Old Lace.

Weirdly, Hopkins' character is named Thelma, and the cook on the farm is named Louise, so there are a few unintended jarring moments when their names are combined. Maybe screenwriter Callie Khouri saw this once upon a time?
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostThu Nov 16, 2017 1:19 pm

s.w.a.c. wrote:George Arliss channels the Raja of Rukh from The Green Goddess in a sly, rather than carnal mode in East Meets West (1936). England wants an alliance with George Arliss' kingdom; so does a thinly-disguised Japan.


Caught this on the basis of the recommendation here. I love it when Arliss plays one of his great men -- they aren't burdened with excessive virtue, but they are always thinking. How many other stars have this as their defining characteristic?

Arliss, too, is remarkable in his ability to pick out scripts that show him to his best advantage. I don't like all of his talkies (OLD ENGLISH makes me crazy with the unnending slurping), but he may have a higher batting average in terms of quality than anyone else working from 1929-1936.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostThu Nov 16, 2017 1:37 pm

odinthor wrote:
boblipton wrote:You can tell that För att inte tala om alla dessa kvinnor (1964; aka All These Women) is a comedy. It's not simply the jazzy version of "Yes, We Have No Bananas" they play at scene changes. It begins with a funeral, and that's a rule: comedies start with funerals, tragedies start with peasants dancing around singing "Oh, We are happy peasants!" -- preferably in Italian. It also looks like Ingmar Bergman was tired of being called a grim symbolic genius, so he included titles noting that various things are not symbolic.

My personal interpretation is that he had one movie left on his contract and was angry with the front office for some reason, so he decided to make a Jerry Lewis movie and in color to boot, because he was tired of dealing with the critics.

Anyway, after the half dozen or so Bergman leading ladies come up and say the same thing over the unseen corpse -- translated as "So like him and so unlike him" -- we drop back five days to witness Carl Bilquist show up as the home of the great cellist to write his stuffy biography and deal with his mistresses -- the Great Man never appears. I think Bergman was fooling everyone and wanted to get back to the theater for a while.

Bob


Yes, yes, yes, yes, and, um [checks notes], yes.

Carl Bilquist? Cornelius, ja?

And--to finally come clean with my opinion--I very strongly think that Bergman, with characteristic absolutely deadpan humor, made his next film Persona for Cornelius. In my opinion, you can't understand Persona if you don't understand För att inte tala om alla dessa kvinnor. Så skjut mig.


He’s symbolically Carl, just as I am now symbolically S.W.A.C. And is that Swedish for “Shut my mouth”?

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

PostThu Nov 16, 2017 7:52 pm

Crime Over London (1936) has a great, if unlikely criminal plot, fine actors and, quite clearly, a lot of film left on the cutting-room floor. Top-billed Margot Grahame, for example, has four short scenes and a lot of presence, and her motivation is pretty well unclear. Ludwig von Wohl is credited with the novel it's based on and given a screenplay credit, but somewhere along the line, someone cut out a lot to make sure this timed in at a manageable length. there are subplots that are raised, elaborated on, and then dropped in dizzying number,

Despite this, or because of it, the movie moves along at a good clip. There are times when it seems as if things just don't make sense.... and then there is a revelation of what is going on and suddenly they do. Perhaps this is the purpose of the dead-end subplots. They still annoy me a bit, but the movie remains very watchable throughout.

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

PostThu Nov 16, 2017 9:21 pm

boblipton wrote:Crime Over London (1936) has a great, if unlikely criminal plot, fine actors and, quite clearly, a lot of film left on the cutting-room floor. Top-billed Margot Grahame, for example, has four short scenes and a lot of presence, and her motivation is pretty well unclear. Ludwig von Wohl is credited with the novel it's based on and given a screenplay credit, but somewhere along the line, someone cut out a lot to make sure this timed in at a manageable length. there are subplots that are raised, elaborated on, and then dropped in dizzying number,

Despite this, or because of it, the movie moves along at a good clip. There are times when it seems as if things just don't make sense.... and then there is a revelation of what is going on and suddenly they do. Perhaps this is the purpose of the dead-end subplots. They still annoy me a bit, but the movie remains very watchable throughout.

Bob


Margot Grahame was always good. Was it ILLICIT or ILLEGAL in which she ran a British speakeasy with her mother, Isobel Elsom? I think the latter.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostFri Nov 17, 2017 7:17 am

Love Before Breakfast (1936) was apparently cut from 8 reels to a 70-minute running time. It stars Carole Lombard, lovingly photographed by Ted Tetzlaff, as a rich girl about town who thinks she's in love with Caesar Romero but is being pursued by ruthless businessman Preston Foster, who goes to any and all lengths to snag her. By today's standards he's a stalker, but in 1936 he was a good ol' boy chasing a girl. The plot probably suffers from various cuts, but Lombard is still fun to watch and has a way with a snappy line like few others (Jean Arthur, Marion Davies) could muster. Nice copy from some Lombard collection of a few years ago. Co-stars include Janet Beecher, Richard Carle, Joyce Compton, and Betty Lawford.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostFri Nov 17, 2017 9:43 am

drednm wrote:Love Before Breakfast (1936) was apparently cut from 8 reels to a 70-minute running time. It stars Carole Lombard, lovingly photographed by Ted Tetzlaff, as a rich girl about town who thinks she's in love with Caesar Romero but is being pursued by ruthless businessman Preston Foster, who goes to any and all lengths to snag her. By today's standards he's a stalker, but in 1936 he was a good ol' boy chasing a girl. The plot probably suffers from various cuts, but Lombard is still fun to watch and has a way with a snappy line like few others (Jean Arthur, Marion Davies) could muster. Nice copy from some Lombard collection of a few years ago. Co-stars include Janet Beecher, Richard Carle, Joyce Compton, and Betty Lawford.


Were you watching the version on the Essential Carole Lombard Collection? I'll have to check on its length when I get home.

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

PostFri Nov 17, 2017 11:00 am

Jim Roots wrote:
drednm wrote:Love Before Breakfast (1936) was apparently cut from 8 reels to a 70-minute running time. It stars Carole Lombard, lovingly photographed by Ted Tetzlaff, as a rich girl about town who thinks she's in love with Caesar Romero but is being pursued by ruthless businessman Preston Foster, who goes to any and all lengths to snag her. By today's standards he's a stalker, but in 1936 he was a good ol' boy chasing a girl. The plot probably suffers from various cuts, but Lombard is still fun to watch and has a way with a snappy line like few others (Jean Arthur, Marion Davies) could muster. Nice copy from some Lombard collection of a few years ago. Co-stars include Janet Beecher, Richard Carle, Joyce Compton, and Betty Lawford.


Were you watching the version on the Essential Carole Lombard Collection? I'll have to check on its length when I get home.

Jim


Lombard the Glamour Collection.....
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostFri Nov 17, 2017 1:22 pm

drednm wrote:
Jim Roots wrote:
drednm wrote:Love Before Breakfast (1936) was apparently cut from 8 reels to a 70-minute running time. It stars Carole Lombard, lovingly photographed by Ted Tetzlaff, as a rich girl about town who thinks she's in love with Caesar Romero but is being pursued by ruthless businessman Preston Foster, who goes to any and all lengths to snag her. By today's standards he's a stalker, but in 1936 he was a good ol' boy chasing a girl. The plot probably suffers from various cuts, but Lombard is still fun to watch and has a way with a snappy line like few others (Jean Arthur, Marion Davies) could muster. Nice copy from some Lombard collection of a few years ago. Co-stars include Janet Beecher, Richard Carle, Joyce Compton, and Betty Lawford.


Were you watching the version on the Essential Carole Lombard Collection? I'll have to check on its length when I get home.

Jim


Lombard the Glamour Collection.....


Yeah, that's the one I meant. That's a pretty disappointing collection, especially compared to the ones for Dietrich and Mae West, but it's the only place you're going to find most of the films on it. For every release of Love Before Breakfast, there's about 15 releases of My Man Godfrey. Deservedly so, mind you, but it leaves Carole's lesser films hard to find.

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

PostFri Nov 17, 2017 1:36 pm

I'm always a little surprised that Carole Lombard doesn't get more attention. I guess people now see her as being too broad in her comedy, But then beautiful women in comedy have usually tended to be be overlooked or devalued.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostFri Nov 17, 2017 3:35 pm

drednm wrote:I'm always a little surprised that Carole Lombard doesn't get more attention. I guess people now see her as being too broad in her comedy, But then beautiful women in comedy have usually tended to be be overlooked or devalued.


More likely Gable and Lombard (1976) killed anyone's interest in both actors' careers!

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

PostFri Nov 17, 2017 4:28 pm

Jim Roots wrote:
drednm wrote:I'm always a little surprised that Carole Lombard doesn't get more attention. I guess people now see her as being too broad in her comedy, But then beautiful women in comedy have usually tended to be be overlooked or devalued.


More likely Gable and Lombard (1976) killed anyone's interest in both actors' careers!

Jim


LOL ... a truly awful film!
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostFri Nov 17, 2017 5:19 pm

Jack Hulbert is a police Inspector and he's in pursuit of Genevieve Tobin: first, because she's beautiful and charming and he's quite naturally smitten and second, because she's the Queen of Crime and she and her gang have got a big job on and it's his job.

Jack doesn't dance in this one, and there's not much in the way of farce in this, except for the usual late 1930s wise-cracking, but there is a good script based on one of Edgar Wallace's thrillers, and the two leads are very charming. Miss Tobin's absence from the ranks of top stars remains a mystery to me, but perhaps it's simply that she never got that big break and she was beginning to push forty. Still, it's a pair of good performances, and the plan is a good one, with the only way Hulbert has to track anything the occasional cracks left by Miss Tobin's henchmen who try to "improve" her plans. The result is a fine shared star vehicle for the two.

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

PostFri Nov 17, 2017 7:36 pm

Once more into the breech of nazzy cinema with 1940's Bismarck. While this is not as odious as the worst of the era, it's as insidious as anything Goebbels ever dreamed up. Telling the tale of Otto von Bismark's political machinations to unite Germany, it would seem to be a 2 hour version of the Imperial Senate sequences from the Star Wars 1 & 2, but it is actually quite watchable

Bismarck is presented as an avatar of Schicklgruber and, in fact, the whole film is practically a road map of nazi intentions, complete with annexations, pacts-that-are-made-to-be-broken, treacherous foreigners, restoration of the glory of Germany, and even a brief moment of paranoid anti-Semitism. Knowing how things transpired gives the film an eerie quality with all of the telegraphing going on.

Not essential viewing, but not a waste of 1:50 of your life.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostFri Nov 17, 2017 8:12 pm

boblipton wrote:He’s symbolically Carl, just as I am now symbolically S.W.A.C. And is that Swedish for “Shut my mouth”?

Swedish Women Are Cool!
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostFri Nov 17, 2017 11:18 pm

I've been sort of trapped in the 8 or 9 hours of Mindhunter, David Fincher's return to the serial killer genre (after Zodiac) for Netflix, keeping me from seeing old movies. Finally finished it tonight. In many ways telling a fictionalized story of the FBI behavioral sciences unit that invented profiling serial killers is old territory after... so many fictionalized stories of the FBI behavioral sciences unit; all those serial killer movies of the 90s where they get inside the crazy guy's head to solve the crime go back to the real John Douglas' work and book. Yet I was happy to spend 8 or 9 hours with this crew, because it's such meticulous filmmaking, a bit Vulcan in its approach but that's okay; if you enjoy procedurals, if you've watched, say, The Day of the Jackal five times because you like all the problem solving in the question of how to assassinate DeGaulle, and the fact that it's all cold as ice... this is your TV show and Jonathan Groff, Holt McAnally and Anna Torv are your new Friends.

For a break from that, i found a DVD of a Hong Kong crime thriller from 2004 called Breaking News. I've liked what I've seen of Johnnie To's crime films with a sociological bent; I can't remember if it's Election or Triad Election I've seen, or maybe both, as well as Drug War, but Hong Kong directors tend to make the same movie 3 times in a row till they get it right, and it was a sharp drama about succession in a mafia clan. This is a little more cartoonish—the cops corner a gang in a big high-rise, the cops, embarrassed by an earlier incident, make a media spectacle out of it, the gang uses the internet in return to get their story out there, and so you have a bit of Network crossed with a manhunt-hostage movie.

Sounds more promising than it quite turns out—To's Scorsese-John Woo ambitions exceed his grasp a bit; there's a one-take shootout scene at the beginning, but it makes it all too clear that things can't happen till the moving camera lands in the right place, so it's not the wow he plainly hoped it would be. And the Faye Dunaway equivalent, the ratings-focused villainess, is one-dimensional; in general, in fact, there's a better story here than the somewhat stock comic book characters can carry. Still, it was intriguing enough and certainly had more on its mind than most American shoot-em-ups do, and over in a brisk 90 minutes.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Nov 18, 2017 6:21 am

Silk Stockings (1957) is the Cole Porter musical based on Ninotchka (1939) for which the ads blared "Garbo Laughs!" It's a great film. On the other hand, the Broadway musical the 1957 film is based on, assembled what is perhaps the worst collection of Porter songs (with the exception of "All of You"). Although the show ran for more than a year and had Don Ameche, Hildegarde Neff, and Gretchen Wyler in the cast, it came and went without a single Tony nomination. Anyway, MGM bought the film rights and produced this leaden film version in Cinmascope and Metrocolor. Cyd Charisse dances well but her acting is only so-so (the accent comes and goes) and her singing is obviously dubbed. Fred Astaire is decades too old for the role of Steve, and the choreography in general is nothing to get excited about.

A slight spark is provided by Janis Paige. While Ninotchka wears a lot of gray and brown, the Paige character wears eye-popping colors and belts out a few forgettable songs (I already forgot them). In a very bizarre turn, her character is obviously based on Esther Williams and goes around slapping her head, trying to get the water out of her ears. Equally bizarre is the casting of Peter Lorre as one of the dreary Russian comrades living it up in Paris. Lorre sings a few bars of music and dances a bit but mostly he mugs for the camera, but the trio's main source of energy is Jules Munshin.

All the dance numbers are riddled with cuts. It's as though the dances were staged in 1-minute bursts. There's also the odd costuming problem where Charisse is wearing a 1950s skirt in a number with Astaire, but in some shots she's obviously wearing culottes in a copy of the skirt. I guess they didn't want her skirt to fly up over her head. But it's badly done.

There was one line that caught my waning attention. It went something like "You can't change the past; you can only change the future."

This was the final feature film directed by Rouben Mamoulian.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Nov 18, 2017 6:47 am

drednm wrote:Silk Stockings (1957) is the Cole Porter musical based on Ninotchka (1939) for which the ads blared "Garbo Laughs!" It's a great film. On the other hand, the Broadway musical the 1957 film is based on, assembled what is perhaps the worst collection of Porter songs (with the exception of "All of You"). Although the show ran for more than a year and had Don Ameche, Hildegarde Neff, and Gretchen Wyler in the cast, it came and went without a single Tony nomination. Anyway, MGM bought the film rights and produced this leaden film version in Cinmascope and Metrocolor. Cyd Charisse dances well but her acting is only so-so (the accent comes and goes) and her singing is obviously dubbed. Fred Astaire is decades too old for the role of Steve, and the choreography in general is nothing to get excited about.

A slight spark is provided by Janis Paige. While Ninotchka wears a lot of gray and brown, the Paige character wears eye-popping colors and belts out a few forgettable songs (I already forgot them). In a very bizarre turn, her character is obviously based on Esther Williams and goes around slapping her head, trying to get the water out of her ears. Equally bizarre is the casting of Peter Lorre as one of the dreary Russian comrades living it up in Paris. Lorre sings a few bars of music and dances a bit but mostly he mugs for the camera, but the trio's main source of energy is Jules Munshin.

All the dance numbers are riddled with cuts. It's as though the dances were staged in 1-minute bursts. There's also the odd costuming problem where Charisse is wearing a 1950s skirt in a number with Astaire, but in some shots she's obviously wearing culottes in a copy of the skirt. I guess they didn't want her skirt to fly up over her head. But it's badly done.

There was one line that caught my waning attention. It went something like "You can't change the past; you can only change the future."

This was the final feature film directed by Rouben Mamoulian.



Considering the collection of talent, it's an embarrassing misfire. Arthur Freed occasionally came down with the delusion that he was making Broadway musicals instead of film ones (cf. The Pirate, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers), but given such a dreary score by the usually delightful Cole Porter, he was simply repeating the usual MGM habit buying on past performance.

Never mind. I stopped the 1935 Roberta to write this. Irene Dunne is about to sing "Smoke Gets in Your Eye."

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

PostSat Nov 18, 2017 7:42 am

boblipton wrote:
drednm wrote:Silk Stockings (1957) is the Cole Porter musical based on Ninotchka (1939) for which the ads blared "Garbo Laughs!" It's a great film. On the other hand, the Broadway musical the 1957 film is based on, assembled what is perhaps the worst collection of Porter songs (with the exception of "All of You"). Although the show ran for more than a year and had Don Ameche, Hildegarde Neff, and Gretchen Wyler in the cast, it came and went without a single Tony nomination. Anyway, MGM bought the film rights and produced this leaden film version in Cinmascope and Metrocolor. Cyd Charisse dances well but her acting is only so-so (the accent comes and goes) and her singing is obviously dubbed. Fred Astaire is decades too old for the role of Steve, and the choreography in general is nothing to get excited about.

A slight spark is provided by Janis Paige. While Ninotchka wears a lot of gray and brown, the Paige character wears eye-popping colors and belts out a few forgettable songs (I already forgot them). In a very bizarre turn, her character is obviously based on Esther Williams and goes around slapping her head, trying to get the water out of her ears. Equally bizarre is the casting of Peter Lorre as one of the dreary Russian comrades living it up in Paris. Lorre sings a few bars of music and dances a bit but mostly he mugs for the camera, but the trio's main source of energy is Jules Munshin.

All the dance numbers are riddled with cuts. It's as though the dances were staged in 1-minute bursts. There's also the odd costuming problem where Charisse is wearing a 1950s skirt in a number with Astaire, but in some shots she's obviously wearing culottes in a copy of the skirt. I guess they didn't want her skirt to fly up over her head. But it's badly done.

There was one line that caught my waning attention. It went something like "You can't change the past; you can only change the future."

This was the final feature film directed by Rouben Mamoulian.



Considering the collection of talent, it's an embarrassing misfire. Arthur Freed occasionally came down with the delusion that he was making Broadway musicals instead of film ones (cf. The Pirate, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers), but given such a dreary score by the usually delightful Cole Porter, he was simply repeating the usual MGM habit buying on past performance.

Never mind. I stopped the 1935 Roberta to write this. Irene Dunne is about to sing "Smoke Gets in Your Eye."

Bob


"The Red Blues" is an ok dance number but possibly the worst song Porter ever wrote.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Nov 18, 2017 9:00 am

drednm wrote:
boblipton wrote:
drednm wrote:Silk Stockings (1957) is the Cole Porter musical based on Ninotchka (1939) for which the ads blared "Garbo Laughs!" It's a great film. On the other hand, the Broadway musical the 1957 film is based on, assembled what is perhaps the worst collection of Porter songs (with the exception of "All of You"). Although the show ran for more than a year and had Don Ameche, Hildegarde Neff, and Gretchen Wyler in the cast, it came and went without a single Tony nomination. Anyway, MGM bought the film rights and produced this leaden film version in Cinmascope and Metrocolor. Cyd Charisse dances well but her acting is only so-so (the accent comes and goes) and her singing is obviously dubbed. Fred Astaire is decades too old for the role of Steve, and the choreography in general is nothing to get excited about.

A slight spark is provided by Janis Paige. While Ninotchka wears a lot of gray and brown, the Paige character wears eye-popping colors and belts out a few forgettable songs (I already forgot them). In a very bizarre turn, her character is obviously based on Esther Williams and goes around slapping her head, trying to get the water out of her ears. Equally bizarre is the casting of Peter Lorre as one of the dreary Russian comrades living it up in Paris. Lorre sings a few bars of music and dances a bit but mostly he mugs for the camera, but the trio's main source of energy is Jules Munshin.

All the dance numbers are riddled with cuts. It's as though the dances were staged in 1-minute bursts. There's also the odd costuming problem where Charisse is wearing a 1950s skirt in a number with Astaire, but in some shots she's obviously wearing culottes in a copy of the skirt. I guess they didn't want her skirt to fly up over her head. But it's badly done.

There was one line that caught my waning attention. It went something like "You can't change the past; you can only change the future."

This was the final feature film directed by Rouben Mamoulian.



Considering the collection of talent, it's an embarrassing misfire. Arthur Freed occasionally came down with the delusion that he was making Broadway musicals instead of film ones (cf. The Pirate, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers), but given such a dreary score by the usually delightful Cole Porter, he was simply repeating the usual MGM habit buying on past performance.

Never mind. I stopped the 1935 Roberta to write this. Irene Dunne is about to sing "Smoke Gets in Your Eye."

Bob


"The Red Blues" is an ok dance number but possibly the worst song Porter ever wrote.



Even worse than "So Long Samoa" or "Love Me, Love My Pekinese"? He wrote a lot of songs.

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

PostSat Nov 18, 2017 10:36 am

drednm wrote:Silk Stockings (1957) is the Cole Porter musical based on Ninotchka (1939) for which the ads blared "Garbo Laughs!" It's a great film. On the other hand, the Broadway musical the 1957 film is based on, assembled what is perhaps the worst collection of Porter songs (with the exception of "All of You").

This was the final feature film directed by Rouben Mamoulian.


I've not seen this one or Daddy Long Legs. Is Long Legs any better? Someone told me a while back that the number with Astaire and Kay Thompson is a hoot.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Nov 18, 2017 10:45 am

Dean Thompson wrote:
drednm wrote:Silk Stockings (1957) is the Cole Porter musical based on Ninotchka (1939) for which the ads blared "Garbo Laughs!" It's a great film. On the other hand, the Broadway musical the 1957 film is based on, assembled what is perhaps the worst collection of Porter songs (with the exception of "All of You").

This was the final feature film directed by Rouben Mamoulian.


I've not seen this one or Daddy Long Legs. Is Long Legs any better? Someone told me a while back that the number with Astaire and Kay Thompson is a hoot.


Daddy Long Legs has the usual problems with an elderly leading man and a young leading lady, which it deals with effectively by acknowledging it. I like it. It’s not great, but I like it a lot.

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

PostSat Nov 18, 2017 11:14 am

This was the final feature film directed by Rouben Mamoulian.[/quote][/quote]

I've not seen this one or Daddy Long Legs. Is Long Legs any better? Someone told me a while back that the number with Astaire and Kay Thompson is a hoot.[/quote]

Daddy Long Legs has the usual problems with an elderly leading man and a young leading lady, which it deals with effectively by acknowledging it. I like it. It’s not great, but I like it a lot.

Bob[/quote]

Kay Thompson is always worth a look, but she's in Funny Face, not Daddy Long Legs.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Nov 18, 2017 12:02 pm

Cole Porter on his worst day is still better than anyone else!
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Nov 18, 2017 1:11 pm

Critics of the time took a lot of malicious glee in trashing Steven Spielberg’s 1941 when it came out in 1979. He had been their darling for too long – three whole movies, or four if you include the famous TV movie Duel – so they were salivating for the chance to be crab-theorists in action and pull him down from the pedestal they had put him on.

In the nearly 40 years since, various elements have tried to reclaim 1941 as an underappreciated work of genius, shredded for being way ahead of its time. The 2007 DVD release, which is what I have, included an endless making-of documentary – no time is listed on the box, but it must be 2 hours long (I watched it over three sittings) – in which director Spielberg, producer John Milius, writers Bob Zemeckis and Bob Gale, and members of the crew all attempt to explain their intentions and thereby make the film seem better than it is.

They actually succeed. Having watched the documentary after watching the movie, I suspect I’ll enjoy the latter a lot more on second viewing. On the other hand, the best things in the documentary are the deleted scenes: they made me laugh more than almost anything in the movie itself.

It’s a vastly overlong, over-the-top, all-star-cast-stuffed, slapstick extravaganza, an unacknowledged homage to It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World and in my opinion a much better film despite its massive failures and misfires. Critics complained it was the embodiment of the bigger-is-better school of cinematic idiocy, and it was. But we’ve had 40 years of even-bigger-is-even-better idiotic movies like the entire Transformers franchise and all the comic-book movies and all the world-is-under-attack movies of the Independence Day ilk. We’re used to it by now. 1941’s excesses don’t look quite so egregious nowadays.

In case you don’t know, it’s a satire of World War Two home-front hysteria, with Los Angeles believing it is about to be attacked by Japanese submarines. It stars everybody from the 1970s: Belushi, Aykroyd, Candy, Flaherty, Pickens, Stack, Treat Williams, Wallach, Ned Beatty, Christopher Lee, Oates, even Mifune. Ostensible leads, however, are relative unknowns/forgottens Murray Hamilton and Lorraine Gary. And it includes every kind of plot cliche from the movies from 1914 to 1954, including a famous jitterbug contest to a John Williams parody of Benny Goodman music.

The jitterbug contest is, for me, the scene most revealing of why 1941 doesn’t work. Pauline Kael called it the greatest choreographed dance scene in history, but I find it the exact opposite. it’s one of the worst-directed and worst-edited mass dance scenes. We hardly see any real dancing except for an all-too-brief climax, which is filmed from a distance and an angle that doesn’t do justice to the feet movements. The cutting and the camera both swirl around with such a lack of discipline, or in such an easily distracted manner, that no momentum can build. Things we want to linger over and enjoy are thrown in and out of the mix at random.

There are some good laughs in it. Pointedly, most of them come from dialogue, contrary to the filmmakers’ determination to piledrive us with relentless physical comedy.

As hard to take as I found it on first viewing, I look forward to second viewing some day in the future.

Jim
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