What is the last film you watched? (2018)

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

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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostMon Jun 11, 2018 4:39 am

Somehow Benji the Hunted snuck its way onto Disney Night on TCM, in which the rugamuffin dog is swept out to sea an winds up in a forest where , perfectly groomed, he succors lynx cubs and doesn't know what to make of a bunny rabbit.... which ignores him. Director Joe Camp is credited with the script, but I suspect it was written by a three-year-old girl who wasn't paying attention. The idiotic electronic score is a last movie credit for distinguished longtime producer Betty E. Box. Go figure.

Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Mon Jun 11, 2018 4:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostMon Jun 11, 2018 4:41 am

Caught the original Blondie (1938) starring Arthur Lake and Penny Singleton, the first of 28 films between 1938 and 1950. This has to be just about the most successful "series" from the studio era. I was pleasantly surprised at how good it was. Story has Dagwood getting fired while Blondie is ordering new furniture. Dag has accidentally run into and befriended an eccentric industrialist (Gene Lockhart) who is avoiding local businessmen in regards to a business project. Neither man knows who the other is and they get embroiled with the cops because they've sneaked a vacuum cleaner out of a hotel after they've broken it. On the home front, Blondie meets up with an old beau who causes a marital flare-up. And then there are the two women named Elsie. In this version at least, Lake and Singleton keep their characters front getting too silly and annoying, and Lockhart has fun. Co-stars include Jonathan Hale as Dithers, Larry Simms as Baby Dump, Kathleen Lockhart as the mother in law, Ian Wolfe as the judge, Gordon Oliver as the beau, Ann Doran as Elsie, Willie Best, Josephine Whittell, Charles Lane, etc.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostMon Jun 11, 2018 11:28 am

Bad Girl (1931) is one of the most ludicrously misleading titles of the era. Sally Eilers is a very good girl indeed, despite the temptations of living in an NYC tenement with drunks and pros. She marries a morose guy (James Dunn) who dreams of opening his own radio repair store, but repeatedly sacrifices that dream to give Sally the house she wants and then the baby she wants. Sally's wants are naive dreams, not henpecking demands, so don't get the idea that this is where the title might be justified.

Minna Gombell does the Glenda Farrell role of the wisecracking girlfriend who sees through the husband's gruff exterior and supports her wavering gal pal. She's good, but one can't help noticing that she has no life of her own, other than looking after her son as a single mom.

Minna's ex-boyfriend was Sally's brother. While my wife and I both thought the movie was fairly enjoyable, I found both male leads repulsive. Dunn has redeeming qualities, but his manner is a complete turn-off. The brother/boyfriend is nothing but a one-dimensional brute; the less said about him, the better.

This is one of those films where you feel like slapping the leads upside their heads and yelling at them to simply tell their mate what they're planning to do, or have done, in order to eliminate wrong assumptions. There's really no excuse for them to "hide" information, other than the necessity of filling 90 minutes of celluloid.

Sally Eilers looks great. There are a couple of pre-Code lingerie scenes, for them what likes that sort of thing. And yes, that includes moi.

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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostMon Jun 11, 2018 12:49 pm

BAD GIRL got an Oscar for the screenplay- my local museum has it: http://www.albanyinstitute.org/details/ ... burke.html
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostMon Jun 11, 2018 1:17 pm

Jim Roots wrote:Bad Girl (1931) is one of the most ludicrously misleading titles of the era. Sally Eilers is a very good girl indeed, despite the temptations of living in an NYC tenement with drunks and pros. She marries a morose guy (James Dunn) who dreams of opening his own radio repair store, but repeatedly sacrifices that dream to give Sally the house she wants and then the baby she wants. Sally's wants are naive dreams, not henpecking demands, so don't get the idea that this is where the title might be justified.

Minna Gombell does the Glenda Farrell role of the wisecracking girlfriend who sees through the husband's gruff exterior and supports her wavering gal pal. She's good, but one can't help noticing that she has no life of her own, other than looking after her son as a single mom.

Minna's ex-boyfriend was Sally's brother. While my wife and I both thought the movie was fairly enjoyable, I found both male leads repulsive. Dunn has redeeming qualities, but his manner is a complete turn-off. The brother/boyfriend is nothing but a one-dimensional brute; the less said about him, the better.

This is one of those films where you feel like slapping the leads upside their heads and yelling at them to simply tell their mate what they're planning to do, or have done, in order to eliminate wrong assumptions. There's really no excuse for them to "hide" information, other than the necessity of filling 90 minutes of celluloid.

Sally Eilers looks great. There are a couple of pre-Code lingerie scenes, for them what likes that sort of thing. And yes, that includes moi.

Jim


Looks as if Fox wanted to keep the title of the (presumably popular) novel and play, as Eilers's part is definitely that of a decent girl who is a trifle misunderstood. And yes, the brother is an obnoxious, bullying little snot...
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostMon Jun 11, 2018 6:37 pm

Haunted Honeymoon (1940): When I think about whom to cast as Lord Peter Wimsey, I think of someone skilled at playing silly-ass aristocrats. I know that Ian Carmichael appeared in several television adaptations of Sayers' Wimsey novels in the 1970s, and I hope to have a chance to see them some day. For this one, they might have cast one of the Aldwych farceurs: Ralph Lynn (the descriptions of Lord Peter in the earlier novels make him sound like Lynn) or Claude Hulbert. Instead, MGM originally cast Robert Donat after his success in Goodbye, Mr. Chips and, when he dropped out, used the visiting Robert Montgomery -- a fine actor, but not really suited for the role. Then they rewrote it so that Peter and Harriet (played by Constance Cummings) were more like Nick and Nora Charles in this hash of Busman's Honeymoon.

Sigh. I'd still like to see Sayers' story done right, but that's not going to happen any time soon. Instead, I'll take some small comfort in the supporting characters. Leslie Banks as Lord Peters' philosophical brother-in-law, reduced to an admiring acoylite; Seymour Hicks, really too old for Buntner, but playing the imperturbable butler. Frank Pettingell is fine as the jack-of-all-trades Puffett, and Robert Newton as Frank Crutchley. Like many another movie "adapted" from another medium, bearing only a passing relationship to the original, I force myself to look at it as something having nothing at all to do with the source material, and find it pretty good on its own account.

Bob
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostTue Jun 12, 2018 5:20 am

The Window (1949) is an exceptional little thriller about an imaginative boy (Bobby Driscoll) who's always making up stories. Then one hot summer night, he actually witnesses a killing, but whn he tries to tell his parents and then the police, no one will believe him. When the killers (upstairs neighbors) learn about his seeing them, they set out to do away with the boy. From that point on, the film turns into a tense chase story set among a cityscape of rooftops and crumbling buildings. Arthur Kennedy and Barbara Hale are the parents; Paul Stewart and Ruth Roman are the neighbors. Beautifully done.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostTue Jun 12, 2018 9:25 am

If you've seen Man's Castle, Bad Girl unfortunately plays like the same movie with less charismatic stars. But it's interesting for the reflection of real world concerns rarely seen in other movies-- especially the maternity ward scene, with the mix of cultures and the woman who has something, post-partum depression, that wouldn't have a name for decades, I imagine.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostTue Jun 12, 2018 10:00 am

Mike Gebert wrote:If you've seen Man's Castle, Bad Girl unfortunately plays like the same movie with less charismatic stars. But it's interesting for the reflection of real world concerns rarely seen in other movies-- especially the maternity ward scene, with the mix of cultures and the woman who has something, post-partum depression, that wouldn't have a name for decades, I imagine.


You can find some rather modern psychological conditions in old films and books- the novel from which SWEEPINGS was taken has a wife who has had so many abortions that she starts cutting herself. Her husband has a compulsive eating disorder- he hides an accidental murder he committed behind a "Fog of Food". The studio did a lot of editing to get a warmhearted Lionel Barrymore picture out of that book.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostTue Jun 12, 2018 1:53 pm

A kind present of a rare movie, THE DESERT SONG (1943) was for me a rather disappointing curate's egg of a movie, which comes over as a mix of romance, music, melodrama and a touch of the Western / CASABLANCA, as the 1920s operetta becomes a topical wartime drama, set in 1939. I found the plotting a little confusing at times, although it gets a little clearer when we find out hero Dennis Morgan has been fighting in Spain before taking the Arabs under his wing in their travails with France and the Nazis.

The first sight of elegant Irene Manning is worth seeing, as is a sultry dancer, and the striking-looking lady*
who plays Morgan's friend and message-bearer (didn't catch the character name) is rather effective, as are some of the musical sequences. There is a decent supporting cast (Victor Francen, Bruce Cabot), although I failed to recognise some of them under all that make-up and costume. Lynne Overman is rather over-the-top in his last film role, as a correspondent battling against censorship.

Strikingly shot in Technicolor by Bert Glennon, THE DESERT SONG failed to work fully for me as it seemed neither one thing not t'other, with the musical side of the film often taking second place to the melodramatics and rather bloodthirsty action sequences. It's a good few years since I've seen the straighter version with Gordon MacRae and Kathryn Grayson, but I suspect the 1929 original will be more to my liking, as this one seemed to get rather bogged down from time to time.

*looks like this player is Faye Emerson.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostTue Jun 12, 2018 1:58 pm

Mike Gebert wrote:If you've seen Man's Castle, Bad Girl unfortunately plays like the same movie with less charismatic stars. But it's interesting for the reflection of real world concerns rarely seen in other movies-- especially the maternity ward scene, with the mix of cultures and the woman who has something, post-partum depression, that wouldn't have a name for decades, I imagine.


It is the same film. Borzage wasn't exactly above remaking his previous films, even one that was only a couple of years old.

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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostTue Jun 12, 2018 5:03 pm

After the success of That Man from Rio, director Philippe de Broca and star Jean-Paul Belmondo reteamed for
Les tribulations d'un Chinois en Chine
aka Up to His Ears (1965). Belmondo is a feckless young man with a dimwitted fiancee and a predatory prospective mother-in-law. His saving grace is that he is a billionaire. On being told he is broke, he has friendly Chinese philosopher Valéry Inkijinoff arrange to kill him -- a two-million-dollar insurance payout will be split between the philosopher and his fiancee. However, on seeing Ursula Andress doing a striptease (without, alas, taking off any clothes; what's the point of watching French movies?), he regains his will to live, as any sensible man would.

It's based on one of Jules Vernes' voyages extraordinaires with almost all of it shot on location. In addition, the situations are very funny, in that frantic manner that the French farceurs did such a good job at. Unfortunately, while the situations are comic, only Miss Andress and Jean Rochefort as Belmondo's long-suffering valet show any comic sensibilities.

French audiences didn't seem to care. It was successful. De Broca was a good, commercial director who always knew what his audience wanted and gave it to them, even if it seems he didn't -- or perhaps couldn't -- give them more than they might expect.

Bob
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostWed Jun 13, 2018 12:38 pm

Not films per se, but an entire TV series:

Beginning back in March, Margaret and I began watching the entire series of 43 "Rumpole of the Bailey" (1978-1992) British TV series. Last night we watched the last one, "Rumpole on Trial" (1992). My very favorite mini-series of British television, including what is shown over here as Masterpiece Theater, have been two: "The Flame Trees of Thika" (1981) and the original "Poldark" (1975). But my favorite of all television shows (series) per se is unquestionably the Rumpole series. Rumpole himself is played by Leo McKern, the great character actor who was seen in so many great performances on film, such as "A Man for All Seasons" (1966) or "Ryan's Daughter" (1970). I've enjoyed him recently, too, in early performances in "The Adventures of Robin Hood", a television series filmed in the middle 1950's in Britain, but shown in America! Rumpole is an old Bailey hack who prefers his cases to be murder cases, especially where Rumpole can show off his knowledge about blood types, smatters, and so forth. He's married to Hilda - She Who Must Be Obeyed!! - who was played by two different women during the run of the show, first by Peggy Thorpe-Bates, then by Marion Mathie. She's a shrew, although possibly made one by the character Rumpole himself has become - or is it the other way around? The show is a crime drama/mystery/comedy, and the facets of each are played to the hilt in blisteringly satiric form in each and every episode, all of them written by John Mortimer, a former British lawyer himself. The guest list of stars appearing on the show, some of them in nearly all the shows, is amazing: Peter Bowles, Patricia Hodge, Peter Blythe, Jonathan Coy, Richard Murdoch, Joanna Van Gyseghem, Robin Bailey, etc., etc., etc.... Many of them had their own series at one time or other. My series is a PAL DVD set, all 43 episodes in order of release. Extremely highly recommended. Hope you enjoy Romantic poetry and Shakespeare, too. Rumpole quotes this sort of entertaining stuff endlessly!
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostWed Jun 13, 2018 2:22 pm

Hilda Rumpole is an interesting character- the daughter of a leading barrister - and with the brains and drive to have gone into the law herself, if it had been possible at the time. The union between her & Rumpole is somewhat engineered on her side- she sees in him a man with potential brilliance who could be managed into a great career with her help . The problem is, Rumpole isn't interested in taking that track, with all the socializing, Yes M'Lord & ass kissing that it it requires. (Erskine-Brown is quite intent on that sort of career, and looks upon Rumpole as a social hazard at times). As a result she's frustrated and it shows, leading Rumpole to treat her poorly at times- which he is aware of and sometimes regrets.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostThu Jun 14, 2018 6:10 am

There is, alas, a lot of idiot plotting in Son of Oklahoma (1932). A small boy falls out of a Conestoga wagon in the Oklahoma desert,and cries for his parents to stop. They don't, but he's rescued by Julian Rivero, who takes him home to his wife and daughter, noting that the boy has found the gold mine Rivero has been looking for. Meanwhile, Earl Dwire shoots down Earl Homans (who crawls away, unnoticed), and returns to Josie Sedgwick.

Seventeen years later, the small boy has grown into Bob Steele. Rivero is about to register the secret mine in Steele's name, because Rivero is a Spaniard; they've been pulling ore out i secret, covering their trail. Dwire goes to Sedgwick, who's now running saloons; it turns out she only went with him to prevent him from killing her husband, Homans. He tells her that if she'll get the information on the mine from Steele, he'll go find the boy, whom he gave to a family on their way to California. When Steele turns out to have the note she wrote to her husband seventeen years earlier, she knows he is her boy, doesn't tell him, and never does anything about it until the plot requires it.

If you ignore these -- ahem! -- minor flaws, and the gold mine in Oklahoma, it turns into a minor western. I fear I could not, much as I enjoy Steele's movies directed by his father, Robert Bradbury. Also, Miss Sedgwick's line readings are pretty poor. This was her last movie.

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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostFri Jun 15, 2018 1:33 am

Following my viewing of THE DESERT SONG (1943) I found a (not very good) copy of the 1929 film on YT. Although dubious about watching both close together, I didn't want to lose the chance of seeing such a rarity so watched it on Wednesday evening.

I needn't have been concerned. Unlike Robert Florey's film, this, the first filmed operetta is the real thing, over two hours long (including the original intermission) and done without any embarrassment at all.

John Boles (in his busy period) plays a seemingly milksop character, complete with stammer, who is also the notorious Red Shadow, scourge of the French Foreign Legion. He is very keen on Carlotta King, also being wooed by a rival officer, who at the same time is being lusted after by sexy native dancer Myrna Loy. Boles is also the despair of his father, who is the senior officer in the regiment and has no idea what the is getting up to. Add the regulation comic duo, in this case Louise Fazenda and Johnny Arthur and you have a slight piffle of a plot which is nevertheless put over with full conviction.

The main problem here (yes, I realise it is rather a static affair, but it was filmed in 1928 after all) is the print quality, which is none too clear on the visual side and aurally indistinct at times. The racism / political incorrectness is part of what was often seemed as normal at the time, and should be taken as such - THE BOWERY, anyone? Nonetheless, even at a running time of 128m it remains a very enjoyable romp and much more than just a curio or museum piece. Hopefully better quality materials will become available, and perhaps even the Technicolor.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostFri Jun 15, 2018 5:00 am

The Incident (1967) is a riveting drama about two hooligans (that's putting it mildly) who terrorize a carload of people on a New York subway at 3AM. Yes the elapsed time of the movie is longer than the actual subway ride would have been, but forget that. Tony Musante and Martin Sheen (film debut) pay the drunken punks looking for a thrill. They happen on a group of people and their stories unfold, truths are revealed, as each is terrorized by the duo. We meet the various people (the set up) as they make their ways to the subway. They all seem to get on at different stops. There's an elderly couple (Jack Gilford, Thelma Ritter), a Black couple (Brock Peters, Ruby Dee), a dating couple (Victor Arnold, Donna Mills), a bickering couple with a kid (Ed McMahon, Diana Van der Vlis), an unhappy couple (Mike Kellin, Jan Sterling), a couple of army soldiers (Beau Bridges, Robert Bannard), a gay man (Robert Fields), and another man (Gary Merrill). As the punks move from victim to victim, each one is symbolically stripped and exposed for what he/she really is. While the film is a psychological study of the various people, it's also a study in terror. The climax comes when someone finally stands up to and challenges the thugs. The acting is astoundingly good. It reminds the viewer of how powerful film can be. Directed by Larry Peerce.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostFri Jun 15, 2018 8:32 am

Had a chance last night to experience a theatrical presentation of the 1975 Doctor Who serial Genesis of the Daleks, presented in a condensed "director's cut" version, with the inimitable Tom Baker as The Doctor, still my favourite interpreter of the character after all these years. Fun to watch something intended for 1970s small screens on a large cinema screen, you can really sense the duct tape and staple gun origins of the props and sets, but it just adds to the fun. Baker is such a big personality that he seems suited to the big screen, and the presentation was bookended by fun "extras" featuring Baker now, reminiscing about his time playing the character and what he brought to the role.

Strangely, I had a connection to this story long before I ever saw it in live action, having read the novelization as a kid (our PBS channel didn't show Doctor Who until later) and also listening to a further condensed audio version of the story that was released on an LP that I still have. The story deepens the analogy between the Daleks and the Nazis, with their creator Davros spouting Hitler-esque philosophy surrounded by black-clad, jackbooted goons and a second-in-command named Nyder (Peter Miles) who had a creepy Goebbels kind of vibe. The Doctor has to decide whether or not he has the right to act like a Dalek in the act of wiping them out at the start of their reign of terror, and we get a good idea of the balance between charming and violent embodied by Baker in the role.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostFri Jun 15, 2018 8:40 am

drednm wrote:The Incident (1967) is a riveting drama about two hooligans (that's putting it mildly) who terrorize a carload of people on a New York subway at 3AM. Yes the elapsed time of the movie is longer than the actual subway ride would have been, but forget that. Tony Musante and Martin Sheen (film debut) pay the drunken punks looking for a thrill. They happen on a group of people and their stories unfold, truths are revealed, as each is terrorized by the duo. We meet the various people (the set up) as they make their ways to the subway. They all seem to get on at different stops. There's an elderly couple (Jack Gilford, Thelma Ritter), a Black couple (Brock Peters, Ruby Dee), a dating couple (Victor Arnold, Donna Mills), a bickering couple with a kid (Ed McMahon, Diana Van der Vlis), an unhappy couple (Mike Kellin, Jan Sterling), a couple of army soldiers (Beau Bridges, Robert Bannard), a gay man (Robert Fields), and another man (Gary Merrill). As the punks move from victim to victim, each one is symbolically stripped and exposed for what he/she really is. While the film is a psychological study of the various people, it's also a study in terror. The climax comes when someone finally stands up to and challenges the thugs. The acting is astoundingly good. It reminds the viewer of how powerful film can be. Directed by Larry Peerce.


I remember this from watching it on TV in its debut. Still remember the ending and how it shocked and frightened me. One of the few really good made-for-TV movies of that particular era.

And you only need to look at that cast list to know it had to be filled with terrific performances, as Dreddy notes. Everyone except Gilford and Ritter seems so young and so early in their careers. Wasn't it Beau Bridges' debut as well as Sheen's?

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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostFri Jun 15, 2018 9:34 am

Jim Roots wrote:
drednm wrote:The Incident (1967) is a riveting drama about two hooligans (that's putting it mildly) who terrorize a carload of people on a New York subway at 3AM. Yes the elapsed time of the movie is longer than the actual subway ride would have been, but forget that. Tony Musante and Martin Sheen (film debut) pay the drunken punks looking for a thrill. They happen on a group of people and their stories unfold, truths are revealed, as each is terrorized by the duo. We meet the various people (the set up) as they make their ways to the subway. They all seem to get on at different stops. There's an elderly couple (Jack Gilford, Thelma Ritter), a Black couple (Brock Peters, Ruby Dee), a dating couple (Victor Arnold, Donna Mills), a bickering couple with a kid (Ed McMahon, Diana Van der Vlis), an unhappy couple (Mike Kellin, Jan Sterling), a couple of army soldiers (Beau Bridges, Robert Bannard), a gay man (Robert Fields), and another man (Gary Merrill). As the punks move from victim to victim, each one is symbolically stripped and exposed for what he/she really is. While the film is a psychological study of the various people, it's also a study in terror. The climax comes when someone finally stands up to and challenges the thugs. The acting is astoundingly good. It reminds the viewer of how powerful film can be. Directed by Larry Peerce.


I remember this from watching it on TV in its debut. Still remember the ending and how it shocked and frightened me. One of the few really good made-for-TV movies of that particular era.

And you only need to look at that cast list to know it had to be filled with terrific performances, as Dreddy notes. Everyone except Gilford and Ritter seems so young and so early in their careers. Wasn't it Beau Bridges' debut as well as Sheen's?

Jim


Beau Bridges had been around for a while, a minor boy actor. Ritter's cry of "Don't" as the thug almost breaks Gilford's hand goes through you like a knife.

Feature film debut for Donna Mills and maybe for some of the other, lesser known actors.

There's a good copy on YT.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostFri Jun 15, 2018 12:56 pm

drednm wrote:The Incident (1967) is a riveting drama about two hooligans (that's putting it mildly) who terrorize a carload of people on a New York subway at 3AM. Yes the elapsed time of the movie is longer than the actual subway ride would have been, but forget that. Tony Musante and Martin Sheen (film debut) pay the drunken punks looking for a thrill. They happen on a group of people and their stories unfold, truths are revealed, as each is terrorized by the duo. We meet the various people (the set up) as they make their ways to the subway. They all seem to get on at different stops. There's an elderly couple (Jack Gilford, Thelma Ritter), a Black couple (Brock Peters, Ruby Dee), a dating couple (Victor Arnold, Donna Mills), a bickering couple with a kid (Ed McMahon, Diana Van der Vlis), an unhappy couple (Mike Kellin, Jan Sterling), a couple of army soldiers (Beau Bridges, Robert Bannard), a gay man (Robert Fields), and another man (Gary Merrill). As the punks move from victim to victim, each one is symbolically stripped and exposed for what he/she really is. While the film is a psychological study of the various people, it's also a study in terror. The climax comes when someone finally stands up to and challenges the thugs. The acting is astoundingly good. It reminds the viewer of how powerful film can be. Directed by Larry Peerce.


Sounds a little like a small-screen variant of DUTCHMAN, made the year before in Twickenham of all places! It would be interesting to list all the times a film has influences a 'TV movie' a year or so later. Not heard of this one, admittedly...
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Jim Roots

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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostFri Jun 15, 2018 1:33 pm

From 1931 to 1976, every film made in France was legally required to feature Jean Gabin. Similarly, from about 1948 to 1988, every film made in Japan was forced by law to include Toshiro Mifune. Small wonder, then, that they made the same film at least once. That film was The Lower Depths.

Gabin was first. Jean Renoir cast him in the 1936 French version. Akira Kurosawa cast Mifune in the 1957 Japanese version. Both were taken from Gorky’s 1902 play. So you had the French and the Japanese making the same film of a Russian play, the first while nervously eyeing the rise of Germany and the second while recovering from destruction by USA. They were probably funded by an Icelandic millionaire and a Nigerian prince, respectively.

Renoir and Kurosawa took opposite approaches to the original material: Renoir reinvented it for the cinema, while Kurosawa kept as close as possible to the source. Yet they both almost totally transformed it to fit their respective national cultures.

I say “almost” because Renoir brought forward the character of the Baron (charmingly played Louis Jouvet) to be almost co-lead with Gabin’s thief, and Jouvet presents the character as thoroughly Russian. Everyone else is resolutely French, despite retaining Russian names. You can’t make Gabin Russian, though, so his is the only character with a French name. He’s also the only one with a decent wardrobe, shave and haircut; the Baron starts out immaculate in appearance but embraces his own decline to pauperism. Kurosawa’s characters all dress in repulsive torn rags and sumo-wrestler undies.

The story is set in a flophouse for derelicts. Renoir’s flophouse is dismal, but Kurosawa’s flophouse is a filthy hovel, so overtly decrepit that it requires huge beams to keep it propped up. The supporting casts of losers are large enough to give me some challenges in keeping track of who is who. (I’m not helped by the fact that all four of Kurosawa's female characters have five-letter names beginning with “O”.) Kurosawa in particular is rather too casual in distinguishing between the characters; the only one who stands out is not Mifune but Bokuzin Hidari as an aged, perpetually cheerful pilgrim who steals the film. His performance is comic and subtle. Mifune is over-emphatic in what is scripted as a very minor role, in contrast to Renoir’s script which makes the same character the lead.

Kurosawa never leaves the flophouse; this compels him to direct in the most wonderfully creative way within very cramped surroundings. He mixes long static shots with wizardly camera angles to keep the movie visually fresh. He loves setups that include at least one actor performing with his back to the camera, or with beams and walls and curtains actually blocking a speaking actor completely from our vision. He seems far more creatively energetic than Renoir.

Ultimately, though, Renoir’s film is slightly more satisfying because he has reshaped the material into a well-structured -– if conventionally-structured -– film that progresses steadily and with comedy to balance the misery of the flophouse and its inmates. Kurosawa’s film allows far too much dialogue, too much traditional kabuki elements (long, long drunken song-and-dance routines especially), and a completely superfluous coda featuring none of the lead characters which drags on for something like 20 minutes.

Jim
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drednm

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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostFri Jun 15, 2018 2:40 pm

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:
drednm wrote:The Incident (1967) is a riveting drama about two hooligans (that's putting it mildly) who terrorize a carload of people on a New York subway at 3AM. Yes the elapsed time of the movie is longer than the actual subway ride would have been, but forget that. Tony Musante and Martin Sheen (film debut) pay the drunken punks looking for a thrill. They happen on a group of people and their stories unfold, truths are revealed, as each is terrorized by the duo. We meet the various people (the set up) as they make their ways to the subway. They all seem to get on at different stops. There's an elderly couple (Jack Gilford, Thelma Ritter), a Black couple (Brock Peters, Ruby Dee), a dating couple (Victor Arnold, Donna Mills), a bickering couple with a kid (Ed McMahon, Diana Van der Vlis), an unhappy couple (Mike Kellin, Jan Sterling), a couple of army soldiers (Beau Bridges, Robert Bannard), a gay man (Robert Fields), and another man (Gary Merrill). As the punks move from victim to victim, each one is symbolically stripped and exposed for what he/she really is. While the film is a psychological study of the various people, it's also a study in terror. The climax comes when someone finally stands up to and challenges the thugs. The acting is astoundingly good. It reminds the viewer of how powerful film can be. Directed by Larry Peerce.


Sounds a little like a small-screen variant of DUTCHMAN, made the year before in Twickenham of all places! It would be interesting to list all the times a film has influences a 'TV movie' a year or so later. Not heard of this one, admittedly...


This film is not a TV movie but it's based on a TV movie called Ride with Terror (1963), which was re-worked into a feature with Tony Musante repeating his role as the psycho thug.
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boblipton

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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostFri Jun 15, 2018 3:57 pm

The copy of Riders of the Desert (1932) I saw was severely cut. While it had a listed runnintime of 59 minutes, the print I viewed came in at less than 45. Nonetheless it was a hellacious good action B Western, starting off with Bob Steele riding shotgun on a stagecoach when four bandits show up. The coach tries to outrun it, and Bob takes a big dive and the coach is smashed. He makes his way to the headquarters of the Arizona Rangers, who have just been informed by telegraph that they are disbanded; turn over power to the local sheriff. However, his father is a ranger, so they decide they haven't gotten the telegram, go out and capture George Hayes (long before he became Gabby), sing "Auld Lang Syne" while Bob canoodles with Gertrude Messinger, and off they go.

Some time later, Hayes escapes, kills the old Ranger captain and goes looking for his gold with his gang. So it's up to Bob and the former Rangers to deal with matters.

It's pure action fun once you get past the start and the second half is the pursuit and fight, pure and simple, shot by Archie Stout. He may be a B movie cinematographer at this point, but he has a lot of fun finding interesting shots, like close-up trucking shots while he whips the camera to follow the riders, or using a telephoto lens (?) to show a stuntman falling off in a vertically panning medium close-up. No wonder he wound up sharing an Oscar for one of Ford's westerns.

You may say it's long on action, yes, but short on Meaningful Story. True, but B Westerns are all about action, with some humor thrown in to please their youthful audience (provided here by Al. St. John). I'd like to see the original theatrical version, to see if it plays better or worse, but this version plays beautifully.

Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Sat Jun 16, 2018 9:59 am, edited 2 times in total.
If no one listens, then it’s just as well. At least I won’t get caught in any lies I tell.
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boblipton

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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostSat Jun 16, 2018 6:36 am

In Kid Courageous (1935), Bob Steele is more interested in being a sportsman than in taking over the family business, so father Lafe McKee has him kidnapped and shipped down to the family mine to teach him a lesson. In the boxcar along the way, he meets up with Kit Guard, who agrees to impersonate him while he lies low. Along the way they discover that mine supervisor John Cowell has some underhanded plans in store, particularly for heiress Renee Borden.

It's a light-hearted yarn for Bob Steele fans, showing off his athleticism with some eye candy -- he's stripped to the waist for his work outs in some early scenes. Although some of the gags may not have aged very well, Bob shows off his usual agility with fist-fighting and riding, and also handles a whip in one fight and gets into a fencing match that looks pretty convincing. It's a good change of pace from the usual shoot-em-ups.

Bob
If no one listens, then it’s just as well. At least I won’t get caught in any lies I tell.
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boblipton

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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostSat Jun 16, 2018 7:59 am

Lest anyone think that B westerns were mired in the 19th century, Breed of the Border (1933) has Bob Steele as a race car driver. Ernie Adams hires him to drive him down to the border and when they get there, clunks him on the head, shoots John Elliott and steals $50,000 in bonds. Fortunately, when Bob comes to, he recalls that he grew up in these parts, so he and old buddy George Hayes (teeth out, beard on) decide to track down the baddies across the border, where they encounter Marion Byron, a stranded showgirl working in a saloon, and are hired by Adams' gang for a hundred dollars a month plus room and board to smuggle single cattle across the border. Adams thinks Bob looks familiar, but doesn't quite recognize him..... yet.

It's a bit thin and unsteady, but it does have some good performances, and Bob gets into a saber duel that looked well choreographed and Marion Byron is a lot better than the usual ingenue in Steele's early sound oaters; silent film fans will recall her from Steamboat Bill Junior and Roach's attempt to team her with Anita Garvin in three silent shorts. Like many another talented performer, she just never clicked int he movies, and she was basically done in a couple of years.

Bob
If no one listens, then it’s just as well. At least I won’t get caught in any lies I tell.
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R Michael Pyle

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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostSat Jun 16, 2018 9:25 am

boblipton wrote:The copy of Riders of the Desert (1932) I saw was severely cut. While it had a listed runnintime of 59 minutes, the print I viewed came in at less than 45. Nonetheless it was a hellacious good action B Western, starting off with Bob Steele riding shotgun on a stagecoach when four bandits show up.

I'd like to see the original theatrical version, to see if it plays better or worse, but this version plays beautifully.

The Alpha Video version is 55 minutes long, and it's a fair enough print for $5.98. I also think this is a "hellacious good" show! My favorite "B" Western actor is Steele, and I've got close to 70 of his DVD Westerns, and this is one of my own favorites. All of his with Gabby Hayes are quite well done. Steele's mounting of horses and his riding are as good as it gets if one appreciates the "B" Western! Yakima Canutt was equally adept, but his Westerns where he was the star are pretty weak vehicles compared to others. Now, as a stunt man...that's another story. His doubling for John Wayne is always fantastic!

Really happy that someone else shares an appreciation of the "B" Western anymore. I watch several each week, usually about 11:00 PM when my wife goes to sleep. She's bored to tears with 'em. Oh, well, I watch them just the same as Saturday mornings about 65 years ago when Gene Autry, Hopalong Cassidy and others were my mainstay. Next to Steele, William Boyd's Hopalong movies (NOT his TV incarnations!) are my favorites, though some of the Tim McCoy and Hoot Gibson films are really appreciated. I've noticed that you've watched several Gibson films over the past couple of years.
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boblipton

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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostSat Jun 16, 2018 9:57 am

R Michael Pyle wrote:
boblipton wrote:The copy of Riders of the Desert (1932) I saw was severely cut. While it had a listed runnintime of 59 minutes, the print I viewed came in at less than 45. Nonetheless it was a hellacious good action B Western, starting off with Bob Steele riding shotgun on a stagecoach when four bandits show up.

I'd like to see the original theatrical version, to see if it plays better or worse, but this version plays beautifully.

The Alpha Video version is 55 minutes long, and it's a fair enough print for $5.98. I also think this is a "hellacious good" show! My favorite "B" Western actor is Steele, and I've got close to 70 of his DVD Westerns, and this is one of my own favorites. All of his with Gabby Hayes are quite well done. Steele's mounting of horses and his riding are as good as it gets if one appreciates the "B" Western! Yakima Canutt was equally adept, but his Westerns where he was the star are pretty weak vehicles compared to others. Now, as a stunt man...that's another story. His doubling for John Wayne is always fantastic!

Really happy that someone else shares an appreciation of the "B" Western anymore. I watch several each week, usually about 11:00 PM when my wife goes to sleep. She's bored to tears with 'em. Oh, well, I watch them just the same as Saturday mornings about 65 years ago when Gene Autry, Hopalong Cassidy and others were my mainstay. Next to Steele, William Boyd's Hopalong movies (NOT his TV incarnations!) are my favorites, though some of the Tim McCoy and Hoot Gibson films are really appreciated. I've noticed that you've watched several Gibson films over the past couple of years.


I’ve seen all the Hoppies and while I’m glad for Boyd that he had the work, it got old really quick for me. That’s not Mulford’s Cassidy and I wish that Sherman had made the movie with Jimmy Gleason in the role. Once Boyd got his hands on the series, it took all the interesting stuff out and reduced it to rote, and Tim Holt does it better.

As for Steele, he remains a silent film actor, a fine physical performer, although not much on the line readings. I suspect that’s why the ones with Hayes are so good. Until he got stuck in the Gabby character — with Hopalong! — he got to satisfy the acting itch as part of Bradbury’s stock company, sometimes a villain, sometimes a sidekick, and probably coach Bob on the lines.

As for liking B westerns, well, they’re movies, and an important component of the Factory system, sometimes described as a sea of profitable B westerns with a thin coating of unprofitable A pictures. It’s important to see them, understand them, their stories, and be able to differentiate the good stuff from the bad stuff. Happily, it’s the same things that differentiate good A pictures from bad As.

But yes, I do enjoy them, although not, apparently, as much as you do.

Bob
If no one listens, then it’s just as well. At least I won’t get caught in any lies I tell.
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s.w.a.c.

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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostSat Jun 16, 2018 1:13 pm

Another Face (1935) is the kind of 69-minute trifle that's perfect for whiling away an hour or so when you wake up super early on a Saturday morning. Efficiently directed by old pro Christy Cabanne (whose career began in 1912, maybe best known for the Scattergood Baines series with Guy Kibbee), the film has an early starring role for Brian Donlevy as New York hood Broken Nose Dawson, who gets plastic surgery while on the lam for murder, and resurfaces in Hollywood as playboy Spencer Dutro III, although his elocution lessons barely cover his rough and tumble past. Wallace Ford is annoying press agent Joe Haynes, who thinks it's a big coup to get Dutro into his studio Zenith Pictures' newest production, and Alan Hale Sr. is a welcome presence as the harried studio head who's had just about enough of Haynes' antics. Eventually the truth about Dutro's true identity comes out, but Haynes just can't resist turning his capture into another publicity stunt, which of course goes spectacularly wrong.

Not a masterpiece, certainly, but it's fun watching Donlevy's gangster pretend to be posh, and deliver some terrible acting to boot (his character, not Donlevy). Phyllis Brooks is appealing as the studio's female star and, inexplicably, Haynes' fiancee, who has also just about had it up to here.

As I continue to make my way through TCM's catalogue of old warhorses, I've been watching more and more of these B-pictures, which leads me to wonder how much longer I'll even bother having cable at all. These are fun while they last, but I wish TCM would pony up for more Universal/Paramount, Columbia and Fox titles, since no one else has any interest in showing them.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostSat Jun 16, 2018 2:23 pm

The main pleasure of SUNNY SKIES, a 1930 college pic, is the presence of Marjorie 'Babe' Kane, who livens up most scenes she is in. The plot, as such seems to have been lifted from an earlier silent (perhaps THE COLLEGE HERO, 1927, which also featured Rex Lease) although there are similarities with other entries in this genre.

The rather choppy plotting (there may be a scene or two missing early on) has Lease as a blowhard freshman who saves awkward Benny Rubin from a bunch of bullies. He then proceeds to treat him like a skivvy which Rubin meekly submits to. Lease is also chasing after Marceline Day, but queers his pitch when he gets seduced by the college widow, further messing up his college career when he unintentionally busts the football hero's arm in a row over Day.

Frankly, SUNNY SKIES is a bit of a mess, with plotting very jumpy, and rather too much of Benny Rubin being alternately comic and pathetic. We nearly get a tragic finale when Rubin falls through a window doing a comic dance, and is near death's door. At one point the doctor says he won't last the day, then does a volte-face when pressed, saying that a blood transfusion might save the poor fellow. In the meantime he his continually being pursued by Kane, although oddly she attends the Big Match instead of keeping vigil by his hospital bed.

For fans of 'Babe' Kane, the film is tolerable but otherwise very undistinguished, and mainly of interest as a curio. As usual one has no idea what anybody is supposed to be studying, unless it is football and seduction.
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