What is the last film you watched? (2018)

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earlytalkiebuffRob

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

PostWed Jun 06, 2018 12:41 am

s.w.a.c. wrote:As with my recent viewing of The Women, I filled another big hole in my viewing history yesterday, like Bette Davis pumps her lover full of lead, by finally watching William Wyler's masterful remake of The Letter (1940), which TCM aired as an entry in Noir Alley this weekend. Host Eddie Muller notes in his intro that most people probably wouldn't classify it as a noir and lean more towards melodrama, given its A-picture pedigree and literary background, but it still bears a lot of the hallmarks of the genre, and why not have one more excuse to run it? Davis's performance is a much more controlled beast than Jeanne Eagles' in 1929, but it's definitely peak Davis, in the midst of her golden age that began with Jezebel (which, amazingly, I also haven't seen, I've got a lot of BD to catch up with). The film expands the story's Singapore setting, highlighting the gap between the self-absorbed colonials and the native population, building to a supremely creepy conclusion. So glad I finally caught up with this one.


Are there any decent copies available of the 1929 version?
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostWed Jun 06, 2018 12:47 am

Brooksie wrote:
drednm wrote:The 1975 Australian film Picnic at Hanging Rock is an ethereal and mystical film about a group of women in 1900 who disappeared from the (now) infamous rock outcropping in New South Wales. Based on a 1967 novel by Joan Lindsay, it's pure fiction done up as a nonfiction novel. The new 6-part miniseries is an attempt to expand the story told in Peter Weir's excellent film, and it's a total failure. The series is a whizz-bang mix of video effects and anachronistic music told in a stuttering narrative style that uses several backstories to "explain" the characters. Of course what it can't explain is the disappearance of the two students and one teacher. While there are some interesting performances in the series, it is defeated by having three directors and two writers in charge of the various episodes. While the film leaves you wanting more by tantalizing you with hints and suggestions, the series is a lesson in overkill. Why leave anything to the imagination when you can pound every idea to death and drown it out with techno-music?


Interestingly, the reviews in Australia have been universally appalling, while the ones in America have been pretty positive. Aside from the fact that there could not be a less apt story to 'expand' - the appeal of both film and book is how much it deliberately leaves vague - the original is so good that I can't fathom why anyone would attempt to better it. I plan to give it a wide berth.


Had no idea of that. I recall a friend disliking it at the time due to the unresolved ending, and although I liked it at the time (perhaps it was a case of 'The Emperor's New Clothes'?) a more recent viewing (of the shorter, 'director's cut') was almost unendurable - in fact if I'd put it on for myself I would have bailed out. I had played it for my late partner, and had not been inclined to see it in the forty years since it was released. Definitely a 'Marmite' film...
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostWed Jun 06, 2018 1:12 am

A semi-forgotten director, Marion Gering, co-directed his first film, I TAKE THIS WOMAN, in 1931. Carole Lombard plays a spoilt heiress who is dispatched to her father's ranch after yet another scandal. There she meets cowhand Gary Cooper, who shows her up a little. Annoyed, she decides to make him fall for her, only to find that she has fallen herself...

She soon finds out that being a cattleman's wife is none too easy, and after a year decides to leave him, although...

A generally interesting early outing which not only features a double bed, but actually occupies it, a rarity even in pre-Code movies. Some interesting set-ups help this film which is pretty enjoyable, even though one is not surprised at the ending. Gering, a stage director from Russia made quite a few films in the thirties, then seemed to hit problems, directing only two more films (SARUMBA, [Cuba, 1950], VIOLATED PARADISE, [Japan, 1963) after 1937.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostWed Jun 06, 2018 4:20 am

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:
s.w.a.c. wrote:As with my recent viewing of The Women, I filled another big hole in my viewing history yesterday, like Bette Davis pumps her lover full of lead, by finally watching William Wyler's masterful remake of The Letter (1940), which TCM aired as an entry in Noir Alley this weekend. Host Eddie Muller notes in his intro that most people probably wouldn't classify it as a noir and lean more towards melodrama, given its A-picture pedigree and literary background, but it still bears a lot of the hallmarks of the genre, and why not have one more excuse to run it? Davis's performance is a much more controlled beast than Jeanne Eagles' in 1929, but it's definitely peak Davis, in the midst of her golden age that began with Jezebel (which, amazingly, I also haven't seen, I've got a lot of BD to catch up with). The film expands the story's Singapore setting, highlighting the gap between the self-absorbed colonials and the native population, building to a supremely creepy conclusion. So glad I finally caught up with this one.


Are there any decent copies available of the 1929 version?


Only edition I know of is on Warner Archive.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostWed Jun 06, 2018 6:46 am

I'd probably not seen The Absent Minded Professor (1961) in more than 50 years. Originally a B&W film from Disney (and later colorized), this was a huge hit and earned Fred MacMurray a Golden Globe nomination (his only major award recognition) as the title character. The film earned three Oscar nominations, including one for special effects. The film is still quite funny but seems to lose its way in the finale when the military angle takes over. Maybe this was funny in 1961. The film was a massive hit in 1961 and re-released in theaters in 1967 and again in 1975. It was colorized for its 1986 VHS release (a Disney first) and was also the first Disney film to have a sequel. There was a TV movie with Harry Anderson in 1988 and a remake in 1997 with Robin Williams (titled Flubber).

Along with MacMurray, the film boasts Nancy Olson, Tommy Kirk, Keenan Wynn, Ed Wynn (doing his fire chief act), Edward Andrews, Elliott Reid, Leon Ames, and Belle Montrose as Mrs Chatsworth the housekeeper. Montrose, in her film debut, was the mother of Steve Allen.

In other trivia, Raymond Bailey and Harriet MacGibbon appear (not together) and would soon become immortal as Mr. and Mrs. Drysdale on The Beverly Hillbillies.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostWed Jun 06, 2018 12:08 pm

The trouble with MacMurray was that perpetual little half-smile of his. He couldn't seem to get it off his face for even a split second, no matter what the situation might be. It made him look like a one-note performer.

It is most glaringly inappropriate, perhaps, in Double Indemnity. If ever there was a situation where a half-smile was not called for, it was running after the train at the end of that film -- yet, there he is, half-smiling away in the exact same manner he would later use while driving a flying car for Disney or telling Chip to mow the lawn in My Three Sons.

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

PostWed Jun 06, 2018 1:50 pm

FrankFay wrote:
earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:
s.w.a.c. wrote:As with my recent viewing of The Women, I filled another big hole in my viewing history yesterday, like Bette Davis pumps her lover full of lead, by finally watching William Wyler's masterful remake of The Letter (1940), which TCM aired as an entry in Noir Alley this weekend. Host Eddie Muller notes in his intro that most people probably wouldn't classify it as a noir and lean more towards melodrama, given its A-picture pedigree and literary background, but it still bears a lot of the hallmarks of the genre, and why not have one more excuse to run it? Davis's performance is a much more controlled beast than Jeanne Eagles' in 1929, but it's definitely peak Davis, in the midst of her golden age that began with Jezebel (which, amazingly, I also haven't seen, I've got a lot of BD to catch up with). The film expands the story's Singapore setting, highlighting the gap between the self-absorbed colonials and the native population, building to a supremely creepy conclusion. So glad I finally caught up with this one.


Are there any decent copies available of the 1929 version?


Only edition I know of is on Warner Archive.


Thank you for the nod...
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostThu Jun 07, 2018 6:00 am

drednm wrote:I'd probably not seen The Absent Minded Professor (1961) in more than 50 years. Originally a B&W film from Disney (and later colorized), this was a huge hit and earned Fred MacMurray a Golden Globe nomination (his only major award recognition) as the title character. The film earned three Oscar nominations, including one for special effects. The film is still quite funny but seems to lose its way in the finale when the military angle takes over. Maybe this was funny in 1961. The film was a massive hit in 1961 and re-released in theaters in 1967 and again in 1975. It was colorized for its 1986 VHS release (a Disney first) and was also the first Disney film to have a sequel. There was a TV movie with Harry Anderson in 1988 and a remake in 1997 with Robin Williams (titled Flubber).

Along with MacMurray, the film boasts Nancy Olson, Tommy Kirk, Keenan Wynn, Ed Wynn (doing his fire chief act), Edward Andrews, Elliott Reid, Leon Ames, and Belle Montrose as Mrs Chatsworth the housekeeper. Montrose, in her film debut, was the mother of Steve Allen.

In other trivia, Raymond Bailey and Harriet MacGibbon appear (not together) and would soon become immortal as Mr. and Mrs. Drysdale on The Beverly Hillbillies.



A huge favorite of mine when I saw it in its initial run and re-release. And often enough since. To me it'll always be a b& w movie! I have never lost the appeal of seeing a flying Model T.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostThu Jun 07, 2018 2:13 pm

2 Reel wrote:The Viking (a.k.a. White Thunder and Vikings of the Ice Field) (1931).

This Newfoundland/American adventure film about sealing in the frozen North was directed by George Melford. Ballyhoo claims that this was "the first film to record sound and dialogue on location," which I do not believe is historically accurate. Nevertheless, it is a fascinating film on several levels

I recently visited the Newfoundland fishing community of Quidi Vidi, which was used as a location for The Viking, and amazingly a lot of it still looks the same as it did in the movie.

I think this is the church that's used in the film, now I believe it's a private residence.
https://www.google.com/maps/@47.58269,- ... 2!1b1!2i48
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostThu Jun 07, 2018 2:16 pm

FrankFay wrote:
earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:
s.w.a.c. wrote:As with my recent viewing of The Women, I filled another big hole in my viewing history yesterday, like Bette Davis pumps her lover full of lead, by finally watching William Wyler's masterful remake of The Letter (1940), which TCM aired as an entry in Noir Alley this weekend. Host Eddie Muller notes in his intro that most people probably wouldn't classify it as a noir and lean more towards melodrama, given its A-picture pedigree and literary background, but it still bears a lot of the hallmarks of the genre, and why not have one more excuse to run it? Davis's performance is a much more controlled beast than Jeanne Eagles' in 1929, but it's definitely peak Davis, in the midst of her golden age that began with Jezebel (which, amazingly, I also haven't seen, I've got a lot of BD to catch up with). The film expands the story's Singapore setting, highlighting the gap between the self-absorbed colonials and the native population, building to a supremely creepy conclusion. So glad I finally caught up with this one.


Are there any decent copies available of the 1929 version?


Only edition I know of is on Warner Archive.


Here's the Warner Archive page for it, you may find it cheaper elsewhere, or wait until WA has a sale itself. (I get my WA DVDs/BDs from Oldies.com since WA doesn't ship to Canada.)
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostThu Jun 07, 2018 4:09 pm

Everybody Dance (1936) When Alma Taylor gets run over by a taxi cab, she wants her sister, Cicely Courtneidge, to raise her children, Dean Reisner and Billie de la Volta on her farm in England. Cicely, however, is not a farmer, but Lady Kate, the notorious star of her own nightclub -- notorious on nonsensical publicity concocted by the club's owner and publicity agent. In truth she's a kindhearted woman who rescues young girls just before they take that fatal step, despite the hectoring of her maid, Kathleen Harrison.

However, the children's rich and hardhearted grandfather back in New York, who had disowned his son and ignored the children up to now, can't stand the bad publicity, so he sends his other son, Ernest Truex, over to England to get them back.

Dean's father, Charles Reisner, directs well, if rather unimaginatively, leaving the performers to perform their shticks, and the editing often makes this movie less than it might have been. The big production number has a troupe of dancers doing the kazatsky, and there is a brief bit of Miss Courtneidge in a tutu and boots at the end. This sort of routine was just her sort of meat, and the way it is unimaginatively shot and chopped up is a shame. I was also somewhat bemused at the sight of the farm she owns, with more than a dozen milk cows and dozens of fowls, without a laborer in sight. Still, Miss Courtneidge's big stage personality is well served in the role, and Mr. Truex' milquetoast comedy persona gets in some nice jokes and makes a good contrast. It might not have cracked open the American market, as Miss Courtneidge and Gaumont British may have wished, but it's a good record of then-popular British film making.

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

PostThu Jun 07, 2018 6:59 pm

The monthly Disney festival of TCM started for me with The Legend of Lobo (1962). It's a Disney True-Life adventure shot near Sedonia, Arizona, with the cast and crew that was becoming standard for the series of pseudo-documentaries, with James Algar directing and Rex Bell narrating, with songs by the Sherman twins and incidental music by the Sons of the Pioneers.

It's the story of Lobo, a wolf in the 19th Century, about the time cattle ranching was introduced following the wiping out of the buffalo, based on a story by Ernst Thompson Seton. There's the usual amazing photography, not just of the red butte-and-mesa land, but the amazingly trained animals.

Enjoyable as the parts of the movie are, I noticed that the story-telling aspect had fallen into set patterns. When the young Lobo makes friends and goes frolicking with a young antelope, it struck me: in many ways, this movie is Bambi, only Man has entered the desert, with guns and traps and dogs. There's clearly a character, an uncredited actor who has set himself against Lobo, but he is given no personality; he is referred to only as "the hunter."

Disney was by no means a one-man operation; there were many creative people working for him. However, his management-by-wandering-around style meant that, although he might have one project at a time uppermost in his mind -- at this point, probably Mary Poppins -- he might turn up at any point. The folks in the animation section had a warning for when was was around: "Man is in the Forest."

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

PostThu Jun 07, 2018 10:18 pm

L'invenzione di Morel (1974), aka The Invention of Morel, lies well outside the nitrate period, though there is an interesting connection, which I'll get to.

It's one of those films about which it is difficult to say much without giving away the central premise. An unnamed castaway (Giulio Brogi) arrives on a bleak, volcanic island. His explorations reveal a large, apparently uninhabited Bauhaus structure, filled with books and mysterious machinery. Is it an abandoned holiday resort? An intellectual retreat, a la Lost Horizon (1937)? The plot thickens when the castaway begins seeing figures dressed in the styles of the late 1920s. They amble around the cliffs, dance by the swimming pool - which has now mysteriously filled - and read the no-longer-dusty volumes in the building.

As he attempts to make sense of these happenings, the castaway's interest centres on the beautiful, enigmatic Faustine (Anna Karina), who seems to be fending off an unwanted suitor, Morel (John Steiner). He watches at a distance, for Faustine, like all of the island's denizens, appears unable to see the castaway. So, what is going on, exactly? Has he fallen in to a timeslip? Is he alive or dead? Why do certain scenes repeat themselves? Who is Morel and what is his plan? How can the castaway act upon his love for Faustine?

Well, that would be telling.

Aside from Brogi, who performs alone and in silence for much of the early part of the film, the actors don't have a great deal to chew on, though the storyline explains some of their somnambulistic quality. Their job is more to embody a philosophical idea than enact flesh-and-blood characters, though again, this plays in to the storyline in unexpected ways. For much of its runtime, you feel just as mystified as the castaway. Once it all comes together, it lingers in the mind as a meditation on the nature of cinema, nostalgia, and recollection.

(The nitrate connection? The film is based on a novel by the Argentinian writer Adolfo Bioy Casares. The story, and the character of Faustine, were inspired by his boyhood infatuation with Louise Brooks, and his disappointment in her sudden disappearance from popular cinema.)
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostFri Jun 08, 2018 6:04 am

The monthly Disney evening on TCM continued with The Best of Walt Disney's True-Life Adventures (1975). It's a selection of clips from the first dozen years of Disney's documentaries, from the Oscar-winning Seal Island to Jungle Cat, narrated by by Winston Hibbler.

It has a lot of great nature photography, but it lacks the focus of the individual entries of the series, which concentrated on a single environment, and thus offered a unified message -- even though camera trickery might be used to mock up an anthropomorphic story. This attempts to offer an overview of the series as stemming from Walt's love of animals, with clips from animated films, and Disney's linking sequences from his tv show with live animals. The result is a ninety-minute introduction to the series that may well serve someone who is unfamiliar with the individual movies, but not to some one who has seen them.

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

PostFri Jun 08, 2018 8:39 am

Miami Blues (1990) is a modern-day noir comedy film in full color with Alec Baldwin a rather psychotic ex-con who has a penchant for passing himself off as a cop while he robs crooks of their cash. Along the way he picks up a Dumb Dora of a hooker (Jennifer Jason Leigh) who likes to play house. Eventually they rent a house in Coral Gables and set up housekeeping while being tracked down by a dumb cop (Fred Ward) who seems rather accident prone (he also lives in a run-down apartment building for seniors). Baldwin and Ward have a field day playing over-the-top roles and keep the story light (since it's all so implausible anyway). Nice location shooting adds a lot. Charles Napier, Bobo Lewis, Nora Dunn, Jose Perez, Paul Gleason, and Obba Babatunde co-star. "Spirit in the Sky" by Norman Greenbaum frames the film.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostFri Jun 08, 2018 4:53 pm

With Love and Kisses (1936) It's apparent people thought that Pinky Tomlin, the singer-songwriter, was tailor-made for countrified musicals, but this Poverty Row effort, while it may have played encouragingly in the rural States Right circuit at the time, certainly hasn't aged well. Pinky is an aspiring songwriter in Arkansas, who tunes into Richmond Kane's radio program to see if he's going to sing Tomlin's song. He does, but claims he wrote it himself. Pinky takes the train to New York and confronts Kane, gets thrown into jail twice, meets Arthur Housman there (doing his drunk act), who's the brother of co-star Toby Wing. Through various ill-defined plot devices, Pinky winds up writing songs for the Mob in New York in an apartment with a cow, until the whole thing is settled out at the end.

The songs, co-written by Tomlin, are all right, although like the rest of his catalogue, have not aged well. Director Leslie Goodwins was a competent director of series comedy shorts and later tv comedy (he ended his career directing series like Gilligan's Island and F Troop, but his feature work never got above the B ranks, and even though he worked a lot for RKO, it was often for the Mexican Spitfire series.

This movie calls for some major comedy players with big reactions, and, alas, it never gets any better than Mr. Housman, who does some nice work, both in drunk and sober mode, but it isn't enough. Mr. Tomlin was left with a mild, pleasant personality, a good voice, and a Southern twang in his voice. It was enough for a minor career in entertainment, but not enough to sustain a career in the movies -- or even this movie.

Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Sat Jun 09, 2018 9:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostFri Jun 08, 2018 5:33 pm

boblipton wrote:Everybody Dance (1936) When Alma Taylor gets run over by a taxi cab, she wants her sister, Cicely Courtneidge, to raise her children, Dean Reisner and Billie de la Volta on her farm in England. Cicely, however, is not a farmer, but Lady Kate, the notorious star of her own nightclub -- notorious on nonsensical publicity concocted by the club's owner and publicity agent. In truth she's a kindhearted woman who rescues young girls just before they take that fatal step, despite the hectoring of her maid, Kathleen Harrison.

However, the children's rich and hardhearted grandfather back in New York, who had disowned his son and ignored the children up to now, can't stand the bad publicity, so he sends his other son, Ernest Truex, over to England to get them back.

Dean's father, Charles Reisner, directs well, if rather unimaginatively, leaving the performers to perform their shticks, and the editing often makes this movie less than it might have been. The big production number has a troupe of dancers doing the kazatsky, and there is a brief bit of Miss Courtneidge in a tutu and boots at the end. This sort of routine was just her sort of meat, and the way it is unimaginatively shot and chopped up is a shame. I was also somewhat bemused at the sight of the farm she owns, with more than a dozen milk cows and dozens of fowls, without a laborer in sight. Still, Miss Courtneidge's big stage personality is well served in the role, and Mr. Truex' milquetoast comedy persona gets in some nice jokes and makes a good contrast. It might not have cracked open the American market, as Miss Courtneidge and Gaumont British may have wished, but it's a good record of then-popular British film making.

Bob


It never quite went anywhere. The kids were duds. Courtneidge, as usual, is a live wire with substandard material. Alma Taylor, looking like Rosemary Harris, was Cecil Hepworth's major silent star in the 1920s.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostFri Jun 08, 2018 5:34 pm

I really, really, really tried to make it all the way through So This is College (1929) but if there's a good movie in there, it's totally not my cup of tea. Thirty minutes of wacky college bros was as far as I could get, although it does get points for my earliest Robert Montgomery sighting, Jiminy Cricket, and pretty Sally Starr, but the middle-aged college student hijinks wore out extremely fast and I guess I just wasn't ready to wait out the 2 boys like 1 girl shtick.

I think my real beef with the film was because I went into it thinking it was going to be Buster Keaton's College from 2 years earlier and it was so not that. My fault I know, and some day I hope to give it another chance, just not any time soon. It was a gorgeous transfer though, so it's got that going for it for them's what are a little more patient than I was today.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostSat Jun 09, 2018 1:47 am

Frank Borzage again, with AFTER TOMORROW (1932), which I liked a lot more than the disappointing MAN'S CASTLE* of the following year.

In this two-against-the-world entry, the much-maligned Charles Farrell, plays Peter Piper (no sign of any pickled peppers), who has been engaged to fellow Empire State Building worker Marian Nixon for three years, despite attracting all the other bits of fluff in the building. The stumbling block to their getting wed is the fact that Farrell's ma refuses to move in with them, meaning they still have to scrimp and save. She is also reluctant to lose her 'little boy' despite his being about twice her height.

Things are even worse in Nixon's household, with easy-going Pa (William Collier Sr) constantly getting the sharp end of wife Minna Gombell's tongue whilst at the same time she is having an affair with the $8-a-week lodger. Pa, an insurance salesman, is regarded as a 'failure' by Gombell, but in her eyes failure is in the purely financial sense. Things reach boiling point when the young lovers decide to get married anyway (he has been promoted) and Gombell decides to bugger off (telling both Nixon and Collier what she thinks of them) even before they get hitched, precipitating a heart attack for Pa...

Very reminiscent of STREET SCENE at times, and also based on a stage play, AFTER TOMORROW was probably never revived due to it's then frank talk about sex, as well as the adulterous theme and the less-than-ideal parents, the most sympathetic being the struggling, well-meaning Collier, who comes over as far too decent a chap for the vinegary, self-centred Gombell. Although it has a lot in common with a good many other Borzage movies, this makes a good companion piece to BAD GIRL (1931) and I for one, preferred this nicely made and absorbing piece of drama, presented here in a nice, crisp copy which does credit to James Wong Howe's camerawork.

*Although of course the latter remains incomplete.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostSat Jun 09, 2018 6:51 am

The Brand of Hate (1934) has a lot going for it for a randomly-named B western, starting with some good actors in a good story. Young Bob Steele is in love with Lucile Browne. However, when her father, William Farnum, opens the door to find his half-brother, George Hayes, with his three evil sons, come to rustle cattle and hold over his head the prison term in Kansas he escaped years ago, threaten Miss Browne with rape, and shoot Steele's father, it gets interesting and dark. Stuntman Bill Patton gets to hang from a team of racing horses about the 40-minute mark; editor S. Roy Lubyoffers an interesting variety of wipes for scene changes.

I said that the actors are good, but the leads.... well, Bob Steele was not much for line readings at this stage of his career, even though he is a fine physical actor, mounting his horse in a variety of interesting way. Miss Browne, however, while very pretty, is awful, unable to change expressions during a shot. Director Lew Collins must have had a lot of trouble working around her; and the manner that cinematographer William Thompson cheats the action sequences emphasizes the poverty of this Poverty Row production.

Still, the script by Jack Natteford is well done and offers an interesting set-up for the final fight, yielding a solid Saturday morning matinee oater.

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

PostSat Jun 09, 2018 8:57 am

One of the pleasures of B and smaller studio A movies is watching what they pull off without a lot of money. We're in Paris now, on the backlot street! We're at a fancy party with six people! We're electing a president in montage scenes!

Upgrade (2018) is a lowish-budget, Australian-made action movie about nanotechnology in our lives—Logan Marshall-Green is a quadriplegic who gets a chip in his spine which has the voice of HAL and, soon, ideas of its own—but when it lagged a little, it became How Do We Do Blade Runner 2049 On The Budget of an ABC TV Movie From 1973? Sometimes it's silly—we get a smog-shrouded future city right after we started the movie in a leafy suburb—and sometimes they hope you won't notice that a car chase, in a world of slick self-driving cars, is 2018 cars except when one of the computer-controlled ones is needed for a plot device.

But sometimes it's just lighting and dramatic modernist sets, like in The Black Cat (1934). You don't need $150 million to light a guy in blue and fill the room with orange. This is surprisingly effective (though reminscent not only of Blade Runner 2049 but the John Wick series as well).

You have a few decent sci-fi notions and some welcome humor. You also don't spend too much on the cast, so instead of Tom Hardy you have his near double, Logan Marshall-Green, and for the bad guy you have a kid who looks like Macaulay Culkin with Simon Bar Sinister's eyebrows. But you reward Betty Gabriel for having helped make Get Out your studio's biggest hit and succes d'estime by giving her the hardbitten cop role. Thus is a stock company born.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostSat Jun 09, 2018 3:09 pm

Mike Gebert wrote:One of the pleasures of B and smaller studio A movies is watching what they pull off without a lot of money. We're in Paris now, on the backlot street! We're at a fancy party with six people! We're electing a president in montage scenes!

Upgrade (2018) is a lowish-budget, Australian-made action movie ..........


I just love those pictures made in Oz that are meant to show they are really somewhere else - especially if some of the outside scenes are photographed in Melbourne. I don't make a conscious effort, but I do notice things like Princes Bridge doubling for a romantic tryst in Paris, The State Library doubling for an important building in Washington D.C., - and so it goes on. I also find it clever how they reverse the film so it appears that traffic is going the way it does in America or on the Continent in Europe. (When I was watching a fillum being made one time, I saw that one of the cars had the number plates in 'mirror writing' to cope with this). In essence, it's all quite clever.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostSat Jun 09, 2018 4:21 pm

Sometimes when i feel like i've seen all the good films and am scraping the bottom of the barrel on youTube, i get a surprisingly good little picture like The Phantom Express (1932) that turned up in the list on the right side of my screen and i clicked on to check it out. The cast caught my attention (Buster Collier, Sally Blaine, J. Farrell MacDonald, Hobart Bosworth, Claire McDowell, Lina Basquette, Huntley Gordon) and i gave it a shot. Directed by Emory Johnson, it turned out to be a nice railroad mystery with interesting location and model work, reasonably suspenseful, and with good performances. Collier isn't that exciting, but MacDonald has basically a leading role and even has a big emotional scene. McDowell gets a good part too. The Collier plays the son of a railroad exec (Bosworth) who goes undercover to find out why the railroad keeps having accidents when the engineers swear there is about to be a collision and slam on the brakes, but it turns out there was nothing there. Dumping his annoyed girlfriend (Basquette), he takes a shine to Sally Blaine and moves in with her family (MacDonald and McDowell), and pretends to be a railroad worker. MacDonald plays the experienced engineer whose judgement is questioned after the latest accident. Of course there are nefarious business goings on, and there is an exciting finale. Anyway, a pleasant surprise.

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

PostSat Jun 09, 2018 5:06 pm

Alas, I've finally worked my way through most of the Swahili videos at my desk. I think i'm going to miss my new movie friends, all the faces that have become familiar over the last few months. A lot of these are available on youTube, though often cut into parts. The trailers are usually there too.

The films continue to be more culturally interesting than they are objectively good movies, though i'm still watching them in fast forward and skimming the subtitles, so i'm probably missing a lot (though the sound quality is usually bad so maybe not). Stories as best as i can tell are often meandering, with whiplash-inducing changes of plot and tone. There are a lot of cross-class romances, just as often with the woman being be rich one as the man. Unfortunately, rape and marital violence are common, and HIV infection, or at least an HIV scare, may be the price of infidelity. Several films i saw involve mental illness, sometimes induced by witch doctors, whose power is acknowledged even by religious people. There has even been out and out demonic possession, like This is It (2010) with Steven Kanumba (the little girl is actually pretty good in this). Witch doctors may also provide a means to riches, as in Ishakua Soo (2016), though the price may be high. I've had a few religious pictures, both Christian and Muslim, including a couple of Ramadan-themed films. I think Kobe la mchana (2016) was a comedy, where women ate through the daylight fast and men gambled, while their children glared at them, and Usiku wa daku (2016) where a man criticizes his devout wife while his observance of Ramadan seems to be confined to not sleeping with his neighbor's wife for the duration. I've had a couple more horror films whose directors have not yet figured out what Val Lewton figured out--having no special effects is scarier than bad special effects. Ungo (2013) was particularly mirth-inducing.

King Majuto continues his dominance, we have at least 20 of his films so far. He plays the old charming rapscallion, sometimes shading into dirty old man. We have almost as many with leading man Hemed Suleiman, who leans toward self-satisfied Lothario. Mohamed Fungafunga constantly turns up ranting and jabbing his finger at people--angry middle aged guy seems to be his specialty. The irrepressible Tausi Mdegela is referred to online as "Tanzania's shortest actress." She usually plays comedy, but not always. Actor/director/writer Jimmy Mafufu tends toward tough crime pictures. And there is Jacob Stephen, a large, intimidating looking man with the heart of a marshmallow, He's a director and writer as well as an actor. and his films are often sweet-natured romances, usually with himself as the leading man, and films like Hukumu ya ndoa yangu (2014) and Bado natafuta (2013) are a nice contrast to the anger and violence seen in many films. On the other hand, Mahabusu (2015) is an indictment of marital violence. My favorite has been Nakwenda kwa mwanangu (2012) which finds him helping King Majuto look for his adult son. Another pleasant film (once you get past the wife beating) was Salari (aka Salary, 2015) directed by Rashid Mrutu, where Hemed Suleiman and Rose Ndauka are thrown together after a meet cute and being dumped by their partners.


I mentioned in my last post that some women were getting involved on the production end. The most prolific writer/director has been Leah Richard Mwendamseke, sometimes under the pseudonym "Lamata Ent"10"ment." Her films often show women victims of violence and exploitation, but just as often have women themselves misbehaving. She is one who favors an abrupt change of gears mid film, so i'm often baffled. One bizarre film is Kiboko kabisa (2015), which is described online as a comedy and begins as a light film about the characters at a school, but ends with a pregnant teen suicide after the adults behave very badly. Then i thought for sure Gumzo (2014) was a comedy, but no ...and not helped by a badly authored DVD (i had to find the end online and i'm still puzzled)

I mentioned previously that publisher Steps Entertainment also does business in solar panels. The 2016 DVDs also include a commercial for the solar panel business, a little comic vignette where i was pleased to recognize director Bond Bin Sinnan (aka Bond Bin Suleiman) as well as actors King Majuto, Jackline Wolper, and Jacob Stephen.

And the Tanzanian film industry even has a Valentinoesque early star death and subsequent funeral scene and post-mortem mythologizing in the death of Steven Kanumba. There is actually an academic article about this :
Claudia Böhme (2018) After Death: Public Mourning, Discourse, and Myth in the Afterlife Representations of a Tanzanian Movie Star, Critical Arts, 31:5, 61-76, DOI: 10.1080/02560046.2017.1405055

By the way, i've been making heavy use of the Google translate function, which is hit and miss for Swahili. My favorite translation so far is when it described filmmaker Gervas Kasiga's profession as "actress, gentleman, author and caterpillar."

Now it's on to a bunch of videos in French, i think mostly from Benin. They look more like series than movies, possibly soap operas.

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

PostSun Jun 10, 2018 4:55 am

Donald Binks wrote:
Mike Gebert wrote:One of the pleasures of B and smaller studio A movies is watching what they pull off without a lot of money. We're in Paris now, on the backlot street! We're at a fancy party with six people! We're electing a president in montage scenes!

Upgrade (2018) is a lowish-budget, Australian-made action movie ..........


I just love those pictures made in Oz that are meant to show they are really somewhere else - especially if some of the outside scenes are photographed in Melbourne. I don't make a conscious effort, but I do notice things like Princes Bridge doubling for a romantic tryst in Paris, The State Library doubling for an important building in Washington D.C., - and so it goes on. I also find it clever how they reverse the film so it appears that traffic is going the way it does in America or on the Continent in Europe. (When I was watching a fillum being made one time, I saw that one of the cars had the number plates in 'mirror writing' to cope with this). In essence, it's all quite clever.


Surely that would also result in the ladies' and gents' clothing buttoning the wrong way...
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostSun Jun 10, 2018 6:48 am

Western Justice (1934): Three disparate men -- Bob Steele, Lafe McKee and Julian Rivero -- meet up in the middle of nowhere. At first they're suspicious, but they decide to travel together. Little do they know that they're all after the same man, Arthur Loft: Rivero, because he murdered his daughter; McKee because he was the sheriff when a friend of his was robbed and killed; and Steele because his friend was framed for the murder. Their travels take them to a town dying of thirst because John Cowell, who controls the water, has cut it off, despite the protests of his niece, Renee Borden.

Robert Bradbury writes and directs this proto-Three-Mesqueteers movie about rough-and-ready justice very well -- a couple of holes can be laid to the fact that the 50-minute print I saw had six minutes cut off the original running time. Longtime movie actor McKee, who entered films in 1913 with Selig, gets the juiciest role. Rivero gets a rare good-guy gig, although given his quest for vengeance, it's nicely nuanced. Steele, whose roles I watch in this period for his acrobatics, doesn't perform any, but he does get one big fight and sings a couple of songs. It's all very nicely done, with a dynamite ending, and a superior B western for the period.

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

PostSun Jun 10, 2018 7:07 am

greta de groat wrote:By the way, i've been making heavy use of the Google translate function, which is hit and miss for Swahili. My favorite translation so far is when it described filmmaker Gervas Kasiga's profession as "actress, gentleman, author and caterpillar."

greta


Internet translation can yield some wacky results. My favorite example was back when I was reading articles about Timbuktu translated from Italian by Babelfish. The writers kept talking about The Evils. The Empire of the Evils or the Evils of the Air..... and I finally realized they were translating the name of the country of Mali, referring to its medieval empire and its airline. For a while, though, i was creepd out.

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

PostSun Jun 10, 2018 8:26 am

Donald Crisp may get the top billing, but it's the unnamed pooch who's the real star of Greyfriars Bobby: The True Story of a Dog (1961). Bobby may belong to the farm, but he loves Alex Mackenzie, and when the old man is fired and heads to Edinburgh, the dog follows him. Alas, Mackenzie dies and is buried, but the dog walks with the poor cortege to Greyfriars graveyard and plops down on the grave, where grouchy Crisp doesn't want him, but kindly tavern keeper Laurence Naismith does. However, Kay Walsh, Crisp's wife, admires Bobby's rat-killing, and soon a competition arises between the two men for more than a decade, as the wee dog guards its master's grave.

Based on Eleanor Atkinson's sentimental 1912 novel (it had already been plundered for 1949's Challenge to Lassie, also starring Crisp), it's pure Disney sentimentality placed on a well-decorated lot in Shepperton, as well as fine establishing shots in Edinburgh and the Scottish countryside.

Crisp may not deserve top billing, but he had certainly earned it. His movie career stretched back to 1908, when he became a member of D.W. Griffith stock company at the age of 26. When this movie came out, he was nearly 80. After one more movie, he retired and lived to be over 90.

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

PostSun Jun 10, 2018 9:03 am

Les Yeux sans visage 1960, directed by Georges Franju

While marketed as a horror film, it leans more towards a combination sci-fi/psychological thriller possessing elements later borrowed by other films, from the infamous face mask Michael Myers wore in "Halloween" to similar story lines such as "The Brain that Wouldn't Die" 1962. "Les Yeux sans visage" is very atmospheric though, with its moody circus music score, comparable to the 1962 "Carnival of Souls". And of course the face surgery scene is graphic, not for the squeamish.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostMon Jun 11, 2018 2:15 am

Finally got to watch the part-talkie version of THE INFORMER (1929), which I recall Donald Binks giving a good pasting to. It is 30+ years since I watched the silent version, which appears to be longer, and indeed much of it did seem different. I also had to refresh my memory of the Ford / Nichols version, which appeared to differ in some of the plot aspects.

I was also surprised when this version turned up as I had been given to understand that only the silent version survived complete. My reaction was more sympathetic to Donald's, although the print quality here left a lot to be desired, In addition, I don't know if any of the voices used were the genuine ones, as Lya De Putti's voice recalled that of Joan Barry who dubbed for Anny Ondra in BLACKMAIL. Lars Hanson, too, did not sound too authentic in his voicing, so I suspect he, was dubbed also.

These faults aside, and the difference in plot details to the 1935 film (I've not read the novel), the film is agreeably gritty, with a good feel for settings, clothing and the general seediness of 1920s Dublin. One also has no doubt as to the profession of the young woman who gives away Gypo / Hanson to his confederates, i.e., there is no 'cleaning-up' here. In addition, the film moves pretty steadily and holds the attention and sympathy for most of its running time, being drawn back only when the dialogue comes into play about the half-way mark. If one can take the genteel voices of the ladies here, you could well find this a rewarding experience. It is certainly interesting and never feels like a chore to watch.
Last edited by earlytalkiebuffRob on Mon Jun 11, 2018 2:16 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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