What is the last film you watched? (2018)

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

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

PostSat Apr 14, 2018 1:07 pm

boblipton wrote:Mae Clarke works as a secretary to divorce lawyer John Halliday. When her apartment mate Una Merkel smells gas, Miss Clarke finds that the pregnant woman in the next apartment, who has been abandoned by her husband has tried to kill herself. Miss Clarke smashes the window and summons an ambulance. Doctor Lew Ayres shows up and they soon fall in love, but he's years from being able to marry, and she's seen too much of failed marriage, so they part in The Impatient Virgin (1932).

It's a depressing soap opera for the Depression, and everyone hits the right notes. Director James Whale seems to have been trying for a British stiff-upper-lip attitude among the characters, but it offers an air of anomie and helplessness, as does the decision to have DP Arthur Edeson run a lot of traveling shots right through walls in a god-like and uncaring fashion. Perhaps it's that dispassionate attitude that made this movie less than compelling; if the characters viewed their own lives as machines to be run for optimal living, regardless of how they felt, how can the audience invest anything more than a vague pity in these poor fool?

Bob


I think the title was THE IMPATIENT MAIDEN, though 'VIRGIN' was used in the original novel. Quite a rarity!
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earlytalkiebuffRob

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

PostSat Apr 14, 2018 1:22 pm

A bit of landlord trouble made me sympathetic to watching GREAT GOD GOLD (1935), a depression drama featuring Sidney Blackmer as a successful, but principled speculator who gets involved with a couple of crooks played by Edwin Maxwell (in a wig!*) and John T Murray who have unscrupulous ideas on how to make money using the respectable Blackmer as a front when his opinions prove to be sound preceding the Crash of 1929..

Although Blackmer is unwilling at first, his eye for the ladies is partially his undoing, but it is his general weakness which leads him to the slippery slope. On his trail also is the daughter of a hotelier who has committed suicide due to his dirty tricks as well as a cheerful reporter, rather annoyingly played by Regis Toomey.

Although his greasy cohorts are good value, it is Blackmer who holds the thing together, although the film as a whole is rather undernourished. Considering the studio was Monogram, one can't really grizzle too much! There seems to have been a fair few films of the 'morality play' type produced by the smaller studios, perhaps because they were more likely to find a sympathetic audience from folk who had to struggle to make anything like a decent living and who were often poorly served by their landlords and employers.

*forgot to mention Maxwell's moustache, which got a comment on IMDb, although one could have easily mistaken it for a passing caterpillar having a nap...

One of the IMDb reviewers made a comparison with Oliver Stone's WALL STREET, which I found most disappointing and did no more than this little film did in half the time, and one suspects less than 0.1% of the budget!
Last edited by earlytalkiebuffRob on Sun Apr 15, 2018 4:22 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostSat Apr 14, 2018 1:27 pm

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

PostSat Apr 14, 2018 3:05 pm

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:
boblipton wrote:When a Pal of Tim Holt and Cliff Edwards is killed and bullion from his gold mine stolen, Tim and Cliff are jailed for it. They escape and go in pursuit of the murderers, with only pieces of a torn-up five of Spades as a clue, in a background of a town where a gambling house is facing off some bluenoses who want it shut down.

This is one of the half dozen B Westerns that Holt shot for RKO as placeholders for RKO to keep his series going while he enlisted for the Second World War and won some well-deserved medals.Cliff Edwards offers some card tricks and sings the unlikely "Minnie the Mountain Moocher."

It was directed by Sam Nelson, whose last directorial effort this was. He returned to a career as assistant director, where he worked on such movies as [bSpartacus[/b] and A Member of the Wedding, so it's unlikely he missed the top spot.

It's not the best of the Holt Bs, but like all of them, always watchable.

Bob


You forgot to mention the title, which is presumably THE AVENGING RIDER (1943)


Just my way of seeing who’s paying attention and who’s polite enough to correct me in a private message.

Bob
New and vigorous impulses seem to me to be at work in it,[the cinema] and doubtless before long it will drop all slavish copying of the stage and strike out along fresh paths. -- Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree
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Jim Roots

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

PostSat Apr 14, 2018 5:02 pm

boblipton wrote:
earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:
boblipton wrote:When a Pal of Tim Holt and Cliff Edwards is killed and bullion from his gold mine stolen, Tim and Cliff are jailed for it. They escape and go in pursuit of the murderers, with only pieces of a torn-up five of Spades as a clue, in a background of a town where a gambling house is facing off some bluenoses who want it shut down.

This is one of the half dozen B Westerns that Holt shot for RKO as placeholders for RKO to keep his series going while he enlisted for the Second World War and won some well-deserved medals.Cliff Edwards offers some card tricks and sings the unlikely "Minnie the Mountain Moocher."

It was directed by Sam Nelson, whose last directorial effort this was. He returned to a career as assistant director, where he worked on such movies as [bSpartacus[/b] and A Member of the Wedding, so it's unlikely he missed the top spot.

It's not the best of the Holt Bs, but like all of them, always watchable.

Bob


You forgot to mention the title, which is presumably THE AVENGING RIDER (1943)


Just my way of seeing who’s paying attention and who’s polite enough to correct me in a private message.

Bob


All together now: "OOOOOOOoooooohhhh!" [giggle]

Bob's stinger has not withered with age!

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

PostSat Apr 14, 2018 5:13 pm

MURDER ON DIAMOND ROW, 1937. US release of Korda's THE SQUEAKER. With Edmund Lowe and Ann Todd. 16mm print struck from a 35mm neg. Beautiful print and Miklos Rozsa's score sounds outstanding in the variable density soundtrack. Great lighting and very low-key performances. What a treat!
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostSat Apr 14, 2018 7:38 pm

All the beautiful restored prints that have been made available to us over the last few years must be spoiling me, because the copy of Benten Kozô aka The Gay Masquerade (1958) at the Museum of Modern Art this evening showed some of the color shift that chemical processes are prone too. At first I was annoyed by the odd choices, then when it penetrated me what had happened, I was annoyed that they hadn't restored it to pristine condition for a bit.

It's an interesting story that at times seemed to suggest a very dark Scaramouche to me. Raizô Ichikawa is a member of a criminal gang in Shogunate Japan, pulling scams. The first one we see, beautiful and virtuous Kyôko Aoyama is the daughter of a decayed nobleman who has gone to work as a servant for an elderly rich man -- who tried to rape her. For successfully resisting him, she gets tossed in the dungeon, whereupon the gang pull a scam in which his family will be exposed, but they will save him, so they take his gold and the girl.... whereupon Our Hero starts to rape her, until she calls out for her mother, whereupon he gives up and sends her, unsullied, back to her father. Of course she falls undyingly in love with him.

Did I miss something? It's clear this was the Japanese equivalent of those swashbucklers that were so popular once upon a time, and the plot was set to proceed in a certain manner, and the audience would accept things happening in a certain way. The scams are elaborate and a amusing, the actors are good, the action is fine. Quite clearly Daisuke Itô was one of those writer-directors who could turn out a good script and/or a good flick -- his career stretched from the 1920s through the 1970s, and there's a lot about Japanese movies I've got to learn. Here, though, it seemed that plot drove character an awful lot.

Oe thing that was first rate were the mob scenes, with the crowds of semi-vigilante "Untouchables" run by the corrupt nobles in vicious pursuit of the noble criminals. The Internet Movie DataBase doesn't list any Second Unit Director or Assistant Director. There's some beautiful work there to enliven what looks like a well-produced programmer.

Bob
New and vigorous impulses seem to me to be at work in it,[the cinema] and doubtless before long it will drop all slavish copying of the stage and strike out along fresh paths. -- Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostSat Apr 14, 2018 9:05 pm

Watched ARABESQUE (1966) tonight with Gregory Peck and Sophia Loren. It was very derivative of Stanly Donen's CHARADE (he directed this one too) and Hitchcock's NORTH BY NORTHWEST. It is sometimes exciting, mostly fun, and sometimes unbelievable. Great music by Henry Mancini, and it has gorgeous color cinematography by Christopher Challis, which won a BAFTA award. Sophia Loren is fantastic as a rich Arab woman who may be a spy, may be a victim, or may be a criminal. Peck is only OK as a befuddled American college professor who has to decipher a message written in hieroglyphics to keep from getting himself killed. (He just doesn't do wisecracks that well.) The only actual Arabs are extras, all of the good and bad guys are white actors in makeup. The chief bad guy, Alan Badel, looks just like Peter Sellers in sunglasses. Loren's costumes are spectacular, as they were designed by Christian Dior.

One interesting thing about the film is that Donen has dozens of shots of characters in vanity mirrors, car rear-view mirrors, reflected in store-fronts or aquariums, or even chandeliers. But it is hard to tell what that was supposed to symbolize.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostSun Apr 15, 2018 4:11 am

STAINGAREE (1934), directed by William Wellman, reunites Irene Dunne and Richard Dix in an odd mixture of genres, which is nevertheless nicely done with some enjoyable moments. Set in Australia, Dunne plays a drudge in Henry Stephenson and Mary Boland's household (a sheep farm), who is nursing an ambition to sing opera. Unfortunately, Boland has the same idea, but is clearly under a sad illusion as to her talent. Enter the bandit 'Stingaree', who is also a music fan and a dab hand on the ivories, who abducts Dunne in order to give her the chance to sing before a visiting impresario (Conway Tearle) from England. In doing this, Dix is shot and captured, lingering in jail whilst Dunne's career goes from highlight to highlight in super-quick time.

During this period, Dunne still has feelings for Dix, more than her career, and although she has agreed to marry Tearle, she clearly doesn't love him in the way that he would wish... Quite entertaining, although Mary Boland overdoes the bad singing quite a bit at times, and there is further support from Andy Devine as Dix's sidekick (with the humour nicely in place), Una O'Connor as a grumpy maid and Snub Pollard as one of the workers. Nice moments include the hold-up of the Governor-General in order for Dix to borrow his clothes and impersonate him, and (SPOILER) the scene in the opera house when Dix has been discovered and is being pursued.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostSun Apr 15, 2018 4:51 am

silentfilm wrote:Watched ARABESQUE (1966) tonight with Gregory Peck and Sophia Loren. It was very derivative of Stanly Donen's CHARADE (he directed this one too) and Hitchcock's NORTH BY NORTHWEST. It is sometimes exciting, mostly fun, and sometimes unbelievable. Great music by Henry Mancini, and it has gorgeous color cinematography by Christopher Challis, which won a BAFTA award. Sophia Loren is fantastic as a rich Arab woman who may be a spy, may be a victim, or may be a criminal. Peck is only OK as a befuddled American college professor who has to decipher a message written in hieroglyphics to keep from getting himself killed. (He just doesn't do wisecracks that well.) The only actual Arabs are extras, all of the good and bad guys are white actors in makeup. The chief bad guy, Alan Badel, looks just like Peter Sellers in sunglasses. Loren's costumes are spectacular, as they were designed by Christian Dior.

One interesting thing about the film is that Donen has dozens of shots of characters in vanity mirrors, car rear-view mirrors, reflected in store-fronts or aquariums, or even chandeliers. But it is hard to tell what that was supposed to symbolize.


Yes.... LOTS of reflective shots. I read somewhere he thought to script was only so-so, so he jazzed up the look of the film with interesting camera angles and shots.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostSun Apr 15, 2018 7:21 am

The opening shot is an underlie traveling crane shot, followed by an upward-tilting Dutch angle of a series of backlit faces pronouncing "Guilty." It's an Open Secret this film was released in 1947, when every mystery was a film noir and every decent little guy faced a faceless conspiracy.

Charles Waldron Jr. tells his landlady that his old friend, John Ireland and his new bride, Jane Randolph, will be staying with him a few days. Then he hides a roll of film in his drawer and goes out. Eventually his houseguests notice he's gone and call in police sergeant Sheldon Leonard and gradually get entangled in a web of....

It's not the most subtly plotted of film noirs, and there's little mystery about what sort of nasty people are behind the evil doings, but it's certainly beautifully shot by horror-movie specialist George Robinson, and well performed by all hands. Director John Reinhardt was an Austrian actor who had switched to directing Spanish language movies for Fox in the early 1930s.

Bob
New and vigorous impulses seem to me to be at work in it,[the cinema] and doubtless before long it will drop all slavish copying of the stage and strike out along fresh paths. -- Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostSun Apr 15, 2018 9:04 am

boblipton wrote: Eventually his houseguests notice he's gone and call in police sergeant Sheldon Leonard and gradually get entangled in a web of....


Were the characters in The Big Bang Theory named after him? :wink:
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostSun Apr 15, 2018 11:13 am

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

PostSun Apr 15, 2018 11:22 am

Mamele (1938) I thought was perhaps a bit too cutesy for it's own good in places but generally very charming and funny. Bit I liked the best was where Molly Picon's character is going off to get married to the handsome pianist, and she gets told off by her family members because she won't stop fussing arouind in the kitchen. I liked Molly Picon a lot in this, and would like to see "Jidl Mitn Fidl" as well, I saw an excerpt from this on a UK TV arts/doco program about the Polish Yiddish film scene of the 1930's and always remembered it (I would love to see that documentary again too)
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostSun Apr 15, 2018 12:45 pm

N_Phay wrote:Mamele (1938) I thought was perhaps a bit too cutesy for it's own good in places but generally very charming and funny. Bit I liked the best was where Molly Picon's character is going off to get married to the handsome pianist, and she gets told off by her family members because she won't stop fussing arouind in the kitchen. I liked Molly Picon a lot in this, and would like to see "Jidl Mitn Fidl" as well, I saw an excerpt from this on a UK TV arts/doco program about the Polish Yiddish film scene of the 1930's and always remembered it (I would love to see that documentary again too)


YIDL is on YT and with English subtitles! It doesn't look too clever a copy, but these films are so hard to see, especially for those of us whose Yiddish is almost non-existent... There is also a section of the film with different English subtitles which looks a bit better, but only a half-hour seems to be available...
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostSun Apr 15, 2018 2:03 pm

The Amazing Mrs. Holliday is a 1943 Deanna Durbin film available on DVD as a "Universal Vault" offering. I found the film improbable but charming, exactly what you’d expect from a Durbin film. It had some laugh-out-loud sequences, some bittersweet poignancy, a few cloying moments, and of course the happy ending. Durbin plays a young woman who brings a group of orphans out of war-torn China. To find a safe haven she pretends to be the wife of the rich captain who went down with the ship they were on. A still-slim Edmund O'Brien is Durbin's romantic interest. The music by Frank Skinner and Hans Salter was nominated for an Academy Award but I thought it rather ordinary.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostSun Apr 15, 2018 2:05 pm

When the narrator of Hitler's Hollywood (2017) starts out by quoting Kracauer to the effect that cinema tells us what a nation is thinking, and then proposes to go through a dozen years of German films, from 1933 through 1945, to find proof of this, I winced. While I have seen fewer than a hundred German films from this period, they have been a diverse bunch; and certainly, you can prove any thesis you wish by cherry-picking which films you wish to highlight. Yet even so, the film maker did a poor job.

However, even more, there is a basic flaw in the view of German cinema in this period. Even after we discount the fact that people like Kracauer were working on old memories at the time they were writing, the view they offer of German film implies that all that German people looked at was German film. In reality, Hollywood -- America's Hollywood, not Hitler's -- had siphoned off much of the talent and money of the industry in the 1920s and a good part of the movies that Germans saw when they went to the cinema were Hollywood movies; when they weren't, they were French or Scandinavian or even Soviet films, because movies were big International business. German film makers weren't selling to a captive audience; they were competing against Paramount and MGM, and they couldn't distribute their movies to Chicago and Boise and Adelaide as easily.

As a result, they had to compete in those fields that the big Hollywood studios didn't feel it was worth their effort. In the US, the smaller studios turned out B westerns. Those movies which the narrator claimed reflected the German zeitgeist? Could those be programmers that Louis B. Mayer thought wouldm't play in Peoria, and hence weren't worth the resources of Culver City?

Much fuss was made of the peculiarities of German cinema, starting with their stars, all of whom seemed to me of types familiar from Hollywood or British film studios of the period; looking at clips of Triumph of the Will on the big screen for the first time in a quarter century while the narrator talked about the use of bodies as geometric assemblies made me think of Busby Berkley shots from Warner Brothers musicals. Surely other people have made the connection before me. This was followed by clips from Olympia reminded me of Berkley's later work with Esther Williams.

In the end, I found this movie to be a mass of clips from dozens of movies, few of which I had seen. I want to see them, because they look good and because we have spent far too many decades listening to what people who haven't seen them tell us what they mean, and convincing others of the same; as if every film is a unique event, every national cinema is completely walled off from every other throughout history, and this is precisely and algebraically what they mean.

No, give us the opportunity, and we will look at them ourselves, and we will decide what they mean to us. The movie starts off talking about propaganda and mind control, and the best way to control some one's mind is to slip him the 'right' answer before you ask him the question. Show me the films, not the clip. Then ask me what I think of them. If you want to tell me what you think of them later and why -- and 'why' does not mean "Kracauer says" -- we can have a bang-up argument about it. Hooray.

Bob
New and vigorous impulses seem to me to be at work in it,[the cinema] and doubtless before long it will drop all slavish copying of the stage and strike out along fresh paths. -- Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostMon Apr 16, 2018 12:42 pm

A recent posting led me to watch YIDDLE WITH HIS FIDDLE (1936), the celebrated Jewish musical film starring Molly Picon. Despite the poor visuals, presumably from an old or imperfect recording, the film overcomes any technical deficiencies to become a warm-hearted affair with several hilarious moments.

Mass Picon plays a struggling street entertainer who is literally on the streets when she and her rather elderly father are turfed out of their home. On the move, they meet a spot of rivalry with another pair of entertainers, a young fiddler and his older windbag of a friend. And by now, Picon is dressed as a young man (she was in her late 30s when the film was made) in order to travel more easily. Finding it easier to work as a team than in pairs, their fortunes improve, though slowly, culminating in a job as wedding musicians. Unfortunately, the bride does not relish being yoked up to the old goat who has been chosen for her, despite all his money, and the pals help her to escape. Further complications arise when Picon suspects her romantic dreams are to be shattered, in addition to the bride being chosen to appear in the theatre at Warsaw...

Admittedly, the plot elements of this film are far from original, but there is a good deal of enjoyable music to be had, whether on the streets or at the wedding, and the humour is very broad, but often very funny. A better copy would be very desirable, but YIDDLE is still a refreshing piece of film-making and entertainment.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostMon Apr 16, 2018 2:27 pm

boblipton wrote:When the narrator of Hitler's Hollywood (2017) starts out by quoting Kracauer to the effect that cinema tells us what a nation is thinking, and then proposes to go through a dozen years of German films, from 1933 through 1945, to find proof of this...


I'll have to try to check this film out but, yeah, I think it's well past time Kracauer stop being the go-to resource on Nazi era German films. I've been working my way through the period as well and it is a very diverse universe of films.

I suspect if somebody focused on the US WWII films, particularly those where the Japanese are the 'enemy,' you could draw a Kracauer-esque (and very unappealing) conclusion about Hollywood during the war.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostTue Apr 17, 2018 5:28 am

Get That Girl (1932) There's a plot to kidnap Shirley Grey so she won't inherit an estate and mad scientist/cocaine fiend European Doctor Fred Malatesta will. Fortunately, Richard Talmadge is on hand to rescue her from Malatesta's secret-passage-and-men-standing-around-in-suits-of-armor-infested private sanatorium, despite the attempts of the police to arrest him.

Talmadge had started as a circus acrobat and broken into the movies as Douglas Fairbanks' stunt double. By the middle of the 1920s, he was starring in light-hearted adventure romps that featured his acrobatic hijinks. He continued starring throughout eh early 1930s in state-right distribution vehicles (this one had 26 distributors according to the IMDDb), but the production values were quite obviously cheap and the details often ludicrous, as here; only Talmadge's stonework, shot wild, remained top-notch.

Talmadge retreated to supporting work, stunt work, and stunt direction and prospered in the last field; his last credit was supervising stunts for How the West Was Won -- a fine career.

Bob
New and vigorous impulses seem to me to be at work in it,[the cinema] and doubtless before long it will drop all slavish copying of the stage and strike out along fresh paths. -- Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostTue Apr 17, 2018 6:24 am

24 Hours (1931) is a too-brief, 66-minute gem that features Kay Francis and Clive Brook at their world-weary best in a tale of a crumbling marriage that takes place all in 24 hours. Film starts on a snowy night where Francis and Brook are bored at a swanky New York City party. Francis leaves with her "friend" and Brook goes off to a night club to visit his "friend," Francis breaks up with her latest while Brook gets drunk. Bursting onto the scene is Miriam Hopkins as Rosie the night club girl who sings a few songs as she's stalked by her nutty husband (Regls Toomey) who's just left some "red snow" behind him after gunning down a man. By the time Hopkins has sung her songs and gotten Brook back to her apartment, he's just ready to pass out. But someone's at the door. What plays out may not be terribly logical, but the minutes fly by to the film's conclusion.

Hopkins is sensational with her frizzy blonde hair and slinky gown. She belts out her numbers with gusto even if she doesn't have a great singing voice. Francis drips jewels and furs while looking very sad. Brook plays his usual role but is just fine being bored by it all. Others include Lucille La Verne as the devious Mrs. Dacklehorst, Adrienne Ames, George Barbier, Charlotte Granville, Wade Boteler, and Minor Watson.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostTue Apr 17, 2018 6:44 am

His Royal Highness (1932): George Wallace gets a job as a stagehand, but the man he replaces coshes him. George dreams he is the long-lost King of Betonia, a musical-comedy kingdom where his lower-class Aussie malapropisms and insistence that the Prime Minister roller skate clash with intrigue and a plot to put a pretender on the throne.

This vehicle for Wallace shows off his talent nicely, with a nice song-and-dance routine early on. It's an Australian talkie, and clearly made for the Australian market. His shtick wears a bit thin after a while, although there is a good poker routine to liven up the end. Over all, the movie remains a historical marker, more an example of a style of film (operetta) and performer (music hall) that has largely disappeared, than of cinema.

Bob
New and vigorous impulses seem to me to be at work in it,[the cinema] and doubtless before long it will drop all slavish copying of the stage and strike out along fresh paths. -- Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostTue Apr 17, 2018 12:49 pm

boblipton wrote:His Royal Highness (1932): George Wallace gets a job as a stagehand, but the man he replaces coshes him. George dreams he is the long-lost King of Betonia, a musical-comedy kingdom where his lower-class Aussie malapropisms and insistence that the Prime Minister roller skate clash with intrigue and a plot to put a pretender on the throne.

This vehicle for Wallace shows off his talent nicely, with a nice song-and-dance routine early on. It's an Australian talkie, and clearly made for the Australian market. His shtick wears a bit thin after a while, although there is a good poker routine to liven up the end. Over all, the movie remains a historical marker, more an example of a style of film (operetta) and performer (music hall) that has largely disappeared, than of cinema.

Bob


Over here in England, the film was re-titled HIS LOYAL HIGHNESS, apparently for fear of offending members of the Royal Family. I think this was how I saw it a long time ago at London's NFT.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostTue Apr 17, 2018 1:10 pm

RKO's CONSPIRACY (1930) starts off very well indeed with some dramatic shots of New York, before we see a distraught Bessie Love in a hotel room standing over a corpse. Further striking shots ensue as she flees down the fire escape and makes her way to a sort of hostel for single women. From this point on, this strikingly shot (Nicholas Musucara) film steadily becomes significantly less interesting as Love tells her story to reporter Hugh Trevor and the plot gets under way.

Also in this establishment are a couple of elderly gentlemen, (one of whom is an alcoholic) and it doesn't take long before the cops arrive, as well as an eccentric old geezer they call 'Little Nemo'. Played by Ned Sparks, the fellow is a crime writer with a good many peculiar mannerisms. For her own safety, Love is urged to stay with this fellow as a stenographer, a household which includes a black woman servant who is not exactly well treated.

Although one has the odd nice moment (supplied by vampish Rita La Roy and Walter Long), the film is dominated by Sparks, who is here encouraged to give one of those 'showcase' performances which can be very irritating indeed. Very theatrical (it was also done as a silent), and based on a stage play, one's compensations are in the very nice, crisp print and the camerawork. The opening sequence (with little talk) is so much better than the rest of the film that one is inclined to credit Musucara with the praise, rather than director Christy Cabanne. A curiosity, which entered the Public Domain in 1958, but in this case, at least we have a very good copy.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostTue Apr 17, 2018 3:01 pm

boblipton wrote:His Royal Highness (1932): George Wallace gets a job as a stagehand, but the man he replaces coshes him. George dreams he is the long-lost King of Betonia, a musical-comedy kingdom where his lower-class Aussie malapropisms and insistence that the Prime Minister roller skate clash with intrigue and a plot to put a pretender on the throne.

This vehicle for Wallace shows off his talent nicely, with a nice song-and-dance routine early on. It's an Australian talkie, and clearly made for the Australian market. His shtick wears a bit thin after a while, although there is a good poker routine to liven up the end. Over all, the movie remains a historical marker, more an example of a style of film (operetta) and performer (music hall) that has largely disappeared, than of cinema.

Bob


It's a shame that Wallace's other talkies are not more widely available. Whereas His Royal Highness was essentially a filmed version of Wallace's stage show, his later films are more properly cinematic vehicles.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostTue Apr 17, 2018 4:59 pm

sherry wrote:
boblipton wrote: Eventually his houseguests notice he's gone and call in police sergeant Sheldon Leonard and gradually get entangled in a web of....


Were the characters in The Big Bang Theory named after him? :wink:


You don’t know Sheldon Leonard, an actor made for playing Runyonesque hoods, who later became a very successful TV producer, usually for Desilu?

Bob
New and vigorous impulses seem to me to be at work in it,[the cinema] and doubtless before long it will drop all slavish copying of the stage and strike out along fresh paths. -- Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostTue Apr 17, 2018 7:59 pm

Let me throw some barbs at The Greatest Showman. Truly bad. Bringing anachronism to a new height. $85M to produce this.....
Ed Lorusso
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostTue Apr 17, 2018 8:19 pm

It turned out that the theme behind the current series of Japanese movies being shown at the Museum of Modern Art is that the cinematographer of all of them is Kazuo Miyagawa, who, the promo claims, is the greatest Japanese cinematographer ever. As a result, I've seen most of the movies already -- Kurosawa, Mizoguchi, Ozu, , fellows you might have heard of. His career. Movies on which he held the job stretched from 1938 through 1989, so likely you've seen his work.

Shin Heike monogatari aka Tales of the Taira Clan (1955) has two sets of Emperors! Pirates! Samurai battling berserk Buddhist warrior monks! Courtly intrigue! Imperial bastards! Pirates! in spectacular Daiei Color (that's how the credit reads) directed by Kenji Mizoguchi!

Hot dog! Or whatever the Japanese say. It's one of those sprawling historical epics set in 12th Century Japan, when every clan had its own funny hat, and samurai were struggling to become respectable as the oldest son of the leader of the Taira clan discovers he may actually be the son of an earlier emperor .... or maybe a crazy warrior monk, it's hard to tell the difference. It's an expert mixture of Book-of-the-Month Epic, so much so that I half expected to see a credit for James Clavell or James Michener, but given that the Japanese actually invented the novel, it's hardly surprising they would try something like this, given they had Mizoguchi working for them -- it's based on a novel published in 1950. Kazuo Miyagawa's colorcamerawork is dazzling and constantly moving about, but given the sumptuous costumes and sets -- it looks like they used every scrap of silk in Japan for this one -- it's well done.

Did I mention the pirates?

Bob
New and vigorous impulses seem to me to be at work in it,[the cinema] and doubtless before long it will drop all slavish copying of the stage and strike out along fresh paths. -- Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostWed Apr 18, 2018 4:34 am

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:RKO's CONSPIRACY (1930) starts off very well indeed with some dramatic shots of New York, before we see a distraught Bessie Love in a hotel room standing over a corpse. Further striking shots ensue as she flees down the fire escape and makes her way to a sort of hostel for single women. From this point on, this strikingly shot (Nicholas Musucara) film steadily becomes significantly less interesting as Love tells her story to reporter Hugh Trevor and the plot gets under way.

Also in this establishment are a couple of elderly gentlemen, (one of whom is an alcoholic) and it doesn't take long before the cops arrive, as well as an eccentric old geezer they call 'Little Nemo'. Played by Ned Sparks, the fellow is a crime writer with a good many peculiar mannerisms. For her own safety, Love is urged to stay with this fellow as a stenographer, a household which includes a black woman servant who is not exactly well treated.

Although one has the odd nice moment (supplied by vampish Rita La Roy and Walter Long), the film is dominated by Sparks, who is here encouraged to give one of those 'showcase' performances which can be very irritating indeed. Very theatrical (it was also done as a silent), and based on a stage play, one's compensations are in the very nice, crisp print and the camerawork. The opening sequence (with little talk) is so much better than the rest of the film that one is inclined to credit Musucara with the praise, rather than director Christy Cabanne. A curiosity, which entered the Public Domain in 1958, but in this case, at least we have a very good copy.


For lovers of bit players, the desk clerk is Robert Dudley "The Wienie King"
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

PostWed Apr 18, 2018 4:51 am

Nishijin no shimai aka Sisters of Nishijin (1952): A once-prosperous obi manufacturer goes bankrupt and shoots himself, leaving his widow and three daughters to pick up the pieces. Over the course of a a month, they struggle to revive the business, shredding their last resources.

It's a beautifully told tragedy, watching them going through the stages of grieving in a Japanese fashion. Nor does the story proceed as the start presages; the central characters shift around, until character and denouement are settled.

The camerawork of Kazuo Miyagawa is dazzling, with constantly moving shots, crane shots, Dutch angles, beauty compositions.... and after a while, it begins to wear on the movie itself. Where the story less dense, the characters less well drawn, the acting less superb, flashy camerawork can spice up a movie; the occasional big shot can punctuate a scene and theme. The constantly dazzling work here becomes blaring by the end, although it never overwhelms the pathos of the story.

Bob
New and vigorous impulses seem to me to be at work in it,[the cinema] and doubtless before long it will drop all slavish copying of the stage and strike out along fresh paths. -- Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree
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