What is the last film you watched? (2017)

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oldposterho

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

PostWed Apr 19, 2017 10:19 pm

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:Based on a story by Pushkin, DER POSTMEISTER (1940) is a handsomely mounted drama from Nazi Germany with the feel of a work by Max Ophuls.


This was actually quite an astonishing film. I really need to purge myself of the From Caligari to Hitler mindset about Nazzy era films. While there's no doubt a political element to it - I wonder if this was a tip of the hat to Tovarich Stalin since it seems to be from the period where both regimes were momentarily buddy/buddy and there's a decidedly need-to-sacrifice-yourself-for-the-cause vibe to it - it is really just a well done movie.

Surprisingly adult, the scene where pops gives daughter the birds and the bees speech is jaw dropping, as is the topless dance. Where the heck did those come from?!?

That was a quality heads up, many thanks for the tip.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostThu Apr 20, 2017 5:10 pm

Devil on Horseback (1954): This fairly standard story of how Jeremy Spenser wants to win horse races at all costs and learns the price contains the usual assortment of racetrack eccentrics, particularly Liam Redmond who outbrogues Barry Fitzgerald in a John Ford movie; most notably, it stars Googie Withers and her real life husband, John McCallum, as a horse owner and trainer who mentor the boy -- and fall in love of course. It's one of the last leading roles for Miss Withers, who was so distinguished by this point that a little of her was enough to distinguish any picture.

It's beautifully lensed by Denny Densham, whose long career in the GPO documentary unit gave him the skills to handle landscape and long-distance movement. He rarely got the chance to be the cinematographer on a feature. Here, his shots of races seem to float.

Now to follow up Donald's recommendation and take a look at It's Not Cricket.

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

PostThu Apr 20, 2017 5:46 pm

boblipton wrote:Devil on Horseback (1954): it stars Googie Withers and her real life husband, John McCallum,
Bob


She and her hubby lived out the last years of their lives in Oz. I think he was an Aussie by birth? I met them both at a "Galah" screening of "Nickel Queen" way back in the '70's - I don't know whether Googie actually starred in it? A bit of a forgettable picture. Their daughter, incidentally, is also an actress.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostFri Apr 21, 2017 1:48 am

Watched THE FIGHTING MARINES (1936) over a few weeks, as made proper effort to watch all the chapters. A bit of a recruiting poster, with Robert Warwick playing the avuncular Commander at a Marine Camp, anxious to establish a landing field on 'Halfway Island', despite the efforts of 'The Tiger Shark' and his cutthroat band to thwart him in his plans. (Not forgetting his second-in-command, a harassed elderly gent in a lab coat whose work is constantly being interrupted by his Chief's messages, for which he has to don some rather ridiculous headgear.) Who is the Tiger Shark? We shall see...

Corporal Grant Withers and his pal Sergeant Adrian Morris are the two Marines involved in sorting the mystery, together with Ann Rutherford, whose brother has run foul of the Shark and his bloodthirsty gang. For some reason, despite being in the credits, Rutherford disappears from the narrative around two-thirds into the adventure. In addition, there is the odd confusion as Withers and Morris look a little alike in some ways.

THE FIGHTING MARINES was Mascot's last serial, before they were absorbed into Republic, and there are quite a few daft moments, such as characters' ability to spot the Shark in a plane several hundred feet above), and much time is taken up with flashbacks and repeated footage. Other Marines, do appear from time to time, and it is odd that the Corporal takes charge over the Sergeant. Occasionally tedious and long-winded, this one was directed by 'Breezy' Eason and Joseph Kane, with input along the way from Joseph H Lewis.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostFri Apr 21, 2017 6:01 am

Donald Binks wrote:
boblipton wrote:Devil on Horseback (1954): it stars Googie Withers and her real life husband, John McCallum,
Bob


She and her hubby lived out the last years of their lives in Oz. I think he was an Aussie by birth? I met them both at a "Galah" screening of "Nickel Queen" way back in the '70's - I don't know whether Googie actually starred in it? A bit of a forgettable picture. Their daughter, incidentally, is also an actress.


Googie Withers was born in British India in Karachi.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostFri Apr 21, 2017 6:11 am

Promise Her Anything (1966) is a campy comedy Warren Beatty agreed to star in when he was trying to finance something called Bonnie and Clyde. Beatty has always had a quirky comedy style (evident even in the underrated Rules Don't Apply) and it's in fine focus even in this fuzzy and wayward comedy about some Greenwich Village types, a famed baby doctor (Robert Cummings) and the comely widow with a baby (Leslie Caron). This 1966 film harks back to the beatnik era (Michael Chaplin plays Heathcliff the Beatnik), which must have been taking its last gasp as the hippies moved in, and sports a type of innocence (blue movies!) long past. In any case, the plot is thin, but the stars are fun to watch. This British production sports a largely British cast (Hermione Gingold, Cathleen Nesbitt, Warren Mitchell) along with some old-time Hollywood vets (Keenan Wynn, Lionel Stander, Bessie Love). I wonder where this British film got hold of so many old American cars to line the faux-New York City streets with?
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostFri Apr 21, 2017 6:32 am

Well-to-do people, all with their own secrets get aboard The Rome Express (1932), from a scenario by SIdney Gilliat.

One of the issues of looking at a movie that is clearly the precursor to another, well regarded movie, is that it invites invidious comparisons. It's a phenomenon I call "the end of history" and it reflects our bias that everyone and everything that happened before us is just leading up to our own magnificence, while everything after us will be a severe let-down. This movie was not made as a trial run for Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes, despite Gilliat, producer Michael Balcon and the presence of several plot elements -- including a couple who are cheating on their spouses -- that were later used in the more famous movie. If anything, the later movie was conceived as a remake.

Looking at this movie on its own merits, we can recognize it as a sparkling cast -- including FInlay Currie as an American, Cedric Hardwicke, Esther Ralston, High Williams and the altways brilliant Conrad Veidt as a mysterious threat. It is a skillful blending of comedy and thrills by director Walter Forde, who would return to the theme with 1941's The Mail Train. Yes, Hitchcock and others would do it better; they had the model in this movie -- which is vastly entertaining on its own.

Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Mon Apr 24, 2017 11:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostFri Apr 21, 2017 12:14 pm

boblipton wrote:In proof of the assertion that it takes more than Angel's Flight, the Bradbury Building and that shipyard where Alan Ladd got his in This Gun for Hire, I offer The Indestructible Man (1956). The corpse of Lon Chaney Jr. is resurrected by Robert Shayne (with Joe Flynn's assistance) and he rampages around, with a voice-over telling us what we are seeing. Credit the fortunately unique Jack Polloxfen as director/producer.

Bob


Joe Flynn was capable of raising the dead? Joe Flynn?!?!?

Jim
(capable of raising a few, but not the dead)
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Apr 22, 2017 1:33 am

drednm wrote:Promise Her Anything (1966) is a campy comedy Warren Beatty agreed to star in when he was trying to finance something called Bonnie and Clyde. Beatty has always had a quirky comedy style (evident even in the underrated Rules Don't Apply) and it's in fine focus even in this fuzzy and wayward comedy about some Greenwich Village types, a famed baby doctor (Robert Cummings) and the comely widow with a baby (Leslie Caron). This 1966 film harks back to the beatnik era (Michael Chaplin plays Heathcliff the Beatnik), which must have been taking its last gasp as the hippies moved in, and sports a type of innocence (blue movies!) long past. In any case, the plot is thin, but the stars are fun to watch. This British production sports a largely British cast (Hermione Gingold, Cathleen Nesbitt, Warren Mitchell) along with some old-time Hollywood vets (Keenan Wynn, Lionel Stander, Bessie Love). I wonder where this British film got hold of so many old American cars to line the faux-New York City streets with?



Bessie Love moved to England in 1935, after which she made occasional films and personal appearances. I recall going to see THE BROADWAY MELODY at the National Film Theatre in 1980 and being introduced by the lady.

And Lionel Stander made CUL-DE-SAC for Polanski around the same time, so perhaps that's how he was roped in for PROMISE HER ANYTHING.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Apr 22, 2017 3:08 am

Planetarium (2016) I believe is supposed to be about two American sisters who hold seances in Paris in the '30's for money. It's an act, but is one of the sisters for real? A producer thinks so and tries to get the spirit world on film.

This is a film which adequately evidences that no-one really had a clue what was going on. Sure, the performances are good in that the actors and actresses involved are reading their lines well - but the whole thing is meaningless and takes the audience nowhere.

I watched it to the end hoping there was some logical explanation. There wasn't.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Apr 22, 2017 3:17 am

Aftermath (2017) is a film totally devoid of anything that could be considered light. An aeroplane falls down and crashes. One man (Governator Schwarzenegger) loses his wife and pregnant daughter. Another man (Scoot* McNairy) is the guilt ridden air traffic controller who was on duty at the time of accident.

This is essentially a two hander featuring an in-depth study of how the two men handle their destroyed lives. The two lives are contrasted against each other.

It's an interesting film and is well done and I must say it shows that Arnie can actually act rather than play the action man hero. As entertainment, it is all rather depressing, but at the same time rather compelling in a morbid voyeuristic fashion.

* is this a real name or is it a typo for "Scott"?
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Apr 22, 2017 8:22 am

I woke up a little later than usual this morning, so I only had the chance to watch three movies before heading off. Fly-Away Baby (1937), a reviewing of one of the Torchy Blaine movies starring Glenda Farrell, and one of my great low pleasures, listening to the delectable motormouth replying to Barton Maclaine's "Don't you ever think of anything except a porterhouse?" with "Sometimes I think of a New York Strip."

Now that I was fully caffeinated, next was one I missed in the theater... just never got around to it before it vanished: The Founder (2016). Michael Keaton was Oscar-nominated for this one as Ray Kroc in his pursuit of the American dream and the MacDonald's Corporation. It's a beautiful script, showing a man with warts and ambiguities, and Keaton offers a performance that deserved the nomination.

Following that, it was on to Symphony of Living (1937), a soaper directed by Frank Strayer for Invincible, before he made it all the way to Columbia and the dignity of the Blondie series.

Al Shean is a symphony violinist. He injures his hand and can no longer play; his vicious children (played by John Darrow and a surprisingly uninvolved Evelyn Brent, promptly abandon him, since he can no longer provide a meal ticket. His musical friends eventually track him down and rescue him, setting him up as a teacher.

As a soap opera it is unlikely and no one seems to take that part of the story with any interest. There are a few bright spots, provided by comedy bits -- as one would expect with Shean on the cast -- and some good orchestral music. Almost all of it is by Offenbach, which is fine by me -- even if everyone seems to think that Orpheus en Enfer is a symphonic piece and not an opera.

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

PostSat Apr 22, 2017 8:46 am

HELLO DOLLY (1969) With the exception of the miraculous set construction of the "Dolly Street" entrance to the Fox studio, which was still prominent when I worked there in 1977-84, the movie is a real clunker. I lasted about 40 of its 145 minutes.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSat Apr 22, 2017 11:02 am

Devil on Horseback (1954) is a Brit boy-and-a-horse story with a lesson. Jeremy Spenser is a lad in a coal-mining town who packs up and heads south to work at the stables of a noted horse trainer (John McCallum). He's got a way with horses (like a horse whisperer) and quickly catches the eye of a rich woman (Googie Withers) who boards her horses and thirsts for racing glory. Everything comes together and the boy becomes a jockey though he runs into trouble with some jealous older jockeys who like to rig the races. The boy takes a fall, figuratively, and learns some harsh lessons about the price of winning for winning's sake. Quite a nice little film. it's stolen by Liam Redmond as a boozing ex-jockey who knows more than he lets on. Other familiar faces include Sam Kydd, Tony Sympson, George Rose.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Apr 23, 2017 1:43 am

Finally caught up with D W Griffith's last movie, THE STRUGGLE (1931), which fared poorly in its day, but has since gained a better reputation. After a 1911 prologue in a beer garden, the film moves to 1923 with Hal Skelly promising to give up the booze for fiancee Zita Johann. All goes well until he is again tempted by a barman who is scornful of his request for sarsparilla. From then on, things get worse for his family, with Skelly causing embarrassment and disaster at every turn.

Admittedly, the narrative is rather disjointed in places, with rather a lot seeming to happen between 1923 and 1931, and some of the characters seem a bit vague at times. However, the film is very outspoken in dealing with the effect that intemperance can have on a marriage, and the fact that Skelly becomes a fool to himself, being swindled by an attractive young woman and her fellow when they hear of his life insurance. Skelly then becomes unable to hold a job, becoming the laughing-stock of the local children when they see him begging for drink money.

The street and bar scenes are perhaps the most effective in the film, in addition to the scene where he gets the D.T.s in a filthy room, thinking he has killed his little girl in the process. And Johann gives a good performance as the loyal but despairing wife.

THE CRIME OF DR CRESPI (1935), based (slightly) on Poe's 'The Premature Burial' gets off on the wrong foot when the credits appear on a mock-up of a book by Edgar 'Allen' Poe! Maybe I was a bit tired, but this film (which I'd heard of 40 years ago) was a bit of a struggle to sit through. Erich von Stroheim plays a doctor who has nursed a grudge ever sine the woman he loved chose another doctor. When this doctor is critically injured in a car crash, he sees his chance for a horrible revenge, as well as a possibility of getting back with the distressed woman. Aside from a funeral scene which is very effectively done (perhaps directed by von Stroheim??), DR CRESPI is a very turgid affair, and really only of interest as a footnote to the great man's career.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Apr 23, 2017 5:01 am

Gold Dust Gertie, 1931, with the great Winnie Lightner. Winnie plays the eponymous Gertie who is on the trail of two former husbands to demand the alimony which neither are paying. The husbands, played by a young Olsen and Johnson, both work at a swimsuit company owned by none other than Claude Gillingwater. I've adored this actor ever since first seeing him in So Long Letty. He is the quintessential irascible old man and none played the character to such perfection. Gertie on tracking down her ex-spouses discovers that their financial woes are owing to both having new wives in line with company policy that all employees must be married and their inability to get a raise because their boss is stuck in the Victorian era when it comes to swimsuits and refuses to put out a line that might actually be popular.

Gertie spies an opportunity for gold-digging in the wealthy unmarried boss and soon gets to work on him in order to solve both her and her ex-spouses' money worries. Everything rolls along merrily with Olsen and Johnson's new wives making their lives hell and another ex-husband turning up out of the blue to complicate things further for Gertie.

All in all a delightful early Warner Bros comedy. My only complaint is that this is yet another Winnie Lightner film that was originally a musical until Warners decided to cut all the songs, exactly as with The Life of the Party in 1930. Lightner was the best comic vocalist of the era and it's tragic to lose all these examples of her art. Only one song was left in The Life of the Party, a comic gem called Poison Ivy, to show just what we are missing. I do wish Winnie Lightner had stuck with her movie career (and that I could get hold of some of her rarer films such as She Couldn't Say No).

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

PostSun Apr 23, 2017 9:48 am

A Taste of Honey (1961) broke many screen taboos of the era by presenting a story about a teenaged unwed mother-to-be (Rita Tushingham) living in the slums of Manchester with a young gay man (Murray Melvin). She's been abandoned by her boozy mum (Dora Bryan) and he's been evicted from his flat for (apparently) having a man in his room. The girl has been impregnated by a Black sailor (Paul Danquah) who sails away, never to be seen again. The mother hasrun off with a younger man (Robert Stephens) to get married and move into a bungalow. The girl and boy live in a squalid slum as she gets bigger and bigger and bigger.

Stunning B&W film follows the "couple" around the waterfront slum area of Salford and has a bizarre urban beauty to the many shots of a strangely unpopulated city. They seem to have been abandoned by civilization itself except for the hordes of ratty slum children who crop up here and there. What would seem to be a grindingly depressing movie is buoyed by the performances and the dark humor. It's sort of a "new wave" Ab Fab with constantly warring mother and daughter and the outcasts of society. Fascinating and wonderful film.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostSun Apr 23, 2017 12:47 pm

Only Angels Have Wings (1939) is widely considered the quintessential Howard Hawks film. It epitomizes his portrayals of men being men among men, doing manly things in manly ways with manly stiff upper lips and manly nonchalance, thumbing their manly noses at unmanly Death, until compelled by love to absorb a manly woman into their lives. "Manly woman" meaning she's all brittle feminity on the outside and all manly toughness on the inside.

Fortunately, Hawks is smooth enough to present all this manliness with a light touch; this isn't the Fast & Furious franchise. In fact, another of the standard Hawks elements likewise reaches its apogee with Wings -- namely, his refusal, with a smile and a shrug, to confine his film to one or even two of the genres. Wings is a comedy, a suspense film, a drama, a melodrama, an action serial, a satire, even a Western.

The action scenes have a peculiarly perfunctory feel to them, which is exacerbated by the well-done yet obvious back-projections, matte shots, and other special effects that undercut their seriousness. Hawks seems uninterested in these formula sequences -- I've never seen less suspenseful flights through "dangerous" mountain passages in any movie, even Tarzan junk. His interest is in the direct interactions between characters in a confined setting such as a bar or an office; take them out into big action set-pieces and Hawks shifts into "bored" mode.

Oh, the story. Cary Grant, looking like a Gucci model demonstrating what the well-dressed houri-turned-aviatrix will wear while on World War Two air patrol in Bolivia, runs a airmail line on behalf of owner Sig Ruman (done up as a blond Dutchman and looking like nothing so much as Alan Hale Sr. gone to seed) in the kind of dead-end isolated South American nowheresville that exists only in the same Hollywood imaginations that invariably place the American state of Alaska inside the Canadian territory of Yukon. Jean Arthur pops up to try to distract him with her merciless charms; I found her way too perky for this role and yearned for someone like Jean Harlow or (out of time) Rosalind Russell instead. Then we get silent heartthrob Richard Barthelmess (who turns out to be a tiny guy, nothing like the larger-than-life hero he was in the Twenties) and his sultry wife, Rita Hayworth, as a couple of misfits further intruding into Thomas Mitchell's slightly discomfiting love for Grant. Add the usual South American bad weather, endless flow of whisky and smokes, ratty old airplanes, a couple of broken arms, and a pointless donkey.

There's a lot of borrowing going on in this film. The necessity of delivering the airmail twice a week as per contract in order to keep the business alive is borrowed from Harold Lloyd, among many others. In turn, I was struck by how much Wages of Fear borrowed from Only Angels Have Wings: even the requirement to deliver a load of nitro is in both films, and in the later French movie the same South American hick town has only been cleared of a few more jungle trees. These are just samples of the extensive trading of tropes that surround this film.

You wouldn't think this story could keep your interest for more than two hours, but Hawks was a hell of a filmmaker. At his best, as the French critics insisted, no one was better, even if many were as good.

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

PostSun Apr 23, 2017 4:45 pm

Michael Redgrave is on the train to his job as a crane operator. He sees at a window Paul Lukas killing Sally Gray.

It's a great start for a movie, and it was used before. Lady in Distress (1939; aka A Window in London) is a remake of the French Metropolitain. I'd like to offer you a comparison of the two movies, but I've never seen the earlier one. I do know that Michael Redgrave is miscast as a working stiff who rides around in taxis. Sally Gray, on the other had, impresses me for the first time as more than eye candy with a sullen expression. She's very good as the unwitting femme fatale who drives her husband, stage magician Lukas, mad with jealousy, talent manager Hartley Power, sad with hopelessness and Redgrave mad with the possibilities of a magical night.

There are many early noir elements in this movie, filled, as it is, with Gallic fatalism, and can be viewed as an important step in its evolution. It's just not a film noir in itself.

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

PostMon Apr 24, 2017 9:00 am

With respect, Jim -

>The action scenes have a peculiarly perfunctory feel to them, which is exacerbated by the well-done yet obvious back-projections, matte shots, and other special effects that undercut their seriousness ... I've never seen less suspenseful flights through "dangerous" mountain passages in any movie<

- I have to disagree here. Though obviously faked, those elements are good for the era, and the scenes work very well for me in context - the writing and the playing helping to sell them.

Now, as far as the film's seriousness being undercut -

>men being men among men, doing manly things in manly ways with manly stiff upper lips and manly nonchalance, thumbing their manly noses at unmanly Death, until compelled by love to absorb a manly woman into their lives. "Manly woman" meaning she's all brittle feminity on the outside and all manly toughness on the inside.<

- it's the worst of THOSE scenes! The uber-testosterone stuff is almost an SCTV parody of itself. (Especially, knowing what we now know about our Cary...)

But overall, I do love the film.

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

PostMon Apr 24, 2017 10:29 am

The Blue Peter (1955) was retitled as Navy Hero for this country, an excellent drama in full bright color about a returning war vet in UK (Kieron Moore) who is struggling with adjusting to civilian life and is pushed into taking a teaching job at an Outward Bound school in Aberdovey, Wales. He must deal with his own demons (he was brainwashed in Korea) as well as a group of 12 older teens at the school for various reasons. Stunning and I mean stunning sea and Welsh countryside shooting add immeasurably to this complex story of a troubled man who finds himself by helping others. Anthony Newley, John Charlesworth, and Harry Fowler are among the "kids," and Sarah Lawson and Greta Gynt linger hopefully for Moore's attention. Print from YT is a little choppy where TV adverts were removed but an excellent film nonetheless.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostMon Apr 24, 2017 2:00 pm

What looked like an early operetta, DER SCHWARZE HUSAR / THE BLACK HUSSAR (1932) is only partly that. Set in Napoleonic times, it tells of a pair of 'Black Hussars', a banned regiment, who are ordered to rescue a princess who is in danger of being forced into marriage with another. Conrad Veidt plays the first Hussar, who hides at an inn with his fellow officer. Of course both fall in love with the two damsels who seemingly help their father / uncle run the inn, but in fact...

Although there are no real surprises in the plot, this film is a cheerful piece of nonsense, with Mady Christians and the wonderfully named Ursula Grabley as the ladies in question. The humour is a little overdone in spots, with a portly French Governor and an incompetent spy as two of the butts in question. Nice to see another non-'classic' from this period given subtitles for us.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostMon Apr 24, 2017 6:36 pm

If the only movie he had directed was 1951's A Christmas Carol, Brian Desmond Hurst would have been a great director. Imagine my happiness to watch his The Fugitive (1939; also known as On the NIght of the Fire) and discover another great movie from the man.

Ralph Richardson is a barber in a poor street in an unnamed port city; wife Diana Wynard has just given birth to a daughter and money is tight. One evening, Richardson is walking through the street. He passes by a bank and spots a bill of cash. He hops through the window, grabs it, hops back out and goes home -- to a life that involves blackmail, murder, riot and suicide.

It's about two whiskers from straight film noir. Small man seeking a place in a decent society? Check. German Expressionist cinematographer? Check (it's Gunther Krampf, whose work on Nosferatu was uncredited). Echoes of French Poetic Realism and doom? Check. It misses on a couple of points, like the presence of actual criminal masterminds, but it delivers on almost everything else.

Ralph Richardson is superb -- as he is in every role I've seen him in. For those who like to play spot-the-star, Glynis Johns has a role with two lines in her second year in the movies; she does has a credit at the bottom of the cast list.
Last edited by boblipton on Tue Apr 25, 2017 7:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostMon Apr 24, 2017 6:54 pm

wich2 wrote:With respect, Jim -

>The action scenes have a peculiarly perfunctory feel to them, which is exacerbated by the well-done yet obvious back-projections, matte shots, and other special effects that undercut their seriousness ... I've never seen less suspenseful flights through "dangerous" mountain passages in any movie<

- I have to disagree here. Though obviously faked, those elements are good for the era, and the scenes work very well for me in context - the writing and the playing helping to sell them.

Now, as far as the film's seriousness being undercut -

>men being men among men, doing manly things in manly ways with manly stiff upper lips and manly nonchalance, thumbing their manly noses at unmanly Death, until compelled by love to absorb a manly woman into their lives. "Manly woman" meaning she's all brittle feminity on the outside and all manly toughness on the inside.<

- it's the worst of THOSE scenes! The uber-testosterone stuff is almost an SCTV parody of itself. (Especially, knowing what we now know about our Cary...)

But overall, I do love the film.

-Craig


I agree, I think the action scenes worked well for the time and are still pretty effective today. The film is very reminiscent of Clarence Brown's Night Flight, 1933, with the Barrymores and Gable. As for the manly stuff that's par for the course and you only need to cast an eye over Hollywood's present output to see that testosterone is still a prime ingredient for the movies. And to be fair to the pilots who carried the mail in those days they were all brave guys and probably just as macho as they are depicted here.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostTue Apr 25, 2017 1:00 am

Another rarity from the Hammer - Exclusive stable was THE LADY CRAVED EXCITEMENT (1950) starring Hy Hazell and Michael Medwin as a couple of cabaret artistes caught up in Hazell's hare-brained enthusiasm for amateur sleuthing.

Based on a BBC serial, and starting off with a nightclub set which owes a few nods to CITIZEN KANE and a suspected lunatic at large, the film is in similar vein to the American 'screwball' films of the thirties and early forties. Unfortunately the touch here is not of the lightest, and the results come over merely as zany and overdone, despite a sultry villainess in the shape of Australian Thelma Grigg. A few familiar faces (Sid James as the nightclub proprietor and John Longden as the weary Scotland Yard inspector) brighten things up slightly, but I found the whole thing too frantic for my liking.

'in' joke note: at one point Medwin mentions Dick Barton, another Exclusive connection, with director Godfrey Grayson being uncredited here.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostTue Apr 25, 2017 5:43 am

wich2 wrote:With respect, Jim -

>The action scenes have a peculiarly perfunctory feel to them, which is exacerbated by the well-done yet obvious back-projections, matte shots, and other special effects that undercut their seriousness ... I've never seen less suspenseful flights through "dangerous" mountain passages in any movie<

- I have to disagree here. Though obviously faked, those elements are good for the era, and the scenes work very well for me in context - the writing and the playing helping to sell them.


Really, Craig? You found those scenes suspenseful?

Let me give a specific example. Barthelmess must fly a doctor to a tiny settlement in the middle of those mysterious mountains. While we can be pretty confident he'll make it, Hawks has been too sly in playing around with the cliches for us to be absolutely certain, so there is a good potential for suspense. But he's chosen to use a backdrop of fake mountains and a foreground matte of mountains. This means his toy airplane can only fly straight between the two; it can't be buffeted by the high winds or imperilled by unexpected jutting peaks. So there's nothing in the set to develop the tension. He has to cut away to Barthelmess calmly landing the plane. End of scene. Well-done for a fake, but no suspense. (And no acting, since we're only looking at the plane from the outside.)

Hawks creates far more suspense in the one-to-one personal scenes, such as Hayworth's first private confrontation with Grant, Barthelmess's first confrontation with Mitchell, Arthur popping out of Grant's shower obviously expecting a roll in the hay which he doesn't want, etc.

We won't let this disagreement come between our manly respect for each other, will we, Craig? :wink:

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

PostTue Apr 25, 2017 5:52 am

Jim Roots wrote:Only Angels Have Wings (1939) is widely considered the quintessential Howard Hawks film. It epitomizes his portrayals of men being men among men, doing manly things in manly ways with manly stiff upper lips and manly nonchalance, thumbing their manly noses at unmanly Death, until compelled by love to absorb a manly woman into their lives. "Manly woman" meaning she's all brittle feminity on the outside and all manly toughness on the inside.

Fortunately, Hawks is smooth enough to present all this manliness with a light touch; this isn't the Fast & Furious franchise. In fact, another of the standard Hawks elements likewise reaches its apogee with Wings -- namely, his refusal, with a smile and a shrug, to confine his film to one or even two of the genres. Wings is a comedy, a suspense film, a drama, a melodrama, an action serial, a satire, even a Western.

The action scenes have a peculiarly perfunctory feel to them, which is exacerbated by the well-done yet obvious back-projections, matte shots, and other special effects that undercut their seriousness. Hawks seems uninterested in these formula sequences -- I've never seen less suspenseful flights through "dangerous" mountain passages in any movie, even Tarzan junk. His interest is in the direct interactions between characters in a confined setting such as a bar or an office; take them out into big action set-pieces and Hawks shifts into "bored" mode.


Oh, the story. Cary Grant, looking like a Gucci model demonstrating what the well-dressed houri-turned-aviatrix will wear while on World War Two air patrol in Bolivia, runs a airmail line on behalf of owner Sig Ruman (done up as a blond Dutchman and looking like nothing so much as Alan Hale Sr. gone to seed) in the kind of dead-end isolated South American nowheresville that exists only in the same Hollywood imaginations that invariably place the American state of Alaska inside the Canadian territory of Yukon. Jean Arthur pops up to try to distract him with her merciless charms; I found her way too perky for this role and yearned for someone like Jean Harlow or (out of time) Rosalind Russell instead. Then we get silent heartthrob Richard Barthelmess (who turns out to be a tiny guy, nothing like the larger-than-life hero he was in the Twenties) and his sultry wife, Rita Hayworth, as a couple of misfits further intruding into Thomas Mitchell's slightly discomfiting love for Grant. Add the usual South American bad weather, endless flow of whisky and smokes, ratty old airplanes, a couple of broken arms, and a pointless donkey.

There's a lot of borrowing going on in this film. The necessity of delivering the airmail twice a week as per contract in order to keep the business alive is borrowed from Harold Lloyd, among many others. In turn, I was struck by how much Wages of Fear borrowed from Only Angels Have Wings: even the requirement to deliver a load of nitro is in both films, and in the later French movie the same South American hick town has only been cleared of a few more jungle trees. These are just samples of the extensive trading of tropes that surround this film.

You wouldn't think this story could keep your interest for more than two hours, but Hawks was a hell of a filmmaker. At his best, as the French critics insisted, no one was better, even if many were as good.

Jim


It should be added that Hawks ran variations on the same plot from 1926's A Girl in Every Port, in which Louise Brooks is the girl -- with a great view walking away -- through To Have and to Have Not, The Thing to his western version of the story -- Rio Bravo, El Dorado and Rio Lobo; even Red River is a minor variation on the matter, with Joan Dru stoic as an arrow is cut out of her shoulder. It's a great story that he told many times, starting with Jules Furtherman as screenwriter and adding Leigh Brackett -- a woman who wrote manly sf and movies -- coming in to help out.

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

PostTue Apr 25, 2017 7:23 am

drednm wrote:The Blue Peter (1955) was retitled as Navy Hero for this country


Sometimes, even the Suits in La La Land make a good call...
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostTue Apr 25, 2017 7:31 am

wich2 wrote:
drednm wrote:The Blue Peter (1955) was retitled as Navy Hero for this country


Sometimes, even the Suits in La La Land make a good call...


The Blue Peter is the flag they fly after they finish their sailing adventure.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

PostTue Apr 25, 2017 8:41 am

drednm wrote:
wich2 wrote:
drednm wrote:The Blue Peter (1955) was retitled as Navy Hero for this country


Sometimes, even the Suits in La La Land make a good call...


The Blue Peter is the flag they fly after they finish their sailing adventure.


"Traditionally, Blue Peter is the nickname given to the nautical signal flag that represents the letter “P.” When communicating with signal flags, each letter of the alphabet has a specific meaning. The letter “P” means “All persons should report on board as the vessel is about to proceed to sea.” "
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