What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Open, general discussion of classic sound-era films, personalities and history.
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Jim Roots
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by Jim Roots » Fri Feb 09, 2018 6:20 am

mwalls wrote:I bought the Torchy Blane series from WB a few weeks ago and just finished watching the set last night. In all but two (and I skipped those) Torchy is played by Glenda Farrell and her police fiancee is Barton MacLane. I had a lot of fun watching each of the seven movies. They are typical WB's B fares of the late 1930's, but when I say that I mean that as a compliment. They are relatively short, fast paced, well directed and just meant to be fun...which they were. Recommended.

Matthew
I wish to God they would caption that set. I want to see it so much!

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

Unread post by drednm » Fri Feb 09, 2018 7:57 am

Miracle in Soho (1957) is based on a story by Emeric Pressburger called "The Miracle of St. Anthony's Lane," which he wrote around 1934. He finally got it filmed in 1957, directed by Julian Amyes. The prologue tells us that Soho is a little section of London that was basically a melting pot of immigrants. Story centers on one street which is closed so t can be re-paved. Among the street workers is John Gregson, a fellow with a roving eye. He soon gets involved with a blonde (Barbara Archer) who is "going with" a local Italian (Ian Bannen in a bizarre bit of casting). Furious that he has intruded on their affair, Bannen's sister (Belinda Lee) confronts Gregson. While maybe not love at first sight, it's close. The trouble is the Italian family is on the very verge of emigrating to Canada. A subplot has another sister (Rosalie Crutchley) planning to marry a Soho German because she's willing to "settle." There's also a nosy-parker postman and Salvationist (Cyril Cusack) who spreads gossip like oleo on bread. Everything comes to a head when there is an explosion of some sort and a callow young workman (John Cairney) in badly injured. When the great day arrives for the Italians to pack off to Toronto, it's unclear which, if any, of the adult children will actually go to Toronto. Film gets better as it goes along and includes a few touching scenes. Also in the cast are Peter Illing, Junia Crawford, Wilfrid Lawson, Brian Bedford, Billie Whitelaw, and Cyril Shaps.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by Mike Gebert » Fri Feb 09, 2018 12:32 pm

I see a mention above of Phantom Thread, and my reaction to it was that it made me want to see The Red Shoes again, because I'd like to see a movie that looked that good, but in which the characters torture each other for the sake of something worth it all. Anderson seems to have minutely recreated a world of 1950s haute couture just so he could show a complete lack of interest in it. I do not understand how the maker of the exuberantly open-hearted Boogie Nights has shrunk his world down to these interminable tales of poisonous relationships in which no air can get in, but I had no idea what any of the characters was ever thinking, and their actions were almost always mysterious to me. When Lesley Manville says "I quite like her" about Vicky Krieps, I had zero idea if she was telling the truth or twisting the knife in her brother. At one point a major plot point is that someone is no longer coming to the "house" (of fashion), and i had no idea who they were talking about, because there are no characters beyond the three main ones.

Johnny Greenwood's score is lovely. It looked great in 70mm at The Music Box.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by Brooksie » Fri Feb 09, 2018 12:33 pm

Broadway Serenade (1939) is an outlier in the Jeanette Macdonald canon - it was for her what A Damsel in Distress was for Fred Astaire, a brief, somewhat ill-fated step outside the audience approved pairing.

The story is a whiskered variation on the A Star Is Born theme, with Macdonald on the up-and-up and Ayres, as her hot-headed composer husband, on the slide. Ayres' character is such an oaf that you have trouble summoning sympathy for him (William Haines might have played the part a few years earlier), while Ian Hunter struggles to make an impression as a suave rival for Macdonald's love, precisely because you have a pretty good idea how their relationship will end up from the moment it starts.

It has the disjointed feeling of a troubled production - which it apparently was - and while a surreal Busby Berkeley production number featuring jitterbugging couples in creepy masks soups things up at the end, it feels exactly as tacked on as it is. The other musical numbers are nice without being knockouts, and there are a fair number of classical compositions 'swung', as was the style at the time. Oddest of all has Macdonald recreating a stage sequence from Madame Butterfly. It seems a deliberate nose-thumbing at Grace Moore, who had recreated the same sequence in Columbia's One Night Of Love (1934) only a few years earlier.

In any case, Broadway Serenade was not a hit, and it was back to the stout-hearted Nelson Eddy for Macdonald's subsequent feature New Moon (1940).

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

Unread post by Javier » Fri Feb 09, 2018 7:07 pm

Jim Roots wrote:
mwalls wrote:I bought the Torchy Blane series from WB a few weeks ago and just finished watching the set last night. In all but two (and I skipped those) Torchy is played by Glenda Farrell and her police fiancee is Barton MacLane. I had a lot of fun watching each of the seven movies. They are typical WB's B fares of the late 1930's, but when I say that I mean that as a compliment. They are relatively short, fast paced, well directed and just meant to be fun...which they were. Recommended.

Matthew
I wish to God they would caption that set. I want to see it so much!

Jim
That is one of the main reasons I think twice about buying WB Archive sets. Torchy Blane, Mexican Spitfire, Lee Tracy, Eddy & MacDonald sets & Maisie series to name a few. English is my second language and grew up reading subtitles, I rely on them in case I miss some words.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by oldposterho » Fri Feb 09, 2018 8:40 pm

Was finally able to catch up with Ohm Kruger (Uncle Kruger), the 1941 bio pic of the South African Boer president. Of all the Nazi era films I've been watching, this one is about as close to Jud Suss in odiousness as I've come so far, and even shares Suss himself in the person of Ferdinand Marian as the treacherous Cecil Rhodes, but the star of the show is definitely Emil Jannings, letting his Nazi freak flag fly from the top of the pole. In the recent Arte documentary on these films they had some Jannings relatives on, unfortunately I couldn't make out what they were saying but it's hard to believe that ol' Emil was anything but totally on board with the pogrom.

Over two hours long, the first half is dull, dull, dull, and could easily be mistaken for having a play as it's source as there is almost no movement while the British plot and scheme to destabilize SA in order to steal its gold. The second half, concerning the war, is far more entertaining but it reeks of fight to the death to preserve the fatherland madness. This is as direct of a propaganda attack on the next-to-be-invaded England as Stukas, the English are presented as drunken, rapey, child murderers who deserve to be conquered as revenge for their terrible crimes against the world.

Needless to say, there is some world class projection going on here and some truly bone chilling moments, particularly when Kruger threatens to turn the British into lampshades. It's also a spine tingling when the British show their efficiency in creating mass graves for the victims of their ruthless concentration camps, where the women and children of the Boers are starved and murdered while the British elite feed ham and eggs to their bulldogs.

Yeah, it's not subtle at all.

Kruger is obviously yet another avatar for Schicklgruber, who will valiantly defend his country and conquer the British on behalf of the rest of Europe. Generally these films have some apolitical merit, not this one though, it's got Goebbel's fingerprints all over it. Creepy doesn't begin to cover it.

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

Unread post by R Michael Pyle » Sat Feb 10, 2018 8:29 am

Watched a truly absorbing Pre-Code last night, "Playing Around" (1930), with Alice White, Chester Morris, William Bakewell, and several other fascinating actors and actresses. By today's standards, this film creaks. But, frankly, by the standards of its day, it really doesn't at all. Early on, a couple of sound issues are noticeable, though I doubt if they were in 1930. And let's get something understood: this was released 19 January 1930; it was made during 1929. There are a couple of surprise titles still intact within the film. It obviously was going to be a silent when the film began. It ended up being what many, many films of 1930 were. Not necessarily a musical per se, but a film with lots of music and some fine dancing, too. Indeed, my very favorite part of the film is the finale, a black singing and dance number with Carolynne Snowden doing the highlight singing and dancing. She's an absolute knockout! Gorgeous legs that move and snap like the Brit performer, Jessie Matthews. Maybe more.

The film's plot is standard fare as can be. Girl goes to nightclub dinner spot with soda jerk boy friend. Soda jerk boy friend can't afford the place. Time to leave. Girl sees that a "knee contest" is about to happen - read 'good lookin' legs from the knee down. She enters and wins. Guess who's the judge? Snappy looking big town, well-dressed guy with the charm and slickness of oil. Alice White, meet Chester Morris. William Bakewell, back off. Things go on. White's pop gets more and more disappointed. Then...one night pop's store gets knocked over by some guy wielding a gun. Pop gets shot. Story becomes a morality play here. But the denouement is a wow, popped by the finale described above with Carolynne Snowden. While we're at it, there are nearly a dozen references to Fordham during the film, so if you're from the Bronx, you may like the film even more.

This is the perfect film to show to people who wish to learn the transition culture from silent to sound! Sex, guns, dancing, music (very typical jazz age stuff, too), period automobiles, glamor and, though not the opposite, a close third or fourth, even some very wonderful ethnic immigrant fractured English humor, the latter supplied by Ann Brody and Nellie V. Nichols. You're right: Alice White can't act, but who cares? She's fun to watch anyway. She's got "it". Indeed, she was Warner's answer to Paramount's Clara Bow. She answered well for a couple of years. An ego, a sex scandal (actually, two), a contract fight, and eventually a fight that disfigured her face a tad - all these ended her starring career rather quickly. She held on for a couple of decades, but faded like dusk into night.

Recent release on DVD by Warner Archive Collection.

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

Unread post by drednm » Sat Feb 10, 2018 9:10 am

R Michael Pyle wrote:Watched a truly absorbing Pre-Code last night, "Playing Around" (1930), with Alice White, Chester Morris, William Bakewell, and several other fascinating actors and actresses. By today's standards, this film creaks. But, frankly, by the standards of its day, it really doesn't at all. Early on, a couple of sound issues are noticeable, though I doubt if they were in 1930. And let's get something understood: this was released 19 January 1930; it was made during 1929. There are a couple of surprise titles still intact within the film. It obviously was going to be a silent when the film began. It ended up being what many, many films of 1930 were. Not necessarily a musical per se, but a film with lots of music and some fine dancing, too. Indeed, my very favorite part of the film is the finale, a black singing and dance number with Carolynne Snowden doing the highlight singing and dancing. She's an absolute knockout! Gorgeous legs that move and snap like the Brit performer, Jessie Matthews. Maybe more.

The film's plot is standard fare as can be. Girl goes to nightclub dinner spot with soda jerk boy friend. Soda jerk boy friend can't afford the place. Time to leave. Girl sees that a "knee contest" is about to happen - read 'good lookin' legs from the knee down. She enters and wins. Guess who's the judge? Snappy looking big town, well-dressed guy with the charm and slickness of oil. Alice White, meet Chester Morris. William Bakewell, back off. Things go on. White's pop gets more and more disappointed. Then...one night pop's store gets knocked over by some guy wielding a gun. Pop gets shot. Story becomes a morality play here. But the denouement is a wow, popped by the finale described above with Carolynne Snowden. While we're at it, there are nearly a dozen references to Fordham during the film, so if you're from the Bronx, you may like the film even more.

This is the perfect film to show to people who wish to learn the transition culture from silent to sound! Sex, guns, dancing, music (very typical jazz age stuff, too), period automobiles, glamor and, though not the opposite, a close third or fourth, even some very wonderful ethnic immigrant fractured English humor, the latter supplied by Ann Brody and Nellie V. Nichols. You're right: Alice White can't act, but who cares? She's fun to watch anyway. She's got "it". Indeed, she was Warner's answer to Paramount's Clara Bow. She answered well for a couple of years. An ego, a sex scandal (actually, two), a contract fight, and eventually a fight that disfigured her face a tad - all these ended her starring career rather quickly. She held on for a couple of decades, but faded like dusk into night.

Recent release on DVD by Warner Archive Collection.
Has it been restored?
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by R Michael Pyle » Sat Feb 10, 2018 9:35 am

Ed, I don't know. The print itself plays wonderfully on my blu-ray player. Don't know if that actually improves anything or not, the disc being DVD. I mentioned a couple of sound issues, but those were there from the beginning. In one scene at the beginning, Lionel Belmore walks from one point to another while talking. Obviously a microphone was placed where he was at the beginning and one at the place where he ends, but in the center of his walk the sound disappears. That can't be fixed, I don't think(?). Anyway, besides these tiny things, the film looks very good - very good, indeed. Nothing on the DVD disc cover says anything about being 'restored'. I know one thing: I want to look for other films with Carolynne Snowden in them! She's a combination of Jessie Matthews and Josephine Baker, all wrapped up in one.

I saw your synopsis and assessment at the IMDb, and that you did that back in 2008. Was the print you watched not good?

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

Unread post by drednm » Sat Feb 10, 2018 10:20 am

I've had this for years. No idea where I got it from. Maybe time for an upgrade!

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

Unread post by drednm » Sat Feb 10, 2018 10:23 am

Snowden has a lot of credits as a maid. She's listed as a specialty dancer on On with the Show (1929).
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by s.w.a.c. » Sat Feb 10, 2018 1:47 pm

drednm wrote:Miracle in Soho (1957) is based on a story by Emeric Pressburger called "The Miracle of St. Anthony's Lane," which he wrote around 1934. ... The trouble is the Italian family is on the very verge of emigrating to Canada.
Oddly, Pressburger's own daughter Angela emigrated to Canada in the 1990s or thereabouts. She was briefly based here in Nova Scotia, after producing a documentary about Marconi (who did some early radio experiments in Atlantic Canada), and I recall seeing original posters of her father's films on the walls of her office. And a poster for The Age of Innocence signed, "To Angela, Love Marty".
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by boblipton » Sat Feb 10, 2018 2:51 pm

Because of my essentially random scheduling in the matter, I see about half a dozen new Indian films a year, mostly comedies of some sort. Given such a small sample, it's a stretch to draw conclusions, but a bunch concern themselves with the problems of village life, and with the problems faced by women in a conservative society.

Today's was Pad Man (2018), a fictionalized story based Arunachalam Muruganatham, a man who, worried about his wife using dirty rags for her menstrual flow, but shocked at the high cost of sanitary menstrual pads, worked out a method of producing them for less than 5% of their store price, and creating a sales industry for women in the process -- and convincing everyone in his village, including his family, that he is an insane pervert.

Although I thought that at almost two and a half hours, it was getting a bit draggy towards the end, the movie offered its characters in an intelligent and light-hearted manner. Akshay Kumar, as the lead, is an intelligent, admirable lunk, able to switch from serious to romantic to clown and remain the same character.

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

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Sun Feb 11, 2018 5:46 am

ACROSS THE WORLD WITH MR & MRS MARTIN JOHNSON (1929) was a bit hard to sit through owing to the captions not appearing and the very varied soundtrack quality. Perhaps better quality copies / uploads of their other films would give one a better idea of what their films are like. This one consists of a number of film shows before the Johnsons' dinner-party guests, together with an incessant commentary which is often hard to hear. Although much of the footage is valuable, one has to agree with previous comments as to how patronising the couple could be. Not for the over-politically correct!

A short travelogue, shot in Technicolor by Jack Cardiff, DELHI (1938) is an attractively shot and interesting film, although much of what it presents and we hear on the narration is conservative and imerialist, which is to be expected.

Followed by a Halas and Batchelor short on public health, A MODERN GUIDE TO HEALTH (1947) looks at the non-medical side of health (remember Trevor Howard on 'preventive medicine' in BRIEF ENCOUNTER), with regard to clothes, posture, exercise and other aspects of life in an entertaining fashion.

Finally a West Country travelogue, ONE SUMMER IN SOMERSET (1968) features a jack-the-lad Australian being given a lift by a dog-loving blonde in a sports car who is off to visit her family in Weston Super-Mare. A bit of a (now useful) time capsule, which probably irritated audiences at the time, we follow their (innocent) fun-filled day, followed by (did they spend the night together?) an 'educational' potter round various ancient ruins. The film has credits for clothes, model trains, etc., and there is an amusing coincidence when the Chapel of St Michael* at is mentioned, St Michael having earlier been mentioned in the clothing credit! The commentary is rather bland, to say the least, and the young fellow not very gentlemanly when he heads off - this time with a brunette...

*will check this.

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Pad Man (2018)

Unread post by JFK » Sun Feb 11, 2018 1:22 pm

boblipton wrote:Because of my essentially random scheduling in the matter, I see about half a dozen new Indian films a year........
Today's was Pad Man (2018), a fictionalized story based {on} Arunachalam Muruganatham...
You may have spotted a trend in the making. The film you saw was perhaps the fourth about- or inspired by- the inventor,
and, my understanding is, none of the productions fell into the red.
Keep your eyes open for the inevitable Bollywood musical re-telling,
and - if the trades can be believed - look for Pad Man to be joining
the Marvel Cinema Universe sometime in 2019.
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Re: Pad Man (2018)

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Sun Feb 11, 2018 2:51 pm

JFK wrote:
boblipton wrote:Because of my essentially random scheduling in the matter, I see about half a dozen new Indian films a year........
Today's was Pad Man (2018), a fictionalized story based {on} Arunachalam Muruganatham...
You may have spotted a trend in the making. The film you saw was perhaps the fourth about- or inspired by- the inventor,
and, my understanding is, none of the productions fell into the red.
Groan...

And YOUNG TOM EDISON????...

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

Unread post by boblipton » Sun Feb 11, 2018 3:37 pm

Write about Oscar nominees, not a word in reply. Write about movies about sanitary pads, that's what people want to talk about. Is Sam Katzman close enough?

A Face in the Fog (1936): Newspaperman Lloyd Hughes and newspaperwoman June Collyer want to get married, but first they need to track down the Fiend, a hunchback who's been attacking a theatrical company putting on a play by author Lawrence Gray. The fiend poisons people, but takes a break to shoot at Miss Collyer. He keeps hitting other people, who die of poisoning. The two are helped -- if that's the word -- by cameraman/comic relief Al St. John, who seems not to have read the script, but walks around with a vague, wary expression and responds to everything with "So long as you've got your health."

It's a cheap and unengaging piece of tripe, with stars who have long since lost their luster the only draw, just the sort of thing you'd expect from producer Sam Katzman. Director Robert Hill does not require his actors to speak loudly enough to reach the back row of the balcony, for which I credit sound man J.S. Westmoreland.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by boblipton » Sun Feb 11, 2018 6:32 pm

It's a movie 1: from Universal; 2: directed by Karl Freund; 3: with Boris Karloff & Bela Lugosi. No, you're wrong, it's The Gift of Gab (1934) starring Edmund Lowe as a fast-talking street hustler who works his way in as a radio announcer, sports caster, and event broadcaster, with the aid of Gloria Stuart. As his success increases, so does his ego, and as the audience, you're waiting for the inevitable crack-up and wondering if and how he'll manage his redemption.

It has three major variety segments, with musical acts -- some good, like the Downey Sisters, some great like Ethel Waters -- some comedy acts -- all cornball -- and some contemporary celebrity tie-ins. There are several fine screen comedians in support, like Sterling Holloway and Victor Moore, and Lowe is fine as the larger-than-life operator, but it's a typical decent Universal, budgeted at probably a third of what it would cost at MGM -- and why not, since the best cameraman on the lot was in the director's chair and not lensing it?

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

Unread post by drednm » Mon Feb 12, 2018 6:01 am

Susan and God (1940) goes on too long and looks as padded as Joan Crawford's shoulders. Based on the 1937 Broadway play, which starred Gertrude Lawrence, story has the annoying socialite Susan Trexel (Crawford) coming home to her Long Island estate (and equally annoying friends) after having been uplifted (spiritually) during a trip to England. The play took a swipe at the Oxford Group, followers of Frank Buchman, an American missionary who believed that the root of all problems were the personal problems of fear and selfishness and that one of the "cures" was in the sharing of our sins and temptations. Rachel Crothers' play then has Susan espousing her slim understanding of this by pontificating to her friends about their lives while she ignores her own husband and young teen daughter. It's meant to be a comedy set among the horsey set, and sometimes Susan's absurdity comes through as stinging comedy; other times she just seems cruel (or even worse, stupid). Anyway, the film version is 2 hours long and is padded with extra scenes and characters. It didn't need it.

Crawford is fine with what she's given to do, if you can get past distaste for the character. Fredric March plays the boozy husband. Fine supporting cast of friends includes Rose Hobart, Ruth Hussey, Bruce Cabot, Nigel Bruce, John Carroll, and Rita Hayworth (on loan-out from Columbia). Rita Quigley plays the hapless daughter. Added for the film version are Marjorie Main as a sarcastic housekeeper and Constance Collier as Susan's spiritual advisor. Among the horde of "young people" added for no real reason are Gloria DeHaven, Dan Dailey, Susan Peters, Lon McCallister, and Joan Leslie. There's also a singer played by the tall and repulsive Coco Broadhurst (no idea who he is), who also served as a "technical advisor."

Lawrence apparently filmed a TV movie of the play in 1938 (according to IMDb), but was never considered for the MGM film version. L.B. Mayer bought the film for Norma Shearer, hot again after The Women, but she refused to play a mother again (she was 38 years old). Greer Garson was also considered, and Mayer may have even reached out to Marion Davies (according to IMDb) but apparently Crawford campaigned for a won the role.

The film cost about $1M and made about $1M and was considered a box-office bomb.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:49 pm

drednm wrote:Susan and God (1940) goes on too long and looks as padded as Joan Crawford's shoulders. Based on the 1937 Broadway play, which starred Gertrude Lawrence, story has the annoying socialite Susan Trexel (Crawford) coming home to her Long Island estate (and equally annoying friends) after having been uplifted (spiritually) during a trip to England. The play took a swipe at the Oxford Group, followers of Frank Buchman, an American missionary who believed that the root of all problems were the personal problems of fear and selfishness and that one of the "cures" was in the sharing of our sins and temptations. Rachel Crothers' play then has Susan espousing her slim understanding of this by pontificating to her friends about their lives while she ignores her own husband and young teen daughter. It's meant to be a comedy set among the horsey set, and sometimes Susan's absurdity comes through as stinging comedy; other times she just seems cruel (or even worse, stupid). Anyway, the film version is 2 hours long and is padded with extra scenes and characters. It didn't need it.

Crawford is fine with what she's given to do, if you can get past distaste for the character. Fredric March plays the boozy husband. Fine supporting cast of friends includes Rose Hobart, Ruth Hussey, Bruce Cabot, Nigel Bruce, John Carroll, and Rita Hayworth (on loan-out from Columbia). Rita Quigley plays the hapless daughter. Added for the film version are Marjorie Main as a sarcastic housekeeper and Constance Collier as Susan's spiritual advisor. Among the horde of "young people" added for no real reason are Gloria DeHaven, Dan Dailey, Susan Peters, Lon McCallister, and Joan Leslie. There's also a singer played by the tall and repulsive Coco Broadhurst (no idea who he is), who also served as a "technical advisor."

Lawrence apparently filmed a TV movie of the play in 1938 (according to IMDb), but was never considered for the MGM film version. L.B. Mayer bought the film for Norma Shearer, hot again after The Women, but she refused to play a mother again (she was 38 years old). Greer Garson was also considered, and Mayer may have even reached out to Marion Davies (according to IMDb) but apparently Crawford campaigned for a won the role.

The film cost about $1M and made about $1M and was considered a box-office bomb.
I watched this back in the 1990s and felt it was a good idea which went badly wrong.

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

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:01 pm

Although one could buy a dvd of DUTCHMAN (1966) for the bargain price of £200.26, I elected to watch the YT upload, which wasn't too bad for such a rarely shown film. Virtually a two-hander, it has Shirley Knight as a rather loose blonde, possibly unbalanced, possibly high, making an aggressive, then sexual approach to young, straight-looking office worker Al Freeman Jr, who happens to be black.

The fifty-five minute movie is simply their reactions to one another, which take very sharp dark (no pun intended) turns every few minutes, and aside from a few exteriors takes place entirely in a New York Subway carriage, although filmed at Twickenham, England (!).

At times I found it a trifle hard to follow as well as to grasp, but it is nevertheless a very intense, powerful and watchable piece of drama, taken from a play by LeRoi Jones. As the word 'nigger' is used a number of times by the teasing Ms Knight, it is unlikely to turn up on mainstream TV without a succession of bleeps.

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

Unread post by Mike Gebert » Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:30 pm

There's a theater group in New York called The Mint Theater that specializes in reviving once-celebrated plays—they're doing Hindle Wakes right now—and they did Susan and God some years ago. The film makes me think that Crawford was miscast in a role a better comedic actress could have played to the hilt (Rosalind Russell maybe), and I suspect some of the edges were blunted by MGM. Here's a review of the revival.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by boblipton » Mon Feb 12, 2018 7:25 pm

Ellery Queen's Penthouse Mystery (1941) In between being bested of the leading lady in numerous comedies, Ralph Bellamy played Ellery Queen in the second of four mysteries for Columbia. It's a nicely tangled murder. Noel Madison has been asked by the Chinese government to bring some gems to New York to be auctioned for poor relief. When he turns up dead in a trunk, with the jewels missing, there are plenty of people to suspect, and plenty of talent on view, including Margaret Lindsay as girlfriend/secretary Nikki Porter, Charley Grapewin as Inspector Queen, Anna May Wong, Charles Lane, Mantan Moreland, Theodore von Eltz... lots of familiar faces for fans of old movies.

Director James Hogan directs efficiently with no particular flair, but with his fine company, it's an enjoyable trifle and mystery fans should have no issue with the rules of the game.

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

Unread post by drednm » Mon Feb 12, 2018 8:25 pm

Mike Gebert wrote:There's a theater group in New York called The Mint Theater that specializes in reviving once-celebrated plays—they're doing Hindle Wakes right now—and they did Susan and God some years ago. The film makes me think that Crawford was miscast in a role a better comedic actress could have played to the hilt (Rosalind Russell maybe), and I suspect some of the edges were blunted by MGM. Here's a review of the revival.
Mayer's instinct may have been right if he thought of Marion Davies (which wasn't about to happen in any case). The play was bought for Norma Shearer (what play wasn't?) but she would have been too arch. Greer Garson had no better sense of comedy than Joan Crawford did. Crawford seems to be playing Shearer (my opinion). Rosalind Russell (was she still at MGM?) would have been a good choice as would Claudette Colbert or even Carole Lombard. Kay Francis also comes to mind....
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by boblipton » Mon Feb 12, 2018 8:51 pm

Ralph Bellamy made four Ellery Queen movies for Larry Darmour, releasing through Columbia in the early 1940s. The fourth, Ellery Queen and the Murder Ring (1941), is a typically well constructed murder mystery. Blanche Yurka is a penny-pinching rich woman whom everyone wants dead: her son, Leon Ames, whom she won't give any money to; her daughter, Jean Fenwick, whom she keeps on a similarly tight leash; George Zucco, the head doctor at the hospital she owns, who wants to give his medical advance to the world, when she insists she owns it; and gangsters Paul Hurst and Tom Dugan, who have run her off the road to kill her on Ames' instruction. She winds up in the hospital, not dead.... but dies, strangled.... everyone wants her dead. No one could have done it.

A fine mystery and, like the others in the series, it plays fair with the fans of the genre. Unfortunately, it's a lot weaker than earlier entries, being weakened by a ot of dumb humor to eke its length out to a standard length of just over 69 minutes. It's good to see Bellamy, Margaret Linday as Nikki Porter and Charley Grapewin as Inspector Queen again, but the movie would have been more pleasing had it been a bit less stereotyped. and rote.

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

Unread post by Brooksie » Tue Feb 13, 2018 12:25 pm

The series films that Larry Darmour made for Columbia strike well above their weight in terms of quality and watchability. The Warner Baxter Crime Doctor series is also well worth checking out.

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

Unread post by Daniel Eagan » Tue Feb 13, 2018 2:29 pm

Mike Gebert wrote:There's a theater group in New York called The Mint Theater that specializes in reviving once-celebrated plays—they're doing Hindle Wakes right now—and they did Susan and God some years ago. The film makes me think that Crawford was miscast in a role a better comedic actress could have played to the hilt (Rosalind Russell maybe), and I suspect some of the edges were blunted by MGM. Here's a review of the revival.
I saw that production and enjoyed it. It wasn't earth-shattering, but it was solid and caustic. It wasn't exactly a comedy in the ha-ha sense, more of a take-down of a class and milieu like The Women.

The movie is so far removed from the pacing and intent of the play as to be a completely separate entity, not unusual considering how plays were treated at the time.

Mint Theater is excellent when it isn't trying to make a case for Teresa Deevy. I really liked its productions of J.M. Barrie, J.B. Priestley, H.G. Barker, and others. A surprising and revealing Mint production was Dawn Powell's Walking Down Broadway, the source for Hello, Sister!.

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

Unread post by Mike Gebert » Tue Feb 13, 2018 4:38 pm

MGM was mostly bad for plays. Where many of my favorite early Warner Bros. movies are based on plays (albeit, ones no one remembers)— they tend to be better constructed from the start than a script banged out in 4 days by Robert Lord or Wilson Mizner or W.R Burnett (as much fun as those can be). Employees Entrance, Two Seconds, that sort of thing.

One film I saw at Cinesation a few years ago that might make a fun revival was The Virtuous Husband, based on a play by one Dorrance Davis. Elliot Nugent is a guy who's about to be married (and Jean Arthur, as his soon to be wife, is rarin' to go), but he's freaked out by a trunk full of advice letters left by his late mother, a Victorian advice columnist. It's a nice little sitcom about getting out from under a parent's influence and being your own person, and though the movie (from 1931) is a little slow, it seemed like it could be staged very effectively for sweet humor.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by greta de groat » Tue Feb 13, 2018 5:01 pm

Daniel Eagan wrote:
Mike Gebert wrote:There's a theater group in New York called The Mint Theater that specializes in reviving once-celebrated plays—they're doing Hindle Wakes right now—and they did Susan and God some years ago. The film makes me think that Crawford was miscast in a role a better comedic actress could have played to the hilt (Rosalind Russell maybe), and I suspect some of the edges were blunted by MGM. Here's a review of the revival.
I saw that production and enjoyed it. It wasn't earth-shattering, but it was solid and caustic. It wasn't exactly a comedy in the ha-ha sense, more of a take-down of a class and milieu like The Women.

The movie is so far removed from the pacing and intent of the play as to be a completely separate entity, not unusual considering how plays were treated at the time.

....
I found the film of Susan and God quite disappointing, but i guess i wasn't surprised by that. The subject matter seemed promising but potentially radioactive for a studio that was very averse to causing any possible offense. I thought it likely to have been gutted for the screen. Crawford is usually humor challenged, but i wasn't sure going in whether this would be a serious or comic piece. Crawford could have been interestingly scary had it been something more along the lines of Elmer Gantry (which i was hoping for but figured was unlikely)

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

Unread post by boblipton » Tue Feb 13, 2018 6:47 pm

I've just come from the IFC Theatre (the Waverly in days gone by when it was a neighborhood house), where they were showing, as they have in recent years, the Oscar-Nominated Short Films Programs for the Year. I always go to see the Animated program, and this year was no exception -- fail to see them here, and I might never see most of them on a theater screen.

This year, there were two surprises. There were no entries for the National Film Board of Canada, for decades a sure provider of superior ..... well, cartoons. This year, none. The other surprise was that all of the entries, the six actual nominees and the three added to bring the program up to 83 minutes, were worth watching.

the first one shown was Dear Basketball, a love letter written, narrated and produced by Kobe Bryant to the sport he has graced for some years now. He has gotten Glen Keane to direct it, which means to animate it, and Mr. Keane has chosen to animate it as a pencil test. It's a brilliant idea.

For those unfamiliar with the term, a pencil test is usually an intermediate stage in hand-drawn animation: before the inkers and colorists and backgrounders get their hands on the cartoon, the animator (that is to say, the senior animator assigned to direct a portion of a movie) draws several of the shots within a sequence and arranges them as a flip book to test out the motion; should that work, it goes to his assistants to do the interior sequences, to smooth out the details, to ink them in, and so forth. Keane and his assistant have left this at the flip book stage, rendering it an impressionist work, a contemplation of motion and grace, and it works wonderfully. Then they got John Williams to do the score.

Next up was Negative Space, a French entry. How do fathers and sons connect? Is it by playing games? By hugging? To this day, I'm not sure how my father and I ever did it, although we did.... I'd like to think so, anyway. I know after I spoke at my father's memorial service (and my brother didn't), he smiled and said "That's who he was to you." In this animated short, a father and son connect by the father, a traveling salesman, teaching his son how to do something very important to him: pack a suitcase well.

The piece is a trifle about trifles, yet anyone who has ever cared deeply about another individual will tell you that it's not the big things that matter, but the trifles that no one else notices that gets you through, the secrets out in the open. I'm not certain how much the visual choices add to this short -- animating it as a computer-derived claymation piece is odd. The choices don't really have time to affect the impact, as it is short enough to maintain its impact.

I hadn't seen Pixar's LOU before because I didn't see Cars 3. It's fine, but it struck me as a a sequel..... to Toy Story, exploring one of the themes, sweetly and expertly and had I not seen TS, I would have been very impressed. However, I have.

Revolting Rhymes Part One (2016) was the longest of the Oscar-nominated animated films for 2018 and I firmly believe the best. Based on a book by Roald Dahl with illustration by Quentin Blake, it is the best film version of any Roald Dahl work I have ever seen. There is little doubt that Dahl was a brilliant, mean, sick man, and whenever you look at an adaptation of his work, there comes a point at which there is a clear wobbling and a sense of "No, let's not go there, shall we? Let's just make farting noises. That will make the kiddies laugh."

Mr. Dahl went there. Mr. Dahl went there, and said "Hans Christian Anderssen went there, and so did the Brothers Grimm. And how do you like the venison, Mr. Disney?" This story that combines Red Riding Hood, Snow White, the Three Little Pigs, bank fraud, horse-race fixing, and a nice little revenge drama" as narrated by the uncle of the Big Bad Wolves is a constant black-humor delight. I see that Revolting Rhymes Part Two is listed on the IMDb. I have high hopes.

Garden Party: In a deserted villa, frogs leap about the pool and grounds, entering the kitchen, bumping against switches, gradually revealing what has happened.

If there was a "best technical animation" Oscar, this would get it. The entire movie, in retrospect, was created in a computer, yet created with a photorealism that even now I find confounding. Yet I am left with the question: is animation what is left over when you are done photographing what is happening in the real world? I find that too all-encompassing to be useful, resulting in the vast majority of special effects in the history of cinema being animation. Something inside me whispers that animation must somehow be about content.... not about trick photography that could have been done by the Disney Organization in their True-Life Adventures in the 1960s, or even photographed by Len Powers for Hal Roach's Dippy-doo-dads in the early 1920s.

Or maybe I'm just a stick-in-the-mud arguing that they didn't do things that way in my day, by cracky. It's not the story that is revealed. I'm a big boy and I've seen worse things. I just don't think it's an animated story, even if they tell it that way.

Lost Property Office The man on the desk at the Lost & Found office at the railway station is told that no one wants that junk, so they don't want him.

This wasn't nominated for the 2018, but was included in the Oscar-Nominated Shorts show, and the reasons why are clear. It's arty -- monochrome in sepia -- it's from a country that had no nominations -- Australia -- and, well, it's quirky and amusing in an antiquarian way. I've just gone through a patch of rereading Avram Davidson, a man who was so erudite that he had to invent empires in 19th Europe to warehouse his ideas. I've never read a piece of his that involved a Lost & Found office, which strikes me as just peculiar, but then everything about Davidson was peculiar, although charmingly so, and far more colorful than this sepia effort.

Which, however, I enjoyed greatly and recommend to you. As I do Mr. Davidson's writing. Although I advise you, when reading him, to read him aloud. Silent, he makes no sense. Aloud, well, that's precisely how people talk.

Weeds Seeing its fellow dandelions struck down by weedkiller, a lone survivor uproots itself and struggles across the dry concrete towards the next well-watered lawn.

This was another of the "recommended" shorts added to bring the Oscar-Nominated Animated Shorts of 2018 up to full length. At 3 minutes, it seems a bare trifle, but it is a lovely little tale of struggle and hope and despair. It's writer-director Kevin Hudson's first credit in both those lines -- he's moved up through the animation ranks, but he knows how to bring a basic, understandable character to a common weed. Let's hope he grows and continues to do well in what has always been a difficult branch of the film-making industry to prosper in.

Achoo was the last film shown in the Oscar-nominated animation shorts 2018 program and it was --- fun. I'm an old guy and I grew up with Fleischer cartoons and Looney Tunes and Woody Woodpecker: cartoons. They were created for kids, but they were done by adults who knew that the people in charge weren't really watching, so they did things that amused themselves. Even on TV, they didn't watch too closely for a while, and Rocky & Bullwinkle were a lot of fun to make. They were a lot of fun to watch, too Then the adults got into the mix, and no one wanted to spend any money, so we got cheap, tired stuff, even from the people who used to make stuff that amused themselves. I stopped watching those when I realized they were no fun.

Achoo is the story about a dragon trying to win a contest to impress a bunch of human by inhaling a lot of powder and doing something interesting, only he's allergic to it. And if we were being serious and adult about this, we'd have a lecture about how allergies are crippling and sixty zillion people die a year from them. But this is a cartoon, and Achoo is a cartoon dragon, so the people who made this felt free to make something that amused them. And you know what? I had a great time watching it!

Bob
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