What is the last film you watched? (2019)

Open, general discussion of classic sound-era films, personalities and history.
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drednm
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2019)

Unread post by drednm » Tue Oct 08, 2019 7:15 pm

OK, I'd never heard of this one but I liked it. The Calling (2014) is an American film shot in Ontario. It stars Susan Sarandon as a small-town cop (or detective) who gets involved in a series of murders that she's convinced are connected. But the case leads her to uncovering a weird ancient christian sect of believers and their efforts to resurrect the brother of a creepy prophet. The key is that they must choose to die as one of twelve disciples. Complex story unfolds slowly but gets creepier as it goes along. Sarandon plays her cop character in the Vera vein and is usually soused to escape the pain from a herniated disc. Co-stars include Donald Sutherland as an ancient priest, Ellen Burstyn as her mother, Gil Bellows as the unbelieving cop, Topher Grace as the new "kid," and Christopher Heyerdahl as the prophet with mesmeric powers. As in Vera there's also a funny pathologist (Kevin Parent) whose hobby is taxidermy.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2019)

Unread post by boblipton » Tue Oct 08, 2019 7:19 pm

Yuki Fujin Ezu aka Portrait Of Madame Yuki (1950): Michiyo Kogure is adored by all who do not know her. She is the beautiful daughter of a nobleman -- his title and lands stripped from him in the post-war era. She has a dashing husband in Eijirô Yanagi -- who is a wastrel who spends his time elsewhere with his gun-chewing mistress, Yuriko Hamada. She and Ken Uehara have a chaste but supportive relationship -- he tells her what she should do but she can't do it. When her father dies, all that is left is the country estate, which she turns into an inn -- her husband wants to take it from her and give it to Miss Hamada to run.

It's a portrait of decayed nobility in a post-war world, where Miss Kogure tries to live up to the standards of a vanished world, where everyone who doesn't know her is caught up in her glamor. Kenji Mizoguchi's movie from a novel by Seiichi Funabashi is a sad and solemn work, with a satiric edge. In works like Life of Oharu, the character's decline is slow, because the heights are low. Here it's a precipitous plunge.

Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Sun Oct 13, 2019 6:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Mike Gebert
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2019)

Unread post by Mike Gebert » Tue Oct 08, 2019 9:15 pm

A while back someone posed on Twitter a question—what's a movie that was a huge hit that seems to have vanished from all discussion or consciousness?

My first answer was Porky's—a big hit in the Animal House vein, but always declassé by comparison, the first one well-made enough but the later sequels junk, and absent from all the 80s nostalgia talk on social media. (Another answer, not mine, that I thought was spot on: 1966's Hawaii.)

Digging a little further back, my next answer was The Jolson Story (1946). The biggest moneymaker since Gone With the Wind, it came right after the war with a nostalgic appeal that took audiences back to the proverbial simpler, more innocent times. But within even a decade it seemed hopelessly out of date—and with almost certainly more blackface than any other movie of the sound era, you ain't seeing it again from TCM and Fathom Events, folks.

But it is on video, and as I had never seen it, I found an online version and gave it a try. It's a pretty decent version of the archetypal showbiz yarn, in which Jolson's big voice spotlights him for a star as a kid, he rises in vaudeville through the guidance of a succession of avuncular, kindly big producers who do not worry themselves with such things as money, he marries "Julie Benson," he stars in The Jazz Singer (seen very obliquely as it is owned by another studio), and... well, I haven't actually finished it, but I assume there's a big finale built around Hallelujah, I'm a Bum.

It's a highly sanitized version of the life of the famously egotistical Jolson, and Larry Parks is a Protestantized version of the very Jewish Jolson, the 60-year-old Jolson's voice improbably booming out of this rather pleasant-looking young boychik's face. Still, the showbiz bio is a pretty surefire genre, and even as it takes its sweet time getting there, it delivers the goods in the end (or, in my case, at least 2/3 of the way through), with Joseph H. Lewis directing the stage productions, leaving the soap opera to Alfred Green. Interestingly the way it deals with the blackface is not by denying it, but by turning Jolson into a kind of Alan Lomax, wanting to spread this African-American music among white audiences (by, like Elvis, making a lot of money performing it).

The idea that anything Jolson sang was jazz in any serious way is hard to accept in reality, but you can't entirely dislike a movie that wants to sell a message of benevolence among the colors and creeds so guilelessly. Early on, young Jolson runs away from his cantor father, and is found singing "Ave Maria" in a Catholic boys' choir. You might expect his Papa to blow a kishke at his son singing a song to the mother of Jesus, but the priest nods at the cantor and they smile indulgently at one another, two fellas in the same line of work just like Macy's and Gimbel's in Miracle on 34th Street. I have to say, by 1946's eyes, it's a cornball Hollywood vision of decency and tolerance that looks pretty good compared to what would have been in the papers over the preceding decade.

Now if you really want a movie that was a hit but people have forgotten... there's always Jolson Sings Again.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2019)

Unread post by MaryGH » Wed Oct 09, 2019 11:15 am

Satan's Triangle 1975

This made-for-television movie attempts to explain all the mysterious disappearances of aircraft and watercraft in the Bermuda Triangle. Kim Novak is the enigmatic Eva, rescued by Coast Guard Lt. Haig (Doug McClure) who discovers several dead bodies on board the ship. Haig attempts to bring Eva back up to the helicopter which is being flown by Michael Conrad, but the wire holding the cage-like human carrier breaks due to the weight of them both - and back into the ocean they fall, finding the derelict ship they had just been on, a temporary place of rest once again. Haig sees some peculiar positions of the dead men on board, one which happens to be a priest with his foot caught in the rope supporting the mast; another crew member in the galley, "levitating" off the floor, an early scare in the movie.
Haig finally goads Eva to tell him what happened that the ship looks like it has been through hell, and finally giving in, weaves a fantastic yarn with the strange events starting after they pick up a floundering priest (Alejandro Rey) in the ocean that prompts Haig to take her on deck and show what really happened - even a logical explanation for the levitating crew member.

Or does logic predominate the seemingly happy ending for Haig and Eva? What really did happen on the helicopter flight back home? The ending has a twist that can make the most casual viewer turn white (like I did) in this movie directed by Sutton Roley and written by William Read Woodfield. Kim is at her most beautiful self here, there is no better bait in the Atlantic Ocean.

If you are ever boating off the east coast of Florida, beware of any priests floating around the waters looking helpless.

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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2019)

Unread post by s.w.a.c. » Wed Oct 09, 2019 12:43 pm

Mike Gebert wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 9:15 pm
A while back someone posed on Twitter a question—what's a movie that was a huge hit that seems to have vanished from all discussion or consciousness?
I was thinking the same thing last night, watching the 1932 version of Edna Ferber's hit novel So Big, directed by William A. Wellman and starring Barbara Stanwyck, with supporting roles by George Brent, Bette Davis and Alan Hale. Stanwyck would go on to bigger things, with Baby Face and The Bitter Tea of General Yen right around the corner, but here she's in Stella Dallas mode as a self-sacrificing farm mother Selina De Jong who becomes disappointed in her son (Dickie Moore as a tot, Hardie Albright as an adult) when he abandons the noble calling of architecture for the get-rich-quick world of selling bonds.

This is the middle version of the story, following a silent production with Colleen Moore and a later colour film directed by Robert Wise, starring Jane Wyman (haven't seen either). Ferber was certainly a popular writer in her time, with her work becoming turned into films like Show Boat and Cimarron, but I don't know how often her work gets checked out these days. I only knew of So Big because of references to it in Warner Bros. cartoons, but this is a likeable, if earnest tale, that crams a lot of story into its 81 minute running time. There's a bit of pre-code flavour to it, in the early scenes with a young Selina and her gambler father, the roughness of the farmers she lives with when she heads to a small town to teach, and her son's affair with a married woman whose husband runs the brokerage firm that hires him. In only her second film, Davis commands your attention as a young artist who the son falls for, and learns a lesson in humility from.

Given the popularity of the book, I can only assume the film itself was a hit, but it doesn't seem to rank high with Stanwyck fans, or classic film lovers in general, but I was charmed enough by it.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2019)

Unread post by s.w.a.c. » Wed Oct 09, 2019 12:46 pm

MaryGH wrote:
Wed Oct 09, 2019 11:15 am
Satan's Triangle 1975
Yikes, I caught this in a rerun not long after its initial airing, when I was still a kid under 10, and it gave me nightmares for ages (that image of the floating man still lingers in my memory).

For a long time, I couldn't remember which Bermuda Triangle title I'd seen, but this reminds me that I should seek this one out and revisit that old nightmare (I believe I've seen it available on YouTube).

Kind of like the movie about zombies which I think was set in an older Chicago. Might have been Curtis Harrington's The Dead Don't Die, but the quality of the version of that on YouTube is pretty terrible.

EDIT: After a bit of Googling, it looks like that's exactly the zombie film I was thinking of. Maybe I'll suffer through the YouTube version if nothing better turns up.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2019)

Unread post by Jim Roots » Wed Oct 09, 2019 2:19 pm

s.w.a.c. wrote:
Wed Oct 09, 2019 12:43 pm
Mike Gebert wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 9:15 pm
A while back someone posed on Twitter a question—what's a movie that was a huge hit that seems to have vanished from all discussion or consciousness?
Ferber was certainly a popular writer in her time, with her work becoming turned into films like Show Boat and Cimarron, but I don't know how often her work gets checked out these days.
Ferber ranks with Joseph Hergesheimer and Rafael Sabatini as authors of the 1910s-30s who were not only immensely popular with the readers of their era but also with movie producers, who got into bidding wars for film rights to their books and who even commissioned screenplays before some of the books were even written, but who had disappeared from both critical and popular memory by the time WW2 rolled around. If you can find their books nowadays, they aren't totally worthless reads, but you can certainly see why they haven't stood the test of time as sturdily as their immortally talented contemporaries such as Faulkner, Fitzgerald, and the early Hemingway.

Jim

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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2019)

Unread post by boblipton » Wed Oct 09, 2019 2:42 pm

Kyojin To Gangu aka Giants And Toys (1958): Three Japanese companies are locked in competition to sell the most caramels. World Caramels hires unspoiled, tomboyish Hitomi Nozoe as the spokesmodel for their new, space-aged campaign. But fame is fleeting and people in the public eye don't remain unspoiled for long.

Yasuzô Masumura, the director of this movie, came to the movie industry after studying philosophy. He worked under Kon Inchikawa, and was directing by 1957. Here, we have a satiric indictment of the corporate capitalism of the new Japan, in which people work themselves to death, marry for advancement, and sacrifice human feelings for advancement. It's a problem that has not gone away.

It's fast-cut editing and mildly hysterical performances all the way through this movie. I thought it was too strident in making its philosophical points, but the actors certainly were compelling.

Bob
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2019)

Unread post by MaryGH » Wed Oct 09, 2019 5:55 pm

s.w.a.c. wrote:
Wed Oct 09, 2019 12:46 pm
MaryGH wrote:
Wed Oct 09, 2019 11:15 am
Satan's Triangle 1975
Yikes, I caught this in a rerun not long after its initial airing, when I was still a kid under 10, and it gave me nightmares for ages (that image of the floating man still lingers in my memory).

For a long time, I couldn't remember which Bermuda Triangle title I'd seen, but this reminds me that I should seek this one out and revisit that old nightmare (I believe I've seen it available on YouTube).

Kind of like the movie about zombies which I think was set in an older Chicago. Might have been Curtis Harrington's The Dead Don't Die, but the quality of the version of that on YouTube is pretty terrible.

EDIT: After a bit of Googling, it looks like that's exactly the zombie film I was thinking of. Maybe I'll suffer through the YouTube version if nothing better turns up.

Yup, that's where I saw "Satan's Triangle", on Youtube - it was showing up as "Suggested movie" to watch so I finally caved in. Glad I saw it, too. 'Tis the season for movies like this, Happy Halloween.

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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2019)

Unread post by Brooksie » Wed Oct 09, 2019 9:49 pm

Jim Roots wrote:
Wed Oct 09, 2019 2:19 pm
s.w.a.c. wrote:
Wed Oct 09, 2019 12:43 pm
Mike Gebert wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 9:15 pm
A while back someone posed on Twitter a question—what's a movie that was a huge hit that seems to have vanished from all discussion or consciousness?
Ferber was certainly a popular writer in her time, with her work becoming turned into films like Show Boat and Cimarron, but I don't know how often her work gets checked out these days.
Ferber ranks with Joseph Hergesheimer and Rafael Sabatini as authors of the 1910s-30s who were not only immensely popular with the readers of their era but also with movie producers, who got into bidding wars for film rights to their books and who even commissioned screenplays before some of the books were even written, but who had disappeared from both critical and popular memory by the time WW2 rolled around.
Gene Stratton-Porter is another. All of her most popular books received multiple film adaptations, (like Edgar Rice Burroughs, she even briefly had her own film production company) and yet who has heard of, say Michael O'Halloran, today? Take a peek in any antique bookstore and it seems everyone must have owned a copy at some point.

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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2019)

Unread post by FrankFay » Thu Oct 10, 2019 4:37 am

Brooksie wrote:
Wed Oct 09, 2019 9:49 pm
Jim Roots wrote:
Wed Oct 09, 2019 2:19 pm
s.w.a.c. wrote:
Wed Oct 09, 2019 12:43 pm

Ferber was certainly a popular writer in her time, with her work becoming turned into films like Show Boat and Cimarron, but I don't know how often her work gets checked out these days.
Ferber ranks with Joseph Hergesheimer and Rafael Sabatini as authors of the 1910s-30s who were not only immensely popular with the readers of their era but also with movie producers, who got into bidding wars for film rights to their books and who even commissioned screenplays before some of the books were even written, but who had disappeared from both critical and popular memory by the time WW2 rolled around.
Gene Stratton-Porter is another. All of her most popular books received multiple film adaptations, (like Edgar Rice Burroughs, she even briefly had her own film production company) and yet who has heard of, say Michael O'Halloran, today? Take a peek in any antique bookstore and it seems everyone must have owned a copy at some point.
I've only read one Joseph Hergesheimer, but but was a good one. The Three Black Pennys (1917) The language is lush: "He thought of the word love; and he was struck by the vast inaccuracy of that large phrase. It meant, Howat told himself, literally nothing: what complex feeling Isabel Penny might have for her husband, Caroline's frank desire for David Forsythe, Myrtle's meagre emotion, Fanny Gilkan's sense of Hesa and life's necessary compromises, his own collapse—all were alike called love. It was not only a useless word but a dangerous falsity. It had without question cloaked immense harm, pretence; it had perpetuated old lies, brought them plausibly, as if in a distinguished and reputable company, out of past superstitions and credulity; the real and the meaningless, the good and the evil, hopelessly confused". .........""...a cataract of liquid steel burst out through lambent orange and blue flames. It poured, searing the vision, into the ladle, over which rosy clouds accumulated in a bank drifting..."
Eric Stott

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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2019)

Unread post by s.w.a.c. » Thu Oct 10, 2019 5:28 am

I'm suddenly reminded of hearing about someone (can't remember who, someone well-known at any rate) using the word "hergesheimer" as an all-purpose noun like "gizmo" or "whatchamacallit". Does anyone else have any idea what I'm talking about? Can't find anything on Google, so maybe I'm just imagining things.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2019)

Unread post by boblipton » Thu Oct 10, 2019 6:27 am

The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid (1972): Cole Younger (Cliff Robertson), Jesse James (Robert Duvall) and their gangs get together to rob a bank. They figure it will be an easy job. With their many desperadoes, who will oppose them?

Philip Kaufman's third movie as a writer-director tries for a Sam Peckinpah sort of movie, covering the passing of the old west into modernity, with crazes like baseball and steam calliopes amidst the mud. He gets a different effect, however. While Peckinpah's characters know the times they are a-changin', Kaufman's are doing work at the same old stand with their old, rough, practical morality, which cannot stand before the easier, richer forces of civilization moving in from the east. In many ways, Kaufman's is a better movie; instead of the characters talking about the changes, Kaufman shows them to the audience, allowing us to draw our own conclusions. It is in the delineation of character, however, that Kaufman is Peckinpah's inferior. The people who occupy his world are not as bright, not as contemplative. The villains -- the bankers, the landlords -- are clearly uncomfortable in their heavy, ill-fitting clothes, while the heroes -- the Younger-James gang -- are sentimental rather than hewing to a moral or ethical code. There's no one to admire, even in part. Rather than moments of elation, every encounter between the two groups seems a disappointing, temporary victory.

I expect that was Kaufman's intention: to produce a minor-key tragedy, instead of an elegy. However, it's a series of unhappy events, rather than a portrayal of the punishment of hubris.

Bob
The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2019)

Unread post by drednm » Thu Oct 10, 2019 8:30 am

The Milagro Beanfield War (1988) was directed by Robert Redford, based on a novel by John Nichols. The film has a rather uneasy feel of condescension in its portrayal of the small-town Hispanics. Story has a poor laborer (Chick Vennera) deciding to plant a beanfield after he accidentally opens a water gate and floods his field with water "owned" by an Anglo land developer). The plot then has the developer and his cronies using the state government to coerce the laborer into submitting to their power by plowing up his field. The locals smack of that mild racism so familiar from 1930s films. They're mostly a lazy lot, content to live in their long-entrenched squalor. They are finally roused by a firebrand woman (Sonia Braga) and an Anglo Leftist (John Heard) but only after the "powers" start playing hardball with the would-be farmer and his beans. Into this quasi-political mix, the plot throws in some good old Santa Fe mysticism with an "angel" guiding and spurring an old man into action.

At the heart, this is a story about the age-old battle between the "natives" and the "outsiders" who move in and challenge the locals about the ownership and use of the land and water. In Nichols' fable, the outcomes are guided by the spiritual beliefs and ancient mysticism. Redford had wanted to film in Chimayo because of the famous holy dirt there but the locals refused, so he filmed in Truchas, a hamlet halfway between Santa Fe and Taos. Redford films much of the film in the twilight hours to get that famous "light" so valued by local artists. He also films many, many colorful locals to populate his town of Milagro.

In the end, Redford has given us a too-long film that ambles along and hammers every good vs evil plot point. None of the characters are terribly likable, and there's something just plain wrong in trying to make arty the local squalor and poverty. Co-stars include Christopher Walken, Ruben Blades, M. Emmet Walsh, Julie Carmen, Richard Bradford, James Gammon, Freddy Fender, Jerry Hardin, and Melnaie Griffith apparently confusing this story for Born Yesterday.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2019)

Unread post by Jim Roots » Thu Oct 10, 2019 8:51 am

s.w.a.c. wrote:
Thu Oct 10, 2019 5:28 am
I'm suddenly reminded of hearing about someone (can't remember who, someone well-known at any rate) using the word "hergesheimer" as an all-purpose noun like "gizmo" or "whatchamacallit". Does anyone else have any idea what I'm talking about? Can't find anything on Google, so maybe I'm just imagining things.
Your memory got verlandered, apparently.

Jim

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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2019)

Unread post by boblipton » Fri Oct 11, 2019 5:32 am

Dangerous Passage (1944): A lawyer tells Robert Lowery his grandfather has died and left him a lot of money. Lowery needs to get to Texas ASAP. When someone tries to mug him, he decides not to wait and takes the first ship heading his way. However, there are strange things happen onboard. Fellow passenger Phyllis Brooks is suspicious of him; there's an "accident" involving cut lines that almost kills him.

This is a movie that starts out very nicely, with lots of foggy noir camerawork by DP Fred Jackman Jr. As the movie unreels, Daniel Mainwaring's script falls into standard tropes, and suddenly, Charles Arndt is talking like Casper Gutman. Still, in the end, the story is wrapped up very satisfactorily by director William Berke, one of those fast-working B specialists about whom you wonder what he might have accomplished had he been given an A production.

In short, it's another decently made B production by Pine-Thomas, using proven formulas and good, if cheap actors. It's a very nice time-waster.

Bob
The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there.
— L.P. Hartley

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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2019)

Unread post by R Michael Pyle » Fri Oct 11, 2019 6:32 am

I watched a movie that is the definition of British in a bygone era. I watched "Spring Meeting" (1941) in a new British Blu-Ray release that's so clean and clear you'd think this was the film's first showing. Not every American is going to appreciate this delicious depiction of a sort of pro-feminist near upstairs/downstairs arena where the owners of the house of Furze are not necessarily poor, but need to be frugal. That is not really any part of the movie, but it sets the stage for the way Henry Edwards, playing Sir Richard Furze, and his sister Margaret Rutherford, playing Aunt Bijou, behave. The film stars Nova Pilbeam, Enid Stamp-Taylor, young Michael Wilding, Basil Sydney, Edwards, Rutherford, Sarah Churchill, W. G. Fay, and Hugh McDermott. Sarah Churchill, playing Edwards' daughter, Joan Furze, is 29 years old, unmarried, and is in love with her father's equine manager/driver/helper, Johnny Mahoney, played by W. G. Fay: upstairs vs downstairs. Michael Wilding (Tony Fox-Collier) and his mother Stamp-Taylor (Tiny Fox-Collier) arrive - this, with the intention of getting Wilding to marry Churchill for ulterior motives of his mother. Wilding and Pilbeam fall in love nearly instantly. The glue of all this is the main servant/butler/all around house guy Basil Sydney. Oh, there's also the house's carpenter/all around everything else, from ladder fixer and climber to gutter cleaner, etc., etc., etc.... This is played by Hugh McDermott. Did I mention that Stamp-Taylor and Edwards seem to have had a thing for each other way in the past? Well, guess what occurs here? All this may sound like a dull romantic picture. Instead, it's a romp through manners and customs and comedy and quasi-drama that had the ring nearly of Oscar Wilde about it. Based on a play by M. J. Farrell and John Percy, this plays almost like a play, but is filmed extremely well. Directed by Walter Mycroft and Norman Lee, this was made in 1940 and released in January of 1941.

Margaret and I are fans of Nova Pilbeam, and we enjoyed her especially in "The Man Who Knew Too Much" (1934) and "Young and Innocent" (1937), both directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Here she is ravishingly beautiful and a real surprise. She could play period, straight drama and comedy, all with a seeming ease. It's also interesting to see Margaret Rutherford a little younger: her character is eccentric and comic and steals away from all others in the show the glory of true charisma. Extremely highly recommended, though there will be Americans who just don't get the hoopla.

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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2019)

Unread post by drednm » Fri Oct 11, 2019 7:40 am

Too Much Harmony (1933) is a zesty musical from Paramount that stars Bing Crosby as a crooner in a New York show who's engaged to Lilyan Tashman but in love with Judith Allen. To complicate matters, Allen is engaged to Jack Oakie, who co-stars in the show with his partner Skeets Gallagher. The plot plays second fiddle to a series of musical numbers that feature Crosby singing several terrific songs like "Buckin' the Wind" and "Boo-boo-boo," which lampoons his own singing style. Crosby and Allen also duet on "The Day You Came Along." Oakie and Gallagher yuck it up with "Mingle with the Hoy Palloy" and then there's wisecracking Kitty Kelly belting out "Black Moon" and lovely Grace Bradley singing and dancing to "Cradle Me with Hotcha Lullaby." The songs are written by Arthur Johnston and Sam Coslow, and they're pretty damned good.

1933 was a big year for Crosby. He solidified his star status at Paramount in several musicals and was loaned out to MGM to star with Marion Davies in Going Hollywood. Tashman also scores in a supporting role as the gold-digging dame who gets tricked into releasing Crosby from their engagement. Co-stars include Ned Sparks, Harry Green, Henry Armetta, Hobart Cavanaugh, and Evelyn Oakie (Jack's mother in her only film appearance).
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2019)

Unread post by boblipton » Fri Oct 11, 2019 7:23 pm

It is doubtless evident to my fellow Nitratevillains that I will look at anything that was once on a strip of film -- although I try to put off a Chantal Akerman movie as long as possible. Why, I've spent the afternoon and evening looking at a bunch of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoons that were new to me. Most were eh. For the evening, though, I wanted something easy to watch, and I turned to a film which Ed Lorusso wrote on October 19, 2015:
The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry (1945) is one I'd never heard of. Lousy title, but a terrific little murder mystery starring George Sanders as a milquetoast brother living with two sisters in the old family home after the family fortune is long gone. Sanders works in a mill and one day meets a woman from New York (Ella Raines) in town to do some work for the mill. Oddly, they take a shine to each other, but things get rocky when he takes her home to meet the sisters. The elder one (Moyna MacGill) is a widow forced to move back home after he husband's death, but the younger one (Geraldine Fitzgerald) is a manipulative spinster who plays at being a near-invalid in order to keep her brother by her side. Raines and Fitzgerald size each other up in about a minute flat, and the battle for Sanders begins. But things change quickly when Sanders fins a vial of poison in his sister's desk. Sanders is terrific in an odd role as milquetoast. Fitzgerald is all acid and spite as the bitch sister. McGill (mother of Angela Lansbury) gets a rare major role and is also excellent. And Raines (should have been a bigger star) has one of her best roles. Co-stars include Sara Allgood as the maid, Harry Von Zell as the lodge brother, Harry Hayden, Ethel Griffies, Samuel S. Hinds, Irene Tedrow, and Barbara Pepper.
There's a great twist, and some terrific performances here. Miss Fitzgerald is marvelous in a role that reveals her character's utter selfishness slowly, through the final confrontation. As for Sanders, after more than half a decade of playing the suave rotter ("Cancel my rhumba lessons") in A pictures and the suave hero in Bs, watching his portrayal of a man whose world has grown tiny and dull and hopeless, and he has shrunk to match it... well, it's astonishing to watch him stand up and tower over everyone. The portrait of the small town is beautifully done, with its ice cream counter, and gossips and loud and Harry Von Zell perfect as the canny rube of a druggist.

I'm dissatisfied with the ending. It's claimed they shot eight endings and allowed the audiences in previews to vote. I think they picked the wrong one, even though I understand why.

Bob
The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there.
— L.P. Hartley

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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2019)

Unread post by boblipton » Sat Oct 12, 2019 5:45 am

San daikaijû: Chikyû saidai no kessen aka Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964): An enormous meteorite lands in the Japanese Alps. A missing foreign princess turns up, claiming she is from Venus and predicting disaster. When a three-headed, lightning-breathing dragon emerges from emerges and begins to ravage Japan, it is decided that it will take Mothra, Rodan and Godzilla to defeat it.

The kaiju mythology that began with Godzilla had grown very elaborate over the course of a decade, and it was clearly at a turning point, with Godzilla on the edge of becoming a good guy, Shimura's last appearance in the franchise and the Ito twins final as Mothra's fairy handlers. The point of the entire mishegoss is the monster mash-up that concludes the film. and it's no disappointment in terms of the franchise.

Bob
The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there.
— L.P. Hartley

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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2019)

Unread post by R Michael Pyle » Sat Oct 12, 2019 6:52 am

Watched a very interesting saga last night, "The Angel with the Trumpet" (1950), a British production about an Austrian family's goings-on through a five decade period covering the reigns of Franz Joseph (the movie beginning in 1888) through WWI and up into the regime of Adolph Hitler and Nazi-ism. Starring the great Scottish actress Eileen Herlie in one of only ten films she made during a career of seventy years, it also showcases Basil Sydney as her husband, Francis Alt, owner of a piano company; Norman Wooland as Prince Rudolf; Maria Schell; Oskar Werner; John Justin; and so many others, from Anthony Bushell (who also directed) to Wilfrid Hyde-White. Herlie plays Henrietta Stein, a half-Jewish woman who is loved by Prince Rudolf and who loves him, though both know that the affair is doomed. She instead marries Basil Sydney in a marriage that is dull but... The tail end of the marriage has some surprises that are bittersweet. The film in itself is bittersweet with moments that are ultimately tragic... I won't give all the details because, after all, this is a saga, and a fairly long one story-wise. The film is 98 minutes, but moves swiftly enough after the first fifteen minutes or so. Setting the stage takes its time, but is rewarding. This is a film that Eileen Herlie must have felt was something she could sink her teeth into, and she does a magnificent job. New from StudioCanal in Blu-Ray. Based on the dense novel by Ernst Lothar.

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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2019)

Unread post by drednm » Sat Oct 12, 2019 7:04 am

Watched the third installment of the Mr. Whicher TV movies starring Paddy Considine as a private detective in Victorian England. This one, titled Beyond the Pale has Whicher tracking down a pair of Indian lascars who seem to be intent on menacing a mild-mannered Englishman who lived in India for 12 years. Of course the Englishman is not what he seems, and he harbors quite a few secrets (and tells a few lies). Whicher eventually peels away the lies to reveal a startling truth. Good series is marred by a general drabness of color and underlit interiors (yes, they had gaslight, we get it). Considine underplays and comes off well. The character of Whicher is based on a real-life detective of the era.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2019)

Unread post by boblipton » Sat Oct 12, 2019 12:38 pm

Gemini Man (2019) is an Ang Lee movie, and I try to see my Ang Lee movies in the theater. So that was today.

Will Smith is an assassin for some shadowy government department. After his most recent job, he's had it, so he tells his handler he's retiring. One day, he's going fishing. His boat has been bugged. He makes Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who's running the dock, as surveilling him, and tells her. That night they come to kill him, so he escapes, and takes Miss Winstead with him on a round-the-globe trip, where the unstoppable guy after him turns out to be a clone of him, thirty years younger.

There are some major problems with the script, mostly around motivation, once we get past Smith deciding it's time to retire. Why try to kill him? Why does Miss Winstead, who had been happily working for the big bad spies, decide "Golly, yes! I'll just run off with this guy I've been told needs to be watched, who obviously needs to be killed!" Other questions of that sort abound.

On the other hand, the cinematography by Dion Beebe is gorgeous. He makes the alleys of Cartagena pop with color, and during a major gun battle (the bad guys have those super-modern Gatlings, compared with Our Hero firing an automatic. Guess who goes down?) he manages to make a rack of potato chips being shredded by gunfire look beautiful.

It's clear to me that Ang Lee's forte is not the action movie. It's also clear to me that, as with his version of Hulk, he's a director for hire, looking to do one for himself and one for the studio, and doing his best with a troublesome script. He gets fine performances out of his actors, even, or perhaps especially, when they are do things that make no sense. It's too bad he can't work more often with better scripts.

Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Mon Oct 14, 2019 5:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2019)

Unread post by boblipton » Sat Oct 12, 2019 3:06 pm

Quiet Please, Murder (1942): George Sanders has a nice business. He steals rare books, like Burbage's copy of the First Folio, from the library, forges exacting copies, and sells them to suckers through Gail Patrick. If he has to shoot a library guard, that's part of the business. However, when Miss Patrick sells a copy to an agent of high-ranking Nazis, Sanders knows that's not good business. So it happens when he's next at the library to pick up some merchandise, there's a murder. He takes charge, claiming to be a police officer. However, PI Richard Denning is on site, trying to track down the missing books for a sizable reward....

There's a lot of flair in the script and performances, some discussion of how the crooks enjoy the terror of being at risk, but this Fox B movie istoo complicated for the simple solutions that are offered at the end. It's very watchable, with some fine actors like Byron Foulger, Sidney Blackmer and Lynne Roberts, but ultimately unsatisfying.

Bob
The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there.
— L.P. Hartley

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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2019)

Unread post by boblipton » Sat Oct 12, 2019 4:42 pm

Heart of the West (1936): In the sixth Hopalong Cassidy movie, Bill Boyd and James Ellison head out to take a job for a while with Sidney Blackmer's outfit. Before that can happen, they hook up with whip-wielding Gabby Hayes, who tells them about the fence war with his employer, Lynn Gabriel. So Hoppy and Johnny go to work for her. Meanwhile, Blackmer tries to get Miss Gabriel's spread, proposing marriage to her, and starting a cattle stampede. With Hoppy on the job, will everything turn out right?

It's a pleasant effort early in the long-running series, still under the control of producer Harry Sherman. It looks like pretty much standard B-western fare, albeit with a better script, pacing, and production values than the independents could manage.

Bob
The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2019)

Unread post by boblipton » Sat Oct 12, 2019 6:47 pm

City Across The River (1949): They live in the slums of Brooklyn, and they think the whole world is against them. They're not a gang -- they say. They're a club. But when two of them kill their shop teacher, and they're all pulled in -- along with every other student of the teacher -- they begin to crack.

This movie is based on the Irving Shulman novel The Amboy Dukes. Portions of it were shot on site in Brooklyn: Williamsburg and Gerritsen Beach. With Brooklyn currently a hot spot for the hipsters, it's hard to imagine e hard living of the area, but it didn't begin to pick itself up until well into the 1980s. Although Stephen McNally, as the fellow who runs the youth center, hoping to save the kids, is top billed, there is some interesting talent among the young hoodlums: Richard Jaeckel and Anthony (later Tony) Curtis among them. Thelma Ritter plays the mother of one of them in weary mode -- amazing as always, even if this is one of the few performances she didn't get an Oscar nomination for.

The race of the people trapped in the slums may have changed, but not the situation.

Bob
The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2019)

Unread post by boblipton » Sat Oct 12, 2019 8:14 pm

Hold That Woman! (1940): James Dunn is a skip tracer; today we'd call him a repo man. He's also engaged to Frances Gifford. He's trying to repossess a radio from Rita La Roy. What he doesn't know is she's part of a gang who have stolen movie star Anna Lisa's jewels. She's hired his firm to recover them, and is willing to pay extra for no police involvement and no publicity. The jewels have been hidden in the radio Dunn is trying to repossess.

It's a comedy, but a fairly weak one, carried only on Dunn's energy and his chemistry with Miss Gifford; they were in the middle of a four-year marriage, so there's some energy there, but also some insecurity. Although she had been getting some minor roles in major pictures, but this was her first lead, and it was for PRC, so there was no time spent trying to get better takes by director Sam Newfield.

Bob
The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2019)

Unread post by Brooksie » Sat Oct 12, 2019 10:16 pm

boblipton wrote:
Sat Oct 12, 2019 6:47 pm
This movie is based on the Irving Shulman novel The Amboy Dukes.
I wasn't aware that Shulman was a novelist. I wish he had labelled his 'biographies' of Jean Harlow and Rudolph Valentino as such. Two of the most poisonous pieces of so-called non-fiction that I've ever had to wade through. I felt like suing on behalf of the ghost of Paul Bern.

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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2019)

Unread post by boblipton » Sun Oct 13, 2019 6:54 am

The Fighting Vigilantes (1947): The New PRC and Lash Larue. It makes you cringe, just to read those words: arguably the worst production company in Gower Gulch and a guy who sounds like a one-shot villain in a Charleton comic book. Has to be a terrible movie, even by B Western standards.

Well, it's obviously cheaply shot, but it's not awful. Al St. John provides some decent comic-sidekicking. The plot: bandits are robbing the food supplies wagons, driving up food prices, and vigilantes are robbing the food supply wagons to donate to poor people; Lash and Al get interested after wandering into town and noticing pretty Jennifer Holt. Ray Taylor directs at a decent clip. An awful lot of it is shot around a particular dusty tree on the Iverson Ranch to speed camera set-ups for DP Ernest Miller, but, hey, anything to save a buck. Lee Morgan is the laziest, biggest crybaby sheriff you ever saw. George Cheseboro is selling food at prices that look okay for 2019. By the end, it all makes sense.

And Lash Larue is a dead ringer for a young Humphrey Bogart. He even sounds like Bogey. Actress Sarah Padden once met him, looked at him for a while, then asked if his mother had ever met Bogart. His real name was Alfred Larue, born in either Michigan or Louisiana. He decided to give acting a whirl in his mid-twenties, but no major would give him a contract. Finally, PRC said if he could handle a bullwhip, they would give him a job. He said he could, almost killed himself trying to learn it on his own, then PRC paid for lessons.

Many years later, he taught Harrison Ford how to handle the whip for the first Indiana Jones movie. He died in 1996, having gone through ten wives and 78 years, and almost certainly hearing a few jokes far too many times.

Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Sun Oct 13, 2019 6:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2019)

Unread post by drednm » Sun Oct 13, 2019 7:14 am

Practical Magic (1998) is a stinker. Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman play sisters witches dealing with a curse placed on them by an ancient relative. They can never find true and lasting love. Yawn. Best part of the film deals with their spinster aunts (Dianne Wiest, Stockard Channing) who have apparently bypassed even trying to break the curse and live life as daffy eccentrics. Badly directed by Griffin Dunne and with one of those annoying soundtracks comprised mostly of bits and pieces of "famous" recordings.
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