What is the last film you watched? (2018)

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

Unread post by Daniel Eagan » Sun Jul 01, 2018 9:22 pm

I got to interview Morgan Neville about his documentary Won't You Be My Neighbor? and he said the biggest problem he faced was having too much material. Everyone he spoke to wanted to contribute, so he saw his job as limiting the doc as much as possible to Rogers himself. That's why some people are seen only briefly, if at all.

I was too old to watch the show when it originally aired, so I went into the film with only the preconceptions formed by comedians and critics who over the years portrayed Rogers as square, a bit simple, and sort of preachy. What I liked about the doc was how it explained and illuminated his background, showed how talented he was, and gave just enough examples of the show to indicate how it evolved and how brilliant it was. There are two scenes in it which left me in tears, tears and utmost respect for someone who tried to do good instead of amass a fortune.

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

Unread post by Mike Gebert » Sun Jul 01, 2018 10:06 pm

Only two? I counted at least four! You heartless monster!

Seriously I think you get the value of the film-- it's not just that he made a sweet simple show but he did it through real insight into what children respond to, and a commitment to civic virtue in programming for our youngest citizens... and through some of the worst moments in recent history.

I want to know more about the family life-- I sensed a bit of an iceberg under the water there, not something big and awful (the man really was as close to a saint as you're going to get) but what is it like when your dad is every kid's dad? That said, it really is a lovely film about a lovely man who took small people with great seriousness, and great respect.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by MaryGH » Mon Jul 02, 2018 5:25 am

West of Cheyenne 1931

Tommy's first talkie feature film. He was 28 (so young!). Lafe McKee plays his father, wrongfully accused of murder and in jail. Later remade into "Terror of the Plains" (1934).

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

Unread post by s.w.a.c. » Mon Jul 02, 2018 7:27 am

I've been wanting to watch William Wyler's expansive western The Big Country (1958) for years, but glad I waited for the more recent restoration currently available on blu-ray. The depiction of a vicious cattle war between two families, the Terrills and the Hannasseys, is shown through the eyes of greenhorn James McKay (Gregory Peck), a New England sea captain who arrives in the remote western community to marry Patricia Terrill (Carroll Baker), daughter of the more esteemed family's patriarch, Major Henry Terrill, who tells her fiance that their rivals are just trash when they encounter some of the Hannasseys while en route to the ranch. Meanwhile, the inter-family grudge is also fanned by Rufus Hannassey, who at least has some sort of code of honour, unlike his unruly sons, led by uber-creepy Clint Walker, who has eyes on the local schoolmarm Julie Maragon (played by Jean Simmons, who just happens to own the ranch that's the lynchpin in this territorial battle).

Far-reaching landscapes shot by Franz Planer (whose career goes back to Germany in 1919) are as much of a character in the film as any of the cast members, although Charlton Heston as ranch hand Steve Leech does his best to match them. The climactic fight between Peck and Heston in the midst of wide-open spaces is often cited as the film's highlights, and Heston reportedly took on the lesser part as a chance to work with both Peck and Wyler. Also the scene where Peck and Simmons confront Ives and Walker at the Hannassey Ranch is superbly directed, and one of the best in the Western genre.

I'd been holding on to a previous DVD copy for years, due to a promise I'd made to a Heston-fan friend of mine not to watch it without her, but enough years had gone by that I figured I owed it to myself to finally take that trip to The Big Country, and also finally see the Ives performance that inspired the character of Stinky Wizzleteats who sings Happy Happy Joy Joy on The Ren & Stimpy Show. "I told you I'd shoot, but you didn't believe me!"
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by drednm » Mon Jul 02, 2018 7:25 pm

Gotti (2018) seems to have been panned by critics and moviegoers even before it was ever released. I think there's a large anti-Travolta crowd out there. While it's not a great classic, it's a perfectly watchable film with John Travolta playing the famed mob boss John Gotti, who died from cancer in a prison in, of all places, Springfield, MO, in 2002. The story mostly deals with his rise to power within the "family" and the tensions within his real-life family, especially his son. Travolta is quite good, although he seems to be channeling Christopher Walken. Co-stars include Kelly Preston, Stacy Keach, Chris Mulkey, Leo Rossi, and Pruitt Taylor Vince.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by boblipton » Mon Jul 02, 2018 7:45 pm

A Passport to Hell (1932): Elissa Landi has just been kicked out of all the British African colonies for all the reasons that women were kicked out of tropical ports in Pre-Code movies. She winds up in German Africa and fascinates Alexander Kirkland, a German officer whose father, Warner Oland, is the captain of the port. The First World War is declared and she's about to be stuck in a penal camp, so KIrkland marries her -- and then Oland tells him why she's there. He doesn't care. The two of them are off in the bush, then, while he's away on maneuvers, along comes Kirkland's buddy, Paul Lukas, and she fascinates him.... and he her.

It was one of the movies that the Majors were producing at the time, of shady ladies caught up in the events of the First World War. MGM had Garbo in Mata Hari and RKO put Helen Twelvetrees in A Woman of Experience. Miss Landi gives a wonderful performance here, but somehow she never comes across as someone who sets out to captivate the helpless men. If anything, the script and her performance draws her as someone who does so almost unwillingly, forced into a demi-mondaine's life as a curse, an unwilling Erda.

Frank Lloyd's direction may seem casually uncaring to the modern viewer, with all the characters easily accepting the racist and sexist standards of the times. I think it was a deliberate choice: none of the characters seem aware of what they are doing except for Miss Landi, who sets out to marry Kirkland and frustrate his father in revenge.... and then gets caught in her own web.

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

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Tue Jul 03, 2018 3:08 pm

VAMONOS CON PANCHO VILLA! / LET'S GO WITH PANCHO VILLA! (1936) tells of six friends who decide to support Villa (Domingo Soler) around 1914. Filmed by Fernando de Fuentes, the film is a slightly uneven, very handsomely shot movie which has echoes of many of the famous 'epic' westerns of the 20s and 30s, with visuals and plot elements recalling THE TEXAS RANGERS and THE IRON HORSE for starters, with many of the tracking shots of battle recalling ALL QUIET. Much of it is more sober in tone than VIVA VILLA!, made two years earlier.

The film is pretty much an all-male affair, with the occasional woman at home or in the cantina, VAMONOS is a spectacular, rousing film, only let down by the odd wobbly plot element. Shooting is very atmospheric, and some of the battle scenes are a little bit different from the Hollywood style, which give it a slightly unusual flavour. Although one is certain that not all the sextet will survive, one doesn't know which ones will be killed. The very downbeat ending (the family man [Antonio Frausto] kills the youngest one, who has smallpox and is also ordered to stay rather than fight) is both moving and powerful, and the look and flow of the film make up for any artificiality and the comic element provided by the fat, banana-eating comrade. Co-photographed by Gabriel Figueroa, who was to work later with Bunuel amongst others. A worthwhile combination of the human interest provided by the comrades as well as being a spectacular, often sweeping film despite a shortish running time.

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

Unread post by R Michael Pyle » Wed Jul 04, 2018 7:50 am

Watched "Kansas City Princess" (1934) with Joan Blondell, Glenda Farrell, Robert Armstrong, Hugh Herbert, Ivan Lebedeff, Osgood Perkins, Vince Barnett, T. Roy Barnes, Hobart Cavanaugh, Gordon Westcott, Renee Whitney, and others. All I can say is - and it's been said the proverbial million times before - "They don't make 'em like this anymore". May I add as a coda, "There's a reason"...'

Blondell and Farrell appeared in eight movies together, made five where they're the main item (this is one of them), and in each of them I think they tried to outspeed the other talking. Farrell always wins that one, let me add.

This is fine as pure, pure, chimerically thin fluff. The plot is basically non-existent, or it changed three or four times - which is not a bad thing. It's just - well, it's not a good thing, either.

Directed, sort-of, by William Keighley. Armstrong's a tough guy, if not a gangster - comic style (is there such a thing?). Blondell's his girl. Farrell is Blondell's room-mate and a gold-diggin' chick at that. Hugh Herbert's actually tolerable. He's married (?) to Renee Whitney who's having an affair with Ivan Lebedeff. It has all the overtones of comedy, and it is played perfectly. There's just not a lot to it. I wasn't necessarily disappointed because I love watching the two main stars. But I wish I'd waited until the Warner Archive Collection price was split in half at some sale.

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

Unread post by drednm » Wed Jul 04, 2018 11:01 am

A Very English Scandal (2018) is a 3-part miniseries about the sex scandal that drove Jeremy Thorpe out of Parliament in the mid-1970s. Hugh Grant is excellent as Thorpe with Ben Whishaw matching him as the loony Norman Scott. Story details their brief liaison and Norman's erratic life over the next decade as he threatens Thorpe (who rises to power in Parliament). Eventually Thorpe plots to have Norman killed off just to be rid of him once and for all. Nice tongue-in-cheek humor as we see the establishment close ranks to defend their own against the outsider. Stephen Frears directs. Patricia Hodge, Alex Jennings, Michele Dotrice, Adrian Scarborough, among the notable co-stars.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by Danny Burk » Wed Jul 04, 2018 11:26 am

SCARLET EMPRESS and DEVIL IS A WOMAN last night, thanks to the new Criterion box. Up tonight: SHANGHAI EXPRESS and BLONDE VENUS.

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

Unread post by Mike Gebert » Wed Jul 04, 2018 1:22 pm

who died from cancer in a prison in, of all places, Springfield, MO, in 2002
Fun fact: Springfield has the largest and highest security medical center in the federal prison system, so as unlikely a place as it sounds to find John Gotti, it was pretty much inevitable at some point.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by drednm » Wed Jul 04, 2018 1:37 pm

Mike Gebert wrote:
who died from cancer in a prison in, of all places, Springfield, MO, in 2002
Fun fact: Springfield has the largest and highest security medical center in the federal prison system, so as unlikely a place as it sounds to find John Gotti, it was pretty much inevitable at some point.
Who knew?
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by Jim Roots » Wed Jul 04, 2018 2:29 pm

drednm wrote:
Mike Gebert wrote:
who died from cancer in a prison in, of all places, Springfield, MO, in 2002
Fun fact: Springfield has the largest and highest security medical center in the federal prison system, so as unlikely a place as it sounds to find John Gotti, it was pretty much inevitable at some point.
Who knew?
Mike did!

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

Unread post by drednm » Wed Jul 04, 2018 3:31 pm

Fun fact: Springfield has the largest and highest security medical center in the federal prison system, so as unlikely a place as it sounds to find John Gotti, it was pretty much inevitable at some point.[/quote]

Who knew?[/quote]

Mike did!

Jim
(didn't)[/quote]

must be a midwest thing
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by Mike Gebert » Wed Jul 04, 2018 8:08 pm

Been through Springfield a few times, yes, notably because Tyson Foods is there. If you drive around their campus, they have billboards for their own products along the roads between their buildings. In case you forget where you work, I guess.
“I'm in favor of plagiarism. If we are to create a new Renaissance, the government should encourage plagiarism. When convinced that someone is a true plagiarist, we should immediately award them the Legion of Honor.” —Jean Renoir

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

Unread post by R Michael Pyle » Thu Jul 05, 2018 8:34 am

1930 was definitely a transition year for modern film. Silent to sound took some time to get to where it was seemingly normal to have sound be part of the formula; and the acting was necessarily different, too. Those who'd learned the mime now had to learn the stage. The stage also needed to learn that it didn't transfer to film: there were major differences due to what a camera could do. But the microphone went through several stages for more than five years (then continued and continued)...

Last night I watched "The Great Meadow" (1931 - released 24 January 1931) with Johnny Mack Brown, Eleanor Boardman, Lucille La Verne, Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams, Gavin Gordon, Anita Louise, Russell Simpson, Sarah Padden, Helen Jerome Eddy, John Miljan (as Daniel Boone!!), and a host of others. Based on a novel by Elizabeth Madox Roberts, this was produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and directed by Charles Brabin, lensed by William Daniels (and really spectacularly well done), with title music by William Axt (otherwise there is no music until the very end). This is not goat-glanded, but truly a full-fledged sound film. Yes, it's rough. Johnny Mack Brown had done far better earlier in 1930 in "Billy the Kid". But, frankly, this is really a sort of epic. And, curiously enough, it's Pre-Code in many of its facets. Especially when Brown disappears for two years and his wife re-marries; then he shows up again!

The film begins, I think, in 1777. Concerns a group from Albemarle going to Kentucky (a trip of over 500 miles, over mountains and incredibly difficult terrain), how they suffer and lose lives along the way from just plain hardship to hostile Indians, how they get to the fort in Kentucky, set up cabins outside of it, then live in this wilderness - and die in it - and suffer and live and suffer and live. It moves too slowly for modern audiences, but I have to imagine that this was quite a show in late 1930, early 1931. It plays well for historical purposes surely, but it has its problems. Many today would consider some of the miniatures humorous, and they're pretty obvious, but I watched more with fascination at the attempt for verissimilitude than anything else.

I enjoyed watching this, but it's not something I'd go back to in a heartbeat. If anything, it reminded me very much of "The Big Trail" (1930) with John Wayne which suffers from many of the same things this one does, including Wayne as an actor in 1930 instead of 1940. Johnny Mack Brown would have been well known to audiences of his day because he'd been a nearly heroic college football star, let alone one of the stars with Joan Crawford of "Our Dancing Daughters", "Montana Moon", and "Great Day". His performance in "Billy the Kid" was good enough to allow him to make a film of the nature of "The Great Meadow" and get away with the acting. Up to a point - this may have been the breaking point...

Newly released from Warner Archive Collection. Worth the buy if you love early film. If not, beware...but be gentle...this is better than you think...

It was films such as this that led to "Cimarron" later in the year, a film which won all the awards! What's curious, though, is that 1930 also saw the release of such films as "All Quiet on the Western Front". As I said at the beginning - transition. Doesn't always look as well-oiled as one might seem to expect...

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

Unread post by Jim Roots » Thu Jul 05, 2018 2:03 pm

Mike Gebert wrote:Been through Springfield a few times, yes, notably because Tyson Foods is there. If you drive around their campus, they have billboards for their own products along the roads between their buildings. In case you forget where you work, I guess.
Were you visiting the Simpsons?

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

Unread post by Mike Gebert » Thu Jul 05, 2018 4:27 pm

So the first time I went, my arrangements were made by the ad agency I was freelancing for and all I knew was that I was going to Springfield. Not till I got to the airport did I know it wasn't Springfield, Illinois.

“I'm in favor of plagiarism. If we are to create a new Renaissance, the government should encourage plagiarism. When convinced that someone is a true plagiarist, we should immediately award them the Legion of Honor.” —Jean Renoir

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

Unread post by boblipton » Thu Jul 05, 2018 4:31 pm

I think there may be fewer states that don't contain a Springfield than do.

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

Unread post by telical » Thu Jul 05, 2018 10:54 pm

There is a nice copy of The Sun Shines Bright (1953 John Ford) on YT. Very much enjoyed it, very powerful. I wouldn't call it Capraesque but it does have some elements of that. A character against all odds wins out. It's kind of like a Western theme in this way, but a little more mainstreet USA.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by drednm » Fri Jul 06, 2018 5:06 am

Windows (1980) seemed like a good bet. Directed and photographed by Gordon Willis, score by Ennio Morricone and starring Talia Shire and Elizabeth Ashley. Wrong! Willis is so enamored of his own camera work that we get an endless parade of long, frozen artsy-fartsy scenes of New York City and especially the Brooklyn Bridge (does everyone who lives in Brooklyn have a view of the bridge?). Most of the movie takes place at night to ensure we get all those "windows" lit up against the urban darkness. It also means the film is underlit so we can't see anything. Story has Ashley as a wealthy lesbian with an obsession for the dowdy Shire who lives in the same building (with a view of the Brooklyn Bridge). Shire is assaulted by a guy with a big knife, so next day she moves "across the river" to an apartment with a view of the Brooklyn Bridge. Meanwhile, Ashley runs out and gets a really big telescope and a loft apartment with a view of Shire's new place (and a view of the Brooklyn Bridge). Turns out Ashley has a connection to the attacker, and she has a big knife too! Shire spends a lot of time getting to know the cop on the case (Joe Cortese) and together they traipse back and forth ... over the Brooklyn Bridge ... on foot no less! Eventually Ashley lures Shire to her loft and Shire finally catches on when Ashley snaps the meat-locker-like locks shut. Aside from Ship of Fools, did Ashley ever make a good film?
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by R Michael Pyle » Fri Jul 06, 2018 6:30 am

Based on Ed's recent review of February 2nd of "The Boys" (1962), I finally was able to track down a copy and watch it. As he said in his review, it's "sensational"! I just kept thinking throughout the film, though - where in the world have I seen Dudley Sutton before - and often. It finally dawned on me this morning that he played Tinker in the British television series "Lovejoy" - for years and years!

Anyway, "The Boys" is simply fabulous. It's well worth a look for all. Well made, well acted, well directed, extremely well written. This is one that needs to be resurrected and touted much more than it is. It has a fine reputation, but I think it's fallen through the cracks for most Americans because of its British origins.

Highly recommended! If you're interested, there is a new release from Britain: Renown Pictures Crime Collection, Volume 4 (this is on disc 1 of 3, and there are two special additions besides regarding this film).

Stars Richard Todd, Robert Morley, Dudley Sutton, Ronald Lacey, Tony Garnett, Jess Conrad, Felix Aylmer, and a host of somewhat familiar British actors and actresses you may have seen on television when watching some Brit show. Courtroom drama nearly the entire 123 minutes. One of the very best I've ever seen. This ranks up there with "Twelve Angry Men", "Anatomy of a Murder", and "Witness for the Prosecution", and it may be better than the latter two.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by s.w.a.c. » Fri Jul 06, 2018 7:25 am

drednm wrote:Aside from Ship of Fools, did Ashley ever make a good film?
She's in Rancho Deluxe (1975), which might be as close as she came. She's also in 92 in the Shade that same year, which may not be a good film, but it has Warren Oates and Harry Dean Stanton in it, which is good enough for me.

She's still going strong, she turns up in Ocean's 8, which is at least an enjoyable film.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by busby1959 » Fri Jul 06, 2018 10:27 am

drednm wrote:Windows (1980) seemed like a good bet. Directed and photographed by Gordon Willis, score by Ennio Morricone and starring Talia Shire and Elizabeth Ashley. Wrong! Willis is so enamored of his own camera work that we get an endless parade of long, frozen artsy-fartsy scenes of New York City and especially the Brooklyn Bridge (does everyone who lives in Brooklyn have a view of the bridge?). Most of the movie takes place at night to ensure we get all those "windows" lit up against the urban darkness. It also means the film is underlit so we can't see anything. Story has Ashley as a wealthy lesbian with an obsession for the dowdy Shire who lives in the same building (with a view of the Brooklyn Bridge). Shire is assaulted by a guy with a big knife, so next day she moves "across the river" to an apartment with a view of the Brooklyn Bridge. Meanwhile, Ashley runs out and gets a really big telescope and a loft apartment with a view of Shire's new place (and a view of the Brooklyn Bridge). Turns out Ashley has a connection to the attacker, and she has a big knife too! Shire spends a lot of time getting to know the cop on the case (Joe Cortese) and together they traipse back and forth ... over the Brooklyn Bridge ... on foot no less! Eventually Ashley lures Shire to her loft and Shire finally catches on when Ashley snaps the meat-locker-like locks shut. Aside from Ship of Fools, did Ashley ever make a good film?
Of course everyone who lives in Brooklyn has a view of the bridge. Just as everyone living in Paris has a view of the Eiffel Tower.

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

Unread post by s.w.a.c. » Fri Jul 06, 2018 12:13 pm

busby1959 wrote:
drednm wrote:Does everyone who lives in Brooklyn have a view of the bridge?
Of course everyone who lives in Brooklyn has a view of the bridge. Just as everyone living in Paris has a view of the Eiffel Tower.
And everyone in Italy has a view of the Coliseum.

This is one of the reasons why I loved Police Squad so much, the absurd views out of windows, or back projection gags like showing the Leaning Tower of Pisa when Lt. Drebin is driving through "Little Italy".
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by Jim Roots » Fri Jul 06, 2018 2:31 pm

s.w.a.c. wrote:
busby1959 wrote:
drednm wrote:Does everyone who lives in Brooklyn have a view of the bridge?
Of course everyone who lives in Brooklyn has a view of the bridge. Just as everyone living in Paris has a view of the Eiffel Tower.
And everyone in Italy has a view of the Coliseum.

This is one of the reasons why I loved Police Squad so much, the absurd views out of windows, or back projection gags like showing the Leaning Tower of Pisa when Lt. Drebin is driving through "Little Italy".
And Benny Hill indicating a change of location by pasting a huge "ISTANBUL" over a shot of the Eiffel Tower.

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

Unread post by boblipton » Sat Jul 07, 2018 7:23 am

That Brennan Girl (1946): Mona Freeman was brought up by a tough, money-hungry, shady, single mother -- June Duprez in quite a change from her role in The Thief of Bagdad -- and soon falls in with grifting James Dunn. When she steals a watch from a drunk military man, Dunn shows some patriotism and tells her to give it back.... and she winds up married, a war widow and struggling to keep her baby in this directed by Alfred Santell.

Miss Freeman was 20 when she made this movie, but she always seemed younger than she was, a factor which hampered her screen career; in this, she looks quite convincing in the opening scene as a 14-year-old girl buying a flower for her mother. She gives a fine, layered performance, but the script, from a story by Adele Rogers St. John, tries to cover too many bases, half tough-girl drama, half weepy-mother-loses-baby soap, with a dose of judicial moralizing and a dash of miraculous intervention. As a result, her characterization, and that of James Dunn, fresh off an Academy Award win for A Tree Grows in Brooklyn may seem not so much nuanced as inconsistent.

I think not. I think it's a good movie, although I find the first half more interesting. That, however, is largely because I don't care for weepy melodramas. Judging by the record, no one was particularly impressed by this picture at the time. Dunn's career resumed its slide, aided by alcoholism; Freeman worked in minor movies for another ten years, then in television until 1972; and Santell, whose directorial career had begun in 1916, and who lived until 1981, never directed another movie.

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

Unread post by drednm » Sat Jul 07, 2018 8:48 am

The Desert Song (1953) was Warners' third and last production of this operetta. Apparently it was a hit but suffers from far too many rear projection shots and badly lit Technicolor night scenes that make Kathryn Grayson look downright swarthy. Then there's the acting of Grayson and the miscast Gordon MacRae as El Kobar/Paul. While their singing is ok, their acting is not. Steve Cochran plays Fontaine and Raymond Massey plays the bad sheik. Ray Collins plays Birabeau and Dick Wesson is the comic relief as Benjy. They added something called "Gay Parisienne" for Grayson to sing , which seems more than a tad out of place. MGM released Grayson to Warners for this film with the stipulation that she make one more film at MGM. That one turned out to be Kiss Me Kate. The high point of The Desert Song hands down is Allyn Ann McLerie as Azuri. She turns in a solid performance and her big dance number is very excellent.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by Mike Gebert » Sat Jul 07, 2018 11:05 am

According to Alan K. Rode's book on Michael Curtiz, Jimmy the Gent (1934) was an important film in Curtiz's rise at Warner Brothers. Whatever they saw inside the studio in terms of how Curtiz handled the assignment, it's hard to see it from the outside watching it today, it's a pretty poor piece that validates the line that Warner Bros. movies can have comedic moments but the studio couldn't really do comedy.

James Cagney runs a practice finding lost heirs to fortunes, and occasionally manufacturing them as well—which is to say, he's a criminal and fraudster, something the film seems to find no objection to. Bette Davis left him and went to work for Allan Dinehart (who's truly terrible as a way-too-precious lawyer with fancier manners and supposed refinement) because she couldn't stand... his manners more than his criminality, it appears. There could have been decent comedy in teaching Cagney upscale manners, Pygmalion-style, but that's glossed over, at least as far as I got... my son came home from work at that point and I haven't had the urge to finish it and settle the question of whether Cagney and Davis, who have next to no chemistry together, were ultimately reconciled. It's rare to see a true misfire from Warner Bros. in this period but this is one, clunkily written by Bertram Millhauser who would find his appropriate specialty writing Sherlock Holmes movies a few years later.

The most notable thing about the film is that its name became the nickname of the real-life Lufthansa Heist gangster James Burke, played by Robert DeNiro (as "Jimmy Conway") in Goodfellas.
“I'm in favor of plagiarism. If we are to create a new Renaissance, the government should encourage plagiarism. When convinced that someone is a true plagiarist, we should immediately award them the Legion of Honor.” —Jean Renoir

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

Unread post by drednm » Sat Jul 07, 2018 11:28 am

A surprisingly good copy of a "Playhouse 90" presentation called "Portrait of a Murderer" from 1958 showcases Tab Hunter and Geraldine Page in live performances as a killer and his girlfriend. Based on a real-life man named Donald Bashor, the story is especially poignant as it starts with audio tapes of the bewildered man who apparently suffered from schizophrenia. While he is perfectly "normal" during most of his life, he has uncontrollable "spells" during which he is compelled to do bad things. We are told his mental state did not qualify him (would it now?) as legally insane. Hunter is shockingly good as Bashor. He has a girlfriend, holds down a job, is friendly with his old-lady neighbor (Elizabeth Patterson), but goes on rampages that end in binge drinking, burglary and murder. Page is also excellent as the patient girlfriend who knows nothing of his Jekyll & Hyde personality. Also very good are Ned Glass as a co-worker, Rudy Bond as Eddy the bartender, and Barbara Turner as a hooker. Pretty strong stuff for 1958.
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