What is the last film you watched? (2018)

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

Unread post by boblipton » Fri May 04, 2018 7:51 am

After they dropped old Hopalong, Paramount seems to have given up on B Western series, although they kept Pop Sherman employed until 1948. However, like the other majors, they dabbled in the occasional A Western, and Copper Canyon (1950) is an inexplicably tired example. Ray Milland is an ex-Confederate officer (like all actors with Mid-Atlantic accents), making his way as a sideshow trick shooter, called upon to safeguard a town trying to get a copper mine up and running profitably. With Hedy Lamarr, MacDonald Carey, Harry Carey Jr. under the direction of John Farrow, there's nothing wrong, but it all seems like a gimmicky version of one of the Boetticher-Scott westerns of the coming decade. I had the feeling that everyone was trying too hard to be nonchalant, and Charles Lang's rather garish Technicolor camerawork -- although that may be a matter of poor choices in printing -- doesn't help.

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

Unread post by drednm » Fri May 04, 2018 8:52 am

A Fine Madness (1966) is an appallingly bad film. Billed as a comedy, the plot has Sean Connery as a philandering and brutish husband who is also a poet with writer's block. He works at odd jobs while wifey (Joanne Woodward) slings hash at a diner. A subplot has callous Patrick O'Neal as a famous psychiatrist married to bored Jean Seberg. The plots collide when Woodward sees O'Neal on TV and tracks him down to get Connery some help with his writer's block. Things go wrong when a "mad scientist" type (Clive Revill) wants a subject on whom to try his new double-lobotomy technique and Connery is selected. This is about as unfunny as it can get. Huge supporting cast (most of whom have little to do) includes Colleen Dewhurst, Kay Medford, John Fiedler, Bibi Osterwald, Jackie Coogan, Sue Ane Langdon, Zohra Lampert, Sorrell Booke, Mabel Albertson, Renee Taylor, Richard Castellano, James Milhollin, Helen Verbit, etc. Connery's American accent comes and goes, but Woodward's "New Yawk" accent never lets up.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Fri May 04, 2018 1:28 pm

Watching I CONQUER THE SEA! (1936), from the Halperin brothers would have benefited from a better print, as the copy I watched was pretty near incomprehensible at times. It stars Dennis Morgan (before he was called that) as a harpooner in a small whaling village. He is in love with Portuguese immigrant Steffi Duna, who in turn is in love with Morgan's doctor brother (Douglas Walton), who has cured her little brother of lameness.

An announcement at the beginning would have one believe that a good deal of time was taken at sea capturing whaling footage, but most of the film is on dry land. The drama comes to a head when Morgan loses an arm, but keeps persevering to prove himself. Some interesting atmosphere is dissipated by the quality of the copy I watched, and hopefully a better one will eventually surface.

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

Unread post by FrankFay » Fri May 04, 2018 7:12 pm

Fine as he could be, seeing Clive Revill in a cast generally means an overblown production
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by MaryGH » Fri May 04, 2018 8:30 pm

The Severed Arm (1973)

Very campy low-budget film starring Deborah Walley, Paul Carr, and Marvin Kaplan as a DJ. Kaplan and Walley turn in decent performances.

The movie has a totally unexpected twist at the end.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by boblipton » Sat May 05, 2018 5:59 am

It must have been thirty years ago I was at a party where a woman who had taken a film course at Yale was trashing the entire American film industry. Only the Japanese, she said, knew how to make cinema.

We've all encountered that sort of idiot educated beyond his or her intelligence, so we did not address her directly. Instead, we each got another beer and began talking about the symbolism of Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster, then continued on about a then-current Japanese anime (we all agreed that "The Japs are doing some interesting cartoons") about some cockroaches in an apartment toilet and how about 80% of non-Samurai Japanese movies were symbolically about how Japan was minding its own business when the US attacked it, and that was WWII. This led into more general discussion about the movies, European cinema (about which I had more general knowledge at the time than other branches), and a long reminiscence by one of us about the time he had dated Anna Magnani -- I think he was a liar, but he told it well -- while the woman who had started it all tried to reinsert herself at the center of the conversation, on the basis of a six-week course of film at Yale.

It's thirty years or so later, and I've seen a lot more Japanese films, and those of you who have been following this thread and its sister in TALKING ABOUT SILENTS know I've been looking at some late-silent and early-talkie Japanese films recently. I hope you've found them interesting. Right now, I'm going to write about Gojira tai Mekagojira aka Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974). It's about 2010, and it's a weird world, with a woman President of Japan and woman officers and stuff like that, when a Godzilla hows up again. Now, however, the Japanese are proud and confident and organized and scientific, and when a scientist has the skeleton from the old Godzilla in his basement, the other scientists build a shiny steel Mechagodzilla to fight the bad monster, with plucky Reiko Tajima the woman who pilots the non-Godzilla robot.

We may love Robots fighting monster movies because we're all little kids at heart, but this is a very nice production, from good special effects (for 1974) to some fine symbolic work, mostly about the value of working together. But that's what appeals to me about Japanese movies. That and the cool swords.

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

Unread post by wingate » Sat May 05, 2018 12:24 pm

Clue Of The New Pin 1961.This is one of the Edgar Wallace series.Wallace seemed to concoct stories where there is a murdered corpse in a locked room.

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

Unread post by R Michael Pyle » Sat May 05, 2018 1:40 pm

wingate wrote:Clue Of The New Pin 1961.This is one of the Edgar Wallace series.Wallace seemed to concoct stories where there is a murdered corpse in a locked room.
I watched this one back in 2012 and reviewed it here; I also made a comment that it had been filmed in 1929 with John Geilgud, and I asked if it still survived. Someone answered that tremendous ambiguity existed as to its existence - or not. I'd still like to know. The same kind of trope was used as a clue in "The Kennel Murder Case" in 1933. Seems van Dyne stole it from Wallace.

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

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Sat May 05, 2018 2:11 pm

Intrigued as to whether any pre-1950s Budd Boetticher films were available, I lit upon BEHIND LOCKED DOORS (1948), an atmospheric noir featuring Lucille Bremer and Richard Carlson as a reporter and private eye on the trail of a crooked judge who is on the lam and lying low but has a price of $10,000 on his head. Bremer thinks he may be hiding out in a mental institution, and so Carlson gets himself committed...

He soon finds the sanatorium is run on pretty dodgy lines, with effective performances from Douglas Fowley as a sadistic nurse and Thomas Browne Henry as the corrupt, but nervous head. Inmates are put to work in order to save the institution money, and nervous outbreaks are met with violence. As Carlson slowly works his way to the truth of the matter nerves get on edge and tempers frayed until things come to a powerful, violent climax. A little slow to start, and perhaps marred a little by the rather lightweight wrap-up, BEHIND LOCKED DOORS is nevertheless a gripping hour's worth, deserving to be better known. And yes, it is Tor Johnson as the crazed wrestler!

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

Unread post by s.w.a.c. » Sat May 05, 2018 3:10 pm

Finally saw The Women (1939) for the first time!

And it is pretty great. (I could have watched it on TCM a thousand times, but wanted to see it in HD, so had to wait for a blu-ray copy to come my way.) No men in sight, yet it still wouldn't pass the Bechdel Test, but c'est la vie. Trust Norma Shearer to save her best work for right near the end.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by drednm » Sun May 06, 2018 10:22 am

Girls in the Night (1953) is a low-budget potboiler, almost like a White version of Raisin in the Sun. Glenda Farrell (not the star) anchors her tenement family on Henry St. (that's where Fanny Brice's ma had her saloon in Funny Girl) after husband gets hit by a car. She works as a waitress while her two older teens (Harvey Lembeck, Patricia Hardy) hang around the streets with the wrong crowd. Harvey gets the bright idea (after he quits his job) of robbing the local fake blind man of his supposed stash of cash hidden under the floor boards of his shack. But the even badder Don Gordon already had that idea, but instead of getting the cash, he only kills the old man. Outside Vera (Jaclynne Greene) sees all this happen and blackmails Don Gordon into being her boyfriend while trying to shake down Harvey for half the cash. It doesn't quite pan out for anyone. Glenda wrings her hands and dreams of moving out to Astoria to escape the horrid slums. Good plot and a nice bump-and-grind dance by Joyce Holden (that's how she makes pin money) can't quite overcome the low budget and the so-so performances of Lembeck and Hardy (not to be confused with TV's Patricia Harty). Glenda Farrell is the only real reason to watch this one.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by Jim Roots » Sun May 06, 2018 1:42 pm

R Michael Pyle wrote:
wingate wrote:Clue Of The New Pin 1961.This is one of the Edgar Wallace series.Wallace seemed to concoct stories where there is a murdered corpse in a locked room.
I watched this one back in 2012 and reviewed it here; I also made a comment that it had been filmed in 1929 with John Geilgud, and I asked if it still survived. Someone answered that tremendous ambiguity existed as to its existence - or not. I'd still like to know. The same kind of trope was used as a clue in "The Kennel Murder Case" in 1933. Seems van Dyne stole it from Wallace.
The "locked-door mystery" is as old as the mystery novel itself (which, according to the Detective Club edition of The Moonstone which I just finished reading, was invented by Wilkie Collins in 1868; Poe's earlier stuff didn't fit the archetype). In fact, it became a game amongst mystery writers in the 1920s and 30s -- they would gather together and take turns writing their version of it, and on at least one occasion they took turns writing the chapters of a single locked-door mystery. You can find omnibus collections of such stories in your local bookstore, assuming there still are any such bookstores; the collections don't seem to show up on Amazon, but they are definitely in the bricks-and-mortar stores.

Wallace made a specialty of them. He was considered the cleverest at it. He actually triggered the game with a story in which a victim was killed inside a locked room by electrocution via one of those newfangled contraptions called a "telephone". Them was de days.

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

Unread post by boblipton » Sun May 06, 2018 3:11 pm

My cousin still somewhere on the high seas, I headed over to the 42nd Street AMC to look at a Bollywood flick, since he won't look at those regardless. This one was 102 Not Out (2018). Amitabh Bachchan comes home one day with a resolution to be the oldest man in the history of the world: Since he is 102, he has sixteen years to go. However, he sees no chance of accomplishing this with his glum, cautious 75-year-old son, played by Rishi Kapoor bringing him down, so he's going to put him in an old age home.... unless the son agrees to a series of challenges. What starts out as a silly farce gradually ripens into a wider discourse on relationships.

It's based on a play and ultimately is about how good parents never stop raising their children. I found the acting a bit too broad by Mr. Bachchan, but that was a natural choice to offset the low-affect depression of Mr. Kapoor. In the end it was a charming movie and well worth my time.

After that, it was Jason Reitman's new movie, Tully (2018). When Charlize Theron gives birth to her third child, she turns down her rich brother's offer of a "night nanny" until she melts down while the principal of her acting-up son is telling her she'll have to find him a new school.( "It's not an expulsion. Expulsion is a punishment. We're not a good fit. We love your family." I'd melt down too ...), and so she dials the number and in comes Tully, like a brownie, who takes care of the baby and bakes cupcakes and.... it starts to get a little weird.

I thought this might be going a little M. Night Shyamalin or perhaps "Shape of Water-ish, but no, this is definitely by the director of Juno, with some bright, hard dialogue, a typically fine performance by Miss Theron and a great weird one by Mackenzie Davis as Mother's Little Helper.

Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Sat May 26, 2018 6:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by Mike Gebert » Sun May 06, 2018 7:15 pm

Wallace made a specialty of them. He was considered the cleverest at it. He actually triggered the game with a story in which a victim was killed inside a locked room by electrocution via one of those newfangled contraptions called a "telephone". Them was de days.
My understanding is that John Dickson Carr was the master of the locked room mystery:
9. The Case of the Constant Suicides John Dickson Carr (1941)
Dr Gideon Fell investigates an alarming number of "suicides" at a remote Scottish castle. The deaths have taken place in completely inaccessible rooms. Dickson Carr was rightly known as the "master of the locked-room mystery" and this entire list could, with some justification, have been made solely from JDC books.
Wallace was the master of being a name brand writer when none of his stuff was very good.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by Jim Roots » Mon May 07, 2018 5:25 am

Mike Gebert wrote:
Wallace made a specialty of them. He was considered the cleverest at it. He actually triggered the game with a story in which a victim was killed inside a locked room by electrocution via one of those newfangled contraptions called a "telephone". Them was de days.
My understanding is that John Dickson Carr was the master of the locked room mystery:
9. The Case of the Constant Suicides John Dickson Carr (1941)
Dr Gideon Fell investigates an alarming number of "suicides" at a remote Scottish castle. The deaths have taken place in completely inaccessible rooms. Dickson Carr was rightly known as the "master of the locked-room mystery" and this entire list could, with some justification, have been made solely from JDC books.
Wallace was the master of being a name brand writer when none of his stuff was very good.
Your mileage may vary.

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

Unread post by drednm » Mon May 07, 2018 5:49 am

Better than expected, Dance Hall (1950) is a lot like those early Hollywood musicals about young people addicted to music and dancing (like Dancing Sweeties) as a high spot in their drab lives. This story follows some young women factory workers who live in the same apartment complex. They go to the Palais de Danse to hear the big band music and compete in dancing contests. Things gets complicated when they start get serious about men. Marriage and dance contests don't mix. Excellent cast with Natasha Parry having a fling with Bonar Colleano and then marrying Donald Houston. Younger sister Petula Clark just wants to win a contest. Pals Diana Dors and Jane Hylton never miss a Saturday night, and Hylton is secretly in love with Houston. Kay Kendall and Eunice Gayson pop up in bit parts, and Hy Hazell gets to sing "You're Only Dreaming." The bands are loud and brassy and the interiors shots on the massive dance hall are beautifully done and a stark contrast to the cramped and dreary apartments, apparently filmed at the real Hammersmith Palais. Gladys Henson, Douglas Barr, Harold Goodwin, Ted Heath, Geraldo the band leader among the co-stars.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by Jim Roots » Mon May 07, 2018 12:09 pm

drednm wrote:Better than expected, Dance Hall (1950) is a lot like those early Hollywood musicals about young people addicted to music and dancing (like Dancing Sweeties) as a high spot in their drab lives. This story follows some young women factory workers who live in the same apartment complex. They go to the Palais de Danse to hear the big band music and compete in dancing contests. Things gets complicated when they start get serious about men. Marriage and dance contests don't mix.
I am going to show my wife your last statement above. Peace at last!
drednm wrote:Excellent cast with Natasha Parry having a fling with Bonar Colleano and then marrying Donald Houston. Younger sister Petula Clark just wants to win a contest. Pals Diana Dors and Jane Hylton never miss a Saturday night, and Hylton is secretly in love with Houston. Kay Kendall and Eunice Gayson pop up in bit parts, and Hy Hazell gets to sing "You're Only Dreaming." The bands are loud and brassy and the interiors shots on the massive dance hall are beautifully done and a stark contrast to the cramped and dreary apartments, apparently filmed at the real Hammersmith Palais. Gladys Henson, Douglas Barr, Harold Goodwin, Ted Heath, Geraldo the band leader among the co-stars.
Featuring The Clash performing "White Man In Hammersmith Palais" as Petula dances?

Jim

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

Unread post by boblipton » Mon May 07, 2018 1:56 pm

Captain James Gleason orders Lieutenant Ray Milland to get a bottle of French champagne to launch the new aircraft carrier. However, Olivia de Havilland has just bought the last bottle of French champagne in San Francisco for her nuptials with Sonny Tufts, who has spent two years in the Aleutians. How is Milland going to get the champagne and Miss de Havilland in the randomly-named The Well-Groomed Bride (1946)?

It's a rather flat romantic comedy directed by the usually very competent Sidney Lanfield, full of random gags and misunderstandings. Miss De Havilland had just spent two years fighting Warner Brothers in court so she wouldn't have to appear in muddled, unfunny comedies, and she had launched her newly serious career auspiciously enough with To Each His Own and Devotion, only to follow it up with this rote effort. Neither of the leads shows any sparkle; the two comics, Gleason and Percy Kilbride (as de Havilland's father) lack any zest and Sonny Tufts, despite being the object of lust for a brace of screen beauties, remains a dull hunk of beef.

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

Unread post by antoniod » Mon May 07, 2018 6:57 pm

HITCH-HIKE LADY(1935), a charming "Lady For a Day" knockoff with Alison Skipworth as a poor but proud British Mother of an expatriate Son who doesn't know that the "San Quentin" he's writing her about is the maximum security prison, so she comes to America to see him, having to hitch-hike from New York to California. After meeting Mae Clarke and two lovable rogues played by Arthur Treacher and Warren Hymer, all ends well, with the con-men conniving to have Skipworth's son released early so that his Mother need never know he was a "Jailbird"! About the only place you can see this Republic production is YouTube.

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

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Tue May 08, 2018 1:12 pm

Not to be confused with DAMAGED GOODS, DAMAGED LIVES (1933) is also on the subject of VD, and was an early outing from Edgar G Ulmer. Donald is a businessman's son engaged to Joan and has to break a date to go to a business 'meeting'. The 'business' seems more to involve loose living, and the poor sap ends up sleeping with an abandoned blonde.

A few weeks later and things don't seem too good and his doctor friend arranges for both of them to seek advice and treatment. In the meantime Donald has thrown away $100 on seeing a 'specialist' who assures him that there's nothing wrong with him. A visit to the clinic where his (now) wife has gone reveals the truth as well as showing us a few other results of thoughtless sexual activity. The film begins to take on a much darker tone as Joan's state of mind gets more desperate and the film builds to a very powerful finish until the fade-out.

Despite some rather rough sound, DAMAGED LIVES is a creditable entry in this field, and I found it improved as the plot got thicker and thicker, although some of it got a little convoluted at times. An interesting film, with a few fairly well-known names lower down in the cast...

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

Unread post by MaryGH » Tue May 08, 2018 8:10 pm

Tombs of the Blind Dead, 1971

It has been many, many years since I last saw this and it still holds up quite well as a horror movie. Directed by Amando de Ossorio, the story places the Knights Templar as a bloodthirsty group who leaves their graves at night in the town of Berzano and prey upon anyone who dares to enter their ancient ruins. The best scene is when the Knights Templar gallop across the plain on their ghost horses in slow motion. The mannequin factory scene is quite effective too. Recommended for anyone who likes horror films from Spain.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by boblipton » Wed May 09, 2018 2:56 am

Letter from Siberia (1958): Travelogues were long a feature -- or short subject -- in the movie theaters. Here's, years after MGM's Traveltalks had ceased production, came this short feature about Siberia. Beginning as a series of pan shots, or perhaps post card pictures, this continues in a variety of forms, including animation discussing mammoths and so forth and a trip to find a mammoth's frozen remains.

Perhaps this is more akin to the "City Symphony" films that flourished, most notably in the 1920s. The landscapes it offers don't really show people, so much as the bleak Siberian landscape, even as they narration tries to convince the listener that it has its own beauty: birches on a plain, hawks, wolves, geese in flight, even trains roaring along the Trans-Siberian Railway. Perhaps. The print I saw showed a land that was washed out.

In the end, though, Chris Marker produces a self-referential parody of travelogues which mocks the idea that he can produce a work that will show you the reality of Siberia. It is, he makes clear, too large, too diverse, and every frame of his movie is open to endless interpretation. So look at the pretty images and take what you will.

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

Unread post by boblipton » Wed May 09, 2018 5:56 am

Imagine, if you will, that instead of making westerns, Sergio Leone had decided to make crime thrillers on the model of Rififi, but set in Japan. That's something like what you get in Koruto Wa Ore No Pasupooto aka A Colt is My Passport (1967). Jô Shishido is a hit man hired to kill a rival crime boss muscling in on other territory. While waiting for his flight out of town, the dead man's son shows up and offers to make a deal for the assassin's head. Jules Dassin might want us to think there is honor among thieves, but Leone never would, and neither does the director of this movie, Takashi Nomura.

It had a deliberately 1950s 'B' movie look, with its b&w photography and "stolen shot" camerawork, but the constantly moving camerawork and stunt gags are clear signs that this is serious film making.... and talented, too; Nomura is not that well known, but this is a good flick. Harumi Ibe's soundtrack starts out sounding like Morricone, but then switches to jazz arrangements for the crime story.

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

Unread post by boblipton » Wed May 09, 2018 1:25 pm

Kenjû Zankoku Monogatari aka Cruel Gun Story (1964): Jô Shishido is fresh out of prison and is picked to lead a crew in an armored car robbery. He needs the money for an operation for his sister, so he agrees to take on a tough crew. However, things don't go right, and there is betrayal and a chance for vengeance awaiting him.

Although the heist is well performed, I found the sheer violence, from beginning to end to be almost a parody of the form. He starts by beating up his potential crewmates in order to establish... that this is one of the Nikkatsu crime thrillers, I suppose, and those are about tough guys committing crimes with plenty of bloodshed. That it does, but it offers little to the genre but Shishido in his typecast screen role, doing more of the same.... an excess rather than an advance and foreshadowing the logical end point of the dramatic form.

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

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Wed May 09, 2018 1:51 pm

Perhaps I wasn't in a receptive mood, perhaps the sound quality, perhaps just the movie, but I found BIG NEWS (1929) tiresome and uninvolving. Directed at Pathe by Gregory La Cava, it features Robert Armstrong as a newspaper reporter who has been hitting the bottle, Carol (sic) Lombard as his long-suffering wife, Sam Hardy as a crook suspected of drug-peddling and a blink-or-you'll-miss-him bit from Clarence Wilson as a coroner. It also marks the film debut of Helen / Cupid Ainsworth as a generously-proportioned, possibly butch reporter with a laugh for everybody and everything.

While Hardy is in the paper's offices, Armstrong's boss is found dead, with suspicion falling on him, owing to threats of the sack. No-one seems in the least upset by the grumpy old buzzard's death, and the rest of the film is taken up with the mystery's solution, with an interesting use of the dictaphone as a clue.

Even in a good copy, BIG NEWS might come over as annoying as it is almost all talk, with a brief break when we get into the open air for a minute or two. Perhaps the makers were looking for a FRONT PAGE- style film as the pacing is relentless, but the final effect, to me, was rather exhausting. Looking the cast up on IMDb, I noticed the presence of 'Gabby'Hayes in the cast, but must have missed the old boy...

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

Unread post by boblipton » Wed May 09, 2018 2:10 pm

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:Perhaps I wasn't in a receptive mood, perhaps the sound quality, perhaps just the movie, but I found BIG NEWS (1929) tiresome and uninvolving. Directed at Pathe by Gregory La Cava, it features Robert Armstrong as a newspaper reporter who has been hitting the bottle, Carol (sic) Lombard as his long-suffering wife, Sam Hardy as a crook suspected of drug-peddling and a blink-or-you'll-miss-him bit from Clarence Wilson as a coroner. It also marks the film debut of Helen / Cupid Ainsworth as a generously-proportioned, possibly butch reporter with a laugh for everybody and everything.

While Hardy is in the paper's offices, Armstrong's boss is found dead, with suspicion falling on him, owing to threats of the sack. No-one seems in the least upset by the grumpy old buzzard's death, and the rest of the film is taken up with the mystery's solution, with an interesting use of the dictaphone as a clue.

Even in a good copy, BIG NEWS might come over as annoying as it is almost all talk, with a brief break when we get into the open air for a minute or two. Perhaps the makers were looking for a FRONT PAGE- style film as the pacing is relentless, but the final effect, to me, was rather exhausting. Looking the cast up on IMDb, I noticed the presence of 'Gabby'Hayes in the cast, but must have missed the old boy...
Perhaps you didn't recognize him with his teeth in, well groomed and speaking English instead of Frontier Gibberish.

Bob
Life's too short to sit on our rears watching other people's work.
— Bob Fells

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

Unread post by Jim Roots » Wed May 09, 2018 2:25 pm

Joe Shishido -- one of the great names in filmdom. You can't make it up. Well, maybe...

Jim

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

Unread post by Jim Roots » Wed May 09, 2018 2:46 pm

Jean-Pierre Melville could hardly have made his first feature film under less difficult circumstances. He set out to film the seminal Bible of French Resistance, Le Silence de la Mer ("The Silence of the Sea", for those of you who flunked out of Ontario French high school class), despite the refusal of its author to sell the film rights. Melville didn't have his union card yet, so he couldn't raise financing and he couldn't hire accredited crew members and he had to film clandestinely in case the unions caught him. He also couldn't buy film stock; his inexperienced cameraman, Henri Decae, scrounged up film ends, so no scene could be filmed longer than about 40 seconds because that's the maximum length of even the longest film end. He couldn't get production and distribution deals because he didn't have that union card. And for the sake of authenticity, he insisted on filming the book inside the author's own house, which meant he also had to scrounge up money for the van that would transport him, Henri, and the three-person cast to the site.

But even with this first feature, Melville thrived under constraints. (He actually duplicated a lot of these hardships deliberately in making his future films.) He filmed for only 27 days ... spread out over a year and a half, a day here and a day there whenever he had managed to dig up enough money for one day's shoot. He also used over a dozen different film stocks, resulting in him and Henri spending days in a hotel room trying to match up the strips of shot film that had no consistency in speed or density.

Some quick shots had to be made outdoors in Paris streets with the lead actor, Howard Vernon (how's that for a Swiss name? Sounds more like someone Bob Lipton grew up with in NYC) ... dressed in full Nazi officer regalia, only two years after WW2, with passersby ready to spit on him. And in the end, Melville had to screen the film for 24 "judges" picked by the author, with just one negative vote needed to force him to burn the negative.

The result is one of the most arresting and original films ever made by one of the most arresting and original filmmakers who ever lived. Filming at least 85% inside a cramped living-room with three actors, two of whom never say a word, using only natural lighting (usually a small fireplace at night), led to marvellously creative camera angles and lighting effects, not to mention tense performances.

Vernon is a Nazi officer in 1941-42 who is billeted at the house of Jean-Marie Robain (looking like a young man whose hair and moustache have been badly powdered white) and his niece, Nicole Stephane. The French couple resist their unwanted guest by maintaining total silence. Nearly every evening, Vernon visits them to indulge in a monologue that reveals him to be a highly cultured and idealistic rustic at heart, with a privileged kid's totally naive belief that Germany and France will unite in a beautiful marriage.

Like many of Melville's films, this is not going to be everyone's cup of tea. But it is a really amazingly unusual film. Its influence was enormous: the style of filmmaking he had to use led directly to the Nouvelle Vague school, even though Godard, Truffault, Chabrol et tout claimed to despise his work. And you can also very easily see its influence on Ingmar Bergman, too, which means Melville also had a profound impact on Swedish post-war cinema.

Criterion has done a real service in bringing out so many of Melville's films.

Jim

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

Unread post by boblipton » Wed May 09, 2018 5:53 pm

Arctic Fury (1949) is a cobbled-together movie, composed of a couple of abortive semi-documentaries produced in the mid-1930s with new linking material added to produce a story.

The story is that Alfred Delcambre is a Doctor up in Alaska, flying off to deal with an incipient plague. His plain is forced down and he has to walk back home. Along the way he makes friends with a couple of bear cubs and sees a lot of wild life -- reindeer and muskoxen and otters and such, much of which is explained by a narrator while a happy score of stock music plays.

The nature photography is the best part of the movie, even if the shots of the wild life seem to have degraded before they could be matched up with the rest of the movie -- the careful observer will notice the wide variation in film stock. The story is potentially engaging in its Odyssey-like simplicity, but that narrator got on my nerves pretty quick!

Bob
Life's too short to sit on our rears watching other people's work.
— Bob Fells

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

Unread post by silentfilm » Wed May 09, 2018 8:31 pm

I'm not a horror-film kind of guy, but I love suspense films. A Quiet Place (2018) is one heart-pounding, nail-biting, jumping-out-of-your-seat film! Aliens have invaded, and of course they have strong body armor. They are blind, but use ultra-sensitive hearing to maneuver around and hunt prey, like people. One family lives the best life they can in this hellish world.

Except for two very brief conversations, this is a non-talking film. The characters communicate by sign-language (and subtitles). The sound of a human voice could attract the aliens, and a loud noise really gets their attention. Emily Blunt plays a strong mother who has to protect her kids (and give birth while being stalked by an alien!). Millicent Simmonds is a deaf actor who plays their hearing-impaired daughter in the film, and she is excellent also. The film is quite creative with the use of sound, and we experience Millicent's world when her hearing aid is not working. Unlike most horror films, you care about all of the characters. And although Michael Bay was one of the producers, this film has the most anti-Michael Bay ending that will have you clapping.

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