What Was The Last Movie You Watched?

Discussion in 'The Moving Picture' started by Amy Jeanne, Aug 5, 2007.

  1. Zombie_61

    Zombie_61 I'll Lock Up

    In my casual observation (again, never having seen the movie) I think Saturday Night Fever was initiated by Hollywood's desire to cash-in on the Disco craze. The fashion became more prominent as an after-effect, i.e., "Hey, if Travolta can wear that stuff and dance, I can too!" To a lesser degree, the same thing happened three years later with Urban Cowboy. No one here in southern California wore that stereotypical "western" wear or rode mechanical bulls before that movie, but once it became a hit people traded their polyester leisure suits for Wrangler jeans and "cowboy" boots and hats, and many nightclubs converted their dance floors to mechanical bullpens. :rolleyes:
     
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  2. Big J

    Big J Call Me a Cab

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    I agree with Benzadmiral about SNF.
    I don't like disco, I don't like the clothes either, but SNF does stand up as a movie. It didn't invent disco but it did untold damage (lolz) around the world by introducing and popularizing the disco scene to the masses, and in doing so it massively informed the scene.
    And not only that (like I say, I'm not a disco guy), it's a deeply 'American' movie, and I don't mean 'Hollywood'. Travolta is a working class blue collar guy in a dead-end job at the bottom of the social ladder. He's living for the weekend, literally, when he can put on his finest threads and hold his head up high amongst other disco lovers on the dance floor.
    He's not a spoiled rich kid.
    He's not a debutante.
    He's 'self-made' disco king.
    Is this a modern (70's) fairy tale?
    Is he living the American dream (humble origins but ambitious enough to aspire to a life less grimy)?
    Or is this the American nightmare (Travolta's Saturday night fantasies of being a disco god, smashing class-barriers and getting 'access' to the good life fade away on Monday morning- it's fake, he's faking it)?
    People focus on the music, but this is a timeless human drama that makes us ask questions that strike directly at the heart of the American dream.
    Like Once Upon a Time in America, it shows us a dirty underbelly to the American dream.
     
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  3. Jack's the Boy (1932)
    A light British comedy starring Jack Hulbert and Cicely Courtneidge
     
  4. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    Or (had they gone with film-noir Garfield) he'd have gone down in a hail of bullets after he had bullied the judges into picking him while also having devised a plot to skim from the disco's till.

    And let's not forget how horrible the sequel "Staying Alive" was - although, I have watched it in a "bad movies can be entertaining" kinda way.
     
  5. Doctor Strange

    Doctor Strange I'll Lock Up

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    Picking up on what a couple of you have said... I have always thought, and still think, that Saturday Night Fever is a good film that captures a lot of things about 1976/1977 very accurately. I hasten to add that I had no interest in disco myself at the time - in fact, I has a major Deadhead and I considered the new rhythm-oriented dance style "the negation of music". But clearly, SNF wasn't just about the pop hits.

    SNF originated a couple of years earlier as an article in New York magazine, "The Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night", which I had read. It was pretty much an anthropological look at how the 2001 Odyssey disco in Brooklyn offered lower-class kids in depressed, post-Watergate America a chance at a new and different form of gathering and expression. Some of that survives in the film, though with fictional Tony Manero at the center. It was a rare big hit that, for all its exciting dance sequences and dodgy classically-trained-dancer-meets-diamond-in-the-rough romance, accurately showed the tensions of a rising generation and a confused older generation at a difficult transitional moment in our history.

    Anyway, I wouldn't claim it's a masterpiece, but it's a good film. Sure, it represents the antithesis of a lot of the nostalgia that draws us to these forums, but I don't hold that against it.
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2017
  6. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    There was an expose a while back about that "New York" article -- turns out that Nik Cohn, the reporter on the piece, fabricated the whole story -- drawing the basic inspiration from the experiences of a friend who had been a Britsh "Mod," and cobbling the rest together from bits and pieces of local color he picked up walking around Brooklyn. His only actual visit to 2001 Odyssey ended up with him being thrown up on by a participant in a drunken brawl, and that seemed to scare him off from any further first-hand observation.

    A good summary of the story behind the story came out in the London Guardian last year -- https://www.theguardian.com/music/2...co-nik-cohn-tribal-rites-saturday-night-fever

    SNF could have been a better movie with a better actor at its center. Whatever Travolta may be capable of today, I don't think he really had in 1977. He could dance, and pout, and smirk, but his range didn't seem to me to extend too far beyond those few points.

    In watching the film, I kept getting this nagging memory of having seen the story somewhere before --and then I remembered a picture from 1930 called "Dancing Sweeties," which revolves around a conceited young man with a gift for winning dance contests but who ends up alienating everyone around with his rotten attitude before getting his comeuppance at the end. Not an exact blueprint for SNF, but close enough to show there's nothing really new under the sun. The star, Grant Withers, was another smouldering pretty-boy type who ended up maturing into a decent actor.
     
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  7. Doctor Strange

    Doctor Strange I'll Lock Up

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    Thanks for bursting my balloon, Lizzie. I hadn't heard that the NY mag story was bogus until now. I thought it was a good bit of reportage and analysis at the time. D'oh!

    And of course there's not much "originality" to the story, its universality and relatability was a part of its success. Not unlike the big hit of the year before, Rocky - which still-alive Frank Capra immediately declared as a picture he would have liked to make, with its underdog vs. the system story. That confusing post-Watergate era was great for inspirational throwback stories about unlikely heroes, like another little flick from 1977 set in a galaxy far, far away.
     
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  8. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    • Awesome connect and, as always, we see that everything has antecedents. I bet if you or Vitanola rack your brains, you'll find an antecedent to "Dancing Sweeties" in some silent or Nickelodeon flick
    • The plot of "Dancing Sweeties" is also the plot for most of Tom Cruise's movies for the first decade of his career just substitute in fighter pilot, bartender or race car driver for dancer
     
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  9. TimeWarpWife

    TimeWarpWife One of the Regulars

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    IMO, Travolta simply did a continuation of his Welcome Back, Kotter Barbarino character in SNF. The only difference was the SNF character could dance. Although I watched WBK faithfully every week as a teenager because I had a major crush on Travolta, now I can't stand to watch two minutes of it because it's so silly - it's the same with SNF.
     
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  10. scottyrocks

    scottyrocks I'll Lock Up

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    I'd have to disagree with this.

    Vinny Barbarino was basically a happy-go-lucky, likeable character. Not much in the way of meanness or desperation about him, mainly because of his role in the show - a handsome, dopey teddy bear kind of character, who, although had not much going for him, was almost always good-natured.

    Tony Manero, however, was a deeper character, and had to be played as such. The character was placed in a much more desperate situation, overall. Was it Travolta? Obviously, but both characters were bottom-of-the-barrel Brooklynites, so there wasn't room for Shakespeare. But Manero faced more obvious adversity and had to react to it, something Barbarino rarely had to do.
     
  11. Touchofevil

    Touchofevil

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    A cup or two of coffee and Split Second on TCM’s Noir Alley.
    :D
     
  12. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    "These Glamour Girls" 1938 starring Lew Ayres and Lana Turner
    • The upper class at college (axiomatic in '38) being cynical and dismissive (like wealthy kids today and, probably, always) to, in most cases, hide their fears
    • A ridiculously young and ridiculously thin Lana Turner is the "girl from the wrong side of the tracks" thrown into the college party weekend mix to stir everything up - most of the college girls are snooty to her and the college boys chase her while one, in particular, treats her as a plaything to keep on the side as he continues courting his "proper" girlfriend
    • Light on the surface, but basically, a dark movie as the pressures and prejudices these kids face makes this closer to a pre-code movie than a glossy MGM college-kids-at-play movie (several spoilers follow)
      • Turner, at first awed by the college coeds - the titular "glamour girls -" is ultimately turned off by their immorality and snarkiness and quite effectively debones them in a closing speech
      • A "past-her-prime" girl - laughed at and dismissed by most for still trying to find a husband at college (she graduated a couple of years ago) - kills herself in a chilling suicide scene provoked by the nasty comments of her "friends"
      • The spoiled rich kid - who winds Turner's character up only to toss her aside for his own class - learns his proper-banker dad is an embezzler forcing some very adult decisions on him
    • I've seen this movie before, but didn't appreciate its powerful rawness just beneath the glossy college-kid's surface
    • Great - really, truly great - 1930's clothes, cars, architecture, etc. (the college boys look like they stepped out of the pages of "Apparel Arts")
     
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  13. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    That was one of Turner's first pictures -- she was just seventeen. Entertaining fact: her first agent was none other than Zeppo Marx.

    It's very rare to find a 1930s college picture that isn't about Jack Oakie in a fur coat gagging it up on campus with Joe Penner or Burns and Allen, so this one is definitely worth a look.
     
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  14. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    I was surprised at how dark it is under its surface "happy college kids" facade. It truly felt "pre-code" in its look at many of the ugly realities of life, especially for an MGM production.

    Lana Turner, like Bette Davis or Joan Crawford in their early movies, looks much thinner than the image we have of her (or any of them) from her (their) peak star years.

    I don't think this comment is wrong as it applies to most of the men of this era too, as you see that most of them gained weight as they advanced in years. It's not that most of them got unnaturally heavy, but that they got naturally a bit thicker or huskier as most people do when they move to middle age, but today, few of our stars let that happen (trainers, diets, etc. keep many of them very thin well into their forties).

    I caught a few minutes of "Grand Hotel" from '32 the other day and Joan Crawford - who never looked heavy in her long career - looked pencil thin compared to her "Mildred Pierce" ('45) days.
     
  15. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    Studios tended to be pretty strict about weight control for women even in the thirties -- because so many of the costumes they wore were highly designed, they needed to be kept within strict size limits, and also because the young romantic lead roles they played demanded a youthful physique: Judy Garland's diet-pill woes at MGM in the early years of her career are notorious, and she wasn't the only one pushed down that road. But once you were over thirty or thirty-five you weren't anybody's idea of an ingenue anymore and could let nature take its course, at least up to a point.

    Even some comedy specialists and character actresses were nagged about their weight -- Joan Blondell had to constantly fight her tendency to put on pounds, and Thelma Todd was so fond of a good meal that they put a clause in her contract requiring her to stay within five pounds of a target weight or face termination. Like Garland she too ended up addicted to amphetamines as part of her weight-control regimen.
     
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  16. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    It's funny, back then, the studios controlled the actors' weight when they "controlled" the actors, now the actors do it to themselves to remain marketable.

    I know I've read that Jean Harlow was always fighting her weight for her sadly short time on this earth.

    And to your point on costumes - most of those '30s dresses on stars were really, really, really form fitting, there was no where to hide in those things.
     
  17. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    Orry-Kelly at Warners was particulary notorious for designing outfits that looked like they'd applied with a paint brush, and this required the women wearing them to forego all underwear -- some more noticeably than others. This caused Jack Warner to issue a rather blunt memo to the costume department: "We must put brassieres on Joan Blondell!"
     
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  18. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    Nice.

    Both pre-code and after, it is amazing what you could see of women in those '30s movies - defies the "tamer times" image.
     
  19. Zombie_61

    Zombie_61 I'll Lock Up

    Not only advancing years, but also because they had established their careers, were almost constantly working, and had steady incomes, so they could afford to eat better (and more) foods; they were no longer "starving" actors.
     
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  20. scottyrocks

    scottyrocks I'll Lock Up

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    For some reason, I called up Deadline - U.S.A. (1952) to watch again. Almost unheard of compared to his others, but it could be Bogey's best movie.
     

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