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Discussion in 'The Moving Picture' started by Amy Jeanne, Aug 5, 2007.
I'm not sure if I want to see it now, but I enjoyed your write-up.
Maybe I should have added the following to my post:
".........Or did he?" lol
The just watched The Young Philadelphians (1959). Magnificent from beginning to end. This, despite an unintentionally hilarious five minute performance by a young Adam West.
So, I'm half watching it in the background as I close out my work for the day (I work from home) and my girlfriend walks into the room for a second, glances at the screen, which, at that moment, had an incredibly young and handsome Paul Newman perfectly framed and she tosses over her shoulder "they don't make 'em like him anymore, do they" and walks back out.
And, yes, good, enjoyable movie.
No, they don't.
He had such a genuineness and charm that was unmatched by just about anybody.
There wasn't a bad line, moment, or scene (okay, the West scene was a little forced - haha) in it. The love stories were played perfectly, and the courtroom scene was one of the best performances by a lead actor I've ever seen.
The mother/'uncle' reveal was perfect. Not over-dramatic, but realistic and yet riveting.
The resolution of the main love story could have gone so wrong. I was thinking that if they get back together it will ruin the film, but the way it was handled was perfect. Satisfactory results all around.
"Us." Obvious plot devices, absolute telegraphing of the whole point in the first 5 minutes, weak characters. I don't get the hype. "Get Out" was a much, much better movie, though "Us" had some really amazing performances. The faults with it are all directorial choices.
On TCM right now - Small Town Girl from '53.
He's no Fred Astaire, but he puts his heart and soul into this one - how did Bobby Van's knees survive it:
Maybe he was part Tigger.
After the classic Checker, the cab from "On The Town" (on TCM now) is the best NYC taxi ever:
That's a DeSoto Sky-View, the dominant model of cab in the city until the 1950s -- aside from seating seven people comfortably, they had a transparent panel in the roof to facilitate gawping at skyscrapers. When they weren't obscured by a layer of pigeon poop.
So Dark the Night (1946) with Steven Geray as Monsieur Cassin, a Paris superstar detective who takes a vacation in a small village. Romance, drama, and murder ensue. Stay until the end for the denouement. Filmed right here in California. Part of the Columbia Noir set on the new Criterion Channel.
The Mating Game from 1959 with Paul Douglas, Una Merkel, Debbie Reynolds and Tony Randal
There are no really good battle-of-the-sexes (BOTS) movie as they are all silly constructs, but there are enjoyable ones if you just go with the flow (Pillow Talk, That Touch of Mink). Even trying to do that here made this one only kinda enjoyable in the better second half of the movie.
All in one breath: Douglas and Merkel's large family lives on a bit-shabby farm that survives through barter and kindness (most of the neighbors help each other out) with Reynolds as the oldest, cutest and chased-by-the-boys daughter who catches the attention of uptight IRS agent Randal (while he catches her's) indirectly sent to the farm by a mean-spirited neighbor who reported the farm owners as tax dodgers.
If you are familiar with BOTS movies, then you know that the flimsy plot will be propelled forward by a lot of high jinx - excessive drinking leading to stupid behavior (it was allowed to be funny back then), people winding up in bed together accidentally but not having sex (very risqué back then), silly chases, silly misunderstandings, silly plot twists and even sillier resolutions.
It only works if the chemistry between the actors - especially the two leads - works really, really well. Here, unfortunately, it only kinda works between some of the characters. Douglas is, surprisingly, good as the happy-go-lucky farmer as is the wonderfully named Una Merkel (a pre-code film star in her youth), but Reynolds tries too hard to be cute (she's so God-given cute that her extra effort pushes it too far) and herky-jerky Randal just doesn't quite pull off the leading man-of-her-dreams role.
So you're left with bits and pieces of, what could have been, an enjoyable BOTS movie plus a bunch of filler and slow parts. Turn the dial down on Reynolds' enthusiasm and flip out Randal for Rock Hudson or Jack Lemon and you'd have a much better result.
Tom, Dick and Harry from 1941 starring Ginger Rogers, George Murphy and Burgess Meredith
Even Ginger Rogers - talented, cute as heck and owner of that elusive "star" quality - can't save this spilled-milk of a movie. Rogers plays a small town girl with, sorta, big dreams who can't decide if she should marry the local boy "on the way up," the quixotic mechanic (Meredith - bringing the only spark of life to this effort) who causes her to swoon or the kind, but boring, millionaire offering her everything she's dreamed of; so, of course, unbeknownst to the three suitors, she accepts proposals from each one of them.
While it sounds like an early battle of the sexes movie, it never even rises to that level as Rogers' character comes off as slightly unlikable - why all these men fall for her so hard is an unanswered question - while the plot never even forms enough to be silly. All that happens is that she dates all three as she tries to make up her mind. Throw in some awkward dream sequences about what her life would be like being married to each man and that's pretty much the movie leading up to the "big" decision of whom she'll choose to marry.
You know a rom-com (which is what this was trying to be) isn't working when you hope whomever she chooses says no. But alas.
Nice evening, my loungers. I'm watching "Blade Runner 1", right now from my 19yo self-recorded VHS-cassette.
The Passionate Friends from 1949 directed by David Lean and starring Ann Todd, Claude Raines and Trevor Howard
Here's the thing I'm learning about David Lean movies: they are better the second, third and subsequent times you see them. I saw this one several years ago and liked it but nothing more. This time - no longer distracted with having to follow the plot, keep names straight, etc. - I was able to enjoy the movie's atmosphere, character development and emotions - Lean's metier - so much more.
And those are what drive this movie about a woman (Todd) who chooses to marry a man she likes (Raines) over the man she loves (Howard) for the very wealthy lifestyle Raines can give her. All's going fine in Todd and Raines' perfectly friendly marriage until she accidentally runs into Howard, her true love - twice over a ten year period - which knocks her off her emotionally delicate perch. As expected, no one ultimately enjoys these brief encounters (uh-huh*) as her husband gets jealous at his wife only liking him but loving another man (even though it's the bargain he knew he struck), while Todd and Howard have to face again (and, then, again) the loss of their one true love.
More would tread into spoiler-alert world, but there are another few neat things to note. The black-and-white cinematography is post-war British gorgeous (England struggled with much after the war, but making outstanding B&W movies wasn't one of them). And Ann Todd is, well, simply gorgeous - at forty, she looks thirty and more beautiful than every other thirty-year-old actress. One wonders if she and Jean Arthur weren't sisters separated at birth with Arthur raised in America to be a bit forward and loud; whereas, Todd was raised in England to be refined and decorous. But both are beautiful petite blondes who never seem to age and who can carry a movie on their talent and pulchritude.
And more neat stuff - the movie is based on a novel by H.G. Wells (which is now in the mail to me from the Antique Book Exchange for all of $7). There's no Wells' futuristic this or world philosophy that in it, but deep human emotions - love, regret, betrayal, anger and fear - are all wonderfully, and excruciatingly, explored. Finally this - you have to respect a movie that can weave in post-war air travel (no "calling zone five," instead, "may I get you something else ma'am"), sleeper compartment train travel, a Chris Craft tender "taxi" service and a tram in the Alps. Yes, travel was a rich-man's thing then, but, darn it, elegantly done.
As with another Lean movie I saw recently, Madeleine, I can't wait to see this one again. Heck, as noted, I can say that for almost every other Lean movie as well.
* The parallels to Lean's masterpiece in subtlety, Brief Encounter, are obvious, but The Passionate Friends is less a redo than an expansion on the theme. Brief Encounter is a perfect "little" jewel of a movie about a moment in time - a brief encounter where two married people have a passionate affair - whereas, The Passionate Friends, takes the conflict of lovers married to others and expands it across a lifetime.
Yes, people generally associate David Lean with those huge mega-productions from The Bridge On The River Kwai onwards, but his earlier intimate dramas - and Dickens adaptations - are all very worthwhile films.
I saw The Passionate Friends a long time ago and liked it. I considered DVRing it for a rewatch when TCM showed it... but I'm drowning in stuff to watch a first time!
I hear ya - I always feel a bit guilty when I re-watch something as there is always a long queue of never-been-seen stuff, but as noted, his movies really (for me, anyway) are better the second, etc. time. I only liked The Passionate Friends the first time, but loved it this time and want to see it a third time soon. I'm sure you know this, Lean was married to Ann Todd (fantastic name) at the time they made the movie (one of his six wives and one of her three husbands - ah, Hollywood).
Last week some time, The Big Heat off the Criterion Channel. Lee Marvin is sub-feral.
With Youngest Shellhammer, The Day the Earth Froze, the Finnish-Russian production of a folktale, edited, dubbed, and marketed by American-International. As MST3K'ed by Joel and the 'bots.
I watched Gilda (1946] again yesterday. I never get tired of it.
Probably the best entrance ever put on film . . . 'Me?' haha <sigh> love it.
No argument here - that's a hell of an entrance as is Orson Welles' entrance in "The Third Man:"
Caught up on a couple of last year's big films:
Crazy Rich Asians... Apart from the all-Asian cast - and not to undervalue its significance in that regard - there's nothing to see here. Your standard Cinderella-derived rom-com, nearly entirely unbelievable from start to end. A fantasy of mega-wealth like something out of Depression-era Hollywood, set in a Singapore only slightly more real than the backlot. It's easy to watch, but there's nothing to take away. This is a four-star film?!?
BlacKkKlansman… Spike Lee's best film in years. Tense, humorous, scary, well acted, with great seventies production design, and unfortunately, VERY timely. Not everything in it works - it could have been trimmed a bit - but it's definitely got something to say.