What Was The Last Movie You Watched?

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

  1. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    Lilies of the Field from 1963 with Sidney Poitier, Lila Skala and Stanley Adams

    Two things make this gem of a movie work and work very well: subtle and charming interpersonal relationships and a honest, passionate, but not hellfire, belief in and advocacy of Christianity.

    Sidney Poitier, a young black man driving cross country stops at a desert enclave of six poor East German escapee nuns (back when we were allowed to acknowledge that people risked their lives to get out of the hell of East Germany and the USSR) and, despite a language barrier owing to the head nun's (Skala) very broken English, he kinda agrees to do a days work in exchange for pay and food.

    Right off, Poitier and the head nun, the "Mother," are movie-gold chemistry - they irritate each other over small things, in part, owing to the language barrier, but are also oddly intrigued by and, deep down, respectful of each other. Over time, the surface battles continue as the respect grows. Most cop-buddy movies work on the same concept, but the relationship dynamic here is one of the best ever.

    Poitier's character's name is Homer Smith, but the Mother, being German, mangles it to Schmidtt and obdurately refuses to change despite Poitier's repeated efforts to correct her. The payoff comes when Poitier, exhausted from trying, in one case, refers to himself as Schmidtt just to move things along.

    And while that's harmless fun, these two engage in some serious battles over his pay as she kinda cheats him - promised food yes, money no - in her effort to rope him into helping build a small chapel for the all but penniless nuns and the surrounding Catholoic community, which, currently, have to pray outside at a miles-away parking lot.

    While they never really come to concrete terms, Poitier stays and works and even leaves once, in exasperation, only to come back later. Director Ralph Nelson clearly knows the magic in this tale isn't the plot, but the cross-culture interactions and the religious theme - tying in with the '60s social movement's idealized goals - of harmony and respect for all. It was a time when '60s idealism and Hollywood could still make room for - even embrace - Judeo-Christain values and beliefs.

    Just seeing young, strong, black and handsome Poitier in wheat jeans and a wheat jean jacket drive six white nuns, clad head to toe in black, in his falling-apart Plymouth station wagon, to the prayer meeting's parking lot each Sunday is visual humor at its best. The poor locals - seemingly, mainly Mexicans - accept this disparate group with outward respect, but also with a few "what the heck is going on here" side-looks.

    And beyond Poitier and the nuns, the movie is chocablock with awkwardly enjoyable relationships as, for example, Poitier pleasantly spars with the Mexican owner of the local cafe (Adams), while the nuns bump elbows with pretty much everyone they encounter, but no one seems to mind that much.

    However, it's not all pleasant banter, as Poitier goes toe to toe with a racist (but sadly not out of line for the times) white construction company owner who believably changes a bit for the better after interacting with Poitier. While the movie would be a treat if all there was to it were these relationships, this message movie also shines as it proudly advocates for Christianty as a faith to bridge all these cultural gaps.

    Stripped to its core, the story is one of East German Catholic nuns sorta hiring (really playing on his generous nature) a kind black Southern Baptist man to build a chapel for them, the local community of Mexican Catholics and, as the Mother says, for God.

    And, yes, it is a belief in God, in Jesus and the unifying and uplifting passages in the Bible that hold the story and the chapel-building effort together. In one outstanding scene, Poitier and the Mother "discuss" the Bible with him desperately thumbing through his pocket edition to find supporting passages for his views while she confidently locates and reads self-supporting selections from her big-as-a-Gutenberg Bible. It is pure movie joy. (See pic below.)

    As the chapel takes shape, Poitier - despite his early resistance, now sees the effort as his personal project - initially rejects the help of the locals, but then embraces it. And in a 1963 version of "it takes a village," not only do the locals bring materials and their labor, but the racist construction company owner, eventually, donates materials (trying to pass off quality material as inferior, as he doesn't want to admit how generous he's being). Heck, even the proudly self-described non-believer cafe owner shows up to work and support the chapel building.

    Sure, it's too easy, but '60s idealism was naively optimistic then, as, not having been tried, it didn't yet have the baggage of mixed results and failures that followed so many of the programs initiated by the end of the '60s. And it's a movie, so you either go with it or not. When Poitier is affixing the large cross on the roof of the chapel at the end of construction, whatever your beliefs, you, like this agnostic, will be moved by what the power of faith and effort of community can accomplish.

    In many ways, this is a simple movie, shot in simple black and white, with a simple plot, small cast and minimal budget. But director Ralph Nelson knew he had two powerful tools to work with - relationships and faith - and, in Lilies of the Field, he uses both of them as effectively as any director has.

    Finally, for what it's worth, there's this: I haven't enjoyed a movie more in years.

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  2. Bushman

    Bushman My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954) with James Mason, Kirk Douglas, and Peter Lorre. I was aware of the mythos of Captain Nemo and his marvelous Nautilus submarine, but I'd never read the book, and was not entirely familiar with the story. This was my first introduction to it. It was grand adventure, and I quite enjoyed it. I'm now waiting on the book to arrive so I can read it.
     
  3. Worf

    Worf I'll Lock Up

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    "The Babysitter" - After avoiding this Netflix original for almost 2 years I finally broke down and watched it last night.... What a hoot. It turns the entire "nerd coming of age" story and all its related tropes on its pointy little head with hilarious results. We haven't laughed so hard in ages... Man what fun! Trust me, if you've any sense of "wicked" in you you'll love this flick.

    Worf
     
  4. Julian Shellhammer

    Julian Shellhammer Practically Family

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    Last week sometime, it was Woman on the Run (1950) with Ann Sheridan, Dennis O'Keefe, and quite a few supporting actors. A somewhat low budget, independent production, with parts filmed at Ocean Park Pier in Santa Monica, it's one of those well-crafted movies with not one wasted shot. Lots of location shots of Los Angeles in 1950. True to the era, nearly every single person wears a hat, both ladies and gentlemen.
    The plot moves along in superbly-delivered noir-ese, characters talking tough and cynical and bitter and world-weary and cracking wise in a dark vein.
    It's worth a watch, for the fast clip, the notable characterizations, and the interesting plot.
     
    Fading Fast likes this.
  5. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    I agree with your comments. Here are mine from awhile back #26740
     
  6. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    Dust Be My Destiny from 1939 with John Garfield, Priscilla Lane and Alan Hale

    This is best understood to be Warner Brothers social commentary delivered as a movie. Garfield plays a young man riding the rails in the Great Depression who is falsely imprisoned, then falls in love with the work farm's overseer's daughter (Lane). But after seriously injuring the overseer in a fight, Garfield and Lane escape and go on the lam believing Garfield would never get a fair shake. From there, it's the hard life of being penniless and on the road, until a few breaks come their way, but eventual exposure results in arrest for Garfield and a trial that serves as the final editorial comment.

    The message the movie screams out at you is that these young men, who many see as vagrants and petty criminals, are really decent people who, if given a chance, would work hard and live honest, upstanding lives. Hollywood has been telling this tale ever since, including right up to today (see the mercifully just-cancelled TV show God Friended Me as one of many examples).

    It's an emotionally appealing message of kindness, redemption, charity, hope and justice - that's why it's told again and again. And it's true, just like its opposite is true. Yes, some people are poor and struggling (and even turn to crime) because they have suffered injustice, neglect and bad luck. But some people are crooks and cheats who have failed owing to their own actions. Hollywood occasionally tells the latter tale, but it saves its passion for the former.

    If you like the happy tale, Dust Be My Destiny is a good version owing to Garfield's angry martyrdom and Lane's angelic offset.

    N.B. Alan Hale pops up toward the end in one of his better roles as an editor who believes in Garfield.



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    The Card from 1952 with Alec Guinness, Glynis Johns and Petula Clark

    A quirky, fun British movie taking a lighthearted look at a young roguish working-class man (Guinness), in turn-of-the-century England, trying to rise up in the world as an entrepreneur/financier who goes from beaten-down clerk, to small-business owner, to, finally, successful owner of a substantial financing club for the working class.

    Along the way, he meets equally roguish, but also, gold-digging, social-climbing and cute Glynis Johns who challenges nice and good Petula Clark for Guinness' affections. Throw in a few fun schemes, a countess who takes a liking to Guinness and an obdurate donkey and there are worse ways to spend eighty five minutes.

    Plus this, along the way, Guinness comes up with the idea to turn a small seashore shipwreck (that had been left to rot) into a tourist attraction (after his capital improvements, he offers day trips with harrowing sea tales, etc.) that becomes very successful and employs several people. One day, he has this perfect exchange with a jealous employee bringing Guinness, sitting on the beach, the day's receipts:

    Employee (standing over and sneering at Guinness reclining in a beach chair): "That seems a lot of money for doing nothing."

    Guinness (looking up smiling): "But I did do something: I thought of it."​

    A lesson in business, entrepreneurism and capitalism that so many today still don't understand.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2020
  7. steve u

    steve u One of the Regulars

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    Samurai Banners (1969)
    The final Battle at Kawanakajima is a Park with a Museum. Been there .
    My Brother-in-law lives next door.
     
  8. Julian Shellhammer

    Julian Shellhammer Practically Family

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    Last night, it was Sands of Iwo Jima (1949 or 50, release dates vary at IMDb), with John Wayne, John Agar, Forrest Tucker, and a good many more. Republic Pictures production intercut with documentary footage from the battles of Tarawa and Iwo Jima. Remembered this from viewings as a kid. The actual combat footage hit me more powerfully as an adult.

    Followed by half of Pocketful of Miracles (1961), dir. by Frank Capra, with Glenn Ford, Bette Davis, Hope Lange, and more. Remake of Lady for a Day from 1933, inspired by a Damon Runyon story. Technicolor, wide-screen aspect, a remarkable supporting cast, and yet, we stopped watching about an hour in. Rare for us to give up on a movie, but we were not drawn in by the characters or the story.
     
  9. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    PSA: on TCM right now, one of the longest implied-sex scenes ever in a main-stream movie is showing from 1933's "Queen Christina" with Greta Garbo and John Gilbert, but it's all about Garbo.
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  10. Trenchfriend

    Trenchfriend I'll Lock Up

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    "21 nights with Pattie/21 nuits avec Pattie" (2015)
     
  11. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    Broadway Musketeers from 1938 with Margaret Lindsay, Ann Sheridan and Marie Wilson.

    This remake of the excellent 1932 movie Three on a Match is a study in the destructive force that was the Motion Picture Production Code.

    In the pre-code '32 version, three young women, raised in the same orphanage, reunite in early adulthood. One is a hard-working stenographer, one a lounge singer and one married a kind, wealthy man with whom she has a four-year-old daughter and a seemingly perfect life. After that setup, the married woman, owing to boredom with the safe life that she has, proceeds to destroy it by leaving her husband for a low-level mobster, gambler and drug user.

    Her downward spiral in the original movie is brutal as she becomes a drug addict, living in a dumpy tenement and scrounging around for money for food and rent while her boyfriend's gambling debts result in the mob coming after them. Her girlfriends and husband try to help, but she is a woman on a mission of personal destruction, and she's successful. In the end, she is so strung out on drugs that she ignores her personal hygiene - it's as raw and real as any pre-code.

    And while it's a strong story, I was never sure of the point of the three women other than to show that some people appreciate even the small things they get/earn in life while others can "get it all" and still be dissatisfied. But in the remake, only six years later, the Motion Picture Production Code sucks most of the heart right out of the story.

    First, in the newer version, the downward spiral is no longer fueled by drugs (a code no-no), but alcohol and, even here, the addiction seems mild. The hard drug use of the '32 version made sense as a life-destroying force; drinking too much now and then, as happens in the '38 version, feels too tame (she's not presented as an inveterate alcoholic) and undermines the entire story.

    Additionally, the '38 version gets all tied up with divorces and marriages as, God forbid, somebody had sex out of wedlock. But in '32 version, the woman just starts living with her new boyfriend (they do get married at some point), which emphasizes her promiscuity and willful behavior.

    Finally, in the '32 version, Ann Dvorak is perfectly cast as the throw-it-all-away drug user as she has a pallor and physical tension to her that fits the role. And her looks are more raw sexuality - more feral - than Hollywood pretty. She's believable as a drug addict with a rabid sexuality.

    Conversely, in the '38 version, pure-as-the-driven-snow looking and picture-perfect pretty Margaret Lindsay plays the out-of-control woman and it doesn't work. She's a good actress and tries hard, but even with dark-eye makeup and unkempt hair, when things for her go bad, she looks more like Bambi in the hunter's cross hairs than a self-destructive alcoholic and wanton.

    I assume they remade the movie to make money, and maybe the effort did so, but its value to us today is as a study of the same movie made before and after the Production Code was enforced. The pre-code one is a powerful, gritty and ugly tale of senseless personal destruction; the one made under the code is neutered of its essence, resulting in a flat story lacking verisimilitude. And beyond all that, the title of the remake, Broadway Musketeers, is stupid and makes no sense at all.


    1932's earthy Dvorak left and 1938's ethereal Lindsay right.
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  12. Julian Shellhammer

    Julian Shellhammer Practically Family

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    I Confess (1953), dir. Alfred Hitchcock, with Montgomery Clift, Anne Baxter, Brian Aherne, and Karl Malden. The sanctity of the confessional versus committing crimes. Set in Quebec, if you are not paying attention at the beginning (as I was), you'd think it's in a French city.
    Less than prime Hitchcock, visually dark, with an unhappy marriage, a conflicted priest, equal parts detective work and courtroom procedural, and almost no humor, not even the Hitchcockian "gallows" humor. We watched the Mary Tyler Moore show to balance out the vibe.
     
  13. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    Black Legion from 1937 with Humphrey Bogart, Dick Foran and Erin O'Brien-Moore

    Propaganda works best when it is subtle, but it can still be impactful when it throws rocks through the windows (in this case, literally). Black Legion is rock-throwing propaganda; nothing is subtle here, but you definitely won't miss its point.

    Bogart plays an upstanding citizen - a family man who loves his wife (O'Brien-Moore) and son and works hard at his factory job - a "real" American. But when a promotion he wanted goes to a "Polish" American - a hard working young man who goes to night school to better himself (again, nothing is subtle here) - he becomes embittered.

    In an angry response, he joins a secret organization, the Black Legion - the Klan in all but name - that fights for "real" Americans against, in this case, "foreigners who take our jobs" (and other things like foreign-owned businesses that under price "American" businesses).

    Not holding back one bit, the Legion goes out at night and severely beats up "foreigners," burns down their property, runs them out of town and even, as Bogart does one evening, kills them.

    While he's doing all this, his family is falling apart owing to his absence and anger and, eventually, loss of his job. His fall from decent family man to criminal on trial for murder is swift and jarring. And his trial is just the setup to reinforce the movie's message, in case, somehow, you didn't get it.

    After an initial and clumsy attempt at a defense, Bogart admits all and names names - the other members of the Black Legion who participated in the killing. This allows the trial judge to deliver his summation sermon about the American Constitution and its Bill of Rights protecting the rights and freedoms of Every. Single. Person.

    It's a short, but powerful and specific speech emphasizing the protections guaranteed for religious freedom and security of person and property against attack. The judge denounces racial and religious hatreds and any vigilantism in support of these hatreds. In an particularly impactful passage, he avers that "the American people made their choice long ago" to defend human rights - life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    The only issue with the speech is that the judge asserts that America's "democratic form of government" protects these rights when it is, specifically, our Republic form of government which really protects the rights of minorities (no smaller minority on earth than each individual) from mob rule - which is what pure democracy can spiral down to. It's a distinction that makes a very, very big difference and one that we still need to understand today.

    But away from that issue, the message of this very "message-y" movie is a good one, even if it's, as done here, delivered in as heavy handed a way as possible.
     
  14. Julian Shellhammer

    Julian Shellhammer Practically Family

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    The Magnificent Seven (1960). The Missus had never seen it, and was open to give it a try. She liked it. I kept hitting pause and comparing the remake to the original, until I finally gained control of myself and she was able to watch without the live commentary.
     
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  15. Worf

    Worf I'll Lock Up

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    "Chloe" - Puddin' said I had to watch this movie. 5 minutes in remembered that I started to watch it with her years ago but quit and went upstairs to "kill pixels". Now I know why I didn't finish it the FIRST time! Interesting "Fatal Attraction" film with an obvious twist coming at the end. Nothing to recommend it but... ahem some VERY pulse raising love scenes between 2 of the leads. Not enough character development. The main character might as well be a "love bot" for all the motivation she's given and again... when all's said and done, there are no "consequences" to be had for the "All American Family". Pheh!

    Worf
     
  16. Doctor Strange

    Doctor Strange I'll Lock Up

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    Agreed, Worf. Good cast in a really bad film!

    The last film I watched was the recent Ophelia, with Daisy Ridley, Naomi Watts, and Clive Owen. It essentially tells the story of Hamlet from her POV... in a very loose adaptation that expands the story with some unnecessary bits (e.g., Queen Gertrude's twin sister is a witch who provides Claudius with the poison to kill the king), but overall it held my interest.

    Speaking of pseudo-Shakespeare, I also recently watched All Night Long, a 1962 Brit film starring Patrick McGoohan as a jazz musician. Very unusual flick with some great music - Charles Mingus and Dave Brubeck have cameos and play magnificently. But it wasn't until well into it that I realized it was essentially Othello, with McGoohan as Iago, scheming and playing everyone against each other to get a record deal for his own band. Not a great film, but a fascinating period snapshot... and McGoohan gives a typically intense performance, though his "American" accent never existed anywhere in the USA. (Which is a surprise, since Brit-trained actors can usually pull off several great American accents without breaking a sweat.)
     
  17. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    I Am a Thief from 1934 with Mary Astor (left) and Ricardo Cortez (far right).

    Could they, in 1934, make an Agatha-Christie-like movie in sixty four minutes that's better than almost every Agatha-Christie movie ever made? Yup.

    While I want to like movies based on Christie's books, they never quite work for me. I'm not sure why as the style, settings and stories sound up my alley, but I usually find myself bored or disenchanted in the middle of them.

    However, in '34, Warner Brothers worked a basic Christie-ish formula into a fast, enjoyable who-done-it. And while I think I got the plot, that happened only at the end, as the story is confusing as heck and happens at warp speed.

    A bunch of rich people - a wealthy loud (of course) American, a mysterious and beautiful woman (Astor), a maybe Jewel thief or just playboy (Cortez) and a nervous jewelry insurance agent - are all staying at the same European hotel where a famous diamond necklace is maybe stolen, with, conveniently, everyone possibly involved hopping aboard the Orient Express the next day.

    Once on board, the list of suspects and inspectors expands to include some, maybe (sorry, it's all kept intentionally vague until the end), detectives, additional thieves and a few more rich women. Here, it turns into a game of three-card monte with the diamond necklace or a fake being stolen (again), hidden, sold, insured, lost, substituted, tossed from the train and returned to the train as each operative maneuvers to get the diamonds or expose the thief.

    The plot doesn't matter as the joy is watching each character play his or her game with young and pretty Mary Astor and suave Richard Cortez seemingly playing the game better than most while flirting with each other. Throw into the mix a smart detective, a murder, a suicide and a fast-as-heck "all suspects are gathered in the dining car" denouement and the story comes to a rapid conclusion just before all the not-believable stuff overwhelms.

    There have been a lot - a whole lot - of versions of this movie made since (sometimes a murdered wealthy person replaces the diamonds as the plot motivator), but as an early entry in the genre, it's impressive. Not only are many of the classic elements of the story already here, it adduces that, sometimes, a story is better told with less fuss and more speed.

    Finally, for us today, since most of the movie takes place aboard the Orient Express, the time travel to luxurious passenger rail travel of lore - elegant sleeping compartments, mahogany-lined corridors, linen and silver dining-car service and white-gloved porters - is enjoyable escapism.

    N.B. In the final "gathering all suspects" scene, look for the cool behind-the-back catch of a tossed gun Cortez makes. It would be all but impossible to do in the real world, but fun to see in a movie.
     
  18. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    "Love in the Afternoon" on TCM right now and on mute as I attempt to work.

    Audrey Hepburn's one iconic image will always be the famous "Breakfast at Tiffany's" shot, but should there be a need for a second one, this one gets my vote.

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  19. steve u

    steve u One of the Regulars

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    The Trail Of Blood - 1972 Samurai Film Directed By Kazuo Ikehiro
    Starring: Yoshio Harada
    A tale of Yakuza revenge...Lots of good swordplay.
     
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  20. Edward

    Edward Bartender

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    Wolves, with the fella from Game of Thrones and Aquaman as the main bad guy. Orphan werewolf finds his real family, trouble ensues. IT's no American Werewolf in London, but fun enough. If you liked The Lost Boys, this has something of the same feel if less overtly comic - and with lycanthorpes, not vampires.
     

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