Separate names with a comma.
Discussion in 'The Moving Picture' started by Amy Jeanne, Aug 5, 2007.
The Chase (1966)
Robert Duvall looks like Tom Hagen and Marlon Brando like a Godfather.
Caught the original Star Wars trilogy on TNT today. Always a pleasure!
It might have been if George Lucas hadn't sabotaged his own movies and made them worse with each subsequent Not-So-Special-Edition release.
Sorority House from 1939 with Anne Shirley, J.M. Kerrigan and Barbara Read
1939 deserves its reputation as the greatest year for movies ever, but it was not because of this effort. To be fair, Sorority House is a fine college-fluff B-movie with some engaging moments, but unfortunately, it takes the easy, two-dimensional way out of too-many difficulties.
It starts out with promise as we see a small-town widower and grocery-store owner (Kerrigan) quietly borrow money to surprise his devoted daughter (Shirley) with a last-minute opportunity to go to college. So off to an institution of higher education goes perky and optimistic Shirley not realizing that women's colleges (at that time) were mainly a connected and clubby rich girl's affair socially driven by the cliquish sorority system.
Stuck in the social wasteland of a college boarding house, Shirley quickly learns about and yearns to join a sorority as "rush week" begins. One of her roommates, a mousy looking girl (by Hollywood standards as they put thick-framed glasses on cute-as-heck Barbara Read) who knows she's not "sorority material," provides wonderful balance to Shirley's newbie enthusiasm as Read points out all the foibles and snobbery of the sorority system. Shirley's other roommate is a "legacy" student desperate to live up to her family's expectations that she'll be pursued by a top sorority.
After Shirley unintentionally catches the eye of one of the big men on campus (BMOC), he starts a rumor that Shirley comes from money in a naive attempt to help her chances to be rushed. As a result, Shirley - pretty, now presumed rich and dating the BOMC - is inundated with offers. Realizing she'll need more money from her dad to join - having nice clothes and funds for social events are, basically, a sorority requirement - Shirley is about to give up until her really nice dad shows up with the needed funds.
And the night of his arrival provides the movie's best sequence. When Shirley, at a sorority rush party, realizes that everyone thinks her dad is rich, she tries to tell them otherwise (good girl), but when her dad actually shows up and she sees he won't fit in with his shabby suit and aw-shucks manner, she pushes him away from the party (bad girl), but then realizes her mistakes and runs after him to apologize and invite him back (good girl).
Here is where this relatively good movie flips to quickly messaging a bunch of sugary stuff as salt-of-the-earth dad sets the just-rejected and now-depressed legacy roommate straight about what's important in life. He also gently lectures the three girls about not becoming the same snobs the sorority girls are when they pursue their plans to form an anti-sorority club.
Meh, it went from telling a story to pontificating in an effort to wrap things up in a hurry. But to be fair, it does an okay job as a sixty-minute-long effort better thought of as the equivalent of today's hour-long TV drama than a major-movie release.
N.B. There were a series of girls-at-college movies in the '30s, with the best one being the surprisingly challenging and real These Glamour Girls that is very much worth seeing. (Comments here: #24172)
Charlie Kaufman's newest "I'm thinking of ending it"....Wow, a fever dream on film....the most charitable comment i can make....netflix at least it did not cost the $7 rental....but still a waste of 2 hours and 14 mins.
This Land is Mine from 1943 with Charles Laughton, Maureen O'Hara, Walter Slezak, George Sanders and Kent Smith
The word propaganda, like so many things, has been tainted by its association with Nazi Germany, but its core meaning - promoting a particular, usually political, point of view - is also part of what we call freedom of speech.
It's dangerous when the state - as in Nazi Germany - controls speech and promotes only its point of view, hence the taint, but in a free society, where everyone advocates for his or her own beliefs, everyone, effectively, is propagandizing for his or her own viewpoint and ideas.
So it is as a compliment that I say, This Land is Mine is outstanding propaganda.
"Some town" in Europe is occupied by the Germans, but as the Germans did in several places, they wanted this to be a "soft" occupation where they collaborate with willing locals to leave a patina of self-governance in place. Many opportunistic and many just understandably scared locals go along, but a few resist by printing an underground newspaper while others physically resist through sabotage.
Cowardly mamma's boy and schoolteacher Charles Laughton plays by the new rules and looks the other way until his hero, the school's headmaster, is arrested for promoting "unacceptable" ideas at the school. Later, the headmaster is chosen as one of ten hostages to be executed by the Germans in retaliation for a murdered-by-the-resistance German soldier.
Laughton, meanwhile, stumbles upon the body of a collaborator, George Sanders, whose conscience drove him to suicide after he turned his fiancé's brother in for sabotage and the brother is killed trying to avoid arrest. Laughton, having found the body, is then arrested and charged with the murder of the collaborator. Adding to the complications, the collaborator's fiancé is a school teacher, Maureen O'Hara, with whom Laughton has been secretly in love.
This brings Laughton into direct conflict with the town's Nazi overseer beautifully played by Walter Slezak. Slezak is no cardboard Nazi thug. He's an educated man who quotes and clearly respects the leading philosophers of Western Civilization; a man who would prefer not to use force, not to kill the innocent. But he is also a shrewd and, when necessary, ruthless Nazi willing to kill ten innocent locals in retaliation for one murdered German soldier - order must be maintained.
Slezak doesn't want to have Laughton put on trial, but if he must be tried and found guilty of murder to maintain the fiction that the collaborator's death wasn't a suicide, then, so be it. Having the public know that collaborators are committing suicide over guilt is not in the Nazi's interest.
It takes two thirds of this better-than-average WWII propaganda film to get to this point, but then it only gets much, much better.
With his fears almost realized, Laughton, on trial in an all but rigged court for a murder he didn't commit, finds his inner fortitude, in part, when he sees, from his jail cell awaiting trial, his former headmaster executed in the prison's yard by the Nazis.
In dramatic courtroom fashion, with the prosecutor screaming to have his defense speech shut down, Laughton - disheveled, a bit nervous, but clearly not scared anymore - quietly and methodically exposes and dissects the evil of the Nazi occupation, the hypocrisy of the collaborators and his own cowardice to date.
It's not only a speech of hammering logic, it's a tour-de-force acting performance as you forget everything else as this fat, rumpled and awkward man single-handedly eviscerates all the evil fictions holding the town in its grip. And just when you think he has nothing left, this shy man, who's never expressed romantic love or passion for another in his entire life, in open court, declares his love for O'Hara and, at this point, you realize she's a lucky woman.
But there's still a little more movie left. Despite being knocked back on their heels with their immorality exposed by Laughton, Nazis are gonna Nazi, so they respond with brutal force. And Laughton is given one last moment before the inevitable, which he uses to teach his students the value of keeping the ideals of freedom and individual liberty alive in your head and heart even if all around you others are trying to stomp them out. Basically, he teaches that a book can be burned, but an idea can't be removed from your mind.
Is it propaganda? Sure, and This Land is Mine should be darn proud of it.
I owe a hat tip to @Worf for an outstanding recommendation.
Started the night with John Carpenter's Vampires - Starring James Woods and Daniel Baldwin squaring off against the granddaddy of all Vampires, the sinister Valak, created through exorcism gone wrong. This movie, while fun, unfortunately lets itself get sucked into the "sexual Vampire" trend started back in the late 1980s. Valak couldn't be any more different from Gary Oldman's depiction of Count Dracula six years earlier. Despite Wood telling us right up front that vampires don't wear frilly Victorian clothes and spout cartoony eastern European accents, that's kinda what we get. Valak wears decorative black leather clothes with long black hair matching his long black leather coat, easily mistakable as a Goth teenager as much as a "vampire." Perhaps the "they blend in' speech would have worked better if the main villain didn't dress so cliched and wasn't from Eastern Europe. Even so, John Carpenter pulls together a fantastic directorial vision as always, with fantastic sets and actors giving an enjoyable performance.
After dinner it was Flipper from 1996 - Young Elijah wood is great, and Paul Hogan is as charmingly gruff as ever. But the real star here is the Bahamas. The movie makes me want to run off with a ramshackle boat and find my own little aquamarine isle. The story is basically your throw-away eco friendly kids movie from the '90s, this time starring the lovable Dolphin character that originated in the 1960's TV series of the same name. Despite the dolphin and the title, this movie is almost unrecognizable to the original TV series.
Finished the night with The Conjuring - highly embellished tale of Ed and Lorraine Warren's ghost busting horror at a family home in Rhode Island. Despite the embellishments, the movie is terrifying, and still one of my favorite ghost stories. The makeup and "haunted house" setting make a perfect old fashioned styled, yet newly minted paranormal movie. This was the one that kicked off the horrifying Conjuring Universe, which spawned such iconic ghouls as Annabelle, and more recently, the ghastly Nun (the demon Valak).
Man Bait from 1952 with George Brent, Diana Dors and Peter Reynolds
With a small budget and at a-little-over an hour in length, this effort feels more like a TV drama than a full-length movie. Book store owner, George Brent, with an invalid wife that he sincerely loves has the briefest of weak moments and shares nothing more than one consensual kiss with his employee: young, flirting-hard and looking-for-trouble Diana Dors.
From this tiny mistake, all hell eventually breaks loose for Brent. Dors' just-out-of-prison new boyfriend, Peter Reynolds, learns of the kiss and Brent's inflated bank account as he just cashed in an insurance policy to take his wife on a needed-for-her-health vacation. While far from the sharpest tool in the shed, Reynolds, as most bottom feeders will, can see the opportunity in these two disparate facts.
Okay, you can probably guess a lot of the rest as that setup leads to soft blackmail, then hard blackmail, a cruel letter to the invalid wife, a double cross between the blackmailers that goes horribly wrong, murder, a falsely accused Brent, a flight from justice, weird allies and enemies popping up in the book store and that wonderful British invention, the put-upon, understated, but-does-his-job-ridiculously-well British detective (who has a seven-word job title including "superintendent," "chief" and a bunch of other words).
With a reasonably satisfying conclusion, it's worth the watch in the same way any good hour-long TV drama is. Plus you get to see old-acting-pro George Brent carry a small movie while a young Diana Dors wears very tight-fitting clothing.
I reviewed this film some months back. I too thought it was great and Laughton's performance was masterful. I love how his students who openly detest their weak, cowardly and ineffectual teacher throughout the film, finally come to realize that he was a man, a patriot and a teacher worth admiring and emulating. As I said before... being no matinee idol Laughton had to rely on his skills as an actor alone and as such honed it to razor sharpness. He could do it all, drama, comedy... I don't think I ever saw him sing or dance... and he could direct. What an amazing man.
Blood on the Moon (1948) with Robert Mitchum, Barbara Bel Geddes, and Robert Preston. It's directed by Robert Wise so we see a western noir. High contrast lighting, corruption in seats of power, and a lead character who can't seem to get a fair shake from either the law or the crooks.
Or can he?
Preston is completely Preston, projecting past the foyer and popcorn machine, but at the same time delivering 100% of his performance.
NB: there is a fist fight in a saloon, about two-thirds of the way through, and it is astonishingly brutal. It goes on a long time.
PS: The Last Jedi, via Disney+. Fun for a Friday night brain.
Yesterday from 2019 with Himesh Patel and Lily James
This answers the never-asked question of what would a rom-com powered by The Beatles songs be like
The answer is a fun two hours of mindless escapism as some sort of global "electrical" anomaly leaves the world unchanged except that only one English failing-but-talented singer-songwriter, Himesh Patel, remembers The Beatles - to the rest of the 2019 world, they never existed
Patel slowly realizes the musical gold he has in his hands and, with the support of his long-time friend and manager, Lily James, sees his career begin to take off as he starts to leverage "his" "new" songs like "Let it Be" and "Yesterday"
James, who has been carrying an unrequited torch for Patel since forever, passes on Patel's offer to go with him as his manager to record in LA as she knows it's his journey not hers. Plus, you can only love someone without being loved back for so long
From here, it's off to rock stardom for Patel, but with nagging doubts about the morality of passing off The Beatles (now never-existed-before) songs as his own and leaving behind James whom he slowly realizes he has feelings for
Throw in a rapacious LA manager, some fun Beatles references, plenty of their songs and all the usual-to-a-rom-com just-missed opportunities for, and last-minute efforts of, Patel and James to get together and a fun, silly time is had by all
With the one sour note being, as always, moral preening by the writers who preach that walking away from money is a virtue; although, I'd bet real money, they don't do that in their own careers
Das Boot, uncut TV series (282 min).
Are we going to have to have "Das Boot" intervention for you?
Just kidding, I get stuck on the same movie now and then too.
I need to watch this.
I started watching BLOOD ON THE MOON yesterday and need to finish it (got interrupted when the BF came home). I was quite impressed as it was a great story with excellent acting from Mitchum and Preston. And of course, Walter Brennan, who I love in every performance he does.
On mute, in the background, on TCM is "Star of Midnight" where, per TCM's description, "an urbane sleuth (William Powell) and his chic drinking companion(Ginger Rogers) solve the case of a dead gossip columnist."
Powell played Philo Vance, The Thin Man and was the lead in "Star of Midnight -" that's three and I'm pretty sure I've seen him in at least one other "urbane sleuth" type role.
How many different "urbane sleuths" did Powell play?
I am for the most part a fan of Terrence Malick. Watched "A Hidden Life" last night. For me and my wife it was a WOW. A film we are still discussing. It very much has his stamp on it. A great study on faith, pride, hubris and many other attendant themes. A visually stunning feast for the eyes with the Malick long languid feel.
We were enthralled for the full 3 hours
They Drive by Night from 1940 with George Raft, Ann Sheridan, Ida Lupino, Humphrey Bogart and Alan Hale
There's a lot that's good here, but the parts are assembled in a bumpy way with some awkward-style and abrupt-narrative shifts that almost feel like you've been taken to a different movie. But still, overall, it's a heck of an effort even if held back by its odd transitions.
The first part of the movie is the story of two brother truckers, George Raft and Humphrey Bogart, trying to remain as independents (versus taking safer salary jobs with a trucking company) as they hope to build up their one-rig effort to a multi-truck profitable business.
This is good stuff as you see and feel the hardscrabble existence of the independent trucker, his struggles financially to cover his costs (including paying off his truck's mortgage), physically to drive these early difficult vehicles (and stay awake on long runs) and personally to maintain a family life. From the truck stops, to the camaraderie, crashes and negotiations with shippers, it's a good window into 1940s trucking.
And just as things are looking up for brothers Raft and Bogart, a crash destroys their uninsured truck while disabling Bogart. Raft, perforce, takes a job at a big trucking concern, but owing to the intervention of the company owner's wife (Ida Lupino), seemingly a former girlfriend of Raft's, he's given a lucrative management job.
Despite Raft having a girlfriend (Sheridan) and Lupino; a husband (Hale), Lupino charges hard at Raft as she all but flirts with him in front of her decent, albeit harmlessly bombastic, husband. But Raft is playing it straight; he's happy to have a good job, be able to support himself, gainfully employ his disabled brother and spend time with Sheridan. However, Lupino is having none of that.
Awkward shift number one is when you suddenly realize the story's moved from basic Horatio Alger drama to crazy ex-and-now-married girlfriend who won't take "no" for an answer. It's not the smoothest transition, but Lupino is so enjoyably malicious and sexually wanton in her need for Raft, that you just go with it as she's a volcano that you know is going to blow as each one of his polite rejections only enrages her more.
And blow she does (spoiler alert even if it's in most of the movie's descriptions) when she stumbles upon a way to kill her husband and make it look like an accident. Borrowing heavily from the plot of 1935's Bordertown, Lupino uses the old technology of carbon monoxide combined with the relatively new technology of automatic garage doors to off her husband. She wants to give Raft a clear flightpath. Conveniently, the police buy the accidental-death explanation.
But Raft's still not interested as any man with normal-in-the-head Ann Sheridan wouldn't be in off-her-rocker Lupino. Pre-dating Glen Close in Fatal Attraction by forty-plus years, Lupino left nothing on the table in her psycho-woman performance as Raft ducks and dives her every advance. And just when you think she couldn't, Lupino ups the crazy more by - get ready for it - telling the police that Raft forced her to kill her husband.
Pause on that for a moment. Here's a woman married to a wealthy man she no longer can stand, so she kills him and the police buy her "it was an accident" story. So, she gets to keep the now-dead husband's substantial money, but the man she hoped she would get afterwards rejects her advances. Instead of pocketing her victories and licking her one wound, she goes to the police with a false confession that implicates her in a murder simply to hurt the man who said "no" to her. That's loco.
From here, it's on to a trial where Lupino, fully lost in her crazy, is the star witness against Raft. It's a good courtroom scene (one more spoiler alert) with Lupino completely melting down and, effectively, exonerating Raft. That's followed by another awkward movie transition to a Capra-like ending of rainbows and unicorns for Raft, Sheridan, Bogart and the truckers at the company Raft now owns. It's right up there with the townspeople bringing their money back to George Bailey's bank.
Even with its jarring narrative and stylistic shifts, there's so much to enjoy here that you just shake off the occasional story arc concussion. The acting by almost all the principals is top notch - Raft is a bit wooden at times - even if Lupino is given the scene-stealing role. Not only is it, overall, engaging, but the window into 1940s trucking is time-travel heaven. It's flawed, but well worth the watch.
Forty plus years before Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, Ida Lupino plays a scary, crazy woman who won't be ignored in They Drive by Night.
"White Boy Rick".....a decent movie with the usual reliable performance of Mathew McConnehey (sp?). A period piece romp (mid 80's) through the crack cocaine days in Detroit. Not an award winner by any stretch but a decent two hours entertainment. Bruce Dern had a small role...playing the usual Bruce Dern....but he was a hoot as the grandpa.
I've been fond of They Drive By Night ever since college where my roommate in the dorms had an LP compilation of classic dialogue bits from Warner Bros. movies of the '30s and '40. It had the truck stop banter between the various truckers and waitress Ann Sheridan. I wanted to see that scene and it took several years and the VHS era before I could manage it. As I've noted before, TDBN is two different types of movies riveted together. The first is a Warner Bros. hardscrabble slice of life. The second is early noir. I keep forgetting about the happy ending however.