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Discussion in 'The Moving Picture' started by Amy Jeanne, Aug 5, 2007.
For those interested "Blithe Spirit" is on TCM today at 4:45 East Coast time.
One of my favorites!!! Will definitely be watching it along with Arsenic and Old Lace on Halloween!
Ha! I did this on Sunday, as well.
When Gilda's on TCM, you can't help but watch it, no matter how many times you've seen it.
Thank you to @Fading Fast for mentioning that Blithe Spirit would be on TCM tonight! I watched it and enjoyed it.
It's a Wonderful World from 1939 with Jimmy Stewart and Claudette Colbert
A private detective, Stewart, is arrested trying to protect his wealthy elderly client from being charged with a murder his client didn't commit. The wealthy client's young wife and her lover are trying to frame her husband for murder so that he'll be executed and she will get his money. That's the movie's conflict, but it's really just an excuse to put Stewart and Colbert together.
And that happens when Stewart, now convicted of aiding his client in avoiding arrest, escapes from the train taking him to prison. Hiding out in the woods, he meets up with, for her day, free-spirited Colbert who is so smitten with Stewart that she quickly goes from being his hostage to accomplice even as the two bicker during their efforts to elude capture.
It's probably obvious by now that this is a riff on It Happened One Night. However, the charming chemistry that Gable and Colbert have, as somewhat antagonists in that one (not my favorite move, but it is a recognized classic), doesn't develop, at all, between Stewart and Colbert in this one.
Stewart tries too hard to be gruff while Colbert is outright annoying as she, literally, screeches her way through some of her scenes. And to make things worse, her poetess character periodically quotes verse to either woo Stewart or, I guess, advance the plot, but it's simply awful.
The rest of the movie is Stewart and Colbert attempting to avoid capture while also finding evidence to exonerate Stewart and his client. The plot gets unnecessarily confusing with a bunch of screwball comedy stuff happening along the way that grates only modestly less than Colbert's character.
It is, effectively, a 1940's rom-com, so you know what will happen. But that doesn't really matter as you're just supposed to enjoy watching Stewart and Colbert fall in love. The best part about that finally happening is that the movie is, then, mercifully, over.
Its a Wonderful World is another one of those movies that starts off as one genre, (in this case Early Noir), and then turns into another, (screwball comedy). I've got a copy of it because I was curious about its cast and obscurity. (Getting a copy was an adventure in itself as I kept receiving a copy of Its a Wonderful Life). You are right, FadingFast. It doesn't really work. "I swear by my eyes!"
Jeopardy from 1953 with Barbara Stanwyck, Barry Sullivan and Ralph Meeker
At one hour and seven minutes in runtime and with a pretty straight-foward, family-in-jeopardy plot, this is more like a really well-done one-hour TV drama than a major-motion-picture release. But within its box, it's outstanding.
An American family, mother (Stanwyck), father (Sullivan) and son, are vacationing on a remote Mexican beach when Sullivan gets his leg caught in the remains of an old pier. Unable to free him and with the tide balefully coming in, Stanwyck goes for help hindered by the remoteness of the location and the language barrier.
As drama, it draws you in owing to the quick shift from happy family vacationing to husband only hours away from being drowned while his wife desperately speeds along a remote single-lane road in search of help. Director John Sturges keeps the tension elevated as he regularly cuts back to scenes of the husband, with water rising higher around him in each successive shot, eventually trying to keep his young son calm who has yet to fully process what's happening to his dad.
And then, everything gets much worse. At an isolated-and-closed-for-a-local-fiesta gas station, Stanwyck runs into a young American man (Meeker) whom she asks for help. Moments later, as he's getting in the car, we and she realize he's not a kindly stranger but a thug seizing an opportunity.
So now, Stanwyck is in the car with what, we quickly learn, is an escaped convict looking to capitalize on the family's situation any way he can. Using a gun taken from Stanwyck and reminding her that if she dies so does her husband, Stanwyck helps him pass several roadblocks and other police encounters all looking for him.
Stanwyck, adumbrating the character she'll perfect later in her The Big Valley TV days, tries everything, including physically attacking the much-bigger Meeker*, to get away and get back to helping her husband, but Meeker is up to the challenge from Stanwyck's hundred pounds of fury. Finally, it comes down to this, all buried deep in movie-code lingo and signaling: Stanwyck agrees to have sex with Meeker if he'll, then, help rescue her husband. Blink and you'll miss it, but that's what happened.
After that, it's a shared cigarette - just kidding - it's off to rescue the husband in a pretty gripping scene for 1950s special effects including a rope struggling to provide enough torque and a car that can't get enough traction as the incoming tide all but swallows up Sullivan. It's not Citizen Kane, but with TV in its infancy, these short, well-done sixty-minute movies - with first-rate actors - provided solid TV-style entertainment to a movie-going public.
*If filmed today, petite Stanwyck would have beaten up fit and close-to-twice-her-weight Meeker because in 2020-TV-and-movie land, petite women regularly beat up physically fit men nearly twice their weight, but that interesting understanding of physics and reality hadn't happened yet in 1953.
Kurasawa's "Red Beard" - I've seen much of the directors work but never this one. An odd duck of a film it reads almost like "Young Dr. Kildare" meets "Yojimbo". Starring Toshiro Mifune in the roll of Dr. Gillespie except that this senior physician is NOT confined to a wheel chair and can literally kick MAJOR ass (via Judo). He is also not afraid to do a little blackmail on the side as well. Cursed with an odd name but a flowing and unusual red beard Mifune is simply known to one and all as "Red Beard". All these "crimes" committed by him are done in the name of saving his "free clinic" in an impoverished corner of feudal Japan. Like in the Kildare series, a young clueless doctor of means and station winds up under Mifune's tutelage, through observation and experience he learns that there are tragedies everywhere and that the lives of the poor and illiterate, who suffer so abjectly, are as worthy as his own. Over three hours long and shot in glorious B&W I was riveted. The entire cast perform superbly with my tears often being my testament to their skill and all involved. It's currently on the TCM ROKU site, catch it before it disappears...
Fantastic film, I just caught it on TCM a couple of years ago and have been wanting to watch it again. A reminder that besides his more obvious skills, the thing that makes Kurosawa a truly great filmmaker is his humanity: his ability to make you care for his characters, to believably show character growth and depth, to tell universally relatable stories that illuminate the human condition.
Sounds fantastic. I checked, not on TCM Spectrum On Demand, but I'll add it to my to-be-watched list. It will cycle around somewhere.
You know the funny point about Das Boot? Martin Semmelrogge (II. WO) just played himself.
Have this on vhs and dvd..I've always enjoyed this movie.
You can never go wrong with Kurosawa and Mifune.
Thanks for the reminder.
The Killing from 1956 with Sterling Hayden, Elisha Cook Jr., Marie Windsor and Joe Sawyer
Crime dramas with heavy doses of film noir were big in the 1950s with The Asphalt Jungle being the apotheosis of the genre. But The Killing deserves a mention as it's really a stripped-down version of The Asphalt Jungle.
Whereas The Asphalt Jungle gives you a lot of character background, relationships and the planning of the heist from the absolute beginning, The Killing strips much of that away. It simply says: here are some bad men, we'll hint at their background, but know they have a complex and thoughtful plan to rob a racetrack, so we'll just drop you in right before the plan is launched.
Thus, The Killing starts with the team of five crooks, led by Sterling Hayden (who is one intimidating-looking man), going over the final details of the plan while you learn a little about each man's motivation for stealing and responsibility in the heist. And while Hayden is trying to run a tight ship, one of the plotters, Elisha Cook Jr., has a bullying and badgering wife, Marie Windsor, who coaxes some information out of him about the plan, which - and you get this early - sows a major seed of destruction.
Effectively, the first hour of the movie is seeing everyone rehearse his part, which - and you know director Stanley Kubrick knew this - kinda gets you on the side of the crooks; after all, you see how hard everyone is working to knock off the racetrack, even the crooked cop. We are all pretty much hardwired to want to see diligence and effort like that rewarded.
From there, it's game day, uh, heist day and, as you'd expect, some pieces go flawlessly while others get gummed up requiring on-the-fly adjustments. But since you've fully bought into the plan at this point, you are excited to see it in action. Plus, heck, there are some great racetrack, gunfight, chase and hold up scenes all flying by really fast.
The heist's twenty or so minutes are the heart and soul of the movie and they don't disappoint. From a sniper shooting at a horse in the middle of a race to a giant sack of money flying out a second-story window, each piece is gripping. And it concludes with the wonderful moment when the bag o' money leaves the track in the trunk of a car as the cops speed by it going in the other direction trying to stop the heist. The entire segment is a deeply engaging action sequence that holds up very well today.
After that, it's back to the meeting place to divide up the money where all hell breaks loose - thank you Marie Windsor (the bitter wife) - but you want to see it without any prior knowledge so we'll stop there. Also, the final scene is perfectly done and beautifully filmed, but to avoid spoilers, I'll only say that you feel the heartbreak of head-crook Hayden as, no surprise since this is a 1950s movie, his ill-gotten gains, effectively, blow away.
Kubrick cut away almost all the fat in this one as you pretty much strap in from the opening sequence and only get a few chances to catch your breath. There is an oddly out-of-place, occasional documentary-like narrative voice-over that tries to provide additional exposition and framing, but it, unfortunately, is the one awkward note in an otherwise tight and gripping film. Despite that, for a low-budget effort with highly talented-but-not-marquee-name actors, The Killing (odd title) belongs in the top tier of crime-drama movies.
N.B. Had, at some point, devoted husband Elisha Cook Jr. decided to off his harridan wife who was always belittling and cheating on him and, by chance, you noticed Cook burying a body - not saying whose body - late at night, I'd forgive you for looking the other way. Sure, I get the sanctity of life, the Ten Commandments - the morality of it all - but then, I wasn't married to that woman.
Bill & Ted: Face the Music. I enjoyed it. Mindless entertainment, which I like once in awhile. The two daughters were most excellently cast, especially the young lady playing Keanu Reeves daughter. Perfect.
But this should have been done ten years ago, or at least while George Carlin was still alive. Also seemed a bit perfunctory, check / tick the boxes, etc.
A fun way to waste 90 minutes.
7.37271 / 10
This was the first thought I had when I found out they were making a third movie. They released the first sequel two years after the first movie, then waited 29 years to make the third movie? At this point, why bother? I'm sure I'll get around to seeing it eventually, but after re-watching the first two movies earlier this month and not enjoying them as much as I did way back when I probably won't be making it a priority.
Touch of Evil from 1958 with Orson Welles, Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, Akim Tamiroff and Ray Collins
Somehow, until now, I had never watched this one from beginning to end.
Knowing it is directed by, with a screenplay written by and starring Orson Welles, you anticipate and you get a full-on Orson Welles movie. The pace, as always with Welles directing, is frenetic, which gives the impression that you are seeing important events. The actors deliver their lines as if every word is important. The often-crooked camera angles and stark lighting also argue these are important visuals for you to see. And the way the soundtrack builds to repeated crescendos in many scenes reinforces all this importance.
Okay, that's Welles' style and it definitely draws you in. And the story here is a good one, but unfortunately, nothing more than good. An American contractor who just crossed the border from Mexico into The United States is killed by a car bomb that was planted in Mexico. This brings in the Mexican authorities led by a crusading narcotics officer, Heston, who is in the process of bringing down a notorious and corrupt Mexican cartel family - the Grandis. But American police officer Welles, a local legend for his successful record, claims authority and bullies his way through the investigation with questionable tactics that by-the-book Heston dislikes.
And while Heston is battling with Welles, Heston's young, pretty and new American wife, Leigh, is being harassed and threatened by the Grandis family who is trying to get to her to stop Heston's investigation of their criminal activities.
Effectively, the movie is watching heavy, grizzled, Welles - clearly dealing with a lot of demons including alcohol and women (one in the form of Marlene Dietrich) - try to push Heston out of the way so that he can employ his usual investigative techniques of planting clues and coercing confessions. Simultaneously, Heston tries to conduct a legitimate investigation while also attempting to protect his wife - by moving her from this hotel to that one - from the Grandis.
While Welles is on his game in this one as the dirty, arrogant but falling apart "famous" policeman, Heston seems to struggle to find his character's center as he pings from confident lawman to insecure newbie. This contrast is highlighted by Welles, using a cane owing to a bum leg, always arrogantly pushing forward; whereas, young and healthy Heston struggles in many scenes to even keep his footing. To be fair to Heston, he does have a lot on his plate as he has to deal with an overbearing Welles while his blonde and all-woman-body wife is, effectively, kidnapped by the cartel.
You can see big themes here if you wish: police corruption undermining individual justice, American dominance of Mexico, cartels acting as a threat to legitimate governance and a man willing to do anything to protect his wife's virtue. And given the Welles treatment, you feel like something big is going on. But in the end, it's just a good story about an honest cop fighting both a corrupt cop and a corrupt cartel (and, yes, those stories overlap as the corrupt cop and corrupt cartel make shady deals to help each other).
Welles' dramatic, okay, bombastic style worked best when it was fresh in Citizen Kane. Kane also had the advantage of dealing with a large, dramatic and bombastic theme - the fictionalized life of publishing magnate William Randolph Heart - which aligned perfectly to Welles' style. But here, in Touch of Evil, unfortunately, Welles' over-the-top writing, directing and acting technique promises more than this good, but not great, movie can deliver.
The Cairo family's (early start) Hallowe'en Cavalcade of Horror continues. Last night we saw Hellboy, the 2004 original with Ron Perlman, and not the recent train wreck with the Stranger Things cop.
Myvwife's claim to fame is having served room service to Mr. Perlman in Victoria, BC in 2005. I was posted to the RCN dockyards and we had just married and moved out there. One year after HB came out, we cannot recall what he may have been shooting then, will try to look it up.
The girls enjoyed the flick, we had not seen it in yonks, and actually unwrapped the blu-ray last night.
We were surprised to recall it is actually set at Hallowe'en, glad it will be a part of the cavalcade going forward!
This and The Trial are my favourtite Welles films. Actually the only Welles film I don't enjoy is the one he liked best, 'Chimes at Midnight.'
Most of his efforts, even the ones I don't love (or even like), still have something to them. As a director, "The Stranger" is one of his that I like a lot that doesn't get as much attention as some of his other efforts. And whether directing or not, as an actor, I really enjoy him as he is almost always interesting even in movies I don't love.
So, I'm busy starting my work day with TCM on mute in the background and I look up to see a naked, yes, naked Dolores Del Rio in a swimming scene in 1932's "Bird of Paradise." Camera angles and murky water keep you from seeing everything, but she's clearly naked. To be sure, from memory, "Tarzan and His Mate" has the better underwater naked swimming scene, but this one holds its own in the Pre-Code naked-swimming-scene competition. They really were pushing it in Pre-Code land.
Here's the scene: