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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    People Will Talk from 1951 with Cary Grant, Jeanne Crain, Finlay Currie, Hume Cronyn, Walter Slezak and Sidney Blackmer


    Whimsy and mysticism are hard to pull off in a movie because, pushed too far, they become sentimentality or nonsense. People Will Talk pulls whimsey and mysticism off, despite a few stumbles, owing to the incredible appeal of its actors.

    The most appealing of those actors is, no surprise, lead Cary Grant. Grant can absolutely act, but his movies are really more about the joy that is being Cary Grant on screen. Here, as a kind doctor with a holistic view of treating the patient, Grant has never been more joyous.

    He's the medical-school professor whose classes students fight to get into just as the sick covet a spot in his avant-garde medical clinic, which treats "people not illness."

    Grant also conducts the school's orchestra with verve and merry even when he's playfully admonishing the musical skills of his best friend and double bass player Walter Slezak. Their wonderful relationship is one of spirited persiflage on the surface with a deep respect and admiration underneath.

    At the same time Grant's inspiring students, conducting music and healing the sick, his nemesis, perfectly played by his bitter and jealous colleague Hume Cronyn, is leading a witch hunt against Grant (echoing the era's anti-communist witch hunts).

    While Grant is Granting his way through life with a mysterious friend and assistant, Finlay Currie, at his side, Cronyn is hiring private investigators to find any dirt he can on these two.

    Grant is too busy teaching, doctoring and pursuing a love interest - a clinic patient, Jeanne Crain, who is pregnant and not married - to worry about Cronyn. In his pursuit of near-suicidal Crain (being pregnant out of wedlock was a big deal back then), Grant visits her family farm owned by her morally hidebound father.

    There, he also meets her wonderful uncle, Sidney Blackmer, a man who openly admits he's failed at life, but has such a friendly nature, that Grant and Crain ask him to live with them after they marry.

    The juxtaposition of Crain's successful-but-stubborn father and her failed-but-kindly uncle is really the movie's theme in a nutshell: people fall into two categories, the narrow-minded, selfish and judgmental (Crain's father and Cronyn) and the free-spirited, accepting and compassionate (Grant, Slezak and Blackmer). It's an unfair and overly simplistic view of people in real life, but a fun indulgence in the movie.

    Now married, Grant and Crain have an inviting home where friends like double-bass-player Slezak drop by, play with the greatest model train set-up ever and just enjoy each other's company.

    But irritant Cronyn - you know the type, he's the guy worrying (riffing on H. L. Mencken) somewhere, someone might be enjoying himself - brings Grant up on charges before the school's administration oversight board.

    The movie gets both muddled and less believable at this climatic meeting. There it's revealed Grant and his odd sidekick Currie have checkered pasts whose incomplete and vague explanations the oversight board too easily accepts. (Minor spoiler alert) Grant is fully exonerated while weaselly Cronyn gets put in his place; it's that kind of movie.

    People Will Talk's charm is a little too easy and a little too much, but it's so infectious, you look past its hokeyness and just enjoy the camaraderie and spirit of Grant's world. You know that world doesn't really exist, but for about two hours, Cary Grant makes you believe it just might.
     
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  2. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

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    A snippet's recollect many years ago... I believe there was a scene where professor Grant
    was with medical students inside a morgue holding room and an attractive female lay dead
    upon a table, face down and Grant pulled down the cover sheet far enough to reveal her back,
    placed his hands on the deceased's shoulders and made comment on the transitory nature of life.

    A brief moment but remarkable for its visual impact. I did not see the rest of the film,
    so perhaps this was from another movie but cannot recall too many Grant-as-physician roles.....
     
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  3. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    Your memory is impressive as you are spot on - that scene is from "People Will Talk."
     
  4. Edward Reed

    Edward Reed A-List Customer

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    Somewhere I'll Find You (1942)
    Clark Gable and Lana Turner
    love triangle turns war movie. Set a few weeks leading up to the events of December 7th 1941…Two brothers, both war correspondents, vie for the affection of the same girl at the beginning of World War II, and later find her doing orphan work in China.
    The film took almost two years to complete. Filming was suspended for a month after Gable's wife, actress Carole Lombard, was killed in a plane crash. Gable was permitted to take leave from filming for a period of bereavement, and the studio almost scrapped the film. It was the last film Gable starred in before he enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces for World War II. He did not make another film until 1945.
    Lana is cute as hell in this flick. (“She is strong drink and
    shouldn't be sold to minors.”) and Pure Gable…
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    Are you good to look at?

    - Wouldn't it be more fun to guess?

    Okay. I'll reconstruct the missing body
    from the evidence at hand. Now to begin with, the… The body is quite a body.

    -You're getting warm.

    You can raise that a couple of degrees!
    And you are under twenty-five and terrific in the face. You'd have to be to wear this hat!
    Now let's see. Color of hair. (Grabs her hair brush) Yes, sir.
    Why, you are a beautiful blonde!

    -Hey, get away from that keyhole!

    Yes, sir. A beautiful blonde. Blue eyes.
    White skin. A good set of biting teeth.

    -If you're not at the keyhole, how come you know exactly what I look like?

    Wishful thinking, honey.
    Hey, you like yourself a little bit, don't you?

    -Well, there is a mirror in here. Remember?

    Listen, Narcissus…
    These same clues could add up to
    a frowzy, bleached, lantern-jawed...
    Gimlet-eyed, leathery skinned, knock-kneed old crone...
    With a mistaken daring in hats! And a…

    (Lana enters the room)
    -They do not, my friend… Do they?

    They do not!
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2021
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  5. Edward Reed

    Edward Reed A-List Customer

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    The Ghost Breakers (1940)
    I love Bob Hope and absolutely adore Paulette Goddard! So tonight who you gonna call? The Ghost Breakers!
    Atmospheric, Great sets and special effects. Nice murder mystery/spook show with witty Bob Hope cracks but sprinkled more sparingly than most of his films which keeps the genre of the film intact for those more purists of the horror spook show fandom. This film reminds me of the Don Knotts film The Ghost and Mr. Chicken but not quite as zany… Bob’s sidekick played by Willie Best totally steals the movie.


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  6. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    Come Next Spring from 1956 with Ann Sheridan, Steve Cochran and Walter Brennan


    A man who abandoned his wife and young daughter seven years ago when he was an alcoholic returns to make amends to them plus his son. He didn't know his wife was pregnant with his son when he skipped town (actually, their farm).

    It's a good twist on the Tolstoy quip about there only being two stories, one of which is "a stranger comes to town*." In this case, the stranger is the now not-drinking husband.

    Set in 1920s Arkansas, the period details and attempt at authenticity are better than your average 1950s period-movie effort of throwing a few old looking things on the set and moving on. It's not a modern affair where they'd bring in historical dust, but still.

    Ann Sheridan, middle aged, showing it and looking great, is the woman who soldiered on when her, then, ne'er-do-well, always-drunk husband left the family flat. All alone, she kept the farm going and raised her mute daughter and son.

    When husband Steve Cochran returns, the kids seem pretty excited, the townsfolk are mixed and Sheridan is emotionally distant, but pragmatically accepting in a "I take what life throws at me" way.

    The different responses to "the stranger's" return is the movie's highlight, but also has it peaking early. We are all wondering if on-the-wagon, contrite and willing-to-pay-his-dues Cochran is for real or only scamming.

    He slowly builds everyone's trust by working hard on the farm, accepting Sheridan's rules (stay on, but no nooky for now), helping out in the community and turning the other cheek more than once when goaded by those who don't want to forgive.

    When we finally see understandably distant Sheridan give a little ground, you can't help but feel good at the redemption and reunion story - children need their dad, a wife needs her husband, and vice versa.

    But there's still about a third of the movie to go and Come Next Spring loses its early tension and subtlety as it slips into "Hallmark movie" mode. First, the guy who's been trying to push Cochran's buttons not only gets what's coming to him, but sees the light and becomes Cochran's friend.

    (Spoiler alerts, I guess) The townsfolk then pitch in to help Cochran's family recover from a tornado followed by the big conclusion that has everyone searching for the lost mute daughter who went to find her dog's puppies (it's a cute as heck scene when she finds them).

    After a treacly rescue - which also results in the daughter's muteness being cured (uh-huh) - all ends with a happily reunited family and town embracing its prodigal son.

    The excellent beginning and middle, the reasonable period verisimilitude and the top-notch acting (a hat tip to the always excellent Walter Brennan as Cochran's buddy) make Come Next Spring a pleasant, feel-good hour and a half of movie viewing even with its weak final third.


    * The full Tolstoy quote is, “All great literature is one of two stories; a man goes on a journey or a stranger comes to town.”
     
  7. Edward Reed

    Edward Reed A-List Customer

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    They Got Me Covered (1943)

    Probably my favorite pairing! A newsman (Bob Hope) and his girlfriend (Dorothy Lamour) foil Axis spies out to blow up Washington.
    A Lighthearted WWII patriotic escapism adventure. During tough times you have to find a way to laugh…
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  8. Julian Shellhammer

    Julian Shellhammer Practically Family

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    Crime by Night (1944) w/ Jane Wyman and Jerome Cowan as a PI and his sidekick secretary. Wyman is top-billed in the credits, but has about half the screen time of Cowan. The pair solve a mystery in the most breezy way this side of Nick and Nora. Wyman gets the best zingers for Cowan's less than ethical PI. Courtesy TCM streaming.
     
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  9. Edward Reed

    Edward Reed A-List Customer

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    3F3F400D-ADC1-47D0-948B-41AF96ED865D.jpeg F7CC5830-7842-40D7-9652-D320F4673E4A.jpeg 939D9A43-601E-4881-B947-3DA7A4ED5BAD.jpeg My Favorite Blonde (1942)
    Bob Hope, Madeleine Caroll, George Zucco.( A few cool cameos)
    Vaudevillian Larry Haines (Bob Hope) sets out for California seeking fame and fortune, but instead he finds himself entangled in a world of intrigue and espionage. On the train ride to the coast, Haines meets Karen Bentley (Madeleine Carroll), a beautiful Brit with a big secret: She's a spy who is carrying top-secret codes. When Nazi agents assume Haines and Bentley are colleagues, they frame Haines for murder, forcing the mismatched duo to go on the lam together.

    -“I have a girl of nine who won't listen to what's right. She always does what's wrong. What should I do?”
    - Larry Haines (Hope):” Wait ten years, and if there's no improvement... send me her number!”
     
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  10. Trenchfriend

    Trenchfriend

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    White Hunter, Black Heart (1990), running on arte.
     
  11. Edward Reed

    Edward Reed A-List Customer

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    7E47965A-A690-4474-80DD-5AF41E1D1417.jpeg 308B7612-2B84-46C3-B2E0-D3196EF38708.jpeg B4E10CF6-7C87-42DC-9651-30E4A55DDDBE.jpeg 6B3E7F34-33B4-4A90-9A61-DC782C534C24.jpeg EEBAF633-B453-45AF-B825-BCB4E5984CAB.jpeg ADE38AB2-0BB5-45A7-85E3-DC1D5612D82C.jpeg Star Spangled Rhythm (1942) Musical/Comedy/Morale Booster

    i love Betty Hutton and shes great in this not so great patriotic schlock film that's so bad its good! (Well okay it’s mostly bad lol!) she reminds me some of Gilda Radner (Radner Must have been influenced by Betty!) hollywood’s biggest names cameo and are real troopers for playing bit parts and second fiddle that culminate to a fun stage show of skits that really shine with Fred MacMurray in a skit called "If Men Played Cards as Women Do” lol!

    maybe worth a watch on a rainy day but most definitely after viewing My Favorite Blonde as there’s a couple of jokes in this one that’ll fall flat to you otherwise.

    -“Here they come! Gee, I’ll bet they’ll be glad to meet some girls for a change… I hear they came all the way from Iceland!”

    -“All the way from Iceland? Count me out! I bruise too easy!” :p
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  12. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    The Taking of Pelham One Two Three from 1974 with Walter Matthau, Robert Shaw, Martin Balsam, Jerry Stiller, Julius Harris and Hector Elizondo


    Subway motorman [annoyed that someone is talking to him]: "What do you want?"

    Hijacker [authoritatively]: "I'm taking your train."

    Subway motorman[bemused]: "You're taking my train?"


    The Taking of Pelham One Two Three succeeds because it is an action movie that understands, even in an action movie, the thing that matters is if you care about the characters.

    Four men hijack a subway train - this was an era of airplane hijackings - demanding a one-million-dollar ransom in return for the hostages on the train. The hijackers have a well-thought-out plan, but no complicated hijacking ever went according to the plan.

    Hijacking a subway train is such a not-expected thing it takes the transit authority and NYPD a bit to grasp what is really happening. But once they do, you watch a very 1970s New York City team come together in a very 1970s New York City way to try to stop the hijackers.

    That is part of The Taking of Pelham One Two Three's charm; it is a totally "New York City in the 1970s" movie. For the day, the City's technology is impressive, but the organization still has an ad hocness to it as transit police lieutenant, Walter Matthau, transit police officer, Jerry Stiller, and NYPD inspector, Julius Harris, seem to take control of the situation by default and without almost any senior oversight.

    Today, there would be a special team called in with extensive protocols and communication procedures to follow, but in 1970s New York City, those available just rolled up their sleeves and went to work trying to solve the problem.

    When we do see the mayor and his administration, it's a bumbling mess of insecurities, infighting and political calculation that, owing to the City's depleted finances, struggles to raise the one-million-dollar ransom. It's a reasonable representation of New York City's government in the 1970s.

    As the ransom money is being raised, though, there's an engaging scene at the New York Federal Reserve Bank where you see the employees scramble like mad to sort and bundle the fifty- and hundred-dollar bills demanded by the hijackers.

    In this movie and in this New York City, it's the regular grunts - the cop, the transit dispatcher, the Federal Reserve employee - who are the heroes as their leaders can't shoot straight. Every movie reflects its time.

    Back on the hijacked train, leader Robert Shaw, cold and calculating, works with his partner, comically schlubby ex-motorman Martin Balsam, to execute on their plan - control the train and negotiate with the transit authority - while the other two hijackers watch the passengers. You're vested in these guys, but you never want them to win.

    Walter Matthau puts in one of his best career performances as the weary New York Police lieutenant leading the City's response. He uses a combination of instinct and street smarts to negotiate with the hijackers. He's no PhD-trained "hostage negotiator;" he's just a guy doing his job. Matthau is all seat-of-the-pants cunning and on-the-fly strategy inside a tired, gruff wrapping. He is New York City in the 1970s.

    While Matthau is hesitant to use force, NYPD officer Stiller is ready to start shooting almost immediately - also a pretty common New York City attitude in the crime-riddled Gotham of that day. Matthau devotes a decent amount of energy holding Stiller back, but by the end, Matthau has rightfully earned Stiller's respect.

    As the hijacking moves along, almost in real time, the hijackers appear to have the upper hand - the money is on the way, the cops are staying back and the hijackers are about to execute on their escape plan. It's good; it's tense and it's almost believable as action movies hadn't yet morphed into the comic book, CGI fest-of-exaggeration they've become.

    The Taking of Pelham One Two Three climaxes with several good action scenes as an all but out-of-control subway train speeds along underground, while the cop cars race all over the city above ground, smashing into a bunch of things and people, as they try to keep up. That culminates in an excellently low-key shootout followed by the denouement as Matthau and Stiller do some old-fashioned police legwork to hunt down the last hijacker and the money.

    It's what an action movie should be: a good plot with good action, but most importantly, people you become vested in. The Taking of Pelham One Two Three has more soul to it than ten modern action pictures. Plus you get to time travel to 1970s New York City's grimy-but-pulsating-with-energy streets and subways.


    N.B. Look for the wonderful Scrooge McDuck moment when hijacker Martin Balsam rolls around on his bed with the ransom money.
     
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  13. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

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    ^Spot on. And this particular Labor Day I especially needed a Fading Fast movie review.
    Second coffee pot, still trying to wake up.

    Read the book, saw the flick: long time ago but Matthau's performance absolutely nailed it shut.
    Great cat and mouser, and looking back in time I diverted to Goodreads for a few book reviews to
    jog distant memory. The Taking of Pelham One, Two, Three although generally well received caught
    more than a few by surprise with its "frankstark," citing the usual suspects: misogynistic, racisim,
    with a more jaundiced "doesn't rise above caricature," "predictable," "too much detail." Blah, blah, and, blah.
    The late Martin Freedgod, writing under his nom de plume John Godey, crafted a taut cogent honey
    of a crime which some folks cannot simply buy without complaint corrective. I personally like the add-ons
    about New York City, the subway and street details. The film is riveting, suspenseful. All the more so
    because fate foreordains, if not failure, a certain take. The cut fate grabs for itself.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2021
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  14. Edward Reed

    Edward Reed A-List Customer

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    You'll Never Get Rich (1941)
    Fred Astaire, Rita Hayworth, Robert Benchley

    The first teaming of Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth. Hayworth's first starring role in a big budgeted film from her home studio Columbia Pictures. Nice numbers by Cole Porter.

    (The title stems from an old Army song which includes lyrics "You'll never get rich / by digging a ditch / you're in the Army now!")

    While the film was in production, Life magazine put her on its cover, and featured inside a photo of Hayworth kneeling on a bed in a nightgown, which soon became one of the most widely distributed pin-ups of all time. Hayworth cooperated enthusiastically with Astaire's intense rehearsal habits, and was later to remark: "I guess the only jewels in my life are the pictures I made with Fred Astaire." The picture was very successful at the box office, turning Hayworth into a major star, and provided a welcome boost to Astaire, who felt his career had flagged since he had broken with Ginger Rogers.
    Light on plot and realistic situations but that’s not why you watch an Astaire picture. :)

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  15. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    "I guess the only jewels in my life are the pictures I made with Fred Astaire."

    Sad but insightful quote.
     
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  16. MisterCairo

    MisterCairo I'll Lock Up

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    Kill Bill Vols. 1 and 2 while on the treadmill.

    Odd I had never seen them before now.

    Good fun, and reminded me what a shame it was that David Carradine, well, you know whatted himself to death.

    In Bangkok of all places.
     
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  17. Edward Reed

    Edward Reed A-List Customer

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    Ended the evening with My Favorite Brunette (1947)
    Film noir parody Starring Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour, Peter Lorre & Lon Chaney, Jr.
    honestly a bit dull but the last 30 seconds makes the entire film! Lol!
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  18. Doctor Strange

    Doctor Strange I'll Lock Up

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    Location:
    Hudson Valley, NY
    The 1953 Japanese drama Tokyo Story directed by Yasujiro Ozu, which I'd recorded from TCM a while back. I've known the film's title and reputation for 50 years, but have only managed to see it now. It did NOT disappoint.

    Tokyo Story has often turned up on many "best ever" lists, and I can see why. Inspired by the 1937 American film Make Way For Tomorrow (also a great film!), it concerns an elderly couple traveling to Tokyo to visit their adult children. It's a deliberate, slow moving tale, but it gains power as it goes along and the details pile up. Its themes - the thorny relationship of parents and children, making one's way in the world, dealing with loss and change - are universal. I was fighting off tears by the end.

    Tokyo_Story_1953.jpg

    Highly recommended... but be prepared for a languid and gentle kitchen-sink drama about ordinary people.
     
  19. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    Does Colonna know Hope swiped his moustache?
     
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  20. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    I'm sorry I missed this one as I saw "Late Spring" directed by Yasujiro Ozu earlier this year and really enjoyed it (comments here: #28758). I'll be keeping my eye out for "Tokyo Story" now.
     

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