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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    Midnight Lace from 1960 with Doris Day, Rex Harrison and John Williams


    "I want to make a Hitchcock movie also," said too many directors around the time Hitchcock was banging out one 1950s mega hit after another.

    Director David Miller even hired Hitchcock alumni actors Doris Day and John Williams (who is everything a Scotland Yard police inspector on film should be) to give it a Hitchcock feel. But Midnight Lace never comes close to Hitchcockian levels as the story isn't strong enough and Miller's directing lacks the master's touch.

    Wealthy English banker Rex Harrison's new, young American wife, Doris Day, begins receiving threatening anonymous phone calls. Harrison, while always tied up at work - a major client is suing and accounting has uncovered a high-level embezzlement scheme - immediately takes his wife to Scotland Yard.

    There, Inspector Williams begins an investigation, but also notes that, oftentimes, these callers are just reasonably harmless thrill seekers. As in a good Hitchcock, there are several suspects: a handsome contractor working on the apartment building next to the Harrisons, a nearby neighbor who appears helpful and a mysterious man, maybe, watching Day.

    As time goes by, Day becomes more frantic, but isn't able to produce evidence as the calls never happen when anyone else is around. Then, her behavior seems to become erratic as she claims she was pushed in front of a moving bus that stopped just in time, but nobody at the crowded stop saw her pushed.

    Midnight Lace now shifts into psychological-Hitchcock mode as Day is taken to a psychiatrist and even begins to question her own sanity. After that, it's more threatening anonymous calls, fear and self doubt as the movie grinds (not speeds) to a conclusion that asks its audience to forgive a lot of plot flaws and questionable actions. (Spoiler alert) Harrison is behind it all as a way to cover up that he is the embezzler at his office. It's a clunky and not believable conclusion.

    Midnight Lace has too much movie resting on too thin a story. Hitchcock knew that if the story was thin, the characters had to engage you, yet here you only kinda care about them and less, not more, as the story plods on.

    While John Williams is wonderful as ever, Rex Harrison is professional and Doris Day gives her all as a woman in distress, even talented actors can only do so much with mediocre material. Midnight Lace is a Hitchcockian wannabee that never really gets out of first gear.
     
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  2. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

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    ^If Hitchcock had only taken Patricia Highsmith's novel, Salt and ran free rein with it....:(
     
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  3. MisterCairo

    MisterCairo I'll Lock Up

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    For the first time since watching it at Hallowe'en 2006 with a baby sleeping in a crib -

    The Wicker Man.

    No need to say which one. There is only ONE.
     
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  4. Edward

    Edward Bartender

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    I have a real fondness for Halloween, the original especially. My late maternal grandmother who died at the age of ninety-one in the Autumn of 2019 always maintained that the original Halloween was her favourite film. My parents were never into horror, so I'm guessing I got the bug from her. I like both Michael and Jason, but I know a lot of folks have a distinct preference for one over the other. They are different beasts: although Rob Zombie went modern on trying to give Myers a more sympathetic backstory (common to many reimaginings of classic villains, even well beyond the horror genre), classically Myers was simply pure evil and presented as nothing more, nothing less. The Vorhees, on the other hand, were arguably more sympathetic. Jason was the victim of the type of kid he kills; his mother (in the first film) was a woman driven mad by grief avenging her son. The interesting bit is how iconic Jason's hockey mask has become, despite not appearing until, if memory serves, the third film.

    Knives Out was a wonderful piece of cinema, a fabulous ensemble cast. I'll see the new Bond in a couple of years' time, I guess, when it gets to streaming, but all trusted reviews have been saying it's no Skyfall but still very worth seeing. The comparisons to Lazenby have been interesting in terms of what they were trying to do with his film. From what I have already seen, Craig has had much more of a character arc making his five film a true series in a way none of the others have really had.

    Perhaps the greatest British horror film of all time. First saw it on my B&W portable in my bedroom back in the mid nineties. The sceneray was intimately familiar: Lord Summerisle's house is actually the National Trust for Scotland operated Culzean Castle in Ayrshire, right on Scotland's East Coast. I spent a lot of time in and around those filming locations as a kid on holiday - not aware of the film until much, much later. Culzean is well worth visiting if you ever get the opportunity, btw - aside from the film connection, it's a fascinating place. They still have Roosevelt's apartment there: https://ntsusa.org/culzean-scotlands-white-house/
     
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  5. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    Sound of the Mountain from 1954, a Japanese movie with English subtitles


    A father-in-law in a placid but loveless marriage forms a bond with his daughter-in-law whose husband is having an affair.

    Sound of the Mountain packs a lot of human drama, hurt and emotion in a not-at-all-melodramatic package. Reflecting the Japanese culture of surface calm and outward respect, almost everything happens at the second derivative level, making the conflict more impactful for its subtlety.

    Setsuko Hara is the polite daughter-in-law who does most of the housework for her husband and in-laws, despite her husband, Ken Uehara, all but openly having an affair. She's sweet to the point of simple, which might be why her husband has turned away from her as he seems to thrive on danger and strife.

    Not helping their relationship is "Hara's inability" to conceive, despite it being several years into the marriage. Hara desperately wants a child, but so far it's a no go, leaving her depressed and, perhaps, partially explaining why Uehara has turned away from his wife.

    Sô Yamamura, the family patriarch and Hara's father-in-law, finds emotional affection in his relationship with Hara that he doesn't find in his relationships with his quietly nagging wife, cheating son or always-complaining daughter who blames him for her failed marriage.

    The two nice people in this family have found each other, but have nowhere to go with their bond as this isn't a television soap opera and the father-in-law is not going to carry on an affair with his son's wife. You almost believe Hara would, but not in a tawdry way, but because she is so desperate to be genuinely loved.

    What Yamamura does do, though, is try to help Hara by steering his son back to her, but the son is cold and selfish. Yamamura even reaches out to the son's mistress, but that only gets messy as (spoiler alert) he learns the mistress has just been discarded by son because - get ready for it - she's pregnant with his baby and won't have an abortion. The son kicked her and pushed her down the stairs for horribly obvious reasons. Yamamura is quickly losing all respect for his son.

    As all this drama unfolds, docile Hara mysteriously goes to the hospital for a day, which (spoiler alert) we later learn was to have an abortion. Stunningly, this simple, sweet and gentle woman, who passionately wants a baby, realized she does not want to have a baby with her cruel husband. Hara, we learn, has more steel to her than we thought.

    In an American movie, all the above would play out amidst much yelling and screaming with accusations flying left and right. However, in this Japanese family, it's all discussed in hushed tones where almost everyone seems embarrassed to even be talking about it.

    Clearly, all the passions, emotions and drama are there, but the cultural approach to family conflict and struggles is starkly different in Japan than in the West.

    In a Western movie, Hara and her father-in-law might have an affair, but in post-war Japan that is a bridge too far. Instead, we see these two hurt soles struggle to find a way to console each other in a culture that provides little space for them to truly embrace their feelings and compassion.

    Sound of the Mountain works because it is real. There are no special effects, no forced drama, no easy resolutions, just life playing out in its, often, painful way inside a family that seems outwardly normal. Director Mikio Naruse uses a light touch that lets the camera show more than tell what is happening in this impactful story of one family quietly being ripped apart.
     
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  6. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

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    ^I wish La Medicine, a Lounger par excellence were still in regular attendance to read this review
    and offer her thoughts. Sanae is a physician, has lived in the States as a child, and she is a very special
    lady whose comments always illumined thought; all the more so in matters concerning Japan and its culture.

    I admire post war Japanese films for subtle cumulative majesty and tinged veracity.
     
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  7. MisterCairo

    MisterCairo I'll Lock Up

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    ParaNorman and Dark Shadows, a creepy and funny double feature during the Cairo Cavalcade of Hallowe'en Horror.
     
  8. Edward Reed

    Edward Reed A-List Customer

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    Wife vs. Secretary (1936)
    Clark Gable; Jean Harlow; Myrna Loy; May Robson; James Stewart
    (Sadly Jean would be dead less than a year later at the age of 26 of kidney failure)

    -"Well, I don't understand a woman who treats her husband's business as if it were a bad habit she couldn't break him of, and then spends every cent he makes!"
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    -“Gentlemen, I fear that even I could give that little lady dictation.”
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    Simpson-“Did you tell Mr. Stanhope that Finney is waiting with the car?”
    Ellen : “Yes. But, she's sitting on his lap and he hasn't even touched his trout!”
    -Simpson : “Whether Mr. Stanhope touches his trout or not is no concern of yours.”
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2021
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  9. Edward Reed

    Edward Reed A-List Customer

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    So Proudly We Hail! (1943)
    Claudette Colbert; Paulette Goddard; Veronica Lake; George Reeves

    An intense and sobering film about a team of US Army Nurses (the "Angels of Bataan" ) – who served in Bataan and Corregidor during the time when McArthur withdrew to Australia which ultimately led to the surrender of US and Philippine troops to Japanese forces. Based on a true story!
    Often Shocking and disturbing and doesn’t downplay the cold and grim reality of the war and how the army nurses were affected as much as the soldiers. A must see!

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    !

    Incidentally And coincidentally Paulette Goddard‘s character tells the Philippine refugee children stories of Superman… one of the stars of this film is none other than George Reeves who would be Superman nine years later in the TV series from 1952 to 1958!
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  10. Julian Shellhammer

    Julian Shellhammer Practically Family

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    Roadblock (1951) with Charles McGraw and Joan Dixon, dir. by Harold Daniels. McGraw is an insurance agency detective who makes bad decisions when he falls for Dixon, who consorts with an urbane gangster. Part noir, part police procedural, it climaxes with a car chase down the Los Angeles River. Plenty of location shots of LA in the early 50s.
     
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  11. Part of my "problem" with both of the "first" Halloween movies (John Carpenter's in 1978, Rob Zombie's in 2007) is the character Laurie Strode. In both movies we, the audience, spend a great deal of time following her and her friends around while they do whatever they do; this is obviously rather common in horror movies of this type. But if you're the director and you're planning to follow only one or two characters for that length of time you'd damn well better make that character/those characters interesting, and Laurie Strode just...isn't. The first time I saw Rob Zombie's version I don't think Scout Taylor-Compton/Laurie Strode had been on screen for ten minutes before I was rooting for The Shape to hurry up and kill her and her friends because they were both boring and annoying. Then, since it had been so long since I'd seen it, I watched Carpenter's Halloween and Jamie Lee Curtis' Laurie was just as boring. o_O

    I think the difference is that Michael Myers' chosen mask has a human face on it; it's William Shatner, but that's irrelevant. It's rather expressionless, but it's still recognizable as human and, therefore, somewhat familiar. Jason's hockey mask bears no such resemblance, it's just an oval "blank" with two dark spaces where eyes would be if it were a face. No expression, not recognizable as human; not particularly familiar unless you're a hockey fan. So I think that may have something to do with why some people are fans of the Halloween movies--Micheal has a face of sorts--versus the Friday the 13th movies--Jason has no face until the mask comes off. Well, after the first movie anyway, and Jason wasn't even the killer in that one. Oh, and you're right, Jason doesn't obtain the hockey mask until Part III...in 3D. :rolleyes:
     
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  12. Edward

    Edward Bartender

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    Interesting thought. A lot of people are a bit... shallow... in that genre - I've always worked on the assumption there was an intentional choice to keep them fairly 'empty' so as to allow the individual to project themselves into the situation. Character as everyman cipher. There is, of course, an alternative possibility which is.... less charitable towards the writers.
     
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  13. Trenchfriend

    Trenchfriend

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    Blade Runner - FC

    For me still:
    FC original tone <> TC german 1982's synchro = 1:2
     
  14. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    Mogambo from 1953 with Clark Gable, Ava Gardner and Grace Kelly


    "They got the fire down below"
    - Bob Seger


    Mogambo is about one thing, lust. That's it; that's what Mogambo is about.

    Ava Gardner is the rough-and-ready pretty brunette girl who actually sleeps with the boys in high school; Grace Kelly is the blonde ice-princess the high school boys fantasize about sleeping with because they know it's never going to happen.

    High school is over, but deep in the heart of Africa, Gardner and Kelly are still in their respective roles as they vie for safari leader Clark Gable's attention.

    Gardner arrives first at Gable's safari company's camp. Gardner is, if not a prostitute, then a "fun" girl with a reputation (when all this stuff still meant something) who clearly has been kicked around. She lands on Gable's doorstep because her male "friend," who was going to meet her there, never showed up and she's broke.

    After grumbling about her being there, loneliness, lack of options, liquor and nighttime leads to Gable sleeping with her. Yet when the next boat comes by, Gable pushes Gardner on it even though she wants to stay with him. Despite his outward gruffness toward her, he did have a fleeting thought about keeping her.

    But off she goes on the same boat that brings blonde, prepossessingly beautiful, refined and married Grace Kelly and her scientist husband who booked a safari with Gable so that he can study gorillas. Exit Gardner and enter Kelly, except Gardner's boat breaks down and she's back at the camp later that same day.

    The rest of the movie is a lust triangle with Gardner and Kelly cat fighting over King Gable as Gable lusts after the "new" one - the blonde goddess, Kelly. There's also this, Gardner is one of the most beautiful women on earth, so she had to be thinking, "are you freakin' kidding me" when into some remote African village walks Grace Kelly to steal her man.

    Playing out nearly every boy's high-school fantasy, Gable goes after the flaxen-haired ice princess who finally acknowledges and succumbs to her carnal passion when she sleeps with Gable behind her husband's back.

    Gardner is the "gets the joke" girl with plenty of miles on her odometer, but she's right for crude Gable. Yet, now she's on the outside looking in. Meanwhile, Gable and Kelly, as neither realizes how much they aren't a long-term fit, plan to tell her husband about their affair, have Kelly get divorced and then get married. What a mess. None of this makes sense.

    (Spoiler alert) Then it all explodes. Kelly walks in on Gardner and Gable alone in his tent; nothing was happening, but Kelly isn't buying it, so in a fit of jealousy, she shoots Gable (just a flesh wound). Quick-on-her-feet Gardner concocks an on-the-fly cover story that saves Kelly's marriage when Kelly's husband appears. Even bleeding, self-centered Gable takes note of Gardner's generosity.

    (One more spoiler alert) All that's left is a very well-done cute scene of Gardner coming back to Gable as the big dope realizes she is the one for him. Somehow or other, in Mogambo, MGM, with director John Ford at the helm, despite the strict Motion Picture Production Code, made a two-hour movie about three people lusting after and sleeping with each other.


    N.B. By today's standards, much of the African footage is problematic, but looked at from a 1953 perspective, it's pretty impressive cinematography of Africa that could give any nature documentary of its day a run for its money. Director Ford also didn't miss the opportunity to use all this nature - including the mating rituals of the animals - as a powerful metaphor for the arrant carnal desire that drives everyone and everything that happens in Mogambo.

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  15. Doctor Strange

    Doctor Strange I'll Lock Up

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    Just one thing to add:

    Mogambo
    is a Technicolor remake of the pre-Code Red Dust (1932), which told the same story, but was set in backlot French Indochina (Vietnam). It starred Jean Harlow and Mary Astor... and Clark Gable in the same role!
     
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  16. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    Great point, it's pretty amazing to see Gable in the same role twenty-one years later. I go back and forth, but even with it's early '30s "clunkiness," I think I like "Red Dust" better.
     
  17. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

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    ^Top notch review. Never saw Mogambo. And have never seen Ava Gardner more beautiful.
     
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  18. Trenchfriend

    Trenchfriend

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    Alien - 1979 Cinema Cut.
     
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  19. Doctor Strange

    Doctor Strange I'll Lock Up

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    Fading, I too marveled that Clark Gable was still playing the lead role 20 years later.

    But then I thought about it for a second and realized that many of today's leading men, like Brad Pitt and Robert Downey Jr., have been playing starring roles since the early 90s - closer to 30 years. So it's not really that strange.

    Harp, have you seen Pandora and the Flying Dutchman? Ava Gardner looks extra stunning in that way-strange flick!

    pandora_and_the_flying_dutchman.jpg
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2021
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  20. Funny, I knew of Ava Gardner in my younger days but never really paid much attention to her. Now?

    [​IMG]
     
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