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Discussion in 'The Moving Picture' started by Amy Jeanne, Aug 5, 2007.
I didn't see the film as "woke" - just poorly written.
I may have used an inappropriate term (woke).
(English is my second language)
! Spoiler alert !
I found Daniel playing the "Family Guy" ...quite a departure from the traditional Bond franchise formula.
Started Godfather I, my old DVD, right now.
On my 21 yrs old CRT TV.
Rafter Romance from 1933 with Ginger Rogers, Norman Foster, George Sidney and Robert Benchley
After the Motion Picture Production Code was enforce in 1934, you can understand why silly "screwball" comedies got made as Hollywood was trying to solve the unsolvable: how do you make movies about sex when the code only allows for sex in marriage and, then, still doesn't even like much said about it. But why make a pre-code screwball comedy?
The ridiculous premise in Rafter Romance is that two tenants - a man, Norman Foster, and woman, Ginger Rogers - are forced by their limited funds to share an attic apartment where they never meet as each one gets the apartment for a strict twelve hours a day (he works nights, she; days).
This silly idea came from their, basically, kind landlord who has been carrying each one of them for several months because he doesn't have the heart to throw them out.
The landlord is a wonderful example of pre-code movies' willingness to take a reasonably honest look at the variety of ethnicity in America that would be all but scrubbed out once the code was enforced.
In Rafter Romance, a very ethnically Jewish landlord, George Sidney, is allowed to be a very ethnically Jewish landlord. Sidney and his wife use one after another Yiddish words (James Cagney would be proud*). It's not an ugly stereotype, as he is a kind man who gives his tenants too much extra time to pay their rent.
Back in the silly story, Rogers and Foster begin playing meaner and meaner pranks on the other in their shared apartment. Eventually, they come to loathe each other even though they've never met.
Yet, not knowing who the other is, they meet outside the building by accident and start dating. It's almost an early version of Shop Around the Corner, which is an early version of You've Got Mail. Everything has antecedents.
From here, it's all a bunch of goofy pratfalls and misunderstandings, including even dumber side stories about Rogers' boss, Robert Benchley, hitting on Rogers (not acceptable today, but he really comes across as harmless) and Foster, an aspiring artist, having an older female patron looking for him to be more gigolo than painter.
Rafter Romance ends as expected with, after more misunderstandings and hurt feelings, Rogers and Foster getting together because they really do love each other.
Once the code was enforced, this kind of silly movie would be an understandable effort to overcome censorship. Yet, there is no reason to make this fluff when, for a brief (pre-code) four years in the early 1930s, Hollywood was allowed to make adult movies about sex, affairs, love, cheating, romance and heartbreak.
* In 1931's movie Taxi, Irish James Cagney, who, in real life, had grown up in an ethnically mixed NYC Lower East Side neighborhood, wonderfully serves as translator for an Irish cop trying to understand an "old world" Jewish man speaking Yiddish. Cagney, clearly having real fun, speaks warp-speed Yiddish with the Jewish man. It's a wonderful scene of early and honest multiculturalism.
Cagney speaking Yiddish in Taxi:
Cagney had grown up in Lower Manhattan when the Irish, Italian, and Jewish neighborhoods were jammed together, and he allegedly could really speak nearly fluent Yiddish.
Last night: Six Minutes To Midnight, a recent thriller starring Eddie Izzard, Judi Dench, and (in a cameo) Jim Broadbent. Loosely based on a true incident about a German-British girls finishing school in England that was a nest of spies just before the start of WWII. Izzard plays a new English teacher who's actually a British spy. It was okay, but nothing special.
Izzard seems to be channeling Kenneth Branagh playing the character. Really, I kept thinking it was Branagh!
At one point, he uses a Minox camera to photograph some clandestine documents. As a 50+ year owner/user of Minox cameras, this was exciting to me, and it was a correct pre-war model (made of stainless steel rather than aluminum) which really was used for that purpose (it focuses down to eight inches and has a mega-sharp lens). Unfortunately, he uses it incorrectly, he's got a finger over the actual lens (which is lower on the body than the viewfinder lens) every time he makes an exposure! D'oh!
Red Notice, the Ryan Reynolds/Dwayne Johnson/Gal Gadot Netflix feature.
Not high art, funny three-way pairing if I may call it that. Reynolds plays Reynolds, The Rock plays the rock, Gadot plays Gadot (none of those references are criticisms in any way).
Fun, we're glad we watched it, but not something I'd need to keep in my physical collection.
Paths of Glory (1957) dir. Stanley Kubrick, with Kirk Douglas, Ralph Meeker, Joe Turkel, Timothy Carey, George Macready, Adolphe Menjou, and many others. Cannot remember how many times I've watched this. Story, acting, direction,- all excellent.
Finishing School form 1934 with Frances Dee, Ginger Rogers, Billy Burke and John Halliday
A "finishing school" was a place where late-teenage women from "proper" families went to get a little bit of real education, while learning upper-class social norms and manners (one can't imagine these schools even exist anymore). As presented here, the school couldn't be more snobbish, but even if exaggerated by Hollywood, it's hard to see how these places wouldn't be pretentious and precious.
Using the school almost as a foil, the movie has some surprising grit and realism as most of the girls who attend see it as a joke. They mock the teachers and oh-so-mannered headmistress, while making fun of the few girls who take the school seriously.
One of the girls, clearly "nouveau riche," tries to hide that fact from the other girls, but her "less refined" manners keep giving her away, Because she's faking it, the other girls constantly needle her about it as kids at regular schools treat anyone exaggerating or faking it. Had the girl been honest about her background, you believe she'd have been accepted by most of the other kids.
The school's sub-rosa motto is appearance over substance. So, when Frances Dee, a new student, starts dating a boy "not of her class," the headmistress works with Dee's mother, Billy Burke (playing yet another ditzy, wealthy and put-upon mother) to break up the affair. The snobbish upper class circles its wagons in a hurry.
The boy Dee is dating is a medical intern working as a hotel waiter to support himself. He is unacceptable to these stuffy, pretentious women as he's simply not of the "right class."
However, Dee's father, John Halliday, the guy who makes all the money so that his wife can be a snob and his daughter can attend this silly school (Dad was against it), has no issue with his daughter dating a "regular" decent guy, as long as he's good to her.
That's the setup and, pretty much, the entire story in this short (seventy-three minutes), fast-moving affair. While the politics isn't shouted out, especially by modern-day Hollywood standards, the message is very Depression Era: the social-registry class is playing a nonsensical insular game of elitism with its stupid finishing schools, while the rest of the country is trying, very hard, just to make a living.
Finishing School is nothing more than a B movie from a B studio (RKO), but Frances Dee's performance as a girl torn between her heart and a combination of filial and institutional pressures is engaging and realistic. In the end, it's fun to see her, with an assist from her father and boyfriend, bring down the too-please-with-themselves snobs.
N.B. Look for a very young and on-the-cusp-of-stardom Ginger Rogers (far left in pic at top) as Frances Dee's roommate; you can't miss Roger's screen personality. Plus, she's rockin' one heck of a twenty-three-year-old body.
"Jungle Cruise" - Well... it didn't totally suck. There's at least a little chemistry between Da Rock and his female lead. Fast, somewhat funny with a few twists and turns I didn't see coming. But Disney being Disney... no nudity, no cussin', no blood, no nothing. Perfect for the widdle kiddies. Sigh... guess I'm channeling my inner Grinch today.
The new film Passing on Netflix. The story of two old friends reconnecting in 1920s Harlem: one (Tessa Thompson) is living comfortably, married to a doctor; the other (Ruth Negga) is living even more comfortably: she's been passing for white for years and is married to a wealthy Chicago businessman (Alexander Skarsgard) who casually admits that he "hates Black people". As they resume their friendship/attraction, the situation shakes up both women, and - being based on a novel from the 1920s - ends tragically.
A remarkably assured first feature directed by the actress Rebecca Hall, the film was shot in gorgeous b/w and the old nearly square aspect ratio(!). The b/w works beautifully for effect: neither woman really looks exactly "white" or "Black". The production design and costumes are excellent. The only aspect of the production I didn't care for was the music: the incidental music is too insistent, and all the live and recorded jazz heard is bogus: essentially riffs and melodies from famous Duke Ellington and Fletcher Henderson recordings thrown together in a blender. (What, they couldn't afford the music rights? Isn't much of this already in the public domain?!?) And, as is often the case in period pieces, here and there there are bits of dialog, terms and attitudes, that are just wrong for the 1920s... but hardly anyone will notice.
Tessa Thompson carries the bulk of the dramatics, and - as usual - she is excellent. Ruth Negga has the easier role, as she's more of a cipher - fascinating to everyone who meets her, but with much less focus and screen time. All the actors are very good.
Definitely recommended as a timely reconsideration of aspects of America's troubled racial history. (And of course, as William Faulkner said: The past isn't dead, it's not even past.)
Johnny O’Clock on TCM’s Noir Alley this morning. I saw that Lee J. Cobb was in it so I gave it a shot. A pretty decent flick. A nice cast of familiar faces. Worth a watch. Noir Alley is fun to watch just for the Eddie Mueller commentary at the end of the movie.
Pat O'Brien; Randolph Scott; Anne Shirley; Eddie Albert
-“Excuse me, please, I'm looking for Mamie Foster.”
-“Hello! How do you do? I am Chito Rafferty, and from Mamie Foster, I receive this note tied to my parachute. Did you write this?”
-“Yes, I wrote that. It's a joke.”
-“It's not a good joke, and from a nice young girl, it's a terrible joke. What are you doing tonight?”
-“I'll meet you at the PX at 20 o'clock.”
-“Why you say what? Can't you say yes?”
-“Hasta la vista! 20 o'clock!”
The Living Dead - gang set out to rob gold from a haunted castle. Ghosts are displeased. A low-budget, quasi-horror Brit flick - diverging enough for a b-movie.
ID-2: a 2016 sequel of sorts (more of a whole, new story with no significant element of returning players or characters from the original) to the 1996 Britflick ID. Same territory: undercover detective embedded with football hooligans in East London, this time with the added wrinkle that the policeman is Asian and from a Muslim background, so has a doubly difficult time of it. Whereas the original was a psychological piece about the psychological effects of going undercover and saw the lead gradually swallowed by his role, this is more of a police thriller. Nicely made, believable. (Apart from some of the areas it pretends are in Shadwell, ha....).
The Brothers Rico from 1957 with Richard Conte, Dianne Foster and Larry Gates
"Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in."
- Michael Corleone in The Godfather: Part III
Long before Al Pacino uttered that famous mob-movie phrase, Richard Conte (Barzini from The Godfather) found out just how hard it is to stay out in 1957's The Brothers Rico.
Having "retired" from the mob, married and now running a successful wholesale dry cleaning business in Florida, Conte, is "asked" by the big mob boss to find one of Conte's brothers (there are three brothers Rico in all - and all were/are in the mob) who is rumored to be ready to turn state's evidence.
The big boss tells Conte that he just wants to get his brother safely out of the country so that he can't testify. Conte doesn't really want to get involved, but agrees to do this one last job to help his former boss and his brother. Plus, he really couldn't say no since you're never really "out."
Conte's search for his brother brings him back to his old NYC neighborhood where we meet his traditional Italian immigrant mother and grandmother and learn that the Rico boys started in the mob as young kids. Conte, though, was only a mob accountant, never in on the rough stuff - which, we'll learn, is tomayto-tomahto to the mob.
From New York, Conti flies to California where his brother is hiding out on a farm. On a stopover in Phoenix on the way, he meets the West Coast mob boss, wonderfully played by Harry Bellaver, and his second in command, Rudy Bond.
These two laid-back mob guys are the gem tucked inside this excellent movie. Wearing cowboy hats and bolo ties, they are a fantastic blend of New York mob tough and West Coast chill. You can't help almost liking them even though they are killers.
When Conte learns, what the viewer knew all along, the mob has no intention of letting his brother get away, the West Coast boys deliver the message to him with a cold equanimity that boils down to another Godfather quote: "It's not personal Sonny, it's strictly business."
With his brother dead, Conte goes rogue from the mob trying to escape the country with his wife and money. After a classic showdown between Conte and his old boss, the Motion Picture Production Code slaps a reasonably happy ending on the movie. One doubts audiences were buying that ending then anymore than they would today.
The Brothers Rico is an outstanding inside-baseball mob picture. It's so inside there are almost no police or government officials involved. All the conflict is mob versus mob as the big boss struggles to enforce discipline.
The most-famous mob movie of them all, 1972's The Godfather, wasn't an immaculate conception; it was, as we see here, the culmination of decades of impressive mob movies like The Brothers Rico.
Don't get me wrong, I found in intensely fun, like a cross between the 1999 Mummy movie and Pirates of the Caribbean, but when you stop to actually think about the premise and cast, the movie comes across as an overblown remake of African Queen mixed with Indiana Jones. I think what the film suffered from the most was a sort of lack of realism. I know, I know, it's a movie about seeking the tree of life while fighting 400 year old Conquistadors, but it just seemed that everything about it, especially the sets and writing, felt overly produced. Nothing about it felt tangible. It was essentially two hours of three character standing in front of green screen. Sorry, Disney, not my cup of tea. I understand that the pandemic likely prevented it, but I feel like this movie would have GREATLY benefitted with more on location shoots, and more real animals, not CGI ones.
TCM's on in the background and "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" is playing. Unmuted it and watched the sanctuary scene - one of the best rescue scenes in a movie ever.
Just a sidenote:
I think, a big mistake, some people make, while watching Godfather I, is to forget in which time the story plays, even when they noticed the line "soon the year 1946".
And the Christmas movie-watching season has begun.
Miracle on 34th Street from 1947 with Edmund Gwenn, Maureen O'Hara, John Payne and Natalie Wood
Miracle on 34th Street boldly goes to the core of our modern Christmas, the Santa Claus story, and asks the one question that matters: real or fake / belief or disbelief / miracle or lunacy?
Maureen O'Hara, Macy's manager in charge of the Thanksgiving Day Parade, the parade that ends with Santa driving his sleigh of reindeer down Broadway to kick off the Christmas season, is a firm nonbeliever. This war widow is raising her young daughter, Natalie Wood, to be a "rational" thinker and not believe in "nonsense" like Santa.
Enter Kris Kringle, Edmund Gwenn, a last-minute parade substitute for the unfortunately inebriated Santa originally slated to drive the sleigh. Gwenn is so believable as Santa, that Macy's hires him to be its store Santa for the holiday. Gwenn "feels" to others like the real Santa, believes he is Santa and cheerfully dismisses doubters like O'Hara and daughter Wood.
With O'Hara's next door neighbor - young, handsome, single lawyer, John Payne, a firm believer in Christmas - as his ally, Gwenn tries to bring some Christmas spirit to the non-believing O'Hara and Wood household.
Gwenn/Santa is a hit with the kids and parents at Macy's, even striking a blow against commercialism as he encourages Macy's to send customers to other stores for items if Macy's doesn't have what they want. It's a confused meta-business message, but a nice sentiment for Macy's to project at the holiday.
Gwenn, unfortunately, encounters resistance at Macy's from the store's therapist (really, they had those at one time?) who believes Gwenn is a dangerous and delusional old man.
Gwenn's cheerfulness, kindness of heart, sincere belief in his identity and general good will, along with some perfect Christmas-magic moments, like his speaking the native tongue, Dutch, of a lonely adopted war refugee, has O'Hara and Wood questioning their dismissal of Christmas.
Just as they are starting to believe, the store's therapist manages to get Gwenn committed to Bellevue prompting Payne to jump in as Gwenn's lawyer, leading to a trial to determine if Gwenn is really Santa.
The local political machine, supporting the trial judge, doesn't want a ruling "against" Santa (that's bad for vote getting). In response, the judge, to the exasperation of the prosecutor, allows his ruling to turn on whether or not Payne can show Gwenn has been "officially" acknowledged as Santa.
In the movie's money moment, the Post Office delivers to Gwenn, at the courtroom, mail sack upon mail sack of letters to Santa; hence, putting the Post Office's imprimatur on Gwenn as Santa. The gavel comes down and Gwenn is ruled to be the real-deal Santa. All cheer as true-believer-all-along Payne and no-longer-doubting O'Hara get together.
The beauty of writer Valentine Davies and writer/director George Seaton's movie is the wonderful balance they strike in having Gwenn seem like both the true incarnation of Santa for kids and the representation of the Christmas spirit for adults. This adult, though, votes with the kids.
Why there even is a question makes no sense, but nonbelievers gotta do their thing, so movies like Miracle on 34th Street gotta do theirs by proving that Santa Claus and Christmas are real. It's hard to imagine a better Santa than Edmund Gwenn, just as it's hard to imagine a movie with more Christmas-perfect whimsy than Miracle on 34th Street.
The Philadelphia Story (1940)
Cary Grant; Katharine Hepburn; James Stewart; Ruth Hussey; Virginia Weidler
***Jimmy Stewart’s drunk scene with Cary Grant is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen!￼***
Adorable little Virginia Weidler as the kid sister Dinah Lord was a scene stealer!
-“English history has always fascinated me, Cromwell, Robin Hood, Jack the Ripper… Where did he teach? Your father, I mean.”
It Happened on 5th Avenue (1947)
Don DeFore; Ann Harding; Charles Ruggles; Victor Moore; Gale Storm
-“Well, I'll be a monkey's orphan.”
-“Oh come, sir. Your family connections must be better than that!”
a good hearted and fun holiday movie