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What Was The Last Movie You Watched?

Edward

Bartender
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London, UK
The original Cape Fear is a great, really disturbing flick. Personally, I like it better than Marty's 90s remake. And it's the only other movie where Mitchum is nearly as scary as he is in The Night of the Hunter.

I like both, if for different reasons. The remake lacks that extra something that probably any remake almost inevitably (with rare exceptions) has up against an original expression. I actually saw the remake with deNiro first, and only years later discovered it was a remake. Sort of like being nineteen and discovering Van Halen didn't write You Really Got Me.... albeit that I still like the remake of Cape Fear. ;)


Night of the Hunter is something else again. There's a scene where Mitchum walks into the house and calls "Children!" in a way that I always wondered whether it was an inspiration for Robert Helpmann's ChildCatcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Truly creepy.
 

Worf

I'll Lock Up
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Troy, New York, USA
"The Crawling Eye" - This one scared the crap out of me as a kid... even though I never saw the whole thing till I was an adult. Good cheesy FX for it's time. Solid performances all round too. You don't see the monster until the final reel and I think that helps... Great popcorn muncher and seeing it on "Svengoolie" was an added bonus!

Worf
 

Julian Shellhammer

Practically Family
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719
The Dawn Patrol (1930) with Richard Barthelmess, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., and Neil Hamilton, directed by Howard Hawks. Interestingly, the actual title at the start of the movie was The Flight Commander. The officer in charge of sending out pilots on deadly missions is tortured by the knowledge he is more than likely sending the pilots to their deaths. Some of the aerial footage is gripping. Movies had learned to talk only a few years before and some of the acting seems rooted in the stage. We enjoyed it
 
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Chasing Yesterday from 1935 with Sylvestre Bonnard, Anne Shirley and Elizabeth Patterson


Chasing Yesterday is somewhere between an adult fable and a childhood fairytale that only works if you're in the mood for a well-acted, slow, sweet movie that never really tries to challenge you.

A late-middle-aged professor, played by Sylvestre Bonnard, accidentally, meets a young girl, played by Anne Shirley, who reminds him of the only woman he ever loved. When Bonnard was a young man, he had a brief affair with a girl whose father did not approve of him and ended their relationship.

Now, professor Bonnard is a bachelor who lives with his books and his loyal but cranky housekeeper. When he discovers that Shirley is the orphaned daughter of his former lover and that her guardian, a greedy lawyer, has placed her in a strict and abusive girl school, he befriends Shirley.

Shirley is the spark in this movie as she's cute as heck and plays the Cinderella-like role with a fresh sweetness laced with just enough not-mean-spirited mischievousness to keep the movie from becoming cloying.

When Bonnard invites Shirley to visit, Shirley convinces the school's cruel headmistress, played by Elizabeth Patterson, that Bonnard is interested in her, the headmistress, romantically. Patterson respects Bonnard because he's a professor at "The Institute."

Sure it's a lie, but Shirley's is all but a prisoner in her bleak and abusive school, so you forgive her this fib as visiting Bonnard - who treats her nicely, shows her Paris and even invites a nice young man along to be company for her - is the only fun she's ever had in life.

With that set up, the rest of the movie is watching Shirley enjoy her time with Bonnard, while Patterson, who until now was firmly entrenched in spinsterhood, convinces herself that Bonnard is going to ask her to marry him. The charm here requires you to be in the mood for a slow-moving movie of niceness, which will only work if you enjoy Shirley's brand of adventurous innocence.

The climax comes when Patterson realizes she's been duped, so she takes it out on Shirley. This forces non-confrontational Bonnard to match wits with Shirley's mean guardian in an attempt to free Shirley from the guardian's and Patterson's clutches.

As in many fables or fairy tales, kindness early is rewarded later as this is a world whose metaphysics places niceness above all else. Hence, we see a good deed that Bonnard did at the beginning of the movie come back to help him as a deus ex machina.

Chasing Yesterday is an okay movie because it doesn't try to be more than it is: a sweet story about a lonely man who wants to help the daughter of his long-lost love. Bonnard is engaging as the lonely man, but it's Anne Shirley's verve and cuteness that, just barely, carries this one-trick story over the finish line.


N.B. For fans of Classic Hollywood, look for John Qualen in a small but impactful role as a woebegone bookseller. You'll recognize him as Berger from Casablanca where he played the resistance fighter who approaches Paul Henreid in Rick's Cafe.
 

basbol13

A-List Customer
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442
Location
Illinois
I like both, if for different reasons. The remake lacks that extra something that probably any remake almost inevitably (with rare exceptions) has up against an original expression. I actually saw the remake with deNiro first, and only years later discovered it was a remake. Sort of like being nineteen and discovering Van Halen didn't write You Really Got Me.... albeit that I still like the remake of Cape Fear. ;)


Night of the Hunter is something else again. There's a scene where Mitchum walks into the house and calls "Children!" in a way that I always wondered whether it was an inspiration for Robert Helpmann's ChildCatcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Truly creepy.
The big problem I have with the remake is that the daughter is portrayed as slutty. To me in the original where the daughter is innocent, makes for a harder hitting movie
 
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The Dawn Patrol (1930) with Richard Barthelmess, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., and Neil Hamilton, directed by Howard Hawks. Interestingly, the actual title at the start of the movie was The Flight Commander. The officer in charge of sending out pilots on deadly missions is tortured by the knowledge he is more than likely sending the pilots to their deaths. Some of the aerial footage is gripping. Movies had learned to talk only a few years before and some of the acting seems rooted in the stage. We enjoyed it
A bit of fast-and-loose Internet research reveals the title was changed from "The Dawn Patrol" to "Flight Commander" for television broadcasting.
 

Worf

I'll Lock Up
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4,971
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Troy, New York, USA
The Dawn Patrol (1930) with Richard Barthelmess, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., and Neil Hamilton, directed by Howard Hawks. Interestingly, the actual title at the start of the movie was The Flight Commander. The officer in charge of sending out pilots on deadly missions is tortured by the knowledge he is more than likely sending the pilots to their deaths. Some of the aerial footage is gripping. Movies had learned to talk only a few years before and some of the acting seems rooted in the stage. We enjoyed it
Reviewed this one about a month ago. It's all right but I found the version made in 38/39 with Errol Flynn and David Niven to be superior. Still not too bad though....

Worf
 

MisterCairo

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Gads Hill, Ontario
Sherlock Holmes, 2009 with RD Jr. and Jude Law, with the eldest daughter.

She is coming around to this version more, she is a massive fan of Benedict Cumberbatch in the series (as are we all, but she developed a hate-on for the Guy Ritchie films, not "seeing" RD Jr, as SH, though his version is in fact truer to the books).
 
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Late Autumn from 1960, from Japan


Late Autumn is pretty close to being a Japanese romantic comedy, but it has less fluff and a little more seriousness than the "battle of the sexes" romcoms Hollywood was churning out at the same time.

Late Autumn is also inside baseball for Japanese cinema as it has, basically, the same plot as 1949's well-regarded Late Spring, both of which were done by famed Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu.

In Late Autumn, we meet three middle-aged businessmen who take it upon themselves to find a husband for the daughter of their widowed female friend. It seems this was a reasonably common thing to do in Japan at that time.

Since all of these men, in their youth, had crushes on the still-attractive widow, well-known actress Setsuko Hara, there's a little added frisson to their matchmaking efforts. Those efforts are also challenged when they learn Hara's daughter doesn't want to marry, in part, because she doesn't want to leave her mother alone.

From here, it's pretty much all romcom with Japanese characteristics as the men hit upon the plan to find a husband for the mother first, so that the daughter will then want to get married herself.

Amping up the fun, the one bachelor of the three men wants to marry Hara himself, which has the other two men, long married in good-but-staid relationships, slightly jealous.

All the usual confusion of a good romcom follows: the daughter gets mad when she, indirectly, learns her mother wants to remarry, which at this point, the mother herself doesn't even know as no one has yet approached her. Of course, the wives of the two married men of this bumbling tripartite get irritated at all the attention their husbands are giving this mother-daughter team.

The men's initial match-making efforts for the daughter flounder as she repeatedly says no to their suggestions. Meanwhile, a bunch of hurt feelings, misunderstandings and light recriminations fly back and forth - all standard romcom fare.

In the movie's most-enjoyable scene, the daughter's best friend dresses down the three meddlers for messing everything up, which they initially did. It's a perfect romcom moment when this spirited-and-cute twenty-year-old female admonishes a bunch of serious-looking middle-aged businessmen who have to take it because they know they deserve it.

Once these four get on the same page, though, they go out for a fun night of drinking, where we see the generation gap wonderfully disappear. As you know will happen, it all works out in the end, with one twist best left to be seen on screen.

This 1960 version of Ozu's 1949 movie of the same plot reflects a more confident and prosperous Japan, now comfortable having fun in its movies as Late Autumn is much lighter than its 1949 somber cognate. The 1949 movie is the one you study in film school; this 1960 version is the one you watch on a rainy Sunday afternoon to brighten the day.


In the movie's best scene, she ↓
lateautumn3.png


properly admonishes them ↓
late-autumn-e1371958758114.png
 
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Big City Blues from 1932 with Joan Blondell, Eric Linden, Grant Mitchell, Guy Kibbee, Ned Spark, Humphrey Bogart and Lyle Talbot


The least interesting thing about Big City Blues is its story: a boilerplate about an enthusiastic young greenhorn, played by Eric Linden, who comes to NYC with a small inheritance and big dreams only to get fleeced and to run into trouble with the law.

What is enjoyable about this story, tired even for its time, is the window it provides into early 1930s New York City and its cast full of soon-to-be big stars or well-known character actors.

New York City itself comes off as an impressive but cold-hearted place. This was a time when skyscrapers were still new and amazing - the Empire State Building, the tallest building in the world when erected, had just been completed - and ritzy hotels, clubs and speakeasies provided for a glamorous nightlife.

While all the real New York City footage in the movie seems to be stock or shot for background, it still gave America a look at its premiere city when the country was in a Depression and few people traveled. Having grown up only sixty miles from New York City in the 1970s, even then, to this kid, the City felt as far away and hard to reach as Oz did to Dorothy.

In 1932, the large hotels, massive buildings, wide and crowded streets, lights of Broadway and ornate nightclubs with liveried doormen had to be a wonder to a struggling America. For a dime, they could sit in a movie theater and leave their drab world, even if just for an hour.

The people in the City, though, come off as being much less impressive. The greenhorn's older cousin pretends to be protecting the kid as he scams money from him. Most of the other people he meets are selfish and cynical.

The few nice people he comes to know seem worn down by the pace and hussle of the City. Even the police come off as cold-hearted men who care more about wrapping up a case than properly investigating it.

For modern audiences time traveling to the Big Apple via Big City Blues, New York, oddly, doesn't look that much different than it does today. Nineteen-thirty-two New York already had skyscrapers, over-crowded streets and a frenetic energy.

What does stand out in 1932 New York is the absolute disdain with which Prohibition was held as we see drinking parties in hotels supplied by bootleggers and speakeasies with customers from all walks of society enjoying themselves with not much more than a wink and nod from the police.

If the simple story and time travel don't hold your attention today, the impressive cast might. Fans of Classic Hollywood get to see Humphrey Bogart as a smart aleck young New Yorker in one of his first roles when his star hadn't yet shined and his pretty-boy looks hadn't yet faded.

The cast also includes Joan Blondell, Grant Mitchell, Guy Kibbee, Ned Spark and Lyle Talbot, all who would soon become regular stars or character actors for Warners Bros. for years or, even, decades.

Blondell, in particular, is a joy playing the nice girl who was a greenhorn herself only a few years ago. She and the newbie fall for each other, but the big City keeps getting in their way. Blondell, in only a few short years, would often be the wisecracking sidekick, so it's fun to see her, here, playing against her later type.

At an hour in length, Big City Blues does nothing more than tell an off-the-shelf tale, but its early 1930s window into a rich, vibrant and sordid New York City had to be fascinating to a country struggling to find work and put food on its table. That early view of New York is equally fascinating to modern audiences who, in Big City Blues, also get to see several stars right at the beginning of their film careers.
 
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Watching Das Boot - uncut TV series (282 min nonstop), the old 2004´s DVD on my mother´s Full HD-TV screen.

I´m suprised, how good the old DVD picture looks on the Philips 32" FULL HD-TV screen!!
Of course not the perfect, brilliant picture of my old CRT-TV, but really not so far away!
 
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Panama Flo from 1932 with Helen Twelvetrees, Charles Bickford and Richard Armstrong


Behold an early pulp-fiction-inspired pre-code. With all of a one-hour runtime, Panama Flo packs in half a season of a modern TV show's storyline. Also like today's TV shows, it pushes people to the extreme, bringing out raw and feral passions and emotions. But as opposed to modern shows, it isn't gratuitous, as it leaves something to the imagination.

Helen Twelvetrees (amazingly, she acquired that wonderful surname from marriage and not a studio's marketing department) plays a hoofer in a Panamanian nightclub who is let go when business drops off. Now she is stuck there, as the owner reneges on her promise of return fare to the States.

Cute, young, blonde, broke and stranded, Twelvetrees resists the pressure to turn to the oldest profession, in part, because she's waiting for her aviator boyfriend to come back and marry her as promised.

When he doesn't show for months, desperate for fare back to the States, Twelvetrees, with the help of the bar owner, tries to roll an oil-prospector flashing a wad of cash, played by Charles Bickford, but he catches her.

Threatened with jail - Panama City's jail looks like a scene out of Dante's Inferno - Twelvetrees agrees to go to Venezuela as Bickford's "housekeeper."

Bickford's "camp" is nothing more than a few-rooms shack deep in the jungle. Bickford, himself, comes across as possibly crazy telling Twelvetrees he's on the verge of a huge oil strike as he rifles through some disorganized looking notes, papers and maps.

At night, Bickford gets drunk and pushes Twelvetrees to a point, but no is still no for him, so they live with a hostile truce. The sexual tension mixed with the heat and fear of the jungle is palpable.

Then, like Indiana Jones, the aviator boyfriend, played by Robert Armstrong, lands his seaplane in the nearby river ostensibly to rescue Twelvetrees. He tells her not to say anything to suspicious Bickford about them knowing each other; instead, Armstrong wants Bickford to think he landed because of engine trouble.

The pressure quickly builds in the claustrophobic shack as Twelvetrees just wants to get out so that she and flyboy can be married, but smart Bickford is keeping close tabs on both of them. Flyboy, himself, is acting suspiciously by showing a surprising amount of interest in Bickford's papers.

The climax is a tightly packed pre-code blast of lies, betrayals, cover-ups, murder and rough justice that wouldn't fly once the Motion Picture Production Code was enforced in 1935. For different reasons, it wouldn't fly today with TV and movie's confused moral code, which is enforced by political views, not a censorship board, but it is still very much enforced.

Panama Flo is bookended by a couple of scenes set several years later that tie up the loose ends of the conflict in a very Depression Era pulp-fiction way. For ten cents, movies provided incredible escapism, and maybe a chance to dream, at a time when there were few entertainment options for the average person.

The morality of Panama Flo's characters is modern, nuanced and real. Twelvetrees plays a, basically, good woman, but when pushed to the limit by poverty, she does a bad thing, yet you still believe she is, overall, a good person.

Bickford's character, too, is complicated: he's pushy, arrogant and selfish, but there are moral lines he won't cross and he not only acknowledges when someone helps him, he even tries to repay that person. He and Twelvetrees are complex humans, unlike typical cardboard movie heroes and villains that will populate the screen once the Code is enforced.

The talent, passion and star power of these two leads - Charles Bickford, who would have a long career in Hollywood, and Helen Twelvetree, whose career would, sadly, fade out by the second half of the 1930s - elevate Panama Flo above its good, but pulpy, storylines.

Despite both its clunky early talkie production quality and being desperately in need of restoration, Panama Flo is still entertaining today. There is so much raw human greed, failing, goodness and compassion on display in its story-packed sixty minutes, it leaves you almost breathless at times.
 

Doctor Strange

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Piccadilly, a 1929 British silent film via TCM. A (not so great) new score and replacement intertitles were added in an early aughts restoration.

It's a fascinating antique set in a fancy London nightclub with a strong performance by Anna May Wong as a dishwasher who's plucked from the scullery to become a featured "exotic Chinese" dancer. The story eventually culminates in a third-act murder mystery. The other actors aren't that impressive, but the cinematography, sets, and costumes are very good.

PiccadillyWong.jpg

A couple of quick notes:

While it's tempting to treat this film a la the Astaire/Rogers musicals - as a fantasy trip to a gleaming nightclub with dressed-to-the-nines wealthy patrons in which Depression audiences could forget their problems... this movie was already in release before the Depression took hold.

There are several sequences of nightclub patrons drinking with wild abandon, plus a side trip to a dive bar with even harder partying. American audiences still stuck under Prohibition in 1929 must have been jealous!

There's a sequence near the beginning where an eating-everything-in-sight solo diner (Charles Laughton, no less!) causes a commotion over a dirty plate. At least a couple of the guys who'd go on to become Monty Python MUST have seen this film in their childhood, because the sequence plays as an incredibly precise inspiration for two classic Python bits:

The Restaurant Sketch, where Graham Chapman's complaining about "a bit of a dirty fork" leads to the entire staff going to pieces. And the late sequence in Meaning of Life where Terry Jones plays the enormous Mr. Creosote (who even looks like Laughton in this film), a disgusting restaurant patron who eats gigantic quantities... and explodes.

PiccadillyLaughton.jpg
 

Julian Shellhammer

Practically Family
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719
Sometime last week it was Captains of the Clouds (1942), with Michael Curtis directing Jimmy Cagney, Dennis Morgan, and Brenda Marshall. Alan Hale (Sr.), George Tobias, and Reginald Gardiner round out the cast. Canadian bush pilots want to enlist in the RCAF to fight in Europe, but their ages exceed the combat pilot boundary, so they serve as trainers.
The release date is given at IMBD as February 1942, which must mean the film was in production in 1941, presumably before the US entry into the war. Perhaps the intent of the studio was to boost the morale of our neighbors, and promote air power in general. With the exception of some interiors, it looks like the whole film was shot in Canada.
The Technicolor we saw on the TCM presentation was outstanding. Worth a watch.

Last night it was Imitation of Life (1934) with Claudette Colbert, Warren William, and Rochelle Hudson, billed in that order, and Louise Beavers as the widowed mother with a young child. She is on the screen a great deal of the film, and her family problems drive a large part of the plot. Ultimately, the story mixes sacrificial mother's love with an undisguised view of American society's embedded racism.
 
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The Hospital from 1970 with George C. Scott, Diana Rigg and Barnard Hughes


If you feel as if society is coming apart today; if you think nothing works, there's no way this can be fixed, we're at each other's throats, it's all futile, nothing means anything, then you might take some comfort in movies from the 1970s, another time when it also seemed as if every single thing was broken.

Panic in Needle Park, Klute, Looking for Mr. Goodbar, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three and other movies, like The Hospital, all show a society breaking apart. Yet, counterintuitively, movies proved incredibly good at showing this failure. A society that can produce mass-market art that insightfully reflects its problems maybe isn't beyond repair.

The New York City hospital, in The Hospital, is broken: patients are lost, prescriptions are mixed up, nurses ignore their duties, doctors operate for profit, not for the well being of their patients, other doctors use empty hospital beds for sex with nurses (okay, that's not so bad), while protesters block entrances and even enter the hospital to harass the staff.

The 1970s cedes nothing in protesting to the 2020s. In The Hospital, the protesters don't want nearby tenements torn down to make room for the hospital's new drug rehabilitation center (the 1970s needed those) as the families in them won't have anywhere to go. It's the "gentrification" wars before the word was in common use.

The hospital's chief of staff, George C. Scott, is also broken: failing marriage, failing children (the daughter's a drug dealer, the son; an anti-establishment "protester") and a failing faith in his career as a doctor, plus he's a borderline alcoholic, apparently impotent and is seriously entertaining thoughts of suicide.

His workday, after he fights his way through the protesters just to get into his office building, is filled with one hospital crisis after another amped up when both a doctor and two patients die in short order from, seemingly, procedural errors. Into this chaos enters Diana Rigg, the daughter of a patient.

She's a very 1970s woman spouting a bunch of hippie-dippie spiritualism. But she does walk the walk as she lives on a Mexican reservation with her father where they seem to do some kind of charity work.

These two opposites attract as Rigg openly admits to an older-man fetish and Scott, like nearly every man ever put on earth, likes young, pretty women. After a night where she talks him out of suicide and then cures his impotence (three times), Scott and she discuss taking her father out of the hospital and going to live together on the reservation in Mexico.

Meanwhile, the hospital is still falling apart, patients and doctors are still mysteriously dying and the protesters are pushing through the lobby. Scott thinks he wants to chuck it all and run off with Rigg to Mexico, but can this self-described very middle-class guy just walk away from it all?

The movie ups the satire quotient as it heads toward a conclusion. It turns out (spoiler alert), Rigg's father, in some sort of 1970s cultish stupor, believes he's the next coming of Christ or Christ himself doing God's work by killing off the patients and doctors for their human failings. At least that's what I took out Rigg's Dad's rambling explanation speech.

That's a bit much, but it wasn't an easy decade and odd cult things were happening. With the murders solved, but the hospital nearly overrun with protesters, Scott is still facing a decision: stay and try to fix it or escape with half-wacked, but sexy Rigg?

Scott's answer (last spoiler alert) pivots on the question many faced in the 1970s - responsibility versus "the me generation." Why stay and fight to fix something seemingly no one cares about when long-legged Rigg is waiting? Scott's one word answer is "responsibility," somebody's gotta do it.

A lot of George C. Scotts did stay. With their work, the 1970s gave way to the better 1980s and on. Now, fifty years later, the wheel has turned again as many things seem to be breaking. Art does appear to flourish in chaos and disorder as the very broken 1970s produced some very good and insightful movies like The Hospital. Maybe that's why today we are experiencing a second "Golden Age" in television.


N.B. #1 Would the anger, chaos, protest and vitriol of the 1970 have been overcome if there was social media to amplify it like today? We'll find out soon enough.

N.B. #2 Diana Rigg was magical as Mrs. Emma Peel in the 1960s TV series The Avengers, but while she is still pretty as heck in The Hospital, some sparkle has left her. In the 1960s, her joyously wry smile aligned to the fun aspect of that changing time, but in the 1970s, she seems almost out of place amidst the decade's hardened sneer.
 

Doctor Strange

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Good review, and yeah, it's very representative of the falling-apart early seventies.

But come on FF, you forgot to mention the key thing about the film. Scott and Rigg didn't just make up their own dialog. Hack director Arthur Hiller (check his filmography) didn't just invent the plot and setting.

The Hospital was written by the great Paddy Chayefsky, and it won the 1972 Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. It's an important stop on the continuum of Chayefsky's work (and loss of faith) from the extreme humanity of Marty to the extreme cynicism of Network.
 
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