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What Was The Last Movie You Watched?

Julian Shellhammer

Practically Family
Messages
732
Last week sometime it was Fast and Furious (1939) with Franchot Tone and Ann Sothern as Joel and Garda Sloane, book dealers with time and money, who get involved with murder here and there. This time, it's at a beauty pageant. Interestingly, it was directed by Busby Berkeley. The Sloanes were in three of these breezy rom com murder mysteries, starting with Fast Company, then Fast and Loose, then Fast and Furious. Each time the couple were played by different actors.

In a complete change of pace, on Saturday night it was The Third Man (1949) directed by Carol Reed, with Joseph Cotton, Valli, Orson Welles, and Trevor Howard. The Missus had never seen it, and since I had watched it I-don't-know-how-many times, she got the film nerd commentary. Topically dark, visually dark, even the day time shots seem bleached out.
NB: I would bet good money that the conversation between Cotton and Welles at the amusement park, with its overlapping dialogue, was Welles hi-jacking a few minutes of filming. Real good stuff, but not the feel good movie of 1949.
 

Edward

Bartender
Messages
23,283
Location
London, UK
Not been watching much in the way of films recently. I did put on The Sleeping Room the other night. Vaguely diverting Brit-horror about a working girl who has a client that is only interested in talking and watching her watching a Victorian turn-handle peep-how film thingy, which turns out to be a snuff film. Then there's some sort of killer-possession thing across the century. Nice idea, but rather under-realised. I don't mind a low-budget (indeed, I often find it stimulates far more creativity), but this one was distinctly under-written. Felt like it had enough plot for a twenty-minute short extended across ninety minutes.
 
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15,739
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New York City
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No Man of Her Own from 1950 with Barbara Stanwyck, John Lund, Jane Cowl, Lyle Bettger and Henry O'Neill



No Man of Her Own is a soap opera noir with an almost comically unbelievable plot that works because of the impressive talents of the actors and director.

Barbara Stanwyck plays a single and pregnant woman (tsk-tsk) tossed aside by the baby's father, Lyle Bettger, with nothing more than a train ticket to the other coast and five bucks. The train crashes, killing a pregnant newlywed, played by the always wonderful Phyllis Thaxter, and her husband.

When Stanwyck wakes up in the hospital, she realizes, one, her baby was born and is fine, two, she's been mistakenly identified as the newlywed and, three, "her" wealthy in-laws are providing for her care.

The in-laws invite her and her baby, what they believe is their grandson, to come live with them, which Stanwyck does. These very nice people, played by Henry O'Neill and Jane Cowl, immediately embrace Stanwyck and their grandson. Since they never met their son's new bride before, they dismiss any confusion and inconsistencies in Stanwyck as being the result of shock from the accident.

The family's other son, played by John Lund, also a nice guy, seems to be suspicious of Stanwyck, but doesn't say anything. Stanwyck loves her new life, but feels guilt over fooling the family and is fearful she'll be exposed.

Just as things are settling in nicely and Lund begins to awkwardly court the living-under-the-same-roof Stanwyck ("sorry your husband, my brother, died, but what are you doing Saturday night?"), Stanwyck's former boyfriend, who left her flat when she was pregnant, Lyle Bettger, shows up with blackmail on his mind.

From here, the take-it-with-a-grain-of-salt story twists itself into knots with wills, bank accounts, a forced marriage, an incriminating check, guns, murder, a disposed of body, last-minute and from-the-grave potentially exculpatory evidence and much angst.

Yet you go along for the ride because Barbara Stanwyck, with the possible exception of Bette Davis (when she had the right looks for the role), is the only actress who could fireman carry the unbelievable plot over all its bumps and holes.

Stanwyck credibly portrays, first, a down-and-out single mother, then, a lucky but anxious doppelganger daughter-in-law and, finally, a woman desperate enough to contemplate murder. Her emotions and facial expressions credibly shift gears, time and again and on the fly, which has you rooting for her all along.

While it's Stanwyck's movie, Cowl, as the kind and smart mother-in-law, and Lund, as the brother-in-law who sees through Stanwyck's story, bring much-needed warmth and understanding. But it's Bettger, as the oleaginous ex-boyfriend blackmailer, who gives the movie both its tensest noir moments and an antagonist equal to Stanwyck.

Even with its outstanding acting talent, No Man of Her Own wouldn't work if director Mitchell Leisen didn't know how to usher the story past its holes by getting the viewer deeply vested in the characters.

He also amps up the noir by pitch-perfectly juxtaposing the calm and comfortable life of Stanwyck's new upper-class family with the desperation and impoverishment of her former life and ex-boyfriend.

No Man of Her Own's story is too messy for it to be in the pantheon of noirs, but its acting and directing are so good, it's a must-see for noir and Stanwyck fans. It's also an atypical but fun blend of soap suds and noir that ricochets your emotions all over the place.
 
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10,685
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Germany
"And So It Goes" (2014), on TV, german synchro.

See, THIS is, why I still like Michael Douglas! This man still got it! :)

His role as a perfect "fleabag" was awesome! MISCHIEVOUS! :p The whole movie was good, for my taste. Really good comedy. :)

 

Julian Shellhammer

Practically Family
Messages
732
Last night it was Highway 301 (1950) with Steve Cochran, Virginia Grey, and Gaby Andre, with guest appearances by the governors of Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. Directed and written by Andrew L. Stone. Based on true events, a gang of bank robbers pulls off a couple of heists, and then scramble to escape the relentless track-down of both state and federal law enforcement. Heavy emphasis in the story line and the narration about getting tough with criminals. Lots of familiar faces, providing a Friday night transition into the weekend.
 
Messages
15,739
Location
New York City
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Cavalcade from 1933 with Diana Wynyard, Clive Brooks, Una O'Connor and Herbert Mundin


Even for fans of Classic Hollywood, 1933's Cavalcade falls short of its Best Oscar winning expectations, but it is still an outstanding effort that captures the sweep of thirty tumultuous years of the British Empire.

Starting in 1900 and using an "upstairs-downstairs" construct, we follow the lives of the upper-class Marryot family (father and mother played by Clive Brooks and Diana Wynyard) and their lower-class servants, represented by the married Bridges, the Marryot's butler (played by Herbert Mundin) and head housekeeper (Una O'Connor).

Cavalcade opens with the Boer war and then moves through Queen Victoria's passing in 1901, the peak Empire years of pre-WWI, the Titanic tragedy, the hell of WWI, the Jazz-Age 1920s and the hopes of the early 1930s.

We see the Marryot's and Bridges' fathers and sons go off to wars. Some return even prouder of the Empire, while others, of course, never return. The Bridges leave "service" having bought a business as they attempt to "move up" in the world. The children are raised, houses redecorated, alcoholism smashes one family, World War I reshuffles everything and then the 1920s partying hits.

Cavalcade is people being people with their hopes and dreams and kindness and meanness, but to a modern audience what most stands out is how the English people saw themselves in a particular way when the Empire was at its peak. They took pride in just being a part of the Empire in an English way that is different from how Americans, with their focus on individuality, saw themselves in the second half of the twentieth century when America was ascendant.

Queen Victoria was more than just the titular head of state, she meant something to the English people in a way that leaders do not anymore. Dying in battle was still a great individual and familial loss, but many saw those efforts as part of the cost and glory of "Rule Britannia." Yet we see, as the toll of wars add up, people begin to question the cost of that "Rule." Those doubts would flourish in post WWII England.

At the end, in 1933, the now elderly mother and father of the Marryot family - having suffered much loss and experienced much joy over the past thirty-plus years - toast the New Year with hesitant hope. With the Depression just having started and WWII too far away to see, we know what they don't - the cavalcade is only going to get much rockier from here.

Thirty years of very busy history is a lot for one movie to tackle, especially as Hollywood was still figuring out "talkies." Based on a Noel Coward play, Cavalcade, oftentimes, feels stagey, while at other times, janky with its awkward transitions to show the passage of time. Yet, conversely, its use of montages is effective at capturing a period's zeitgeist.

Cavalcade was an ambitious undertaking for 1933 Hollywood that mostly works. However, compared to other much-more-famous movies of the 1930s, you can see why Cavalcade, with its "British Empire" theme, "stagey" feel and dated production techniques, has been "forgotten." Still, for old-movie fans, it is a picture that's well worth seeing.
 
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15,739
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New York City
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The Passionate Plumber from 1932 with Buster Keaton, Irene Purcell, Jimmy Durante, Gilbert Roland and Mona Maris


The Passionate Plumber suffers from an identity crisis. It couldn't decide if it wanted to be a Buster Keaton vehicle, a Keaton and Jimmy Durante pairing or a romantic comedy, so it tried to be all three and became a muddle.

The talent is here with Keaton, Durante and Irene Purcell, plus Mona Maris' stunning jawline, and there are several funny lines and skits, but the parts never gel. Several scenes seem to exist to highlight Keaton or Durante, or Keaton and Durante, which is fine, but results in the movie often feeling like a bunch of Saturday Night Live comedy sketches knitted together.

The plot has Keaton playing an American plumber working in Paris (just go with it) who is called to the house of another American, played by Irene Purcell, to fix her shower. Purcell is having an affair with a man, played by Gilbert Roland, who claims his wife won't give him a divorce.

To make Roland jealous, Purcell, who cut down the wardrobe budget of the movie by never once wearing a bra, spontaneously hires Keaton to play her lover. There's also a side plot about Keaton having invented a new gun that he wants to sell to the French military (once again, just go with it).

From here, the movie is a bunch of scenes in which Purcell either pushes Roland away or tries to get him back, while Keaton tries to keep his "contract" with Purcell by kissing her in Roland's presence, often to Purcell's annoyance.

This leads to a bunch of farcical scenes such as Keaton dueling with Roland with Durante serving as Keaton's second. Durante, in theory, plays Purcell's chauffeur in the movie, but he really just pops up for additional comic relief now and then. At some point, Keaton also tries to show his new gun to a French general, which is mistaken as Keaton attempting to assassinate the man.

Most of these scenes are filled with slapstick, puns, nonsensical misunderstandings and physical humor - head bonking, falling over furniture, firing guns accidentally, etc. Half of it works and half of it falls flat.

Durante gets in some funny lines with his brand of humor, but he never really fits into this one. Keaton is enjoyable, but he, too, never seems fully comfortable in his role as the story often jarringly jumps back and forth between his routines and the Purcell-Roland love angle.

Purcell plays the romance somewhat (not that much) seriously, but Roland is either the worst actor ever or intentionally plays his role as a cardboard Latin lover. As with everything else in the Passionate Plumber, it doesn't harmonize as you have two actors playing a scene with completely different tones and style.

At the end, Roland's other lover, played by Mona Maris, pops up for the final showdown. She is beautiful to look at and adds a spark to a movie that was pretty tired by the climax, a climax that, not surprisingly, too easily wraps everything up.

The Passionate Plumber is a mediocre movie because it tries to do too many things at once, but it has so much talent hanging around that it can't help but deliver some solid entertainment and laughs. Sometimes the studio system, with too many hands involved in a project, too many resources and too much talent to choose from, produced an expensive and glossy looking kludge, like this one.


N.B. Only in a pre-code would a man be allowed to describe the woman he's been stringing along with this rude alliteration: "[She's] the kind of a woman a man finds, fondles and forgets."

Mona maris and her jawline.
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bsaguy

New in Town
Messages
30
Location
NC Piedmont
Million Dollar Mermaid on TCM.

Classic Esther Williams pic with lots of swimming. The finale was "choreographed" by Busby Berkley and is quite extravagant.

Williams broke her neck doing a 50' high dive. She cracked 3 vertebrae and was in a body cast for 7 months, but she fully recovered.
 

bsaguy

New in Town
Messages
30
Location
NC Piedmont
Top Gun Maverick

Just got back from a sneak preview. Invited by a vendor of mine.

Actually better than I thought it would be. They did a good job of tying the plot back to the original. Some cheesy and unrealistic Hollywood stuff, but that's par for the course. Plus, it is always easy to watch Jennifer Connelly.

Because of COVID, this was our first time in an actual theater since late 2019. Crazy when you stop to thin about it.
 

Julian Shellhammer

Practically Family
Messages
732
The Underworld Story (1950) starring Dan Duryea, Herbert Marshall, and Gale Storm. Remarkably similar to Ace in the Hole: in this case, Duryea is an unprincipled newspaper reporter makes the most out of a murder case. Duryea seemed to excel at rotten, crooked characters, and here he's sort of the rotten, crooked good guy. Howard da Silva steals every scene he's in, playing a way-too-jovial crook. Good fun.

My Name is Julia Ross (1945) starring Nina Foch, Dame May Whitty, and George Macready. Clocking in at 65 minutes, our story has Foch duped into taking a job as a secretary by a wealthy lady who wants to use her as the solution to some unpleasantness connected with her troubled son (Macready). No spoilers here, but it is a tightly told tale with parts of LA standing in for Cornwall. Directed by Joe Lewis, who went on to give us Gun Crazy, and quite a bit of TV directing.
 

Doctor Strange

I'll Lock Up
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5,087
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Hudson Valley, NY
Old, the latest film from M. Night Shama-lama-dingdong.

It's one of his better recent efforts, but it has all the familiar weaknesses of his work... including his insistence on casting himself even though he can't act. But it's got a solid Twilight Zone plot setup with a palpable sense of dread, some icky Cronenberg-ish body horror, a bunch of good actors - not necessarily all giving good performances - some cringeworthy dialog, and a twist ending that's not unlike one he's used before.

A family vacationing at an exclusive tropical resort is given the honor of being taken to an even more exclusive private beach for the day, and some other VIP guests show up there soon after. It's gorgeous, but weird stuff starts to happen: a body washes up on the beach; they find they can't leave the way they came; they gradually discover that they're all aging super-quickly. The little kids in the group soon grow into teenagers, and as for the people who are already old...

Anyway, it's entertainingly weird and creepy, if pretty uneven. And it seems to want to make some kind of profound statement about aging, time, life and death... but it totally fails in that regard.
 

MisterCairo

I'll Lock Up
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6,946
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Gads Hill, Ontario
Re-watched 1917 on Netflix. Saw it during its theatrical run, then again with the wife. We really like this film, and need to get it on blu-ray. Our internet comes in via waves and dish, and as it was raining and cloudy last night, the picture quality was rubish.
 
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Tiger Shark from 1932 with Edward G. Robinson, Zita Johann and Richard Arlen


Directed by Howard Hawks, Tiger Shark is early Hollywood doing something it did very well: telling a simple, timeless story in just over an hour.

Edward G. Robinson plays a Portuguese fisherman with a big ego, a big heart and a Portuguese accent that periodically disappears. He captains the most-successful (at least according to him) tuna-fishing boat on the West Coast.

Tuna fishing is a physically tough and dangerous endeavor, which bonds the crew of rugged men together. We see Robinson lose his hand and part of his arm to a shark in an early scene, but he just keeps on with his life as captain of the boat with his best friend and young protegee, played by Richard Arlen, at his side.

The scenes of tuna fishing, themselves, in Tiger Shark approach documentary-level quality as we watch the men run out nets or fish off the side of the boat in dangerous shark-infested waters where they are at constant risk of falling in. Later, the catch is hauled off the boat and sent via conveyor belts to the processing plant - it's like an early The Food Network show.

Back in the story, Robinson's character is a loud and boastful man as, according to him, he's the best fisherman, the best drinker, the best with women (not true, as he has no luck with them at all), etc. Yet, he is also kind as we see him drive his men hard, but fight equally hard to protect them.

When an older fisherman in his crew is killed in a fishing accident, Robinson takes care of the fisherman's pretty adult daughter, played by Zita Johann, at first, simply as an act of kindness and duty because her father worked for him.

When the inevitable happens and he finally asks her to marry him, she accepts out of a sense of honor. Showing her true character, she even tells Robinson she doesn't love him, but as he does with most things, he just barrels ahead anyway.

Their marriage, initially, works for them as Robinson is a happy man in love with his wife, and she is genuinely grateful to him for his kindness. But then the rub comes along when Johann falls in love with Robinson's young and handsome best friend, Arlen.

We are now at the Greek tragedy stage of the story as Johann and Robinson attempt to do the right thing and deny their love, but eventually it comes out in the climatic scene where the scales painfully fall from Robinson's eyes and everything is brutally settled.

Tiger Shark is 1932 clunky in ways - some of the scenes and shots feel like holdovers from the silent era - but a solid script, strong acting by all three leads and no-nonsense directing from Hawks moves the story along in a way that could be a lesson to modern filmmakers.

Hollywood has been telling this story ever since they've been making movies because it is an engaging, human and evergreen tale. In Tiger Shark, a timeless drama of human tragedy is stripped down to its essentials, but told to us in an impactful way. Movie making has come a long way since 1932, but as we see in Tiger Shark, telling a classic story well is never really dated.
 

belfastboy

I'll Lock Up
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8,473
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vancouver, canada
Re-watched 1917 on Netflix. Saw it during its theatrical run, then again with the wife. We really like this film, and need to get it on blu-ray. Our internet comes in via waves and dish, and as it was raining and cloudy last night, the picture quality was rubish.
We watched 1917 earlier in the week. For us it was just OK. Not great, but not bad. I thought the premise was weak and not enough to sustain an entire movie. Good thing the Germans were such terrible marksmen or he would not have made it to the end of the movie.
 

Julian Shellhammer

Practically Family
Messages
732
Hard to Get (1938) with Dick Powell and Olivia De Havilland. Sort of a screwball comedy, with De Havilland as a spoiled heiress, and Powell as a gasoline station attendant with dreams of a chain of motor court bungalows. When they meet he doesn't know her family is rich rich rich, and treats her like a dead beat. She plots revenge, but then Cupid sneaks into the plot, and you can guess the rest. Truthfully, the comedy is more slapstick than clever, and the plot seems strained. But we watched it through to the end.
Must have been a public domain print; picture was washed out and fuzzy. Courtesy of the TCM streaming app.
 
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Hard to Get (1938) with Dick Powell and Olivia De Havilland. Sort of a screwball comedy, with De Havilland as a spoiled heiress, and Powell as a gasoline station attendant with dreams of a chain of motor court bungalows. When they meet he doesn't know her family is rich rich rich, and treats her like a dead beat. She plots revenge, but then Cupid sneaks into the plot, and you can guess the rest. Truthfully, the comedy is more slapstick than clever, and the plot seems strained. But we watched it through to the end.
Must have been a public domain print; picture was washed out and fuzzy. Courtesy of the TCM streaming app.
Saw it four years ago and felt pretty much as you did about it, #26,297
 
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Kentucky Kernels from 1934 with Bert Wheeler, Robert Woolsey, George "Sparky" McFarland and Mary Carlisle


Kentucky Kernels is farce and slapstick with a thin and silly plot that exists only to knit together a bunch of comedy sketches by "Wheeler and Woolsey" and a talented cast including six-year-old George "Spanky" McFarland.

The former Vaudevillians Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey, who teamed up on screen as "Wheeler and Woolsey," weren't as big as the Marx Brothers or Laurel and Hardy in their day, but they were very popular, despite having been all but forgotten now.

The plot of Kentucky Kernels starts off with Wheeler and Woolsey accidentally, kinda sorta, adopting six-year-old McFarland. Then, because McFarland supposedly inherits a Kentucky estate, they all go south where they land in the middle of a southern family feud between the Milfords (MacFarland's side) and the Wakefields.

While there, Burt Wheeler, seen as being on the Milford side, falls in love with a Wakefield, played by Mary Carlisle (she's adorable and adds a fun feminine spark to the movie), which only amps up the feud. Here's the thing, though, none of this matters and the audience knows it.

The wobbly plot construct exists only for the comedy sketches, pranks, partfalls, songs and Keystone Cop routines. Early on and before heading South, we see one of the sketches as Wheeler and Woolsey are keeping house together with Wheeler clearly in the role of the woman: it's subversive homosexual humor for its day. It was probably fresh and edgy in 1934, but we've seen that skit too many times by now for it to work for modern audiences.

That's the challenge for a movie like this for today's viewers. "Baby" Macfarlane has a penchant for breaking glass that was probably funny then, but is all but irritating now. There's also a bit about a horse getting drunk on moonshine and then running wild with Wheeler and Woolsey in the cart behind him that is past being trite today.

On and on it goes, with a few magic tricks that we've all seen a billion times and Catskill-like jokes that we've all heard a billion times. It doesn't help for modern audiences that the main black character - the talented actor Willie Best - is a horrible stereotype of the era.

The plot itself climaxes with a massive Keystone Cop-like gunbattle between the Wakefields and Milfords, with no one getting shot despite a million bullets flying. After that, all the threads are easily resolved as the movie closes with the big broken-glass gag you knew was coming all along.

Kentucky Kernels has a talented cast and, here and there, something funny for modern audiences pops up, but much of it is too silly, dated or irritating for today's viewer. It's kind of okay if you watch Kentucky Kernels as a time capsule or historical entertainment curio, but otherwise, it's hard to sit through it today for just its entertainment value.
 
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Wheeler and Woolsey! My favorite movie comedy team. When the writers are with them, they're hilarious, but when the writers are against them -- well, they try.

I had heard of them, but this is the first time I think I ever saw a full movie of theirs. Note, in my comments, I flipped Wheeler and Woolsey's roles, but a sharp reader at the TCM site where I also post these comments PM'd me, so I made the corrections above.
 
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