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What Was The Last Movie You Watched?

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Ocean's 11 (1960) directed by Lewis Milestone, who also gave us All Quiet on the Western Front, Of Mice and Men, The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, and tons more. Starring Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Peter Lawford, Angie Dickinson, and a boatload of familiar faces.

Ex-Army commandos* reunite under the oversight of a vaguely felonious crime boss to rob multiple Las Vegas casinos on New Year's Eve. The first half of the story is setting up and character interplay, the actual heist is over comparatively quickly. Stick around to the end.

Breezy, well-paced, Technicolor, and 2.39 : 1 aspect ratio, what better way to say, "Howdy, weekend"?

Picked out by the Missus; she thinks she remembered it from long ago, but still enjoyed it a great deal. She also googled the term "e-o-eleven" sung by Davis: it means a perfect dice game that ultimately flops. I never knew that: ties in perfectly with the movie.

* Did the US military use the term "commandos" during WW2? I thought the Army used "ranger" and the Marines used "raider." Worf? Lizzie? Fading Fast?

I normally associate commandos with the British, not the US. There was a commando group in the US Army Air Corps during the war, however, so others may have existed.

I think they meant it as a generic term in the movie. Or none of them wore undies.
 

AmateisGal

I'll Lock Up
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To Catch a Thief for the thousandth time. But I never let the fact that I've seen a movie a thousand times before stop me from watching it again!

Last night I watched a new to me film called Interlude in Prague. It was about Mozart and his inspiration for writing Don Giovanni. Beautiful film. On Amazon Prime. The actor who played Mozart looked so much like some of the sketches I've see of Mozart. It was uncanny.



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Night World from 1932 with Mae Clarke, Lew Ayres, Boris Karloff, Clarence Muse and Hedda Hopper


"Will you have a little drink?"

"No thanks, I'm trying to live long enough to see good liquor come back."

- A smart Mae Clarke responding to a drunk Lew Ayres' proffer of always-questionable bootleg booze during Prohibition


Night World's myriad stories rip through bootlegging, infidelity, alcoholism, a mob war, murder, a budding love affair, a mother-son rift, a Busby Berkeley number and the death of a loving husband's wife all in fifty-seven minutes and pretty much all on one set. It's amazingly organized and entertaining without any time spent on the artsy pretensions that obsess modern filmmakers.

Oddly cast quasi-gangster Boris Karloff runs an upscale New York City nightclub, which other mobsters are trying to muscle in on. He's dictatorial to his staff and obsequious to his good customers, which include out of towners and society locals like the son, played by Lew Ayres, of a notorious Wall Street tycoon who was shot and killed by his wife when she caught her husband cheating.

Drunk-all-the-time and woeful-looking Ayres is befriended by one of the dancers at the club, played with irresistible charm by Mae Clarke. She sees Ayres is in need of rescue, but her attempts are interrupted by bullying tough guy George Raft, who's trying to score with Clarke.

Part of the fun is just seeing the nightclub in full swing: everybody is drinking from flasks or buying the club's illegal booze; the dancers perform a Busby Berkeley number with his de rigueur between-the-dancer's-legs camera angle and customers fight with their spouses or try to make time with potential lovers, while Karloff tries to keep it all working.

The stories zip by as you become vested in Clarke's genuine attempt to help disaffected Ayres. In one of the movie's most poignant scenes, Ayer’s has a brutal face off with his mother, played with surprising nuance by Hedda Hopper, as he disowns her for, basically, being the world's worst mother and wife.

Tucked in amidst all this society and gangster argot, backstabbing and canoodling is a sensitive and, for the time, subversive story about the club's black doorman, played by Clarence Muse. His wife is in the hospital, but boss Karloff won't give him time off to go see her.

Early on, Muse comments to his friend, the local cop who opines that the club's patrons are lucky to be rich, that he, Muse, thinks most of the people in the club aren't really happy or having fun, but just use the club to briefly escape their hardships and disappointments.

The deepest insight in the movie, which is also its theme, comes from Muse who talks in the era's stereotypical fashion and who can't even get time off to see his sick wife. Something like that doesn't make it into a movie by accident. Even in 1932, there were voices in opposition to the period's social injustices.

The movie's climax, like many from that early talking-picture era, jams in an amazing amount of action and reveals to tie up several storylines. Yet the conclusion to several of the threads is messy in a real life way.

A few years later, with the enforcement of the Motion Picture Production Code, resolutions would mostly be nice, neat or, at least, morally clear, but in pre-code land, rough justice and muddy morality rule.

Night World is a gem of a short movie with several good stories and engaging characters that still works as entertainment today. And it's a heck of a time capsule for New York City (even though the City shots are stock footage) toward the end of Prohibition.

It's also a treat to see so many stars early in their careers. The most enjoyable of those being Mae Clarke, of The Public Enemy "grapefruit in the face" fame, whose performance is so engaging, you wonder why she didn't go on to bigger stardom.
 

Bushman

I'll Lock Up
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Joliet
Jurassic World: Dominion. The critics can shove it, the movie is amazing! Perfectly Crichtonesque in every way.

Going back Tuesday for a second viewing.
 

AmateisGal

I'll Lock Up
Messages
6,005
Location
Nebraska
No Time to Die, decent. I love Craig as Bond. The end left me wanting more but was fitting.
Saw it in the theater. I was FURIOUS when I left. I refuse to watch it again. I'm a huge Bond fan, but this one...well, lazy writing, a terrible ending...I was incredibly disappointing. Craig deserved a better send off than that gobledygoop.
 
Messages
14,431
Location
Chicago
Saw it in the theater. I was FURIOUS when I left. I refuse to watch it again. I'm a huge Bond fan, but this one...well, lazy writing, a terrible ending...I was incredibly disappointing. Craig deserved a better send off than that gobledygoop.
I agree. There was some real cheese too. When the new double insists he use the 007 designation. It was pretty terrible. The idea behind the villains weapon was cool but that’s about it. It certainly didn’t have any of the charisma the previous Craig Bond’s had.
 

Worf

I'll Lock Up
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Troy, New York, USA
Good question that I don't know the answer to, but I bet Worf and/or Lizzie will.

I enjoyed your comments on the movie. These are my relatively recent ones on it: #27,877
No we never called our nascent "Special Forces" "Commandos". Commando is a South African term adopted by the British after the Boer War. America used the term "Rangers" first during WWII I believe. There were several Ranger Battalions formed during WWII as well as one combined Canadian/American Unit. You're correct the Marines had Raiders but that's about it.

Worf
 
Messages
15,737
Location
New York City
Ocean's 11 (1960) directed by Lewis Milestone, who also gave us All Quiet on the Western Front, Of Mice and Men, The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, and tons more. Starring Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Peter Lawford, Angie Dickinson, and a boatload of familiar faces.

Ex-Army commandos* reunite under the oversight of a vaguely felonious crime boss to rob multiple Las Vegas casinos on New Year's Eve. The first half of the story is setting up and character interplay, the actual heist is over comparatively quickly. Stick around to the end.

Breezy, well-paced, Technicolor, and 2.39 : 1 aspect ratio, what better way to say, "Howdy, weekend"?

Picked out by the Missus; she thinks she remembered it from long ago, but still enjoyed it a great deal. She also googled the term "e-o-eleven" sung by Davis: it means a perfect dice game that ultimately flops. I never knew that: ties in perfectly with the movie.

* Did the US military use the term "commandos" during WW2? I thought the Army used "ranger" and the Marines used "raider." Worf? Lizzie? Fading Fast?

Check this out, the term "commando" just came up in the "The Era --Day by Day" thread in the comicstrip "Little Orphan Annie" in reference (by implication) to the US Army in 1942. I'm not saying it was an official term - I have no idea - just noting the reference:
Daily_News_Sun__Jun_14__1942_(3).jpg
 

EngProf

Practically Family
Messages
539
I had no idea either. Funny Commandos is a Dutch word and is what the Boers called their mounted guerillas. Brits took the term after that.

Worf
There's a difference between what the Army and Marines officially called those forces and what the public (and comic strips) called them.
There was a certain propaganda/morale-building aspect to the title of some these specialized forces:
"Darby's Rangers" in Italy (James Garner)
"Carlson's Raiders" in the Pacific ("Gung Ho!" - Randolph Scott)
"Merrill's Marauders" in Burma ("Objective: Burma" - Errol Flynn)

Making the units more personal helped the war-bond and recruiting efforts. Since we're in the "last movie" section, all of the above units were the subject of later movies.

("Commandos" for most tended to refer to any hit-and-run military group.)
 
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Are You LIstening from 1932 with William Haines and Madge Evans


The Motion Picture Production Code, enforced after 1934, would have exploded over Are You Listening with its central drama being that of a decent man having an affair where his wife is a shrew and his paramour is a sweet and understanding woman. The institution of marriage never looked so unappealing.

Are Your Listening will turn into a crime drama, but for its first three quarters, it is an engaging soap opera set mainly in the new and exciting field of radio. William Haines plays the radio scriptwriter with the awful wife, played by Karen Morley, and the loving girlfriend, played by adorable Madge Evans.

Evans, herself, plays a radio actress at the New York City station where Haines works. The station is full of new-business energy as the executives court sponsors, while the writers, perforce, reverse engineer scripts to conform to the advertisers' wishes. It's an insider's look at how early radio's live broadcasts worked with full orchestras, sound-effects men and actors reading scripts into microphones.

Amidst all the action and business calculation, everybody is trying to make time with everyone else. Young pretty girls are looking for fun and expensive nights out and, sometimes, husbands and men of all ages are looking for a good time with the girls. The snazzy and new Art Deco radio station had to look a bit like Oz to an American audience struggling through the Depression.

While Evans is frustrated that Haines' vicious wife won't give him a divorce, she also is trying to steer her younger party-girl sister away from a dangerous lifestyle and her even younger and just-arrived sister away from predator men.

Only in pre-code land will you see one sister come home drunk after being out all night and another, in this case the youngest one, come home after having put out for a man she just met who promised her marriage. After the man nonchalantly reneges on his promise and after she cries over it a bit, the newbie sister then accepts the playboy's consolation-prize offer of a valuable job reference. She's becoming wise to how things work.

Back in the main story, Haines, arguing with his wife, mildly pushes her away, but she stumbles, falls, cracks her head and dies - it feels forced, but there it is. Evans, who owns nearly every scene she's in, throws in with Haines as he decides to run from the police, arguing no one will believe his side of the story.

The rest of the movie is Haines and Evans on the run as the radio world they worked for broadcasts non-stop bulletins calling for their capture. The climax blends the venality of radio and newspapers - the media does not come off looking good in this one, at all - with a pre-code muddled justice.

In just a few years, with the enforcement of the Motion Picture Production Code, movies like Are You Listening won't be made. Marriages will be spiffed up, affairs will be denounced, young girls will keep their virtue or be punished and justice for crimes will be swift and by-the-book fair.

Yet, for a brief window, in the early 1930s, Hollywood's pre-codes showed a messy world that looks much-more like the one we know today than the nice-and-shiney one that would be on the screen for the following three or so decades when the code was enforced.
 

Julian Shellhammer

Practically Family
Messages
732
Wowsers, perhaps I've spent too much time in front of the monitor-

Week before last, it was the CGI re-boot of Jungle Book, followed by the live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast, both watched with the grandkids.

Then, this week, we were cooped up in a hotel room while the house was tented for termites, and watched over several nights The Guns of Navarone, Dunkirk, and Darkest Hour.
 
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Bright Lights, Big City from 1988 with Michael J. Fox, Kiefer Sutherland and Phoebe Cates


When the book Bright LIght, Big City came out, it was more than a best seller, it was heralded as the work of a promising new literary genius, author Jay Mcinerney. "This generation's Fitzgerald or Hemingway" was even heard now and then. The movie was highly anticipated, but generally considered a disappointment, which deflated the Mcinerney bubble a bit.

Over thirty years later, the movie, now free of expectations, is fine as a piece of 1980s culture. Being two year out of college and working in New York City when it came out, albeit in finance not publishing, it was like seeing a part of your world up on screen. Watching it now is not quite nostalgic, but more as if you're looking at a friend's home movies from that era.

I've never done drugs, mainly because they scare me, but in 1980s New York, drugs, cocaine in particular, were nearly as popular as alcohol (now that I've tried). The movie isn't exaggerating cocaine's popularity nor destructive power as, back then, everyone knew a few people who crashed their lives because of it.

In Bright Lights, Big City, Michael J. Fox plays a young fact-checker for a prestigious old literary magazine by day and a mad partier, with his partner in crime, played by Kiefer Sutherland, at night.

There was always a Sutherland-like guy around back then - the guy who was always out, always knew a "hot" party or place to go, always had a girl for you to meet and called you at all hours to join him. His character isn't an exaggeration.

Nor is the office Fox works in an exaggeration. Back then, especially in the "old-line" companies, kids out of college were supposed to be deeply grateful for their low-paying jobs and in awe of the older bosses. Thankfully, most of that attitude is gone today, but Mcinerney nailed the "tone" of those 1980s offices perfectly.

When the movie opens, Fox's character is clearly approaching a breakpoint as he's failing at work in part because of his partying at night. We also learn, mainly through flashbacks, that his wife, played by Phoebe Cates, just left him.

Fox met her in college in Kentucky, with the implication being she saw him as her ticket to New York City, while he couldn't believe his luck in getting such a beautiful girl. Once in the City, afraid she'd lose him to New York's deep pool of pretty young women, she pressured him into marriage.

The tables were then turned as she, almost on a lark, began a successful modeling career; whereas, his writing career never got started. She was now the hot up-and-coming model married to (cue downbeat music) a fact-checker. Away on a shoot in Paris, one night, she calls Fox to tell him the marriage is over.

The last piece of Fox's implosion puzzle is that he's never come to terms with his mother's death a year ago. In one of the most-forced literary metaphors ever, Fox follows the struggles of the "Coma Baby," a New York City tabloid story about a fetus inside a mother who's in a coma owing to a car accident. The mother dies, but the baby comes out and lives. Get it?

Most of Bright Lights, Big City is seeing all these threads come together as Fox's world begins to crumble around him and his lines of coke. His job, his ex-wife, his drug habit and the one-year anniversary of his mother's death all force a come-to-Jesus moment in the movie's climax.

The on-location filming of Bright Lights, Big City captured New York City at that moment: gleaming new office towers, turn-of-the-century factories that were now nightclubs or fancy condos, and the old tenements that used to house poor immigrant families that were now rundown apartments for kids just out of college perfectly reflected the City's real estate market in the 1980s.

Plus, the city is chockablock with yellow cabs, not Ubers; phone booths, not smartphones; stereo systems, not speakers streaming music and newspapers and flyers, not apps. It is fun time travel for us today. The gruff-but-okay guy delivering bread in the early morning that Fox swaps his sunglasses with for a loaf of bread is every New York City delivery guy from that era.

It's hard to understand why Mcinerney's book was so lauded in its day; it's a good-of-the-moment read, but not literary brilliance. The movie was generally panned when it came out, but probably suffered from the high expectations of the overly praised book. Today, the movie Bright Lights, Big City is a good cultural curio, more valuable for its snapshot of the City in the 1980s than its just-okay story.
 
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What Every Woman Knows from 1934 with Helen Hayes, Brian Aherne, Donald Crisp, Lucile Watson and Madge Evans


"I'm six years older than he is. I'm plain and I have no charm. I shouldn't have let him marry me. I'm trying to make up for it."

- Brutally honest Helen Hayes discussing her marriage.


An ordinary-looking-and-almost-freakishly-petite woman played by Helen Hayes is on a path to spinsterhood in What Every Woman Knows. So her three well-meaning-but-bumbling brothers offer to pay for a poor young man's, played by Brian Aherne, education in return for his agreeing to marry Hayes once he graduates.

Set in Scotland and even with tongue in cheek, there are a thousand things wrong with this negotiation based on today's values, but it's still a fun scene where Hayes is, effectively, tossed onto the pile of chips in the center of the table and pulled out a few times. Then, Hayes herself, kinda liking the idea of being married to the young man in question, throws herself back in to seal the deal.

Despite the generally light tone, the movie turns serious at several points preventing this charming effort from slipping into farce or slapstick. Once Aherne has completed his studies, Hayes offers to let him out of the pact, but he bluntly states that a bargain is a bargain and marries Hayes even though he doesn't love her. Both, in their own way, did the stand-up thing.

Hayes, clearly in love with Aherne, becomes the woman behind the man as his political career catches fire owing, mainly, to her efforts, which she hides even from her clueless husband. A career move to London has Hayes continuing to surreptitiously direct his political future, but Aherne - now exposed to a superficially more elegant and sophisticated class of women - begins to stray (enter pretty Madge Evans).

In a movie that thankfully avoids many cliches, Aherne, contemplating leaving Hayes, doesn't treat her like an annoying obstacle. He truly struggles with the fact he married her as part of a bargain and she's been a good wife even as he fell in love with another woman. Hayes, too, struggles with the morality of holding a man by obligation and not of his free will.

The resolution has, of course, Hayes, unnoticed, moving the chess pieces around so that Aherne sees what he'd be giving up and what he'd be getting were they to divorce. Despite landing where you'd expect it to, this is no Hallmark movie as its surface charm has real-life grit just beneath.

Putting our 2022 indignation aside allows us to see this 1934 movie is subversive for its day as most of the men are either strutting peacocks, like Aherne, or harmless bumblers like Hayes' well-meaning but foolish brothers. Whereas, most of the women are smart and shrewd operators who quietly run things off stage. This low-budget effort, which seems almost simple, punches well above its moral and intellectual weight class.


N.B. Look for Lucille Watson playing Hayes' cagey and wise London mentor as this old-pro stage actress made an incredibly smooth transition to "talkies." In What Every Woman Knows, she provides a combination of verve and gravitas to her few crucial scenes. Oh, and yes, she's another woman who is smarter than the bloviating men in this one.
 

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