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What Was The Last Movie You Watched?

Doctor Strange

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Dude, consider that this "subversive commentary on the British class system" was originally a play by George Bernard Shaw that opened in 1914... when it was much more subversive!

Last night's flick was Colossal (2016), a bizarre hybrid about dysfunctional people... and giant monsters stomping Korea. Anne Hathaway plays a struggling, alcoholic writer whose NYC boyfriend (Dan Stevens) throws her out, and she's broke, so she heads back to her parents' empty home in some small community. She reconnects with a childood friend (Jason Sudeikis) who gives her a job helping in his bar, where she drinks too much through the night with him and his loser friends (including Tim Blake Nelson).

For reasons that are never adequately explained, when she goes into a school playground at 8:05am, a giant monster appears in Seoul which mimics her movements precisely. She eventually figures out that she's the cause, and soon Sudeikis is also going to the playground, and he appears in Seoul as a giant robot. They spend the rest of the film fighting, more or less, with their giant avatars causing massive death and destruction. They and their friends try and figure out what's happening, try to stop the destruction... BUT...

What nobody ever does is contact any local or state police, government agency, the scientific community, or basically any professionals who might be better prepared to diagnose and deal with the situation! This is the part where you realize that it's more of a dysfunctional character drama than a real SF film, because it has no interest in explaining the WHY. Oh, there's a flashback to a childhood occurrence that allegedly caused it, but it's vague and not believable.

Though the actors are good, all their characters are major a-holes. The story doesn't make sense, and there's no satisfying resolution. NOT RECOMMENDED.
 

Worf

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5,023
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Troy, New York, USA
Dude, consider that this "subversive commentary on the British class system" was originally a play by George Bernard Shaw that opened in 1914... when it was much more subversive!

Last night's flick was Colossal (2016), a bizarre hybrid about dysfunctional people... and giant monsters stomping Korea. Anne Hathaway plays a struggling, alcoholic writer whose NYC boyfriend (Dan Stevens) throws her out, and she's broke, so she heads back to her parents' empty home in some small community. She reconnects with a childood friend (Jason Sudeikis) who gives her a job helping in his bar, where she drinks too much through the night with him and his loser friends (including Tim Blake Nelson).

For reasons that are never adequately explained, when she goes into a school playground at 8:05am, a giant monster appears in Seoul which mimics her movements precisely. She eventually figures out that she's the cause, and soon Sudeikis is also going to the playground, and he appears in Seoul as a giant robot. They spend the rest of the film fighting, more or less, with their giant avatars causing massive death and destruction. They and their friends try and figure out what's happening, try to stop the destruction... BUT...

What nobody ever does is contact any local or state police, government agency, the scientific community, or basically any professionals who might be better prepared to diagnose and deal with the situation! This is the part where you realize that it's more of a dysfunctional character drama than a real SF film, because it has no interest in explaining the WHY. Oh, there's a flashback to a childhood occurrence that allegedly caused it, but it's vague and not believable.

Though the actors are good, all their characters are major a-holes. The story doesn't make sense, and there's no satisfying resolution. NOT RECOMMENDED.
Funny, I reviewed this film years ago when first came out and I LOVED IT! It was such a strange and different take on the Kaiju genre I just fell in love with it. Well acted and well directed I totally suspended my disbelief and ran with it. Sorry you don't feel the same. I personally recommend it to folks looking for a different take of giant, city destroying monsters.

Worf
 
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sabrina.jpg


Sabrina from 1954 with Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart and William Holden


Director and co-writer Billy Wilder turns the classic Cinderella story into one of the great Hollywood romcoms of all time in Sabrina. With a cast of stars who were or would become icons of Tinseltown's Golden Age, Sabrina floats from one mild romantic tempest to another on a cloud of style, charm and whimsy.

Everything is so beautiful, so fairytale perfect, that even the chauffeur's apartment above the estate's garage is cozy and homey. It's in that apartment where we meet Cinderella, played by Audrey Hepburn and called Sabrina in this telling.

Hepburn as Sabrina grew up on the elegant Larrabee estate as friends of the Larrabee boys - played, as adults, by Humphrey Bogart and William Holden - but of course, she kept her place. Yet that didn't prevent her from developing an abiding crush on the younger, handsome playboy brother David, played by Holden. The older, staid businessman brother Linus, Bogey's character, modesetly frightens the young Sabrina.

After a few years in Paris at a cooking school, tomboyish Sabrina returns to the estate as a sophisticated Parisian woman and just in time to catch womanizer David's eye as he is about to marry again (marriage number three).

A David and Sabrina affair would interfere with Linus' merger plans with David's fiancee's father's company, so the ever resourceful Linus arranges to have David laid up with a minor injury so that he, Linus, can take Sabrina out until David is healed.

All of this happens in a world of captivating style. The Larabee estate is Great Gatsby fantasy, but it is Ms. Hepburn, a fairytale version of a mid-century Parisian model, who lifts Sabrina, the character and the movie, to another world where the night stars sparkle just a bit brighter.

The story doesn't even matter all that much, as you would almost appreciate the beauty of the movie - thankfully shot in gorgeous black and white - more with the sound off. Back in the story, though, Linus' efforts to win Sabrina away from David work so well, he begins to fall in love with her himself.

Linus' plan had been to steal Sabrina's affections just enough so that David would marry the merger girl and, then, he, Linus, would ship Sabrina back to France with plenty of money for her and her chauffeur father to smooth everything out.

If you notice that this romcom for the ages has a bit of creep factor, you're spot on. Not only is Bogart a generation or two, too old for Hepburn, but he initially courts her, while she is ostensibly seeing his brother, by telling her it's okay since "it's all in the family -" ick. It's also pretty slimy that Holden's character is flirty with Sabrina while engaged to another woman.

Charm really does conquer all, at least on screen, as you just don't care about the ickiness because you're lost in the fantasy. It also helps that Sabrina's script is genuinely funny, as stolid businessman jokes and "democratic" canoodling between the classes provide plenty of material for humor.

Even the classic (cliched) romcom climax - will the two lovers get together as one leaves on a long trip, while the other one dithers - is so enjoyable here that you're passionately rooting for the outcome you know will happen, but that still makes you smile when it finally does.

Sabrina is movie magic, which means a lot of talented professionals - writers, cinematographers, directors, actors and everyone else involved in the production - worked incredibly hard to make the picture look easy. Thankfully they did, as Sabrina, today, almost seventy years after its release, is still one of the best romcoms Hollywood has ever made.

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Edward

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Had a go at the latest version of Candyman (2021) today. It was... ok. Made a little more of an effort at giving the Candyman a purpose in this run at it, but it still feels rather like they're running shy of him going for the obvious targets. Why set up the character as a victim of such a terrible crime, and then just make him a mindless killer with no focus on revenge?

Also rewatched the original Mad Max. Still the best of the bunch: the most realistic, and the most affecting for it. I'd love to see the franchise taken to TV, covering the events of the first gilm, and taking it into and through the atomic war that happened between this and II. For a bit of original vibe, I'd love to see it set as a retro piece, in an alternate mid 20th century. Hey, reset it in the US, and Toecutters' gang could turn up on Max's doorstep straight from a fantasy version of Hollister...
 
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elephant-walk1.jpg

Elephant Walk from 1954 with Elizabeth Taylor, Peter Finch, Dana Andrews and Abraham Sofaer


"Sometimes it takes an elephant rampage to save a marriage." - Said no one ever.


There are many formulas to a happy marriage, but moving your new and never-been-out-of-England bride to a remote part of a British Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), where there are no other Western women and where her new household is part informal men's club and part religious shrine to an ancestor, is not one of them. Throw in a nearby handsome, single and understanding man, and the challenges mount.

Based on today's view of the colonial era, many things are offensive in Elephant Walk, but taken as a piece of contemporaneous cinematic history, it's an entertaining soap opera that, in its own way, says something very modern about elephants.

Elizabeth Taylor plays the English rose who marries a wealthy tea plantation owner, played by Peter Finch, who then finds herself in a remote part of a remote country when her honeymoon is over. She quickly realizes that all is not well in her new home, Elephant Walk, an imposing "bungalow" that beautifully blends colonial and native architecture.

Her husband's deceased father, arrogantly named and arrogantly built Elephant Walk directly blocking the elephants' ancestral path to the waters. A large wall and the natives making noise en masse when needed keep the ever-persistent and angry elephants out, but the threat looms.

Equally threatening the house's tranquility is its ongoing homage to her new husband's dead father, "the Guv'nor," as the house still runs on his former schedule and by his former dictates. This includes having all the dead man's friends staying and partying there every weekend.

Taylor is no more than a guest in her new home that doubles as a colonial frat house where drunk middle-aged Englishmen play "indoor" polo on bicycles. It doesn't scream modern condemnation, but these arrogant buffoons do not show the British Empire in a positive light.

Elephant Walk is passively aggressively managed by the house's long-time native butler "Appuhamy," played by Abraham Sofaer. Sofaer's condescending and strict rule has turned Elephant Walk into a mausoleum to his old "master." (Classic film fans will notice a strong echo to 1940's Rebecca, except Judith Anderson's character "Mrs. Danvers" was even scarier as the imperious servant.)

Even Taylor's new husband, a seemingly kind man in England, becomes tyrannical anytime Taylor tries to change even the smallest thing in "her" new home. With no women companions to turn to, and her new marriage in trouble, Taylor befriends the plantation's overseer, played by Dana Andrews, the only other person at Elephant Walk who sees how warped it all is.

While the Motion Picture Production Code will only allow showing these two sharing a passionate kiss, we assume Taylor and Andrews' characters are having an affair. The lovers plan to leave Elephant Walk together, but drought and cholera delay their departure.

The climax goes all in on the drought and the cholera, plus the pending monsoons, the angry elephants and the mystique of the plantation, which completely resets the table by the end of the movie. Elephant Walk is really just an entertaining giant ball of cheese dressed up a bit with a big Hollywood budget and major stars, but it does deliver one very modern message: don't mess with the elephants.

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Edward

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London, UK
5 Against the House on TCM. I went in with lower expectations but was actually entertained. The shots of Lake Tahoe and Reno from way back when were cool to see.
:D

I chanced across that one a few years ago ( posted about it on here, many, many pages ago!). Good little picture, deserves to be better known.
 

AmateisGal

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6,029
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Nebraska
The Gray Man with Chris Evans and Ryan Gosling on Netflix. Action-packed thriller that was actually one of the best new movies I've seen in a long time. It's creepy to see the polished Captain America Chris Evans as a sadistic villain, but he does it so very well.

For classic movies, I watched Edward G. Robinson in The Red House a few nights ago. Compelling movie - I enjoyed it.
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Julian Shellhammer

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756
Last week it was Old Yeller and Pollyanna with the grandkids.

Then, with the Missus, Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950) with Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney, dir. Otto Preminger. Detective Sergeant Andrews has anger issues when it come to criminals: he's on thin ice with the brass for beating up suspects. He gets involved with big-time hood Tommy Scalise and his floating gambling set up, and one thing leads to another resulting in manslaughter. Tierney is connected to the whole sordid affair by marriage, legal separation, and being manipulated into luring rich gamblers into high stakes gambling.

The bulk of the movie (the plot twists of which I will skip) deals with how will the real killer get caught. Andrews' partner is played by Bert Freed, who played the sergeant in charge of the firing squad in Paths of Glory. Neville Brand is uncredited as Scalise's thug and he's heavy muscle. And early on, during a roulette game, a big winner is the uncredited Harry Von Zell (yes! Harry Von Zell!) whose untimely end starts the plot rolling.
 

Doctor Strange

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Last Night in Soho (2021), a thriller directed by Edgar Wright starring Anya-Taylor Joy, Tomasin McKenzie, Matt Smith, and in supporting roles, sixties Brit icons Rita Tushingham, Terence Stamp, and (in her final performance) the great Diana Rigg.

Let me start by saying that I'm not part of the Edgar Wright cult. People love his films (Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim, Baby Driver), but I have watched them all... and to me they're okay, but none have really pushed my buttons. But I liked this one a lot. A beautifully made film with some well-handled surprises whose horror - when it comes - is built into the story, not gratuitous jump scares.

In the present day, McKenzie plays an aspiring fashion designer who's accepted to a London design school and leaves her country home in Cornwall, despite warnings from her grandmother (who's raised her, her mother died when she was young... but McKenzie often sees the mother's ghost in mirrors) that the city can be dangerous. But she's thrilled: she's obsessed with the sixties and the whole Swinging London/Carnaby Street scene and can't wait to get there. But once she arrives at school, she's picked on by the mean girls as a "country mouse", so she moves out of her dorm into a furnished room in Soho.

And the first night, as soon she goes to sleep, she "visits" sixties London, finding herself the mirror-image of a drop-dead gorgeous aspiring singer (Taylor-Joy). Each night this continues, and she experiences Taylor-Joy's life, sometimes switching places so that Taylor-Joy is in the one in the mirror, though the other characters still only see her. Alas, once we hit the second act, that glamorous Swinging London nightlife turns out to be a lot uglier than McKenzie expected...

I don't need to tell you by now that Taylor-Joy is just stunning as a sixties bombshell, but the surprise here to me was McKenzie. She carries the bulk of the film and handles a very wide range of emotions well. The production design, sets, costumes, are all outstanding. And there's some very impressive effects work: a nightclub sequence where Smith dances with both Taylor-Joy and McKenzie, alternating on each swing, is really effective. And as I intimated above, this is a "horror" film whose horrors are recognizably real and based (unfortunately) in all too familiar behavior, despite also having time travel and ghosts.

Recommended, especially if - like me, ever since I was a kid at the time - London in the sixties has always been interesting to you.

Last-Night-in-Soho-2021-2.jpg
 
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Make Me a Star from 1932 with Stuart Erwin, Joan Blondell and Ruth Donnelly


It takes a bit to get its story up and running, but when it does, Make Me a Star is a scathing look at Hollywood told through parody.

A young, shy and awkward Midwest man, played by Stuart Erwin, who was adopted out of an orphanage by the stern owners of a general store, privately dreams of having a career in Hollywood like his cowboy film star hero Buck Benson.

He's even taken a correspondence course in acting believing this will lead to screen success (somewhere, P. T. Barnum is smiling), which he tests out when he leaves home for Hollywood after an ugly confrontation with his father.

Once in Hollywood, Erwin, who is so sincere Bambi could swindle him, sits day after day in the casting room of Buck Benson's home studio hoping for a role.

Eventually, Erwin's situation becomes desperate as we see him picking through discarded lunch boxes looking for food. In a flash, this kinda comedy about a goofy guy has gone dark as we see him suffering the same way many in Depression Era America were suffering.

Actress "Flips Montague,” played by Joan Blondell, taking pity on him, tries to get him a role as an extra. Blondell learns of Erwin's naive passion and respect for the "serious" drama of cowboy movies and his belief that farce and parody are insulting to the profession and art of filmmaking. Good grief.

Blondell realizes Erwin's child-like sincerity and respect for cowboy pictures would make him a perfect star for a director she knows who specializes in farces. She and the director hoodwink Erwin into believing he's starring in a serious Western, while they are really making a farce of the Buck Benson movies Erwin idolizes.

As production advances, Blondell, who was trying to help Erwin, begins to feel guilty as she knows he's going to be crestfallen when he realizes the movie he's making is the exact type of picture he believes is insulting to the art of moviemaking and the dignity of the actor.

The painful climax has Erwin sitting through the premiere of his movie that he finally realizes is a parody of all that he loves, but of course, the audience finds it hilarious. Erwin could now be a star with a bright future, but will he stay in Hollywood and, effectively, "sell out" for the money? What will he say to Blondell whom he thought was his friend, but whom he discovered deceived him?

Make Me a Star's power sneaks up on you. Erwin is so simple and sincere that you think the movie is going to be a lighthearted look at a naif learning about the world of pictures, but when Erwin starts to struggle, the harshness of the Depression, the challenges of just getting enough to eat, become painfully real.

Blondell, in an impressive performance, is the link between the two worlds as, even though her character is a successful star now, she understands those struggling and tries to help. When her efforts to assist Erwin, which require lies and subterfuge that she initially laughs off, hurts as well as helps him, she realizes how the town has made her a person she's not proud to be.

Make Me a Star is an early example of Hollywood looking unkindly at itself. Those in Tinseltown who have succeeded are wealthy and comfortable at a time when most of the country is poor and hungry. It's those, mainly, poor Americans, parting with their hard-to-come-by dimes for a movie ticket, that makes Hollywood wealthy. Make Me a Star is a sly way of Hollywood knocking itself down a peg or two for forgetting that.


N.B. Filmed at Paramount, Make Me a Star is chockablock with flash cameos of stars such as Gary Cooper, Tallulah Bankhead and Claudette Colbert. It is amazing what screen presence these actors have as they capture your attention even though you see them for just a brief moment. Plus, it's simply fun as heck when one of them pops up.
 
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Operation Mincemeat last night. A solid cast and despite the fact that I knew the story, an entertaining World War II story. :D

Agreed - good cast and an entertaining movie, but for a really cool historical story, the movie was only okay, The 1958 move "The Man Who Never Was" is about the same historical event and it, too, is only good despite the reality of the story behind it being amazing.
 
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The League of Gentlemen from 1960 with Jack Hawkins, Nigel Patrick and Roger Livesey


The League of Gentlemen is a solid and enjoyable crime drama with the hook being "the heist" is executed by a group of former and somewhat disgraced servicemen. It's a twist on 1960's Ocean's Eleven, but done in England, with a serious approach and the goal of robbing one bank, not five casinos.

After a quirky start where the head man, played by Jack Hawkins, recruits his team by sending each member one-half of a few bank notes, a novel about a heist and an invitation to a swanky lunch, we see the men get down to the business of preparing for the bank job that Hawkins has planned out.

Thrown into the mix are brief insights into each man's motivation - hint, they all need money for women, wine, song or bread to eat - but this is really a "plan, execute and get away with (or not) a heist" movie.

The target, a massive regular morning payroll delivery to a London bank, requires these former military men to obtain weapons and other "heist" equipment. In the movie's second best scene, they steal all these items from a military base using a "surprise food inspection" as the cover. It's a tense but funny scene perfectly balancing the competing emotions.

Now fully equipped, the team makes its final preparations for the heist. You can feel the anxiety building alongside the excitement as they all think about becoming rich. Director Basil Deardon knows when to slow down or speed up a picture as he quickly moves on to the best scene in the movie, the heist itself - a solid ten minutes of almost real-time action.

After the heist and, now, back at leader Hawkins' country estate, the men party and then slowly depart with their money. Surprisingly, there's no last-minute fighting over the split with everyone leaving amicably. This is a heist movie where the "right" outcome for the vibe of the story would be for crooks to get away with the money, but do they?

The League of Gentlemen is enjoyable because you come to like most of the crooks and appreciate their thoughtful planning and expertise, especially because you don't really care about some anonymous payroll stolen from a "rich" bank (I get that is not at all a morally defensible position). Also, the action is engaging, but not over the top. The League of Gentlemen is a good one from start to finish.
 
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Agreed - good cast and an entertaining movie, but for a really cool historical story, the movie was only okay, The 1958 move "The Man Who Never Was" is about the same historical event and it, too, is only good despite the reality of the story behind it being amazing.
Yep. I agree on the okay. Knowing the story, I had expected or hoped for a better movie. Still, it was worth watching and didn’t feel like a waste of time.
:D
 

Julian Shellhammer

Practically Family
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View attachment 441225
The League of Gentlemen from 1960 with Jack Hawkins, Nigel Patrick and Roger Livesey


The League of Gentlemen is a solid and enjoyable crime drama with the hook being "the heist" is executed by a group of former and somewhat disgraced servicemen. It's a twist on 1960's Ocean's Eleven, but done in England, with a serious approach and the goal of robbing one bank, not five casinos.

After a quirky start where the head man, played by Jack Hawkins, recruits his team by sending each member one-half of a few bank notes, a novel about a heist and an invitation to a swanky lunch, we see the men get down to the business of preparing for the bank job that Hawkins has planned out.

Thrown into the mix are brief insights into each man's motivation - hint, they all need money for women, wine, song or bread to eat - but this is really a "plan, execute and get away with (or not) a heist" movie.

The target, a massive regular morning payroll delivery to a London bank, requires these former military men to obtain weapons and other "heist" equipment. In the movie's second best scene, they steal all these items from a military base using a "surprise food inspection" as the cover. It's a tense but funny scene perfectly balancing the competing emotions.

Now fully equipped, the team makes its final preparations for the heist. You can feel the anxiety building alongside the excitement as they all think about becoming rich. Director Basil Deardon knows when to slow down or speed up a picture as he quickly moves on to the best scene in the movie, the heist itself - a solid ten minutes of almost real-time action.

After the heist and, now, back at leader Hawkins' country estate, the men party and then slowly depart with their money. Surprisingly, there's no last-minute fighting over the split with everyone leaving amicably. This is a heist movie where the "right" outcome for the vibe of the story would be for crooks to get away with the money, but do they?

The League of Gentlemen is enjoyable because you come to like most of the crooks and appreciate their thoughtful planning and expertise, especially because you don't really care about some anonymous payroll stolen from a "rich" bank (I get that is not at all a morally defensible position). Also, the action is engaging, but not over the top. The League of Gentlemen is a good one from start to finish.
A heist film in every sense of the phrase. Saw this years ago and was impressed with the step by step prep, the heist itself, and the denouement. Your last paragraph sums up quite well the conflicted audience response to rooting for criminals.
 

Julian Shellhammer

Practically Family
Messages
756
Larceny (1948) with John Payne, Joan Caulfield, Dan Duryea, and Shelley Winters, directed by George Sherman. Conmen Payne and Duryea target the war widow Caulfield, preying on her by promising to raise money for a memorial to her late war hero husband. They plan to skip with the cash, but wouldn't you know it, Cupid busts a move and ices the hustle. Lots of tough talk, scam lingo, and some laugh out loud wisecracks. Shelley Winters takes on the moll role quite well, Duryea does his slimy hood character to perfection, and Payne delivers the goods as a conman with some good in him.
NB: Harry Antrim plays a real estate agent unwittingly involved in the con, and he was R. H. Macy in Miracle on 34th Street along with Payne who was Fred Gaily in the same.
 
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House of Strangers from 1949 with Richard Conte, Edward G. Robinson, Susan Hayward, Luther Adler and Debra Paget


Director and co-screenwriter Joseph L. Mankiewicz, in House of Strangers, delivers a classic and powerful tale of an immigrant's rise to power and wealth in America, but whose dictatorial rule of his business and family nearly leads to the destruction of everything he built in one generation.

America, in the first half of the twentieth century, was teaming with men like Gino Monetti, the character played by Edward G. Robinson, an Italian immigrant who, by seeing an opportunity to lend money in his immigrant neighborhood, went from being a struggling barber to a wealthy banker.

He runs his bank and his family like the ruler of a small fiefdom treating his sons like slaves who should be grateful for every crumb he gives them, except for his favorite son, played by Richard Conte, who became a lawyer. At the bank, Robinson loans money on instinct and paternalism, charging some customers excessive interest, while others he loans money to almost like charity - it's his world and he decides.

Early on, we see Robinson at his peak, in his big Park Avenue mansion: his three mistreated sons hate but cower in front of him, his wife quietly does as he says and Conte, the favorite son, sees only good in the old man who returns the affection. Robinson, meanwhile, eats, smokes and drinks to excess, enjoying his success more because he cruelly dominates those around him.

Then the Feds investigate his bank's books causing Robinson to need his sons to help. Conte goes all in for the old man, but the other boys, in a wonderfully filmed dramatic moment of revenge, walk away.

The second half of the movie is watching the revenge play out with several twists that have you questioning, more than once, which one(s) you want to see win in this awful but engaging family death match. The once-cowed boys, led by the oldest, played with pitch-perfect seething anger by Luther Adler, prove worthy and spiteful adversaries.

Thrown into the mix is Susan Hayward who plays Conte's bored, rich society girlfriend he keeps on the side, as he is engaged to a traditional Italian girl, played by Debra Paget. It was probably handled better in the book the movie is based on, but Hayward slowly opens up Conte's eyes to the sickness of his family's feud.

The conclusion is a bit over the top, or maybe not, as passions run very deep in this tale of family hatred. Blood might be thicker than water, but poison that blood and what do you have? House of Strangers is outstanding storytelling driven by smart dialogue, comlex characters, incredibly tense scenes and gut-wrenching passions.

Robinson, Conte, Hayward and Adler deliver incredibly convincing performances that have you fully vested in their characters. While extreme, House of Strangers captured a moment in American history as immigrants rose to power, often on nothing more than will and guts. However, they found that passing on that success to the next generation, whose values were more of the "New World" than "Old " was often challenging and sometimes impossible.

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