Want to buy or sell something? Check the classifieds

What Was The Last Movie You Watched?

Worf

I'll Lock Up
Messages
5,018
Location
Troy, New York, USA
"No Time to Die" - I caught the latest Bond outing via streaming and I have to say... I liked it. All the Daniel Craig Bond films were great far as I'm concerned (save Quantum of Solace) in that he felt far more "real" to me than any other Bond, even Connery. Connery's Bond, was/is a superhero far as I'm concerned. Batman like gadgets without the brooding. That's what drew me to him... Later iterations did absolutely nothing for me till Craig came along. This Bond was different, he aged, got wounded, he loved and he lost. He was, in short... a man, not a Superman. I'm sad to see him go but he went out as he lived it, battered, bruised and bloody but standing on his own two feet. The only thing I didn't buy was his romance with this Ms. Spectre. I felt nothing for her and the villain was meh.

As usual BECAUSE Craig didn't sprout wings, bed everything with 2 legs and have bullets bounce off him, many on the NET moaned that he was neutered by the wokeness... Sigh, I'm so sick of this. Craig's Bond did what we ALL of have to do, age, mature (hopefully) and die. I personally was glad to see it happen and happen well.

Worf
 
Messages
15,916
Location
New York City
Light-in-the-Piazza4edit.jpg



LIght in the Piazza from 1962 with Olivia de Havilland, Yvette Mimieux and Barry Sullivan


Light in the Piazza is a visually beautiful movie about an unhappy situation. It's so pretty that you occasionally forget the sadness at its core. But then you're jarred out of complacency as the entire story suddenly pivots on an awful moral conundrum resting on the narrow shoulders of Olivia de Havilland's character.

A well-to-do American, played by de Havilland, is in Florence vacationing with her twenty-six-year old daughter, played by Yvette Mimieux. We learn that blonde, pretty, silly and happy Mimieux was hit in the head as a young girl and now permanently has the mental capacity of a ten-year old.

A handsome young Italian boy, played by George Hamilton, takes an interest in Mimieux. No mental giant himself, Hamilton is charmed by Mimieux silliness, plus most men will ignore many things when a woman looks like Mimieux.

Initially, de Havilland tries to discourage the affair for obvious reasons, but she doesn't do what, we eventually learn, she and her husband, played by Barry Sullivan, usually do, which is to take the boy's parents aside and tell them about Mimieux's condition.

De Havilland loves her daughter and desperately wants her to have what she can't have, a typical life. In Italy, where life seems simpler (for those with money, like Hamilton's family) and where the wives of young men lead frivolous lives of shopping and gossiping, de Havilland begins to see a possible future for her daughter.

De Havilland is torn. Hamilton's father, played by Rossano Brazzi, is sophisticated and charming. He knows his son is no genius, so he thinks a simple and sweet girl like Mimieux, he doesn't sense anything is off with her, would make a good wife for his son. Brazzi and de Havilland bond, which puts even more pressure on de Havilland to come clean.

As Mimieux and Hamilton's relationship advances, de Havilland panics and asks her husband, Sullivan, to fly over and help. He is shocked his wife hasn't told the other family about their daughter. Sullivan not only breaks off the affair by taking the family from Florence to Rome, but he tells his wife he looked into an elite private institution back at home that would care for their daughter.

Not surprisingly, Mimieux has stressed their marriage as de Havilland admits that she needs to believe against logic that their daughter will someday have a normal life; whereas, Sullivan is very pragmatic, even pointing out that they need to plan to have their daughter cared for after he and his wife pass.

After Sullivan returns home, de Havilland, still in Rome with her daughter and scared that Mimieux will be put in an institution when they return to America, takes her daughter back to Florence to let the affair with Hamilton resume.

There are some funny and touching scenes and some forced drama as the kids head toward marriage, but it all comes down to this: will de Havilland do the right thing and tell Hamilton's family about her daughter's condition or will she let the marriage happen hoping against hope it will somehow all work out?

Mimieux's performance - a young adult woman acting as if she had the mental capacity of a ten-year old - is rightly lauded as she captures the mannerisms and temperament of a child. But it is de Havilland's nuanced performance that does the hard work of credibly carrying a challenging narrative right up to the subtle-but-powerful climatic decision on which everything hinges.

Light in the Piazza is a visually attractive movie as Italy looks Old-World charming. With adorable Mimieux and handsome Hamilton acting silly as young lovers do, you almost forget that it's a sideshow to the crushing burden de Havilland is carrying. Poignantly blending sweetness and sadness, Light in the Piazza is much more emotionally powerful than its pretty surface appearance leads you to believe.
 

Edward

Bartender
Messages
23,537
Location
London, UK
"No Time to Die" - I caught the latest Bond outing via streaming and I have to say... I liked it. All the Daniel Craig Bond films were great far as I'm concerned (save Quantum of Solace) in that he felt far more "real" to me than any other Bond, even Connery. Connery's Bond, was/is a superhero far as I'm concerned. Batman like gadgets without the brooding. That's what drew me to him... Later iterations did absolutely nothing for me till Craig came along. This Bond was different, he aged, got wounded, he loved and he lost. He was, in short... a man, not a Superman. I'm sad to see him go but he went out as he lived it, battered, bruised and bloody but standing on his own two feet. The only thing I didn't buy was his romance with this Ms. Spectre. I felt nothing for her and the villain was meh.

As usual BECAUSE Craig didn't sprout wings, bed everything with 2 legs and have bullets bounce off him, many on the NET moaned that he was neutered by the wokeness... Sigh, I'm so sick of this. Craig's Bond did what we ALL of have to do, age, mature (hopefully) and die. I personally was glad to see it happen and happen well.

Worf

Agree entirely. Ironically, for all the howling about "not real Bond", Craig's iteration was arguably the closest yet to the character as he appeared in Fleming's books.
 

Doctor Strange

I'll Lock Up
Messages
5,107
Location
Hudson Valley, NY
I also liked the last Bond film a lot more than I expected to.

I mean, all the Craig films other than Quantum of Solace (which I've watched twice... but can't recall at all!) are good, and a big step up for an uber-formulaic series that honestly, I'd lost interest in decades ago. But I didn't expect this one to end as it did, and I commend it, both for its guts in doing so, and the satisfying rightness of the ending.

I don't know, or much care, where the Bond series goes from here, but I was quite impressed with this final Craig film.
 

Edward

Bartender
Messages
23,537
Location
London, UK
I also liked the last Bond film a lot more than I expected to.

I mean, all the Craig films other than Quantum of Solace (which I've watched twice... but can't recall at all!) are good, and a big step up for an uber-formulaic series that honestly, I'd lost interest in decades ago. But I didn't expect this one to end as it did, and I commend it, both for its guts in doing so, and the satisfying rightness of the ending.

I don't know, or much care, where the Bond series goes from here, but I was quite impressed with this final Craig film.

As mentioned previously, for me it's one major flaw was the lack of any sense to the final villain's motivation in the last act. I would rather they'd kept Blofeld around (or made the other villain a henchman of his more clearly) and the ending be through the prism of Bond's final battle with Blofeld as arch nemesis.

The end gives them huge freedom to do whatever they want next, though TBH I'll be very surprised if they take any creative risks with such a profitable, mainstream franchise.

Edit: that said, the Bond books go out of copyright at end 2034, so we could then begin to see some interesting takes on it all...
 

Julian Shellhammer

Practically Family
Messages
751
Ivan the Terrible, part 1 (1944) and part 2 (released 1958). While clearly Soviet propaganda designed to justify Stalin's frequent purges of those in power around him, it does not approach the epic qualities of Alexander Nevsky (1938).

Mostly confined to the tsar's fortress stronghold, the story presents Ivan's rise to autocracy despite resistance from entrenched nobility, as well as his later dealings with court intrigue and maneuvering for the throne. For those of us who are unfamiliar with the political and ethnic conflicts of that time, some of the drama is lost for us.

On a first time viewing, the viewer will be struck by the stilted poses that dominate the actors' time on screen; Eisenstein has Ivan frequently tilt his head back and open his eyes as wide as he can, and other actors strike a pose and slowly shift their gaze to something off-screen.

Still, remarkable film-making.
 
Messages
15,916
Location
New York City
Advice-to-the-Lovelorn-1933-4.jpg

Advice to the Lovelorn form 1933 with Lee Tracy and Sally Blane


"There never was an Adolf in history that was anything but a menace." - Lee Tracy to his girlfriend who's dating an Adolf. A quite-prescient quote for a movie made in 1933


The fast-talking wiseguy was a thing in the 1930s, with actors like Pat O'Brien, James Cagney and, the lead of Advice to the Lovelorn, Lee Tracy all creating personal brands as guys who could deliver dialogue faster than the human brain could process it, usually, in service to some scam, scheme or angle to get ahead, get the girl or pull something over on someone.

That's basically the plot of this sixty-one minute wash-rinse-repeat vehicle for hugh-star-at-the-time Tracy. In Advice to the Lovelorn, he plays a reporter who is, after his sloppy cockiness causes him to miss a big story, demoted to the "advice column" for the love sick. He's angry at the demotion, but he can't quit as he's under contract to his paper.

Tracy is also trying to convince his fiancee, played by Sally Blane, the very pretty, less-successful sister of Loretta Young, not to leave him as she wants Tracy to join her father's business. Trying to get fired, Tracy then gives flippant advice in his column like, (paraphrasing) "yes, you should sleep with your boyfriend," that is a hit with the public.

Now stuck writing the column and having lost Blane - she gave him his ring back - Tracy takes a bribe from a shady businessman to plug the businessman's cut-price drugstores in his column. With that money, he buys Blane a big engagement ring and wins her back. He also tells his mom he's going to buy her a big house now that the (bribe) money is flowing in, but of course, he doesn't mention the bribe part to his mom.

From there, the movie climaxes, as most of these pre-code morality tales do with all the threads - the bad advice in the column, the bribe, his engagement - crashing down around Tracy (or Cagney or O'Brien). But being a pre-code, judgement and punishment is uneven and messy, with our dicey hero usually coming out okay.

It's amazing to see what was allowed on screen, and not punished, before the Motion Picture Production Code was enforced after 1934. In Advice to the Lovelorn, a newspaper advice columnist takes a bribe as he blithely tells young women to sleep with their boyfriends or bosses, while a woman returns to her fiance because he buys her a more-expensive engagement ring. It's a very recognizable, if not particularly attractive, world.

You watch Advice to the Lovelorn today for the same reason audiences watched it in the 1930s, to see Tracy rip through the silly plot as dialogue, stupid ideas and frenetic energy pour out of him at lightspeed. It's not subtle, but it's an impressive and entertaining performance wrapped around a lot of fun pre-code shenanigans.
 
Messages
15,916
Location
New York City
MV5BNTkxMTc2NjctMDllOC00MDViLWIxNWUtNjM2MjZjMzU3NGRlXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjUwMDUwNA@@._V1_.jpg

Mr. Soft Touch from 1949 with Glenn Ford, Evelyn Keyes and John Ireland

(Note, there are spoilers sprinkled throughout, so please pass if you don't like to read reviews with spoilers.)

Mr. Soft Touch is an offbeat mashup of a Christmas movie and a mobster noir that leans heavily to the Christmas side of the tale. Ninety-nine percent of the way through, I was thinking, why is this a not-better-known Christmas movie, and then I understood why when I saw the ending.

A Christmas movie needs one critical thing - it's essential - it needs a happy ending, but Mr. Soft Touch ends on a down note, which is why you'll rarely see this one atop anyone's favorite Christmas movie list.

Glenn Ford is a returning WWII vet whom the mob squeezed out of his ownership share in a nightclub while he was away at war. To get even, Ford steals $100,000 from the club. With the mob and police now looking for him, he hides out in a settlement house for a few days just before Christmas, as he's waiting to make his escape on a ship bound for Hong Kong.

At the settlement house, Ford meets social worker Evelyn Keyes who, only slowly, learns who Ford really is. At the same time, they begin to fall in love. Ford is, yes a gangster with a good heart (otherwise there's no movie), but he is a also a real gangster who mocks Keyes' do-good-ism:

"I believe in hope." - Evelyn Keyes

"That's a poor person's disease." - Glenn Ford

Ford grew up poor in a tough neighborhood. He's willing to help the settlement house out a bit, but isn't going to give away a lot of his money. Keyes, whom we learn had a tough upbringing - she's no dilettante social worker - persistently challenges Ford to be a better person, but the gap between these two is huge.

The fun in this one is Ford as a fish out of water in the settlement house. He takes the older kids' money in a game of craps the kids suggested thinking Ford would be the sucker, and then he anonymously donates his winnings back to the house. After breaking the settlement house's dilapidated piano, he hussles a brand-spanking-new one out of a local piano store that's really a front for bookmaking and numbers running.

While all the Christmas joy is here, the movie oddly has a real mobster edge as we see Ford viciously beat up the nightclub's new owner and several mobsters get killed in a gunbattle. Also, Ford's responses are pretty brutal to Keyes' constant pleas for charity, outright mocking her assertion that if they love each other, whether he has money or not won't matter.

At the end (big spoiler alert), even when he finally gives all his money to the settlement house, it's a nice gesture, you only believe he made it because he knew he was going to be killed. And, yes, in the final scene, with Keyes running after him, he is killed.

There's no natural audience for Mr. Soft Touch. It's got too much violent-gangster stuff to be a kid-approved Christmas movie; it's got too much Christmas whimsy to be a mobster noir movie and its touching but sad ending knocks it out of even the adult Christmas movie box.

Mr. Soft Touch is an excellent movie without a target audience. It's well worth the watch, but you might wish the writers and directors had committed to making it more of a complete Christmas movie.


N.B. Living in New York City where, to this day, housing projects are horrible gang, drug and violence hellholes and where it seems no amount of money, policing or "new" ideas can ever change them, it's sad to see, as in Mr. Soft Touch, housing projects sincerely touted as society's coming answer to housing for the poor.
 

Worf

I'll Lock Up
Messages
5,018
Location
Troy, New York, USA
View attachment 449139
Mr. Soft Touch from 1949 with Glenn Ford, Evelyn Keyes and John Ireland

(Note, there are spoilers sprinkled throughout, so please pass if you don't like to read reviews with spoilers.)

Mr. Soft Touch is an offbeat mashup of a Christmas movie and a mobster noir that leans heavily to the Christmas side of the tale. Ninety-nine percent of the way through, I was thinking, why is this a not-better-known Christmas movie, and then I understood why when I saw the ending.

A Christmas movie needs one critical thing - it's essential - it needs a happy ending, but Mr. Soft Touch ends on a down note, which is why you'll rarely see this one atop anyone's favorite Christmas movie list.

Glenn Ford is a returning WWII vet whom the mob squeezed out of his ownership share in a nightclub while he was away at war. To get even, Ford steals $100,000 from the club. With the mob and police now looking for him, he hides out in a settlement house for a few days just before Christmas, as he's waiting to make his escape on a ship bound for Hong Kong.

At the settlement house, Ford meets social worker Evelyn Keyes who, only slowly, learns who Ford really is. At the same time, they begin to fall in love. Ford is, yes a gangster with a good heart (otherwise there's no movie), but he is a also a real gangster who mocks Keyes' do-good-ism:

"I believe in hope." - Evelyn Keyes

"That's a poor person's disease." - Glenn Ford

Ford grew up poor in a tough neighborhood. He's willing to help the settlement house out a bit, but isn't going to give away a lot of his money. Keyes, whom we learn had a tough upbringing - she's no dilettante social worker - persistently challenges Ford to be a better person, but the gap between these two is huge.

The fun in this one is Ford as a fish out of water in the settlement house. He takes the older kids' money in a game of craps the kids suggested thinking Ford would be the sucker, and then he anonymously donates his winnings back to the house. After breaking the settlement house's dilapidated piano, he hussles a brand-spanking-new one out of a local piano store that's really a front for bookmaking and numbers running.

While all the Christmas joy is here, the movie oddly has a real mobster edge as we see Ford viciously beat up the nightclub's new owner and several mobsters get killed in a gunbattle. Also, Ford's responses are pretty brutal to Keyes' constant pleas for charity, outright mocking her assertion that if they love each other, whether he has money or not won't matter.

At the end (big spoiler alert), even when he finally gives all his money to the settlement house, it's a nice gesture, you only believe he made it because he knew he was going to be killed. And, yes, in the final scene, with Keyes running after him, he is killed.

There's no natural audience for Mr. Soft Touch. It's got too much violent-gangster stuff to be a kid-approved Christmas movie; it's got too much Christmas whimsy to be a mobster noir movie and its touching but sad ending knocks it out of even the adult Christmas movie box.

Mr. Soft Touch is an excellent movie without a target audience. It's well worth the watch, but you might wish the writers and directors had committed to making it more of a complete Christmas movie.


N.B. Living in New York City where, to this day, housing projects are horrible gang, drug and violence hellholes and where it seems no amount of money, policing or "new" ideas can ever change them, it's sad to see, as in Mr. Soft Touch, housing projects sincerely touted as society's coming answer to housing for the poor.
As a product on the NY City Housing Projects and the "great bussing experiment" (the "40" Projects, South Jamaica, Queens) I agree and disagree with your assessment of them. When I was new, my building was new and my neighborhood (7 and 4 story buildings) contained all manner of people... mostly the working poor. There were some single family households but most had mothers and fathers present. We lived there primarily because, due to the nature of housing at the time (Red Lining, loan denial, etc...) we couldn't live anywhere else. Still, most families there viewed the Projects as a stepping stone to something, somewhere better not a final destination. In the mid to late 60's the more upwardly mobile began to move out, buying single family homes and new fangled co-ops.

My family moved out as well, but only one at a time. I went to college, then the Army and back to college and never went back. My sister married and left. My Mom left to care for her mother and my Dad moved to a senior citizens building across the tracks. Only my brother remained there till he died. Anyone that can leave the projects does leave the projects but even still there are good, hard working people in them. They are not all "Welfare Queens", drug dealers and addicts. I know this because I lived there... and still go back from time to time if only to marvel at how small they all look as opposed to when I was a child. No people are monolithic, no place is all one thing. As in any slum in any city in this whole wide world you will find good people, struggling to find a better way...

Worf
 
Messages
15,916
Location
New York City
As a product on the NY City Housing Projects and the "great bussing experiment:" (the "40" Projects, South Jamaica, Queens) I agree and disagree with your assessment of them. When I was new, my building was new and my neighborhood (7 and 4 story buildings) contained all manner of people... mostly the working poor. There were some single family households but most had mothers and fathers present. We lived there primarily because, due to the nature of housing at the time (Red Lining, Block Busting, etc...) we couldn't live anywhere else. Still most families there viewed the Projects as a stepping stone to something, somewhere better not a final destination. In the mid to late 60's the more upwardly mobile began to move out, buying single family homes and new fangled co-ops.

My family moved out as well, but only one at a time. I went to college, then the Army and back to college and never went back. My sister married and left. My Mom left to care for her mother and my Dad moved to a senior citizens building across the tracks. Only my brother remained there till he died. Anyone that can leave the projects does leave the projects but even still there are good, hard working people in them. They are not all "Welfare Queens", drug dealers and addicts. I know this because I lived there... and still go back there from time to time if only to marvel at how small they all look as opposed to when I was a child. No people are monolithic, no place is all one thing. As in any slum in any city in this whole wide world you will find good people, struggling to find a better way...

Worf

I wasn't clear (my bad) - but I wasn't making a statement about the people living in the projects, just the dysfunction that some have turned the projects into as, in many ways, since the '70s they have been very bad places to live for many reason - gangs, drugs, neglect from authorities.

I've lived near several projects in my years in NYC and I feel awful for those who have to live in them. From what I've read, the real breakdown happened in the '70s. Just today, in a local on-line paper call "The City," I read about this all-too-common occurrence in one of the projects (now called "complexes" as if renaming them will make a difference if the city continues to neglect them):

First, we reported on Friday afternoon that The New York City Housing Authority discovered higher than acceptable traces of the poison arsenic in the tap water at one of its biggest complexes in Manhattan — but didn’t tell residents for two weeks.

That evening, NYCHA began distributing bottled water at the Jacob Riis Houses in the East Village. Tenant Malina Barbosa told us she had not been informed of the problem, but noted that recently, “We don’t drink their water. It kind of smells. When they turn it off and it comes back on, it’s brown.”

By Saturday, the court-appointed federal monitor who has jurisdiction over the housing authority said he would be looking into the water tests.

On Sunday we reported that investigators directed NYCHA management to “preserve all documents related to” the Riis arsenic situation and make them available to the monitor’s investigative team.

Then on Monday afternoon, City Hall said the water was all clear.
 
Messages
15,916
Location
New York City
BadCompany25.png


Bad Company from 1931 with Richard Cortez, Helen Twelvetrees, Jack Garrick and Frank Conroy


Bad Company is an uneven, but still engaging early talkie mob movie. Its straightforward story, though, somehow seems complicated, while its directing, by Tay Garnett, has both impressive elements and odd moments where the movie feels like it's slipped into silent-film mode.

When Bad Company opens, we meet a young, pretty woman on a yacht, played by Helen Twelvetrees, who's waiting for her handsome, successful lawyer fiance, played by Jack Garrick, to show up. At this point, Bad Company feels like another foibles-of-the-rich picture that populated the movie screens of the 1930s.

After the two lovers have a brief reunion, though, Garrick is called away on business where we learn he works for a mob boss played by Richard Cortez. Cortez plays his Capone-inspired character as a quiet sociopath who, like the cliche goes, probably pulled the wings off of flies as a young boy.

Twelvetrees mildly senses something is off in her husband's work, but her kind older brother, played by Frank Conroy, who seems to have raised Twelvetrees, tells her not to worry. The "kids" are then married, with Twelvetrees still in the dark about her new husband's business.

Newlywed Garrick wants out from the mob, but boss Cortez isn't having any of that as he is battling for control of the city with a rival mob boss who is - get ready for it - Twelvetrees' brother, Conroy. Clearly, Twelvetrees' personal radar isn't set to recognize when close relatives are in the mob.

Cortez is also the focus of an extensive local police and Federal Government investigation as they know who he is and where he lives, but like with Capone, they can't attach him to any criminal activity. Cortez runs his illegal empire from a luxury hotel suite where he's protected by an army of machine-gun-wielding men.

Up in his penthouse, Cortez spends most of his time imagining himself as a modern day Napoleon or Caesar, as he torments his staff with picayune complaints, while he plots one intrigue after another to maintain control.

He then sets Garrick up to be killed as he wants Twelvetrees for himself. That sets off a series of reveals that opens Twelvetrees' eyes to the mob world all around her.

Bad Company then climaxes with an incredibly violent shootout - machine guns blaze for minutes chewing up the hotel's lobby - and a final face off between Cortez and Twelvetrees (yes it is Twelvetrees who has the final face-off with Cortez as women are not shrinking violets in pre-code Hollywood).

Bad Company has some excellent scenes, like the machine-gun battle or the early meeting on the yacht, but other scenes are done in an odd, almost silent-film style where the actors gesture and emote without speaking. Tay Garnett's directing is outstanding and even influential in some sequences, but awkwardly dated in others.

Bad Company also tries to do more things with its story than its director and writers can control. It wants to be an operatic good-versus-evil tale, a character study of a Capone-like mob boss and a love story about a man trapped in a crooked world but trying to go straight for the innocent woman he loves.

The love story is pretty flat as you don't really feel much passion between Twelvetrees and Garrick (blame Garrick). The operatic overlay is never fully developed as the police and Twelvetrees, who represent "the good," are kept too far in the background for most of the movie. The occasional speech by the Federal Agents about how mobsters are really cowards is just not enough.

Bad Company does succeed, though, in giving us, in Cortez, an early version of the chillingly insane and isolated mob boss who manages to build a criminal empire on cunning, fear and delusions of grandeur.

Today you watch Bad Company, yes, for its entertainment value, but even more so to see captivating Twelvetrees, whose talents are underutilized in this one, and to see Cortez' performance as one of the antecedents to the many, many Hollywood-limned psychotic mob bosses to come.
 
Messages
15,916
Location
New York City
hit-and-run-1947-vince-edwards-cleo-moore-hugo-haas.jpg

Hit and Run from 1957 with Hugo Haas, Cleo Moore and Vince Edwards


How does one think about a Hugo Haas production: the very low-budget 1950s pictures written by, produced by, directed by and, also, starring Hugo Haas, many of which had "an older man attracted to a much-younger woman" theme?

Are they noir, camp, silly, entertaining in spots and often embarrassing to watch? Yes. But there's something going on in these pictures, especially after you've seen a few, that make them interesting in a man-baring-his-soul way. The cheap sets, retread stories, uneven (at best) acting and (often) painful dialogue are all part of the Hugo Haas experience.

In Hit and Run, Haas plays the reasonably successful owner of a gas station and auto-repair shop who meets and marries a much-younger nightclub dancer, played by Cleo Moore, a very poor man's Marilyn Monroe.

Moore seems to have married Haas to get out of the nightclub grind, yet appears willing to make a go of her marriage to older, homely and, often, wearisome Haas. But the new marriage is quickly buffeted when Haas' young, handsome mechanic, played by boringly brooding Vince Edwards, makes the moves on somnambulant Moore.

With that set up and with strong echoes of The Postman Always Rings Twice (my apologies for the comparison to everyone at MGM who worked on that classic noir), murder, cover up, lawyers, wills, a dogged policeman, lust, betrayal and one heck of a plot twist - believable or not - drive the second half of this "love" triangle in which not one person seems to love, in any normal sense of the word, anyone else.

The acting is, occasionally, good, mainly just passable and, sometimes, outright bad; the sets are so obviously cheap that they are almost kitschy and the dialogue can be painful, but there's something real happening amidst the cheese and amateurism in this and other Haas productions.

Is it Hugo Haas' need to explore, in the open, his passion for younger women that he clearly knows can only make him look foolish or worse? Or is it the deep drive Haas has to be an auteur that has him making these one-man quasi-campy efforts? Or is it watching Haas' vapid muse Cleo Moore painfully exceed her acting talents in these starring roles?

If you've never seen a Hugo Haas production, Hit and Run is as good as any to see first as long as you recognize that you'll be watching both a movie and a low-budget vanity project that still has enough heart and soul, in some undefinable way, to make it interesting.


N.B. While most Hugo Haas productions star Cleo Moore, in Haas' 1951 Pickup, tall, blonde and praying-mantis-like Beverly Michaels is the female lead. While she, like Moore, often has dead-eyes, she brings an occasional burst of acting talent and emotion to the role, which kicks up the love triangle and sexual vibe in that Haas movie, making it one of his better efforts.
bmptmffl.jpg
 

PrivateEye

One of the Regulars
Messages
109
Location
Boston, MA
Flamingo Road (1949) - Sydney Greenstreet at his best as a crooked southern county sheriff, trying to manipulate his chosen candidate for the state legislature. Excellent performance by Joan Crawford as a carnival dancer who gets involved with the candidate and is framed for solicitation and driven out of town by Greenstreet's Sheriff Titus.
 

Julian Shellhammer

Practically Family
Messages
751
Dead End (1937) with Sylvia Sidney, and Joel McCrea, with Humphrey Bogart, Wendy Barrie, Claire Trevor, and Allen Jenkins (billed in that order). Directed by William Wyler. Based on a popular stage play, it's a snapshot of life in an urban slum and what it does to the people. Social clashes are presented with rich families untouched by the Depression who live in luxurious high rises right next to tenements.

Sidney is luminous as a big sister trying to raise her street-smart brother while pining for McCrea as the good Joe who is trying escape NYC poverty. Bogart plays the former local boy turned wealthy gangster who visits his childhood slum to reconnect. Jenkins, The World Champion Second Banana, flawlessly delivers his Jenkins persona as Bogie's flunky.

The film stays close to its stage roots, with virtually all the action taking place on a remarkable Hollywood set, but boosted beyond the confines of rotting tenements edged up against the Hudson River with Wyler's expert direction and shot composition.

Decay- social, moral, economic - is present in every frame. The youths are played by those who performed the roles on stage, and who would be packaged and re-packaged, with varying line-ups, as the Dead End Kids, the Bowery Boys, and East Side Kids. They rattle off their slang-ridden dialogue at quite a clip.

There' a lot going on in the story's small space and time: well worth a watch.
 
Messages
15,916
Location
New York City
MV5BM2U3OWNhM2UtNGRhMy00MjM2LWI3ZjAtYzQyNmM4ZDQzNWNlXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMzk3NTUwOQ@@._V1_.jpg


Aggie Appleby, Maker of Men from 1933 with Wynne Gibson, Charles Farrell, William Gargan and Betty Furness


Most pre-code movies fit into one of several templates, but not Aggie Appleby, Maker of Men. This quirky story with its appealingly quirky female lead goes its own way as it flies on and off the screen in seventy-two rapid minutes.

Rough-around-the-edges Aggie Appleby, played by Wynne Gibson, is a woman struggling to get by in Depression-era New York City. She meets a loud brawler, played by William Gargan, and these two streetfighters move in together. When Gargan gets sent to jail for beating up some cops, Gibson is left on her own to survive.

Gibson, through an only-in-a-movie happenstance, then meets and moves in with a well-mannered milquetoast, played by Charles Farrell, trying to make it on his own in the City. Farrell is rough Gargan's opposite: Farrell is refined, speaks politely, likes classical music, reads books, dresses meticulously and treats women gently and with respect.

Gibson is intrigued by this polite pushover, but believes he needs to be made "tougher" to make it in the hard-boiled City. Through more movie-magic, she transforms him into a "rough" guy who gets a job leading a construction gang. They continue to live together, it's implied, platonically, especially since Farrell has a fiancee back in his hometown.

The subtle twist in the movie is the transition within a transition of Gibson as she begins to see the good in Farrell's refinement (he only becomes a little bit tough) just as her old boyfriend returns. At the same time, Farrell's well-bred fiance, played by the arrestingly beautiful Betty Furness, shows up to give Gibson some competition.

The climax has everyone confused and fighting over whom they want to be with: Gargan wants his old girl Gibson back, but she's fallen in love with Farrell. Farrell, meanwhile, wants Gibson, but now that he's got some grit, his old fiancee, surprisingly, is ready to fight to keep him.

Once again, it all hinges on what the street-smart and street-tough Gibson does as both men want her. She's made Farrell what he is and she'd have to make Gargan into something respectable now if she takes him back. Her surprising decision is nuanced, thoughtful and touching.

Despite having a bunch of forced plot machinations, Aggie Appleby, Maker of Men works because it's real. Gibson's attraction to two, initially, polar-opposite men is believable as her exposure to a different type of man than she's used to gives rise to her personal growth.

While living with Farrell, she comes to see the value in his refinement, even though she has probably mocked men like him her entire life. It's an impressive bit of acting as you believe she is a street kid who doesn't fully know why his manners, culture and discrimination are appealing, but through her facial expressions and body English you see her intuit that what he has is rare and valuable.

Aggie Appleby, Maker of Men is Gibson's movie from beginning to end. While a bit dated in its approach and exaggerated in the two men's dichotomy, the core story of a woman attracted to two very different men is timeless (the TV show Cheers milked eleven seasons out of the idea).

Plus, Aggie Appleby, Maker of Men, has some great Depression Era argot and the wonderful (and wonderfully named) Zasu Pitts in a supporting role as Gibson's dimwitted but well-meaning confidant.
 

Julian Shellhammer

Practically Family
Messages
751
Black Angel (1946) w/ Dan Duryea, June Vincent, and Peter Lorre, directed by Roy William Neill (imdb claims it was his last film). Some poor sap is blackmailed by femme fatale Constance Dowling, and when the blackmailer is found murdered, evidence points to the sap. Loyal wife June determines to find who really did it. Dan plays his standard character, but this time he's a gifted songwriter who binge drinks and blacks out. Peter is a suave night club owner who may or may not be involved. Stay to the end for a couple of plot twists.

Take One False Step (1949) with William Powell, Shelley Winters, Marsha Hunt, James Gleason, and Dorothy Hart. Powell is still Powell but dialed waaaay back; Winters is a rough-edged fun-seeker who drinks too much. Powell is trying to start a new college, and needs donations from wealthy chums. Winters, who was a student of Powell's, comes on strong to her old flame? professor? She then disappears mysteriously, and rather than go to the police Powell and Hunt set out to solve the mystery. Powell thinks he may be the prime suspect, and his snooty benefactors won't make with the dough if there's even a whiff of scandal. The two dodge the police and tangle with underworld types; what is the fate of Winters? Invest an hour and a half for a pleasant almost belivable whodunnit.

Beware, My Lovely (1952), with Ida Lupino as a 1918 war widow whose home is invaded by troubled Robert Ryan. What a disappointing movie. We watched it because the title was so appealingly noir. Instead, we got a frustrating set-bound version of a stage play. Lupino constantly misses chances to flee the situation, or Ryan walks in at exactly the right moment to quash her escape, no adults visit, only some neighborhood kids, and so on. The Missus insisted we watch to the end to see what happens. The denouement was not satisfying.
 

Forum statistics

Threads
102,319
Messages
2,903,087
Members
49,462
Latest member
Jupiter11111
Top