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What Was The Last Movie You Watched?

Worf

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⇧ What an excellent review by Worf. Love the line, "...keep his head on a swivel."

I saw the movie So Ends Our Night a couple of days ago (I DVR'd it from a recent TCM showing) and was about to post these ⇩ comments, but if you only want to read one review of the movie, I recommend reading Worf's above.

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So Ends Our Night from 1941 with Fredric March, Glenn Ford and Margaret Sullavan


Casablanca famously opens with the description of a trail of haggard and desperate refugees fleeing Europe owing to the Nazi conquest of the continent. But before the Nazi had taken over almost all of Europe, refugees were fleeing Germany, and other countries it subsequently invaded, in a frantic attempt to remain free of Nazi subjugation.

So Ends Our Night looks at these refugees who, as persons without a state, had no legal right or way to live anywhere. For 1941, before all the horrors of WWII where fully known and for a Hollywood that had been timid throughout the 1930s to hurt its business in Germany, it's one of the few hard-hitting anti-Nazi movies that was made before the US entered WWII.

Fredric March plays a German who, as a member of the resistance, escapes a concentration camp and flees Germany paperless (no passport, visa, etc.). He is, effectively, forced to leave his sickly wife behind. A Gestapo officer, played by Erich von Stroheim, offers March a passport if he'll name fellow resistance members' names, but March refuses.

Now illegally in Austria before it was conquered by Germany, March meets a young refugee, played by Glenn Ford, who fled Germany because he is half Jewish. After being chased out of Austria by the authorities - they have no legal right to be there - Ford and March, now illegally in Prague, meet another refugee played by Margaret Sullavan.

Sullivan had to leave her middle-class life in Germany behind because she is Jewish. Ford and Sullavan, both young, are attracted to each other, but their relationship takes time to develop as the demands of survival trump romance for these desperate kids.

From here, So Ends Our Night documents all the small and big travails and challenges experienced by March, Ford, Sullivan and other refugees trying to survive - trying to earn a living for food and shelter - in states where their very existence is illegal.

With no passports or visas, they can't get jobs in the open and, of course, the market for illegal labor is flooded with refugees. They also have to maintain a constant vigilance for the police who would arrest them, which would lead to deportation after time spent in jail.

Along the way, they meet some kind people who help them, but also, many people who cheat or expose them. They move from one rooming house or barn to another and from one country to another in a fruitless search for a place to live something that approaches a normal life.

As refugees, instead, every day is lived in constant fear, yet, and this is amazing, they manage to keep much of their humanity. We see them sharing their small amount of food with someone who has none or singing along to an upbeat song because there is still some hope inside them.

March is a survivor who finds ways to make money, which, as the self-appointed surrogate parent to Ford and Sullivan, he kindly shares. Being (one assumes) written and filmed before France was conquered, France is seen as a possible sanctuary by these refugees, but we sadly know how that will end.

It will end as represented in the famous refugee trail seen in the opening of Casablanca. This makes So Ends Our Night, effectively, a precursor movie that explains the origins of that famous movie's harrowing trail of humans.

Owing to its small budget and being an independent production, So Ends Our Night lacks the professional and polished production quality of a major studio offering, but stars March, Ford and Sullivan deliver passionate performances that personalize the plight of the refugees.

With von Stroheim very effectively representing Nazi evil, So Ends Our Night is a solid and early entry in what would become a long and, sadly, very necessary line of movies documenting and exposing Nazi atrocities.
Excellent review, couldn't and DIDN'T do better myself. Can't remember ever beating you to the punch on a great, obscure film. I'd never heard of it before and got "sucked in". That shows you how compelling this little melodrama is. I hope more folks see it. Thanks for confirming my view of the films worth.

Worf
 
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Excellent review, couldn't and DIDN'T do better myself. Can't remember ever beating you to the punch on a great, obscure film. I'd never heard of it before and got "sucked in". That shows you how compelling this little melodrama is. I hope more folks see it. Thanks for confirming my view of the films worth.

Worf

Thank you. Like 90+% of "my finds," this one was from TCM too - did you see it there or somewhere else?

Hopefully, as you note, it will get a wider audience now that TCM is showing it.
 
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Question only somewhat related to this thread. I had the 1933 movie "College Coach" on mute in the background this morning and saw a scene that appeared to have a televised broadcast of a college football game. "Google" says that the first televised college game was in 1939. Can anyone shed light on this apparent discrepancy in dates? Thank you.
 
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Has any zoologist already find out, why people in movies don't close their jacket in cold or even winter weather??

I also like when you see people in the same scene dressed for different weather. Once you start looking for it, you'll notice it quite often as you might see, for example, a girl in a sun dress while the guy's wearing a heavy sweater and sport coat.
 

Doctor Damage

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Has any zoologist already find out, why people in movies don't close their jacket in cold or even winter weather??
If you wear enough layers then you'll be warm even if you don't close any of them up other than the base layer. It's a proven scientific fact.... Speaking seriously, as someone who is used to Canuckistani winters, it always makes me shake my head when I see what you're describing, especially in winter scenes!
 

MisterCairo

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Has any zoologist already find out, why people in movies don't close their jacket in cold or even winter weather??
Likely as the scene was shot when it was not actually cold. The movie National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, for example, was filmed in the summer of 1989. Hence why you do not see frosty breath when they speak. All the "snow" was fake!
 

MisterCairo

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Cairo Cavalcade of Hallowe'en Horror continues slowly.

With one teen daughter working, and one in competitive basketball, the family viewing is sporadic.

However, in no order other than random:

The Raven, with John Cusack and Luke Evans, fun fiction on Edgar Poe's last days.

Hallowe'en 2, with Jamie Leigh Curtis and Donald Pleasance, the not bad sequel to the original classic.

The Addams Family animated feature, which I had heard was not great, but which b-ball daughter and I really enjoyed.

The Fog, classic John Carpenter with JL Curtis and, sigh, Adrienne Barbeau.
 
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Laura from 1944 with Dana Andrews, Gene Tierney, Clifton Webb and Vincent Price


More murder mystery and crime drama than film noir, for some reason, Laura is often referred to as one of the best noir movies ever. Putting that debate aside, it's still an outstanding picture with a good story, complex characters and slam-bam dialogue pinging all over the place.

A beautiful and successful Manhattan business woman and socialite, played by Gene Tierney, in the titular role of Laura, is murdered in her Upper East Side apartment. This brings a hard-boiled detective played by Dana Andrews into the insular and snooty world of upper-class Manhattan.

Andrews has several suspects: one, Tierney's social mentor, suitor and a fictionalized version of nationally syndicated columnist Walter Winchell, played with condescension for everyone by Clifton Webb, two, a penniless upper-crust playboy played by Vincent Price, three, a few of Tierney's girlfriends and, four, even Tierney's maid - but no clear motive for the gruesome shotgun murder.

With Webb staying close to him - and trying to steer the investigation - and Price alternating between being a cooperative witness and an adversarial one, Andrews looks into Tierney's past, which we see through flashbacks, for clues.

Here's where Gene Tierney's beauty, first seen only in an elaborate portrait she has of herself over the fireplace mantle in her apartment (do people really do that?) drives the story. With a romanticly haunting leitmotif, Tierney takes on an etherealness that has Andrews falling for his dead victim.

(Spoiler alert, but it happens about half way through). With his investigation hitting one dead end after another, Tierney appears in flesh and blood; she was away for the weekend. The dead woman everybody mistook for Tierney was a friend Tierney was letting use her apartment.

It's a neat twist that, thankfully, allows the female lead to appear in the present and not just flashbacks. From here, it's more investigation as sparks develop between Tierney and Andrews, which drives Webb insane with jealousy.

The victim coming back to life is a wow moment, but what really powers Laura is its clash of worlds and men where it is intellectual, articulate and sarcastic, but physically weak Webb matching wits with street smart, tough, square-jawed but unrefined Andrews, while Price, with effete handsomeness and mannered blandness, acts as a catalyst.

All three attempt to manipulate the investigation as they jockey for Tierney's effections. The clues are a bit heavy handed, but the "who done it" aspect is just there as a reason for several men to fight for low-energy Tierney.

While the movie climaxes (no spoilers coming) with an attempted on Tierney's life, a reveal of the murderer and Tierney embracing the suitors she wants, the movie really peaked a bit earlier when it became clear who won and who lost Tierney's heart. The final action scene was only there to tie up the loose ends.

In Laura, director Otto Preminger delivers a gem of a movie that might or might not be noir, but is a heck of a stylish murder mystery that uses Dana Andrews as a tough Manhattan detective to shine an unflattering light on Manhattan society, while telling a pretty good love story.


[Comments on the book Laura by Vera Caspary, which the movie is based on, are here: #8,864 ]
 

belfastboy

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"Mothering Sunday". A Brit film with the usual stellar cast. Firth, Colman, Josh O'Connor. A languid almost somnambulant film that was still weirdly compelling. Lots of nudity in case the storyline puts you to sleep. Firth with his usual stellar performance in a limited role was worth the price of admission. Overall worth a watch.
 
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Mad About Music from 1938 with Deanna Durbin, Herbert Marshall and William Frawley


Mad About Music is a silly Deanna Durbin movie with so much charm and geniality that it can't help being harmlessly enjoyable.

Durbin movies, much like Elvis movies two decades later, were vehicles for their singing star. You don't believe the plots or even most of the characters, but you like everyone so much and its settings are so pretty that you ignore your grumpier instincts and just escape to Durbin's world.

In this one, sixteen-year-old girl-next-door-cute Durbin plays a kid tucked away at a nice and exclusive Swiss boarding school because her father passed away years ago and her movie-star mother can't let her public know she has a teenage daughter.

Up in the beautiful Swiss Alps, as imagined on a Universal Studio sound stage in Hollywood, Durbin "invents" a father who is a big game hunter to impress the other girls who have real fathers.

Through a series of "only in Hollywood" events, a tourist, played by Herbert Marshall, visiting the school's nearby Swiss town, is innocently cajoled by Durbin into playing her Dad in front of the other school kids.

The rest of the plot is Durbin convincing Marshall to keep up the charade, a few close calls where the scheme is almost discovered and, then, Marshall trying to help Durbin reunite with her mother. It's an Elvis or Hallmark movie 1930s style.

The plot, however, doesn't matter as you watch a Deana Durbin movie to see a cute teenage girl with an impressive singing voice (teenage Durbin was offered an audition with New York City's Metropolitan Opera House) get into and, then, out of harmless scrapes all helped along by nice people.

Several singing numbers are sprinkled throughout with one notable one being performed by the schoolgirls while they are riding bicycles. It's a neat foreshadowing of a similar number in 1965's The Sound of Music.

The surprise performance in Mad About Music is Herbert Marshall matching Durbin's charm as the kind middle-aged man who wants to help out a sweet, but slightly sad kid.

Other than noting William Frawley's fun contribution as Durbin's mother's agent who also can't resist helping the kid after a few harmless attempts at keeping her away from her Mom, that's all there is to the movie - and it works.

Mad About Music is charm over substance powered by Durbin's singing, Durbin’s smile, pretty sets, nice characters, talented actors and a feel-good story. It's a formula that Hollywood would use many more times with Durbin and other singing stars who were just so darn appealing and talented that Tinseltown could successfully reverse engineer movies around them.

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Forbidden from 1932 with Barbara Stanwyck, Adolphe Menjou and Ralph Bellamy


Director Frank Capra, who loves showing people making major life-long sacrifices, pours on the melodrama in Forbidden, a pre-code soap opera on steroids that is successfully carried over the finish line by a strong cast.

Barbara Stanwyck plays a mousy librarian in a small town who, frustrated that life is passing her by, draws out her savings for a luxurious vacation in, then, glamourous Havana. There, she meets a handsome and exciting man, played by Adolphe Menjou. He's a successful lawyer with a bright political future. Their romance continues when they return home.

Stanwyck is now working for a big city paper (we just have to go with it) where a smarmy, rising editor, played by Ralph Bellamy, takes a liking to her, but she's in love with Menjou.

Stanwyck and Menjou have strong on-screen chemistry, which helps us believe these two would stay together even after Stanwyck learns that the reason Menjou hasn't asked her to marry him is because he's already married.

The real soap suds come, though, when he tells Stanwyck his wife is a kind and good woman he can't leave because she is an "invalid" owing to a car crash that happened when Menjou was driving. Dear Lord.

Stanwyck learns this from Menjou just as she was about to tell him she's pregnant at a time when the "right thing to do" was for Menjou to marry her.

Stanwyck doesn't want to wreck Menjou's marriage and career, so she doesn't tell him about the baby and, then, disappears from his life. It's hard, at this point, to see the actors with all the soap suds bubbling up.

A few years later, Menjou is now district attorney. Stanwyck is still working for Bellamy's paper, while raising her baby. Menjou accidentally runs into her and the baby and they resume their affair.

When the press sees Menjou with the baby, he and Stanwyck agree that he will present the young girl as a "gift" he adopted for his invalid wife (the assumption is she can't have children) as a cover story to save his marriage and career. Dear Lord.

Bellamy, meanwhile, becomes Menjou's sworn enemy because he suspects something is phoney about rising-political-star Menjou's adoption and because he suspects Menjou and Stanwyck are having an affair.

We then flash forward about fifteen years where we see that Stanwyck, while still working for Bellamy, has kept a scrapbook of Menjou's career (and, by proxy, her daughter's life) and that she is still his mistress. Stanwyck clearly decided to selflessly devote her life to Menjou.

The climax (no spoilers coming), amazingly, amps up the melodrama as Stanwyck has to make two life-shattering sacrifices for Menjou, but with Bellamy becoming pathological in his drive to bring down Menjou, will it be enough?

Forbidden works because Stanwyck is believable as the woman so in love with Menjou, who is a weak and vain, but not intentionally evil man, that she would, effectively, sacrifice her life and her relationship with her child to save his marriage and career. It has happened in real life, especially back at a time when "taboos" like these were often covered up.

Bellamy, too, keeps this ricocheting story afloat as he is surprisingly good playing a viciously mean man. Normally, in this period of his career, Bellamy didn't get the girl because he was too much of a milquetoast, but here he shows he had plenty of range and bandwidth as an actor.

A few years after its release, with the enforcement of the Motion Picture Production Code, Forbidden was, well, forbidden from being shown in theaters. Today, it's hard to understand why, as nothing salacious is shown on screen, but the Code wouldn't allow a mistress, who had a baby out of wedlock, to be portrayed in a sympathetic light.

For modern audiences, these pre-code movies reveal that the public back then, as distinct from the motion-picture censors, understood and accepted the messy realities of life. These messy realities were often tucked into the subtext of Code-era movies, but thankfully, owing to pre-codes like Forbidden, for a few years in the early 1930s, movies provided a more-honest look at American society.
 

AmateisGal

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I had never watched Gentleman's Agreement before, so I decided to read the book before I watched the movie.

I finished the book last night and watched the movie tonight. The movie, I'm happy to say, follows the book almost exactly except for a few scenes at the end (it still ends the same way as the book). It's a quiet, but powerful film about the nuances of antisemitism, and how deep prejudice can run even in "nice" people who think they're absolutely not antisemitic or prejudiced at all. Gregory Peck is compelling as Phil Green, and I especially enjoyed seeing a young Dean Stockwell turn in a very good performance as Phil's son, Tom.
 

Worf

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"Lady SnowBlood" - The TCM hub on HBO Max has had this one on there for some time so I decided to give it a whirl. Didn't take more'n an hour for me to realize that Quinten T owes these folks a big check! There are so many similarities between the two films that it's clear that Tarrentino used SnowBlood as his inspiration and template for "Kill Bill". Despite that I found the film entertaining with a good twist on the Samurai/revenge trope. Originally taken from a popular Manga of the time the film tells the story of a young woman birthed in a prison, charged with exacting revenge for her slaughtered family. Like in Kill Bill our heroine is trained in the martial arts by an old "master" and is then let loose to destroy her 4 targets.

While it may seem pretty straight forward, the tale does have some profound things to say on the nature of revenge, particularly revenge not tempered with mercy. The film ends up being much deeper than I originally thought. It's beautifully filmed (except for some early examples of shaky cam) and well acted. It's not "The Seven Samurai" but it's not "Samurai Cop" either.

Worf
 
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The Mummy from 1932 with Boris Karloff, Zita Johann and David Manners


In the 1920s, the discovery of the tomb of King Tutankhamun set off a round of "Egyptomania," a popular craze for all things ancient Egypt. In this first "Mummy" movie, director Karl Freund wraps a tale of ancient Egypt around a contemporaneous love story with elements of a horror flick to make an engaging and innovative, albeit uneven and at times, hokey movie.

The Mummy opens in 1921 at the site of a British expedition digging in Egypt where a mummy is discovered and accidentally brought back to life when a young scientist reads out loud the words of an ancient Egyptian text.

Eleven years later, we see that mummy, played by Boris Karloff and looking like a dessicated-and-deeply-aged-by-the-sun human, guide a new British expedition team to the tomb of his former lover, the Princess Ankh-es-en-amon (yes, there was a little illicit ancient Egyptian canoodling going on a few thousand years ago).

But his Princess, we learn along the way, has been reborn throughout the ensuing millennia and is living in present day Egypt. Played by Zita Johann, she has a British father and Egyptian mother, and is falling in love with one of the young scientists from the dig, played by the early 1930s "we need a generically handsome man" actor David Manners.

Karloff's mummy, through the use of ancient spells and arts, tries to bring his former lover and Princess to him. Manners and the senior scientists on the dig try to help oddly behaving Johann as, at first, they think she's just ill. Only slowly do they begin to understand what is happening to her.

Karloff uses all his ancient powers to get the Princess to come to him so that he can, then, kill her, embalm her and bring her back as a mummy to live with him in his otherworldly state for eternity. Yes, that's his plan. Manners, spurred on by love and professional inquisitiveness, along with the other scientists, learning as they go, try to save the Princess.

The climax is an impressive mix of ancient Egyptian mysticism, special effects, revealing costuming and girl power that's fun in an early Hollywood way. And that's the best way to approach this entire effort: to see it as 1930s Hollywood beginning to play with the elements of what would become the horror genre.

Most impressive of those is Karloff's interpretation of the titular mummy. It is incredibly engaging for its subtlety as, other than the aforementioned desiccating makeup, it's just Karloff's eyes and his eerily quiet, yet foreboding mien - along with some outstanding camera work - that give his version of the mummy scary gravitas.

This approach and style is from the less-is-more school of horror, something rarely appreciated in our present-day CGI, big-budget modern movie-making world.

The other joy in the cast is Zita Johann in the incredibly difficult role of a modern woman carrying the eternal soul of a 3700-year-old Egyptian princess inside her.

She, too, plays it low key, but her haunting and confused appearance when "called" by the mummy Karloff is effective. She also ramps it up nicely in the final scene where she is scantily clad (it's a pre-code movie, after all) and fighting for her life.

David Manners is given the difficult role of being the straight good-guy to all the otherworldly forces swirling around. It's not a standout performance, but that he made it believable does him credit.

To a modern audience, The Mummy might seem slow, but appreciated as one of the original horror-genre movies, the mummy's makeup, the scenery (very 1930s Hollywood does ancient Egypt on elaborate sets) and story are impressive considering the production team had all but no template from which to work. Plus, once you get into it, it's a reasonably exciting tale with some engaging acting and plenty of entertaining "Egyptomania" hokeyness.
 

Doctor Strange

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Excellent review, FF. The one thing I'd add is that The Mummy is unusual in having been directed by Karl Freund, who was mainly a genius cinematographer. He'd previously photographed many of the great German Expressionist films of the 20s (The Golem, The Last Laugh, Metropolis) and had shot the Bela Lugosi Dracula. He'd continue to have a distinguished career as cinematographer, occasional director, and technical innovator... Most notably as the guy who figured out how to shoot a sitcom live in front of an audience with three film cameras for I Love Lucy!

It!-golem.jpg

Last night's TCM find was the 1966 British horror flick It! Not a good film, but certainly interesting. Roddy McDowall plays an oddball assistant museum curator who discovers that a "mid-European primitive stone statue" in their collection is actually the Golem of Prague(!), and soon discovers how to animate and control it to cause mayhem.

There are bunch of stolid supporting characters - local police investigators, a New York museum agent who wants to purchase the statue (and who takes pictures of it with a Minox camera!), McDowall's stodgy new boss after the Golem kills the senior curator, etc. - and Jill Haworth (looking VERY 1966) wanders through as a beautiful plot device with no discernable character. The sets, dialog, and effects work are all fairly shabby.

But the thing that really surprised me is that, in the same way that the film is a Hammer-style film not made by Hammer, McDowall is essentially a Norman Bates knockoff. He's got his dead mother's body sitting in his apartment, he talks to her and "borrows" jewelry from the museum to drape on her! But none of that's important, it's just a throwaway character detail that has no bearing on the story apart from showing us that he's already nuts.

As I said, not a good film, but interesting.

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