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What Was The Last Movie You Watched?

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Bride for Sale from 1949 with Claudette Colbert, George Brent, Robert Young, Max Baer and Charles Arnt.


Bride For Sale is a late-1940s attempt to make a classic 1930s screwball romantic comedy that misses its mark despite talented actors and some good scenes here and there.

Claudette Colbert plays a former major in the WACs who, owing to her reputation as a highly effective manager, is hired, sight unseen, by George Brent to whip his accounting firm's office into shape as Brent is under the impression that Colbert is a man.

Despite reservations about hiring a woman after he meets her, he gives Colbert the job and she quickly has the office running like a well-oiled machine.

Brent is now afraid Colbert will leave to start her own firm, but she tells him her real mission is to use her access to men's financial files to find a wealthy single man who, as a husband, could provide her with a luxurious lifestyle.

Being a screwball comedy, Brent now concocts a scheme to have his good friend and client, played by Robert Young, date Colbert, get her to believe he'll marry her and, then, dump her so that she'll learn her plan is stupid and she'll just continue to run Brent's office. Good grief.

Unless this is your first screwball romcom, with that setup, you'll already know that eventually, both men will be fighting for Colbert’s romantic affections, while Colbert, once she discovers their plan, will want no part of either of them. Throw in a crazy climax with a ton of confusion and roll credits on another screwball romcom.

Yes, the plot is dated and off putting by today's standards, but many of our modern movie plots will be dated and off putting in seventy plus years. What really fails, though, is that Colbert, a fine actress who, at forty-six in this one, has aged very well, is miscast.

She is neither believable as the hard-nosed business woman nor the gold-digging husband huntress. She simply reads sweet and sincere the entire movie, which fits neither defining aspect of her character.

Bette Davis, Patricia Neal, Joan Crawford (God forbid), Gene Tierney and several other actresses of that era could have pulled off being a crackerjack business woman who is also hunting for a rich husband, but Colbert doesn't.

Brent is fine as the bland owner of an accounting firm and Young is very good as the guy who realizes, in the middle of a gag, he actually loves Colbert, but none of it really works because Colbert doesn't fit her character.

The movie does get a little boost from former professional boxer Max Baer in a supporting role as a wrestler and bodyguard, as it does from character actor Charles Arnt as the shy coworker. Bear is just fun in an inside-joke kind of way, while Arnt understands the tone and acting style required of a screwball romcom.

None of it is enough, though, as unfortunately, Colbert never convinces you she's anything but a nice middle-aged woman who is neither a highly efficient business executive nor a fortune hunteress. Without that, and despite a few good scenes and fun moments, the movie has little real lift, charm or chemistry.

With a small budget, a dated copy-cat plot and modest aspirations, Bride For Sale needed the actors to sell you on the story. Heck, Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy seemed to make a successful version of this type of movie every other year in the 1940s, but nobody ever doubted that a Hepburn character could run an office or hunt down a rich man if she wanted to.
 

Worf

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"Barbarian" - This HBO Max horror film has no swords, axes or pillaging and plundering in it. It's basically a film about things NOT being as they appear. A young woman books an AirBnB in the wrong side of Detroit. After arriving on a "dark and stormy night" she finds the key gone and the home already occupied by Skarsgard (minus his Pennywise make up). The two eventually decide to the share the place for the night despite understandable trepidation on her part. After finding her locked door open but her roomie still fast asleep our heroine begins to suspect that they're NOT alone in the dwelling.

I can't/won't say anymore about the plot as it should be seen and experienced by the individual. But I will say this though, it IS one scary movie. And for once "the final girl" acts rationally and sensibly (for the most part). Just when you think this movie going to hoe the same row as a thousand other horror films it flips the script on you in amazing and enjoyable ways. One note though... as bad as you imagine Detroit being at night... it's even worse in the daytime. All in all the film is good, scary, imaginative fun. You could do worse.

Worf
 

Worf

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"All Quiet on the Western Front" (2022) - As a huge fan of the 1930's version of the film I went into this new version with much trepidation. The basic story stays the same.... Fresh faced High Schoolers duped via propaganda and war fever rush off to war with flowers on their lapels and songs on their lips, only to be disabused of their fantasies within minutes of arriving at the near front. The differences between the current version and the two previous versions are many. While the original focused on Paul and his classmates in intimate detail this version does not. It's focus is entirely on the horrors of war which is shown in all it's muddy and bloody detail.

Several pivotal scenes from the original are not in this version. Paul is never shown going home on leave to confront his former teacher or clueless civilians. Also missing is the love scene with the French girls as are all the training sequences. Gone are losses within the ranks being marked by the handing down of a pair of custom made boots. What is added however are scenes of Armistice negotiations between the Allies and the Germans. The contrast between the lives of the soldiers and the diplomats is both stark and telling. Only one person seems to realize that every second without peace means the death of hundreds if not thousands... You find yourself yelling at the screen for these fools to end the madness.

The film is gorgeously shot and SHOULD be seen in a theatre. Much like "1917" the film deserves to be viewed on a large screen with surround sound. The last battle truly shows the utter futility of the WWI. Some members of the German General Staff clearly wanted to fight to the bitter end for reasons of pride alone. One general, upon getting the time frame of the armistice decides to end his tenure with one last push for a glorious victory. He orders his Division to attack 15 minutes before the cease fire. This episode of madness is truly horrific because it really happened.

While not as personal as the first film, I did find this film well made and worth viewing, particularly in light of the current land war going on in Europe as we speak. You should give AQotWF a watch and ponder the nature of man.

Worf
 
Last edited:

Doctor Strange

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The Northman on Amazon Prime.

I am a huge fan of Robert Eggers' two previous films, The VVitch and The Lighthouse, so I was really looking forward to seeing his big-budget Viking-age spectacular. And in a lot of ways, it doesn't disappoint: the visuals and production design are stunning, the action scenes are epic, and the acting is excellent all around. Some actors from Eggers' earlier films (Willem Dafoe, Anya Taylor-Joy, etc.) are in it, and there's strong work from newbies Nicole Kidman, Ethan Hawke, Claes Bang, and especially star Alexander Skarsgard, who's in nearly every scene.

Lots of research was done to make this the most "accurate" recreation of the Viking era... but there are parts that are awfully reminiscent of earlier films like Conan the Barbarian (1982), The 13th Warrior, and Pathfinder, not to mention the depiction of Rohan in The Two Towers. Being an Eggars film, there are mysterious spiritual aspects and scary portents, and spooky animals.

But it's mainly a revenge story, about how disinherited and presumed dead Prince Amleth eventually wreaks bloody vengeance on his uncle, who killed his brother and married his mother. (If this plot sounds familiar, it's because the story of Amleth, via the chronicles of Saxo Grammaticus, was the inspiration for Shakespeare's Hamlet.)

Anyway, it's good. But it's not quite the wow-this-is-a-really-different-and-freaky-flick that his two earlier films are.
 
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We Live Again from 1934 with Fredric March and Anna Sten


Hollywood, Samuel Goldwyn and too many screenwriters turned Leo Tolstoy's novel Resurrection into a mess of a movie in We Live Again. The confused title is the first clue that this is a muddled effort.

The movie's awkward blend of communism, Christianity and an uninspiring love story, starring Fredric March and not-Greta-Garbo-like Anna Sten, properly bombed at the box office when it came out, but today can be seen as an early 1930s Tinseltown political and philosophical curio.

Based on the class struggles that, eventually, led to the communist revolution in Russia, We Live Again opens with some good old-fashioned Depression Era commie propaganda as espoused by a young, idealistic, pre-revolution, wealthy Russian prince played by Fredric March.

His family indulges his radicalism a bit as they try to steer him to a respectable military career and proper marriage, but he has eyes for the servant girl played by Anna Sten. After a quickie with her late one night, he has to leave the next day on maneuvers so he never discovers that she became pregnant.

She is dismissed because that was what was done with pregnant servant girls then. After her baby dies, she moves to Moscow. Seven years later, March is now a successful officer about to marry a woman of his class, while Sten has become a prostitute.

Their paths cross again when Sten is accused of murder at a trial where March is a juror. After the jury's exonerating verdict is misunderstood based on a technicality, Sten is sentenced to five years hard labor in Siberia.

March now has his epiphany moment where all his forgotten youthful ideals flow back to him. After a stubborn bureaucracy rebukes his efforts to help Sten, March goes full-radical communist.

You almost understand why there was a Russian revolution when you watch one mindless and heartless bureaucrat after another dismiss March's pleas for obvious justice for Sten. Back then, before it was tested in the real world, one could at least hope that communism would solve that uncaring bureaucracy problem.

The climax is a wealthy 1930s radical Hollywood screenwriter's dream of how a man of conscience should behave until "come the revolution." It must have felt great to strike a blow for the working class before heading off to an expensive dinner at the Brown Derby.

Whatever your political views, this is not a good movie. Anna Sten, Samuel Goldwyn's attempt to "discover" the next Greta Garbo, emotes and gestures as if she's in a silent movie where she seems surprised to discover she's speaking.

She's pretty and maybe could have been an okay actress, but being thrown into the deep end of the acting pool earlier in her career, ruined her.

March gives it his all and it's a professional effort, but he can't overcome a lack of chemistry with Sten, a movie that never decided on one tone or style, painfully awkward transitions and the aforementioned radical and radically confused politics.

One thing We Live Again does have going for it today, maybe because its leftist views are never out of style in Hollywood, is a beautiful restoration.
 

Edward

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"All Quiet on the Western Front" (2022) - As a huge fan of the 1930's version of the film I went into this new version with much trepidation. The basic story stays the same.... Fresh faced High Schoolers duped via propaganda and war fever rush off to war with flowers on their lapels and songs on their lips, only to be disabused of their fantasies within minutes of arriving at the near front. The differences between the current version and the two previous versions are many. While the original focused on Paul and his classmates in intimate detail this version does not. It's focus is entirely on the horrors of war which is shown in all it's muddy and bloody detail.

Several pivotal scenes from the original are not in this version. Paul is never shown going home on leave to confront his former teacher or clueless civilians. Also missing is the love scene with the French girls as are all the training sequences. Gone are losses within the ranks being marked by the handing down of a pair of custom made boots. What is added however are scenes of Armistice negotiations between the Allies and the Germans. The contrast between the lives of the soldiers and the diplomats is both stark and telling. Only one person seems to realize that every second without peace means the death of hundreds if not thousands... You find yourself yelling at the screen for these fools to end the madness.

The film is gorgeously shot and SHOULD be seen in a theatre. Much like "1917" the film deserves to be viewed on a large screen with surround sound. The last battle truly shows the utter futility of the WWI. Some members of the German General Staff clearly wanted to fight to the bitter end for reasons of pride alone. One general, upon getting the time frame of the armistice decides to end his tenure with one last push for a glorious victory. He orders his Division to attack 15 minutes before the cease fire. This episode of madness is truly horrific because it really happened.

While not as personal as the first film, I did find this film well made and worth viewing, particularly in light of the current land war going on in Europe as we speak. You should give AQotWF a watch and ponder the nature of man.

Worf

I watched this myself last week; I think your summary reflects the changes very well. I rather like the change in focus, as it does bring something new to the piece that rather validates it artistically.

I also liked the 1979 CBS made for TV version, which as memory serves does the boots motif rather well.

A timely story, and an increasingly important one here in the UK, what with all those who fought in the trenches now gone, increasingly WW2 beginning to disappear into memory, and a somewhat mytholgised version of the horrors emerging in a problematic manner.
 

Julian Shellhammer

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Courtesy of Amazon Prime, Adam Had Four Sons (1941) with Warner Baxter, Ingrid Bergman, and Susan Hayward. Pre-WWI family suffers the loss of a parent, and French governess Bergman steps in to raise the titular sons. Fast forward to the Great War, and one of the sons marries (after a whirlwind courtship) Susan Hayward, who is a scheming manipulator bent on insinuating herself into the family's life. Tainted romance, soap-opera drama, and unrequited love fill our screen. It took care of an hour and a half of an evening.

...and, Crime of Passion (1956) with Barbara Stanwyck, Sterling Hayden, and Raymond Burr. As IMDB puts it,

"Kathy leaves the newspaper business to marry homicide detective Bill but is frustrated by his lack of ambition and the banality of life in the suburbs. Her drive to advance Bill's career soon takes her down a dangerous path."

The story begins with Stanwyck swapping wisecracks with the cynical newspaper staff in the newsroom, sort of like His Girl Friday doused with noir sauce. She and Hayden interact in a murder case, one thing leads to another, and they marry. For plot development, see above synopsis. Things go dark rather quickly, and Burr, as Hayden's boss, gets mixed up in Stanwyck's "dangerous path." Fun to see shots of mid-fifties LA.
 

Doctor Strange

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On Netflix, Apollo 10-1/2: A Space Age Childhood (2022), written/directed by Richard Linklater

Apollo-10-12-Featured-Image.jpg

Linklater returns to using rotoscoped animation (as in Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly) to tell an autobiographical tall tale about growing up in a big family in Houston in the sixties, when his father (and all the fathers on his street) worked for NASA.

The tall tale part is about how NASA secretly sends the ten-year-old viewpoint character to the Moon before Apollo 11, because the first Lunar Excursion Module delivered was erroneously built too small for adult astronauts! As a plot to hang the film on, eh, it's okay.

But the main portion of the film is just about growing up in the sixties, like an episode of The Wonder Years on steroids. And it's simply masterful.

Across his daily life, the now-adult narrator essentially shows/explains things for a modern audience: rotary phones, just three TV networks, fuzzy antenna reception, LP records and 45 singles, AM radio, the important-to-him films and TV shows, how the annual Wizard of Oz broadcast was a ritual (and the shock of seeing it in color for the first time after years in just b/w), the polarization and social strife of the time (though it all seems so far away from his Spielbergian Houston suburb), etc... and the national fixation on the space program. The rotoscoped bits of classic films and shows we see are all extremely well chosen.

(Weird coincidence: one of the films he and his siblings see at a Saturday triple feature that scares the heck out of them is It! - which I just saw for the first time and reviewed on this thread a few days ago!)

Anyway, recommended. Especially if you grew up in the sixties!
 
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Paths of Glory from 1957 with Kirk Douglas, Adolphe Menjou, George Macready, Wayne Morris and Richard Anderson


It's really amazing what can be accomplished on film in only eighty-eight minutes.

In that short time, director Stanley Kubrick, in Paths of Glory, delivers what is widely considered one of the great anti-war movies of all time.

It's trench warfare in WWI and orders come down from the French General Staff to "take the Ant Hill." Adolphe Menjou plays a general on the Staff who passes the order down to another general played by George Macready.

Macready initially refuses the order because he believes his troops have no chance to capture the Ant Hill; even worse, he believes many of his soldiers will be senselessly killed in the effort. Yet when Menjou dangles a promotion in front of him if the attack is successful, Macready changes his mind.

Macready meets the same resistance that he first showed to the order when he passes it down to his colonel, played by Kirk Douglas, in charge of the troops, but an order must be obeyed.

The attack itself is an unmitigated disaster as the first company out of the trench is so badly slaughtered that the second company refuses to leave the trench, prompting Macready to, get ready for it, order his artillery to fire on his own men in the trenches for "refusing to fight."

In a beautiful moment of a junior officer calmly standing up to a general, the captain of the artillery dispassionately demands a written and signed order from the now-screaming general before he'll take such action.

With that setup, the second half of the movie is the fallout from the disastrous raid, which includes Macready trying to save his skin by court marshalling many of his troops for cowardice as Douglas tries to save his men by having the blame placed where it belongs.

Menjou, meanwhile, with a frightening dispassion, sits above it all, moving people around like chess pieces as he decides who will be the fall guy.

Kubrick brilliantly personalizes this powerful story for the audience as, at the open, we meet the men in the trenches rightfully scared and disgusted by the senseless war of attrition.

Those trench scenes are as powerful today as any that have been filmed since, despite lacking the post-1960s filmmaking fashion of showing overwhelming amounts of killing, maiming, violence and blood.

Equally impactful is the presentation of the officers including Douglas as the honorable man stuck in a dishonorable chain of command and Macready as the sociopath who sees his men as disposable bodies to advance his career.

Menjou, though, is perhaps the worst one of all as he absolutely knows the callous inhumanity of what unfolded, but he sees it as just part of a game he plays better than anyone else.

There are too-many other outstanding performances to note them all, but Wayne Morris deserves mention as the cowardly Lieutenant Roget who probably would be a nice guy if life hadn't put him in an extreme position calling on reserves of courage he doesn't have.

Richard Anderson's performance also deserves mention as Macready's bootlicking, but sinister Major who ruthlessly cleans up after "his" general.

Throughout, Kubrick uses the movie's beautiful black and white cinematography to emphasize the theme of good versus evil as he almost always keeps his camera in reasonably close, except to periodically pull it way back - as he does during the battle scene and court martial - to remind us of the larger context in which these harrowing personal events are playing out.

Paths of Glory stands out amongst anti-war films as it doesn't preen in its denunciation of war. A denunciation that is easy, but often cheap, as most men of good will are philosophically against war, but that doesn't tell us how to stop the Napoleons, Hitlers and Putins of the world.

Paths of Glory, instead, gives us a tangible evil of war to fight: leaders who see their men as fodder to advance their military careers.

Wars have to be fought until bad men stop starting them, but putting the good of the fighting men (and women, today) ahead of their leaders' personal glory and career aspirations is an honorable objective we can try to achieve now, while still fighting those unavoidable wars.

The word classic gets tossed around today, but Paths of Glory fully deserves that honor as it uses every minute of its eighty eight to deliver a powerful rebuke to narcissistic military leaders who fail to sincerely respect the lives of the men and women they command.
 

Edward

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I found the whole idea cringe worthy myself. Chuck was no saint BUT he was one of the founding fathers of what became Rock n' Roll. Well... at least it wasn't Pat Boone trying to do "Tutti Frutti".

Worf

I always loved the sequence..... right up until he starts going all Eddie Van Halen with it. I mean, it makes sense in the narrative context, but even when I was twelve and first saw the film, and later on a mid-teens metalhead, I was no fan of a musical approach that dropped melody entirely in favour of atonality. Still, a great introduction to a mainstay of mainstream rock and roll for me; the Clash did the rest by turning me on to their old-school rockabilly influences.
 

Edward

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A couple of films last night on the BBC iPlayer (streaming service). First up, The Keeper, 2018 (also titled 'Trautmann' in some markets). This film, set in Manchester during both the very tail end of WW2 and the first decade or so thereafter, tells the story of Bert Trautmann. A Wehrmacht paratrooper, Trautmann was taken prisoner by the British in 1945, and held in a pow camp in the North of England. Recruited to play in goal for a local soccer team, he chose to remain in England after the war, marrying a local woman and eventually playing professionally for Manchester City 1949-1964.

Although I had previously heard of Trautmann, I was unaware of most of the details of his story. The film does seem to be very much true to life (extensive research was done, including many, long interviews with Trautmann himself before he died in 2013). The story is very well, and sensitively, told, not least owing to an extremely nuanced performance by German actor David Kross in the lead (Floungers may recall him as having played the young Michael Berg in 2008's The Reader). This is not one of those awful, schmaltzy, [warms up the cliche machine] "heart-warming British family films". Although something you could certainly watch with the family, it deals with the brutalising and traumatic version of men caught up in warfare in a very human way: even the most obvious "villain" from the pov of the protagonist, the pow camp commander, is very much human and sympathetic. Trautmann's story is in many ways as much about the triumph of common humanity over terrible divisions; in that regard, it bears some thematic commonality (if in a very different setting) with Joyeaux Noelle, one of my favourite film discoveries of recent years, and as essential an annual Christmas watch as It's a wonderful life. Such a shame that this work dealing with issues of forgiveness, bigotry and loss with such a deft touch, hasn't as of yet received much greater attention - goodness knows English soccer culture could benefit from it. An interesting footnote is that much of it was filmed in and around Belfast, where these themes also have a very significant parallel.

Also on the iPlayer, a rewatch of 1997's Wilde, the Oscar Wilde biopic starring Stephen Fry in the titular role. Fry's performance remains impressive, and it all looks beautiful. It has rather dated a little in its comprehension of sexuality (I suspect, a quarter of a century on, made today it would be much more recognising of Wilde's sexuality as fluid, rather than the old-fashioned binary notion of whether he was gay or straight). The ending also feels a little clumsy, as if they were trying to shoe-horn the reality into a conventionally happy-ending without changing history. Nevertheless, still an entertaining work; worth watching for the wardrobe alone, particularly into the middle and final acts. Reminded me that Wilde was very much an early adopter of the fedora on this side of the Atlantic. Bonus points for the fact that it keeps to the reality of Wilde being Irish, rather than appropriating him for the English as often happens in popular discourse.

Over the weekend I also watched, on Netflix, Velvet Goldmine. Interesting to finally catch it; I had wanted to see this back when it was in cinemas, but it had the misfortune to be released during the soccer world cup tournament of that year. World Cup season always meaning a downturn in cinema attendances, Belfast cinemas didn't bring in much that was new at that point; when the tournament was over and the bottleneck of new releases hit the big screen, somehow this one got missed. It's a picture that would probably do better nowadays. It is mainly remembered as the film where Ewan Magregor and Christian Bale have a sex scene together. A shame in many ways, as the scene in question lasts for barely a few seconds, and is so tame, so coyly shot, that it would hardly raise eyebrows in the average daytime soap opera. It was originally intended to be a Bowie biopic of sorts, but he wasn't keen (not least as he was at the time in talks about a similar project of his own), and declined to permit the use of his music. (Ironically, Bowie's voice is nevertheless heard singing during the film, as the production was able to use Lou Reed's Satellite of Love, on which Bowie provided backing vocals.)

Rather than telling the Bowie myth (much of which he did later in life confess was a confection of his own rather than the truth it was at a time presented as), this freed the production up to present some wider, truer sense of the glam rock scene through fiction. The story is told in retrospect from the perspective of an early-mid 1980s Christian Bale, now a journalist, looking back on the music of his youth and with a brief to investigate the withdrawl of Brian Slade, rock star, from the public eye following a backlash against his bringing to an end his character act Maxwell Demon (a Ziggy Stardust cipher) with a faked assassination live on stage in London (a literal cipher for Bowie's 'killing' of his Ziggy Stardust character when he announced his retirement at a live show in the city in 1973). It's a picture worth seeing if you have any interest in the glam rock scene; a strong theme is the challenging of gender norms and the - in modern parlance - 'appropriation' of 'gay' style by the mainstream, comparing the perceived 'anything goes', experimental early 70s with the apparently more socially conservative 1980s. This, of course, parallels Bowie's own shift from Ziggy and the challenges of glam rock to his 1980s, mainstream pop persona. Ewan Magregor's performance as Curt Wild - a mash-up of Iggy Pop and Lou Reed, with flashes of Kurt Cobain towards the end - is very much on point. Particularly in the live performance scenes, where he channels Iggy Pop to perfection.

It's not a film for everyone. Narratively, it is a bit of a mess, and the ending in particular is clumsy and falls off a bit, rather killing the suspension of belief that it otherwise maintains quite well up to that point. Nonetheless, if you're interested in the early 70s glam rock scene it has some interesting things to say, and the music is wonderfully done. The music is another way it arguably benefitted from Bowie's disinterest, as it made them somewhat more creative, and resulted in some very nicely done fictionalised bands comprised of known performers at the time (though nicely deployed - no clumsy, awful "Hi mUm, it's me!" cameos in the manner of Ed Sheeran in Game of Thrones). It's a mix of old songs, new covers of old songs, and newly written songs that deliberately pastiche the period. My personal favourite was the cover of the New York Doll's classic Personality Crisis, performed by Teenage Fanclub with Donna Matthews (then still a member of Elastica). If nothing else, this film's existence is justified by the quality of the soundtrack it leaves behind. I'm told it has a whole cult following of its own online.
 
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Tillie and Gus from 1933 with W.C. Fields, Alison Skipworth and Baby LeRoy


Tillie and Gus is a short comedy (fifty-seven minutes) starring W.C. Fields, which, despite a dated style and routines that often feel tired and silly to us today, still mildly entertains mainly owing to the talents and chemistry of Fields and co-star Alison Skipworth.

The plot exists only to showcase Fields and Skipworth who play friendly yet divorced scammers and hucksters called home by a lawyer's letter informing them of an inheritance.

When they get there, though, they see that their young niece, her husband and their baby are being cheated out of their estate by a crooked lawyer played with exaggerated zeal by character actor Clarence Wilson.

Wilson has stolen almost everything - the money and house full of antiques from the young couple - leaving them only a dilapidated ferry boat that becomes the young couple's hopes for a future as they want to use it to restart a ferry business.

Wilson, though, wants to start a competing business so he tries to buy the boat on the cheap from the couple without telling them why.

Fields and Skipworth, who their niece believes are missionaries (dear Lord), being scammers themselves, but good people deep down, see Wilson for what he is and stick around to help the young couple.

That setup is only a framework for Fields, Skipworth and actor Baby LeRoy playing "King," the infant son of the young couple, to get involved in a bunch of comedy sketches while Fields and Skipworth fire off one liners and sarcastic asides.

Since all of the sketches - such as Fields and Skipworth cheating at poker, Fields flummoxed trying to follow a fast-talking radio host giving complicated directions about how to make paint, the baby pulling the plug in his bathtub and flooding the room or Fields, effectively, throwing fireworks into the ship's boiler - have been copied repeatedly, they don't feel fresh or truly funny anymore, but Fields and Skipworth still capture your attention as talented actors and comedians.

While Fields has the bigger personality and fame, Skipworth's more restrained style is equal in talent - this is an actress that understands timing and delivery. Together, their chemistry is so good that, even today, they for the most part, keep you engaged in what for us are old routines and jokes.

If TV (especially 1960s or 1970s TV) had been invented back then, Fields and Skipworth would have been perfect in their own show as an older couple who owns a rundown boarding house with a lazy handman, a smart aleck desk clerk and quirky guests, where everyone harmlessly tries to cheat each other each week, but instead, they all end up learning a lesson in decency.

Back in 1933, though, actors and comedians like Fields and Skipworth had to find a way to showcase their talents on the big screen, so they made short comedy movies like Tillie and Gus that really were just personality vehicles with a silly story attached.

In this one, that silly story climaxes in a boat race to see who gets the city's ferry-business contract, which gives Fields a chance to wear one of those old underwater diving suits with Skipworth working the air pump above - and messing up a bit - as Fields sabotages the competition's boat.

It takes a little perspective today to appreciate a movie like Tillie and Gus as all its routines and jokes have been used and expanded on repeatedly in the ensuing nearly ninety years since its release. But Fields’ and Skipworth's talents and screen chemistry still provide some real entertainment for those willing to see past its dated style and now tired humor.
 

belfastboy

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"Wendy & Lucy" a 2008 Sundance offering starring Michelle Williams. A very good little movie...William's performance makes the movie. She was very good and very young. I wondered how such a little movie such as this ever gets made. But the $300,000 cost was somewhat recouped with the $1.4mil box office.
 

belfastboy

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"Wendy & Lucy" a 2008 Sundance offering starring Michelle Williams. A very good little movie...William's performance makes the movie. She was very good and very young. I wondered how such a little movie such as this ever gets made. But the $300,000 cost was somewhat recouped with the $1.4mil box office.
By what factor must the 'box office' exceed the movie's cost in order to turn a profit?
 
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By what factor must the 'box office' exceed the movie's cost in order to turn a profit?
Some years ago filmmaker Kevin Smith said publicly that the cost of making a movie as quoted in the press usually doesn't include the budget for promotion. He said that whatever number the studio releases as the cost of making the movie, the box office take must be approximately three times that for the movie to just break even.
 

belfastboy

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Some years ago filmmaker Kevin Smith said publicly that the cost of making a movie as quoted in the press usually doesn't include the budget for promotion. He said that whatever number the studio releases as the cost of making the movie, the box office take must be approximately three times that for the movie to just break even.
I am always curious when I see a 'little' movie such as Wendy & Lucy....how does it ever get made? How does it advance beyond the 'pitch' phase as it would seem that break even was about the best available scenario. But with a $1.2 to $1.4 box office it just may have broken even and bought the producers a dinner out.
 

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