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What Was The Last Movie You Watched?

LizzieMaine

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We're running a series of Pre-Code Classics on Sunday nights these days, and last night's feature was the Gable-Harlow-Astor jungle steamer "Red Dust." A familiar story that's had many variants over the years, but no matter how many times you see it, it's got plenty of sizzle. And Gene Raymond, an actor I've always found highly resistable, is ideally cast as the limp noodle of the foursome, helping to define a type of screen characterization that will later be raised to its apotheosis by Leslie Howard.

Incidentally, if Milton Caniff wasn't thinking specifically of Jean Harlow's performance in this picture when he created the character of Burma in "Terry and the Pirates," I would be very very surprised.
 

Julian Shellhammer

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View attachment 462912
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.
Paths of Glory is a masterpiece of film-making. I rave from time to time on the FL whenever I watch it. The performances of Maceady and Menjou overshadow the Anderson performance as the smooth yet servile lackey who knows his non-combat assignment depends upon currying the favor of Macready. His character comes out at the end when he must read the orders and he is clearly shaken (I suppose) because he knows the horror of the situation, and he is not able to glibly float along the sidelines but has become a cog in the whole monstrous machinery.
 

Worf

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"Don't Worry Darling" - Saw this 2022 offering on Netflix last night. I've no clue about the "controversies" surrounding the two male leads and the director. I don't watch TMZ, "Inside Edition" or any such culture trash. We were just looking for a movie to watch. As for the film, think Jordan Peterson meets "The Stepford Wives". There's a decent twist in the end but I saw it coming a mile away. Too preachy, too on the nose.... too obvious but an interesting watch. The cinematography, sets, costumes (the hairstyles were all over the place though) and vintage automobiles makes this a feast for the eyes. Also the female lead Florence Pugh (last seen in "Midsommar") is worth the price of admission. With a better script, tighter direction etc.. this film, which has some important things to say, would've been much more effective. I didn't hate this movie, despite its numerous flaws. All in all we both liked it.

Worf
 
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16,058
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New York City
seven thieves eli 2.jpg

Seven Thieves from 1960 with Edward G. Robinson, Rod Steiger, Joan Collins and Eli Wallach


Seven Thieves is a heist movie with an impressive cast, an interestingly planned and executed crime, compelling interpersonal dynamics and a few intriguing last-minute twists that makes you wonder why this charming and quite-engaging movie isn't better known.

Edward G. Robinson plays a disgraced-for-some-not-explained-reason former professor who assembles a team of insiders and experienced crooks to rob a Monte Carlo casino. He is a thinking man's criminal who is respected by the other criminals for his intelligence and integrity.

His team includes Eli Wallach playing a nervous musician and Joan Collins playing a street-smart risque dancer, both of whom will be part of the heist's deception plan. The team also comprises an insider at the casino, an experienced safecracker, a driver and, the last to join, Rod Steiger playing Robinson's second in command and confidant.

As with any heist team, the personalities rub up against each other a lot, which is Seven Thieves' biggest appeal. You are drawn into the story as you see friendships develop and conflicts build as personal alliances are formed and broken.

Steiger, even more than Robinson, sits at the center of the group as he is smart, menacing and doesn't suffer fools lightly, which you feel he, initially, believes is everyone else but Robinson.

Collins, the only woman in the group, and a woman you can't help noticing is a woman, fires up the sexual tension because, not surprisingly, several of the men are interested in her.

As the group plans its heist, which is well thought out but not that original for a 1950s/'60s heist movie, the fun is seeing all the personalities mix, especially as Collins' character emerges from the pack both because of her revealing dance numbers, she's sporting quite a body, and because, as we come to see, she's whip smart and cool headed.

Collins also deserves credit for holding her own in scenes with acting giant Robinson and acting pros Steiger and Wallach. Whatever cartoon Collins became of herself in the 1980s, doesn't change the fact that she had real acting chops when she started out.

The heist scene itself is engaging with plenty of tension and wrinkles, but the movie kicks to a higher level with several post-heist twists that have to be seen fresh to enjoy as they give Seven Thieves its own unique take on how to wrap up a heist movie.

Director Henry Hathaway, smartly balancing the tension of the heist with the pressures and frisson of the interpersonal relationships, really made a movie about several people at a crossroads where a heist becomes the catalyst for those characters to make life-altering decisions.

Hathaway also fully leverages the acting talents of Robinson, Steiger, Collins and Wallach, plus the beautiful on-location French Riviera setting, which is wonderfully captured by the film's crisp black and white cinematography.

Seven Thieves
, is, yes, a good heist movie, but its unique ending and complex and often charming interpersonal relationships make it a movie that deserves to be better known today than it is.

MV5BODMzNjkxNzYwNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNDc0MDcxMw@@._V1_.jpg

Joan Collins preparing to rob a casino.


N.B., For a noirish French take on a similar story, check out the outstanding 1956 movie Bob le Flambeur (comments here: #29,884 )
 

Doctor Strange

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Worf and Fading Fast...

I watched Don't Worry Darling last night. An underwhelming flick that begins as The Stepford Wives and ends as The Matrix. Nothing in the story makes any logical sense if you think about it for a half-minute, nothing.

But the film's pastel-1960 production design looks great, and the cast works hard. Florence Pugh is excellent as usual, better than the material. Olivia Wilde (who also directed) and Chris Pine are clearly having fun. Alleged actor Harry Styles gives a non-performance. Anyway, its vaguely worthwhile for the visuals and performers, but don't expect much else.

DontWorryDarling.jpg

And regarding Joan Collins... I'm a lifelong fan, ever since I saw Land of the Pharaohs on TV when I was six or seven and the unexpected death of her evil Princess Nellifer freaked me out. Five years later, she turned up as Edith Keeler on Star Trek, and that was it for me, smitten for life.

LandOfThePharaohs_03.jpg

Collins is definitely a better actress than she's given credit for, especially in her earlier 50s/60s roles. TCM recently ran a new feature-length documentary, This is Joan Collins, in which she narrates her life story that's worth seeking out if you're curious. She's led a really interesting life: there's a lot more to her than Alexis Carrington!
 
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Messages
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New York City
Worf and Fading Fast...

I watched Don't Worry Darling last night. An underwhelming flick that begins as The Stepford Wives and ends as The Matrix. Nothing in the story makes any logical sense if you think about it for a half-minute, nothing.

But the film's pastel-1960 production design looks great, and the cast works hard. Florence Pugh is excellent as usual, better than the material. Olivia Wilde (who also directed) and Chris Pine are clearly having fun. Alleged actor Harry Styles gives a non-performance. Anyway, its vaguely worthwhile for the visuals and performers, but don't expect much else.

View attachment 466184

And regarding Joan Collins... I'm a lifelong fan, ever since I saw Land of the Pharaohs on TV when I was six or seven and the unexpected death of her evil Princess Nellifer freaked me out. Five years later, she turned up as Edith Keeler on Star Trek, and that was it for me, smitten for life.

View attachment 466185

Collins is definitely a better actress than she's given credit for, especially in her earlier 50s/60s roles. TCM recently ran a new feature-length documentary, I Am Joan Collins, in which she narrates her life story that's worth seeking out if you're curious. She's led a really interesting life: there's a lot more to her than Alexis Carrington!

Thank you for the heads up on "Don't Worry Darling." I'm with you on Ms. Collins - real talent (loved her in that "Star Trek" episode too) that's been obscured by the '80s stuff. If you haven't seen "Seven Thieves" and like heists movies, I'd recommend it, especially since Joan has a pretty big role in it.
 

Edward

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London, UK
"Don't Worry Darling" - Saw this 2022 offering on Netflix last night. I've no clue about the "controversies" surrounding the two male leads and the director. I don't watch TMZ, "Inside Edition" or any such culture trash. We were just looking for a movie to watch. As for the film, think Jordan Peterson meets "The Stepford Wives". There's a decent twist in the end but I saw it coming a mile away. Too preachy, too on the nose.... too obvious but an interesting watch. The cinematography, sets, costumes (the hairstyles were all over the place though) and vintage automobiles makes this a feast for the eyes. Also the female lead Florence Pugh (last seen in "Midsommar") is worth the price of admission. With a better script, tighter direction etc.. this film, which has some important things to say, would've been much more effective. I didn't hate this movie, despite its numerous flaws. All in all we both liked it.

Worf


Not seen it myself yet... The hairstyle thing isn't a surprise, though. Harry Styles, one of the male leads, is a big pop star here in the UK (no idea if he's known internationally; he was previously a member of a big name boy 'band' here), and the hair is very much his trademark.


On the hair theme, the other weekend I watched a new(er - 2018) version of Robin Hood with Taron Egerton (Kingsman) in the lead. It's a fun romp. It takes a similar approach to the story as the Russell Crowe version - basically a prequel / origin-story for the Robin Hood character we all know, how he became an outlaw, and such. Nice bit of character development in how they establish his rivalry with the Sherriff of Nottingham. What lets it down a bit are the haircuts.... everyone in it looks like a modern person in a costume, giving it the feel of a live-action Dungeons & Dragons game rather than something actually set in the period it purports to be from. Fun nonetheless, but a real shame. I hope this isn't a trend that catches on and sees cinema regress to Sxities levels of poor period accuracy!
 

AmateisGal

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Not seen it myself yet... The hairstyle thing isn't a surprise, though. Harry Styles, one of the male leads, is a big pop star here in the UK (no idea if he's known internationally; he was previously a member of a big name boy 'band' here), and the hair is very much his trademark.
Oh, Harry Styles is VERY well known here in the states and dare I say, the world. While Taylor Swift is probably the biggest female pop star in the world, Harry Styles is the biggest male pop star in the world
 

AmateisGal

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Air Force with John Garfield and now Rio Bravo. This is my absolute favorite western. John Wayne reminds me so much of my grandfather...they look a lot alike (they did not have similar politics).

I'd forgotten that my DVD of Rio Bravo came with behind-the-scenes photos.
Fh90Iv8WQAEy2uS.jpg

Fh90IvwWQAEYOFA.jpg
 

Doctor Strange

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Another new film starring Florence Pugh (boy, she works a lot!) on Netflix, The Wonder.

Pugh plays an English nurse in the 1860s who travels to Ireland to assist with the investigation of a seeming miracle, an 11-year-old girl who hasn't eaten in three months... but is somehow alive. The local doctor (Toby Jones) and priest (Ciaran Hinds) have Pugh and a nun watch the child at all times in shifts.

TheWonder.jpg

A good science-vs.-superstition drama that's solid until its fairly unbelievable (but satisfying) ending. Pugh is onscreen nearly the whole time and is again excellent: this is yet another role where she's smarter than everyone around her and gradually works through the mystery.

Definitely better than Don't Worry Darling!
 
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The Unfaithful on TCM’s Noir Alley. Saw that the screenplay was written by David Goodis and James Gunn and that Eve Arden was in it. I thought that would be enough to make it a worthwhile watch. It was an okay flick. Fine enough for the background. Still it wasn’t the worst way to spend the morning.
:D
 

EngProf

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Oh, Harry Styles is VERY well known here in the states and dare I say, the world. While Taylor Swift is probably the biggest female pop star in the world, Harry Styles is the biggest male pop star in the world
I think there may be some generational issues in play here. To the best of my knowledge I have never heard of "Harry Styles".
 

EngProf

Practically Family
Messages
553
Air Force with John Garfield and now Rio Bravo. This is my absolute favorite western. John Wayne reminds me so much of my grandfather...they look a lot alike (they did not have similar politics).

I'd forgotten that my DVD of Rio Bravo came with behind-the-scenes photos. View attachment 466322
View attachment 466323
I very much agree with your opinion of "Rio Bravo".
It has it all...
Heroic Sheriff - John Wayne
Drunken Deputy/Former Sheriff - Dean Martin
Old Coot - Walter Brennan
Young Gunslinger - Ricky Nelson
Gruff Wagon Master - Ward Bond
Lady Gambler - Angie Dickenson
Evil Smart Brother - John Russel
Evil Stupid Brother - Claude Akins
All perfectly cast...
What more could you want in a Western??
 

Julian Shellhammer

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769
A couple of nights ago it was The Polar Express with the grandkids. I had never seen the whole thing until then. Fun story and fun to watch. We're easing into the Christmas Movie Season slowly: I'm old-fashioned and think we should wait until after Thanksgiving to begin watching, but I was out-voted.
 
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aaaphotos1x.jpg

Sweepings from 1933 with Lionel Barrymore, Gregory Ratoff, Eric Linden, William Gargan, Gloria Stuart and George Meeker


While Sweepings reflect the era in which it was made, its story of a highly successful businessman who is disappointed with his children is also timeless.

Lionel Barrymore plays the "self-made man" who, along with his business savvy manager, played by Gregory Ratoff, turned a small dry-goods business, started after the Chicago fire of 1871, into a massively successful department store.

Barrymore has three sons, played by Eric Linden, William Gargan and George Meeker and a daughter, played by Gloria Stuart. He hopes one or more of the sons will succeed him at the store, but you get the feeling, especially as the sons begin to fail him, that he'd be happy if his daughter would take over, but he went "O-for-four" with these kids.

After his wife passes, it's just Barrymore and his young children whom he loves, spoils (lesson one) and imbues all his hopes for the future in (lesson two). Two of his three boys and the daughter all grow up to be society partiers, but one, Meeker, tries to follow in his father's footsteps.

Tragically for Barrymore, Meeker simply doesn't have the ability to manage a massive business. Instead, Meeker, after trying as the assistant store manager, asks his dad to let him work in window dressing as that's what he loves.

Barrymore gets it and, while disappointed, he lets the boy do what he wants. Even at the end, when he's squaring accounts with his kids, he notes to Meeker, "I got nothing 'agin' you, one thing I know, you tried...the one that tried didn't have it in him." It's not 2022 all-embracing parenting, but for 1933, it's pretty open minded and accepting.

The other boys squander money and opportunity, while the daughter zips through a couple of marriages, including one to a European prince, which was a common practice at the time.

Often, the daughters of wealthy American merchants "bought" a poor but titled European husband: she gets a title and he gets money (it propped up many British and other titled Europeans at the time).

While Barrymore's kids aren't becoming heir apparents, Ratoff continues to be the loyal and valued manager of the store, a store he loves as much as Barrymore.

Yet when he asks Barrymore for a share of the store, Barrymore, in the most-brutal scene in the movie, tells Ratoff that while he might deserve a share, he isn't getting one because Barrymore is giving them all to his kids. Blood is thicker than friendship and loyalty.

Watch Barrymore's face change when he's looking at his longtime friend and store manager, a man whom he clearly loves and wants to make happy, until that moment when his friend asks him for a share of the store. The change in Barrymore's visage, body English and tone is acting at its best.

There's a twist or two at the climax when old man Barrymore is about to pass, but this is a saga where the climax is less important than the "big sweep" of the story.

Today, there's less "sweep" to many of these tales as tech wealth is usually made quickly by very young men and women who often aren't even married and who often sell their companies to investors while they are still young, so there is no great business "empire" to pass on to the next generation.

As in Sweepings, though, these new millionaires (or billionaires) are, or will become parents who will realize that a large amount of money solves as many problems as it creates when it comes to raising children.

Sweepings is uneven storytelling; the transitions are choppy and years speed by awkwardly, as the picture tries to do too much in its eighty minutes. Still, it does capture the "empire builder with disappointing children" meme that was very much an of-the-era tale.
 
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Doctor Damage

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Killing Them Softly,..with Brad Pitt. Pretty good gangster film actually.
I watched this last night, with no expectations, and thought it was one of the best films I've ever seen. I liked the short length, I liked the great performances by a great cast, and I liked the dialogue (or writing, I guess). There were also some interesting camera shots.
 

Edward

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Oh, Harry Styles is VERY well known here in the states and dare I say, the world. While Taylor Swift is probably the biggest female pop star in the world, Harry Styles is the biggest male pop star in the world

If *I'm* familiar with Taylor Swift, it's a pretty safe bet she's huge! I doubt I'm her target market, but I have a lot of respect for how she's fought her corner in the industry. Also remember seeing her on Graham Norton with John Cleese. It was a joy to see Cleese visibly realise this wasn't just another young people's pop star he didn't know, but that she is such a sharp wit and could bounce off him with the best of them. I like her a lot as a personality. Seems a decent stick, too.
 

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