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What Was The Last Movie You Watched?

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Born to Be Bad from 1934 with Loretta Young, Cary Grant, Jackie Kelk, Marion Burns and Henry Travers


Born to be Bad, like many pre-code movies, rips through a lot of melodrama in just over an hour of runtime.

Juvenile delinquency, adoption, marital infidelity, prostitution and litigation fraud speed by with breathless audacity in this one, especially when looked at through a 2023 "social justice" lens.

Lovely Loretta Young plays a, get ready for it, twenty-three-year-old high-priced prostitute who supports the illegitimate son she had when she was fifteen.

Back then, Mother and son were taken in by a kind, older bookstore owner, played by Henry Travers. In the ensuing eight years, Young, though, went from being a sales clerk in the bookstore to an "escort." More troubling, Young has a warped philosophy of child rearing.

She teaches her son, played by Jackie Kelk, to lie, cheat and steal so that "no one will take advantage of you in life." She just laughs off the truant officer when he brings Jackie home as Young is also down on school.

That's the set up, but then all hell breaks loose. Kelk gets mildly injured when hit by a truck; Young plots with a shyster lawyer to get a big legal settlement, but the fraud is exposed in court.

This results in the man, played by Cary Grant, who owns the company of the truck involved in the accident, adopting Kelk because he and his wife, played by Marion Burns, can't have children and the judge, rightfully, rules Young unfit to be a mother.

All that took, about, only twenty minutes of screen time. Now trying to give the boy a good home, Grant and Burns are not only kind to Kelk, but they sincerely try to be kind to Young.

She, though, plots again with her crooked (and stupid) lawyer to get her boy back along with a big blackmail check from Grant whom she, now, plans to seduce.

Despite being a pre-code dripping with immorality, Born to Be Bad then pivots to a moral and happy ending that requires you to believe that Burns is the most understanding woman and wife ever put on earth. Had she been Eve, mankind would still be in the Garden of Eden.

Born to Be Bad is, obviously, not shy in its ambitions, but too much of its story is unbelievable for it to be anything more than a "delicious" soap opera that comes at you a hundred miles an hour from practically the first frame.

It's also just fun to see pre-mega-stardon Young and Grant, plus Kelk and Burns create engaging characters. Grant is good, but he's also a bit awkward here as he's yet to become the full "Cary Grant" brand we'd come to know in only a few years.

Young, too, has her issues as, while she is gorgeous to look at, her performance is uneven. She's supposed to be an uncouth, hardened tribalist whore devoid of morality, yet she keeps slipping into a nice-girl persona, sometimes, even within a scene.

Had Young been able to keep her character's portrayal consistent, the movie would have been more believable and her later conversion more moving. One wonders if director Lowell Sherman didn't see this or tried to but couldn't get a more even performance out of Young.

Flaws and all, Born to Be Bad is still a heck of an enjoyable if, sometimes, exhausting romp. It's also cool time travel to the 1930s, a fun peek at two future stars early in their careers and a reminder that some things, like litigation fraud, have been around a long time.
 
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fmffloth.jpg

Flaxy Martin from 1949 with Zachary Scott, Virginia Mayo, Douglas Kennedy, Dorothy Malone and Elisha Cook Jr.


The B-noir Flaxy Martin has a smooth mob boss, a mob lawyer looking to reclaim his soul, a psychotic mob henchman and a blonde femme fatale, yet the movie's real punch comes from an innocent girl who steps into the middle of all this noirness.

Dorothy Malone, the quicky-in-the-bookstore girl from The Big Sleep, who said yes to sex with a flash of her eyes in that one, shows here, she has acting chops and still-flashing-sex eyes playing the innocent girl who, on a whim, goes all in to help the criminal on the lam.

When a mob hitman is fingered for murder, the big boss, played by Douglas Kennedy, wants his lawyer ("the mouthpiece" in noir argot) played by Zachary Scott, to get him off, but Scott initially refuses because he wants to become a legitimate attorney.

Complicating matters, Scott's girlfriend, played by Virginia Mayo, is two-timing Scott with Kennedy. Mayo doesn't limit her sins to just two-timing, though, as we also see her beat up a woman trying to blackmail Kennedy. Mayo is a force to be reckoned with in this one.

When the woman she beat up is, later, found dead, Mayo is charged with murder. In one of those decisions made only in crazy noirland, Scott takes the rap for his girlfriend Mayo because he believes he'll beat the charge at his trial. He doesn't and it's off to jail for Scott.

In another oddly common noir plot twist, Scott escapes from the train taking him to prison, is hurt as a result and is then found by a kind woman, Malone. She patches him up, believes, sans reason, he's a decent man and goes all in to help him prove his proclaimed innocence.

First though, Scott and Malone have to get away from Elisha Cook Jr. playing, once again, a psychotic mob henchman with a Napoleon complex. He was sent by Kennedy to finish off Scott for good. He fails, but stays on Scott and Malone's trail when they steal his car.

After getting by the obligatory roadblocks looking for him (there are a lot of noir cliches in this one), Scott with Malone in tow, goes back to the city intending to find the real killer and clear his name, as if that plan ever works.

Naturally, it doesn't, but it does lead to a lot of noirish action scenes on obvious Warner Bros. backlots with a climax (no spoilers coming) where Scott gets to confront all his nemeses: his old girlfriend Flaxy, psychotic Cook Jr. and his former boss Kennedy.

Scott is excellent as the morally mixed-up lawyer who gets in way over his head, but fights hard to get out. Scott's career should have been bigger. Cook Jr., a noir perennial, is handed a beefed-up version of his standard henchman role and runs with it.

Mayo as Flaxy Martin, one of the all-time great femme fatale names, has the best scene in the movie when she smacks around the girl trying to blackmail her boss and secret lover. Mayo's blue-collar hands-on approach to the femme fatale role is frightening.

Malone is the ray of sunshine in this one even if you don't understand why a nice, law-abiding woman would risk throwing her life away on a rash decision. She says she's bored, but can't she find something short of committing a felony to add some spice to her life?

In addition to the low budget, obvious sets and cliched story, director Robert L. Bare, while good at the action sequences, often leaves his actors almost motionless in the dialogue heavy scenes, which gives them a staged feel.

Flaxy Martin, despite its many flaws, is still an enjoyable B noir for noir fans who like their movies to stay inside the genre's sandbox. Plus, amidst all the crime, greed and gunplay, innocent Dorothy Malone pops up to show that good girls can be sexy too.

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FOXTROT LAMONT

One Too Many
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Some actresses can steal a film even down from support role floor as with Dorothy Malone recast
herself girl next door with glasses femme fatale by being bookstore clerk coquette then simply remove
her glasses and roll down a window shade or two. Today's mandatory, overly hyped cinematic sexual sordidness
ruins what otherwise with chaste restraint would prove more than adequate box office.
 

Edward

Bartender
Messages
24,694
Location
London, UK
View attachment 525981
Empire of Light from 2022 with Olivia Colman, Michael Ward, Colin Firth and Toby Jones


I saw this for the first time last week, on a plane. I found it charming without being twee, and quite realistic. It certainly plays to the sympathies of the modern viewer, though it pulls no punches about the realities of the period. It's an era that I remember and a lot of it chimes with what I recall at the time (albeit my reality was skewed slightly differently, being in the North of Ireland in those days). The approach to treating mental illness depicted was very typical of the time, ditto the racism. It is all very realistic as a portrayal of that particular period in Britain, which I would regard as rather a positive. I would agree it doesn't necessarily have anything new to say about mental illness, or racism, or the slow death of independent cinema, but then I don't think that's what it really intends to do. I do think it is a very healthy, realistic view of the period, an era currently falling prey to the dangerous distortions of nostalgia marketed at kids who weren't alive then. [Thin ice, Marlowe, thin ice!] Something of an antidote to Stranger Things, though I doubt they'll find much crossover audience.

I also recently rewatched Pride, via the BBC iPlayer. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3169706/ A 2014 British picture, this rather charming little film takes on a much lesser known aspect of the 1983/4 strike by the National Union of Mineworkers at a time when the British government of the day was seeking to shut down the remaining pits, cheaper coal imports and other fossil fuels (inc. North Sea Oil & Gas, and cheaper imports of coal from abroad) being seen as the way forward. The strike was long, bitter, and the divisions of that era still resonate today ( four decades on, many have not forgiven the BBC's misrepresentation of the sequence of events at the Battle of Orgreave, for example). The story depicted in the film - a true story, albeit with the inevitable dramatic flourishes - is one of Natural Opposites Find Common Ground. The LGSM, Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners, was a fund-raising group supported by a young man called Mark Ashton. Having grown up in Northern Ireland and seen its lack, Ashton had a keen sense of the significance of intersectionality. The LGSM raise a lot of money for the miners. Eventually, they find a local community willing to receive their help, then they face a battle for acceptance. The story is not strikingly original beyond that narrative, however it is very well told. It would resonate with those who enjoyed the 'working class pride' themes of The Full Monty, though much of its value as a picture lies in its true-story nature, and the larger impact the work of a few people could have. The bit that always gets me [spoiler alert] is the ending.

The end of the film comes with the 1985 Gay Pride march in London - an era when those going on such events still faced the real potential of physical violence and other rejections. Having come to appreciate the support of the LGSM, the colliery bands turn up en masse to lead the march. That ending always gets to me, being old enough to remember how "those people" were viewed at the time, and just what a statement it was for the miners to support them like that. Of course, the NUM also became instrumental in the equality movement later on, not least in helping to bring it into the mainstream, and helping to lead the (unsuccessful) campaign against the notorious Section 28.

[/spoilers]

All done and said, it's a fascinating little picture that publicised a rather forgotten but significant chapter in British social history. Like The Full Monty, it does this by personalising the events, concentrating on a handful of individuals - in this case, actually based on real people. More overtly comedic than Empire of Light , but without trivialising the prejudices involved, in much the same way as The Full Monty uses comedy to effect. An interesting little picture which did well commercially, while also being critically respected, it sits nicely within the wider canon of films depicting industrial disputes, from On the Waterfront, through Made in Dagenham and beyond. Stellar cast, too, with great turns in particular from Imelda Staunton, Bill Nighy, Andrew Scott, and Paddy Considine among others. Special praise for Ben Schnetzer, an American actor who not only nails a convincing and consistent Northern Ireland accent (one of the hardest groups of accents, if not the hardest to reproduce convincingly for a non-native), but one which is identifiably perfect for the Portrush area where Ashton grew up. (Doubtless to many outsider ears, he will sound Scottish for most of the time - Portrush falling squarely within the old mediaeval kingdom of Dal Riata that encompassed parts of both Ireland and Scotland, this is quite normal:

1687613088946.png


Across the Spider Verse. was surprising with the theme and quality of the story. No wokeness either.

spider-man-across-the-spider-verse-fan-art-mette-miles-morales-peter-parker-v3-655494.jpg

Was this the first or the sequel? I have yet to see the sequel. The first one, though, was a lot of fun. I'd like to see
more Marvel films that do a fresh take on this sort of thing. Unlike DC, content to keep remaking Batman and Superman pictures for the main, marvel had to take risks in the early days of the MCU for the simple reason that a lot of their bigger properties were still out on licence to someone else (Sony had Spiderman, someone else had the X Men; there's a nice gag in the first Deadpool picture in which they directly reference the fact there are only certain X Men characters they can use). It forced them to take a chance on some of their lesser well known properties - starting with Iron Man, then there was Ant Man, the Guardians of the Galaxy... it did them good. Unfortunately, they've gone down the route in recent years of forever upping the stakes and pushing the crossovers. I loved the first of the Tom Holland Spider pictures. Then they stuck him in a variation on a Iron Man suit.... not the same. Still, the first of the Spiderverse pictures was a nice look at alternative versions of the character. I liked the noir Spiderman especially - the material from which he was sourced would make a wonderful film of its own. Maybe seeing the success of Joker, the MCU might take a chance on a one-shot with that.

I did last week watch the latest Ant man / Wasp picture on the Quantumverse thingy. It's.... ok. There's a lot to like in it, despite Bill Murray being criminally underused. The fact that it didn't have every superhero in it ever having to save the universe entire was rather a plus. If they want to keep pushing the ensemble pictures, I wish they'd just bring in the Beyonder and run the Secret Wars storyline, that would be a change.
 

AmateisGal

I'll Lock Up
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6,126
Location
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View attachment 527742
Flaxy Martin from 1949 with Zachary Scott, Virginia Mayo, Douglas Kennedy, Dorothy Malone and Elisha Cook Jr.


The B-noir Flaxy Martin has a smooth mob boss, a mob lawyer looking to reclaim his soul, a psychotic mob henchman and a blonde femme fatale, yet the movie's real punch comes from an innocent girl who steps into the middle of all this noirness.

Dorothy Malone, the quicky-in-the-bookstore girl from The Big Sleep, who said yes to sex with a flash of her eyes in that one, shows here, she has acting chops and still-flashing-sex eyes playing the innocent girl who, on a whim, goes all in to help the criminal on the lam.

When a mob hitman is fingered for murder, the big boss, played by Douglas Kennedy, wants his lawyer ("the mouthpiece" in noir argot) played by Zachary Scott, to get him off, but Scott initially refuses because he wants to become a legitimate attorney.

Complicating matters, Scott's girlfriend, played by Virginia Mayo, is two-timing Scott with Kennedy. Mayo doesn't limit her sins to just two-timing, though, as we also see her beat up a woman trying to blackmail Kennedy. Mayo is a force to be reckoned with in this one.

When the woman she beat up is, later, found dead, Mayo is charged with murder. In one of those decisions made only in crazy noirland, Scott takes the rap for his girlfriend Mayo because he believes he'll beat the charge at his trial. He doesn't and it's off to jail for Scott.

In another oddly common noir plot twist, Scott escapes from the train taking him to prison, is hurt as a result and is then found by a kind woman, Malone. She patches him up, believes, sans reason, he's a decent man and goes all in to help him prove his proclaimed innocence.

First though, Scott and Malone have to get away from Elisha Cook Jr. playing, once again, a psychotic mob henchman with a Napoleon complex. He was sent by Kennedy to finish off Scott for good. He fails, but stays on Scott and Malone's trail when they steal his car.

After getting by the obligatory roadblocks looking for him (there are a lot of noir cliches in this one), Scott with Malone in tow, goes back to the city intending to find the real killer and clear his name, as if that plan ever works.

Naturally, it doesn't, but it does lead to a lot of noirish action scenes on obvious Warner Bros. backlots with a climax (no spoilers coming) where Scott gets to confront all his nemeses: his old girlfriend Flaxy, psychotic Cook Jr. and his former boss Kennedy.

Scott is excellent as the morally mixed-up lawyer who gets in way over his head, but fights hard to get out. Scott's career should have been bigger. Cook Jr., a noir perennial, is handed a beefed-up version of his standard henchman role and runs with it.

Mayo as Flaxy Martin, one of the all-time great femme fatale names, has the best scene in the movie when she smacks around the girl trying to blackmail her boss and secret lover. Mayo's blue-collar hands-on approach to the femme fatale role is frightening.

Malone is the ray of sunshine in this one even if you don't understand why a nice, law-abiding woman would risk throwing her life away on a rash decision. She says she's bored, but can't she find something short of committing a felony to add some spice to her life?

In addition to the low budget, obvious sets and cliched story, director Robert L. Bare, while good at the action sequences, often leaves his actors almost motionless in the dialogue heavy scenes, which gives them a staged feel.

Flaxy Martin, despite its many flaws, is still an enjoyable B noir for noir fans who like their movies to stay inside the genre's sandbox. Plus, amidst all the crime, greed and gunplay, innocent Dorothy Malone pops up to show that good girls can be sexy too.

View attachment 527744
Really great review, @Fading Fast . I'm now watching Flaxy Martin for the third time, which means I probably need to add it to my DVD collection.
 

Herb Roflcopter

One of the Regulars
Messages
103
Since Indy 5 is coming out very soon, I was telling myself to hold an Indy marathon and rewatch the first four films. I'm a bit busy to do it all at once, so I thought I'd at least give Temple of Doom a view, since I hadn't really sat down and watched it from start to finish in decades.

I still enjoyed it, but I must admit that as a kid the film was 100% fun. (I was around 11-12 years old when it came out in 1984) As an adult, some of the relentless brutality left me a little uneasy. I can now see what some of the critics had been saying years ago. Still, the final 30 minutes is a nonstop thrill ride and the very ending left me satisfied, which made up for the earlier intensity.

I wouldn't disagree that the film does have its flaws, but I'd still watch it again over one of the Transformers movies or those Fast & Furious movies, of which I have never seen any.
 

AmateisGal

I'll Lock Up
Messages
6,126
Location
Nebraska
Since Indy 5 is coming out very soon, I was telling myself to hold an Indy marathon and rewatch the first four films. I'm a bit busy to do it all at once, so I thought I'd at least give Temple of Doom a view, since I hadn't really sat down and watched it from start to finish in decades.

I still enjoyed it, but I must admit that as a kid the film was 100% fun. (I was around 11-12 years old when it came out in 1984) As an adult, some of the relentless brutality left me a little uneasy. I can now see what some of the critics had been saying years ago. Still, the final 30 minutes is a nonstop thrill ride and the very ending left me satisfied, which made up for the earlier intensity.

I wouldn't disagree that the film does have its flaws, but I'd still watch it again over one of the Transformers movies or those Fast & Furious movies, of which I have never seen any.
I just avoid Temple of Doom. Too much brutality and too many creepy crawly creatures.

Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was just overall bad.

I really hope the new film is like the first and third installments of the franchise.
 
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Double Harness from 1933 with Ann Harding, William Powell and Reginald Owen


Double Harness fully leverages the freedom of being a pre-code movie to intelligently and thoughtfully examine how a single woman plots a marriage of convenience only to have everything turned upside down on her once she accomplishes her goal.

In this short, wonderful movie, the quietly beautiful and talented Ann Harding plays the nice and kind older sister of a once-wealthy family now struggling in the Depression.

She starts dating the well-to-do playboy scion of a shipping empire, played by William Powell. Knowing he doesn't want to get married, but needing money for her family and herself, she contrives a way to trap him.

Harding starts sleeping with him (yup) and, then, as secretly arranged by Harding, has her father "discover" them together, which forces gentleman Powell to offer to marry Harding, who accepts.

Powell and Harding, as was the norm at the time, then plan to have an amicable divorce after a "respectable interval," because he only married her as an obligation. This norm also meant Harding would get a reasonable "settlement."

Harding, a decent woman forced by circumstances to do something out of character, then tries to make her marriage work by being a good, smart and supportive wife. Driven by guilt and integrity, she even tells Powell she won't accept any alimony when they divorce.

Harding's plan to turn her contrived marriage into a real one might have worked, too, if Harding's spoiled spendthrift younger sister hadn't pestered her and Powell for money.

The sister, in a mean and bratty move because she' angry her sister, Harding, has married a wealthy man, exposes to the unaware-until-now Powell that he was tricked by Harding into the marriage.

With everything blowing up in Harding's face, the movie races to a climax. We want to see their marriage survive - Powell and Harding are now truly in love - but respect that Powell is rightfully angry at being duped.

There are a few related side stories including Harding's bratty sister having a failing marriage because she is outspending her husband's reasonable income. Of the two siblings, Harding is the keeper.

Also, Powell's loyal manservant, played by the always enjoyable Reginald Owen, becomes a Harding advocate and, at Harding's direction, Powell begins to take an active and healthy interest in his own family's shipping business.

It's a smartly constructed story that has your sympathies lying where they ostensibly shouldn't be, with Harding, a woman who tricked a nice man into marrying her under false pretenses.

Harding believably conveys the feeling that she hates what she did and is sincerely trying to make amends. It's a wonderful real-life type of nuance that respects its audience.

Harding and Powell also have such incredible chemistry - Powell had that with so many of his co stars one has to assume he was easy to work with - that you can't help rooting for them to stay together.

Kudos to the writers and director John Cromwell for making a movie long on intelligent and realistic dialogue and situations that challenges easy moral answers by weaving in the messy grayness of real life. And all that happens in just over an hour of screen time.

From a play, Double Harness is light on action, but it doesn't need it as its story is engaging and Powell and Harding are so appealing that you are frustrated by the rushed ending.

Other than a few pointless slapstick moments, Double Harness is everything a pre-code movie should be: a well-acted, thoughtful, honest-about-sex, morally complex and smartly written picture that entertains in a way that respects its audience's intelligence.

It's a shame that, with the coming of the enforcement of the Motion Picture Production Code in only a year, fewer movies would be made that had adult characters actually acting like adults as they do in Double Harness.
 

Edward

Bartender
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Since Indy 5 is coming out very soon, I was telling myself to hold an Indy marathon and rewatch the first four films. I'm a bit busy to do it all at once, so I thought I'd at least give Temple of Doom a view, since I hadn't really sat down and watched it from start to finish in decades.

I still enjoyed it, but I must admit that as a kid the film was 100% fun. (I was around 11-12 years old when it came out in 1984) As an adult, some of the relentless brutality left me a little uneasy. I can now see what some of the critics had been saying years ago. Still, the final 30 minutes is a nonstop thrill ride and the very ending left me satisfied, which made up for the earlier intensity.

I wouldn't disagree that the film does have its flaws, but I'd still watch it again over one of the Transformers movies or those Fast & Furious movies, of which I have never seen any.


I have a lot of affection for Temple as it's the first one I saw. I was not quite ten in the Summer of 84, and loved it. Raiders came next for me, as the big Christmas Day film on UK TV in 1984. It is a bit more full on in some respects than the other films, though the one bit that niggles me a little these days is it playing hard into the white saviour trope... though I can kinda live with that on the basis of staying true to the nature of the material it pastiches.

The bit that always strikes me as so much better done that I remember every rewatch is the kid - or, more to the point, Jones' interaction with the kid. He doesn't function as a parent per se. It's more of a relationship between a kid who has had to grow up far too fast and is functionally a miniature adult, and a man who in some respects hasn't fully matured and can still be a bit of a big kid. It's a fascinating portrayal, very well done imo. Contrasts nicely with Indy playing the son dynamic to an estranged father in Crusade, and then flipping that to take on the estranged father role himself in Skull. I'm looking forward to seeing him return to the mentor role with his goddaughter in this new one.
 
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Captains Courageous from 1937 with Freddie Bartholomew, Spencer Tracy, Lionel Barrymore, Melvyn Douglas and John Carradine


Most children "come of age" over several years, but in Captains Courageous, a spoiled, bratty fifteen-year-old is forced to come of age in only a few months when, after falling off of a cruise ship, he is rescued by a fisherman in a dory from a nearby trawler.

Freddie Bartholomew plays the spoiled son of a kind, wealthy widower, played by Melvin Douglas, who gives his boy everything he wants, but not the daily love and discipline he needs.

After getting expelled from boarding school, dad takes his son on the cruise ship that, after Bartholomew tumbles overboard, leads the boy to the trawler and a life altering experience.

Spencer Tracy, in an Oscar-winning performance, plays the Portuguese fisherman who pulls Bartholomew out of the drink, while Lionel Barrymore plays the kind, wise, but no-nonsense captain of the commercial trawler that takes Bartholomew in.

Once on board and once he realizes his father's money doesn't impress the men (most don't believe him anyway) and that he'll be stuck on the boat for several months, Bartholomew does what any spoiled brant would do, he kicks, screams and sulks.

Now the movie kicks into gear. After being a spoiled brat doesn't work, Bartholomew slowly comes around to wanting to be part of the trawler's community, which is a mix of high-spirited camaraderie and hard work.

Bartholomew attaches himself to Tracy, who fathers the boy with the necessary balance of kindness and discipline, of understanding and measured-but-never-abusive punishment that had been missing in the boy's upbringing.

The movie's magic is seeing Bartholomew learn through both trial and error and by watching the adults behave properly and, sometimes, improperly. He slowly comes to understand the value of self respect earned through hard work, integrity and kindness.

Using Rudyard Kipling source material, not-subtle director Victor Fleming has the boy learn those lessons from Tracy, with big assists from wise-beyond-reality Barrymore and several of the other men, even the gruff one played by John Carradine.

Mickey Rooney, on the brink of childhood mega stardom, is impressive in a minor role as Barrymore's son who simply takes Bartholomew as he is, which is a lesson in itself to Bartholomew. Rooney already has a veteran actor's understanding of nuance and subtlety.

Douglas, the boy's rich dad, avoids being a cliche as he eventually realizes that his kid is a spoiled brat, but he also owns up to his failure as a dad being responsible for that outcome. It's an awareness that was often lacking in that less-introspective era of "stoic" men.

Even with Tracy's Oscar-winning performance, this is Bartholomew's movie from beginning to end as, for the movie to work, the thirteen-year-old actor has to sell you on his incredible transformation and he does. It's one of the great child-acting performances of all time.

The main story - the boy becoming a respectful, honest and sympathetic person through hard work and exposure to the traditional values of this tight community - drives the movie, but the incredible stock footage of real fishing boats in action is worthy of a documentary.

Unfortunately though, nobody is going to be fooled by the, mainly, studio shots set against an ocean projected on a background screen that are used for most of the movie. The story, dialogue and acting are good enough, however, to overcome that hokeyness.

Nineteen-thirties Hollywood also gets a chance to show, again, how Christianity can be a believable and uplifting theme in a movie. At the story's core, it is the Christian values of the fishermen that turn the boy around, all without being too preachy or dogmatic.

In Captains Courageous, Kipling, Fleming and MGM's talent pool take you on an inspiring journey where a spoiled brat becomes a thoughtful and honest young man because of his interaction with "simple" fishermen.

It is this moving portrayal of a young boy, a boy who had everything and nothing, a boy who learns what true character is only after he is stripped of his identity and tossed into an alien environment, that has made Captains Courageous a classic.
 

Julian Shellhammer

Practically Family
Messages
851
View attachment 528304
Captains Courageous from 1937 with Freddie Bartholomew, Spencer Tracy, Lionel Barrymore, Melvyn Douglas and John Carradine


Most children "come of age" over several years, but in Captains Courageous, a spoiled, bratty fifteen-year-old is forced to come of age in only a few months when, after falling off of a cruise ship, he is rescued by a fisherman in a dory from a nearby trawler.

Freddie Bartholomew plays the spoiled son of a kind, wealthy widower, played by Melvin Douglas, who gives his boy everything he wants, but not the daily love and discipline he needs.

After getting expelled from boarding school, dad takes his son on the cruise ship that, after Bartholomew tumbles overboard, leads the boy to the trawler and a life altering experience.

Spencer Tracy, in an Oscar-winning performance, plays the Portuguese fisherman who pulls Bartholomew out of the drink, while Lionel Barrymore plays the kind, wise, but no-nonsense captain of the commercial trawler that takes Bartholomew in.

Once on board and once he realizes his father's money doesn't impress the men (most don't believe him anyway) and that he'll be stuck on the boat for several months, Bartholomew does what any spoiled brant would do, he kicks, screams and sulks.

Now the movie kicks into gear. After being a spoiled brat doesn't work, Bartholomew slowly comes around to wanting to be part of the trawler's community, which is a mix of high-spirited camaraderie and hard work.

Bartholomew attaches himself to Tracy, who fathers the boy with the necessary balance of kindness and discipline, of understanding and measured-but-never-abusive punishment that had been missing in the boy's upbringing.

The movie's magic is seeing Bartholomew learn through both trial and error and by watching the adults behave properly and, sometimes, improperly. He slowly comes to understand the value of self respect earned through hard work, integrity and kindness.

Using Rudyard Kipling source material, not-subtle director Victor Fleming has the boy learn those lessons from Tracy, with big assists from wise-beyond-reality Barrymore and several of the other men, even the gruff one played by John Carradine.

Mickey Rooney, on the brink of childhood mega stardom, is impressive in a minor role as Barrymore's son who simply takes Bartholomew as he is, which is a lesson in itself to Bartholomew. Rooney already has a veteran actor's understanding of nuance and subtlety.

Douglas, the boy's rich dad, avoids being a cliche as he eventually realizes that his kid is a spoiled brat, but he also owns up to his failure as a dad being responsible for that outcome. It's an awareness that was often lacking in that less-introspective era of "stoic" men.

Even with Tracy's Oscar-winning performance, this is Bartholomew's movie from beginning to end as, for the movie to work, the thirteen-year-old actor has to sell you on his incredible transformation and he does. It's one of the great child-acting performances of all time.

The main story - the boy becoming a respectful, honest and sympathetic person through hard work and exposure to the traditional values of this tight community - drives the movie, but the incredible stock footage of real fishing boats in action is worthy of a documentary.

Unfortunately though, nobody is going to be fooled by the, mainly, studio shots set against an ocean projected on a background screen that are used for most of the movie. The story, dialogue and acting are good enough, however, to overcome that hokeyness.

Nineteen-thirties Hollywood also gets a chance to show, again, how Christianity can be a believable and uplifting theme in a movie. At the story's core, it is the Christian values of the fishermen that turn the boy around, all without being too preachy or dogmatic.

In Captains Courageous, Kipling, Fleming and MGM's talent pool take you on an inspiring journey where a spoiled brat becomes a thoughtful and honest young man because of his interaction with "simple" fishermen.

It is this moving portrayal of a young boy, a boy who had everything and nothing, a boy who learns what true character is only after he is stripped of his identity and tossed into an alien environment, that has made Captains Courageous a classic.
Have you had the chance to read the book by Kipling? Laboring under the idea that it was one of the literary notables that "I should read," I was completely taken in by the story, the characters, and the writing. It was my fault, thinking the tale would be something out of Uncle Neddy's Adventure Lessons for Youth. Wrong; it is story-telling of the highest quality. The transformation of Harvey Cheyene, Jr. is believable, as are the characters. Recommended reading.
I should, after your review, watch the film to see how well Hollywood told the story-
 

Julian Shellhammer

Practically Family
Messages
851
Unintentionally, it was The Hedy Lamar Film Festival, featuring two movies chosen at random that starred Lamarr.
Dishonored Lady (1947) presents Hedy as a successful art director rapidly engulfed by a nervous breakdown. On a therapist's advice, she walks away from the pressures of high finance and tries to rediscover herself while painting cityscapes.
Enter Dennis O'Keefe, who can play bad guys or good guys, and here he is just a regular dude who makes a break-through in some sort of cell science (I don't recollect what exactly, but his apartment lab has mice, an escaped one of which enables Hedy and Dennis to meet cute). However, Hedy's personal life while at the pinnacle of her career was somewhat, ahhhhh, "checkered," and persons from that part of her life keep showing up. Will her relationship with Dennis survive the revelation of her previous life choices? Rest assured, things work out.

Followed by The Strange Woman (1946) with Hedy and Gene Lockhart and Louis Hayward and George Sanders in a turbulent soap-opera about a rotten kid who grows into a rotten adult, using all of the spineless men of Bangor, Maine, in a ruthless drive to riches. Honestly, we watched to the end just to see what finally happens to Hedy's character, and, to put it bluntly, we thought the whole movie was, in the words of the Missus, a downer.
(NB: both movies were produced by Hunt Stromberg, which made me think, "Hey, a verb and a noun!" and my mind coughed up Get Carter)
 
Messages
16,755
Location
New York City
Have you had the chance to read the book by Kipling? Laboring under the idea that it was one of the literary notables that "I should read," I was completely taken in by the story, the characters, and the writing. It was my fault, thinking the tale would be something out of Uncle Neddy's Adventure Lessons for Youth. Wrong; it is story-telling of the highest quality. The transformation of Harvey Cheyene, Jr. is believable, as are the characters. Recommended reading.
I should, after your review, watch the film to see how well Hollywood told the story-

I appreciate the color. I have not read it, but on your recommendation, will add it to the list.

Unintentionally, it was The Hedy Lamar Film Festival, featuring two movies chosen at random that starred Lamarr.
Dishonored Lady (1947) presents Hedy as a successful art director rapidly engulfed by a nervous breakdown. On a therapist's advice, she walks away from the pressures of high finance and tries to rediscover herself while painting cityscapes.
Enter Dennis O'Keefe, who can play bad guys or good guys, and here he is just a regular dude who makes a break-through in some sort of cell science (I don't recollect what exactly, but his apartment lab has mice, an escaped one of which enables Hedy and Dennis to meet cute). However, Hedy's personal life while at the pinnacle of her career was somewhat, ahhhhh, "checkered," and persons from that part of her life keep showing up. Will her relationship with Dennis survive the revelation of her previous life choices? Rest assured, things work out.

Followed by The Strange Woman (1946) with Hedy and Gene Lockhart and Louis Hayward and George Sanders in a turbulent soap-opera about a rotten kid who grows into a rotten adult, using all of the spineless men of Bangor, Maine, in a ruthless drive to riches. Honestly, we watched to the end just to see what finally happens to Hedy's character, and, to put it bluntly, we thought the whole movie was, in the words of the Missus, a downer.
(NB: both movies were produced by Hunt Stromberg, which made me think, "Hey, a verb and a noun!" and my mind coughed up Get Carter)

I've seen the first movie (you reviewed it very well), but not the second one. The second one's cast alone would get me to watch it.
 
Messages
16,755
Location
New York City
executing_strategy_05.jpg

Hangmen Also Die! from 1943 with Anna Lee, Brian Donlevy, Walter Brennan and Gene Lockhart


Seen through one lens, Hangmen Also Die! is a series of trolly car "thought experiments" in ethics, as the central question of the movie is whether an assassin of a high Nazi official should turn himself in to prevent the retaliation killings of hundreds of Czech civilians.

(Oversimplified, the "trolley car thought experiment" asks the ethical question if it is morally right to intervene to save five people if your intervention will lead to the death of fewer, but different, people. Effectively, does an individual have a right to make those choices?)

In this fictionalized account of the actual killing of Reinhard Heydrich, the German "Over-protector" of Czechoslovakia in WWII, known as "the Hangman," the Czech underground and the assassin, played by Brian Donlevy, face a brutal trolly car dilemma.

A Czech woman, played by Anna Lee, who, by chance, sees Donlevy running away after the assassination, helps him escape by misdirecting the police. Later that night, with no place else to go, Donlevy shows up at Lee's house.

Lee doesn't want to involve her family, but she also doesn't want to turn Donlevy away. Her father, a professor, played by Walter Brennan, figures out what is going on leading to debates with his daughter, they have the brains in this family, about what effectively is, a trolley car problem.

Lee also tries to keep her fiance, played by Dennis O'Keefe out of it, but he gets suspicious of Donlevy's closeness with Lee because, in trying to protect O'Keefe, Lee and Donlevy don't tell him that Donlevy's the assassin.

It's easy today to say "I would do...," but Donlevy was carrying out an assignment and turning him in could be seen as caving to Nazi terror. Yet as more innocent people die, the pressure on Donlevy, Lee and the Czech underground to do something becomes intense.

The Nazis, desperate to find the assassin, also tighten their grip on Lee and Donlevy, the main suspects, by arresting Lee's father, Brennan. They increase their pressure, as well, on a prominent Czech collaborator played with Quisling-like sliminess by Gene Lockhart.

Being a propaganda movie, the Nazis are shown as ruthlessly evil (which they often were), the collaborators as spineless sellouts (which they often were) and the Czech people as fearless loyal resistance fighters (which some were).

The big twist comes when Lee, Donlevy and the underground hit on an audacious plan to save the hostages by pinning the blame for the assassination on Lockhart. It's a convoluted plan that is fun and nail biting to see attempted, but still hard to believe.

Director Fritz Lang takes about thirty minutes too-long telling his story, so the movie drags in parts, but Lang also understands how propaganda works. From the Nazis' hunt for the assassin, to the plight of the hostages, Lang pushes all the right emotional buttons.

Famed cinematographer James Wong Howe and Lang employ many elements of what would become classic film noir - stark black and white images, long shadows, pitched camera angles, harrowing runs through dark streets - to create a sinister atmosphere.

Anna Lee is the surprising standout star in this one delivering a career performance as the smart, strong woman trying to balance the right thing to do for Czechoslovakia versus her love for her father. Her hand trembles a bit, but she never pulls the trolley-car lever wrong.

Donlevy, though, is too wooden as the assassin to truly inspire you. This leaves the field clear for Brennan, as the "intellectual" who shows physical courage when called upon, to remind you of the heroic sacrifices made by so many "regular" Czechs during the war.

Dennis O'Keefe, Lee's fiance, also gets to play a hero toward the end, but his role could've lifted out completely without hurting the movie one bit.

Hangmen Also Die! is a very good, but not great WWII propaganda film that seems to have fallen off the radar. That's a shame as it has an engaging story to tell, inspiring performances from Lee and Brennan and excellent noir cinematography.

It's also not often that a movie so perfectly instantiates a famous thought experiment in ethics like the trolley car problem. Sometimes that "intellectual stuff" does apply to real life.
 

FOXTROT LAMONT

One Too Many
Messages
1,388
Location
St John's Wood, London UK
I noticed how a global capitalist market flies to America for security amidst a recently aborted coup d'etat.
A Friedmanite thru and thru, I lectured all London how the Fed can stay instead of raising because of last week.
Talked constantly so much that I've been dubbed ''Bishop.''
 
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Location
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765id_020_w1600.jpg

The Bad Sleep Well from 1960, a Japanese movie


This 1960 offering from noted Japanese director Akira Kurosawa is a heck of a complicated story about corporate corruption that is stylized as an operatic film noir with Japanese characteristics. It's a lot to take in, but it is thoroughly engaging throughout.

The Bad Sleep Well's story starts and ends with the Public Development Corporation (PDC), which is government funded, rich, powerful and corrupt to its core. Kickbacks, bribes, rigged bids and even murder are all part of its "business model."

It takes a bit to get your sea legs in this slowly revealed plot, but the core story has a young man, under an assumed identity, becoming the private secretary to a senior executive at the PDC, while also marrying that executive's handicapped daughter, played by Kyoko Kagawa.

Toshiro Mifune plays the young executive who, we eventually learn, is on a revenge mission because the PDC either killed or drove his father, an executive at the company, to suicide so as to end a corruption investigation of the company.

Mifune is the illegitimate son of the dead executive and, making matters even more convoluted, he assumed another identity before becoming a private secretary and marrying Kagawa.

Mifune's revenge plot is insanely complex as it involves hiding a fake suicide and using the man to appear as a ghostly figure to frighten another executive. It also involves a frame up, a kidnapping and a quasi suicide, and those are just the highlights.

To understand any of this, one has to understand that in early 1960s Japan, corporate loyalty to both the company and its executives had a religious-like quality where one's entire identity was wrapped up in that loyalty.

In a corrupt company like the PDC, that loyalty gets warped into a mafia-style omertà. Employees are willing to lie to the police and commit an "honor" suicide, echoing the samurai tradition of seppuku, just to protect the company and its senior executives.

In the hands of Kurosawa, all of this plays out like a mashup of Kabuki Theater and a Greek Tragedy with a film noir overlay that has a high body count, much "face saving," several "honor" suicides and buried-for-generation family secrets spilling out.

Amidst all this tragedy sits a moving and sad love story between two broken people: Mifune, the illegitimate son, and Kagawa, the beautiful but handicapped (she has a severe limp) boss' daughter, whom Mifune only married as part of his revenge plot.

Mifune, initially, ignores her after they marry as the marriage is just part of his strategy, but then, quietly and touchingly, he falls in love with sweet, sad and kind Kagawa. He has so much vested in his revenge plot, though, that his love, too, might have to be sacrificed.

Kurosawa never lets up. The climax (no spoilers coming) is brutal, exhausting and demoralizing as, after all the bodies are accounted for and the last corrupt detail is either revealed or buried forever, only the bad will sleep well.

Filmed in beautiful black and white with economically growing but still scarred-by-war Japan as the backdrop, the perfectly titled The Bad Sleep Well has a striking film noir / post-apocalypse style that is uniquely Japanese.

It is too complex, tries too hard to be an epic and goes on for too long, but Kurosawa's The Bad Sleep Well is still an impressive, stylistically captivating and engaging movie that says something timeless about man while revealing something meaningful about post-war Japan.

otbswjflgif.jpg
 

FOXTROT LAMONT

One Too Many
Messages
1,388
Location
St John's Wood, London UK
Post war Japan remains shrouded in coal black shadows that still obscure clarity today, which is why period
films like Memoirs of a Geisha draw me like a moth to a candle's flame. Jerry Lewis' Geisha Boy while predictably
madcap nevertheless opened a window, not just drew back curtains for those curious like myself.
 

AmateisGal

I'll Lock Up
Messages
6,126
Location
Nebraska
View attachment 528946
Hangmen Also Die! from 1943 with Anna Lee, Brian Donlevy, Walter Brennan and Gene Lockhart


Seen through one lens, Hangmen Also Die! is a series of trolly car "thought experiments" in ethics, as the central question of the movie is whether an assassin of a high Nazi official should turn himself in to prevent the retaliation killings of hundreds of Czech civilians.

(Oversimplified, the "trolley car thought experiment" asks the ethical question if it is morally right to intervene to save five people if your intervention will lead to the death of fewer, but different, people. Effectively, does an individual have a right to make those choices?)

In this fictionalized account of the actual killing of Reinhard Heydrich, the German "Over-protector" of Czechoslovakia in WWII, known as "the Hangman," the Czech underground and the assassin, played by Brian Donlevy, face a brutal trolly car dilemma.

A Czech woman, played by Anna Lee, who, by chance, sees Donlevy running away after the assassination, helps him escape by misdirecting the police. Later that night, with no place else to go, Donlevy shows up at Lee's house.

Lee doesn't want to involve her family, but she also doesn't want to turn Donlevy away. Her father, a professor, played by Walter Brennan, figures out what is going on leading to debates with his daughter, they have the brains in this family, about what effectively is, a trolley car problem.

Lee also tries to keep her fiance, played by Dennis O'Keefe out of it, but he gets suspicious of Donlevy's closeness with Lee because, in trying to protect O'Keefe, Lee and Donlevy don't tell him that Donlevy's the assassin.

It's easy today to say "I would do...," but Donlevy was carrying out an assignment and turning him in could be seen as caving to Nazi terror. Yet as more innocent people die, the pressure on Donlevy, Lee and the Czech underground to do something becomes intense.

The Nazis, desperate to find the assassin, also tighten their grip on Lee and Donlevy, the main suspects, by arresting Lee's father, Brennan. They increase their pressure, as well, on a prominent Czech collaborator played with Quisling-like sliminess by Gene Lockhart.

Being a propaganda movie, the Nazis are shown as ruthlessly evil (which they often were), the collaborators as spineless sellouts (which they often were) and the Czech people as fearless loyal resistance fighters (which some were).

The big twist comes when Lee, Donlevy and the underground hit on an audacious plan to save the hostages by pinning the blame for the assassination on Lockhart. It's a convoluted plan that is fun and nail biting to see attempted, but still hard to believe.

Director Fritz Lang takes about thirty minutes too-long telling his story, so the movie drags in parts, but Lang also understands how propaganda works. From the Nazis' hunt for the assassin, to the plight of the hostages, Lang pushes all the right emotional buttons.

Famed cinematographer James Wong Howe and Lang employ many elements of what would become classic film noir - stark black and white images, long shadows, pitched camera angles, harrowing runs through dark streets - to create a sinister atmosphere.

Anna Lee is the surprising standout star in this one delivering a career performance as the smart, strong woman trying to balance the right thing to do for Czechoslovakia versus her love for her father. Her hand trembles a bit, but she never pulls the trolley-car lever wrong.

Donlevy, though, is too wooden as the assassin to truly inspire you. This leaves the field clear for Brennan, as the "intellectual" who shows physical courage when called upon, to remind you of the heroic sacrifices made by so many "regular" Czechs during the war.

Dennis O'Keefe, Lee's fiance, also gets to play a hero toward the end, but his role could've lifted out completely without hurting the movie one bit.

Hangmen Also Die! is a very good, but not great WWII propaganda film that seems to have fallen off the radar. That's a shame as it has an engaging story to tell, inspiring performances from Lee and Brennan and excellent noir cinematography.

It's also not often that a movie so perfectly instantiates a famous thought experiment in ethics like the trolley car problem. Sometimes that "intellectual stuff" does apply to real life.
I like this movie. But like you said, it's good, but not great.
 

AmateisGal

I'll Lock Up
Messages
6,126
Location
Nebraska
Tetris about how a Dutch-American name Henk Rogers obtained the licensing and patent for the video game Tetris. Seeing how Communist Russia freaked out over a video game was pretty eye-opening. Based on a true story, but I don't know how faithful it is to what really happened.
 
Messages
12,356
Location
Germany
Say, what you want.
But as long as Martin Sheen is alive, they should finally make a new The Final Countdown, Part 2!

I tell you, I would watch that!!

As long as the USS Nimitz is in service, it would be surely much easier to make the production. I don't think, US Navy wouldn't like to be partner, again.

Or I'm totally wrong?
 

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