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What Was The Last Movie You Watched?

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The Sicilian Clan from 1969 with Alain Delon, Jean Gabin and Lino Ventura


The Sicilian Clan is a classic heist movie with cool 1960s French style and serious acting heft. It also has a fresh take on the age-old game of jewelry robbery, plus plenty of mob intrigue and a dogged French detective stalking the bad guys throughout.

Opening with a dramatic escape from police custody by a notorious jewel thief and cop killer, played by Alain Delon, the movie sets a fast pace as we learn Delon's escape was planned by the head, played by Jean Gabin, of a mob family,

Gabin wants Delon out of jail as Delon, while incarcerated, has discovered the security plans for a traveling jewelry exhibit, which the older Gabin wants to steal as his swan song to crime before retiring.

High-profile Delon's escape puts a smart, weary French detective, played by Lino Ventura, on the case. From wiretapping Delon's sister's phone, to following every small lead, Ventura is always only a few steps behind.

The heart of the movie is the jewelry heist itself, which morphs from a traditional break-in into a hijacking of the security plane used for ferrying the jewelry exhibit to different countries. It's a gripping scene that doesn't exhaust you as some modern action sequences can.

The post-heist denouement, no spoilers coming, is driven, as it is in so many movies, by unnecessary mistakes owing to some of the gang members’ greed, (of course) lust and betrayals. Gang discipline is the Achilles heel of almost every movie heist.

The Sicilian Clan has its action moments, but it is a plot- and character-driven movie. It slowly builds to its heist scene as we learn about Delon, Gabin and Ventura. Theirs is an complex triangle where the three play a sophisticated game of cops-and-robbers chess.

Delon is the least interesting character as he is psychotic. He exists solely for himself and kills without emotion. Gabin feels like a real mob boss who has to balance everyday family obligations against the pressures of running a large illegal business.

Ventura, though, is the most interesting character as he's smart, resourceful but flawed. He makes mistakes, but then, picks himself back up and continues the pursuit. He provides the story's grounding as detective work is a plodding contrast to the criminals' daring exploits.

Director and co-writer Henri Verneuil spent the time necessary to create these complex characters. It helped that in Delon, Gabin and Ventura he had the acting talent of three of France's most noted stars of that era.

In just a few years, The Godfather would become the iconic mafia movie with its brilliant but exaggerated soap opera portrayal of a crime family. For a more realistic portrayal of a mafia family, though, there are movies like The Sicilian Clan.

Today, directors like Guy Ritchie, in movies like The Gentlemen, are making outstanding mob movies. They didn't, however, spring de novo as you can see the roots of these new fast-moving, personality-driven pictures in the stylish and engaging The Sicilian Clan.
 

FOXTROT LAMONT

One Too Many
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1,388
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St John's Wood, London UK
From Here To Eternity (1953). Its title taken off Rudyard Kipling, filmed black and white by director Fred Zinneman.
Burt Lancaster, Deborah Kerr, Montgomery Clift, Donna Reed, and Frank Sinatra star in this Schofield Barracks classic wrapped historical romance set during the closing Hawaiian prewar chapter when men and women fell in love, oblivious to fate and fortune. Critics there be yet this story stands narrate of history when Hate plays chess with Love while Life opposes Death. Life is cruel and in From Here To Eternity prewar fateful chess is played without mercy shown either side.

Seen with cold beer, ''the wine of life.'' xcerpt From Here To Eternity, James Jones
 
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Julian Shellhammer

Practically Family
Messages
851
White Christmas (1954) with Bing, Danny, Rosemary, and Vera-Ellen, dir. Michael Curtis. The romantic interludes slowed down the movie for the grandkids, but the humor holds up fine, both physical and character-wise. The production numbers are swirlingly dazzling.
Also, the Prep and Landing shorts, on the Disney+ service.
 

FOXTROT LAMONT

One Too Many
Messages
1,388
Location
St John's Wood, London UK
The Thin Man. A 1934 Myrna Loy.
Easily the most beautiful woman who ever graced silver screen. And her early photos reveal not merely
a lovely lass but a lady of grace and elegance swirled sensuous sin to rival Salome.
Today's crowd of consumate professionals do not even approach her elegance much less surpass Ms Loy.

See The Rains Came (1939) with Tyrone Power.
 

Worf

I'll Lock Up
Messages
5,172
Location
Troy, New York, USA
Easily the most beautiful woman who ever graced silver screen. And her early photos reveal not merely
a lovely lass but a lady of grace and elegance swirled sensuous sin to rival Salome.
Today's crowd of consumate professionals do not even approach her elegance much less surpass Ms Loy.

See The Rains Came (1939) with Tyrone Power.
To me, the best part of the "Thin Man" series is the running gag between Nora and Nick's "acquaintances". From the first film to the last it seems that Nick is on a first name basis with every, crook, swindler, chiseler, ex-con and mobster in America from coast to coast. They all seem surprised that Nick is married and settled down with one woman and at how beautiful she is. More than one also let Nora know that if she ever... ahem, drops her ball and chain... they'd be more'n happy to show her a good time. These encounters are hilarious and are usually good for a laugh...

Worf
 

Julian Shellhammer

Practically Family
Messages
851
Destination Moon (1950) with John Archer, Warner Anderson, and Tom Powers. Serious attempt at a science fiction story. From a story by Robert Heinlein, who also contributed part of the screenplay. Heinlein was a favorite author in my youth. Private enterprise undertakes a flight to the moon, and overcomes several challenges during the journey. Tightly paced and well done.
The Black Bird (1926), a Tod Browning directed and co-written story with Lon Chaney, Sr. as an English criminal who leads a double life as a rescue-mission type of urban missionary. Chaney succeeds in convincing the world that he, nick-named The Bishop, is the kindly, charitable missioner, and his brother is the well-known thief the Black Bird. To eliminate suspicion he contorts his body into an awful shape, dissuading all that he couldn't possibly be robbing and stealing on the side. The Black Bird falls for a lovely music hall performer, who is also the object of affection for a smooth, well-to-do bad guy. Chaney is no suitor to be crossed, and sets out to deflate the budding love of the couple.
Blood on the Moon (1948) starring Robert Mitchum, Barbara Bel Geddes, and Robert Preston, directed by Robert Wise. A western noir, or noir western, much of the screen time set at night, or in cabins, ranch houses, saloons, et cetera. Preston masterminds a scheme to set homesteaders against cattle ranchers, hoping to set up a situation where he can come in and buy a herd on the cheap. Involved is Frank Faylen as a corrupt Indian Affairs agent. Preston is all smiles and jollity to those he tries to manipulate, but turns out to be pretty bad news. Mitchum is an acquaintance of Preston called in as a hired gun in the nefarious scheme. Will Mitchum play along with the plan? Will he side with the hoodwinked homesteaders or throw in with the duplicitous Preston? You probably know the answer...
NB: The words "blood on the moon" never show up. Still a dramatic title, is it not?
 
Messages
16,755
Location
New York City
Destination Moon (1950) with John Archer, Warner Anderson, and Tom Powers. Serious attempt at a science fiction story. From a story by Robert Heinlein, who also contributed part of the screenplay. Heinlein was a favorite author in my youth. Private enterprise undertakes a flight to the moon, and overcomes several challenges during the journey. Tightly paced and well done.
The Black Bird (1926), a Tod Browning directed and co-written story with Lon Chaney, Sr. as an English criminal who leads a double life as a rescue-mission type of urban missionary. Chaney succeeds in convincing the world that he, nick-named The Bishop, is the kindly, charitable missioner, and his brother is the well-known thief the Black Bird. To eliminate suspicion he contorts his body into an awful shape, dissuading all that he couldn't possibly be robbing and stealing on the side. The Black Bird falls for a lovely music hall performer, who is also the object of affection for a smooth, well-to-do bad guy. Chaney is no suitor to be crossed, and sets out to deflate the budding love of the couple.
Blood on the Moon (1948) starring Robert Mitchum, Barbara Bel Geddes, and Robert Preston, directed by Robert Wise. A western noir, or noir western, much of the screen time set at night, or in cabins, ranch houses, saloons, et cetera. Preston masterminds a scheme to set homesteaders against cattle ranchers, hoping to set up a situation where he can come in and buy a herd on the cheap. Involved is Frank Faylen as a corrupt Indian Affairs agent. Preston is all smiles and jollity to those he tries to manipulate, but turns out to be pretty bad news. Mitchum is an acquaintance of Preston called in as a hired gun in the nefarious scheme. Will Mitchum play along with the plan? Will he side with the hoodwinked homesteaders or throw in with the duplicitous Preston? You probably know the answer...
NB: The words "blood on the moon" never show up. Still a dramatic title, is it not?

"Blood on the Moon" Is a top five Western for me, probably because, as you note, it's very noirish. The only thing I'd add to your excellent comments are that the two female leads - Barbara Bel Geddes and Phyllis Thaxter - are outstanding in it.

My comments on it here: #27,985
 

DonR

One of the Regulars
Messages
194
One of our regulars for the season, 1993 Grumpy Old Men with Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Ann Margret, and Burgess Meredith.
 

Edward

Bartender
Messages
24,695
Location
London, UK
From Here To Eternity (1953). Its title taken off Rudyard Kipling, filmed black and white by director Fred Zinneman.
Burt Lancaster, Deborah Kerr, Montgomery Clift, Donna Reed, and Frank Sinatra star in this Schofield Barracks classic wrapped historical romance set during the closing Hawaiian prewar chapter when men and women fell in love, oblivious to fate and fortune. Critics there be yet this story stands narrate of history when Hate plays chess with Love while Life opposes Death. Life is cruel and in From Here To Eternity prewar fateful chess is played without mercy shown either side.

Seen with cold beer, ''the wine of life.'' xcerpt From Here To Eternity, James Jones

I just read somewhere the other day that Sinatra came close to an actual suicide attempt during filming, partly brought on by the level of criticism and speculation that he would be rubbish, and was only given the role due to mob influence (something that all involved have always rubbished). He proved them all wrong in the end - wrong enough to have a successful film career, anyhow. Elvis pictures are cute and a bit of fluffy, kitsch fun, but I'm sure Elvis would have adored to get a role in something with a bit more heft like The man with the golden arm.


White Christmas (1954) with Bing, Danny, Rosemary, and Vera-Ellen, dir. Michael Curtis. The romantic interludes slowed down the movie for the grandkids, but the humor holds up fine, both physical and character-wise. The production numbers are swirlingly dazzling.
Also, the Prep and Landing shorts, on the Disney+ service.


I watched that on the BBC on Christmas Day last year... it has the same feel as an Elvis picture in some ways; the screwball comedy still holds up. Compared to a lot of much more recent "Holiday movies" it's cosiness is fun and evergreen, rather than twee and saccharine. The sharp-talking verbal humour I think keeps it from falling too far into sentimentality. Definitely a classic worth reviewing annually.

The other Christmas film I'll be keen to review this year is the French Joyeux Noelle, the best screen-representation I've ever seen of the December 1914 Christmas Day truce in the trenches. Beautiful stuff, big themes of common humanity and being sent to die in the interests of those running your country. Well delivered with all characters speaking in their own languages, and judicious use of subtitles. There's a lovely scene in particular in which a French and a German officer make plans to visit each other in their home cities - each putting it "You must come and visit us, after we win the war."
 

FOXTROT LAMONT

One Too Many
Messages
1,388
Location
St John's Wood, London UK
I just read somewhere the other day that Sinatra came close to an actual suicide attempt during filming, partly brought on by the level of criticism and speculation that he would be rubbish, and was only given the role due to mob influence (something that all involved have always rubbished). He proved them all wrong in the end - wrong enough to have a successful film career, anyhow. Elvis pictures are cute and a bit of fluffy, kitsch fun, but I'm sure Elvis would have adored to get a role in something with a bit more heft like The man with the golden arm.
Sinatra supposedly attempted suicide a la Ava Gardner who spread her charms with mercenary motive
as well appetite within the studio system. And said sexual favours weren't confined executive suite alone.
Or so the rumour mill grist turns.
Elvis had the chops but unfortunately was studio square pegged boy singer.
 
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Messages
16,755
Location
New York City
the war against mrs for fl.jpg

The War Against Mrs. Hadley from 1942 with Fay Bainter, Edward Arnold, Richard Ney, Jean Rogers, Sara Allgood, Spring Byington and Van Johnson


Tucked in amidst all the WWII propaganda films of 1942 is this odd and engaging one that is so politically one sided you just have to chuckle at its bias as you enjoy its smart character development and feel good story.

It takes quite a while, though, to get to the feel good part as most of The War Against Mrs. Hadley is a little dour as Mrs. Hadley, played by Fay Bainter, is a Washington society matron who wants no part of the patriotism pulling the country together in 1942.

The political backstory, which is as cardboard and biased as so many of our modern movies are, has Bainter playing a far-right Republican, anti-FDR isolationist who is so bitter she was wrong about the war that she refuses to participate in the home-front effort.

It's fun to paint your political opponents as narrow minded and selfish and your side as smart and generous. God knows it's easy to do if you create a character with all the worst and extreme elements of your opponent (both sides, then and now, play this game).

If you let 1942's tendentious point-scoring politics slide by, though, the story of a widowed mother of two adult children fighting the change the war is forcing upon her is a fresh, for that day, take on propaganda.

Bainter is a good woman who loves her children and country, but she's soft and spoiled. She's babied her son, played by Richard Ney, into being an irresponsible alcoholic, but her daughter, played by Jean Rogers, seems to have, somehow, developed her own backbone.

At the start we see Bainter, selfishly with her money and servants to cushion her, try to ignore the war news as she pressures her close friend, played by Edward Arnold, a senior government official, to keep her son out of the draft.

Ney, though, wants in as he seems to realize that joining the Army is the only way he can put his life on a good path. Just as this news is hitting Bainter, daughter Rogers begins seeing an Army private, played by Van Johnson, with no social standing.

Bainter opposes the rushed marriage the kids want because Johnson is about to be sent out West, so she doesn't go to their on-the-fly wedding. Angry at all this, Bainter lashes out at Arnold and her close friend, played by Spring Byington, who support the kids.

For fans of the three-act story, we've just reached the climax of act two, as proud Bainter is now alone with her son in the Army and her newlywed daughter out West. As noted, in fits of pique, she's also frozen out her two closest friends, Arnold and Byington.

The last piece of this puzzle is Johnson's mother, played by Sara Allgood, a practical, working class Irish-immigrant woman with more sense than Bainter. Her supportive and engaged attitude toward the war is everything that Bainter's isn't.

For a wonderful small detail showing Allgood's unabashed pragmatism, look for the two scenes where stout and comfortable with herself Allgood quietly dismisses the dainty chair Bainter has in her hoity toity parlor, not once, but twice.

In the climax, no real spoilers coming, it will take another change in the family, more war news, a tragedy and Allgood's kind but resolute pragmatism to drag Bainter into the war effort. It's a bit rushed and too easy, but Bainter's transition is effective in a propaganda way.

The War Against Mrs. Hadley is an actor's movie. It requires a talent like Bainter's to not make her character an unsympathetic cartoon, as you see how hard it is for her to have her entire world change in a flash. In Bainter's hands, her character is selfish, but not mean.

You can dislike her at times, but you can't help understanding and even feeling a bit sorry for her, despite her being the source of much of her own unhappiness. Arnold and Byington, as her kind friends, are acting pros who bring honesty to every role they play.

Ney, as the wastral son who finds his moment in the war, and Rogers, as a loving daughter who gets that her mother is well off the beam, create engaging characters that in lesser hands could have become campy.

Allgood is the secret weapon in this one representing the immigrant (Irish in her case, but the message is clear) pragmatism and patriotism the country needed, without letting her character become a two-dimensional symbol.

The War Against Mrs. Hadley has a few slow spots and its politics, as noted, are embarrassingly one sided. Yet its story of a pampered woman who is forced to come to terms with the war had to resonate with a country that had its share of Mrs. And Mr. Hadleys.
 

FOXTROT LAMONT

One Too Many
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St John's Wood, London UK
The Highwaymen (2019) Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson star as Frank Hamer and Maney Gault,
retired legendaryTexas Rangers called back to hunt down and kill Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow in 1934 Depression Era America. In an age of budding criminal forensics tried and true gumshoe detective work
with cold blooded ruthlessness gets the job done.
Directed by John Lee Hancock this is tight precise cinema with a clearly defined focus. Ideal viewing for after work unwind cold beer viewing. As I remarked Glynnis this definitely isn't Barbie chick flick rubbish.:eek:
 

Edward

Bartender
Messages
24,695
Location
London, UK
The Highwaymen (2019) Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson star as Frank Hamer and Maney Gault,
retired legendaryTexas Rangers called back to hunt down and kill Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow in 1934 Depression Era America. In an age of budding criminal forensics tried and true gumshoe detective work
with cold blooded ruthlessness gets the job done.
Directed by John Lee Hancock this is tight precise cinema with a clearly defined focus. Ideal viewing for after work unwind cold beer viewing. As I remarked Glynnis this definitely isn't Barbie chick flick rubbish.:eek:


I liked this a lot (and Barbie!). Much as I enjoy a good gangster picture, it's also always nice to see the other side of the coin. Reminds me of a great pair of made-for-TV films over here some years ago about the Great Train Robbery, one each told from the pov of Bruce Reynolds (played by Luke Evans) and his gang, and Nipper Reid and the boys at The Yard.

The Highwaymen had a great set of wardrobe as well, as memory serves. One of Netflix's better stabs into the film world.
 

1961MJS

My Mail is Forwarded Here
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3,362
Location
Norman Oklahoma
"Godzilla Minus One" - Anyone who knows me knows how much I love the original "Gojira" (in Japanese) from 1954. That film, is a near masterpiece and, while not the first Kaiju film ever made it's certainly the best of the breed. While the original "Gojira" is set in a well recovered Japan of the early 50's, this current reboot of Godzilla's origin is set in late WWII and 1947 when the country is still firmly planted on its knees. We're drawn into the story slowly through the eyes of a Kamikaze pilot who loses his nerve and decides to bug-out mid flight to Ohto Island, landing there and claiming engine trouble. When the head mechanic can find nothing wrong with his plane the seeds of his cowardice are planted. Later that night the base is attacked by something... when ordered to fire the 20mm canons of his Zero at the creatures head... our "hero" again punks out... From this crazed opening.... the saga unfolds.

There are many differences between this and the original telling with the acting in this one being far superior and the story far more engaging on it's human side. These are simply the best humans in a Kaiju movie I've ever seen, only rivaled by "Pacific Rim" of a few years back. One thing remains the same however... THIS Gojira is the SAME as his 1954 for forebear. He is a city destroying, world ravaging monster literally spawned from the bowels of a radioactive hell, "maneuvered" (and this is an important point) to Japan by America. Some surmise that the G-Man was being "pointed" at the Soviets, but Japan got in the way. Regardless, he's big, powerful and pissed. The Ginza is laid flat and his "atomic breath" does NOT just set things on fire but sets off nuclear detonations!

This film is amazing. The only flaw I find in it is it fails to "stick" the landing. People who are dead should stay dead. Still, Puddin' and I were in tears when we left. See it on a large screen, the bigger the better! Let nothing dissuade you... you owe it to yourselves!

Worf
Hi I was this last weekend at the theater in Moore Oklahoma. This was a well made movie in the half silly spirit of the old Godzilla movies. The movie was historically correct (no really) in odd ways. The Cruiser Takao and destroyers Hibiki and Yukikaze were all three still afloat at the end of WW2. The ships looked at least very close to the pictures of all three that I've seen also. If you're into old movies, this is a brand new Old movie.
Later
 

Julian Shellhammer

Practically Family
Messages
851
Pork Chop Hill (1959) headlined by Gregory Peck, directed by Lewis Milestone. The cast of supporting players is lengthy and incredibly recognizable. There is not a wasted shot or evidence of padding in the whole hour and a half. This has been mentioned before, but Peck never once fires his weapon; towards the end of the film he throws a hand grenade towards the advancing enemy forces. One of my favorite films and not just in the genre of war.
 

Worf

I'll Lock Up
Messages
5,172
Location
Troy, New York, USA
Hi I was this last weekend at the theater in Moore Oklahoma. This was a well made movie in the half silly spirit of the old Godzilla movies. The movie was historically correct (no really) in odd ways. The Cruiser Takao and destroyers Hibiki and Yukikaze were all three still afloat at the end of WW2. The ships looked at least very close to the pictures of all three that I've seen also. If you're into old movies, this is a brand new Old movie.
Later
Glad you enjoyed it. As ex-Army and a "Rivet Head" I usually pour over WWII films for accuracy, however I was so taken by the drama and story I didn't focus on the details of the arms, uniforms etc... Good looking out.

Worf
 

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