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What Was The Last Movie You Watched?

New York City

Life for Ruth (also known as Walk in the Shadow) from 1962 with Michael Craig, Janet Munro, Patrick McGoohan, Paul Rodgers and Leslie Sands

Life for Ruth has the maturity and confidence to admit that there are (at least) two legitimate sides to complex political/legal/social issues. Many of today's movie makers behave more like children, creating stories that conveniently make their arguments look perfect.

At what point does the state have the right to override the religious beliefs of the parents when a child's life is at stake is the complex issue at the core of Life for Ruth. Both sides are fairly presented making the film challenging and engaging viewing, no matter what you believe.

Michael Craig plays a father and Jehovah Witness (although the term is never used) whom we see rescue two children after a boating accident. He saves the child most at risk first and then saves his own daughter, who is severely injured while he was saving the first child.

This obviously good man is then faced, along with his wife, played by Janet Munro, with deciding whether to allow the hospital to give his daughter Ruth a blood transfusion to save her life. Blood transfusions go against "their" religion.

Even in the moment of crisis, it's clear "their" religion is really his religion, with Craig signing a release for the hospital stating he refused the transfusion for his daughter. He believes blood transfusions go against the Bible and his choice will save Ruth's eternal soul.

The child dies, but the inquest finds Craig innocent. Yet the attending doctor, played by Patrick McGoohan, angered that he wasn't allowed to save the child's life, brings a charge of manslaughter against Craig, which apparently, one can do under British jurisprudence.

That is the set up used to examine both sides of the issue. Craig and Munro's marriage begins to break as Munro confesses she only converted from Church of England to Craig's religion because that's what he wanted, but her true beliefs never changed.

Craig's father, a Jehovah Witness himself, supports his son, but most of the community is against him in this pending case. Repeatedly, the issue is examined, in particular, in one powerful scene when McGoohan discusses the case with a newspaper editor and a solicitor.

McGoohan is all logic - "I'm a doctor, I save lives -" and the editor is in sympathy, but the solicitor sees that Christian Craig believes he did right by his child's eternal soul. The solicitor then notes that the editor is a Catholic, which prompts a "so what" from the editor.

The solicitor avers that, one day, the Catholic Church might ask McGoohan to save the life of an unborn child at the expense of a living mother. He also notes "I'm a Jew and the thing smacks of persecution to me" and states he won't take on the case.

In a beautiful moment of British fair play, the solicitor says he knows his Catholic friend and the doctor are sincere in their beliefs, so he gives them the name of an excellent solicitor that will take on the case. They all part cordially. If only we had some of that maturity today.

The movie climaxes, no spoilers coming, in an outstanding courtroom scene that does get overly dramatic at its close. Still, the points it makes are powerful and honest. The movie deserved a less-sensational ending, but it doesn't undermine the overall message too much.

The acting is uniformly impressive. McGoohan and Craig create characters who convince you that they hold their beliefs deeply and sincerely. Munro, a bridge between the two, shows the challenges of loving someone who has passionate beliefs in unconventional ideas.

The actors in the supporting roles, like the aforementioned solicitor, played by Paul Rogers, the newspaper editor, played by Leslie Sands and so many others demonstrate the deep acting bench of British cinema at that time.

The entire picture, restored in its original black and white - which the British, back then, did with a depth and contrast that has never been bettered - is beautiful in a sad but significant way. Director Basil Dearden made sure no scenes were superfluous and every nuance counted.

Life for Ruth is a movie for adults who understand that complex issues don't have simple slogan-driven answers. It's a movie for grownups who respect that good people can sincerely hold opposing beliefs. It's also a movie that, sadly, wouldn't be made today.


London, UK
Society of the Snow, (via Netflix) a 2023 picture about the 1972 Andes mountains plane crash, where the survivors were rescued after 72 days, having been presumed lost and dead after about a week. Everyone remembers the survived by eating the bodies of the dead after their minimal food supplies ran out within the first week. It's the sheer unrelenting nature of their plight that really hits home here: horrific enough are the deaths of the first dozen folks who died in the crash itself. But then there are the five who died during the first night. And the deaths kept coming. Numa Turcatti, a law student who turned 25 while stranded in the mountains was one of the last to die. At the time of his death, he weighed 25 kgs - just over 55 pounds. Of 45 passengers and crew, 16 survived. It's all the more shocking when you think how much shorter that search would have been with today's technologies.

Hollywood already had a go at this story in 1993's Alive. A credible telling of the story, but Society of the Snow somehow feels more authentic to me. I think the biggest difference is that whereas the former very much places the cannibalism front and centre, it feels much less treated as the core element of the story in Society of the Snow. Worth a watch if tales of extreme survival float your boat.
New York City

The Late Show from 1977 with Art Carney, Lily Tomlin, Bill Macy and Eugene Roche

More homage than send-up of the many 1940s B-noirs movies, The Late Show works mainly because of its unlikely but surprisingly enjoyable pairing of Art Carney and Lily Tomlin. Sometimes you write sentences in life that you never ever believed you would write.

Carney plays an all but retired private detective who gets involved in a case when his old partner is killed. Avenging the death of a partner is Noir 101; heck, it's the only reason Bogie puts up with Astor's BS in one of the greatest noirs ever, 1941's The Maltese Falcon.

Broken-down Carney - limp, hearing aid and ulcer - is no Bogie, but neither is Tomlin, playing a new-age actress/agent/fruitcake, another Mary Astor. Trying to retrieve Tomlin's kidnapped cat (yup), got Carney's former partner killed, so Carney is now on the cat caper.

While it sounds campy, for the most part, it isn't. Behind the cat kidnapping is a serious story that weaves in a valuable stolen stamp collection, a fencing racket, a murderous cheating wife and a vicious psychotic thug.

It's really 1940s noir with a 1970s overlay including the aforementioned new-age, hippy dippiness of Tomlin's character, plus the long hair of the men and everyone's too-loud and sloppy clothing. The movie looks 1970s, but is closer in spirit to 1940s noir.

The story is so complex you'll need a scorecard to keep the names straight, but since one isn't provided, you sometimes just have to go along until it gets explained a bit later on. As with many noirs though, it's atmosphere and characters that matter.

Surprisingly, 1970s Los Angeles, one of 1940s noir's favorite haunts, with its run-down shopping district, shady characters and residential section's faux Spanish architecture, is a good background for an updated noir populated by losers and small-time hustlers.

The real spark though is Carney as the taciturn "old man" who maybe has a bit more life left in him than it appears. It's not hard to see one of Bogie's or Dick Powell's 1940s cool "private eyes" having aged into Carney as those guys weren't savers or health addicts.

Carney wants to be alone, but Tomlin, wanting to get back her cat, drags Carney into her crazy world of 1970s new-age nonsense that really masks her loneliness. She covers it with too much talking, which pairs well with Carney's laconicness.

As these two begin to work together, the fun is Tomlin jabbering on way too much, but making several smart connections in the mystery as Carney grumpily assembles the pieces of the puzzle with old-school investigation and intuition.

There are enough classic chase scenes, shootouts, murders, fist fights, guns poked in ribs, harrowing threats, low-life characters and stolen goods trying to be fenced that the story, sans the 1970s new-age piffle, could easily have been made in the 1940s as a solid B-noir.

Credit also goes to Bill Macy playing Carney's "old friend," who like many "old friends" in noir isn't that reliable and to Eugene Roche playing a fence who sees everything in life, even murder, as a chance to haggle. These two could have stepped straight out of the 1940s.

So much so, had the movie been cast in the 1940s, two giants of classic noir, Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre, could have subbed right into the cast.

Greenstreet could easily have played the Roche role as he had perfected the affably immoral "dealmaker" back then, just like Peter Lorre would have been perfect in the Macy role as the unreliable friend.

None of these parallels to 1940s film noir happened by accident. Writer and director Robert Benton clearly has a deep understanding and appreciation for the genre.

His movie has a reverence for noir's classic era with its style, story and tone echoing, but not mimicking those earlier pictures. Even though the movie is in color, the camera angles, lighting and brutality of the characters' world is straight out of classic noir.

Benton managed to make a 1970s movie feel noirish - the night scenes are most similar as they have almost a black and white look - but also of its own time. It's thankfully though not camp or "otherworldly;" it's a noir construct applied to the 1970s.

Even if you're not a film noir buff, The Late Show still works as an entertaining 1970s movie. But for fans of those old pictures, The Late Show is a treat as Robert Benton made his film a quiet tribute to all those now classic B noirs movies.


One Too Many
St John's Wood, London UK
^ Thankfully Benton pulled the rabbit out of a PI's fedora and Cast Art Carney as Sam Spade.
I recall seeing this eons ago on a business trip hotel tele. Carney spot on magnificent as over the hill gumshoe
rhyme-and-reason oldster back bold. Art Carney fought in the Second War then returned to the stage, chock
full of credibility. He delivered the goods rain or shine in Late Show. :cool:

Julian Shellhammer

Practically Family
Here at the Shellhammer Palais du Film Ancien, it was-

The Saint Takes Over (1940) with George Sanders as the Saint, Wendy Barrie as an elegant but tough mystery person on a mission, and Jonathan Hale as Inspector Henry Furnace of the NYPD. Fernack's been framed by mobsters, Wendy Barrie figures in somehow, and Sander steps in to clear the Inspector's name. In one hour and nine minutes we are dazzled by the Saint's ease in solving mysteries while simply oozing aplomb, and we finally understand Barrie's secret motivation to weave in and out of the plot.
The Saint Strikes Back (1939), a little out of order chronologically, with the same top billers as above, with the addition of Jerome Cowan in a prominent role. We follow the Saint to San Francisco, where he helps out his old frenemy Inspector Fernack take on a crime wave, which wave involves Wendy Barrie. Leapin' lizards, it's Barry Fitzgerald as Runyonesque hood Zipper Dyson. Clocking in at a little more than an hour, we whiled away an evening with a light whodunnit.
New York City

My Night at Maud's from 1969, a French film

My Night at Maud's is an intellectually pretentious New Wave French film, so, a French film, from the 1960s by famed director Eric Rohmer.

The quick summary is it's a nearly two hours movie of three characters smoking a lot as they talk endlessly about philosophy, like Pascal's wager, all while trying very hard not to be "bourgie" which in itself, feels very bourgie.

To be fair, it was the late 1960s in France and philosophy and cigarette smoke were simply in the air. Taking the characters as they are, My Night at Maud's looks at a formerly lapsed Catholic man in his early thirties trying to find love consistent with his renewed faith.

Jean-Louis Trintignant plays the Catholic man at a crossroads: he's a handsome introverted engineer who has had many affairs, but is now trying to find a woman, who shares his faith, to be his wife.

One night, he runs into an old friend, played by Antoine Vitez, whom he hasn't seen in years. Vitez is a philosophy professor and (of course) a communist who takes Trintignant to meet a friend of his, a free-spirited atheist divorcee, played by Francoise Fabian (the titular Maud).

A large chunk of the movie is the three of them sitting around Fabian's apartment smoking, eating, drinking and discussing philosophy, which sounds almost like the setup for a joke, "a Catholic, a communist and an atheist walk into a bar..."

There is plenty of debate and discussion about the existence of God, how to lead a moral life and how you can follow your sexual passion in a manner consistent with your beliefs and ideals. This is director Rohmer's movie sweet spot.

They discuss all this in the context of Pascal's wager, which is really, in modern terms, a min-max-regret game-theory analysis of the practical value of being good - of living a life consistent with Christian tenets - so that you can get into heaven.

Meanwhile, Fabian tries to seduce Trintignant, especially after Vitez leaves. Vitez set them up so that he himself wouldn't sleep with Fabian. God knows why this French communist philosophy professor's mind works this way, but that seems to be what he did.

Fabian and Trintignant then spend the night not sleeping together, despite her getting into bed naked. They talk about their past loves and his passion to marry a pretty blonde Catholic. Days later, they do begin an affair, but both kinda know it won't last.

Shortly after their affair begins, Trintignant meets a young, blonde and very pretty Catholic woman, played by Marie-Christine Barrault. Now he's faced with, potentially, getting his "ideal" wife, but of course he'll have to break up with Fabian.

That, plus a brief epilogue, is My Night at Maud's. While there are several scenes in the city and the countryside, the movie could easily have been turned into a play taking place on a few sets as the story boils down to three people sitting in a room talking about their lives.

If French 1960s existential angst mixed with communism, atheism and Catholicism is your thing, then it will be an engaging picture. If not, it's still pretty good, as you'll quickly get that these are intelligent but immature people who are simply trying to justify their selfishness.

They are highly educated adults with the emotional development of teenagers. Strip away the philosophical gobbledygook and it's the old story of men and women in their thirties trying to find love after several failed relationships have taken away their youthful idealism.

With its dialogue-heavy intellectualizing and its wonderful on-location shooting in the French city of Clermont-Ferrand, My Night at Maud's, filmed in beautiful black and white, is wonderful time travel to late 1960s France.

It is also an excellent example of late French New Wave cinema, the good and the bad of it.


One Too Many
St John's Wood, London UK
^ Blaze Pascal. A run in with him last year on my American book, TVG; during rumination over why Bob Baffert would
pull Murmur out of my carefully constructed Hopeful Stakes superfecta simply because his horse Arabian Knight snagged the Pacific Classic? Baffert shipped Murmur from Santa Anita to Belmont knowing Arabian Knight could take
the Pacific at Del Mar; only to yank him out the Hopeful with lame expla to use him instead later unspecified further...?
Asmussen, Pletcher, Brown were all in the Hopeful with sure stakes steeds. Anomaly a 54-1 odds sore thumb stuck out like the bird flip incongruously. Blaze lad popped up in me mind whereas ''things beyond reason,'' had to be considered
fully yet trackside, me myself and aye, it's strictly Cartesian agnosticism with American Daily Racing Form hymnal.

I almost took underdog toppers with my prior bet with a C-note Benny Hill chaser. In the end, me reason surfaced for
an entire rebuild with Steve Asmussen toppers. Blew it all and the bird flipped feathers.

Pascal's wager is a 54-1 topper superfecta. Payout was I believe $5,401 for every $1 bet. o_O
New York City

Woman in Hiding from 1950 with Ida Lupino, Stephen McNally, Howard Duff and Peggy Dow

Woman in Hiding is a good, not great work-a-day noir whose biggest selling point, then and now, is its bird-sized force-of-nature lead actress Ida Lupino. She gives this movie's contrived story of greed some much needed gravitas.

Lupino plays the daughter of a mill owner who dies in a plant accident, an event which too conveniently opens the door for the plant's scheming manager, played by Stephen McNally, to marry Lupino and take over the mill.

The only problem for McNally is he's now married to Lupino, which leaves his girlfriend, played by Peggy Dow, on the outs. Contrivance number one is why Lupino, who seems to have McNally's number, agreed to marry him in the first place.

On their honeymoon, McNally, not wanting to wait long to get Lupino out of the way, sabotages the brakes on their car and then sends Lupino driving off alone. A crash into a nearby lake is ruled a death by suicide for Lupino, but no body is ever found.

Our intrepid heroine, Lupino, now knowing her husband wants her dead, flees incognito trying to find Dow, thinking for no logical reason whatsoever, that Dow will help expose her murderous husband. You kinda have to let the plot go in this one and just stay with Lupino.

Now on the run and with her husband advertising in the papers a reward for his "missing" wife, a kind, college-educated drifter, played by Howard Duff, befriends Lupino. From here, the movie is a predator-prey story as McNally stalks and Lupino flees with Duff's help.

There are a few good scenes in a hotel where Lupino is hiding when McNally shows up because Duff, at first believing Lupino's is mentally unstable, contacts McNally. One scene is an excellent early version of the oft used "trapped in the hotel's fire stairwell" scenario.

Another oft-used scenario involves rambunctious conventioneers creating so much noise and crowding that Lupino can get away from McNally. If movies are to be believed, a big "if," hotel conventions seemed like no-holds-barred affairs in mid-century America.

After the hotel, it's back to the noisey plant at the mill for a nighttime climax, no spoilers coming, where amidst loud machinery and claustrophobic catwalks, McNally pursues Lupino for one last time with Dow and Duff jumping into the fray.

Lupino carries this one on her petite shoulders with an intensity of will that belies her fragile frame. It's girl power 1950s style, which thankfully doesn't do the stupid thing modern movies do and have hundred-or-so pound women beat up two-hundred-or-so pound men.

Instead, Lupino fights with her brains and her brawn, using her brawn to get away, not to overpower a clearly stronger man. Audiences then and now know that Lupino is the strongest character in the movie.

McNally is good as the cardboard evil husband as is Dow as the greedy girlfriend, but it's Duff as the hunky boy scout who provides some complimentary humanity to Lupino's girl-on-the-run thing. He's likable in a nice-guy way.

Director Michael Gordon created a soft noir atmosphere for this one as most of the scenes are brightly lit with only the climax at the dark, loud and cramped plant feeling like full-on noir. The picture is tame enough to be a "date night" noir.

Woman in Hiding is the movie equivalent of the book you read until you choose the next book you are really excited to read. It's a good, cookie-cutter (strong-as-heck) damsel-in-distress story, with too many plot flaws, but super Ida Lupino makes it more than watchable.
New York City

Mary Stevens M.D. from 1933 with Kay Francis, Lyle Talbot and Glenda Farrell

Warner Bros., in its inimitable precode way, lets the melodrama rip as it races through several social issues in Mary Stevens M.D. A female doctor, casual sex, corrupt politicians and padded medical bills are just some of the precode "issues" in this fast-paced picture.

Kay Francis plays a doctor at a time when women physicians were rare, but they did exist, which means they went to medical school, completed internships and joined or started practices in the 1920s and 1930s. Despite our modern view, the door was never bolted shut.

Francis, at first oddly dressed like a 1930s Soviet Union military nurse, establishes a practice adjacent to her childhood friend and fellow doctor, played by Lyle Talbot. They both had idealistic views about their future as physicians.

Francis stays the course, but Talbot marries into a socially prominent and politically connected family. His father-in-law installs him as the head physician at a medical agency where Talbot, with tacit approval from his father-in-law, pads the bills to line his pockets.

This hurts Francis in two ways. First, she has always carried a torch for Talbot, but he's only seen her as a friend and, second, she believes in his integrity and genuinely hates to see him selling out.

There's a telling scene where Talbot takes Francis for a ride in his new Duesenberg and she asks how a physician earning four-thousand dollars a year can afford an eighteen-thousand-dollar automobile. Political graft and medical billing fraud are nothing new.

The movie then goes full precode melodrama. Talbot's marriage stumbles and he's investigated by the government for his billing practices. He also has an affair with Francis, but his wife won't agree to a divorce. Yet, hold on, there's even more melodrama coming.

Francis discovers she's "with child," but without a marriage licence at a time when that mattered socially and to her career. So with her loyal friend and nurse, played by Glenda Farrell, and without telling Talbot about the baby, she takes an overseas "vacation."

To tell more is to give the climax away, but amazingly Warners poured in more melodrama from here, even managing to work a dramatic seaplane "rescue" into the story. The plane itself is a cool, albeit kludgy looking piece of 1930s technology.

Francis has an atypical look, but she was a huge star for most of the 1930s. You see here that she was very comfortable in the ripping melodramas of the precode era. Somebody in continuity, though, messed up, as her hair goes from long to short inconsistently throughout.

Talbot, also a big star of the precode era, is always a bit wooden, but still very good in these types of stories, especially, as happens in this movie, when the real lead is the female actress. He's mainly here to be the mancandy to Francis' personal drama.

The extra kick in this one comes from Glenda Farrell, piquantly playing a character named Glenda Carroll. Farrell often plays the sassy but loyal sidekick in the 1930s, as she does to Francis here. She brings both humor, her one liners are pitch perfect, and compassion.

Mary Stevens M.D. is just another "assembly line" precode from Warners, but as precodes often did, it blasts through several social issues, while amazingly advocating for women's rights, political reform and an open mindedness toward adult sexual relationships and foibles.
New York City

Three on a Match from 1932 with Ann Dvorak, Joan Blondell, Bette Davis, Lyle Talbot and Warren William

Some people aren't happy being happy. A good marriage, a healthy child and financial security would check many people's happiness boxes. Yet some people become bored when everything is going well as we see painfully and graphically in Three on a Match.

Three girls meet in grammar school and then, after graduation, go their separate ways with one, played by Ann Dvorak, heading off to finishing school, another, played by Joan Blondell, after a hiccup, to reform school and a third, played by Bette Davis, to secretarial school.

Time passes and the girls reconnect as adults. Dvorak is married to a wealthy lawyer; Blondell is a struggling showgirl and Davis, a secretary. When bejewelled Dvorak gets in her chauffeur-driven limousine after a luncheon together, everyone knows whose life turned out the best.

Or did it? For some reason that Dvorak admits makes no sense, she tells her kind, loving and understanding husband, played by Warren William, that she's unhappy. At her request, he sends her and their infant son on a cruise to hopefully make her feel better.

Before Dvorak's ship even leaves port, though, she meets a handsome man, played by Lyle Talbot, and with her child in tow, bolts the ship with him. She changes her name and lives with her son and Talbot in New York where they party and, basically, neglect the boy.

William, frantic to find his wife and child, hires detectives, but it's Blondell, realizing the child is in danger, who tells William where his wife is. Dvorak, already in decline from her drinking and drug use, eventually has to let William take the boy and even gives him a divorce.

Blondell and Davis, meanwhile, tend to the boy as William's friends, with Blondell and William beginning to fall for each other. But the real story is back in Dvorak's world where the money is running out as she discovers Talbot is nothing more than a low-rent gambler.

Even for a precode, the movie from here becomes incredibly graphic. We see Dvorak physically in decline from her alcohol and drug use and from the encroaching poverty, which all happens while Talbot becomes abusive to her.

The final twist, no spoilers coming, involves a desperate act by Talbot to get money - he's in debt to the mob - which endangers both Dvorak, who is now in a full drug-addict downward spiral, and her son.

There is little Hollywood glamour to Dvorak's descent as her performance is raw and real. She's strung out on drugs and looks skinny, pale and filthy. Kudos to director Mervyn LeRoy and Warner Bros. for not holding back.

It's a frightening movie that had to shock 1932 audiences as it still has the power to do so today. Familiar as we now are with drug-addiction movies, Three on a Match cedes little to our modern take.

Despite being an A picture with an impressive cast, Three on a Match did not do well at the box office. Perhaps it was ahead of its time or perhaps it was too-depressing for a Depression era audience.

Today, Three on a Match is a valuable piece of history. Once the Motion Picture Production Code was fully enforced after 1934, drug addiction would be kept in the shadows if shown at all on screen, but here in 1932, we see drug addiction contribute to a woman's harrowing fall.

These types of addiction movies, usually with more redemption and hope than shown here, were all the rage in the drug-addled 1970s. Once again, though, precode cinema was forty years early in addressing social ills that felt "new" to many in that later decade.

Doctor Damage

I'll Lock Up
The other night I watched 2022's "Vesper," an excellent film about a teenage girl surviving in a post-apocalyptic world of dangers. The characters are rounded, the world-building rich, and the whole thing a good use of your time for sci-fi fans.

New York City

Change of Heart from 1934 with Janet Gaynor, Charles Farrell, Ginger Rogers and James Dunn

What's most striking and most fun about Change of Heart is how its core story could be told today with nothing more than surface changes. College kids, still, with false bravado masking fear of failure, come from all over the country trying to make it in New York City.

In Change of Heart, four college friends - played by Janet Gaynor, Charles Farrell, Ginger Rogers and James Dunn - upon graduation, fly from their West Coast college to the Big Apple.

Like college friends today, they have romantic baggage as (it's confusing) Dunn, a wannabe crooner, loves Gaynor, a wannabe writer, who pines for Farrell, a wanna be lawyer, who pines for Rogers, a wannabe actress, who pines for any rich man who can help advance her career.

With that classic setup, it's all the basic college-kids-starting-out stuff: dive apartments, money running out, somebody's (Roger's) career gets a kickstart, while most flounder and end up taking any job to pay the bills or worse, wash out completely.

Gaynor, the wannabe writer, ends up working in a "salvage" shop - think second-hand clothing store combined with an ad hoc adoption agency (you just have to go with it) - while trying to get hired as a writer.

Beryl Mercer, a talented actress, is excellent as always, this time as the kindly owner of the store who helps Gaynor survive. Still, the entire adoption-agency angle seems forced and superfluous to the main story.

When we meet a young woman (her husband is a successful lawyer) who just lost her baby, it's a message about what matters in life. Yet the storyline seems to exist simply to allow Gaynor to have a contact to help Farrell's career. That connection, though, was left on the cutting room floor anyway.

The bonds of friendship of these four strain as their lives go in different directions and each one's true character surfaces.

Rogers, the selfish one, drops Farrell and runs off to Hollywood with a producer who can advance her career. This sends Farrell into a downward spiral where Gaynor selflessly devotes herself to nursing him back to health.

Gaynor and Farrell, then, marry. Just as things are going well for them, she's now writing and he's up for a junior partnership at his law firm, Rogers returns from her time in Hollywood. She's rich, more conniving and looking to get Farrell back.

In the climax, Gaynor, always a bit insecure in her marriage, has her "fight for or give up her husband" moment at the same time that Farrell has to decide if he's matured or is going to toss a wonderful woman away for his stupid first crush.

The story isn't original and it's too obvious, but Gaynor, Farrell, Rogers and Dunn carry it along with an enthusiasm that matches the real-life enthusiasm of college grads trying to make it in the big city.

For us today, there also are some pretty good stock-footage shots of New York in the early 1930s.

Despite its almost cliched story, Change of Heart works because it's real. Kids, to this day, still come from colleges located all over the country to New York City with dreams and fears.

As in the movie, some will fail and some will succeed. While doing so, they'll have overlapping and emotionally helter-skelter love lives until they gain a bit of maturity.

N.B. #1 I graduated from Rutgers in the 1980s and, like several friends that I graduated with, went straight to New York City to find work. Other than surface cultural changes, it's pretty amazing how, almost forty years later, our experiences were very similar to the ones in the movie.

N.B. #2 St. Elmo's Fire, released in 1985, is just Change of Heart reworked for a new generation.


One Too Many
St John's Wood, London UK
Almost once saw St Elmoz but waved it off, never to be seen. Recall Rob Lowe was in it. A Metropolitan type flick.
Still having nightmares over the Big Trade with Brad Pitt and whatshisface as Bury delving into mortgage finance.:eek:
And China and Russia.:eek: An Irene Dunne-Cary Grant comedy intend today or tomorrow, relax my nerves.:)
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New York City

Assault on Precinct 13 from 1976 with Austin Stoker, Laurie Zimmer, Darwin Joston and Tony Burton

Assault on Precinct 13 is a good movie because it doesn't try to be more than it is: a low-budget film about a Los Angeles gang's assault on an almost-closed police precinct. It's an action film with a few characters and no real message, but it's entertaining as heck.

Director, writer and the composer of the movie’s soundtrack John Carpenter kept it simple. It opens with the LA Police killing several gang members in an ambush that turned into a turkey shoot. Surviving gang members swear a blood oath of revenge.

At the same time, a just-promoted police lieutenant is assigned to "command," for the evening, a police precinct that is all but shut down. When he takes over, it's just him, two secretaries and some scattered furniture, files and other detritus.

After a man's young daughter is killed by the "blood oath" gang, the man shoots one of the gang members. Stunned from it all, he runs into the precinct for protection. Also arriving at the station is a prison bus with a few cops and prisoners looking for a police doctor.

That's the set up that leads to the first gang attack on the precinct. Using guns with silencers, they kill the cops from the prison bus, one of the prisoners and one of the secretaries, while shooting the place up and then attempting their first raid.

The police lieutenant, played by Austin Stoker, along with the surviving secretary, played by Laurie Zimmer, and two of the prisoners from the bus, played by Darwin Joston and Tony Burton, unhandcuffed by Stoker, hold off the gang with the few guns they have.

The gang retreats into the perimeter's shadow while Stoker and his "team" access the body strewn and shot-up precinct. With little amo left, Burton tries to escape through the sewer to get help, leaving the remaining three to defend the precinct.

There is incredible tension now as Stoker and his tiny team see a large number of gang members hiding in and behind the bushes and trees just across the street. The gang doesn't know it, but it greatly outnumbers Stoker's small and under-armed force.

The final assault has Stoker, Zimmer and Johnson hold up in the basement with an audacious plan for survival. It's a heck of a battle made better because the small budget and no CGI gives it a realism lacking in today's action movies.

We don't learn a lot about any of the characters. Stoker, the police lieutenant, proves to be a quick-on-his-feet thinker and Zimmer is an impressively cool woman who fights shoulder to shoulder with the men.

Joston, who is a convicted killer, is a very able fighter and team player, which makes you wonder why this smart, capable and seemingly loyal man had committed murder. Other than the never explored sexual tension that develops between him and Zimmer, that's it.

The movie works because, like the characters involved, we're just thrown in the middle of an extreme situation and respond as the characters do. They don't know much about each other, but they work together because they want to survive.

Stoker is excellent playing the officer whose first command assignment becomes a fight to the death. Joston is good, too, as the convicted killer who seems to relish having a chance to fight for his life even if he knows nothing will really change for him.

Zimmer is outstanding as a quiet female hero. She often looks scared, but never wavers in battle nor does she boast. She's more impressive than today's, often, swaggering feminist heroes as she's a realistic character. It's a shame she had a short acting career

As hard as it is to believe, just like today, the country appeared to be ripping appart at its seams in the 1970s. Then it was crumbling inner cities, gang violences, drugs and a breakdown of the traditional culture, but it felt very real, prompting movies like this.

For modern audiences, Assault on Precinct 13 is time travel to that challenging era as you sense the cultural and social breakdown even if it isn't explained. Plus, it's just a darn good action-adventure picture from a time before they became cartoonish.

Doctor Damage

I'll Lock Up
Talkin'bout Asteroid City, I am sorry but I have to agree. I've enjoyed many Anderson movies but lately he's seem focused more being Wes Anderson than making interesting films. A good friend of mine, a true filmfreak, said that Asteroid City looks like AI was made to make a Wes Anderson movie. I think that pretty well sums that up.
I watched that film last evening and I agree with your friend that it came across like something churned out of an LLM. I was pleased to see that the bones for a traditional Wes Anderson film were there, in the coloured scenes set in Asteroid City. though they seemed cut down to a highlights reel, removing their impact and fun. But Anderson couldn't resist adding a "meta" level to the film with the stupid "it's all a play" elements which made no sense and pulled the rug out from under the coloured scenes. Just tell a fun, quirky story with great actors and funky sets/scenes. That's what he did in his early movies and it made him a star. Now, he's just wanking in public. Dude, nobody cares anymore. People just want to see entertaining movies, not pastiches of stupid "never left film school" 1960s French art films. At least Asteroid city wasn't as bad as that horrible, terrible, pointless French Dispatch, but that's a low bar that anyone would stumble over in a drunken stupor.


London, UK
BBC iPlayer recently carried The Outfit, a neo-noir, 1956-set piece starring Mark Rylance as a Row-trained cutter (not a tailor!) working in Chicago, with various mob clientele. He doesn't ask any questions about their business and they don't involve him in it - until, one night, they do. It's a picture I missed when it was out in 2022, but picked up on a difficult Friday night last week - really just chanced across it, and gave it a go on spec because Mark Rylance. I enjoyed it very much. It has the feel of a picture that could have been an original noir; lose the colour photography and the recognisable faces, and you might think it was an era piece here and there. It feels like the sort of tense, slow-moving, 'real-time' approach to story-telling that Tarantino was referencing in Reservoir Dogs in 1992. Rope would be a strong reference point for me in terms of pacing and lurking darkness. The whole thing plays out in a single location, more of a dialogue - sometimes narrative monologue - piece, with limited action. The action that does occur is all the more effective for its sparing use. It has the feel of a picture that could as easily have been a stage play. The ensemble cast are marvellous, though it is very much Rylance's quiet authority on which the work ultimately rests. Highly, highly recommended.
New York City

Anne of Green Gables from 1934 with Anne Shirley, Helen Westley and O. P. Heggie

Anne: "Don't you ever imagine things differently from what they really are?"

Marilla: "No, I never imagine things differently from what they really are."

Anne: "Oh, Marilla, how much you miss."

This short and small-budget production of Anne of Green Gables is charming and whimsical without being cloying as it keeps its bite and its characters real.

An older brother and sister, played by O. P. Heggie and Helen Westley, who live alone on their modest farm, agree to adopt a young teenage boy from an orphanage mainly to have him help with the farm work.

When a girl shows up by accident, Westley is miffed, but Heggie immediately takes to the spirited and talkative young teenager played by Anne Shirley (who, according to one story, in real life, because she liked her character's name so much, had her name changed to Anne Shirley after playing the part - you can't make this stuff up).

Westley, taciturn and pragmatic, takes steps to return Shirley to the orphanage, while even less-talkative but romantic Heggie wants to keep her. Some of the fun in this movie is watching Shirley's innocent, animated and disjointed monologues win over Westley, something Westley won't admit at first, as Heggie happily and silently watches events unfold in his favor.

From here the arc of the movie is Shirley growing up and growing closer to her new parents. She gets into some normal (for early 1900s, when the story takes place) kid trouble and has her heart broken, as almost all kids do, but Shirley thrives under her adoptive parents and their lives become fuller because of her.

There is a thin plot about Shirley falling for a boy whose father, decades ago, stole Heggie's one true love - its Romeo and Juliet light (something well-read and overly dramatic Shirley exaggerates), but the magic of Anne of Green Gables is watching three lives that were a bit damaged heal by becoming a family.

There's, thankfully, no "cathartic" moment where, in present fashion, after a big heart to heart, everyone "understands" everyone else better. Instead, this family finds its harmony the way many families do, through quiet acceptance.

Shirley is a bit of an annoying kid as her spiritedness and daydreaming rub up against Westley's pragmatism, as displayed in the quoted passage at the top (Westley plays Marilla). But that's also what works as they resolve their differences by an unspoken passive truce because each comes to see the deeper good in the other.

Each also becomes a little bit like the other as we see Shirley mature into a more pragmatic young woman, while Westley lightens up a bit as she comes to see the value of imagination and spontaneous enthusiasm.

Shirley (the actress) as the too-spirited kid, Westley as the no-nonsense mother and Heggie as the patient father bring their characters to life in memorable ways. With little in the way of sets or budget, it's up to the actors to carry the drama and they more than deliver.

The climax, revolving around sacrifice, sickness and forgiveness, is rushed and forced, but it doesn't matter as Anne of Green Gables is about the journey of three people who enrich each other's lives. It's a short and charming movie that has just enough grit and rub to keep it from becoming overly sentimental.


One Too Many
St John's Wood, London UK
Yesterday the Sunday Times featured writeup about a forty-something lass and her initiate orgy.
The Times. There is place for such rubbish and it's not the Sunday Times.:mad:

Anne of Green Gables probably couldn't-or never be produced today for its wholesomeness. :(

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