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What Was The Last Movie You Watched?

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The Animal Kingdom from 1932 with Leslie Howard, Ann Harding, Myrna Loy, Henry Stephenson and William Gargan


There is a conceit amongst playwrights and screenwriters, at least in the twentieth century, that "art" is "superior" to commerce in some metaphysical sense, making artists superior to businessmen and women and, in general, people focused on money.

It sets up a false dichotomy that, not surprisingly, puts the artist at the top of some philosophical pyramid of integrity and human awareness. In The Animal Kingdom, playwright, nay "artists," Philip Barry lets his inner superiority complex rip.

Leslie Howard, plays the son of a wealthy and socially prominent banker. Howard, though, is not interested in “crass things” like money or “position.” He, instead, owns a modest publishing house that puts out books of "artistic value."

One, though, can guess where he got the money to start his business. It is probably the same source that funds his upper-class lifestyle. It's easy to denounce money when you have a rich dad to tap when you need some of that "filthy lucre" to buy, say, a new tuxedo.

Howard also, effectively, has been living with his "bohemian" girlfriend, played by Ann Harding. She is a successful commercial illustrator who quits to become a painter - "a real artist with something to say."

At the open, we see Howard's father, played by Henry Stephenson, and Howard's new girlfriend - his relationship with Harding is "completely free and open -" played by Myrna Loy plotting to bring Howard into their monied social milieu.

It takes a little familiarity with 1930s movie-language obfuscation to understand it, but it seems the sexual passion has run out of the Howard-Harding relationship, leaving Howard straining at the bit to bed Loy.

Foreshadowing the 1970s "free-love" fiasco, Harding learns an "open relationship" isn't so great when one's partner exercises his option. "Free love" is just another bohemian conceit that, every few generations or so, the cognoscenti has to learn anew doesn't work.

Thinking with the wrong part of his anatomy, Howard marries Loy. From here, the movie is Loy and Stephenson plotting to pull Howard away from his "bohemian" world and into theirs, while Howard struggles to reconcile his marriage with his artistic inclinations.

Proving Howard's sensitivity to the common man, Howard treats his butler, a roughly mannered ex-prizefighter played by William Gargan, as a friend, while Loy and Stephenson are annoyed that he is not a good "servant."

It's forced in a way, but it echoes the play's main theme and Gargan plays the role so well, it works. Plus, he and Howard have outstanding on-screen chemistry. Gargan looks like he got along with the entire cast.

Over the course of the movie, Harding becomes more self righteous as she even denounces money while living in tony Sutton Place (dear Lord). Meanwhile, Loy becomes more obviously conniving as she attempts to turn Howard into a copy of his father.

Howard, in a role he was born to play, is the unsure-of-it-all man in the middle. He thinks everything through slowly as he weighs everyone's opinion. But in truth, Loy's real hold on Howard is sex; once he figures that out, his choice is pretty clear.

Loy is outstanding as she slowly lets herself be revealed. Her acting is so subtle, you see her manipulating Howard almost as an echo of her behavior, at least until they've been married a bit when she becomes more flagrant.

Harding, too, is excellent. Little about her refined beauty says true bohemian, but as she did often, playing a rich dilettante "bohemian" is in her acting sweet spot. She is the perfect "artsy/intellectual" girlfriend/wife for trust-fund-kid "bohemian" Howard.

The movie feels like the play it is based on was tweaked only a bit and then filmed. The dialogue is smart, but in a theater-stylized way. One doubts the production company ever left the RKO studio soundstage.

As much as you can see the artifice, the human emotions Barry limns are very real and moving. His characters might all be a bit too full of themselves, but they are complex humans who hurt and hurt each other in, often, poignant ways.

There is, at least, a PhD thesis waiting to be written on why Depression era audiences - struggling for food and shelter - loved movies about the very rich having silly relationship problems as they bounced from mansion to mansion in chauffeur-driven cars.

The easy answer is escapism; maybe that's all it is. There's also a "highbrow" gloss to these plays turned into movies that lets the audience (and influential reviewers) feel as if they're seeing something of artistic and intellectual value even if it's just dressed-up melodrama.

Artists don't exist on a plane removed from life's baser needs. Howard and Harding live quiet comfortable lives - earned directly or indirectly from the capitalist economy they denounce. And many businessmen and women enjoy and embrace art and culture.

It is only in the minds of playwrights like Barry that the world is divided into the good and kind artist and the crass and cruel business person. It is, though, a cliche still embraced, not surprisingly, by artists and filmmakers to this day.

The Animal Kingdom wasn't a hit, but many movies like it were proving there was an appetite for these playwright-indulgent efforts.

It makes sense, too, as it is fun, even to this day, to watch wealthy, young and attractive people passionately discuss their silly and pretentious ideals, while the timeless pulls of sex, money, ego and love really drive most of their decisions.
 

FOXTROT LAMONT

One Too Many
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Myrna Loy is undeniably beautiful with camera charisma innately gifted splendour she lavishes upon heart stricken male admirers like meself. Easily a gorgeous dame or wife or matron equal to William Powell or Cary Grant, or Tyrone Power,
her exquisite femininity is extraordinary. She set a standard most of the current scene starlets simply cannot match.
A favourite valentine of mine.:)
 
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Design for Living from 1933 with Mariam Hopkins, Gary Cooper, Fredric March and Edward Everett Horton


Movies don't have to be that real, most aren't. Design for Living is fun, not because it portrays real life, but because it doesn't, yet in a playful way.

Gary Cooper and Fredric March play starving artists, Cooper's a painter and March is an author, in post-WWI Paris who meet a successful advertising copywriter, played by Mariam Hopkins.

They both fall for her and she for them, but after much flirting, they all agree that a platonic relationship, where Hopkins lives with them as friend, mentor and advocate of their artistic aspirations, is the best arrangement.

Hopkins, Cooper and March enjoyably play three young bohemian thinkers who joke their way through the day as their shared fun and friendship, somehow, allow them to put the sexual tension aside.

Modern sitcoms have played with this formula forever because it offers tremendous comedic opportunity, even if we all understand how much harder it is to pull off this kind of living arrangement in real life.

After March becomes successful and goes to London for a time when his first play is produced, Cooper and Hopkins do what young, good-looking people who live under the same roof have been doing for ever - they have sex.

From here, most of the movie is hurt feelings, recriminations, revenge sex, fights, breakups, a silly marriage for Hopkins to another man - a man representing tradition "bourgeoisie" values, played by Edward Everett Horton - and then a climax that could only happen in precode Hollywood.

Design for Living's bold advocacy for a threesome, a throuple in today's vernacular, works because it's not a heavy-handed advocacy film (as it would be if done today, which would strip out all of its joy), but a comedy that lets you take it as seriously or not as you want.

Director Ernst Lubitsch's wonderful feel for comedic timing and non-threatening sexual titillation, all done with a joyous lilt, is on full display in this one. His efforts are greatly helped by three actors who understood they needed to play these fantasy characters with more charm than seriousness.

The putdowns, jokes and funny asides come fast and furiously as do the knowing winks and nods. Hopkins, Cooper and March are young, attractive carefree spirits who laugh at the world's silliness, especially when it's represented by a cardboard stiff like Horton, who only worries about business and social standing.

Design for Living is enjoyable nonsense. Sure, there have been friends and lovers who have pulled off the threesome for life, and good for them, but there's a reason that, even in today's libertine society, they are rare.

You can see Design for Living as a rebuke to traditional values and all that jazz, but really it's just a well-done make-believe romantic comedy with a threesome twist thrown in. And as in any good romcom, it's all about the chemistry of the stars, which Hopkins, March and Cooper have in spades.
 
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Butterflies Are Free from 1972 with Edward Albert, Goldie Hawn and Eileen Heckart


Stagey, contrived and dipped in 1970s flower-power gobbledigook, Butterflies Are Free is all those things, yet still enjoyable, entertaining and, at times, emotionally moving owing to smart writing and three outstanding performances.

Edward Albert plays a young blind man who has taken his first big step toward independence from his overprotective and, often, overbearing mother by moving into an apartment in the Haight Ashbury district of San Francisco.

Blind or not, he gets to realize every young man's dream when his free-spirited and, more importantly, free-love neighbor turns out to be blonde and cute Goldie Hawn.

It takes a bit to unfold, but everyone is fighting his or her own demons and challenges. Albert's is the obvious and noted attempt at independence as he wants to become a singer songwriter. He fights hard to not define himself, or let others define him, by his blindness.

Hawn appears all happy hippy-dippy, but from her six-day marriage to her "I'm free" speechmaking, we see she's afraid of rejection, so she never gives anyone the chance to get close. She's an outwardly happy, inwardly lonely person - tears of the clown and such.

Albert's mom, played by Eileen Heckart, comes off as a snobby, domineering mom whom you will not like at first. Yet underneath her hard shell, she's a mother who feels guilty and heartbroken over her son having been born blind.

She's handled it poorly, but she wants what is good for her son. Unfortunately, her good intentions have warped into an overprotectiveness that won't allow him to go through the normal emotional ups and downs all young adults have to on the path to maturity.

She's passive aggressive with her son and he is sarcastic toward her. Those appear to be well-established relationship grooves that will be challenged as they each learn a bit more about the other, mainly through change-agent Hawn.

That's the set up as these three smash into each other in a run-down San Francisco apartment. Hawn helps to draw Albert out into the world and gives him his second sexual adventure. Whatever happens with them, he needs to experience life.

Hawn, at first the teacher in the relationship, begins to learn something about herself when, later, Albert makes her see the downside to her "I'm free" philosophy. It's the reality crash of the free-love movement writ small.

The surprise in all this is Heckart. It takes Hawn, whom Heckart, of course, doesn't like, to show her that her son needs to live his own life. But Heckart scores her own points when she enlightens Hawn to some of the real challenges of being blind.

Nobody's initial ideological framework or emotional walls withstands the verbal bombs they throw at each other. By the end, everyone has grown and your opinion of all three will change, mainly for the better.

The fun in all this, though, is how it gets there. Director Milton Katselas didn't stray far from the story's stage-play roots. Almost all the action in this very talky movie takes place on one set - Albert's ramshackled apartment, which becomes a fun fourth character.

The movie itself feels more like a theater experience with Hawn and Heckart "popping" in on Albert again and again. Hawn and Heckart's initial meeting wonderfully takes place while Hawn is still in her underwear after a night of shagging Albert.

The performances are uniformly impressive. Albert, quite believably, plays a blind man, while Hawn is in her sweet spot playing a ditzy kindhearted blonde. It was practically her acting brand back then.

It's Heckart, though, she won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance here, who gives the movie its necessary friction. She convincingly goes from unlikable to sympathetic in a slow arc that catches you by surprise.

Today, the movie's San Francisco hippie culture with its wild clothes and period music - Albert's music is folk-singer style - is a time capsule. The few on-location street scenes catch Haight Ashbury toward the end of its iconic flower-power moment.

Butterflies Are Free, despite being contrived as heck and dated in ways, is still a moving and entertaining picture with something surprisingly relevant to say about handicaps, mother-son relationships and commitment. Plus, it has the era's crazy hippy culture on full display.
 
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The Right to Romance from 1933 with Ann Harding, Robert Young and Nils Asther


The Right to Romance doesn't waste one of its sixty-seven minutes while telling the story of an attractive, in-her-early-thirties female plastic surgeon who realizes that, because of her dedication to her profession, she's missed out on the romantic side of life.

Ann Harding, today a forgotten actress who was a big star in the early 1930s, plays the dedicated surgeon who specializes in restoring wealthy accident victims' faces. She also does charity surgery (Hollywood always knew how to make a character sympathetic).

In a wonderful early scene, a fresh-from-surgery Harding, meets a handsome young man. When he wonders where the strong smell of ether is coming from, Harding, immediately intrigued with the man, realizes to her great embarrassment, it's coming from her.

This sets off a midlife crisis as Harding confides to her friend and fellow surgeon, played by Nils Asther, that she regrets not having a personal life. Harding then goes on a vacation at a fashionable resort where she, by chance, meets the same young man from the hospital.

The man, played by Robert Young, is a wealthy playboy who has a serious girlfriend. Yet he pursues Harding who, after years of ascetic doctoring, loves the attention and libido kick. Still, she returns to work single, until impulsive Young shows up with a proposal of marriage.

After the initial rush of being newlyweds, the two get down to the hard work of making a marriage work, which is clearly not carefree and immature Young's forte as his eye is already wandering back to his pre-Harding girlfriend.

No spoilers coming, but other than a little Hollywood drama thrown in, you'll probably be able to guess the ending pretty early on. Still it's a fun precode that whips through a lot of plot and social issues in a short time.

After the Motion Picture Production Code was enforced in 1935, movies like The Right to Romance would, pretty much, not get made as women like Harding would rarely be allowed to have careers and marriages at the same time in movies.

Harding here, though, is a brilliant surgeon treated with deference by her male peers. It shows that gender roles weren't as set in stone back then as many believe today. That false impression is owed in part to decades of Code-era movies not reflecting the complexity of real life.

One has to read the newspapers and the fiction and non-fiction books from the period, not today's biased "studies" and period novels, to better understand that career opportunities and marital arrangements for women were much more varied than were presented on screen.

Away from all that sociology stuff, The Right to Romance is also 1930s eye candy for us today, as it was for a Depression Era audience back then. The expensive cars, clothes, hotels and Young's personal airplane are all fun-to-see period luxuries.

Even in the 1930s, the spotless, not-hurried and well-staffed (seems like there were two doctors for every patient) hospital - a hospital that has private rooms for its charity patients - was more fantasy than anything else.

The Right to Romance reminds us that precodes weren't only about naughty slap-and-tickle, but also tackled social issues like the challenges women faced trying to balance a career and a personal life. Plus, it's always fun to see quietly and serenely beautiful Ann Harding.
 
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The V.I.P.s from 1963 with Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Louis Jourdan, Rod Taylor, Maggie Smith, Margaret Rutherford, Orson Welles and Elsa Martinelli


At his best, Terence Rattigan wrote plays and screenplays exposing many of the hypocritical aspects of English "fair play," while also exploring the emotional damage done by the surface equanimity demanded of England's middle and upper classes.

Even not as his best, as in The V.I.P.s, screenwriter Rattigan still scores some direct hits on those hypocrisies and suppressed emotions as the full force of the 1960s had yet to completely do away with the English "stiff upper lip" Rattigan's works assail.

In The V.I.P.s, Rattigan "traps" a bunch of socialites, dignitaries and high-profile businessmen in a fog-bound Heathrow. He then tells several somewhat intertwined melodramatic tales showing all the struggles these much-envied people have in life.

The main storyline has Elizabeth Taylor playing a well-known socialite married to Richard Burton playing a successful tycoon. Despite Burton lavishing Taylor with luxuries, she feels unneeded and is planning to leave him for an aging playboy, played by Louis Jourdan.

Burton, used to getting his way, spends the movie trying to understand why his adored wife would leave him for a "gigolo," while Jourdan spends the movie trying to keep Taylor from going back to Burton.

It plays particularly well if you are familiar with Burton and Taylor's very public real-life romantic travails that saw them marry and divorce twice.

Orson Welles plays an independent filmmaker who has to get out of England by the end of day or face a massive English tax bill, something his wily business manager is trying to find another way around.

Welles is also traveling, movie mogul like, with his new "discovery" played by Elsa Martinelli - she's young, pretty and wants to star in his next movie. We all get what is going on here.

Rod Taylor plays a CEO fighting to save his tractor company from a hostile takeover. With his trusted and quietly pining-for-him secretary, played by Maggie Smith, he spends all his time attempting to raise the funds to cover a check he wrote to save his company.

Last up is Margaret Rutherford, a tax-impoverish Dutchess on her way to Florida to whore out her peerage to an American resort as an "ambassador" in a last ditch effort to save her estate from the tax man. High British taxes were clearly buffeting the rich in the 1960s.

Stuck in the fog-bound airport and obsequiously catered to by BOAC's much-harried V.I.P.'s representative, played by Richard Wattis, these stories all come to a crisis in a twenty-four hour period.

This is all harmless but delicious fluff. Taylor and Burton go several rounds as Jourdan just tries to hold onto his meal ticket. Whatever they had in real life, and they had something, Taylor and Burton translated it into movie gold as their on-screen fighting is epic.

Welles' character, too, is about his real life being limned on screen as his struggles trying to finance his movies were almost as legendary as Taylor and Burton's love-hate relationship.

Maggie Smith brings some sincere romance to the picture as the super-efficient executive secretary who's fallen in love with the boss who only sees her as a professional. This storyline would never, ever be written today, but it did happen sometimes.

Rutherford was a beloved older actress at the time who is here to provide her special brand of comic relief amidst all the other angsty stories. It works with a fun twist at the end.

Rattigan wraps these stories up, not that believably, by weaving a few together with a couple of last-minute saves. But you don't watch The V.I.P.s for its realism, you watch it for the melodrama, for the stars and for the occasional good Rattigan barb or insight.

On that scale, The V.I.P.s is a success. With several stories in motion, it's a bit long, and it has some cringeworthy moments, but it's still an enjoyable guilty pleasure movie. Plus, the time travel to the golden age of flying is fun for us "Zone Four" people today.
 
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The Thomas Crown Affair from 1969 with Steve McQueen, Faye Dunaway and Paul Burke


If you suspend a little more disbelief than usual and just soak up the 1960s cool factor and style, The Thomas Crown Affair is an enjoyable fairytale of crime, money, luxury, sex and fashion.

Steve McQueen plays a super wealthy Boston businessman who plans and executes an elaborate bank heist just for the sport of it. He doesn't need the money, but gets off on the thrill of the crime. After the heist is successful, his "I did it" happy dance is sheer joy.

The police are baffled, but it's not their money. The insurance company is a bit more miffed. It sends in an investigator, a Vogue-attired blonde, played by Faye Dunaway. She's whip-smart and motivated by morality money, she gets ten percent of whatever she recovers.

Dunaway, in theory, is working with the police detective on the case, played by Paul Burke, but this very quickly becomes a Dunaway-McQueen mano-a-mano thing, with Burke looking on.

Proving we're not in the land of gritty realistic crime-drama, Dunaway, almost immediately, tells McQueen she knows he did it. She's bluffing, based on a very smart hunch, but it sets off a movieland game of cat and mouse and tousled sheets.

The fun is watching these two pretty people - dressed to the nines, driving expensive cars, moving between mansions and beach houses - play a somewhat noirish battle of wits over glasses of champagne and tête-à-têtes at polo matches.

Their relationship is almost an updated and edgy version of Nick and Nora from The Thin Man. Those movies are no more real than The Thomas Crown Affair, but you love them for the stars' banter and style.

Director Norman Jewison, working from a spirited screenplay by first-timer Alan Trustman, struck a perfect balance between tension and joie de vivre. While the latter dominates, there's enough "will he be caught" threat to keep you just a bit on edge.

Look for the wonderful late-night prelude-to-sex chess match McQueen and Dunaway play. There is an element of "this is a surrogate for our real battle over the crime" so it feels tense, but it is also just one long game of foreplay.

You, of course, don't want to see McQueen get caught. "It's only insurance company money," he did it for sport and his life is so much fun that, in movie morality, you want him to get away with it.

You even get a bit peeved at Dunaway for persisting in her investigation, especially after they fall in love. Leave the guy alone, go live with him and tell the faceless insurance company you didn't find its money.

McQueen is outstanding playing a bored rich guy who masterminds crime for thrills. It's a neat extension of his acting brand. He's so good at it, he even manages to look rugged and not precious playing polo, the ultimate trust-fund-kid sport.

Dunnaway, whose on-screen beauty peaked in Bonnie and Clyde, is the second prettiest person in the movie, which she makes up for with a fashion magazine wardrobe and a confidence in herself that matches McQueen's.

Poor Paul Burke is good as the old-school Boston detective put off by Dunaway's unconventional approach. Plus he develops an itch for Dunaway, but with a detective's salary and personality, he's no match for rich, handsome and oh-so-cool McQueen.

The Thomas Crown Affair is not comedy and it's definitely not camp, but it's not a hard-boiled crime drama either. It's that wonderful movie-land invention where cool, stylish criminals, think French film noir with less angst, make crime look sexy and fun.

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FOXTROT LAMONT

One Too Many
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^ Fast, I've recently advised several kids looking beyond current cinema corrective crap shoot to see TTCA for its
refreshing nuance, ambient deftness of sure touch, and Faye Dunaway. She's fabulous ice cool smart blonde ball buster beautiful brilliance with just the right touch of met her male match vulnerable gal with ovaries tied over a guy of her dreams. And this is what young ladies today need and desperately want. A mention made by one lass of the Rene Russo Pierce Brosnan redo and I told her she owed it to herself to see Dunaway first. Afterwards REDO, and I'd
happily add my coup de grace fatal film review all things incorrect cinema correctiveness. ;)

I'm seeing more and more of this dissatisfied reaction from kids these days who recognize their not getting a shilling
worth for their pound spent at theatre or with cable. I always point them at past classics they've never given try.
 
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Prosperity from 1932 with Marie Dressler, Poly Moran, Anita Page and Norman Foster


You don't usually turn to MGM for Depression Era grit, but in Prosperity, MGM employs one of its big stars of the day, Marie Dressler, to take the audience through an all-to-real run on a bank and its impoverishing effects on the community.

Being MGM and being Dressler, there's plenty of humor sprinkled in, but this is no light-hearted effort as we see a family get torn apart and a town struggle. It all starts happily in the 1920s when money and prosperity were plentiful.

Dressler plays the president of a local bank, because in precode Hollywood, which reflected real-world America, women did run some businesses. She took over when her husband died and clearly knows how to successfully and conservatively manage a bank.

She then steps down so that her son, played by Norman Foster, can take over. While he's not an arrogant young man, he sees an opportunity to be less conservative than his mother. It's the roaring twenties and times are good, so all goes well at first.

Foster also marries the daughter, played by Anita Page, of Dressler's long time frenemy, played by Polly Moran (who was teamed with Dressler in a few other comedy-dramas). Then the Depression hits.

Moran in one of her many fits of pique, carelessly causes a run on the bank, which reveals to Dressler that her son had mortgaged the secure bonds she had salted away for just such a moment.

Foster believes the bonds will pay off in six months, so Dressler convinces the town to suffer through until then with her. She sells everything she has to raise cash for the bank's customers as she believes in repaying the depositors no matter the personal cost to her.

Dressler, her son, his wife and their now two children all move in with Moran who is insufferable to them. Nerves fray in the Moran household and in the town, while Dressler shows incredible resolve in trying to bridge the family and town over the six-month wait.

It's a story Depression Era audiences would understand well as bank failures and struggling families were common. Today we have FDIC insurance (a good thing) and endless government debt (not a good thing) as attempts to address these challenges.

The climax is a bit too Hollywood with fist fights and a crazy car-train-chase scene to recover the bonds. That's followed by a harrowing attempted suicide related to an insurance policy, but the point of Prosperity was made before its exaggerated ending.

Dressler, in her sixties and frumpy in appearance, but solid in character, struck a chord with 1930s audiences. She, in ways, was the average American at his or her best. God bless an America that could happily see itself in an older, disheveled woman with unflagging integrity.

Moran, is the movie's one off note as she overplays her hysterical frenemy role. Foster is fine, but he disappears when Dressler is in a scene. Anita Page, though, shows a quieter but equal-to-Dressler's fortitude in trying to keep her family together.

Today we have a government program for nearly every social ill and much-greater prosperity even in downtimes. Yet we have nowhere near the spirit or individual fortitude that, despite exceptions, overall, held the country together in the 1930s.

Prosperity is a good time capsule to remind us that, once, America faced much greater challenges than today with much less food on its plate, but it soldiered through. That might sound like a slogan or an old man screaming about kids playing on his lawn, but it's also true.
 

Michiganiac

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I watched Marlowe, with Liam Neeson in the titular role, a few days ago.

I enjoyed it, it was well made but with a few tweaks it could have been great, more on that later.

Neeson is great as Marlow (or is it Marlowe? ), and the production design is top notch.

Good suits, good cars, good hats, lots of great neon. Everyone smokes and they smoke a lot. The plot is a little "meh" but just interesting enough to keep me interested the whole way through.

The dialogue feels ripped right out of Golden Age noirs, the cadence and colloquialisms feel very authentic.

If they shifted the setting from 38/39 to sometime in the 50's it would resolve almost every qualm I have:

The age of certain characters with relation to their apparent life experiences, as well as the world events, doesnt quite fit. Add 20 years to the setting and that's no longer an issue.

At some point, Marlowe gets his gun taken away, later, to another character, he calls it a ".38" even though it was a 1911. 1911s wouldn't get a .38 chambering (.38 Super) until 1950 or 51.


I liked it. It's fair enough to watch again I think, but it's got a while before it catches up with Chinatown, or LA Confidential.
 

FOXTROT LAMONT

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^ Marlowe as Neeson portrayal hit the spot exactly right. LA in late thirties with America shrugging off the Great Depression, and Liam a world weary fiftyish private eye County Cork native by way of First World War Royal Irish Rifles service who were fed into the hellish Somme. A displaced peripatetic soul after the Armistice and demobilization, jumps ship for New York and didn't stop until a train ride ended his wanderlust in California.
Took naturalization, police work-some entangle-spit out a pensionless gumshoe married to a bachelor's life and whiskey. All the timeline fits. And a ''thirty-eight'' quip rather generic lingo for a rod, any rod.:cool:
 

Michiganiac

New in Town
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And a ''thirty-eight'' quip rather generic lingo for a rod, any rod.:cool:
In the sense that people in the American South tend to colloquialise all soft drinks as "Coke," not just Coca Cola?


And though I've not read Chandler's Marlow (on my list, bookstore picked out and everything), my research indicates that despite inconsistencies, Marlow ages with the century, plus or minus a few years.

Am I wrong?
 

FOXTROT LAMONT

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In the sense that people in the American South tend to colloquialise all soft drinks as "Coke," not just Coca Cola?


And though I've not read Chandler's Marlow (on my list, bookstore picked out and everything), my research indicates that despite inconsistencies, Marlow ages with the century, plus or minus a few years.

Am I wrong?
Liam seems a fit fifties, can handle himself in a bar fight, and referred his regimental service.
I surmise Raymond Chandler could have birthed him at near turn Cork or Mayo, enlistment Aldershot or Victoria Barracks before France. He'd gone sixteen sure. A piece reference .38 calibre shooter can be generic gumshoe what but make take what will.
 
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Notorious from 1946 with Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains and Leopoldine Konstantin


A funny thing about Alfred Hitchcock movies is that almost all of the pictures from the "master of suspense" are really love stories with a suspense wrapper. Notorious is one of his best movies in no small part because it's one of his best love stories.

Ingrid Bergman plays the daughter of a convicted German spy who, with the war now over, is a wanton party girl in Florida. The United States Government, knowing she had an American mother, wants to recruit her to spy on an enclave of German expat Nazis in Brazil.

Despite her dicey character, the US believes her father's imprisonment by the United States will give her immediate credibility with the Nazis. Cary Grant, playing the US agent who would be Bergman's handler, has the responsibility of convincing her to take the job.

After a bumpy start, Grant and Bergman begin an affair, which Bergman says has made her a "changed" woman. Still, when Grant doesn't object, she accepts the job to spy knowing she'll have to make "nice nice" in the sheets with a German played by Claude Rains.

Grant is angry that Bergman accepted the position and Bergman is angry that he let her, but they have a job to do. Hence, now down in Brazil, Bergman flirts with Rains because he and his very Teutonic mother, played by Leopoldine Konstantin, are the center of the expat Nazi cabal.

Bergman gets close to Rains and eventually marries him - anything for the cause, apparently - which drops her right in the middle of the scheming Nazis as they use Rains and his mother's mansion for their headquarters.

Employing one of Hitchcock's most famous macguffins, the unrepentant Nazis plan to leverage uranium as part of their strategy to resurrect the Reich. For Hitch's purposes, it gives Bergman something - the uranium intriguingly hidden in wine bottles - to find.

From here, the movie is Grant denying he cares that he whored Bergman for his government and Bergman denying that she minds being whored. Yet still, they work well together trying to unravel the German plot.

When Konstantin, who is much smarter than her son, finds out that Bergman, her son's wife, is an American spy, she utters to her son one of the great lines in movie history, "We are protected by the enormity of your stupidity, for a time." But are they?

The climax, no spoilers coming, has Rains and Konstantin slowly trying to poison Bergman to death, so that the other Germans won't discover her true identity. Grant, thus, is forced to balance the value of the mission versus the value of the life of the woman he loves.

It's perfect Hitchcock. Bergman is excellent as the beautiful, icy blonde with a surprisingly innate Mata Hari skillset. Grant, too, is well cast as the man who finds himself in love with a woman he sends off to sleep with another man. That angry friction is the glue in the film.

After Grant and Bergman fall in love, they both aggressively hurt each other, while we know they still love each other. Their meetings as spy and handler crackle with sexual tension, ignited by the complex interplay of the love and hate they feel for each other.

Rains, too, is smartly cast as the German mama's boy who falls for the wrong woman and then comes crying to mama to save him. But it's Konstantin's portrayal of a cold and ruthless Nazi mother that gives the picture its atmosphere of genuine evil.

Hitchcock, as always, framed every scene, every shot, every angle and every shadow almost perfectly. He even has you on edge as a bottle of wine teeters on a shelf. It's obviously constructed, but beautifully so.

Yet after watching Notorious, it's not really Nazis, spying, uranium or a potentially resurrected Reich that you're thinking about, it's Bergman and Grant's bumpy love affair that matters. So much so, one might even think that Hitch was just a romantic at heart.
 
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I watched Marlowe, with Liam Neeson in the titular role, a few days ago...The dialogue feels ripped right out of Golden Age noirs, the cadence and colloquialisms feel very authentic...
Except for one thing--Neeson's Irish accent. It was as if he (Neeson) was trying to either minimize it, alter it to a more "American" accent, or eliminate it completely, and succeeded with none of those.
 

Michiganiac

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Except for one thing--Neeson's Irish accent. It was as if he (Neeson) was trying to either minimize it, alter it to a more "American" accent, or eliminate it completely, and succeeded with none of those.
I was more referring to what was said, not necessarily how.
 

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