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What Was The Last Movie You Watched?

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New Adventures of Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford from 1931 with William Haines, Leila Hyams, Guy Kibbee, Ernest Torrence and Jimmy Durante


In the 1930s and 1940s, Hollywood created an entire genre of stories about urbane con men and women whom you know are crooked, but you can't help liking anyway, which is also why they are good at their "jobs."

In real life, these are vicious thieves who prey on the innocent and, often gullible, stealing their money, businesses and reputations. But on screen, these characters can often be lovable rapscallions who reform for romance or conscience by the end of the picture.

In the awkwardly titled New Adventures of Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford, William Haines stars as the silver-tongued handsome conman who can always spin a tale or come up with an excuse on the fly for some scam he's working.

Haines' team includes a sardonic straight man, played by Ernest Torrence. Also on the team is their gadfly factotum, played by Jimmy Durante, whose talents include pickpocketing, stealing cars and running less-than-honest errands.

A detective, played by Guy Kibbee, has relentlessly, but so far, unsuccessfully been pursuing Haines for years. Kibbee has a dogged but not mean-spirited persistence as he figures Haines has to slip up at some point.

With that setup, Haines and team head upstate from New York City where, using an uncashed scammed check form a prominent banker as "collateral," Haines gets involved in a land "deal."

The early fun is watching Haines create a scam from scratch. He uses his cribbed check to rope in a gullible couple who own some land. He and his team then draw in other locals by creating a "stir" in the town with fake geology reports and "overheard" conversations.

It's exaggerated but entertaining to see how greed takes hold. While the locals are victims, it's their greed that gets them. Haines dangles easy money, which causes the "investors" not to do their diligence as they are too worried about "missing out." It's FOMO 1931 style.

This would be just another scam for Haines except that the daughter of the couple whose land he's stealing is a very pretty blonde, played by Leila Hyams. Love is often the Achilles heel of scammers in Hollywood movies.

As the scam picks up steam, Haines and team have to juggle harder as the investors get anxious, but it's working until Haines, for love, decides to go legit. He wants to give the money back, but that doesn't go over well with Torrence, nor is a scam simple to "unwind."

The climax, no spoilers coming, smartly pulls all the plot threads together as the investors demand their money back, Torrence absconds with the money, Kibbee shows up to arrest Haines and Haines is distracted by amore. Then a deus ex machina appears.

Movies like these are plot and dialogue thick as words and webs of deceit are the most important tools con men and women have. Thus, right up to the end, Haines, Torrence and Durante are spitting out words at a gatling-gun pace to spin their way out of the mess.

It works not because you really believe it, but because you enjoy it. Haines is entertaining as the glib con man who falls in love. Torrence has a big-lug likability and Durante is enjoyably annoying in the way only Durante can be. He built a long career being enjoyably annoying.

Pretty Hyams is the movie's underused secret weapon as she has Haines' number almost from the start. The scenes where she calmly calls him out on his scamming - his spin doesn't work on her - are the most sincere ones in the movie.

The beauty of their relationship is that she knows exactly who he is, but loves him anyway, while he knows he can't love her and continue scamming. You wish the movie had spent more time on this relationship and a little less on some of the wash-rinse-repeat scams.

The lovable scammer is a stock character because there is something oddly appealing about a charming crook. We know in real life these are malignant people, but on screen we can enjoy their criminal talents and joie de vivre from a safe distance.

New Adventures of Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford has some early talkie clunkiness to it and is in need of a restoration, but it's a fun example of a story Hollywood would not only tell a lot in the 1930s and 1940s, but one that it still tells to this day.
 
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Young at Heart from 1954 with Frank Sinatra, Doris Day, Ethel Barrymore, Robert Keith, Gig Young, Dorothy Malone, Elisabeth Fraser, Alan Hale Jr. and Lonny Chapman


If you've seen Four Daughters, the 1938 version of Young at Heart, it is hard not to compare the later version to the original. On that measure, the later version falls short, but on its own, it's an enjoyable mid-century Technicolor musical melodrama with two big leads.

Doris Day plays the youngest of three "Tuttle" girls, all early adults (they are all pushing that window here). She's smitten with the new guy in town, played by Gig Young. Young has just been hired at the local college, where the girls' dad, played by Robert Keith, teaches.

Day's sisters, played by Dorothy Malone and Elisabeth Fraser, are also a bit taken with Young. Malone, though, is being pursued by a wealthy man played by Alan Hale Jr., while Fraser is being pursued by a likeable plumber, played by Lonny Chapman.

The Tuttle home is titularly run by widower Keith. Yet in reality, Keith's sister, "Aunt Jessie," played by the fantastic Ethel Barrymore, is the one who keeps this spirited and happy home firing on all cylinders.

The house, presently, is humming along with the girls all interested in Young, while other young men are circling. Then Young's surely song-writing friend, played by Frank Sinatra, arrives to help Young with his composition and the deck gets reshuffled.

Sinatra plays a discontented young man who is angry at the world for the unfair hand he's been dealt, which includes being raised in an orphanage and, in his opinion, having "the fates" conspire to never let him really succeed.

Opposites have never attracted more than when always-cheery Day meets saturnine Sinatra as she makes it her personal mission to change his outlook and luck in life. He complains, but secretly loves her efforts and attention.

The story then has its big twist - no spoilers coming - when Day is forced to choose, in dramatic fashion, between Young and Sinatra. Her decision will rock both of her sisters hard. The fallout from that decision will drive the film's very melodramatic conclusion.

Throughout the romance and drama, Day and Sinatra sing some solos and some duets. A few are Sinatra classics, including the title song plus "Just One of Those Things" and "One for My Baby." It's worth watching the movie for these moments alone.

While the 1938 version is a true ensemble effort, this is Day's and Sinatra's movie as their relationship garners most of the focus. Warners had two hot stars in this musical version of the story and it put them front and center to good effect.

Day, like Sinatra, was a genuine double threat who can act and sing. She belts out a song with less nuance than Old Blue Eyes, but her full-force style works for her. Yet it's no stretch to say, despite his smaller role, Sinatra takes over the picture.

His character is the change agent that stands athwart all the cheeriness of the Tuttle home. Without his anger, something Sinatra conveys well on screen, Young at Heart would be treacly. With his acerbic attitude and all his songs, he gives the picture its spice.

Barrymore, Keith, Hale and Young are all professionals who smoothly usher this mostly easy material along, but keep an eye on Malone as she brings some sincere drama to her complex character. Like a true professional, she makes her small role impactful.

Young at Heart is a fine, typical 1950s musical melodrama whose color is too bright and sets are too obvious. The story's main conflict, though, still has much of its original bite. However, Sinatra forced the producers to accept a different and controversial ending.

The earlier Four Daughters keeps the attention on the four daughters at the heart of the movie's loving family. Young at Heart shifts that focus to its two big stars. The latter is a good picture, with some classic songs, but it lacks the deep family warmth of the original.
 

Julian Shellhammer

Practically Family
Messages
870
The other day it was The Saint in Palm Springs (1940), with George Sanders as the titular character, Wendy Barrie as the daughter of a fellow who has $200,00 in rare stamps, Jonathan Hale as Inspector Fernack, and Paul Guilfoyle as a former pickpocket trying to go straight. Through a series of events Sanders agrees to transport the stamps from the East Coast to Barrie in Palm Springs. "Foreign agents" will stop at nothing to heist the stamps. Mystery, mayhem, and murder ensue. A fun watch, seeing what Palm Springs looked like way back then, intermixed with fanciful studio sets.
This was the last title in the series to which we had access: perhaps it's The Falcon up next...
 
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The other day it was The Saint in Palm Springs (1940), with George Sanders as the titular character, Wendy Barrie as the daughter of a fellow who has $200,00 in rare stamps, Jonathan Hale as Inspector Fernack, and Paul Guilfoyle as a former pickpocket trying to go straight. Through a series of events Sanders agrees to transport the stamps from the East Coast to Barrie in Palm Springs. "Foreign agents" will stop at nothing to heist the stamps. Mystery, mayhem, and murder ensue. A fun watch, seeing what Palm Springs looked like way back then, intermixed with fanciful studio sets.
This was the last title in the series to which we had access: perhaps it's The Falcon up next...

I don't think I've seen that Saint one. Based on your review, I'll keep an eye out for it now.

Of the Falcon series ones I've seen, "The Falcon in Hollywood" and "Falcon and the Co-eds" are the ones that I remember liking the best.
 

Julian Shellhammer

Practically Family
Messages
870
Bringing the Shellhammer Mansion Binge-fest and Continual Soiree up to date, it was 1953's Bad for Each Other, starring Charlton Heston, noir icon Lizabeth Scott, and Dianne Foster. Sort of a mash-up of a 1930s medical drama where a society doctor gets rich and powerful by catering to Park Avenue millionaires who aren't really sick and then reconnects with his poverty-stricken youth and turns his back on big money to help those who really need it, and a sort of tense soap opera.

Colonel Tom Owen of the US Army Medical Corps (Heston) returns after a decade to his home town. Planned as only a visit, he ends up taking up practice with a society doctor and becoming the above mentioned rich and powerful. Helen Curtis (Scott) is the twice-married, twice-divorced daughter of the local coal magnate, and she sets her eye on Dr. Owen. She drinks a lot and is impulsive. Their romance is less-than smooth, with Owen periodically erupting in rants. The doctor interacts with nobler doctors and nurses, and, this being 1953 Hollywood, the story takes a dramatic turn (coal mining trouble) and then rapidly resolves into a noble wrap-up.

Follow by Dangerous Money, an Inspector Chan mystery from 1946. Sidney Toler again headlines as Honolulu PD's ace detective, with Victor Sen Sung as number three son. This time we're on board a ship headed for Samoa, and counterfeit money, and missing precious art formerly housed in a bank in Manila, is the mystery here, which leads to some homicides. The whole passenger list seems suspicious (I am not exaggerating), and the big reveal at the end includes some of the antics associated with B mysteries: previously unknown backgrounds, clues deciphered but not shared with us, the viewing audience, and so on. Bubble gum for a brain for a little more than an hour.
 
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Born to Kill from 1947 with Lawrence Tierney, Claire Trevor, Elisha Cook Jr., Esther Howard, Walter Slezak, Audrey Long and Phillip Terry


Sex, money and murder, just not in that order, drive everything that happens in Born to Kill, a dark, even for film noir, offering from RKO Studios starring Lawrence Tierney and Claire Trevor.

Tierney plays a handsome sociopath who doesn't even try to seduce or charm other people; he lets his raw masculinity alone do that. And it works, as it does on his personal factotum played by Elisha Cook Jr., who spends all his time trying to cover up Tierney's murders.

After Tierney kills his girlfriend and her lover in cold blood, he flees Reno for San Francisco leaving Cook Jr. behind to mop up. On his way to San Fran, Tierney meets a freshly minted divorcee, played by Claire Trevor.

As happens to almost every woman, Trevor can't get her clothes off fast enough after meeting Tierney (all implied, of course, in this era). The hitch is that she's also engaged to a nice and very wealthy milquetoast of a man, played by Phillip Terry.

So when Tierney shows up at Trevor's rich half sister's house, he simply switches horses and marries the sister, played by Audrey Long, who, along with Terry, are the only nice people in the movie.

Two added wrinkles, though, also followed Tierney to San Fran. One is a friend, played by Esther Howard, of the woman Tierney murdered in Reno and the other is the private detective, played by Walter Slezak, Howard hires to find her friend's murderer.

It's complicated, but the stage is now set with Tierney married to the nice sister, Long, but still having some version of hate-sex with the conniving sister, Trevor. Meanwhile, Trevor and Cook Jr. try to protect Tierney from Howard and Slezak. People just do this for Tierney.

This not very believable story then takes a few wild twists, which include possibly the oddest mano-a-mano cagematch ever in noir history when pipsqueak Cook Jr. faces off against matronly Howard. Howard, surprisingly, has some game.

Eventually, though - especially with Slezak as an amoral but dogged, Bible- and Shakespeare-quoting private detective tracking all the bad behavior - it comes down to Trevor, Tierney and the police. It's 1947 and murder can't pay, on screen anyway.

Tierney's character is full-on psychotic as the smallest perceived-by-him slight to his manhood sets him into a rage that can easily spiral to murder. He also lacks any of the charm that psychotics usually use to manipulate the world to their will.

The man is so unpleasant to everyone, it's hard to believe anyone, even Cook Jr., who might have sexual feelings for him, or Trevor, who only has sexual feelings for him, would put up with the abuse. And it is harder still to see why nice sister Long would marry him.

If you put that aside, and that's a heavy lift, and just enjoy the story as presented, the acting is impressive: Trevor, Slezak, Cook Jr. and Howard all create characters who will stay with you, but Tierney's is too one dimensional to touch you in any meaningful way.

Tierney is so sick, he should have been institutionalized; Trevor, though, is rational, but evil. Her lust for money had her about to marry a man she didn't love or even respect, until her lust for, well, lust made her take her eye off the money. This really is Trevor's movie.

All this carnal passion, greed and murder is ably steered through an unpretentious noir atmosphere by director Robert Wise. Wise doesn't have the reputation of the "big" directors, but his pictures are almost always smart and engaging ones that let the actors shine.

Born to Kill is a type of art: it isn't a representation of life as it is, but a stylized look at how sex, money and murder can warp people. Its lead characters, though, are so evil - so devoid of any morally redeeming characteristics - that you wonder how the censors let this one slide by.
 

Julian Shellhammer

Practically Family
Messages
870
A Carol for Another Christmas, an ABC network made-for-television movie from 1964. Rod Serling revises the Charles Dickens classic for the Cold War era nuclear war fear and the isolation mindset prevalent in those times. Several key components from the original are retained- a nephew named Fred who means well, three ghosts of Christmases past, present, and future, a rich misanthropic who is partially driven by personal grief, and a message of reaching out proactively to those in need. In this story, it is not the dispossessed due to the Industrial Revolution, it is a focus on world peace, as (sort of) brokered by the United Nations.

Remarkably, it was produced and directed by four-time Academy Award winner Joseph Mankiewicz. It looks like a large scale Twilight Zone, with the Serling distinctive dialogue and rhythm, and some sets suggesting a location or event. Sterling Hayden as the Scrooge stand-in, Mr. Grudge, Ben Gazzara as Fred, with Eva Marie Saint, Pat Hingle, Robert Shaw, and a really good performance by Steve Lawrence as a WWI doughboy.

Opinionated observation: the weakest part, as written and performed, was an addition of the character Imperial Me, with Peter Sellers as the character. Post nuke war survivors, ragged and dirt-begrimed, blindly follow the isolationist and war-mongering leadership of Sellers; while not part of the could-be world of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, it is an extended caveat that even after the horrors of mass destruction, people won't learn the lesson, and will promote self over others. In all, an interesting production, which will not show up in the Shellhammer Christmas Movie Rotation.
 
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In Which We Serve from 1942 with Noel Coward, Celia Johnson, John Mills and Kay Walsh


In Which We Serve is not Mrs. Miniver, the standard by which all other WWII propaganda films should be judged, but it is in the top five. By seamlessly blending homefront stories, naval battle scenes, the Blitz and military morale, In Which We Serve makes everyone, British or not, proud of that tiny island's Navy.

Written, co-directed (along with David Lean) and starring Noel Coward as the commander of the newly christened destroyer the HMS Torrin, the movie opens with the Torrin going down in battle, then through flashbacks, we learn about its crew and prior action at sea.

The odd thing about choosing playwright, composer, singer and actor Noel Coward - not a square-jawed, physically imposing specimen - as captain is that it works incredibly well.

At a time when Britain needed every able-bodied man, seeing a not-scripted-out-of-central-casting captain struck just the right note. By the end of the movie, he's the captain you want to serve under, or the captain you want to be.

Coward does have the perfect family with a dedicated naval wife, played by Cecilia Johnson, and a young son and daughter who all but unconditionally support Coward, despite their fears, as the good of England goes before the narrow needs of the family.

That theme is repeated time and again as we see a just-married and just-joined-up young sailor, played by John Mills, kissing his bride, played by Kay Johnson, goodbye as he is about to board his ship (leaving Kay Walsh in time of war or not would never be easy).

The importance of winning the war couldn't be missed on those left behind as the war found its way to the homefront. During the Blitz, bombs rained down on England's cities. In an odd reversal, it often was sailors, as we see on the Torrin, getting letters from home that a loved one had died in an air raid. This was a war that had to be fought and won.

Aboard the Torrin itself, Coward is a fair and firm captain. He does the "small" things - visits the wounded, shows respect to the lowest ranking man and risks his life right alongside his men - that builds genuine loyalty.

As a result, he and his crew, in very British-like fashion (at least according to the image Britain portrayed of itself during the war), do their jobs unflappably even in the cauldron of battle.

The action scenes on the Torrin - with incoming fire seemingly from everywhere - are exhilarating, especially when the ship sinks a couple of enemy destroyers. But it is equally impressive to watch the crew man the guns and follow orders even when the ship is going down.

In Which We Serve is unabashed propaganda at a time when England needed unabashed propaganda. Noel Coward clearly understood this and produced one of WWII's propaganda classics. Impressively, even eighty years later, it is still an engaging and inspirational movie.

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Three Wise Girls from 1931 with Jean Harlow, Mae Clarke, Marie Prevost, James Thomas and Walter Byron


Precode Hollywood churned out so many "a young and innocent small-town girl moves to New York City'' movies that they can be hard to keep straight, especially good but generic ones like Three Wise Girls.

Jean Harlow plays the good girl in this one who moves to New York City to help support her mother. She goes after seeing that her childhood friend, played by Mae Clarke, now in New York, is sending large checks back to her own mom.

Once there, Harlow learns that it's hard to keep a good job if she won't canoodle with the boss. Things get better when Clarke, a model, gets Harlow a modeling job too. But Clarke's money home doesn't come from the okay-paying modeling job, but from her boyfriend.

Clarke is dating a wealthy married man who "keeps" her in a fancy Park Avenue apartment. Clark asserts that she truly loves her boyfriend, played by James Thomas, and therefore, can't give him up, but hates being a kept woman.

True or not, precode movies made it seem like half the apartments on New York City's famed Park Avenue were populated by married men's girlfriends. One comes to believe that the luxury apartment rental market would collapse if men all of a sudden became faithful.

When Harlow starts dating a handsome, wealthy man, played by Walter Byron, she soon learns that he's married too. But Harlow's not up for compromise, so she and Byron fight and split a few times as he says his wife won't give him a divorce.

As were many precode, this is a women-centric movie. The guys are more archetypes than real-world men with Thomas playing an off-the-shelf womanizer, while Byron is, maybe, a good guy. To his credit, Byron squeezes a little personality out of his cardboard character.

The third titular wise girl is played by Marie Prevost who, as opposed to Clarke and Harlow and in more of a supporting role, has an itch for working-class guys as she eyes every good-looking chauffeur and doorman that passes by.

With that set up, and being a short precode, the climax, no spoilers coming, smashes the stories together in a hurry. Effectively, Harlow and Clarke have the same problem with their boyfriends, but they take very different approaches with dramatically different outcomes.

Precodes have a reputation for sexual indulgence, but many just show life as it was, while having a traditional message wrapped inside an air of understanding. Clarke's affair is not held against her, but the movie's morality still says to women, "hold out for marriage."

The movie's morality also shows Prevost as, probably, the happiest of the three as she just wants to love and be loved by a "regular guy." Her happiness with a chauffeur seems the most genuine and joyous relationship in the movie.

Harlow was already the biggest of the three stars and went on to greater heights, while Clarke and Prevost faded away for various reasons. But here, Clarke gives the most nuanced and moving performance of the three. Stardom and talent are not the same thing.

Three Wise Girls is just another wash-rinse-repeat precode about young women coming to New York City and being tempted by "sin." It's quick and entertaining with, for the time, an honest but traditional message.

The world has changed an incredible amount in the past ninety years, but New York City is still a magnet for kids from all over the country with dreams. Just as in Three Wise Girls, some still make it; some return home not too beat up and some get knocked around pretty hard.
 
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Sat down last night to catch a double feature on the Laff channel - Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles. I should have known better.

After they cut the "big knockers" joke near the beginning, I switched over to a Johnny Cash documentary which was rather good. I mean, what's the point of showing a butchered film?
 

GHT

I'll Lock Up
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Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade on television earlier this evening.

When the two greatest filmmakers in the world teamed up to create the best action movie of all time: Raiders of the Lost Ark, it seemed unlikely that they could duplicate their much loved work. After a miss with the forgettable Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade comes pretty close to doing just that.

Harrison Ford returns to his signature role in a performance that speaks for itself, and benefits greatly from a cast of talented supporting characters. That includes Sean Connery, the grandest of all modern action day movie heroes. Connery plays against that, in a performance that is different than anything he has ever done, and it works. Even so, Denholm Elliott just can't help stealing every scene that he's in as Marcus Brody.

"Last Crusade," is more abundant with humour than the previous two films, without the characters falling into self-parody. Being a sequel, this is a difficult balance to achieve. You could argue that this film stands among the greatest action adventures of all time.

I loved it when it was first released and I still love it. After The Temple of Doom it was time for Indy to return to form and more lighthearted fair. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was the answer and bringing in Sean Connery, as Indy's dad, was inspired casting.

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As film "Baddies" go, Michael Byrne, who portrays Ernst Vogel, nails it!
 

Worf

I'll Lock Up
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View attachment 611169
In Which We Serve from 1942 with Noel Coward, Celia Johnson, John Mills and Kay Walsh


In Which We Serve is not Mrs. Miniver, the standard by which all other WWII propaganda films should be judged, but it is in the top five. By seamlessly blending homefront stories, naval battle scenes, the Blitz and military morale, In Which We Serve makes everyone, British or not, proud of that tiny island's Navy.

Written, co-directed (along with David Lean) and starring Noel Coward as the commander of the newly christened destroyer the HMS Torrin, the movie opens with the Torrin going down in battle, then through flashbacks, we learn about its crew and prior action at sea.

The odd thing about choosing playwright, composer, singer and actor Noel Coward - not a square-jawed, physically imposing specimen - as captain is that it works incredibly well.

At a time when Britain needed every able-bodied man, seeing a not-scripted-out-of-central-casting captain struck just the right note. By the end of the movie, he's the captain you want to serve under, or the captain you want to be.

Coward does have the perfect family with a dedicated naval wife, played by Cecilia Johnson, and a young son and daughter who all but unconditionally support Coward, despite their fears, as the good of England goes before the narrow needs of the family.

That theme is repeated time and again as we see a just-married and just-joined-up young sailor, played by John Mills, kissing his bride, played by Kay Johnson, goodbye as he is about to board his ship (leaving Kay Walsh in time of war or not would never be easy).

The importance of winning the war couldn't be missed on those left behind as the war found its way to the homefront. During the Blitz, bombs rained down on England's cities. In an odd reversal, it often was sailors, as we see on the Torrin, getting letters from home that a loved one had died in an air raid. This was a war that had to be fought and won.

Aboard the Torrin itself, Coward is a fair and firm captain. He does the "small" things - visits the wounded, shows respect to the lowest ranking man and risks his life right alongside his men - that builds genuine loyalty.

As a result, he and his crew, in very British-like fashion (at least according to the image Britain portrayed of itself during the war), do their jobs unflappably even in the cauldron of battle.

The action scenes on the Torrin - with incoming fire seemingly from everywhere - are exhilarating, especially when the ship sinks a couple of enemy destroyers. But it is equally impressive to watch the crew man the guns and follow orders even when the ship is going down.

In Which We Serve is unabashed propaganda at a time when England needed unabashed propaganda. Noel Coward clearly understood this and produced one of WWII's propaganda classics. Impressively, even eighty years later, it is still an engaging and inspirational movie.

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This IS great propaganda, made during the war it HAD to be. I love this film ( I own it on DVD), but I prefer it's postwar counterpart "The Cruel Sea" instead. In that film there's no "stiff upper lip" for King and Country sentimentality as pictured here. In "The Cruel Sea" the officers are not perfect, the Captain is a haunted almost Ahab like figure tortured by the loss of his first ship as well as decisions he had to make during the course of the war. Decisions that cost men their lives. In Which We Serve ends with cheers and shouts of God Save the King. In The Cruel Sea, the war and film end with an exhausted sigh... Men and women so ravaged by the Battle of the Atlantic that in the end they simply collapse in exhaustion. Two films about the life in the Royal Navy during WWII. Both films follow men on small surface vessels, but no two films covering the same time period and the same battle could be more diametrically opposed.

Worf
 
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Courage for Every Day from 1964, a Czechoslovakian film


Is Courage for Every Day a good movie? It is praised for being part of the "Czech New Wave" of cinema and for being a daring movie to make under communist rule. Those things are probably true, but they don't, alone, make Courage for Every Day a good movie.

Jarda as a young man believed in the "people's revolution." He was part of the youth movement that supported it, but now, over a decade later, with Stalin dead and a younger generation disillusioned with life under communism, Jarda is feeling lost.

Even his pretty girlfriend, Vera - he sneaks into her apartment at night to sleep with her and then sneaks out in the morning - seems disappointed in the man he is now. She sees that his support for "the revolution" makes him look stodgy and out of touch.

Jarda works at a manufacturing plant where the younger kids openly laugh at him for his party loyalty. A local reporter even follows Jarda around for a bit as Jarda was once "an up and comer," but this only serves to emphasize how unimportant his life has become.

Jarda gives speeches at what look like union halls, but few listen as they are much more interested in the entertainment part of the show. Jarda's family, too, seems to realize he's fallen short of his promise.

The movie is shot in a semi-documentary style. Everything here is rundown and shabby. Life looks dreary in Czechoslovakia; not brutal, just poor and dreary. The people seem to have lost hope, but only the teenagers and young adults are angry about it.

The apartment houses are dirty and dilapidated. The manufacturing plant is running, but it looks as if maintenance stopped a decade ago. The cars are mainly junky and cheap and the landscape, even the woods, has a hazy, grimy appearance.

This is a slice of life movie as the only narrative arc - and the only character growth we see - is Jarda's realization that his life has amounted to nothing; that his early belief in communism has sold him out as he approaches middle age.

For that reason, it is a statement film and, perforce, it makes its statement in a roundabout enough way to, apparently, have made it past the communist censors. For that, the filmmakers deserve kudos for both their skill and courage.

But the movie's semi-documentary style is boring as all heck. It spends most of its time on atmosphere shots and mundane dialogue. Scenes go on where the point - life is drab here and the people have all but given up - has long since been made.

You wait for something to happen, but the few key moments - Jarda gets further disillusioned with communism or Vera gets further disillusioned with Jarda - have no punch. Whatever the heck Czech "New Wave" is, if this is it, it's hard to be impressed.

So is Courage for Every Day a good movie? Does the movie entertain as it makes its message - no. Did it take courage to make - as noted, yes. Is it an important movie - maybe. Is it a good movie - no.
 

FOXTROT LAMONT

One Too Many
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St John's Wood, London UK
A trite camp but film is a canvas carved razored intellect or soft soap brushed for lather stroke simplicity however perceived. When turned inward upon culture, national society; and, most poignantly youth, a lens becomes laser enflamed truth.
If film stirs doubt, provokes thought, it's at the heart of life. Not merely scratching our minds.
Film therefore is dangerous to totaltarianism and embarrassment laden for democracy.
Courage for Everyday is a flick with meaning. And I'm surprised this canvas escaped death.
 

The Lost Cowboy

One Too Many
Messages
1,467
Location
Northern Alabama
I watched “The Fall Guy” yesterday at the theater and disliked it quite a bit. It was a romantic comedy posing as a mystery posing as an action flick. That would not have bothered me if any of those elements had been written in an interesting manner, but they weren’t. The actors seemed to think so, too, since they pretty much all just phoned in their performances.

The first half was one solid hour of romantic comedy vapidness of such an awkward quality that by the time the action finally started, I had turned against the movie.

Then finally came the stunt scenes, which were nothing more than one messy cut to action take after another. From this director, I was expecting something hard-hitting like “John Wick” (which he worked on) or “Atomic Blonde”, (which he directed), with stunts being shown all in one shot and designed to raise the bar on the action genre. Disappointingly and resoundingly not. Rather, the action scenes were all filmed like a 1980s TV show with one shot for the car starting the jump over the ravine, another shot mid air, and a third shot for the landing. Almost every single stunt (literally except two that I noticed were each shown in a single shot) were filmed in that same style - including all of the fight scenes. It was exhausting.

If you really want to pay homage to the stunt workers, why not show us each stunt in one uncut shot?

Maybe the point was to make it feel like an 1980s TV show but personally, I’d rather just watch an episode or two of “The A-Team” or even the original “The Fall Guy”. It would be the same action and a better story.

I really like the actors in this movie and I respect the director (even if I hated his “Hobbes and Shaw” film). But this should have been a movie I loved and would watch multiple times. Unfortunately, I can’t even recommend viewing it once.
 
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