Want to buy or sell something? Check the classifieds
  • The Fedora Lounge is supported in part by commission earning affiliate links sitewide. Please support us by using them. You may learn more here.

What Was The Last Movie You Watched?

FOXTROT LAMONT

One Too Many
Messages
1,723
Location
St John's Wood, London UK
I watched this one only recently and thought it was very good for where the Bond franchise is right now.
I've skipped around Bondage franchise having caught more on YouTube snippets; still with right script adherence, sociopathic James matched above-average direction proved constructive. Fleming's enigma has more than sufficient angst offering real depth to prescient directorial eye. However today's asinine political correct insistence skewers all.
A Hitchcock turned loose with a free hand cast, material could have forged a true film classic
far away and beyond genre franchise.
 

Julian Shellhammer

Practically Family
Messages
871
1935's Mutiny on the Bounty, with Clark Gable and Charles Laughton.
Viva Zapata! (1952), dir. Elia Kazan, with Marlon Brando, Jean Peters, Anthony Quinn, and Joseph (Dr. No) Wiseman.
When Worlds Collide, the screen version of the 1933 novel, with Richard Derr and Barbara Rush, brought to us in 1951 by dir. Rudolph Mate.
We are hosting company, no time for posting comments...
 
Messages
16,976
Location
New York City
MV5BZTA5MmZlODItN2RjYS00YzI3LWJlMTctODUxNDcwMmZkZTU4XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyODc1NDEwNzQ@._V1_FMjpg_UX9...jpg

The Prince and the Showgirl from 1957 with Marilyn Monroe, Laurence Olivier, Richard Wattis and Sybil Thorndike


Despite strong rumors that leads Marilyn Monroe and Laurence Olivier did not get along at all during the filming of The Prince and the Showgirl and further rumors that Monroe was difficult in general, none of that shows in the end result.

Be it Olivier's directing, he performed double duty here, and/or Monroe's ability to turn it on when it counts, the movie is charming with Monroe regularly stealing scenes. Just ignore the gossip and enjoy this funny and entertaining, albeit a bit too long movie.

It is 1911 during the coronation week of Britain's King George V. Olivier plays a visiting prince regent from a small but tactically important country in the Balkans, so the British assign a senior civil servant, played by Richard Wattis, to tend to the prince regent's "needs."

Olivier, a widower, likes tarty women, so he asks an American chorus girl, played by Marilyn Monroe, whom he sees in a popular dancehall show over for a "late night supper." Instead of a "soft dollar" arrangement, Olivier should have just gone for a real prostitute.

Monroe's character, combining innocence with an almost guileless intelligence, slowly sees that she's not there to be a dinner companion, but to be the post-dinner "entertainment." She bumbles and strategizes her way out of the mess.

The fun here is all Monroe. She manages to be a cute girl in awe of the royals one minute and aware that they put their pants on one leg at a time the next. She uses her naivety to get away with behavior that would offend if done by others.

She also proves a quick study, who sees that much of the pompous royal codes of conduct are just a facade to let the royals do things for their benefit. She throws a sharp elbow Wattis' way too by implicitly calling him a pimp for bringing her to Olivier for "supper:"

"You know, there's a word for what you are and it's not Deputy Head of the Far Eastern Department."

Monroe also charms Olivier's former mother-in-law, the queen dowager, played by Sybil Thorndike, as well as Olivier's teenage son, who will soon become king.

It's the old saw about a regular person innocently telling the royals truths they never hear, yet instead of getting angry, the royals find the honesty refreshing. Only blonde "dopey" Monroe could get away with telling the king of a Balkan country this humdinger:

"Besides, who cares about your old Balkan revolutions, anyway? You have them all the time."

That innocent honesty bumping up against royal pomposity is The Prince and the Showgirl's one note, and it gets played a bit too much. Still, Monroe is so charming as the babe in the woods that it works.

Olivier is a bit two-dimensional here as the imperious royal. He is a great actor, but he needed to make his character more human and show some sincere loneliness so that we'd better understand why he likes Monroe's character despite finding her irritating.

Wittis is outstanding as the unflappable British civil servant who plays straitman to Monroe's unwitting improprieties. He's always professional, but still lets you know he enjoys seeing Monroe function as a spanner in the royals' usually well-orchestrated machinery.

This is a lighthearted effort with Monroe fully playing to her personal brand of innocent-yet-knowing sex goddess/gold-digger who really is a sweet person with a kind heart. It's a contradictory mix, but Monroe played a version of it in almost every one of her movies.

A good half hour could have been edited out of the movie's nearly two-hour runtime, with the plotline about Olivier's son planning a quasi rebellion being completely left on the cutting-room floor.

The Prince and the Showgirl is Monroe's movie. We all know of her off-screen struggles, but on screen, she shines. Yes, she is pretty and voluptuous, but she is also a talented comedic actress whose timing and facial expressions reveal tremendous skill.

Monroe also has "it." It is an aura of sex and it is a magic that happens between her and the camera. It's a shame her personal demons led to her early passing, as movies like The Prince and the Showgirl argue she would have had a long career.
 

GHT

I'll Lock Up
Messages
9,510
Location
New Forest
The Sands of Iwo Jima: (1949.)
The Sands of Iwo Jima was on television last night. Later, looking it up, I read that John Wayne earned a Best Actor Academy Award nomination for his iconic role, as the battle hardened leader of a squad of recruits.

Haunted by his personal demons, Marine Sgt. John Stryker is both hated and feared by his men, who see him as a cold-hearted sadist. But when they storm the beaches, they begin to understand the reason for Stryker's rigid form of discipline, as he leads them into one of the most treacherous battles in the Pacific. Emotionally gripping, punctuated with intense battle scenes, all packed into one hour forty minutes, Sands of Iwo Jima is the quintessential WW2 film.
 

FOXTROT LAMONT

One Too Many
Messages
1,723
Location
St John's Wood, London UK
The Sands of Iwo Jima: (1949.)
Sands of Iwo Jima is the quintessential WW2 film.
A small budget television flick dubbed Ambush Bay featured Hugh O'Brian as a staff sergeant
in a USMC Raider squad's PBY Philippine insertion. All but one Marine dies crossing jungle for objective, accomplished, but at great cost. The deaths are quiet passages so quickly slipped and sudden the silence is thunderous.

Ironically, O'Brian was the last actor shot by John Wayne in his swan song, The Shootist.
 
Messages
16,976
Location
New York City
9b2fb848f9167c221c853f59ecf3596a.jpg

Until They Sail from 1957 with Joan Fontaine, Jean Simmons, Piper Laurie, Paul Newman and Sandra Dee


Until They Sail is a small gem of a movie with an impressive cast, beautiful MGM production qualities - including gorgeous black and white cinematography - and skilled director Robert Wise at the tiller. Yet, somehow, this one flies below the radar.

Perhaps because it's a wartime homefront movie focused on four sisters, it's often dismissed as a "woman's picture." That is silly, though, as this WWII drama, set in New Zealand, is an outstanding movie with characters you'll come to care very much about.

Four sisters - played by Joan Fontaine, Jean Simmons, Piper Laurie and Sandra Dee - ranging in age from fifteen for Dee to early thirties for (and older in real life) Fontaine - live in a pretty bungalow house in New Zealand. The girl's parents have already passed away.

Their small town of Christchurch has been depopulated of young men as the men have gone off to the deserts of Africa to fight the Germans. So now, with the Japanese sweeping south toward New Zealand, the women are happy to hear "the Americans are coming."

Until They Sail makes it clear that the young women of Christchurch have passionately missed their men in a very carnal way. Kudos to James A. Michener, the author of the story the movie is based on, for conveying this earthy reality that was often elided in movies then.

What follows is an "invasion" of sorts as reams of young, strong, virile American soldiers and sailors stream into Christchurch with plenty of money, goods, bravado and testosterone. The four sisters are not immune to the lure of American masculinity.

All the sisters have their own experiences, with Laurie being the wild child who ditches her incautious marriage to a New Zealand boy, now off fighting, for the comfort of a warm bed with numerous (!) Americans.

The oldest sister, Fontaine, who was on a glidepath to spinsterhood, has a passionate affair with an American officer. He, though, leaves for Guadalcanal before their marriage license is approved, but not before 'icy" Fontaine becomes pregnant.

Sandra Dee, making her film debut, thankfully plays down the typical "Sandra Dee" persona as the youngest sister. She is initiated to flirting, dating and boys in general earlier than her sisters as will happen in a small town awash in young men and pheromones.

Simmons, the nicest and most practical, but also the most sincerely romantic of the sisters, meets a handsome, aloof, alcoholic young American officer, played by Paul Newman. Their affair - both resist it for personal reasons - is the most complex and engaging one of all.

Director Wise skillfully weaves all of these stories together with the larger narrative of a small New Zealand town overrun, for better or worse, with Americans. This is no Hallmark picture as real life and all its ramifications buffet the sisters time and again.

Wise's picture and Michener's writing, with several scenes shot in New Zealand, create a genuine homefront atmosphere with a surprisingly frank and thoughtful approach to the moral challenges a heretofore insular community faces when the Americans blast in.

The sisters, like real siblings, fight, makeup, fight again, and go on living. They love and understand, yet also irritate and, at times, alienate each other. None of them are perfect, which this talented cast uses to make the family seem genuine.

There is a dramatic narrative arc to Laurie's story that frames the movie, but that is less important than seeing the change and growth in the girls and the town. War truly reshuffles the deck.

Enough can't be said about the cast. Laurie's performance is almost chilling as a young woman who has no intention of letting conventions get in her way. Her indomitable will blasts past moral hurdles in a not always flattering, but quite believable way.

Fontaine, a acting pro through and through, wonderfully captures a woman who comes to find love and passion in life right when she thought it was going to pass her by. Her conversion and the humility it entails is moving and uplifting.

If there is a star in this ensemble cast, though, it is Simmons as she manages to play mother to her sisters, but never loses her kindness or romantic faith, even when Newman - who is outstanding here - tests her belief in love and commitment.

To use the derogatory expression "a woman's picture" to describe Until They Sail is ridiculous unless one believes exploring the sexual desires and emotional needs of four lonely women in wartime is somehow an uninteresting-to-men part of human nature.

Until They Sail deserves a bigger audience today. Unfortunately, its view that men and women want to be together militates against the modern view where an honorable push for equality got warped into a stoic independence that often denies human nature.

For those not devoted to that pitched battle, Until They Sail is an outstanding and overlooked exploration of a unique homefront experience when a town is depopulated of its young men and later repopulated with young men from an allied country.

jean-simmons-until-they-sail-3.jpg
 

Doctor Strange

I'll Lock Up
Messages
5,236
Location
Hudson Valley, NY
FF, I watched Until They Sail about two weeks ago and planned to do a review. Outstanding little film with a great cast, well-directed by Robert Wise. You covered it very well, so let me just throw out some impressions:

I love Joan Fontaine, but I found her miscast here. She looks too old to get pregnant. (She was 40, but looks older.)

Paul Newman seems uncomfortable in this role, beyond the character's drinking. Maybe because he's in a small part here, champing for his important breakthrough roles of the following year, including Cat On A Hot Tin Roof.

Since this is a Production Code-era film, I knew that the Piper Laurie sister had to die to atone for her tawdry life in Wellington...

Yet the Joan Fontaine sister and her illigitimate child are spirited away to America with the implication that the child's wealthy/powerful grandparents will tell everyone she'd married their son before he was killed. This seems like a barely semi-Kosher loophole to avoid the story punishing her for premarital sex, rather surprising for the time.

I adore Jean Simmons, and she's typically excellent here doing most of the story's heavy lifting. TCM ran a bunch of her films recently, and I watched an early one that I hadn't seen in decades, So Long at the Fair - which I thought held up splendidly. Did we ever review that one?
 
Messages
16,976
Location
New York City
FF, I watched Until They Sail about two weeks ago and planned to do a review. Outstanding little film with a great cast, well-directed by Robert Wise. You covered it very well, so let me just throw out some impressions:

I love Joan Fontaine, but I found her miscast here. She looks too old to get pregnant. (She was 40, but looks older.)

Paul Newman seems uncomfortable in this role, beyond the character's drinking. Maybe because he's in a small part here, champing for his important breakthrough roles of the following year, including Cat On A Hot Tin Roof.

Since this is a Production Code-era film, I knew that the Piper Laurie sister had to die to atone for her tawdry life in Wellington...

Yet the Joan Fontaine sister and her illigitimate child are spirited away to America with the implication that the child's wealthy/powerful grandparents will tell everyone she'd married their son before he was killed. This seems like a barely semi-Kosher loophole to avoid the story punishing her for premarital sex, rather surprising for the time.

I adore Jean Simmons, and she's typically excellent here doing most of the story's heavy lifting. TCM ran a bunch of her films recently, and I watched an early one that I hadn't seen in decades, So Long at the Fair - which I thought held up splendidly. Did we ever review that one?

It's funny, I remember that TCM day and recorded several of her movies from it, but not "So Long at the Fair." I will now keep an eye out for it. I know it's a silly movie, but I love Simmons in "This Could be the Night." I also saw her somewhat recently in "Home Before Dark," In which she gives an incredible performance. As you can tell, I'm on the Jean Simmons bandwagon too.

"This seems like a barely semi-Kosher loophole to avoid the story punishing her for premarital sex, rather surprising for the time." LOL, you said it well. You can tell the Code was wobbling just a tiny bit in this one.
 

Doctor Strange

I'll Lock Up
Messages
5,236
Location
Hudson Valley, NY
I saw This Could be the Night last year - definitely an odd film with Simmons in an usual role. Of course, she's always great.

So Long at the Fair (1950) with Jean Simmons and Dirk Bogarde, directed by Terence Fisher (later a key house director for Hammer Films). I'd seen it decades ago and wanted to revisit it, and I wasn't disappointed. A snappy little costume mystery with two charismatic leads right on the verge of stardom.

Simmons and her elder brother (David Tomlinson, long before Mary Poppins) arrive in Paris to attend the 1889 world's fair. After a lavish dinner, they say goodnight and retire to their respective hotel rooms... and in the morning, Simmons discovers that her brother has disappeared. Not only that, the ROOM he was staying in has disappeared, and none of the hotel staff recall seeing him!

So-Long-at-the-Fair-Simmons4-768x562.png

The Paris police and the British ambassador aren't of much help, and nobody recalls seeing her brother... except for aspiring painter Bogarde, who'd borrrowed some francs from him the night before.

I won't spoil the ending... but it's ultimately quite satisfying. Simmons expertly portrays a whole phalanx of emotions in just her second adult role, and Hollywood would soon be calling. Recommended!
 

Attachments

  • So-Long-at-the-Fair-Simmons4-768x562.png
    So-Long-at-the-Fair-Simmons4-768x562.png
    170.5 KB · Views: 15
Last edited:

FOXTROT LAMONT

One Too Many
Messages
1,723
Location
St John's Wood, London UK
View attachment 613376
Until They Sail from 1957 with Joan Fontaine, Jean Simmons, Piper Laurie, Paul Newman and Sandra Dee


Until They Sail is a small gem of a movie with an impressive cast, beautiful MGM production qualities - including gorgeous black and white cinematography - and skilled director Robert Wise at the tiller. Yet, somehow, this one flies below the radar.

Perhaps because it's a wartime homefront movie focused on four sisters, it's often dismissed as a "woman's picture." That is silly, though, as this WWII drama, set in New Zealand, is an outstanding movie with characters you'll come to care very much about.

Four sisters - played by Joan Fontaine, Jean Simmons, Piper Laurie and Sandra Dee - ranging in age from fifteen for Dee to early thirties for (and older in real life) Fontaine - live in a pretty bungalow house in New Zealand. The girl's parents have already passed away.

Their small town of Christchurch has been depopulated of young men as the men have gone off to the deserts of Africa to fight the Germans. So now, with the Japanese sweeping south toward New Zealand, the women are happy to hear "the Americans are coming."

Until They Sail makes it clear that the young women of Christchurch have passionately missed their men in a very carnal way. Kudos to James A. Michener, the author of the story the movie is based on, for conveying this earthy reality that was often elided in movies then.

What follows is an "invasion" of sorts as reams of young, strong, virile American soldiers and sailors stream into Christchurch with plenty of money, goods, bravado and testosterone. The four sisters are not immune to the lure of American masculinity.

All the sisters have their own experiences, with Laurie being the wild child who ditches her incautious marriage to a New Zealand boy, now off fighting, for the comfort of a warm bed with numerous (!) Americans.

The oldest sister, Fontaine, who was on a glidepath to spinsterhood, has a passionate affair with an American officer. He, though, leaves for Guadalcanal before their marriage license is approved, but not before 'icy" Fontaine becomes pregnant.

Sandra Dee, making her film debut, thankfully plays down the typical "Sandra Dee" persona as the youngest sister. She is initiated to flirting, dating and boys in general earlier than her sisters as will happen in a small town awash in young men and pheromones.

Simmons, the nicest and most practical, but also the most sincerely romantic of the sisters, meets a handsome, aloof, alcoholic young American officer, played by Paul Newman. Their affair - both resist it for personal reasons - is the most complex and engaging one of all.

Director Wise skillfully weaves all of these stories together with the larger narrative of a small New Zealand town overrun, for better or worse, with Americans. This is no Hallmark picture as real life and all its ramifications buffet the sisters time and again.

Wise's picture and Michener's writing, with several scenes shot in New Zealand, create a genuine homefront atmosphere with a surprisingly frank and thoughtful approach to the moral challenges a heretofore insular community faces when the Americans blast in.

The sisters, like real siblings, fight, makeup, fight again, and go on living. They love and understand, yet also irritate and, at times, alienate each other. None of them are perfect, which this talented cast uses to make the family seem genuine.

There is a dramatic narrative arc to Laurie's story that frames the movie, but that is less important than seeing the change and growth in the girls and the town. War truly reshuffles the deck.

Enough can't be said about the cast. Laurie's performance is almost chilling as a young woman who has no intention of letting conventions get in her way. Her indomitable will blasts past moral hurdles in a not always flattering, but quite believable way.

Fontaine, a acting pro through and through, wonderfully captures a woman who comes to find love and passion in life right when she thought it was going to pass her by. Her conversion and the humility it entails is moving and uplifting.

If there is a star in this ensemble cast, though, it is Simmons as she manages to play mother to her sisters, but never loses her kindness or romantic faith, even when Newman - who is outstanding here - tests her belief in love and commitment.

To use the derogatory expression "a woman's picture" to describe Until They Sail is ridiculous unless one believes exploring the sexual desires and emotional needs of four lonely women in wartime is somehow an uninteresting-to-men part of human nature.

Until They Sail deserves a bigger audience today. Unfortunately, its view that men and women want to be together militates against the modern view where an honorable push for equality got warped into a stoic independence that often denies human nature.

For those not devoted to that pitched battle, Until They Sail is an outstanding and overlooked exploration of a unique homefront experience when a town is depopulated of its young men and later repopulated with young men from an allied country.

View attachment 613377
James Michener maturely addressed human nature frankly but I never read nor saw this gemstone before this absolute stunner review Fast. Very well done lad.
Last night I knocked about YouTube for any post Derby horse n' track but stumbled across
a four-year ago music video titled The Sisters, an Austrailian girl quad singing Second War
American songs and I just fell in love with this adorable brunette lass. A thunderbolt to me heart and intuitively imagined how these girls impacted the Yanks. o_O;):):p:D
 
Messages
16,976
Location
New York City
giphy.gif

Suspicion from 1941 with Joan Fontaine, Cary Grant, Nigel Bruce, May Whitty and Cedric Hardwicke


Few Hitchcock plots, even in his most famous movies, hold up to scrutiny, but no one cares. Hitchcock understood it is the characters and their journey that matter. This couldn't be more true than in Suspicion as the studio-changed ending rings hollow, yet the movie is still a classic.

Cary Grant, here, plays a society "gentleman" scammer who lives the life of an upper-class playboy by staying one step ahead of his many creditors and borrowing or grifting money whenever, wherever and from whomever he can.

In the beautiful opening scene, we see Grant's character try several verbal tricks on a train conductor to get the conductor to accept Grant's third-class ticket in a first-class coach. When that fails, without missing a beat, he turns to his fellow passenger and begs the fare off of her.

The "her" is a mousey looking young woman played by Joan Fontaine (in silly Hollywood, glasses and practical shoes are supposed to make Fontaine look dowdy). Shy Fontaine is intrigued by the handsome rogue who "borrowed" his fare from her.

The seduction is on. After some bumpiness and outright resistance from Fontaine's very proper English parents, they elope. On-screen romances do not get much better than this. If the picture ended with the elopement, it would be one heck of a movie short.

Fontaine is the plain-looking girl who was supposed to be on a glide path to spinsterhood, but instead she gets the handsome and charming man. It works because you believe Grant loves Fontaine. Yes, he's counting on her family money, but still, you believe he loves her.

From here on out, the movie's tone shifts as Grant's real character is slowly revealed when bills pile up and gambling debts appear. Jobs are then lost due to missing funds at work, while family heirlooms "mysteriously" disappear only to reappear in antique store windows.

In Hitchcockian fashion, Fontaine slowly realizes her husband is a gambler, liar and thief. Yet she can almost, somehow, make her peace with all that - Grant is quite a handsome charmer - but when murder possibly creeps into his profile, she's genuinely scared.

Grant's close friend, played by Nigel Bruce, in a standout role, is the possible victim, as friend or not, he has money and Grant needs money. After Bruce dies a mysterious death, Fontaine fears for her own life.

It's now on to the Hollywood-dictated ending, which is best left for each viewer to see fresh. Despite all the plot holes, Suspicion holds together because Hitch and Fontaine convince you that Fontaine slowly transitions from happy wife to genuinely fearing she'll be murdered.

It's what Hitchcock does and it works, not because the story is truly believable, but because Grant's character's personality swings leave you and Fontaine unsure if he is a murderer or just a completely unprincipled rapscallion.

Shot on sets that look like a Hollywood romanticized view of England and with A production qualities throughout, Suspicion is a visually appealing movie. It's done in that beautifully over-stylized way that many Hitchcock movies are. It's a fake world that you want to live in.

Yet as he often does, Hitchcock turns his seemingly charming world into a place of terror as staircases become steps to murder and scenic seaside cliffs transform into salients from which someone could push an "inconvenient" person off of.

Fontaine's Oscar winning performance here is the glue to the picture. Grant, as noted, is outstanding as the schemer who may also be a murderer, but it is Fontaine's slow descent into abject fear of her husband that sells this very bumpy story.

May Whitty and Cedric Hardwicke, as Fontaine's parents, are excellent as always. Yet it's Bruce's performance as the catalyst in Fontaine and Grant's life that adds the real spice to the picture. Only he can get away with calling Grant out on his lies, and to his face.

Hitchcock understood that the motivation, what he called a macguffin, is often unimportant. In Suspicion, he turned a murder itself into a macguffin, as what matters to you is Fontaine's happiness, so much so, you almost yada, yada, yada a murder away.

Suspicion is a classic despite its hole-riddled plot because, from its nearly perfect early romantic sequence, you care about Fontaine's character. Grant and Bruce are excellent, but the film captivates because you are fully vested in Fontaine's transformative journey.
 

FOXTROT LAMONT

One Too Many
Messages
1,723
Location
St John's Wood, London UK
Grant himself is a favourite of mine for his comedic films yet what is known of the man
and his innate complexity adds considerable lustre to the script. And frankly confusion.
Randolph Scott is rumoured to have been Grant's paramour through the Second War years,
sharing domicile openly; then later Sophia Loren matrimonial propose. Not being overly judgemental nor voyeur just more than merely surprised. Yet his screen magic is real and his angelic charisma in The Bishop's Wife with magificent Loretta Young and David Niven is timeless. :)
 
Messages
16,976
Location
New York City
MV5BZGQyZjBkYzQtZmEwZS00OWVlLWE4M2MtN2RlZjhhOTg1M2UwXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjc2OTM5MTU@._V1_.jpg

The Street with No Name from 1948 with Mark Stevens, Richard Widmark, Lloyd Nolan and Ed Begley


More crime drama/gangster picture than film noir, The Street with No Name is something post-war Hollywood did very well: open a movie with a law-enforcement service announcement, show a lot of cool police criminology and, then, let the crime story rip.

After several murders, the FBI, headed up by an inspector, played by Lloyd Nolan (reprising his role from The House on 92nd Street), working with "Center City's" police, attempts to plant an agent, played by Mark Stevens, in the gang suspected of the murders.

Early on, we see how the FBI and police use, for the day, cutting edge technology - punch cards (early digital) for data storage, spectrographs for fingerprints and comparison microscopes for ballistics - to investigate crimes.

Introduced with a memo signed by "Hoover" (J. Edgar Hoover, Head of the FBI) about the rise of "gangsterism," this is all rah-rah FBI stuff, but still, it had to be cool for the public to get an insider's look at law enforcement. Today, it's a neat time-capsule look at that era's FBI.

The story really takes off when Stevens begins hanging around a dive boxing gym to get noticed by the gang. He does and, after the gang leader, played by Richard Widmark, checks him out with his on-the-take police contact, Stevens is brought into the gang.

We go along with Stevens as he sees the inside workings of Widmark's gang. Widmark runs a tight ship keeping "his boys" close, while using his police contact to stay ahead of the police and FBI.

This is also an early movie look at a cop working undercover as Stevens uses dead drops and window signals to stay in touch with his handler, played by John McIntire.

Director William Keighley captures the tension Stevens has living a "double" life as he has to convince the gang that he's one of them, while all the time looking for clues and ways to expose the gang without exposing himself. It's no easy way to live.

The rest of the movie is Stevens learning how the gang works - a basement arsenal, detailed planning for heists, a weird brotherhood with Widmark as cult leader - as he tries to get evidence to the police/FBI.

The climax, no spoilers coming, is a good "three way" pitched battle as Widmark's gang squares off against Stevens and the police/FBI, with Widmark's police contact creating a third front as he tries to use "his" police officers to let Widmark escape.

Nolan is excellent, as always, playing the FBI inspector, as is Ed Begley, who plays the police chief who slowly learns he has a trader in his force. These are two acting pros who bring credibility to any movie they are in.

Stevens, in one of his best roles, is very good as the undercover FBI agent. He convincingly switches back and forth from playing a hood as part of his cover to being a well-trained agent on the job.

It is Widmark, though, bringing his personal brand of cool menace to the role of gang leader that makes the movie scary dark. The scene where he beats up his wife because he thinks she's informing on him is short, but very frightening.

With wonderful LA location shots - nighttime honky tonk streets lit by neon, dark alleys, foggy waterfronts and a large empty factory - plus some close calls for Stevens, the movie has its noir elements, but it is truly a heck-of-a-good crime drama first.

The Street with No Name uses a popular post-war movie style to say everything isn't right in America, but if we support our law enforcement agencies, it will be. Meanwhile, these movies also gave the public a cool insider's look at both sides of that battle.
 
Messages
16,976
Location
New York City
MV5BZTMzMzYwN2EtMDViMy00ODcxLWIwYTMtZDQwNDNiNTE0MTIyXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMzk4OTI2MjM@._V1_.jpg

Il Posto from 1961 from Italy


Il Posto is the tale of a seventeen-year-old boy starting his adult life as a clerk in a large post-war Italian corporation. He is all but force marched there by his poor parents, but the bustling city and a pretty young girl he quickly meets provide a ray of hope.

Domenico is the boy - a skinny, shy teenager - who meets a cute girl, Antonietta, the day they both take the company's aptitude tests. They don't really flirt, as neither seems to understand flirting, so they just spend some of the day's downtime together.

Director Ermanno Olmi knows how to capture life's small details. His approach is almost documentary-like as he examines Domenico's days. From Domenico's family's shabby apartment to his awkwardness with Antonietta, it's the opposite of Hollywood glamor.

Domenico and Antonietta are both hired, but in different departments, in different buildings. Domenico's first job is as a messenger boy, which he's told is just temporary until a clerk position opens up.

He spends his boring workday doing very little other than trying to find a way to "run into" Antonietta. He's every teenage boy who doesn't yet care about work, but very much cares about girls. He is, though, very shy about all of it.

The glimpses we get of Antonietta show her fitting in better as she already has a group of young friends. Fair or not, pretty girls often have it easier socially. Seeing, at a distance, Antonietta seemingly happy in the company only makes Domenico feel lonelier.

There is a small story arc - Domenico eventually gets moved to his "permanent" job as a clerk - but Olmi's movie is more about its commentary on life for those working in a large impersonal company.

Olmi provides brief glimpses into the lives of the older clerks whose days are monotonous, salaries small and life away from work, often depressing. One older clerk lives in a rundown boarding house where he writes a novel at night that will never be published.

The "climax," no spoilers coming, is the saddest ever company New Years Eve party for, clearly, the "lower level" employees. It's held in a drab "social club" with a third-rate band providing tacky and dated entertainment.

Told from the perspective director Olmi chooses, Il Posto shows the dehumanizing effects that working as a faceless drone in a large organization can have on, in particular, unassuming people with modest talents.

It's true, but it's not the full story. Did Italy have a better option after WWII? Its economic growth and return to developed-country status was impressive in the post-war decades. Did having large well-run but impersonal corporations contribute to that growth?

Also free people own their own lives. Could Domenico take night courses to advance in the company or move to another one? While his clerical position is described as "a job for life," is he truly "trapped?" Not everyone who works for a large company is unhappy.

Shot in black and white, Il Posto impressively captures a moment in one boy's life in post-war Italy as he faces a possible future of soul-crushing monotony. Still, it's only one side of the complex political, social and economic story of post-war Italy.
 
Messages
16,976
Location
New York City
6.jpg

Operator 13 from 1934 with Marion Davies and Gary Cooper


Operator 13 is a bumpy Civil War picture that kinda works as leads Marion Davies and Gary Cooper are engaging, plus the battle scenes are good for the era. You just have to accept that this picture's reason for being is to further the star status of Ms. Davies.

Made by Cosmopolitan Productions, Davies' and boyfriend William Randolph Hearst's company, Davies not only stars in it, but every camera angle, lighting setup, framing, and so on, is for her advantage. If you pay for it, it's yours to do with as you please.

Davies plays a spy for the North who goes into Rebel territory disguised as an Octoroon maid. While her darkened skin and stereotyped voice are hard to take today, it isn't blackface, making it less offensive. Plus, her disguise does fit the story.

Davies, in the South, meets a Rebel Captain, played by Cooper, who himself is a spy for the Confederacy. She succeeds in her mission and returns to the North. Davies is then sent South one more time, now disguised as an aristocratic white woman.

She meets Cooper again, who has a vague feeling he's met her before, but he never connects the dots back to her Octoroon masquerade. They spend time together and begin to fall in love, yet Davies never loses sight of her assignment.

Davies, ingratiating herself to the family she's staying with, obtains and passes information to the North. This turns an upcoming battle into a Rebel rout, resulting in the death of the fiance of a friend Davies made in her host family. Civil Wars are brutal on loyalties.

The climax, no spoilers coming, has Davies outed as a spy and captured by Cooper while trying to escape. The couple is then overrun by the war, which forces the two lover-antagonists to make some difficult decisions under the pressure of battle.

It's an okay story with a modern feminist angle showing that women were spies in the Civil War. These women were no shrinking violets as they faced all but immediate death if discovered. Plus, they had to have brains and nerves of steel to carry out their missions.

Operator 13 is also a musical as Davies and a few others sing some songs, but it's an awkward element that slows down the drama of the spy/war/romance story. One assumes the songs were added to further the Davies brand.

Richard Boleslawsky's directing is uneven as the picture awkwardly slows down or speeds up, giving it inconsistent pacing. Additionally, several transitions are jarring, requiring the viewer to reorient him or herself. Finally, the climax is so rushed it feels slapped on.

The movie does, though, for the time, have some excellent battle scenes, with the one where the Rebels are routed by a big gun of the North's being intense and engaging. The closing battle is good too, but the transition to it is sloppy as it overruns the story.

Operator 13 is, by design, a Marion Davies vehicle. While she's a talented actress who can easily carry a movie, it suffers in spots when the production bends to her cult of personality. Crisper directing and less Davies idolatry would have made for a better movie.
 

Julian Shellhammer

Practically Family
Messages
871
The Falcon Takes Over (1942), with George Sanders, Lynn Bari, James Gleason, Allen Jenkins, and so many more. Based on a short story character, expanded into a series of films, the screen Falcon is clearly a strong echo of The Saint. Even the title is a recycling of The Saint Takes Over. Sanders is smooth and urbane, Bari replaces Barrie as the female lead, Gleason takes on the Inspector Fernack part, and Jenkins assumes the Paul Guilfoyle sidekick assignment.
The story itself, as acknowledged in the opening credits, is a re-working of Chandler's Farewell, My Lovely, with Moose Malloy (Ward Bond), psychic Jules Amthor, Hans Conried with a Gable mustache, and a fortune-telling scam at the center. Folks get bumped off, the Falcon investigates, Barrie wants a newspaper scoop, and Jenkins cracks wise.
 

vintagewool

Familiar Face
Messages
52
Donald Pleasance has to be the best super villain ever. Playing the part of Blofeld, with that bald head and scar, the stuff of comic book excess.
View attachment 607631
He does the role proud too, with a cleverly creepy performance that only Pleasance could achieve. “Kill Bond now,” is a fabulous hissy shriek of aggrieved impotence and his little scuttling frame is a comical slant on somebody determined to cause mass murder.

Pleasance did an interesting Himmler in The Eagle Has Landed (1976).

 
Messages
16,976
Location
New York City
The-Kid-From-Left-Field-1953-Billy-Chapin-566x720.jpg

The Kid from Left Field from 1953 with Dan Dailey, Billy Chapin, Anne Bancroft, Lloyd Bridges, Ray Collins and Richard Egan


There is a subgenre of baseball movies that combines kids with some magic or whimsy to turn a losing baseball team around. These films use baseball as a metaphor for life in an era when the game truly was the national pastime.

Angels in the Outfield, with grumpy Paul Douglas learning to control his temper from a little orphan girl and a spirited reporter, played by Janet Leigh, is the best of the lot, but The Kid from Left Field is a worthy, fun, low-budget and obscure entry in the genre.

Dan Dailey plays a widowed dad and former big leaguer who, just to remain close to the game, sells peanuts at "his" old stadium. His nine-year-old son loves the game, too, and idolizes his dad, whose uncontrollable on-field temper sabotaged his career.

The team, the Bison, is doing terribly, which has the team's owner, played by Ray Collins, frustrated with the team's manager, played by Richard Egan. Dailey's son, played by Billy Chapin, is then hired to be a bat boy.

Chapin blends his own baseball knowledge with that of his father's to casually start giving the players advice along the lines of, "Since you always take the first pitch, they throw it down the middle and you're always behind in the count. Swing at the first pitch."

Slowly the players come to respect their nine-year-old batboy's advice and the team starts winning. Manager Egan takes credit even though he has no idea why the team is playing better. When it starts to come out that it's because of the batboy, Egan fires the kid.

Bad move, as the team starts losing and then the truth really comes out (somewhat, as no one yet knows the father is helping the kid), Egan gets fired. Now comes the movie's real magic moment: Collins hires nine-year-old Chapin to manage the team.

Chapin the actor is outstanding in the role. He somehow manages to be both a nine-year-old boy and a serious manager. He is neither too cute nor too grown-up. He doesn't yell at the players, but wins their respect with his astute management of the team.

His character's approach to managing is decades ahead, as he has a Moneyball attitude where he studies the stats to plan his strategies. His dad, a student of the game as well, continues to give his son smart insights and plays from behind the scenes.

There is also a somewhat integrated side story about an aging ballplayer on the team, played by Lloyd Bridges, whose girlfriend, played by a ridiculously young and cute Anne Bancroft, wants him to retire from playing and take the good job offer he just received.

You will have figured the movie out way ahead of time, but you'll get no spoilers here. But movies like this don't exist to build suspense, they are fun family pictures that are here to make you feel good while delivering some simple life lessons.

The dad learns to control his temper and to have patience with those who don't always agree with him. The "bad" manager learns that taking credit for someone else's work will cost you your job and the respect of others. And, yes, Chapin learns about growing up.

The aging ballplayer learns that his girlfriend is right and he needs to find a new path now that his career is winding down. It's odd that this story was shuffled off to the side as, with a little tweaking, it could have been wonderfully integrated into the picture.

Instead of having Bancroft date Bridges, a minor character, she should have been dating Dailey and trying to get him to understand that he needed to show the team he was no longer a hothead, but was now mature enough to be a level-headed manager.

Bancroft had already bonded with Chapin, so the entire movie could have climaxed not only with Dailey having a chance to get back into the game he loves, but with Bancroft, Dailey and Chapin forming a new loving family. That's the way a family movie should end.

Dailey, Collins, Bridges and Egan are all pros who know how to carry even light material like this. Chapin, as noted, is impressive in a role that required a lot of balance from a ten-year-old actor (playing a nine-year-old). But it is Bancroft who stands out.

In only fourteen years, Ms. Bancroft would play the scariest cougar ever in The Graduate, where amidst a swirl of cigarette smoke, alcohol and leathery skin, she'd seduce and then try to destroy a boy half her age. Yet here, she's young, pretty and sweet.

The Kid from Left Field is what a modern Hallmark movie would be if Hallmark had the budget, acting talent and professional writers that Twentieth Century Fox had in the 1950s. It's surprising that, today, this enjoyable entry in the genre is all but unknown.

With Baseball being the country's most-popular sport back then, Hollywood naturally created a quirky subgenre of fantasy family-themed baseball movies. They are silly, but they work because, like The Kid from Left Field, they put a smile on your face.
 

Forum statistics

Threads
107,725
Messages
3,045,597
Members
53,067
Latest member
Malory
Top