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What Was The Last Movie You Watched?

FOXTROT LAMONT

One Too Many
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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.
And the other side is Gina Lollabrigida. Mia bella signorina. I'll skip Posta and catch Gina as
Esmerelda in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Ciao Ginie ella mi bambi.:D
I know I'm bad.:)
 

Edward

Bartender
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24,905
Location
London, UK
Flying Air China last week - they've definitely been saving a bit of cash by cutting anything (at least in an English language medium) that isn't already several years old. Still, I'd managed to miss Kong: Skull Island, so. A lot of fun. No sillier than any other Kong outing I've seen, and very entertaining. There was a nice decorate A2 in it too (which amusingly enough still somehow fitted the wearer some nearly thirty years and more than a few pounds after he crashed on the island). Probably the best Kong picture I've seen of those that step away from the original story.
 

FOXTROT LAMONT

One Too Many
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Location
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The photos of Marilyn and Jean Simmons indelibly etch their beauty in mind. I remarked
Until They Sail at work today but none had seen it yet the ladies began scribbling when they
heard Jean Simmons' name. Quite understandable reaction. I especially find the snap of her with Paul Newman utterly spell cast capture of era.
 

Julian Shellhammer

Practically Family
Messages
878
The Missus asked for a noir instead of Murder, She Wrote, so it was Roadblock off the Watch TCM app. Charles McGraw heads this 1951 production, as an insurance detective who falls for Joan Dixon (of whom, I admit, I knew nothing), who at first appears to be a schemer, focused on getting minks, fabulous garments, and some sort of financial security.

She takes up with a cultured, well-spoken racketeer, who provides all three of her goals, then runs into McGraw again, and though he's crazy about her, and she sort of likes him, his lack of cash is a barrier to romance. McGraw goes to the dark side, and the balance of the 1 hour and 13 minute story unfolds as Dixon falls for McGraw, and McGraw gets in too deep with a plan to score big money. It's enjoyable to see the exteriors of 50s Los Angeles, and the climax takes us wildly along the Los Angeles river bed.
 
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The Missus asked for a noir instead of Murder, She Wrote, so it was Roadblock off the Watch TCM app. Charles McGraw heads this 1951 production, as an insurance detective who falls for Joan Dixon (of whom, I admit, I knew nothing), who at first appears to be a schemer, focused on getting minks, fabulous garments, and some sort of financial security.

She takes up with a cultured, well-spoken racketeer, who provides all three of her goals, then runs into McGraw again, and though he's crazy about her, and she sort of likes him, his lack of cash is a barrier to romance. McGraw goes to the dark side, and the balance of the 1 hour and 13 minute story unfolds as Dixon falls for McGraw, and McGraw gets in too deep with a plan to score big money. It's enjoyable to see the exteriors of 50s Los Angeles, and the climax takes us wildly along the Los Angeles river bed.

Great summary. I enjoyed this movie. Like you, I didn't know Ms. Dixon either, but she gave a heck of a good performance.

My comments on it here: #30,354 (As always, please feel free to pass on reading them.)
 
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One Is a Lonely Number from 1972 with Trish Van Devere, Melvin Douglas, Scott Beach and Janet Leigh


One Is a Lonely Number is a time capsule of the social, cultural and legal shifts that were in play when it was made in 1972. Yet it also has something to say about relationships and marriage that never becomes dated.

The changes coming out of the 1960s "cultural revolution" included the breakdown of "traditional" values and morals. Attached at the hip was the feminist movement and a general focus on "doing your own thing" and not just conforming to society's expectations.

Along with that came legal changes to divorce – no fault being a big one – and an entire shift in how society viewed premarital sex, infidelity and marriage itself.

Trish Van Devere plays a twenty-seven-year-old traditional wife whose older English professor husband has just left her and filed for divorce. Van Devere is stunned, hurt and lost. She starts out with a pre-1960s way of thinking and ends with a very modern view.

A big part of the movie is Van Devere hoping her husband will return to her as friends, a women's divorce support group and a kindly, elderly neighborhood grocer, played by Melvin Douglas, advise her to accept reality and move on.

For fans of early Hollywood, it's fun to see Douglas in a critical role as a gentle, caring father figure to Van Devere who also learns something from her. With his sincere and moving performance here, it's easy to see why he had a long career in Hollywood.

There is, though, a general sadness to Van Devere as she seems genuinely shocked and hurt that her husband has left her. She gets a job as a lifeguard at a drab city pool, is hit on by some losers, nearly gets raped and gets played hard by a married man.

It's a "welcome to the cold, cruel world" odyssey that has fine-boned, Bambi-looking Van Devere wobbling often, but never going down for the count. Eventually, Van Devere sadly accepts that her marriage is over and hires a lawyer to fight for her rights in the divorce.

While the law here is all dated, Van Devere's representative, played by Scott Beach, is a wonderful Southern lawyer type of character (why he's in San Francisco isn't addressed) who wields the law like a club. He's not likable, but you're glad he's in Van Devere's corner.

There's a small girl-power twist at the end that is more inspirational than practical, but it fits in with the zeitgeist of the time. Yet despite its heavy 1970s vibe, Van Devere's performance is thoughtful and moving even today.

Janet Leigh, in a supporting role, is a hoot as the head of the women's support group. She seems to be having a blast playing a brassy 1970s feminist, so much so, you expect the "a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle" line to pop out of her mouth.

The on-location shooting in San Francisco – the center of the 1960s counterculture movement – wonderfully adds to the time-capsule value of the movie. Like New York City, there's an energy to its streets that translates well to the screen.

One Is a Lonely Number is just a low-budget look at divorce in the wake of significant social change. It's not a major movie, but it is reasonably entertaining and well acted. Plus, it avers that one thing never changes: being left by a spouse one still loves hurts.
 
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The Best of Everything from 1959 with Hope Lange, Joan Crawford, Diane Baker, Suzy Parker, Brian Aherne, Louis Jourdan and Stephen Boyd


"Would you ever marry a girl who wasn't [a worried and embarrassed pause] pure."

– Diane Baker playing the pretty and young April Morrison contemplating "going all the way" with her boyfriend.


It was a different time when The Best of Everything was made. Today, it's easy and right to see it as an advertisement for the women's liberation movement, whose big push was less than a decade away, as many of the men here are sexually harassing pigs.

The cultural mindset was also different as many young women simply saw getting married as their goal in life with work just something they did until they "met the right man."

The good news is women can choose their own path now and then struggle like everyone else to make it work. Liberation rightly opened up new opportunities and changed the cultural framework, but life, as ever, is still hard.

If you can only see the bad in The Best of Everything, it probably isn't the movie for you. Yet as a piece of culture, it’s iconic. The creators of the early 2000s TV show set in the 1960s, Mad Men, used it as reference material.

The 1950s was also the high point of these types of glossy soap opera movies where the young women wanted to get married, but the men of any age only wanted sex without commitment. However, the really good men wanted marriage too.

Stripped of its particulars and Technicolor prettiness, that was basically the plot of many mid-century melodramas. See Written on the Wind and Three Coins in the Fountain as just a couple of examples.

It's no different here as three young women - played by Hope Lange, Diane Baker and Suzy Parker - all secretaries at "Fabian Publishing," try to navigate their way to marriage and happiness.

Parker, a real-life model-turned-actress, plays a secretary trying to turn theater star. Yet after she has an affair with a director, played with smarmy charm by Louis Jourdan, marriage seems more important to her than a career on stage.

Baker, the most innocent of the three, gets played hard by a trust-fund kid who, when he learns she's pregnant, promises her an elopement only as a ruse to get her to an abortion clinic. It's as brutal a move as it sounds.

Lange, the closest thing this ensemble movie has to a star, is working mainly to mark time until her "perfect" boyfriend returns, after his year abroad studying, to marry her.

Foreshadowing, though, the coming women's movement, Radcliffe-educated Lange can't help eying a career in publishing, especially when she meets a successful female publisher, played by Joan Crawford.

Lange then takes a massive body blow when her "perfect boyfriend" calls to tell her he just married another girl – a rich young woman with a father who sets him up in business. An embittered but wiser Lange now throws herself into her career.

Toss in a few more characters and it's an impressive and crowded cast, including Brian Aherne playing a senior editor who is an aging, married and boozy office sexual predator and Stephen Boyd playing a not-married, boozy and cynical editor.

The Best of Everything doesn't take the easy route by having everything work out for everyone. Some lives get permanently smashed up and some veer off course for a while until getting, what they hope will be, their happily ever after.

Lange, though, as an early echo of the future, faces the very modern problem of "can one really have it all?" Today, we frame it as a work-balance issue, but it's not new. It's no different than when single Lange, now a successful editor, realizes she's missing something.

Part of the movie's fun today is seeing the blend of veteran actors, including Crawford playing a strong, realistic older woman and editor and up-and-coming stars like Lange, who tries hard but can't yet hold her own in scenes with Crawford.

Another part of the fun, the part the creators of Mad Men understood, is the movie's time travel. Set in New York City, the clothes, cars, hairstyles and apartments are all era archetypical.

The office summer picnic, busing the employees out for a boozy day at a country club, and "Fabians" offices, set in the mid-century-modern architectural icon, the Seagrams building, are 1950s time capsule worthy.

The movie is based on the Rona Jaffe bestseller of the same name that, as is usually the case, is better than the movie -- here because the movie drags a bit in its two-hour runtime and doesn't fully capture the heart of the novel.

Still, for a trip guided by an impressive cast to mid-century New York City and its many landmarks, memes and cultural norms, The Best of Everything is a darn fun romp. It's a window into the 1950s wonderfully free of modern biases.

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Doctor Damage

I'll Lock Up
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Last evening I watched the 2021 film The Last Son. It's a gritty Western, extremely well photographed, which looks like it was actually filmed during winter. It probably should have been a 12 episode mini-series, given how many interesting characters are in it, since the film's running time doesn't allow for scratching the surface of any of them (spoiler: most die). Lots of visual homages to past Westerns, although I suppose at this point that's impossible to avoid.
 

FOXTROT LAMONT

One Too Many
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The good news is women can choose their own path now and then struggle like everyone else to make it work. Liberation rightly opened up new opportunities and changed the cultural framework, but life, as ever, is still hard.
Lange, though, as an early echo of the future, faces the very modern problem of "can one really have it all?" Today, we frame it as a work-balance
Nature remains arbiter of destiny come what may, and choice begats consequence which
can be cruel; though no less real for both men and women. Financial engineering here in the
City and New York has shown this bachelor by choice the harvest scythe life invariably flashes
upon bold and beautiful youth armed degree ambition amidst human nature.
 
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One Touch of Venus from 1948 with Ava Gardner, Robert Walker, Eve Arden, Tom Conway and Olga San Juan


Hallmark has been running with the mellow-romcom baton for years now, but before Hallmark, Hollywood, in its golden era, turned out Hallmark-like movies. Hollywood's version, though, came with higher quality casts, writing and production qualities.

One Touch of Venus, a 1948 Hallmark-like movie, is a bit trickier than your average romcom because it has a fantasy element driving its plot. It thus asks the audience to suspend some extra disbelief, but golden-era Hollywood was up to the task.

The movie's silly plot has a department store owner, played by Tom Conway, purchasing a life-sized statue of Venus, the ancient Greek goddess of love. Before its unveiling, though, one of Conway's employees, Robert Walker, on a whim, kisses Venus.

This brings the statue to life in the form of actress Ava Gardner. Gardner's Venus, full of amorous spirit, immediately sets her sights on Walker. Conway, though, believes Walker has stolen his now missing statue.

Walker also has a problem as his girlfriend, played by the wonderfully named Olga San Juan, is jealous of Gardner eyeing her boyfriend; what woman wouldn't be? Waiting in the wings for San Juan, though, is Walker's friend, played by Dick Haymes.

Thrown into the mix is Eve Arden playing Conway's (of course) hilariously sarcastic secretary who has a crush on womanizer Conway. Conway, though, is now in pursuit of the very human Gardner as he doesn't know Gardner is his statue come to life.

All of this is played with a light touch in a screwball-comedy manner and with songs from the Broadway play it is based on interspersed throughout. The songs are good of-the-era ones, but the lip synching is poorly done making Ms. Gardner, in particular, look awkward.

Fans of screwball comedies then and romcoms today will quickly suss out the plot; although, the final twist might surprise you. Nobody, though, watches these movies for suspense; they're watched for their fun romantic trip. On that score, Venus delivers.

Gardner, at the height of her beauty here, easily looks like Venus come alive. That alone would be boring, but Gardner thankfully imbues her portrayal of the goddess of love with a verve, mirth and wonder that makes her likeable, mischievous and flirtatious.

Gardner seems to be having a great time in the role. Her goddess knows she's knocking people and things around a bit, but it's all in service to love, so you're on her side. If the movie had been made a decade later, it could easily have inspired a TV show.

Walker has the tougher role of playing the befuddled "everyman" being pursued by the goddess of love, while his boss wants him jailed and his girlfriend wants him strung up. Walker is up to the task, but it's tiring to play a confused man for almost an entire movie.

Conway, too, has a one-dimensional role playing the pushy boss who wants Walker arrested and Gardner in his bed. His pursuit of Gardner, hurts Arden's character, but hopefully, he'll eventually notice that true love has been right in front of him all along.

Arden, Conway's true love, brings her special brand of self-deprecating humor to the role, while also firing off barbs at her boss who is a bit too puffed up. She's the woman the audience can relate to while they stare in awe at Gardner's prepossessing beauty.

The movie's plot is silly, its dialogue is often forced and its sets are pretty obvious, but where else can you, for about an hour and half, escape to a world where Ava Gardner pursues a regular guy and Eve Arden gets a shot at true romance?

If you think too hard while watching One Touch of Venus, you're doing it wrong. Like with Hallmark pictures today, it's a comfort-food movie that allows you to indulge your wish that love and happiness are in reach for everyone.

That hope - the hope that everyone can have his or her happily ever after - explains the enduring popularity of these lighthearted movies.
 

FOXTROT LAMONT

One Too Many
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Eve Arden, I believe hailed the isle of Lesbos-others such as Agnes Moorehead, Garbo, Hepburn, Barbara Stanwyck, Tallulah Bankhead, Marlene Dietrich were also tightly entwined
within Hollywood's ''Sewing Circle.'' Not to impugn character by preference but actors miscast film role so ordered are fun to watch and add comedic ingredient never spoken but occasionally implied. ;)
 
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The Story of Temple Drake from 1933 with Mariam Hopkins, William Gargan, Jack La Rue and Florence Eldridge


The Story of Temple Drake, based on the William Faulkner novel Sanctuary, was scandalous in its day. Still, despite being a precode, little is actually shown in this tale of rape, sexual depravity, misogyny and murder compared to today's graphic movies.

A young woman, the titular Temple Drake, played here by Mariam Hopkins, is from a very respectable family. Pretty Hopkins enjoys teasing the proper young men she flirts with, confident that nobody will step out of line with "Judge Drake's Granddaughter."

A promising young lawyer and suitor, played by William Gargan, wants to marry her, but she prefers flirting instead, so she rejects his proposal. And why not, her every whim is met and any small trouble she gets into is quickly cleaned up by Judge Drake.

Cosseted her entire life, she is woefully unprepared when she and a drunk male escort have a car accident that lands them, late on a stormy night, in the rundown, isolated house that a gang of bootleggers have "commandeered" from a couple and their child.

Hopkins quickly realizes her name won't help her here, as the criminals follow their own laws. Led by a well-dressed psychotic, played by Jack La Rue, Hopkins experiences real fear for the first time in her life.

The wife of the couple who own the house, played by Florence Eldridge, tries to protect Hopkins by having her sleep in the barn with a "simpleton" young man to watch over her. But the next morning, La Rue shoots and kills the simpleton and rapes Hopkins. Little is shown, but it's brutal.

Things then get really weird as Hopkins stays for months with La Rue as his sex slave in a bordello. We never quite know if she's his prisoner or if she is experiencing some kind of Stockholm Syndrome from being raped that has her willingly submitting to La Rue.

In an only-in-the-movies twist, lawyer Gargan is then assigned by the state to defend the man, Eldridge's husband, who is being tried for the murder of the simpleton, whom we know was really killed by La Rue.

Researching the case, Gargan finds La Rue in the bordello and is shocked to see Hopkins seemingly living with him willingly. This is one of two money moments in the film as Hopkin's old and new worlds come face to face.

The second pivotal moment is in the climax, no spoilers coming, when Gargan calls Hopkins to the stand. Telling the truth will require the respected "Temple Drake" (Hopkins) to admit to being raped and to being the willing sex slave of a notorious criminal.

Today, we thankfully look at rape completely differently, but then there often was a shame or stigma associated with being raped. Today, we also understand the shock that follows, but back then, Hopkins "staying on" with La Rue would ruin her in proper society.

That is why Hopkins pleads with Gargan not to call her to testify, but her testimony is the only thing that stands between an innocent man and the gallows. It is a compelling cinematic courtroom moment: will she or won't she "ruin herself" to save a man's life?

The Story of Temple Drake is Hopkins' movie from beginning to end. At first she's the irritating and spoiled flirt who wields her grandfather's name like a talisman, but when she is brought low by La Rue, her wreckage is complete.

Since so little is shown, much of the drama and the emotion in the movie comes from Hopkins' reactions. Her reaction to seeing La Rue kill a man, her reaction to knowing he's now going to rape her and her reaction to having to testify are the movie's most-powerful moments.

Hopkins' acting style still has some of the dramatic pauses and emoting tics of the silent era that have not aged well, but they were probably better received by contemporaneous audiences still familiar with silent-era acting styles.

Jack La Rue as "Trigger," the sociopathic dandy gangster with an incredibly frightening mien, gives the other performance of note. If it turns out La Rue was a nice guy in real life, then he missed out on a much-deserved Oscar.

Say what you will of Faulkner and his often indecipherable writing, here he was ahead of his time with a story sympathetic to a rape victim who seemed to go catatonic afterward. It would take the culture decades to catch up.

The Story of Temple Drake is dated in its style in part because it shows so little. Yet with Hopkins' moving performance, it has retained most of its power to affect viewers, even those who have by now seen decades of brutally graphic movies about rape.

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Julian Shellhammer

Practically Family
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878
Pitfall (1948) with Dick Powell, Lizabeth Scott, and Jane Wyatt, under the direction of Andre de Toth. We found it to be an unlikeable movie, with Powell as an unlikeable grump of a husband, who, in his job as an insurance adjuster, falls for Scott, who was the recipient of gifts bought with embezzled funds by a smitten admirer who falls for Scott and gets a year in prison for his crime. Raymond Burr is an unlikeable private detective who works for Powell on some cases, and falls for Scott and becomes a really sick stalker. Completely likable Wyatt loves Powell, and even though his character acts like a world-class jerk she remains steadfast.
Not recommended by the Missus and me: Powell never, for us at least, generates empathy for the lousy jam he got himself into. It was on the Watch TCM app and we thought we'd give it a try.
 

Julian Shellhammer

Practically Family
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878
In the recently resuscitated Movie Night we viewed the 1944 Murder, My Sweet, starring Dick Powell, Claire Trevor, and Anne Shirley, a film version of Raymond Chandler's novel Farewell, My Lovely. Director Edward Dmytryk delivers the goods with noir lighting, gripping camera work when Powell is variously sapped, drugged, or otherwise injured. This was Powell's change-of-casting role, from boy crooner to tough guy persona, and he sells the character solidly. A tightly run hour and a half, with no superfluous scenes; the hard-boiled and slang-y dialogue made us laugh so much we had to hit pause lest we missed the next line.
Fun fact: the studio changed the title from the novel' s original so that audiences wouldn't think it was another musical featuring Powell.
 
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In the recently resuscitated Movie Night we viewed the 1944 Murder, My Sweet, starring Dick Powell, Claire Trevor, and Anne Shirley, a film version of Raymond Chandler's novel Farewell, My Lovely. Director Edward Dmytryk delivers the goods with noir lighting, gripping camera work when Powell is variously sapped, drugged, or otherwise injured. This was Powell's change-of-casting role, from boy crooner to tough guy persona, and he sells the character solidly. A tightly run hour and a half, with no superfluous scenes; the hard-boiled and slang-y dialogue made us laugh so much we had to hit pause lest we missed the next line.
Fun fact: the studio changed the title from the novel' s original so that audiences wouldn't think it was another musical featuring Powell.
I like your take. I enjoyed it a lot too. My comments on it here: #28,739
 
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Diabolique, a French film from 1955 with Simone Signoret, Vera Clouzot and Paul Meurisse


Set in a dreary French boarding school, the film follows two teachers: the principal's wife (played by Vera Clouzot) and his mistress (played by Simone Signoret). Together, they plot to kill the principal who has mentally and physically abused both of them.

Like most of these elaborately plotted murder stories you can punch holes in the plot, but you won't care as Diabolique is about style, motive, emotions and tension – elements that it gets very, very right.

You immediately know you're in a French movie as wife Clouzot, who suffers from a heart condition, and mistress Signoret, who's strong as an ox, get along as half friends and half frenemies - that's not how American women would do it.

The principal, played by Paul Meurisse, is such a nasty and abusive man, you can almost understand how Clouzot and Signoret would bond – and bond they must to put their murderous plan into action.

The first half of the movie involves all the machinations, feins and nail-biting moments involved in the women's elaborate plan to murder Meurisse, while creating an alibi for themselves.

Poisoned wine, a bathtub drowning, a body stuffed into a huge wicker basket and a night-time splashing of a body into a bilgey swimming pool are all part of the way-too-complicated plan that makes for incredibly tense viewing.

The second half of the movie is the anything-but-quiet waiting for the body to be found and seeing if the women's alibi will stand. Unfortunately, strange things immediately begin happening, making the women wonder if Meurisse is really dead or if someone is taunting them.

The suit he was drowned in comes back from the dry cleaner; his body isn't found when the pool is drained and a student even claims to have seen him. Clouzot, the weaker of the two, starts to come unglued as iron-willed Signoret tries to buck her up.

Intensifying the suspense, a retired French detective, affable but unrelenting, latches onto the story and Clouzot. He asks every question the women don't want asked and looks into every corner they don't want looked into, but so far, their story is holding up.

Without giving spoilers, the last ten minutes are outstanding. Clouzot begins to break down physically and emotionally in the dark, dank school, which now feels more like a haunted mansion than a place of learning.

Director Henri-Georges Clouzot (yes, Vera's husband) shot his movie in a crisp black and white that makes even sunny days seem a bit moody. Each scene is artistically lit and choreographed, making the picture a visual treat.

Beautifully framed, the women, driving to Signoret's hometown (to kill Meurisse) in their ridiculously undersized truck, look like a darker and much-more-troubled version of Thelma and Louise.

Director Clouzot created a depressing and foreboding atmosphere throughout to match the lives of his starkly and evocatively drawn characters. The sense of dread never lets up.

You hate Meurisse because he isn't cardboard evil, but thoughtfully and completely selfish, egotistical and nasty. You feel deeply for Clouzot, a pretty, mousey woman with a weak heart whose Catholic faith, for good reason, haunts her conscience throughout.

Signoret, though, owns the picture. She's everything Clouzot isn't. She looks like she's never been sick a day in her life and she's not going to let faith or "morals" get in the way of killing Meurisse. Plus the woman knows how to wear a pair of sunglasses.

These are three outstanding performances that have you forgetting the principals are actors playing parts as you're just absorbed in the story. That's the beauty of Diabolique: intellectually, you know it's unrealistic, but its style, tension and acting deeply draw you in anyway.

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Singapore Woman from 1941 with Brenda Marshall, David Bruce, Jerome Cowan and Virginia Field


Singapore Woman is a 1941 B movie remake of the 1935 A picture Dangerous. Despite the B version's shorter runtime, smaller budget and mainly tier-two cast, it maintains much of the A picture's punch because of female lead Brenda Marshall.

Marshall plays the daughter of a wealthy owner of a tin mine in Singapore. After a married man she was having an affair with kills himself when Marshall breaks it off, the man's widow puts a curse on Marshall that she says will ruin any man in Marshall's life.

Fast forward a couple of years and Marshall is a broke alcoholic as her father died after his business went bankrupt. Additionally, several men Marshall has dated have died or suffered misfortune. Marshall is now the shunned "jinx" of colonial Singapore.

David Bruce plays a young, handsome rubber plantation owner who had briefly met Marshall years ago. He got his start in business with capital provided by Marshall's father. (Note, this is a better motivation for his character to help Marshall, than the weaker one in the original movie version.)

Thus when he sees wan, unkempt Marshall drinking in a seedy bar, and despite warnings from his society friends, he tries to help her. Bruce all but fireman-carries a very inebriated Marshall back to his plantation late that night to give her a clean, safe place to sleep.

When she awakes the next morning, bitter Marshall is ungrateful and angry as she spitefully demands a drink, while breaking a few things in the house and insulting Bruce and his housekeeper.

Bruce lets all this go as he leaves Marshall in the care of his housekeeper because he has to go into town to meet his fiancée, played by Virginia Field. He hasn't seen Field in two years as she stayed in England while he built up his rubber plantation.

Bruce's good friend, played by Jerome Cowan, like others, warns him against associating with Marshall, especially with his fiancée now in town. Good guy Bruce, though, won't give up on Marshall, but he does hide her from Field – the man's not crazy.

Bruce now has to juggle his prim fiancée in town and his sultry slattern houseguest. It's a neat twist on the age-old love triangle with English colonial characteristics.

That's the darn good setup which probably made Warner Bros., the studio that made both versions of the movie, realize it had such a powerful story on its hands that it could recycle it. Placing it in Singapore proved to be a better setting than the original movie's New York City one.

Marshall, staying at Bruce's plantation, starts to sober up and clean up a bit as she remembers what a normal life looks like. In no time, she and Bruce are tossing the sheets around (you have to read between the lines, but that's what's happening).

Bruce then borrows money to put Marshall's deceased father's bankrupt tin mine back into production, so that Marshall can regain her wealth, position and self esteem. The only problem is what to do with the fiancée who still wants to marry Bruce.

Whether intentionally or not, Field plays her good-girl society fiancée so stuck up and cold that had Bruce been given the choice of her, Marshall or no sex, Field would have been the third pick.

Further complicating matters, a presumed dead conniving ex husband of Marshall's pops up to claim both his wife and her, now, profitable tin mine. It's a short picture, but Warner Bros., as always, stirred in a lot of plot twists.

It's also one of those stories where true love is more important than social conventions as you're rooting for Bruce and Marshall, even though the fiancée genuinely has first dibs on Bruce. Romance conquering convention is Hollywood's number one or two most-popular theme.

The production only rises above its low budget and too fast runtime, though, because Marshall completely sells you on her fallen woman character. She transforms from cosseted daddy's girl, to drunkard slut, to reformed, wiser woman with spirit and believability.

It helps that her dark sultry looks are perfect for her character's wastrel phase. It's also revealing to see Hollywood not dolling her up during that phase - less makeup, flat hair, worn clothes - as her true beauty still comes through since there is no way to make her look bad.

Singapore Woman’s tense love triangle, which has all three parties twisting hard at points, draws you in. Yet it is Brenda Marshall’s riveting performance, combined with the film’s atmospheric setting and intriguing plot twists, that make it a standout B movie.
 

The one from the North

One of the Regulars
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152
Location
Finland
It was time to watch yet again my official 'It's summer!" -movie, Howard Hawks' Hatari.

The story is about this outfit in Kenya catching animals for zoos, including John Wayne, Hardy Kruger, Red Buttons, among others. The crew has to accept a female photographer, played by Elsa Martinelli to document that season. From then on things go quite foreseeable from resentment to romance and happy end.

Many dismiss this movie as a just another John Wayne movie with bunch of macho guys and cruelty to animals, but I think there's more. Yes, animals are captured but not killed, and somehow those first animals needed to get to the zoos to start breeding...

And this outfit is run by a woman, Brandy, played by Michele Girardon. The other female in the cast, photographer Dallas, played by Elsa Martinelli, finds herself in totally strange enviroment, yet is totally professional and quickly adapts to the situation. So to me, the most professional persons in the outfit are those two ladies, among more or less goofy guys.

And that scene with Dallas getting dressed while running to the truck, oh my! :)
 

Julian Shellhammer

Practically Family
Messages
878
The Last Ride (1944) a Warner Brothers - First National release, with Richard Travis as Detective Lieutenant Pat Harrigan, Charles Lang as brother Mike Harrigan, * and Eleanor Parker as Kitty Kelly, winsome lass loved by both Harrigans. The hiccup in the story is that Pat is on the side of the law while brother Mike is connected with black market racketeers. The patriotic angle in play is the black market in auto tires, what with rubber scarce due to the war, and not only is it against federal law to monkey with the rubber supply but its unpatriotic to misuse the materiel the war effort needs.

Directed by D. Ross Lederman, who did a lot of TV in the 50s, our economical tale clocks in at 57 minutes. Lt. Pat gets involved when some rich kids buy the black market tires, and the crummy fakes are unsafe at any speed, leading to automobile fatalities. Determined to get to the big guy in the operation, he goes undercover of sorts. In the interest of not spoiling the plot and denouement, let's say things get rough and things get wrapped up.

To drive home just how rotten it is to use the black market, one hood is named Fritz, and another is named Adolf.

PS: the police officers wear those incredibly cool Sam Browne belts while fighting crime.

* Yes, yes, it's Pat and Mike
 

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