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Kyle Kersten was a true friend of TCM. One of the first and most active participants of the Message Boards, “Kyle in Hollywood” (aka, hlywdkjk) demonstrated a depth of knowledge and largesse of spirit that made him one of the most popular and respected voices in these forums. This thread is a living memorial to his life and love of movies, which remain with us still.

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I Just Watched...


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#41 EricJ

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Posted 25 June 2017 - 04:04 PM

"Zabriskie Point" (1970)--Starring Daria Halprin and Mark Frechette.  Directed by Michaelangelo Antonioni.

 

Confused and confusing "I hate America film".  There's no plot to speak of, just a series of vignettes.

 

Film opens on a discussion at a University about what it takes to be a revolutionary, and why some people can't qualify.  Then film cuts to Daria, who wants to retrieve a book from the roof of a building, but a guard refuses her permission.  Cut to a showing of a Kent State type incident.  Cut to a demonstration, then demonstrators inside a police station.  Policeman who is filling out a form to demonstrator; "What are you?"  Demonstrator: "I'm a professor of social history".  Policeman; "That's too long.  I'll just put clerk."

 

The whole film is on that level of subtlety, and it gets old Quick. 

 

Having just followed a recent forum "recommendation" to discover Cult of the Damned/Angel Angel Down We Go (which turned up for free on Vudu Movies On Us), I'll second that emotion:

 

Protest via Satire was just starting to become a Thing in the late 60's, and those doing the most of it in I Hate America And Suburbia In General movies just had too many blame-issues on their mind to worry about "subtlety".  

Zabriskie Point in particular was Hollywood trying to get a piece of Antonioni's discontented-youth Blow-Up, and for the Italian director thinking he had to work "in America" for the first time, he did overdo the Easy Rider "Searching for America" a tad.


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#42 LornaHansonForbes

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Posted 25 June 2017 - 03:53 PM

I've always enjoyed Claude Rains' inexplicably seafoam green colored mask in the 1943 version, reminds me of the lobby of a motel in Myrtle Beach.
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#43 scsu1975

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Posted 25 June 2017 - 03:29 PM


 

There are scattered scares in the film, but director Fisher botches the staging of the unmasking, the chandelier, and other important parts.  The ending is abrupt and unsatisfying.

That pretty much sums it up.  As I recall, Lom inexplicably removes his mask before his final act.  I never could figure out why.

 

Retroplex has been showing the Claude Rains version lately, and it is a visual and musical feast. More music than phantom, but very entertaining.


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I'm a big boy.


#44 film lover 293

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Posted 25 June 2017 - 02:49 PM

"The Phantom of the Opera" (1962)--Starring Herbert Lom, Heather Sears, Michael Gough, and Edward De Souza.  Directed by Terence Fisher.

 

Hammer horror take on Gaston Leroux's tale sets the film in London instead of Paris.  The opening titles are in Hammers' usual vivid colors; this time a moldy green over the Phantoms' mask of a face.  The print is in unusually good shape, colorwise (film was shot in EastmanColor; prints of movies filmed in that color process usually have color fading problems).

 

The plot: An opera is having its' dress rehearsal.  Strange things have been happening; music disappearing, costumes being ripped, scenery being destroyed, the star being threatened by mysterious voices, etc.  On opening night, the star is again threatened, but the performance goes on anyway, with tragic results.

 

The next day, the producers are auditioning for the lead role (the opera is about Joan of Arc).  A girl named Christine (Sears) auditions, catches the producer Lord D'Arcy's (Gough) eye, and is cast as Joan.  Lord D'Arcy invites Christine to supper, then to his apartment, to "teach her to sing".  You can guess the plot from here.

 

The script makes the Phantom a more sympathetic figure than I expected.  Herbert Lom is good in the role.  Sears is a mousy little thing, very convincing as a victim, not so convincing as an ambitious opera diva in- waiting.  Michael Gough gives the best performance in the movie as the treacherous, lecherous Lord D'Arcy.

 

There are scattered scares in the film, but director Fisher botches the staging of the unmasking, the chandelier, and other important parts.  The ending is abrupt and unsatisfying.

 

Lesser Hammer is still worth a watch for horror fans.  2.4/4.

 

Source--archive.org.


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#45 TomJH

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Posted 25 June 2017 - 07:44 AM

Silver Streak (1976).

 

A fun suspense train ride, this slick, entertaining combination of romance, thrills and comedy still works well, as a viewing of the film for the first time in years proved to me last evening.

 

A film clearly inspired by Hitchcock to a large degree, Gene Wilder is well cast in the role (originally intended for George Segal) of a book editor on an LA to Chicago train trip who will encounter a beautiful woman looking for romance, dangerous criminals, murder, with his own life in danger, federal agents, a giant psychopath with steel teeth who likes to kill a lot and throw people (mainly him) off the train while still moving.

 

Much of the movie was filmed in Canada, making expressive use of the Rockies for background, as well as utilizing Toronto's Union Station for a scene that must be ranked as a classic of inspired zany comedy.

 

For myself, the least successful aspect of the film may be the romantic since I have a little difficulty thinking of Wilder along those lines, much as they may try in his scenes with Jill Clayburgh. The filmmakers seem to be trying to re-create the magic of Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint on a Hitchcock train but there's only one Cary Grant and, well, it simply doesn't measure up.

 

On the other hand, though, you have the ominous presence of Patrick McGoohan and his assistants (including Ray Walston and steel toothed Richard Kiel) after a professor on board the train and his Rembrandt papers and, best of all, a brilliant Richard Pryor as a thief with street smarts and a sassy tongue who becomes Wilder's companion in helping him try to save the day and the girl as the film literally speeds towards a crashing climax.

 

The scene filmed in Toronto's Union Station washroom in which Pryor smears shoe polish on Wilder's face and tries to teach him to "be black" in order to elude authorities is one of the most hysterically funny sequences you will probably ever see. "Why do you whities have such tight ****," Pryor bemoans as Wilder attempts to act "hip."

 

vlcsnap-2017-06-25-07h47m06s447_zps6g9qe

 

 

vlcsnap-2017-06-25-07h50m58s398_zps2zrfg

 

Many a time over the years I visited this washroom when at Union Station to pay my own special homage to the two geniuses who had created a moment of classic comedy here. This washroom is no more, having been taken down during a renovation of the station several years ago.

 

vlcsnap-2017-06-25-07h54m23s369_zpsjsobi

 

On the other hand, these steps still exist at Union Station, perhaps even with the same hand rail.

 

vlcsnap-2017-06-25-07h53m28s525_zpsq6kpd

 

Wilder and Pryor, one of the great comedy teamings in this film. My only regret is that there is not more of Pryor in the film. They would be reunited three more times afterward. I've yet to see any of those films though, it's my understanding, they fail to measure up to this original collaboration.

 

3 out of 4


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#46 film lover 293

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Posted 25 June 2017 - 03:14 AM

"Zabriskie Point" (1970)--Starring Daria Halprin and Mark Frechette.  Directed by Michaelangelo Antonioni.

 

Confused and confusing "I hate America film".  There's no plot to speak of, just a series of vignettes.

 

Film opens on a discussion at a University about what it takes to be a revolutionary, and why some people can't qualify.  Then film cuts to Daria, who wants to retrieve a book from the roof of a building, but a guard refuses her permission.  Cut to a showing of a Kent State type incident.  Cut to a demonstration, then demonstrators inside a police station.  Policeman who is filling out a form to demonstrator; "What are you?"  Demonstrator: "I'm a professor of social history".  Policeman; "That's too long.  I'll just put clerk."

 

The whole film is on that level of subtlety, and it gets old Quick.  There's a development commercial that is so overstated it's funny; unfortunately, that's the only intentional humor in the film.

 

The mass love scene in the dunes was interesting, as was the explosive ending.

 

The soundtrack was good.  It featured Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, and Patti Page, among others.

The ending title song was not good.

 

Right now I can wait a few years before I see another Antonioni film. 1.6/4


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#47 TomJH

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Posted 24 June 2017 - 07:32 PM

Yep, he was great in 99 River Street and check out Slightly Scarlet (1956) it's a color noir with some interesting color-noirish cinematography by John Alton. It's sort of pulp fiction cover noir.

 

Thanks. I've seen Slightly Scarlet. Maybe Arlene Dahl's finest moment in the movies.
 


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#48 cigarjoe

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Posted 24 June 2017 - 07:28 PM

Too bad, eh, cigarjoe? Kansas City Confidential and especially 99 River Street were both noteworthy B triumphs. Never liked John Payne more than in the latter film.

Yep, he was great in 99 River Street and check out Slightly Scarlet (1956) it's a color noir with some interesting color-noirish cinematography by John Alton. It's sort of pulp fiction cover noir.



#49 TomJH

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Posted 24 June 2017 - 07:23 PM

Exactly the same take away, I knew it was going to be a lesser film as soon as I saw that it was in color and what looked liked the set of a cheap pirate movie.

 

Too bad, eh, cigarjoe? Kansas City Confidential and especially 99 River Street were both noteworthy B triumphs. Never liked John Payne more than in the latter film.


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#50 cigarjoe

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Posted 24 June 2017 - 07:22 PM

Chungking Express (1994) The story of two Hong Kong policemen who patronize a late-night restaurant Chungking Express they fall in love: one with a female underworld figure, the other with the restaurant's server. Some nice stylistic cinematography. 8/10
 


#51 Fedya

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Posted 24 June 2017 - 07:20 PM

Through a Glass, Darkly (1961).

Four family members, one of whom just got out of a mental hospital after being treated for schizophrenia, meet up on the island of Fårö, just off the bigger island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea. They talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk. Then the woman with schizophrenia has another psychotic break.

5/10 Nice cinematography, but boy is this talky and not much happens. Not nearly as bad as Cries and Whispers, however.

#52 cigarjoe

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Posted 24 June 2017 - 07:11 PM

Be prepared for disappointment, however. At best this one is just another okay time waster out of the tough guy school. For fans of the dangerous ladies to be found in these kind of films, though, Mary Murphy is at least an eyeful even if her character may be a bit obvious.

 

There's a print of this film available on You Tube.

2.5 out of 4

Exactly the same take away, I knew it was going to be a lesser film as soon as I saw that it was in color and what looked liked the set of a cheap pirate movie.



#53 speedracer5

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Posted 24 June 2017 - 11:19 AM

***SPOILERS***

 

Trainspotting.  I watched this film last night.  I've heard a lot about the 1996 cult film, but I had never seen it.  Typically, movies about addiction are not movies that I seek out.  I find them depressing.  Days of Wine and Roses and The Lost Weekend were excellent films about alcoholism and while I liked those films, I don't think I'd need to watch them again.  With Trainspotting however, I think I would watch the film again.  I don't know if I'd necessarily pop the film in just randomly for background noise like I do with other films, but in the right mood and setting (a time when I'm in the mood for something a little gritty and late night), I would re-watch Trainspotting.  I feel like it's one of those films where I'd get just a little more out of it than I did the time prior.  

 

Trainspotting deals with a group of heroin addicts in Edinburgh, Scotland.  Ewan McGregor stars as Mark Renton, an addict who really wants to get it together and get clean.  Others in the group are Sick Boy (a con artist), Spud (a slow witted, but nice guy), Tommy (a star athlete), and Begbie (a nutcase with anger management issues).  The other men in the group are not as keen on cleaning up their act as Renton is.  It's only until Renton leaves Edinburgh and his friends that his life is beginning to turn around.  After this, there is one last hurrah (if you want to call it a "hurrah") for the men before it seems that Renton will finally be rid of them for good--at least until T2:Trainspotting comes around 20 years later. 

 

I really liked this film.  It was aesthetically very interesting.  It was gritty and had a bit of a punk feel to it.  The characters are supposed to reside in a lower class area of Edinburgh and the look of the film definitely conveys that.  The film looks dirty.  It looks like the type of place that if you were to walk into it in real life, you'd instantly feel uncomfortable and that you don't belong there.  The style (or perhaps lack thereof) was very effective.  I also thought that the characters were dressed well.  Renton is always seen in clothes that seem a little too small or clothes that seem old.  He is also very thin and always looks strung out until he actually starts getting it together.  Sick Boy is always dressed a little "fancier" (so to speak) than the others, because he's a con artist.  He conveys an image of being somewhat upstanding, only to screw the person over in the end.  Tommy, the star athlete, is always wearing athletic wear.  The young girl whom Ewan McGregor sleeps with in the film (and whom he did not know was a young girl) is dressed in slinky sequin slip dresses when she sneaks out to the nightclubs, but this is juxtaposed with the school girl outfit she wears when she's supposed to be the squeaky clean 14 year old at home. 

 

There are a lot of tragedies present in this film.  Many of these tragedies are realistic in a drug addict's life.  One of the drug addicts who lives in the home has a baby.  The baby dies and nobody even notices for a couple days.  I would assume that the baby probably died of starvation.  One of the addicts ends up contacting HIV from sharing needles.  Renton almost dies from a heroin overdose.  

 

One of the most infamous scenes from this film involves Renton and the most disgusting toilet in Scotland.  I had actually seen this scene before but had not seen it in its context within the film.  This scene is disgusting.  Why is that toilet even in service?  For as gross as the scene is, it was also very interesting--visually.  It shows Renton in major distress, needing to find a bathroom, stat.  Apparently, when you're a heroin addict, you become constipated.  When you decide to go off of the heroin and go into the withdrawal period, you suddenly become NOT constipated--leaving you with a small window to find an appropriate "convenience"  in time to relieve yourself of your considerable gastrointestinal distress, before it's too late.  Unfortunately, Renton comes across the most vile, the most disgusting toilet that has ever lived.  It is covered in god knows what (apparently, it was different kinds of melted chocolate, so the bathroom was actually delicious and not atrocious as it looked on screen) and not only does Renton have to use it, he actually dives into it head first, when he realizes that he's lost his opium suppositories that he had inserted prior to needing to go to the bathroom.  The thought of not only having to use that toilet, but having to search through your own excrement (better than someone else's, I guess) to find pills is disgusting and really goes to show the lengths that addicts will go through to get their fix.  The scene of Renton swimming underwater (supposedly inside the toilet) was pretty trippy, as was the scene of him sinking through the floor when he overdoses.

 

I do wonder though, Renton didn't have to go to jail (for stealing from the bookstore) because he was participating in a drug rehabilitation program.  He overdoses pretty much immediately after his court date.  Do the courts never find out about this lapse? Do his parents keep it on the DL? Because after this, they lock him in his room and force him to dry out.  

 

This was a great film that I would watch again.  It had enough humor, drama and visually interesting scenes that it made it enjoyable to watch.  I look forward to seeing the sequel, T2: Trainspotting, that came out earlier this year.


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#54 TomJH

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Posted 24 June 2017 - 10:41 AM

Hell's Island (1955).

 

The last of the trio of gritty, hard boiled thrillers director Phil Karlsen made with John Payne, this was the first one shot in colour. The first two in the series, Kansas City Confidential and 99 River Street, both frequently broadcast on TCM, remain among the highlights of both men's careers as moody, hard boiled explorations of crime dramas.

 

The same cannot be said for Hell's Island inasmuch as so much of its hackneyed story line seems derivative of so many other films of the same nature. It's watchable if only because Payne (best remembered by many for his light hearted musicals and generally fluffy film affairs in the '30s and '40s) developed, as he matured, into a surprisingly convincing screen tough guy, and Karlsen was a good director of action scenes.

 

But this film - well, you've seen so much of it before that it's all starting to look a little tired this go round. There's the first person narration by Payne, a missing ruby, konks over the head sending our hero into bye bye land for a while, a former flame still under our hero's skin who may or may not be a femme fatale (it's pretty obvious what the answer is after a short while), and even (shades of Dashiell Hammett) the familiar sight of a fat man (in a wheelchair this time), always accompanied by a gunsel, who hires Payne to do a job for him.

 

hellisland8.jpg

 

The fat man is Francis L. Sullivan (rather than Sidney Greenstreet) who hires Vegas casino security man Payne to travel to a small Caribbean island (even the amount of money he promises to give him - $5000 - is reminiscent of The Maltese Falcon - remember all that "$5000 is a lot of money" dialogue?) to get back a fabulous ruby from old flame Mary Murphy, who jilted our hero years before when she married into wealth.

 

We actually see Payne get shot by Sullivan under the film's opening titles. He is then on a hospital gurney getting operated upon by a doctor as a police inspector asks him for his story. The camera closes in upon his face as he drags on a cigarette and begins to tell his tale. These guys are so tough they're even smoking while having a bullet removed!

 

I saw a pan and scan print of what had been a Vista Vision (ie. wide screen) Paramount production. Perhaps the colour photography was a mistake. In any event this film lacks the moody black and white visuals of their two previous two films, nor does it create the same tension to be found in them.

 

Fans of Kansas City Confidential and 99 River Street will probably want to see Hell's Island anyway, and that's understandable. Be prepared for disappointment, however. At best this one is just another okay time waster out of the tough guy school. For fans of the dangerous ladies to be found in these kind of films, though, Mary Murphy is at least an eyeful even if her character may be a bit obvious.

 

There's a print of this film available on You Tube.

 

hellsisland18.png

 

2.5 out of 4


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#55 TomJH

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Posted 23 June 2017 - 08:38 PM

Probably because at the age of 11 in 1963 and when I first remember hearing this song, another gentleman with "a distinctive but not great singing voice", namely Jimmy Durante, had done a version of it which hit the pop charts and got a lot of radio play back then.

 

(...and so, whenever I think of this beautiful but melancholy song, the great Schozzola first comes to mind, and so in my case have always used his version as the yardstick)

 

It's a curious thing about the satisfaction that one can receive from a beautiful but melancholy song. It saddens us, making us reflective about some truths, such as the contemplation of the passing years and one's mortality, as in September Song.

 

One of the ultimate melancholy songs of this nature for me is It Was A Very Good Year, as sung with such feeling by Old Blues Eyes. It doesn't hurt to have such beautiful orchestral accompaniment either. This is one of my favourite Frank moments.

 


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#56 Dargo

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Posted 23 June 2017 - 06:58 PM

A case of someone with a distinctive, but not great singing voice, creating the definitive and most moving rendition of a song.

 

Probably because at the age of 11 in 1963 and when I first remember hearing this song, another gentleman with "a distinctive but not great singing voice", namely Jimmy Durante, had done a version of it which hit the pop charts and got a lot of radio play back then.

 

(...and so, whenever I think of this beautiful but melancholy song, the great Schozzola first comes to mind, and so in my case have always used his version as the yardstick)



#57 rosebette

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Posted 23 June 2017 - 06:54 PM

Operator 13 ​(1934) -- Gary Cooper and Marion Davies, with Marion as a Union spy.  She spends most of what I saw of the film in blackface, evoking every stereotyped caricature imaginable. Awful, awful, awful!  Gary Cooper very stiff throughout.  I didn't watch to the end.  Sometimes not everything that's old is good.  TCM should put this one back in a vault and never take it out again.

 


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#58 rosebette

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Posted 23 June 2017 - 06:47 PM

TCM has shown Knickerbocker Holiday in the past although, if I remember correctly, the print wasn't very good.

 

In any event it's a shame that Walter Huston couldn't have recreated his stage role in the film version, particularly when it came to his rendition of "September Song." In 1950 Huston's recording of this song became a hit all over again when it was used as a theme of the film romance September Affair, with Joseph Cotten and Joan Fontaine. The irony of this is that Huston didn't live to see it, having died six months prior to the film's U.S. release.

 

For those interested here's Huston's rendition:

 


 

 

A case of someone with a distinctive, but not great singing voice, creating the definitive and most moving rendition of a song.


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#59 TomJH

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Posted 23 June 2017 - 01:46 PM

"Knickerbocker Holiday" (1944)--Starring Nelson Eddy, Charles Coburn. Constance Dowling, and Shelley Winter (before she added the "s" to her last name).  Based on the Maxwell Anderson play. Score by Kurt Weill, additional music by eight other credited composers.

 

 

TCM has shown Knickerbocker Holiday in the past although, if I remember correctly, the print wasn't very good.

 

In any event it's a shame that Walter Huston couldn't have recreated his stage role in the film version, particularly when it came to his rendition of "September Song." In 1950 Huston's recording of this song became a hit all over again when it was used as a theme of the film romance September Affair, with Joseph Cotten and Joan Fontaine. The irony of this is that Huston didn't live to see it, having died six months prior to the film's U.S. release.

 

For those interested here's Huston's rendition:

 


 


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#60 film lover 293

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Posted 23 June 2017 - 12:52 PM

"Knickerbocker Holiday" (1944)--Starring Nelson Eddy, Charles Coburn. Constance Dowling, and Shelley Winter (before she added the "s" to her last name).  Based on the Maxwell Anderson play. Score by Kurt Weill, additional music by eight other credited composers.

 

Disappointing, slow moving musical set in New Amsterdam in the days of Peter Stuyvesant.  Plot is about the venality of politicians and how true love will overcome that.  Eddy and Dowling sing well, Coburn does a creditable version of "September Song", the play's one standard, and in her limited screen time, Winter displays a flair for comedy. 

 

But the script and direction are hopelessly stagy, Winter's and Johnny Davis's roles have been cut to shreds (the number about bundling Winters filmed with Davis and wrote about in her first autobiography was cut from the print I saw), and the music that isn't Weill's is forgettable, to say the most.

 

The political satire was blunted for the screen, although Coburn gets a few good lines that reminded me of current politicians.

 

The copy I saw was taped off an old AMC broadcast.  2/4.

 

Source--YouTube.


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