misswonderly3

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About misswonderly3

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    Canada
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    old film-noirish buildings

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  1. misswonderly3

    Noir Alley

    I like Eddie Muller and have difficulty understanding people who don't. He's the opposite of "self- important"; he often gently mocks himself. The "let's knock Eddie" faction here reminds me of a few years ago, when a bunch of posters here were always complaining about Ben Mankiewicz - and with the same criticism, that they thought he was "self-important". Maybe they're just jealous.
  2. misswonderly3

    Noir Alley

    That's interesting, Hibi. this must have been at least the 4th time I've seen The Letter, and I still missed that. SPOILERAMA : I will say, my memory of the film's ending was incorrect: For some reason I'd always thought it was Hammond's wife (Gale Sondergaard) who actually stabs Leslie. But in fact it's the man who always seems to accompany her ( paid assistant? brother? friend? ) who grabs Leslie and kills her. And I don't think she's even stabbed to death by that dagger, it looks more like she's strangled. But Mrs. Hammond / Sondergaard just looks on - in fact, she's clasping the dagger the whole time. Even though the dagger ( well, there seem to be two daggers, in a set, which Leslie observed when she meets Madame Hammond for the letter exchange...) is left on the porch pointing towards her, it's not specifically the instrument of death for Leslie. At least, I don't think so. Not that it matters, really; what matters is that Leslie is killed, either by the actual hand of the vengeful Mrs. Hammond, or by her assistant / friend / brother / whoever he is. I cannot remember if this is the way it ends in the Maugham story. If it's not, it should be; it's a very dramatic and effective finish to the film. I know Leslie had to die because of the Code, she couldn't be allowed to get away with murder. But even aside from that, I think it's the right way to end the film. And in fact, I believe we're supposed to think that Leslie knows what's going to happen to her and chooses her fate knowlingly; she sees the dagger on the porch, she goes out into the night to meet her end. I just think it would have been more fitting, somehow more satisfying, if Hammond's wife herself had done the killing. Also, I kind of wish she and her assistant had not been arrested as soon as they've done the deed. It would have been more interesting, more bleak and noirish, if the two assassins had simply murdered their victim and then disappeared into the night.
  3. misswonderly3

    Noir Alley

    Oh, by the way, also about James Stephenson: I happened to watch TCM's airing of Three Strangers last night. I think it's a very good film, deserving to be much better-known than it is. Anyway, when I saw James Stephenson this morning in The Letter, I thought at first it was the same actor who played David Shackelford, the husband of the obsessive destructive woman in Three Strangers. They really look alike ! However, I looked them up and found out I was wrong. Still, I think people will have to agree there's quite a resemblance between them. Here's James Stephenson, who plays lawyer Howard Joyce in The Letter: And here's Alan Napier, who plays the hapless Mr. Shackleton in Three Strangers: Whaddya think? Real look-alikes, and it's not just the mustache.
  4. misswonderly3

    Noir Alley

    I think The Letter is a great movie. I've seen it several times now, and it passes the "does it still hold my interest after several viewings?" test quite nicely. Something I noticed more this time around than in the previous times I've watched it is the performance of James Stephenson as Bette's lawyer, Howard Joyce. I thought he was excellent as the conflicted attorney; he regards himself as an "honourable man", and an honest lawyer. Yet in order to save Leslie's life, he has to commit the highly unethical act of buying and suppressing a key piece of evidence. Stephenson conveys the man's ambivalent feelings about Leslie and the choices he must make to protect her - - or send her to almost certain death - - subtly and effectively. Stephenson is in fact in nearly every scene, certainly more scenes than Herbert Marshall, and he is both convincing and sympathetic throughout. A frequent theme in W. Somerset Maugham's work is the unknowable quality of human beings, that people are not who we think they are. Someone who presents a virtuous face to the world often turns out to be immoral in some way, either in thrall to some sexual obsession ( usually involving adultery or incest or something else perverse or decadent in some way) or they've been embezzling the company funds for years, or they're concealing some dire family secret... I like this aspect of Maugham's writing; the topic he seems most interested in is that of the complexity and unfathomableness of human nature. There's no better example of this than The Letter.
  5. misswonderly3

    I Just Watched...

    ? ? ! ? You must be one of those people who tends to think the worst of others. Why do you ascribe this smug "We've heard of X ( classic film director, actor, old song writer, whatever) and you haven't !" attitude to the Coens? Besides, obviously you've heard of all the old Hollywood talent they refer to, and so have I. So that makes at least two people who have. Obviously people who are drawn to Coen brothers movies have too. I have never once felt that they were assuming some kind of air of superiority over their audience; rather, I've thought that they know there are people out there who are familiar with and do care about the same things they do, and those are the people they make their movies for. Looks like you're not one of them, so why not just not watch their movies ( for someone who doesn't like the Coens you seem to have viewed quite a lot of their work ) and then you can stop attributing this nasty arrogance to them. An arrogance which I believe is totally non-existent.
  6. misswonderly3

    I Just Watched...

    I would not be numbered among such fair-weather music fans. I've always loved that kind of music, and pursue it and listen to and recognize how beautiful and profound it is. Far from scattering if you played it around me, I'd ask for more.
  7. misswonderly3

    I Just Watched...

    Well, Eric, I often find that you as a poster here come off with a sort of bored sense of superiority. So if that's how you think of the Coen brothers, I would expect you to relate to them. But in fact, I could not disagree with you more. What's wrong with filmmakers who clearly love old movies making allusions to them in their own films? what you seem to perceive as snarky, mocking, and smug I perceive as affectionate and respectful. Yes, the Coens do have a sardonic sense of humour, but I've never felt that sardony (yup I made that word up) is directed in a negative way towards classic old films. Both Coen brothers love and respect old movies - and yes, old music too - and they sometimes like to have fun making "homage" films. Regarding "The Odyssey": they were just having a bit of fun, they were quite honest about not being scholars of ancient Greek poetry. So what if the film's narrative does not follow the exact peregrinations of Odysseus? As for the critics not mentioning the Preston Sturges film when "O Brother" came out, I honestly think that most of them did not get it. And if they did get it, why would they roll their eyes? I remember being delighted that there was a new movie out there that was openly making an allusion to a Preston Sturges film; whether most contemporary audiences had even heard of Preston Sturges is unlikely. I thought the Coens had made a joyful, funny, life-embracing movie, and the fact that its title referred to a movie from the early 1940s ( which by the way, I also find joyful, funny, and life-embracing) was just another thing to celebrate about it.
  8. misswonderly3

    I Just Watched...

    NickandNora, thanks for posting about this great Coen brothers film. I'm a big Coen brothers fan, and "O Brother Where Art Thou?" is one of my favourites from these quirky, smart, original filmmakers. A few things you might already know, NickandNora, but I'll mention them just in case: The Coens claim that "O Brother Where Art Thou?" is based on Homer's The Odyssey. Ok, maybe. I can see there are definitely some allusions to it, and it's fun to pick them out. But even Joel and Ethan have admitted that their screenplay should be seen as a very loose, very open, 1930s era version of Homer's epic. In fact , I think one of them conceded that he'd never actually read "The Odyssey", at least not all of it. Still, every now and then you can see a reference to it. I remember being surprised when "O Brother Where Art Thou?" first came out and not one film critic I read mentioned this: classic film-fans that they are, the Coens were referencing "Sullivan's Travels", the 1941 Preston Sturges adventure/comedy in which Joel McCrea's character as a successful film director declares he wants to make a "serious" picture, which he intends to title "O Brother Where Art Thou?" I agree with you, "O Brother Where Art Thou?" (the Coen brothers movie, not the fictional one in the Preston Sturges story) is completely enjoyable, not least because of the great music you get to hear throughout. Although it's technically not a musical, the film is chock full of absolutely first-rate songs, mostly "roots" music, bluegrass, folk, traditional, whatever you want to call it, plus some really fine blues. I'm happy to say I have the soundtrack album. It's all truly great music, but my favourites are "Man of Constant Sorrow" (the version that kind of rocks, the one the boys perform at the community gathering) and "I'll Fly Away". This last is sung by Gillian Welch and Alison Krauss and is literally divinely beautiful.
  9. misswonderly3

    Noir Alley

    Some observations about "Crime Wave": What is it about Noir that it's so good at giving us little details, bits, odd random characters that don't matter at all to the plot but somehow matter in the way they make up the sum total of the film, they contribute to the feel of the movie. Some of my favourite noirs have this quality. For example: When the cops call a general round-up of usual suspects and also anyone who's gotten hauled into the police station that night, we're treated to a brief but highly entertaining scene in which a number of random people are explaining to the police why they're there, and why they shouldn't be. There's a couple that looks like they've had a fight ( and it's the man who looks like he's been beaten up ! ), a woman who swears that for years she's had nothing to do with one of the suspects the police are asking about ("Are you kidding? I hate his guts !"), and a bookie ( I think - can't remember for sure...) My point is, these three characters are never seen again and really have nothing whatever to do with the story, but their mini-dramas add colour and humanity to the film. It's as though Sterling Hayden's cop is mentally doing a "face palm" when he hears their sordid little tales, as though he's thinking "Damn, there's a lot of trashy people in the world. I wish I could have a cigarette...." And those three are just miniature examples of how characters are given their moment in the film. Other players who feature a little more in the story include the poor old "defrocked" doctor - turned- vet, who insists on taking the dead crook's money (rotten ) but then goes home to treat some poor abandoned dog ( admirable.) Thanks to Yanceycravat and james for mentioning him. But there are other little details in "Crime Wave" that I love. Like, I always enjoy noticing the everyday household objects in old movies, especially noirs. In the Laceys' apartment, for instance, they've got that standard early 50's kitchen table, always with an oilcloth on it ( I would love to find one of those things...I'd use it on my kitchen table !) ; and of course they're planning to have the requisite steak and baked potato dinner (as in "The Big Heat"). Did anyone else notice at one point, the camera's on Phyllis Kirk, but behind her, on the living room wall, there's a picture of Don Quixote ! I think it's that famous one by Picasso. It just seems funny ( as in comical, NOT odd), that Steve and Ellen Lacey have a print of Picasso's Don Quixote up on their wall. Well, why not? One last detail I can't resist mentioning - this is the third time I've seen "Crime Wave", and I never noticed this before: in the final 15 minutes or so of the film, there's an extended scene at the crooks' hide-out (next to a Chinese restaurant - I love it !) Of course they have the usual discussion around the table to plan the heist. And they're using an old cardboard box as a lampshade ! At first I couldn't figure out what it was. When I did, I had to laugh. Whether it was Andre deToth himself who thought of these kind of details, or the set designer ( did they have set designers for B movies in 1952?) the sets and entire mise-en-scene in "Crime Wave" greatly enhance the atmosphere and realism of the film. Ok, I know this is long. But I just have to say how much I delight in the crazy toothy five minutes we get of Timothy Carey. This guy just eats up the screen in any film he's in. Why the hell is he mugging like that, all teeth and grins and strange lingo that we can hardly make out, when we first see him at the hide-out? There's a bit, it's only about a minute long, where "Doc" Penny is finalizing the robbery plans, and Carey is for some reason sitting on the floor, in the background. But it's Carey I'm looking at, not Ted de Corsia. He's presumably guarding the bathroom door where Ellen Lacey is, but the whole thing seems extremely odd and creepy. And the whole time "Doc" is speaking, Carey's madly grinning and widening his eyes, etc. What a shameless exuberant ham ! I love this guy.
  10. misswonderly3

    Noir Alley

    Guys ! This argument you're having really isn't very interesting - except, obviously, to the two of you. Of course you both have every right to pursue it, and I do hate officious people who try to referee internet sites, which I guess in a way is what I'm doing by posting this. But honestly, there's more interesting stuff to talk about. I probably shouldn't say this, since I don't want to take sides (and therefore possibly prolong the tedious debate), but I will admit that I am very good at the "willing suspension of disbelief " thing in movies, and I've never had a problem with the many scenes in old ( and even not so old) films in which someone's running along the top of a train. Yeah, sure, in real life they probably would fall off and be killed. But it's a movie. So I'm ok with it. "That said", I respect cigarjoe's detailed knowledge on such matters.
  11. misswonderly3

    I Just Watched...

    If I knew how to put two quotes in a single post, I'd have included Swithin's comments on D.H. Lawrence here. (I was going to just say "Lawrence" and then worried that some people might think I was talking about one of our faithful posters here...) So, to all you D.H. Lawrence fans out there - including the gentlemanly Swithin - - I have to say, I've tried reading this writer, and I just can't handle it. My primary objection to his writing is, as far as I can tell, he has absolutely NO sense of humour. A writer does not have to be funny or make me laugh for me to like him or her. In fact, most of my favourite writers I would not say were known as comic writers. But they do all have a certain wit, or at the very least, a certain self-awareness that saves them from sounding pompous or grandiose or at any rate, too damn serious for their own good. Sorry Swithin baby, I realize it's not nice to hear someone call one of your favourite writers names. And ok, I'll back off applying the "pompous" and "grandiose" epithets to Lawrence. But I will continue to maintain that Mr. D.H.Lawrence seems to take himself extremely seriously, and that somehow spoils the reading fun for me. An exception: I do like his short story "The Rocking Horse Winner". The story's very good. It was made into a movie, quite a good one that actually did the story justice, in 1949. The film retains the mysterious and oddly erotic quality of the story.
  12. misswonderly3

    I Just Watched...

    Well, what can you expect from anything based on D.H.Lawrence?
  13. misswonderly3

    Noir Alley

    Eddie's comments this week on "The Narrow Margin" were particularly enlightening. For instance, I was unaware that Howard Hughes had tried to interfere so much with it. SPOILERS Hughes, for all he may have been brilliant in some ways, clearly had no feeling for story, or anyway, for smart stories. Imagine, he actually wanted Marie Windsor to be the actual gangster's wife, and Jaqueline White to be just some ordinary random lady passenger. How uninteresting would that have been ? ! I mean, aside from anything else, one of the whole points of the film is that people are not always what they seem. Which is why it's disappointing to hear that Hughes idiotically insisted that a plot point, the one about Brown's partner having been on the take, be deleted from the final cut. You can see that Brown had tremendous admiration for his partner; at one point he even tries to make Windsor's character feel guilty by observing that his partner was dead while she was still alive - - "some trade". He goes on about what a great guy Forbes (the partner) was, how he had a wife and family, etc. etc. So if it had at some point been revealed that this partner he's practically canonizing had been "crooked", a taker of bribes from the underworld, it would have been yet another shock for Brown, and another example of how people are not necessarily who we think they are. Too bad Hughes was too undiscerning to realize how effective such a plot point would have been. A couple of other thoughts about "The Narrow Margin", ones which I think I have posted somewhere on these boards before: I think it's a hoot the way these old crime movies always show someone - usually a tarty woman - listening to loud, not especially good, popular jazz, as though to signal to the audience that she must be cheap and no-good if she spends her time hanging around (usually sprawled seductively on a couch), smoking and playing forgettable jazz music at high volume. So first, this is just plain funny- - "oh look, Marie Windsor must be as trashy as Charles McGraw expected, she's wearing a flashy polka dot dress and playing crummy jazz music really loud." But second, whoever wanted to add the phonograph jazz record bit into the story (writer? director? Marie Windsor?) was so enamoured of this cheap music = cheap woman trope that they got a little carried away. Given how difficult the situation was already, it's unlikely Windsor's character would have insisted on bringing the phonograph player (plus the records ! those things were heavy ! ) onto the train in the first place. And in the second place, she definitely would not have drawn attention to where she was hiding out by playing the damn records ! But this is just a quibble, and anyway, the trashy loud music she likes to play kind of adds to the atmosphere of the story, so I kind of like it. But here's a big problem I have with "The Narrow Margin": Poor Marie, she sacrifices herself to protect the real Mrs. Neal, but nary a thank you does she get from anyone, much less Detective Brown. As Eddie remarks in his "outro" comments to the film, we need a scene where Marie's body is carried out on a stretcher under the remorseful gaze of a sadder but wiser Brown. But no, there's no such scene, (not even a pre-existing scene that was cut), and Detective Walter Brown just carries on as though this poor much maligned lady did not deserve so much as a parting glance. No acknowledgement that she was actually a worthwhile person who gave up her life to save another. Not to mention a memorable trash-talking dame with a fondness for crisp bacon, cigarettes, and loud big band music.
  14. misswonderly3

    Noir Alley

    I cannot resist. Here's a fun version of "Funiculi Funicula". I'm afraid it's not very noirish, though. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44UC6muN8KY
  15. misswonderly3

    Noir Alley

    Right, I remember that scene. But I feel it doesn't really "count" in terms of the the two look-alikes encountering one another, because Dr. Bartok does not see Muller (a painfully disappointing moment when he just walks out of the room with nothing happening) behind the door. What I meant when I said I'd have liked a scene they're both in together is one where they actually see, meet, and talk to each other, the tone and topic of such a conversation could have been really interesting.

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