kingrat

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  1. If you're not familiar with Frances Farmer, tonight/tomorrow morning you can see her best performance in Come and Get It. She's especially good as the tough saloon gal in the first half of the film, though she's also fine as the more demure daughter of that woman in the second half. The Best Man, based on a Gore Vidal play, holds up quite well, even if Richard Nixon and Adlai Stevenson were the models for the characters played by Cliff Robertson and Henry Fonda. Lee Tracy got a much-deserved Oscar nod as the rougher-edged president. In prime time Tuesday, Viva Zapata! is one of my half-dozen favorite Kazan films. The secret advantage is cinematographer Joe MacDonald.
  2. Best Movie Year of the Decade Poll -- Part II

    1962 is the easy winner for the 1960s, for the many reasons that Lawrence mentions. I'd add Days of Wine and Roses, David and Lisa, and Lisa (no connection to David), and I believe Experiment in Terror is from this year as well. The 50s had many good years, but 1958 has three of my absolute top favorites with Ashes and Diamonds, Bonjour Tristesse, and Vertigo. Then add The Key, Man of the West, Touch of Evil, The Quiet American, The Horse's Mouth, The Inn of the Sixth Happiness, The Big Country, The Tarnished Angels, Orders To Kill, Innocent Sinners, A Time To Love and a Time To Die, Gigi, The Left-Handed Gun, Kings Go Forth, A Night To Remember . . . .
  3. Recommendations for Sunday: I've recommended Johnny Eager recently, so will opt for A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I avoided this movie for years, assuming it would be sentimental. Um, not exactly. The children grow up with a charming father (James Dunn) who's hopelessly alcoholic and a mother (Dorothy McGuire) who always has to be the bad guy. Joan Blondell, Ruth Nelson, and Lloyd Nolan play characters who bring a little bit of color and kindness into the children's lives. For the evening, Twelve O'Clock High is a first-rate all-male WWII drama about a commanding officer (Gregory Peck) who has to keep sending pilots on bombing raids even though he knows many of them will not be returning.
  4. April 2018 Schedule is Up

    Undercurrent really should be better than it is, given K. Hepburn, Mitchum, R. Taylor, and Minnelli. It's a fairly standard damsel in distress story. One man is a villain, one is Prince Charming--but which one? I wouldn't discourage anyone from seeing it, but the casting doesn't work. Hepburn and Robert Taylor have little chemistry, but Hepburn and Mitchum have absolutely none. They loathed each other on the set. Band of Angels won't replace Gone with the Wind as a Civil War drama, but it has its strengths. Yvonne De Carlo discovers that she is not 100% white, although she has been raised as a young Southern white lady, and is sold into slavery. Clark Gable then becomes her owner, and you won't be surprised to learn that he isn't altogether a bad guy. Sidney Poitier has a strong supporting role. I remember a few years back that a poster who identified herself as biracial said she thought De Carlo was a good choice for this film.
  5. I Just Watched...

    Lawrence, what was the print of The Spy in Black like? I seem to recall seeing a really poor one on TCM a few years back. I like The Rains Came more than you do, but I agree completely that George Brent gives one of his best performances here. He seems more interesting (and therefore more attractive) opposite Barbara Stanwyck (The Gay Sisters, My Reputation) and Myrna Loy (The Rains Came, Stamboul Express) than he ever does opposite Bette Davis.
  6. To Beth or anyone else who hasn't seen Citizen Kane: try to ignore thinking about whether it's a great film. Just watch it as if it's another movie you want to see. I'm pretty sure you'll find some interesting things in it. You can figure out later whether it's one of your favorites.
  7. April 2018 Schedule is Up

    Speedracer, you'll definitely want to see The Rains Came. Myrna Loy refers to Tyrone Power as a bronze Apollo, and he is. A good film, too. Stalag 17 (Holden's Oscar role) and Bridge on the River Kwai qualify as must-sees; with Sunset Boulevard these are probably the essential Holden films. Suddenly is a taut thriller with Sinatra playing a villain. This is the point in Sinatra's movie career--with From Here to Eternity and The Man with the Golden Arm--where he was taking on challenging roles and working hard as an actor. Flamingo Road has Joan Crawford as a carny gal no better than she should be who gets stranded in a Southern town run by corrupt sheriff Sydney Greenstreet. If you like Joan's melodramas, you'll like it. The contemporary audience didn't want to see Greer Garson in a screwball comedy like Julia Misbehaves, but I like both her performance and the film. Elizabeth Taylor is young and beautiful. If The World of Suzie Wong has ever been shown on TCM, it was long ago.
  8. 1947 movies

    Among many favorites from 1947, here are 20: Black Narcissus Deep Valley The Long Night The Ghost and Mrs. Muir Nightmare Alley Les Maudits Odd Man Out High Barbaree The Macomber Affair Night Song Out of the Past The Private Affairs of Bel Ami Born To Kill Crossfire Dead Reckoning Brute Force Brighton Rock So Well Remembered Body and Soul Miracle on 34th Street I'm not sure which year The Lady from Shanghai and Secret Beyond the Door belong to, but they are also favorites, as are The Unfinished Dance, Gentleman's Agreement, Ivy, Pursued, Daisy Kenyon, They Won't Believe Me, and the list could go on. A Double Life has a spectacular sequence, brilliantly shot, lit, and edited, of the various parts of the theatre audience as Ronald Colman begins to go mad on stage. Hungry Hill has one truly great scene, where the dancers at a country estate begin to get progressively wilder as the fiddler's jig gets faster and faster.
  9. Soporifics

    When you mentioned soporifics, John le Carre's novel The Russia House literally put me to sleep for several nights running. I had higher hopes for the movie version--and Sean Connery and Michelle Pfeiffer are both very good--but the movie follows the novel so closely that it's almost as boring as the original.
  10. I Just Watched...

    I saw Le Bonheur (1965). Thank you, TCM, for scheduling it. I'm not entirely sure what I think about it, but I'm glad I saw it. It is perhaps best experienced without knowing how and where the film will go. The ending is definitely memorable. Lovely cinematography by Jean Rabier, one of the best-known New Wave cinematographers. One of the most interesting aspects of the film is that the family at the center of the film is played by Jean-Claude Drouot, his wife Claire, and their two very young children. This will give a special kick to certain events in the film. These events could have been treated in standard dramatic or even melodramatic fashion, but Varda works hard to de-emphasize the drama and keep the surfaces of the film as quiet as the pastoral idyll which opens the film. All the scenes which children are natural and true to life, reminding us how phony Hollywood kids can be. Are the simple scenes of domestic life with family and co-workers truly happiness ("le bonheur")? My answer would be yes. Spoilerish: I'm inclined to believe that the husband is an utter narcissist. The talented, handsome, and very sexy Jean-Claude Drouot could not be better in this role. Le Bonheur would make an interesting double feature with Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice. A film strongly influenced by Le Bonheur is Chantal Akerman's Jeanne Dielmann . . ., though Varda has made a film and Akerman, to my mind, a clever graduate school seminar essay.
  11. I LIKE them, but.....

    I have to agree with Beth about The Boys from Brazil and with Thenryb about Robert Ryan as John the Baptizer, as he's called for some reason in King of Kings. In fact, that's the only Robert Ryan performance I can think of that I don't like. I usually love Harrison Ford, and it's easy to understand why he wanted to be cast against type in The Mosquito Coast, but the attempt is not a success. Richard Widmark is perhaps a little more successful as the weakling Dauphin in Saint Joan, but he could never have been as believable as an actor like Anthony Perkins would have been.
  12. OSCAR INSANITY!

    Just got around to seeing Call Me By Your Name. The theater was almost full last night. Although there were plenty of older gay men, and some younger ones, a surprising number of middle-aged straight couples were there as well. Perhaps this was an "Oscar crossover" audience. Burning question: will TCM Wine Club offer a special peach wine to go along with Call Me By Your Name? Totally agree with rayban about the excellence of Timothee Chalamet's performance. A much better and more cinematic performance than Gary Oldman in Darkest Hour, and not dependent on makeup and prosthetics. Chalamet carries the film. He understands the whole reacting/thinking/concealed feeling aspect of acting that many movie stars command. If you've seen Chalamet play an entirely different kind of character in Lady Bird, his work is even more impressive. With luck he can have a long career in both English- and French-language films. Some spoilers ahead: The film, though very well directed, is overlong. Cutting fifteen or twenty minutes would not have been difficult. The second Elio/Marzia encounter, for instance, could have been completely cut. Build-up is one thing, but I thought those boys were never going to get to bed. (Well, I knew they would, or else a lot of angry gay guys were going to demand their money back.) One of the most interesting aspects of the film is that we only see Oliver (Armie Hammer) through Elio's eyes, not the other way around, but we can perhaps infer more about Oliver than the young Elio can. Does Oliver give mixed messages? (Yes.) Is he a good man, as Elio's father says? (Maybe; he isn't a bad man. It's Elio's father who is the good man.) Because of his good looks, Oliver doesn't have to worry about attracting partners, and this leaves him a bit aloof emotionally, but not altogether so. Oliver is more attracted to men, but probably sleeps more with women because they are so available--unless the women become too possessive or demanding. (I've certainly known men who fit this description.) As the movie went on, I kept asking myself, "Is Oliver ultimately as shallow as I believe he is?" (Armie Hammer really nails this aspect of the character, with some evidence on either side.) The final scene gives the answer to this question. I was not disturbed by the age difference, perhaps because when I was seventeen I would have taken full responsibility for my actions, perhaps because Elio's parents implicitly approve of the relationship, perhaps because Oliver does show concern about whether he should take Elio to bed. The whole situation is portrayed in depth. The scene in the piazza where Elio declares his love for Oliver, though not in so many words, is beautifully directed. I wanted to hit pause and rewind on that scene. The first comment we heard when leaving the theater was from a woman who said how fortunate the boy was to have such understanding parents. In some ways they are the heroes of the film.
  13. John Gavin (1931 - 2018)

    John Gavin is surprisingly good in the Douglas Sirk film A Time to Love and a Time to Die, where he has the starring role. This film can sometimes be found on YouTube or various pirate websites, although only, as far as I know, in pan & scan versions. I'd love to see it on the big screen. TCM has had more access to Universal films in the last few years, so it's not impossible that it will eventually be digitized and shown in the proper ratio on TCM. The film is about a German soldier in the last few months of WWII who falls in love with a beautiful girl (Lilo Pulver, who is excellent) and simply hopes to survive his time on the Russian front until the war is over. There's a fine cameo appearance by Thayer David (Professor Stokes on Dark Shadows), an old friend who has flourished under the Nazis and has a room full of hunting trophies. Gavin must carry the film, however, and he does so admirably.
  14. Saturday offers a spectacular cinematographic trifecta: back to back showings of The Red Shoes (Jack Cardiff), America America (Haskell Wexler), and Moulin Rouge (Oswald Morris). Three great cinematographers at the top of their game. Of course, all three films have much more to offer as well. Following Julius Caesar comes Barry Lyndon, which also has remarkable cinematography, though I'm not sure I would sit through this snoozefest again, even to poke fun at poor Ryan O'Neal.
  15. 1947 movies

    Don, thanks so much for this information. It's always interesting to learn what the contemporary audience wanted to see. Despite my fondness for 1947, I have not seen the top four box-office hits and have never managed to get all the way through Life with Father.

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