kingrat

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About kingrat

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  1. I Just Watched...

    Cigarjoe, thanks for the information about the New York locations on film. This is one of the added pleasures of older films. For shots of Hong Kong circa 1959, there's The World of Suzie Wong, a much better film than I expected. Geoffrey Unsworth's cinematography is outstanding, whether he's filming a cloudy day in Hong Kong or merely studio sets. Early in the film Unsworth uses a blue-forward palette that still gives value to other colors, unlike the overfiltered junk that's much too common in films and television shows today. Richard Quine gives us a number of camera shots that glide as entrancingly as Nancy Kwan. Well, almost as entrancingly. One imdb reviewer describes Nancy Kwan as "beautiful beyond words," and I can only agree. Does she look more stunning in scarlet or lavender, or is the white gown she wears toward the end of the movie the most remarkable of all? OK, it's not realistic that a lady of the evening would have clothes like these, but this is a romantic drama, and I'm not going to complain. Nancy Kwan can act, too, and she has excellent chemistry with William Holden. Although this isn't one of Holden's greatest performances, he is always interesting on screen, and I always want to know how he's going to react, which is one of the marks of the best film actors. The supporting cast is strong, too, with Sylvia Syms just right as Kay, the proper young Englishwoman who falls for Holden. We wouldn't mind if Holden ends up with her, should Suzie Wong come to a tragic end, and we wouldn't be crushed if Kay is left alone at the end. This is a difficult balance to maintain. I also particularly liked Jacqui Chan as Suzie's glasses-wearing friend Gwennie Lee; she's a cutie pie. (No, Jacqui Chan didn't eventually become Jackie Chan; the dates don't work out.) I thought the matter of Anglo-American racism toward the Chinese was handled well. Kay's father, a banker, deflects the cruder kind of comment about racial superiority, but he also lets Holden know that he will shunned by the community should he actually marry a girl like Suzie. The film is sympathetic toward girls who at a very early age have no real option other than prostitution if they want to survive. The realistic elements of the story help provide a good foundation for the high romantic drama.
  2. It's surprising that Cry Danger is listed for both Saturday night and Sunday morning, but it's an enjoyable film noir with Dick Powell, Rhonda Fleming, and some location shots of LA. For Saturday overnight or very early Sunday morning, depending on your time zone, there's the strong pre-Code Employees' Entrance, with Warren William as a lecherous department store owner and Loretta Young as one of the employees he fancies. Sunday morning also has Till the End of Time, with the impossibly handsome Guy Madison as a returning WWII vet who falls for a war widow (Dorothy McGuire). Robert Mitchum has a great supporting role as Madison's buddy who suffers from the effects of a head injury in the war. Edward Dmytryk is the capable director.
  3. Thursday overnight: Not only is On Approval a rare opportunity to see Beatrice Lillie on screen, some of the film techniques anticipate the New Wave. The original director was fired, and Clive Brook stepped in to direct his first and only film, very capably too. This is the kind of artificial comedy people tend to like or dislike strongly. If you like the genre, this is first-rate. It was a big hit at the TCM festival a few years back.
  4. Actor Harry Anderson (1952-2018)

    I was a big fan of Night Court. There was no question of the reason for Selma Diamond's death: lung cancer. Heavy smoking was partly responsible for her distinctive voice. It shows how much things have changed that death in the mid-60s seems shockingly young.
  5. I Just Watched...

    Lorna, I was sure you'd love that spectacular coat Carole Lombard wore in The Eagle and the Hawk. Mitchell Leisen knew how to make his stars look their best.
  6. I Just Watched...

    I saw The Eagle and the Hawk, which I had never heard of, even though it stars Fredric March, Cary Grant, Jack Oakie, and Carole Lombard. It's directed by Stuart Walker, a new name to me, with assistance from Mitchell Leisen. As Ben M said in his introduction, it was written to cash in on the success of Howard Hawks' The Dawn Patrol. (I've never seen the Hawks film, just the very good remake with Errol Flynn, David Niven, and Basil Rathbone). Fredric March is an ace pilot for the RAF during WWI. Cary Grant is his rival, a screw-up as a pilot though perhaps too successful as a gunner (called "observers," because their main task is to photograph enemy installations). March succeeds in mission after mission while his observers are killed, and the pressure begins to mount. On furlough the only person who understands his feelings is a character known in the credits as "the Beautiful Woman," appropriately played by Carole Lombard, who makes the most of her one appearance. Jack Oakie provides some comic relief. As in The Dawn Patrol, the death of a young and enthusiastic recruit creates a crisis, and as in many movies, the hero's rival is the one who finally understands and appreciates him. Fredric March has several big dramatic scenes which he plays very well. As is often the case in his early films, Cary Grant isn't yet the actor he would become, but he's still reasonably effective. I would guess that Mitchell Leisen had something to do with Carole Lombard's look and her outfit; Leisen knew how to make his stars look good. Leisen and Lombard became close friends. The Eagle and the Hawk is not especially well paced in the early going; the film mainly relies on the script, the actors, and the aerial footage, some of it taken from Wings. It is surprisingly dark in places, with its consideration of battle fatigue, suicide, and the morality of shooting down enemy fighters who have parachuted from their plane.
  7. That's a good one, Lorna. Two movies. Although someone probably should make a movie called Try and Get Me, Zulu.
  8. I Just Watched...

    Fedya, what's maybe the most interesting thing about the trainwreck known as X, Y, and Zee is that Susannah York seems to taking the whole thing seriously, carefully creating a character, etc., whereas Michael Caine and Elizabeth Taylor are just strolling through (Caine) or hamming through (Taylor) to get the paycheck. It makes York seem like the one who hasn't gotten the joke. The same phenomenon can be found in Ocean's Twelve where Catherine Zeta-Jones, who wasn't in Ocean's Eleven, is hard at work building a character while everyone else just shows up for the check.
  9. For Tuesday evening: By now many movie fans know that Gun Crazy is an essential film noir, so I'll put in a plug for Hell Drivers, a grim, taut thriller starring Stanley Baker and directed by the blacklisted (and very gifted) Cy Endfield, who also directed Try and Get Me, Zulu, and Sands of the Kalahari.
  10. Wonder what our fashionistas will make of these outfits?
  11. Wayne Morris had a good supporting role in Deep Valley (1947) as the lawman in love with Ida Lupino. Ida, of course, is in love with the convict played by Dane Clark.
  12. I Just Watched...

    So Evil My Love was even better the second time around. I had seen it a few years back, probably when Ray Milland was SOTM, but now it seems like one of the best movies of 1948. Despite the excellence of Milland and the supporting cast, the success of the film rests on Ann Todd's shoulders. She must be credible as a missionary's widow who seems respectable and extremely conventional, but who is willing to go against all the moral standards of her age, even willing to commit murder, yet with a conscience. Todd makes every twist and turn of the story seem plausible, even inevitable. Ann Todd's screen persona can seem passive, even bland--some critics have spoken of her "glacial" beauty, and it's a good description--but there can be so much going on under the surface. Ray Milland knows exactly how to play a charming villain. Geraldine Fitzgerald as Todd's friend from school, Raymond Huntley as Fitzgerald's icy husband, and Leo G. Carroll as the private detective who's on to Milland and Todd are all in top form. Martita Hunt as Huntley's mother has so little screen time that she doesn't steal the movie, as she often does. It's great to see--and hear--the soft-spoken Raymond Huntley in a larger role than usual. So who directed the film? Lewis Allen, an English director active in American and England in the 1940s and 1950s, then primarily in American television. The Uninvited is now out on Criterion, and I believe it is now being receiving its due as an excellent movie. Noir aficionados probably know Suddenly, a very effective thriller with Frank Sinatra in a villainous role. I haven't seen Desert Fury, but some of my friends really like it. The only other Allen movie I've seen is Another Time, Another Place, in which Lana Turner plays an American journalist who has an affair during WWII with an RAF pilot (the young Sean Connery). Perhaps it would be worthwhile to see more of Allen's films?
  13. Looking ahead to Sunday daytime: Greer Garson shows that she can play comedy in Julia Misbehaves. A Taste of Honey was unusual for its time in dealing with interracial romance and homosexuality, but the main reason to see the film is the performance by Rita Tushingham in the central role.
  14. I Just Watched...

    Lawrence, that's actually a pretty good description and defense of Secret Beyond the Door. As fond as I am of the film, I wouldn't call it one of the movies you have to see before you die. If cinematography is the top criterion, however, it probably is. Hollywood probably hoped that a distinguished stage actor, Michael Redgrave, would be another Laurence Olivier, both leading man (Secret Beyond the Door) and prestigious actor (Mourning Becomes Electra). The financial failure of those films must have ended that hope. The problem, to my mind, is that Redgrave lacks the sex appeal to play romantic leads. He's best cast in roles where that doesn't matter: Dead of Night; The Browning Version, where he's emotionally repressed and his wife is a heartless shrew; and The Quiet American, where he's a pompous journalist proud of his pro-Communist sympathies.
  15. Hysteria (1965) and other amnesia films

    I'm a big fan of Mirage. 1965 is late for a film noir amnesia story in black & white, but Mirage is solid all the way, one of the best films Edward Dmytryk directed, and as you mentioned, Walter Matthau adds a lot as the private detective Gregory Peck hires. Mister Buddwing is not a suspense film, and as James Garner has flashbacks to various parts of his life, different actresses play the same woman in different scenes. This was the first substantial role for Katharine Ross.

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