LawrenceA

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Everything posted by LawrenceA

  1. LawrenceA

    I Just Watched...

    The Story of Esther Costello (1957) - 6/10 Interesting melodrama, based on a book by Nicholas Monsarrat. Joan Crawford stars as an American traveling through rural Ireland who comes across the title person, a young girl (Heather Sears) who has been blind, deaf and mute since childhood. Crawford adopts the girl, taking her back to America and working diligently over years to educate the girl and make her a symbol for others likewise afflicted. However, when Crawford's estranged husband (Rossano Brazzi) shows up, he begins using Esther as a front for a charitable fund-raising racket. Also featuring Lee Patterson, Ron Randell, Fay Compton, John Loder, Bessie Love, Sidney James, Denis O'Dea, Megs Jenkins, and Peter Brown. I haven't read the book, but from what I've read about it, it was a thinly-veiled indictment of Helen Keller's inner circle in particular and misuse of charitable funds in general. The resolution of the film is pretty dark, but not nearly as cynical as the book's. Crawford was well-cast for this role, as was Sears. My antipathy for Brazzi continues, however. I really didn't know what to expect with this one, and I ended up enjoying it, even if the first and second halves of the film seem like they're from different pictures.
  2. LawrenceA

    Trump's Biggest Whoppers

    How long before a Trumpster chimes in with a "But America hacks other countries, too!" excuse?
  3. LawrenceA

    I Just Watched...

    Spook Chasers (1957) - 4/10 Tired rehash with Huntz Hall and the Bowery Boys traveling with diner owner Percy Helton to his newly acquired rundown mansion in the country. The gang discover two things: a cache of hidden gangster's loot and more than one "ghost" haunting the place. Featuring Stanley Clements, David Gorcey, Jimmy Murphy, Eddie LeRoy, Peter Mamakos, Ben Welden, Robert Shayne, Darlene Fields, William Henry, and Pierre Watkin. It had been 20 years since Dead End, and Hall, the last of the originals, was 37 years old. Gorcey had been canned from the series for drunkenness, and Clements brought on to try and fill his place, to little effect. The long-running series (this was #45) had already mined this territory many times, so this just came across like a retread. However, if I had seen this when I was maybe 7 or 8 years old, and had never seen anything like it before, I may have been more amused.
  4. LawrenceA

    The Triumph of Donald Trump

    The first time the US Flag has had a #MeToo moment. Don't shine a blacklight on it!
  5. LawrenceA

    Paul Newman as SOTM May 2019

    First news of slight changes to the TCM formula after the AT&T take-over: July's SOTM will be Steven Seagal.
  6. LawrenceA

    I Just Watched...

    That was my impression. They just liked the title and the recognition it would have with their potential audience, much the way films often used pop song titles as movie titles. The words in the title imply both violence and the NYC setting.
  7. LawrenceA

    I Just Watched...

    Sorority Girl (1957) - 5/10 Roger Corman helms this melodrama starring Susan Cabot as the titular gal who torments and manipulates the other girls in her sorority house, all because her mother didn't love her enough. Featuring Barboura Morris, June Kenney, Barbara Cowan, Fay Baker, Jeane Wood, Joan Lara, Beach Dickerson, and Dick Miller as "Mort". Fans of Cabot should enjoy her vicious turn, as will camp fans who should eat up the overheated 50s-style melodrama. Plus, there's girl-on-girl paddling.
  8. The show limped to a tepid, budget-limited conclusion last night. The main girl character, when finally unloading on her grandfather* Dr. Hodel, tells him that while he thinks he's making high art, he's just "boring, a cliche." I couldn't have described the show better myself.
  9. LawrenceA

    I Just Watched...

    Slaughter on Tenth Avenue (1957) - 7/10 Crime drama with Richard Egan as a new-in-town assistant district attorney who lands a case where a dockworker (Mickey Shaughnessy) was shot by goons working for crooked union boss Walter Matthau. Also featuring Jan Sterling as the injured man's wife who fears further reprisal, Julie Adams as Egan's worried wife, Dan Duryea as a slick defense attorney, Charles McGraw, Harry Belaver, Sam Levene, Nick Dennis, Joe Downing, Morgan Woodward, and Mickey Hargitay as "Big John". This is a compelling, if derivative, crime picture that segues into a courtroom drama in the last act. Duryea shines as the attorney for the accused gunmen, and Matthau is amusing as the chief crook. Hedy Lamarr filmed a supporting role that was left on the cutting room floor.
  10. LawrenceA

    I Just Watched...

    She Played with Fire aka Fortune Is a Woman (1957) - 7/10 British mystery with Jack Hawkins as an insurance investigator who runs into old girlfriend Arlene Dahl while on duty. He thinks she and/or her husband Dennis Price may have used arson to collect a hefty insurance pay-out. His investigation into the matter takes him in unexpected directions. Also featuring Violet Farebrother, Ian Hunter, Malcolm Keen, Geoffrey Keen, Patrick Holt, Michael Goodliffe, Bernard Miles, and Christopher Lee. An intriguing whodunit with a strong central performance by Hawkins.
  11. LawrenceA

    Your Favourite Foreign Language Films from 1992

    I haven't seen much that others didn't list, so I don't have much to comment on, but I will mention the passable film that came in at the tail end of my recommended list, Island of Fire. Also released as The Prisoner, this is an action film that usually pushes Jackie Chan to the forefront of its marketing materials, although this is misleading, as Chan is only a supporting player. The lead character is played by Tony Leung Ka-fai. He's a cop who goes undercover in a prison in order to solve a murder. The big name cast also includes the aforementioned Chan, his frequent collaborator Sammo Hung, rising star Andy Lau, and kung-fu movie legend Jimmy Wang Yu. This movie is pretty violent, much more so than most of the things Chan was making at the time, and without the attendant humor. However, while this is a very flawed movie, it's nice to see all of these stars of Hong Kong cinema together in one film.
  12. LawrenceA

    I Just Watched...

    Yes. He mouths off to everyone else in the movie, but uses his verbal assaults with a purpose against the Professor and Seymour.
  13. LawrenceA

    I Just Watched...

    The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent (1957) - 4/10 Costume historical epic, Roger Corman style! A bunch of viking women, including Abby Dalton, Susan Cabot, June Kenney, and Betsy Jones-Moreland, head out to sea to try and find their menfolk, who went missing on a raiding party some time ago. The ladies end up in the land of the Grimolts, a tribe of barbarians who have enslaved the viking men. Featuring Richard Devon, Jonathan Haze, Michael Forest, Bradford Jackson, Jay Sayer, Lynette Bernay, Sally Todd, and Gary Conway. This very cheap and very silly fantasy is amusing if you're in the right mood. I liked how all of the viking men had bleach-blond hair, cut short and styled. Devon gets to be the main heavy, and whoever played his sniveling prince son was funny. There is a sea serpent, but it's best not to dwell on it.
  14. LawrenceA

    Actor Luke Perry (1966-2019)

    I thought it was a stroke that killed him. Not that it makes much difference, it's sad either way. I'd read that he'd also battled cancer in the past. I always thought he aged very quickly, but assumed he partied hard during his peak. He may also have just aged more naturally than those who get facelifts, injections, fillers, and other procedures.
  15. LawrenceA

    I Just Watched...

    Rock All Night (1957) - 6/10 Entertaining low-budget hybrid of a rock musical and a hostage crime drama, from AIP and producer-director Roger Corman. A couple of gun-wielding crooks (Russell Johnson and Jonathan Haze) hold a bar full of patrons hostage. Among them are Dick Miller as a belligerent miscreant, Mel Welles as a hep-cat rock promoter, Robin Morse as the bartender, Abby Dalton, Jeanne Cooper, Richard Cutting, Chris Alcaide, Beach Dickerson, Barboura Morris, Nora Hayes, Ed Nelson, Bruno VeSota, and the Platters and the Blockbusters as themselves. This may be one of my favorite Dick Miller roles. He's a tough guy with a chip on his shoulder, and he's hilarious. Ed Nelson is also amusing as a high-strung witness. The Platters and the Blockbusters perform a few songs at the film's beginning.
  16. LawrenceA

    I Just Watched...

    Revolt at Fort Laramie (1957) - 5/10 Soldiers at a frontier army base receive the news that the Civil War has begun. The southern men decide to quit en masse and head for the Confederate states to join up, leaving the other soldiers to fend for themselves just as a tenuous peace was being struck with hostile local natives. Featuring John Dehner, Gregg Palmer, Frances Helm, Don Gordon, Robert Keys, Bill Phillips, Sterling Franck, Robert Knapp, Eddie Little Sky, and Harry Dean Stanton as "Rinty". This is competently made but holds little surprise, suspense or drama. It was unusual to see Dehner top-billed in a movie, almost as strange as seeing Don Gordon as a French go-between with the natives. Stanton, in one of his earliest roles, plays the harmonica.
  17. LawrenceA

    TCM has a new owner

    I've been watching a lot of harder-to-find titles lately, and many of the copies that I've found were recorded off of TNT a long time ago, judging by the occasional on-screen logo. Anyone remember TNT's "Monster-Vision"? I was an HBO subscriber for many years, but dropped it a while ago. I will re-up to watch the last season of Game of Thrones, though. Anyway, I noticed that HBO usually did the modern equivalent of pan-and-scan, wherein they'd "zoom" on the image if a film was 2.40 in order to make it fill up a 16:9 screen. In other words, no black bars. It irritated me, as I prefer the image in the original format, and it's one of the reasons I dropped the channel, along with cost-cutting and lack of interest in their other programming. I never ran into what you're describing, but it doesn't surprise me, either. I'm getting annoyed at the classic TV channels continuing to stretch out old 4:3 show images to try and fill up a 16:9 screen. They all started off by ever-so-slightly zooming in, after which they started stretching the image to the left and right. MeTV has done it so much that the image is finally noticeably distorted, and the left and right black bars are roughly a quarter of their normal width.
  18. LawrenceA

    I Just Watched...

    Reform School Girl (1957) - 5/10 Donna (Gloria Castillo) is a good girl, but after a night in which she's almost sexually assaulted by her step-father (Jack Kruschen) and then is caught in a stolen car that just ran over an old guy, she's sent up the river to reform school. New teacher Mr. Lindsay (Ross Ford) tries to help her, but she's in danger from the psycho (Edd "Kookie" Byrnes) who actually stole the aforementioned car, as he plans on silencing her to avoid getting indicted himself. Also featuring Luana Anders as the tough girl, Yvette Vickers as the mean girl, Jan England, Helen Wallace, Donna Jo Gribble, Diana Darrin, Nesdon Booth, Wayne Taylor, Sharon Lee, and Sally Kellerman in her movie debut. Typical stuff from AIP, notable thanks to the unlikely performance of Byrnes as a killer, and B-movie gals Anders and Vickers.
  19. LawrenceA

    I Just Watched...

    Plunder Road (1957) - 7/10 A group of men pull off a railroad gold heist, but their paranoia and nerves may get the better of them on the long road from the scene of the crime to their hoped-for escape. Starring Gene Raymond, Wayne Morris, Jeanne Cooper, Elisha Cook, Stafford Repp, Steven Ritch, Nora Hayden, and Michael Fox. I was never fond of Raymond, but he's not bad here. In fact, the whole cast is good, although Ritch, who also co-wrote the film, is a bit weak as the most nervous of the bunch. A solid "B" crime picture.
  20. Debra Paget is still around. Edit: james jazzed me!
  21. If I had Hughes money I wouldn't need a station, as I'd just buy everything I wanted on disc. However, my personal choice is that if I owned a movie-centric TV station that was seen by many people (like TCM) I would try not to show the same movie twice for as long as possible.
  22. LawrenceA

    TCM has a new owner

    I've read a few things about other channels, like potentially taking the programming that "works" from TBS and TNT and moving it to HBO, with the plan to make HBO their chief original-programming hub, mostly phasing out movies and focusing on series. TNT would be canceled outright, while TBS would be offered up for sale to potentially return to being an Atlanta-area syndicated channel. The one thing that I never see mentioned is TCM. I don't know of that's a good thing or a bad thing.
  23. LawrenceA

    Actor Luke Perry (1966-2019)

    Co-star of the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie. That and his small bit at the beginning of The Fifth Element were all I'd really seen him in, but I recall what a cultural figure he was during the 1990's to a certain demographic. Sad whenever they die young(ish). I see that he shot a role in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, playing TV actor Wayne Maunder, who died last November.
  24. LawrenceA

    I Just Watched...

    Pickup Alley aka Interpol (1957) - 6/10 American cop Victor Mature travels to Europe on the trail of the man (Trevor Howard) who killed his sister. Mature also meets up Anita Ekberg, who's been caught up in the drug ring run by Howard. Also featuring Bonar Colleano, Dorothy Alison, Andre Morell, Martin Benson, Eric Pohlmann, Peter Illing, Marne Maitland, and Sidney James. Another US/UK co-production from producer Albert R. Broccoli. This drags a bit in places, but Howard is fun to watch as an out-and-out bad guy. Plus, Ekberg.

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