LawrenceA

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Everything posted by LawrenceA

  1. LawrenceA

    I Just Watched...

    Dimension 5 (1966) - Spy thriller from United Pictures and director Franklin Adreon. American secret agent Justin Power (Jeffrey Hunter) is teamed with Hong Kong agent Kitty Tsu (France Nuyen) to thwart a Red China terror group known as the Dragon from detonating a hydrogen bomb in Los Angeles. They must find the location of the mysterious crime lord Big Buddha (Harold Sakata), who is also an operative of Dragon, before it's too late. Also featuring Donald Woods, Robert Ito, Linda Ho, David Chow, Bill Walker, Lee Kolima, Deanna Lund, and Jon Lormer. This dollar store version of a James Bond movie is insipid, slow, and occasionally mildly amusing in its ineptitude. The film's big gimmick is the hero's use of cutting edge time travel technology to jump a few seconds or a couple of weeks forward or backward in time. He's warned by Donald Woods, playing the film's Bond boss M stand-in, that overuse of the time tech (housed conveniently in Hunter's wristwatch) could lead to a "time slip", a simplistic plot device to explain why time travel isn't used repeatedly to solve every little issue the hero comes across. Regardless, we never do see any suffer a time slip, unfortunately. Harold "Oddjob" Sakata is an unusual boss villain, appearing in a motorized wheelchair, having all of his dialogue dubbed by Paul Frees, and, in one extended sequence, appearing shirtless. Lee Kolima, who looks a lot like Tor Johnson, plays big henchman Genghis, the kind of role Sakata usually played. (4/10)
  2. LawrenceA

    I Just Watched...

    Irish Eyes Are Smiling (1944) - Technicolor musical biopic from 20th Century Fox and director Gregory Ratoff. The film follows a few years in the life of turn-of-the-century songwriter Ernest R. Ball (Dick Haymes) as he becomes one of the most popular songsmiths of his day. While his manager Edgar Brawley (Monty Woolley) tries to shape young Ball's character, Ernest is more concerned with finding singer-dancer Mary "Irish" O'Neil (June Haver), with whom he's fallen in love only to have her skip town. Also featuring Anthony Quinn, Beverly Whitney, Maxie Rosenbloom, Veda Ann Borg, Clarence Kolb, Eddie Acuff, Arthur Hohl, J. Farrell MacDonald, and Minerva Urecal. The songwriter biopic was big throughout the 40's and early 50's, but this is definitely one of the lesser entries in that sub-genre. There's either little of interest in Ball's actual life story or else the filmmakers couldn't find any, since the man himself is not illuminated in the least. Perhaps some will enjoy hearing his many famous compositions being performed. Quinn, as the film's antagonist, plays a shady Broadway figure. Alas, he doesn't sing. The film received an Oscar nomination for Best Score-Musical (Alfred Newman). (5/10)
  3. In emulation of Tom's Hitchcock thread, and at the request of Sgt."Broken Fingers" Markoff, I'll start this thread to discuss the work of Billy Wilder. Here's a list of his directorial efforts in chronological order, starting with his American directing debut: The Major and the Minor (1942) Five Graves to Cairo (1943) Double Indemnity (1944) The Lost Weekend (1945) Death Mills (1945, Army film) The Emperor Waltz (1948) A Foreign Affair (1948) Sunset Boulevard (1950) Ace in the Hole (1951) Stalag 17 (1953) Sabrina (1954) The Seven Year Itch (1955) The Spirit of St. Louis (1957) Love in the Afternoon (1957) Witness for the Prosecution (1957) Some Like It Hot (1959) The Apartment (1960) One, Two, Three (1961) Irma la Douce (1963) Kiss Me, Stupid (1964) The Fortune Cookie (1966) The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970) Avanti! (1972) The Front Page (1974) Fedora (1978) Buddy Buddy (1981) My personal favorites are Sunset Boulevard, Double Indemnity, Ace in the Hole, Witness for the Prosecution, Stalag 17, The Lost Weekend, and The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, in that order. I've never cared for Wilder's comedies, including The Apartment (merely okay for me), Some Like It Hot (meh), and One, Two, Three (I intensely disliked this one).
  4. LawrenceA

    Noir Alley

    He has a few times in the past, usually after a certain someone unloads some vituperation in his direction.
  5. LawrenceA

    Your Favourite Foreign Language Films from 1984

    I'm not the biggest fan of Japanese anime, but I've seen quite a few of them anyway. Most fans of the genre will name Hayao Miyazaki as the greatest filmmaker in the genre, and the earliest of his films that I've seen is Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. It's unlike many of his later films, which tend to be sentimental, but usually in a good way. This film is more like the traditional stuff one associates with anime of the time. It's a science fiction adventure with bizarre creatures, incredible technology, and unique characters. Much of it will probably seem old-hat nowadays to viewers used to the genre's tropes, but it was quite eye-opening in its day. It was released in the U.S. in a heavily edited version retitled Warriors of the Wind. I saw this version first, as it used to play frequently on HBO in the late 1980's. In fact, it may have been the first feature-length Japanese animation that I ever watched. I enjoyed it, but found it muddled and confused, too. When I later saw the uncut version, I was even more impressed, and it still holds a place in my heart as one my favorites of the genre.
  6. LawrenceA

    I Just Watched...

    Hotel Reserve (1944) - British mystery/thriller from RKO and directors Lance Comfort, Max Greene, and Victor Hanbury. Medical student Peter Vadassy (James Mason) is on holiday on the French coast when he's arrested and accused of being a spy. It seems someone used his camera to take photos of French military installations. Peter is released on lack of evidence, and he sets out to find the person responsible for taking the pictures. He's certain that it's one of the guests staying at the same hotel as he. Also featuring Lucie Mannheim, Herbert Lom, Raymond Lovell, Julien Mitchell, Martin Miller, Clare Hamilton, Frederick Valk, Anthony Shaw, Valentine Dyall, and Patricia Medina. Based on an Eric Ambler work, this is a solid yet unexceptional wartime diversion that features a couple of decent performances. Mason makes for a good wrongly-accused protagonist, and a young Herbert Lom is darkly suave and about as handsome as he'd ever be. There's some evocative camerawork, although some of it overly staged. Clare Hamilton, making her sole film appearance, was Maureen O'Hara's sister. (6/10)
  7. LawrenceA

    I Just Watched...

    Yes,I finally watched that one last year or the year before, I can't recall. I liked it better than Girl Rush, but I still wasn't thrilled with it. I've also seen Genius at Work, Gangway for Tomorrow, and Step Lively with the duo.
  8. LawrenceA

    I Just Watched...

    Girl Rush (1944) - Forgettable western comedy from RKO and director Gordon Douglas. Jerry (Wally Brown) and Mike (Alan Carney) are failed vaudeville performers who decide to cut their losses and instead try to strike it rich as gold prospectors during the California gold rush. The generally inept duo get into all sorts of western-movie scrapes. Also featuring Frances Langford, Barbara Jo Allen, Robert Mitchum, Paul Hurst, Patti Brill, Sarah Padden, John Merton, Byron Foulger, and Cy Kendall. Minor-league comedy from Brown & Carney, a sort of grade "C" Abbott & Costello. Mitchum has a big part as the typical western hero character, with Hurst amusing as his aged sidekick. I've seen worse, but I wouldn't go out of my way to recommend it, either. (5/10)
  9. LawrenceA

    I Just Watched...

    Follow the Boys (1944) - Wartime morale booster musical from Universal Pictures and director A. Edward Sutherland. Former vaudeville dancer Tony West (George Raft) finds Hollywood stardom when he teams with Gloria Vance (Vera Zorina), but their success is interrupted by the outbreak of WWII. Tony devotes his energy to organizing USO shows for troops both stateside and overseas, but it causes strain with his partner. Also featuring Charley Grapewin, Grace McDonald, Charles Butterworth, Ramsay Ames, Elizabeth Patterson, Regis Toomey, and George Macready. Also appearing are dozens of film and radio stars as themselves, including Marlene Dietrich, Orson Welles, Jeannette MacDonald, Donald O'Connor, Peggy Ryan, Dinah Shore, the Andrews Sisters, Sophie Tucker, Arthur Rubinstein, Martha O'Driscoll, Maxie Rosenblum, W.C. Fields, and many more. I've stated before that I'm a sucker for these WWII-era all-star revue type pictures. They're positive, up-tempo looks at the tastes of the time, and the best-foot-forward showmanship is a delight. I thought the same of this one, as the Raft-Zorina plotline is a big nothing, but the various music performances are very enjoyable. Outside of the songs, I also liked a stage-magic performance by Welles with an assist from Dietrich. Fields makes his final film appearance, looking sick and old, performing some of his old billiards gags, a nice callback to his first film appearance in 1915's Pool Sharks. Today being MLK Day, I also have to mention the film's subtle but poignant looks at then-current race relations. During a big confab featuring execs and stars from all of the major Hollywood studios, we see various stars stand up and pledge to help out in the USO-style efforts. At one point we see Louise Beavers declare that she'll do what she can to help, and I noticed that all of the black actors and actresses were segregated into their own section of the auditorium, separate from the white attendees. Later, Raft's character is approached by a black soldier asking for entertainment for his fellow troops. Raft vows to do so, and we cut to Louis Jordan and his band performing for an all-black regiment. Unlike the previously seen white troops, who were seated on bleachers in an amphitheater setting, the black soldiers are all seated on the ground, with the band performing in the back of a pickup truck. It's a stark reminder of the advancements made since this period. This scene does contain one of the film's best moments, though, when it begins to rain and Raft jumps up into the back of the truck and does some exuberant dance moves. The movie earned one Oscar nod, for Best Song ("I Walk Alone"), performed by Dinah Shore. (7/10)
  10. LawrenceA

    Trump's Biggest Whoppers

    And what exactly is it that you think you're doing?
  11. LawrenceA

    NOW I'M REALLY MAD ! ! !

    With all due credit to Swithin, here's his post from the "I Just Watched" thread from last Friday afternoon ET: "I grew up in a building in the Bronx. Barbi's paternal grandparents lived there. Perhaps her father had grown up there as well. In any case, when I was about 14, Barbi (or Barbara), who would have been about the same age, came in from California. Her grandmother (Dora Klein) asked my mother if I would be willing to take Barbi to the New York World's Fair. I declined. I don't know why -- I guess I knew I was gay at that age, but still, it was just a trip to the World's Fair, which I had already been to, and enjoyed very much. On the other hand, who knows what might have developed. Maybe I would have turned straight; and maybe Barbi would never have met Hugh Hefner. In any case, neither of those two possibilities is bloody likely to have happened!"
  12. LawrenceA

    NOW I'M REALLY MAD ! ! !

    I believe that was CigarJoe. From what I know of Swithin, I don't picture him ever having worked in a salvage yard. He did, however, regale us with a tale of almost dating Barbi Benton.
  13. LawrenceA

    I Just Watched...

    The Eve of St. Mark (1944) - WWII drama from 20th Century Fox and director John Stahl. A group of army draftees, including Quizz West (William Eythe), Thomas Mulveroy (Michael O'Shea), and Francis Marion (Vincent Price), try to manage their private lives and personal fears at the outbreak of the war. Also featuring Anne Baxter, Ruth Nelson, Ray Collins, Henry Morgan, Stanley Prager, Robert Bailey, John Archer, Blake Edwards, Arthur Hohl, and Dickie Moore. This was based on a play, and the stage roots show in the static set-pieces and frequent monologues. The film's second half, set in the Philippines, is better than the first, with an exciting finale. I watched this for Vincent Price, an unlikely casting choice in an army film, but he's outstanding as a loquacious southern gentleman with a large vocabulary. I wish this movie was more readily available, as I think this is one of Price's more amusing performances from the '40s. (7/10)
  14. LawrenceA

    And Your Favorite William Wyler Film Is

    Wuthering Heights is an interesting case. I can recall when I was young hearing about the much-vaunted 1939, "The Greatest Year in Movie History". The familiar litany of titles would be mentioned: Gone with the Wind, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Stagecoach, The Wizard of Oz, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Gunga Din, etc. And Wuthering Heights was usually included, too. However, in the past few decades, it seems that Wuthering Heights is mentioned less and less, and I often see people post on here an antipathy for it. Has anyone else noticed this? Is there something about the film that isn't aging well? I saw it once, probably 25+ years ago, and liked it, but I confess to recalling very little from it now.
  15. LawrenceA

    Noir Alley

    Oh, so you're a "man"? And here I thought you were just one particular part of one.
  16. LawrenceA

    GENERAL TRIVIA QUESTION THREAD

    Yes! That was based on the 1953 play by John Van Druten, which was purchased by David O. Selznick as a vehicle for Jennifer Jones. Your thread!
  17. LawrenceA

    I Just Watched...

    Between Two Worlds (1944) - Fantasy drama from Warner Brothers and director Edward A. Blatt. Passengers on an ocean voyage begin to suspect that something about their journey may be amiss. Starring John Garfield as a cynical reporter, Paul Henreid and Eleanor Parker as desperate couple, Sydney Greenstreet, Sara Allgood, George Tobias, George Coulouris, Faye Emerson, Dennis King, Isobel Elsom, Gilbert Emery, and Edmund Gwenn. I'm fairly certain that I saw part or all of this movie many years ago, but it was back before I started keeping track, so I wasn't sure and decided to watch it again to be certain. The sense of deja vu wasn't helped by the fact that I watched the 1930 version Outward Bound last year. I think I may have liked that earlier version better; the more primitive film and sound techniques accentuated the otherworldliness of the piece. However, I still liked this one quite a bit. Greenstreet is a terrific choice for his particular (spoiler) role. I'd have trouble thinking of two movie stars more different than Leslie Howard and John Garfield, each of whom played the reporter roles in the two versions, but they were both very good. Garfield's NY tough guy cynicism brings a welcome reality to the proceedings. Setting the events during the then-current WWII background also adds some more layers to the tale. (7/10)
  18. LawrenceA

    GENERAL TRIVIA QUESTION THREAD

    Two out of three correct, lav.
  19. LawrenceA

    The Fruits of White Supremacy-- Murder and Violence

    In the end, the facts of the situation seem to point to the usual conclusion: they were all acting like fools, and they all could have handled things more appropriately. There are no innocents in this.
  20. LawrenceA

    Noir Alley

    Ditto, twinkletoes.
  21. LawrenceA

    YCMpUYunrttoiam9inn

    Shannon/spence, I get that you may have some technical problems, a bad keyboard, or whatever, and that there may be some health issue involved, as well (you've mentioned debilitating headaches in the past). But my suggestion is to try proofreading your posts before you click the "submit" button. Just take a second to read what you've typed and see if it's intelligible or not before posting it. That's not too difficult, is it? We all make the occasional typo or two, but this is a bit much.
  22. LawrenceA

    Noir Alley

    I'm sure Eddie will be truly heartbroken. As for you jumping out of a plane, please stop getting my hopes up.
  23. LawrenceA

    Your Favourite Foreign Language Films from 1984

    Taoism Drunkard (also released on disc as Drunken Wu Tang) is a completely bonkers martial arts fantasy comedy from director and star Yuen Cheung-Yan. He plays the Drunken Taoist, a buck-toothed alcoholic kung fu master who is forced to face off against the terrifying Master Ruthless (Yuen Shun-Yee). This highly unpredictable film features outrageous "wire-fu" martial arts scenes with characters flying through the air and climbing walls, bizarre creatures like the Watermelon Monster, and Yuen Cheung-Yan in another role as Grandmother, an elderly, pipe-smoking lady who is perhaps the deadliest of all. The tone of this movie is all over the place, from moronic silliness to grisly violence to serious drama and then back to the goofiness again. This is among my favorite martial arts films, but it's not high art, and many will shrink from the craziness of it all. The Drunken Taoist instructs a pupil: Master Ruthless displays his Balls of Fury: The Watermelon Monster says hello:
  24. LawrenceA

    ClassiCategories

    12 Years a Slave (2013) Roots (1977) Mandingo (1975) Django Unchained (2012) Uncle Tom's Cabin (1918) Free State of Jones (2016) Birth of a Nation (1915) Birth of a Nation (2016) Glory (1989)
  25. LawrenceA

    GENERAL TRIVIA QUESTION THREAD

    This film was based on a play, the rights to which were purchased in 1953, although the film wouldn't be filmed and released for 5 more years. It was intended as a star vehicle for Jennifer Jones, but when that fell through, Rex Harrison and Lilli Palmer were tapped to star. That, too, failed to happen, and Cary Grant and Grace Kelly were eyed for the leads. That plan ended when Kelly got married. The female lead went to a rising Columbia star, and the male lead went to a major star with a long career whose last romantic lead this film ended up being. Name the film and the two eventual leads.

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