cinemaspeak59

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  1. cinemaspeak59

    what is everyone's favorite war film and why?

    La Grande Illusion (1937) is a powerful anti-war film directed by Jean Renoir. It made an impression on me when I saw it.
  2. cinemaspeak59

    Noir Alley

    I haven't seen the 1931 version in quite a while. I found the 1941 Maltese Falcon dripped with atmosphere, one of the things about it I like most. Astor's performance was very self-conscious, but it suited the film perfectly. Bogart's Sam Spade knew she was untrustworthy, but he still had doubts at the end, or perhaps he pretended to have doubts. The mind games both played against each other were a treat.
  3. cinemaspeak59

    Noir Alley

    I finally got around to watching Odds Against Tomorrow (1959). This is a taut thriller with great acting. The three main performers are all damaged: Robert Ryan as a self-loathing racist drifter; Harry Belafonte as an inveterate gambler in debt to gangsters and separated from his loving wife and daughter; and Ed Begley as the trio’s ring leader, a disgraced cop planning a robbery not so much for the money but to relieve the crushing monotony of his life. The performances are beautifully understated. Ryan’s character taunts Belafonte and Belafonte responds in kind, but it’s all controlled, the actors knowing when to stop to avoid caricatures. The bleak but beautiful photography by Joseph Brun mirrors the film’s fatalistic message. Robert Wise’s flawless direction, a crackling script by blacklisted writer Abraham Polonsky, and the evocative score, juxtaposing breezy jazz and symphonic dread make this a terrific film. As noted by Eddie Muller, this was editor Dede Allen’s first film, and she went on to have an illustrious career, with three Academy Award nominations for editing.
  4. cinemaspeak59

    Movies with descriptive titles

    The Big Short (2015)
  5. cinemaspeak59

    Recently Watched Horror

    The Mummy's Curse (1944). Lackluster installment of Universal’s Mummy films. This was the fifth and last of the original series. We find the undead Mummy, Kharis (Lon Chaney Jr.) in the Louisiana swampland, how he got there from Egypt is weakly explained away as American archeologists accidently looking for Princess Ananka, instead finding the Mummy. Since this is horror, it’s no big deal. The problem is the whole thing looks like something Universal wanted to put out fast and cheap and be done with. The acting is wooden, with bad Cajun accents. Nothing really stands out. The only wrinkle is Ananka’s anthropomorphism. The poor girl is being stalked by jealous boyfriend Kharis, so she hides out with the mortals, amazing everyone with her knowledge of Egyptology! In fact, Kharis isn’t the worst villain; that honor belongs to the High Priest’s acolyte, who becomes drunk with power upon learning the history of the Mummy and the elixir that are tana leaves. There is a positive though: the 63 minute running time.
  6. cinemaspeak59

    "Burnt Offerings" in Bluray

    Same here, it's a well-crafted horror yarn.
  7. cinemaspeak59

    Unheralded Actors Who Deserve Our Admiration

    Yeah, Verree Teasdale was good at playing likeable snobs, and could fill out an evening dress with the best of them. I don’t know if they were necessarily unheralded, but Edward Everett Horton and Eric Blore were great character actors who made every movie they were in better.
  8. cinemaspeak59

    I Just Watched...

    Baby Face (1933). This sexually-charged pre-code features Barbara Stanwyck in one of her best early roles. We’re introduced to her as Lily Powers, a poor unhappy girl slaving away at her father’s bawdily depressing speakeasy, where she must fend off troglodyte males. She hates her brutal father, who pimped her out as a young girl. His death in a fire accident for Lily is liberation. The only person Lily trusts, and cares for, is her African-American maid (Theresa Harris). You can take the lesbian subtext, or you can leave it. A bombastic shoe cobbler (with a forceful rhetoric and cadence not unlike Hitler), aptly named Adolf Cragg, assumes a Svengali-like role, telling Lily to read Nietzsche, and weaponize her body to rise to the top. Lily follows his advice in spades. For there its one sexual conquest after another, first a railroad worker, followed by a string of bank executives. Lily exerts a vice-grip over men, in effect becoming a vampire. Stanwyck’s cold eroticism, that laser-like come-hither stare will come full circle 11 years later in Double Indemnity. Baby Face has murder, suicide, high finance (sort of) and Haute couture, as Lily’s wardrobe, and houses, improve with each rung of the economic ladder she climbs. The third act is the weakest, as Baby Face settles into a cozy, neatly wrapped melodrama. The film can be read as feminist manifesto, a #MeToo clarion call. It’s a portrait of a long-suffering woman turning the tables on the patriarchy, the only practical way she knew how. With George Brent as a wily bank president, and Lily's genuine love interest. Look for John Wayne in an unmemorable bit role. The other performances that stood out are Alphonse Ethier as the aforementioned Adolf Cragg, and a tortured Donald Cook as Ned Stevens, one of several men who meet their downfall in Lily.
  9. cinemaspeak59

    WOULD YOU HAVE DONE THE SAME?

    I know the feeling about cats. I like to think my cat lives with me, but it's more like she's being nice enough to let me live with her.
  10. I just recently listened to Pepper for the first time in a long while. Read the liner notes and Geoff Emerick is mentioned. I didn't know about him walking out of the White Album sessions. Thanks for the info, jakeem. I actually think the White Album, as a straight forward rock record, may be their best work.
  11. cinemaspeak59

    Recently Watched Romantic Comedies

    I don't know if Pillow Talk (1959) is the prototype romantic comedy, but we see it's story-line in today's movies. The single, successful career woman great at her job but unlucky in love. In Pillow Talk, Doris Day plays an interior decorator living in a squeaky-clean New York. Her only problem is a telephone party line she shares with a playboy songwriter, played with droll brilliance by Rock Hudson, who composes Broadway tunes. Day can't help but listening to his insincere sweet talk with women, revolted but fascinated at the same time. And Hudson knows how to push her buttons, in effect telling her to find a man and stop living vicariously through his amorous adventures. They meet by chance at a glamorous nightclub called the COPA del RIO, where Hudson knows her identity, but she doesn't know he's the jerk that's monopolizing her phone. Hudson pretends he's Rex Stetson, an aw-shucks Texan. (I loved the way Hudson keeps referring to Doris’s character as Ma'am, stretching the word out for effect). From there the film becomes a mad romp, sprinkled with delightful sexual banter. (The writing team won an Oscar for original screenplay). Tony Randall and Thelma Ritter provide great supporting work, Randall as Hudson's neurotic best friend (a role he excelled at), and Ritter as Doris's boozing maid. Alan Jenkins, the fine character actor from Hollywood’s golden era, plays an elevator operator. We know how it ends. Spoiler Alert: Happily, ever after. The production design is a beaut: Rock's bachelor pad is a young man's dream, and Doris's wardrobe could serve as a Vogue fashion spread.
  12. cinemaspeak59

    Recently Watched SF & Fantasy

    I think the filmmakers didn’t want to tinker with the formula that worked before. And as you point out, Chris Pratt’s star power makes up for any shortcomings.
  13. cinemaspeak59

    What do you want for Oscars month?

    I'd like to see Ingmar Bergman's The Virgin Spring (1960). It won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
  14. cinemaspeak59

    Recently Watched SF & Fantasy

    The Meg (2018). This is sort of like Jaws (1975) meets Deep Blue Sea (1999), lacking the brilliant psychological horror of the former and not as enjoyably serious as the latter. Jason Statham stars as an underwater daredevil, summoned when a submarine is stranded at the ocean floor. Instead of battling international terrorists, the nemesis is the Megalodon, a 75-foot prehistoric shark. Featuring an international cast, there’s a nice balance of action, humor and romance. Rainn Wilson plays a billionaire hipster who finances an oceanic research mission, but whose motives remain suspect. The special effects could have been better, but overall this is solid escapist entertainment. The Meg has done quite well at the box office, and there’s talk of a sequel.
  15. cinemaspeak59

    Dan Duryea

    All good choices here. I'll just pick three: Too Late for Tears (as TomJH says, he knows when he's met his match), The Woman in the Window (he's playing two roles here) and Winchester 73, a great Western by Anthony Mann

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