TopBilled

What movies did you rate a 9 or 10 this month?

26 posts in this topic

September is drawing to a close. The good thing about the IMDb rating system is it keeps track of when you place a score on a title. So I was able to go back and look at my recent scores. Also I could see patterns in what I was watching. I gave a lot of 7's and some 8's. But surprisingly I issued quite a few 9's this month. No 10's, though one film came close.

Listed alphabetically:

THE BOTTOM OF THE BOTTLE (1956). It's a bit slow in the beginning. But that's because we need time to understand the relationship between brothers Van Johnson and Joseph Cotten...and we need to understand the nature of their long-running quarrel. Henry Hathaway's direction is superb, Lee Garmes' cinematography couldn't be better, and it benefits from CinemaScope and glossy Technicolor. The ending will rip your heart out. Ruth Roman, as Cotten's wife, gives what might be her best performance. I loved almost everything about this film. It's a new favorite.

EDGE OF DARKNESS (1943). I'd seen this Errol Flynn war film before, but honestly had never paid enough attention to it. Ann Sheridan is an excellent costar, and all the supporting character actors are at the top of their game, especially Walter Huston and Judith Anderson. It's highly jingoistic and was intended to be nothing else. But Lewis Milestone's direction is so smooth and effective, you can't help but feel something watching it. I was surprised to learn about all the behind-the-scenes turmoil. Somehow it fed into the creative energies, because the film turned out to be a true classic.

HOLIDAY CAMP (1947). Almost a 10. Director Ken Annakin felt it held up very well. And I must say he's right. Flora Robson is heartbreaking. Jack Warner & Kathleen Harrison are hilarious. A good look at postwar British families on holiday. It's high concept and executed perfectly. It felt like a British version of GRAND HOTEL, to be honest. Only better.

LOAN SHARK (1952). I rated this one high. But I'm biased when it comes to George Raft in crime yarns. One reviewer said the film is a dud but Raft pumps some Hollywood glamor into it. I don't think it's a dud. It's a very sharply crafted story about an ex-con setting up some crooks he knows, working undercover with the police. Raft's line deliveries are perfect. He's older, a bit heavier, but it doesn't matter. His sexy scenes with his leading lady give us a unique glimpse into the man. Raft also seems to enjoy working with his male costars and it didn't surprise me he worked with some of them again. I think he had fun making motion pictures. Another reason I gave this one a high score is because the ending is quite suspenseful. The last fifteen minutes more than make up for any dull stretches earlier in the story. It should have had a better title. The title is too generic.

THE MACKINTOSH MAN (1973). I caught this flick on FilmStruck. It's sort of an unheralded gem, so I will gladly bring more attention to it. I think it was made at that point in director John Huston's career where he wasn't concerned about box office, only about effective storytelling. The pacing is very deliberate. It takes its time getting into the story and then getting to the finish, but when it's over you feel like you've really come to know the characters played by Newman and Mason. I didn't want it to end. It was filmed in the U.K., and the scenes where they burn down an old manor house are spectacular.

THE MAN ON THE EIFFEL TOWER (1950). Gosh, there's so much one can say about this film. Burgess Meredith's stamp is all over it, as director and as one of the main characters. But it's really Franchot Tone's film (he starred and co-produced it). It benefits enormously from being filmed on location in Paris. The tower scenes are nail biters. Charles Laughton gives a brilliant, daresay towering, performance as the chief inspector who's trying to pin a strange murder on Tone. It was filmed in Ansco Color, a process that gives the story another dimension. I took voluminous notes and will probably do a lengthy review when I go back to the notes. It's currently on FilmStruck, so check it out!

Screen Shot 2018-09-14 at 8.26.33 AM.jpg

ROLLERBALL (1975). I'm still processing this one. It really stays with you. It took me a long time to finally see it. I was on a James Caan kick for a few days this month and watched three of his films from the 70s. ROLLERBALL is definitive Caan. Kubrick's influence is obvious but it's not a 2001 clone. I think it's a very serious, contemplative thesis on where society was headed. Or rather, where the filmmakers thought society might be headed. Interestingly, it's set in 2018, which is when I watched it. The sequence where Pamela Hensley's character shoots down a bunch of trees is justifiably famous. It doesn't even include Caan or costar John Houseman at all. Their scenes take place indoors and are intercut with what Hensley and her group are doing outside. Maud Adams, as Caan's on-again/off-again wife, makes the most of what is basically an extended cameo. This story has a lot of good ideas. The scenes where the game takes place, an intriguing mixture of athleticism and brutality, give the story much-needed action. But it's really not an action flick. It's a think piece.

SAPPHIRE (1959). I struggled between giving this one an 8 or a 9. Ultimately it did get a 9 for its historical value more than anything else. The dialogue is very progressive for the year in which it was made. The idea that a white woman has been murdered in a British neighborhood but was really a black woman passing as white opens up a whole can of worms. The performances are strong and Basil Dearden's direction is nearly flawless. The film's strongest attribute is its frank dialogue but it's also its greatest weakness, because honestly I don't think everyone talks about race so openly. It would have been nice to have some things shown to us instead of just always being told to us in the precinct scenes.

THE STREET WITH NO NAME (1948). I watched this one because I'm a fan of Mark Stevens and hadn't seen any of his films in a while. He's incredibly laid back, it's almost like he's not really acting at all. He smokes an awful lot in this picture. There's seldom a scene where he doesn't light a cigarette. But it adds to the character. As far as Fox's semi-documentary noir goes, this one is among the best. The unflinching portrayal of police corruption puts the picture in a special category, especially for that time when law enforcement was often glorified in movies. The gritty street scenes in a skid row area, as well as the climactic finale in an old abandoned warehouse give it an extra boost. Lloyd Nolan is also on hand as Stevens' boss when Stevens is undercover.

WOMAN OF THE YEAR (1942). I was on a Tracy-Hepburn kick and realized I'd never seen this film before. Correction, I'd seen the last ten minutes but not really the whole movie. It's different viewing something where you already know what will happen in the last ten minutes. I've written a full review on this film which I will be publishing in October on the Essentials thread.

YANGTSE INCIDENT (1957). A British war film with Richard Todd in the lead. This one takes place during the Korean war and is based on a true story. It's a little over the top at times but Todd's sincere performance anchors it. The studio's production values are superb, and they filmed scenes on the actual ship before it was destroyed. 

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26 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

THE STREET WITH NO NAME (1948). I watched this one because I'm a fan of Mark Stevens and hadn't seen any of his films in a while. He's incredibly laid back, it's almost like he's not really acting at all. He smokes an awful lot in this picture. There's seldom a scene where he doesn't light a cigarette. But it adds to the character. As far as Fox's semi-documentary noir goes, this one is among the best. The unflinching portrayal of police corruption puts the picture in a special category, especially for that time when law enforcement was often glorified in movies. The gritty street scenes in a skid row area, as well as the climactic finale in an old abandoned warehouse give it an extra boost. Lloyd Nolan is also on hand as Stevens' boss when Stevens is undercover.

This film is fantastic. One of three excellent films my favorite actor, Richard Widmark, made in 1948. The other two being ROAD HOUSE and YELLOW SKY.

How do you go about deciding what to rate a film? I tend to avoid giving numbers and grades to films, because it feels too arbitrary to decide on a specific marker. Is there some sort of process you have, or do you just rate it what feels right at the time?

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8 minutes ago, Spritz Nipper said:

This film is fantastic. One of three excellent films my favorite actor, Richard Widmark, made in 1948. The other two being ROAD HOUSE and YELLOW SKY.

How do you go about deciding what to rate a film? I tend to avoid giving numbers and grades to films, because it feels too arbitrary to decide on a specific marker. Is there some sort of process you have, or do you just rate it what feels right at the time?

Good question. Sometimes I re-grade a film when I watch it again later. 

I am not a person who gives anything less than a 7. If something is not very good, I just skip it and leave the negative comments to other viewers. I like to focus on films that make a positive impact.

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The Bookshop, a film just released here in New York.

It is set in the late 1950s in a little English village. A widow (Emily Mortimer) wants to open up a bookshop but a snooty rich woman (Patricia Clarkson) wants to use the property for an art center. Bill Nighy plays an old hermit like character who becomes an ally to Mortimer because he is one of the few people in the village who is an avid book reader.

This is a fascinating look at times gone past with great performances from all. Also it's a must for book lovers.

 

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1 hour ago, Det Jim McLeod said:

The Bookshop, a film just released here in New York.

It is set in the late 1950s in a little English village. A widow (Emily Mortimer) wants to open up a bookshop but a snooty rich woman (Patricia Clarkson) wants to use the property for an art center. Bill Nighy plays an old hermit like character who becomes an ally to Mortimer because he is one of the few people in the village who is an avid book reader.

This is a fascinating look at times gone past with great performances from all. Also it's a must for book lovers.

Sounds interesting. I am guessing it has the predictable ending of Clarkson's character experiencing an epiphany and coming round to the other side?

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1 hour ago, TopBilled said:

Sounds interesting. I am guessing it has the predictable ending of Clarkson's character experiencing an epiphany and coming round to the other side?

I don't want to spoil it, but it takes some turns you won't expect.

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21 minutes ago, Det Jim McLeod said:

I don't want to spoil it, but it takes some turns you won't expect.

Okay. Clarkson's a decent actress. I've been a fan of hers for a while.

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The Man Who Would Be King (1975)

Gave it a 9/10 and the way I feel about it is like when I watched North By Northwest for the first time, and both first times were absolutely amazing. Two massive stars that drive it forward and compel you to watch, wildly entertaining from comedy to action to a grand adventure and good old fashioned mutton chops with plenty of chemistry to spare. Even the title sounds grand! 

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I am somewhat tardy but I want to get my two cents in on this topic.  I want to give a 9 out of 10 for the "Black Swan", a film starring Tyrone Power and gorgeous Maureen O'Hara.  I have never seen this title on TCM but I am so glad I have now.  Action, Adventure, Love-hate relationship between Power and O'Hara, great supporting actors in Thomas Mitchell, Anthony Quinn, and George Sanders.  The best aspect about this flick is a lot was done in this film in a little under 90 minutes.  I am looking forward to seeing this film again.  It's a favorite of mine now.

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The Candidate (1972). Long heard about; long been interested in; but always sorta felt I would be able to predict the story whether I ever saw it or not. Boy was I wrong. For a fan of Redford (as an actor or an American) its a field-day. A really juicy, meaty role with a fairly heavy acting load which he carries on his shoulders. He soldiers through it without backing down from any scene. Seems to be--as with several others in his career--a project which was close to his heart.

He's generous with other actors; allowing them to shine. That supporting cast by the way, is adroit--not only Melvyn Douglas and Kenneth Tobey but Peter Boyle, Allen Garfield, and Michael Lerner--you might say a triumvirate of three great, 1970s "sleazy-looking-character" actors.

And here in this assignment, Redford also shows what I think is trademark about his best roles: he 'exposes the warts' in his character. He shows that even though his characters may have good looks, they can still be puny and small. McQueen never did this.

The flick is a watershed of American politics. Michael Ritchie also directs Redford in my #1 favorite sports film ('Downhill Racer') which is full of action. But I never realized how good he could really be with a traditional, acting-intensive story. The picture is swift and depthful, rivetingly edited and paced. Incisive and biting and funny and realistic.

Flaws? The photography sometimes was too close on the actor's faces and some of them were a little sweaty.

p.s. HILARIOUS cameo by Natalie Wood playing...herself!

10/10

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I enjoy reading what others are posting on the thread.

The month is half over and I've only rated five films a score of 9. 

I've been watching some classic TV shows, and I did give a 1973 installment of The Streets of San Francisco a 10. It was Season 1, Episode 21 "The House on Hyde Street." Lew Ayres plays an old junk collector who looks after an insane brother. Some kids break into their home one day and a boy gets killed (accidentally), but a group of neighborhood parents think the old men murdered the boy. Ayres did a great job in his role; the story could easily have been expanded into a feature-length movie.

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'MacKintosh Man' is a flick I haven't thought about in a while although I've seen it televised 2-3 occasions. It's interesting enough as far as it goes--certainly not lacking in hidden merits. Source novel is 'The Freedom Trap' by reputed thriller author Desmond Bagely. Bagely was one of the three most prolific British thriller scribblers to come out of WWII (Alistair MaClean and Hammond Innes, being the other two). All three men used their wartime experience to pen vigorous, muscular, outdoor action adventure.

The movie: it's easy to forget it's a John Huston production; seems very subdued and down-beat and humorless. Paul Newman pulls his weight in the flick; playing it cool and hard and terse. His agent is summed up this way: a guy who likes to pay back however he is treated. He doesn't turn the other cheek. Anyway, the camera is on Newman constantly. He certainly has a couple memorable scenes as his character deliberately goes undercover in an English prison to infiltrate a ring which breaks spies out of jail for pay. 

By the way, this plot echoes the infamous real life 1961 escape from Wormwood Scrubs of KGB mole George Blake--may have influenced the novel itself.  (You remember that prison from 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy'.)

What I like best in the movie--aside from the hilarious groin-kicking scene--is the presence of one of my very favorite actors; the marvelous Ian Bannen. There's just something about Bannen which always proves reassuring. He's solid in everything; facile at playing sniveling weaklings as well as toughs.

By mid-story, his character and Newman's play interminable games of chess together as they wait in a lonely country house for the next stage of their combined escape. Then comes the engaging Newman escape--echoing 'Cool Hand Luke' and the remarkable country house going up in flames. Cinematography well done indeed.

The story moves to the Mediterranean and in the denouement--where govt minister James Mason is revealed as the ringleader, and the two men are headed off to Russia--Ian Bannen's character puts it squarely to Newman: if no harm has been done, who is he to judge these spies?

And this is the most interesting point in the story, I reckon. The tough and unforgiving agent Newman plays, decides the escaping spies are right. No harm was done, so why murder them? Its a very intriguing little moment; and recalls other Newman movies ('Harper', 'Drowning Pool').

For all that I've just said, the film is strangely forgettable. Maybe if the final scene had taken place in a more exotic location. That might've helped. Or, if there had been some gratuitous female nudity--this flick is a sausage fest. Almost entirely male. Oh well. A pic like this reminds you why the James Bond franchise works so well. Explosions and breasts do matter, sometimes. I'd watch 'MacKintosh' again but not really with ...excitement. More so just for Ian Bannen.

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I don't really watch EVERYTHING shown on TCM, and usually tune in for something I'm more familiar with, and sometimes to see something I haven't before. 

But too, it depends on whether or not it sounds interesting to me(based on the posted summary).  And I either like them or not, and never bother with "rating" them.  After all, "each to there own" and all that, and MY "10" might be another's "1".  or vice-versa.  ;)

Sepiatone

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On ‎9‎/‎28‎/‎2018 at 9:54 AM, TopBilled said:

September is drawing to a close. The good thing about the IMDb rating system is it keeps track of when you place a score on a title. So I was able to go back and look at my recent scores. Also I could see patterns in what I was watching. I gave a lot of 7's and some 8's. But surprisingly I issued quite a few 9's this month. No 10's, though one film came close.

Listed alphabetically:

THE BOTTOM OF THE BOTTLE (1956). It's a bit slow in the beginning. But that's because we need time to understand the relationship between brothers Van Johnson and Joseph Cotten...and we need to understand the nature of their long-running quarrel. Henry Hathaway's direction is superb, Lee Garmes' cinematography couldn't be better, and it benefits from CinemaScope and glossy Technicolor. The ending will rip your heart out. Ruth Roman, as Cotten's wife, gives what might be her best performance. I loved almost everything about this film. It's a new favorite.

EDGE OF DARKNESS (1943). I'd seen this Errol Flynn war film before, but honestly had never paid enough attention to it. Ann Sheridan is an excellent costar, and all the supporting character actors are at the top of their game, especially Walter Huston and Judith Anderson. It's highly jingoistic and was intended to be nothing else. But Lewis Milestone's direction is so smooth and effective, you can't help but feel something watching it. I was surprised to learn about all the behind-the-scenes turmoil. Somehow it fed into the creative energies, because the film turned out to be a true classic.

HOLIDAY CAMP (1947). Almost a 10. Director Ken Annakin felt it held up very well. And I must say he's right. Flora Robson is heartbreaking. Jack Warner & Kathleen Harrison are hilarious. A good look at postwar British families on holiday. It's high concept and executed perfectly. It felt like a British version of GRAND HOTEL, to be honest. Only better.

LOAN SHARK (1952). I rated this one high. But I'm biased when it comes to George Raft in crime yarns. One reviewer said the film is a dud but Raft pumps some Hollywood glamor into it. I don't think it's a dud. It's a very sharply crafted story about an ex-con setting up some crooks he knows, working undercover with the police. Raft's line deliveries are perfect. He's older, a bit heavier, but it doesn't matter. His sexy scenes with his leading lady give us a unique glimpse into the man. Raft also seems to enjoy working with his male costars and it didn't surprise me he worked with some of them again. I think he had fun making motion pictures. Another reason I gave this one a high score is because the ending is quite suspenseful. The last fifteen minutes more than make up for any dull stretches earlier in the story. It should have had a better title. The title is too generic.

THE MACKINTOSH MAN (1973). I caught this flick on FilmStruck. It's sort of an unheralded gem, so I will gladly bring more attention to it. I think it was made at that point in director John Huston's career where he wasn't concerned about box office, only about effective storytelling. The pacing is very deliberate. It takes its time getting into the story and then getting to the finish, but when it's over you feel like you've really come to know the characters played by Newman and Mason. I didn't want it to end. It was filmed in the U.K., and the scenes where they burn down an old manor house are spectacular.

THE MAN ON THE EIFFEL TOWER (1950). Gosh, there's so much one can say about this film. Burgess Meredith's stamp is all over it, as director and as one of the main characters. But it's really Franchot Tone's film (he starred and co-produced it). It benefits enormously from being filmed on location in Paris. The tower scenes are nail biters. Charles Laughton gives a brilliant, daresay towering, performance as the chief inspector who's trying to pin a strange murder on Tone. It was filmed in Ansco Color, a process that gives the story another dimension. I took voluminous notes and will probably do a lengthy review when I go back to the notes. It's currently on FilmStruck, so check it out!

Screen Shot 2018-09-14 at 8.26.33 AM.jpg

ROLLERBALL (1975). I'm still processing this one. It really stays with you. It took me a long time to finally see it. I was on a James Caan kick for a few days this month and watched three of his films from the 70s. ROLLERBALL is definitive Caan. Kubrick's influence is obvious but it's not a 2001 clone. I think it's a very serious, contemplative thesis on where society was headed. Or rather, where the filmmakers thought society might be headed. Interestingly, it's set in 2018, which is when I watched it. The sequence where Pamela Hensley's character shoots down a bunch of trees is justifiably famous. It doesn't even include Caan or costar John Houseman at all. Their scenes take place indoors and are intercut with what Hensley and her group are doing outside. Maud Adams, as Caan's on-again/off-again wife, makes the most of what is basically an extended cameo. This story has a lot of good ideas. The scenes where the game takes place, an intriguing mixture of athleticism and brutality, give the story much-needed action. But it's really not an action flick. It's a think piece.

SAPPHIRE (1959). I struggled between giving this one an 8 or a 9. Ultimately it did get a 9 for its historical value more than anything else. The dialogue is very progressive for the year in which it was made. The idea that a white woman has been murdered in a British neighborhood but was really a black woman passing as white opens up a whole can of worms. The performances are strong and Basil Dearden's direction is nearly flawless. The film's strongest attribute is its frank dialogue but it's also its greatest weakness, because honestly I don't think everyone talks about race so openly. It would have been nice to have some things shown to us instead of just always being told to us in the precinct scenes.

THE STREET WITH NO NAME (1948). I watched this one because I'm a fan of Mark Stevens and hadn't seen any of his films in a while. He's incredibly laid back, it's almost like he's not really acting at all. He smokes an awful lot in this picture. There's seldom a scene where he doesn't light a cigarette. But it adds to the character. As far as Fox's semi-documentary noir goes, this one is among the best. The unflinching portrayal of police corruption puts the picture in a special category, especially for that time when law enforcement was often glorified in movies. The gritty street scenes in a skid row area, as well as the climactic finale in an old abandoned warehouse give it an extra boost. Lloyd Nolan is also on hand as Stevens' boss when Stevens is undercover.

WOMAN OF THE YEAR (1942). I was on a Tracy-Hepburn kick and realized I'd never seen this film before. Correction, I'd seen the last ten minutes but not really the whole movie. It's different viewing something where you already know what will happen in the last ten minutes. I've written a full review on this film which I will be publishing in October on the Essentials thread.

YANGTSE INCIDENT (1957). A British war film with Richard Todd in the lead. This one takes place during the Korean war and is based on a true story. It's a little over the top at times but Todd's sincere performance anchors it. The studio's production values are superb, and they filmed scenes on the actual ship before it was destroyed. 

Sorry my friend, but like almost all the greatest critics, authors & historians I still & always have rated flix from (O-to 4) started in either the 1920's & or 1930's think it was Almanac, Daily News, Variety

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3 hours ago, spence said:

Sorry my friend, but like almost all the greatest critics, authors & historians I still & always have rated flix from (O-to 4) started in either the 1920's & or 1930's think it was Almanac, Daily News, Variety

The hundreds of thousands of people who use the IMDb each year rate them from 1 to 10. And many of the reviews on the IMDb are just as great and well-written, maybe even better, than what's turned out by the critics/authors/historians you mention. :) 

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October is drawing to a close. I looked back at my scores on the IMDb. I watched more classic television episodes this month than I did classic films. Most of the films I watched were British ones. I issued some 7's and 8's, but there were some 9's. No 10's.

Listed alphabetically:

Screen Shot 2018-10-30 at 12.01.52 PM.png

THE CARETAKER (1963). I gave this one a 7, bumped it up to an 8, then bumped it up to a 9. I don't think it's a 10, however. It's a film that kind of fooled me. It leaves you cold after the initial viewing, then it works its magic on you in retrospect. At least it did me. Based on Harold Pinter's play of the same name, the film features three main characters-- played by Donald Pleasence, Alan Bates & Robert Shaw. Pleasence and Bates recreate their stage roles, so they know their characters inside out. But Shaw does a tremendous job, too. In some ways this sort of drama feels inspired by Tennessee Williams. It's like a kitchen sink version of Williams, where everything is simple, yet oh-so-complex. Most of it is filmed in an actual flat, so there are no studio sets. The walls of a tiny bedroom where much of the action takes place, seem to close in on the characters. It's a bleak and thoughtful piece of cinema. It really is a film that has to tell you what it is upon reflection, days after you've first viewed it.

THE CLAIRVOYANT (1935). I just watched it last night. I remembered seeing it on Netflix about ten years ago, and knew it was good, but forgotten how good. One reviewer says the contrived plot is bolstered considerably by Claude Rains. I agree. You actually believe he has these strange supernatural powers. It doesn't feel hokey at all, because his acting is so strong and genuine. Fay Wray crossed the Atlantic to make this British flick, and she's superb too. It's a shame she and Rains never did another picture together. Her close-ups are amazing...she has a perfect way of letting a tear collect in the corner of her eye, then tilting her head ever so slightly so it just cascades down her cheek. I don't think anyone else cries on camera so elegantly.

THE DEFENSE RESTS (1934). This was the only Hollywood picture I gave a 9. It's a modest little courtroom drama from Columbia, starring Jean Arthur and Jack Holt. In fact Holt receives top billing and is clearly the driving force of this picture. But Arthur is just so wonderfully demure and understated that you can't really take your eyes off her. I think the story is highly improbable in spots, and Holt's character is a bit too much of a cad to make a 180-degree turn at the end and suddenly become likable and romantic. But the relationship that develops between the two main characters is certainly interesting to watch.

GREAT DAY (1945). I wrote a review on this film a year ago and for some reason I wanted to watch it again. I'm glad I did. It moves rather slowly in the beginning, which is a good thing, because you get a chance to know the main inhabitants of a rural British village. Namely the women, led by Flora Robson, who are anticipating a visit from Eleanor Roosevelt during the last days of the war. It's kind of soapy in spots; most of the women have emotional hurdles to overcome before the end, but they all do it so grandly. There's a strong sense of community, and the on-location filming adds to its realness. 

THE GREENGAGE SUMMER (1961). I wanted to give this one a 10. But I couldn't get past the fact that Kenneth More is just too old to play this kind of romantic figure. Susannah York, in her first major role, agreed with the director that Dirk Bogarde should have played the lead. In addition to his age, More is also too likable to play a jewel thief who takes advantage of a 16 year old and falls in love with her along the way. The scenery is gorgeous in this picture, and Danielle Darrieux has a showy role as a cold-hearted proprietress who's jealous of York and wants More to herself. Despite More's miscasting, this film helps us see why he was such a good performer. With skillful acting he manages to create a memorable character, even if his physique and temperament is at odds with what the writer intended. This is a unique not-quite-perfect movie. Something you can watch and really savor. I have a feeling it appeals more to a female audience.

THE OCTOBER MAN (1947). Close to a 10. I think this is probably my favorite British noir. John Mills is always great at playing an everyman type character. In this instance, he's a guy readjusting to life after a violent accident. His brain is a bit haywire, but he's struggling to find balance. Along the way he's accused of murdering someone in an apartment building where he's taken up lodging. It's a very atmospheric picture, and many of the scenes have minimal lighting. Several sequences take place outside at night. There are a lot of silent pauses between the lines, suggesting the characters are thinking about more than they're saying. It's a haunting story of redemption, and Mills is magnificent from start to finish.

Screen Shot 2018-10-30 at 12.00.55 PM.png

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November is drawing to a close. I looked back at my scores on the IMDb. I was tougher on my grading this time around (or else I watched a lot of mediocre films) but I only have three titles that I gave a 9 on the IMDb. No 10's.

They are:

screen-shot-2018-11-30-at-2-49-43-pm.jpg

THE DEMI-PARADISE (1943). I'd seen this one a few times before, but I never really paid much attention to it. It's a smartly written and directed piece of wartime propaganda. Of course, Laurence Olivier is fabulous in the main role as a Russian inventor, of all things. He seems to be having fun playing such an eccentric, ethnic character and does it so well, and so tongue-in-cheek, that it's easy to overlook his obvious "miscasting" as this character. I think he plays the romantic scenes rather straightforwardly and you do get a sense of a real person struggling to find his place in a chaotic and changing world. The supporting cast is equally brilliant, including Margaret Rutherford and Felix Aylmer.

THIS HAPPY BREED (1944). I watched this one on Thanksgiving. It was a treat. I remembered seeing it on TCM years ago, but I'd forgotten how enjoyable it was. It starts slowly and so simply works its magic on the viewer, that you can't believe halfway into it just how utterly absorbing it is. Not sure if it was an authentic presentation of the British middle class between the two world wars, but it felt realistic. The performances are excellent, especially from Celia Johnson and Robert Newton as the parents. Newton is much more subdued here than in his other films. John Mills has a good early supporting role, as a guy courting one of their daughters. But it's the film's very British identity and its flawless use of Technicolor which makes it must-see. 

THE LADYKILLERS (1955). Oh how I wanted to give this one a 10. I just couldn't, because though it is well-written and superbly played, I think the film is a little too busy. It sort of becomes caught up in its own cleverness and the increasingly frenetic twists and turns that inevitably take place, especially during the last part. And I thought a key sequence on the rooftop and then along the railroad tracks went too far over the top, quite literally, to the point where it lost a lot of believability. The film is much better in the first two-thirds of the narrative, where we see the sweet old woman duped by the men, and we understand how the relationships between the men work when they're about to pull off a con. In short, it works best as a character-driven piece, not a wild and woolly exercise in slapstick which it becomes at the end. Still it's highly entertaining and fun to watch.

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1 hour ago, TopBilled said:

THIS HAPPY BREED (1944). I watched this one on Thanksgiving. It was a treat. I remembered seeing it on TCM years ago, but I'd forgotten how enjoyable it was. It starts slowly and so simply works its magic on the viewer, that you can't believe halfway into it just how utterly absorbing it is. Not sure if it was an authentic presentation of the British middle class between the two world wars, but it felt realistic. The performances are excellent, especially from Celia Johnson and Robert Newton as the parents. Newton is much more subdued here than in his other films. John Mills has a good early supporting role, as a guy courting one of their daughters. But it's the film's very British identity and its flawless use of Technicolor which makes it must-see. 

THE LADYKILLERS (1955). Oh how I wanted to give this one a 10. I just couldn't, because though it is well-written and superbly played, I think the film is a little too busy. It sort of becomes caught up in its own cleverness and the increasingly frenetic twists and turns that inevitably take place, especially during the last part. And I thought a key sequence on the rooftop and then along the railroad tracks went too far over the top, quite literally, to the point where it lost a lot of believability. The film is much better in the first two-thirds of the narrative, where we see the sweet old woman duped by the men, and we understand how the relationships between the men work when they're about to pull off a con. In short, it works best as a character-driven piece, not a wild and woolly exercise in slapstick which it becomes at the end. Still it's highly entertaining and fun to watch.

My favorite scene in THE LADYKILLERS is when the con men are all trying to pile into that little phone booth. Hilarious!😄

THIS HAPPY BREED is one of my favorite films of any era. I like how you described it as being "utterly absorbing."

I love the creative use of the camera panning through the family's garden to signify the passing of time (David Lean, of course, does this in a few of his films but here it just stands out more.)

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I saw 10 and The Ten, but gave neither a 9 or a 10.

I also saw 9 and Nine, but gave neither a 9 or a 10.

However, I did see Seven, and gave that a 9.

(Full disclosure: none of the above were watched this month)

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15 minutes ago, sagebrush said:

My favorite scene in THE LADYKILLERS is when the con men are all trying to pile into that little phone booth. Hilarious!😄

THIS HAPPY BREED is one of my favorite films of any era. I like how you described it as being "utterly absorbing."

I love the creative use of the camera panning through the family's garden to signify the passing of time (David Lean, of course, does this in a few of his films but here it just stands out more.)

There is a lot of fluid camera movement inside the house, too, moving through the rooms upstairs, down the stairs to the front door. At first I thought they filmed those shots inside a miniature replica of the house, but then the actors come in and out of the shots, so I don't think it was any sort of "trick" photography. It's an expertly staged film.

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I want to give a nine out of ten to the Glenda Farrell/Joan Blondell vehicle "Havana Widows".  Rapid-fire dialogue, wise-cracks and one-liners galore, a great comedy.  Supporting actor Allen Jenkins always gives a great performance.   While watching "Havana Widows" I could not help to think how if one of the roles had gone to Thelma Todd if this would have been a better picture.     

I also want to give "Trouble In Paradise" a ten.  Perfect film to display the prominent "Lubitsch Touch".   The film gets you laughing from the outset with the garbage-man singing "O Sole Mio" in the night when he begins to sail down the river in his gondola piled with garbage.  Miriam Hopkins and Kay Francis are delightful in this masterpiece.  A great supporting cast headed by Edward Everett Norton, Charlie Ruggles, and C. Aubrey Smith.

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9 hours ago, thomasterryjr said:

I want to give a nine out of ten to the Glenda Farrell/Joan Blondell vehicle "Havana Widows".  Rapid-fire dialogue, wise-cracks and one-liners galore, a great comedy.  Supporting actor Allen Jenkins always gives a great performance.   While watching "Havana Widows" I could not help to think how if one of the roles had gone to Thelma Todd if this would have been a better picture.     

I also want to give "Trouble In Paradise" a ten.  Perfect film to display the prominent "Lubitsch Touch".   The film gets you laughing from the outset with the garbage-man singing "O Sole Mio" in the night when he begins to sail down the river in his gondola piled with garbage.  Miriam Hopkins and Kay Francis are delightful in this masterpiece.  A great supporting cast headed by Edward Everett Norton, Charlie Ruggles, and C. Aubrey Smith.

Thanks for sharing your selections. It's been awhile since I've seen TROUBLE IN PARADISE. My favorite Lubitsch films are BLUEBEARD'S EIGHTH WIFE and HEAVEN CAN WAIT. And of course THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER.

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13 hours ago, thomasterryjr said:

I want to give a nine out of ten to the Glenda Farrell/Joan Blondell vehicle "Havana Widows".  Rapid-fire dialogue, wise-cracks and one-liners galore, a great comedy.  Supporting actor Allen Jenkins always gives a great performance.   While watching "Havana Widows" I could not help to think how if one of the roles had gone to Thelma Todd if this would have been a better picture.     

I also want to give "Trouble In Paradise" a ten.  Perfect film to display the prominent "Lubitsch Touch".   The film gets you laughing from the outset with the garbage-man singing "O Sole Mio" in the night when he begins to sail down the river in his gondola piled with garbage.  Miriam Hopkins and Kay Francis are delightful in this masterpiece.  A great supporting cast headed by Edward Everett Norton, Charlie Ruggles, and C. Aubrey Smith.

I might have liked "Havana Widows" more if it wasn't an obvious remake of 1930's "Life of the Party" starring Winnie Lightner and Irene Delroy, two early talking actresses who had seen their day by 1933. The contrast between the two actresses in "Life of the Party" is much better than Havana Widows. Lightner is like Farrell - the fast talking one. Irene Delroy is the sweet one, the one just going along with Lightner's schemes.

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18 minutes ago, calvinnme said:

I might have liked "Havana Widows" more if it wasn't an obvious remake of 1930's "Life of the Party" starring Winnie Lightner and Irene Delroy, two early talking actresses who had seen their day by 1933. The contrast between the two actresses in "Life of the Party" is much better than Havana Widows. Lightner is like Farrell - the fast talking one. Irene Delroy is the sweet one, the one just going along with Lightner's schemes.

Can't you rate the later film on its own terms, without comparing it to the earlier one? Just curious. 

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33 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

Can't you rate the later film on its own terms, without comparing it to the earlier one? Just curious. 

In WB's case, where they made such a habit of recycling certain plots in the 30s and 40s, no I usually can't.  I got eggs and tomatoes pelted at me for going after "A Star is Born" because it is the 5th incarnation of this film and not that different from the 4th version made in 1976. I do give high marks to "Gold Diggers of 1933" although it is a retread of "Gold Diggers of Broadway" (1929). The film portion of the original is 90% lost, although the soundtrack still survives.  The 1933 version has Busby Berkeley who revolutionized filmed choreography, and plus sound had come a long way in just four years.

P.S. No ASIB is the 5th version. There are the films by the same name from 1937, 1954, and 1976, and then there is "What Price Hollywood?" from 1932 which is basically the same story. I have no idea how the rights ultimately migrated to Warner Brothers.

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