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I Just Watched...

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Romance of a Horsethief (1971) - Forgettable European adventure romp, released by Allied Artists and directed by Abraham Polonsky. In circa 1904 Polish Russia, the Czar has tasked Cossack Captain Stoloff (Yul Brynner) with requisitioning all of the horses he can for use in the Russo-Japanese War. This puts him at odds with a local group of Jewish peasants, led by Kifke (Eli Wallach), who trade in stolen horses. Brash young horse thief Zanvill (Oliver Tobias) is the most accomplished of the lot, and while that makes him a target for Stoloff, it doesn't help when Zanvill begins a romance with local noblewoman Naomi (Jane Birkin), just returned from France with revolutionary ideals. Also featuring Lainie Kazan, David Opatoshu, Henri Serre, Linda Veras, Marilu Tolo, and Serge Gainsbourg.

This was scripted by Opatoshu, and based on a novel by his father, a famous Yiddish writer. Opatoshu should be familiar to anyone who watched any television from the 1960's. This movie plays like a mash-up of two other 1971 releases, Fiddler on the Roof and Nicholas & Alexandra, and lacquered in a Tom Jones veneer. Tobias is the lead (he gets an "introducing" credit), and he was a noted theater star in Great Britain at the time. Both he and Birkin get overshadowed when any of their more notable co-stars are on screen, and the cast is unusual. Brynner and Wallach get to relive their Magnificent Seven days, while Kazan and Gainsbourg seem dropped in from another planet.   (5/10)

Source: TCM. The print was lousy, seemingly leftover from the 4:3 VHS release.

MPW-37232

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Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017) This one's a keeper, quirky story reminded me of a Coen Bro's film 8/10

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Been a long time since I've seen it.

"Pet Sematary" (1989) on El Rey

Does anyone wants Steven King preside over our funeral?:lol:

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5 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

Romance of a Horsethief (1971) - Forgettable European adventure romp, released by Allied Artists and directed by Abraham Polonsky. In circa 1904 Polish Russia, the Czar has tasked Cossack Captain Stoloff (Yul Brynner) with requisitioning all of the horses he can for use in the Russo-Japanese War.

The thing that struck me from both this & the earlier presentation of The Journey, was the predilection Yul's characters seemed to have for munching on glasses whilst/after drinking from them.

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NickAndNora said:I saw this back when it first was released in theaters, and the clown (Pennywise) scared me so much that I had to sleep with the lights on for a week.

Uh oh, that happened to me after seeing THE SHINING when first released at a theater. Hopefully, watching IT at home on a TV will minimize the scariness. My other "trick" is to fast forward through intense scenes, or just watch it without sound. Tom Savini taught me this-he said you won't be effected by violence as much if watching without sound-you'll then view it as a visual "special effect".

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12 hours ago, NickAndNora34 said:

I saw this back when it first was released in theaters, and the clown (Pennywise) scared me so much that I had to sleep with the lights on for a week. I'm a huge wimp when it comes to "scary" movies (unless they were made in the 50s, then I can handle them). 

There's nothing wimpy about being scared by clowns. It's normal.

While I'm at it it would be much appreciated if people would stop posting pictures of clowns on this thread. Thank you.

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Love Before Breakfast (1936) - Undistinguished romantic comedy from Universal Pictures and director Walter Lang. Scott Miller (Preston Foster) is a wealthy business tycoon who is infatuated with socialite Kay Colby (Carole Lombard). When she becomes engaged to Bill Wadsworth (Cesar Romero), Scott has some strings pulled to get Bill sent to Japan for work. During his absence, Scott sets out to win Kay's affections. Also featuring Janet Beecher, Betty Lawford, Richard Carle, Forrester Harvey, Joyce Compton, and E.E. Clive.

Strictly routine stuff, although seeing Foster as the lead in a rom-com is unusual. Both he and Lombard are good, even if many of the situations would be deemed lawsuit-worthy, if not downright creepy, applied to real-life in the modern world. This is also the second 1936 film I've watched in less than a week where laughs are expected from the female lead getting a black eye.  (6/10)

Source: Universal DVD, part of the Carole Lombard: The Glamour Collection.

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The Murder of Dr. Harrigan (1936) - Quickie B-picture mystery from Warner Brothers/First National and director Frank McDonald. When a hospital administrator who has taken the credit for inventing a new miracle anesthetic goes missing while awaiting surgery, it starts a manhunt throughout the facility, one which uncovers the corpse of the doctor who was slated to perform the operation. The police are called in, and the mystery deepens as the number of suspects grow. Starring Ricardo Cortez, Kay Linaker, John Eldredge, Mary Astor, Joseph Crehan, Frank Reicher, Anita Kerry, Phillip Reed, Robert Strange, Johnny Arthur, Don Barclay, and Mary Treen.

This minor mystery was based on the stories of Mignon G. Eberhart, who wrote a series of tales with Nurse Sarah Keate as the protagonist. However, besides changing the character name to Keating (played by Kay Linaker), she's also made secondary to love interest Cortez as Dr. Lambert, who does all of the case solving. Interestingly, the Nurse Keating role was originally assigned to Mary Astor, who refused it. To punish her, the studio forced Mary to take a lesser supporting role as another nurse. This was one of a dozen or so mysteries released by Warner Brothers in the 30's that were stamped with the "Clue Club" banner.  (6/10)

Source: TCM.

Harrigan-Poster

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The Shape of Water--yikes.  Not an original bone in the entire body, from the 'beauty and the beast'/'creature from the black lagoon' roots to every stereotypical character (why not just call the authority figure Billy Bob Inhuman..)  Ah, the lovely fairy tale romance/fantasy/bloody mayhem formula, and some camera work that looked like they were getting extra pay for another shot, another shot, another shot. Conniving men, voiceless powerless women.   True Love? If she really cared, she would've dumped him in the ocean day one, and not put him through the maudlin ending.  Just my opinion, folks B)

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10 hours ago, limey said:

The thing that struck me from both this & the earlier presentation of The Journey, was the predilection Yul's characters seemed to have for munching on glasses whilst/after drinking from them.

Yeah, I guess it must be a "Russian thing", limey.

They ARE noted for doing some rather strange stuff, ya know.

(...but what say we leave current events out'a this for now) ;)

 

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Expensive Women (1931) - Dolores Costello and Warren William.  A rather interesting precode featuring Costello prior to her semi-retirement (she made very few pictures after that -- The Magnificent Ambersons being the most notable).  She is certainly one of the most beautiful actresses I've ever seen, with this note of melancholy in those great blue eyes, underlying the "party girl" surface.  Apparently, this was Warren William's first talkie, and in my opinion, her character should have stuck with him throughout (their scenes together are delightful), rather than succumbing to the weak charms of an upper crust English scion who is dominated by his father, who tells  her that she'll never marry his son because she isn't "clean."  The movie also involves a contrived "murder" plot.  This is a very sexually honest movie;, it's suggested that she sleeps with William the night they meet and then with young Brit cipher, who claims he loves her.  Yet -- spoiler alert -- she still ends up, unpunished, with a good man by the end.  If the movie were made 5 years later, she would have had to die of consumption or throw herself under a train or something.  Some great support by Polly Walters as flapper who talks almost nonstop.  Not a great movie, but I can't resist a precode, or Warren William.  I also thought Costello was a very fine and underrated actress.   It would have been interesting to have seen her in more films in the 30s.

 

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Poppy (1936) - Comedy from Paramount Pictures and director A. Edward Sutherland. Professor McGargle (W.C. Fields) and his young ward Poppy (Rochelle Hudson) are traveling entertainers and con artists. They arrive in a small town where Poppy falls in love with local mayor's son Billy (Richard Cromwell). Things turn sour when McGargle decides to pass Poppy off as an heiress to claim a fortune. Also featuring Catherine Doucet, Lynne Overman, Granville Bates, Maude Eburne, Bill Wolfe, Adrian Morris, and Rosalind Keith.

Tom recently wrote at length about this film, so I don't have much to add. I think I may have liked it a bit more than he did, but I was also unfamiliar with the earlier version of the story. There were a handful of laugh-out-loud moments for me, such as the musical performance with the rolling hat, and some good one-liners. I also liked Hudson, and enjoyed her big tellin'-'em-all-off scene.   (7/10)

Source: Universal DVD, part of the WC Fields: Comedy Favorites Collection.

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The Princess Comes Across (1936) - Enjoyable comedy/mystery/romance from Paramount Pictures and director William K. Howard. Carole Lombard stars as "Princess Olga", a Brooklyn-bred actress pretending to be Swedish royalty in order to win a part in a movie. She and her companion (Alison Skipworth) are traveling to the US on board a luxury liner named The Princess, which is where she meets concertina player King Mantell (Fred MacMurray) and his companion (William Frawley). When a would-be blackmailer ends up dead, Olga and King are the prime suspects, so they team up to find the real culprit. Also featuring Douglass Dumbrille, Mishca Auer, George Barbier, Lumsden Hare, Porter Hall, Sig Ruman, Bradley Page, and Tetsu Komai.

Lombard does a broad Greta Garbo take-off to much amusement, and she and MacMurray are good together in their second outing as co-stars. The excellent supporting cast adds a lot of flavor, making for a fun, lightweight movie.  (7/10)

Source: Universal DVD, part of the Carole Lombard: The Glamour Collection.

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THE SECRET OF NIMH (1982)

This is a Don Bluth animated movie; I am a fan of his Anastasia and The Pebble and the Penguin and this was next on my list. It centers around a widow mouse named Mrs. Brisby (I don't believe you ever hear her first name) who has 4 children: 1 of whom is very sick and can't be moved, which proves difficult when the frost is over (spring has sprung) on the farm where they live and the farmer is going to start plowing the field. Brisby has a talk with the "Great Owl" (and lives to tell the tale, no less), who tells her to seek help from the rats in the rosebush (who just so happen to have escaped a testing facility in which they have become extremely intelligent after being test subjects).

A cute movie overall. I think Hermione Baddeley's "Auntie Shrew" was hysterically dramatic, and Dom DeLuise was endearing as the clumsy raven, Jeremy. 

Score: 3/5 

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Never Too Young to Die (1986) - Ridiculous, entertaining trash from Paul Entertainment and director Gil Bettman. Lance Stargrove (John Stamos) is a college student and gymnast who resents his absentee father (George Lazenby). However, when the old man ends up dead, young Lance learns that his father was secretly a James Bond-esque secret agent for the US government. Lance teams up with his father's former co-worker Danja (Vanity) to catch his dad's killer - the maniacal hermaphrodite Velvet Von Ragner (Gene Simmons), a heavy metal cabaret singer and cult/gang leader determined to poison the local water supply with toxic waste. Also featuring Peter Kwong, John Anderson, Ed Brock, Tara Buckman, Curtis Taylor, Branscombe Richmond, and Robert Englund.

This weird mash-up of 80's action genres is silly, stupid, and very amusing. No explanation is given as to why Simmons' gang all dress like extras from Mad Max, even driving vehicles with animal skulls attached to the hoods. All the cliches and ingredients are present: lots of guns in a wide variety of shapes and firing rates; a large assortment of motor vehicles, most of which will be shown crashing at least once; random stuff blowing up real good with attendant giant fire balls; and women with big hair. Speaking of big hair, Vanity is perhaps at the peak of her attractiveness, and fans of hers will find much to enjoy, especially during her over-the-top seduction scene. I was surprised to see ubiquitous 60's TV fixture John Anderson show up, while Robert "Freddy Krueger" Englund is only onscreen for a few minutes as the bad guy's computer expert. Peter Kwong gets an "introducing" credit as Stamos' tech wiz college roommate and Q stand-in. This same year Kwong made a bigger impression as one of the bad guys in Big Trouble in Little China. The real star of this turkey is Simmons, though. The sometime singer and bass player for the band KISS, Simmons outdoes himself in a crazy role that starts over-the-top and continues to climb higher. On a "serious" quality scale, this earns a 3/10, but on a so-bad-its-good scale, it's an easy 8/10.

Sample dialogue:

"Oh, no! Not the finger!"

"Give us the RAM-K before we tenderize your butt!"

"Hey tomato! Here's a grape tomato!" (as a man is assaulted with a small tomato)

Source: TCM.

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That's odd, as George Lazenby played James Bond in On Her Majesty's Secret Service!

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Bugs Bunny and The Three Bears (1944).

A 7 minute Merrie Melodies joy, a hilarious parody of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, with Bugs substituting for Goldie and the three bears, of course, unlike anything to be found in the original fairy tale.

Chuck Jones, who directed it, was evolving at this stage in his career, from some earlier sentimental cartoons into animated shorts that were increasingly character based. And that's one of the great attributes of this effort, the distinct individual characterizations of the three bears, along with that of wise hare Bugs. There's short, volatile Papa Bear, quiet, seemingly more repressed Mama Bear (boy will that change!) and big, dopey Junyor Bear. This cartoon was so successful that it would lead to a couple of other cartoons featuring this same bear family.

Aside from the cleverness of Tedd Pierce's writing and, of course, the brilliance of the animators, wonderfully capturing subtle facial reactions, there are the voice artists who make dominant contributions to this cartoon. The legendary Mel Blanc voices Bugs, of course, as well as Papa Bear, while character actress Bea Benaderet is hysterical as the Mama Bear who develops a real case of the hots for Bugs, who, in turn, is desperately squirming to escape her passionate paws. Interestingly Wikipedia says that dopey Junyor was voiced by Kent Rogers, rather than the often credited Stan Freberg. Yet the Warners DVD release of the cartoon has a second audio track by Freberg in which he talks about his experience in playing Junyor Bear on this Bugs classic. I'll take Freberg's word on the DVD over Wiki on this one.

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4 out of 4

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1 hour ago, TomJH said:

Bugs Bunny and The Three Bears (1944).

Chuck Jones, who directed it, was evolving at this stage in his career, from some earlier sentimental cartoons into animated shorts that were increasingly character based.

Interestingly Wikipedia says that dopey Junyor was voiced by Kent Rogers, rather than the often credited Stan Freberg. Yet the Warners DVD release of the cartoon has a second audio track by Freberg in which he talks about his experience in playing Junyor Bear on this Bugs classic. I'll take Freberg's word on the DVD over Wiki on this one.

Chuck claimed his first "funny" cartoon was 1942's "The Draft Horse", which would have predated 1943's Private Snafu by a year.  So yes, he was just getting the hang of this "comic timing" thing, unlike 1940's "Good Night, Elmer", which has the reputation of being THE unfunniest Warner cartoon ever made.  ("Old Glory" was a PSA and doesn't count.)

And I'll take Freberg's word for it too, even though voice artists sometimes have to stretch the truth about their credits or imitation-gag sources.  BTW, pretty sure that Billy Bletcher (Mickey Mouse's Pete) was Papa Bear and Bea Benederet as Mama in the later cartoons, but not sure who's playing it here--Think that's still Mel Blanc as Papa at this point.

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2 minutes ago, EricJ said:

Chuck claimed his first "funny" cartoon was 1942's "The Draft Horse", which would have predated 1943's Private Snafu by a year.  So yes, he was just getting the hang of this "comic timing" thing, unlike 1940's "Good Night, Elmer", which has the reputation of being THE unfunniest Warner cartoon ever made.  ("Old Glory" was a PSA and doesn't count.)

And I'll take Freberg's word for it too, even though voice artists sometimes have to stretch the truth about their credits or imitation-gag sources.  BTW, pretty sure that's Billy Bletcher (Mickey Mouse's Pete) as Papa Bear, but not sure who's playing Mama--Bea Benederet was only in the later cartoons.

According to Stan Freberg in the Warner DVD audio track, it was Blanc and Benederet in Bugs Bunny and the Three Bears. He ought to know.

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33 minutes ago, TomJH said:

According to Stan Freberg in the Warner DVD audio track, it was Blanc and Benederet in Bugs Bunny and the Three Bears. He ought to know.

Just watched a short clip of this cartoon on YouTube, and yep, there's no doubt about it for me here, anyway. That's definitely Blanc doing the voice of Papa Bear in this one, alright.

(...I've always been very good at placing the more well-known names to their voice-over work, ya know)

 

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4 minutes ago, Dargo said:

Just watched a short clip of this cartoon on YouTube, and yep, there's no doubt about it for me here, anyway. That's definitely Blanc doing the voice of Papa Bear in this one, alright.

(...I've always been very good at placing the more well-known names to their voice-over work, ya know)

 

But did you ever catch Paul Frees in feature films? That would be a challenge. He did hundreds of voice overs, often when the actor involved may have been ill or sub par, such as Bogart in Harder They Fall.

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3 minutes ago, TomJH said:

But did you ever catch Paul Frees in feature films? That would be a challenge. He did hundreds of voice overs, often when the actor involved may have been ill or sub par, such as Bogart in Harder They Fall.

Yep Tom. In most cases I can pick out a Paul Frees dubbing fairly easily, as I've found there's a subtle but consistent certain tonal quality in almost all his work.

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1 hour ago, EricJ said:

Chuck claimed his first "funny" cartoon was 1942's "The Draft Horse", which would have predated 1943's Private Snafu by a year.  So yes, he was just getting the hang of this "comic timing" thing, unlike 1940's "Good Night, Elmer", which has the reputation of being THE unfunniest Warner cartoon ever made.  ("Old Glory" was a PSA and doesn't count.)

 

I find most of those early Chuck Jones cartoons, such as the Sniffles the Mouse efforts, pretty sickly sweet and sentimental. Thank God Jones later found his footing, turning out so many classics later. I tend to think of Bugs Bunny and the Three Bears as when the great Jones cartoons began. I don't recall The Draft Horse.

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15 minutes ago, Dargo said:

Yep Tom. In most cases I can pick out a Paul Frees dubbing fairly easily, as I've found there's a subtle but consistent certain tonal quality in almost all his work.

If you can hear Boris Badenov, Inspector Fenwick AND the narrator of War of the Worlds by ear, you can pick out just about any Paul Frees voice anywhere.  In 50's-60's low-budget American Int'l foreign-film dubbing, the leads were pretty much divided between Paul Frees and Marvin "Robbie the Robot" Miller.

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8 minutes ago, TomJH said:

I find most of those early Chuck Jones cartoons, such as the Sniffles the Mouse efforts, pretty sickly sweet and sentimental. Thank God Jones later found his footing, turning out so many classics later. I tend to think of Bugs Bunny and the Three Bears as when the great Jones cartoons began. I don't recall The Draft Horse.

I've always gotten the idea that it might have been his more zany fellow Termite Terrace coworker Tex Avery who might have contributed to Chuck Jones finding his more comedic side.

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