speedracer5

I Just Watched...

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MIDNIGHT LACE

I'd always been curious to see this atypical Doris Day film, but never had the chance until it was aired on TCM last week. Dropped whatever plans I'd had for that evening to watch it (actually, I don't think I had any plans) and even made my husband watch it with me.

So...I thoroughly enjoyed it, and was never bored. Never being bored or wondering when it's going to end is always a good sign for a movie; I swear it's one of the most important criteria when assessing a film. Keep me entertained !

Doris does a great job as a beautiful rich lady, newly married to business magnate Rex Harrison. The couple has recently moved to London  so husband Harrison - character's name is Anthony Preston - can pursue his business deals. The film opens with an intriguing, noirish scene in which Doris is making her way home from Anthony's office through deeply foggy London streets. When she gets to a park-like area (Hyde Park? I'm not sure, and it doesn't matter...) she hears an extremely peculiar, "puppet-like" voice, taunting her and telling her she can expect to die very soon. Anyone would be terrified, especially as the source of the voice is impossible to find, it seems to come from everywhere.

This sets the premise for the rest of the film: Doris ("Kit Preston") is tormented throughout the course of the movie by unnerving unpredictable phone calls, with the same unnatural circus-like voice telling her she's going to die by the end of the month. You see the gradual undoing and unglueing of Kit's psyche; hell, anyone would fall apart if they were threatened every day with ominous creepy phone calls, with no end in sight - the police can't figure it out at all, and it's implied that they may not even believe her.

One fun aspect of the film is it's a kind of "who dunnit" before anything's dun. The crime (the murder of Kit) has not yet happened, but both Kit and the audience are made to feel it's imminent. The "fun" part is trying to figure out who her tormentor is...there are any number of suspects, including her husband ( although he seems to be cleared of suspicion quite early on), a strange-looking silent man who lurks around the corners of the apartment building where Kit lives, Roddy McDowall (as the main suspect - he keeps pestering Kit for money, plus he has a high-ish voice, most similar to the "puppet-like" voice of the phone calls), and a handsome young architect who just happens to be over-seeing a construction project right next to the Prestons' building.

The ending, I found, was a real shocker. I won't say who the true culprit is, except to say I didn't see it coming.

But Midnight Lace is a fun ride for anyone who enjoys mystery "stalker" type films (in the tradition of "Sorry, Wrong Number" and "Dial M for Murder"), Doris Day movies, and/or on-location movies made in London. In fact, some of the enjoyable aspects of this movie come from the fashionable London streets and Doris' equally fashionable outfits. Kit may be turning into a nervous wreck, but she's doing it stylishly all the way.

There's one scene in the film where Doris's character becomes hysterical with fear; I found out in the commentary after the airing that she was drawing upon her own personal horrific experiences with an abusive husband for this scene. And it's true, you certainly believe that she is overcome with feelings of terror and helplessness - it's one of the truly unnerving scenes in the film, and in some ways the climax of the movie.

Anyway, Midnight Lace shows  Doris' range and potential as an actress. Apparently she chose never to appear in that kind of film again, as she found it an emotionally draining experience. But we have Midnight Lace, just to prove she could certainly play that kind of role if she wanted to.

My only criticism of the film is, it's the kind of movie where you certainly get the most out of it the first time you see it. That's because, like Vertigo and many other films with a "twist" ending, once you know the "twist" a little bit of the fun is lost. However, it's still a very entertaining pic, and I'd recommend it for anyone who's a fan of "stalker" movies or Doris Day.

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Midnight Lace wasnt filmed in London, though, it was filmed in Hollywood on the Universal lot.

Doris went so bonkers in that staircase scene, (you notice they fade out in that scene) that they had to shut down production to let her recover. She claimed in her memoirs it brought back memories of her first husband who was an alcoholic and beat her........

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2 hours ago, Hibi said:

Midnight Lace wasnt filmed in London, though, it was filmed in Hollywood on the Universal lot.

Doris went so bonkers in that staircase scene, (you notice they fade out in that scene) that they had to shut down production to let her recover. She claimed in her memoirs it brought back memories of her first husband who was an alcoholic and beat her........

Oops ! I would have sworn it was shot on location in London, but then again, I must admit I did not check - just assumed. That's because it looks so realistic, and so much like London.  The filmmakers obviously did a great job of making the sets look completely convincing. Thanks for setting me straight, Hibi baby.

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1 hour ago, misswonderly3 said:

Oops ! I would have sworn it was shot on location in London, but then again, I must admit I did not check - just assumed. That's because it looks so realistic, and so much like London.  The filmmakers obviously did a great job of making the sets look completely convincing. Thanks for setting me straight, baby.

 

Yes, back when studios still had backlots and used them well!

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Saratoga (1937) - Romance set in the world of horse racing, from MGM and director Jack Conway. Duke Bradley (Clark Gable) is a bookmaker with a heart of gold. On a visit to his old friend Grandpa Clayton (Lionel Barrymore), he meets Clayton's snooty granddaughter Carol (Jean Harlow), who is engaged to marry New York millionaire Hartley Madison (Walter Pidgeon). Duke and Carol are from distinctly different worlds and yet they naturally fall for each other, resulting in much complication on and off the track. Also featuring Una Merkel, Frank Morgan, Margaret Hamilton, Cliff Edwards, Hattie McDaniel, Jonathan Hale, Frankie Darro, and George Zucco.

Matters offscreen overshadowed anything on when star Harlow died before filming was completed. After considering reshooting the film with another lead, MGM decided to finish the picture with a stand-in and voice over to complete Harlow's part. This works in some scenes, while in others it's glaringly obvious, especially in the movie's ending. Still, for the most part the movie remains a cohesive whole. The story itself is fairly unexceptional, with a few humorous moments scattered about. The large cast is good, although some are underused. Many characters refer to Gable's with the affectionate nickname of "Dukey", which adds a veneer of unintended juvenile silliness. The movie was a big hit, one of the top ten of the year.   (6/10)

Source: TCM.

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4 hours ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

aw, thank you Hibi.

to take it back to THE GUILT OF JANET AMES- because I keep thinking of this flaw in the film, that if fixed, would've elevated it by at least a star in the rating- Rosalind Russell is playing a widowed woman so prostrate with grief  and plagued by depression that she walks in front of a car, is hit, and imagines she cannot walk.

this is what she looks like in the IMMEDIATE aftermath hospital scenes:

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Roz honey, I love you, but I want to know desperately:

who set that hair and did they use a wand?

because that is NOT "I've just had a mental breakdown and been hit by a car" hair, nor is it "I've just had a mental breakdown and been hit by a car" make-up. that is full face and hair, set to present Best Actor or to film a Cafe Society comedy with Ronald Colman.

I bet you anything that when she saw the first five minutes of POSSESSED, Roz kicked herself for not going cryptkeeper for her opening scenes in this.

 

LOL. An odd film, I dont think the fantasy sequences worked very well, by the Sid Caesar one, I skipped through it. I also didnt buy the guy sacrificing himself because Roz kept him from living a fulfilled life. COME ON. Strictly women's magazine stuff (whiich the film was based on).........

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8 hours ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

ps- Rosie (and anyone else who is interested)- move fast on CLUNY BROWN if it's available on your TCM ON DEMAND, they rotate the selection constantly and no title stays for longer than 4-5ish days. and stick with it through the first twenty minutes- which are unusual, but once Lubitsch draws you in, you are HIS...if anyone had made this film besides him (and maybe Billy Wilder), it would not have worked at all.

I can't think of any film that celebrates the beauty of being a non-conformist more than it does.

Thanks, Lorna. Unfortunately, I don't have TCM On Demand. But I will keep an eye out for this movie.

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Journey to the End of the Night (2006) Gritty São Paulo, Brazilian Noir

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An excellent Neo Noir with an actual "Classic Noir" ballpark runtime of just 88 minutes. I'm impressed.

The film was written and directed by Eric Eason who phenomenally worked some genuine low budget Noir magic.  Combine that with Ulrich Burtin's gritty, very grainy, style of cinematography with an interesting production design palette heavy on primary colors by Francisco de Andrade. The film evokes a curious comic book/graphic novel melange of Classic Film Noir, Sin City and Vittorio Storaro's work in Dick Tracy. The films music was by Elia Cmiral.

The tale is filled with lowlifes, losers, and those on life's lowest rungs, as a film noir should be. The cast of characters include, pimps, prostitutes, drug mules, transvestites, gangsters, crooked narcotics cops, smugglers, a soothsayer, a homeless girl, a dishwasher, and a little boy all on their own individual  journeys to the end of a single night in the city of São Paulo.

The biggest surprise in the film is Brendan Fraser who director Eason casts (like Sergio Leone did with both Lee Van Cleef in For A Few Dollars More, and Henry Fonda in Once Upon A Time In The West) way, way against type as Paul. Seeing Fraser play and enraged degenerate jackass is a jaw dropping, eye opener, he shows quite a bit of range here from his former pathetic good natured schmos as he chews up the scenery.

Mos Def is very likeable as the honest, loyal, Wemba who plugs away at his dangerous mission for a shot at a life of monetary freedom. Scott Glenn gives us a nuanced performance. He's a cold no nonsense successful pimp on one hand but on the other a caring father and loving husband who wants to give his second son a better life. Catalina Sandino Moreno, plays the screwed up former prostitute who flip flops in affection between Paul and Sinatra. Matheus Nachtergaele as the transvestite hooker is quite convincing, as is Ruy Polanah as the extremely spaced out fortune teller.

A nice surprise, its a love it or hate it film, for true Noiristas and AficioNoirdos, 9/10. Fuller review with screencaps here in Film Noir/Gangster.

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Shall We Dance (1937) - Musical romantic comedy from RKO and director Mark Sandrich. Ballet star "Petrov" (Fred Astaire) is growing bored with the stuffy world of ballet. He's also enamored with nightclub jazz dancer Linda Keene (Ginger Rogers), although they've never actually met. Through a complicated series of events, the public is led to believe that the two are secretly married, which causes chaos for everyone. Also featuring Edward Everett Horton, Eric Blore, Jerome Cowan, Ketti Gallian, William Brisbane, Emma Young, and Harriet Hector as herself.

The "highbrow" vs the "lowbrow" element isn't really exploited, with the story settling for standard romantic mixed-signal shenanigans. There are some good songs on the soundtrack, and some elaborate dance numbers, but this one didn't click with me as much as the previous Astaire-Rogers outings did. It still contains enough to recommend it, but the shine is starting to fade. The movie earned an Oscar nomination for Best Song ("They Can't Take That Away from Me"), losing to "Sweet Leilani" from Waikiki Wedding.   (7/10)

Source: Warner DVD, part of the TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection: Astaire & Rogers. Bonus features include audio commentary, a making-of documentary, and a pair of vintage shorts.

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I know this is not the right forum to post this in, seeing as this forum is for posting about films you have already seen recently. But I will be watching Disney's 2010 film Tangled for probably the 10th or so time. I'm looking forward to it. I might even make a forum post with comments about the film during its viewing.

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Smart Blonde (1937) - Fun if brief B-movie mystery from Warner Brothers and director Frank McDonald. Intrepid newspaper reporter Torchy Blane (Glenda Farrell) is on the case when an interview subject of hers is killed right in front of her. She aids her grouchy friend, policeman Steve (Barton MacLane), in the investigation, one that involves a shady club owner and a number of disreputable characters. Also featuring Wini Shaw, Addison Richards, Robert Paige, Craig Reynolds, Charlotte Wynters, Joseph Crehan, Tom Kennedy, Wayne Morris, Frank Faylen, and Jane Wyman.

This is a good, minor feature, barely an hour long, but entertaining enough. I've always enjoyed Farrell, but have never watched a Torchy Blane picture before this one. It was odd seeing frequent heavy MacLane as a good guy, even if he's still ill-tempered. One character has the terrific name of Fitz Mularkey, and it's repeated often, to much amusment. I also liked Tom Kennedy as a dim-bulb associate of MacLane's.   (7/10)

Source: TCM.

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They Won't Forget (1937) - Courtroom murder mystery and social drama from Warner Brothers and director Mervyn LeRoy. In an unnamed college town in the Deep South, young student Mary Clay (Lana Turner) is found murdered, and a Northern professor (Edward Norris) is charged with the crime. Local district attorney Andy Griffin (Claude Rains) swears to get a swift conviction, but slick out-of-town lawyer Gleason (Otto Kruger) may make that difficult, while old North-vs-South animosities rear their ugly heads. Also featuring Gloria Dickson, Allyn Joslyn, Linda Perry, Elisha Cook Jr., Cy Kendall, E. Alyn Warren, Granville Bates, Harry Davenport, Earl Dwire, I. Stanford Jolley, and Frank Faylen.

This has some hard-hitting sentiments for a movie of this time. I'm curious how well it did in the Southern markets. Rains turns in an uneven, if amusing, performance, with a thick, often terrible accent, and often serving large slices of ham. I did love his early scene when he vows to solve the crime, "or else my name isn't Andy Griffin!" Yeah, it's not "Griffith" but it's close enough to almost make me do a spit-take. The story is engrossing, and the resolution doesn't pull any punches. I could have done without Joslyn as an obnoxious reporter, but his character was meant to be part of a broader satirical jab at the sensation-craving media. Ronald Reagan is supposedly wandering around in the crowd shots.  (7/10)

Source: TCM.

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On 1/22/2018 at 9:19 PM, speedracer5 said:

 At least Tabitha from Bewitched, while being a little precocious for my taste, at least she had magic powers! 

Tabitha never seemed precocious to me. Her behavior and vocabulary (and even her use of her magic) were always age-appropriate. She was always a child, not one of those a sassy "little adults" that often appear on TV shows. A couple of babies (or rather a couple of sets of twin babies) played her during Season 2 of BEWITCHED. Beginning in Season 3 she was played by fraternal twins Erin Murphy and Diane Murphy. In certain Season 3 episodes, you can tell if you look closely there are two different children playing the role, sometimes in the same scene. Eventually Diane Murphy was used only in the wider shots with Erin Murphy in the tighter ones and finally Erin took over the role entirely (although there was one episode from Season 5 where Diane filled in for Erin, who was sick; Tabitha's voice  in that episode is noticeably different).

Last year I finished watching the entire BEWITCHED series (watching mostly on Wednesdays to re-create the Bewitched BeWednesdays Block Party from Nick Ate Nite). It was interesting to see Tabitha (and Erin Murphy) grow older during the run of the show. It was refreshing that Tabitha never became one of those sarcastic TV kids who sound like they're working on a master's thesis.

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