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Hollywood Cavalcade (1939) - Fictionalized backstage Hollywood drama from 20th Century-Fox and director Irving Cummings. In 1916 Hollywood, would-be film director Mike Connors (Don Ameche) discovers new talent Molly Adair (Alice Faye) and sees her as the new star he can mold to also make himself a major film player. Their first attempt at a serious movie turns farcical, but it gets accepted as a comedy and is a smash hit, making her one of the leading film stars and making Mike a new mogul. But as their stardom rises, their relationship suffers, as Molly falls for leading man Nicky (Alan Curtis). Also featuring J. Edward Bromberg, Stuart Erwin, Donald Meek, Robert Lowery, and Willie Fung. Buster Keaton, Ben Turpin, Chester Conklin, the Keystone Kops, and Al Jolson all cameo as themselves.

Based loosely on the lives of Mack Sennett and Mabel Normand, this is a Technicolor love letter to Hollywood's silent era. Despite Faye's leading lady status, this is not a musical, and is played straight, although with many silent comedy sequences. Faye and Ameche are both adequate. Mack Sennett was the technical adviser, overseeing the recreated silent scenes, and even cameos as himself. This is also another example that wallowing in nostalgia is not a new development.  (6/10)

Source: Fox DVD, with bonus featurettes about the movie's making, the life of Buster Keaton, and the Fatty Arbuckle scandal. There are also outtakes, and newsreel of the film's premiere.

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23 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

Hollywood Cavalcade (1939) -

 

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Ironically this sentimental tribute to silent screen comedy is the first time that the legendary Keaton participated in a slapstick pie fight.

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Idiot's Delight (1939) - Wartime anxiety and drama with some light comedy, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Robert E. Sherwood, from MGM and director Clarence Brown. At an Alpine resort in a European border town, a motley assortment of characters are stuck after news of possible war causes the borders to close. Among them are American showman Harry (Clark Gable) and his "7 Blondes", a bevy of song-and-dance beauties; wealthy businessman Weber (Edward Arnold) and his companion, the haughty Irene (Norma Shearer); German physician Dr. Waldersee (Charles Coburn); high-strung Quillery (Burgess Meredith); and local military officer Captain Kirvline (Jospeh Schildkraut). Harry is certain that Irene is someone he knew years earlier, something she denies, but with war getting closer and bombers in the air, it may not matter. Also featuring Laura Hope Crews, "Skeets" Gallagher, Peter Willes, Pat Patterson, William Edmunds, Hobart Cavanaugh, Frank Faylen, Virginia Grey, Virginia Dale, and Fritz Feld.

This was a mixed-bag for me. I liked Gable, and seeing him in his one and only song and dance performance was fun. I liked seeing Burgess Meredith and Charles Coburn. And the setting is interesting. But Shearer is just awful, doing a terribly exaggerated accent complete with florid arm gestures and "comical" mock-theatrical over-emoting. Shearer is said to have been parodying Greta Garbo, but it only comes across as irritating. The version shown featured both alternate endings to the movie.   (6/10)

Source: TCM. My recording of it is old enough to have a Robert Osborne intro, which was nice to see.

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48 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

Idiot's Delight (1939) -

 

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If only the rest of the film could have been as much fun as when Gable and the girls do that song and dance routine. It's interesting that Virginia Grey is one of those girls. There would be strong expectations within Hollywood that she was to become the next Mrs. Gable seven years after Carole Lombard's death. I've read she found out about his marriage to Lady Sylvia Ashley (widow of Douglas Fairbanks) through the papers. Six months later or so he showed up sheepishly (probably after a good number of drinks) at her door and she told him it was too late. Virginia Grey never married.

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That's Virginia Grey at the far right.

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In Name Only (1939) - Soapy melodrama from RKO and director John Cromwell. Widow Julie Eden (Carole Lombard) meets nice guy Alec Walker (Cary Grant) and the two fall in love. The only problem is that Alec is currently married to Maida (Kay Francis) who is determined to stay married to Alec despite their being no love between them, as she enjoys his family's money and prestige. Also featuring Charles Coburn, Helen Vinson, Katharine Alexander, Jonathan Hale, Nella Walker, Alan Baxter, Maurice Moscovitch, Grady Sutton, and Peggy Ann Garner.

Lombard plays it straight in this effective romantic tearjerker, and she's good, as is Grant, who gets a few nice one-liners. Kay Francis and Helen Vinson seem to be in a contest for most detestable actress of 1939, and I'm a bit disappointed that Carole didn't sock either of them in the jaw.  (7/10)

Source: TCM.

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37 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

Kay Francis and Helen Vinson seem to be in a contest for most detestable actress of 1939, and I'm a bit disappointed that Carole didn't sock either of them in the jaw. 

For those that would like to see a virtual sock of Vinson in the jaw check out the Cagney film Torrid Zone.    Ann Sheridan gets some of the best 'gal on gal' one liners on Vinson in this 1940 adventure \ light comedy film.

 

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3 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

Idiot's Delight (1939) - But Shearer is just awful, doing a terribly exaggerated accent complete with florid arm gestures and "comical" mock-theatrical over-emoting. Shearer is said to have been parodying Greta Garbo, but it only comes across as irritating. The version shown featured both alternate endings to the movie.   (6/10)

Source: TCM. My recording of it is old enough to have a Robert Osborne intro, which was nice to see.

 

Granted, I've only seen a handful of Norma Shearer's films, but she hasn't really impressed me in any of them.  I don't know what it is about her that bugs me.  She doesn't seem to have much of an onscreen presence and perhaps seems overly stuffy? I don't know.  In The Women, she's easily the least interesting woman in the film--I even prefer mousy Joan Fontaine over Shearer. 

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9 minutes ago, speedracer5 said:

Granted, I've only seen a handful of Norma Shearer's films, but she hasn't really impressed me in any of them.  I don't know what it is about her that bugs me.  She doesn't seem to have much of an onscreen presence and perhaps seems overly stuffy? I don't know.  In The Women, she's easily the least interesting woman in the film--I even prefer mousy Joan Fontaine over Shearer. 

Watch her earlier precode stuff like THE DIVORCEE and A FREE SOUL where she gets to strut her stuff and be more sensual.  Later on she had a more sedate "St. Norma" presence but I still like her in MARIE ANTOINETTE and BARRETTS OF WIMPOLE STREET.

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I'm really not a Norma Shearer fan either.

However, if there's only one Shearer performance to see for my money it's in the tile role of MARIE ANTOINETTE. An extraordinarily lavish, if lengthy, historical epic, with a big cast of stars (including Tyrone Power and John Barrymore) and stunning sets and costumes. Robert Morley steals the film with his Oscar nominated portrayal of the simple minded but, ultimately, courageous Louis XV. However Norma is very effective, too, particularly in the film's final tragic chapters.

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This scene, set in a prison cell as authorities arrive to take Antoinette's children away from her, is probably the most moving piece of acting I've seen her do.

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It's a Wonderful World (1939) - Madcap comedy from MGM and director W.S. Van Dyke. Private detective Guy Johnson (James Stewart) gets wrongfully accused of being involved in a murder, so he escapes from police custody in order to prove his innocence. He runs into travelling poet Edwina Corday (Claudette Colbert) who ends up coming along for the fugitive ride, with romantic sparks naturally occurring. Also featuring Guy Kibbee, Nat Pendleton, Edgar Kennedy, Ernest Truex, Sidney Blackmer, Frances Drake, Richard Carle, Cecilia Callejo, Grady Sutton, and Andy Clyde.

Stewart and Colbert share some chemistry, and they each get good comic moments to shine in. The film veers very close to outright silliness a few times, which clashes a bit with the murder mystery framing device. Still, as far as 30's rom-coms go, this was one of the more enjoyable.  (7/10)

Source: TCM.

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16 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

It's a Wonderful World (1939) - Madcap comedy from MGM and director W.S. Van Dyke. Private detective Guy Johnson (James Stewart) gets wrongfully accused of being involved in a murder, so he escapes from police custody in order to prove his innocence. He runs into travelling poet Edwina Corday (Claudette Colbert) who ends up coming along for the fugitive ride, with romantic sparks naturally occurring. Also featuring Guy Kibbee, Nat Pendleton, Edgar Kennedy, Ernest Truex, Sidney Blackmer, Frances Drake, Richard Carle, Cecilia Callejo, Grady Sutton, and Andy Clyde.

Stewart and Colbert share some chemistry, and they each get good comic moments to shine in. The film veers very close to outright silliness a few times, which clashes a bit with the murder mystery framing device. Still, as far as 30's rom-coms go, this was one of the more enjoyable.  (7/10)

Source: TCM.

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I think Stewart showed off his boyish charm most frequently in here. And she may not have quite the same sparks with Stewart as she had with Gable in IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT, I still think they made a cutesy pair in here.

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The Garden of Allah was the fifth film made in Technicolor and is quite stunning. I may have seen it in my relative infancy, since I remember that it was one of the movies shown on Million Dollar Movie. But we only had a black-and-white television in those days. 

The cast includes luminescent Dietrich and Boyer as leads, and strong supporting performances from Basil Rathbone, C. Aubrey Smith, Joseph Schildkraut, Lucille Watson, and, just a few years out from his performance as evil Silas Barnaby in Babes in Toyland, Henry Brandon as a rather benevolent comic Arab. Tilly Losch shines in a colorful dance scene; and an unrecognizable John Carradine is quite remarkable as the sand diviner. There is also a very cute dog.

The plot is far-fetched but utterly romantic. The clothes are as gorgeous as the scenery. Dietrich and her costumes are beautiful, and it's always nice to see gentlemen wear tweeds in the Sahara. The only thing that troubled me was a major plot line: I did not know that it's so utterly awful to leave a Trappist monastery. Yes, if you go, you should leave the recipe for the house liqueur, but you should be allowed to leave without so much attendant angst. And I don't think it was very nice of Basil to seek out Marlene and spill the beans about Charles. (If they ever do a series of films where liqueurs play major roles, this is right up there with The Razor's Edge.)

The Garden of Allah is a rare and beautiful example of the work of old, romantic Hollywood. I wish it were about half and hour longer, to flesh out the characters a bit more.

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Always dress for dinner, even in your tent in the middle of the Sahara.

 

 

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20 minutes ago, Swithin said:

The Garden of Allah was the fifth film made in Technicolor and is quite stunning. I may have seen it in my relative infancy, since I remember that it was one of the movies shown on Million Dollar Movie. But we only had a black-and-white television in those days. 

The cast includes luminescent Dietrich and Boyer as leads, and strong supporting performances from Basil Rathbone, C. Aubrey Smith, Joseph Schildkraut, Lucille Watson, and, just a few years out from his performance as evil Silas Barnaby in Babes in Toyland, Henry Brandon as a rather benevolent comic Arab. Tilly Losch shines in a colorful dance scene; and an unrecognizable John Carradine is quite remarkable as the sand diviner. There is also a very cute dog.

The plot is far-fetched but utterly romantic. The clothes are as gorgeous as the scenery. Dietrich and her costumes are beautiful, and it's always nice to see gentlemen wear tweeds in the Sahara. The only thing that troubled me was a major plot line: I did not know that it's so utterly awful to leave a Trappist monastery. Yes, if you go, you should leave the recipe for the house liqueur, but you should be allowed to leave without so much attendant angst. And I don't think it was very nice of Basil to seek out Marlene and spill the beans about Charles. (If they ever do a series of films where liqueurs play major roles, this is right up there with The Razor's Edge.)

The Garden of Allah is a rare and beautiful example of the work of old, romantic Hollywood. I wish it were about half and hour longer, to flesh out the characters a bit more.

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Always dress for dinner, even in your tent in the middle of the Sahara.

 

 

It's such a romantic conception - it shimmers and vibrates.

For me, Marlene Dietrich is the epitome of Hollywood glamour.

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962) 

I believe this is the first time I've watched this one in its entirety. I had to read the novel twice for school (went to 2 different high schools), so I was familiar with the overall plot-line. I love Gregory Peck. This subject matter never fails to strike several chords with me. 

Image result for to kill a mockingbird 1962

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14 minutes ago, NickAndNora34 said:

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962) 

I believe this is the first time I've watched this one in its entirety. I had to read the novel twice for school (went to 2 different high schools), so I was familiar with the overall plot-line. I love Gregory Peck. This subject matter never fails to strike several chords with me. 

Image result for to kill a mockingbird 1962

The film remains an impassioned cry for fairness and decency.

Brock Peters, pictured here, would remain Gregory Peck's friend the rest of Peck's life.

Delivering a eulogy at Peck's funeral, Peters quoted Harper Lee who said that "Atticus Finch gave him an opportunity to play himself."

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47 minutes ago, TomJH said:

Delivering a eulogy at Peck's funeral, Peters quoted Harper Lee who said that "Atticus Finch gave him an opportunity to play himself."

What's really unfortunate is that after the novel Go Set A Watchman was published and critics were trying to figure out if Atticus might have been racist, some articles showed photos of Peck (without context). To me, these were just ignorant writers.

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Mandrake the Magician (1939) - Disappointing 12-chapter action serial, based on the popular comic strip, from Columbia Pictures and directors Norman Deming and Sam Nelson. Mandrake (Warren Hull) is a magician and entertainer who, along with trusty sidekick Lothar (Al Kikume), tries to help friend Betty Houston (Doris Weston), whose brilliant scientist father Professor Houston (Forbes Murray) has invented a new radium energy device. The device, along with a secret formula for a new super-metal that Mandrake learned from a Tibetan lama (!!!), is wanted by a mysterious masked villain known only as the Wasp. Mandrake and Lothar have to stop the Wasp's minions and learn the bad guy's identity before it's too late. Also featuring Rex Downing, Edward Earle, Kenneth MacDonald, Don Beddoe, John Tyrell, and Frank Hagney.

Mandrake the Magician is considered the very first superhero, and this serial is considered the first superhero movie. The only problem with that assessment is that the movie Mandrake bears little resemblance to the comic strip version. The original is a vaguely exotic master of real supernatural magic powers. The movie version is a rather unimpressive white guy with strictly C-level sleight-of-hand "magic" tricks that make no pretense at being real. Instead of using arcane abilities to stop the bad guys, this Mandrake routinely engages in poorly-choreographed fist fights. Hull is a bland hero and Weston is a bland heroine. Kikume could have been unique, but instead he usually just hangs out in front of buildings, waiting to get into flailing fist fights. Even the bad guy, the Wasp, is just a guy in a silly shiny drape cloth, matching eye mask, and jauntily-angled fedora who sits behind a desk and yells into a microphone. This is purely routine serial stuff, with no flavor or real originality.  (5/10)

Source: VCI DVD, 4 hours stretched over two discs.

Mandrake lights a candle. His audience is astounded.

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Beware the Wasp!

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51 minutes ago, scsu1975 said:

What's really unfortunate is that after the novel Go Set A Watchman was published and critics were trying to figure out if Atticus might have been racist, some articles showed photos of Peck (without context). To me, these were just ignorant writers.

I'm scanning my brain for what POSSIBLE photo pf Peck in any context could be considered racist...

Oh wait, DID THEY USE PICS FROM THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL?!

If so, THAT IS TACKY!

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48 minutes ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

I'm scanning my brain for what POSSIBLE photo pf Peck in any context could be considered racist...

Oh wait, DID THEY USE PICS FROM THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL?!

If so, THAT IS TACKY!

It was a photo of Peck as Atticus Finch. I should have made that clear, sorry. But anyone who had never heard of Peck (which is probably a lot of today's readers) might take him to be Atticus.

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It's my understanding that GO SET A WATCHMAN was actually never intended to be released in the first place.

Haven't read it, nor do I intend to. I don't want to think of Atticus as being a bigot. I prefer to keep the image of the man of integrity willing to put up with scorn in order to defend someone who is being persecuted for simply having the wrong shade of skin in a very bigoted period of 1930's America.

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I didn’t read it, but I honestly thought the idea of making Atticus racist in his old age was brilliant....apparently it’s just me that thought this

(I’ve SEEN IT HAPPEN in real life)

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Miracles for Sale (1939) - Entertaining murder mystery from MGM and director Tod Browning. Robert Young stars as Mike Morgan, who creates elaborate devices for stage illusions that he sells to his lengthy client roster of magicians. There's also a heated skeptic vs believer debate within the magic community in regards to spiritualism and whether or not any of its practitioners are legitimate or not. When a noted expert on the subject is murdered, the suspects are all in the magic community, including Mike, who sets out to find the real culprit. Also featuring Florence Rice, Henry Hull, Frank Craven, William Demarest, Gloria Holden, Lee Bowman, Cliff Clark, Astrid Allwyn, Walter Kingsford, Frederick Worlock, Matt McHugh, E. Allyn Warren, Richard Loo, and Charles Lane. 

I enjoyed the unusual setting, with the various sleight-of-hand experts, mentalists, and conjurers adding much to the standard murder mystery proceedings. Young is very likable as Morgan, and I wouldn't have minded seeing him play this role in other magic-themed mysteries. Craven has a good role as Morgan's curmudgeonly out-of-towner father, while Henry Hull gets to enjoy all sorts of actorly excess. I also liked Gloria Holden's "otherworldly" spirit medium.

 

My only real complaint about the movie is that the mystery is predicated on some characters actually being the same person in disguise, and to my eyes, it was very obvious who it was.   (7/10)

 

Source: TCM

Miracles_For_Sale.jpg

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1 minute ago, LawrenceA said:

Miracles for Sale (1939) - Entertaining murder mystery from MGM and director Tod Browning. Robert Young stars as Mike Morgan, who creates elaborate devices for stage illusions that he sells to his lengthy client roster of magicians. There's also a heated skeptic vs believer debate within the magic community in regards to spiritualism and whether or not any of its practitioners are legitimate or not. When a noted expert on the subject is murdered, the suspects are all in the magic community, including Mike, who sets out to find the real culprit. Also featuring Florence Rice, Henry Hull, Frank Craven, William Demarest, Gloria Holden, Lee Bowman, Cliff Clark, Astrid Allwyn, Walter Kingsford, Frederick Worlock, Matt McHugh, E. Allyn Warren, Richard Loo, and Charles Lane. 

I enjoyed the unusual setting, with the various sleight-of-hand experts, mentalists, and conjurers adding much to the standard murder mystery proceedings. Young is very likable as Morgan, and I wouldn't have minded seeing him play this role in other magic-themed mysteries. Craven has a good role as Morgan's curmudgeonly out-of-towner father, while Henry Hull gets to enjoy all sorts of actorly excess. I also liked Gloria Holden's "otherworldly" spirit medium.

  Reveal hidden contents

My only real complaint about the movie is that the mystery is predicated on some characters actually being the same person in disguise, and to my eyes, it was very obvious who it was.

  Reveal hidden contents

Still, it wasn't enough to make me not like this enjoyable, if minor, mystery diversion.  (7/10)

Source: TCM.

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Where did this 'reveal hidden contents' feature come from?     Anyhow it is cool and useful for hiding spoilers.

 

 

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