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I Just Watched...

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36 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

Kay Francis does seem like an odd choice.  However, after having recently watched several of her earliest performances from '29 through '31 or so, where she often played vamps and villainesses, I knew that she had that capability. I thought she was good and believable as the heartless wife in this movie. 

I agree. Grant and Lombard are two favourites of mine, while Kay Francis, fashion plate or not, generally leaves me cold.

Having said that, I think she steals In Name Only as the manipulative, conniving wife and is the most interesting thing about that soap opera.

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1 hour ago, TomJH said:

I agree. Grant and Lombard are two favourites of mine, while Kay Francis, fashion plate or not, generally leaves me cold.

Having said that, I think she steals In Name Only as the manipulative, conniving wife and is the most interesting thing about that soap opera.

I have to say that Kay Francis really has something for me. I love her combination of sophistication (the short, slicked-back hair somehow looks feminine on her) combined with a special vulnerability. Her eyes seem to convey a plea to be gentle, and her little lisp is so charming when it slips out. I don't know if I've ever seen In Name Only, but I loved Kay Francis in Trouble in Paradise.

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53 minutes ago, RosieSayer said:

I have to say that Kay Francis really has something for me. I love her combination of sophistication (the short, slicked-back hair somehow looks feminine on her) combined with a special vulnerability. Her eyes seem to convey a plea to be gentle, and her little lisp is so charming when it slips out. I don't know if I've ever seen In Name Only, but I loved Kay Francis in Trouble in Paradise.

While Francis could be rather 'flat' I found her to be very enjoyable and rather sexy in films like Trouble in Paradise,  Jewel Robbery,  and One Way Passage.   

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2 minutes ago, BagelOnAPlateOfOnionRolls said:

LawrenceA, I noticed that the last view movies you've posted about in this thread were from 1939.

Is that just a coincidence?

No. I'm currently watching movies that I've recorded/bought from the year 1939. When that's done, I'll move to 1940, then 1941, etc. etc. I'll break the pattern for newer titles or something very rare that I may miss out on if I don't watch it immediately (via streaming or on TV), but I stick to my watching schedule for the most part.

It's stupid and a little OCD, but that's how I roll.

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The Rains Came (1939) - Soapy romantic melodrama that turns into a disaster movie that turns back into a soapy romantic melodrama, from 20th Century-Fox and director Clarence Brown. In colonial East India, dissolute painter Tom Ransome (George Brent) is slowly going to seed, but his life gets complicated when the daughter (Brenda Joyce) of local missionaries falls for him. His friend, local Hindu doctor Rama Safti (Tyrone Power), has drawn the attention of bored rich wife Lady Edwina (Myrna Loy). Their love lives fall to the wayside, though, when a terrible earthquake strikes the region, followed by floods, fires, and disease. Also featuring Nigel Bruce, Maria Ouspenskaya, Marjorie Rambeau, Jane Darwell, Henry Travers, H.B. Warner, Joseph Schildkraut, Mary Nash, Laura Hope Crews, C. Montague Shaw, and Abner Biberman.

I though George Brent did a good job here, doing a better acting job than Tyrone Power (who, along with Loy, was the reason I watched this). Power is miscast and looks silly. Loy is very good, playing a slightly bad girl for the first time in a while, closer to the roles she had in her earlier career. The extensive supporting cast of familiar faces is enjoyable, even if a few are wasted. The highlight of the film is the elaborate earthquake sequence. I appreciated that the ending wasn't a cop-out, too. But all that being said, I still couldn't get into this one very much. It was up for several Oscars, including for Best Cinematography (Arthur Miller), Best Sound, Best Editing (Barbara McLean), Best Art Direction (William S. Darling, George Dudley), and Best Score (Alfred Newman), while it won for Best Special Effects.  (6/10)

Source: FXM.

the-rains-came-movie-poster-1939-1010746

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1 minute ago, LawrenceA said:

The Rains Came (1939) - Soapy romantic melodrama that turns into a disaster movie that turns back into a soapy romantic melodrama, from 20th Century-Fox and director Clarence Brown. In colonial East India, dissolute painter Tom Ransome (George Brent) is slowly going to seed, but his life gets complicated when the daughter (Brenda Joyce) of local missionaries falls for him. His friend, local Hindu doctor Rama Safti (Tyrone Power), has drawn the attention of bored rich wife Lady Edwina (Myrna Loy). Their love lives fall to the wayside, though, when a terrible earthquake strikes the region, followed by floods, fires, and disease. Also featuring Nigel Bruce, Maria Ouspenskaya, Marjorie Rambeau, Jane Darwell, Henry Travers, H.B. Warner, Joseph Schildkraut, Mary Nash, Laura Hope Crews, C. Montague Shaw, and Abner Biberman.

I though George Brent did a good job here, doing a better acting job than Tyrone Power (who, along with Loy, was the reason I watched this). Power is miscast and looks silly. Loy is very good, playing a slightly bad girl for the first time in a while, closer to the roles she had in her earlier career. The extensive supporting cast of familiar faces is enjoyable, even if a few are wasted. The highlight of the film is the elaborate earthquake sequence. I appreciated that the ending wasn't a cop-out, too. But all that being said, I still couldn't get into this one very much. It was up for several Oscars, including for Best Cinematography (Arthur Miller), Best Sound, Best Editing (Barbara McLean), Best Art Direction (William S. Darling, George Dudley), and Best Score (Alfred Newman), while it won for Best Special Effects.  (6/10)

Source: FXM.

the-rains-came-movie-poster-1939-1010746

I like The Rains Came not so much for the story or characters but for this Hollywoodized presentation of India. This is a handsome, lush production, with special effects (an earthquake and a flood) and, at times, stunning cinematography that still hold up well, to accompany the impressive sets, costumes and musical score. The film is noteworthy, too, for its impressive matte paintings, adding immeasurably to its foreign atmosphere. For 1939 film audiences this was probably the closest that they could feel to being in India.

I agree that George Brent is the best actor in the film (this is probably my favourite performance of his). He comes across as charming and urbane in his characterization but, unfortunately, he largely disappears in the final third or so of this big budget production.

Any film that has a closeup like this of Maria Ouspenskaya is worth the wait for it to occur. Now that is the face of a character actress!

Screen+shot+2011-05-17+at+12.37.34.png

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i watched SEVEN SAMURAI (1954) on TCM ON DEMAND- which was great, because I don't think I'd've been able to watch it in one full viewing. I did not realize that it is THREE HOURS AND 31 MINUTES long until i paused it to go to the bathroom.

thusly, i was actually able to watch it in three hour long installments- which may not be how you were intended TO SEE IT, but it worked for me and my drain-bramaged attention span.

(it also helped that it had just begun pouring rain when i watched the last third, which takes part in the rain)

while i am a Film Snob, I am NOT WELL SCHOOLED IN "FARN" FILMS at all, honest to God it's usually because I have a hard time focusing on subtitles and there's always so much extra effort involved.

however, i have seen RASHOMAN, and honestly, I'd (still) say that that is my favorite foreign film OF ALL TIME, so I was set for this, and I was not disappointed.

it's a genuinely great movie- i think the BEST thing about it is the editing, I'm by no means a film tech snob, but someone wove a masterful and compelling 3 hours and 31 minutes out of what i can only assume was 10,000 feet of film of people getting DICED.

My favorite thing about the Japanese films I've seen are the sounds of grass and bamboo in the wind and running water, there is plenty of both. I loved the sound work in this. There was no music except for three brief (AND ODD) moments, and that makes it INCREDIBLY EFFECTIVE.

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Some actors are not actors, they are FORCES OF NATURE. Anna Magnini is one such case, TOSHIRO MIFUNE is another. He is wind. he is fire. He is rain. He is fetching as all get out in a saucy little leather vest/helmet with a hemline up to there. TAKASHI SHIMURA is in the "elder statesman" role, and honestly- they're neck and neck for who ultimately steals the film, one doing so much so well, while the other quietly, effortlessly, anchors the whole damned film.

The ending was terrific, it was a film that dealt with violence in the "right" way (if such a thing is possible)- ie it in no way romanticized it- and it showed the emptiness of War.

I could not help but find as gay subtext to the young understudy samurai who picked flowers and always seemed so well-groomed and seems to have had daddy issues of a sort.

God, this thing was watchable- even though it was presented in a perfect square format, with letter boxing on the sides too- just some masterful filmmaking- and whoever did the translation for the subtitles did a great job with the dialogue, i have no clue how closely it follows that of the original.

edit- I have the feeling that if Akira Kurasawa were alive and had this review translated to him, he would leap to his feet, scream at me and whip out a couple of two-sai. Nonetheless, i give you four out of four stars, Akira, they're just minor suggestions is all.

 

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1 hour ago, TomJH said:

I like The Rains Came not so much for the story or characters but for this Hollywoodized presentation of India. This is a handsome, lush production, with special effects (an earthquake and a flood) and, at times, stunning cinematography that still hold up well, to accompany the impressive sets, costumes and musical score. The film is noteworthy, too, for its impressive matte paintings, adding immeasurably to its foreign atmosphere. For 1939 film audiences this was probably the closest that they could feel to being in India.

I agree that George Brent is the best actor in the film (this is probably my favourite performance of his). He comes across as charming and urbane in his characterization but, unfortunately, he largely disappears in the final third or so of this big budget production.

Any film that has a closeup like this of Maria Ouspenskaya is worth the wait for it to occur. Now that is the face of a character actress!

Screen+shot+2011-05-17+at+12.37.34.png

 

One of my best performances!

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14 minutes ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

i watched SEVEN SAMURAI (1954) on TCM ON DEMAND- which was great, because I don't think I'd've been able to watch it in one full viewing. I did not realize that it is THREE HOURS AND 31 MINUTES long until i paused it to go to the bathroom.

thusly, i was actually able to watch it in three hour long installments- which may not be how you were intended TO SEE IT, but it worked for me and my drain-bramaged attention span.

(it also helped that it had just begun pouring rain when i watched the last third, which takes part in the rain)

while i am a Film Snob, I am NOT WELL SCHOOLED IN "FARN" FILMS at all, honest to God it's usually because I have a hard time focusing on subtitles and there's always so much extra effort involved.

however, i have seen RASHOMAN, and honestly, I'd (still) say that that is my favorite foreign film OF ALL TIME, so I was set for this, and I was not disappointed.

it's a genuinely great movie- i think the BEST thing about it is the editing, I'm by no means a film tech snob, but someone wove a masterful and compelling 3 hours and 31 minutes out of what i can only assume was 10,000 feet of film of people getting DICED.

My favorite thing about the Japanese films I've seen are the sounds of grass and bamboo in the wind and running water, there is plenty of both. I loved the sound work in this. There was no music except for three brief (AND ODD) moments, and that makes it INCREDIBLY EFFECTIVE.

Some actors are not actors, they are FORCES OF NATURE. Anna Magnini is one such case, TOSHIRO MIFUNE is another. He is wind. he is fire. He is rain. He is fetching as all get out in a saucy little leather vest/helmet with a hemline up to there. TAKASHI SHIMURA is in the "elder statesman" role, and honestly- they're neck and neck for who ultimately steals the film, one doing so much so well, and the other (seems to) effortlessly anchor the proceedings.

The ending was terrific, it was a film that dealt with violence in the "right" way (if such a thing is possible)- ie it in no way romanticized it- and it showed the emptiness of War.

I could not help but find as gay subtext to the young understudy samurai who picked flowers and always seemed so well-groomed and seems to have had daddy issues of a sort.

God, this thing was watchable- even though it was presented in a perfect square format, with letter boxing on the sides too- just some masterful filmmaking- and whoever did the translation for the subtitles did a great job with the dialogue, i have no clue how closely it follows that of the original.

edit- I have the feeling that if Akira Kurasawa were alive and had this review translated to him, he would leap to his feet, scream at me and whip out a couple of two-sai. Nonetheless, i give you four out of four stars, they're just minor suggestions is all.

 

Hooray! So glad to see another Anna Magnani fan here, there or anywhere. I could watch "The Rose Tattoo" daily. But I digress since my point was to ask if you would still prefer reading subtitles for something like "Rashomon" over the version called I think "The Outrage" [too lazy to look up but I think that's the title though I've tried to erase it from my memory forever] with Paul Newman? I have only one beef with "farn" films with subtitles. I like the ones best which isolate the words in a block background over the scene, since they are so much easier to read. Other than that I am a foreign film addict for sure. Speaking of Kurosawa's masterpiece, reading the original story it was adapted from is very interesting also, if you've not read it. Great post, Lorna!

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The Real Glory (1939) - Military adventure from United Artists, producer Samuel Goldwyn, and director Henry Hathaway. Gary Cooper stars as Dr. Bill Canavan, a soldier with the U.S. Army's Philippine Constabulary during the Moro Rebellion in 1906. Canavan is part of a small contingent of soldiers tasked with training local Filipinos to defend themselves against the Muslim Moro rebels led by the feared Alipang (Tetsu Komai). Also featuring David Niven, Broderick Crawford, Andrea Leeds, Reginald Owen, Kay Johnson, Russell Hicks, and Vladimir Sokoloff.

This seems to be striving for the tone of Lives of a Bengal Lancer, although this story is darker, and the violence more graphic, at times shockingly so for the time. Cooper may sound miscast as a doctor, but he's of the two-fisted variety, so he's not bad. Crawford is cast against type as a flower-loving softie. Some modern viewers may object to the various levels of racism and condescension in the depiction of the natives, but it's t be expected for a movie of the time. However, even back not long after its release, this was considered objectionable enough for the studio pull it from distribution during the war years, for fear of upsetting the Philippine government. I liked the movie enough, taken as a guns-blazing action spectacle with some downbeat story moments.  (7/10)

Source: TCM.

REALGLORYTRADEAD2.jpg

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Rose of Washington Square (1939) - Hit musical from 20th Century-Fox and director Gregory Ratoff. Singer Rose Sargent (Alice Faye) finds fame and fortune on the early 20th century New York stage, but her love for gambler and crook Bart Clinton (Tyrone Power) may break her heart. Also featuring Al Jolson, William Frawley, Hobart Cavanaugh, Joyce Compton, Moroni Olsen, E.E. Clive, Charles Lane, Horace McMahon, John Hamilton, and Louis Prima.

This is a thinly-veiled version of the Fanny Brice story, more directly told in the later Funny Girl. Faye bears little resemblance to Brice in look or style, though. I've now watched a few Faye pictures, and have yet to really warm to her. She's a good singer, but there's a distance to her that prevents me from really sympathizing with her characters. Power isn't bad as the frequently desperate Bart, and his good looks help explain why Rose doesn't kick him to the curb. Jolson has a major role as Rose's friend and fellow performer. He gets a few songs, including two in blackface, complete with full "Mammy" schmaltz. His success as a performer will always be one of the greatest mysteries of the 20th century for me.  (6/10)

Source: Fox DVD, with a making-of featurette and deleted scenes as bonuses.

Rose-Washington-Square.jpg

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The Disappointments Room (2016) - Clunky horror misfire from Rogue Pictures and director D.J. Caruso. NYC architect Dana Barrow (Kate Beckinsale) moves with her stay-at-home husband David (Mel Raido) and young son Lucas (Duncan Joiner) to a large, old country mansion in upstate New York, with plans of restoring the place. It's not long before strange things start occurring, and Dana finds an odd, hidden room in the attic that may be haunted. Also featuring Lucas Till, Celia Weston, Joely Fisher, Michaela Conlin, Michael Landes, Marcia DeRousse, and Gerald McRainey.

Filmed in 2014, this mess of a movie suffered from production company financial woes and terrible editing. It barely received a theatrical release, and was even further edited between then and home video/digital release. The story is a mash-up of cliches from a dozen other, better ghost movies, and there's very little style to what's on screen. Beckinsale is an actress that I've enjoyed in other things, but she seems out of place here, both in looks and performance. Raido, an actor I'm unfamiliar with, doesn't bring anything, and I have to wonder how he got cast. The supporting players have a number of reliable faces, but the only two that stood out were Weston, as a goofy local, and McRaney as a villain.   (4/10)

Source: Netflix.

Disappointments-Room-DVD-620.jpg

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just one small note on SEVEN SAMURAI (1954),

My favorite year for films is 1943.

My second favorite is 1940.

My third favorite is 1954, and really, someday it may sneak into the top spot.

It was a fascinating and unusual year for fascinating and unusual films: A STAR IS BORN, JOHNNY GUITAR, HOBSON'S CHOICE, THEM!, THE CAINE MUTINY, REAR WINDOW, CARMEN JONES, SALT OF THE EARTH, SABRINA and now, I find, SEVEN SAMURAI.

 

(Oh, and some people like ON THE WATERFRONT.)

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16 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

The Real Glory (1939) -

REALGLORYTRADEAD2.jpg

I've always liked The Real Glory, a well mounted action adventure, and interesting inasmuch as it's set in the Philippines, rather than the usual Hollywood location of India for a film of this nature. This time, rather than the British, it's Americans seen as the imperialists by the locals (though the film is careful to make it appear that the majority of Philippines don't resent them).

The depiction of the Moros as ferocious fanatics (not unlike the depiction of Muslim extremists today), causing fear in the local Philippine population, adds to the interest, with old work horse director Henry Hathaway (and any second unit assistance he may have had) making the action scenes in this film superior ones for their time. And, as you pointed out, Lawrence, by 1939 standards, at least, they are quite graphic and violent. The soldiers three format (though they are technically not all soldiers), reminding one of Lives of a Bengal Lancer, as well as Gunga Din, released earlier that same year, works well once again.

The Real Glory is a good show.

realglory1939.87770_100920140218.jpg

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The Saint Strikes Back (1939) - Second in the series of mysteries, and the first with George Sanders, from RKO and director John Farrow. Sanders stars as Simon Templar, a suave international problem-solver. He's identified as being near a murder that occurred at a swanky nightclub on New Year's Eve, so the San Francisco police want him for questioning. Instead, Simon, along with NYC police ally Inspector Fernack (Jonathan Hale), decides to find the real murderer. Also featuring Wendy Barrie, Jerome Cowan, Jerome Cowan, Russell Hopton, Neil Hamilton, Robert Elliott, Edward Gargan, Willie Best, and Barry Fitzgerald as Zipper.

Louis Hayward had starred in the first of RKO's Saint films, 1938's The Saint in New York, but Hayward's agent advised against returning to the role, despite its success. RKO wisely chose Sanders as the replacement star, and this entry ended up being a big hit. Sanders is the best thing about it, as the mystery is rather dull, and most of the supporting players are unmemorable, with the exception of Cowan as a disagreeable policeman, and Barry Fitzgerald as a low level crook. Kingrat may wish to watch one scene on a loop, as Sanders socks Fitzgerald in the face.   (6/10)

Source: TCM.

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Sergeant Madden (1939) - Surprisingly gritty crime drama from MGM and director Josef von Sternberg. Wallace Beery stars as the title police sergeant, a longtime veteran of the force who is proud that his son Dennis (Alan Curtis) has joined the force, too. Only Dennis has a different temperament than his father, and is in fact a quick-to-anger bully only interested in the power that his position gives him. It isn't long before Dennis's violent streak turns deadly, and Sgt. Madden is forced to help bring him to justice. Also starring Laraine Day, Tom Brown, Marc Lawrence, Fay Holden, Marion Martin, David Gorcey, Dickie Jones, Reed Hadley, Clayton Moore, Jay Novello, Jack Pennick, and Horace McMahon as Philadelphia. 

When I started watching this, I wasn't sure why I had recorded it in the first place. I like the crime movie genre, and much of director von Sternberg's work, but I'm not crazy about Wallace Beery, and I'd never heard of this particular title until it showed up on the schedule. As it started I was groaning to myself as it appeared to be headed toward the kind of sappy sentimentality that ruins many of Beery's films, with him here trying to adopt various orphans that he finds on the job. Thankfully, the tone changes completely once his kids grow into adults and Alan Curtis takes the lead in the story. His character is a real jerk to just about everyone he meets, and as he turns more ruthless as the story progresses, he becomes more fascinating. His isn't the type of character routinely seen in studio films of this time period, and to see a person, ostensibly raised well in the right environment by upright and just people, still turn into a uniformed policeman who's also a sociopathic killer beyond redemption, is quick shocking in the age of the production code. This kind of murkier morality at play in the world would become more common in the postwar era and the emergence of film noir and more psychologically complex crime pictures, so this one is decidedly ahead of its time in that respect. This is still a B-movie, but it's a good one.   (7/10)

Source: TCM.

in_sergeant_madden_NG02263_L.jpg

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The Spy in Black aka U-Boat 29 (1939) - British wartime thriller from Columbia Pictures, and director Michael Powell. Conrad Veidt stars as Captain Hardt, a German u-boat commander during World War One. He receives new orders to travel to the Orkney Islands off the northern coast of Great Britain. There he is to rendezvous with another secret German agent (Valerie Hobson) posing as a local school mistress. A disgraced British naval officer (Sebastian Shaw) has agreed to supply the Germans with information that will allow the German u-boats to decimate the British Navy in the North Sea. However, complications ensue, as well as romantic feelings between Hardt and the school teacher. Also featuring Marius Goring, June Duprez, Athole Stewart, Agnes Lauchlan, Helen Haye, Cyril Raymond, George Summers, Skelton Knaggs, and Torin Thatcher.

This excellent war drama marked the first collaboration between director Michael Powell and future partner Emeric Pressburger, the latter of whom wrote the screenplay here. Veidt and Hobson are both very good, with nuanced performances that add depth to the proceedings. Powell also has some nice cinematic techniques on display, and I particularly liked one scene where, after Veidt has arrived in Great Britain, Hobson serves him a full meal, including real butter and a baked ham. The captain has gone without due to his lengthy u-boat service and the strictures of war-time rationing in Germany, so this meal is a veritable feast, with a quick-cut editing style that's followed by Veidt and Hobson collapsing in exhaustion, each lighting a cigarette, not unlike the post-coitus ritual.   (7/10)

Source: TCM.

1939-the-spy-in-black.jpg

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Lawrence, what was the print of The Spy in Black like? I seem to recall seeing a really poor one on TCM a few years back.

I like The Rains Came more than you do, but I agree completely that George Brent gives one of his best performances here. He seems more interesting (and therefore more attractive) opposite Barbara Stanwyck (The Gay Sisters, My Reputation) and Myrna Loy (The Rains Came, Stamboul Express) than he ever does opposite Bette Davis.

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On 2/13/2018 at 3:07 PM, LawrenceA said:

The Rains Came (1939) - Soapy romantic melodrama that turns into a disaster movie that turns back into a soapy romantic melodrama, from 20th Century-Fox and director Clarence Brown. In colonial East India, dissolute painter Tom Ransome (George Brent) is slowly going to seed, but his life gets complicated when the daughter (Brenda Joyce) of local missionaries falls for him.

Those are the kind of complications a guy would like to have.

This reminds me of my strong boyhood attraction to Brenda Joyce when she played Jane in five of the Tarzan films. Not only did she have wholesome girl-next-door looks but she also exuded a natural warmth that made her most appealing.

The majority of Tarzan fans undoubtedly regard Maureen O'Sullivan as Tarzan's Jane, and I understand that. She was effective in the role, but there was also a feeling of potential edginess about her personality. Brenda, by contrast, seems so down-to-earth and uncomplicated, coming across as simply more of a nice person. And, quite frankly, she sure looked lovely in that Jane outfit.

images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRgAzgUhFv0tHqCMT6lfkz

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37 minutes ago, kingrat said:

Lawrence, what was the print of The Spy in Black like? I seem to recall seeing a really poor one on TCM a few years back.

I like The Rains Came more than you do, but I agree completely that George Brent gives one of his best performances here. He seems more interesting (and therefore more attractive) opposite Barbara Stanwyck (The Gay Sisters, My Reputation) and Myrna Loy (The Rains Came, Stamboul Express) than he ever does opposite Bette Davis.

The print of The Spy in Black was fine. I didn't notice any undue damage or darkness, and the image wasn't washed-out and hazy like some TCM prints are. 

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On 2/13/2018 at 4:21 PM, LornaHansonForbes said:

iI could not help but find as gay subtext to the young understudy samurai who picked flowers and always seemed so well-groomed and seems to have had daddy issues of a sort.

Yeah, I'll agree, you couldn't help it.  :P  And before we go further down that road, one of the traditional requirements for an understudy samurai in training was to avoid all women until he'd earned his crest (a running joke on anime's "Lupin III"), which explains why that budding romance with the girl was responsibly stifled...Nothing to see here.

And not just the editing, but Akira's sense of storytelling is such that it may have a slow start before the samurai show up, but once they do, you're into a three-hour movie where literally an hour and a half go by before you even think of checking your watch.  Something a lot of movies (like that '16 Magnificent Seven "remake" that had never seemed to have seen Kurosawa's or John Sturges' movie in their life) can benefit from learning.  

Even for a black-and-white movie, when Takashi Shimura goes into the hut disguised as the monk, all we hear is a tense pause, a "whsshht!" of a sword, and a dead outlaw collapses out, that's one of the most "...WHOA.  :blink: " moments in classic action films, considering it isn't even onscreen.

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The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939) - Musical biopic from RKO and director H.C. Potter. Vernon Castle (Fred Astaire) is a minor stage comedian with dancing skill who meets would-be actress Irene (Ginger Rogers). They marry, but struggle for success, until they become unlikely stars in Europe, starting dance and fashions crazes, and they bring their celebrated dancing back to America. But will the breakout of World War One spoil their wedded and professional bliss? Also featuring Walter Brennan, Edna May Oliver, Lew Fields, Etienne Girardot, Leonid Kinskey, Janet Beecher, Rolfe Sedan, Frank Faylen, and Robert Strange.

There are some great dance numbers, and Astaire and Rogers have an easy chemistry, but there's a melancholy hanging over this picture, perhaps due to the ending, or maybe because this signals the end of their string of 1930's RKO classics. As good as their classy, sophisticated dances are, I think the one I'll remember most is Ginger's first dance, dressed as a clown, trying to impress a very dubious Astaire.   (7/10)

Source: Warner DVD, part of the TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection: Astaire & Rogers Volume 2. There are a pair of vintage shorts as bonus features.

40187-the-story-of-vernon-and-irene-cast

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You Can't Cheat an Honest Man (1939) - Comedy from Universal Pictures and director George Marshall. W.C. Fields is Larsen E. Whipsnade, the proprietor of a two-bit circus. He's barely staying a step ahead of the bill collectors, and he can't even pay his employees, such as The Great Edgar (Edgar Bergen) and his ventriloquist dummy Charlie McCarthy. Edgar falls in love with Whipsnade's visiting daughter Victoria (Constance Moore), but she may make a heartbreaking decision to keep her father out of debtor's prison. Also featuring Arthur Hohl, Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, John Arledge, James Bush, Thurston Hall, Mary Forbes, Edward Brophy, and Grady Sutton.

Fields and Bergen carry over their hit radio repartee in this decent comedy. Fields has some good bits, but I have to admit to never warming much to Bergen (or any ventriloquist act, really) so I was checking my watch during some of his bits, many of which take the movie into the realm of fantasy, with Charlie seemingly a living, independent entity.   (7/10)

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

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10 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

Fields and Bergen carry over their hit radio repartee in this decent comedy. Fields has some good bits, but I have to admit to never warming much to Bergen (or any ventriloquist act, really) so I was checking my watch during some of his bits, many of which take the movie into the realm of fantasy, with Charlie seemingly a living, independent entity.   (7/10)

 

Anybody else as amused/amazed by the popularity of a ventriloquist on the radio?

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