speedracer5

I Just Watched...

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Last night a friend brought over a movie on my List of Shame -- movies I should have seen but haven't. Several of my LoS movies are on the AFI 100 list (adding to my shame).

So I got one ticked off: Chinatown. One of the reasons I had never seen this movie was because I had seen a clip of the scene in which Nicholson's character gets his nose cut. It's quite graphic as I recall (I covered my eyes during that part last night). But I've heard Chinatown mentioned about a million times as a great movie, so I was happy to finally see what all the fuss was about. What surprised me is that the movie is not particularly violent. In fact, it reminded me a lot of a 1940s film noir. I found it stylish and atmospheric; the vintage Los Angeles setting is strangely eerie yet beautiful. Knowing what LA will become gives an odd feeling. 

Even more eerie was what happened after. I got in a discussion with my friend about Eleanor Powell's performances. I don't have many of her movies, and I decided to rewatch one of the few I have, Broadway Melody of 1940, which costars Fred Astaire. I still had Chinatown on my mind. I popped in Broadway Melody, and it opens with someone hawking "Chinatown." 

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The Man I Married (1940) - Engrossing pre-war anti-Nazi propaganda from 20th Century-Fox and director Irving Pichel. American Carol (Joan Bennett) is married to German immigrant Eric Hoffman (Francis Lederer), and the two decide to travel to Germany, along with their young son, to settle some business matters and to see the country. While Carol has heard some rumblings about Nazi abuses of power and the use of concentration camps, she's shocked and appalled by the extent of it, while Eric feels a renewed sense of pride in what he sees as his homeland returning to prominence. Carol begins to fear that she's losing Eric to the Nazi ideology, even while her contact with an American reporter (Lloyd Nolan) is putting a spotlight on just how far gone the Nazis and Germany really are. Also featuring Otto Kruger, Maria Ouspenskaya, Anna Sten, Ludwig Stossel, and Johnny Russell.

This was controversial, inflammatory stuff at the time of its release, and Fox pulled the picture from theaters soon after release. It's certainly one of the most unequivocal anti-Nazi American movies from before the war that I've seen. Bennett is good as the increasingly alarmed surrogate stand-in for Americans unaware or unwilling to face what was happening in Europe. Anna Sten is very hissable as the fanatical Nazi adherent that tries to sway Lederer's mind and heart.   (7/10)

Source: TCM.

ManIMarriedLobby.jpg

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19 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

The Man I Married (1940) - Engrossing pre-war anti-Nazi propaganda from 20th Century-Fox and director Irving Pichel. American Carol (Joan Bennett) is married to German immigrant Eric Hoffman (Francis Lederer), and the two decide to travel to Germany, along with their young son, to settle some business matters and to see the country. While Carol has heard some rumblings about Nazi abuses of power and the use of concentration camps, she's shocked and appalled by the extent of it, while Eric feels a renewed sense of pride in what he sees as his homeland returning to prominence. Carol begins to fear that she's losing Eric to the Nazi ideology, even while her contact with an American reporter (Lloyd Nolan) is putting a spotlight on just how far gone the Nazis and Germany really are. Also featuring Otto Kruger, Maria Ouspenskaya, Anna Sten, Ludwig Stossel, and Johnny Russell.

This was controversial, inflammatory stuff at the time of its release, and Fox pulled the picture from theaters soon after release. It's certainly one of the most unequivocal anti-Nazi American movies from before the war that I've seen. Bennett is good as the increasingly alarmed surrogate stand-in for Americans unaware or unwilling to face what was happening in Europe. Anna Sten is very hissable as the fanatical Nazi adherent that tries to sway Lederer's mind and heart.   (7/10)

Source: TCM.

ManIMarriedLobby.jpg

A very well-acted film which is quite intriguing with a marvelous cast.  It's a frightening situation where the Nazi power may continue to sway many.  Joan Bennett is one of my favorites, and it is good to see many others that were entertaining in other films. 

Among the cast,  I really like Francis Lederer and Maria Ouspenskaya.  Francis was quite notable in The Madonna's Secret, and Maria was great to see in The Wolf Man and Kings Row, etc.   Anna Sten was notable in some 30s films;  I first saw her in an early 30s tragedy with Gary Cooper.

In this film, they are all believable and quite real.

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2 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

The Man I Married (1940) -

ManIMarriedLobby.jpg

MGM's The Mortal Storm, released the same year as The Man I Love, is another powerful indictment of the growing Nazi menace designed as a warning to wake up a complacent America with so much isolationism within it. The film has a strong cast, headed by Margaret Sullavan and James Stewart, and it's a bit of a shock to see Robert Young as a young fanatical Nazi party member. It's been a while since I saw the film, but I recall thinking that Frank Morgan, in the sympathetic role of a professor who becomes a victim of Nazi tyranny, stood out.

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3 hours ago, RosieSayer said:

Last night a friend brought over a movie on my List of Shame -- movies I should have seen but haven't. Several of my LoS movies are on the AFI 100 list (adding to my shame).

So I got one ticked off: Chinatown. One of the reasons I had never seen this movie was because I had seen a clip of the scene in which Nicholson's character gets his nose cut. It's quite graphic as I recall (I covered my eyes during that part last night). But I've heard Chinatown mentioned about a million times as a great movie, so I was happy to finally see what all the fuss was about. What surprised me is that the movie is not particularly violent. In fact, it reminded me a lot of a 1940s film noir. I found it stylish and atmospheric; the vintage Los Angeles setting is strangely eerie yet beautiful. Knowing what LA will become gives an odd feeling. 

Even more eerie was what happened after. I got in a discussion with my friend about Eleanor Powell's performances. I don't have many of her movies, and I decided to rewatch one of the few I have, Broadway Melody of 1940, which costars Fred Astaire. I still had Chinatown on my mind. I popped in Broadway Melody, and it opens with someone hawking "Chinatown." 

From Chinatown to Chinatown, love it! 

I have seen exactly four of Polanski's movies.

THE FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS suuuuuuuuuuucks. I don’t get ROSEMARYS BABY (Which I think in part it’s a generational thing), MACBETH is superb and CHINATOWN is a masterpiece, one of the ten best films of the seventies, and one I would *probably* put in my top 20 of all time.

 

ps- that AFI list is a load of bull.  There’s no shame and you are not missing much, chances are, if you missed a film on that list.

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Michael Shayne: Private Detective (1940) - Very enjoyable B-mystery from 20th Century-Fox and director Eugene Forde. Lloyd Nolan stars as Michael Shayne, a down-on-his-luck P.I. who's having trouble paying his bills. His luck changes when he's hired to keep watch over rich girl Phyllis (Marjorie Weaver) who's been spending too much of daddy's money lately losing at the gambling house. A simple babysitting job gets complicated when a dead body pops up and Shayne looks like the guilty party. Also featuring Elizabeth Patterson, Joan Valerie, Walter Abel, Douglas Dumbrille, Donald MacBride, Clarence Kolb, and George Meeker.

This was the first in a series of Shayne mysteries starring Nolan, based on books by Brett Halliday. Nolan is very good as the genial Shayne, a decent guy who isn't afraid to use his fists but prefers using his wits. I liked that he's shown to be fallible, making clumsy mistakes like ripping his pants while sneaking around, which helps to humanize him compared to other movie sleuths who never seem to make a misstep. Weaver's spoiled rich girl act is irritating at first, but her character makes a big turnaround, and Patterson is a delight as Weaver's detective-story-addict aunt who helps out on the case. This movie doesn't do anything groundbreaking, but it knows its lane and travels it well.    (7/10)

Source: Fox DVD.

Mike-Shayne-Poster.png

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13 minutes ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

From Chinatown to Chinatown, love it! 

I have seen exactly four of Polanski's movies.

THE FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS suuuuuuuuuuucks. I don’t get ROSEMARYS BABY (Which I think in part it’s a generational thing), MACBETH is superb and CHINATOWN is a masterpiece, one of the ten best films of the seventies, and one I would *probably* put in my top 20 of all time.

I've seen 17 Polanski movies. Chinatown ranks among my all-time favorites, as well. I like Repulsion (1965), Macbeth (1971), The Tenant (1976), Tess (1979), The Ninth Gate (1999), and The Pianist (2002) a lot as well. Unlike you, I enjoyed The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967), and while I used to loathe Rosemary's Baby (1968), it has grown on me substantially in recent years. Knife in the Water (1962), Bitter Moon (1992), Death and the Maiden (1994), Oliver Twist (2005), The Ghost Writer (2010), and Carnage (2011) were all okay. The less said about Pirates (1986) the better. Frantic (1988) is one that many seem to like that left me cold, so I should rewatch it.

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I keep meaning to see REVULSION and CUL DE SAC, and I’d watch FRANTIC For the chance to see a handsome Harrison Ford back when he actually put some effort into a performance.

i wish I could like FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS, and the Good Lord knows I’ve tried, I’ve seen it several times. But oh God I hate it.

 

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21 minutes ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

From Chinatown to Chinatown, love it! 

I have seen exactly four of Polanski's movies.

THE FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS suuuuuuuuuuucks. I don’t get ROSEMARYS BABY (Which I think in part it’s a generational thing), MACBETH is superb and CHINATOWN is a masterpiece, one of the ten best films of the seventies, and one I would *probably* put in my top 20 of all time.

 

ps- that AFI list is a load of bull.  There’s no shame and you are not missing much, chances are, if you missed a film on that list.

I don't like Rosemary's Baby either.  I thought it was boring.  The only part I liked was the over-enthusiastic woman who yells out "HAIL SATAN!" 

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14 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

Michael Shayne: Private Detective (1940) -

Mike-Shayne-Poster.png

Thanks, Lawrence. I've had copies of the Michael Shayne series with Lloyd Nolan for years without ever watching them. I have no idea why, but, thanks to your review, I know it's time for me to correct that glaring omission.

Nolan was a solid character actor who could be likeable in some films as a street tough guy, as well as a creep with charm in others (ie. Blues in the Night, which frequently comes on TCM). I always liked this Warners tribute to jazz men, but wishing that instead of the rather charmless Richard Whorf in the lead it could have had John Garfield. Garfield, in fact, turned the film down, being put on suspension by the studio for doing so.

Blues in the Night is still an entertaining film anyway, though, in true Warners style, going off the melodramatic deep end at its climax.

blues-in-the-night-2-del-hols-up-our-her

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Murder Over New York (1940) - Charlie Chan mystery from 20th Century-Fox and director Harry Lachman. Chan (Sidney Toler) is headed to a police convention in NYC when he reconnects with an old colleague on the plane ride. The old friend is now working for British military intelligence in the war effort, and he tells Charlie that he's on the trail of saboteurs after bomber planes. When Chan's buddy ends up murdered, Charlie takes on the case. Also featuring Ricardo Cortez, Marjorie Weaver, Victor Sen Yung, Donald MacBride, John Loder, Melville Cooper, Joan Valerie, Robert Lowery, John Sutton, Leyland Hodgson, Kane Richmond, Frederick Worlock, Clarence Muse, and Shemp Howard.

This Chan entry, the last of four released in 1940, has a few unusual characteristics. The most obvious is dropping the "Charlie Chan" name from the title. In fact, even in the opening credits Toler's name is listed last. Director Lachman had helmed Charlie Chan at the Circus back in 1936, and his return to the series sees some distinctive visual touches, like a more mobile camera; heavy (if at times corny) use of shadows, with menacing disguised figures lurking behind our hero; and lots of close-ups of actors giving suspicious looks. It's enjoyable if one doesn't take it too seriously, but it can seem almost comical. The cast is good, although Cortez is wasted.   (7/10)

Source: Fox DVD.

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Valentino (1951) youtube

Well, it’s not bad, but it ain’t good either. Instead of a decent biopic which could have delved into the background and mystique of Rudolph Valentino, we get over 100 minutes of Anthony Dexter pretty much trying to bag Eleanor Parker.

Now Dexter was certainly a good choice for Valentino, because of his facial and physical resemblance. And we all know his subsequent career reached the stratosphere, with classics like Fire Maidens of Outer Space, 12 To the Moon, and The Phantom Planet (these last two films oddly enough featuring silent screen legend Francis X. Bushman).

Along with Parker, support (if you can call it that) is provided by Richard Carlson as a fictitious director, Otto Kruger as a fictitious producer, Patricia Medina as a fictitious actress/dancer, and Joseph Calleia as a fictitious paisano named Luigi Verducci.

If you like dancing, Dexter does the tango with Parker, Medina, and an old bag. If you don’t like dancing, you’ll probably still like the almost-four-minute tango sequence with Dexter and Medina, as Dexter stages an “audition” at Kruger’s home. Highlights include Dexter cracking a whip and flipping his cigarette onto Kruger’s floor, prompting Kruger to yell “What is this **** here? Who has been putting out their coals on my floor?” No, wait, Eddie Murphy said that in some other film.

We get a little montage of Dexter doing Valentino from films like The Eagle and The Sheik. Incredibly, the death scene from The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is not even how it is played in the Valentino film. How is it possible to screw this up?

With about 30 minutes to go, Dexter finally gets a pain in his stomach. The audience probably had gas long before that.

uUcvYoV.png

 

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Post now and be done with it....."All Quiet On The Western Front" - International Sound Version (1930)

Have to admit this is new to me.

Film is great in portraying WW1, old tactics - new weapons.  All this carnage because some ******** got shot in Sarajevo.

0ba6f48885e8f9b992b81ff5498ed2e7--royal-

 

(Think I'll print this out and pin it to the dart board)

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4 hours ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

From Chinatown to Chinatown, love it! 

I have seen exactly four of Polanski's movies.

THE FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS suuuuuuuuuuucks. I don’t get ROSEMARYS BABY (Which I think in part it’s a generational thing), MACBETH is superb and CHINATOWN is a masterpiece, one of the ten best films of the seventies, and one I would *probably* put in my top 20 of all time

I loathed Fearless Vampire Killers and I agree with you about Rosemary's Baby. I really was barely able to finish it. I guess other people like it, but it just wasn't my cup of tea. 

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2 hours ago, NickAndNora34 said:

I loathed Fearless Vampire Killers and I agree with you about Rosemary's Baby. I really was barely able to finish it. I guess other people like it, but it just wasn't my cup of tea. 

I put FVKOPMYFAIMN in the same category as Pirates, ie. Polanski's taste for "comedy" might be improved considerably if he gave the scripts to actors from English-speaking countries, and kept them away from the makeup box.

Rosemary's Baby, OTOH, like The Exorcist, works better when you take it less as a straight occult thriller, and more as a time capsule of late 60's/early 70's religious insecurity during big-city urban malaise, at a time when city dwellers wanted to blame religion (ie. the Vatican) on the Establishment and dismiss it as the reason for the bad headlines...But since most sophisticated uptown city dwellers were also Catholic, it didn't take away their own fears that there might still be demons and ghosties out there.  Polanski made sure the famous Time magazine "Is God Dead?" cover was in full shot when the seemingly "sophisticated" urbanite begins spouting off on the "irrelevant" church, without our having the faintest suspicions why he might be holding those opinions...Heheh.  

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in re: ROSEMARY'S BABY

Two factors on my viewing of the film:

1. I was born in 1978 and raised in the 1980's on slasher and psychotronic movies. After seeing HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH ca. age 9, there was not much you could throw at me that could **** me up any more than I already (permanently) was.  I saw ROSEMARY as a teenager and as such, I was all "yeah, AND...?" at the end. I'm sure it scared the Hell out of people in 1968 tho.

2. I was also raised Episcopalian. We're not real "in" to discussing The Devil and we don't have that (slightly curious) ALL OUT TERROR that, say, Catholics and Baptists have when they see stuff about "Ye Horned One." I, for one, see THE EXORCIST as an out-and-out screwball comedy on a par with WHAT'S UP DOC?

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15 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

Michael Shayne: Private Detective (1940) - Very enjoyable B-mystery from 20th Century-Fox and director Eugene Forde. ... This was the first in a series of Shayne mysteries starring Nolan, based on books by Brett Halliday...

 

Thanks for bringing this across my radar, Lawrence. I'm just starting to get interested in B detective serials. I had never heard of the Michael Shayne series, but this sounds pretty good.

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I never was a fan of ROSEMARY'S BABY, maybe because I'm just not a big fan of Mia Farrow, or maybe I just didn't care for the story.

I do enjoy THE EXORCIST and THE OMEN, so using the Devil as a plot device has never been a problem for me.

ROSEMARY'S BABY was maybe just too far out for me (and I usually love far out stories).

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51 minutes ago, Bethluvsfilms said:

I never was a fan of ROSEMARY'S BABY, maybe because I'm just not a big fan of Mia Farrow, or maybe I just didn't care for the story.

I do enjoy THE EXORCIST and THE OMEN, so using the Devil as a plot device has never been a problem for me.

ROSEMARY'S BABY was maybe just too far out for me (and I usually love far out stories).

I will admit that part of my dislike for Rosemary’s Baby is that I’m not big into the horror movies featuring demons or aliens (unless it’s a corny 1950s-1960s movie). I just don’t find those stories compelling. I watched “The Exorcist” once and didn’t get anything out of it. I was bored. Same thing is true with “Poltergeist.” 

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1 hour ago, speedracer5 said:

I will admit that part of my dislike for Rosemary’s Baby is that I’m not big into the horror movies featuring demons or aliens (unless it’s a corny 1950s-1960s movie). I just don’t find those stories compelling. I watched “The Exorcist” once and didn’t get anything out of it. I was bored. Same thing is true with “Poltergeist.” 

Horror movies aren't for everyone. With the exception of POLTERGEIST (which me and my mom absolutely LOVE, and I mean the original), my mom hates them too.

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22 minutes ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

"I've seen THE EXORCIST a hundred and sixty seven times AND IT KEEPS GETTIN' FUNNIER EVERY SINGLE TIME I SEE IT!"

-Beetlejuice

I have seen THE EXORCIST a million times and cannot grasp what it is people find funny about it. 

If anything I'd say it's gotten even more disturbing over the years.

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My Little Chickadee (1940) - Western comedy from Universal Pictures and director Edward F. Cline. Mae West stars as Flower Belle Lee, a showgirl who gets kidnapped by the notorious Masked bandit during a stagecoach holdup. When she later arrives back in town unharmed, and then the bandit is spotted near her rooms, she's accused of being in league with him and chased out of town. On the train to Greasewood, she meets traveling con artist Cuthbert J. Twillie (W.C. Fields), and after noticing his bag of cash, she agrees to "marry" him for both the appearance of respectability and access to his funds. Once in Greasewood, Cuthbert inexplicably becomes town sheriff, while the Masked Bandit once again makes advances toward Flower Belle. Also featuring Dick Foran, Margaret Hamilton, Joseph Calleia, Ruth Donnelly, Fuzzy Knight, Donald Meek, Willard Robertson, Fay Adler, Wade Boteler, and Anne Nagel.

I've read about this one a lot over the years, and most of it was negative. The teaming up of comedy icons West and Fields sounded like a great idea to many, but the resulting film seems to have left most disappointed. Thanks to those lowered expectations, I ended up liking the movie quite a bit, and enjoyed the bits that worked. West and Fields both worked on the script, and much of the film feels like two distinct styles that don't quite mesh, as each performer naturally showcases themselves, so that West's scenes sound like Mae West movies while Fields' scenes feel like old Fields movies. A lot of the movie has the two off doing separate things, and it's only in the rare scenes that they share that things seem clunky, and even some of that is still funny. My favorite bits here include Fields dealing with unruly bar patron Fay Adler, and West taking charge of a schoolroom full of unruly teenage boys.  (7/10)

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

my_little_chickadee_1940_01_240_355_81_s

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7 hours ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

in re: ROSEMARY'S BABY

Two factors on my viewing of the film:

1. I was born in 1978 and raised in the 1980's on slasher and psychotronic movies. After seeing HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH ca. age 9, there was not much you could throw at me that could **** me up any more than I already (permanently) was.  I saw ROSEMARY as a teenager and as such, I was all "yeah, AND...?" at the end. I'm sure it scared the Hell out of people in 1968 tho.

(Heheh, Halloween III, the first of John Carpenter's love-letters to the Quatermass series...At least you didn't whine that the Shatner-faced killer wasn't in it.)

Again, it helps to have seen Rosemary and Exorcist in the early 70's:  Getting back into Sociology 101 for a moment, one thing we noticed after the fall of the Berlin Wall in Russia was that after a traumatic disillusioning collapse of any country's national identity, there's a competing sudden-interest in old-fashioned religion vs. occult and new-wave mysticism...Science and politics failed us, maybe our horoscope will have something to say.

In the late 60's/early 70's, urban malaise, with the war and the rise in crime and pollution, caused people to question their religion--Some factions of the hippie movement became disenchanted with drugs, found religion to clean up their lives and become "Jesus-freaks", unquote, while the successful Italian, Irish or Jewish upper-middle-class uptown urbanites were stuck with their own "stagnated" Vatican or Hebrew dogmas that told them little more than to follow old traditions Or Else.  The big trendy hipster-atheist argument around the pseudo-intellectual cocktail party at the time wasn't paranoia about televangelists burning books and taking over politics, it was about If There's A God, Why Doesn't He Stop All The Bad Things?, followed by more whines about big corporate "establishment" churches keeping people in their old-fashioned conservatively repressed places.  Sort of like Maurice Evans does in the party scene, that we're supposed to think is just another uptown cocktail party.  ("I think we're offending Rosemary."  "I was brought up a Catholic, now I don't know...")

The Exorcist and The Omen--two more stories of the Devil in rich privileged uptown brownstones--had the good timing to hit right around the fallout of the 1973-74 Watergate troubles, when we now had war, pollution and the inability to trust our very leaders' patriotism, at which point, we WERE like abandoned Russians trying to figure out their lives without a flag or central party.  We looked for any answers that seemed more awe-inspiring and neater than the ones we knew about--hence the ESP and astrology crazes, and UFO's just in time for Star Wars to hit--but it couldn't get away from the old Catholic bedroom-closet fear that if God Was Dead, who else might still be around with no one to stop him?  Looks like they couldn't get away from all their "old outdated beliefs" after all.

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57 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

My Little Chickadee (1940) -

my_little_chickadee_1940_01_240_355_81_s

My favourite moments of a disappointing film are also when W.C. acts as bartender.

Here's an interesting shot, with two legendary ladies, apparently on the Chickadee set, with Dietrich, in costume for Destry Rides Again, paying a visit. Looks like a contest in tacky attire.

1a20a70e1f1771c0c3ca0c0718126310.jpg

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