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I Just Watched...

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The Kissing Bandit (1948) - Technicolor musical flop from MGM and director Laslo Benedek. In early 19th century Mexican California, young Bostonian Ricardo (Frank Sinatra) arrives to work in the family hotel, only to learn from hotel manager Chico (J. Carrol Naish) that Ricardo is meant to take up the mantle of his father, that of the "Kissing Bandit", a mysterious figure who steals money from the wealthy landowners in the area, while also kissing their wives and daughters. Ricardo's first victim is newly-arrived governor's daughter Teresa (Katherine Grayson), and the two naturally fall for each other. Also featuring Mildred Natwick, Mikhail Rasumny, Billy Gilbert, Sono Osato, Clinton Sundberg, Byron Foulger, and Carleton D. Young. Ricardo Montalban, Ann Miller, and Cyd Charisse also show up for a dance number.

This notorious box-office bomb was an embarrassment to all involved. Sinatra and Grayson seem miscast, and their singing styles clash. There are several songs sung, but none very memorably, and Frank gets to sing one real turkey, "Siesta". Naish hams it up behind a bulbous, red putty nose, while Billy Gilbert is still doing his sneezing shtick. The brief dance number featuring Montalban, Miller, and Charisse is jarring due to their presence. It was choreographed by Stanley Donen.   (5/10)

Source: Warner DVD.

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A Tragedy At Midnight (1942)

A breezy, fun crime comedy from Republic featuring John Howard as a radio crime investigator solving cases that are baffling the police, with Margaret Lindsay as his crime writer wife. One morning Howard discovers the body of a dead woman with a knife in her back in his wife's bed, and the chase is on, as husband and wife try to solve the crime with the police hot on their tail.

A film very much in the Thin Man tradition, with Howard and Lindsay trading quips in their search for a murderer, the print I saw was a truncated 53 minute version of what had been a 68 minute film. Apparently the film was edited years ago to make it available for one hour television broadcasts. Nevertheless, chopped or not, it's still fun to watch.

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An eager, ever smiling Keye Luke appears as the couple's jiu jitsu employing manservant who assists them, along with Roscoe Karns as a cop, and Miles Mander as a doctor.

Howard, who had played Bulldog Drummond in a similarly breezy fashion in a series of '30s Bs, seems to be enjoying himself. But it's Margaret Lindsay, vivacious and sophisticated looking, as well as being a real brunette beauty in this film, who is perhaps the most fun to watch of all. Her character screams quite a bit in a film that never takes itself too seriously.

A Tragedy At Midnight made me appreciate how enjoyable Lindsay could be as a light hearted performer, in contrast to all those melodramas in which she was cast while under contract to Warners during the '30s. Not a lot of comedy material there, if memory serves me correctly. Based on the results of this little B, I'd say we lost out on not seeing Lindsay cast in fast moving bantering comedies more often.

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2.5 out of 4

 

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L'amore (1948) - Italian drama in two parts, from Finecine and director Roberto Rossellini. The first segment, The Human Voice, centers on a despondent woman (Anna Magnani) in hotel room, having emotional conversations on the telephone. The second segment, The Miracle, follows Nannina (Anna Magnani), a mentally unstable goat shepherd in a small village who believes that she has a visitation from St. Joseph (Federico Fellini), with life-altering consequences.

The second half features the dedication "To the artistry of Anna Magnani", and that sums up the apparent purpose of this minor effort. The first second, based on a play by Jean Cocteau, is the height of self indulgence, as we watch Magnani have three scenery-chewing one-way conversations. To say that this part gets tiresome before its conclusion would an understatement. However, the second half, written by Federico Fellini, is very good, and makes this worth a watch. Many of Fellini's later subtle and not-so-subtle digs at religion are apparent, but something that could have become harsh and cruel ends being strangely touching, largely due to the nuanced performance by Magnani.    (7/10)

Source: FilmStruck.

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Ladies of the Chorus (1948) - B-musical romance from Columbia Pictures and director Phil Karlson. Adele Jurgens and Marilyn Monroe star as mother-daughter burlesque performers Mae and Peggy. They're part of the chorus in a two-bit revue show, but when Peggy gets a solo number, she attracts the attention of rich guy Randy (Rand Brooks). As Randy and Peggy contemplate marriage, they worry about how his mother (Nana Bryant) will react to news of her son marrying a burlesque queen. Also featuring Eddie Garr, Steven Geray, Robert Clarke, Gladys Blake, Myron Healey, and Marjorie Hoshelle as Bubbles LaRue.

A largely forgettable endeavor, this movie is of note for featuring Monroe's first leading role. She's gorgeous, as is Jurgens, but nothing about the script or the direction make this worth checking out. There are only a few songs, plus a musical performance by the Bobby True Trio. This was a flop on release, and Columbia didn't renew Monroe's contract. She moved to Fox, and the rest is history. The movie got a re-release in the 1950's after Monroe became a star, with the credits altered to put her name above the title.   (5/10)

Source: TCM.

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16 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

Killer Diller (1948) - All-black musical revue from All-American and director Josh Binney.

I was hoping it would be a comedy about Phyllis Diller as a serial killer.

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11 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

L'amore (1948) - Italian drama in two parts, from Finecine and director Roberto Rossellini. The first segment, The Human Voice, centers on a despondent woman (Anna Magnani) in hotel room, having emotional conversations on the telephone.

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i SAW THIS when last it aired on TCM and MAGNANI is (as always) MAGNIFICENT.

the first story was kinda like SORRY, WRONG NUMBER (Lo Siento, Il Numero Incorrecto) done as a postmodern, Italian Realist movie where the killer never comes, and the lead is heartbroken because she desperately wants to die.

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Tokyo Drifter - Decent Yakuza crime drama about a man's entanglement with a gang. The visuals are very nice but the plot is all over the place. 

Fighting Elegy - This one was a lot more bizarre imo. Set in Imperial Japan, a strict catholic boy can't profess his love to a girl. Naturally, he joins a street gang and releases his sexual urges through beating up people. :) I liked this one the more of the two. The visuals weren't as good and the film was in B&W but the plot was a lot more odd and the fight scenes were better choreographed. 

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EYES OF LAURA MARS was on TCM late night and I missed it, but then it showed up ON DEMAND, so I HOPPED ON IT:

Man it was bad! YET WATCHABLE.

I put down my phone and the crossword and gave it the same level of attention I would something that was genuinely good and nutritive for my soul....I'm not even angry at it, how can you be mad at a movie where the credit "STARRING FAYE DUNAWAY" appears on screen at the moment the limo doors open and WE SEE THOSE LEGS.

YES FRANCINE!!!!! YOU'RE THE GREATEST STAR IN HOLLYWOOD, FRANCINE! MORE LEG FRANCINE!!!!!!!

Anyways...

They basically hit puree on BLOW-UP, LAURA and MAHOGANY on this one....according to sources the John Carpenter script and director Irvin Kirshner's rough cut were mangled by the studio and/or exec producer JON PETERS. aPPArently the rough cut of this impressed George Lucas enough that he picked Irvin to direct a little art house film called THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK in 1982 (some of you may have heard of that one.)

i'd like to think there was a good movie underneath this, the finale is painfully lame and inexcusably shot and blocked (there is not on whit of excitement to it, although it reminded me a little of POSSESSED.) The ending is obvious. The script is filled with pointless cul-de-sacs that mean nothing (thanks for that BLOW-UP)

there are a lot of missed opportunites- the idea is that basically the heroine sees things entirely through the killer's eyes (becoming in a way, blind), but there is just one good chase scene out of it- it's sadly underused and with the right editing, it could have been great! (maybe it was, but the studio decided it was too confusing.)

Raul Julia is in this (billed simply as "RJ" in the credits???!!!) AND HE IS MARVELOUS, straight out of 1930's central casting under "lothario." The guy from BENSON (not BENSON, the other guy) is also in it and for some reason he gets more screen time than the ostensible leading man- TOMMY LEE JONES- I'd say they're about neck-and-neck in an ugly contest, but at least the guy from BENSON seems to be enjoying himself.

This movie IS SO 1978 if any of you are missing scenes of filthy, decaying, paint-flaked MANHATTAN in the 70's, this one will keep you rapt (you listening CIGARJOE?) There's also a lot of shots of waterfront lofts, I really felt like the film made a huge mistake in not making that the primary setting- it would've been more filmic and interesting than the ugly apartment set they used.

people make love on fur sheets and there was a scene in Columbus Circle where four models with crimped hair, heavy eyeliner and mink coats have a hair-pulling contest in front of a wrecked pile of flaming limousines, basically a scene from my subconscious.

FAYE IS EVERYTHING IN THIS! IT'S BASICALLY HER MAKING EYES AT THE CAMERA FOR AN HOUR AND FORTY MINUTES AND IT NEVER GETS OLD! She also parades about in some haute late seventies fashion- lots of tweed and jaunty hats and large woolen scarves placed fetchingly- it's ANNIE HALL fashion, but done right for a change. She looks even more like JOAN CRAWFORD than she did in MOMMIE DEAREST.

this was apparently an attempt to do an American style "giallo" film- i can see that. i mean, it's not good, but i can see that.

this thing made 20 million dollars, which was pretty good back then.

LA STREISAND sings the theme song PRISONER and she gets a rather outre credit for it in the first credit at the end of the movie, I WOULD HAVE LOVED TO HAVE SEEN HER ROYAL FAYENESS'S REACTION TO THIS!!!!!!!!!

 

 

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eta: i could've saved all the time and energy i spent on the above review and just posted this clip from the film, which is EVERYTHING:

 

 

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11 minutes ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

EYES OF LAURA MARS was on TCM late night and I missed it, but then it showed up ON DEMAND, so I HOPPED ON IT:

Man it was bad! YET WATCHABLE.

I put down my phone and the crossword and gave it the same level of attention I would something that was genuinely good and nutritive for my soul....I'm not even angry at it, how can you be mad at a movie where the credit "STARRING FAYE DUNAWAY" appears on screen at the moment the limo doors open and WE SEE THOSE LEGS. 

YES FRANCINE!!!!! YOU'RE THE GREATEST STAR IN HOLLYWOOD, FRANCINE! MORE LEG FRANCINE!!!!!!!

Anyways...

They basically hit puree on BLOW-UP, LAURA and MAHOGANY on this one....according to sources the John Carpenter script and director Irvin Kirshner's rough cut were mangled by the studio and/or exec producer JON PETERS. aPPArently the rough cut of this impressed George Lucas enough that he picked Irvin to direct a little art house film called THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK in 1982 (some of you may have heard of that one.)

i'd like to think there was a good movie underneath this, the finale is painfully lame and inexcusably shot and blocked (there is not on whit of excitement to it, although it reminded me a little of POSSESSED.) The ending is obvious. The script is filled with pointless cul-de-sacs that mean nothing (thanks for that BLOW-UP)

there are a lot of missed opportunites- the idea is that basically the heroine sees things entirely through the killer's eyes (becoming in a way, blind), but there is just one good chase scene out of it- it's sadly underused and with the right editing, it could have been great! (maybe it was, but the studio decided it was too confusing.)

Raul Julia is in this (billed simply as "RJ" in the credits???!!!) AND HE IS MARVELOUS, straight out of 1930's central casting under "lothario." The guy from BENSON (not BENSON, the other guy) is also in it and for some reason he gets more screen time than the ostensible lead- TOMMY LEE JONES- I'd say they're about neck-and-neck in an ugly contest, but at least the guy from BENSON seems to be enjoying himself.

This movie IS SO 1978 if any of you are missing scenes of filthy, decaying, paint-flaked MANHATTAN in the 70's, this one will keep you rapt (you listening CIGARJOE?) There's also a lot of shots of waterfront lofts, I really felt like the film made a huge mistake in not making that the primary setting- it would've been more filmic and interesting than the ugly apartment set they used.

people make love on fur sheets and there was a scene in Columbus Circle where four models with crimped hair, heavy eyeliner and mink coats have a hair-pulling contest in front of some staged wrecked and flaming limos, basically a scene from my subconscious.

FAYE IS EVERYTHING IN THIS! IT'S BASICALLY HER MAKING EYES AT THE CAMERA FOR AN HOUR AND FORTY MINUTES AND IT NEVER GETS OLD! She also parades about in some haute late seventies fashion- lots of tweed and jaunty hats and large woolen scarves placed fetchingly. She looks even more like JOAN CRAWFORD than she did in MOMMIE DEAREST.

this was apparently an attempt to do an American style "giallo" film- i can see that. i mean, it's not good, but i can see that.

this thing made 20 million dollars, which was pretty good back then.

LA STREISAND sings the theme song PRISONER and she gets a rather outre credit for it in the first credit at the end of the movie, I WOULD HAVE LOVED TO HAVE SEEN HER ROYAL FAYENESS'S REACTION TO THIS!!!!!!!!!

 

 

You make me sorry I did not record this for posterity.  Maybe it will be back on soon.

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3 minutes ago, calvinnme said:

You make me sorry I did not record this for posterity.  Maybe it will be back on soon.

aw thank you.

i dunno what kind of cable you got, but if you have TCM ON DEMAND, it's on in my area (but I know it's no available for everyone)

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"Too Much Too Soon" (1958) 7/10
 
This one gets many of the facts just plain wrong, but then that is par for the course for biopics of the 50s. Diana Barrymore was a tragic figure, she was ignored by her parents, actor John Barrymore and author Michael Strange, and I'm sure that had much to do with the bad choices that she made. However, so much is incorrect in this film. I don't know exactly how Diana Barrymore started drinking, but in the film, after her father dies and she feels guilty for not having being there, she literally picks up a bottle of her dad's liquor and starts chugging after a lifetime on lemonade. She is shown as having what appears to be a perfectly fine first husband with a good job who is age appropriate when in fact husband number one was a fellow actor almost 20 years her senior during their marriage when she was in her early 20s. Husbands number two and three are pretty much on course, especially husband number two who was a tennis player simply out to exploit Diana for the Barrymore millions.

Errol Flynn gives a fine performance as John Barrymore and life sadly imitates art here as Flynn would die within a year at least partly from his own lifestyle. You really feel sometimes you are looking right at Barrymore, from Flynn's carriage to just his appearance. Flynn actually knew Barrymore, so he did have actual memories from which to draw on in his performance. Flynn probably got both the remorse and temptations that Barrymore may have felt.

Another point - the film makes it look like Diana is John Barrymore's only child - she wasn't - and that Diana's mother was the love of his life, the others just being "images on a screen". Given the short time they were married I doubt that too. In fact, Diana was with her dad when he died. Actually, while his legs were bloated stiff from kidney failure and he was lying in his hospital death bed, John Barrymore was begging his daughter to go out and find prostitutes for him and bring them back to the hospital!

I'd watch this because the overall tragic stories of John and Diana Barrymore are true and the acting is great, but the devil is in the details. Strangely enough this showed up on TCM's Father's Day programming. I guess, for a change, they were trying to balance the "good dad" movies with the "bad dad" films.
 
Source: TCM's Father's Day programming, also available from the Warner Archive

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Yeah, BAD! I started watching it, but it was on too late to finish and I didnt have the room to record it. What I saw was BAD. I remember critics panning it when it came out, but wanted to see just how bad it was. Maybe next time!  (Laura Mars).

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I just watched Yankee Doodle Dandy again for the 20th time. Every time I see it, I love it even more. Cagney's energy and charisma just flew off the screen. He's magnificent in whatever movie I see him in. Too bad he wasn't in more musicals. (Not that he didn't play a gangster well!)

 

Could anyone else imagine him with Ginger Rogers in place of Fred Astaire? 

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9 minutes ago, calvinnme said:
"Too Much Too Soon" (1958) 7/10
 
This one gets many of the facts just plain wrong, but then that is par for the course for biopics of the 50s. Diana Barrymore was a tragic figure, she was ignored by her parents, actor John Barrymore and author Michael Strange, and I'm sure that had much to do with the bad choices that she made. However, so much is incorrect in this film. I don't know exactly how Diana Barrymore started drinking, but in the film, after her father dies and she feels guilty for not having being there, she literally picks up a bottle of her dad's liquor and starts chugging after a lifetime on lemonade. She is shown as having what appears to be a perfectly fine first husband with a good job who is age appropriate when in fact husband number one was a fellow actor almost 20 years her senior during their marriage when she was in her early 20s. Husbands number two and three are pretty much on course, especially husband number two who was a tennis player simply out to exploit Diana for the Barrymore millions.

Errol Flynn gives a fine performance as John Barrymore and life sadly imitates art here as Flynn would die within a year at least partly from his own lifestyle. You really feel sometimes you are looking right at Barrymore, from Flynn's carriage to just his appearance. Flynn actually knew Barrymore, so he did have actual memories from which to draw on in his performance. Flynn probably got both the remorse and temptations that Barrymore may have felt.

Another point - the film makes it look like Diana is John Barrymore's only child - she wasn't - and that Diana's mother was the love of his life, the others just being "images on a screen". Given the short time they were married I doubt that too. In fact, Diana was with her dad when he died. Actually, while his legs were bloated stiff from kidney failure and he was lying in his hospital death bed, John Barrymore was begging his daughter to go out and find prostitutes for him and bring them back to the hospital!

I'd watch this because the overall tragic stories of John and Diana Barrymore are true and the acting is great, but the devil is in the details. Strangely enough this showed up on TCM's Father's Day programming. I guess, for a change, they were trying to balance the "good dad" movies with the "bad dad" films.
 
Source: TCM's Father's Day programming, also available from the Warner Archive

 

Yeah, like  most Hollywood bios it plays fast and loose with the truth. I read her autobiography years after seeing the film and it was quite different. Flynn is in half the movie, but her father factored very little in Diana's life.

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9 minutes ago, Hibi said:

Yeah, BAD! I started watching it, but it was on too late to finish and I didnt have the room to record it. What I saw was BAD. I remember critics panning it when it came out, but wanted to see just how bad it was. Maybe next time!  (Laura Mars).

...but not boring bad. I'll give it that.

I am sure that many have toyed with the notion of remaking EYES OF LAURA MARS, and honestly, it's one that could (even should?) be. The ideas are there, but the execution is off.

but again, it wasn't boring...which is technically the worst thing a movie can be.

 

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The Miracle of the Bells (1948) - Hollywood melodrama from RKO and director Irving Pichel. Press agent Bill Dunnigan (Fred MacMurray) journeys to a small Pennsylvania coal mining town to bury former resident Olga (Alida Valli). She had gone to Hollywood to be a star, but died of an illness after finishing her first film, the story of Joan of Arc. When the film's producer (Lee J. Cobb) decides not to release the film, Dunnigan tries to think of a way to change his mind, while also dealing with the details of Olga's burial. He finds some help from kindly priest Father Paul (Frank Sinatra). Also featuring Harold Vermilyea, Charles Meredith, James Nolan, Veronica Pataky, Ian Wolfe, and Philip Ahn.

This movie is all over the place: a romance, a behind-the-scenes Hollywood expose, a portrait of small town small mindedness, and pseudo-religious hokum. MacMurray seems largely inert through much of the film. Alida Valli is okay, but lacks the screen presence that the role implies she has. Frank is quiet and slightly bemused. Lee J. Cobb actually doesn't yell a lot. One problem I had with the film's central conceit, that MacMurray pays all 6 of the town churches to ring their bells for 72 straight hours in honor of Olga, is that, if I had been a citizen of the town, I would have been among those trying to get the bells to stop ringing. Who in their right mind wants to listen to cacophonous bells ringing for 3 days and nights?!? The "miracle" is that no one was shot and none of the churches were burned down.   (6/10)

Source: TCM.

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29 minutes ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

...but not boring bad. I'll give it that.

I am sure that many have toyed with the notion of remaking EYES OF LAURA MARS, and honestly, it's one that could (even should?) be. The ideas are there, but the execution is off.

but again, it wasn't boring...which is technically the worst thing a movie can be.

 

Well, I'll have to reserve my comment until the next time I see it! :D I was getting ready for bed so I want devoting my full attention to what little I did hear/see.......

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