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I Just Watched...

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18 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

The Last Train to Madrid (1937) - War-time drama from Paramount Pictures and director James P. Hogan. Various characters attempt to secure passage on the title conveyance before the Spanish Civil destroys them all. Featuring Lew Ayres, Gilbert Roland, Dorothy Lamour, Helen Mack, Lionel Atwill, Karen Morley, Robert Cummings, Anthony Quinn, Olympe Bradna, Lee Bowman, Stanley Fields, Francis Ford, Francis McDonald, Charles Middleton, Henry Brandon, and Alan Ladd.

The assorted storylines come together well in the end, some happily, others not so much. The performances are decent, with Quinn and Lamour standouts in very early roles in their respective careers. This should be a better known film, but as it's one of those Paramount films owned by Universal...   (7/10)

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If memory serves, this picture was shown on the 'Lew Ayres' Summer Under The Stars day, and it was a TCM premiere.  Like most others here, I'd never seen "Last Train From Madrid" until this past August, and I enjoyed it quite a bit.  Each of the main characters had their own special storyline as sort of a vignette, but they all had one thing in common...their desperate efforts to get to Valencia before the Spanish Civil War takes its toll on the capital city.  Hopefully, TCM will be able to show this one more frequently in the future (though not as frequently as 'North By Northwest' or 'The Best Years of Our Lives')!

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4 hours ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

I watched a lot of THAT'S DANCING! when it aired the next morning, I had never even heard of it. it was nice that even though it was MGM produced and focused, they took the time to look at dance numbers from other studios (Warners featured prominently) and included a lot of modern scenes including some from music videos (BEAT IT, a goofy scene from FAME, and a scene from FLASHDANCE where they (correctly) give credit to Jennifer Beals's stand in for her climactic WHAT A FEELING number)

the three primary hosts were BARYSHNIKOV (who was MAKING LOVE TO ME with his EYES), a blue-blocker donning GENE KELLY and a mulleted, oddly subdued LIZA MINELLI standing in the middle of Times Square and wearing a black sable coat with a two foot tall collar.

It was originally released out of sequence as the "third" That's Entertainment film (you'll notice Gene Kelly is standing up this time), since MGM had gotten into the habit of one for every ten-year anniversary.  Dancing was from '85 and That's Entertainment III was from '94--TE3 should technically be the fourth film, and by then, there was really no need for them, as everyone had VCR's by that point, and the only reason for making them was for rare studio-deleted scenes.

And it's hard to think of the street-dance from "Fame" as a "classic" movie-musical scene, but looking back in thirty-year nostalgia, if you had to pick one iconic 80's-musical scene, well, what would be more appropriate to pick?

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The Woman Accused (1933) - Melodrama from Paramount Pictures and director Paul Sloane. Free-spirited Glenda O'Brien (Nancy Carroll) is set to take a pleasure cruise with new boyfriend Jeffrey (Cary Grant) when her ex (Louis Calhern) ends up dead. Glenda naturally gets accused of the deed, and Jeffrey must help prove her innocent. Also featuring John Halliday, Irving Pichel, Jack La Rue, Norma Mitchell, Frank Sheridan, John Lodge, Harry Holman, and Gertrude Messinger.

Based a magazine serial written by "the greatest writers of the day", including Zane Grey and Vina Delmar, this high-strung feature drifts into hysterics on more than one occasion. SPOILER - There's a scene with Cary Grant whipping Jack La Rue that has to be seen (and heard) to be believed - END SPOILER. Like many of these Paramount obscurities, the print quality that I watched was atrocious.   (6/10)

 

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44 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

The Woman Accused (1933) - Melodrama from Paramount Pictures and director Paul Sloane. Free-spirited Glenda O'Brien (Nancy Carroll) is set to take a pleasure cruise with new boyfriend Jeffrey (Cary Grant) when her ex (Louis Calhern) ends up dead. Glenda naturally gets accused of the deed, and Jeffrey must help prove her innocent. Also featuring John Halliday, Irving Pichel, Jack La Rue, Norma Mitchell, Frank Sheridan, John Lodge, Harry Holman, and Gertrude Messinger.

Based a magazine serial written by "the greatest writers of the day", including Zane Grey and Vina Delmar, this high-strung feature drifts into hysterics on more than one occasion. SPOILER - There's a scene with Cary Grant whipping Jack La Rue that has to be seen (and heard) to be believed - END SPOILER. Like many of these Paramount obscurities, the print quality that I watched was atrocious.   (6/10)

 

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I enjoyed the Carroll \ Grant film Hot Saturday (also by Paramount),  and it was a welcomed surprised when TCM showed this early film from that studio,  but it looks like The Women Accused isn't in the same league.   But I do love a good wiping scene.  

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The Working Man (1933) - Comedy-drama from Warner Brothers and director John G. Adolfi. Cantankerous old businessman John Reeves (George Arliss) feels like he's being put out to pasture at his successful shoe company. He decides to amuse himself by clandestinely inveigling himself into the lives of Jenny (Bette Davis) and Tommy (Theodore Newton), dilettante rich kids and the heirs to John's rival. Also featuring Hardie Albright, Gordon Westcott, J. Farrell MacDonald, Charles E. Evans, Pat Wing, Douglass Dumbrille, and Edward Van Sloan.

This is similar to many of Arliss's other films: a boisterous old man helps directionless youth find purpose and love in life. Arliss is bit more energetic than usual, but otherwise this is routine stuff, presented in a competent manner.   (6/10)

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7 hours ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

I watched a lot of THAT'S DANCING! when it aired the next morning, I had never even heard of it. it was nice that even though it was MGM produced and focused, they took the time to look at dance numbers from other studios (Warners featured prominently) and included a lot of modern scenes including some from music videos (BEAT IT, a goofy scene from FAME, and a scene from FLASHDANCE where they (correctly) give credit to Jennifer Beals's stand in for her climactic WHAT A FEELING number)

the three primary hosts were BARYSHNIKOV (who was MAKING LOVE TO ME with his EYES), a blue-blocker donning GENE KELLY and a mulleted, oddly subdued LIZA MINELLI standing in the middle of Times Square and wearing a black sable coat with a two foot tall collar.

I saw Barishnikov about 20 years ago in a one man show that my sister gave me birthday tickets for.  He performed part of the show in a pair of red briefs.  Both of us agreed we should have gotten closer seats.  Not only was he still gorgeous and in great shape, he did a dance with a rolling office chair that reminded me of one of Astaire's numbers with a prop.

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All of Me (1934) - Drama from Paramount Pictures and director James Flood. The story follows the intersecting lives of two romantic couple: restless engineering professor Don (Fredric March) and rich girl Lydia (Miriam Hopkins), and parolee "Honey" Rogers (George Raft) and his pregnant girlfriend Eve (Helen Mack). Also featuring Nella Walker, William Collier Sr., Gilbert Emery, Blanch Friderici, Kitty Kelly, Astrid Allwyn, Edgar Kennedy, Barton MacLane, and Jason Robards Sr. 

This flop movie was based on a flop play, but I can see where they thought the story may have some resonance with Depression-era viewers, what with the financial desperation of the Raft and Mack roles. If the movie had focused just on them, it would have been better. March and Hopkins are both wasted in pedestrian parts. This was another dreadful-looking print.   (5/10)

 

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19 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

Tonight Is Ours (1933) The copy I watched of this rarely seen movie had very poor visual quality

 

 

3 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

The Woman Accused (1933). Like many of these Paramount obscurities, the print quality that I watched was atrocious. 

 

 

 

21 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

All of Me (1934) This was another dreadful-looking print.

 

 

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"Anyone got an aspirin?"

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The Big Shakedown (1934) - Goofy crime picture from Warner Brothers and director John Francis Dillon. Bootlegger Dutch Barnes (Ricardo Cortez) faces hard times after the repeal of Prohibition, so he hits on a new scheme to manufacture counterfeit drugstore products (toothpaste, cosmetics, mouthwash) which are whipped up by goodhearted but naive chemist Jimmy Morrell (Charles Farrell). Also featuring Bette Davis, Glenda Farrell, Allen Jenkins, Henry O'Neill, Dewey Robinson, G. Pat Collins, and Samuel S. Hinds.

While most sources list this as a drama, it seemed to me to be played for laughs more than pathos. The basic premise is pretty silly, and the comic-relief supporting gangsters add to the mirth. Leading man Farrell is rather thin, personality-wise, and Bette Davis is wasted as his love interest. At least it was a sharp-looking print.   (5/10)

 

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Born to Be Bad (1934) - Misfire drama from Twentieth Century and director Lowell Sherman. Unwed mother Letty (Loretta Young) works as an escort to potential clients for her boss (Russell Hopton), leaving her young son Mickey (Jackie Kelk) to run free and delinquent. When the boy is first injured and then adopted by wealthy businessman Malcolm Trevor (Cary Grant), it forces Letty to reevaluate her lifestyle. Also featuring Henry Travers, Marion Burns, Paul Harvey, Harry Green, Etienne Girardot, and Charles Coleman.

The only total flop release from the new independent Twentieth Century film company, this was also one of the first major victims of the production code. Its racy storyline, featuring an unwed mother working as an escort, had to be severely edited, with some scenes even reshot, to win approval. They also had to excise much footage of Young in various states of undress. This compromising of the material results in an uneven and unsatisfying whole, which is a shame as Young isn't bad playing the bad girl. Grant is a bit of bore, though through no fault of his own, as his character as scripted is a cipher.    (5/10)

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"Tommy" - 1975 - Ken Russell -

This one is such an ugly and excessive film.

It should never have been released to the movie-going public.

As a rock opera, on record, fine, leave it there.

But it didn't belong in the movies.

Ken Russell's cinematic imagination is so over-heated that the film becomes - offensive.

Offensive, and labored - and suffocating, too.

The nadir of the film is Ann-Margaret descent into baked-bean madness.

Did this woman ever learn to say "no" to bad direction?

The thought of the sexual coupling of Ann-Margret and Oliver Reed driving little Tommy into a deaf, dumb and blind state has some sort of "poetic justice", though.

In a film this mad, the music tends to fall by the wayside.

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Broadway Bill (1934) - Sports drama from Columbia Pictures and director Frank Capra. Dan Brooks (Warner Baxter) has a cushy job thanks to his wealthy in-laws, but he chucks it all, including his wife (Helen Vinson), to try his hand at horse racing, specifically racing his horse Broadway Bill. Dan is joined by his sympathetic sister-in-law (Myrna Loy) and loyal stable hand Whitey (Clarence Muse). Also featuring Walter Connolly, Raymond Walburn, Douglass Dumbrille, Lynne Overman, Margaret Hamilton, Jason Robards Sr., Charles Lane, Clara Blandick, Ward Bond, Lucille Ball, Charles Middleton, Alan Hale, and Frankie Darro.

I'm not crazy about horse pictures, and this was no exception. Baxter is obnoxious, and most of the supporting cast is unremarkable. I liked Loy, as usual, but not enough to enjoy the rest of the film. Capra didn't care for this movie, either, and remade it in 1950 as Riding High to try and correct his perceived failures with this earlier version. I haven't seen the later film.   (5/10)

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The BlacKkKlansman (2018), directed by Spike Lee, is a powerful film based loosely on a true story that took place in Colorado Springs in the 1970s. An undercover black police officer, played by J.D. Washington (and also, sort of, by Adam Driver, who plays a Jewish officer) infiltrates the K K K, which had (has?) a robust presence in Colorado Springs (which also happens to be a city with a large number of HQs of right-wing and evangelical organizations). Topher Grace plays David Duke, once the Grand Wizard of the K K K, who has positioned himself as an Executive Director and looks forward to the time when, through political action, his group can get one of their kind in the White House.

The film, which is fairly traditionally shot, is clearly presented to foreshadow the increase of K K K and white supremacist activity taking place today. In fact, news footage of Donald Trump and the Charlottesville Unite the Right rally of 2017 is shown in the film, and the message is clear. At times obvious and even almost corny, The BlacKkKlansman is an important and sadly timely film.

FYI: Fred Trump was arrested at a K K K rally in New York City in 1927. That's not in the film, but I think it's part of the story.

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Lilting (2014), directed by Hong Khaou, is a quiet, reflective film about the shared grief between a mother who has lost her son, and the son's lover. Set in London, Cheng Pei-pei plays a Cambodian/Chinese immigrant, who, despite several decades of residence in London, has never really assimilated. Her son, played by Andrew Leong, is killed in an automobile accident. His lover Richard (Ben Whishaw) tries to help and console the mother as he deals with his own grief. But the mother, who lives in an assisted living facility, resists him. She's never learned English and only finds out after her son's death that Richard was more than just her son's friend. Lilting is a beautiful, sensitively shot film about how the inability to communicate exacerbates grief.

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Pagan Lady (1931)

Pre-code melodrama from Columbia somewhat reminiscent of Somerset Maugham's Rain, which had been filmed three years before and would be re-made the following year.

Evelyn Brent plays a bartender in a Havana bar who is literally carried out of the joint by macho Charles Bickford. They fall for each other, and he sets her up with him at a hotel somewhere in the States where he works as a bootlegger. Soon the hotel has a reformist preacher and his adopted son, the latter doubtful of his desire to resist worldly temptations (William Farnum, Conrad Nagel). Bickford's away on a trip and Brent decides to take up with the naive Nagel, but things don't work out as she planned.

The story might not be particularly original but this film manages to maintain interest because of the cast, which includes Roland Young as a doctor at the hotel who likes to get tipsy. Brent is believable as the title character who has seen her share of life but now wants to settle down, and Bickford is effective as a loud straight shooter who takes guff from no one. Tension mounts, of course, when he returns from his trip to find Nagel having taken up with his lady.

The print I saw varied in quality, but a storm sequence has some occasional striking photography and plenty of sounds effects of howling wind mixing with the thunder. A minor "steamy" tropical melodrama, the film works as an okay time waster.

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2.5 out of 4

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47 minutes ago, Swithin said:

The BlacKkKlansman (2018), directed by Spike Lee, is a powerful film based loosely on a true story that took place in Colorado Springs in the 1970s. An undercover black police officer, played by J.D. Washington (and also, sort of, by Adam Driver, who plays a Jewish officer) infiltrates the K K K, which had (has?) a robust presence in Colorado Springs (which also happens to be a city with a large number of HQs of right-wing and evangelical organizations). Topher Grace plays David Duke, once the Grand Wizard of the ****, who has positioned himself as an Executive Director and looks forward to the time when, through political action, his group can get one of their kind in the White House.

The film, which is fairly traditionally shot, is clearly presented to foreshadow the increase of K K K and white supremacist activity taking place today. In fact, news footage of Donald Trump and the Charlottesville Unite the Right rally of 2017 is shown in the film, and the message is clear. At times obvious and even almost corny, The BlacKkKlansman is an important and sadly timely film.

I guess its no chance its a remake of The Black Klansman (1966) 

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11 minutes ago, cigarjoe said:

I guess its no chance its a remake of The Black Klansman (1966) 

No, but I guess there are thematic connections. Btw, the newer film actually shows a group at a K K K dinner watching Birth of a Nation and cheering on the Klan. 

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Bad Times at the El Royale (2018) - Twisty crime drama from 20th Century Fox and writer-director Drew Goddard. Circa 1972, various characters, including a doddering priest (Jeff Bridges), a struggling singer (Cynthia Erivo), a traveling salesman (Jon Hamm), and an anti-social mystery woman (Dakota Johnson), converge on the title locale, a former hot spot that straddles the California/Nevada border that has started to go to seed. Each person has their own reasons for being there, and most are not what they profess. Their secrets are revealed over one long, stormy, bloody night. Also featuring Chris Hemsworth, Lewis Pullman, Cailee Spaeny, Shea Whigham, and Nick Offerman.

Goddard was responsible for the excellent horror genre send-up The Cabin in the Woods back in 2011, and this is his long-awaited follow-up. It's nowhere near as good, in my opinion, but fans of crime thrillers going in with diminished expectations will find a watch worthwhile. Bridges is very good, as is Cynthia Erivo, who I wasn't familiar with but who has garnered a lot of awards buzz for her performance here. I also liked Lewis (son of Bill) Pullman as the hotel's struggling sole employee in attendance. The movie starts to fall flat in the last stretch, when Hemsworth, as a Manson-esque cult leader, shows up and the film's former momentum grinds to a screeching halt. I don't dislike Hemsworth normally, but he's all sculpted abs and chiseled looks, and his character needed a bit more to make the last act compelling. Still, it's not a bad movie, just a disappointment.   (7/10)

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January 2

Fiddler on the Roof (United Artists, 1971)
Source: Amazon Prime

Mild Spoiler Alerts

While I'd seen bits and pieces on TCM over the years, I'd never before sat down and watched this entire three-hour movie from beginning to end. While I think most film histories would have us believe that road show musicals were completely dead by this time, I'm reading on imdb that this film did better at the box office in 1971 than ShaftA Clockwork Orange or The French Connection, which beat it out for Best Picture. If it was made today, they'd probably cut out a few of the songs and try to get it closer to two hours than three. It definitely requires a patience to watch that most people don't have anymore, and I did check the clock on my phone a few times, but there were long stretches where I was completely absorbed. I feel like the sense of time and place is very authentic, and I enjoyed the story, too. 

I have a vague recollection that maybe there was a thread on here one time that brought up the possibility that this was something of a feminist film. And it's certainly a story of young women breaking with tradition, asserting themselves and pursuing what their heart desires rather than what society says they have to do. Granted, this freedom comes within a fairly limited context: they're only asserting the freedom to choose their marriage partner. It's not like they're running out to get jobs or crusading for the vote.

Topol, who originated the role of Tevye on the London stage, and who was chosen by Walter Mirisch and Norman Jewison over original Broadway star Zero Mostel, to the anger of Mostel and his supporters, brings what I'm sure was more depth and nuance than a Mostel performace on film would have given us, gifted as Mostel was in his own way. Amazing to think he was only 36 when this movie was released. He very believably convinces us he's 20 years older than that. Funny to think he probably wasn't much more than 15 years older than the girls playing his daughters, if even that.

So, it's the story of a milkman in a shtetl in the Ukraine a dozen years or so before the Russian Revolution, who despite having an abiding love for tradition, must come to grips with the fact that his three eldest daughters all want to marry for love and not because an arrangement benefits two families: the eldest loves a peniless tailor, the second a "free thinker" who's studied at the university at Kiev - obviously a Marxist, though this word is never used - and the third a Gentile. He acquiesces fairly easily to the first two marriages and seems to be coming across as quite the progressive, but the third marriage, outside of the faith, breaks his heart, and he declares this daughter to be dead to him. These scenes and the one where he bids farewell to the daughter going to join the Marxist in his Siberian exile carry considerable emotional heft. I'm reading the Broadway production has  more emphasis on levity, and while there's definitely quite a bit of broad comedy in the movie version, there's also often a certain somber tone. The naturalism of the on-location surroundings (in Yugoslavia!) add to the effect. The specter of anti-Semitism and pogrom also hangs heavily over the proceedings.

Anyway, I felt it was a film I needed to see, and I'm glad I saw it, and I enjoyed it, but it probably won't become one of those movies I feel compelled to watch every time I come across it. It has a very impressive 8.0/10 rating on imdb, for whatever that's worth. It's free this month if you have an Amazon Prime membership.

Total Movies Watched This Year: 2

Topol in Fiddler on the Roof (1971)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Last week I watched a DVR double feature from TCM of two comparable horror movies about Witch's Covens.

The first was CITY OF THE DEAD from 1960, recommended here, sometimes also known as HORROR HOTEL. This movie starts out with a classic witch burning scene. The "witch" makes a pact with the devil just before dying, cursing the town. A college professor teaches this story in class and one student is interested enough to visit the cursed town! Alone. She stays in the only hotel in town and is quickly kidnapped. The rest of the movie is her friends/boyfriend/brother all investigating where she was last heard from, this hotel in a cursed town. Did anyone think her going off alone to investigate a cursed town a good idea in the first place?

Despite the hammy acting of Christopher Lee and Patricia Jessel, this movie was predictable and boring. I may have even dozed off a few minutes in the second half of this short 78 minute movie. I just could not get sympathetic over a 19-20 year old who goes "evil hunting" on her own. 

Second feature was THE SEVENTH VICTIM '43, a Val Lewton production from RKO. While the "kidnapped by witches" theme is similar, it start off completely differently. A young tween girl (Kim Hunter) at boarding school discovers her adult sister is missing when her bills become overdue. The girl leaves school to find out what happened to her sister. There is no trace of her except a room she has rented, empty except for a chair under a noose!

THIS movie tells the girl's unraveling of the mystery in a more moody & intriguing way. You are never sure how things will turn out and the charactors are well acted and the story flow was enough to keep my attention even though it was the second movie of the evening.

I was surprised at a shower scene eerily similar to the one in PSYCHO, although the naked girl in the shower remained way too calm -not even screaming- when she saw a shadowy figure (through the foggy curtain) enter the room! She just calmly carried on a conversation with this person threatening her. Really?

Tom Conway is in this, as is once notable star Evelyn Brent reduced to a minor and somewhat absurd role. Hugh Beaumont is also in it, thankfully in a minor role as well. 

Although the stories were completely different, the anxiety this movie produced reminded me of how I felt watching SUDDEN FEAR '52. Maybe it was the stark cinematography, Val Lewton rarely disappoints.

Still, ROSEMARY'S BABY '68 is the best "trapped by a witch's cult" movie mostly due to great acting, a much better story & stellar direction. It's weird most Hollywood movies combine Witch's Covens with Satanism, though.

 

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7 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

Bad Times at the El Royale (2018)

Thanks for that review, Lawrence. I absolutely HATED the oft repeated commercials shown when this was released. I just felt this was going to be a real stinker.

4 hours ago, sewhite2000 said:

Fiddler on the Roof (United Artists, 1971)

This is one of the "classics" I have not seen yet. These much loved 3 hour films are kept for when I have an extended illness. Trapped! I have heard the "tradition" part of the story translates to every culture, and am looking forward to seeing it after your honest, heartfelt review.

I'm sure you thought twice about posting about it, thinking everyone's seen it already. THANKS!

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Well, for ONE take on it---

I saw FIDDLER with the unmatchable ZERO MOSTEL as a school sponsored "field trip" sort of thing, so I of course, found the movie a bit of a disappointment.  Although, on all second, third and beyond thoughts, TOPOL really didn't do that bad a job.

I once, on the radio, heard a recording of "If I Were A Rich man" sung by HERSCHEL BERNARDI , who(and IMHO) it turns out, did have the better singing voice than either Mostel OR Topol!  But.....

YOU decide---

Sepiatone

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The only image that you would want to remember from Ken Russell's "Tommy" -

af2e31c2978054a40fbae5ffda082c35--roger-

It's Tommy, that deaf, dumb and blind boy, soon to become a religious icon -

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th

12 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

Bad Times at the El Royale (2018) - Twisty crime drama from 20th Century Fox and writer-director Drew Goddard. Circa 1972,.

Goddard was responsible for the excellent horror genre send-up The Cabin in the Woods back in 2011,

Bad_Times_at_the_El_Royale.png

well, that poster is great.

Did you ever see the re-re-re-re-reboot pf HALLOWEEN from last year? I meant to, but didn't. I wanted to rent it on amazon but the only option is to buy it for $20.00.

wonder if you saw it/thought it was any good (if you did review it here, i missed it.)

[not that i'm gonna cough up $20 for it)

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1 minute ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

th

well, that poster is great.

Did you ever see the re-re-re-re-reboot pf HALLOWEEN from last year? I meant to, but didn't. I wanted to rent it on amazon but the only option is to buy it for $20.00.

wonder if you saw it/thought it was any good (if you did review it here, i missed it.)

[not that i'm gonna cough up $20 for it)

No, I haven't seen it yet, but I'll most likely be picking up the disc when it comes out on the 15th. I have all of the other Halloween movies on disc, so I feel compelled to complete the collection.

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It's okay. It kept me entertained, and I'm generally not a fan of slasher films. Jamie Lee Curtis is the main reason to see it.

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