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I Just Watched...

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It was remade, and the action moved to Spain, as The Pleasure Seekers.  The scenery in that one is pretty good, too.

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The Great Garrick (1937) - Costume comedy from Warner Brothers and director James Whale. Famed 18th century stage actor David Garrick (Brian Aherne) travels to France to perform. However, a local theatrical troupe mistakenly think that Garrick had disparaged French performers in the past, so they decide to plot an elaborate ruse, masquerading as the staff at the hotel where Garrick is staying in order to torment him and drive him away. Things get more complicated when Garrick learns of the ruse before arriving and decides to play along, and shortly thereafter meeting Germaine (Olivia de Havilland), who Garrick believes to be one of the actors, but who is in fact a young woman who falls in love with him. Also featuring Edward Everett Horton, Melville Cooper, Lionel Atwill, Luis Alberni, Lana Turner, Marie Wilson, Linda Perry, Fritz Leiber, Dorothy Tree, Albert Dekker, E.E. Clive, Harry Davenport, and Etienne Girardot.

A literate script and excellent production design elevate this sophisticated farce. The cast is uniformly good, and de Havilland is lovely to behold. Whale's direction is also sharp, keeping things humming along and adding his signature dark humor.   (7/10)

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2 hours ago, Fedya said:

"All actors should be treated like cattle." -- Alfred Hitchcock

Why stop at actors? :lol: 

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12 hours ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

A LETTER TO THREE WIVES is not entirely unlike RASHOMAN (only not as well constructed)- we all see the same thing, but interpret it differently.

and in the end everyone ends up arguing about what really happened.

I guess I'm arrogant enough I think the way I interpreted it when I saw it is what the filmmakers intended. But this alternate interpretation at least makes me want to watch the final scenes again.

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Peterloo (2018), directed by Mike Leigh.

Scenes from two other films/series come to mind: the "Remember My Forgotten Man" number at the end of Gold Diggers of 1933; and the "Jallianwala Bagh" mention in The Jewel in the Crown. In the former, we see the plight of World War I soldiers who return from their victory to unemployment and hunger. In the latter, Barbie Batchelor (played by Peggy Ashcroft), asks Mabel Layton (played by Fabia Drake) who Gillian is. Barbie heard Mabel mention her in her sleep. The confused Mabel realizes that what she has said in her sleep was Jallianwala, a reference to the terrible 1919 massacre of Indians by General Dyer and his men, who fired on the peaceful group, most of whom were attending a festival in an enclosure and could not escape. That event remains embedded in the psyche of Indians, particularly Sikhs, and even coloured the visit of Queen Elizabeth II to the region as late as 1997.

Peterloo opens at Waterloo, 1815. The battle is over. The Duke of Wellington is richly rewarded for the victory, while a soldier, played by David Moorst, wounded and hungry, returns home to the North of England. There are no jobs; his family and neighbors are hungry. Those who do work are paid a pittance for toiling in the mills. People begin to organize, for more rights, for suffrage, for representation in parliament. The rich of Manchester are callous and cruel. The Prince Regent, who rules in place of his mad father, George III, is a cruel, uncaring fop. Henry Hunt, a radical orator (brilliantly played by Rory Kinnear), is invited up from London to speak to the people in St. Peters Field, Manchester, in August 1819. 60,000 happy, laughing people come from the towns around Manchester with their children, to hear Hunt speak. Suddenly, the Manchester and Salford Yeomanry march in to arrest hunt. They charge into the crowd, killing several, including women and children. Of the 60,000+ peaceful demonstrators, hundreds were wounded. SPOILER: The soldier who appears at the start of the movie and whose family largely provide the human focus, has come to the demonstration with his family.  Still bearing the scars and tics of the Battle of Waterloo, still in his red coat, he is killed. 

The horrendous massacre is quickly named for St. Peter's Field and the Battle of Waterloo: Peterloo. This film bears witness (and pretty accurately) to one of the most terrible events ever to take place on British soil.  Definitely worth seeing. 

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https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/sep/01/peterloo-review-grit-and-brilliance-in-mike-leighs-very-british-massacre

 
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The Great O'Malley (1937) - Sentimental cop drama from Warner Brothers and director William Dieterle. By-the-book NYPD beat cop O'Malley (Pat O'Brien) is overbearing in his unflinching adherence to the law. When his lack of compassion and leniency leads to unjust hardship for an out-of-work father (Humphrey Bogart), O'Malley is reassigned as a school crossing guard, where his unlikely friendship with a little crippled girl (Sybil Jason) teaches him important life lessons. Also featuring Ann Sheridan, Donald Crisp, Frieda Inescourt, Henry O'Neill, Craig Reynolds, and Hobart Cavanaugh.

This feel-good cop drama lays the schmaltz on pretty thick in the second half, but the movie's not a complete loss. Bogart is good in a smallish role, proving that he didn't always need to play the bad guy, or the jaded tough guy. Sheridan as a tough-as-mails school teacher is also a treat.    (6/10)

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Jan. 8

Andy Hardy's Private Secretary (MGM, 1941)
Source: TCM

Mild Mid-Movie Spoiler Alerts

Since this movie was aired as part of Kathryn Grayson's SOTM tribute, I'll try to at least focus some of this commentary around her. While I think I've been suckered into watching at least a couple of films in TCM Andy Hardy marathons before, I was unfamiliar enough with both the series and with Grayson to be sure whom she was playing in this movie. I got home about one minute too late to watch the intro, so the opening credits were ending just as I turned on my TV. I assumed Grayson was playing either the newcomer Kathryn (the same first name seemed a reasonably obvious clue) or the role of Andy's eternally jealous and long-suffering girlfriend Polly. I wasn't sure, actually. Though after the movie ended, I looked it up on imdb and saw Polly was played by Ann Rutherford. I must admit, I've largely avoided the Andy Hardy movies when TCM has shown them for a number of years now, but from what I remember, Judy Garland, Esther Williams, Lana Turner and future Mrs. Mickey Rooney Ava Gardner all made very early career appearances in the series. So, potential star Grayson also getting a tryout in the series isn't surprising.

The movie is very Andy Hardy - rah-rah Americana with its early references to Abraham Lincoln and multiple references to how living in America is so much "awesomer" than anywhere else - that was the vision Louis B. Mayer wanted sledgehammered into his viewers' heads apparently. It's almost surprising that the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for the Land family (Grayson, her father played by Ian Hunter and her brother played by Todd Karnes) would be to go and contribute Dad's genius and labor to a completely different country, since Mayer's vision seems to be all other countries suck. But that's what they want, and that's what Judge Hardy (Lewis Stone) seems to arrange for them until Andy, I guess well-meaning, though this is a bit of a stretch, screws it all up for them. 

The movie focuses more on the fact that Andy may not graduate high school after his appointments to the presidencies of about a dozen different graduation-related committees has so screwed up his brain that he fails his English final exam. Subsequent study for the exam reveals it to be really focused on esoterica. As someone very familiar with the public school system, I would say thorough knowledge of such concepts as appositives, infinitives and subjunctives is infinitely less important now than it was in 1941. Andy gets in such a hole in both of the situations he's completely fouled up, I must admit his ability to successfully emerge from these crises actually momentarily left me in doubt! "How can he ever escape from all this mess he created?" I actually asked myself, even though I've watched a hundred thousand movies and should know by now a happy ending can always occur no matter how hopeless the situation may seem. But it's some testament to the power of the movie that I was momentarily sucked in.

Some jokes about killing one's wife (!) and a woman's place being in the kitchen really fall flat in the Hashtag MeToo era. Also, Andy's purchasing silk stockings for his secretary is a gift no boss in 2019 could ever buy for his personal assistant unless he wanted to instantly lose his job and be shamed on social media for eternity. On the other hand, I found the whole bit of Andy shyly asking his mother to buy the stockings to be touching, and then when he decides to do it himself, and Polly arrives at the moment of purchase, even though I knew in advance there was a one thousand per cent chance that was going to happen, I still LOL'd.

I watched the first 25 minutes of Rio Rita, but I've got to go to bed. My initial impression is MGM totally dropped the ball in stealing Abbott & Costello away from Universal for three films, as at least what I saw in this movie is maybe one per cent as funny as Buck Privates. First of all, why would you have long stretches when they aren't even on-screen, and second why would you make everything they do so unfunny?

Total Movies Watched This Year: 10

Mickey Rooney and Kathryn Grayson in Andy Hardy's Private Secretary (1941)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Walking Down Broadway (1938)--The 'behind the scenes' look at the life of showgirls and Broadway hopefuls was a hot topic for late 30's films, from Warner's "Gold Diggers' series, to MGM's Stage Door--this doesn't measure up to them, but it's Fox's nice little soap opera-ish drama with some comedy overtones.  The story is about six (IMDB says 5...there are actually 6) show girls who finish their last performance on New Year's Eve, and sign a promise to meet in one year.  The women are Claire Trevor, Phylls Brooks, Lynn Bari, and 3 not so familiar--Leah Ray, Jayne Regan, and Dixie Dunbar.  Each has a type--the one bound for success with a Hollywood offer, the serious one with good sense, the one faithful to her boyfriend, the spacey silly one, the divorcee with a young child, the one who tosses over nice guy for shady gambler.  This isn't really an upbeat film, despite some clever patter along the way..in fact, more than one of the women can't make the reunion.  It is fast paced (6 women, one year, packed into an hour and 15 minutes...) but watchable melodrama, with Trevor clearly in the lead.  About a 6 out of 10.  I streamed it here:   https://rarefilmm.com/2019/01/walking-down-broadway-1938/  Image result for walking down broadway 1938

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Pyro...The Thing Without a Face (1964) - Spanish/American thriller from AIP and director Julio Coll. Architectural engineer Vance Pierson (Barry Sullivan) moves to Spain with his family for a job. He soon begins an affair with emotionally unstable Laura (Martha Hyer), which inevitably leads to tragedy. Also featuring Sherry Moreland, Fernando Hilbeck, Luis Prendes, Carlos Casaravilla, and Soledad Miranda.

There's a lot of bad dialogue and even worse dubbing in this slow-moving thriller. The first half of the movie seems like a neo-Noir (I don't want to start any debates!!!), with Sullivan's married man risking it all for an affair with a dangerous woman. The second half, with a "transformed" Sullivan seeking revenge, flirts with the horror genre, which is how this movie is often promoted. Most viewers will just be bored. I liked seeing doomed exploitation star Soledad Miranda in an early role as a carnival owner's daughter with a crush on Sullivan.  (5/10)

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Checked out DER MUSIC BOX (1931) and SONS OF THE DESERT (193?), Id seen both before.

...put me in the “Laurel and Hardy are funny” column. 

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Last night I watched COLLEEN '36, the second on a TCM recording paired with WEST OF BROADWAY '31. This movie stars Dick Powell, Ruby Keeler, Hugh Herbert, Joan Blondell & Jack Oakie. Cute Marie Wilson & great dancer Paul Draper are in a few scenes.

Hugh Herbert plays a dim witted millionaire who is an easy mark for gold diggers during the depression. Dick Powell is his nephew, looking after his crazy business affairs. Herbert buys a dress shop to give Blondell a better job than where he found her in a chocolate assembly line a la Lucy's famous episode. There is a brief encounter where Blondell caresses Herbert's face with a chocolatey hand.

Ruby Keeler is the dress shop's accountant and friend of Oakie, who also railroads Herbert into giving him a job as "personal assistant". Everyone pretty much plays their standard self with a pretty predictable happy ending too.

What I took away from this silly fluff picture was since everyone was "typical", we could really see who the stars were. Although I personally dislike Powell's smugness, there's no denying he's a pretty handsome guy and a good singer. The few times he breaks into song are hilarious, since they are out of nowhere! 

Jack Oakie is a smooth talking shyster, which Jack Carson later perfected by adding just a touch of handsomeness. Oakie & Herbert are kind of one note comedy relief here.

The standout is Joan Blondell-although she has kind of a stilted accent in this, whenever she's on screen you can't take your eyes off her. It's obvious she has STAR QUALITY in spades. There is a delightful tongue-in-cheek song & dance number she does with Oakie celebrating their "good fortune" on Easy Street from hoodwinking the millionaire. Definitely the movie's highlight.

The head scratcher for me is Ruby Keeler. She seems lost in the water here-she's shy in her line delivery, off key in her singing and downright clunky of a dancer. She's cute and has an unassuming girl-next-door kind of quality... but any great actress (like Blondell) can play that, Keeler seems to BE that.

This was a pretty good time waster and thankfully I'm finally getting over my repulsion of Dick Powell's resemblance to my ex-husband.

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13 hours ago, Fedya said:

"All actors should be treated like cattle." -- Alfred Hitchcock

Yes, it seems he wasn't the only director who thought like that........

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19 hours ago, EricJ said:

Accdg. to IMDb, it was his least favorite of the ones he directed, and that could be one reason why.  Also, that he originally wanted the psychological twist of a savvy female investigator, for Agnes Moorehead, but the studio may have thought the romantic element with Young may have been too confusing, and stuck to Robinson's more conventional Double-Indemnity typecasting instead.

(And as Public-Domain Favorites go, I still prefer "Charade", "House on Haunted Hill", "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and the Abbott & Costello "Jack & the Beanstalk", m'self, but this one's pretty good.)

yeah, I knew about the AGGIE ANGLE (and MOOREHEAD would have been great), but I still love EDWARD G ROBINSON in THE STRANGER and honesty kindasorta think of it as THE ONGOING ADVENTURES OF BARTON KEYES- a film or radio series starring Robinson as the intrepid Insurance Investigator/ Nazi Hunter being something i would watch the **** out of.

Which version of ALICE's ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND is in the PD? Surely not the acid trip 1933 version...?

PS- MARTHA IVERS is another great PUBLIC DOMAIN title.

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Internes Can't Take Money (1937) - Crime melodrama from Paramount Pictures and director Alfred Santell. Doctor James Kildare (Joel McCrea) gets mixed up with a widow (Barbara Stanwyck) looking for her missing daughter, and a gangster (Lloyd Nolan) whose life he saved. Also featuring Lee Bowman, Stanley Ridges, Barry Macollum, Irving Bacon, Steve Pendleton, Pierre Watkin, Charles Lane, James Bush, and Fay Holden as Mother Teresa.

This was the first film to use Max Brand's Dr. Kildare character, and it bears little resemblance to the more famous series starring Lew Ayres. McCrea is good as the ethically-conflicted young intern, while Stanwyck does another of her suffering mother bits. Nolan and Bowman are also both noteworthy as underworld figures. Much time is spent in a seedy bar featuring an eye-patched bartender.    (7/10)

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5 hours ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

Checked out DER MUSIC BOX (1931) and SONS OF THE DESERT (193?), Id seen both before.

...put me in the “Laurel and Hardy are funny” column. 

No, no, not that! I was up all night watching the Laurel & Hardy marathon and... well, the boss asked me if that's why she could knock me over with a feather the next day. 

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3 hours ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

Which version of ALICE's ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND is in the PD? Surely not the acid trip 1933 version...?

Nnnnnnnnnnnno.  😐

The all-star 1972 Michael Crawford/Fiona Fullerton version is everywhere fine PD kids-movies are exploited, in a hundred different colors and conditions, but the pristine BFI widescreen color-restored version did sneak out on a gray-market DVD.

I'm not as big a fan of the original "Night of the Living Dead", the Carole Lombard "Nothing Sacred" or Jose Ferrer's "Cyrano"--and I physically can't stand "My Man Godfrey"--so it's hard to pick classic PD Favorites.

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50 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

Internes Can't Take Money (1937) - Crime melodrama from Paramount Pictures and director Alfred Santell. Doctor James Kildare (Joel McCrea) gets mixed up with a widow (Barbara Stanwyck) looking for her missing daughter, and a gangster (Lloyd Nolan) whose life he saved. Also featuring Lee Bowman, Stanley Ridges, Barry Macollum, Irving Bacon, Steve Pendleton, Pierre Watkin, Charles Lane, James Bush, and Fay Holden as Mother Teresa.

This was the first film to use Max Brand's Dr. Kildare character, and it bears little resemblance to the more famous series starring Lew Ayres. McCrea is good as the ethically-conflicted young intern, while Stanwyck does another of her suffering mother bits. Nolan and Bowman are also both noteworthy as underworld figures. Much time is spent in a seedy bar featuring an eye-patched bartender.    (7/10)

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This is one of the few Stanwyck films I havent seen. (along with No Man of Her Own).

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Lancer Spy (1937) - WW1-era espionage from 20th Century Fox and director Gregory Ratoff. British Lt. Michael Bruce (George Sanders) is recruited by the intelligence service to go undercover behind German lines, due to his remarkable resemblance to recently captured Baron Rohback (also Sanders). As Bruce tries to learn valuable military secrets, he runs into fellow agent Dolores Sunnel (Dolores Del Rio), but is she friend or foe? Also featuring Sig Rumann, Peter Lorre, Joseph Schildkraut, Lionel Atwill, Virginia Field, Fritz Feld, Maurice Moscovitch, Luther Adler, Feodor Chaliapin Jr., and Lynn Bari.

Fox promotes Sanders as their "new screen sensation" during the end credits. This isn't anything you haven't seen in other, better spy movies of the day, although the cast makes it worth a look. Rumann and Schildkraut overdo it to an extreme, while Lorre is wasted as Rumann's assistant. He looks odd with a crewcut and thick mustache. Look quickly during the film's final act for Feodor Chaliapin Jr. as a monk, a profession he would portray nearly 50 years later in The Name of the Rose.   (6/10)

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3 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

Look quickly during the films final act for Feodor Chaliapin Jr. as a monk, a profession he would portray nearly 50 years later in The Name of the Rose.   (6/10)

What a catch. The " Venerable Jorge":)

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"The Age Of Innocence" - Martin Scorcese - 1989 -

I can't think of a film in which "the state of sexual yearning" was rendered in such an exquisite manner -

even more compelling, that state of sexual yearning would never know statisfaction -

a truly great achievement for its' director, its' stars, especially Daniel Day-Lewis and its' large supporting cast -

and all the gifted people who brought it visually to such overwhelming life -

bravo! -

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Yesterday, I viewed The War of the Roses from 1989. 30 years on, and that film is still a savage, skewering indictment of  materialism andthe angry bitterness of couples who split. The stars really give it their all. 

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On 1/8/2019 at 1:41 PM, EricJ said:

Accdg. to IMDb, it was his least favorite of the ones he directed, and that could be one reason why.  Also, that he originally wanted the psychological twist of a savvy female investigator, for Agnes Moorehead, but the studio may have thought the romantic element with Young may have been too confusing, and stuck to Robinson's more conventional Double-Indemnity typecasting instead.

(And as Public-Domain Favorites go, I still prefer "Charade", "House on Haunted Hill", "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and the Abbott & Costello "Jack & the Beanstalk", m'self, but this one's pretty good.)

What romantic element? Eddie wasnt interested in Loretta, nor would Agnes had she been cast. Though in a modern reworking? :D

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9 minutes ago, Hibi said:

What romantic element? Eddie wasnt interested in Loretta, nor would Agnes had she been cast. Though in a modern reworking? :D

You can have a female investigator after a bachelor criminal, if it's Steve McQueen & Faye Dunaway in "The Thomas Crown Affair", but if he's married, are we expecting catfights between Agnes and Loretta?  (And not real-life ones over Orson?)

12 minutes ago, CinemaInternational said:

Yesterday, I viewed The War of the Roses from 1989. 30 years on, and that film is still a savage, skewering indictment of  materialism andthe angry bitterness of couples who split. The stars really give it their all. 

And director Danny DeVito was still too afraid to kill the dog.  There were reportedly two studio cuts screened.

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Nancy Steele Is Missing! (1937) - Unusual melodrama from 20th Century Fox and director George Marshall. In the days before the US joined WWI, waiter Dannie O'Neill (Victor McLaglen), a fierce opponent of the war, kidnaps the toddler daughter of munitions magnate Michael Steele (Walter Connolly) as form of protest. Dannie leaves the girl with friends, and then is promptly arrested on another charge and sent to prison for nearly 20 years. When he's released he must face the now grown woman (June Lang) who thinks he's her father. Also featuring Peter Lorre, John Carradine, Robert Kent, Shirley Deane, Frank Conroy, Granville Bates, Kane Richmond, and Jane Darwell.

The improbable scenario is handled well, and the performances are all top notch. Lorre is a treat as McLaglen's scheming cellmate, while Carradine has a showy bit as a prison-break mastermind.   (7/10)

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17 hours ago, EricJ said:

You can have a female investigator after a bachelor criminal, if it's Steve McQueen & Faye Dunaway in "The Thomas Crown Affair", but if he's married, are we expecting catfights between Agnes and Loretta?  (And not real-life ones over Orson?)

And director Danny DeVito was still too afraid to kill the dog.  There were reportedly two studio cuts screened.

What is your point about Eddie G. then? He wasnt interested romantically in Loretta. Why would Agnes be either in Welles OR Loretta! (if she'd been cast)? It was strictly a detective role and I dont get your reasoning. The sex of the character would have nothing to do with any romance as the character wasnt interested in romance regardless of the sex of the character! What would be confusing?

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