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I Just Watched...

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4 hours ago, rayban said:

"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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It's sad that this film was not profitable at the box office.

But I'm guessing that it was too "different" for the general audience.

It is the sort of film in which you could say, "Nothing happens".

And, yet, during this film, a man loses the life that he so passionately wants.

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The Return of the Scarlet Pimpernel (1937) - Lackluster sequel to the 1934 adventure classic, from London Films and director Hanns Schwarz. It's the Reign of Terror in late 18th century France, and agents of Robespierre (Henry Oscar) are determined to capture the elusive Englishman known as the Scarlet Pimpernel, who in actuality is Sir Percy Blakeney (Barry K. Barnes). When French agents kidnap Lady Blakeney (Sophie Stewart), Sir Percy and his cohorts must rescue her. Also featuring Margaretta Scott, James Mason, Francis Lister, Anthony Bushell, Patrick Barr, David Tree, and Esme Percy.

The lack of Leslie Howard in the lead is the film's greatest weakness, as Barnes cannot match him. The plot often slows, as well, with the action scenes few and far between. Mason has a small role as a Frenchman worried that he'll be sent to the guillotine at any time.   (5/10)

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7 hours ago, rayban said:

"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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One of my top ten favorites, a great and beautiful film. So many particularly favorite scenes, but I do love the one when Daniel Day-Lewis and Sian Phillips visit Michael Gough and Alexis Smith. There's a world in that scene. And it was Ms. Smith's last film.

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Second Honeymoon (1937) - Romantic comedy from 20th Century Fox and director Walter Lang. Newlywed Vicky Benton (Loretta Young) is on vacation with her husband Bob (Lyle Talbot) when she runs into her ex-husband Raoul McLiesh (Tyrone Power). The two keep finding themselves thrown together due to various circumstances, and their old flame is reignited. Also featuring Stuart Erwin, Claire Trevor, Marjorie Weaver, J. Edward Bromberg, Paul Hurst, Jayne Regan, Lon Chaney Jr., and Mary Treen.

I found myself enjoying this romp more than I thought I would, with both stars in top form and the supporting cast lively and amusing. I especially liked Erwin's peculiar valet character. A cheerful movie that, while not artistically remarkable, provides a good time.   (7/10)

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5 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

The two keep finding themselves thrown together due to various circumstances, and their old flame is reignited.

Heh, if that was real life, the two would have ended up in a fistfight brawl! Then lawsuit....then drained bank account.

Ah the quaint, sweet life of classic movies....

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Souls at Sea (1937) - Nautical adventure/drama from Paramount Pictures and director Henry Hathaway. Mid-19th century sailors "Nuggin" Taylor (Gary Cooper) and Powdah (George Raft) get tasked with subverting the trans-Atlantic African slave trade. Also featuring Frances Dee, Olympe Bradna, Henry Wilcoxon, George Zucco, Harry Carey Sr., Robert Cummings, Porter Hall, Virginia Weidler, Joseph Schildkraut,Lucien Littlefield, Paul Fix, Tully Marshall, Robert Barrat, Charles Middleton, Robert Warwick, Alan Ladd, and Stanley Fields.

The highlight here is the unexpectedly successful teaming of Cooper and Raft. For whatever reason, Raft seems more natural here than in many of his other roles at the time. The production values are also top notch. My only complaint was that the central story gets lost in the second half when shipboard romances spring up. The movie was nominated for 3 Oscars, for Best Art Direction, Best Assistant Director, and Best Score (W. Franke Harling & Milan Roder).   (7/10)

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Deception with Bette Davis and Paul Henreid. Oh, and Claude Rains. You know, I have a hard time trying to figure out which is my favorite Claude Rains film. It isn't easy because he is so good in every single role he ever played. I guess I love him best as Master Larry's pop in The Wolf Man because he gives such great speeches about life and death. But Deception is one of my personal faves because Claude is so wicked. He's so devious. And pompous.

I wondered today if he had purposely lost weight for the role, because, man, he looks great. The other film akin to this one is The Unsuspected. Man, he is just so Claude Rainsey here. 

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Thin Ice (1937) - Musical romance from 20th Century Fox and director Sidney Lanfield. Sheltered Prince Rudolph (Tyrone Power) vacations in disguise in a small Swiss village. He meets innkeeper's daughter Lili (Sonja Henie) on the slopes, and the two fall for each other, without Rudolph's true identity being revealed, leading to much confusion and miscommunication from those around them. Also featuring Raymond Walburn, Arthur Treacher, Alan Hale, Joan Davis, Sig Rumann, Leah Ray, Lon Chaney Jr., Bodil Rosing, and Melville Cooper.

This was my first Sonja Henie movie, and it was pretty much what I expected. Henie is a limited actress, but looks good during her ice skating and skiing scenes. Power is youthful and upbeat, and gets to wear some goofy disguises. The songs sung by Joan Davis, including "I'm Olga from the Volga" and "My Swiss Hilly Billy", are silly yet amusing. The movie received an Oscar nomination for Best Dance Direction (Harry Losee).   (6/10)

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Tovarich (1937) - Comedy from Warner Brothers and director Anatole Litvak. Due to the revolution, Russian nobles Prince Mikhail (Charles Boyer) and Grand Duchess Tatiana (Claudette Colbert) find themselves broke and nearly homeless in France. In desperation, they take jobs as servants in the household of the wealthy DuPont family. Also featuring Basil Rathbone, Anita Louise, Melville Cooper, Isabel Jeans, Morris Carnovsky, Victor Kilian, Maurice Murphy, Gregory Gaye, Montagu Love, Renie Riano, and Fritz Feld.

Some clever dialogue and solid character work make this semi-sophisticated comedy worthwhile. This was reportedly a troubled shoot, with the stars battling with director Litvak throughout, but their off-screen animosity seems to have fired their onscreen performances, particularly in Colbert's case. Rathbone gets to play another cad, which is always a bonus.   (7/10)

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3 hours ago, Janet0312 said:

Deception with Bette Davis and Paul Henreid. Oh, and Claude Rains. You know, I have a hard time trying to figure out which is my favorite Claude Rains film. It isn't easy because he is so good in every single role he ever played. I guess I love him best as Master Larry's pop in The Wolf Man because he gives such great speeches about life and death. But Deception is one of my personal faves because Claude is so wicked. He's so devious. And pompous.

I wondered today if he had purposely lost weight for the role, because, man, he looks great. The other film akin to this one is The Unsuspected. Man, he is just so Claude Rainsey here. 

In Deception, I think the poor Paul Henreid character must have lost weight due to that stressful restaurant scene during which Rains is every waiter's nightmare.

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That stale bread/crackers Bette offered probably didnt help. I cant help thinking of Dead Men Wear Plaid (or Dont Wear?) With Steve Martin, where they use a clip of Bette offering up some food items...... I always crack up when that scene shows up in Deception (the few times I've watched it)

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An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn (2018) - Bizarre comedy from writer-director Jim Hosking. Lulu (Aubrey Plaza) is stuck in a loveless marriage with beverage-store manager Shane Danger (Emile Hirsch). When Shane steals some money from a vegan health food store, troubleshooter Colin (Jemaine Clement) is hired to get the money back. This leads to Lulu going on the run with Colin, and the two ending up in a hotel where a one-night-only performance by Beverly Luff Linn (Craig Robinson) is scheduled to take place soon. As Colin grows to love Lulu, he discovers that she has a past with the mysterious Luff Lynn. Also featuring Zach Cherry, Matt Berry, Sky Elobar, Jacob Wysocki, Sam Dissanayake, and Maria Bamford.

Filmmaker Jim Hosking was responsible for the extremely strange 2016 offering The Greasy Strangler. This follow-up ditches most of the sickening gross-out gags, but it retains the "intentionally-bad" aesthetic. The acting is purposefully amateurish, and the dialogue is stilted and absurd. The audience is kept in the dark about what kind of performance the enigmatic Luff Linn will display, and the revelation is as off-center as the rest of the film. This is the kind of out-there comedy that very few people will click with, but if you do, you'll like this one quite a bit. Not everything works, but enough did for me to keep me chuckling throughout, with a handful of laugh-out-loud moments.   (7/10)

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Jan. 9

A Face in the Crowd (Warner Bros., 1957)
Source: TCM

Mild Spoilers Alert

The first time I ever heard of this movie was on Bob Costas' really terrific Later show in the early '90s, in which he would interview only one guest for half an hour (some interviews spilled over into multiple episodes), and this particular night, Ron Howard was his guest. They devoted part of the show to discussing his time on The Andy Griffith Show. Costas said he'd recently seen A Face in the Crowd and that he was blown away by how powerful Griffith was in a heavy dramatic role. "Did he ever indicate to you why he never really did anything like that again?" Costas asked, and Howard replied, "One time, he told me, 'You know, that acting stuff is hard!'", which I thought was an interesting window into Griffith's mindset. He was such a natural at the roles he typically played, he really didn't even think of it as acting (Griffith probably also suffered from the long-standing mindset in Hollywood that comedic acting doesn't rate as much praise as dramatic acting).

This is the tale of the rise and fall of a demagogue I guess modeled most closely after Will Rogers, but definitely more sex appeal - let's say Rogers with a little Elvis Presley thrown in. Larry Rhodes (Griffith) is sleeping off a hangover in an Arkansas jail after being picked up on a drunk and disorderly charge the same morning local radio personality Marcia Jeffries (Patricia Neal) has shown up hoping to get some of the jail's occupants to contribute to her populist "Face in the Crowd" program. Wanting to make good with the local media, the sheriff agrees to convert Rhodes' one-week sentence to time served if he'll perform a number on the air. Jeffries gives him a little color by dubbing him "Lonesome" Rhodes. 

The meteoric rise begins from there: Rhodes gets his own show at her radio station, then gets his own TV show in Memphis. At first, he defiantly holds on to his integrity - being forced to play up his corporate sponsor, a mattress company, is so distasteful to him, he can't do it with a straight face. But he learns to play the game, embracing his next sponsor, an energy supplement called Vitajex, with relish. He's introduced to generals and presidential candidates and becomes what we would today call an image consultant, using his show to promote a political agenda that he increasingly co-opts as his own. He's ably supported by an ambitious salesman at the mattress company (Anthony Franciosa), who becomes his manager, though eventually the two men have a falling out. 

Meanwhile, Jeffries is his behind-the-scenes conscience and rock who also falls for him like a ton of bricks. A writer on Rhodes' show (though he doesn't really use writers) played by Walter Matthau, has a soft spot for Jeffries, even as his distaste for Rhodes grows. Rhodes definitely has fidelity issues. Immediately after Rhodes proposes to Jeffries, a wife he's never legally divorced shows up. And while stopping back in Arkansas to judge a baton-twirling competition on his way to getting a quickie divorce in Juarez, he's besotted by a teenybopper played by Lee Remick (and who wouldn't be? She's sexy as all get out in this movie, as is Neal in a different sort of way - she's sexiest when her character is experiencing her greatest emotional torment) and takes her along for a quickie marriage. Although I think the mayor tells him Remick's character is "almost 17"! She practically disappears from the movie after being introduced, until we discover her engaging in infidelity of her own, after which Rhodes tries to pick up right where he left off with Marcia, though by now, she's afraid of his power, setting up the confrontation in the final act. Along the way, there are some only mildly subtle allusions to certain characters having sex with one another, allusions that were only gradually beginning to be allowed by the changing censorship standards. 

First things first: Griffith's performance is a powerhouse. Really, all the leads are great, and I'm surprised no one got an Oscar acting nomination for this (Franciosa was nominated for A Hatful of Rain that same year). It's one of those movies that inexplicably slipped through the Oscar cracks, though Elia Kazan films typically wallowed in nominations. I don't know how the film did with critics. I suspect its extremely cynical message about the power of TV personalities to persuade and the equivalence of selling a candidate with selling vitamins or mattresses probably didn't go over so well. This was a few years before Kennedy became the first "TV president", famously winning that debate among television viewers while Nixon won among radio listeners, but Budd Schulberg's script does allude to the Checkers incident only a few years after it happened and while Nixon was still vice president, so the power of television to convey a message was already a thing people were aware of.

This is maybe my fifth or sixth time to watch this movie, and some of the heavy-handedness and sledgehammer-to-the-skull symbolism becomes more painfully obvious on repeated viewings. The way Rhodes gets exposed as a fraud just feels like lazy writing to me; I wish Schulberg had figured out something more clever. And the collapse of Rhodes' power in the time it takes for him to ride the elevator from the 42nd floor to the lobby is probably a little fast for 1957 (though it could certainly happen in the social media age). The movie completely ignores some TV realities like shows re-airing at later times on the West Coast or the law that required equal air time for all candidates. There is an unpleasant epithet hurled by Griffith at the all-black staff hired to serve at the black-tie dinner at which he's left alone that I found out of character for Rhodes, no matter how drunk on his own power he's become.

But these minor complaints aside, the movie is mainly worth watching for its incredible acting (Kazan worked with actors who were great already, but he got especially great performances out of a lot of them) and refreshingly cynical message (if "refreshing" is the right word!). The media probably didn't get skewered as violently again until NetworkFace has an 8.2 rating on imdb, the highest of any film I've watched so far this year.

Movies Watched This Year: 10 

A Face in the Crowd (1957)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dangerous to Know (1938) - Crime drama from Paramount Pictures and director Robert Florey. Gangster Stephen Recka (Akim Tamiroff) sets his sights on marrying society gal Margaret Van Case (Gail Patrick), and will do anything to get her. This doesn't sit well with his mistress Madame Lan Ying (Anna May Wong). Also featuring Lloyd Nolan, Anthony Quinn, Harvey Stephens, Porter Hall, Hedda Hopper, Pierre Watkin, and Roscoe Karns.

This is another solid B feature from Wong, reprising a role that she had played on the stage. She and Tamiroff make for an unlikely romantic pairing, which helps make it more compelling. Nolan gets to play a cop with a mustache, while Quinn assays yet another minor gangster part.   (7/10)

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Hard to Get (1938) - Cute rom-com from Warner Brothers and director Ray Enright. Spoiled rich girl Margaret (Olivia de Havilland) meets-cute with gas station attendant Bill (Dick Powell) and their initial animosity turns to affection. Also featuring Charles Winninger, Melville Cooper, Allen Jenkins, Bonita Granville, Isabel Jeans, Thurston Hall, Penny Singleton, Nella Walker, and Grady Sutton.

An innocuous trifle of a film, short and sweet and agreeable. I enjoyed the recurring bit with rich daddy Winninger facing off against valet Cooper in various games, such as boxing, wrestling, and fencing. Powell sings a song in blackface, parodying Jolson.    (7/10)

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Man-Proof (1938) - Romantic drama from MGM and director Richard Thorpe. Mimi Swift (Myrna Loy) is in love with playboy Alan Wythe (Walter Pidgeon), only he has just married socialite Elizabeth Kent (Rosalind Russell). To get on with her life, Mimi takes a job on a newspaper working with family friend Jimmy Kilmartin (Franchot Tone). When Alan comes back to town, Mimi starts to have feelings for him once again. Also featuring Nana Bryant, Rita Johnson, Leonard Penn, Harry Davenport, Frances Reid, and John Miljan.

Loy, as beautiful as ever, unfortunately plays a rather unsympathetic character. Added to her being in love with the mildly unsavory character played by Pidgeon, and the romantic stakes are tempered. Tone is good as the "nice guy", and he gets a drunk scene. Russell, too, is effective as the victimized wife.   (6/10)

9e43f76b0774b4f6ec3b67b3c79499b6--myrna-

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Slaughter of the Vampires aka Curse of the Blood Ghouls (1964) - Italian horror from writer-director Roberto Mauri. In 19th century Italy, a nobleman (Walter Brandi) and his wife (Graziella Granata) are menaced by a vampire (Dieter Eppler). Also featuring Luigi Batzella, Edda Ferronao, Carla Foscari, Gena Gimmy, and Maretta Procaccini.

This B&W Gothic horror tale features good atmosphere and production design. Unfortunately, it also has laughable dubbing and a very silly looking (unnamed) vampire antagonist. Luigi Batzella is amusing as the Van Helsing substitute, Dr. Nietzsche. The actresses are beautiful, particularly lead Graziella Granata, who usually has mountainous cleavage on display. In one sequence, she's being chased around the castle grounds while wearing a low-cut gown, and it becomes an exercise in defying physics that a wardrobe malfunction doesn't occur. There's also a creepy housemaid with Princess Leia hair. This isn't a good film, but I was entertained.   (5/10)

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12 hours ago, sewhite2000 said:

This is the tale of the rise and fall of a demagogue I guess modeled most closely after Will Rogers, but definitely more sex appeal - let's say Rogers with a little Elvis Presley thrown in.

I think Lonesome Rhodes is supposed to be based on Arthur Godfrey (below), and his similar downfall. Nice review.

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The only thing I know about Godfrey is he hosted a show called Talent Scouts, so I had no idea there was any connection. Now, I want to read about him!

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19 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

Souls at Sea (1937)

220px-Poster_-_Souls_at_Sea.jpg

I like Souls at Sea, too. Cooper and Raft, their characters completely contrasting, play well off each other. Raft, by the way, initially turned the part down but changed his mind after Lloyd Nolan and then Anthony Quinn were cast in the role. But the film, originally intended by Paramount as a roadshow presentation, was severely edited, and fared poorly at the box office (Cooper had just enjoyed a succession of hits the year before, including Mr. Deeds). A large Queen Victoria's court scene was cut.

Cooper later said Raft was good in it and the film itself was "almost good." He thought, though, that Raft's romantic encounter in the film was more interesting than his rather conventional romance with Frances Dee.

The sea disaster towards the end of Souls at Sea is, I strongly suspect, another sequence that got largely chopped. But that sequence was based on a real life disaster involving an overloaded lifeboat which, 20 years after Souls at Sea, would be the basis for a modern updating with ABANDON SHIP, starring Tyrone Power.

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18 hours ago, Janet0312 said:

Deception with Bette Davis and Paul Henreid. Oh, and Claude Rains. You know, I have a hard time trying to figure out which is my favorite Claude Rains film. It isn't easy because he is so good in every single role he ever played. I guess I love him best as Master Larry's pop in The Wolf Man because he gives such great speeches about life and death. But Deception is one of my personal faves because Claude is so wicked. He's so devious. And pompous.

I wondered today if he had purposely lost weight for the role, because, man, he looks great. The other film akin to this one is The Unsuspected. Man, he is just so Claude Rainsey here. 

Deception has one of Claude Rains's most flamboyant portrayals, and it's a joy to see a great character actor play his role with such relish (and, quite frankly, give no quarter to his co-stars, even the illustrious Miss Davis). I find a bit of a sadness here, too, though. Rains wouldn't get such juicy roles again. The great performances of his career were pretty well over by the time his contract with Warners ended in 1947.

Well, as Bogie might have said to him, "Well, Louis, we'll always have Casablanca."

And, for Rains fans, Invisible Man and Now Voyager and Robin Hood and Mr Smith Goes to Washington and Notorious and Kings Row and . . .

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2 hours ago, sewhite2000 said:

The only thing I know about Godfrey is he hosted a show called Talent Scouts, so I had no idea there was any connection. Now, I want to read about him!

You, Sir, have no humility.

(go to wikipedia, you'll get it.)

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I know this is kinda off topic, but I've been so IMMERSED in classic films since I got HULU (and thus access to over 30 titles from TCM at any given time), that I felt the need to watch something modern just so I don't turn into an actual version of "The Black and White Lady" from IN LIVING COLOR.

apparently her name was VELMA MULLHOLLAND:

ANYHOO,

watched the ENTIRE six-part LIFETIME docuseries SURVIVING R. KELLY on HULU.

If any of you have ever been watching WHAT'S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT? and thought to yourself "hmmmm, this movie is good, but I really wish it would get the six-hour ABEL GANCE style treatment..." let me tell you: your ship has come in.

it was fascinating and I was stunned at how strong and admirable the many women interviewed (including his ex wife, who was amazing) were.

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