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I Just Watched...

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7 minutes ago, sewhite2000 said:

What they think is the waiting room actually turns out to be the first escape room, a room-sized replica of a working oven in which they begin to be cooked! They all barely survive this encounter but begin entering a seemingly endless series of rooms, each of which activates some deadly trap minutes after they enter it, a trap that can only be escaped by finding clues within the room and interpreting their meaning. After the first room, they begin losing party members at the steady rate of one per room, and pretty soon, it begins to look like no one will make it out alive.

Escape room fire in Poland kills five teens

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4 minutes ago, sewhite2000 said:

Jan. 14

Escape Room (Columbia, 2019)

This premise has been used several times in genre films over the past two decades, from the Cube films to the Saw movies, to various low-budget horror one-offs, and even a short-lived TV series, Persons Unknown (2010). So I was surprised to see this set-up used yet again. As for the cast, I like Tyler Labine, the heavier bearded guy. He's been in several TV shows and is often quite funny.

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Wow! Well life imitates art ... or something. I would like to think the people who designed the escape room didn't set off a real fire, but things seem to be a little less regulated in Europe than here.

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2 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

This premise has been used several times in genre films over the past two decades, from the Cube films to the Saw movies

I didn't see Cube, but I did see two or three of the Saw movies, including the first one, which I thought was pretty clever. The original Saw was like an extremely low budget escape room! As I say, in this movie, they super-ramp up the CGI, and it feels like it would have taken billions to build such a place.

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Television Spy (1939) - Minor B thriller from Paramount Pictures and director Edward Dmytryk. When a scientist (William Henry) develops a new long-range television communications device, agents of a foreign power attempt to steal it. Featuring Richard Denning, Judith Barrett, William Collier Sr., Dorothy Tree, John Eldredge, Byron Foulger, Minor Watson, Morgan Conway, Chester Clute, Wolfgang Zilzer, Charles Lane, and Anthony Quinn.

This less-than-an-hour programmer is dull and uninspired. The archaic technology on display may be of mild interest to tech-heads. The cast is nothing to write home about either, but I liked Collier as a wheelchair-bound old grouch, and Daisy as the dog. Quinn plays another interchangeable thug.   (5/10)

MV5BYTlkN2MxMGUtOGJmNy00MjIxLWJlOWMtYjVk 

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1 hour ago, LawrenceA said:

The Sun Never Sets (1939) -

220px-The_Sun_Never_Sets_(film).jpg

Years ago I sent Douglas Fairbanks Jr. a letter in which, among other things, I asked him about a few of his films I hadn't seen, among them this film.

He wrote, "I don't think, however, that you would like The Sun Never Sets. It was never a very good film even at the time, and it was made for propaganda purposes just prior to the war and was not very subtle about it."

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BlacKkKlansman (2018) pretty enjoyable, The Wife (2017) watchable, Black Panther (2018) made it about 3/4 through, then shut if off at a battle scene of stuff you seen over and over again. Got the Vice (2018) disc also but don't think I'll bother watching something that I lived through and didn't find interesting then.

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We Are Not Alone (1939) - Drama from Warner Brothers, based on a novel by James Hilton, and directed by Edmund Goulding. Compassionate English doctor David Newcome (Paul Muni) feels sympathy for one of his patients, a destitute German named Leni Krafft (Jane Bryan), so he hires her on to be a housemaid, which infuriates the doctor's high-strung wife Jessica (Flora Robson). As WWI looks more and more a certainty, anti-German sentiment rises throughout the community, leading to tragedy. Also featuring Raymond Severn, Una O'Connor, Henry Daniell, Cecil Kellaway, Montagu Love, Alan Napier, Billy Bevan, Ethel Griffies, and James Stephenson.

The emotionally complex material is handling with skill by director Goulding. Muni anchors the proceedings with another of his chameleonic performances, and he receives ample supports from his leading ladies (Bryan and Robson), both of whom are excellent. Henry Daniell also gets to shine as a flamboyant barrister.   (7/10)

wearenotalone_121420070832.jpg

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Jan. 13

A League of Their Own (Columbia, 1992)
Source: TCM

Well, there was some spirited debate on a recent thread about whether Dottie dropped the ball, intentionally throwing the game so her sister Kit cold score the winning run. Particularly passionate were the people on the side that said this was not the case. Honestly, it had been at least 15 years since I last saw this movie, so I really didn't remember if we got any visual cues. Usually, when a movie character does something that's contrary to their stated actions or beliefs, we get some kind of telegraph in the form of a facial expression or something to clue us in. I didn't catch any explicit shots that convey Dottie's true intentions, although the whole movie she's been insisting that the game doesn't really mean that much to her. Also, everything she's been trying to do the whole movie is for the purpose of benefiting Kit, so it doesn't seem to be insane to assume she let Kit, who seems on the verge of a nervous breakdown before she goes up to take the critical at-bat, to win. So, I think it's open to interpretation (let the debate begin again)!

Anyway, baseball is one of my four big passions in life, along with movies, music and history. It's disappointing to me how few really good baseball movies there have been, but this is one of them. Its' interesting Tom Hanks, who was on a meteoric rise at the moment - his back-to-back Oscar wins were just around the corner - took what was arguably a supporting role, even though he gets top billing over Geena Davis, who has a much bigger part. That may be some indication of his desire to work again with Penny Marshall, who maybe doesn't get credit for giving him his breakout movie role - that would be Ron Howard - but she definitely gave him the opportunity to keep the ball rolling. I noticed Marshall also cast her brother Garry and her longtime co-star from Laverne & Shirley, David L. Lander (Squiggy), as the announcer of the World Series game (Lander went on to become a major league scout).

I remember at the time quite a bit of ballyhoo about Jon Lovitz' role in the movie, maybe even some buzz he might get a Best Supporting Actor nomination. I'd forgotten how small his role is. He disappears not much more than 20 minutes into the film and doesn't return. Certainly an unlikely movie star. It was maybe the most prominent role he ever had in a big box-office success. He even reprised the role in A League of Their Own TV series.

Some of the jokes at the expense of the homely girl Marla probably wouldn't make the final cut in these more PC times. The movie moves on from these relatively quickly and tries to make her something of a three-dimensional character.

Oh, and I didn't even mention Madonna! The banter between her and Rosie O'Donnell provide the movie some of its best bits. "You think there are men in America who haven't seen your bosom?" sounds like an improvised line, but maybe it wasn't.

Total Movies Watched This Year: 15

 Geena Davis, Tom Hanks, and Madonna in A League of Their Own (1992)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On 1/12/2019 at 7:58 AM, sewhite2000 said:

Jan. 11

Young Mr. Lincoln (20th Century Fox, 1939)
Source: TCM

For a brief stretch, this film covers some of the same ground as Abe Lincoln in Illinois, the RKO release with Raymond Massey that came out the following year. Both films make me aware I've never devoted much reading time to Lincoln's life prior to his presidency, so I have no idea if they have any accuracy. Someone who knows, enlighten me: was Stephen Douglas really a romantic rival with Lincoln for Mary Todd? This romantic triangle scenario crops up in both films, and if this is complete Hollywood fabrication, it seems odd that the exact same fabrication would appear in two different films made at two different studios, unless the same writer worked on both screenplays or something. The two films also share a courtship scene with young, doomed Ann Rutledge that are very similar and a scene of Lincoln out of his element at a fancy society ball which he's attended at Miss Todd's invitation.

Anyway, the two films don't trod the same path for very long, as Young Mr. Lincoln pretty quickly takes a sharp left turn into a courtroom drama, when young Perry Mason, er, I mean Abraham Lincoln, finds himself having to defend a pair of young farm boy brothers who've traveled to the "big city" for a Fourth of July picnic only to find themselves accused of murder when a local bully who's been tormenting them and their female companions all day long ends up stabbed to death after scrapping with the two boys in a clearing in the woods not far from the town square where all the festivities are going on. It takes the deductive reasoning of Lincoln and the fortuitous use of the Farmer's Almanac (no one actually glanced up at the sky the entire night of the murder to see what phase the moon was in? I thought people paid attention to that kind of stuff all the time in 1837!) to give him any chance at all at what initially seems to be an open-and-shut case.

Fonda is good casting as the stoic, plain-spoken Lincoln, who carries sadness within him but doesn't seem as tortured as Massey's version (or Daniel Day-Lewis'). I couldn't help but looking at his nose for a good deal of the movie. He's possibly wearing some kind of putty attachment to make him look more Licoln-ish (I was about to say prosthetic, but that sounds like a really advanced word for 1939). 

The film is very Fordian with frontier civilization Americana full of folks rough around the edges but at heart good, decent American folk the way the old movies wanted us to believe they really were. The folk of Springfield get all riled up about the unfairness of the apparent two-against-one nature that seems to have led to the murder, and a lynch mob descends upon the jail only minutes after the boys have been arrested, but Lincoln intercedes, Atticus Finch-style, and appeals to their better nature, even though they still grumble about it ("Don't seem right to have gone to all this fuss and not gotten at least ONE hangin' out of it!", one old coot grumbles, and we're supposed to believe he's a good dude, not a bloodthirsty neanderthal).

Alice Brady is an actress I mostly know for playing very flighty, broadly comic types in The Gay Divorcee and My Man Godfrey, but here she has a weighty role as the mother of the two boys who's unconscionably nearly forced into making a Sophie's Choice decision about which one will hang and which one will be spared, and you can see the pain this causes her. This was her final film. She died at the age of 46 only four months after the film was released.

Donald Meek is also cast against type as the unctuous prosecutor, who's on the wrong side but shows more spine than any other Donald Meek role I can ever remember. Ford also used him that same year in Stagecoach. And Ford reliable Ward Bond has a pretty important role as the friend and fellow bully of the victim, on whose testimony the entire case hangs. He barely sneaks into the opening credits as the 12th and last-billed cast member (the guy who plays Douglas doesn't even get billed, though he's in several scenes. I love the quirkiness of billing in old films!).

I don't know that there was any necessity to make a film that puts Lincoln in such a fantastic scenario that has no connection to actual history, but the film itself is a fun watch, and the use of so famous a figure probably makes it more compelling to the audience than making the protagonist just any small town 1800s lawyer.

Total Movies Watched This Year: 11

Henry Fonda, Alice Brady, Eddie Collins, Richard Cromwell, and Pauline Moore in Young Mr. Lincoln (1939)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Very good summary overall Sewhite.  Re. your comments about the uncharacteristic Alice Brady performance, she had a similar one in the late 1937 film IN OLD CHICAGO, as mother of the O'Leary brood, which include Don Ameche and Tyrone Power.  She was also owner of the infamous cow.  She won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for this part. 

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The Seventh Victim (1943)

SeventhVictim_Reg.jpg

The last RKO film on Warner's Val Lewton boxset that I could never find at the library, but it just turned up on Amazon VOD, and I had a free digital rental, so thought I'd clean up the oversight.  I'm not sure if this is the film that officially caused RKO to rein in their errant art-horror guru--and stick him with Boris Karloff to make sure they got actual horror, just like Universal--but, more than most Lewton films that started out as a completely different story, this one's probably his most...muddled.  The story feels like it spends so much time trying to be an "allegory" for something, it's hard to nail down what the flipping heck it IS.

Supposedly, we follow virginal girls'-school student Kim Hunter, as she has to go to NY to track down her missing sister who disappeared into the Greenwich Village life, and later discovers her sister has been marked for death by a sinister occult organization among the city elite, and you can never tell who might be In On It--Call it "Rosemary's Sister".  There's an intriguing beginning with a private detective, two helpful male romantic-leads, and the usual Cat People-esque Val Lewton nervous street chases, but once we meet the sister, the story keeps trying to lecture us on something else.  We learn that the sister was starting to feel unfulfilled and suicidal, but once the Sinister Organization catches up with her, to "sacrifice" her into silence, their method is to sit her at a table and browbeat her into trying to drink a glass of poison--after all, she wanted to kill herself, didn't she?--like Eyes Wide Shut re-enacting the Death of Socrates.  And although we're told who the Sinister Occult Organization is, we never actually see them doing anything sinister or occult:  With a few rewrites, the baddies could just as easily have been secret Nazi saboteurs, and, in DeWitt Bodeen's earlier murder-mystery draft of the story, probably were.  The movie ends with our two heroes catching up with the baddies and self-righteously lecturing them, for reasons that seem to go a lot deeper than just being Sinister or Occult.

Unlike the usual tight Lewton button-pushing (there's a neat chill that foreshadows Hitchcock's shower scene, seventeen years early), there's so much Message, Metaphor and Allegory muddling the thriller, it feels like a screenwriter wanted to get something off his chest--It's the kind of story that a screenwriter would write after going through his own personal issues, and forget to not make them so personal for the studio.

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3 hours ago, Arturo said:

Re. your comments about the uncharacteristic Alice Brady performance, she had a similar one in the late 1937 film IN OLD CHICAGO, as mother of the O'Leary brood,

I saw this movie when it was a TCM premiere six years ago (and they've only aired it once since then), but I remember very little about it. I'd like to see it again.

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On 1/12/2019 at 1:17 AM, LawrenceA said:

Devils of Darkness (1965) - British horror from Planet Films and director Lance Comfort. American-residing-in-England Paul Baxter (William Sylvester) vacations in France where he runs into trouble with a satanic cult led the immortal vampire Count Sinistre (Hubert Noel). Featuring Tracy Reed, Carole Gray, Diana Decker, Rona Anderson, Peter Illing, Gerard Heinz, Marianne Stone, and Eddie Byrne.

This was marketed as the first British vampire film set in modern times. It doesn't make the proceedings anymore exciting, though. Noel does not make for a "Sinistre" vampire, and Sylvester is a bland hero. The women are more interesting, especially Tracy Reed as a red-headed model, and Carole Gray as a gypsy vampire bride. Some gruesome stuff is implied, but never explicitly shown, such as a woman getting a torch in the face, and a man being stabbed in the throat.   (5/10)

Devils-of-Darkness-reviews-horror-Britis

I saw this the other day. I thought it was an interesting Friday afternoon nothing else is on kind of a film.

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6 hours ago, EricJ said:

The Seventh Victim (1943)

SeventhVictim_Reg.jpg

The last RKO film on Warner's Val Lewton boxset that I could never find at the library, but it just turned up on Amazon VOD, and I had a free digital rental, so thought I'd clean up the oversight.  I'm not sure if this is the film that officially caused RKO to rein in their errant art-horror guru--and stick him with Boris Karloff to make sure they got actual horror, just like Universal--but, more than most Lewton films that started out as a completely different story, this one's probably his most...muddled.  The story feels like it spends so much time trying to be an "allegory" for something, it's hard to nail down what the flipping heck it IS.

Supposedly, we follow virginal girls'-school student Kim Hunter, as she has to go to NY to track down her missing sister who disappeared into the Greenwich Village life, and later discovers her sister has been marked for death by a sinister occult organization among the city elite, and you can never tell who might be In On It--Call it "Rosemary's Sister".  There's an intriguing beginning with a private detective, two helpful male romantic-leads, and the usual Cat People-esque Val Lewton nervous street chases, but once we meet the sister, the story keeps trying to lecture us on something else.  We learn that the sister was starting to feel unfulfilled and suicidal, but once the Sinister Organization catches up with her, to "sacrifice" her into silence, their method is to sit her at a table and browbeat her into trying to drink a glass of poison--after all, she wanted to kill herself, didn't she?--like Eyes Wide Shut re-enacting the Death of Socrates.  And although we're told who the Sinister Occult Organization is, we never actually see them doing anything sinister or occult:  With a few rewrites, the baddies could just as easily have been secret Nazi saboteurs, and, in DeWitt Bodeen's earlier murder-mystery draft of the story, probably were.  The movie ends with our two heroes catching up with the baddies and self-righteously lecturing them, for reasons that seem to go a lot deeper than just being Sinister or Occult.

Unlike the usual tight Lewton button-pushing (there's a neat chill that foreshadows Hitchcock's shower scene, seventeen years early), there's so much Message, Metaphor and Allegory muddling the thriller, it feels like a screenwriter wanted to get something off his chest--It's the kind of story that a screenwriter would write after going through his own personal issues, and forget to not make them so personal for the studio.

You hit the nail on the head. Muddled is definitely the word for this film. 

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Wings of the Navy (1939) - Military aviation drama from Warner Brothers and director Lloyd Bacon. Cass Harrington (George Brent) is a lieutenant in the Navy Air Corps, but he doesn't want his younger brother Jerry (John Payne) to follow in his footsteps due to the danger. Of course, Jerry joins the flight training school anyway. Things get more contentious between the brothers when they both fall for the same gal, Irene (Olivia de Havilland). Also featuring Frank McHugh, Victor Jory, Henry O'Neill, John Litel, John Ridgely, John Gallaudet, Pierre Watkin, Eddie Acuff, Joseph Crehan, and Regis Toomey.

This hits all the familiar notes from a dozen other military training movies, airplane movies, and propaganda/recruitment films disguised as drama. Everyone does their job well, and aviation fans will like the look at various pre-WWII aircraft.   (6/10)

220px-Wings_of_the_Navy_-_1939_-_poster.

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The Woman I Love (1937) - WWI aviation drama from RKO and director Anatole Litvak. Lt. Claude Maury (Paul Muni) and Lt. Jean Herbillion (Louis Hayward) are fellow pilots in the Escadrille squadron. They are also both in love with the same woman, Maury's wife Helene (Miriam Hopkins). The tensions of the love triangle further complicate the grueling lives of the pioneering fighter pilots. Also featuring Colin Clive, Minor Watson, Elisabeth Risdon, Don "Red" Barry, Leonid Kinskey, and Sterling Holloway.

This was director Litvak's American film debut, as well as the final film for actor Colin Clive, who died before its release. Muni plays things low-key, and despite his billing, Hayward is the real star of the picture. My only issue with the film is Hopkins, who I much prefer in her more aggressive, self-assured roles. Here she's a bit too demure and soft, and I would have recast the part with someone more at home in that mold.   (7/10)

220px-The_Woman_I_Love_FilmPoster.jpeg

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East of the River (1940) - Hammy melodrama from Warner Brothers and director Alfred E. Green. Italian immigrant "Mama" Teresa Lorenzo (Marjorie Rambeau) struggles to raise her son Joe on her own. Despite the hardship, she even agrees to adopt Joe's orphaned, homeless friend Nick. As the boys grow into men, Nick (William Lundigan) stays on the straight and narrow, graduating from college. Meanwhile, Joe (John Garfield) has fallen into a life of crime, which he keeps secret from Mama. When Joe returns home with new girlfriend Laurie (Brenda Marshall), the stage is set for conflict as Nick falls for the gal, too. Also featuring George Tobias, Moroni Olsen, Douglas Fowley, Jack La Rue, Russell Hicks, Charley Foy, and Frank Faylen.

Another substandard film that Garfield had to endure, this is hampered by some bad acting and a cliche script. Rambeau is just terrible as the stereotypical "Mama", sporting one of the most exaggerated phony accents ever committed to celluloid. Tobias, too,lays it on thick, but one expects that of his generally boisterous performances. Marshall makes for a bland leading lady, too, and I had a hard time figuring out why both guys went crazy over her.   (5/10)

220px-East_of_the_River_poster.jpg

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Flowing Gold (1940) - The lives and loves of oil well workers, from Warner Brothers and director Alfred E. Green. Tough-as-nails oil crew foreman Hap O'Connor (Pat O'Brien) hires Johnny Blake (John Garfield) despite the latter being a wanted man. Hap's crew decides to work for "Wildcat" Chalmers (Raymond Walburn) on a risky new well that will either make or break them. Hap and Johnny both fall for Wildcat's daughter Linda (Frances Farmer), causing more friction. Also featuring Cliff Edwards, Tom Kennedy, Granville Bates, Jody Gilbert, Edward Pawley, Eddie Aciff, E.E. Clive, and Heinie Conklin.

Similar to many other blue-collar working-man dramas of the period, such as Manpower, only the cast distinguishes this time out. The teaming of doomed cult-favorites Garfield and Farmer was interesting to see, but if you've seen one oil-well movie, and I've seen a few, you've seen 'em all.   (6/10)

220px-Flowing_Gold_FilmPoster.jpeg

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Green Hell (1940) - Jungle adventure from Universal Pictures and director James Whale. An expedition into the South American jungle is led by Keith Brandon (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.). They're searching for a lost Incan city said to contain valuable treasure. However, they soon encounter two problems: restless hostile natives that don't like these outsiders monkeying with their sacred sites; and a woman (Joan Bennett), a late addition to their party, who attracts the affections of more than one of the men in the party. Also featuring George Sanders, George Bancroft, John Howard, Alan Hale, Gene Garrick, Francis McDonald, Ray Mala, Lupita Tovar, Noble Johnson, Iron Eyes Cody, and Vincent Price.

This is an infamous flop, regarded by most involved as the low point of their respective careers. I didn't find it nearly that bad, and much better than many other jungle movies that I've seen. Perhaps it was the big budget and large cast that garnered unmet heightened expectations. The script is silly, with a lot of corny dialogue, especially in the melodramatic love scenes. And there's a lot of blatant ignorance about the native culture depicted, but that was part and parcel of these kinds of movies during that time. I still ended up enjoying this a bit, thanks to the cast and the "forbidden temple" setting.   (6/10)

GREEN_HELL.jpg

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39 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

Green Hell (1940)

GREEN_HELL.jpg

Through a friend who had been in contact with him I sent a video tape of this film to Douglas Fairbanks Jr. as it was missing it from his collection of his own films. I later read that he called this his worst film. I hope it wasn't because of the admittedly mediocre quality of my tape.

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My Love Came Back (1940) - Musical comedy from Warner Brothers and director Curtis Bernhardt. Music school student Amelia Cornell (Olivia de Havilland) has trouble making ends meet, so wealthy school patron Julius Malette (Charles Winninger) secretly pays her tuition. This sets up a series of confrontations between Amelia, Malette, his family and business associates, and her friends, all based on mistaken intentions. Also featuring Eddie Albert, Jeffrey Lynn, Jane Wyman, Spring Byington, S.Z. Sakall, Grant Mitchell, William T. Orr, Ann Gillis, and Mabel Taliaferro.

The music comes from the students practicing, performing, and improvising (no show tunes), and there are some amusing arrangements heard. The comedy is situational with a few witty lines of dialogue thrown in, and the performances are adequate. This is the kind of light fare that's enjoyable but immediately forgettable.   (6/10)

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22 hours ago, EricJ said:

The Seventh Victim (1943)

SeventhVictim_Reg.jpg

The last RKO film on Warner's Val Lewton boxset that I could never find at the library, but it just turned up on Amazon VOD, and I had a free digital rental, so thought I'd clean up the oversight.  I'm not sure if this is the film that officially caused RKO to rein in their errant art-horror guru--and stick him with Boris Karloff to make sure they got actual horror, just like Universal--but, more than most Lewton films that started out as a completely different story, this one's probably his most...muddled.  The story feels like it spends so much time trying to be an "allegory" for something, it's hard to nail down what the flipping heck it IS.

Supposedly, we follow virginal girls'-school student Kim Hunter, as she has to go to NY to track down her missing sister who disappeared into the Greenwich Village life, and later discovers her sister has been marked for death by a sinister occult organization among the city elite, and you can never tell who might be In On It--Call it "Rosemary's Sister".  There's an intriguing beginning with a private detective, two helpful male romantic-leads, and the usual Cat People-esque Val Lewton nervous street chases, but once we meet the sister, the story keeps trying to lecture us on something else.  We learn that the sister was starting to feel unfulfilled and suicidal, but once the Sinister Organization catches up with her, to "sacrifice" her into silence, their method is to sit her at a table and browbeat her into trying to drink a glass of poison--after all, she wanted to kill herself, didn't she?--like Eyes Wide Shut re-enacting the Death of Socrates.  And although we're told who the Sinister Occult Organization is, we never actually see them doing anything sinister or occult:  With a few rewrites, the baddies could just as easily have been secret Nazi saboteurs, and, in DeWitt Bodeen's earlier murder-mystery draft of the story, probably were.  The movie ends with our two heroes catching up with the baddies and self-righteously lecturing them, for reasons that seem to go a lot deeper than just being Sinister or Occult.

Unlike the usual tight Lewton button-pushing (there's a neat chill that foreshadows Hitchcock's shower scene, seventeen years early), there's so much Message, Metaphor and Allegory muddling the thriller, it feels like a screenwriter wanted to get something off his chest--It's the kind of story that a screenwriter would write after going through his own personal issues, and forget to not make them so personal for the studio.

The key is "Greenwich Village" (wink wink). Some have read the secret society as (gasp) gays and lesbians. This is certainly plausible.

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36 minutes ago, kingrat said:

The key is "Greenwich Village" (wink wink). Some have read the secret society as (gasp) gays and lesbians. This is certainly plausible.

Back when we still had a TCM/Filmstruck blog, the blogger tended to get a little, um, overexcited during Gay Cinema themed month, point out that veteran Lewton writer Dewitt Bodeen was "one of us, one of us! :D ", and tried to find all the buddy-shoutout "hidden lesbian subtexts" in Cat People that were sure to be there.  (And, like most "hateful/intolerant" folks who objected, I was kicked off for asking what she made of Irena & Amy's "secret" relationship in Curse of the Cat People.  I don't recall whether there was anybody left to comment on the blog, by the time it moved to Tumblr.)

So, yeah, I was sniffing a little in that direction, although we're told how free-spirited the sister was, I took the "Suicide" angle more to be that of the self-destructive party life in the artists' Village community.  Which, again, six o' one...

(Accdg. to IMDb, Bodeen's original draft just had the heroine investigating a string of murders before she might become the Seventh Victim--But like most Lewton title-switches, we can only guess what was on Val's mind.)

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I watched BEAST OF THE CITY (1932)- A ludicrous , pro police state propaganda piece of precode born of a phone conversation between MGM head Louis B Mayer and President Herbert Hoover, presumably while the Roosevelts were measuring the East Room for drapes.

botc.jpg

It’s a response to any number of much better, much more interesting and much more honest gangster movies that were sweeping the nation at the time.

Walter Huston and Wallace Ford play two brothers, 20 years apart in age and 5 inches apart in height who look and sound *absolutely nothing* like one another,  both on the police force of an unnamed city in Louis B Mayer’s USA. Huston becomes police chief, whilst  Ford falls hard for gangster’s moll Jean Harlow who whips him within minutes into being on the take for the local gangster kingpen.

J CARROL NAISH, NAT PENDLETON, EDWARD BROPHY and MICKEY ROONEY all have uncredited parts.

HUSTON does the whole staid martinet thing he did when he was forced to play an uninteresting part, watching it it’s hard to believe this is the same guy who is also in KONGO, SIERRA MADRE and DANIEL WEBSTER...Ford is fine, I guess, one interesting thing about him is that he was actually born and raised in England, but to look and listen to him you would never in 1 million years guess that he is so quintessentially American.

The really interesting casting here is Harlow though, who in her small part manages to be not only adequate, but pretty good – which is really something considering how absolutely god-awful she is in THE PUBLIC ENEMY from the year before. she and FORD have pretty good chemistry and their scenes together are pretty damn risque.

This actually starts out with a prologue from President Herbert Hoover, which is ironic all-around as the characters are drinking alcohol left and right. It has all the prerequisites  of your standard pro police state picture, including a lot of contempt for defense attorneys, habeas corpus, and the general process of law and order.

the ending is really, really ridiculous and there is a lot of goofy slang; Still it’s interesting as a historical study, and you could find a worse way to spend an hour and a half.

EDIT: I SHOULD HAVE ALSO MENTIONED THAT IT WAS WRITTEN BY W.R. BURNETT, WHO ALSO GAVE US THE (MUCH BETTER) STORIES FOR LITTLE CAESAR AND THE ASPHALT JUNGLE.

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