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I Just Watched...

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The Mudlark (1950)  -  7/10

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Light historical drama with a young London street urchin (Andrew Ray) who makes an unlikely connection with Queen Victoria (Irene Dunne), who has been in grief-stricken seclusion since the death of her husband. Also featuring Alec Guinness as Disraeli, Finlay Currie, Beatrice Campbell, Anthony Steel, and Wilfred Hyde-White. This is a handsomely decorated film, with good performances by all involved. I was particularly taken with Guinness, who gets a lengthy monologue, and character-actor stalwart Currie, amusing as the Scotsman John Brown. 

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My Daughter Joy aka Operation X (1950)  -  5/10

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Dull British drama with Edward G. Robinson as a titan of industry working on a major new business deal. He does it all to keep his daughter (Peggy Cummins) and wife (Nora Swinburne) in comfort and luxury, but they both use him, with his wife carrying on affairs, and his daughter allowing herself to be used by men trying to get close to her father. Featuring Richard Greene, Finlay Currie, James Robertson Justice, Walter Rilla, and Gregory Ratoff (who also produced and directed). This is based on a book, David Golder by Irene Nemirovsky, and I had already seen the earlier 1931 French adaptation starring Harry Baur. I liked that version much more, as its melodramatics seemed to mesh better with the filmmaking of that time. This newer version is just too pedestrian in style.

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No Man of Her Own (1950)  -  7/10

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Good melodrama with Barbara Stanwyck as a woman who's unwed, pregnant, and broke. After she's involved in a train crash, her identity is confused with that of another pregnant woman who was actually killed, along with her husband. The husband's family never met his bride, so Stanwyck goes along with the ruse, and is taken in by the wealthy in-laws. She soon falls for "brother-in-law" John Lund, but just as she's finding happiness, her sleazeball baby-daddy (Lyle Bettger) shows up for some blackmail. Also featuring Jane Cowl, Phyllis Thaxter, Richard Denning, Milburn Stone, and Henry O'Neill. Much of the story is implausible, but it's served up nice and hot, with some interesting direction from Mitchell Leisen.

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8 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

No Man of Her Own (1950)  -  7/10

no_man_of_her_own_1950.jpg

Good melodrama with Barbara Stanwyck as a woman who's unwed, pregnant, and broke. After she's involved in a train crash, her identity is confused with that of another pregnant woman who was actually killed, along with her husband. The husband's family never met his bride, so Stanwyck goes along with the ruse, and is taken in by the wealthy in-laws. She soon falls for "brother-in-law" John Lund, but just as she's finding happiness, her sleazeball baby-daddy (Lyle Bettger) shows up for some blackmail. Also featuring Jane Cowl, Phyllis Thaxter, Richard Denning, Milburn Stone, and Henry O'Neill. Much of the story is implausible, but it's served up nice and hot, with some interesting direction from Mitchell Leisen.

I LOVE THIS MOVIE!!!!!!

JANE COWL- Who I want to say did more writing than acting- Is really marvelous in one of her rare screen appearances. I think this is also one of Stanwycks finest performances. OLIVE FILMS Released the DVD, but since a Paramount film, I doubt we will be seeing it anytime soon on TCM.

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11 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

My Daughter Joy aka Operation X

Perhaps they should have married her off to My Son John?

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14 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

The Mudlark (1950)

 

11 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

Dull British drama

THANK YOU so much for posting your opinions on those two movies, Lawrence. 

I just attempted 1959's OUR MAN IN HAVANA and was so disappointed with it I didn't finish it. "Dull British." I need to see a GOOD Guinness and Mudlark sounds like just the thing. Hope I can find a copy.

And if Lorna likes NO MAN that much, I know it'll be a treat. 

10 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

unwed, pregnant, and broke. After she's involved in a train crash

I love this synopsis, Lawrence.

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I was too tired last night to post about my last two flicks, so here goes:

Pursuit (1972)  -  5/10

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Made-for-TV "thriller" directed by Michael Crichton and based on his book written under the pen name John Lange. Ben Gazzara stars as a government agent trying to figure out what radical political figure E.G. Marshall is up to. It involves unleashing nerve gas in San Diego during the Republican convention. Also featuring William Window, Joseph Wiseman, Quinn Redeker, Will Kuluva, Jim McMullan, and Martin Sheen. Gazzara spends most of the movie smirking and smoking while sporting over-sized eyeglasses. One amusing plot-point concerns Sheen's character being accused of hacking government computers to steal sensitive information for political gain. What a wacky idea!

 

Short Walk to Daylight (1972)  -  6/10

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More made-for-TV excitement. When an earthquake strikes NYC, a group of late-night subway passengers find themselves trapped underground. They have to slowly make their way to safety through the treacherous, heavily-damaged tunnels, as well as putting up with each other's prejudices. Featuring James Brolin, Don Mitchell, James McEachin, Abbey Lincoln, Brooke Bundy, Laurette Spang, Suzanne Charny, Lazaro Perez, and Franklin Cover. I liked the grimy 70s-NY ambiance, and the production design is excellent for a TV movie. The performances are a mixed-bag, with Brolin, as a beat cop, laying on a Brooklyn accent rather thick, and Mitchell overdoing it as an angry, "jive-talking" guy with a chip on his shoulder.

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One Way Street (1950)  -  7/10

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Decent crime drama with James Mason as a doctor in league with a gang of bank robbers. After a big score, Mason takes the dough and the girlfriend (Marta Toren) of the gang's leader (Dan Duryea) and heads south of the border. Meanwhile Duryea and his compatriots try to track them down. Also featuring William Conrad and Jack Elam. While the middle section of the film set in Mexico has its slow spots, and some corny moralizing, the first and last acts are excellent.

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On 1/31/2019 at 12:13 PM, LawrenceA said:

It's on YouTube, in two parts. The copy is good quality, ripped from a VHS recording off of the Sci-Fi Channel back when they showed interesting off-beat stuff like Dr. Cook's Garden.

I just saw this and loved it. Crosby gives his best dramatic performance since "The Country Girl". I did not know it was based on a play by Ira Levin, who wrote one of my favorite novels "Rosemary's Baby" which also became one of my favorite films. It's another story about seemingly kindly older people who may not be what they seem. 

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2 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

Also featuring William Window,

Did you mean William Windom by any chance? :lol:

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17 minutes ago, Fedya said:

Did you mean William Windom by any chance? :lol:

Windom at the Window.

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The Secret Fury (1950)  -  7/10

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Psychological mystery/thriller with Robert Ryan and Claudette Colbert on the verge of getting married. However, a man steps forward during their wedding ceremony and declares that Colbert is already married to a friend of his. The man flees before more questions can be answered, so Ryan and Colbert try to get to the bottom of things, only to find multiple people who swear to seeing her marry another man. Also featuring Jane Cowl, Paul Kelly, Philip Ober, Elisabeth Risdon, Jose Ferrer, Percy Helton, Paul Picerni, and Vivian Vance. This one kept me guessing, with unexpected twists and turns. The performances were good, and there's even a jazz guitar interlude.

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16 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

No Man of Her Own (1950)  -  7/10

no_man_of_her_own_1950.jpg

Good melodrama with Barbara Stanwyck as a woman who's unwed, pregnant, and broke. After she's involved in a train crash, her identity is confused with that of another pregnant woman who was actually killed, along with her husband. The husband's family never met his bride, so Stanwyck goes along with the ruse, and is taken in by the wealthy in-laws. She soon falls for "brother-in-law" John Lund, but just as she's finding happiness, her sleazeball baby-daddy (Lyle Bettger) shows up for some blackmail. Also featuring Jane Cowl, Phyllis Thaxter, Richard Denning, Milburn Stone, and Henry O'Neill. Much of the story is implausible, but it's served up nice and hot, with some interesting direction from Mitchell Leisen.

Such a great movie and hard to believe that abomination with Riki Lake is based on the same story ostensibly. Also good to see a great Broadway actress like Jane Cowl in the production.

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Stromboli (1950)  -  6/10

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Italian drama from director Roberto Rossellini, with Ingrid Bergman starring as a Lithuanian in a refugee camp after the end of WWII. The only way she can secure release is to agree to marrying Mario Vitale, a former soldier. They return to his home village on the volcanic island of Stromboli, where Ingrid has trouble adjusting to the way of life. This film is more infamous for its associated scandal than for its content. The film itself is only passable, as it seems Rossellini took an idea to make a film about the struggle to survive in the unforgiving environment of Stromboli and shoehorned in a side story and character to suit Bergman's participation. I wouldn't call it a bad film, but those who don't care for Italian neo-realism aren't likely to be swayed by this picture. 

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2 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

The Secret Fury (1950)  -  7/10

MV5BYjhkZWFlMmMtYWQwNC00MThkLTk5YTgtODkz

Psychological mystery/thriller with Robert Ryan and Claudette Colbert on the verge of getting married. However, a man steps forward during their wedding ceremony and declares that Colbert is already married to a friend of his. The man flees before more questions can be answered, so Ryan and Colbert try to get to the bottom of things, only to find multiple people who swear to seeing her marry another man. Also featuring Jane Cowl, Paul Kelly, Philip Ober, Elisabeth Risdon, Jose Ferrer, Percy Helton, Paul Picerni, and Vivian Vance. This one kept me guessing, with unexpected twists and turns. The performances were good, and there's even a jazz guitar interlude.

Unfortunately, Robert Ryan and Claudette Colbert have little chemistry, which is odd, considering that both usually have good chemistry with a variety of other actors. However, one of the nice surprises about The Secret Fury is that Mel Ferrer turns out to be a pretty good director. The murder of a certain character is more violent than is usual for the 1950s. I enjoy seeing Vivian Vance in her pre-I Love Lucy roles, and Jane Cowl was a highly regarded actress on Broadway. Like Lawrence, I'd give it a solid 7/10.

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9 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

Stromboli (1950)  -  6/10

ONESHEET729-2.jpg?1327064021

Italian drama from director Roberto Rossellini, with Ingrid Bergman starring as a Lithuanian in a refugee camp after the end of WWII. The only way she can secure release is to agree to marrying Mario Vitale, a former soldier. They return to his home village on the volcanic island of Stromboli, where Ingrid has trouble adjusting to the way of life. This film is more infamous for its associated scandal than for its content. The film itself is only passable, as it seems Rossellini took an idea to make a film about the struggle to survive in the unforgiving environment of Stromboli and shoehorned in a side story and character to suit Bergman's participation. I wouldn't call it a bad film, but those who don't care for Italian neo-realism aren't likely to be swayed by this picture. 

SPOILER ALERT:

Lawrence, I thought the picture would end with Bergman having a tryst with the hunky lighthouse keeper and then throwing herself into the volcano. Maybe I'd been seeing too many films like No Man of Her Own and The Secret Fury! Stromboli is my favorite of the several Rossellini films I've seen, but the catch is that I don't especially like Rossellini and don't react the way he wants us to. I know I'm supposed to moved by the fate of the priest in Open City, but I am not. I know I'm supposed to find Bergman sympathetic in Europa '51, but I don't. I know I'm supposed to be happy that the couple reconciles at the end of Voyage in Italy and decides to have a baby, but I feel acutely sorry for any child born to those two.

 

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They Were Not Divided (1950)  -  6/10

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Fairly run-of-the-mill British war drama, with a few details making it noteworthy. Edward Underdown and Ralph Clanton star as new recruits in a reserve division in 1941. They work their way through basic training and then interminable months of waiting to be deployed to the warfront. Also featuring Helen Cherry, Stella Andrews, Michael Brennan, Anthony Dawson, Desmond Llewllyn, and Christopher Lee. Written and directed by Terence Young, this is very British, despite one of the main characters being an ex-pat American. I watched this for Lee, who makes a very brief appearance as a fellow soldier. I was pleasantly surprised with the presence of Llewellyn, the future "Q" of the James Bond films, as a tank operator.

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A Ticket to Tomahawk (1950)  -  6/10

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Technicolor western rom-com with Anne Baxter as a sharp-shooting U.S Marshall charged with protecting an unusual wagon train that includes female entertainers, a Chinese laundry, a one-man band, and an entire train locomotive that has to reach a certain destination by a certain date to win a contest. Anne and friends have to face hostile natives, bandits working for a businessman who wants to see the train lose the contest, and smooth-talking card sharp Dan Dailey. Also featuring Rory Calhoun, Walter Brennan, Arthur Hunnicutt, Connie Gilchrist, Victor Sen Young, Will Wright, Chief Yowlachie, Paul Brinegar, Jack Elam, and Marilyn Monroe. Silly, harmless stuff featuring nice scenery and a couple of cute moments.

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The Leader: Different Youth - This is the first part of the new Chinese anime on the life of Marx and I enjoyed it. The animation is nice and looks like a blend of traditional style anime with some Pixar type CGI. The first episode begins in his youth with Marx's love for Jenny. He confronts her rich family at a ballroom party where his poor background is mocked. It also details his University life including a scene where he goes to a tavern and confronts a bar patron over the philosophy of Kant and Hume in the most metaphysical bar fight ever. :lol: The voice acting was very nice and the main actor's youthful but angry sounding voice really fit the character. I also liked the soundtrack including a catchy tune about his life at the very end. Really enjoyable anime so far. I recommend it.

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I delved once more into the world of 70's TV movies. The results were mixed, but with one nice surprise.

The Victim (1972)  -  4/10

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Tedious thriller that was distinctly lacking in thrills. Elizabeth Montgomery stars as a woman who drives out into the California countryside to check on her sister (Jess Walton). She finds her house empty, but soon begins to suspect that something serious has happened to her, while outside a major thunderstorm makes leaving the area impossible. Also featuring Eileen Heckart as a grouchy housekeeper, Sue Ane Langdon as the friend on the phone, and George Maharis as the creepy soon-to-be ex-brother-in-law. Slow, predictable and poorly acted, even by the usually-reliable pros.

 

Conspiracy of Terror (1975)  -  5/10

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Michael Constantine and Barbara Rhoades star as a married couple who also happen to be police detectives. Michael decides to investigate a young boy's missing dog report, only to stumble upon a satanic cult operating in the California suburbs. Also featuring David Opatoshu, Roger Perry, Mariclare Costello, Norman Burton, Jed Allan, Arlene Martel, and Logan Ramsey. The thriller aspects are weak (very weak), but the unusual pairing of Constantine and Rhoades and their chemistry was amusing.

 

Isn't It Shocking? (1973)  -  7/10

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Terrific black comedy/mystery with Alan Alda as a smalltown Oregon police chief who is tasked with solving a rash of senior citizens dropping dead. Also featuring Louise Lasser, Edmond O'Brien, Will Geer, Lloyd Nolan, and Ruth Gordon. The dialogue is very humorous, and the cast is filled with great characters. Lasser, as the police station secretary, has tremendous chemistry with Alda, and it's a shame they didn't work together more. The mystery to this film isn't the whodunit (the killer is shown in the first scene) but rather the whydunit. Not to oversell it, but I found this effort to be one of the best TV-movies of the 70's.

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4 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

Michael decides to investigate a young boy's missing dog report, only to stumble upon a satanic cult operating in the California suburbs.

Satanic cults/witch covens were really "a thing" in the mid 70's, aren't they?

4 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

solving a rash of senior citizens dropping dead.

Glad you differentiated "senior citizens" which we are, from "the elderly" whose deaths might not raise undue concern.

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5 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

Isn't It Shocking? (1973)  -  7/10

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Nice curlers. :lol:

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Serpent of the Nile (1953)

Mini Cleopatra "epic," done on a limited budget from Columbia. This time it's Rhonda Fleming as the most famous Egyptian seductress of them all, with Raymond Burr as the noble Mark Antony she leads around by his pre-Perry Mason nose, and (woah, I must have missed this one in history class) William Lundigan as the Roman captain Cleo really loves.

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The film starts with Caesar's assassination and quickly has both assassin plotters Brutus and Cassius dispatched by Octavius and Mark Antony. But Antony takes a shining to Brutus's loyal captain (Bill Lundigan) and soon adopts him as his new best friend.

Soon Antony and new best friend are off to the land of the burning sun where Cleo will flash her eyes and dazzle with a smile and Antony will become her pet, err, lover. Still, as stated in the opening paragraph, it's big Bill Lundigan she really loves but Bill is faithful to Antony and Rome so we know that's not going to amount to much.

Mind you this Cleopatra, who has ambitions to be queen of Rome through Antony, is a funny one regarding Lundigan. She at one point sends two assassins to his room in the middle of the night and when she later learns that they failed in their mission she's glad. Ah, the fickleness of women, this one more than most.

But enough of all the story nonsense. What about what really matters to viewers who tune in to see a film of this kind, and the burning question on all their minds. Just how HOT is Rhonda Fleming as Cleopatra?

Well, she's pretty impressive though she has to compromise those gorgeous red locks of her's in this colour production by wearing a dark wig. Depending upon her outfit the lady's massive eye shadow alters from blue to green then back to blue again and, in one scene she's wearing one of those '50s bras that stick out like twin torpedoes. It certainly draws your attention, and you have wonder about the cast members and crew who must have been ducking their heads on the set so as not to get smacked in the face by the thing.

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Look out, Bill. That thing might go off.

Raymond Burr gives an okay performance as the doomed, tragic Antony (at least as much as the sophomoric script will allow). For those interested we also get to see him in togas and Roman centurion armour so, look out world, dig those knees! This film was made, fortunately, years before Burr got bigger than a Sherman tank.

William Lundigan has dialogue like, "Antony, don't make Alexandria your tomb while Rome cries out its need for you." Touching, eh? Unfortunately he says the line in the same flat monotone that he does all his other dialogue in this film.

William Castle (no gimmicks this time) directed this film without much flair. There are a few fast edited action sequences, Castle trying to spruce some of them up by having the camera in a ditch in the ground as a chariot rides over it. I guess he saw the silent Ben Hur.

Possibly of more interest in this film than most is Julie Newmar's sole scene in it (she's billed as Julie Newmeyer). Years before they painted Shirley Eaton all over the same way for a Bond film Newmar is covered in gold as she does an exotic dance in Cleopatra's court with all eyes on her. I must say that Julie was in pretty impressive, limber shape for this number (there are even a few slow leg splits on the floor).

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Serpent of the Nile is a time waster, but for those who don't care for either the DeMille version of the '30s or the elephantine Liz Taylor take of the same tale three decades later, this economy version may appeal to them.

All the photos posted here of the film, by the way, are taken off a DVD of mine from a TCM broadcast of the movie a few years ago. I only just caught up with the film now.

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2 out of 4

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Thanks for the pictures, Tom. Raymond Burr looks almost handsome with that pensive gaze off-camera. Rhonda Fleming and Julie Newmar look sensational.

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Under My Skin (1950)  -  6/10

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John Garfield stars as an ex-pat jockey living in Europe with his young son Joe (Orley Lindgren). When Garfield crosses gangster Luther Adler in Italy, the jockey and his kid make a run for it to France, where they meet nightclub singer Micheline Presle, who shows them both some sympathy and concern. Their situation is compromised when Adler and his goons show up and threaten Garfield into working for them again. 

Several things counted against this one for me: it's yet another horsey movie; I'm not a fan of flawed-dads-and-their-loyal-kids storylines (see: The Champ); and I'm not enamored of French culture. However, Garfield, and to a lesser extent Adler, almost make up for all of those minuses with their usual solid performances. This viewing also marked the final John Garfield movie that I had not seen. 

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