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I Just Watched...

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The Sisters Brothers (2018)  -  8/10

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Oddball western with sibling killers-for-hire Charlie (Joaquin Phoenix) and Eli Sisters (John C. Reilly) on the hunt for tracker Morris (Jake Gyllenhaal) and chemist Hermann Kermit Warm (Riz Ahmed), the latter of whom has a valuable formula for a chemical solution that can detect gold. Also featuring Rebecca Root, Allison Tolman, Richard Brake, Rutger Hauer, and Carol Kane. 

The cast is excellent, with Phoenix and Reilly's bickering a humorous contrast to their deadly trade. The focus is very tight in this, without a lot of extraneous sub-plots of diversions. That said, the story still manages to surprise in its own meandering way. The tone is certainly different for a western, blackly comic with a lazy, stream-of-consciousness pace, and given to moments of introspection. This movie won't be for a lot of people, particularly western traditionalists who may find it boring or too obscure. The movie written and directed by French filmmaker Jacques Audiard, and it was shot in Spain and Romania. Recommended.

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Diamonds (1999)

A three generation family relationship drama, about a middle aged man, his teen son and his aging father, the latter still doing lip and tongue exercises after suffering a stroke, who travel by convertible from Canada to Reno in a search of some diamonds hidden in the wall of a house years before.

Okay, so there's problems between the father (played by Dan Aykroyd) and his father (Kirk Douglas), as well as between that father and his son. Yet, as always in manipulative "heart warming" dramas of this kind, we know that by the end of the trip their relationships will be strengthened.

But before turning off this comedy-drama, the inspiring aspect of the film, and what makes it worth a viewing, is Kirk Douglas. The film opens with clips of a young Douglas from Champion (1949), made when the actor was in, literally, his fighting prime then see a closeup of the 82-year-old Douglas doing lip and tongue exercises as he continues to recover from a stroke.

The film is clearly designed as a showcase for Douglas, and inspirational from the feistiness and, yes, even energy of his performance. No matter what you may think of the story and dialogue, we are watching, in Douglas, the fighting spirit of an actor who had battled back from a stroke, with that battle still continuing. At one point when his character talks about the early frustrations he felt after suffering the stroke, we know that Douglas is expressing his own frustrations.

Douglas's speech is quite easy to understand and the actor shows us determination, as well as tears, at times, from the loneliness of being a widower still in love with his wife (he occasionally looks skyward as he talks to her) who, somehow, just keeps going. Unless you're ready to die (and he isn't), what else can you do? There is, however, a reasonable amount of gentle humour in the screenplay.

Aykroyd, looking heavy and rather tired as the son, didn't make much of an impression upon me but, on the other hand, there is Lauren Bacall, the actress reunited with Douglas for the first time since Young Man With A Horn 49 years before, as the madame of a Reno cat house the three men visit.

In fact, some of the nicest moments in the film are a couple of gentle, introspective scenes between Douglas and Bacall (the latter looking terrific, by the way). There is chemistry between these two old pros as their characters speak briefly to one another of their life stories. There's some laughter, as well as reflections of life's pain in both their faces.

At one point Bacall asks Douglas if he's scared. He pauses for a moment then answers that he is. "So am I," she replies.

Douglas reaches across to her.

"We hide it," he says and smiles.

It's a touching moment of truth.

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2.5 out of 4

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I Walk Alone (1947)

I borrowed the new Kino release of this film from the library.  I put a hold request on it while in the middle of Sweet Smell of Success.  I found that I really like Burt Lancaster in his noir roles.  In addition to 'Success' and I Walk Alone, I have also seen Lancaster in Brute Force, Sorry Wrong Number, The Killers and Kiss This Blood off My HandsIs there more Lancaster noir I need to see?  

I found that Lizabeth Scott is growing on me.  When I first saw her in Dead Reckoning (a film that I really need to re-watch) and Easy Living (which I watched more for Lucille Ball), I wasn't a fan.  However, I have since watched her in Pitfall and Too Late For Tears and I've enjoyed her appearance in both.  She was excellent in I Walk Alone as well.  Are there more Lizabeth Scott noir films that I need to watch?

Anyway.  I really enjoyed I Walk Alone.  In this film, Burt Lancaster plays Frankie, a former bootlegger who is released from prison after 14 years of incarceration.  The film takes place in the present, placing Lancaster's jail sentence from 1933 to 1947.  He has an adverse reaction to being served 1933 vintage champagne at one point in the film.  When Lancaster is released from prison, he goes looking for his old bootlegging partner, Noll Turner, portrayed by Kirk Douglas.  During their final time together, prior to Lancaster's arrest, he and Douglas make a pact that they'll still split the profits 50/50 upon release.

After 14 years however, it seems that Douglas has conveniently forgotten the deal he made with Lancaster.  During this time, Douglas has built a fancy nightclub where business is booming.  When Lancaster confronts Douglas for his share, Douglas stalls by sending Lancaster to have dinner with girlfriend Lizabeth Scott.  Douglas later tells Lancaster that he sold the old business years prior and that Lancaster's share of the profits is less than $3k.  Douglas' business partner (and former member of Douglas and Lancaster's gang), Wendell Corey, tells Lancaster that he had him sign away his share long ago.  Of course Lancaster isn't buying it. Later, it turns out that Douglas has all his assets tied up in multiple corporations with bylaws that prevent him from pretty much giving anything away.

The rest of the film follows Lancaster's attempts to get the money he was promised.  Along the way, he falls in love with Scott and is framed for murder.  Douglas, though involved with Scott, decides to marry socialite Kristine Miller (whom I recognized as Scott's sister-in-law from Too Late For Tears) because her status and connections would be a boon to his nightclub business.  He tells Scott that while he's marrying Miller, he still wants to be with her.  Yeah. Scott does NOT go for the idea and is repulsed by the suggestion. 

I thought this was a great film and had an interesting plot.  I somewhat predicted what would happen at the end, but not how it would happen.  The only reason I figured out the end was based on my knowledge of what would and would not fly during the Production Code.

This was a great film, one that I wouldn't mind seeing again.  I am also seeking out more of Lancaster and Scott's noir output.

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For Burt Lancaster: Criss Cross. Not to be missed. An Eddie Muller favorite, I think. Yvonne DeCarlo looking glam. Dan Duryea exuding nastiness from every pore. A brilliantly shot heist scene. Some glimpses of LA.

For Lizabeth Scott: Desert Fury is the one I haven't seen, but want to. The Strange Love of Martha Ivers is one of the classic noirs, with Van Heflin, Barbara Stanwyck, and, as a weak nerdy guy, Kirk Douglas. They hadn't figured out how to cast him. Lizabeth Scott probably has more screen time than Stanwyck, although Stanwyck is the star who plays the title character.

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The Brotherhood of the Bell (1970)  -  7/10

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Good made-for-TV conspiracy thriller with Glenn Ford as a professor who's also a member of a secret society called the Brotherhood of the Bell. They provide connections, influence and other perks to their members in exchange for the membership being beholden to perform a major task for the group upon their request. Ford gets his assignment after 20+ years of comfort and success, only to discover that it involves him betraying a close friend. Wracked with guilt over the consequences of his actions, Ford decides to go public, which brings the full wrath of the Brotherhood down upon him. Also starring Rosemary Forsyth, Dean Jagger, Maurice Evans, Will Geer, Eduard Franz, Dabney Coleman, James McEachin, Robert Pine, William Smithers, and William Conrad. This was a well-shot example of 70's paranoia, and the script leaves enough ambiguity, as to what is actual conspiracy and what is only perceived persecution by Ford's character, to make things interesting.  

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7 hours ago, speedracer5 said:

Is there more Lancaster noir I need to see?  

I've never seen All My Sons (1948) But Rope Of Sand (1948) with Paul Henreid, Peter Lorre, Sam Jaffe, Claude Rains, was decent, sort of a poor man's Casablanca. 6/10

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20 hours ago, Det Jim McLeod said:

Shelley Winters was having a grand old time during the early 70s playing loony ladies in theatrical films like "What's The Matter With Helen" and "Who Slew Auntie Roo" as well as in TV movies like this one. "The Devil's Daughter" is another one from TV worth seeing.

What IS it with Shelly Winters and being "typecast"? In all of her early starring roles (in good movies), she was a blousy, needy gal who ends up murdered by drowning. All her later starring roles are these "looney ladies" in soft horror (not so good movies)

Poor Shelley, she was such a good actress and so pretty. I wish she had more diverse roles to really show her talent.

As for Lancaster movies and Lizabeth Scott movies to see....I recommend you see whatever you can. I search my library for titles, then read the synopsis in Wiki to decide what to request. You can easily avoid Lancaster's "tough guy" war movies that way and decide what subject matter interests you. 

Lizabeth Scott is good in everything and most of her filmography contains noir-like  gangster movies. I love her pretty face & husky voice, she comes across as "every woman" in her movies.

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8 hours ago, kingrat said:

For Burt Lancaster: Criss Cross. Not to be missed. An Eddie Muller favorite, I think. Yvonne DeCarlo looking glam. Dan Duryea exuding nastiness from every pore. A brilliantly shot heist scene. Some glimpses of LA.

 

Criss Cross is one of my favourite noirs. It has a classic final scene which seared itself into my head when I first saw the film as a kid. Upon seeing the film again in the past few years I also picked up on some subtleties in Dan Duryea's performance (particularly in that last scene) that I previously missed, making me appreciate the sequence all the more. Duryea, determined as he is, plays the scene with a quiet sadness.

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Gulliver's Travels (1939) 5/10

I liked this a lot as a kid, does not quite hold up now. 

It does seem like an attempt to cash in on the Disney formula, which was a big success 2 years before with "Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs". The biggest thing I had a problem with was the long sequences at the beginning, for nearly half the film Gulliver just lies on the beach while the Lilliputians tie him up. Gabby the town crier is a bit annoying, I thought he sounded like one of the Munchkins on speed. I found out the actor did indeed do some voices for the Munchkins in "Wizard Of Oz". Some good things are some well done animation and the music was very good. The songs "All's Well" and "It's A Hap-Hap- Happy Day" are fun and "Faithful Forever" is beautiful. Nearly as good as the music in "Snow White".

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9 hours ago, kingrat said:

For Lizabeth Scott: Desert Fury is the one I haven't seen, but want to.

you might be disappointed; I've only seen it once, but it struck me as a film that you really need to see more than once. The homosexual subtext was not as overt as I was led to believe.

13 minutes ago, Det Jim McLeod said:

Gulliver's Travels (1939) 5/10

I liked this a lot as a kid, does not quite hold up now. 

It does seem like an attempt to cash in on the Disney formula, which was a big success 2 years before with "Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs". The biggest thing I had a problem with was the long sequences at the beginning, for nearly half the film Gulliver just lies on the beach while the Lilliputians tie him up. Gabby the town crier is a bit annoying, I thought he sounded like one of the Munchkins on speed. I found out the actor did indeed do some voices for the Munchkins in "Wizard Of Oz". Some good things are some well done animation and the music was very good. The songs "All's Well" and "It's A Hap-Hap-Hap Happy Day" are fun and "Faithful Forever" is beautiful. Nearly as good as the music in "Snow White".

I seem to recall reading that WALT DISNEY saw this and claimed "we can do better than that with our second string animators."

Love the FLEISCHER'S SUPERMAN cartoons though (they are actually the only thing SUPERMAN-related that I find interesting), and one can't deny that they have an interesting style.

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2 hours ago, cigarjoe said:

I've never seen All My Sons (1948) But Rope Of Sand (1948) with Paul Henreid, Peter Lorre, Sam Jaffe, Claude Rains, was decent, sort of a poor man's Casablanca. 6/10

I think I picked up Rope of Sand the other day.  I'll have to look through my library pile.  Lol.  I was intrigued by the pairing of Lancaster with Lorre and Rains.

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18 minutes ago, speedracer5 said:

I think I picked up Rope of Sand the other day.  I'll have to look through my library pile.  Lol.  I was intrigued by the pairing of Lancaster with Lorre and Rains.

I know absolutely nothing about this movie, but if- by any chance- it is an hour and thirty minutes of PETER LORRE trying to climb a literal rope of sand, then I'm in.

"ARRRRRGH! WHAT KIND OF BLEETHERING EEDEEOT TRIES TO MAKE A ROPE OUT OF SAND! ARRRRGHH!!!"

(SNORTS)

(TRIES TO GRAB HOLD ONCE MORE, GET MOUTH FULL OF SAND)

"arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgggghhh!"

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28 minutes ago, speedracer5 said:

I think I picked up Rope of Sand the other day.  I'll have to look through my library pile.  Lol.  I was intrigued by the pairing of Lancaster with Lorre and Rains.

And one more a Transitional Noir The Young Savages

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Devil Bat (1940)

This beloved old low-budget (PRC) horror, which we've all seen numerous times, features Bela Lugosi as a mad (but not entirely unsympathetic) scientist who develops an after shave lotion that is so hated by the giant bat he's created, that the bat attacks and kills anyone wearing it, in this case, the men Lugosi wants vengeance on. To the first unsuspecting victim, Lugosi offers the lotion with one of the best loved lines in all horror films: "Rub it on the tender part of your neck."

What struck me with this recent viewing are its connections to another of my favorite horror films: King of the Zombies (Monogram), made the following year. Both films were directed by Jean Yarborough; Guy Usher appears in supporting roles in both films; and there is a striking similarity in the decor. The blocks that make up the walls in Lugosi's secret lab seem to be the same as the blocks in the underground zombie dining room in King of the Zombies.

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king+of+the+zombies+-+moreland+&+whitten

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Speedy, Dead Reckoning- Bogart and Lizabeth Scott is a good one,  TCM has shown this one. The film with Lizabeth Scott I don't remember ever seeing and want to is Paid in Full. This one's a little different, there's a role reversal, Lizabeth plays the good sister and Diana Lynn plays the bad one

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I get that film mixed up with the one she did with Jane Greer when she plays another good character (I prefer her BAD!) I think I saw this film years ago, but have forgotten details.

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DEAD RECKONING is available on AMAZON PRIME...

(I'm not sure, it might've even slipped into the PUBLIC DOMAIN.)

It's an interesting film, but it almost plays like a parody of noir, or at least a gleeful parade of the standard tropes. it is entertaining though.

I love the scene where Lizabeth shows up "incognito" at a nightclub and, of course, the bandleader spotlights her and asks her to "perform a little number for us" and the crowd applauds and she gets up and lip syncs some standard or another.

(don't you just HATE it when you're out and that happens?)

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Carrie (1952)  -  8/10

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Moving drama from director William Wyler, based on the novel Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser. In late 19th century Chicago, small-town girl Jennifer Jones tries to make a life yet poverty holds her down. She meets married Laurence Olivier, and he falls for her. However, his shrewish wife Miriam Hopkins won't give him a divorce, and his Olivier's love for Jones destroys him. Also featuring Eddie Albert and Ray Teal. I thought this was one of Olivier's best performances in an American film, nuanced and reserved while retaining a human warmth at its core that makes his downfall that much more affecting. Jones, too, is good in a difficult role. Hopkins is also well cast as the bitter wife. Handsome production values elevate the proceedings, and Wyler's direction is sharp yet unobtrusive. Recommended.

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1 hour ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

DEAD RECKONING is available on AMAZON PRIME...

(I'm not sure, it might've even slipped into the PUBLIC DOMAIN.)

It's an interesting film, but it almost plays like a parody of noir, or at least a gleeful parade of the standard tropes. it is entertaining though.

I love the scene where Lizabeth shows up "incognito" at a nightclub and, of course, the bandleader spotlights her and asks her to "perform a little number for us" and the crowd applauds and she gets up and lip syncs some standard or another.

(don't you just HATE it when you're out and that happens?)

Spoillers for Dead Reckoning: 

 

Well it isn't just 'a nightclub' it is her husband's nightclub.   (as we find out later).    

The song is Either its Love or it Isn't.       Yea, and the lip sync is done poorly.     

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2 hours ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

Love the FLEISCHER'S SUPERMAN cartoons though (they are actually the only thing SUPERMAN-related that I find interesting), and one can't deny that they have an interesting style

I have seen maybe one or two of them, yes they are interesting. Do you like Fleischer's "Popeye" cartoons?

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50 minutes ago, Det Jim McLeod said:

I have seen maybe one or two of them, yes they are interesting. Do you like Fleischer's "Popeye" cartoons?

It has been a long time since I have seen any of the POPEYE cartoons, even though they are available on my TCM ON HULU options;

I am 99.99999% sure the FLEISCHER SUPERMAN cartoons are in the public domain, so here they are all (although as I recall one is very anti-Japanese as it is WWII era.)

 

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1 hour ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

for Dead Reckoning:

The song is Either its Love or it Isn't.       Yea, and the lip sync is done poorly.     

But it's precisely because it is done poorly that I love it.

As I recall, they also use a vocal track laid down by someone who in no way whatsoever is a reasonable facsimile of LIZABETH SCOTT. It's like having LOUIS ARMSTRONG dubbed by DORIS DAY- you almost wait for the curtain to slide back as the punchline to the whole scene.

i might be my favorite scene in the movie.

 

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Diplomatic Courier (1952)  -  7/10

Diplomatic-Courier-01.jpg

Cold War thriller with Tyrone Power as an American courier tasked with a top secret mission in Austria. His "simple" pick-up-and-delivery job becomes more and more complicated as agents from all sides get involved. Featuring Patricia Neal, Hildegard Knef, Stephen McNally, Karl Malden, James Millican, Michael Ansara, Peter Coe, Dabbs Greer, Lawrence Dobkin, Lee Marvin, and Charles Bronson. I thought this was an entertaining spy flick, with the usual twists-and-turns and double-crosses. Power and Neal are both excellent in their roles. Lee Marvin has a few lines as an MP, and Charles Bronson has a bit as a Russian assassin. The film is also a good time capsule of a specific era in European history when Trieste was an independent city-state, and Austria was divided into four zones.

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3 hours ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

DEAD RECKONING is available on AMAZON PRIME...

(I'm not sure, it might've even slipped into the PUBLIC DOMAIN.)

It's an interesting film, but it almost plays like a parody of noir, or at least a gleeful parade of the standard tropes. it is entertaining though.

I love the scene where Lizabeth shows up "incognito" at a nightclub and, of course, the bandleader spotlights her and asks her to "perform a little number for us" and the crowd applauds and she gets up and lip syncs some standard or another.

(don't you just HATE it when you're out and that happens?)

LOL. Yeah, just what would happen in real life.........

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2 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

Carrie (1952)  -  8/10

MV5BMTM2Zjc1OGYtNWZmNy00NzFjLWE2ZDEtYzlk

Moving drama from director William Wyler, based on the novel Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser. In late 19th century Chicago, small-town girl Jennifer Jones tries to make a life yet poverty holds her down. She meets married Laurence Olivier, and he falls for her. However, his shrewish wife Miriam Hopkins won't give him a divorce, and his Olivier's love for Jones destroys him. Also featuring Eddie Albert and Ray Teal. I thought this was one of Olivier's best performances in an American film, nuanced and reserved while retaining a human warmth at its core that makes his downfall that much more affecting. Jones, too, is good in a difficult role. Hopkins is also well cast as the bitter wife. Handsome production values elevate the proceedings, and Wyler's direction is sharp yet unobtrusive. Recommended.

Cant remember the last time this was shown on TCM. 2 DECADES? :(

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