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I Just Watched...

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1 hour ago, LawrenceA said:

Hot Cars (1956)  -  5/10

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Limp crime drama featuring John Bromfield as a used car salesman who gets caught up in a stolen car racket run by Mark Dana. Dana uses moll Joi Lansing to help seduce the goodhearted Bromfield into going along with things, although John's biggest motivator is wife Carol Shannon and their sick child. Also featuring Dabbs Greer as a cop, Ralph Clanton, Robert Osterloh, and Kurt Katch. This minor effort doesn't have much going for it. Gearheads may enjoy the cars a bit more than I did. I liked the big fistfight-on-a-rollercoaster finale, even if it looked a bit silly. The film thanks Big John's and Johnny O'Toole's used car lots for helping in the production.

This story sounds familiar. But I can't imagine where I saw it. Comet station?

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Hot Rod Girl (1956)  -  5/10

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When skilled racer Jeff (John Smith) sees his little brother killed in a drag race, he swears off the pastime for good. This saddens his girl Lisa (Lori Nelson), who also likes to race. Nice-guy cop Chuck Connors tries to set up a legit place for the local youngsters to race in safety, but bad-boy Bronc Talbott (Mark Andrews) likes it illegal and in the streets, setting up an eventual confrontation between he and Jeff. Also featuring Dabbs Greer, Roxanne Arlen, and Frank Gorshin as "Flat Top". This AIP release has a smidgen of 50's cool-cat charm, but not enough to enliven the pedestrian script. I guess Lori Nelson is the title gal, although she takes a distinct backseat in the narrative to John Smith, who is just as exciting as his name suggests. 

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3 minutes ago, Hibi said:

This story sounds familiar. But I can't imagine where I saw it. Comet station?

Hot Cars did air on TCM once, back in July of 2017.

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19 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

Female Jungle (1956)  -  5/10

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Very low-budget noir, the only one released by AIP. When a hot new Hollywood starlet is murdered, the cops think it may have been off-duty detective Lawrence Tierney. Larry was blackout drunk, so he's not even sure if he's guilty or not, and decides to investigate the case himself. Featuring Burt Kaiser (who also produced and co-wrote) as a sweaty artist, Kathleen Crowley as his wife, Jayne Mansfield (in her movie debut) as his girlfriend, John Carradine as a creepy publicity columnist, Bruno Ve Sota (who also directed and co-wrote), and a handful of actors using pseudonyms: Duane Gray (as Rex Thorsen), Cornelius Keefe (as Jack Hill), Davis Roberts (as Robert Davis), and Alan Jay Factor (as Alan Frost).

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This was shot in '54, but sat around until Mansfield made a name for herself. Co-star Crowley was reportedly sexually assaulted (off set) during production and left the movie, so they cut her role and used a stand-in. The whole film is a bit clumsily edited and shoddily filmed, but it adds a little seedy flavor to things. It's also a bit too talky. I liked Carradine, with streaks of silver hair and large glasses, nattily dressed. He scares Crowley with his state-of-art home stereo system on which he plays classical music too loudly. Mansfield looks good, too.

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Tierney and Mansfield made a movie together? The mind boggles! Wish this would turn up on Underground. LOL.

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The emergence of the "I've lived before" mini-trend in mid-50s movies was probably suggested by a popular book called The Search for Bridey Murphy, about a woman who, under hypnosis, "remembered" being an Irish woman named Bridey Murphy in a previous lifetime. This energized people who believed, or wanted to believe, in reincarnation.

Thanks to TCM and Oscar month, I've now seen The High and the Mighty. Most of us seem to have similar views, that it's a frequently entertaining, though not great, movie, not campy overall but definitely so in a few scenes (John Wayne slapping Robert Stack; every moment John Qualen is on screen). One imdb poster notes that Qualen's playing a stereotyped Italian with a stereotyped Norwegian accent. 

There are so many interesting things about The High and the Mighty, not least all the aspects of 1950s air travel that are much different from today. The attitudes about women are very 1950s, also. Claire Trevor regrets having missed her opportunities to be married; Jan Sterling wants to be a mail-order bride to a man she's never met who lives in the boonies (granted, she hasn't led a "clean" life, in her words, and if you have to be stuck in a remote mountain cabin, William Hopper would be a handsome and charming partner); and the movie clearly wants us to agree that rich socialite Laraine Day should be eager to junk her life so that her financially dependent husband can try running a mine in Montana.

Jan Sterling and Claire Trevor both have small roles to have been nominated for best supporting actress, and both parts are underwritten. Apparently the novel made clear that Sterling's character had been a prostitute. Sterling has the big scene where she takes off her makeup, and she plays it very well. She has the odd quality of being able to look either attractive or almost ugly, depending on the needs of the scene, and this involves acting as well as makeup and camera setup. Claire Trevor is perfectly fine, but her role is smaller and makes less of an impact. No wonder both lost to Eva Marie Saint for On the Waterfront, who has so much more screen time, although Saint really belonged in the lead actress category. 

John Wayne doesn't have as much screen time as his fans would expect, especially in the first hour. In fact, Doe Avedon as the stewardess might actually have the most time on screen. She was a fashion model married for a few years to the photographer Richard Avedon. She's pretty and can act, but her movie career was brief.

 

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3 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

Hot Cars did air on TCM once, back in July of 2017.

Really? Maybe that's where I saw it. Wild!

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Just now, kingrat said:

The emergence of the "I've lived before" mini-trend in mid-50s movies was probably suggested by a popular book called The Search for Bridey Murphy, about a woman who, under hypnosis, "remembered" being an Irish woman named Bridey Murphy in a previous lifetime. This energized people who believed, or wanted to believe, in reincarnation.

Thanks to TCM and Oscar month, I've now seen The High and the Mighty. Most of us seem to have similar views, that it's a frequently entertaining, though not great, movie, not campy overall but definitely so in a few scenes (John Wayne slapping Robert Stack; every moment John Qualen is on screen). One imdb poster notes that Qualen's playing a stereotyped Italian with a stereotyped Norwegian accent. 

There are so many interesting things about The High and the Mighty, not least all the aspects of 1950s air travel that are much different from today. The attitudes about women are very 1950s, also. Claire Trevor regrets having missed her opportunities to be married; Jan Sterling wants to be a mail-order bride to a man she's never met who lives in the boonies (granted, she hasn't led a "clean" life, in her words, and if you have to be stuck in a remote mountain cabin, William Hopper would be a handsome and charming partner); and the movie clearly wants us to agree that rich socialite Laraine Day should be eager to junk her life so that her financially dependent husband can try running a mine in Montana.

Jan Sterling and Claire Trevor both have small roles to have been nominated for best supporting actress, and both parts are underwritten. Apparently the novel made clear that Sterling's character had been a prostitute. Sterling has the big scene where she takes off her makeup, and she plays it very well. She has the odd quality of being able to look either attractive or almost ugly, depending on the needs of the scene, and this involves acting as well as makeup and camera setup. Claire Trevor is perfectly fine, but her role is smaller and makes less of an impact. No wonder both lost to Eva Marie Saint for On the Waterfront, who has so much more screen time, although Saint really belonged in the lead actress category. 

John Wayne doesn't have as much screen time as his fans would expect, especially in the first hour. In fact, Doe Avedon as the stewardess might actually have the most time on screen. She was a fashion model married for a few years to the photographer Richard Avedon. She's pretty and can act, but her movie career was brief.

 

I didnt realize Doe was married to him!

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4 hours ago, Hibi said:

The mule is obviously an allegory for man's conscience, and the castle, with its attendant dangers and pitfalls, a microcosm of the world that man must exist in.

You are joking, right?

For a second, I thought he was going to go into the Mike Myers SNL "Sprockets" sketch:

"I have seen the American TV program 'Mister Ed':  A man escapes his futile existence and loveless marriage by reaching out to the Freudian symbol of a horse--But soon hears voices, deep mocking voices that only he alone can hear...A gripping portrait of a man's tortured descent into madness."

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The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1956)  -  6/10

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French version of Victor Hugo's novel, with 15th century Paris the setting for the drama. Cruel alchemist Rollo (Alain Cuny) longs for the sensuous gypsy woman Esmeralda (Gina Lollobrigida), and schemes to have her for his own. The deformed Quasimodo (Anthony Quinn), bellringer for the cathedral of Notre Dame where Rollo resides, also falls for Esmeralda. Featuring Jean Danet, Valentine Tessier, Daniel Dumont, and Jean Tissier. This has handsome production values, supplemented by Eastmancolor and CinemaScope compositions, but the movie still can't compare to the '39 version, or even the '23 one. Quinn isn't bad, but his makeup is a bit goofy looking. Lollobrigida can't match up to Maureen O'Hara, though, to my tastes, anyway. This was shot in French and English language versions, and I saw the latter.

56-esme-qua.png

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16 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1956)  -  6/10

Lollobrigida can't match up to Maureen O'Hara, though, to my tastes, anyway.

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O'Hara may be more likeable but Gina looks more like a genuine dark skinned gypsy to my eyes. Maureen, bless her, has County Cork all over her gorgeous features.

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2 hours ago, kingrat said:

Doe Avedon as the stewardess might actually have the most time on screen. She was a fashion model married for a few years to the photographer Richard Avedon. She's pretty and can act, but her movie career was brief.

 

0Ig3Oow.jpg

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When you get up to 1957, Lawrence, I hope you're able to snag a copy of Bop Girl Goes Calypso.

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6 minutes ago, Fedya said:

When you get up to 1957, Lawrence, I hope you're able to snag a copy of Bop Girl Goes Calypso.

I have that one on my to-see list, but I haven't been able to track a copy down yet.

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I just watched, last night in real time on TCM,  La Strada. It's the second time I've seen it, and I found it even better and got even more out of it this time than on my first viewing.

Made in 1954  by Italian great Federico Fellini, La Strada is a deeply moving film, one that the viewer will remember long after seeing it. It follows the story of a young woman who may or may not be "simple" (personally, I think in some ways she's pretty smart) whose poverty-stricken mother sells her to an itinerant street performer, a brutal, somewhat dim strong man whose only act is to demonstrate his muscular strength by breaking a chain he wraps around his chest. 

The girl (played by Fellini's wife, Giulietta Masina) learns to play the drum and the trumpet to announce Zampano's performance whenever they arrive at a new town. At some point they meet up with a circus troupe, which they at first plan to join. It's here that Gelsomina meets the playful, clever character of Il Matto, "the fool" (a Shakespearian kind of fool, given his wit and his insight), who plays the violin and performs a high wire act with the circus. The fool is played by Richard Basehart in one of his most memorable roles. Gelsomina and the Fool make friends, much to the ire of Zampano, who never demonstrates any affection for his sad little assistant, but resents the idea of her spending time with anyone other than himself.

La Strada is not a plot-based film; if I were asked to state what it is "about", I'd say it was about the sadness and loneliness of someone who wants to feel they matter, who doesn't know where they belong in the world. But it's also about the ability to feel wonder and curiosity, even in the most wretched of circumstances. Fellini's always been a director who values the way movies can capture moments of visual lyricism, and La Strada is filled with such cinematic poetry. It's also a paean to travelling circus troupes, to the performers who live their lives on the road, to the struggles but also the sense of fellowship such people share with one another.

Very little happens in the film, if you go by most standards for movies made in the 1950s. But what stays with you long after seeing this sad, sweet little meditation on loneliness are the images the film gives us, and the feeling of yearning for human connection it depicts. The beautiful haunting theme music by Nino Rota contributes significantly to La Strada's emotional power.

One odd aspect to the story of the making of La Strada is the fact that despite its being made by an Italian director, in Italian, two of the main characters are English speaking Americans. The barbaric Zampano is played by Anthony Quinn, and his opposite, the clever light-hearted Fool is played by Richard Basehart. I'm not aware that either of these actors were fluent in Italian, either speaking or understanding it. I think their lines are spoken by them in English, then dubbed  into Italian. How this worked during the making of the film I don't know, but it doesn't adversely affect it in any way. 

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14 minutes ago, TomJH said:

O'Hara may be more likeable but Gina looks more like a genuine dark skinned gypsy to my eyes. Maureen, bless her, has County Cork all over her gorgeous features.

Maureen was Charles Laughton's special protege, even back in the British Isles.

As for Anthony Quinn, Maureen O'Hara often told him that he should lead the Saint Patrick's Day parade with her because his father was Irish.

Irish eyes are still smiling.

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5 minutes ago, Princess of Tap said:

Maureen was Charles Laughton's special protege, even back in the British Isles.

As for Anthony Quinn, Maureen O'Hara often told him that he should lead the Saint Patrick's Day parade with her because his father was Irish.

Irish eyes are still smiling.

Interesting...two posts here in a row about movies that feature Anthony Quinn. I hadn't even read the post about "The Hunchback" until after my own post about La Strada. Co-incidence, I guess.

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4 hours ago, misswonderly3 said:

One odd aspect to the story of the making of La Strada is the fact that despite its being made by an Italian director, in Italian, two of the main characters are English speaking Americans. The barbaric Zampano is played by Anthony Quinn, and his opposite, the clever light-hearted Fool is played by Richard Basehart. I'm not aware that either of these actors were fluent in Italian, either speaking or understanding it. I think their lines are spoken by them in English, then dubbed  into Italian. How this worked during the making of the film I don't know, but it doesn't adversely affect it in any way. 

Most Italian movies, even up into the 1970's, recorded little to no sound during shooting. All sound was done in post-production. That's why many have that unique sound of exaggerated sound effects or hollow, canned sound. The casts in Italian movies tended to be from all over the world, and often they all spoken in their own languages while filming. Then the post-production would record entire soundtracks for different markets: one in Italian, one in English, one in French, etc. Many later Italian productions recorded sound while shooting, with a babble of different languages, so as to have the English-speakers in their own voices, for the English-speaking markets. Most European countries were used to hearing the various stars being dubbed into the local language, but American and British audiences wanted to hear the real voices of the stars they knew.

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A DANGEROUS WOMAN (1993) *Score: 3/10*

Starring: Debra Winger, Barbara Hershey, Gabriel Byrne, Laurie Metcalf, Maggie & Jake Gyllenhaal, Chloe Webb, David Strathairn. (they should have given Laurie Metcalf more to do in this; she's quite good). 

I don't know if I've seen this movie before, or if the trailer gave practically everything away. I'm leaning more towards the latter. Anyway, Winger stars as Martha, a mentally impaired woman, who lives with her young aunt, Frances (Hershey). Martha has a job at the local dry cleaners, and she takes her work very seriously. Unfortunately, she ends up losing her job due to being accused of a crime she did not commit. Things continue to go badly for her, and the people around her. I won't spoil it, but only because I don't care enough to go much further into detail. Watch the trailer, and you'll have all the information you need without having to sit down for an hour and a half, or whatever the run time of this is. 

I didn't find myself sympathizing with any of the characters except for Getso, the somewhat shifty boyfriend of Martha's friend, Birdy (Getso played by Strathairn), which is hilarious, because I think we were supposed to like Martha and Frances. No one else really stood out to me. I guess the only reason I watched the whole thing is because I'm trying not to be a quitter. 

Image result for dangerous woman 1993

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Johnny Concho (1956)  -  5/10

Johnny_Concho_FilmPoster.jpeg

Western with Frank Sinatra as a smug, egotistical jerk (how'd he get cast?) who lords it over a small frontier town. The townsfolk are afraid to confront him because his out-of-town brother is a notorious gunslinger that everyone fears. However, a pair of bad guys show up and inform everyone that the brother is dead, and then they challenge Frank to a duel or to run for his life. He chooses the latter, but girlfriend Phyllis Kirk tries to get him to man up. Featuring William Conrad, Wallace Ford, Keenan Wynn, Claude Akins, Leo Gordon, Dorothy Adams, John Qualen, and Strother Martin. I thought it was tedious, with Sinatra as a thoroughly unlikable lout who I wanted to see defeated. The film's only real high point comes from Wynn, with a shock of white hair standing up in madman's tousle, as a pistol-packing preacher. The copy I watched was in pretty bad shape, smudgy and stretched to fit a 16:9 screen, from a VHS recording made from an old TNT airing.

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"Blow-Up" - Michelangelo Antonioni - 1966 -

starring David Hemmings, Vanessa Redgrave, Sarah Miles -

one of the greatest art films ever -

a fashion photographer, while taking pictures in a park, inadvertently captures a murder -

when the young woman who is involved starts to hound him - and even offer herself -

he knows that something is very wrong -

deciding to blow-up certain sections of the pictures -

he can clearly see the murder -

late at night, he goes to the park and discovers the body -

when he gets home, the blow-ups are gone -

when he goes back to the park, the body is gone -

while trying to decide what to do, he gets side-tracked -

and, then, following the antics of a group of rowdies -

he get involved in their "pretend-play" -

and decides to do nothing -

masterly direction from Michelangelo Antonioni -

and a masterly peformance from David Hemmings -

who makes us feel the weakness and indecision of a young man -

sometimes, the urge to walk away is irresistible -

especially, if you can walk through life and not be touched by anything -

vanessa-blowup.jpg

maxresdefault.jpg

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A Kiss Before Dying (1956)  -  7/10

220px-Kiss_before_dying_poster_1956.jpg

Excellent thriller with Robert Wagner in perhaps his best role ever, playing a ruthlessly calculating college student determined to marry into money. When his current girlfriend (Joanne Woodward) announces that she's pregnant and likely to be disinherited because of it, Wagner must get her out of the way and turn his attention toward her sister (Virginia Leith). Also featuring Jeffrey Hunter as a teacher, George Macready, Mary Astor, Robert Quarry, Howard Petrie, and Bill Walker. This has a great 1950's gloss to the production, with Lucien Ballard's widescreen cinematography a joy to watch. All the actors do a good job, but Wagner seemed born to play the nakedly scheming murderer. Based on a novel by Ira Levin. I've seen the 1991 remake with Matt Dillon and Sean Young, and this original take was much better.

 

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54 minutes ago, rayban said:

"Blow-Up" - Michelangelo Antonioni - 1966 -

starring David Hemmings, Vanessa Redgrave, Sarah Miles -

 

 

I understood this film about as well as I understand quantum physics.

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1 hour ago, rayban said:

"Blow-Up" - Michelangelo Antonioni - 1966 -

starring David Hemmings, Vanessa Redgrave, Sarah Miles -

one of the greatest art films ever -

a fashion photographer, while taking pictures in a park, inadvertently captures a murder -

when the young woman who is involved starts to hound him - and even offer herself -

he knows that something is very wrong -

deciding to blow-up certain sections of the pictures -

he can clearly see the murder -

late at night, he goes to the park and discovers the body -

when he gets home, the blow-ups are gone -

when he goes back to the park, the body is gone -

while trying to decide what to do, he gets side-tracked -

and, then, following the antics of a group of rowdies -

he get involved in their "pretend-play" -

and decides to do nothing -

masterly direction from Michelangelo Antonioni -

and a masterly peformance from David Hemmings -

who makes us feel the weakness and indecision of a young man -

sometimes, the urge to walk away is irresistible -

especially, if you can walk through life and not be touched by anything -

vanessa-blowup.jpg

maxresdefault.jpg

Tom, at least I understood that David Hemmings looked good in white pants.

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2 hours ago, rayban said:

"Blow-Up" - Michelangelo Antonioni - 1966 -

starring David Hemmings, Vanessa Redgrave, Sarah Miles -

 

Frankly, about all I ever got out of this film was a peek at Vanessa Redgrave topless.

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3 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

Most Italian movies, even up into the 1970's, recorded little to no sound during shooting. All sound was done in post-production.

Which is why Valentina Cortese in Day For Night, when her character can't remember her lines, asks Truffaut if she can just say numbers and do her lines in post-production, like Fellini let the actors do.

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