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tiny film moments


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I have to add one that is not spoken but written: In Miracle on 34th Street when Maureen O'hara gets Kris's employment card. Written under Date of Birth is ... "as old as my tongue and a little bit older than my teeth." and every time I see that I think it is such a wonderful little tidbit into the character of Kris Kringle and also how inane the HR department must have been at Macy's to hire a man who wrote that and named his 8 reindeer as his dependents!

 

Also in All About Eve, when Margo confronts Lloyd and Bill about Eve being her understudy and doing the audition with Monroe's character, she and Lloyd are bickering. He says she is playing a game of "cat and mouse" as she knew all along Eve was her understudy. Bette Davis says "Mouse, never mouse, if anything RAT." and as she speaks this line she is fiddling with the tie around the neck of her dress as a rat would nibble on cheese. Every time I see that moment I think to myself how much Bette Davis delved into her rolls and fully presented her character.

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Filmlover's mention of Claude Rains' "shocked, shocked" reaction in Casablanca made me remember some of my favorite small Claudeisms:

 

In White Banners(1938), he watches Fay Bainter quietly and closely in a scene in which she sees the father (James Stephenson) of her son (Jackie Cooper) for the first time in years. He never says a word, but radiates such compassion and understanding.

 

In Lawrence of Arabia (1962), as he listens to his associates discuss their duplicitous plans for carving up the Arabian world, he is finally asked for his opinion by Prince Faisal (Alec Guinness) of recent events and replies, sighing wearily, "Me, your Highness? On the whole, I wish I'd stayed in Tunbridge Wells."

 

And then there's his most baroque portrayal on film in Deception (1946) as Hollenius, the egotistical composer, whose momentary silently shocked and astounded expression when he realizes that his former mistress (Bette Davis) has plugged him and he is about to....die!

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mrsl,

 

I think it is great you have strong feelings regarding the characters and plot in a 70 year old movie. If classic movies did not have an effect on people, this forum would be dominated by message subjects like, "Robert O's ties...love them or hate them???"...or, "Ben M's moustache...sexy or not sexy???". Just check out any of the Sci-Fi channel forums to get more examples of such informative postings.

 

Plus. My experience is...male, or female, pretty much everyone goes through a midlife crisis. Sam Dodsworth's crisis is indicated by selling his business and getting the heck out of town. Fran Dodsworth's midlife thing is indicated by getting the heck out of town and getting the heck out of her marriage. Both characters are past the midpoint of their lives, both characters sense their time on Earth is running out and both characters act "out of character" because, well...sensing mortality does influence disposition. Believe me, I know. Sorry, my last paragraph was sort of depressing.

 

While I am here. One more tiny film moment. A great example of Buster Keaton and Company's unsurpassed inventiveness. "Our Hospitality"...the "going south" train track. The track built without regard for geographical obstacles, including built up and over the trunk of a fallen tree. A bumpy ride.

 

Rusty

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There is much truth in what's been said below. It is annoying to see a character do something really stupid just to advance the plot, but we all do stupid things once in a while, and it's sometimes hard to see that if we are in the middle of the situation. If everything in every movie were fine and dandy, there wouldn't be much going on.

 

Every time I see a character make really stupid move on a TV show and I groan, but I remember that we've all had those "what was I thinking?" moments. It's all about suspension of disbelief. If what I'm watching goes too far into the realm of nonsense to suit me, I move on to something else. However, there have been films with some really dumb and fantastic plots that I've found irresistible. It's a subjective thing.

 

However, I do understand the feelings of frustration, and I think we the audience are sometimes very badly patronized by obvious plot devices that seem particularly unrealistic. I do know quite a few people who simply won't read or watch any kind of fiction for that reason. I think they are missing out on one of the finer accomplishments of humanity.

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All I can say, Mrs, is that you must have a hard life if stupid people drive you crazy, LOL!!! Oddly, I found Mrs. Dodsworth plight touching and could relate to it... Probably today more than ever, women are judged on their looks (take a look at which ones get jobs in front of the cameras -- not just in Hollywood, but on the local news) and aging is the death knell to many women's not only professional, but personal lives (how many 50-year-olds are traded in for younger models)? I agree it was maddening to see her throw away a perfectly devoted husband to assuage her own ego, but I could definitely relate to terror she felt seeing her beauty -- and the leverage that beauty formerly held sway -- fading away. There was much truth, sadly, in the lesson taught in "Baby Face"; sex + beauty = power.

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I thought of another one last night. It's not too tiny a moment, but it's in a now obscure film called "Deep in My Heart." This is the bio of the popular operetta composer Sigmund Romberg, played by Jose Ferrer. At one point, Ferrer, as Romberg, does an imitation of Al Jolson singing. It is one of the funniest things I ever saw, and remarkably accurate.

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That entire sequence in which Jose Ferrer encapsulates the plot of his musical production just cracks me up--who knew he could be so funny? There are some great star turns in Deep in My Heart, and you can also see in it many costumes familiar from the fashion sequence in Singin' in the Rain.

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It's true, Ayres, the best part of that scene is the fact that Ferrer is so freakin' funny.

 

There was another offbeat film he did - about immigrants from Georgia (the European Georgia) - I think it was "Anything Can Happen." A scene where he is riding on a bus to deliver a hunk of raw bread dough (he calls it "duff") wrapped in brown paper, with the obvious consequences. Well, after all, Ferrer scored a success early in his career as the star of the show "Where's Charley?" So he could indeed be funny, but we didn't get to see enough of that.

 

Remember his character, the rich snob father of spoiled Stephanie on the second Bob Newhart show? Having a heart-to-heart talk with his daughter, in richly toned "Larchmont Lockjaw" - "Stephanie, I know I don't say this often enough: I bought you a car."

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Oh, I loved him so much in Newhart. I loved that whole show! Where is it on dvd or syndication? Nowhere!

 

A tiny tv moment from Newhart: Peter Scolari as Michael, the producer of Newhart's show, Vermont Today, says to Newhart, "Dick, can we speak hombre to hombre?" Newhart pauses for a moment and says in his celebrated deadpan, "Si."

 

Sandy K

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sandy,

 

Do you remember the "Newhart" episode featuring Stephanie in a "Patty Duke Show" rip-off? Stephanie plays twins in a half-a** sitcom written by Micheal?

 

Wait. I just found the episode title..."Seein' Double". Very funny stuff. I laugh...

 

Rusty

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Yes, I remember the Seein' Double episode! I think my favorite Stephanie episode though is the one where Dick is the judge of a local beauty pageant and Stephanie is sooooo mad that she can't enter the pageant and has to stay home and watch the inn. She gets a sweet old lady guest to watch the inn and hightails it down to the beauty pageant clad in a red sequined gown and black wig. Dick has to interview her during the pageant and speaking in a Southern accent she says that her name is Inez Velasco and that she has "always depended on the kindness of strangers." Of course, she wins, and when they get back to the inn, the little old lady has ripped them off.

 

Sandy K

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benwhowell,

 

When I looked up the title yesterday, I did notice Don Knotts was featured in the episode "Seein' Double". I don't remember how Don Knotts fit into the episode. I could find out...Seein' Double is available on the YouTube website. I could find out now, except my crappy computer (work computer) locks up when I start a YouTube video. I will try the video at home.

 

sandy...funny description. I laugh. I miss Newhart, Mary Tyler Moore, Taxi, Rhoda and similar fare. Oh, Green Acres...of course.

 

Rusty

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How about these two? 1.- Dwight Frye as Renfield in "Dracula", looking up from the galley in the ship laughing at the two men who discovered he was the only man alive on the ship that was transporting Dracula and his coffin to London. ( Loved that laugh and the next scene when you see a newspaper article calling him a "Raving Lunatic") 2. - "King Kong" when the dinosaur tips over the raft and chases the crew and the last man climbs up a tree and trys to "Kick" the 250 Foot 50 Ton Dinosaur away! ( What a hoot! ;) )

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I just noticed 2 moments in a couple of Christmas-themed films:

 

1.) In Christmas in Connecticut (1945), S.K. Sakall admonishes Barbara Stanwyck affectionately for buying a mink coat, since she "needed" that mink for morale purposes. Sakall mumbles that no, the only creature who "needs" a mink coat is the mink. Then, Cuddles goes on, pointing out more flaws in Stanwyck's life view. Instead of coming across as a judgmental scold as the dialogue alone would indicate, Sakall radiates concern and affection for his wayward friend, since, while he lectures her, he is petting her hair, as though she were a misbehaving pet! It's pretty amusing to see the ol' boy steal the scene from the star, just by his gesture.

 

2.) In Miracle on 34th Street (1947), Porter Hall as a personnel dept. type with delusions of grandeur as a shrink, has a nervous habit of plucking at his eyebrow. In one scene, after Edmund Gwenn has irritated him royally with his pixieish logic, Hall picks up his phone and barks at his poor secretary to get Maureen O'Hara's character on the line, pronto! Cut to a scene of Hall's poor secretary at her desk, and she's plucking at her eyebrow too. Working for Porter Hall will do that to a girl, I guess.

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Last night, watching a broadcast of "Detour" (directed by Edgar Ulmer) triggered a memory of a tiny film moment in another Ulmer movie--"Tomorrow We Live". TCM broadcast the movie a couple of years ago and the whole movie was pretty funny (not intented to be a comedy).

 

Here is the set-up for my tiny moment. Ricardo Cortez is a gangster nicknamed "The Ghost" because he survived so many bullet wounds. Cortez's character may be a survivor, but he is the most ineffectual big time gangster I have ever witnessed in the movies. Mr. Ghost spends much of the movie warning other characters, "do that again and you will be sorry!". Ghost threats...pretty much empty threats. Anyway, his number one henchman, Shorty, is played by a guy named Rex Lease. Rex is physically huge...he has the look and moves of a professional wrestler. Shorty is sort of weird...hard to describe the way Shorty is presented, but here is my tiny example. Shorty enters the office of his boss, "The Ghost". Shorty is leading one of the other characters into the office. Entering through the office door, Shorty swings his arm in a wide arc (something like a game show hostess displaying prizes) and in an overly dramatic voice announces, "his nibs". "His nibs" follows Shorty into Ghost office.

 

I know, does not sound like much of anything...in context, it was a very funny moment.

 

Rusty

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