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[b]Film of the Day[/b]


Moviebuffer12
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I Will be starting a new thread called Film Of the Day. I will take my favorite film of each days schedule on TCM and give you the Polt, Actors, Images, Genre, The Time, and reason why I think it's the best.

 

Top Pic for 11/1707: Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House 2:00pm ET

 

 

Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House:

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Genre: Comedy

 

Plot: A New York businessman's dream of a country home is shattered when he buys a tumbledown rural shack.

 

Stars: Cary Grant and Myrna Loy

 

Why I Think it's the best?: Often imitated but never quite surpassed, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House is a classic comedy about a topic still as current now as it was in the 1940s. Silly but very funny, this movie is really great - featuring the ever hilarious Cary Grant, and Myrna Loy.

This movie is a hilarious example of how whatever can go wrong will!

Although the topic could have easily degenerated into stupidity, the script, the directing and, most of all, the cast, turn the movie into a classic. The script is witty and very funny, and it is directed with style - but mainly, Cary Grant is terrific! His double takes and reactions will never be equalled...any scene that he is in in pretty much guaranteed to be hysterical. Myrna Loy does a good job of cooling balancing Grant's screwball character, and the supporting cast is good as well.

Anyhow, this is a funny movie for the whole family - it is highly recommended! There are many great Cary Grant films playing tomorrow, but I think Mr. Blandings is the best.

Morgan of the Motor City

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Film of the day 12/18/2007: National Lampoons Christmas Vacation 12:30amET
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Brief Plot:Unexpected guests and a run of bad luck turn Christmas into a season in hell.
Cast: Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Juliette Lewis.
Genre: Comedy
Why: In my opinion anyways, TCM's Christmas selection has been very bleak this year with the exception of this holiday classic which wasn't even in there christmas theme. When ever you go to the theater around this time, there will always be a film about christmas turning into hell (eg. Deck the Halls, Christmas with the Kranks, Jingle all the way, etc). Although the film may seem un-original now, it was the first film to ever feature a truly messed up Christmas. It stars Chevy Chase and Randy Quaid in there best roles of their whole career. It's wildley funny and very entertaining to watch. No matter how many times you watch it, it never gets old. I am also happy to say that this will be the first time it has ever been presented on regular cable TV without commercials (at least where I live). I Know that my first two choices were comedies, but I promise you it will not be a comedy tomorrow. Thank you So Much TCM for playing this :)

Here is my favorite scene:


And the Trailer:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=8T3sai5Okys

Thanks, Morgan of the Motor City
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Film of the Day 11/19/07 is: My Man and I 2:30am ET

 

Sorry, no image available.

 

Plot: A Mexican-American laborer fights for his dignity.

 

Genre: Drama

 

Cast: Shelley Winters, Ricardo Montalban

 

Why: It has a good heart. It is (very) well acted. It has an intelligent, unusual, thought-provoking screenplay. And--above all--it depicts a slice of Americana that is almost completely overlooked by mainstream US culture: the world and feelings and relationships of Mexican immigrants in the white/gringo-dominated world of southern California in the 1950s.

 

I'm simply blown away by the cast in this well-hidden little jewel. Wendell Corey, often a kind of honking mouthpiece of insensitivity, brings a great deal of nuance to this thankless role. Claire Trevor's portrayal is also very subtly done (though there are great parts of her role where her feelings are more-than-obvious). Shelley Winters is fantastic, and I say this as someone who finds most of Ms Winters portrayals and performances near repulsive. She is absolutely brilliant and I don't think I've ever seen this particular character-type (the cynical, emotionally destroyed, sensitive whose only recourse is alcoholism) ever more convincingly portrayed.

 

And then there's Mr. Rourke...uh...excuse me...Ricardo Montalban. The man who normally smirks and flexes his way through roles--depending upon his (truly remarkably) good looks and his flashing smile. I never knew there was a real actor underneath that bronzed torso. Hats off to Bill Wellman (the director)! What an incredibly understated performance! This film is worth seeing just for Montalban's astoundingly effective work.

 

And just a word about the ensemble acting: there are many hispanic actors in this film and, sadly, I must say that I've never seen or heard of any of them, but all the other parts are played with great aplomb. (My only minor complaint is that the producers saw fit to hire the late, great Jack Elam to play Ricardo Montalban's cousin. Why, I simply have no idea, as they used hispanic actors for all the other major hispanic roles. Oh well--he does a fine job and is almost a convincing Mexican.) The story itself is simple. I'm not going to relate it here. It seems to take a real noir turn at one point, but stick with it. The ending may be a bit too Hollywood for some, but--hey--it was 1952 and it's not Sweden and it's not Ingmar Bergman, folks. Check it out--you won't be sorry ;).

Morgan in the Motor City

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Film of the Day 12/20/07: Idiots Delight 6:00pmET

 

No Image Available

 

Genre: Romance

 

Cast: Clark Gable, Norma Shearer

 

Why: Robert E. Sherwood won the coveted Pulitzer Prize for his allegory-like satire Idiot's Delight. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer purchased the film rights to the play, and commissioned Sherwood himself to adapt his play to the screen. The result is this astoundingly poignant classic, which features Norma Shearer and Clark Gable in the third and last of their radiant screen pairings. Harry Van (Gable) is a vaudevillian touring all of Europe with his musical troupe `Les Blondes.' The group is forced to stay in an exclusive Alpine hotel when the European borders are closed due to the possible coming of war. A German doctor (Charles Coburn), a French pacifist (Burgess Meredith), an English honeymoon couple (Peter Willes and Pat Paterson), and an Italian officer (Joseph Schildkraut) are lodging in the hotel as well. And also checking in are munitions manufacturer Achille Weber (Edward Arnold) and a beautiful traveling companion of his named Irene (Shearer). Irene, it seems, reminds Harry of an old girlfriend of his, with whom he had shared a special relationship ten years before in Omaha, Nebraska. But she was a redhead, and spoke with no accent. Irene, however, is a platinum blonde, and has a very clear Russian accent. Still, Harry wonders if it could be the same woman. As Harry pursues Irene, probing her complex web of stories to find out about her past, the war develops rather suddenly. A nearby airfield sends out its bombers, and the garbled radio broadcasts carry the fearful news: war has already been declared. As quickly as the guests assembled, they must depart, as the frontiers are opened for perhaps the last time. But Harry is unwilling to go until he is sure, and Irene is unwilling to divulge? One of the countless films from 1939 to help it earn the nickname of `the greatest year in movie history,' Idiot's Delight is both acerbically funny and tragically distressing. Although the original 1936 play and the film version both predate World War II, the threat of war was a very real fear, a sentiment quite powerfully expressed via the disparate, sundry characters. It is startling and even more meaningful all these years after the war, as one can easily see how many of the unfortunate predictions came to glaring truth.

 

But aside from dramatic poignancy, the two lead performances catapult this film to first-rate status. Shearer is brilliant, quite plainly. She spoofs her number one rival Greta Garbo mercilessly, and uses her accent to its hilarious apex. When she tells her story to Harry, and he just gazes at her, incredulously staring, hilarity reaches its peak! She has turned in so many fine performances, that it is hard to single out any one as her finest (Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, the title role in Marie Antoinette, Elizabeth Barrett Browning in The Barretts of Wimpole Street, her Oscar-winning role in The Divorc?e, and Amanda in Private Lives are all strong contenders), but her Irene is certainly amongst the competitors. Gable, in a role that requires quite a lot of singing and dancing, succeeds admirably. He is a perfect Harry Van, complimenting perfectly with Shearer. The two have fantastic chemistry, and this was the last of the three classics they starred in together.

 

****side note****respected Shearer biographer Gavin Lambert singled this out as his favorite of all of the star's pictures. In one vignette he illustrates in his biography of Norma Shearer, he describes an occasion where the actress herself invited him to a private screening of the film in the 1970s.

Morgan in the Motor City

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Idiot`s Delight is an aptly named title for this movie. It is a delight from star to finish. Watching Clark Gable singing and dancing "Puttin On The Ritz" with the chorus girls was my highlight of the film. I believe that Pat Patterson was the wife of Charles Boyer..

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Film of the Day 12/20/2007 is (Drum roll please): Over 21 8:00pm ET

 

Plot: When a newspaper editor enlists during World War II service, his wife has to run interference with his boss.

 

Cast: Irene Dunne (Star of the Month), Alexander Knox

 

Genre: Comedy, War

 

Why: The beautiful, charming, supremely versatile and talented Irene Dunne is one of the greatest 5 or 6 actresses of American cinema. In Over 21 - as in all her films - she lights up the screen with a natural, yet glamorous presence. She is simultaneously authentic and human, AND a charismatic, inspirational model. This role is quintessential Irene Dunne, full of pathos and wit and a little mischief. I love all of her films, and she is star of the month on TCM this month.

 

Likewise, Charles Coburn is one of the greatest character actors in all of American filmdom. True, he portrays variations on the same theme, but I never tire of watching his soft-hearted curmudgeons. Here his character is the perfect foil for Irene Dunne, and he is portrayed perfectly by Coburn. Their conflicts in this film are absolutely fantastic. They never miss a beat. In addition, they represent the central conflict of the film and the moral conflict of Irene Dunne's husband, portrayed by Alexander Knox.

 

I am not as familiar with Knox's work. He was recognizable, but that was about all. However, cast with Dunne and Coburn, he holds his own. He delivers a fine, nuanced performance. His character has noble motives that are made accessible to us by Knox's performance and never held over us like some holy grail. He is noble, but conflicted and doubts his ability to successfully complete OCS. His interaction with Dunne, is always convincing, too. Dunne supports him without being syrupy or becoming a martyr, and he responds in kind. Their scenes are very well done.

 

The film, itself, is a fantastic snapshot of a moment and a milieu not portrayed in other movies. I don't recall off the top of my head having seen a movie that portrayed America still fighting WWII, but with the end in sight and the focus on the establishment of the post-war world. Not the usual WWII movie! That in itself is interesting; it is also essential to the plot and the movie's message. In contrast to other commentators, I thought that the climactic speech was okay, but not great. It was delivered very well by Knox, but it was not as "tightly" written as the build-up led me to expect. I have heard better cinematic speeches addressing very similar themes. It served its purpose.

 

But for me, the greater value of the movie, was the depiction of the life of Dunne and Knox, as it reflected the typical OCS experience. The sense of community among the wives living on Palmetto Terrace seemed absolutely authentic - as did Palmetto Terrace, itself, despite the fact that it was obviously a sound stage set. The incredibly brief encounters between the wives and their OCS husbands. The rigors of the OCS candidates, mastering the difficult and complex material they had to learn. The shabby "base housing" - obviously hastily constructed. The tired and worn furnishings. The constant and harrowingly short deadlines - for returning to base, for learning lessons, for catching trains to subsequent "posts." Tenants constantly running into their predecessors and successors in the base housing, as they were moving in and out. Yes, I suspect this was a glimpse of a real WWII experience - clothed in some comedy, but very real at its core. I loved it, and I recommend it highly.

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Sorry, I Actually chose two films from the same day. so I will choose the films from today and tomorrow.

Film of the Day 12/21/2007 is: The Pumpkin Eater 10:00am

 

 

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Cast: Anne Bancroft, Peter Finch

 

Plot: A woman drifts through multiple marriages in search of stability.

 

Genre: Drama, Romance

 

Why: Anne Bancroft, in an AA nominated performance, plays a twice-married mother of six. She divorces her second husband (played by Richard Johnson) and takes up with a highly successful screenwriter played by Peter Finch. After the two marry, it is obvious that her philandering husband will never buckle down to her notions of marital fidelity. This sometimes confusing, sometimes depressing film is elevated to screen art via once-in-a-lifetime performances by Bancroft, Finch and Mason. As Jo Armitage, Ms Bancroft is magnificent: giving her role real depth, switching her moods with a wonderfully eerie believability. Her breakdown in Harrod's Department Store isn't easily soon forgotten. In his supporting role of Bob Conway, James Mason is nothing short of excellent and Peter Finch excels as Jake. This is a fine film which encompasses the joys and tragedies of life: birth and death, love and hate, marriage and divorce. The direction, slow and even-handed, allows the story to develop at its own pace, but gradually, the pace picks up as the story's intensity grows. A fine and sensitive work & a truthful portrait of human foibles and complexities, these seem like real people on the screen instead of actors in a drama. A great example of fine sixties British cinema.

Morgan in the Motor City

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Film of the day 12/22/2007: Pat&Mike 10:00pm
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Cast: Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn
Plot: Romance blooms between a female athlete and her manager.
Genre: Comedy

Why: According to film lore, writers Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin were inspired to write PAT AND MIKE when they realized that Katherine Hepburn was a near-professional-level golfer and tennis player. The result is a sprightly tale of a college physical education teacher named Pat (Hepburn) who turns pro with the help of a slightly shady promoter manager named Mike (Tracy.)

As always, Tracy and Hepburn make for an engaging pair, and the supporting cast is crammed with memorable faces, including Jim Backus, Chuck Conners, a very young Charles Bronson, and even Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer--and every one plays with the same charming touch. The sports scenes also gives sports fans a glimpse at such legendary atheletes as Babe Didrikson Zaharias. But the real interest here is the script itself: in an era noted for sexism, PAT AND MIKE is flatly feminist, and the story finds Hepburn first rebelling against fiance William Ching's "little woman" mentality and then straightening out Spenser Tracy on the same point--and in one of the film's most memorable scenes, Hepburn effectively shoves Tracy aside to beat up two men who threaten him!

Given the nature of its story, PAT AND MIKE spends quite a lot of time on the golf course and the tennis courts, and those who have little interest in sports may not find it to their taste; that said, in spite of its many charms, the film isn't really in the same league with Tracy and Hepburn's ADAM'S RIB. Still, fans of the screen team will enjoy it quite a bit, and even purely casual viewers will have a good time.
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"The Pumpkin Eater" is a superb film that never gets talked up, so sincere thanks for selecting that title. Bancroft's breakdown in the middle of Harrod's is something to behold and what about that extreme close-up of James Mason laughing at the zoo or the vicious fight between Bancroft and Finch with her pearls flying as she attacks him again and again or Maggie Smith in a hilarious supporting turn as Philpot, the mistress or Bancroft being harrassed while under the dryer in the beauty parlor by a total nutcase or all those delicious and weighty lines in Pinter's script? I think this is one of the best films of the 60's but it's egregiously overlooked.

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Film of the Day 12/23/2007 is: The King of Kings(1927) 12:00amET
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Cast: H.B. Warner, Dorothy Cumming

Genre: Silent, Drama

Plot: In this silent film, Cecil B. DeMille directs an epic retelling of the life of Christ.

Why: This Cecil B. DeMille silent classic is still well worth seeing. It is creative and interesting, while remaining respectful to its subject, and thus it is among the best of the many movies made about Jesus. Unlike most directors (especially today), DeMille did not think that he was bigger than his subject, and thus he uses his skills to illustrate the well-known story and to make it memorable, rather than expending time and energy in trying to push some trivial perspective of his own. He makes it lavish when it should be lavish, and keeps it simple when it should be simple.

The opening scene, with Mary Magdalene and her admirers hearing bits of news regarding Jesus and Judas Iscariot, is a good introduction to the rest of the story, and also sets the tone for what follows. While it is a fictionalized scene not found in the Bible, it seems natural and works well. The rest of the movie likewise does not always follow the biblical narratives exactly, but the added material is always in keeping with the main themes. The cast is pretty good, although given the nature of the story, most of them have limited screen time. H.B. Warner looks just a little too old to be fully convincing as Jesus, but otherwise he is good enough in a difficult role. Probably the best performance is given by Joseph Schildkraut as Judas. He is quite believable, and is especially good in the Last Supper scene. His father Rudolph is also good in a smaller role as the high priest Caiaphas.

With the vast number of movies that are always being made about religious subjects, no doubt it will only be silent movie fans who will seek out this version of "The King of Kings", but that's unfortunate because it is nicely made and has many positives that make it worth seeing.
Morgan in the Motor City
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Film of the Day 12/23/2007 is: The King of Kings(1927) 12:00amET
58m.jpgwidth="144" height="200">



Cast: H.B. Warner, Dorothy Cumming

Genre: Silent, Drama

Plot: In this silent film, Cecil B. DeMille directs an epic retelling of the life of Christ.

Why: This Cecil B. DeMille silent classic is still well worth seeing. It is creative and interesting, while remaining respectful to its subject, and thus it is among the best of the many movies made about Jesus. Unlike most directors (especially today), DeMille did not think that he was bigger than his subject, and thus he uses his skills to illustrate the well-known story and to make it memorable, rather than expending time and energy in trying to push some trivial perspective of his own. He makes it lavish when it should be lavish, and keeps it simple when it should be simple.

The opening scene, with Mary Magdalene and her admirers hearing bits of news regarding Jesus and Judas Iscariot, is a good introduction to the rest of the story, and also sets the tone for what follows. While it is a fictionalized scene not found in the Bible, it seems natural and works well. The rest of the movie likewise does not always follow the biblical narratives exactly, but the added material is always in keeping with the main themes. The cast is pretty good, although given the nature of the story, most of them have limited screen time. H.B. Warner looks just a little too old to be fully convincing as Jesus, but otherwise he is good enough in a difficult role. Probably the best performance is given by Joseph Schildkraut as Judas. He is quite believable, and is especially good in the Last Supper scene. His father Rudolph is also good in a smaller role as the high priest Caiaphas.

With the vast number of movies that are always being made about religious subjects, no doubt it will only be silent movie fans who will seek out this version of "The King of Kings", but that's unfortunate because it is nicely made and has many positives that make it worth seeing.
Morgan in the Motor City
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In a few minutes, I will be out of town and flying to england to celebrate christmas with my family. They do not have a computer so I will not be able to submit the films of the day's till the 26th. So I will submit the films for the 24th, 25th, and 26th.

 

 

Film of the Day 12/24/2007: Meet Me In St. Louis 2:15am

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Cast: Judy Garland, Margaret O' Brien

Genre: Musical

Why: "The day was bright, The air was sweet, The smell of honeysuckle almost knocked you off your feet ..." This is unashamed nostalgia for an idealised America, dating back to an age of innocence before the two World Wars.

 

It is 1903, and the city of St. Louis is ablaze with excitement as it prepares to host the World's Fair. Here in the geographic heart of the USA, the very pleasant Smith family lives in a very pleasant suburb of the very pleasant St. Louis. We watch the Smiths through the seasons and into Spring 1904 as they fall in love, dress up for Hallowe'en, bottle their home-made ketchup and .... well, ride the trolley.

 

This is a world of tranquillity where nothing can threaten the homely complacency of Middle America. The evening meal is always a wholesome family gathering, the month of July is always sunny, big brothers are always handsome Princeton freshmen and the iceman's mare knows the neighbourhood so well that she stops at each home on her round without needing to be told. The only shadow which falls across the Smiths' domestic bliss comes when Alonzo, the paterfamilias, proposes to move the household to New York. However, Alonzo soon realises what a terrible mistake it would be to tear his wife and daughters away from their beloved MidWest: he relents, and family harmony is restored.

 

This heartwarming, exuberant musical is one of the very best ever made, and MGM knew exactly what it was doing in terms of box office success. The film was calculated to cash in on the zeitgeist of 1944, the year in which vast American armies were sent across to Europe and the war in the Pacific turned decisively in America's favour. Millions of young American men found themselves far from home in what was certain to be the last Christmas of the War, and millions of families back home missed them terribly: " Some day soon we all will be together, If the fates allow. Until then, we'll have to muddle through somehow ..."

 

In this idealised America, everyone is prosperous, everyone conducts himself like a good citizen should, old folks are cheerful, healthy and alert, domestic servants feign grumpiness but actually adore their masters, and teenage girls are flirtatious but impeccably proper. There are strong American folk-resonances in the homespun wisdom of the family elders, the strong, straight young adults and the 'down home' hearthside gatherings and dances. It could be argued that the film invokes an America that has never in fact existed. This maybe so, but the Perfect America which we experience here exerts an emotional pull far stronger than any real place could command.

 

Vincente Minnelli directed the movie with panache. There are many subtle but sure touches - for example, two short scenes which establish the proposition that the family's happiness is inextricably linked to St. Louis. Alonzo announces the move to New York, and with clever choreography Minnelli turns him into a pariah in his own living-room. Esther and Tootie gaze at the snowmen which they will have to abandon in the yard, and we know without any dialogue to help us that the eastward migration isn't going to happen. With similar cinematic economy, Minnelli shows us the happy commotion around the Christmas tree without allowing it to distract our attention from Alonzo and Anna, whose wordless reconciliation sets the seal on the plot. This is directing of rare skill.

 

In films of the 1960's and 70's a stock device was used: a sepia-tinted photograph would 'come to life' with colour and motion, to show that the scene was laid in the past. Minnelli employs the trick elegantly in this film, and I am not aware of any example which pre-dates this one.

 

This is a 'formula' movie, but its ingredients are so fine and they are combined with such marvellous skill that the whole eclipses the parts. Among the elements which contribute to the project's success are the songs - and the film contains three classics: "The Trolley Song", "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" and (of course) "Meet Me In St. Louis".

 

Judy Garland was 22 years old when she made this film (though she easily passes for a 17-year-old) and it was this movie which cemented her relationship with Minnelli. They married one year later and Liza was born in March 1946.

 

Predictably enough, the film has a happy ending. The teenage girls Esther and Rose are paired off, and the Smiths get to visit the World's Fair as one big happy family. As they look for the restaurant (once again, a meal signifies domestic harmony) they are distracted by the lighting-up of the city, a filmic metaphor for the approaching end of World War Two. The sisters are filled with awe at America's technological ascendancy, and that such miracles can be achieved by such folksy, simple people - "Right here where we live: right here in St. Louis!"

Thank you TCM for playing it. Thank you Robert Osbourne for picking it :)!

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Film of the Day 12/25/2007 is: Christmas In Connecticut10:45am
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Cast: Barbara Stanwyck, Dennis Morgan

Genre: Drama

Plot: A homemaking specialist who can't boil water is forced to provide a family holiday for a war hero.

Why: Forget Jimmy Stewart reliving his life and opt for this smart comedy of errors instead. I suppose only institutionalized sexism explains why this flick and Stanwyck's other great Christmas story, "Meet John Doe" aren't revered with the same level of love as...well, you know it's name.

Stanwyck plays a food writer for a McCall's-type rag who has been lying for years to her pompous publisher about the folksy setting for her recipes. She's an ace b.s. artist until the day Morgan's sailor is pulled from the ocean after 18 days afloat & 6 weeks recuperation in a Navy hospital. Released the last year of WWII, the film is dusted with subtle patriotic gestures and holiday nostalgia but never sinks to sentimentality. Stanwyck is sexy and sassy as always and meets her match in the hunky Morgan with whom it's love at first sight. Unfortunately, she has to play married to Gardiner's prissy architect who actually has been seeking her hand for years at his farm in CT, just to fool her boss.

S.Z. Sakall adds a great deal of Hungarian malaprop & double-entendre humor in support as Babs' true source of culinary talent & Una O'Connor is hilarious as Gardiner's obnoxious Irish housekeeper.

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Film of the day 12/26/07 is:Island in the Sky 11:00pm
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Cast: John Wayne, Lloyd Nolan
Genre: Adventure, War
Plot: A WWII transport plane crashes in the Canadian wilderness.
Why: "Island in the Sky" has long vanished from television station inventories: I last saw this movie in, best guess, 1960. But I've never forgotten it, & two years ago I tracked down the knuckle-biter Ernest K. Gann novel on which the film is strongly based.

When a transport plane goes down in the white-blindness of sub-arctic Labrador its crew is in dire straits: howling winds, icy weather, almost no food, and no shelter or heat source. Fellow pilots & aircrews organize an air search, but the Labrador landscape they search is vast, monotonous & unforgiving of downed airmen: the searching crews know they're in a race against time, that the odds against their downed mates' survival decrease with every tick of the clock. The film sublimely depicts the searchers long hours of tedium in their inadequately heated Douglas C-47 flight decks, all the while with their hope for sighting their downed comrades dimming. They battle the ice-fog, the weather fronts, the monotonous vastness of the landscape, the limits of their aircraft and radios and compasses, and the human limits of their flying and navigational skills and their powerful fatigue. Yet nobody will give up the search: each of the rescue crews knows that they themselves might, at nature's or a fouled sparkplug's whim, have been the men crash-landed in the frigid wasteland beneath their wings.

We also see the plight of the downed aircrew scrabbling in their plane's wreck for morsels of food, shelter, clothing, and with their frozen fingers struggling to whirl the crank of a "Gibson Girl" emergency radio transmitter of dubious value. We feel their growing, chilling despair: after all, they're veteran airmen who know the odds against a search crew sighting their snow-covered wreck in this sub-arctic expanse where, from the air, every lake, hummock, snowfield, depression, hill and endless sweep of terrain looks alike. They know their would-be rescuers are flying over uncharted space, without a single reliable reference point; and they know that magnetic compasses (long before GPS satellite navigation came on the scene)in the Labrador region are subject to grievously false readings - they know the searchers could well be flying the same search routes over and over again without even realizing it: and the search crews know it too. And because there are no distinguishable landmarks, and because compasses are untrustworthy, the shivering men know that even if they are sighted it's likely that a rescue plane at the limit of its fuel could well be unable to relay accurate headings or recognizable landmarks to the crew of a follow-up aircraft.

The script neatly follows Gann's novel & its spirit: man and his pitifully inadequate, yet much-ballyhooed technology pitted against nature, against what has been called "the benign indifference of the universe". Gann was a veteran transport pilot whose novels, and this one is no exception, convey the grim obstacles airmen faced in aviation's primitive days. Gann's characters aren't heroes: they're just guys who happen to operate equipment which, like the men themselves, has finite limitations in the face of remorseless nature. Like the novel's, the film's dialogue is terse, the casting superb: you can imagine each actor being the man Gann wrote about in his novel. "Island in the Sky" is a no-frills film: no special effects worth mentioning, and none are necessary. You get to be on the frozen earth in the middle of nowhere, and on the flight deck with the weary, half-snowblind, anxious search crews. You feel the fear, the anxiety, the pressure, the cold, the crews' frustration with the limits of their technology and abilities.
Have a Merry Christmas everyone and I will be back on the forums on the 26th.
Morgan in the Motor City.

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I am sorry. When I got back from England, my Internet wasn't working. Somebody destroyed the connection. So I took my computer to be repaired and I am back on Film of the Day's for today an tomorrow.

 

Film of the day 12/27/2007 is: A Guy Named Joe 12:45am

 

Genre: Romance, Drama

Cast: Spencer Tracy, Irene Dunne

Plot: A downed World War II pilot becomes the guardian angel for his successor in love and war.

Why: This is a wonderful romantic picture set in World War II and I have to say Spencer Tracy has almost as much chemistry with Irene Dunne as he does with Katharine Hepburn.

 

During his career Spencer Tracy was basically two types of character, the cryptic tough guy adventurer and later on a wise father figure. In A Guy Named Joe his Pete Sandidge gets to be both. But he has to get killed before he morphs into his second character.

 

Spencer Tracy is an ace pilot who's over in the European Theatre and his girlfriend, Irene Dunne is also a pilot, a la Amelia Earhart. She's forever worried about the risks he takes and then her wishes turn into reality as he gets himself killed.

 

Of course he's not quite ready to enter the pearly gates. It seems as though Heaven has an Air Corps advisory program for ghosts to advise living pilots and Spence's first assignment is Van Johnson. Wouldn't you know it, Van's the guy that's getting Irene on the rebound. Tracy's not enough of a ghost yet that the old green-eyed monster isn't grabbing hold of him. So.............................

 

With Tracy being dead, the possibilities of endings are limited. But it's at this point that Tracy grows into the father figure character we know him better from in his later work.

 

Van Johnson's career got a big boost from this film. He's previously been in mostly B films, a lot of them as successor to Lew Ayres in the later in the Dr. Gillespie series. He was injured in a motorcycle accident during the shooting and Spencer Tracy threatened to walk off the picture if Van was replaced. Van healed and the film started him into the upward path of his career.

 

Irene Dunne who did almost as many musicals as straight drama in the 1930s got to sing in this film. That's always a plus. Here she sings a great rendition of I'll Get By which was enjoying a revival of popularity in the World War II years.

 

Rounding out the supporting cast are Lionel Barrymore, Ward Bond, James Gleason, Barry Nelson, and Don DeFore all performing to their usual standards of excellence.

 

A really great romantic film like they don't make any more.

 

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Film of the day 12/28/07 is: Blues in the Night 2:15pm

 

Cast: Priscilla Lane, Richard Whorf

 

Plot: The members of a traveling jazz band try to keep their leader from drinking himself to death.

 

Genre: Musical, Drama

 

Why: There's much in Anatole Litvak's Blues in the Night which suggests that Martin Scorsese borrowed heavily from it for New York, New York (though Scorsese cites The Man I Love as his chief inspiration). A melodrama set in the jazz world, it explores the volatile relationships and raffish milieu of a troupe of players trying to keep body and soul together without abandoning their musical ideals.

 

Five rough and ready amateurs form a band in St. Louis and start touring the south ? Memphis, New Orleans. Richard Whorf is their leader; trumpeter Jack Carson and canary Priscilla Lane (whose character's name is `Character') are man and wife; and among the rest is the young Elia Kazan. On the road complications ensue: Lane, pregnant, thinks the free-and-easy Carson will take a powder if he knows a kid's coming; riding the rails, they hook up with a lammed-up mobster (Lloyd Nolan). Nolan offers them a gig at his roadhouse (The Jungle) in New Jersey, the spires of Manhattan just across the river. Around him, however, swarms a strange menage: Betty Field, his hard-as-nails ex-squeeze; Howard Da Silva, bartender and jack-of-all-trades; and the excellent Wallace Ford, as a has-been hanger-on. The grasping Field snares Whorf and pries him away from the band; when she tires of him, now piano man in a glitzy novelty band, she gives him the air. He hits the bottle, loses his talent, goes round the bend. But Field's not through with him yet, or, for that matter, with Nolan....

 

The film is full of surprises. Don Siegel did the clever montages, cutting his teeth, (as it were), and Robert Rossen's script stays fresh and slangy: just when you spot another cliche coming round the mountain, he sneaks in a low-key, well-acted vignette. Litvak modulates the tone expertly, starting out light and insouciant and darkening his palette as the story advances, with heavy foreshadowings of film noir. It's a significant milestone in the formation of the noir cycle, and why it isn't better known remains one of cinema's mysteries: Blues in the Night is an involving, inventive musical drama.

 

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Film of the day 12/29/2007 is: True Grit 5:30pm

 

Cast: John Wayne, Kim Darby

 

Plot: A young girl recruits an aging U.S. marshal to help avenge her father's death.

 

Genre: Western, Drama, Adventure

 

Why: Now personally there are John Wayne performances in terms of acting that I like better than True Grit. Among others Fort Apache, The Searchers, Red River, The Horse Soldiers, to name a few. And certain films like The Commancheros and McLintock and Big Jake I find to be more entertaining.

 

What True Grit does is succeed on both levels, being both great entertainment and giving John Wayne the acting role of a lifetime in the person of Rooster Cogburn.

 

Mattie Ross from Darnell and Yell County Arkansas personified by Kim Darby has come to Fort Smith seeking the killer of her father Jeff Corey. Turns out he's also killed a State Senator in Texas so Texas Ranger Glen Campbell informs her. Both of them team up with United States Marshal Rooster Cogburn who resides in Fort Smith with Chin Lee and my favorite movie cat, General Sterling Price.

 

Corey is now in the outlaw band headed by Robert Duvall at large in the Indian Nation Territory that became Oklahoma. True Grit's plot is the trio's pursuit of Duvall, Corey and the rest of the gang.

 

But oddly enough True Grit isn't really about plot. It's about the creation of a character. Like Margaret Mitchell who wrote Gone With the Wind with Clark Gable in mind for Rhett Butler, Charles Portis wrote the novel True Grit with only John Wayne in mind as Rooster Cogburn. It must have been one singular delight for Charles Portis to see the Duke flesh out Rooster Cogburn exactly as he conceived him.

 

Tough old Rooster, likes an occasional drink, isn't above a little larceny, but has one stern moral code about real bad guys. Bring him in dead or alive and make sure you shoot first coming up against them. And he's got quite the colorful past as he relates tales of his younger days to Campbell and Darby on the trail.

 

In other reviews I've said that John Wayne had one of the great faces for movie closeups. You can see a perfect example of that in that scene with John Fiedler who plays Darby's lawyer J. Noble Daggett. A man who rates high in the legal profession in that area having forced a railroad into bankruptcy.

 

The camera is facing Fiedler as he's talking to Wayne about his visit with Darby who's life Wayne saved. Wayne's got about a third of his face to the camera. But even with that third, your eyes are focused on the Duke and his reactions and then as the camera slowly pans around to Wayne in full face his reaction shots are hysterical. You don't work with scene stealing character actors like Chill Wills, Walter Brennan, and Gabby Hayes for 30 years without learning something.

 

John Wayne was up against some stiff competition in 1969 for the Best Actor Oscar. It was his second nomination, the first being for Sands of Iwo Jima. He was facing Richard Burton as Henry VIII in Anne of a Thousand Days and a couple of newcomers named Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight for Midnight Cowboy. He was certainly the sentimental favorite.

 

If in no other place in our lives, sentiment does have its place in cinema. It was an honor well deserved, not just for one performance but for a lifetime of achievement in cinema being the player who put more people into movie seats than any other person ever. So many of the Duke's contemporaries like Edward G. Robinson, Errol Flynn, Tyrone Power were never even nominated for an Oscar much less win one.

 

Because the Motion Picture Academy has deemed this John Wayne's grandest cinematic achievement, it's almost a command to support this fine western and the man who defined the western hero and is still defining it.

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Film of the day 2/12/08 is: The Apartment (1960) 3:45pm

 

 

 

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Genre: Comedy/Drama/Romance

 

Stars: Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine

 

Plot: An aspiring executive lets his bosses use his apartment for assignations, only to fall for the big chief's mistress.

 

Why?: After my 4th or 5th viewing, I think this may be one of the most remarkable blends of comedy and drama to have ever been filmed - THE APARTMENT - in subtle ways - rises well above the conventions of any genre. It was my introduction to the great Billy Wilder, and my fondness for Jack Lemmon (a remarkable and sorely missed actor) begins here as well.

 

The cold take on the sex-and-money ethos to be found in many corporate environments hasn't dated one bit; it could be argued that THE APARTMENT stands a bit ahead of its' time in the depiction of (what would appear to be) educated employees treated like (and feeling like) tools to be used in generation of someone else's income. Lemmon's character never forgets that he's disposable, even if the optimist in him hopes that something better may be found in his superiors. Deep down he knows this to be a pipe dream - the sexual adventurism of those same superiors betrays their utter lack of ethics. Of course, Lemmon's character isn't entirely above it all; he's been more than willing to hire out his own apartment as a place for his colleagues' peccadilloes, in exchange for career advancement, which of course - as Wilder early on links amoral sexual conduct and professional/corporate/financial misconduct in a greater social critique - gets him into trouble.

 

The dialogue is - as is always true with Wilder - very finely crafted, yet seems natural - this film is a remarkable display of the kind of reactions any of us would offer in similar situations. Interestingly, our two protagonists are also wonderfully imperfect as human beings - Lemmon and MacLaine bear some responsibility for the very serious situations they've gotten themselves into; they manage to realize this ("Be a mensch!" Lemmon's doctor neighbor exclaims) just in time to set things right. MacLaine in particular delivers a remarkable, complex performance - sweet and smart in her earliest scenes, bleak and emotionally ravaged in her climactic scene with MacMurray, naive elsewhere, sharp but hopeful at the end. The cinematography captures the entire cast beautifully - with minimal movement, abundant long takes, and a sleek lack of visual clutter, all of the principals are free to reveal their own best and worst impulses, within an environment that is stripped of artifice. The end result is a film filled with great moments one can easily identify with.

 

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This looks interesting but I'm confused which happens easily due to meds. Grat excuse huh? LOL. Can someone explain to me how this works and how you get to post a pic, etc. What is this all about? I like what I am seeing here. Thanks,Robert Michael.

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Hi moviebuffer, glad to see you back and running this feature.

 

I love THE APARTMENT! My favorite Billy Wilder film. If you haven't seen it, check it out.

 

bio, I don't know how to post photos, either. But, several folks here have posted info on how to do it. Hopefully, someone will chime in and help you out.

 

Sandy K

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