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Movie Rambles


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I've concluded I need a thread to post my random movie watching comments and also to

(hopefully) keep me from taking too many other threads off-topic. If a thread has been started on

a movie elsewhere I will try to post my comments there, this will just be for those films I

don't necessarily want to start a new one for. And anyone and everyone is welcome to jump in

with their own movie critiques or what not, if they like. Furthermore, I look forward to going "off-

topic" or rambling into other discussions as much as any may please.


So, pull up a chair, please. :)


Over last weekend I got to watch a few movies and I'll start with I'll Be Seeing You.


I'll Be Seeing You has been a favorite of mine forever; I just

watched it again today and must admit it keeps getting better. In my affections, I

put it right up there with The Best Years of Our Lives, Until They Sail and

Till the End of Time, and ahead of Since You Went Away.


Directed by *William Dieterle* and produced by Dore Schary

(executive produced by David O. Selznick in 1944, the same year as his

Since You Went Away), this movie has only superficial elements in

common with Selznick's more famous homefront saga, including the

casting of teenage Shirley Temple. It's a much darker, more disturbing

film and doesn't feel it is working any propaganda angle. In fact, it's

quite ambivalent, almost noirish in the character's projections of

fear and the way scenes proceed from dark, to gradual brightening of

prospects, back to clouds dimming the light and eventual storms rolling

in. Each time things seem to be going somewhat smoothly a disturbing

note will sound (making use of the classic standard "I'll Be Seeing You"

written by Sammy Fain and Irving Kahal is not just commercially sound,

it's actually a fitting choice because the tune is bittersweet, about loss and

wishfully seeing something that is no longer there: the hopes and dreams

of the two leads, for instance).


Ginger Rogers and Joseph Cotten play two of the most

damaged romantic couples outside the world of film noir and I have

to wonder if some in the audience when this movie was released found it

a bit of a downer during a time when escapism was wanted and needed?

She's an inmate of the State Penn convicted of manslaughter on a

Christmas "break" (due to good behavior) to visit her Aunt (Fay Bainter)

and Uncle (Tom Tully), who meets a soldier (Cotten) on the train who

turns out to be recovering from a crippling case of shell shock and has no

family or home. Both stars play their parts to perfection and without

histrionics or affectation of being above their own particular fears. It's one

of Ginger's most moving and likable characters and one of the few times

she really allows herself to be vulnerable. Cotten, is of course a pro at

playing troubled men and this is my favorite performance by him, along

with "Uncle Charlie" from Shadow of a Doubt. He is pitifiul and

pathetic, but seems so genuinely hurt and struggling to overcome it

that it never descends into a pity party.


Both characters hide their circumstances from the other, fearing to put

them off---and we see by extension how their wider circle of

acquaintances (Ginger's family, including slightly spoiled and nosy niece,

Shirley Temple, her former friends and even some local political

big wigs) alternately try to avoid confronting the truth or make too much

of it. One scene with the politicos querying Cotten as to the political

stance of the "average soldier" is one of the most ambivalent scenes on

the subject I've ever seen in a movie of this period. You think it's setting

up for some old fashioned boosterism and it turns out anything but. In

many ways, I'll Be Seeing You feels like a movie made several

years later with it's damp, almost pessimistic tone.


The way the film is photographed contributes the ambivalent and

disturbing mood because the lighting---at least on the print I watched---is

at a muted key, lacking any really strong contrasts but often light is either

dappled, filtered, or shaded "grey" in tone. There is no high key "gloss"

as in SYWA, but rather a misty and subdued appearance throughout. In

fact, whithout giving away the content of the final scene, I will just say

that it is shot in true film noir, expressionistic style that provides a

somber, contrasting atmosphere for the actions of the characters.


I hope TCM will air the movie again soon and that more people will

discover this unsettling and creative look at the lives of two people in

smalltown, WWII U.S.A.


Two "dates" that take on unsettling turns:


Cotten and Ginger Rogers go to the movies---a war movie. The battle

scenes discomfit Cotten and discussing it afterward, he remarks on how

different the soldier's experience of battle is to how the movies always

portray it.



A walk by a lake that starts pleasantly will lead to the State

Line---where Ginger knows she may not cross or risk the penal

consequences. Nothing is ever unalloyed bliss for either lover.


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Dark Journey


I watched my new Region 2 dvd and it was pleasant to see this early Vivien Leigh

drama nicely cleaned up compared to the old vhs copy I used to watch. I seldom get to

appreciate Conrad Veidt in a romantic leading role, as I've yet to watch his German films, although

I should qualify things by adding he does play a German Spy so technically, he's the Enemy

here. However this was 1937 and I guess even Britain would still allow a German agent to appear

somewhat sympathetic, which surprises me. I won't give a way the ending, but I must say

that was most surprising of all. I'd forgotten what happens---or what doesn't happen, more

to the point.


The chief pleasure of the movie, however, is seeing some glamour before the severe restrictions

would make this impossible in British filmmaking for years. There are some nightclub scenes

which are surprisingly extravagant and I would even say the club scenes are the most entertaining

in the movie. Veidt is a serious playboy and Viv plays a stunningly dressed haute couture

shop owner who also happens to be a spy. Just who she's spying for, you have to watch the

movie to find out.


Vivien Leigh's seriousness is never abated and sometimes I would have liked to see her character

lighten up just a bit, but she seemed to think that would have been out of character or perhaps

she just seldom could disguise her own little inner demons. But she's pretty as a picture and her

eyes practically engulf the screen they're so huge. It would be nice if TCM could air this little seen

movie of a more glamorous time in British films (and it's not even a period picture!), even nicer if

they could spotlight Viv as a "Star of the Month," paltry as the number of her films was.



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Wow! That was terrific, Missy G. You touched on quite a few captivating elements,

and you did so with such style. Very nice.


I had never heard of I'll Be Seeing You prior to reading your wonderful review. It

looks to be very interesting, particularly Ginger Rogers' role.


Ramble on!

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Thanks. I'm not generally over-fond of Ginger's post-1930s work, but this is one of the

exceptions, a big exception. She never actually "gets tough" or makes one of her "tough

speeches" in this movie, something quite exceptional in her career. She and Cotten are

both wounded people and play it faithfully that way, albeit with some grace notes of welcome



I think young Shirley Temple deserves praise, too, for taking on a part that is more complex

than usual. To begin with, her character is not easy to like. She's rather rude in oblique ways

to Ginger, but it's mainly from ignorance and like I mentioned earlier, it all comes to a head

when she spills some beans and causes unwanted pain.

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Thanks. I'm not generally over-fond of Ginger's post-1930s work, but this is

one of the exceptions, a big exception. She never actually "gets tough" or makes

one of her "tough speeches" in this movie, something quite exceptional in her

career. She and Cotten are both wounded people and play it faithfully that way,

albeit with some grace notes of welcome humor.


It's the "wounded" part that attracts me to the story. I'm always drawn to those who

are hurting. I'd love to see how Ginger handles such a different role.


I think young Shirley Temple deserves praise, too, for taking on a part that is

more complex than usual. To begin with, her character is not easy to like. She's

rather rude in oblique ways to Ginger, but it's mainly from ignorance and like

I mentioned earlier, it all comes to a head when she spills some beans and

causes unwanted pain.


I haven't seen any Shirley movies, but this one seems digestable.

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You Only Live Once (1937---again!)


Directed by Fritz Lang and starring Henry Fonda as an ex-con who's a "three time loser" and

Sylvia Sydney as his devoted fiancee/wife who also happens to be assistant to the Public

Defender (Barton MacLane). No one can understand why Joan (Sydney) wants to marry this

guy Taylor (Fonda), least of al her boss who is in love with her. It's nice, by the way, to

see MacLane playing a good egg---and an educated egg at that. Boy, is he good---he

practically sacrifices everything for Joan at one point. Joan's sister also believes she is

throwing herself away on a worthless criminal, and you've seldom seen Jean Dixon in

such a bitter, humorless role. Life has obviously been rugged and she can't abide to see

her younger sister ruining her own chances for secuity. None of the expected Jean Dixon

sarcastic wisecracks here, she's sour and doesn't care who knows it, but she obviously

does care for her sister.


What about Taylor? Is he worth it? The movie isn't always making that clear, it won't

make it easy for us to like Fonda's Taylor. Itt takes pains to show how he got to be in his

circumstances, which warrants compassion but I get the feeling Lang wanted to "test" his

audience a little. Lang seemed to excel at telling stories of crime-and-punishment, and by

extension, the public's attitude toward such issues. Fury, starring Spencer Tracy,

really hit hard on mob violence and this movie shares some of it's uncompromising look

at the injustice of the justice system. And, of course, Madame Sydney is the heart of both

movies, humanising her man in each, sometimes just by virtue of her magnificent eyes that

always seem to be just about to brim over with tears.


The two, undaunted, marry. Well, Joan is undaunted but Taylor tries to share her

optimism as he attempts to keep a job and pay for that new house they just found. Oh,

thatj's the most heartbreaking part of the movie, along with the ending! You know

how it is, just when everything seems to be falling into place for happiness, something

happens. What happens may take you by surprise because it plays a little on the audience's

own possible lingering prejudice toward Taylor's character. There are many twists

and turns and I don't want to ruin the plot for anyone, but the couple does eventually go on the

lam. It makes you wonder how far you would go if you were in Joan's place, out of loyalty

and love for your mate.


A word about Fonda's performance. He makes himself out to be pretty cold, psychicly

beat up and emotionally shut-down by years in correctional hell. There is little trace of

the honorable good guy or bumbling comic lover we usually saw in the 1930s. A fine



You Only Live Once may not be quite as raw as Fury or a masterpiece of

Expressionism like the German films, but it has it's own peculiar power. It's also on

dvd, so check it out!






Some nice Langian touches here...whilst in this cage, Lang had Fonda pace up and down,

up and down---not like an animal or a prisoner, or anything alive, but stiffly, like a robot.


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Consider this a working vacation resort. You should want to earn your right to a view. No one else needs to because they've been doing their part, just YOU, Monsieur lazy bones. :P


I have more rambles to come, I just need to RELAX myself now. And focus a little more

on Anna Lee's "Mac" in The Crimson Kimono.

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The Mountain Road - 1960


Listening to Robert Osborne's comments before the movie last night, It was interesting to realize

I've actually seen a movie he hadn't! Although it had been a while and so it was nice to watch

it again. This time I thought about how rare it was to see Jimmy Stewart in a movie filmed in

a country other than the U.S. The Shop Around the Corner felt as American as it did

"Hungarian" and was shot on a soundstage, anyway. There was Hitchcock's The Man

Who Knew Too Much and what else? He and Henry Fonda may seem so very "American"

to me because they rarely strayed from home on the screen. Coop, Gable, Taylor, Holden,

Grant, Brando and even John Wayne all ventured to other shores on screen more often.


As for the movie itself, it's better than I remember and more realistic than I recall, too. Stewart

plays a major in the Army who, with a small band of soldiers, is assigned to blow up an

amunition dump in China before the Japanese can get to it. Along the way, he picks up the

widow of a Chinese general, played by the very pretty Lisa Lu. I thought the relationship and

behavior between Stewart and the men under his command was very believably presented.

I wonder if this was how Jimmy was in the service? Colonel Potter was there (Harry Morgan)

and had one of his best parts. He was in a few movies with Jimmy over the years.


And there was Glenn Corbett for the second time in a row, this time moving me to

tears for his act of "mercy" and its consequences.


Good movie and the topic can still be considered relevant by many I'm sure.

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All exteriors for THE MOUNTAIN ROAD were filmed in and around Tucson, Arizona; the interiors were done at Columbia Studios in Hollywood.


Apart from THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH, the only films Stewart made that were actually filmed outside the United States were NO HIGHWAY IN THE SKY (1951) and the 1978 remake of THE BIG SLEEP, both of which were shot in England.

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I just did the tally and it looks like I have around 480 movie titles on dvd, including approximately

335 commercially released dvds and the balance being dvd-r's.


One of my dvd-r's is Dishonored Lady, from 1947 starring Hedy Lamarr as a the

"lady" in question. It was directed by Robert Stevenson, who was behind one of my favorite

romances, Jane Eyre as well as numerous episodes of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents".


Dishonored Lady reminded me of many other movies: Spellbound and [/b]Vertigo[/b] with

Laura, Cat People and East Side, West Side thrown in for good measure. It is

somewhat rough in the transitions but then so much happens it's amazing what the director was

able to encompass in just one movie.


Hedy's character, Madeleine Damien (something about that name...), is a highly strung,

successful and glamorous business woman who cannot find happiness or contentment in any area of her life it seems, least of all her private life which consists of a series of affairs with men she doesn't love. What I think the script tries to indicate in this highly censored period is that she may be a nymphomaniac, though it's hard to pin that down since the term is obviously never used. What is clear from the first scene is that she is suicidal and rather a _itch to deal with at the office.


Something's got to give, so after reluctantly deciding to see a psychiatrist (who conveniently rescued her from a suicide attempt), she follows his advice to cut off all her past associations and start life anew away from the high life of New York's social whirl and take up her abandoned painting career. Of course, she doesn't leave the City, she just moves her posh furnishings downtown, trading Park Avenue for Washington Square. However Washington Square seems to agree with Madeleine because she's now charming, sweet and patient (I love Hollywood!) :P Margaret Hamilton reprises her nosy landlady role from You Only Live Once and probably many other movies; Natalie Shafer, still young and viviacious before she settled to being a Howell is the gossipy, envious "friend" and collegue; and a Morris Carnovsky plays the analyst, rather too smoothly in my opinion. Topping it off as the two principal objects of Hedy's, well, attentions, are playboy John Loder who appeals to her sensual weakness (think Ava Gardner and James Mason with the roles from East Side, West Side reversed) and Dennis O'Keefe in his best, blonde Dana Andrews mode as the honorable research scientist, her true love who can't conceive Madeleine is anything but the simple young artist who will be his loyal bride and continue to happily illustrate his theses with drawings of cells. There are, predictably, complications which threaten to separate the lovers but they are surprisingly twisty and the whole movie moves along at quite a pace. The only part that is rather routine is the actual courtroom drama near the end but otherwise, Dishonored Lady is one of Hedy Lamarr's most emotional performances, and most interesting movies. Her character is not just the passive catalyst for events, but, as in The Strange Woman she's a true femme fatale who cannot help it if men get all tangled up over her. ;)


I think a decent *Hedy Lamarr* box set would be wonderful, if it can include Dishonored Lady, H.M.

Pulman, Esq., The Strange Woman, I Take This Woman and Algiers. Impossible, I know,

since these movies weren't all made at the same studio. :(

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The Blue Gardenia - 1953


Fritz Lang's stylish film noir keeps getting better with each viewing. My only reservation about it has been Ann Baxter's performance which sometimes feels a little over-the-top, especially in her guilty reactions. But what never palls is the way Lang depicts the circumstances and relationship of the three female roommates. The way they live in that tiny apartment is very realistic, especially with the three beds in the "living room" (there is no bedroom) and how they unsuccessfully try to follow a schedule of taking turns with different chores. It's also interesting how each girl in her own way tries to create her own reality because the truth is so hard to deal with. "Crystal" (the most clear headed of the three, played by the wonderful, chain smoking Ann Sothern) dates her ex-husband, which is pretending in a way (she even says that while before he "had a husbands faults, now he has a boyfriend's virtues"); "Sally" (Jeff Donnell) reads and lives vicariously through her beloved, lurid "Mickey Mallet" (i.e., Spillaine) novels and then of course there's "Norah" (Ann Baxter) who plays house with a boyfriend who's in the service overseas and who soon sends her on a path that will cause her to deny "reality" in earnest.


I never noticed these character defining details until yesterday's viewing and they've made me appreciate the movie much more, quite apart from the actual murder plot. Lang is fairly ascerbic about his depiction of post-war American characters and lifestyle I see. I find it funny how he places that kitchy little ceramic knick-knack so prominently by the phone in the girls' apartment. It stands out so glaringly. And it's so 1950s, I love that detail. I bet it's worth a lot of money on Antiques Roadshow today. :P And even though Norah can't afford her own place she will splurge on Champagne and roasts for her solitary celebrations and on black taffeta evening gowns. So familiar......


Another thing I noticed about The Blue Gardenia, Harry Prebble's (Raymond Burr) ex-girlfriend who keeps calling him is named "Rose".


It was nice to see George Reeves as the detective. The part where he has his secretary phone Richard Conte pretending to be the "Bue Gardenia murderess" was very funny.


Conte is as always very good but his character, "Casey Mayo," needed more development I think. He was so hard boilded for most of the time and then suddenly he falls for Norah. Why? Just because she had mustard on her nose and looked cute? He seemed too cynical to fall that quickly, especially when his feelings would endanger his making a good story and that's all he seemed to live for until that moment. Hmmmm. I wonder if some scenes were deleted that might have beefed up his part?


Mirrors are prominent throughout the film and I'm still figuring out why. Maybe someone can clarify what they signify here?






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Uh-oh. I'm in serious trouble now. I cannot believe you just rambled about two Lang films. I guess I'm actually gonna have to talk about the movies I have watched now. Sigh. :)


When I get some time, I will comment on your words about You Only Live Once and The Blue Gardenia. As usual, your thoughts and observations are wonderful. You have sparked me with each. Have I ever mentioned those sparks to you before?

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Il Bidone - 1955


This is my favorite of the Federico Fellini films I've seen so far. I still like La Dolce Vita of course for

it's spectacle and stylishness but this movie about con artists preying on people poorer than

themselves is more human in its smaller scope. It helps (me) that Broderick Crawford and

Richard Basehart are the stars. because even dubbed in Italian they are still brilliant. I even

think this is Crawford's best performance along with All The King's Men. He plays the oldest

of the conmen, one who's on his way out and one day he runs into his daugther who's all

grown up but knows nothing about his real life, only seeing him once a year or so.

He hasn't given her any thought until he bumps into her accidentally and then all he wants is

to make things up to her. Of course, that's when things start to really go down hill. It's

the saddest ever ending so I didn't like that but it's a fine film. And it was nice to see Roma

again. :)

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Of my commercially released dvds, here is the director breakdown so far:


Lubitsch: *3*

Mamoulian: *3*

Hawks: *4*

Negulesco: *4*

Mankiewicz: *6*

Wellman: *6*

Hitchcock: *20*

Henry King: *9*

Otto Preminger: *9*

Henry Hathaway: *10*


And..um...Ford: *45* :0

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45 Ford movies! My goodness, Fordy Guns. You are sick! :P


You have more Preminger than Hitch? That's interesting.


You have more Henry King than Hitch? That's pathetic. :P


Ahhh, Henry Hathway. I wonder why you have so many of his movies? :)

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I must have about 45 - 50 Ford films on DVD. Henry King two - The Gunfighter & 12 O' Clock High.

Wellman 6

Mann 6

Hathaway 5

Preminger 4

Lumet 4

Huston 4

Lang 4

Walsh 4

Marshall 4

Tourneur 4

Mankiewicz 4

Hawks 3

Dmytryk 3

Curtiz 3

Dassin 3

Wyler 3

Wilder 3

Lumet 3

Capra 2


Lloyd Bacon, Lewis Milestone and many others have two also.


Message was edited by: ken123


Message was edited by: ken123

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