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What movies did you rate a 9 or 10 this month?


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TCM Programmer(s)you should take note.  According to this thread citizens of TCM Nation have not seen any films which rate a 9 or 10 in a month since September 2019.  I want to stop this drought with a review of a title which caught my attention in the month of October.  It is a pre-code flick from First National Pictures and directed by William A. Wellman, "Safe In Hell".  The movie stars Dorothy MacKaill, Donald Cook, Ralf Horolde, Nina Mae McKinney and Clarence Muse.  

Dorothy MacKaill plays a character named Gilda who has problems throughout the film.  Starting with being set-up to meet an old boyfriend Piet Van Saal, played by Ralf Horolde, who raped her and forced her into prostitution.  There's an argument and she allegedly kills him by throwing a heavy miniature statue at him.  The apartment catches fire as she flees the scene.   After being notified that the cops have her description, her current boyfriend who wants to marry her, Carl Bergan played by Donald Cook, helps her escape to an island in the Caribbean where there is no extradition law with the United States.

Things go from bad to worse for Gilda when she arrives at a seedy hotel with no air conditioning or clean drinking water on a hot, humid Caribbean Island.  There are five or six low-down male criminals who are also housed there to keep themselves away from the gallows.  The criminals at the hotel can remain free on the island as long as they behave themselves, keep out of trouble and do as they are told by the local police chief who doesn't have much ethics as it turns out, thus, the title of the movie "Safe in Hell".  After checking in to the hotel and she is being taken upstairs to her room, the five men try to up-skirt her but boyfriend Carl puts a quick end to that.  Later in the film Piet Van Saal, the man who Gilda thought she had killed, turns up at the Caribbean hotel healthy and able bodied.  He is fleeing the law as well.  Gilda now wants to leave the island but she can't since her boyfriend has not come for her yet.  The local police chief, lacking ethics, sets Gilda up by giving her a gun so he can arrest her later for having it in her possession.  Piet Van Saal tries to rape Gilda in her room and Gilda shoots him with the gun the Police Chief gave her.  Gilda goes on trial for murder but the corrupt lecherous Police Chief tries to blackmail Gilda by promising her freedom and a not guilty verdict if she will become his kept woman for six months.  Gilda refuses, confesses to the murder, and is sentenced to hang by her neck the next morning.  Shortly after she is sentence to hang Carl shows up out of the blue.  Gilda doesn't want him to know about the trouble she has gotten herself into and her trip to the gallows the next day, so she makes a deal with the two policemen who are guarding her to stay out of sight while she deals with her man Carl.  There is a heart-wrenching farewell between Gilda and Carl.  Afterwards the end of the movie shows Gilda taking a slow walk escorted by three policemen for her date with the hangman for the murder of Piet Van Saal.

This review could not be complete without the mention of the two black proprietors of the Caribbean Hotel where the majority of the movie takes place, Nina Mae McKinney and Donald Muse.  Nina Mae McKinney is wonderful to look at it.  When she sings her little song, penned by Donald Muse, "When It's Sleepy Time Down South", her voice is as soft as her eyes.  Whatever scene she is in she held her own with the other actors.  There is a nice camaraderie between Ms. McKinney and Mr. Muse.  When she called Donald Muse's character, Newcastle, she would sing his name and the instructions.  Newcastle would answer back by singing his understanding of the instructions.  Nina Mae McKinney was as talented and beautiful as any other actress in Hollywood during the Pre-Code era.  Hollywood executives were not going to put her in a movie where she is as glamorous and talented as a white actress.  She was going to play either a maid or a prostitute.  She chose to go to Europe where she became famous for her talent as an actress and singer.  Donald Muse was as talented as Nina Mae McKinley.  I first took notice of Mr. Muse in "Flying Down to the Rio".  He was the guy who told the people who thought they were on an abandoned beach on a deserted island that they were a few hundred feet away from a hotel.  He has a deep resonant voice and probably could have held his own with actors in a Shakespearean movie.   It was wonderful for the Director of the movie, William A. Wellman, to let both of these actors portray their characters in this movie as normal, educated, civilized human beings and not the stereotypical black character which was the norm in Hollywood movies during the Pre-Code era.

"Safe in Hell" is an entertaining movie with Dorothy MacKaill giving a terrific performance as Gilda, the lady who just couldn't get the right break no matter how hard she tried. Ralf Horolde's character, Piet Van Saal, was the type of person who deserves to be shot dead and he did a great job in his portrayal of this classless character.  Honorable mention to Nina Mae McKinney and Clarence Muse in supporting roles.  Its a shame their characters could not be in more scenes and more involved with the plot of this movie.  But what we saw was just marvelous leaving me wanting more.  I am going to show my enthusiasm for this movie and give it a 10.  This movie is a hidden jewel which should be included in your Pre-Code DVD collection.

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I viewed "The Picture of Dorian Gray" for the first time a few months ago.

Even though it moves slowly at times, it never gets dull.

I would give it at least a 9. 

I have since watched it twice on "Movies on Demand."

I'm posting because the movie is available this month.

The second movie I watched this month is "The Uninvited" which I would also rate as a 9.

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TCM had the wonderful Julie Andrews on as a Guest Programmer.  She chose three films to screen, one of them being "Thoroughly Modern Millie".  I will not be as long-winded with this review as I am with others which I have pen.  I do not remember TCM ever scheduling this movie in prime time before.  It may been part of the month of musicals TCM had a few years ago but I bet it was scheduled at a time when it would not receive much notice.  This little gem released in the great year of 1967 was truly a delight.  Julie Andrews was magnificent.  I watched Carol Channing knowing she won a Supporting Actress Academy Award for her performance as Muzzy Van Hoosmere. I was mesmerized by seeing Mary Tyler Moore doing things which I have never seen her do before.  When I think of Mary Tyler Moore as an actress I see her as Sam the Secretary on the Richard Diamond detective series or as Mary Richards on the Mary Tyler Moore show.  To see her doing dance steps and being an ingenue sort of took me back.  I knew she was a ballet dancer at one time but I have never actually seen her actually do ballet or dancing on film until I saw this film.  She is rather good.  Its a shame she couldn't showcase this talent more often.

This film had a favorite recurring moment or gimmick which I loved.  Any elevator which you have to dance inside it to make it operate is the kind of elevator which I would love to utilize.  Seeing Julie Andrews and Mary Tyler Moore doing their dance routine was simply delightful.  The two Oriental Men, Jack Soo and Pat Morita, were also great in their dance routine in the elevator.   If Julie Andrews had not requested "Thoroughly Modern Millie" to be screen during prime time I would have never discovered this fine film.  TCM Programmer must not think too highly of this film because it would not have been hiding it for such a quite long time from prime time viewing.  I forgive you TCM Programmer.  I will give "Thoroughly Modern Millie" a 10 for being such a fun film to watch, for the talented and delightful Julie Andrews and Mary Tyler Moore.   

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1 hour ago, thomasterryjr said:

TCM had the wonderful Julie Andrews on as a Guest Programmer.  She chose three films to screen, one of them being "Thoroughly Modern Millie".  I will not be as long-winded with this review as I am with others which I have pen.  I do not remember TCM ever scheduling this movie in prime time before.  It may been part of the month of musicals TCM had a few years ago but I bet it was scheduled at a time when it would not receive much notice.  This little gem released in the great year of 1967 was truly a delight.  Julie Andrews was magnificent.  I watched Carol Channing knowing she won a Supporting Actress Academy Award for her performance as Muzzy Van Hoosmere. I was mesmerized by seeing Mary Tyler Moore doing things which I have never seen her do before.  When I think of Mary Tyler Moore as an actress I see her as Sam the Secretary on the Richard Diamond detective series or as Mary Richards on the Mary Tyler Moore show.  To see her doing dance steps and being an ingenue sort of took me back.  I knew she was a ballet dancer at one time but I have never actually seen her actually do ballet or dancing on film until I saw this film.  She is rather good.  Its a shame she couldn't showcase this talent more often.

This film had a favorite recurring moment or gimmick which I loved.  Any elevator which you have to dance inside it to make it operate is the kind of elevator which I would love to utilize.  Seeing Julie Andrews and Mary Tyler Moore doing their dance routine was simply delightful.  The two Oriental Men, Jack Soo and Pat Morita, were also great in their dance routine in the elevator.   If Julie Andrews had not requested "Thoroughly Modern Millie" to be screen during prime time I would have never discovered this fine film.  TCM Programmer must not think too highly of this film because it would not have been hiding it for such a quite long time from prime time viewing.  I forgive you TCM Programmer.  I will give "Thoroughly Modern Millie" a 10 for being such a fun film to watch, for the talented and delightful Julie Andrews and Mary Tyler Moore.   

Nice little write-up! I think THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE aired a few years ago in primetime as part of a salute for Beatrice Lillie. That was the first time I had seen it on TCM.

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I was just looking at the films I rated on the IMDb. Some of them were ones I had seen before, like SUDDEN FEAR (1952)...but I had never given it a score. So after I re-watched it, I did score it and it earned a solid 9.

Another one I had seen before and re-watched was KISS TOMORROW GOODBYE (1950). I gave it a 9. I think I almost like it better than WHITE HEAT (1949). It feels like a sequel, though Cagney is playing a different character. I guess it's more of a follow-up. The themes are of course similar, but it's a lot more poignant and I think the character's demise is more tragic. Also, I like how they used extended courtroom scenes in the present to frame/describe some of the action. Ward Bond is truly fantastic in a supporting role.

A "new" film I watched was THE FARMER'S DAUGHTER (1940). This is not the later comedy with Loretta Young. Rather it's an earlier Paramount production starring Martha Raye. It has elements of comedy, drama and music. A very good showcase for Raye, who should have been a bigger movie star in my opinion.

I'd like to mention a TV movie I watched this morning. CAROLINE? (1990) is one of those Hallmark Hall of Fame movies that originally aired on CBS back in the day. Stephanie Zimbalist, shortly after the cancellation of Remington Steele, is cast as the mysterious title character. She's superb. And you really do start to wonder if she's playing a sweet tortured heroine, or a villainous imposter. The production earned three Emmy awards, including one for Outstanding TV movie. It's a 10. Plus.

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  • 2 months later...

I am bringing this thread back to life because it is more current and interesting than the "Least and Most  Favorite of the Week" thread which  came to life in 2010 and is over 47 pages long.   I am going to review two movies, one of which is not going to receive a positive review: The Secret Six and The Wet Parade.  

The Wet Parade.  I hardly ever watch  Noir Alley with Eddie Muller because it is scheduled at a bad time but I so enjoy Mr. Muller's  introductions and insights to movies when he is on at other times on TCM.  I watched his introduction to "The Wet Parade" and I thought I would give this movie a try since I have never seen this film before.  There is a saying that it is hard for one to enjoy something when you do not understand what it is to enjoy.  Even with the All Star cast, Walter Huston, Myrna Loy, Neil Hamilton, Lewis Stone, Wallace Ford,  and Jimmy Durante  I was really looking for something to enjoy in this movie.  The subject matter, prohibition and alcoholism, could not hold my attention.  After a little over an hour of "The Wet Parade" I gave up and sought entertainment from another cable channel.  The only thing I could get out of "The Wet Parade" is the negative effect Prohibition and alcoholism must have had on American culture during the time period which this movie spanned, 1916 to 1932. 

The Secret Six.  This movie's subject matter, production and distribution of alcoholic beverages and the gangsters who are trying to control the city's alcohol distribution and consumption, coincides with the Prohibition and alcoholism subject which was prevalent in "The Wet Parade".  Like "The Wet Parade" this movie also has a who's who of stars before they became stars,  Jean Harlow, Clark Gable, and Ralph Bellamy.  This movie is hardly ever scheduled on TCM during daylight or prime-time hours.    I remember the first time I saw this film, when TCM had Jean Harlow as Star of the Month in the 2000s,  I was totally taken away by its grittiness and realism.  Wallace Beery plays the not so bright thug  who somehow manages to climb to the top of the crime scene in a nameless big city before two newspaper journalists,  six masked businessmen and gorgeous Jean Harlow, in her first MGM movie role, bring down Wallace Beery's character.   

This early Pre-Code film has an excellent script, great casting and direction from George Hill.   I will give this film nine and a half stars.  It really is a great film which will hold your attention from the start of the film to the end credits.  This film should be mention when talking about the great gangster films of the 1930s.    

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