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LEAST & MOST FAVORITE of the week...


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This week I only saw three movies.  Guilty Hands suffers from the problem that its plot and its denoument seem to have been copied dozens of times after it was made, even if that's not actually the case.  But Lionel Barrymore gives a good performance and W.S. Van Dyke does offer some nice touches.  The Japanse Pulse is strange, evocative, not entirely successful, and not helped by being muddled at a crucial point by a malfunctioning DVD.  But the best movie of the week is Aerograd,  Dovzenkno's version of a frontier movie involving Asian subversives, striking aerial footage and other striking aspects.

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This week I only saw three movies.  Guilty Hands suffers from the problem that its plot and its denoument seem to have been copied dozens of times after it was made, even if that's not actually the case.  But Lionel Barrymore gives a good performance and W.S. Van Dyke does offer some nice touches.  The Japanse Pulse is strange, evocative, not entirely successful, and not helped by being muddled at a crucial point by a malfunctioning DVD.  But the best movie of the week is Aerograd,  Dovzenkno's version of a frontier movie involving Asian subversives, striking aerial footage and other striking aspects.

skimpole, I found Pulse/Kairo very scary.

 

Now there's a movie that will never be on TCM! :o

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I'm not sure primosprimos.  They're having House this week, and while it may take a decade for them to consider movies from 2001, it's not beyond the bonds of possibility.

Interesting, skimpole. Too bad both Hausu and Murder My Sweet are on in the wee hours. I love MMS and would give Hausu a try.

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Interesting, skimpole. Too bad both Hausu and Murder My Sweet are on in the wee hours. I love MMS and would give Hausu as try.

My favorite for the week is "Sparrows" (1926) that starred Mary Pickford.  Never seen it before.  Wish I knew about Mr Grimes when the old Villain thread was around.  How heartless and mean, glad to see poetic justice in his ending.

 

Incredible that Mary was 32

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I didn't watch that many new films this week; but I saw a few.  I'm not making a very good dent in my DVR, lol.

 

Test Pilot

This movie starred Clark Gable, Myrna Loy and Spencer Tracy.  I think Loy makes a good team with Gable.  I'm usually indifferent to Tracy.  He doesn't really do anything for me.  I don't know what it is about him.  I enjoy his films with Katharine Hepburn more.  I like how they interact with one another.  Both keep each other on their toes.  The story of Test Pilot was sweet, I like how Myrna Loy stuck by Gable and how Gable gave up his dangerous job after his crash landing.  All in all a great film that I had never heard much about. 

 

The Razor's Edge

This movie has been on my DVR a long time.  I think I recorded it during the 31 days of Oscar in February.  I finally watched it.  It's the third Gene Tierney movie I've watched.  I think I liked her best in Laura, that seems to be her definitive role; but I thought she was excellent in this film.  While I had heard of Tierney, I had never seen any of her films until a few weeks ago when TCM aired Laura and Where the Sidewalk Ends.  I really enjoy Tierney's work and look forward to seeking out more of her work.  It's a shame that she isn't as well known as her peers like Rita Hayworth and Lana Turner.  I also like Anne Baxter's work.  She's an interesting actress to me.  Like Tierney, I had never really heard of Baxter until I saw All About Eve.  She was fantastic in All About Eve.  If she hadn't insisted on getting an Oscar nomination alongside Bette Davis for Best Actress and had settled for the Best Supporting Actress nomination, I feel like both her and Davis would have brought home the prize.  I had also seen Baxter in The Magnificent Ambersons, and while she was good in that, I thought she was better in The Razor's Edge.  I liked her portrayal of a woman's downfall into alcohol and drugs after losing her husband and child in a car accident.  She deserved the Oscar she won for this role.  As for Tyrone Power, this is the first film I've seen him act in.  I know he's considered to be super handsome and all that, and while he isn't ugly by any means, he doesn't do anything for me.  He leaves me cold.  I didn't really think he was all that special in this film.  Perhaps I need to watch it again and give Power a chance; but as of right now, I don't think I'd go out of my way to seek out another of his films, unless someone else I like is in the movie with him. 

 

The Adventures of Don Juan

I recorded this Sunday morning and then had to get through eight hours of overtime at work to be able to get home again and watch this movie.  I recorded it, because of course, my absolute favorite, Errol Flynn, was in it.  I'm happy to report that I found this movie very enjoyable.  This film was made when Errol was considered a bit past his prime.  I went into this movie expecting to be disappointed and frankly a little nervous to see Errol's appearance.  I get sad when people I like end up ruining themselves with drugs, drink, plastic surgery, etc and tend to stay away from their films if there's a chance that their appearance could ruin it for me.  While I'll admit that Errol did look a bit older than his actual age of 38, I thought he was still smokin' hot.  He did look older than Robin Hood; but I would expect that.  In 'Don Juan,' Errol was still in pretty decent shape considering all his problems and while he didn't perform all his stunts, he was still agile and could swashbuckle with the best of them. 

 

I read somewhere that he helped design his costumes.  Apparently the original costume designer studied the time period of 16th century Spain (I think that's when it takes place, I am assuming this is the 1500s since they mention Columbus and The New World) and found that men wore ruffles, bloomers and powdered faces.  Errol thought he'd look ridiculous (I agree with you, Errol) and he convinced Warner's to hire William Travilla, a famous costume designer.  If Errol really did have input on his costuming for the film, he is a costume genius.  Don Juan's costumes are easily the best in the film.  Errol could really wear period clothing well.  His gorgeous physique filled out the tights, low-cut, sleeveless shirts and tight pants well.  His earring was a little goofy; but it was fun seeing what earring he'd pair with which outfit and which ear he'd put it in. 

 

I did notice a funny blooper in the film.  I read that they apparently recycled footage from The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (also starring Errol Flynn) for this film.  They used the footage of Essex and his gang marching into London, enroute to Queen Elizabeth's castle.  In 'Don Juan' Don Juan is in the middle of a group headed to the castle in London.  When they walk under a bridge, you can see a 1939 Errol Flynn (dressed in armor as Essex) leading the crew under the bridge and to the castle.  1948 Errol Flynn (as Don Juan) is in the back of the line.  In my opinion, you can't go wrong with two Errol Flynns in the same movie (even if it's just this one scene); but it was funny nonetheless. 

 

I really loved Errol's sword fighting scenes and was happy to see him and Alan Hale paired up one last time.  Both times when they beat up the guards (in the prison and castle) I was waiting for them to pull the classic gag of beating up a couple of people and stealing their clothes in order to sneak in somewhere; but I'm happy to report that this gag did not happen.  I thought Errol's leading lady, Viveca Lindfors was gorgeous and Una O'Connor was funny. She almost played the same character she did in The Adventures of Robin Hood years before. 

 

All in all, I enjoyed The Adventures of Don Juan and look forward to seeing if I can procure a copy next month if I can convince someone to get me The Errol Flynn Signature Collection: Volume 2 for my birthday.  

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New to me, A Study In Scarlet with Reginald Owen, from 1933. Very good adaptation, imo.

 

Curious, Holmes' address is shown as 221A Baker Street and The Guardian says that Doyle had Holmes living there before moving to 221B, but the reason is unknown.

 

Is it?

 

Shame that Owen didn't film more of the Holmes stories.

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This movie starred Clark Gable, Myrna Loy and Spencer Tracy. I think Loy makes a good team with Gable. I'm usually indifferent to Tracy. He doesn't really do anything for me. I don't know what it is about him. I enjoy his films with Katharine Hepburn more. I like how they interact with one another. Both keep each other on their toes. The story of Test Pilot was sweet, I like how Myrna Loy stuck by Gable and how Gable gave up his dangerous job after his crash landing. All in all a great film that I had never heard much about.

 

One of those films that exemplifies why I adore Myrna Loy so much; on paper, it's a thankless role, and few things bore me more in film than women who simply sit around fretting about their man, but she makes it not just work, but work very well.  I think it's a great film, and her best pairing with Gable.  (It's Loy's favorite of her films, as a bit of trivia.)  I love in the TCM tribute to Loy narrated by Julianne Moore, when Moore says something like, "Plane crash or no, your life is going pretty well if you happen upon Myrna Loy twiddling her thumbs in a field." 

 

I'm the same way as you about Spencer Tracy; I tend to really enjoy him with Katharine Hepburn (my other favorite, who also does amazing things with roles I wouldn't otherwise enjoy), but in so many of his other films he just doesn't make much of an impression on me. 

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Speedracer- If you want to get a better picture of Gene Tierney's acting ability, you need to see LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN - yes, LAURA is great, however LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN is really her definitive role. She was Oscar nominated for her great performance in this one. You also need to watch THE GHOST AND MRS.MUIR. THE RAZOR'S EDGE is probably my favorite of all her films. To me she was so stuningly beautiful as she descends the staircase in her black gown. RO had said that Gene in that scene was his favorite and the most beatuiful actress on screen. I cheered when he talked about that scene with Gene since I've always felt that way and had mentioned it on the bds. before RO had said that.

 

 Whether she played the good or evil character, she was always convincing. Watch for scheduling of her films, esp the ones I've mentioned, they are truly great and classic.

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Speedracer- If you want to get a better picture of Gene Tierney's acting ability, you need to see LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN - yes, LAURA is great, however LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN is really her definitive role. She was Oscar nominated for her great performance in this one. You also need to watch THE GHOST AND MRS.MUIR. THE RAZOR'S EDGE is probably my favorite of all her films. To me she was so stuningly beautiful as she descends the staircase in her black gown. RO had said that Gene in that scene was his favorite and the most beatuiful actress on screen. I cheered when he talked about that scene with Gene since I've always felt that way and had mentioned it on the bds. before RO had said that.

 

 Whether she played the good or evil character, she was always convincing. Watch for scheduling of her films, esp the ones I've mentioned, they are truly great and classic.

THE GHOST AND MRS.MUIR. *sigh* I dare you not to choke up at the end.

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THE GHOST AND MRS.MUIR. *sigh* I dare you not to choke up at the end.

Exactly. Beautiful  film in every way. The magnificent Bernard Herrmann music score alone, but the beautiful photography and the plot makes this to me one of the most memorable films.(btw, I've read this was Hermann's favorite of all his film scores) Rex and Gene were perfect together in this one, the whole cast, Sanders, Anna Lee (that scene with Gene and Anna Lee was heart wrenching, especially that look on Gene's face when Anna Lee tells her she wasn't the first one). Natalie as the child,  Martha the maid. Perfect casting all around.Yes, someone would probably have to be a cold fish if they didn't choke up in those last scenes. Great film and truly one of the great romances on film.

 

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Stuart Erwin is annoying, but today's Before Dawn, a SO/SO man with a mask looking for a million (a million in 1933! What would that be, a gazillion today?) in a mansion movie, was Gertrude Hoffman's FIRST Hollywood screen role! How cool is that?

 

She was 62 and would continue acting until she was 92, her last role being in Car 54, Where Are You?. She died at 96.

You go, girl.

 

Oh, and Warner Oland was the man in the mask looking for a million in a mansion.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I saw six movies over the last two weeks.  Our Town may be an "actor-proof" play, in Dwight Macdonald's mordant phrase, but it certainly isn't a director proof movie once Sam Wood got hold of it.  He brings out all the sentimentality and falseness of the play.  Marat/Sade is better, alternating between somewhat fashionable at the time and therefore dated now aspects with some passages of genuine power.  News from Home is one of Chantal Akerman's non-narrative films:  essentially shots of New York in the late seventies intercut with letters from her mother back in Belgium.  This is less successful than her 1993 film D'est, but still worthy of attention.  The last shot is seem from a boat sailing away from Manhattan, which means that one of the last things to enter the frames is the two towers.  Hotel Montery is another Akerman experiment, if not as successful.  Sweetie is an interesting movie, and it is made with evident care and skill, even if I didn't fully warm to it.  I can't say I was disappointed with Spring Breakers, which was just as corrupt, cynical and meretricious as I thought it would be.

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So... in my last post, I posted a list of films that were remaining on my DVR that I needed to watch.  Unfortunately, last week our DVR crashed and Dish had to replace it, so I lost everything.  That was very sad.  Fortunately, I had been able to watch "The Adventures of Don Juan" with Errol, so at least that wasn't lost-- that would have really bummed me out.  I was planning on re-watching it, so that was unfortunate. 

 

Anyway...

 

This week I have watched some interesting films:

 

"Dark Shadows" with Johnny Depp.  While I was aware that the film was based on a 60-70s soap opera, I hadn't seen it.  I also understand that this film didn't get favorable reviews as it strayed too far from the original material.  Since I didn't have prior notions as to what this film should be, I didn't think it was that bad.  Johnny Depp and Tim Burton's work together is always interesting.  Helena Bonham Carter was great.  I also thought Michelle Pfeiffer was excellent.  Per usual, Johnny Depp really gave it his all in this performance and I thought he was great.  The film had all kinds of random things, like Michelle Pfeiffer's macramé room in the secret room behind the bookshelf.  I also enjoyed seeing Alice Cooper!  It was most interesting to me that the cast members in this film who are foreign: Helena Bonham Carter, Eva Green, Jonny Lee Miller and an actress named Bella Heathcote are all using American accents.  Whereas, Kentucky-born actor, Johnny Depp is using a British accent. 

 

"Meet the People" with Lucille Ball and Dick Powell.  I love Lucy and often times record most of her films when they air; but I had never seen Dick Powell in a film.  I had heard of him, but didn't really have any knowledge of what he looked or sounded like.  I didn't know he sang and he was great.  Unfortunately, Lucy was dubbed with a very obvious voice.  Despite what "I Love Lucy" might say about Lucy's singing voice, she wasn't that bad.  She was no Judy Garland, but she wasn't horrible.  At the beginning, during the credits, I cringed when I saw Virginia O'Brien's name.  I cannot stand her wooden singing style.  In "Du Barry Was a Lady," I usually fast forward through her singing part, because it is irritating.  Fortunately, in "Meet the People" she didn't sing in that style and actually sang a rather amusing song-- kudos to you Virginia O'Brien!  This film was featured as part of June Allyson night-- which is interesting because she has a rather small part in the film.  She was good in her part; but it did nothing to change my opinion of her.  I'll keep trying though; maybe with some films where she's more prominently featured.  Unfortunately, for "Meet the People," despite having a decent cast, this film was not very good.  I don't think I'll be ordering it from Warner Archives for my collection.  Sorry Lucy. 

 

"Thank Your Lucky Stars"- I usually enjoy musicals and the cast of this film intrigued me: Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis, Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, just to name a few.  I found this film entertaining albeit a bit corny.  It does nothing to make me want to see Eddie Cantor in any more films.  I don't know what it is about him, but he's kind of annoying?  That seems to be the opinion of everyone else in the film too.  Haha.  The best Eddie Cantor part was when he was every member of the orchestra.  The best thing about this film are all the cameos by the top Warner Brothers stars.  I think Warner Brothers' crew of actors are my favorite.  MGM's gang would be my second choice.  My favorite performance, of course, was Errol Flynn's; but I also enjoyed Bette Davis' performance.  Alan Hale and Jack Carson were fun.  I also enjoyed Alexis Smith.  After having seen Alexis Smith in so many Errol Flynn films, I'm really starting to like her work.  I'm glad she's being featured in August.  While he didn't sing, Humphrey Bogart's cameo was entertaining.  My least favorite performance was probably that of Olivia de Havilland and Ida Lupino.  I don't know what it was about it; but it was annoying.  I also loved the end during the finale when Errol was lip syncing to a more bass/operatic voice and then he says something to the effect of "that voice sounds divine but it isn't mine."  I had already seen the Flynn performance before on You Tube, so I already knew what to expect; but it was fun to see it in the context of the rest of the film.  I hadn't seen his appearance at the end, so that was a nice surprise. 

 

Speaking of You Tube...

 

I started watching "Bye Bye Birdie" which I recorded today... but unfortunately I got sucked into a You Tube vortex and have completely forgotten to watch the movie.  I may have to re-watch later.  Ann-Margret looks beautiful (I'm not really familiar with her work except for in the "Grumpy Old Men" movies) and Dick Van Dyke is great. He seems to pretty much be Rob Petrie in any movie he appears in.  I didn't know Paul Lynde was in this film and I loved him in "Bewitched," so that was neat to see. 

 

On You Tube, I started watching classic Hollywood actors being presented with Honorary Oscars.  I watched Cary Grant, James Stewart and Groucho Marx.  That led me to watching Olivia de Havilland present 75 years worth of Oscar winners at the 2003 Academy Award ceremony.  This video then led me to watching a similar presentation but at the 70th Academy Awards in 1998.  It was fun to see all the classic stars; but sad at the same time to see so many faces that have passed away in the years since those ceremonies.  I also somehow started watching some of the "In Memoriam" segments from past ceremonies.  Watching older Oscar ceremonies like from the 60s and 70s (even the 90s ones that I actually remember watching the first time around) makes me remember how much better the Oscars used to be.  After all this, then I somehow ended up watching Lucille Ball and Jack Benny present Emmys to Ed Asner and Valerie Harper for "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and now I've ended up on watching Vivian Vance accept her Emmy for "I Love Lucy" and watching Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz accept an Emmy for "Best Situation Comedy" for "I Love Lucy."  That's where I am at now when I realized I had been watching "Bye Bye Birdie." 

 

Up next on the DVR...

 

"Gidget"

"Two Smart People"

 

and tomorrow, I'll have "The Charge of the Light Brigade."

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@ Speedracer:

 

I liked Dark Shadows too. I never watched the series as an adult, but my mother watched when I was a kid and the movie had all the things I remembered: the crashing waves, the secret passages, the howling of the wolves, the dark atmoshpere and jumping around in time etc. Brought it all back, afternoons sitting on the floor in front of the TV playing with toys while Mom did the ironing and watched her "stories." Entertaining on it's own merits as well--lots of humorous moments and Eva Green was deliciously evil as Angelique, the witch who has devoted herslef to destroying the family of the man who dumped her 300 years ago.

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Interesting lineup today, with that lovely gamin, Jean Arthur. No one watching?

 

Fascinating shots of a speeding train in Danger Lights, which I never would have bothered with since it is labeled a 'romance'. Poor Jean, almost saddled to Louis Wolheim, whom I bet was a **** cat irl. Robert Armstrong in a different light, who knew he could be a romantic, read sexy, lead? Hope you all saw it.

 

Public Hero No. 1 I had already seen, and even though Chester Morris is a ****, the movie is not re-watchable.

 

Now my boy William is a different story. The Ex-Mrs. Bradford was a treat. Eric Blore, James Gleason (love that man), Armstrong again, Ralph brother of Frank Morgan, Lucile Gleason (the real life Mrs. Gleason?), and of course William Powell. Dynamite coupled with Jean Arthur. Interestingly, absent on the 'um's' and he pronounced 'suspect' with emphasis on the first syllable and not the second! Why in every other movie did he do the opposite? Of course I had to correct him every time he said it! :D And HOW about that, what, 6K square foot apartment at 614 Harlem Drive (looked it up, it doesn't exist), holey moley.

 

Skipping Boyer, can't take too much of him, if anything.

Last but not least, the most gorgeous man in the world, Cary Grant of course, in The Talk Of The Town. Probably saw it already, but no matter.

 

mark, you okay? I miss your !zowie wowie! heads up on terrific movies. :unsure:

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The five movies that I saw this week were certainly a collective improvement over my last installment.  Gentleman's Agreement, which had the distinction of being the only Best Picture winner that I had never seen, was certainly the least of these.  It's more a prime example of something Hollywood has never done well:  discuss controversial social issues.  The emphasis on comparatively minor discrimination, the focus on individual prejudice, along with the generally self-congrautlatory attitude all date the film.  It's easy to parody ("Your plan will never work Green:  you're the sptting image of Gregory Peck.") and the scene where Green objects to anti-semitic comments from both non-Jews and Jews is the kind of even-handedness that appears utterly idiotic three years after the liberation of Auschwtiz.  84 Charing Cross Road is a more charming movie, even if it does not fully escape its stage origins.  I must confess that although not completely substantial, I'm a sucker for a movie about bookstores.  Hobson's Choice can be considerd a David Lean movie for people who thought Brief Encounter was too erotic.  But it does possess a certain charm.  Nymph()maniac is an understandbly very different movie, and Charlotte Gainsbourg's supposedly sex-obsessed character reminds me of the old Monty Python joke that a murderer is an inverted suicide.  Intelligent, deeply problematic in its dealing with Trier's old theme of female ****, some of it is remarkably film-making:  an extended scene with Uma Thurman, a confrontation with a repressed pedophile being two highlights.  But the best movie I saw this week was the deliriously complex, wildly inventive and stunning romantic An Oversimplificaton of Her Beauty.

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The five movies that I saw this week were certainly a collective improvement over my last installment.  Gentleman's Agreement, which had the distinction of being the only Best Picture winner that I had never seen, was certainly the least of these.  It's more a prime example of something Hollywood has never done well:  discuss controversial social issues.  The emphasis on comparatively minor discrimination, the focus on individual prejudice, along with the generally self-congrautlatory attitude all date the film.  It's easy to parody ("Your plan will never work Green:  you're the sptting image of Gregory Peck.") and the scene where Green objects to anti-semitic comments from both non-Jews and Jews is the kind of even-handedness that appears utterly idiotic three years after the liberation of Auschwtiz.  84 Charing Cross Road is a more charming movie, even if it does not fully escape its stage origins.  I must confess that although not completely substantial, I'm a sucker for a movie about bookstores.  Hobson's Choice can be considerd a David Lean movie for people who thought Brief Encounter was too erotic.  But it does possess a certain charm.  Nymph()maniac is an understandbly very different movie, and Charlotte Gainsbourg's supposedly sex-obsessed character reminds me of the old Monty Python joke that a murderer is an inverted suicide.  Intelligent, deeply problematic in its dealing with Trier's old theme of female ****, some of it is remarkably film-making:  an extended scene with Uma Thurman, a confrontation with a repressed pedophile being two highlights.  But the best movie I saw this week was the deliriously complex, wildly inventive and stunning romantic An Oversimplificaton of Her Beauty.

What channel showed An Oversimplificaton of Her Beauty? Sounds interesting.

 

Hobson's Choice is excellent. One of the few movies I can watch over and over. NBNW being another, but if James Mason had simply sent a guy to drive up to Cary Grant when he was standing on the road and shoot him dead - game over. :D

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I watched a few movies this week, yesterday I unexpectedly had to pull a 12-hour day of overtime; so that kind of cut into my movie watching.  When I finally got home at 10:15pm, I ended up "relaxing" with a documentary about the 1929 stock market crash and a mini-marathon of "Forensic Files."  However, despite pesky work getting in the way of my movie watching, I did manage to fit in a few films:

 

"The Charge of the Light Brigade"- This was an excellent film-- great cast, Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland and David Niven.  I found the variety of uniforms interesting and the hats quite amusing.  I don't know much about the poem that this was inspired by, or the real events, so I am not sure if the uniforms and hats were based on real ones of the actual time, or whether they were invented by Hollywood.  I couldn't believe that Olivia was dumping Errol in favor of Patric Knowles, who to me, always seems a bit dull in his films-- especially with the charismatic Flynn by his side. 

 

"Bye Bye Birdie"- I rewatched this film after having started watching it last week and accidentally getting sucked into You Tube and forgetting to watch it.  I found this film interesting, even though the plot was a bit convoluted.  I knew that Janet Leigh was in the film and kept looking for her until I realized she was the brunette woman!  I had seen the beginning/end credits with Ann-Margret singing the title song before (it was featured in "Mad Men") and I recognized a couple of the songs.  "Put on a Happy Face" is in an episode of "The Golden Girls" and the "Kids" song, I believe is parodied by Bart Simpson in an episode of "The Simpsons."  Dick Van Dyke was great even though, to me, he's Rob Petrie in every role he plays.

 

"Gidget"- I think I had seen this movie before; but I believe it was on in the background, so I wasn't really paying attention.  I actually sat and watched it and really enjoyed it.  I've seen a few Sandra Dee films-- "A Summer Place," "Come September," and a long time ago, "Take Her, She's Mine." I always enjoy her performances.  I think 'Gidget' might be the quintessential Sandra Dee role.  I look forward to adding this film to my collection, although it seems to only be available as part of a "Gidget" collection, when I really just want this film.  I also enjoy the "Gidget" TV Series with Sally Field.  I really wish Field's "Gidget" had lasted more than one season.  "The Flying Nun" was on for three seasons.  Too bad "Gidget" couldn't have been on three seasons and 'Flying Nun' only for one. 

 

Up Next...

"No Time For Sergeants"

"The Ex-Mrs. Bradford"

"Talk of the Town"

"The Moon is Blue"

"The Prince and the Showgirl"

 

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So the guy doing the intro on the movies today pronounced Fritz Lang's last name as 'Long'. Really? Is that right?

 

I never knew he was behind the movie with Dana Andrews While The City Sleeps. Good movie, even if poor Dana was already a little long in the tooth. I love Ida Lupino.

 

New to me, and very enjoyable - The Blue Gardenia. Was Burr (outside of Godzilla) ever anything other than a slimy piece of drek? Man, he embodied that stereotype. Ann Sothern, smoke too much? Please don't tell me she got lung cancer. George Reeves and Richard Conte, same thing, chain smokers. Ann Baxter was very good. Was Warner Bros. behind Superman the television show? I swear that was Inspector Henderson at the end, when the real killer was confessing. And nice - Nat King Cole singing the title song, hope he sold lots of records.

 

TCM can't be touched when it does things right.

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I saw five movies this week.  From this Day Forward was cleafly the best, an interesting portait of a working man's life in the late thirties, even if Joan Fontaine would not be my first choice for a working class wife.  Burt Lancaster and Anna Magnani were two of the greatest of actors.  But The Rose Tattoo can only be called a disaster, a complete failure of empathy on Williams' part.  Newsfront  and The Devil's Playground are examples of the Australian New Wave.  This is misleading:  there is nothing remotely as innovative as the French version.  At most the Australian movies discuss aspects of Australian history with more frankness and less reverence for established authority than they would have two decades earlier.  As such they are competent dramas, and they differ from Canadian movies of the same period, many of which were trying to disguise themselves as Hollywood movies.  (Three of the Canadian exceptions:  The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, Why Shoot the Teacher were actually directed by non-Canadians.)  The Devil's Playground, in particular is not as lurid as future treatements of the theme, but the characters don't say or do anything particularly original on the subject.  Finally there's Inside Lleweyn Davis.  One of the most admired movies of last year, one can agree that is expertly shot and staged, that Oscar Lewis gives a good performance, and the characters are less cartoonish as usual--more No Country for Old Men than Barton Fink or O Brother Where art Thou?  And a lot of critics I respected admired this film. And Davis is not a simple ****, but has genuine talent.  Notwithstanding some critics and despite not having the most likeable of characters, he is clealry more sinned against than sinning.  But this is another of the Coen Brothers' contemptous movies, shown, in J. Hoberman's words from "the Olympian heights of a bunk bed in suburbia."   As two talented obnoxious directors making a movie about one talented obnoxious failure, one might think there for the grace of God would be the appropriate style.  But it's not theirs.

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I watched a handful of movies this week, some of which were more successful than others:

 

The Prince and the Showgirl.  This was one of the few Marilyn Monroe films I hadn't seen.  While I would never put Marilyn's acting skills in the same league as those of Bette Davis or Katharine Hepburn; I rather enjoy her work.  At this point in her career, Marilyn was trying to move away from her dingy, sexpot, breathy voice blond image and be taken more seriously (although that image was perfect for Some Like it Hot, but I digress) and I thought she was effective in her role as the showgirl.  She spoke in what I presume was her normal voice and I thought it was a nice change of pace.  I've never been a huge fan of Laurence Olivier (he's good in Rebecca however), and this movie did nothing to change my opinion of him.  I find him rather dull, just like I find Gary Cooper dull.  Monroe and Olivier, to me, were not convincing as a couple in love.  Perhaps someone else in the Olivier part, maybe someone younger and sexier would have fit the bill better.  Overall, I don't see myself re-watching this film.  Monroe has much better and more interesting films on her resume. 

 

The Ex-Mrs. Bradford.  This film I found very entertaining.  I had never really heard much about Jean Arthur, who I quite enjoyed in this film.  The only other exposure I've had to Arthur's work is her role in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.  I liked her much better in 'Bradford.' William Powell and Jean Arthur's characters were very similar to Nick and Nora Charles of The Thin Man series.  While I prefer the Powell and Loy pairing, I thought that Powell and Arthur also made a good pair.  I enjoyed the plot and seeing how it unraveled.  I also like that Arthur's character had the upperhand when it came to solving the case.  She was the one who was instructing Powell on what clues to investigate.  Powell was no slouch when it came to solving the mystery either.  I thought that the way the poison was administered to the victims was very clever and strange.  I can't say I'd ever seen that in a film before.  This film may be one that I'll add to my film collection via The Warner Brothers Archives Collection. 

 

The Talk of the Town. Another Jean Arthur film.  This film I recorded mainly because of Cary Grant; but also because I wanted to see Jean Arthur in another film.  I am coming to enjoy her persona and films and will seek her out more in the future.  It was interesting seeing Cary Grant in a very un-Cary Grant like role.  The story was interesting, although the synopsis said something to the effect that a professor and con man compete for the attentions of a teacher.  I didn't really see much competition between the two.  To me, it seemed like Cary Grant and Jean Arthur were working together to get Ronald Coleman to loosen up and stop taking himself and everything else so seriously.  I thought that the basic theme of the film-- the idea of doing what's legally right versus what's morally right was an interesting one.  Cary Grant and Ronald Coleman's characters exemplified both sides of the film's motif very well.  I liked how both male stars' respective characters underwent a change to understand the other's position.  The end was kind of meh.  I can't help but feel sorry for Ronald Coleman.  This was my first Ronald Coleman film.  While I had heard of him, I had no idea what he looked or sounded like.  I found him to be a rather attractive, older man.  He's kind of a cross between Claude Rains and an older Errol Flynn.  A strange combination, I know, but that's what I came up with. 

 

The Shawshank Redemption. This is apparently my dad's favorite movie and despite his having seen it "thousands of times" (his words), I had never seen it.  Well, that was finally remedied tonight.  I watched this film.  I really enjoyed it.  I loved the camaraderie between the prisoners-- especially the relationship between Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman.  The last 30-45 minutes or so was the best part.  What a great twist.  Stephen King truly wrote a great story.  Maybe someday, I'll read the book.  An added bonus in this film, was the clip of Gilda that the prisoners were watching.  Gilda is one of my all-time favorite movies. 

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