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LEAST & MOST FAVORITE of the week...


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I saw five movies last week.  Was there a pressing reason to remake Star Trek II:  the Wrath of Khan at a crude calculation of more than six times the original budget?  Certainly Star Trek into Darkness is very much the lesser movie.  I am not a big fan of sports movies, and certainly not of boxing.  But When we Were Kings is actually a pretty good documentary.  It's striking that George Foreman was considered the favorite, since all I know about the fight was that Ali had won.  Even growing up in the seventies and profoundly uninterested in sports, I couldn't avoid Ali.  I had forgotten that Foreman was the other boxer, and all I knew about him was that he appeared in a joke in The Big Bang Theory (Amy Farrah Fowler agreed with her mother to date once a year, in return for her mother's silence on the subject and for use of her George Foreman grill.)  One striking thing was that although Joseph Mobutu clearly ruined his country, the dancing women are both musically interesting and have a certain charisma, unlike other dictators which are just creepy.  Anamolisa is, I'm afraid, a miss from Charlie Kauffmann.  It's not as clever or ingenious as Synecdoche, New York.  Simply using model puppets isn't good enough.  I mean I can understand why you would feel miserable if everybody in the world except one sweet pathetic woman sounded like Tom Noonan, but you need more to justify Thewlis' womanizing.  The Embrace of the Serpent is clearly the movie of the week.  This is a interesting, at times powerful movie about Amazonia and colonialism.  Particularly striking is one scene involving the main characters stumbling on a rubber plantation, then another scene encountering a mad messiah.  There are interesting aspects to Heart of a Dog, though an early comparison between a dog fearing hawks and New Yorkers fearing death from the skies after 9/11 sounds rather dire.  I suppose you have to be a dog person to fully appreciate it.

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I saw five movies last week, & one I couldn't make it through;  First, the films I got through:

 

"Lord Love A Duck" (1966)--Wild satire of 1960's Southern California has more misses than hits, but boasts career best performances (arguably) from Tuesday Weld and Roddy McDowall.  McDowall stars as a quirky high school valedictorian; Weld is a cheerleader who desires Material things.  Among the hits in the George Axelrod script are drive-thru churches, hypocritical, pompous school principals (a jittery performance by Harvey Korman that fits his character perfectly), California homes that are designed like movie sets (and have the acoustics of them), Youth pastors, Beach Party movies, OverProtective Mothers (to be fair, that's not just a CA problem), Under-protective mothers.  One "Tom Jones" (1963) inspired scene between Weld, (who is trying to get Material things) & her father is just plain creepy; maybe it worked in 1966, but it doesn't now, IMO.  Ruth Gordon has film's best line and detonates it perfectly; "We don't Divorce husbands in my family, we Bury them!"

 

"Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" (1912)--Twelve minute telling of the classic leaves out a Lot of plot, LOL.  Stars future film director James Cruze in the title role; he does an good job, and the transformation scenes and makeup are effective.  From a 1996 restoration seen on YouTube.

 

"Boom!" (1968)-- A miscast Elizabeth Taylor looks gloriously healthy and beautiful in this Joseph Losey adaptation of Tennessee Williams' "The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore"; its'1964 Broadway run lasted four performances.  Taylor is cast as Flora Goforth, a woman dying of Tuberculosis; Richard Burton is The Angel of Death, or a gigolo, or maybe both; film leaves decision up to the viewer.  Is last film before Taylor's weight gain became fodder for late night comedians and became subject for self-parody (For the nine people who saw "Secret Ceremony" (1969)  "I am getting SO Fat!!").

 

"Frenchman's Creek" (1944)--Daphne DuMauriers romance, as filmed by director Mitchell Leisen.  Print quality I saw on Comcast was Awful; I stuck with the film because I hadn't seen it before.  Film was perfect fantasy until destroyed by The Production Code in the last minute; until then, was a fun costume romp that must have been beautiful just to look at on 1944 release.

 

"Kismet" (1944)--Ronald Colman as the beggar with a beautiful voice pretending to be royalty, and Marlene Dietrich with gold-painted legs got to do a dance with veils, sing a song or two, and the film's beautiful print lived Up to its' nominations (Best Cinematography, etc).  Fine escapism.

 

Couldn't get through "Crimes of Passion" (1984), despite an Excellent performance by Kathleen Turner, and a very good one by Annie Potts.  Film was directed by Ken Russell.

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COME BACK TO THE 5 & DIME JIMMY DEAN-

I thought I had already seen this, but once started watching realized this was a first viewing. Very well acted "ensemble" piece starring Sandy Dennis, Cher, Kathy Bates & Karen Black (fist time seeing her) I think the entire film takes place in the store and coupled with the shadowy lighting, gives the film a "stagey" feel. Director Altman employed the lighting "fade in/out" used in CITIZEN KANE to represent "inner thoughts" which worked well. Sadly, some of the plot "zingers" are somewhat dated now and wholly predictable. Doesn't diminish the charactors or acting.

 

 

I watched that one for the fist rime, probably about the same time you did, and enjoyed it for all the performances and watching the pre-surgery Cher.  I'm not taking a shot at her mind you..  I've always liked Cher's acting and her signing ... wife is not a fan but I am.

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I saw four movies last week.  "Attack of the Giant Leeches" (1959) is a Low budget effort from Roger Corman.  Best things in the film are Yvette Vickers trying to pull off a "Baby Doll" performance with no help from the script or director, and the First good look at the leeches.  If you're looking for a quality movie, this isn't it.  

 

"13 Ghosts" (1960) is a gimmicky thriller from director William Castle with a prologue and epilogue about the existence of ghosts.  Was originally shown with glasses that made the ghost images clearer: in the print I saw on YT, there was still the instructions "Put Glasses On" and "Take glasses off" on the print.  Was an enjoyable, bloodless thriller.

 

 The 1935 "She" was my find of the week.  Although I typically disapprove of colorization, this is maybe the One time it worked.  Murky shadows obstructing the action disappeared, Helen Mack was actually pretty (in black and white she just blended into the background), I could See peoples' expressions, and this is a first for me: applause for who thought out Shes' color scheme for her outfits.  In her first scene, She's all in lacy white, like a bride; near the end, She's dressed in angry yellow orange.  The film, for those unaware of it, is a great, howlingly funny piece of Camp, based on the story by H. Rider Haggard.  Nigel Bruce is a delight all film long.

 

"Balalaika" (1939) is wonderful when the cast is singing, a "floperetta" whenever the characters speak:  Nelson Eddy to Ilona Massey, while trying to seduce her: "Your teeth are national treasures" (if MGMs' dentists got a screen credit, I missed it).  Good musical, with plenty of ridiculous spoken moments, for those who enjoy that.

 

Must-see--"She" (1935)--black and white or colorized; both versions can be found online.

 

Not a must view--"Attack of the Giant Leeches (1959)

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I saw seven movies over the last two weeks.  Speed Racer shows the continuing decline of the Wachowski brothers, as misc-en-scene does not make up for a very bland and obvious story.  Despite a promising cast only Christina Ricci only shows only personality as the hero's girlfriend.  Room has a good performance by Brie Larson, but I personally thought Rooney Mara gave a better performance.  Aside from softening the original incident (the Austrian case that inspired the movie involved the victim's father, not a random stranger, and more than half a dozen children), my first thought on the first half of the movie was "this is the most portentous and self-important Saw movie ever made."  The second half of the movie points out the continuing trauma and trouble adapting to the outside world.  Gee, ya think?  I know Larson's isn't rich, powerful or conservative, but one expects an interviewer wouldn't ask a woman why she didn't immediately give up her newborn child in the vague hope of a better life.  The Scenic Route is a strange 1978 movie about a failed relationship, with shots based on famous Renaissance paintings.  It's rather striking in its way.  The Mermaid is the kind of movie you wish Hollywood knew how to make.  Such a pity that this amusing and charming farce/romance/special effects extravaganza about a mermaid who tries to challenge the nitwit billionaire who is ravaging her natural habitat only to fall in love with him, isn't more amusing and inventive and charming.  The VIPs is actually better than I thought it would be, with Burton and Taylor giving a good performance.  Perhaps the fact that I listened to most of it in the background while working probably helped.  Sabrina is a charming movie, if not one of Wilder's funniest or most profound movies.  Certainly Wilder, Hepburn and Bogart is better than Wilder, Hepburn and Cooper.  One wonder whether Cary Grant would have worked in the Bogart role, since it's hard to imagine why any women would even temporarily prefer Holden to him.  Macbeth, the Fassbender/Cotillard version strikes me as less successful than the Polanski version. let alone Throne of Blood.  Not always audible, much of its focus is emphasizing how desolate and poor medieval Scotland was.  But this wasn't a problem with Polanski and Kurosawa's versions, so one wondered why they made the effort.  And certainly the director botches Macbeth's two big scenes in the final act.

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I saw five movies last week.  "Voyage to the Planet of the Prehistoric Women" (1968) starred Mamie Van Doren and a cast of nobodies.  The movie alerts you to its' zero-budget two minutes in: while showing  "supposed "rocket models, a pile of flour represents a planet and a flour sifter above it is supposed to be a rocket.  Film was narrated by Peter Bogdanovich under his real name, directed by Bogdanovich under the alias "Derek Thomas".  After seeing this film, that's very understandable.

 

"Baby Face" (1933)--UNCENSORED--this a a total delight!  Seeing Barbara Stanwyck as Lily at her early 1930's best, she wraps every man in range around her little finger, with the help of her maid (Theresa Harris) when needed.  Best Scene: Lily "persuades" a railway guard not to throw them off the train when they are discovered as non-paying passengers; Harris sings a spiritual as background music for Stanwyck.  Keen edged satire with some drama mixed in.  Wonderful.

 

"Wild Boys of the Road" (1933)--Unremittingly gloomy picture of the Depression and how a boy and his girl go from middle class to runaway hobos (sp?).  Good, but even at 68 minutes a rough watch. 

 

"Let's Face It" (1943)--Cole Porter musical chopped up for the movies, starring Betty Hutton and Bob Hope. Promising beginning, but middle section SAGS.  A one-woman salvage job is performed by Eve Arden, who gets laughs out of thin air and body language; the lady deserved an Academy Award nomination for her work here.  "Dance of Love" and "Let's Not Talk About Love" are Worth staying  with the movie to see.

 

"Sabrina" (1954)--Audrey Hepburn classic directed by Billy Wilder.  For anyone who hasn't seen it, a cynical romantic comedy.  Sounds impossible, but Wilder and an impeccable cast manage it deftly.

 

Best film--Uncensored "Baby Face" (1933).

 

Camp lovers only--"Voyage to the Planet of the Prehistoric Women" (1968).

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I saw eleven movies last week.  "Quo Vadis" (1912, Italian) is an artifact; as I did not read the 1895 book or see the 1951 sound version in the last ten years, I was quickly hopelessly lost as to who was who and doing what to whom and why.  English titles didn't help--they assume you knew the plot of the book.  For 1912, the special effects burning of Rome was spectacular. Rating not used, as film is over 100 years old.

 

"A Foreign Affair" (1948)--is a bitter, rueful, Billy Wilder film set in Post WW II Berlin.  Marlene Dietrich and Jean Arthur are marvelous.  A sense of overwhelming sadness mutes the laughs.  7/10 stars.

 

"The Oblong Box" (1969)--Vincent Price in yet another Edgar Allan Poe story.  Christopher Lee and Alastair Williamson provide much needed assistance, as the rest of the cast turn in performances varying from adequate to awful.  The teaming of Price and Lee make this one worth seeing.  6.5/10 stars.

 

"Torch Song" (1953)--Joan Crawford turned down "From Here To Eternity" (1953) for this stinker.  Classic Camp--the song "Two-Faced Woman" (and its' aftermath) must be seen to be believed.  Marjorie Rambeau as Crawfords'characters' mother stole the film and snagged an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress in the process.  The film is funnier than Carol Burnett's parody of it, "Torchy Song" which is on YouTube.  Taken at face value, 4/10 stars; as a Camp Classic, 9/10 stars.

 

"Humoresque" (1946)--Crawford at her Warner Bros. era peak, or close to it.  Her restrained performance as a rich alcoholic who funds her loves' career as a violinist and a fantastic soundtrack by Isaac Stern and Oscar Levant redeem the soapier than soapy events of the screenplay.  8/10 stars.

 

"The House on 92nd Street" (1945)--Henry Hathaway directed this FBI versus Nazi agents  procedural.  Its' documentary style was a major influence on subsequent film noirs.  Movie is fascinating in its' look at 1940's technology and CSI work.  Well worth watching.  7.2/10 stars.

 

"Allegheny Uprising" (1939)--John Wayne, Claire Trevor, and George Sanders in 1759 Virginia lift this out of the  rut director William A. Seiter has the film set in and make an entertaining film; Sanders' sneering and Trevors' energy are most welcome.  Trevor and Wayne set off sparks when on screen together.  6.8/10 stars.

 

"Countess Dracula" (1971)--A spin on the Elizabeth Bathory legend.  Ingrid Pitt is good as the Countess; the other actors are adequate. Film is beautifully photographed.  One of Hammers' better efforts.  7/10 stars.

 

"M" (1951)--Joseph Losey remake of the Fritz Lang classic.  Film is very good.  8/10 stars.

 

"The French Line" (1954)--RKO's slogan said it All; "Jane Russell in 3-D--it'll knock BOTH your eyes out!!" Cutting to the chase, there were two main reasons to see the film; Jane Russell's bosoms.  The 3-D effects designed for them were extras.  It was easy to tell when an amply endowed woman was getting ready for the camera; they took a Deep breath (yes, it was visible, considering all the low-cut gowns Russell and costars wore) and the camera moved in for a Good look, or they charged the camera.  Film is total dreck, otherwise. MAY be worth a watch if you have 3-D television.   Without 3-D, 2.5/10 stars. 

 

"The Ghost Goes West" (1935)--Rene Clair comedy that never quite gets off the ground, but has excellent acting by Robert Donat in a dual role, and a welcome cameo by Elsa Lanchester, who makes every line count.  An enjoyable watch.  7.3/10 stars.

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I saw three movies last week.  The John Huston Moulin Rouge has some interesting aspects.  Jose Ferrer's performance has a certain dignity, even if it was walking on his knees that got him the oscar nomination.  I admit I know only the basic of Toulouse-Latrec's life, and don't know how accurate the movie is.  I suspect my view is also coloured by an old SCTV parody of it, called "Lust for Paint."  The remake of M could have been much worse, and there are scenes which show Losey's talent that would be better seen in other movies.  But the climax can't hold a candle to Peter Lorre's performance and Losey's idea of trying to give some dignity to the alcoholic mob lawyer isn't sufficient.  Chi-Raq is certainly more inventive and imaginative than most movies.  Given that it's a restaging of Lysistrata in contemporary Chicago, one can't call it gratuitously obscene.  And there is an effort to show some genuine dialectic.  Not everything works (would the head of the Chicago section of the National Guard be a fan of the Confederacy), And it's worth noting that some intelligent Chicago critics were clearly unimpressed.

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I saw eight films last week.  "Fiend Without a Face" (1958) is a horror film with strong anti nuke (over?)undercurrents.  Film is set in Winthrop, Manitoba; the U.S. has built a nuclear testing facility there.  Residents are first concerned because their cows don't give as much milk as they are supposed to after testing.  Then, after 4-5 residents drop dead, residents do a 50's version of "villagers marching on the bad guys with torches and rocks.  Uninvolving film Finally picks itself up and gets moving the last 45 minutes--last twenty minutes, look for staging similarities between this film and "Night of the Living Dead (1968). 6.0/10 stars.

 

"The Cat and the Canary" (1939)--Bob Hope/Paulette Goddard remake of the 1927 silent.  Film observes all the creaky conventions while spoofing them.  Big budget, but predictable (body falls out of closet, etc.), and enjoyable spoof.  Another poster said I gave this too low a rating in a different thread, so I'll rethink it.   7.2/10 stars, even if one can predict the characters lines.

 

"Becky Sharp" (1935)--Miriam Hopkins and Director Rouben Mamoulian's exploration of the possibilities of three-strip Technicolor are the whole show.  The Code could sanitize a script, but They could do Nothing about Hopkins' alternately snapping/melting eyes, her ever-changing facial expressions, and her sense of sarcasm with the ability to use words as a dagger.  Her best performance by far, IMHO.  9/10 stars.

 

"Fancy Pants" (1950)--Bob Hope and Lucille Ball star in this remake of "Ruggles of Red Gap" (1935).  Film is amusing in its' lulls, hilarious at its' high points.  Hopes' take on Indian attacks is classic, as is Ball's attempts to get him on a horse.  Songs are unfortunate.  Film peaks near the middle and again near the end.  7.5/10 stars.

 

"Vanity Fair" (aka "Indecent") (1932)--a 67 minute version of Vanity Fair, set in 1907-32.  Only reason to watch is Myrna Loy as a predatory European vamp.  She shows untapped acting skills, and is only amusing performer in the film.  5.5/10 stars.

 

"Finian's Rainbow (1968)--Films plot attempts to juggle a contemporary story with a Never-Never Land plot.  It doesn't work.  Film shows what could have been when Petula Clark or Fred Astaire sing and dance--two pros are in there working away to try to salvage the film (Director Francis Ford Coppola or his Editor didn't even know to keep Astaire's feet in view during his dance solos).  Still, the good outweighs the bad.  5.9/10 stars.

 

"The Night Is Young" (1935)--Maltin rated this a "BOMB!"  Well--I say take the cotton out of your ears and watch before you rate a film--other reviewers on TCM's "Users Reviews" on TCMs TNIY webpage have said roughly the same thing.  Leads are disappointing: Evelyn Laye is NOT a threat to Jeanette MacDonald--Ramon Novarro is easy on the ears.  Una Merkel is a blessing.  Rosalind Russell, in her two brief scenes, could already turn a one word line into an insult.  Film is nowhere near perfect, but the Oscar Hammerstein/Sigmund Romberg score makes the film a painless way to pass the time.  5.6/10 stars.

 

"Easy Living" (1937)--A fur coat is thrown on top of Jean Arthurs' head, and screwball comedy goes from there.  Marvelous film.  The automat scene is hysterically funny.  Everything works in this classic film.  9.7/10 stars. 

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.......  Chi-Raq is certainly more inventive and imaginative than most movies.  Given that it's a restaging of Lysistrata in contemporary Chicago, one can't call it gratuitously obscene.  And there is an effort to show some genuine dialectic.  Not everything works (would the head of the Chicago section of the National Guard be a fan of the Confederacy), And it's worth noting that some intelligent Chicago critics were clearly unimpressed.

 

Spike Lee was interviewed about this film recently on the radio ( CBC's "q".)  I thought he sounded very reasonable and intelligent; hard to understand why there'd be any controversy around it. People seem to be becoming increasingly humourless these days. Now I want to see it. Wouldn't mind if the Aristophanes play was revived too. (Maybe the Stratford Festival should have a go at it.)

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Four movies this week:  The Korda/Sabu The Jungle Book was actually fairly impressive, especially with the cinematography.  I'm not a Coen brothers fan, and Hail Caesar! didn't change my opinion of them.  It's a movie overly impressed with its own cleverness.  The "homage" to Esther Williams and Gene Kelly are less impressive if you've actually seen the two actors recently.  You'd think someone who attends confession as often as the protagonist does would have a better grasp of basic Catholic doctrine on the Incarnation.  Considering that homosexual blackmail is a running plot point, you might wonder why the On the Town parody is so flagrantly homoerotic.  And the director of the parody isn't gay at all (he has both a wife and an actress mistress he's recently impregnated.)  I know classic Hollywood occasionally flagrantly miscast people.  But you still have to wonder why the studio would insist that a George Cukor character making a combination of Holiday and Dinner at Eight would replace with his Cary Grant character with Gene Autry.  I suspect it's part of the Coen brothers' sense of superiority that everyone else has to appear to be idiots.   My Little Loves is clearly the best movie of the week, and indeed so far this year.  Very different from the director's The Mother and the ****, this is an intelligent, sensitive, and subtly erotic portrait of the teenage version of Jean Eustache's coming of age, beautifully shot by Nestor Almendros.  Finally there's Artists and Models:  I can sort of understand the point of Jerry Lewis, since comic personae are often exaggerated and there's at least one sequence, where Lewis' character run up and down several flights of stairs to relay a conversation to his roommate Dean Martin because their apartment doesn't have a telephone itself, which works.  But generally I find Lewis insufferable and think little of Tashlin's cartoon aesthetic.

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By turning Jayne Mansfield into a laughable cartoon in "The Girl Can't Help It" and "Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter", Frank Tashlin ruined her for the movies.

 

She could actually be a good actress - see her performance in "The Wayward Bus".

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Jayne Mansfield also appears to be a good actress in THE BURGLAR.

 

Really?  I was about to post that she wasn't but in another thread where the film is mentioned (since I just saw the film again on MOVIES last Saturday).     While she tries hard in this straight role to me one can see her lack of ability.     Hey,  she wasn't given the role because of her stellar acting talent.   To be fair some of this is due to the direction. 

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I saw seven movies last week.  "The Two Mrs. Carrolls" (1947) was an attempt at a thriller that was the only teaming of Humphrey Bogart and Barbara Stanwyck.  The leads and the supporting cast overcame a weak, obvious script to make this an interesting watch.7.0/10 stars.  

 

For whoever has managed to miss the repeated airings in 2015 & 2016 of "The Picture of Dorian Gray" (1945), the film is a fairly good example of a literary thriller--Angela Lansbury is exquisite singing "Little Yellow Bird".  7.0/10 stars

 

"Bucket of Blood" (1959) is a horror/parody film; it starts out with a wickedly funny parody of Orson Welles (listen closely to the actors' intonations, and you can tell what role and film even).  The horror is routine; the comedy isn't.  6.8/10 stars.

 

"Elephant Boy" (1937) starts with a longish introduction.  Film was Sabu's  movie debut.  After the prologue, first third of film is charming, second third is OK, final third ruined film for me.  Listen for the throwaway lines about ivory.  5/4/10 stars.

 

"Winners of the Wilderness" (1927) In another Thread, someone wanted to know if Tim McCoy's silent films still exist; this one is available on YouTube, if you wish to see it.  Picture quality is poor, to say the most.  Still, this rare film is a chance to see the young Joan Crawford.  No rating.

 

"King Solomon's Mines" (1937) This is an OK version of the tale.  Paul Robeson and his singing are the best parts of the film.  Anna Lee also does well in handling an Irish accent.  Special effects are disappointing.  7.3/10 stars

 

"The Terror of Tiny Town" (1938)--I found this last night while looking for something to watch.  I remembered it from a book called "The 50 Worst Films of All Time" (1978).  I watched this musical western that lasted just over an hour.  It was a gimmicky picture, and it knew it; there was an introduction by an host, and then the film started.  The stars were "Jed Buells' Midgets" (that's how the film billed them).  Watching them vault onto Shetland Ponies and walk under saloon batwing doors got old Fast--about seven minutes into the film.  The most memorable song was "Sweet Adeline", done by a barbershop quartet. 3/10 stars

 

Most enjoyable film--"The Two Mrs. Carrolls" (1947).

 

Biggest disappointment--"Elephant Boy" (1937).

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I saw seven movies last week.  "The Two Mrs. Carrolls" (1947) was an attempt at a thriller that was the only teaming of Humphrey Bogart and Barbara Stanwyck.  The leads and the supporting cast overcame a weak, obvious script to make this an interesting watch.7.0/10 stars.  

 

For whoever has managed to miss the repeated airings in 2015 & 2016 of "The Picture of Dorian Gray" (1945), the film is a fairly good example of a literary thriller--Angela Lansbury is exquisite singing "Little Yellow Bird".  7.0/10 stars

 

"Bucket of Blood" (1959) is a horror/parody film; it starts out with a wickedly funny parody of Orson Welles (listen closely to the actors' intonations, and you can tell what role and film even).  The horror is routine; the comedy isn't.  6.8/10 stars.

 

"Elephant Boy" (1937) starts with a longish introduction.  Film was Sabu's  movie debut.  After the prologue, first third of film is charming, second third is OK, final third ruined film for me.  Listen for the throwaway lines about ivory.  5/4/10 stars.

 

"Winners of the Wilderness" (1927) In another Thread, someone wanted to know if Tim McCoy's silent films still exist; this one is available on YouTube, if you wish to see it.  Picture quality is poor, to say the most.  Still, this rare film is a chance to see the young Joan Crawford.  No rating.

 

"King Solomon's Mines" (1937) This is an OK version of the tale.  Paul Robeson and his singing are the best parts of the film.  Anna Lee also does well in handling an Irish accent.  Special effects are disappointing.  7.3/10 stars

 

"The Terror of Tiny Town" (1938)--I found this last night while looking for something to watch.  I remembered it from a book called "The 50 Worst Films of All Time" (1978).  I watched this musical western that lasted just over an hour.  It was a gimmicky picture, and it knew it; there was an introduction by an host, and then the film started.  The stars were "Jed Buells' Midgets" (that's how the film billed them).  Watching them vault onto Shetland Ponies and walk under saloon batwing doors got old Fast--about seven minutes into the film.  The most memorable song was "Sweet Adeline", done by a barbershop quartet. 3/10 stars

 

Most enjoyable film--"The Two Mrs. Carrolls" (1947).

 

Biggest disappointment--"Elephant Boy" (1937).

 

The Two Mrs. Carrolls isn't a great film and not close to being one of the best Bogart or Stanwyck films but it is worth seeing as you note.   I always wished that these two fine actors were in a noir film together but at least I have all the great noir films they did star in.

 

My favorite part of TTMC is the lunch scene where the Bogart characters meets the Alexis Smith character for the first time.   Some great banter between the two.     Also the final scene with Bogart border on camp when he ask the cops arresting him if they want a glass of milk.   The expression Bogart makes is classic but also says to Me 'I'm glad this film is over!'.

 

PS:  The film might have been better if Mr. Carrroll had killed his wife's friend Penny.  That guy was annoying and bumping him off would have been justifiable homicide. 

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I saw eight movies last week.  "Easter Parade" (1948) is the only teaming of Judy Garland and Fred Astaire, with Ann Miller and an Irving Berlin score.  Easily one of the top musicals MGM ever made.

 

"Young and Innocent" (1937)--One of Hitchcock's best British films, sound or silent.  Everything works to make this a fine comic thriller, down to the police being more buffoons than a threat.  Nova Pilbeam's best performance.

 

"The Undead" (1956)--Roger Corman produced and directed film comes off as a spoof of the 50's fascination with Bridey Murphy/reincarnation.  Starts slow, but fun really begins when film gets to the 12th Century; Allison Hayes as a Witch and Billy Barty as her Imp contribute greatly to the fun.  The Gravedigger's takes on Nursery rhymes are classic.  A fun watch;

                      Gravediggers 1st rhyme:

 

                   " Hickory Dickory Dourse

                    My Guest is Dead of Course."

 

"The Last Woman on Earth" (1960)--Roger Corman produced and directed film about what happens when three people go scuba diving, and when they surface everyone else is dead.  Films' best parts are the return to the city.  Film introduces various ideas to what happened, from a nuclear bomb to a Supergerm.  Low-budget film, intelligently done; an enjoyable watch.

 

"The Student of Prague" (1913)--First feature-length horror film.  Is based on E.A. Poe's "William Wilson", and is about a deal with the Devil.  Today, film is mildly effective, IMHO (the actor portraying the Devil would twirl his beard if he could).  In 1913, film had scenes that scared audiences into screaming, according to the write-up on YouTube where I watched TSOP.

 

"The Moon Is Blue" (1953)--Once scandalous comedy is MILD by todays' standards.  Eyebrows do most of the acting, along with an irritating score that indicates when you are to laugh.  Two LOL moments: William Holden intentionally(?) mispronouncing the name of an "ahem" extract/unproven supplement.  And at the very end of the film, we get to watch the actors being filmed by one and one half movie cameras at the screens' right.  Oh--TMIB was nominated for "Best Editing".

 

"Baby Doll" (1956)--Uneven Tennessee Williams script that goes wrong in some scenes, is hilariously funny in others.  Carroll Baker, Eli Wallach, Karl Malden, and Mildred Natwick are near pitch perfect.  Worth a watch.

 

"Pigskin Parade" (1936)--Judy Garland is the Reason to see this; she does her three numbers in 15 or so minutes; this was the only time Garland was loaned out while she was under her MGM contract.  Staying awake until Garland sings is a Trial.

 

All films should be seen once. 

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"Young and Innocent" (1937)--One of Hitchcock's best British films, sound or silent.  Everything works to make this a fine comic thriller, down to the police being more buffoons than a threat.  Nova Pilbeam's best performance.

 

"The Undead" (1956)--Roger Corman produced and directed film comes off as a spoof of the 50's fascination with Bridey Murphy/reincarnation.  Starts slow, but fun really begins when film gets to the 12th Century; Allison Hayes as a Witch and Billy Barty as her Imp contribute greatly to the fun.  The Gravedigger's takes on Nursery rhymes are classic.  A fun watch;

                      Gravediggers 1st rhyme:

 

                    Hickory Dickory Dourse

                    My Guest is Dead of Course.

Two of my faves (on different levels, of course). Did you notice that the gravedigger (Smolkin) is played by Mel Welles, who plays Gravis Mushnik (the owner of the flower shop) in Little Shop of Horrors?

 

Here's another nursery rhyme from The Undead:

 

"Sing a song of graveyards an acre full of germs --

Four and twenty landlords, dinner for the worms.

When the box was planted, the worms began to sing --

Isn't that a dainty dish to set before a thing?"

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I saw five movies over the last two weeks.  Crimson Peak serves as a salutary reminder that art direction is not a substitute for great direction, good performances or a plausible script.  It's not as if del Toro doesn't try.  But even the one element that he concentrates on only raises awkward questions.  The early scenes leave one wondering why, if the characters have phonographs and automobiles, everything is gaslit?   Isn't the decor a bit much for turn of the century Buffalo, then as now a rather prosaic city?  And the callbacks to Fanny and Alexander and The Shining only remind one how their very simple presentation of ghosts is so much more effective than del Toro's special effects for the same end.  As for the plot, well it starts with a high ratio to telling and showing.  And if Gone Girl presented a satisfying answer to the question "Can Ben Aflleck really be that stupid?" Crimson Peak's answer to a similiar question about Jessica Chastain is much less effective.

 

Only Yesterday was the best movie of the last two week, an intelligent, thoughtful examination of a young Japanese woman's childhood.  And apparently "The Rose" is a much more moving song, if you don't actually have to hear the lyrics.  The Hateful Eight is perhaps not the best place to end Quintin Tarantino's film career.  It doesn't have the ingenuity of Inglourious Basterds, and is less witty than Django Unchained.  But it's still effective on its own terms.  And like Tarantino's last movie it includes an act of vengeance which however audience pleasing it may be only makes the villains' job easier.  Man of Steel strikes me a quite pointless movie.  Superman II has not, in my view, worn all that well.  But replacing its humor with portentous self-seriousness hardly strikes me as an improvement.  If not brilliant, the art direction in both Krypton and the Fortress of Solitude in the Reeves movies was at least distinctive.  The new version offers nothing new here.  And if your new General Zod doesn't have Terrence Stamp's charisma, or anything else, then why bother?  Hitchcock/Truffaut is a useful, if not brilliant account of the events behind the latter's famous book on and conversations with the former.

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Only Yesterday was the best movie of the last two week, an intelligent, thoughtful examination of a young Japanese woman's childhood.  

 

 

I love that movie very much. It is a very gentle and moving story.

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I saw nine full length films last week, and one short film.  "Shane" (1953) is a near flawless western, with great cinematography and performances by Alan Ladd, Jean Arthur, and Van Heflin.  Wonderful film.

 

"Phaedra" (1962)--Director Jules Dassin destroys good work by Anthony Perkins, Raf Vallone, and Melina Mercouri with disastrous directorial decisions, chiefly a ridiculous seduction scene the film never recovers from and that was laughed off screens in 1962.  Dassins' decision to use villagers as a Greek chorus does Not work.  Perkins monologue early in the film about "his girl" is the only intentional humor in the movie.

 

"The Macomber Affair" (1947)--Jungle adventure/noir starring Gregory Peck and Joan Bennett, set in British Colonial Africa.  A routine(?) safari/hunt doesn't go as expected.  Fine film, not for animal lovers.

 

"On The Beach" (1959)--Adaptation of Nevil Shutes' novel is cautionary "It Can Happen Here" type horror/sci-fi film.  The tidal wave of "Ben Hur" swept away fine performances by all, and a Brilliant score by Ernest Gold that used the Australian folk song"Waltzing Matilda",   to magnify the horror.  The last two lines:

                                         "And his ghost may be heard, as you pass by that billabong,

                                           'Who'll come a-waltzin' Matilda with me' "

 

"New Orleans" (1947)--Ignore the plot.  Concentrate on the only film performance of Billie Holiday,  the numbers by Louis Armstrong, the music of Woody Hermans' band, and the music of I don't know how many other jazz greats.  It's jazz versus classical, and the music beats the spoken plot by a country mile or twenty.  

 

"On Dangerous Ground" (1951)--Lean, mean noir directed by Nicholas Ray that doesn't waste a gesture and has brooding, fascinating performances by Robert Ryan and Ida Lupino.  

 

"The Hitchhiker" (1953)--Low budget noir that has a terrifying performance by William Talman as the psychotic who kills whoever picks him up.  Maybe Ida Lupino's best film--the reviewer who called it boring must have seen a different film.  I wish Lupino had directed more films.

 

"Foul Play" (1978)--Delightful salute to Hitchcock.  Dudley Moore and Goldie Hawn are inspired, even when the script isn't.  Film uses set-pieces from at least twenty Hitchcock films, and even makes fun of Hitchcocks' plot structure of his films.  Most critics didn't see how this made the film funnier.  Their loss.

 

"S.O.B." (1981)--Bitterly sarcastic film about how a Hugely expensive kiddie musical FLOPS, and what is done to save it.  Good work by the whole cast, especially Loretta Swit as a Hedda Hopper-like viper-in-training, and Julie Andrews as the squeaky clean singer who CAAANNN"TT bare them.

 

The short film was "An Andalusian Dog" (1929) by Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali.  Overall, it was baffling, as I think it meant to be.

 

Non-essential viewing--"Phaedra" (1962).

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I saw nine full length films last week, and one short film.  "Shane" (1953) is a near flawless western, with great cinematography and performances by Alan Ladd, Jean Arthur, and Van Heflin.  Wonderful film.

 

"Phaedra" (1962)--Director Jules Dassin destroys good work by Anthony Perkins, Raf Vallone, and Melina Mercouri with disastrous directorial decisions, chiefly a ridiculous seduction scene the film never recovers from and that was laughed off screens in 1962.  Dassins' decision to use villagers as a Greek chorus does Not work.  Perkins monologue early in the film about "his girl" is the only intentional humor in the movie.

 

"The Macomber Affair" (1947)--Jungle adventure/noir starring Gregory Peck and Joan Bennett, set in British Colonial Africa.  A routine(?) safari/hunt doesn't go as expected.  Fine film, not for animal lovers.

 

"On The Beach" (1959)--Adaptation of Nevil Shutes' novel is cautionary "It Can Happen Here" type horror/sci-fi film.  The tidal wave of "Ben Hur" swept away fine performances by all, a Brilliant score by Ernest Gold that used the Australian folk song"Waltzing Matilda",   to magnify the horror.  The last two lines:

                                         "And his ghost may be heard, as you pass by that billabong,

                                           'Who'll come a-waltzin' Matilda with me' "

 

"New Orleans" (1947)--Ignore the plot.  Concentrate on the only film performance of Billie Holiday,  the numbers by Louis Armstrong, the music of Woody Hermans' band, and the music of I don't know how many other jazz greats.  It's jazz versus classical, and the music beats the spoken plot by a country mile or twenty.  

 

"On Dangerous Ground" (1951)--Lean, mean noir that doesn't waste a gesture and has brooding, fascinating performances by Robert Ryan and Ida Lupino.  I wish Lupino had directed herself more often, and more films.

 

"The Hitchhiker" (1953)--Low budget noir that has a terrifying performance by William Talman as the psychotic who kills whoever picks him up.

 

Maybe I'm reading into the comment,  but On Dangerous Ground was directed by Nicholas Ray.     I do wish Lupino had directed more films but I'm not a supporter of directors directing themselves unless the part is a minor one.

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I saw three movies last week.  Margot at the Wedding was another example of Noah Baumbach's dysfunctional family comedies, reveling in its spite and passive aggression.  Meh.  On the Beach is a typical Stanley Kramer film, taking a serious topic, in this case the destruction of humanity and civilization, and turning it into soap opera.  Everyone goes down with a stiff upper lip, without recrimination or anger.  It's a political movie without politics.  I am going to have to see Knight of Cups again.  I've been suffering from insomnia for the last several days and while my first impression of the movie was that it was so stunningly beautiful  I was consistently awestruck, it occurs to me that I must have slept through a key sequence starring Antonio Banderas.

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I saw eight movies and one short film last week.  "The Second Greatest Sex" (1955) was Universals' try at filming a "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers".  Film is overly stupid, some of the comedy is not funny, and the leads aren't especially good.  The supporting players provide most of the enjoyment; fourth billed Bert Lahr is marvelous--he gets laughs just from his vocal inflections and his singing; seventh billed Mamie Van Doren, playing an 1880's vamp, is almost as funny as Lahr; and eighth billed Tommy Rall is in three dance numbers that are the best parts of the film.  A dance troupe called "The Midwesterners" is billed last;  they and Rall perform a square dance that is films' highlight.  A link to the number is posted in the "Tommy Rall" thread.

 

"The Last Days of Pompeii" (1959)--Starring Steve Reeves and Christine Kaufmann.  Enjoyably silly sword and sandals epic from Italy, film is loosely based on Bulwer-Lytton's novel.  Is seemingly a gladiator movie until the last twenty minutes, when Mt. Vesuvius Finally erupts, and fireballs and lava and earthquakes take care of the cardboard characters.

 

"The Most Dangerous Game" (1932)--Starring Joel McCrea and Fay Wray.  Wonderful, taut,thriller that lasts just over an hour.  For the plot--Look Closely at the door knocker in the films' opening credits; that will tell you the films' plot.

 

"Nosferatu" (1922)--F.W. Murnaus' thinly veiled version of "Dracula".  Spooky cinematography, an unforgettably menacing performance by Max Schreck as the hideous title character.  Only misstep is the imbecilic hero(?) who ignores All warnings and throws himself into Nosferatus' trap.

 

"The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" (1919)--The grandfather of the modern horror film.  A classic.

 

"DeathRace 2000" (1975)--Satire on NASCAR and violent sports specifically, television announcers, media in general, and Americas' fascination with all of the above.  Film directed by Paul Bartel stars David Carradine and Sylvester Stallone (in an Intentionally funny performance).  Very enjoyable film; the violence is intentionally cartoonish.

 

"The Only Game In Town" (1970)--George Stevens' last film was a character study that starred Elizabeth Taylor and Warren Beatty is two Las Vegans(?) who fall into bed, then love.  Naturally there are complications.  Sweet natured film flopped at the box office in 1970, but is well worth a watch.  Beatty belting out "Some Enchanted Evening" is priceless.

 

"The Young Girls of Rochefort" (1968)--The French take on the American musical.  See how many films you can spot tributes to.  A delightful film if you've seen two or two hundred musicals.  Starring Gene Kelly, Catherine Denueve, and George Chakiris.

 

"La Fiesta De Santa Barbara (1935)--The Garland sisters sing "La Cucaracha".  I can cross this off my list of films to see.

 

Most favorite--"The Most Dangerous Game" (1932) & "The Young Girls of Rochefort" (1968).  This week my rankings  are the films that were the most fun to watch; "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" (1919) and "Nosferatu" are better films, but not necessarily more fun to watch--does that make sense?

 

Least favorite--"La Fiesta De Santa Barbara' (1935)--three minutes of The Garland Sisters singing "La Cucaracha", Gary Coopers' amusing 30 second bit of business, and a blindingly blonde Ida Lupino are the films' assets; at least it was a short film.  One less film for me to see.

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