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LEAST & MOST FAVORITE of the week...


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I saw eight movies and one short film last week.

 

Your short descriptions & impressions are very interesting to read, but you don't call out your least & most favorite!!

(not only the title of the thread, but imho far better than pretentious "star rankings")

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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.

Sometimes it cannot be helped.  I know that Orson Welles was not originally supposed to be in The Trial but just dircet it.  But the person who was supposed to play the part dropped out and Welles took over the role.  Woody Allen often directs himself, and I must admit that I am not a fan of when he does this.

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I saw eight films last week.

 

"The Fearless Vampire Killers: Or, Pardon Me But Your Teeth Are In My Neck" (1967) is a vampire spoof that mixed humor with horror, directed by Roman Polanski.  After cute opening credits that got my hopes up, film fell flat, just provoking the occasional smile or laugh. There are some slapstick sequences in the last hour that work, but that raises film from the bad to just disappointing.  Still, this is worth the watch to see Polanski attempt to mix genres.

 

"Camelot" (1967) is a well sung/dubbed, beautifully acted and filmed adaptation of Alan Jay Lerner & Frederick Loewes' 1960 Broadway musical.  The films' problem is what Lerner never solved; the screenplay.  The film is just too Long, and the plentiful songs that propel the viewer past the lumpy plot in Part I dry up in Part II, and there is a desert of spoken plot to go through.  Overall, a fun watch, especially the first half.

 

"Laughter" (1930)--This is a film that sinks or swims depending on the charm factor.  The three leads (Nancy Carroll, Fredric March, and Frank Morgan) all were at their best when they made this film.  Despite the tired plot (poor girl marries super rich man;poor boyfriend leaves, then returns for her) chemistry between the three makes film work.  Morgans' character could have been a *******, but he's played as distracted by the wrong things; Carroll makes her character ditzy without being brainless or cruel; March was as relaxed looking as I've ever seen him on film, and was actually a charmer, not Always On and Acting.  Version I saw on YouTube was missing some footage, about ten minutes, I Think.  

 

"Garden of Evil" (1954)--Underrated western teams Gary Cooper, Susan Hayward, and Richard Widmark.  Script is uneven, to say the most.  A good score by Bernard Herrmann is more dramatic than the script; GoE is beautifully filmed.  Widmark is especially good as someone not used to being a good guy; Hayward and Cooper are as good as the script allows.  Look for a young Rita Moreno.  An enjoyable watch.

 

"Q: The Winged Serpent" (1982)--Larry Cohen film loosely based on Aztec mythology.  Set-up--someone has prayed the title creature back into existence.  It preys on unsuspecting Manhattan residents:the nutjob makes occasional human sacrifices to Q.  Film starts off well as we just see glimpses of it, its' shadow, or film is shot from Q's point of view: film is sabotaged by poor Special Effects.  Still, a fun watch, if you can get past the below-par Special Effects.

 

"Judge Priest" (1934)--John Ford's worst film, or close to it: film set in 1890 Kentucky has cringeworthy performances, stereotyping all characters; Ford HAD to have directed them to act this way, as all act exceptionally stupid, and mix Irish and Southern accents, to disastrous effect.  Only Will Rogers, Hattie McDaniel, and Anita Louise rise above the muck.  JP makes "Mame" (1974) look like "Citizen Kane" (1941).  Skip it.

 

"The Cat and the Canary" (1927)--Paul Leni directed film of a play that screams to be parodied.  Opening montage is very effective, then Leni sets up the Will reading in a Haunted House plot.  Film keeps threatening to become parody, but takes plot semi-seriously until last thirty minutes, when it gives itself the relief of turning into comedy.  Lenis' oddball sense of humor turns up at the strangest (and most welcome) times.  Films' photography, sense of humor, and the wild last half hour make this a fun watch.  Multiple versions are on YouTube.

 

"The Last Warning" (1929)--Leni's last film is wild thriller with marvelous montage effects, photography, and a Hitchcock-like use of actors.  The photography is the star.  At least one version is on YouTube.  Recommended watch.

 

Favorites--"The Cat and the Canary" (1927) & "The Last Warning" (1929).  I've found a new favorite director.

 

Least favorite--"Judge Priest" (1934) by a Thousand miles or so.

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I saw nine movies over the last two weeks:  two in the first week, seven in the second.  Arabian Nights:  the Restless One was afraid the biggest disappointment.  I very much liked Miguel Gomes' previous movie Tabu, but this combination of anti-austerity politics and using tales from the Arabian Nights doesn't have the right ratio of imagination to clever insight, being bereft on both fronts.  In its defense, I did see the movie in London where for most of the time I was exhausted and ill, so that could have affected matters.  Minions is a frenetic, amusing and ultimately insubstantial movie. The minions are cute, ultimately benign and quite incompetent.  Perhaps the most interesting part of the movie is having Sandra Bullock and Jon Hamm play a pair of super villians who are also a reasonably happy married couple.  The Isle of the Dead is an interesting movie with Boris Karloff giving a subtle performance as a military martinet who is, of course, ultimately doomed when he and the other cast members are quarantined because of a plague.  The Ghost Ship is another interesting movie, which has a striking performance by Richard Dix who shifts from reasonable captain to murderous lunatic. 

 

Around the World Under the Sea is the kind of Lloyd Bridges movie that cannot survive Airplane!  Ponderous, slow, with Shirley Eaton as the risible romantic interest, it suffers from the fact that underwater photography needs considerable skill not to be boring and dull, and the movie here doesn't even try.  A Taste of Honey benefits from a performance of genuine interest from Rita Tushingham, and some nuance in her relationship with her somewhat shabby mother.  But the relationships she have with first a black man and a homosexual shows what might be called "Guess who's coming to Dinner" syndrome.  There isn't any real insight into what's it like to belong to those two categories.  And one guesses that neither the movie makers nor the audience has an interest in knowing them either.  But both would like to get credit for a liberalism without effort or insight.  Cemetery of Splendour is more a return to Syndromes and a Century compared to Weerasethakul's more plot driven Tropical Malady or his Palme D'Or winner.  This subtle movie about soldiers suffering from sleeping sickness and the mystic influences of the past requires considerable patience.  One can see signs of Otto Preminger's considerable professionalism in The Cardinal, while not seeing in it than much more than an indulgent portrayal of the Catholic Church that overstates its opposition to racism and the Nazis.  (It's hard to believe the Ku Klu Klan would assault a papal envoy in the thirties Georgia.  One thinks that the Church would withdraw before things came to that.)  Pauline at the Beach starts off as a clever, subtly erotic romantic comedy.  It then becomes something more subtle and intelligent and one can enjoy it at that level.  But to be fair I do prefer A Summer's Tale on a not dissimilar theme.

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I saw eleven films the past week.  "Waxworks" (1924) is a German film in three episodes directed by Paul Leni starring future director William Dieterle; the first part is about a Caliph of Baghdad (Emil Jannings).  This episode has the weakest scripting, and is almost totally carried by visual effects.  The second part is about Ivan the Terrible (Conrad Veidt), and the last, shortest and scariest part is about Springheel Jack.  Film should be better known.

 

"Rikki Tikki Tavi" (1974)--Animated cartoon was originally a 1970's television special, based on the Kipling story.  Orson Welles narration and voiceover of title character cut through the goo of the screenplay. Fine kids introduction to Kipling (it was for me) and enjoyable for adults.

 

"Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" (1920)--John Barrymore is amazing in the title role.  He does the first transformation without a camera cut, and seemingly without makeup.  He gets close to the essence of the characters' desire to experience the good and the bad/evil side of life.  Pola Negri is effective in an attention getting role of an "entertainer"; the rest of the cast are vacuums on the screen compared to these two--a pity.

 

"The Major and the Minor" (1942)--Billy Wilder's first job of direction was a huge success.  Ginger Rogers can't afford an adult train fare to Iowa, so she disguises herself as a pre-teen; film is one long, funny con-game--Diana Lynn is maybe the funniest person in the film.

 

"Man of Aran" (1934)--Pioneering documentarist Robert Flaherty made this film about three rocky islands off the west coast of Ireland and their inhabitants.  The sea and the islands are the stars; the people are just backdrops.

 

"Hercules in the Haunted World" (1961)--Mario Bava film where he directed, did the cinematography, and the screenplay.  The screenplay is of variable quality, but the striking imagery, vivid colors, and finally getting to horror makes this one worth a watch.  Christopher Lee is in it and takes all acting honors.

 

"Can't Help Singing" (1944)--Universal Deanna Durbin vehicle set in a Never-Never-Land that doubles as an 1850's Old West (the tops of the covered wagons are tinted cotton candy shades of green, pink, blue, and white).  CHS was Durbins' first Technicolor film; she looks beautiful and sounds better.  Film was scored by Jerome Kern & E.Y. Harberg; Kerns' song "More and More" received an Oscar nomination.

 

"The Damned" (1969)--Ugly, humorless Luchino Visconti film about Nazism in 1933 Germany made me want to give my brain a Long, Hot shower after seeing it.  The remotely likable characters are done away with in 45 minutes; all that is left for the viewer in the remaining 2 hours is to wait and see how inventively the rest destroy each other.  

 

"The Pyx" (1973)--Canadian film starring  Karen Black and Christopher Plummer.  A traditional horror film updated for the 1970's.  Karen Black does a nice job of singing the songs in the film.  Obscure film is well worth a watch.

 

"Twins of Evil" (1971)--Typical Hammer horror film with the title spin starring Peter Cushing, Damien Thomas, and The Collinson twins.  Plot is--vampire terrorizes village--churchmen burn women as witches in reprisal--a pair of twins, one more Evil than the other comes to the village--you can guess the rest of the plot.  Enjoyable Hammer film.

 

"The Sealed Room" (1909)--My thanks to Kid Dabb for directing me to this one.  I made a post in Trivia Forum too general, & Kid Dabb named this short goodie from D.W. Griffith.  Is loosely based on E.A. Poes' "The Cask of Amontillado".  Has an early appearance by Mary Pickford.  Are 3 copies on YouTube.

 

Favorites--"The Major and the Minor" (1942) and "Rikki Tikki Tavi" (1974, television)

 

Least Favorite--"The Damned" (1969), by a continent.

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I saw four movies this week.  Lord Love a Duck strikes me as one of the sixties American films that tried to absorb the innovations of the new wave with only limited success.  It's a satire, but of what exactly?  Blonde nitwits?  Pompous school administrators?  Beach blanket movies?  It lacks a focus and a certain tone.  Macunaima is a Brazillian satire, released a few years later, with somewhat more bite, about a magical Negro, as I suppose one must call him who thanks to more magic turns white, and meets various metaphors for contemporary Brazillian society, some gratuitous female nudity, and a crueler end than the one Roddy McDowall faces in Lord Love a Duck.  Marriage, Italian Style isn't as sexy as De Sica's immediately prior Loren/Mastroianni collaboration, and it has some shameful sentimental touches.  I'll have to think in due course whether Loren deserved to be nominated for an oscar.  Finally, The Uninvited is one of those forties movies whose high reputation is more mysterious than the actual movie.

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I saw six movies last week; three others required the help of Mystery Science Theater 3000 to get through; and one film I couldn't get through the first 45 minutes even with MST3K's help.  The first six:

 

"Genuine" (1920)--Paul Weines' follow up to "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" (1919), this film is about a vampire--or is she?  She never snacks on anyones' neck, she is visible in mirrors, daylight doesn't kill her.  Is she just mentally ill?  German Expressionist film relies on photography, sets, and costumes for effects;  IMDB says film is "very rare".  I viewed a copy on YouTube.  A good, "see it while it's there" watch.

 

"The Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow" (1959)--Roger Corman film is a cornball sleeping pill for first thirty minutes, then last half hour rouses itself and is an acceptable parody of "stupid teenagers in Haunted house" genre.  Not the "BOMB" Maltin rates it, but not wonderful either; just have a supply of caffeine nearby.

 

"A Matter of Time" (1976)--Vincente Minnelli's last film was edited with a hacksaw and destroyed by AIP.  The two things that Weren't destroyed are Ingrid Bergman's performance as The Countess and Liza Minnelli's voice.  Deeply disappointing, but worth a watch.  Saw on YouTube--TCM is broadcasting the film May 26th--I Really hope they've reconstructed it.

 

"Wild Women of Wongo" (1958)--Graft "One Million Years B.C. (1940) onto a 1958 "See Florida!" travelogue, and you've got WWoW.  MST3K has this--I may watch it in 20 years or so.

 

"The Best Things in Life Are Free" (1956)--Sheree North and Ernest Borgnine in the best 20th Century Fox musical I'd never heard of.  Lots of 1920's and 1930's tunes and dances.  Borgnine looks delighted to get away from melodramatics.  Recommended.

 

"CALTIKI--The Immortal Monster" (1960)--Early Mario Bava film has striking photography (even on lousy "public domain" prints), but a laughable script and poor direction.  Worth watching for the photography and the occasional good moment (the showing of Mayan temples, the first glimpse of the Monster).  Is a watchable print on YouTube.

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Films I had to use MST3K to get through:

 

"Hercules and the Moon Men" (1964)--The non-MST3K prints are so bad they are unwatchable--they go from "Chromocolor" to black and white, to blue-gray--AWFUL.  MST3K's print is partially restored--is barely watchable from a technical viewpoint.  

 

Film is unwatchable without the commentary--the mens tunics are Barely below the hips--Crooow says more than once "I could have gone the rest of my life without seeing that!"  The Queen wears a floor-length blue sequined sausage skin that she can barely move in or sit down in.  Movie was filmed at CineCitta studios in Rome--I think I recognized some sets from "Cleopatra" (1963).

 

"The Horror of Party Beach" (1964)--Unwatchable without MST3K.  The "teenagers" all look over 30, the "music" is horrid, the monsters are Funny, storyline Stupid (body count goes over 50, and the teens Still go back to the ******* beach!).

 

"Samson versus the Vampire Women" (1962)--TCM didn't have this title--I IMDB'd it--Title came up as "Santo versus the Vampire Women.  Anyway, IMDB rating was 3.3; that's generous, IMHO.

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Unwatchable film, alone or with MST3K:

 

"City On Fire" (1979)--Awful Special Effects--the actors have no interest--Ava Gardner rises above the muck playing a *****. IMHO, film's theme song should have been "Get Me To The Bank On Time".

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Most favorite--"The Best Things in Life Are Free" (1956)

 

Least Favorite--"Wild Women of Wongo" (1958)

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Least favorite of the week would be "The Nun's Story" not because it is a bad movie but because I was having flashbacks of when the nuns at our school made us watch it hoping that many of the girls would have a vocation.
 

Most favorite of course, "Bucket of Blood"! I just love movies about art inspirations.

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Films I had to use MST3K to get through

 

Typically the most enjoyable movies they have riffed are good movies without them, (with the least extra comments) like TIME CHASERS or SOULTAKER. If it's a really dull movie, it's a dull MST episode.

 

"Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" (1920)--John Barrymore is amazing in the title role.

 

Ugh, I'm now sorry I didn't record this one-I'm a huge John Barrymore fan but thought I've seen this particular story too many times. Glad you liked it, though.

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Oh God, I cannot tell you how many times I have watched THE HORROR OF PARTY BEACH MST episode.

 

"Apparently radiation has a sense of humor."

 

Some MST Episodes must be seen more than once, because the film is so bad, you need to get adjusted to that...for example, THE VERY STRANGE CREATURES WHO STOPPED LIVING AND BECAME TOTALLY MIXED UP ZOMBIES is probably maybe my all-time favorite episode ever, and the first time i saw it i thought it was the worst episode they ever did.

 

"DAMN YOU EULABELLE!"

 

go to youtube and check out the various 5-10 minute long samples of movies they've done as RIFFTRAX- both good (JAWS, CASABLANCA), recent (all the STAR WARS and marvel movies) and terrible old movies (BRAINIAC, PLAN 9, THE STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL, i could go on with this one...)

 

ps- MONDO CONNIE runs the channel with the most and best compilations.

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I saw ten films last week, and one short subject.

 

"The Last Voyage" (1960) is a disaster film where the action starts before the opening credits have finished rolling.  Great  Special Effects, convincing performances (George Sanders as the Captain, and Woody Strode take acting honors; no one else has time to develop a character).  Worth searching out.

 

"Three in the Attic" (1968)--Christopher Jones is dating three girls at the same time; each thinks he's dating Only her.  When the girls find out otherwise, they take a unique revenge. Yvette Mimieux is the only vaguely likable character in the movie.  Wasn't worth watching, IMO.

 

"The Bat Whispers" (1930)--Slow moving German Expressionist influenced mystery; marvelous photography and sets, Maude Ebourne's and Una Merkel's performances make it worth watching, although the last half hour moves slower than a snail.

 

"Master of the World" (1961)--based on two Jules Verne novels, anti-war adventure film is enjoyable, despite a dreadful performance by Henry Hull, who yells his way through the film.  

 

"Souls For Sale aka Confessions of an Opium Eater" (1962)--Better than expected Albert Zugsmith film.  Vincent Price is good in the title role.  Sequence showing the effects of opium is a highlight.

 

"Theatre of Blood" (1973)--Fun Hammer horror film.  Edward Lionheart (Vincent Price) doesn't get an acting award he thinks he deserves.  Afterwards, critics who voted against him are murdered in ways Shakespeare used in his plays.  There are ten critics; will any live through the film?  Price looks like he's having a good time.  Recommended.

 

"The Eagle" (1925)--Enjoyably silly melodrama with Rudolph Valentino and Louise Dresser.  Valentino and company keep a straight face through the absurdities of the plot.  I saw a restoration by The Video Cellar--which was scored with Pachelbel's Canon--all film long.  There are multiple copies on YouTube.

 

"The Ballad of Tam Lin" (1970)--Ava Gardner's least seen film, and Roddy McDowall's only directorial effort.  Film is based on an old Scottish ballad.  Film has startling photography, a fine use of music, and a very good performance by Gardner.  Film starts slowly,but improves as it goes on.  A good watch.

 

"Wild in the Streets" (1968)--Shelley Winters' performance as the monster mother/social climber gives the film what comic energy it has. Her performance makes the film watchable, IMHO.  Watch for Richard Pryor.  This political satire goes down the drain after the first half hour.

 

"Sodom and Gomorrah" (1963)-- Robert Aldrich's entry in the Biblical epic genre.  Film is too long and too talky. The occasional good scene can't save movie.  The score by Miklos Rozsa has more drama than the film.

 

The short I saw was "The Dinosaur and the Missing Link" (1915), a cute stop-motion animation film by Willis O'Brien.  It's on YouTube.

 

Favorite films--Three way tie between "The Last Voyage" (1960), "Theatre of Blood" (1973), and "The Ballad of Tam Lin" (1970).

 

Least Favorite--"Three in the Attic" (1968).

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I saw four movies over the last two weeks.  Three of them are arguably generic movies that show some distinction.  A Bucket of Blood is not in itself a particularly interesting thriller about a serial killer.  And arguably A Bucket of Plaster of Paris would be a more accurate title.  What shows Roger Corman's special talent is that the murderer as pathetic talentless artist is more compelling than the actual murders.  Iron Man 3 was arguably more impressive than its predecessor, of which I remember very little, It makes the intelligent move of separating Tony Stark from his armor for the middle third of the movie, which limits the need for special effects and concentrating on Robert Downey's charisma.  Deep Red certainly shows more style and interest than the other two Dario Argento movies I saw.  But the movie of the last two weeks is clearly Jafar Panahi's Taxi which contributes to his burgeoning cinema of house arrest.  One notices a reference to goldfish, which reminds one of The White Balloon, the movie 20 years ago that made his reputation, as well as a somewhat irritating child who lectures the driver of a taxi, as in Abbas Kiarostami's 10. 

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I saw six movies last week, one was MST3K's version, because it was the Only way to see the movie.

First, the five I saw by themselves:

 

"Fear City" (1985)--Abel Ferrara directed late noir, with Melanie Griffith, Tom Berenger, & Billy Dee Williams. Strengths of film are Ferrara's location filming that uses New York City as a character, and Griffith's and William's performances.  Main weakness is a script that relies heavily on coincidences and stupidity of characters.  An ok watch.

 

"Devil May Care" (1929)--An early operetta starring Ramon Novarro and Dorothy Jordan.  Novarro is the reason to see this one.  Plot is antique nonsense about a Napoleon supporter (Novarro) falling in love with a Napoleon hater (Jordan).  Score is listenable (Novarro gets most of the songs), sound is Crackly & Loud (Jordan tapping her foot impatiently sounds like an elephant stomping, etc).  In black and white with one two tone Technicolor sequence.  An amusing watch.

 

"The Trip" (1967)--The visuals are everything in this film, along with Peter Fondas' performance.  Script is functional, no more.  Worth a watch.

 

"The Lady and the Monster (1944)--Based on Curt Siodmak's story, "Donovan's Brain".  With Erich von Stroheim and Vera Ralston.  von Stroheim chews the scenery in this short thriller from Republic, as he gulps wine, vodka, and coffee in the Laboratory where he attempts to make a dead brain Live.  Ralston is sweet and worried.  Best line:  Ralston, after taking off a lab coat that covered her evening gown: "My gown reeks of chloroform--I don't want to put my dance partners to sleep! (she and boyfriend go out for a night on the town, with her wearing the reeking gown).  A mix of sci-fi and camp--definitely worth a watch.

 

"Goliath and the Vampires" (1964)--This film is 1/4 for a "serious" rating.  On the "so bad it's Good" scale, a definite 3/4, for Many reasons:  Among them are the films' getting vampire lore all Wrong; one Dim character says "It's safe now--it's Dark enough out."  A balcony a character crashes through is obviously made of black netting; A dancing girl in a barroom dances to music that sounds suspiciously like something out of "Beach Party" (1963); another Dim character reads the head vampires name out loud 3 times, and is promptly strangled when he appears.  Watch when you want to see a "Bad" movie.

 

This film was only available as a MST3K title--"Colossus and the Headhunters" (1963)--0/4 for a "serious" rating; on the "so bad it's Good" scale 3 &1/2/4.  Just a few reasons why:

 

In the volcanic eruption that starts the film, falling boulders Bounce off the ground like Nerf balls.

 

When the Headhunters attack, zippers are in plain view on their fur skirts.

 

When Colossus tries to move his girl to safety, he yells "Stay Here!  Leave the Breast to me! :wacko:

 

Colossus is addressed by at least 5 different names in this movie: Colossus, Machistay, Machistuh, Macheese, & Machesty. :unsure:

 

All the men wear Dangerously Short outfits--When Crow yelled "Great ***** of Fire", one guess as to what was visible on screen.

 

Movies I laughed till I cried while watching--"Colossus and the Headhunters" (1963) & "Goliath and the Vampires" (1964).

 

Most enjoyable of the other four movies--"The Lady and the Monster" (1944).

 

Most disappointing--"Devil May Care" (1929).

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The three movies I saw last week were all disappointing.  The only reason I saw The Mountain Men is that I remembered seeing an ad for it as a summer movie in 1980 and then wondered why it had so completely fallen out of the popular memory.  That indeed was a horrifying summer for studio executives, since it seemed that every summer release except The Empire Strikes Back and Airplane! was a bomb, both financially and critically.  (In point of fact The Shining did make money and its critical reputation slowly but steadily grew).  At any rate what does The Mountain Men add that mediocre (North) Westerns a quarter century ago didn't have?  Well, basically foul language and nothing else.  I also remember seeing Captain Nemo and the Underwater City being advertised as a Saturday matinee back in the day when my small town still had a movie theatre.  That was the main reason I watched it.  As it stands, the flaws in the movie do become more noticeable as the movie goes on.  (1) You'd think that Nemo's men would do a better job of guarding key installations like a second submarine and whatever thing the claustrophobe takes over in a futile attempt to escape.  (2) In the original Verne novels Captain Nemo keeps his nationality hidden.  Only later is it revealed that he is an Indian prince.  Now it's obvious that James Mason is obviously better at suggesting Nemo's fundamentally enigmatic nature than Robert Ryan.  There may be other actors who are more  unequivocally American, but I can't imagine any of them.  (3) On a more technical level, the Senator says he grew up playing in a Kansas waterhole.  Except the film takes no later than 1864, the Senator must be at least 30, and white settlement was minimal before the 1850s.  Just sloppy, like much of the movie.  (It also turns out that the screenplay was partially written by Pip and Jane Baker, best known for nearly killing Doctor Who in the eighties.)  Have you ever watched The Housemaid and wondered "Do you know what would be great?  If all the weird elements could be taken out, the movie made duller and more obvious and given a happier ending!"  Well then The Second Mother is clearly for you.  But it's  not for me.  With a visual style clearly influenced by Ozu, though not with the same consistency, the movie is schematic and contrived.  An early scene where the maid clears the table while the parents and the teenage son are texting and not looking at each other, is all too representative.  You may wonder why the father makes a pass at the maid's daughter when she is not particularly interesting or attractive, and you then you really wonder why the movie takes this very moment for the mother to get involved in a car accident.

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I saw nine full length films, and one short film last week.

 

"Savage Messiah" (1972) is a film about the artist Henri Gaudier (Scott Antony) and Sophie Brezska (sp?) (Dorothy Tutin).  Film almost drowns in its' words: the verbal avalanche is too much for Antony, who turns his part into speeches.  Tutin, however, attacks the script; she has a scene in a Paris flat  where she chops vegetables furiously while spitting out an account of her past life as quickly as is intelligible.  Tutin was an early favorite for an Oscar nomination (she didn't get one).  A rough watch but worth it.  Film is more enjoyable thinking over after it's been seen.

 

"Under Milk Wood" (1972)--A day in the life of a Welsh village, as imagined by Dylan Thomas.  Richard Burton unlocked the beauty of the language for me; he narrates the film, and Peter O'Toole does well as one of the central characters.  Elizabeth Taylor does a lovely cameo in a soft Welsh accent.  The films' highlights are from Aubrey Richards welcoming the day, then evening, his interpretation of Thomas' poetry becoming a song without singing, if that makes sense.  I'm not a poetry lover, but this film knocked me for a loop.  Saw on YT.

 

"The Cobweb" (1955)--Vincente Minnelli directed film where the decor was better directed than the actors.  Script is Not good, and performances vary from the good (Richard Widmark) to the good, seemingly self-directed (Lillian Gish, spitting out her lines and Glaring at someone(s) off-camera), to the Drastically underplayed (Lauren Bacall), to the Swallowing the Scenery Whole (Gloria Grahame and John Kerr).  A mess. but a fun mess that Invites remarks to the screen.

 

'The Intruder" (1962)--Roger Corman drama of desegregation in the Deep South in the early 1960's.  Film is Not subtle.  No allusions, no euphemisms.  The hate, casual to fevered, hits the viewer in the face like a brick.  Warning--are MANY uses of the "N" word, and other Offensive terms.  A nerve-wracking watch.

 

"Scream and Scream Again" (1970)--Fairly good film from Hammer, starring Vincent Price and Christopher Lee.  Has three seemingly unrelated plot threads, all wound up in the film's last half hour.  TCM running time for SASA was 95 minutes; version I saw was 76 minutes.  The shorter version is worth searching out, but know it ends abruptly, with some loose ends.

 

"Reunion in France" (1942)--Joan Crawford as a rich French girl whose home has been taken over by invading Nazis and John Wayne as a U.S. airman who is wounded and just happens to run into Joan as he's about to pass out.  Enjoyable Jules Dassin directed  anti-Nazi melodrama.

 

"The Abominable Dr. Phibes" (1971)--Marvelous horror/comedy with Vincent Price.  Horror and humor are about equal.  Half the fun is watching the police made absolute idiots of.  Not as good as "Theatre of Blood" (1973), but close.  There is a sequel.

 

"A Matter of Time" (1976)--Vincente Minellis' last film has had the print cleaned.  It is now a gorgeous film to look at, a salute to Minnelli's films, and a love letter to his daughter.  Liza is in fine voice, especially in Gershwin's "Do It Again"  Not perfect, but an attempt at a Cinderella tale.  Worth seeing.

 

"The Most Dangerous Game" (1932)--Classic thriller is just over an hour.  From the people who gave us "King Kong" (1933).

 

"The Fall of the House of Usher" (1928)--James Sibley Watson and Melville Webber directed this thirteen minute avant-garde short film marrying the techniques of "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" (1919) to Edgar Allan Poe's story.  Effective film score was written by Alec Wilder for film in 1959.  Creepy and effective.

 

Favorite film--"Under Milk Wood" (1972).

 

Non-essential viewing--"Reunion in France" (1942)

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I saw seven movies this week.  45 Years has good performances by Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay.  But there's something hollow about its basic premise.  For much of the movie you think Courtenay has done something much worse to the old girlfriend whose body has recently been rediscovered in the Alps.  But it turns out that the problem is relatively minor and one would think Rampling would get over it.  The movie doesn't really catch what would make such a long marriage work.  The director himself isn't 45 years old, and doesn't really have the ability to imagine such a relationship.   The movie is very British in a way that British movies would help themselves immeasurably by stop being.  A Song to Remember is apparently nonsense historically.  There is little to distinguish Cornel Wilde's performance, notwithstanding his receiving an oscar nomination with it, while Paul Muni's performance as his teacher becomes more irritating as the movie progresses.  Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? is certainly the best of the Tashlin movies I've seen.  Certainly Tony Randall is more tolerable than Jerry Lewis in Artists and Models.  A Matter of Time was butchered by the producers when it was made, so neither the father director nor the actress daughter nor Ingrid Bergman were satisfied with the result.  One can see signs of a much better movie here and there, especially in Bergman's performance, as well as in Charles Boyer's last dignified cameo.  The Naked Island is a beautifully shot parable about a poor Japanese family whose island farm gets so little water that the parents must row to the mainland to get fresh water.  The Boy and the Beast is a Japanese animated film which involves a young orphaned boy running away from his guardians and finding an entrance on the Tokyo streets to a world peopled by sentient animals.  He runs into a vainglorious Samurai who has decided to challenge the apparently much more qualified front-runner in fight to become the Lord.  So it appears this will appear to be a movie where the young pupil learns maturity and the teacher gains or regains his strength.  Only one of the characters is a talking wolf.  But this predicted storyline about the quarreling duo takes an unexpected twist, and shows considerable invention in reaching its conclusion.  Finally The Milky Way has suffered by being in the shadow of the more surreal and stranger The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie and The Phantom of Liberty  But this anticlerical satire shows considerable skill, grace and subtlety, not to mention considerable learning.  One can't help but think atheist polemic has showed a distinct decline in quality since it was made.. 

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I watched 26 movies in the past week. Matewan, Night of the Demons, The Outing, Police Academy 4: Citizens On Patrol, Prince of Darkness, Slumber Party Massacre II, Three O'Clock High, and The Video Dead were all rewatches. 

 

Matewan is the best of this lot. Written & directed by John Sayles, this true story of the struggles between West Virginia coal miners and anti-union company goons in 1920 is enhanced by location filming and a terrific cast including Chris Cooper, Mary McDonnell, Kevin Tighe, Bob Gunton, David Strathairn and James Earl Jones.

 

The Outing was the worst, a poorly filmed horror flick involving a girl being possessed by an escaped djinn from an oil lamp. She/It menace a group of annoying teens who have stayed past closing hours in a museum. Bad acting and bad effects drag the experience further down.

 

 

Miami Connection, Pals, The Pink Chiquitas, Rage of Honor, Renegade, The Rosary Murders, Silent Night Deadly Night 2, Skinny Puppy: Ain't It Dead Yet?, Some Kind of Wonderful, Stagefright, Strike Commando, Surrender, Tough Guys Don't Dance, The Trouble with Spies, The Virgin Queen of St. Francis High, Wings of Desire, Withnail & I, and Yeelen were all first time watches.

 

Withnail & I was my favorite of this lot. Paul McGann and Richard E. Grant are terrific as a pair of starving, drunken out-of-work actors in 1969 Britain. The dialogue is hilarious, with many quotable lines. Richard Griffiths is also a treat as an amorous uncle.

 

Wings of Desire comes in a close second for me. I've long heard of this German film from Wim Wenders, and a lot of its imagery has been co-opted in the nearly 30 years since its release. I saw the US remake, City of Angels, but they really aren't much alike at all. Bruno Ganz is very good as the sad-eyed angel who spends his time wistfully easedropping on the thoughts of Berlin's citizens. Peter Falk is also fun playing "himself". The cinematography is really well-done here, too.

 

Tough Guys Don't Dance was the worst of the bunch, a seriously misguided effort starring Ryan O'Neal (who's awful) as a stand-in for writer-director Norman Mailer. He's entangled in a murder frame-up that doesn't make much sense. Isabella Rossellini, Wings Hauser, and Lawrence Tierney show up to be embarrassed/cash a check.

 

Miami Connection is a truly hilarious bad movie (recorded from TCM Underground) about a group of tae kwon do fighters/rock musicians battling drug dealing bikers and ninjas. Highly recommended to bad movie fans.

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The three movies I saw this week were actually reasonable impressive.  High-Rise could have been a disaster.  British dystopian movies can be flawed.  In contrast to the overly repressed nature of much British film, it can disintegrate into gaudy nonsense (one thinks of Ken Russell) or into facile rhetoric (one thinks of Britannia Hospital).  But the source material, based on a J. Ballard novel is stronger than this, and the director seems to show real talent in his version of a collapsing seventies in a collapsing upper class high-rise.  Objective, Burma! is also impressive in its own way.  Raoul Walsh and Errol Flynn had a good rapport here, just as they died in They Died with Their Boots on and Gentleman Jim.  It's encouraging that after what appears to be a too easy success, the mission becomes increasingly difficult.  One should point out, however, the racist incitement at one point.  Phoenix deals with life under the Showa Dictatorship's crueler ally, and it is clearly the movie of the week.  It is a surprisingly intense film that owes everything to the performances of a Jewish/Gentile couple who meet after the war.  The Jewish survivor has had to have plastic surgery.  Her gentile husband thinks she died and when she meets him he gets the idea of passing her off as his dead wife to get her inheritance.  She agrees with this plan while wondering whether he had betrayed her to the Nazis in the first place.  Nina Hoss as the protagonist is quite stunning in this subtle, ultimate heartbreaking play on Vertigo

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I saw twelve movies last week:

 

"With Words and Music", aka "The Girl Was Young", aka "Broadway Chiselers" (1937)-- Cheapie from Grand National starring Robert Armstrong.  He doesn't sing, just drags the baggage of the plot like a bag of cement.  Script is close to unbearable.  Films' saving graces are the fact that its' cast can Sing, and its Gilbert and Sullivan score; numbers from "The Pirates of Penzance", "Ruddigore", and "The Mikado" are scattered through the film ( numbers from TM are done for the Big Finale in films' last twenty-odd minutes).  A real oddity.  Was nominated for a "Best Sound" Oscar.

 

"Rich and Strange" (1932)--Early Hitchcock film was apparently inspired by a cruise they took sometime in 1930-31.  Film has typical London couple (Henry Kendall and Joan Barry) coming into money, and deciding to travel to see the world.  Film is all camera angles, spotting the beginning of later set-pieces.  Barry is good, and lovingly photographed; Kendall is good in the comic moments, at sea when anything dramatic is called for.  Fascinating for Hitchcock completists (like me) who want to see everything he made.  Others may yawn more than once.

 

"Nightmare Castle" (1965)--Barbara Steele stars in a dual role in an overlooked film that was shredded by distributors, and had more than 20 minutes cut, leaving plot holes and unresolved plot threads.  I saw the 144 minute Complete version on YouTube; It is marvelous.  Film quickly sets up a quintangle and then adds a sixth member.  Film becomes a question of Who is Gaslighting Who(m)?  A marvelous, playful, horror movie score by Ennio Morricone.  Film is a fun watch whether the plot is figured out or not.

 

"Where Eagles Dare" (1969)--Enjoyable WWII actioner starring Richard Burton, Clint Eastwood.  Film is enjoyable for many reasons, some illogical (Burton's getting away with a British accent when he is being questioned by Nazis), some scenic (Ingrid Pitt, etc), the script, ("Come in,  Broadsword!  Roger.")  Credit goes to scsu1975 for highlighting things I'd missed.  A fun watch.

 

"The Last Man On Earth" (1964)--Low-budget, creepy Vincent Price film.  Movie doesn't have the budget for special effects, and doesn't overreach.  Film Does have intelligent script, which finally asks the question Who is the monster.  A good watch.

 

"Oubliette" (1914)--One of Lon Chaney Sr.'s oldest surviving films.  Film is I Think a precursor of "If I Were King" (1938).  Restoration I saw was a black screen at times--Titles had the name "Francois Villon" mentioned twice.

 

"The Sky Pilot" (1921)--A Colleen Moore film, directed by King Vidor.  An oddity, where Moore plays a ranchers daughter.  As soon as the viewer sees her father burning a Bible, they can predict the plot.  Worth seeing for Moore and Vidor.

 

"Hotel Imperial" (1927)--Pola Negri's biggest hit, and maybe best film.  Negri is a Austrian maid in WWI, and an officer is wounded and seeks refuge in the title place.

 

"The Patsy" (1928)--Starring Marion Davies and Marie Dressler, directed by King Vidor.  One of the Best silent comedies, with Davies and Dressler at their best.  A real gem.

 

"Tillie's Punctured Romance" (1914)--starring Marie Dressler, Charlie Chaplin, Mabel Normand, and The Keystone Cops--Dressler as an ungainly farm girl who thinks herself a Sweet Young Girl carries the film.  TPR is good.  A fun watch.

 

"The Cardboard Lover" (1928)--Starring Marion Davies and Nils Asther.  Davies salvages an antique screenplay with her comedy skills, impersonations, and mugging when she gets desperate for laughs.  Nils Asther also battled against the plot, and witty titles helped.  A fair watch.

 

"The Man From Laramie" (1955)--Starring James Stewart, directed by Anthony Mann.  Another of Stewart's westerns with Mann, his character getting progressively angrier by the film.  A film that shows Stewart's dark side, and destroys the "Aw, Shucks" image he sometimes projected.  Everyone is excellent; very good watch.

 

Favorite--"The Patsy" (1928).

 

Least favorite--"With Words and Music" (1937).

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I watched 26 movies in the past week. 


 


Wow, when do you use the bathroom?  ;)


 


Matewan is the best of this lot.


 


Glad someone else has seen & liked this. After seeing it, I visited Matewan to see the actual place it happened. The bullet holes were still visible in the brick walls of the businesses. Amazing little town set up directly parallel to the railroad tracks. Beautiful part of the US. (near Hatfield & McCoy's area)


 


Withnail & I was my favorite of this lot. 


 


I have tried several times to watch this & just can't get into it. What's wrong with me? Everyone else loves it!


 


Wings of Desire comes in a close second for me.


 


Gosh, one of my favorite movies of all time. Glad you saw it & liked it! 


 


I saw the US remake, City of Angels, but they really aren't much alike at all. 


 


I actually liked COA quite a bit. It's like the same story, but told with a different spirit. I thought Cage made a good brooding angel and I loved the imagery of the angels in black like sentinels watching people. 


 


My only issue is if Meg Ryan was a Dr, she WOULD HAVE WORN A PROTECTIVE HELMET when biking. (although every nurse I know smokes cigarettes!)

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I saw six movies this week. The Patsy was a very amusing performance and Marion Davies gave a great comedic performance.  Everybody Wants Some!! is sort of a spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused.  I don't think it's as successful.  It looks like a better movie, sort of what would a frat house movie be like if it was made by somebody with a genuine point of view.  But there's the occasional false note, a problem that it had with Before Midnight.  There's a certain evasion of race and gender problems, which allows the baseball team a certain presumption of decency that it hasn't earned.  Equus is less successful, and it's most likely because of the play is shallow, despite the best efforts of the cast and the director.  The ideas were fashionable in the seventies and it doesn't work very well.  The King and I was also not successful.  The songs are memorable, but they oddly don't match the emotional beats of the plot.  Although Brynner won the oscar, it's Kerr who gives the better performance.  Although a more convincing Siamese monarch than Pr. Henry Higgins, Brynner's more an Asiatic stereotype provided for our amusement who keeps repeating catchphrases.  Rio 40 Graus is an early film of Nelson Pereira dos Santos.  It appears to be a hot afternoon in the day of the life of Rio.  It shows the class and racial divisions of Rio, but it's not as good as his later Barren Lives.  Finally there's Pasolini's Oedipus Rex which is a powerful rendition of the Greek myth, filmed in Morocco with haunting cinematography. 

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