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LEAST & MOST FAVORITE of the week...

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If one wants to be a stickler and disqualify that choice as a TV movie, then I would have to pick The Tall Guy as the best film of the batch. A sweet, fast-paced romantic comedy from the UK, written by Richard Curtis of Love Actually fame, and directed by Mel Smith. Jeff Goldblum stars as a frustrated American actor living and working in London. His fortunes start to change when he falls in love with a no-nonsense nurse (Emma Thompson, great in her film debut), and he finally confronts his obnoxious boss (Rowan Atkinson). What other rom-com features a pair of tighty-whiteys singing a Madness song, or has a musical based on The Elephant Man?

 

 

Dude! The Elephant Man would make a great musical. Just imagine: Elephant! the Musical. Now if only it starred non-singing actors, like, you know, Peter O'Toole, Liv Ullmann, and Clint Eastwood. Not that anyone would ever cast them in a musical, right?

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Laffite said about DANGEROUS LIAISONS (88) : I like the '88 version (snipped) My memory banks are rather worn..... I only partly remember it now.

 

Heh, I saw this in the theater with a Hollywood costumer friend of mine. All I remember about this movie is her constant comments about the brilliance of the costumes (& hair!) I don't remember the plot at ALL!

 

Guess it's worth getting a copy from the li-berry.

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they actually changed the time period that DANGEROUS LIAISONS is set during. I think the source novel (which, FYI, is epistolary and verrrry boring) was set earlier, in the time of HUGE, TALL POWDERED WIGS.

 

Steven Frears and company moved the story up about thirty years, when regular- actual- hair was in fashion, because it would have been too monumental a challenge to set up two-shots and close-ups when the ladies all had a yard of vertical hair.

 

probably saved a lot for the budget too.

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I saw ten films for the first time last week:

 

"The Big Broadcast of 1936 (1935)--Fun film is a bunch of musical numbers strung together, with a vague excuse for a plot.  The Nicholas Brothers make one of their first appearances, George Burns and Gracie Allen are funny even when their material isn't.  Ethel Merman has a number called "The Animal in Me" that features her with dancing elephants.  They more than make up for the bore of a plot.  Parts of this are a delight.

 

"Follow the Leader" (1930)--Musical starring Ed Wynn was stripped of all but one song when filmed.  Ethel Merman made her film debut singing "The Devil's Holiday", and it's the best four minutes in the film.  Whether you like this film will depend on whether you like Ed Wynn.  I didn't.

 

"The Vagabond King" (1930)--Plot is "roll your eyes" stupid.  Leads Jeanette MacDonald and Dennis King have zero chemistry.  They try to kiss three times without ceding the other the better camera angle, but their noses get in the way.  These scenes end Abruptly.  MacDonald called their duet "Only a Rose" "Only a Nose" because King kept stepping into her closeups (yes, his goofs are in the finished film).  The film is beautifully sung though.

 

"Let's Go Native" (1930)--Jeanette MacDonald musical is supposed not to make sense, and is a painless, funny improvement on TVK.  A fun watch.

 

"Paramount on Parade" (1930)--Revue was a sound test for its' performers.  Standouts; Maurice Chevalier singing "Sweeping the Clouds Away", George Bancroft and Kay Francis doing a skit about the perils of saying what you Really think at a party, Nancy Carroll doing a cute song and dance routine.  Film is one of the better All-Star revues, and is worth searching out.

 

"Sudan" (1945)--Maria Montez Technicolored nonsense, with Jon Hall as the unappreciated hero and Turhan Bey the Prince. A fun show is marred only by the whinnying of Andy Devine.

 

"Night World" (1932)--Universal Pre-Code gangster film/musical has Lew Ayres as a rich drunkard, Mae Clarke as a chorus girl, and Boris Karloff as a suave speakeasy owner.  Film evokes world of booze, speakeasies, and backstage.  Film is notable for early Busby Berkeley dance direction.  A short gem.  Recommended.

 

"The Deadly Companions" (1961)--Early Sam Peckinpah film stars Brian Keith and Maureen O'Hara.  Film is excellent and should be better known.

 

"Christmas Holiday" (1944)--Excellent musical noir with Deanna Durbin and Gene Kelly, directed by Robert Siodmak.  Durbin Finally gets to grow up and act, in this tale of a woman who didn't love wisely.  Kelly shows the rat beneath the surface charm.  Siodmak filmed one of the creepiest Christmas Eve services I've seen on film.  Recommended.

 

"Tower of London" (1939)--Universal mix of horror and history lesson.  Basil Rathbone is an overly ambitious rat who decides everyone ahead of him in line for the English throne (he's number six) has to die.  Boris Karloff is memorable as an executioner who loves his work.  Vincent Price makes an impression as a rich sot who has an especially memorable Exit.

 

Favorites--"Night World" (1932) and "Christmas Holiday" (1944)

 

Least favorite--"Follow the Leader" (1930), by a Nose.

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I saw seven films for the first or second time last week:

 

"The Kiss Before the Mirror" (1933)--James Whale film that explores the consequences of adultery promises to be fascinating for the first half hour, then the script takes a Disastrous wrong turn and embraces hypocrisy.  The fault is in the script.  Whale's direction, the leads Frank Morgan and Nancy Carroll, and Karl Freund's cinematography are near flawless.  Watchable film, but disappointing.

 

"Son of Frankenstein" (1939)--The last and least of the Karloff Frankensteins. Basil Rathbone gives a odd, jumpy performance for an actor who's usually so suave.  Bela Lugosi is good as Ygor, who uses the Monster to get revenge.  Karloff again makes a horrifying creature touching.  Good, but not great.

 

"Roller Boogie" (1979)--Relic from the roller disco era  starring Linda Blair and Beverly Garland.  Music is okay to sub-par, Blair and company skate fairly well to very well (look for the breakdancers on roller skates).  Mentioning acting seems unfair--there are more skaters than actors listed in the credits.

 

"Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves" (1944)--Blissfully silly Maria Montez/Jon Hall epic.  The print I saw was brand new--the colors were bright and sharp and jumped off the screen. Hall is his usual dim self, Montez is stunning, if thickly accented, Andy Devine is subdued.  There's even a parody of "The Desert Song" in this.  Recommended.

 

"Looking For Mr. Goodbar" (1977)--Well made film, fine performance by Tuesday Weld, a good one by Diane Keaton.  Richard Gere is Obviously a psycho, from his first entrance.  A film I don't need to see again.

 

"The Shanghai Gesture" (1941)--Lesser Josef von Sternberg--all style, no substance.  Victor Mature, Gene Tierney, and Ona Munson star.  Mature does well, a miscast Tierney flounders in a role unsuited to her, and Munson alone gets at the core of anger in her role as Mother GinSling (Mother *******  before the Code forced changes).  Slow moving campy melodrama.

 

"The Love Parade" (1929)--The first half of this film is top notch Lubitsch, then derails somewhat with an extended humiliation scene before film rights itself at the end; Very worth seeing.

 

Favorite--"Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves" (1944).

 

Least Favorite--"Looking For Mr. Goodbar" (1977).

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>>>>>>>"The Shanghai Gesture" (1941)--Lesser Josef von Sternberg--all style, no substance.  Victor Mature, Gene Tierney, and Ona Munson star.  Mature does well, a miscast Tierney flounders in a role unsuited to her, and Munson alone gets at the core of anger in her role as Mother GinSling (Mother *******  before the Code forced changes).  Slow moving campy melodrama.

 

 

But fun. This is a film that I enjoy better so long as I don't take it too seriously. Campy melodrama can be fun and this one feels a bit like the proverbial so bad that it's good category. I double took Mature in that fez. I thought he was miscast at first but liked him later. It seems to me that he had a really good line early on but I can't remember now. Tierney throws herself into the role with reckless abandon, maybe a bit too reckless. I don't remember her being all that bad but it was awhile back. It was in keeping with the film. Several years ago here there was a rather prolonged discussion in a now dormant thread with members here who seem to scarce these days. It was a pretty good run. Gin Sling is a great name. Was she the Dragon Lady, is that what the code bounced? The composer Bloch wrote Four Episodes, one of which is titled "Chinese" that I associate with this film. It could serve to my ears anyway a sort of incidental music to The Shanghai Gesture. It's only five minutes and there a hint of humor in the music that fits with the some of the campy elements, IMO.

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I watched seven movies over the past two week:  one a week ago, six this week.  Ant-Man is a perfectly enjoyable Marvel comics movie.  It's witty, exciting in places, though the father estranged from his daughter does show the limits of this sort of movie.  It does benefit from one of the better Michael Douglas performances in recent years.  Ruby Sparks is an idea that is as unpromising as it sounds.  What if you, a male you, could create the love of your life and if that didn't quite work out, you could edit her to solve any problems.  Since, fairly obviously, that is not how love works, it's fairly obvious that this conceit is not going to work out well.  It's also sentimental that it comes up with the solution that it does.  The Lobster is genuinely strange and occasionally amusing about a society which forces people to pair up.  If they don't within 45 days they're turned into animals.  Amusing in places, and unsettling in others, but I can understand why Richard Brody was annoyed with a satire that doesn't really reflect any aspect of contemporary society.  S.O.B is another flawed, unbalanced comedy by Blake Edwards.  Oddly solipsistic in its way, since the movie posits that if Edwards' wife bared her breasts, it would create the highest grossing movie in history,  Also oddly dated, since nudity would decline in Hollywood over the next few decades once the shock wore off.  (To be fair Titanic did have brief nudity.)  At times the humor is pathetically crude.  In other places it's sloppy (why aren't the director's children at his own memorial service).  And while Hollywood is crass, it's hard to be that upset that people didn't appreciate Darling Lil.  In the movie's defense, Robert Preston, Julie Andrews and William Holden go through the movie with some dignity.  To Each His Own is best at the beginning, and it shows Leisen's talents at his best.  Pity the rest of the film is soap opera twaddle:  De Havilland becomes a wealthy woman able to bully her son's adoptive mother, just like most orphaned unwed mothers in the twenties did.  Mother and son are reunited in the end, even though the son had two adaptive siblings and a mother who he's known all his life.  Aside from how horrifying De Havilland's blackmail is, it's odd that the adaptive mother gives up without a fight.  Charley Varrick is surprisingly competent, and it says something that Joe Dean Baker's character, while clearly very ruthless and intelligent, isn't a superhuman like Anton Chigurh.  Arguably the movie is what No Country for Old Men would be like if it weren't so portentous.

 

But clearly the movie of the week was Jonas Mekas' Walden, also known as Diaries, Notes and Sketches.  This startling avant-garde collection of his home movies, is also striking beautiful and representative of New York City in the sixties.

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S.O.B is another flawed, unbalanced comedy by Blake Edwards.  Oddly solipsistic in its way, since the movie posits that if Edwards' wife bared her breasts, it would create the highest grossing movie in history,  Also oddly dated, since nudity would decline in Hollywood over the next few decades once the shock wore off.  (To be fair Titanic did have brief nudity.)  At times the humor is pathetically crude.  In other places it's sloppy (why aren't the director's children at this own memorial service).  And while Hollywood is crass, it's hard to be that upset that people didn't appreciate Darling Lil. 

 

 

And also that the problem with Darling Lili WASN'T that Andrews was too sweet or that it needed more musical numbers...Quite the opposite, in both cases.

Basically, Hollywood directors doing satires on Hollywood tend to be too hyperdefensively hostile, and their movies-within-a-movies end up as something so bizarre we don't even know what they're trying to satirize.

 

Edwards does, though, deliberately try to break his own record for most uses of the "Strange bedfellows" gag where the lights come on and we see the two most unlikely characters in bed together...Y'know, there are a lot more examples besides this and Victor/Victoria that make you wonder about Blake a bit.

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lafitte--The Code bounced the name of Whitney Stine's 1973 biography of Bette Davis.  It wasn't "Mother Goldarn", LOL.

 

The alternate title was CALL ME A ***** ONE MORE TIME AND, SO HELP ME, I'LL CLAW YOUR *** ****ED EYES OUT: A MEMOIR.

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I've been in a time warp this week: 1970s movies on TCM and 1960s tonight on TCM. I won't comment again on LOOKING FOR MR. GOODBAR because I did that on the other board except to say Diane Keaton is terrific in this film. STEPFORD WIVES, which I've seen before but not in a while, was enjoyable. Paula Prentiss is a delight; the kind of friend most of us women would love to have and Katherine Ross is good (I love her hair), too. The horror builds slowly but effectively. I watched THE BEST MAN. I didn't intend to watch it again because I've seen it several times but I do like it and Cliff Robertson's character reminded me of a certain orange-haired politician. Excellent politicial drama and stillvery timely in many ways. Love Lee Tracy in it. I recorded MEDIUM COOL but I still caught some of it as it aired live. Shallow but true observation: Robert Forster - so good looking! I thought he was fine looking in JACKIE BROWN and he is HOT in this. Anyway, I remember the buzz about this movie when it came out and I need to watch the whole thing. I was in high school in 1968 and stayed up half the night watching the convention coverage on TV and all that was going on in the streets.

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Best -- Binge watching Olivia DeHaviland on Friday

 

Agreed.   The showing of  The Snake Pit,  The Heiress and To Each His Own;    3 films all made in a fairly short period of time (< 4 years),   containing great performance by Olivia.   

 

Hard to name 3 movies by another actress, released in a 4 year period,  that can match Olivia's performances in those films.  

 

Maybe:

 

Bette Davis from 39 - 42 with Dark Victory,  The Letter and Now Voyager and Greer Garson from 42 - 46 with Mrs. Miniver, Madame Curie and Mrs. Parkington.

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Hi:  I'm new to this board, so I'm not sure of protocol, etc. so do feel free to please put me straight!!

I confess I am not a movie purist/expert, I just know what I like, kinda like wine. I so enjoy the 40's-60's eras, not a great fan of the 30's/silent eras.  I love  Bette Davis, Olivia DeHaviland, etc. but  enjoy all kinds of genres and have a large collection of my own movies.

I've noticed there has been an awful lot of western movies on TCM lately, which are not of my list of favs.  and they are shown on so many other channels.  I go to TCM for real 'classics' - however, I do appreciate that many see some westerns as classics.

I so enjoyed Mrs. Leslie - first time I've seen that.  Good to see The Heiress again.  I watched Love Actually, Dangerous Crossing, Mildred Pierce, Mrs. Miniver, Brief Encounter and many others from my own collection. Since we had HBO "free" for a couple of days, I did watch some more modern stuff - thoroughly enjoyed "The Martian"   I'm retired now, I'm entitled to watch as many movies as I want! :)

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Welcome to the boards, camberwell. We accept all kinds and tastes here, so if you like beach movies, tearjerkers, desert adventures, cartoon shorts, Japanese sci-fi, obscure musicals of the 1930's, heist flicks, mondo movies, film noir, slapstick, monster movies, or even more film noir, you will find at least one or two people to chat with.

 

The western festival is a special thing happening just this month, and will be over soon enough.

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camberwell--Welcome to the boards.  TCM is spotlighting Westerns this month; it's one of their monthly themes, along with films starring Olivia De Havilland and films from the 1970's.  

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Hi:  I'm new to this board, so I'm not sure of protocol, etc. so do feel free to please put me straight!!

I confess I am not a movie purist/expert, I just know what I like, kinda like wine. I so enjoy the 40's-60's eras, not a great fan of the 30's/silent eras.  I love  Bette Davis, Olivia DeHaviland, etc. but  enjoy all kinds of genres and have a large collection of my own movies.

I've noticed there has been an awful lot of western movies on TCM lately, which are not of my list of favs.  and they are shown on so many other channels.  I go to TCM for real 'classics' - however, I do appreciate that many see some westerns as classics.

 

I so enjoyed Mrs. Leslie - first time I've seen that.  Good to see The Heiress again.  I watched Love Actually, Dangerous Crossing, Mildred Pierce, Mrs. Miniver, Brief Encounter and many others from my own collection. Since we had HBO "free" for a couple of days, I did watch some more modern stuff - thoroughly enjoyed "The Martian"   I'm retired now, I'm entitled to watch as many movies as I want! :)

 

As others have said July is a special month as it relates to Westerns,  so hang in there;  I.e.  in future months I assume there will be a lot LESS westerns since TCM showed so many in July.

 

PS:  As for my favorites,  Bette is my #1 and Olivia #3 (with Stanwyck #2).

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Thank you for making me feel welcome!  I must admit, I will be glad to see the back of the westerns. 

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Maybe:

 

Bette Davis from 39 - 42 with Dark Victory,  The Letter and Now Voyager and Greer Garson from 42 - 46 with Mrs. Miniver, Madame Curie and Mrs. Parkington.

I love Greer, but for a three movie extract from her incredible winning streak, I'd lop off MRS. MINIVER (not my favorite) and substitute BLOSSOMS IN THE DUST at the beginning, or VALLEY OF DECISION at the end.  MADAME CURIE  and MRS PARKINGTON are keepers.

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Thank you for making me feel welcome!  I must admit, I will be glad to see the back of the westerns. 

 

If you like seeing backs, don't miss the end of Shane.

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I love Greer, but for a three movie extract from her incredible winning streak, I'd lop off MRS. MINIVER (not my favorite) and substitute BLOSSOMS IN THE DUST at the beginning, or VALLEY OF DECISION at the end.  MADAME CURIE  and MRS PARKINGTON are keepers.

 

Well I can't quibble with your suggestions.    Greer had such a 'winning streak' that it was difficult for me to decide what 3 films to select.   I took the easy route by selecting the film that won her the Oscar instead of where she was only nominated.

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I watched 31 movies this past week, all but one from 1990. Captain America, Darkman, The Death of the Incredible Hulk, Dick Tracy, Frankenstein Unbound, Nightbreed, Quick Change, Slumber Party Massacre 3, and Women & Men: Stories of Seduction were all rewatches. The best and worst from this bunch were;

 

Best: Dick Tracy remains entertaining, and the costumes, make-up and production design are all fun. Nightbreed, based on a novella by Clive Barker, who also directed this film version, is also interesting. I watched the recently released director's cut, which returned nearly 30 minutes of footage. Unfortunately, it still leaves a film that seems unfinished, with many jarring jumps and gaps in the narrative. I would still recommend the movie to horror and fantasy fans, as the wide variety of original creatures is worth a look.

 

Worst: Slumber Party Massacre 3, of course, although it's still a bit fun in a cheesy sort of way.

 

Alienator, Bloodfist 2, Buried Alive, By Dawn's Early Light, Close-Up, Crash and Burn, Delta Force 2, Descending Angel, The Disturbance, Drug Wars: The Camarena Story, Frankenhooker, Jekyll & Hyde, Madonna: A Case of Blood Ambition, Prom Night 3: The Last Kiss, Rising Son, A Shock to the System, Soldier of Fortune, Stella, Street Hunter, Syngenor, and Treasure Island from 1990, and Lights Out released today, were all first time watches. The best and worst were:

 

Best: A Shock to the System, starring Michael Caine as a corporate drone who discovers murder may be the fast track to advancement, is an entertaining black comedy, and one of Michael Caine's better roles of the era. Also, is it bad that I enjoyed Frankenhooker more than Abbas Kiaorstami's critically acclaimed Close-Up? I don't care.

 

Worst: There were a lot of turkeys this week, but the one that annoyed me the most was Stella, an awful remake of the Barbara Stanwyck weepie Stella Dallas, starring Bette Midler as the self-sacrificing mother. Midler is really awful, and the tone of the film is confused and inconsistent. Stick with the 1937 version.

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Four movies this week:  Before the Rain was a critical success when it came out, but I did not very impressive.  A slightly scrambled plot, some gratuitous nudity, some gratuitous violence at a key moment does not a profound film make.  Certainly there is nothing particularly profound or searching about the destruction of Yugoslavia.  Fellow former Yugoslav director Emir Kusturica is certainly the more imaginative director, while Ulysses' Gaze is a more thoughtful film.  The Tale of Tales is based on an Italian collection of fairy tales.  To be precise three of the fifty one are taken in.  The films shows a certain visual imagination, and Toby Jones is perhaps the best in the cast as a king who rears a flea to the size of a cow.  (When the flea dies, he offers his daughter to any man who can guess what animal the skin is from.  Unfortunately an ogre guesses correctly).  It should be noted that the endings of all three tales have been changed to make them slightly darker.  But I'm not sure that makes them better stories, nor do I think the three stories chosen cohere very well.  Better are the other two movies.  Ballad of a Soldier is a good example of Soviet humanism, about a soldier who luckily gets a furlough and the many complications he encounters.  Zanna Prokhorenko as the young woman he meets for half the movie is worthy of special praise.  L'Enfant Secret is the third of Philippe Garrel's movies that I've seen.  I enjoyed, if that is the right term, Regular Lovers, while Jealously left me uninterested.  This movie, by contrast, is distinctly better, involving a relationship between a film maker, with a drug addiction and a woman with an illegitimate child.  Austere, in black and white. subtle, precise, pessimistic, this is certainly not your ordinary love story.  And better for it

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I saw eight films for the first or second time this week.

 

"The Private Affairs of Bel Ami" (1947)--Albert Lewin directed talkathon, with a wonderful performance by George Sanders, Master of the snooty epigram and one liner.  He keeps this tale of an 1880's cad from drowning in Talk.  Angela Lansbury and Ann Dvorak are notable in support.  And again in a Lewin film, obsession with a painting (The Temptation of Saint Anthony) is part of the plot.

 

"A*P*E*"--(1976)--Horrid ripoff of the 1976 version of "King Kong"--which was a lousy film.  One of the 50 worst films I've watched to the end.  This is the one where the ape "flips off" the audience (around the 53 minute mark). Saw on YouTube.

 

"Arabian Nights" (1942)--The first of Universal's Maria Montez/Jon Hall epics.  Opening credits are animated, the cinematography candy-colored, the surroundings are color coordinated with the casts' costumes, the script plays like an Abbott-Costello routine, with bits of Marx Brothers like lunacy and the ThreeStooges.  Technicolor nonsense is very enjoyable.  Recommended.

 

"The Big Steal" (1949)--Don Siegel directed Noir/chase film, with Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer.  Film begins with Mitchum's door being broke down and doesn't slow down.  Mitchum and Greer are on the run for most of the film; their verbal sparring back and forth is maybe the best part of the film (Greer displays a real gift for sarcasm, and is more than a match for Mitchum).  As Inspector Ortega, Ramon Novarro steals scenes.  Recommended.

 

"The Gorgon" (1964)--Hammer horror film starring Barbara Steele and Christopher Lee.  Film revolves around mythology of Medusa and the Gorgons.  In 1910, in a remote part of Germany, there has been a series of unsolved murders where the victims were turned to stone.  A deserted castle is at the Center of things.  A fun watch.

 

"River of No Return" (1954)--A musical Western, shot on location in Canada, that stars Fantastic color photography in CinemaScope.  Robert Mitchum, Marilyn Monroe, and Tommy Rettig star.  This Otto Preminger directed film turned out well, despite an indecisive script and Interference from the front office.  Mitchum is a man recently released from prison, Rettig his son, Monroe a saloon singer they are involved with in 1870's Canada.  Mitchum is good and funny, Rettig unsentimental and matter-of-fact, and Monroe very good in the musical numbers, and ok to good in the rest of the film.  Recommended.

 

"White Witch Doctor" (1953)--Disappointing African adventure film.  Script is a retread of countless other films; nurse (Susan Hayward) arrives in 1903 Africa, needs man (Robert Mitchum) to protect her on a perilous journey to join a doctor.  When they arrive at the doctors' village, they find the doctor has perished.  Will Hayward be endangered by her decisions?  Will Mitchum guide her for the Wrong reasons?  Will they fall in Love?.  Film is saved only by Mitchums' and Haywards' professionalism.

 

"Portrait of Jennie" (1949)--Starring Joseph Cotten and Jennifer Jones.  Metaphysical melodrama succeeds in spite of a script that wants to get lost in ruminations about the real and unreal.  Cotten as a man trying to solve a mystery keeps the film anchored in reality.  Jones is excellent as she  suggests the echo of a tragic past trying to find love.  Cinematography that suggests the bending and intermingling of past and present is Excellent, as are the films Oscar winning Special Effects.  POJ is a real mood piece that I had to be in a receptive mood for.  I dismissed it too easily when I first saw it, years ago, but POJ is a rewarding watch.  Recommended.

 

Most Favorite--"Arabian Nights" (1942) and "River of No Return" (1954).

 

Least Favorite--"A*P*E*" (1976).

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