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LEAST & MOST FAVORITE of the week...

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I remember watching 'The Bad Seed' for the first time

when I was about 6 years old and remembering what

an impact this little girl made on me. I remember getting

scared when her sugary sweet expression would 'contort'

to malevolency. And I also remember wanting a dresser

just like hers, that had a little drawer where I could put all

my little 'trinkets' into.

 

I also remember my brother and I, nervously laughing with

relief when 'Rhoda Penmark' finally got hers !! ....

It wasn't until I was older, & became a mother myself, that

I began to see the inner turmoils that Christine Penmark,

Rhoda's mother had to struggle through, being torn between

protecting her child or taking matters into her own hands and

taking care of the issue herself, instead of leaving it

to the authorities . . .

 

images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRTNxTkvEXOFhcknP_fXDK

 

Edited by: ugaarte on Oct 27, 2011 6:32 PM

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I saw seven movies this week. Camelot may be the dullest Broadway "classic" I've seen, and it fails badly in comparison to Excalibur, Lancelot du Lac, and, of course, Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The originial Cape Fear has a remarkable performance from Robert Mitchum, but neither it nor the remake are very interesting. Cave of Forgotten Dreams is interesting, but I prefer Herzog's Land of silence and Darkness, and Lessons of Darkness. The Masque of the Red Death is more interesting than one might think a Roger Corman film might be. I ended up preferring The Boy Friend to Hair, since here is one movie where Ken Russell's excess is actually more fun than Hair's easy listening anarchism. I wonder why I did not care more for The Blue Kite, which had morally complex characters, but lacked a certain interest.

 

 

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The four movies I saw this week were actually not that bad. West of the Tracks is a nine hour Chinese Documentary about what's it like when the government closes all the factories in your town. I've been watching it in bits and pieces on youtube, and it's certainly interesting. Also, the Chinese here are distinctly more foul-mouthed than they are in fictional Chinese movies. Here comes Mr. Jordan was okay. I must say though that while he has every reason to be aggravated Robert Montgomery is not as charming as Edward Everett Horton and Claude Rains. A Walk in the Sun was an interesting war movie. But the movie I liked best was Cria Cuervos with Ana Torrent, who may have been the best actress of 1976. I must say I missed the whole did she murder her father with dangerous baking soda the first time around.

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I really liked THE IMMORTAL SERGEANT...it spoke right to my old romantic heart.

 

Also, THOSE ENDEARING YOUNG CHARMS got me in the gut...I have lived that kind of relationship, and probably if I had seen what Laraine Day goes through in this picture, I would've avoided all the drama!

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The four movies I saw this week were not as good as last week's. The Story of G.I. Joe was not as impressive as A Walk in the Sun which didn't require a dog to get the audience's sympathy. She Done Him Wrong had a nice performance by Mae West, and some good lines, but the rest of the movie lacked something. I suppose I was most disappointed by Police, Adjective. It lacked something that the director's previous 12:08 East of Bucharest had. What it lacked I suppose was a sense of proportion. The climactic converstation resembles the single-take converstation that dominates Hunger, with the exception that the single take is interrupted when another characters brings a dictionary into the room. But the contrast in the two subject matters, terrorism and the fate of Ireland on the one hand makes the discussion of conscience and the debate over jailing hashish smokers seem portentous. I know Romania has a very depressing history and it's not surprising that people are nervous about their country's police. But quite frankly maybe they could lighten up. Dressed to Kill by contrast was not disappointing. I didn't think I would like it, and as it turned out I didn't. With its split screens and godawful gauzy cinematography the movie is more dated than an underrated murder mystery like Death on the Nile or the work of a studio tehnician like Day of the Jackal or every movie Hitchcock ever made. The wholesale plundering of Psycho only reveals De Palma's shallowness. Giving away as little as posible, nobody in Dressed to Kill remotely matches Anthony Perkins' performance, nor is there any depth to the relations among the characters. This may be Pauline Kael's least defensible review.

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I will have to agree about SHE DONE HIM WRONG. I was surprised to read it was Mae West's favorite of her own films. I think she is better in other selections (my guess is that the 66 minute running time we have now is a much-truncated version so that it could be re-released when the production code took affect). One thing that doesn't work for me is that Cary Grant is supposed to be the lead romantic guy in this picture, and he really doesn't have much to do until the last ten minutes. Their chemistry is put to greater use in I'M NO ANGEL where they share much more screen time.

 

Of the films I watched and really enjoyed I have to mention MALAYA (which seems like MGM copying from Warners) but that cast is simply magnificent. It is like getting a class in acting when Spencer Tracy, James Stewart and Sidney Greenstreet are all in the same scene! Gilbert Roland is also very good in this picture.

 

FMC played THE HUSTLER which I haven't watched yet, but I have a feeling I will enjoy it.

 

Someone else started a thread about ABANDON SHIP, a Columbia sea drama starring Tyrone Power. I agree that is a superb film, and no matter how many times I have viewed it, I get all caught up in it. And don't you just love cute Mai Zetterling!?

 

But I am going to say that my favorite film this week was FIVE FINGERS, broadcast on Fox Movie Channel. James Mason does a brilliant job playing a ruthless spy. This film had me glued to the screen from start to finish. It also didn't hurt that sexy Michael Rennie was in it, too!

 

Honorable mention goes to Encore Western Channel's showing of WHISPERING SMITH, a Paramount release starring Alan Ladd, Robert Preston and Brenda Marshall. We don't get too many Paramount pictures on Encore Westerns. The lush Technicolor has been beautifully preserved and the story moves along nicely.

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I watched quite a few films, taking advantage of down-time during the recent Thanksgiving holiday.

 

First, I neglected to mention last week that I had seen THE KILLING OF SISTER GEORGE. There is something wickedly funny about an out-of-control soap opera star making a pass at two nuns in a taxi cab. Especially since said character happens to be female. The story works rather well, most notably the intercutting between the actress' real life drama and the drama she gets paid to perform on screen.

 

Robert Aldrich is quickly becoming one of my favorite directors. In addition to SISTER GEORGE, I watched THE EMPEROR OF THE NORTH. Again, Aldrich takes unlikable characters (this time a murderous railroad agent played by Ernest Borgnine) and makes the proceedings infinitely interesting. While I would not pick the subject material he does, the director shows how a master craftsman can put an artistic spin on almost anything and make it entertaining.

 

I really enjoyed FREE AND EASY, which I just finally got around to viewing. I had recorded it about a month ago when Buster Keaton was TCM's Star of the Month. I think this film, one of Buster's first talkies, shows what he is so good at. Here, he takes a simple premise and really builds on it. He's a backwoods boy who goes to Hollywood to escort a budding starlet, only to become the bigger more celebrated movie celebrity himself. There are some great scenes where Buster flops into an orchestra pit, where he gets beat up by actors on set (during an endlessly violent rehearsal), and when he and costar Robert Montgomery duke it out over comely Anita Page.

 

I started a thread on the TCM General Discussion board about PENELOPE, a mid-60s vehicle starring Natalie Wood. I couldn't help but think that this caper about a bored housewife who becomes a bank robber in order to get easy cash, new clothes and jewels (and the attention of her bank manager husband) would have been perfect for Marilyn Monroe. MGM's lush production values are deliciously intact, and Natalie was never better. Pity that it is not yet on DVD.

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This wasn't the strongest of weeks, although there were some that I would've caught if I hadn't seen them half a dozen times already, particularly The Lady Eve and A Foreign Affair .

 

But the unquestionable highlight was Bardot's And God Created Woman . I saw it many years ago, but I liked it much better this time around. Bardot's Juliette seems like a slightly more erotic version of the Jeanne Moreau character in Jules and Jim , the eternal femme fickle, even though at the end she seemed to realize she'd married the right guy after all. It had enough of the classic elements of French New Wave films to keep me hooked from start to finish.

 

The other highlight was also French: Truffaut's Stolen Kisses . I absolutely hated that movie when it first came out, but this time it somehow improved from about a 1 to a 7 or 8, and I have a feeling that the next time it'll be even higher. Too bad that TCM resists showing more than a relative handful of foreign films and keeps running second rate musicals and third rate westerns into the ground, but I guess that's what most people apparently want. What we really need is a TCM International Network that has a balanced schedule of the best movies from all countries and all eras---Hey, I can dream, can't I?

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I watched the tail end of STOLEN KISSES. It was not as great as I had hoped. I think it pales compared to 400 BLOWS. There are two other sequels, I think. Perhaps if TCM did a special evening of Antoine Doinel films we could get our foreign fix. LOL

 

I agree that foreign films are vastly under-represented on the channel. Remember back in August when there was a whole day devoted to Jean Gabin...and what an uproar that caused!

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As always I loved every minute of "The lady Eve" , but the film immediately preceding it "Anything Goes" was a colossal disappointment. I had this movie on my wish list for some time waiting for the DVD to become available, thank God it never did. This film that features some fine Cole Porter songs falls flat on its face. The cast Bing Crosby, Donald O'Connor, Mitzi Gaynor and zizi Jeanmaire where the H*** did they did her up and who thought she belonged in this film? First Bing sleeps walks his way through this entire movie just reprising previous characters no sweat and d*** little effort. Donald, one of all time favorites, didn't seem to present when he was on camera, but maybe he recognized just how bad this film was destined to be and quit trying and who could blame him they rang in a bunch of children & a beach ball for him to dance with and that is seldom bodes well for any film. Mizi, now i never believed she was a Great dancer or a Great singer, but she was particularly sad in this film, when she was dancing with Donald i got the impression she was having difficulty keeping up and her voice was very very weak. I remember the strong booming voice she gave us in "This No Business Like show Business" and " South pacific" , but there was no evidence of it in this film. Now to the the true weak link Zizi jeanmaire, Hollywood had a boring fascination with every think French in the 1950's , Bardot, etc. and this mature woman was so out of place in this film it was embarrassing to watch her numbers. if they had to have a French girl why not the young, vivacious, talented and exciting Leslie Caron. My rating for Anything Goes one star our of 5.

 

Edited by: stjohnrv on Nov 27, 2011 1:37 PM

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stjohnry I couldn't agree more about *Anthing Goes* . I saw parts of the film years ago and couldn't have cared less about it. I thought I'd give it another look, hoping that now that I was older I might enjoy the film more. I could get thru the first few minutes and switched stations. One of the worst musicals I've ever seen.

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One of Bing's hallmarks was that he generally SEEMED to display very little efffort. I guess that in this film, he ACTUALLY put forth very little effort. (I didn't see it).

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Melancholia was the best of the seven movies I saw last week. Kirsteb Dunst was very good, and there's something about the imminent end of the world that gives her actions more plausibility than the more artifical situations in Breaking the Waves, Dogville or Dancer in the Dark. What Price Glory was interesting, and Stolen Kisses especially the second half. Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice has a reputaiton of being rather dated, and having seen it I'm inclined to agree. Run of the Arrow was interesting, and I wish I'd paid it more attention. This isn't the first movie where the Indians beat the Cavalry, since they obviously also win in They Died with their Boots on but it's still interesting for that. I saw Five Deadly Venoms in a badly dubbed English version. Three Brothers was the most diasppointing movie I saw this week. I clearly expected more from the director of Salvatore Giulliano and The Mattei Affair. It suffers from being overly schematic. That political tensions divided Italian families one can expect. But a working class radical indulgent towards the Red Brigades and an anti-Red Brigades judge aren't likely to be brothers.

 

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I saw five movies in the last two weeks. Face to Face was not the best of Bergman's movies, but it is still of a very high quality, and Liv Ullmann was superb. The Lion King was the most financially successful of the nineties Disney animated revival, but it shows the weakness that caused them to turn to Pixar in the next decade: an increasingly formulaic nature, and an absence of imagination as the overall didactic theme becomes more and more present. American Splendor was a better movie than I thought it would be. So was The Human Factor and Nicol Williamson there was very good. Werner Herzog's Nosferatu gave me mixed feelings. Some parts show Herzog's distinctive vision, but there's also a general pointlessness as we wait for the movie to go through Murnau's paces. And Klaus Kinski has nothing on Max Schreck. I think the best movie I saw was rewatching The Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach which is available on youtube right here:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3SioCmZfwdE

 

 

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The film I enjoyed and loved the most was AIRPORT (1970). It showed up on the Encore Family channel two days ago. I had never seen it. Of course, it was not in widescreen, but I thought it was very well-done and worth watching in any format.

 

It contained all the ingredients of classic filmmaking I like: it had a strong script, attractive old school Hollywood stars (Burt Lancaster & Dean Martin), big-budget studio production values (from Universal), and scene-stealing supporting turns by four pros-- Helen Hays (who walked off with an Oscar); Van Heflin (intense, as a terrorist); Maureen Stapleton (as his frazzled and shamed wife); and Barbara Hale as Martin's cast-off wife, dealing with the consequences of a loveless and faithless marriage. Great stuff!

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I saw eight movies over the last two weeks. Mondo Cane is a famous, as well as unscrupulous and dishonest documentary. Life with Father did not strike me as one of William Powell's better movies. He appears less outrageous than as a bit of a bully. I was not very impressed with Borat, which struck me as less as a satire on American provincialism than crude jokes about Central Asia. The Horse's Mouth was interesting, and Alec Guiness gave a genuinely good performance. I Remember Mama struck me as one of George Stevens' less interesting movies. It goes on forever. You, the Living is an interesting exercise in Ingmar Bergman meets Buster Keaton. I think it would have worked better if I had had more than an hour or two of sleep in the preceding 24. I also saw two Palme D'Or winners. Keeper of Promises is a Brazillian movie about a man who tries to fufill a vow by lugging a cross from the countryside all the way to the big city basillica. Since the youtube version didn't have subtitles and I don't speak Portuguese, I wasn't able to judge it very well. It did not look like the best example of Brazillian sixties cinema though. I also saw Sex, Lies and videotape. I had a prejudice against the movie after reading negative reviews of it by Stuart Klawans and Mark Crispin Miller. And I'm inclined to agree: the characters are simplistic and the conversation is glib and ultimately shallow. The best movies I saw in the last two weeks were rewatching The Long Day Closes and Distant Voices, Still Lives. TCM should show them!

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I watched a variety of films, most of them good.

 

Honorable mention goes to THE OMEGA MAN with Charlton Heston, based on the story 'I Am Legend.' I thought this was a very intriguing film, though it is ironically a science fiction that seems to be very much a product of its times. I guess we could call it anachronistic in a good way.

 

IT HAPPENED ON FIFTH AVENUE had several airings on TCM this week. I recorded it two years ago and never watched it. This time around, I gave it my full attention. It was so wonderful I watched it twice! What a charming cast with some of the best one-liners I have heard in a long time.

 

Another film I recorded a few years ago and did not watch until this week was CHICKEN EVERY SUNDAY. Again, I don't know why I waited so long! It was interesting to read that John Payne and Maureen O'Hara had originally been assigned to the project. I thought Dan Dailey was perfect as the scheming father, and if Celeste Holm was not entirely convincing, she was still fine (even with her New England accent slipping into the role of a Southern woman). Alan Young, who plays one of the young leads, was even better, and he should've made more films at Fox.

 

Speaking of young leads, I really enjoyed watching Jerome Courtland's film debut in Columbia's TOGETHER AGAIN. This delightful film does not air on cable, at least not often, and it truly deserves airplay and an audience. Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer are reteamed for their third cinematic venture, and this screwball comedy fires on all cylinders. Of particular note is Charles Coburn who once again steals the show as Dunne's father-in-law.

 

And while we're on the subject of Irene Dunne, I did manage to see RKO's version of THE AGE OF INNOCENCE (1934), based on Edith Wharton's novel. This was one of the most lovingly made films I have seen by RKO from that era. No expense was spared on set design and costumes. John Boles is perfect in the leading man role, much better than Daniel Day Lewis in the remake years later. Boles has the perfect dream-like, yet masculine quality that Wharton's story calls for, and Dunne is equally sensational as his doomed lover. The cast benefits from the presence of Helen Westley, one of my all-time favorite character actresses.

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TopBilled wrote:

 

I watched the tail end of STOLEN KISSES. It was not as great as I had hoped. I think it pales compared to 400 BLOWS. There are two other sequels, I think. Perhaps if TCM did a special evening of Antoine Doinel films we could get our foreign fix. LOL

 

I agree that foreign films are vastly under-represented on the channel. Remember back in August when there was a whole day devoted to Jean Gabin...and what an uproar that caused!

 

Better late than never :-)

 

It is a bitter disappointment that foreign films seem to be on their way out at TCM :-(. This is obviously because TCM is trying to attract younger viewers, most of whom don't want anything to do with even a so-called "classic" movie, much less a *foreign* classic movie. In those good old days, when TCM's intent was solely to supply quality films, rather than to focus upon winning over any particular demographic group, we had a wealth of excellent, quality-oriented foreign films.

 

Now, the few that are left are dwindling fast on TCM. The handwriting is clearly on the wall--for those around here who can read it realistically, instead of pretending that it does not exist. True to form, Bill Dollar wins once again, as ad-men and pitch-men push, shove, shout, wink, and fall all over themselves for all of the wrong reasons.

 

Musikone

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My guess is that there will be at least one SUTS honoree with silent or foreign films next August. But still, one of out of 31 days is not much. Hardly anything to complain about, unless you want more of that sort of thing.

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I saw quite fa few movies last week. On Christmas Day, I saw The Adventures of Tintin. I can't say that I was disappointed. Action sequences increasingly mean less and less to me, and The Crab with the Golden Claws is not one of my favorite Tintin adventures. (What are my favorites? Cigars of the Pharoah, The Seven Crystal Balls, Prisoners of the Sun, Flight 714, and a special place in my heart for The Blue Lotus, plus Tintin and the Picaros.) Though I can't deny the brilliance of one chase sequence shot in a North African city done as a single animated shot. Drive has some virtues. It starts off with something that one would think impossible after the last twenty five years, a genuinely interesting car chase. But Gosling's performance is more a stylistic trick than genuine acting. And there are some flaws in the story (Why shoot the robber who HASN'T stolen the million dollars from you? Why does a criminal bigshot who has no problems finding hit me in the past decide not to have one at a crucial moment?) On the other hand it's a better movie than The Descendants. I'm not really a big fan of Alexander Payne, and while this isn't as irritating as the other movies we've seen, we're asked to put our sympathies with the richest, most handsome and most charming character in the movie. And to the extent we are supposed to extend our sympathies beyond him, we are to extend them to the attractive daughter who spends much of the movie in a bikini. By contrast, the person who clashes with the protagonist spends almost all of the move in a coma. I also saw The Artist on Tuesday. It was amusing in places, but comparatively slight. There was charm in Sense and Sensibility and Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman were very good, and Kate Winslet and Hugh Grant also good. But I don't really like the Austen formula, where we have to sympathize with a family who has to live on several hundred pounds a year, while the vast majority of early 19 th century Englishmen and women live on far less and have to sweat every penny. Shine, by contrast was less interesting, with a classic "never do the full ****" performance for Geoffrey Rush. That's Entertainment, Part III was good. Mishima: a Life in Four Chapters was interesting, but the more Japanese literature one reads, the more obvious it is that Mishima was a writer of the second rank. The links between homosexuality, fascism and death are facile enough without Paul Schrader's hang-ups getting in the way. So I think the best movie I liked last week was the last one I saw, Zabriskie Point.

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But *Zabriskie Point* was, as I recall, a wretched and pretentious bore ! The only thing Antonioni ever made that was worth watching more than once was *Blow Up*. Even that flirts with pretention, but its story and setting are interesting enough to keep one engaged.

 

The problem with Antonioni is he seemingly had no sense of humour. Not even a subtle, absurdist sense of humour ( unlike a favourite director of mine, Luis Bunuel.)

 

sorry, skimpole, I know I'm being bloatedly opinionated and disagreeable - but you never answer anything I post anyway, so I figured, what the hell. :|

 

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I could really (and should really) make a thread called 'Least & Most Favorite of the Day' because I probably watch three or four films per day and by the time seven days have ended, there are too many to write about!

 

But by far, the best film I watched this week was a taut little thriller over at Netflix streaming called JENNIFER. Ida Lupino and then-husband Howard Duff star in a creepy story about a woman (Lupino) who is hired as caretaker for a large deserted mansion. As she settles in, she begins to find clues about a woman named Jennifer who was the previous caretaker of the estate who one day had disappeared.

 

We never see Jennifer but she haunts the entire film and Lupino. Duff plays a local man who falls for Lupino and who may or may not have had something to do with Jennifer's vanishing.

 

The ending is a real corker and you begin to replay the previous events of the movie in your mind, reconsidering if Jennifer was in fact real or if Lupino was insane. Excellent film and highly recommended.

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As for Antonioni, there are some directors whose films you have to see twice or not at all. Tarkovsky is another one. I grant that Antonioni is not an easily approchable director the first time you see him. But once it becomes clear that L'Aventura isn't supposed to be a mystery, Antonioni's style is extremely striking. Yes, Zabriskie Point is easy to parody, but then so is Sam Peckinpah, and that hasn't hurt him too much.

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Since most everything that I liked on TCM during the holidays has been movies I've seen many times before, I didn't watch all that many.

 

The best (or at least the ones I enjoyed the most):

 

Evelyn Prentice, Shaft (about time they showed this classic), and Panic In The Streets , as good a medical thriller as there is.

 

The least of the lot: Fail-Safe

 

BTW a *BIG* vote for many more foreign classics from all decades, and many fewer bubble gum and other sickenly "wholesome" movies from the 40's through the early 60's: Mickey Rooney, Doris Day, Annette Funicello, Sandra Dee, etc. Those films were the Cheez-Whiz of the Hollywood production line, as bland as a baloney sandwich on Wonder Bread, and the one real gripe I have about TCM is that we keep getting flooded with *WAY* too many of them.

 

 

 

 

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I just saw *Hugo*, in 3D. It'll probably be my favorite of the year. I highly recommend it. It's right up the alley of TCM fans. And, yes, please see it in 3D, even if you don't like 3D.

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