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 Great suspense film. Great performace by Robinson. A marvelous score by Miklos Rozsa.  

Thanks cody. I didn't mention Rozsa's score, but you're absolutely right-- it is marvelous. One of the better film scores from that era.

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 Great suspense film. Great performace by Robinson. A marvelous score by Miklos Rozsa.  

Oh man, I forgot to mention this, too in my review! I even had it written down to say lol. I seriously don't think there is a single movie in which Miklos Rozsa doesn't have a bad score! My review will be up in a few minutes :3

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Oh man, I forgot to mention this, too in my review! I even had it written down to say lol. I seriously don't think there is a single movie in which Miklos Rozsa doesn't have a bad score! My review will be up in a few minutes :3

Thanks Ian. For those that are interested, it's available at:

 

http://forums.tcm.com/index.php?/topic/57744-the-red-house-1947-video-movie-review-dont-go-into-those-woods/&do=findComment&comment=1154585

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A film I wanted to mention briefly here is one I watched last night on Hulu. First, I am somewhat ashamed it took me 30 years to see it. That's when it first hit movie screens-- back in late 1985. Honestly, in those days, I think I was more into the "big" films like BACK TO THE FUTURE; AMADEUS; and PRIZZI'S HONOR. So this character-driven movie was one that had crossed my radar but it wasn't something I felt compelled to see. At least not until last night.

 

I found it on Hulu about a week ago. And I said to myself, "That's right, I have never watched __________. Let's add it to my queue, and one rainy day I will get around to seeing it." Well, it didn't rain last night...and there it was on the queue in front of me. I paused, then finally clicked 'play' and voila. 

 

I will be completely honest here. I loved the opening credit sequence, but as soon as the music stopped and the first scene began, I didn't like it at all. It was very stage-bound, at least in the beginning. After three minutes, I almost turned it off. The remote was in my hand, and my fingers were itchy. Change it. Turn it off. Find something else, the remote seemed to be saying. My remote control speaks to me sometimes.

 

I almost did not have patience for this film. But maybe I got lazy or my itchy trigger finger on the remote calmed down, I do not know for sure. But a few minutes later, the lead actress had captured me. It was the way she sat in that chair. I can't explain it. It was a moment when the performer just totally gave herself over to the role. And the character came to life and I was drawn in...I had to see how this was going to continue playing out for the next 100 minutes. 

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And so it went, and I remained glued to the screen. And this wound up being the best film (certainly the best performance by an actress) I had seen in a long time. And thirty years is too long a time to have deprived myself of it. It didn't matter if parts were stage-bound-- we were on a journey, this character and me. This actress and me. And we took a trip together.

 

To Bountiful.

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I received a message from Ian Patrick who has been traveling and plans to resume his video reviews. Before his vacation, we talked about doing two joint-reviews each month, in addition to the other ones we review separately. 

 

So there's some good stuff coming up..!

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The next film Ian and I will be reviewing together is BLANCHE FURY, a gothic melodrama made in Britain after the war. It stars Valerie Hobson and Stewart Granger (right before he went to Hollywood). 

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There's a film I watched twice last night and then once again this afternoon. It is not the first time I have watched it three times in such a short period of time. Every time I view the film, it does what any true classic should do-- it takes hold of my senses and pulls me into the narrative in such a complete way that all I can do is surrender. And even then, when it's over, I am not ready to fully let go of it. That's probably why I watch it again so soon.

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A very atmospheric film...and the director (Marc Allegret) is doing specific things with the positioning of the actors and Technicolor to create illusions of depth and perspective as in a Renaissance painting. It is exquisitely filmed, and all seasons are in evidence with the on-location shooting. It must have been a very painstaking and exacting filming process that was not at all hurried. 

 

Allegret was a French filmmaker who went to England after the Second World War to make a few English-language productions. BLANCHE FURY is considered the best of those. By the early 50s, he would return to his native France where he spent the rest of his career. I haven't seen any of his French films, and I am eager to do so. I assume that if BLANCHE FURY is any indication of this director's talents, then there must be a lot of greatness in his other works as well.

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So why does BLANCHE FURY stand up so well? Not only is the use of colour and staging incredibly controlled, we have leads like Valerie Hobson and Stewart Granger who simply could not be better. Granger's line deliveries are the sharpest I've ever seen from him, and he's very good in a courtroom scene near the end of the story. Hobson, who was married to the producer, brings a pensiveness and a penance to the character she plays. The layers upon layers of guilt that she projects after a dangerous wish turns deadly is superbly played.

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But I think what pulls me into this film so strongly is that we see and feel the change in temperature. Not only do the scenes in the countryside and the ones around the exterior of the manor show us a variety of seasonal activities, but the way the characters adjust to these seasons perfectly conveys how their own inner-natures change as they move toward their startling conclusions.

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you know who would make a great silas marner?...

Patrick Stewart!

Welcome to the boards.

 

Stewart seems to have come along in the wrong age, don't you think? He would have done quite well in British movies of the 1940s and early 1950s. :)

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My review for "Blanche Fury" is now up! Great review, Topbilled, and I loved the photos that you attached.

Thanks Ian. Looking forward to our next joint-review. 

 

Here's the link for Ian's video commentary on BLANCHE FURY for those who might not yet have seen it:

 

http://forums.tcm.com/index.php?/topic/62442-blanche-fury-1948-video-movie-review-get-the-tissue-box-ready/&do=findComment&comment=1168767

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There's a sweet little Republic film from 1944 I want to recommend. I watched it on Amazon Prime earlier today and just fell in love with it. It stands out for a variety of reasons-- the most important one being that it is simply entertaining (and fairly wholesome, if you're into wholesome movies from a bygone era). 

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I added THE BIG BONANZA to my queue recently, because ever since I discovered Jane Frazee a few years ago, I've been smitten. I knew she had done a series of musicals at Universal during the war years, then had gone to Republic in the second-half of the 40s. It's easy to see why she liked working for Herbert Yates' company and picked Republic in favor of MGM, another studio that offered her a contract. She was treated like a queen and always had nice roles, good songs and above the title billing. Plus she had some really pleasant leading men to work with at Republic, so I'm sure she went home after shooting scenes with a smile on her face.

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In THE BIG BONANZA there's plenty to smile about...because there's plenty to enjoy. Jane gets to act opposite Richard Arlen and Gabby Hayes as a dance hall girl. But she also gets to play mother to seven year old Bobby Driscoll in his first major movie role. The moments they share in this picture are truly special, and you can tell that Bobby will go on to do greater things. You can also see that his presence in an otherwise routine oater elevates the proceedings considerably. They all act like family to him in a way that seems to go beyond the specifications of the script. 

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The folks at Paramount, who control the Republic library, have done an amazing job restoring this film. The print quality is outstanding. The outdoor scenes capture the sunlight and shadows perfectly, and a spotless print allows us to see those chiaroscuro effects more clearly. Anyone who says Yates' films were made cheaply without any artistic effects is ignorant. One look at THE BIG BONANZA will tell you how much care went into the way performers are lit and photographed in their scenes. And also how they are allowed to let their unique talents shine.

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But Jane Frazee is the main attraction here. She can sing (wonderfully I might add), she can dance, and she looks good on screen without trying. A lot of actresses posture artificially to make sure the camera gets them at their best angle. Not Jane. All her angles are good, so the photography just happens to catch her naturally. 

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I received a message from Ian Patrick, and we decided our next joint-review is going to be DRUMS IN THE DEEP SOUTH...a film I truly love...so I am re-watching it now and working on my review. I am not sure if Ian has seen it yet...but when he does, he will have a video commentary posted.

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DRUMS IN THE DEEP SOUTH

 

 

 

 

If that is the one about the piano wire, I saw it in 1951 as a kid.

 

This film made a big impression on me because I saw it in a theater in a city in the Deep South, and when the Yankees defeated the Rebs, the audience cheered. I was shocked, SHOCKED! That was my first lesson in the "propaganda value" of motion picture films, which I learned at age 9.

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I mentioned to Ian Patrick that I have been struggling with my review for DRUMS IN THE DEEP SOUTH. This is because the film functions on so many levels, and I fear that if I go off in one direction, I will neglect all the other points I want to make about it. So maybe I just need to accept that for right now it cannot be a complete review. And perhaps I am grappling with all the meanings in it, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't go ahead and recommend it to you, dear reader. It's a film that I know you will enjoy, especially if you like GONE WITH THE WIND.


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The obvious connection between GONE WITH THE WIND and DRUMS IN THE DEEP SOUTH (and there are many connections) is its subject matter about Sherman's advance through Georgia, and the reign of terror that occurs for southerners who come into direct contact with the northern general and his men. Another important connection, from a technical standpoint, is the fact that GWTW's art designer is the director of this film. It wasn't the first time William Cameron Menzies had moved into the director's chair, and his previous experience in this genre makes DRUMS all the richer. The mansion scenes and the Georgia countryside are photographed in sepia, and there's a balmy almost lazy sort of feel to the opening scenes.


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All that rural idyllic charm gets jolted out of complacency eleven minutes into the story when war has been declared. And there's an incredible shot where leading lady Barbara Payton watches her husband see his West Point buddies off (now on opposite sides), and she closes the door to everything simple and sweet and innocent they've ever known.


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At this point the story follows James Craig, one of the husband's buddies fighting for the south. There are some army camp scenes, where his regiment strategizes how they will defeat or at least stall Sherman's advance through the territory. It all involves a place called Devil Mountain which looks out on to a valley, and down in the valley Payton and her genteel uncle have stayed on at the mansion. But the mansion is fraught with tension, because while her husband is off in battle, Payton's home has been taken over by Sherman's men and one of them has developed a strange attachment to her.


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What happens next is something you've never seen before, not even in GONE WITH THE WIND. She tricks the man to go outside to get a picture of his children from his knapsack. Then she hurries upstairs, grabs a mirror and signals Craig's men over at the Devil Mountain lookout. The northern soldier finds her upstairs, and catches her in the act. They engage in a fierce struggle. The uncle enters the room with a revolver. As he gets off a shot, the Union soldier fires back. The uncle is killed instantly, but the soldier is still alive. Payton doesn't want to help him, but when she sees the picture of his children that he brought in from his knapsack, she can't help but feel overwhelmed and decides to save the life of a man she considers the enemy.


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There are more twists and turns, and Menzies keeps it moving. The men at the lookout try to blow up not one but two trains bringing supplies through for Sherman. Also, the other West Point buddy (Guy Madison) who takes orders from Sherman returns to the area and is reunited with Payton at the mansion. She is definitely caught in the middle-- she remains friendly to the north so they will not destroy her home, but her loyalties are divided, and she continues to work as a spy to help her southern compatriots. As I said, it operates on many levels. But no matter what direction it goes, Menzies is always careful to show the south in a compassionate light. He shows that the Confederates still have compassion for their northern brothers. I think that's an important point to keep in mind, because this story really has no villains.


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Why this film affects me so much probably is due to the fact that I lived in the south for about ten years. I had been raised in Wisconsin, but when I went to the south, I think I found a part of myself. I see that part of myself in this film. These men and women know they have a certain way of life to live, and that despite the chaos of war, they can still retain some civility. In that way, the south won. And though the conclusion of Menzies' film is extremely violent (explosive is more the word for it), we are left with a hopeful message-- a carefully worded note that scrawls across the screen. Could there have been more to the story? Of course. But Menzies knew when to quit while ahead, and I will follow his lead and do the same. 


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is it better than that awful Band of Angels? 

Well, I certainly liked it more than Ian did. But I am a fan of BAND OF ANGELS, too. :)

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One of the issues I have had recently is that I watch too many good films each day. So how can I pick just one or two (or three) to discuss...and not feel I am neglecting the others..?

 

 :)

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I want to take a moment to mention ROSIE THE RIVETER-- a feminist musical Republic produced in 1943, starring one of my favorite singing stars from the 40s, Jane Frazee. 

 

Yesterday I checked the Paramount Vault page on YouTube for new uploads. Paramount controls the Republic library. And to my great pleasure, ROSIE had just been uploaded. They have done a perfect job with the restoration.

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The script is well written-- a hilarious romantic comedy set-up with Jane and her girlfriend Vera Vague sharing a room in a boarding house with two single men. The way the writers get around the production code is quite clever!

 

The gals of course wind up battling and falling in love with the guys. Vera's deadpan deliveries are wonderful; there's a lot of witty dialogue from beginning to end; a marvelous supporting cast that includes Maude Eburne and Carl (Alfalfa) Switzer as a teenager. Plus, there's a great scene where the gals have no clothes on and are locked out of the boarding house in the rain and get picked up by police (you have to see it!)..and a rousing finale filmed at an aviation factory. So much to make it enjoyable.

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What I loved most was the slang they used at the time. I had never heard the word schmoodle used before. And they also said 'making woo' which I assume meant 'making love.'

 

Check it out and let me know what you think!

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This is the best film I have seen all week. I love post-code early 70s stuff...and this being an anti-war film and a film with a conscience about native Americans, it's something I felt I needed to recommend.

 

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See it on Amazon Prime. 

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This is the best film I have seen all week. I love post-code early 70s stuff...and this being an anti-war film and a film with a conscience about native Americans, it's something I felt I needed to recommend.

 

220px-Soldier_Blue.jpg

 

See it on Amazon Prime. 

I have always liked Peter Strauss since first seeing him in RICH MAN POOR MAN. Peter made many made for TV movies, and I believe that he won an Emmy for a performance as a prisoner or ex con.

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