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Fox Noir: 12 of Twentieth Century-Fox's Best Noir Films on The Criterion Channel

 I Wake Up Screaming (1941), Laura (1944), Hangover Square (1945), Somewhere in the Night (1946), Nightmare Alley (1947), Night and the City (1950), No Way Out (1950), Panic in the Streets (1950), Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950), Niagara (1953), Pickup on South Street (1953), Black Widow (1954)

See them soon. Many are leaving the Criterion Channel on January 31st.

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21 hours ago, Technicolor27 said:

Pluto TV. There’s a classic movie channel.

Ads for days. I like their specialized video music channels but the classic movie selection is regrettably poor, though you can catch a random oldie not streaming anywhere else. Seems most of the free film streaming platforms all seem to carry the same titles at the same time. 

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 John and I always prepared for writing a movie by watching The Third Man. It’s perfectly told. - Joan Didion

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The Third Man (1949, Carol Reed)

Pulp novelist Holly Martins travels to shadowy, postwar Vienna, only to find himself investigating the mysterious death of an old friend, black-market opportunist Harry Lime—and thus begins this legendary tale of love, deception, and murder.

I never understood all the fuss. The storytelling is apparently what makes it stand out most, though I feel Reed mastered that with Odd Man Out (1947). Watching it again. Perhaps I've missed something vital.

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57 minutes ago, ando said:

 John and I always prepared for writing a movie by watching The Third Man. It’s perfectly told. - Joan Didion

third-man.jpg tcc.png

The Third Man (1949, Carol Reed)

Pulp novelist Holly Martins travels to shadowy, postwar Vienna, only to find himself investigating the mysterious death of an old friend, black-market opportunist Harry Lime—and thus begins this legendary tale of love, deception, and murder.

I never understood all the fuss. The storytelling is apparently what makes it stand out most, though I feel Reed mastered that with Odd Man Out (1947). Watching it again. Perhaps I've missed something vital.

As a story, it feels rather ho-hum to me. I think its strength is its cinematography, the way it cultivates a bit of intrigue and post-war ambience. The mystery itself is rather pedestrian and feels like something borrowed from a cheap radio suspense drama.

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Today TCM is featuring a special daytime spotlight to observe Luise Rainer's birthday. She passed away a few years ago, just before what would have been her 105th birthday.

As much as I love her portrayal of O-lan in the stunning MGM adaptation of Pearl S. Buck’s THE GOOD EARTH, I prefer her work in THE TOY WIFE the best.

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Before I mention why I love Luise Rainer in THE TOY WIFE, I want to quote something I posted on a blog back in May 2013:

LUISE RAINER has the uncanny ability to layer multiple styles within the same role. She usually does drama, comedy, music and action in the course of the same film. She has a technique where she combines meaning from other writers and directors and superimposes it on to her current performance. She’s a very deliberate actress and nothing is left to chance.

She had been influenced by theatrical director Max Reinhardt in Europe. In the much-lauded telephone scene of THE GREAT ZIEGFELD, she claimed to have used techniques developed with Reinhardt and other directors, from various plays she had done on stage.

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It would seem that she did quite deliberately infuse her film roles with what she had learned earlier, and in a way her portrayals of Anna Held and O-lan could be seen as pastiches of other characters she played. I would say she often stepped outside what was in the original story or script and tapped into everything she could to empower her characters and take them to another level. At least that is how I see it. It certainly is how I see her performance in THE TOY WIFE.

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THE TOY WIFE is a somewhat overlooked historic drama she made at MGM with Melvyn Douglas and Robert Young, shortly after her back-to-back Oscar victories. To me, this is Luise Rainer at the height of her craft in Hollywood. She plays Frou Frou, the nearly scatterbrained wife of a Louisiana plantation owner. In early scenes, she steals her sister’s intended and marries him. Then as the narrative continues, she proceeds to charm and seduce other rich men in her immediate orbit. Basically, she leaves a path of destruction in her wake. But because she is so ‘frou frou,’ and child-like, she cannot possibly be seen as conniving, or as the vixen she obviously is.

If you watch Luise Rainer very carefully in THE TOY WIFE you will notice a few things. First, she takes a very unsympathetic role that someone like Bette Davis or Miriam Hopkins would have turned into an out and out witch, and makes her very pitiable– a character that really cannot be hated or reviled though she most certainly should be. In some key scenes, Luise takes the wretched melodrama that screenwriter Zoe Akins has churned out and redirects it as a witty, biting satire. That takes a great deal of skill. While Douglas and Young, her leading men, seem to play it straight, she plays it decidedly light, which ultimately makes Frou Frou look heroic while the men seem like pathetic pieces of cardboard that deserve what they get with her.

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Now I have read that Luise had disagreements with studio boss Louis B. Mayer over the quality of the scripts she was being asked to perform, and I do not doubt it. It is my sincere belief that she took lackluster scripts and did all that she could to elevate them. It was her feeling that the audience deserved more than the usual studio fodder sold to the masses. And as a result, her Frou Frou is not frou-frou at all, but grand.

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6 hours ago, TopBilled said:

As a story, it feels rather ho-hum to me. I think its strength is its cinematography, the way it cultivates a bit of intrigue and post-war ambience. The mystery itself is rather pedestrian and feels like something borrowed from a cheap radio suspense drama.

Quite.

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manchuriancan3.jpg clssyt.jpg 

The Manchurian Candidate (1964, John Frankenheimer)

An American POW in the Korean War is brainwashed as an unwitting assassin for an international Communist conspiracy. Bizarre and prescient, American power politics on the big screen has seldom been this fun to watch. Just added to free YouTube streamers today.

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On 1/13/2022 at 9:28 PM, TopBilled said:

Friday January 14, 2022

Screen Shot 2022-01-13 at 8.12.56 AM

Baker on TCM

hell drivers

violent playground

 Patrick McGoohan, David McCallum and Sean Connery: HELL DRIVERS (1957) now seems as if it was an actors studio for future Sixties spies.

 Ben Mankiewicz joked about the lack of Liverpudlian accents "present" within Violent Playground (1958) while missing the point of the Irish accents used to convey distrust of the "Bluebottles".

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18 hours ago, TopBilled said:

Monday January 17, 2022

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Running on TCM

the defiant ones

Great performances from Poitier and Curtis. Though I did have a problem with (SPOILERS here) the mother willing to run out on her kid to be with Joker after knowing him for such a brief time....he was an escaped convict, for all she knew he could have been a rapist or serial killer (even though he wasn't).

She turned out to be a real snake in the grass though when it came to Noah . but so glad that Joker came to care enough about Noah by this time after his intial prejudices to want to warn him. 

RIP Sidney. You were a real treasure in all your movies.

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Utamaro and His Five Women (1946, Kenji Mizoguchi)

18th Century woodblock painter, Kitagawa Utamaro, takes on an apprentice in the middle of the red-light dictrict of Edo (current day Tokyo), where prostitutes form the subjects of his work. One of my favorite flicks on the everyday life of a classic visual artist. Free on Plex.

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2 hours ago, TopBilled said:

Tuesday January 18, 2022

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Family on TCM

places in the heart

Good film, with Sally Field great as always.

Of course this was the movie that won her her second Best Actress academy award, with the infamous "You like me!" Oscar speech.

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