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Connecting Rooms (1970) -- 7/10

Source: DVD

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Connecting Rooms is one of the rarest of all Bette Davis films. Until it made its DVD and Blu-Ray bow last year, it was nearly impossible to find, and even back in the 70s it was barely released. As it turns out, there are some reasons for that..... Bette and Michael Redgrave make a wonderful pair onscreen and shine in their scenes, but the film all too often goes on  unwelcome tangents.

The story, as it goes, concerns three residents of a dilapidated London boarding house in a rough neighborhood. First up is Bette as an impoverished cello player who is secretly performing on street corners (although she has too much pride to reveal this to anyone). Then there is Michael Redgrave, the new tenant, a former teacher cut loose after he tried to  expose a  sexually predatory teacher, only for the criminal to off himself, wrongfully and maliciously saying that Redgrave was the criminal in the suicide note. Bette and Redgrave quickly form a friendship, and as the movie goes on, it is clear that these two lovable middle-aged outcasts are beginning to fall in love with each other. Their scenes hum along entertainingly with good acting and with great goodwill from the audience.

But as you noted above, I said three residents. And that is where the problem lies. What could have been a great film is compromised into being an only OK one by adding Alexis Kanner into the picture as a rake who attempts to take Bette on a financial ride. Roger Ebert once wrote that you know you are a film fan if you prefer the Older vintages of performers to the Flavor of the month, and that's just the case here.  Kanner is playing a very unlikable character, and while its fine when he's playing a scene with Bette because we have her to watch, it is inexplicable for the film to follow his character for long sections focusing on his the women in his life (often nude, which is another distraction; we go to see a Bette Davis film for Bette, not for random topless women) and his disco dancing lifestyle.

When it sticks to its two leads, Connecting Rooms is a gratifying and satisfying film, but scenes without them dims its good qualities. I'd suggest watching it, but also with a fast forward button handy.

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1 hour ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

they look just like PENGUINS IN THE ZOO don't they?

Agnes-of-God-19852015-11-07-00-53-07.jpg

I watched AGNES OF GOD (1985) on TCM (is it OSCAR MONTH?)

I have never seen it before and I have to be honest with you, I actually thought it was pretty lousy- in fact, I was genuinely taken aback by how clumsy the first half of the movie is; it gets somewhat interesting at the end, but notsomuch that it can make-up for what is OBVIOUSLY a STAGE PLAY (and a STAGEY STAGE PLAY at that ) presented as un-cinematically as is humanly possible.

it is allegedly a film about mystery and spirituality and there is absolutely no aura of either about it. It is a film without style.  It is straightforward, HALLMARK HALL-OF-FAME level set-ups, and some in-exscuseably  washed-out cinematography, badly framed, and what dialogue and scenarios that are not ham-fisted exposition are  straight out of a 1950's melodrama that somehow snuck past the HAYES CODE.

In all honesty, I was taken aback by how bad it was.

the acting was fine- although I gotta say, as much as I adore ANNE BANCROFT, she's not given enough to do to warrant the BEST ACTRESS NOMINATION she got for it and especially not in a year as killer for lead performances by an actress as 1985 was.

interestingly, she lost to GERALDINE PAGE (for TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL); GERLADINE PAGE had played the part of MOTHER SUPERIOR in AGNES on stage but was passed over for BANCROFT.

 

edit- actually, there is one effective sequence where a Novitiate(?) takes on the vows, but the rest was very uninspired.

It's been years since I saw this one for the only time, I agree the performances were very good especially Jane Fonda's. But it is such a disturbing film that leaves more questions than answers. I still remember that crazy scene where Meg Tilly suddenly gets the stigmata and  frantically rubs her bloody hands against the spartan white walls of the room. I don't know why but something always made me think that there was an even creepier Rosemary's Baby angle to this although it was never made clear. The reviews at the time for this film were all over the map......

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1 hour ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

apparently DIAHANN CARROLL starred in an ALL BLACK BROADWAY REVIVAL OF AGNES OF GOD, now that I would like to see!!!!!

Especially if there are parts for Jackee Harry and Queen Latifah!

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The last two films I've seen are Inside Daisy Clover and Almost Famous, and it was fascinating how well Almost Famous solves the problem that Daisy can't quite manage: showing the film from the young protagonist's point of view. High marks to writer-director Cameron Crowe for getting this right. Patrick Fugit as the young William doesn't have a lot of charisma, nothing at all like the star quality of Natalie Wood, but he's the right age and he seems to behave naturally in front of the camera. Like most characters based on the author (many examples from film and literature, Sons and Lovers being the first that comes to mind), William is less interesting and colorful than the people he meets: rock stars, would-be rock stars, people who want to make money from rock stars, girls who want to sleep with rock stars (don't call them groupies: they are "Band-Aids" who inspire the songs, according to a groupie, er, Band-Aid).

Billy Crudup is really outstanding as Russell Harmon, the lead guitarist of the band Stillwater (perfect period name) whom William hopes to interview, emulate, celebrate. We get a sense of why he could become a rock star and what aspects of his life might prevent this. I would have liked more character development of the other band members. For instance, in the big scene of the movie one of them makes a revelation about himself which would be more meaningful if we knew more about him. I would have preferred a bit less of Penny Lane, #1 Band-Aid (Kate Hudson), though Hudson's performance is fine. The writing, casting, and acting are on a generally high level. The unimpressive cinematography looks like many TV shows and movies today: dark brown interiors and steely blue exterior night scenes. Crowe gets the period (1973) right without underlining everything.

 

 

 

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16 hours ago, Vidor said:

Re: Go seek out "Twilight Zone" episode "Nothing in the Dark"

 If I correctly recall reading th?id=OIP.JPpYe7Mr4fbQbwiQhkZ69QAAAA&pid=Api&P=0&w=300&h=300 getting to act alongside Gladys Cooper was not lost on the "pre-stardom Robert Redford".

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4 hours ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

Re: "I am blanking on the title right now...it's LITTLE FAUSS AND BIG HALSY, and with a title that dumb, I can see why I did not recall it."

 There was nothing forgettable about the (free?) BELL endorsement to this then-young kid - thanks to one of my father's Sex in Cinema issues of PLAYBOY magazine:                                                                                                                                             image.jpeg.008a6ea2e53fef4a6016198ee45b4a0c.jpeg

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4 hours ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

apparently DIAHANN CARROLL starred in an ALL BLACK BROADWAY REVIVAL OF AGNES OF GOD, now that I would like to see!!!!!

I think Ms. Carroll stood in for Elizabeth Ashley during the original production (twice), when Ms. Ashley was on vacation. I don't think there's been a revival of that play on Broadway.

https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-production/agnes-of-god-4166#Replacements

 

 

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9 hours ago, Swithin said:

I think Ms. Carroll stood in for Elizabeth Ashley during the original production (twice), when Ms. Ashley was on vacation. I don't think there's been a revival of that play on Broadway.

https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-production/agnes-of-god-4166#Replacements

 

 

Oops! My mistake, thanks for the correction. I have to say though, that I think changing the race of some of the main characters would’ve actually made the film a lot more interesting.

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I tripped over a HAMMER HORROR that I did know existed [I think as I write this that I have seen 98% of HAMMER HORRORS]:

THE TWO FACES OF DR JEKYLL (1960) aka JEKYLL'S INFERNO aka HOUSE OF FRIGHT aka THE MONSTER OF LONDON aka WHO IS HARRY KELLERMAN AND WHY IS HE SAYING THESE AWFUL THINGS ABOUT ME?

(OK, I'm joshing you on the last one, but seriously, this thing went through a ****ton of title changes, apparently it was not successful.)

It is a liberal retelling the JEKYLL/HYDE story directed by TERRENCE FISHER (who was their #1 director) and shot by JACK ASHER (although I did not think the visuals were as good as most HAMMER films.)

FOR A FILM MADE IN 1960, THIS movie HAS AN ASTOUNDING AMOUNT OF FOUL LANGUAGE AND SEXUAL SITUATIONS. my phone was in the repair shop this morning, but as I watched it, I could not wait to look up this movie on imdb to see what year it came out (because of the names involved I knew it had to be ca. 1960, also OLIVER REED has a very small part, so I knew it was before CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF which was 1961),

I was genuinely surprised this movie was released in America because really, it is randy!

The word "b!tch" is used 4 times!!! as is the term "w h o r e" and, my favorite, "four-penny w h o r e", which I can GUARANTEE YOU I AM GOING TO BE USING THE NEXT TIME SOMEONE STANDS TOO CLOSE TO ME WITH THEIR MASK DOWN AROUND THEIR NOSE IN THE LINE AT THE TRADER JOE'S. A woman puts a python in her mouth  in one scene and yes, it is OBVIOUS what they were going for with it. there is adultery, there is prostitution. there is a post-sex scene where two characters are in bed together, and there is a pretty brutal rape.

All in all, not a bad way to kill some time on a Saturday morning

there is also a lot of Can-Can dancing, which I can take or leave, but I imagine was the main reason for any repeat business this movie got.

i do not know the lead's name, but CHRISTOPHER LEE plays a third wheel character (another way i knew the film had to be early Hammer)

I bet you ANYTHING PETER CUSHING was offered the title role(s) but said "no" because of how truly edgy a film it was for the time.

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Watching "Black Christmas", and it occurs to me, is this the first slasher movie?  I'd always imagined "Halloween" but that was four years later.

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46 minutes ago, Vidor said:

Watching "Black Christmas", and it occurs to me, is this the first slasher movie?  I'd always imagined "Halloween" but that was four years later.

Showoffs (like Wes Craven in one of the Scream sequels) always want to say "Peeping Tom", but yes, this was the first 80's Slasher as we know them, in 1974.

There's the story that young John Carpenter, fresh off of "Assault on Precinct 13", saw director Bob Clark at a Q&A, where Clark was asked what he might imagine for a sequel--"I'd probably have the killer escape from the mental hospital, and return to the dorm on Halloween."

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55 minutes ago, Vidor said:

Watching "Black Christmas", and it occurs to me, is this the first slasher movie?  I'd always imagined "Halloween" but that was four years later.

One could argue that the 1945 version of AND THEN THERE WERE NONE is the first. And there were lots of Italian films of the 60s that def qualify as “slasher” films, ie BLOOD AND BLACK LACE and BAY OF BLOOD

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1 hour ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

One could argue that the 1945 version of AND THEN THERE WERE NONE is the first. And there were lots of Italian films of the 60s that def qualify as “slasher” films, ie BLOOD AND BLACK LACE and BAY OF BLOOD

 

I've seen the 1945 "And Then There Were None" and there is not nearly enough violence and way too much black comedy.  The Italian horror movies you cite are better claimants.

 

EDIT--also interesting how the killer here has no motivation, just like "Halloween" basically, except this movie goes even further by not even revealing who the killer is.

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6 hours ago, Vidor said:

EDIT--also interesting how the killer here has no motivation, just like "Halloween" basically, except this movie goes even further by not even revealing who the killer is.

We do know, and he does, just that Clark...never quite gets around to making it a coherent part of the screenplay.  

We know that jerk-boyfriend Keir Dullea is unusually controlling about his girlfriend having an abortion, and the killer on the phone is shrieking  "What happened to the baby?" like Adam Sandler having an episode, and we think that Dullea is so outrageously suspicious, he has to be the red herring, but...

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1 hour ago, EricJ said:

We do know, and he does, just that Clark...never quite gets around to making it a coherent part of the screenplay.  

We know that jerk-boyfriend Keir Dullea is unusually controlling about his girlfriend having an abortion, and the killer on the phone is shrieking  "What happened to the baby?" like Adam Sandler having an episode, and we think that Dullea is so outrageously suspicious, he has to be the red herring, but...

 

The ending would seem to conclusively show that Astronaut Bowman is the red herring.

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6 hours ago, Vidor said:

The ending would seem to conclusively show that Astronaut Bowman is the red herring.

Unless HAL was making the calls.

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The Hoax Poster

The Hoax (2006) Cinemax 8/10

Writer Clifford Irving convinces a publishing company that he is writing the authorized biography of reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes.

I saw this when first released and watched it again, it is a fascinating and underrated film. I have always been interested in movies about liars and hoaxers, and this is based on a true story which makes it even more interesting. Richard Gere plays Irving and it is one of his best performances. Alfred Molina is Irving's nervous writer friend who is becomes Irving's partner in crime. I was fascinated by Hughes' reclusive years and always wondered what was going on at the time. This film gives a great sense of the early 1970s and how people were still being effected by the weird billionaire. There are some great fantasy sequences where Irving tells of his totally made up stories of meeting Hughes, also of scenes where he imagines he was kidnapped and beaten by Hughes' bodyguards. Marcia Gay Harden plays Gere's frustrated wife who comes in handy when trying to cash a huge advance check. Eli Wallach has one quick scene as a former associate of Hughes who has a manuscript of his dealing with him, Irving and his friend have a funny scene as they try to steal and copy it. 

Anyone interested in recreation of the 1970s or Howard Hughes will want to check this one out.

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Last night, I watched several things.

1) two Dick Van Dyke Shows

2) L&O repeats from the final years

3) Tournament of Champions on Food Network (had to turn it off at 9 for two reasons - disagreed with the judges and 3rd match was too difficult to watch because I liked both competitors.  They really need a Last Chance Kitchen like on Top Chef).

4) The one hour SAG awards.  I think that I prediction almost every winner.  There was one thing that  truly annoyed me and an easy suggestion as to how to resolve it.  When award shows run the list of people who died within the past year, do it in alphabetical order.  I do not want to offend anyone, however Chad Bosman should have been first - prioritizing him by placing him as the last person makes his death more important than Carl Reiner's, George Segal's, Kirk Douglas's, Olivia De H.'s, or Jessica Walter.

 

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Caged (1950) Eleanor Parker, Hope Emerson, Agnes Moorehead. 

Warner Brothers' social problem picture or prison pic camp classic? A bit of both really, with enough

funny lines, though most unintentional, for a Marx Bros. flick. Parker is an innocent young thing  sent

to the big house for getting caught up in her husband's robbery. But to the hardened criminal types

she's just another piece of new meat. Emerson has the role of a life time as a bon bon eating, romance

mag reading, tough as nails matron. When she finds Parker has no dough she loses interest in treating

her kindly. Betty Garde is the inmate who runs the show in Parker's cell block and tries to influence her

to give up her good girl life and start to learn the tender art of shoplifting, but Parker stays aloof. Things

start to change when she is turned down for her parole and later on when she is put in solitary, but

not before Emerson gives her a Annie Lennox haircut. Things get even tougher for Garde when her rival,

played by Lee Patrick, shows up to spend some time in the joint. Patrick is a high class crook who wouldn't

mess with Garde's penny ante shoplifting stuff. She gets Emerson to put Garde in solitary. When Betty

emerges she looks tired, haggard, and worn, just like she did before she went in. Garde has gone batty and

kills Emerson by stabbing her with a fork, a fitting end for someone who spent a lot of time lifting one.

Parker has now gone over to the bad side and despite the entreaties of fair but firm warden Agnes Moorehead,

is ready for the criminal life. She is paroled and leaves in a car with some of Patrick's friends. From new meat

to new meat. The movie points out in an obvious manner the need for reforms in women's prisons and the

need for more tolerant policies when dealing with inmates. And the message is wrapped into a very gritty

and effective look at prison life, one that sometimes goes over the top into camp territory. All in all, a very

entertaining movie. Ellen Corby is one of the supporting players. Yep, Grandma Walton is in the slammer.

Jane Darwell has a small role as a helpful prison employee. You can't stop the jail people. Lesbian subtext?

Easy to find, maybe too easy, but it's there in a minor way. There are a lot of swell looking dames in an

institution without men. So when the lights go out at night, why not? There does seem to be an imbalance

of fems over butches, but nothing's perfect. 

 

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Ah, "Caged", the primordial example of the "girls behind bars" movie.  You can tell that the movie *wants* to go in a certain way, but can't because it's 1950.

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E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

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I had an opportunity to watch this shortly after its release. I truly saw little of it because of rowdy crowd at the screening. I do not wish to give the impression that I was a chaste and dedicated cinephile beset by hooligans. I can assure you that I threw much more popcorn than what hit me and my squirt gun needed frequent refilling. I have since that time seen little clips and many memes based on it.

I choose to set aside the time and watch the movie quietly.

Yikes! I know it is a beloved classic. I know it is dear to the hearts of millions. I know I will be accused of heresy if I say one word against it. I know, I know, I know. But seriously . . . Yikes!

A disenfranchised little boy finds a baby bug-eyed-monster in the woods after its mother cuts-and-runs. Hilarity ensues.

I am reminded distinctly of the: quokka which are nearly-painfully cute and adorable little beasties who look cheerful at all times and are quite bouncy. A mother quokka will throw her babies at a predator in order to give her sufficient time to escape. 

I understand more fully why my initial viewing was so rambunctious: the story takes forever to start and then really goes nowhere for long stretches. There are four important scenes spaced out over two hours. There are several scenes which tug at the heartstrings with all the subtlety and finesse of a cheetah having dinner with an antelope. 

I can understand why this was hugely popular with children in that era. I am sorry to say that this is not that era. I am glad that I waited for this to appear on a streaming service rather than spending $12.95 for a used DVD of it.

3.6/9

 

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5 hours ago, Vidor said:

Ah, "Caged", the primordial example of the "girls behind bars" movie.  You can tell that the movie *wants* to go in a certain way, but can't because it's 1950.

Caged is one of those movies that really defies description, at least as I can give one, and that one really has

to see to get the full impact. Even for 1950 it's quite a trip. Even those later women's prison flicks that have

more explicit shower scenes than Caged  don't really match it. There's a scene early in the movie where

Parker breaks down in Moorehead's office and Moorehead asks her what's wrong. Parker doesn't answer,

but one can just imagine what she might say--"What's wrong? I'm stuck in this hellhole for who knows

how long with this bunch of dirtbags. What do you think is wrong?" To make her feel better, Agnes gives

her a coffin nail. Yeah, thanks a million. That fixes everything. 

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Watching "Harold and Maude" and I just realized that Bud Cort looks a lot like Elijah Wood, but with a rounder, kind of uncannily creepier face.

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