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I Just Watched...


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4 hours ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

I saw MAMMA MIA with some friends and their kids when there was nothing else to do, some night (i think) in the dead of winter YEARS AGO

it is a hazy memory, but I seem to recall that various facts are given throughout the film from which one can extrapolate that STREEP'S character in MAMMA MIA is supposed to be- I kid you not- 38 years old.

IN 2008.

and nothing against MERYL now, mind you, ....

but Honey....

EDIT- I EVEN GOOGLED IT, SHE WAS 58 AT THE TIME!

 

Not many 58 year olds could do splits like Meryl did in the film! LOL.

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2 hours ago, JamesJazGuitar said:

Johnny Guitar gets a lot of attention for a few reasons:

1) overly dramatic;   Some of the lines, especially from Sterling Hayden when discussing  "love" border on the comical.     In fact I can't recall a film where Hayden was so animated. (maybe it had to do with the fact he really disliked Crawford).

2) The performance and character as play  by Mercedes McCambridge as Emma:    does she really love The Dancin Kid or Vienna (Crawford's character)?     As said in Gilda:  there is a fine line between love and hate and the amount of attention Emma shows towards Vienna implies something.      Add to this both women dressed like cowboys downplaying their femininity.      

McCambridge also disliked working with Crawford:  "After filming, McCambridge and Hayden publicly declared their dislike of Crawford, with McCambridge labeling Crawford, "a mean, tipsy, powerful, rotten-egg lady".[14] Hayden said in an interview, "There is not enough money in Hollywood to lure me into making another picture with Joan Crawford. And I like money." [15]

3)   A noir western done in very vivid color.      

Thus the film is now known as a camp classic.       The first time I saw it I said "are they serious",  but after repeated viewing there is a lot to love about this film.  It is  unique and that makes it special.     

There is also the 50s Red witch hunt angle in the plot..........

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6 hours ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

also, MAMMA MIA ate ****.

(to the surprise of all of you, I am sure, I despise ABBA with the HEAT OF A THOUSAND SUNS.)

Pierce Brosnan SINGS! (well sorta).......

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4 hours ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

I saw MAMMA MIA with some friends and their kids when there was nothing else to do, some night (i think) in the dead of winter YEARS AGO

it is a hazy memory, but I seem to recall that various facts are given throughout the film from which one can extrapolate that STREEP'S character in MAMMA MIA is supposed to be- I kid you not- 38 years old.

IN 2008.

and nothing against MERYL now, mind you, ....

but Honey....

EDIT- I EVEN GOOGLED IT, SHE WAS 58 AT THE TIME!

 

The timeline on Mamma Mia was very woozy to say the least. The musical first appeared on the London stage in 1999, and I think that the film is supposed to be set that year, given to characters talking vaguely about the internet as though its still in its infancy, and that would explain why the character has a 20 year old daughter born while ABBA was still at their peak of album sales (otherwise it would mean the daughter was born in 1988 ... 7 years after the band split). But even if it was supposed to be set in 1999, Meryl was still too old for the part, and the same went for Christine Barinski, Julie Walters, Pierce Brosnan, and Stellan Sarsgaard in their roles as well. Colin Firth might have passed for the age range, but only vaguely so. {Admission: I do like ABBA music and found the film to be the guiltiest of guilty pleasures.]

6 hours ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

I apologize for making things so MERYLCENTRIC, but I feel compelled to note, an interesting, very rare unsteady period in STREEP'S CAREER began with SHE-DEVIL, shortly thereafter she was nominated for POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE (1990) and then did not get another nomination until 1995, for THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY, in the years 1991-1994, I remember reading some thinkpieces that pondered whether or not she was finally "done for..." (I also know she fired her agent when she lost REMAINS OF THE DAY to EMMA THOMPSON)

This culminated in the UTTER NADIR that was 1994's HOUSE OF THE SPIRITS, a film which I will be kind and not post any clips from here, but it is worth checking out to see that even MERYL has had some MISSTEPS (also worth seeing is GLENN CLOSE'S SOUTH AMERICAN FRAU BLUCHER IMPRESSION in the same film)

I think this "dry period" affected her, and resulted in a change- both willing and not- on her part wherein she became the PERENNIAL NOMINEE...and some would say backstabbing, role-stealing, COW, but...you know...that's just FAYE DUNAWAY screaming at the ceiling.

Some of her films in that period were good (the comic roles). I thought The River Wild was pretty flimsy plotwise. She missed out on Remains because she was pregnant with her last child. Mike Nichols was originally going to direct that, and he wanted her and Jeremy Irons to star. She came in for a reading about 7 months pregnant. Nichols became depressed and angry, then forfeited the whole production to Merchant Ivory. They were insistent on using a British star rather than an American, so Meryl got the boot. Never saw House of the Spirits, know that the novel was greatly praised though. She did become a frequent stand-by nominee for years after she returned (although she's currently in a 4 year dry spell now), although I'm not certain if some of them were originally intended to be awards players without her (Music of the Heart in 1999 was directed by horror maestro Wes Craven, hardly an academy favorite, and before Meryl swooped in, it was supposed to have stared MADONNA!)

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7 minutes ago, CinemaInternational said:

He wasn't the greatest singer, but I rather liked his performance overall. He didn't deserve all the mockery he took at the time (or the Razzie he got for it either).

Never saw the movie, but I doubt he could have been any worse than Sylvester Stallone in RHINESTONE (now that is baaaaad singing!).

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6 minutes ago, CinemaInternational said:

 I thought The River Wild was pretty flimsy plotwise. She missed out on Remains because she was pregnant with her last child. Mike Nichols was originally going to direct that, and he wanted her and Jeremy Irons to star. She came in for a reading about 7 months pregnant. Nichols became depressed and angry, then forfeited the whole production to Merchant Ivory. . Never saw House of the Spirits, know that the novel was greatly praised though.

I kinda liked THE RIVER WILD but I don't think I've seen it since 1994. it's kinda surprising she didn;t get nominated for it as 1994 was a weak year for women, but it was middling at the box office.

I did not know all that in re: REMAINS. Thank you.

THE HOUSE OF THE SPIRITS- the novel by ISABEL ALLENDE is WILD!!!!!! It's a long rambling slightly supernatural story about a Chilean family and their struggles, it would have to be a miniseries to adequately tell the story, which the 2 hour movie does not

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3 minutes ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

 

THE HOUSE OF THE SPIRITS- the novel by ISABEL ALLENDE is WILD!!!!!! It's a long rambling slightly supernatural story about a Chilean family and their struggles, it would have to be a miniseries to adequately tell the story, which the 2 hour movie does not

The thing about novels is that sometimes they are so packed with incident that it would be impossible to boil it down to 2 hours.  And they you also have some films that bear very little resemblance to the books they are based on (Terms of Endearment for example)

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1 hour ago, CinemaInternational said:

He wasn't the greatest singer, but I rather liked his performance overall. He didn't deserve all the mockery he took at the time (or the Razzie he got for it either).

He got the Razzie? I didn't know that.

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18 hours ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

I kinda liked THE RIVER WILD but I don't think I've seen it since 1994. it's kinda surprising she didn;t get nominated for it as 1994 was a weak year for women, but it was middling at the box office.

I did not know all that in re: REMAINS. Thank you.

THE HOUSE OF THE SPIRITS- the novel by ISABEL ALLENDE is WILD!!!!!! It's a long rambling slightly supernatural story about a Chilean family and their struggles, it would have to be a miniseries to adequately tell the story, which the 2 hour movie does not

Was the film ever released on DVD? I guess they figured Meryl with her accents could pull it off!

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8 minutes ago, Hibi said:

Was the film ever released on DVD? I guess hey figured Meryl with her accents could pull it off!

HOUSE OF THE SPIRITS? I dunno. It deserves to die in anonymity.

at the start of the film,Meryl’s character is a teenager. A Chilean teenager. it is on a par with JOHN WAYNE as GHENGIS KHAN level miscasting 

It also asked us to believe that Jeremy Irons is also Chilean and that he and Meryl Streep are the parents of Winona Ryder- Chilean as well. 

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3 hours ago, Bethluvsfilms said:

Never saw the movie, but I doubt he could have been any worse than Sylvester Stallone in RHINESTONE (now that is baaaaad singing!).

That was the last movie my parents saw in the theaters.   They were in the mid-50s.  They went because they were big Parton fans.  They left midway through the movie.

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6 hours ago, txfilmfan said:

That was the last movie my parents saw in the theaters.   They were in the mid-50s.  They went because they were big Parton fans.  They left midway through the movie.

That's a bit extreme, considering we have director Bob Clark to blame for it--If I were to give up movie-watching because of one traumatic experience, I sure as heck wouldn't want to give Bob Clark the satisfaction of it.

Ralphie's BB rifle, my fanny, Clark's got almost the entire REST of the decade to answer for.  😠

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The Browning Version from 1951 with Michael Redgrave, Jean Kent, Wilfrid Hyde-White and Nigel Patrick
 
 
Writer Terence Rattigan specializes in showing the agonizing pain of "ordinary" lives of quiet failure. In Rattigan's The Browning Version, a middle-aged teacher (a "master"), Michael Redgrave, at an English boys school is leaving owing to a heart condition requiring him to take a less-demanding position elsewhere.
 
We see in Redgrave's final days at the school that he is out of touch with his students. They know he is a brilliant scholar, but they also see him as an aloof disciplinarian, who, to their eyes, is devoid of human emotion and sympathy.
 
The oleaginous headmaster, perfectly portrayed by Wilfrid Hyde-White, says all the right things to and about Redgrave, but is obviously happy he is leaving even as it becomes clear Redgrave has, without recognition, helped the headmaster improve the school's curriculum. 
 
In a final parting shot, the headmaster tells Redgrave his request for a pension exception owing to his illness - he is short the required number of years for eligibility - has been denied by the School Board. 
 
Worst of all, Redgrave's younger wife is carrying on an all but open affair with a bachelor science teacher at the school. Even with that setup, Redgraves so perfectly fits the role of cold, distant and arrogant teacher that our sympathies initially lean with his antagonists. 
 
Then a series of events reveals a more human and painful understanding of the man. One of the rare students he reached brings Redgrave a touching going away present. Redgrave then learns his nickname is "the Himler of the lower fifth" (his class) at the same time his wife's affair comes fully out in the open. These incidents cause Redgrave to think back to the beginning of his academic career. 
 
Eighteen years ago, when Redgrave came to the school, he and his wife thought his talents as a scholar would lead to a successful teaching career. But he didn't have the personal skills to reach his students or interact with his peers, which caused him to pull in on himself and others to pull away. 
 
Had he asked for help or had others offered it, perhaps he could have turned his career around, but instead, eighteen years later, we see an outwardly hardened, but inwardly broken man. 
 
Clearly not helping is his status-conscious wife who, instead of trying to lift him up, belittles him at every opportunity. Redgrave himself is understanding seeing their failed marriage as equally his fault owing to his unsuccessful career. Maybe, but watching his wife constantly and viciously undermine his confidence and self respect leaves us less forgiving of her than Redgrave is.
 
Finally, we see Redgrave's deep hurt at his "Nazi" nickname as he thought he was a bit of a "comical" figure to his students and teaching peers, but did not think they viewed him as mean and heartless. 
 
Processing all this information in his last remaining days at the school, Redgrave's epiphany moment comes, unfortunately, too late to save his career or marriage (the latter is better off not saved). Yet, in his final actions and parting speech, we see a man who could have been a better version of himself if he himself, his wife, his peers and his headmaster had tried to help him. 
 
A common theme of writer Terence Rattigan's work is that many good people are broken because they are square pegs trying to fit into the rigid round holes of the British class system. A system which, with its social and cultural structure that admires conformity, quietly but ruthlessly ostracizes those who are unique or different or perceived as "not quite up to snuff."
 
In The Browning Version, we meet a seemingly cold and antisocial teacher who appears to "deserve" the scorn and disdain others publicly and privately feel toward him. But director's Anthony Asquith's powerful interpretation of Rattigan's play reveals a more nuanced and heartbreaking story of an awkward man whose potential is destroyed early by an inflexible system, an unforgiving wife and unsympathetic peers. 
 
The Browning Version has no special effects, no bombast and only some melodrama. Instead, it's just a poignant tale about a fully drawn "regular" man whose life has sadly, quietly and unnecessarily failed. 
 
 
N.B. Michael Redgraves' performance here is impressively nuanced and poignant, especially considering he is playing a man who keeps his emotions and, even, thoughts inside. 
 
  
 
 
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51 minutes ago, mkahn22 said:

804123693_BrowningVersion.thumb.JPG.b95310c15e38f5b772f9368e9387b84c.JPG

The Browning Version from 1951 with Michael Redgrave, Jean Kent, Wilfrid Hyde-White and Nigel Patrick
 
 
Writer Terence Rattigan specializes in showing the agonizing pain of "ordinary" lives of quiet failure. In Rattigan's The Browning Version, a middle-aged teacher (a "master"), Michael Redgrave, at an English boys school is leaving owing to a heart condition requiring him to take a less-demanding position elsewhere.
 
We see in Redgrave's final days at the school that he is out of touch with his students. They know he is a brilliant scholar, but they also see him as an aloof disciplinarian, who, to their eyes, is devoid of human emotion and sympathy.
 
The oleaginous headmaster, perfectly portrayed by Wilfrid Hyde-White, says all the right things to and about Redgrave, but is obviously happy he is leaving even as it becomes clear Redgrave has, without recognition, helped the headmaster improve the school's curriculum. 
 
In a final parting shot, the headmaster tells Redgrave his request for a pension exception owing to his illness - he is short the required number of years for eligibility - has been denied by the School Board. 
 
Worst of all, Redgrave's younger wife is carrying on an all but open affair with a bachelor science teacher at the school. Even with that setup, Redgraves so perfectly fits the role of cold, distant and arrogant teacher that our sympathies initially lean with his antagonists. 
 
Then a series of events reveals a more human and painful understanding of the man. One of the rare students he reached brings Redgrave a touching going away present. Redgrave then learns his nickname is "the Himler of the lower fifth" (his class) at the same time his wife's affair comes fully out in the open. These incidents cause Redgrave to think back to the beginning of his academic career. 
 
Eighteen years ago, when Redgrave came to the school, he and his wife thought his talents as a scholar would lead to a successful teaching career. But he didn't have the personal skills to reach his students or interact with his peers, which caused him to pull in on himself and others to pull away. 
 
Had he asked for help or had others offered it, perhaps he could have turned his career around, but instead, eighteen years later, we see an outwardly hardened, but inwardly broken man. 
 
Clearly not helping is his status-conscious wife who, instead of trying to lift him up, belittles him at every opportunity. Redgrave himself is understanding seeing their failed marriage as equally his fault owing to his unsuccessful career. Maybe, but watching his wife constantly and viciously undermine his confidence and self respect leaves us less forgiving of her than Redgrave is.
 
Finally, we see Redgrave's deep hurt at his "Nazi" nickname as he thought he was a bit of a "comical" figure to his students and teaching peers, but did not think they viewed him as mean and heartless. 
 
Processing all this information in his last remaining days at the school, Redgrave's epiphany moment comes, unfortunately, too late to save his career or marriage (the latter is better off not saved). Yet, in his final actions and parting speech, we see a man who could have been a better version of himself if he himself, his wife, his peers and his headmaster had tried to help him. 
 
A common theme of writer Terence Rattigan's work is that many good people are broken because they are square pegs trying to fit into the rigid round holes of the British class system. A system which, with its social and cultural structure that admires conformity, quietly but ruthlessly ostracizes those who are unique or different or perceived as "not quite up to snuff."
 
In The Browning Version, we meet a seemingly cold and antisocial teacher who appears to "deserve" the scorn and disdain others publicly and privately feel toward him. But director's Anthony Asquith's powerful interpretation of Rattigan's play reveals a more nuanced and heartbreaking story of an awkward man whose potential is destroyed early by an inflexible system, an unforgiving wife and unsympathetic peers. 
 
The Browning Version has no special effects, no bombast and only some melodrama. Instead, it's just a poignant tale about a fully drawn "regular" man whose life has sadly, quietly and unnecessarily failed. 
 
 
N.B. Michael Redgraves' performance here is impressively nuanced and poignant, especially considering he is playing a man who keeps his emotions and, even, thoughts inside. 
 
  
 
 

TERRENCE RATTIGAN is one Hell of a writer, I love THE WINSLOW BOY and I've lately been searching high and low for a copy of THE FINAL TEST- a 1952 version of his play about the game of cricket.

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28 minutes ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

TERRENCE RATTIGAN is one Hell of a writer, I love THE WINSLOW BOY and I've lately been searching high and low for a copy of THE FINAL TEST- a 1952 version of his play about the game of cricket.

I'm a big fan of his too. "The Winslow Boy" is wonderful as is his "Separate Tables," a movie, IMHO, that should be more well known. I'm not familiar with "The Final Test," but will, like you, start looking for a copy. 

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10 minutes ago, mkahn22 said:

I'm a big fan of his too. "The Winslow Boy" is wonderful as is his "Separate Tables," a movie, IMHO, that should be more well known. I'm not familiar with "The Final Test," but will, like you, start looking for a copy. 

from the plot entry for the film on wiki (spoilers omitted):

Plot

The film is a light drama, set around elderly leading cricketer Sam Palmer's last appearance for England.

262px-Princess_Film_Company%2C_The_Final
 
(NOTE: the above image is NOT from the 1953 film)

Action jumps between various elements: an Englishman (Richard Wattis) explaining to an American the rules and terminologies of the game from the audience; Jim's home life; the pub listening to cricket on the radio; Sam's interactions with players and family; and Reggie's attempts to meet his theatrical hero Alexander Whitehead (Robert Morley). This is interspersed with documentary footage of real cricket games.

Sam desperately wants his son Reggie to be there at The Oval to witness his last match, but Reggie has a developing passion for poetry and instead of attending the game has a ‘once in a lifetime’ chance of meeting a leading poet, Alexander Whitehead. But when Reggie meets Whitehead, it turns out he is a huge fan of cricket.[3] Whitehead takes Reggie along to the match, in time to see Sam's innings, and persuades Reggie that there is more to cricket than he had previously thought.

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31 minutes ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

from the plot entry for the film on wiki (spoilers omitted):

Plot

The film is a light drama, set around elderly leading cricketer Sam Palmer's last appearance for England.

262px-Princess_Film_Company%2C_The_Final
 
(NOTE: the above image is from the play, NOT the film, what came out in 1953)

Action jumps between various elements: an Englishman (Richard Wattis) explaining to an American the rules and terminologies of the game from the audience; Jim's home life; the pub listening to cricket on the radio; Sam's interactions with players and family; and Reggie's attempts to meet his theatrical hero Alexander Whitehead (Robert Morley). This is interspersed with documentary footage of real cricket games.

Sam desperately wants his son Reggie to be there at The Oval to witness his last match, but Reggie has a developing passion for poetry and instead of attending the game has a ‘once in a lifetime’ chance of meeting a leading poet, Alexander Whitehead. But when Reggie meets Whitehead, it turns out he is a huge fan of cricket.[3] Whitehead takes Reggie along to the match, in time to see Sam's innings, and persuades Reggie that there is more to cricket than he had previously thought.

No luck in my first quick search for a copy. I'll keep trying and let you know if I find it.

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8 hours ago, EricJ said:

That's a bit extreme, considering we have director Bob Clark to blame for it--If I were to give up movie-watching because of one traumatic experience, I sure as heck wouldn't want to give Bob Clark the satisfaction of it.

Ralphie's BB rifle, my fanny, Clark's got almost the entire REST of the decade to answer for.  😠

That was only part of it.  There are a couple of compounding reasons.  By the time many people are in their mid-50s, pop culture starts to leave them behind a bit and they lose interest.   Neither parent cared for coarse language stronger than PG stuff.  My Dad was also 6'7", and he was never very comfortable sitting in a theater to begin with.  This was before theaters switched to stadium seating with more legroom.  By this time they had had a VCR at home for a couple years and just decided to rent videos and watch stuff at home.

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3 hours ago, mkahn22 said:

804123693_BrowningVersion.thumb.JPG.b95310c15e38f5b772f9368e9387b84c.JPG

The Browning Version from 1951 with Michael Redgrave, Jean Kent, Wilfrid Hyde-White and Nigel Patrick
 
 
Writer Terence Rattigan specializes in showing the agonizing pain of "ordinary" lives of quiet failure. In Rattigan's The Browning Version, a middle-aged teacher (a "master"), Michael Redgrave, at an English boys school is leaving owing to a heart condition requiring him to take a less-demanding position elsewhere.
 
We see in Redgrave's final days at the school that he is out of touch with his students. They know he is a brilliant scholar, but they also see him as an aloof disciplinarian, who, to their eyes, is devoid of human emotion and sympathy.
 
The oleaginous headmaster, perfectly portrayed by Wilfrid Hyde-White, says all the right things to and about Redgrave, but is obviously happy he is leaving even as it becomes clear Redgrave has, without recognition, helped the headmaster improve the school's curriculum. 
 
In a final parting shot, the headmaster tells Redgrave his request for a pension exception owing to his illness - he is short the required number of years for eligibility - has been denied by the School Board. 
 
Worst of all, Redgrave's younger wife is carrying on an all but open affair with a bachelor science teacher at the school. Even with that setup, Redgraves so perfectly fits the role of cold, distant and arrogant teacher that our sympathies initially lean with his antagonists. 
 
Then a series of events reveals a more human and painful understanding of the man. One of the rare students he reached brings Redgrave a touching going away present. Redgrave then learns his nickname is "the Himler of the lower fifth" (his class) at the same time his wife's affair comes fully out in the open. These incidents cause Redgrave to think back to the beginning of his academic career. 
 
Eighteen years ago, when Redgrave came to the school, he and his wife thought his talents as a scholar would lead to a successful teaching career. But he didn't have the personal skills to reach his students or interact with his peers, which caused him to pull in on himself and others to pull away. 
 
Had he asked for help or had others offered it, perhaps he could have turned his career around, but instead, eighteen years later, we see an outwardly hardened, but inwardly broken man. 
 
Clearly not helping is his status-conscious wife who, instead of trying to lift him up, belittles him at every opportunity. Redgrave himself is understanding seeing their failed marriage as equally his fault owing to his unsuccessful career. Maybe, but watching his wife constantly and viciously undermine his confidence and self respect leaves us less forgiving of her than Redgrave is.
 
Finally, we see Redgrave's deep hurt at his "Nazi" nickname as he thought he was a bit of a "comical" figure to his students and teaching peers, but did not think they viewed him as mean and heartless. 
 
Processing all this information in his last remaining days at the school, Redgrave's epiphany moment comes, unfortunately, too late to save his career or marriage (the latter is better off not saved). Yet, in his final actions and parting speech, we see a man who could have been a better version of himself if he himself, his wife, his peers and his headmaster had tried to help him. 
 
A common theme of writer Terence Rattigan's work is that many good people are broken because they are square pegs trying to fit into the rigid round holes of the British class system. A system which, with its social and cultural structure that admires conformity, quietly but ruthlessly ostracizes those who are unique or different or perceived as "not quite up to snuff."
 
In The Browning Version, we meet a seemingly cold and antisocial teacher who appears to "deserve" the scorn and disdain others publicly and privately feel toward him. But director's Anthony Asquith's powerful interpretation of Rattigan's play reveals a more nuanced and heartbreaking story of an awkward man whose potential is destroyed early by an inflexible system, an unforgiving wife and unsympathetic peers. 
 
The Browning Version has no special effects, no bombast and only some melodrama. Instead, it's just a poignant tale about a fully drawn "regular" man whose life has sadly, quietly and unnecessarily failed. 
 
 
N.B. Michael Redgraves' performance here is impressively nuanced and poignant, especially considering he is playing a man who keeps his emotions and, even, thoughts inside. 
 
  
 
 

Definitely one of Michael Redgrave's most powerful performances. THE WINSLOW BOY definitely ranks as one of his best.

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1/4 Dr. Strangelove (Columbia, 1964)
Source: TCM

Continuing the first night of the monthly theme of accents, here we have Peter Sellers playing three different characters: the British group commander who becomes a hostage and unwitting aide to the traitorous, paranoic American brigadier general whose actions set the plot in motion (Sterling Hayden); as the president of the United States and as the German (presumably ex-Nazi) scientist of the title. It's probably already known to you that Sellers was originally going to play a fourth role in the movie as the bombardier pilot who rides his bomb like a bucking bronco on his way to apparently causing the end of the world. But Sellers was frustrated with his inabiity to master a Texas accent (during a more recent airing of Places in the Heart, I saw Alicia Malone conversing with the casting director who said there are many Texas accents. As a Texan, I took interest in the topic and made mental note when she described the accent in Dallas, where I live, as "neutral", which I would like to think, although I imagine those of you who don't live in Texas would no doubt find my accent freakishly comical if you ever heard me speak. Even other Texans have made me aware that I have a distinct drawl). The scenes in the plane kept getting postponed, and eventually Sellers broke his ankle. I'm not saying that wasn't a painful or traumatic experience, but it did provide him with a convenient excuse to drop out of the role (although he could have done most of his scenes sitting down). I was interested to read that Stanley Kubrick began fishing about for a replacement, happy to take anyone who would fit a cowboy stereotype - John Wayne apparently never returned his calls! - and eventually went with Slim Pickens, who appeared in One-Eyed Jacks, I believe a film Kubrick was initially set to direct, but Marlon Brando eventually had to take over. Talk about accents: I'm also reading on IMDB that James Earl Jones thought Pickens was one of those Method actors who stayed in character all the time, even when not shooting, until he eventually learned that was Pickens' real voice.
 

So, a brief history for the one per cent of you who don't know the story (I learned most of this from reading a coffee table book about Kubrick and his films): Dr. Strangelove is adapted from a novel by Peter George called Red Alert, a downbeat military thriller about how an unlikely chain of events could trigger World War III. Kubrick co-wrote the first draft of the screenplay adaptation with George. Two interesting things occurred. One of them is a thinly disguised competing screenplay got written that was made into a completely different movie called Fail Safe with Henry Fonda and Walter Matthau, among others. Lawsuits flew and injunctions were filed, but ultimately, both films got released by the same studio, Columbia. The second thing is the longer he worked on adapting the story, the more ridiculous Kubrick found it, inspiring him to reimagine the scenario as a satire. Toward this purpose, he brought in Terry Southern ( who also co-wrote Easy Rider and Candy) to work with him on a later draft. George, Kubrick and Southern all ultimately received writing credit, but George wasn't thrilled with what was being done to his story. I think maybe more lawsuits flew. Anyway, the first time I watched Fail Safe on TCM, I was completely unaware of all this backstory, and I spent the whole movie thinking, "Gee, this is just like Dr. Strangleove without the jokes." And indeed, it would be an interesting theme night for TCM to play the two movies back-to-back sometime and you can compare and contrast the relative  wisdom of each version, deadly serious or tongue-in-cheek.

The basic story: Hayden's General Ripper, the commanding officer of a military base who also carries some sort of authority over a squadron of bombers patrolling  around the Soviet Union , issues the "go code" for the bombers to enter Soviet airspace and drop their atomic loads on their predesignated primary targets or failing that their secondary targets. Procedures are in place that once this "go code" has been given, the crews of the plane shut off all outside communication so that nothing distracts them from their mission. Presumably the idea is so that the enemy can't radio in pretending to be an ally with a counter-command, but the reality as we see as the movie unfolds, is not even the president himself can reach the pilots to say "This was all a mistake. Abort the mission." The Soviets it appears will have time to launch a counterstrike, but the odds are the damage they take and the resulting loss of life will be much more devastating to "them" than to us. Ripper has also accounted for being found out and has duped the men at his base to fight to the death any intruders who came to take him in and try to force him to change his plans, warning them that the "Commies" may very well strike at them disguised in friendly uniforms. 

In the "War Room", the president learns in short order the horrific nature of Ripper's plan and the apparent futility any efforts to stop it will have. He then is faced with the decision of doing nothing - a plan urged by George C. Scott's General Buck Turgidson who had nothing to do with hatching the insane scheme but once aware of it figures the US might as well make the best of it - or warning the Socviet premier of the impending attack so that perhaps their forces can shoot down the American planes. Things get worse (much worse) when the Soviet ambassador reveals his people have just made operational a "doomsday" device that will trigger automatically if the USSR comes under atomic attack, thereby ensuring the elimination of most of the world's population. So, stopping the American bombers becomes a vital priority to both nations, and they are largely succesful in doing so, except for one doggedly determined crew the film keeps shifting back to, who survive against all odds and advance with determination toward their target, assuming they'll one day be welcomed at home as heroes and unaware their success will literally mean the end of the world.

You can tell from reading those two paragraphs that the story could be unremitingly grim, and if you want that story, you should probably watch Fail Safe, which as I recall is a pretty engaging movie, but Kubrick as I already mentioned decided to go for an absurdist approach, so the principal characters all have lurid and sometimes naughty double entendre names, and their personalities are frequently outsized and larger than life. And so there are lot of comic bits, even as the overall arc becomes increasingly fatalistic and morbid.

I will reference my home state once again just to mention that the movie came out shortly after the assassination of John F. Kennedy in my adopted city. Between the time of that event and the TV show about the Ewings 15 or 20 years later, Dallas as far as I can tell was rarely mentioned in any context by anyone else in the country other than as the place where a charismatic president got murdered. It's a burden the city still bears but I think way moreso in the '60s and '70s (having a really good football team in the '70s also helped it get more positive associations nationally). And so, there's a line in the script where Pickens' Major Kong is going over the supplies any surviving crew member should carry with them if the plane is shot down, including prophylactics, money and cosmetics, where he says something to the effect of "Shoot, a guy could  have a pretty good weekend in Dallas with all this stuff", which makes sense, since he is a Texan. But somebody higher up in the studio presumably  said "No, no, no, hold up, there's no way you can mention 'that city' in a movie for God's sake," and if know what you're looking for, you can clearly see Pickens' lips mouthing the word "Dallas" just as Picken's overdubbed voice is saying "Vegas" instead.

There are many wonderful set pieces in the film, the most famous being Pickens/Kong riding his bomb down to the target like a rodeo vet, but I like everything from the extended bit with the Coke machine to the paranoia of the War Room to the authenticity of the B-52 (apparently constructed based on Life magazine photos). 

Sellers got the Oscar nomination and the attention. His multiple characters bit can be a bit tiresome, but I did have fun watching the movie with my mom once, and her asking me multiple times, "Now, which ones are Peter Sellers again?" and delighting at her impressed reaction. "Wait, he's the president TOO?" I love him in all three of his parts, especially Strangelove in the moments where he struggles against his own Nazi-sympathetic hand and when the other men listen a bit too eagerly as he describes the burden of having to repopulate the species.  But I must give special credit to two other actors as well. I think hands down George C. Scott gave the best performance of 1964 as Turgidson. In his early scenes he has to explain the hopelesness of the situation to the president as calmly and analytically as possible, and then gathers up great enthusiasm for the idea that  Ripper's mad scheme could end in the best scenario possible if the president and everyone else will just sack up and let it happen. He also gets to exhibit comic paranoia at the presence of the Soviet ambassador (Peter Bull). The book I read indicated Kubrick kept telling Scott to "go bigger, do more" with each subseuqent take (and Kubrick was known for doing a lot of takes). Scott was apparently unhappy when he saw the finished product, feeling Kubrick used only the most exaggerated takes which gave the overall impression of Scott being a buffoon. But I love his facial expressions and his apparently improvised bits as when he falls down in one scene then bounces to his feet and picks right up with the dialogue where he left off (a genuine fall, I'm reading, but Scott made the most of it, and Kubrick liked it enough to keep it). And then of course Hayden as the demented General Ripper, initially menacing and frightening but then oddly generating somehwat comic sympathy when he describes "losing essence" during the "act of love" that is maybe the dirtiest bit of dialogue in the movie. And then of course his final actions show just how committed he is to his plan. I like Pickens, too, but he's a bit more one-note and doesn't quite compare with the incredible acting triumverate of Sellers, Scott and Hayden, in my opinion. Special mention to Tracey Reed, daughter of the director Carol Reed, I think about 23 at the time, as Scott's secretary and apparent mistress in her one memorable scene, giving a one-sided phone conversation in Bob Newhart style while clad in bra and panties. Looking at her IMDB resume, looks like she went on to do some horror stuff that may have been borderline softcore material. James Earl Jones is by far the most famous member of the bomber crew, but I liked all those actors.

Total films seen this year: 10

Dr. Strangelove movie review & film summary (1964) | Roger Ebert

 

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On 1/19/2022 at 4:48 PM, CinemaInternational said:

She missed out on Remains because she was pregnant with her last child. Mike Nichols was originally going to direct that, and he wanted her and Jeremy Irons to star. She came in for a reading about 7 months pregnant. Nichols became depressed and angry, then forfeited the whole production to Merchant Ivory. They were insistent on using a British star rather than an American, so Meryl got the boot.

Thank God all around!  "Remains of the Day," is in my top ten, along with other Merchant/Ivory productions. It's perfect the way it is. 

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