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On the Friday Night Noir Fest just shown (what a great line up it was too) I got my first viewing of 99 RIVER STREET. What a down and dirty little gem of a noir film that was.   Tight story, fast paced, well filmed. John Payne's performance  certainly gives a powerful  two fisted  punch to the storyline (just like he did in KANSAS CITY CONFIDENTAL).  The cast may be mostly unknown/obscure character types but all played their parts very well.  I liked that Eddie Muller gave a little acknowledgement to  actress Peggie Castle , who played Payne's two timing wife . Unfortunately she suffered an undeserved fate in the story, she had a little payback coming, but not to get brutalized and bumped off.  But without that we wouldn't have had much of a story with  Payne needing to get out of a frame up for murder.  I enjoyed this film as much as the more celebrated ones shown that night (TOO LATE FOR TEARS and THE STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS).

 

It was interesting how the portrayal of the wife changed as the story developed.   At first she is just a cheating, not very nice or friendly, fed up women,  willing to commit a crime to get what she wants,  but later we find out her main trait is being clueless instead of calculating;  She really believed that the owner of the jewels,  the Dutchman,  wouldn't be harmed in the heist.    Of course in the noir universe the clueless are typically the firsts to go;  just ask the accountant in Out of the Past!

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On the Friday Night Noir Fest just shown (what a great line up it was too) I got my first viewing of 99 RIVER STREET. What a down and dirty little gem of a noir film that was.   Tight story, fast paced, well filmed. John Payne's performance  certainly gives a powerful  two fisted  punch to the storyline (just like he did in KANSAS CITY CONFIDENTAL).  The cast may be mostly unknown/obscure character types but all played their parts very well.  I liked that Eddie Muller gave a little acknowledgement to  actress Peggie Castle , who played Payne's two timing wife . Unfortunately she suffered an undeserved fate in the story, she had a little payback coming, but not to get brutalized and bumped off.  But without that we wouldn't have had much of a story with  Payne needing to get out of a frame up for murder.  I enjoyed this film as much as the more celebrated ones shown that night (TOO LATE FOR TEARS and THE STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS).

One of the discoveries that I've made since getting TCM was that of the convincing tough guy performer into which John Payne transformed himself after his earlier light leading man days at Fox began to fade. This is particularly true of his performance in 99 River Street, as tough a little item as the '50s produced. One of the most gripping scenes in the film is that in which Evelyn Keyes goes 'underground," so to speak, in a bar, coming on to hardboiled Brad Dexter, a man capable of biting a rattlesnake in half if given the opportunity.

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One of the discoveries that I've made since getting TCM was that of the convincing tough guy performer into which John Payne transformed himself after his earlier light leading man days at Fox began to fade. This is particularly true of his performance in 99 River Street, as tough a little item as the '50s produced. One of the most gripping scenes in the film is that in which Evelyn Keyes goes 'underground," so to speak, in a bar, coming to to hardboiled Brad Dexter, a man capable of biting a rattlesnake in half if given the opportunity.

 

Evelyn Keyes performance in this film was interesting and generates a lot of excitement.   In her best and longest two scenes she is an actress that is acting.   These scenes contrasts with her more subdued 'natural' scenes when she isn't playing a part.    A great role for any actress and Keyes pulls it off well.   

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.....I picked up the Criterion DVD of Sullivan's Travels, that I watched last night, and it's said that the point of the movie that Sturges was trying to make is not that, the poor should have better, but that people should "know their place".  Not in a condescending way, but that "this is the way it is".  Do people agree with this?  Interesting point of view......

 

 

Not only do I disagree with it, I think that whoever said that (a critic on your Criterion DVD?) has got it all  wrong. (Hey, humility  will get you  nowhere.) Despite Sullivan's exploration of poverty and imprisonment,  (the latter involuntary on his part) it's not primarily about poor people at all, one way or the other.

 

I have always felt that the point, or "message", of Sullivan's Travels is that comedy is as wise and useful, if not more so, than tragedy. That making people laugh is a worthwhile artistic endeavour , and that laughter can bring even the most miserable and downtrodden of us joy. Even if that joy lasts no longer than the cartoon (or book, or music,or whatever) they are experiencing, it has tremendous value and plays a vital role in a person's well-being and will to live.

 

This is why, after all his travels (and travailles) Sullivan changes his mind about making an "important", "serious" film, and decides to stick with making comedies. 

 

Even today, there seem to be a lot of people who misguidedly think that drama, or a "serious" story, has more to say about the human condition than comedy. They should watch Sullivan's Travels.

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Even today, there seem to be a lot of people who misguidedly think that drama, or a "serious" story, has more to say about the human condition than comedy. They should watch Sullivan's Travels.

Exactly...and I think that is why there continues to be a huge bias each Oscar season, where we see very few comedies nominated for Best Picture. And very few comic performances nominated for Best Actor or Actress. Comedy is the ill-begotten stepchild of the Academy, and it should not be. It should be seen as a legitimate commentary on the human condition and a legitimate filmic endeavor.

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Not only do I disagree with it, I think that whoever said that (a critic on your Criterion DVD?) has got it all  wrong. (Hey, humility  will get you  nowhere.) Despite Sullivan's exploration of poverty and imprisonment,  (the latter involuntary on his part) it's not primarily about poor people at all, one way or the other.

 

I have always felt that the point, or "message", of Sullivan's Travels is that comedy is as wise and useful, if not more so, than tragedy. That making people laugh is a worthwhile artistic endeavour , and that laughter can bring even the most miserable and downtrodden of us joy. Even if that joy lasts no longer than the cartoon (or book, or music,or whatever) they are experiencing, it has tremendous value and plays a vital role in a person's well-being and will to live.

 

This is why, after all his travels (and travailles) Sullivan changes his mind about making an "important", "serious" film, and decides to stick with making comedies. 

 

Even today, there seem to be a lot of people who misguidedly think that drama, or a "serious" story, has more to say about the human condition than comedy. They should watch Sullivan's Travels.

 

Beautiful sentiment, misswonderly (or can I call you Mary?  Lol.).  The line about "know your place" I got from the Criterion DVD.  It didn't really sit well with me.  You said it much more eloquently.

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The message of Sullivan's Travels, the importance of humour in the world for anyone, including the downtrodden, has to rank as one of the most self congratulatory of any filmmaker.

 

That, however, does not make the message an invalid one, but it was clearly a means by which Sturges wanted to tweak the noses of other filmmakers with their "message" films and productions of self importance.

 

That sense of prestige surrounding "important" films permeated the studios themselves. Warner Brothers, for example, regarded their Paul Muni biopics and Bette Davis melodramas (the films most likely to get Oscar nominations) as their status productions. Meanwhile their gangster shoot 'em ups and Flynn swashbucklers, while moneymakers, were looked down upon within the studio walls themselves.

 

The Life of Emile Zola ends with the words, "He was a moment in the conscience of man." You're never going to find dialogue of that kind of self important nature in a pirate film or gangster drama at Warners. Or a Preston Sturges comedy at Paramount (unless, perhaps, he's poking fun at it). Many would say, I know, "Thank God for that."

 

Still the Motion Picture Academy named Emile Zola best film of 1937.

 

The fact that today more people discuss Sullivan's Travels (at least, on this message board) than a more pretentious production like The Life of Emile Zola would have pleased Sturges immensely.

 

"See?" he might have said, regarding his Sullivan message, "See?"

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Would I be out of line posting what "I just watched"? Seems the "best & worst of the week" isn't relevant, since I'm watching recorded TCM.

 

PARIS BLUES-  Beautifully filmed, the principle actors Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Sidney Poitier & Dianne Carroll never looked better-yummy. Carroll & Woodward wore gorgeous clothes as 2 single gals visiting Paris enjoying the jazz club where Newman & Poitier were musicians.  I liked all the different views illustrated about racism in the US in the 60's. I also liked that Woodward's behaviour was unapologetically s l u t t y! Gone was the code and we could see people in real life situations. Good for a viewing, but not burn worthy.

 

THIS HAPPY BREED- The stand out of my group of movies, I loved this slice of life look at a British family's life over 10 years spent in a city house. It was bookended by arial views of the neighborhood, showing all houses & yards pretty much identical, illustrating stories like this one probably happen in every house.

I loved the family dynamics of the wayward daughter, elderly mother & crazy old maid aunt (me!) arguing, supporting & surviving a difficult time in British history. Like the opening, key scenes are told in pictures, like when the parents are given horrible news, they sit silently while the camera backs away, leaving then to their grief. Wow. Loved seeing Stanley Holloway so young as the good time neighbor and as usual he was a hoot! All principle actors give spectacular performances. A must see, under-discussed gem.

 

The box set also contains IN WHICH WE SERVE & BLITHE SPIRIT. I liked IWWS, but don't care as much for war stories. The use of flashback was brilliantly done and it should be seen at least once. I liked BLITHE SPIRIT a lot, although it reminded me of TOPPER a bit in theme.

Margaret Rutherford was a standout as the medium- just kooky enough to be believable yet funny. This one we get to see Rex Harrison as a young man and you can't take your eyes off him! The woman who plays the spirit is way too annoying, especially her voice, which had the same whiny quality as Jean Arthur but with a British accent! I fell asleep during this one, but I'm burning it so it can be watched later.

 

(This David Lean Directs Noël Coward Criterion set is fantastic, it includes a booklet too. This team used all the same "talent stable" for their pictures, like Capra, Hitchcock and more recently Tim Burton)

 

After the Hayley Mills discussion, I borrowed IN SEARCH OF THE CASTAWAYS which ranks as the worst movie I saw this week. I liked the story and boy Hayley Mills is great. But the story was ruined by really awful special effects. I was surprised, as it was a Disney film, and they usually spare no expense. Sure, you have to suspend your disbelief for situations, like a giant tree caught in a waterspout and everyone landing safely. But the layering of film to depict volcano spitting lava was awful. The trek through the Andes was pretty awful too. But the worst was the "ride on a boulder" down the mountain. We were supposed to believe 5 people could hold on to an icy boulder sliding in snow down a mountain and just fall into snow laughing at the bottom? Ridiculous. Plus, at the end I wasn't sure if the father was a pirate or prisoner or even wanted to see his kids again.

"The end" was shown over footage of a miniature ship in rough rolling water-yet the ship was perfectly still! Oy!

 

I am very grateful movies give us a chance to time travel-both for situations of another time, and actors/actresses work. John Mills was such an incredible actor and it's fun to see how fantastic daughter Hayley was as just a kid. It's all there preserved for us to enjoy!

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Not only do I disagree with it, I think that whoever said that (a critic on your Criterion DVD?) has got it all  wrong. (Hey, humility  will get you  nowhere.) Despite Sullivan's exploration of poverty and imprisonment,  (the latter involuntary on his part) it's not primarily about poor people at all, one way or the other.

 

I have always felt that the point, or "message", of Sullivan's Travels is that comedy is as wise and useful, if not more so, than tragedy. That making people laugh is a worthwhile artistic endeavour , and that laughter can bring even the most miserable and downtrodden of us joy. Even if that joy lasts no longer than the cartoon (or book, or music,or whatever) they are experiencing, it has tremendous value and plays a vital role in a person's well-being and will to live.

 

This is why, after all his travels (and travailles) Sullivan changes his mind about making an "important", "serious" film, and decides to stick with making comedies. 

 

Even today, there seem to be a lot of people who misguidedly think that drama, or a "serious" story, has more to say about the human condition than comedy. They should watch Sullivan's Travels.

But the benefit of laughter is much greater for poor people than for rich people.

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But the benefit of laughter is much greater for poor people than for rich people.

 

Do you really think so? I'm not sure we can measure laughter - sometimes I tire of hearing about all the studies that try to do so. If you mean poor people appreciate the (limited??) moments of joy  in their lives more than rich people do, I'd say possibly, but even that's debatable.

At the risk of sounding horribly Pollyanna-ish, I think one of the great things about laughter, along with certain other things too "sweetness and light -ish" to go into, are democratic- gifts that anyone can experience and enjoy, without diminishing the supply and without cost.

 

(In the overly "sweetness and light" department: I mean things like trees, the sound of rain, the smell of a summer evening, peonies in bloom, the taste of wild raspberries, etc.etc.   I know, I know... I did warn you about the Pollyanna factor...)

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But the benefit of laughter is much greater for poor people than for rich people.

 

All I know about it is that it's my very favorite thing.

 

Honest laughter - the kind that can't be supressed or faked - is the most wonderful sensation there is.

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Yesterday I watched Two O'clock Courage which was an average programmer about a man who has amnesia who tries to discover who he is and how he's involved in the death of someone. But get this--it starred Tom Conway and Ann Rutherford. Sunny and sweet Ann Rutherford plays a cab driver who helps the guy. It was such an odd pairing for a murder mystery that didn't also include Red Skelton or Whistling in the title.

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Last night I watched "Arrowsmith" (1931), with Ronald Coleman and Helen Hayes.  I've heard of the name Helen Hayes since I was a kid, but I think this is the first time I've seen her in a movie.  Martin Arrowsmith (Ronald Coleman) is a man whose life is devoted to service.  He wants to be a research scientist, but is advised by his mentor, Dr. Gottlieb, to go into the medical profession first.  After taking a position at a hospital he meets his future wife Leora Towzer (Hayes), a nurse, scrubbing the floor as punishment for smoking a cigarette...  Eventually they marry and the story goes on to focus on the ups and downs of Arrowsmith's career in medicine/research.

 

Truthfully, the film didn't really grab me, but there were two unintentionally funny bits that made me laugh: 

 

As said, Arrowsmith meets Leora scrubbing the floor of the hospital.  He gets into a snit because she doesn't stand up to treat him, a doctor, with respect, but eventually they go into a 'banter' of sorts.  Naturally, he asks her out on a date that night.

 

At the restaurant, Arrowsmith tells her he wants to marry her.  Leora responds something along the lines of, "I'll travel to the ends of the earth for you!"  Really?  After only a few hours of meeting him?  Now that's speed dating for the ages!

 

Later in the movie, Arrowsmith is woken in the middle of the night by an urgent call.  The man on the line says, "Please help my little girl!  She has a sore throat!"  Arrowsmith responds, "I'll be right there!"  He immediately hangs up the phone without getting the man's name or an address, but he knows exactly who it is and where the girl is.  Arrowsmith turns to his wife.  "Sore throat!  It might be diptheria!"  As it tuns out, that's exactly what it is.  Pretty good to be able to diagnose a case of diptheria over the phone, and from the symptom of a "sore throat". 

 

SPOILER: Well, he wasn't such a wonder doctor after all.  In the middle of his treating her the little girl died... 

 

:)

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Last night I watched "Arrowsmith" (1931), with Ronald Coleman and Helen Hayes.  I've heard of the name Helen Hayes since I was a kid, but I think this is the first time I've seen her in a movie.

 

She really didn't make very many, and the ones she made haven't aged well at all.

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She really didn't make very many, and the ones she made haven't aged well at all.

Helen Hayes was primarily a stage actress, although she did win two Oscars. You may already know that her husband Charles MacArthur wrote (with Ben Hecht) such classic American plays as The Front Page and Twentieth Century; and that her son (adopted) was James MacArthur, of "Hawaii Five-0" and many movies.

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Whipsaw (1935)

 

Until this morning I've not seen this film, but I did manage to catch the last 40 min or so - starring Spencer Tracy and Myrna Loy.

 

The story itself didn't interest me - run of the mill stuff - however, I was struck by the chemistry between Tracy and Loy. Both their characters were somewhat subdued in their presentations compared to other films - Tracy's moreso than Loy's. Tracy seemed to not be acting at all, appearing as if he were just a regular, down-to-earth Joe, not embelishing the part (a better pairing of these two than Test Pilot, IMO). Myrna's character seemed to fit well within Tracy's - hand in glove so to speak - as she followed his leads.

 

Well, that's how I see this. I'm looking forward to seeing the whole movie, though, as I said, the story is of no interest, I will take great pleasure in watching these two stars play off each other.

 

One of my first thoughts as I watched the ending.. these two would have made a great co-starring couple in their own series of films - a la Powell-Loy.. though on a different level.

 

Every time I see Spencer Tracy in a movie I compare his performance to every other one I've seen and am continually impressed by his ability to be subtle. He can be so real at times.

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Bad Timing (1980) Dir. Nicolas Roeg a very creepy thriller told in multiple flashbacks with Teresa Russell,.Art Garfunkel, Harvey Keitel, and Denholm Elliot, set mostly in Vienna.

 

Keitel is great in that, isn't he.

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Helen Hayes was primarily a stage actress, although she did win two Oscars. You may already know that her husband Charles MacArthur wrote (with Ben Hecht) such classic American plays as The Front Page and Twentieth Century; and that her son (adopted) was James MacArthur, of "Hawaii Five-0" and many movies.

I, literally, ran into Helen Hayes walking in what one might describe as an alley, in Washington, D.C., back in 1987.  We were both on our way into the Omni Shoreham Hotel, headed to the Marquee Lounge, to see FORBIDDEN BROADWAY.  She seemed lost, and I assisted her to the right place.  As I was alone, she insisted that I join her at her table, where she was awaiting the rest of her party.  I was thrilled, and even more so, when I realized her "party" consisted of Eli Wallach, Anne Jackson, Vincent Price and Eva Marie Saint.  All of them gems. What a memorable evening, and what a sweetheart Helen Hayes was, to me.

 

In keeping with the thread, I watched the 3D Blu-ray of LIVE, DIE, REPEAT (aka Edge of Tomorrow), with Tom Cruise.  It's a hybrid of THE AMERICANIZATION OF EMILY, STARSHIP TROOPERS and GROUNDHOG DAY, and is extremely clever and entertaining.

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I, literally, ran into Helen Hayes walking in what one might describe as an alley, in Washington, D.C., back in 1987.  We were both on our way into the Omni Shoreham Hotel, headed to the Marquee Lounge, to see FORBIDDEN BROADWAY.  She seemed lost, and I assisted her to the right place.  As I was alone, she insisted that I join her at her table, where she was awaiting the rest of her party.  I was thrilled, and even more so, when I realized her "party" consisted of Eli Wallach, Anne Jackson, Vincent Price and Eva Marie Saint.  All of the gems. What a memorable evening, and what a sweetheart Helen Hayes was, to me.

 

In keeping with the thread, I watched the 3D Blu-ray of LIVE, DIE, REPEAT (aka Edge of Tomorrow), with Tom Cruise.  It's a hybrid of THE AMERICANIZATION OF EMILY, STARSHIP TROOPERS and GROUNDHOG DAY, and is extremely clever and entertaining.

 

Wow! What a mult-brush with the greats is that! You ought relate this incident on the Brush-With-Greatness Thread, especially if you can recall some of the conversation, which would be of interest indeed.

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