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"The Great Gabbo" (1929)--directed by James Cruze, starring Erich von Stroheim and Betty Compson.  

 

This is one demented movie.  Imagine the ventriloquist episode in 1946's "Dead of Night" crossed with 1936's "The Great Ziegfeld" and you're close to imagining what this film was like.  I Think Cruze meant to frame a horror story with songs mirroring the main characters' mental breakdown, but things got Way out of control.

 

Film gets off to a good start, with von Stroheim playing an abusive ******* who cares more for his ventriloquist's dummy than his wife.  Compson, who plays the wife who lets him walk all over her, finally leaves him.  That's just the beginning.

 

Flash forward two years.  Both have made it to Broadway.  Film goes from there.

 

The musical numbers all are seemingly inspired by "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" (1919), especially the sets and costumes.  There's one costume where, when the women face front, they look like they are wearing wimples and long white coats.  From the back, it looks like a Medieval theme was Intended, but Missed.

 

The Strangest number is titled "Caught in the Web of Love" and the two singers, Compson and Donald Douglas, wear FLY (as in the Insect) suits, hang onto the stage-size web set for dear life,  sing about love, and show More than was meant.  It gets better/worse. When they're done singing, they jump to the floor (with very audible Thuds), and start a Ballet.  Compson and Douglas deserve credit for managing some dangerous looking moves.  von Stroheim plays a crazy man very convincingly.

 

I had to repeat some numbers two/three times because I didn't believe what I saw and heard.  A nutball classic of sorts.  I enjoyed TGG, once the musical numbers started.  2.7/4.

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Would it be safe to say that the scene that you did not see coming was, uh, without warning.

 

:D

 

==

Actually .... no. It was just surprising.

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"The Vagabond Lover" (1929)--Starring Rudy Vallee, Sally Blane, and Marie Dressler. 

 

Rudy Vallee is a tenor whose voice cracks when he goes for the highest notes.  He has All the songs.

 

Sally Blane, Loretta Youngs' sister, just has to look beautiful and speak clearly, which she does admirably.

 

 

by interesting coincidence, they showed another KEN MURRAY montage of footage filmed around town in the Golden Era of HOLLYWOOD- this time it was called HOLLYWOOD: MY HOME TOWN.

 

It included footage he shot behind-the-scenes of the making of THE VAGABOND LOVER, and he got a great reaction shot of SALLY BLAINE making a "YUCK!" face after kissing Rudy Vallee.

 

(for the record, Vallee was- by all accounts that I have read, and I have read many- an absolutely awful person.)

 

There was also footage of BOB CUMMINGS giving his infant daughter a swim lesson; a SMOKING HOT pre-fame BETTY GRABLE at the pool, a brunette JAYNE MANSFIELD with a young MARISKA HARGITAY at her heart-shaped swimming pool, MARIE DRESSLER getting into character for a scene, BETTE DAVIS and HOPE LANGE and FRANK CAPRA after a break in shooting on POCKETFUL OF MIRACLES, footage of JEAN HARLOW golfing in some fabulous bell bottomed trousers, MARY ASTOR pushing him into a pool and he pulling her in afterwards, and a Polo Match attended by the ill-fated duo of RUSS COLUMBO and CAROLE LOMBARD and many others.

 

I have loved the two KEN MURRAY specials they have run on TCM, they are fascinating and on top pf that, Murray seems to be a genuine, down-to-earth guy- even taking special care to tell the viewer when he is using footage he didn't shoot (even if said footage had been shot decades earlier.)

 

This is probably available on youtube and really worth watching- it has an especially touching tribute at the end.

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"The Red Mill" (1926)--starring Marion Davies.

 

  Marion is adorable (she's introduced by skating with scrub-brushes on her feet to scrub the floor).  If film had maintained that level of charm, it would be a minor classic.  But the screenplay and titles Tell the viewer over and over (And Over) how adorable she is, instead of letting Marion be her impish self.

 

Are some good comedy touches (Marions' introduction, some business with a mouse, a bit with a well).

 

Not one of her best films, but very watchable.

 

Thanks to TCM for a Clear, beautiful Restoration.  May "The Patsy" (1928) look even better tonight.  2.5/4.

 

 

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"The Red Mill" (1926)--starring Marion Davies.

 

  Marion is adorable (she's introduced by skating with scrub-brushes on her feet to scrub the floor).  If film had maintained that level of charm, it would be a minor classic.  But the screenplay and titles Tell the viewer over and over (And Over) how adorable she is, instead of letting Marion be her impish self.

 

Boy, wonder who made that call. Surely couldn't have been a Svengali-like paramour of Marion's whose ham-fisted manipulations of her career ultimately eclipsed her genuine talents.

 

ps- the other KEN MURRAY collection of footage they ran on TCM a few weeks ago (not the one this morning) had a LOT of footage of Marion and Hearst (and the guests and animal menagerie) at San Simeon.

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"Atlantis" (1913)--A Danish Film, made by the "Nordisk Films Kompagni".  Directed by August Blom ( if you want to Find this film on TCM, search "August Blom"--"Atlantis was one of his last 10 films, according to TCM.  If you search "Atlantis", the earliest film to appear is the 1929 British film based on the Titanics' sinking.)  Cinematography was by a Johan Ankerstjerne--TCM doesn't even mention this credit.  Wikipedia has an Excellent article; search "Atlantis 1913".

 

Film is a melodrama, very well filmed.  Its' highlight is the sinking of a British ship, which people assumed to be the Titanic (in reality, it was based on a German novel published only four weeks before the Titanic sank; still creepy, if not quite as blatantly cashing in on a disaster).

 

Director Blom hired two assistant directors.  One was Mihaly Kertesz--a Hungarian later known in Hollywood as Michael Curtiz.

 

Film was Banned in Norway for cashing in on a disaster (it was in "bad taste"), and U.S. Censorship Boards played havoc with the films' distribution.

 

I saw an Excellent copy on another website.  Film is very worth searching out, especially to silent film lovers.  3/4.

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Millie (1931)

 

220px-Millie_1931_poster.jpg

 

Pre-code goodness.

 

Millie:  When I am through with a man I'm through.

 

Helen:  When I am through with a man I'm just beginning.

 

I had to keep telling myself that Prohibition was still actively in force, for the drinking that was going on was pretty startling.  It is just one facet about the period that makes it a fascinating look at society around 1930.  

 

Now, there is this weird story progression in the movie. It is supposed to elapse 18 years from the beginning to the end, yet the clothing styles, hair styles, cars and well, even set decoration too, doesn't vary from circa 1928-1930.  The only way you know of the time passing are the title cards announcing the passing of 4 years, 10 years, and seeing Millie's little toddler daughter in first scenes and then later she gets back in the story when she's 16!  And this whole denial in the plot that there was no such thing as Prohibition going on; I kept wondering if maybe they located the story in Canada.  But no, it is quasi-New York City.  I have to watch it again to see if there was any reference at all. 

 

Millie, played by Helen Twelvetrees (she had one of the cooler names in Hollywood at the time and I also look forward to seeing her) plays Millie and she does age pretty darn accurately for the movie even if the dresses and hats don't.  There is also an early glimpse of Joan Blondell (who is just so young and cute in this) and Anita Louise as the daughter. 

 

One other thing that gives this movie a sweet spot in my heart-- hard-bolded newspaper men who have a heart of gold and use their journalist charm to right wrongs. Named Tommy and Johnny. 

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I finally saw The Bat Whispers (1930).  A bit creaky, but I enjoyed it, as I almost always enjoy antique movies with "haunted" houses with a lot of rooms and hidden passageways.

 

The maid was a bit over the top. (film lover: I too mistook the grand lady of the house for Maude Eburne; in fact, Eburne played the ditsy maid. The "lady" was played by Grayce Hampton.)

 

5115-1289.jpg

Another good one with secret passageways is the Silent Cat and the Canary with Laura La Plante. I like this one too.

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Millie (1931)

 

220px-Millie_1931_poster.jpg

 

Pre-code goodness.

 

Millie:  When I am through with a man I'm through.

 

Helen:  When I am through with a man I'm just beginning.

I love Helen Twelvetrees and her great films. Millie is a favorite of mine. I read that Helen's first husband was Clark Twelvetrees, hence the unusual surname. Helen kept the name for all of her films. I really love her poignant sincerity and great acting. ANother good one is Panama Flo.

I had to keep telling myself that Prohibition was still actively in force, for the drinking that was going on was pretty startling.  It is just one facet about the period that makes it a fascinating look at society around 1930.  

 

Now, there is this weird story progression in the movie. It is supposed to elapse 18 years from the beginning to the end, yet the clothing styles, hair styles, cars and well, even set decoration too, doesn't vary from circa 1928-1930.  The only way you know of the time passing are the title cards announcing the passing of 4 years, 10 years, and seeing Millie's little toddler daughter in first scenes and then later she gets back in the story when she's 16!  And this whole denial in the plot that there was no such thing as Prohibition going on; I kept wondering if maybe they located the story in Canada.  But no, it is quasi-New York City.  I have to watch it again to see if there was any reference at all. 

 

Millie, played by Helen Twelvetrees (she had one of the cooler names in Hollywood at the time and I also look forward to seeing her) plays Millie and she does age pretty darn accurately for the movie even if the dresses and hats don't.  There is also an early glimpse of Joan Blondell (who is just so young and cute in this) and Anita Louise as the daughter. 

 

One other thing that gives this movie a sweet spot in my heart-- hard-bolded newspaper men who have a heart of gold and use their journalist charm to right wrongs. Named Tommy and Johnny.

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for the second straight morning I woke up to something delightful on TCM- RAFTER ROMANCE (1933?) w/ Ginger Rogers. Missed the first fifteen minutes, but was hooked from the first 30 seconds.

 

this film has an interesting post-release history, it apparently ended up in "Rights Issue Hell" and was unseen outside of NYC TV for 70 years until TCM and some others stepped in, freed it up and even gave it a lovely clean-up. Big thanks to all involved for that.

 

It's a verrry Pre-Codey Pre-Code, with those lovely Pre-Code touches that make even some of the most routine films of that all too brief span worth investing a looksie- I sat up in bed when the German landlord's son was doodling swastikas on the phone booth, "ees for luck, PaPa."

 

Ginger is- as always- a perpetual motion machine of infinite ability- she has one of her patentedsuperfasttalking scenes and she nails it; she plays off Robert Benchley (10ish years before THE MAJOR AND THE MINOR) beautifully, and she manages to look alluring in the dumpiest set of Granny Pant ies I have ever seen since walking in on my actual Grandma one day. Laura Hope Crewes (future Aunt Pittypat) is also in it and is- as always- a complete delight in sort of a blowsy dowagerization of Patricia Neal's character in BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S.

 

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, may be avail on TCM IN DEMAND?

 

I could've saved all of your time though and told you that MALTIN GAVE THIS TWO AND A HALF STARS- it would've gotten the point across that this thing is worth checking out more than all my prattling above.

 

(I put it to you that the exact same film, theoretically directed by Roger Corman on one set in first takes with a handheld camera and garbage actors would've resulted in Leonard having to change his pants before he sat down to hammer out his four-star rave.)

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I have LOVED the two Ken Murray specials they have run on TCM, they are fascinating

 

I agree. They've shown these 2 for years, I really wish they'd show MORE OF THEM.

Love, love LOVE them.

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I have LOVED the two Ken Murray specials they have run on TCM, they are fascinating

 

I agree. They've shown these 2 for years, I really wish they'd show MORE OF THEM.

Love, love LOVE them.

 

i'm not sure how many more there are though...anyone know?

 

ps- i think they're all in the Public Domain and- as such- can be viewed online.

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LHF:

 

Did you like the backless, sideless top Rogers wore in Rafter Romance?

 

And then there's the depiction of telemarketing.  :D

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"Diabolique" (1955)--Marvelous film noir/horror film from the 1950's, directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot, starring Simone Signoret, Vera Clouzot, and Paul Meurisse.

 

Classic thriller; Meurisse plays the husband who treats his wife (Vera Clouzot) like a worm.  Clouzot and his former mistress (Signoret) plan the husbands murder.  Clouzot has a weak heart.

 

The version I saw had an extra six minutes added, with English subtitles.  If I say anymore, I'll ruin the film.  3.5/4 .

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"The Murderer Is At Number 21" (1942)--Henri-Georges Clouzot's first film.  It plays like All the players are three sheets to the wind.  A European version of Nick and Nora Charles, with numerous swipes at authority (Nazis).   Only film I've ever seen that has the wife telling hubby not to move because she's popping his pimple.  Screwball mystery where emphasis is on one-liners and crazy behavior is treated as the norm.  In French with English subtitles.  3/4.

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Thank you for the good word about Without Warning.  This one I want to catch.

 

Adam Williams is one of those unsung heroes of 1950's and 60's TV and films.  He played in every type of genre, from the sailor in the Inger Stevens Twilight Zone episode about the cross-country trip to a gunman on Maverick. You wouldn't expect someone with his stocky build and bland face to be so versatile and I've really come to appreciate his talent.

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THE OWL AND THE PUSSYCAT. Streisand and Segal had great chemistry. I'm surprised they never worked together again.

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LHF:

 

Did you like the backless, sideless top Rogers wore in Rafter Romance?

 

 

YES!

That was a real eye-opener.

Apparently RAFTER ROMANCE was a remake of a German film, and- as such- it had a decidedly "Continental mind."

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Thank you for the good word about Without Warning.  This one I want to catch.

 

Adam Williams is one of those unsung heroes of 1950's and 60's TV and films.  He played in every type of genre, from the sailor in the Inger Stevens Twilight Zone episode about the cross-country trip to a gunman on Maverick. You wouldn't expect someone with his stocky build and bland face to be so versatile and I've really come to appreciate his talent.

 

"Unsung hero" is right.  I've noticed him in other old TV shows over the years.  But to me, his appearance in NBNW is a standout for me. 

 

Yesterday on a channel called THIS, I watched LILLIES OF THE FIELD in which another of my favorite character actors, STANLEY ADAMS appeared as Juan, the gas station-diner owner.  He delivered one of my favorite lines and segments in the movie:  "I have paid my insurance." 

 

He too, recall, was in NBNW as a cop.  I've also noticed him in several small roles in various TV shows, and also recall, he was also the man who caused all that trouble for the Enterprise in THE TROUBLE WITH TRIBBLES, which also had WILLIAM SCHALLERT, another one of my favorites.

 

 

Sepiatone

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"The Murderer Lives at Number 21".

 

I wanted to see this mostly because of the Clouzot connection. Well, not going into much detail I was rather enjoying it, but then the part played by Suzy Delair started becoming so annoying that I kind of did not care who would next be murdered by Monsieur Durand. But I did stick it out to the end, to my detriment and then started watching "Jigsaw" the British film from 1962.

 

It was really good, good and seedy and from that kitchen sink school of British films, where all is dark and gloomy and low rent. Being that it was so good, does not explain why all of a sudden...I fell asleep!

 

I know, I could off myself for allowing it to happen but I guess I had not gotten enough sleep the night before so I woke up with "Brighton Rock" on and you'd think it would be enough to have the opportunity to see Alan Wheatley that I should not be whining, but...I'm dying to know who was the murderer in "Jigsaw".

 

Did anyone else watch? I will give you my first born and an autographed photo of Richard Widmark if you can tell me what happened after they interviewed the next door neighbor and she was trying to identify her murdered neighbor's boyfriend.

 

Thanks in advance!

 

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Without Warning (1952)

 

Surprisingly good flick with Adam Williams as a psycho gardener who picks up "willing" blondes and then stabs them in the back with pruning shears. Yeah, I know it sounds distasteful, but we never actually see the murders, nor do we see any blood. Edward Binns plays the detective trying to crack the case. Robert Shayne has a bit as a psychiatrist who profiles the killer.

 

Williams is well-cast ... his unemotional, even bland, acting makes him very effective. There is some good police work, and occasional narration which gives this film a realistic look. And there is one scene which I did not see coming. Certainly worth checking out this film.

 

On your recommendation, I just watched this one - YouTube has an excellent copy. Good movie. Thank you.

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..I'm dying to know who was the murderer in "Jigsaw".

 

Did anyone else watch? I will give you my first born and an autographed photo of Richard Widmark if you can tell me what happened after they interviewed the next door neighbor and she was trying to identify her murdered neighbor's boyfriend.

 

Thanks in advance!

 Hi Cavegirl - 

 

A slightly murky copy of JIGSAW is posted on Youtube, so you could fast forward to watch the end of the film. I'd hate to post a spoiler here, but if you really, really want to know you can PM me and I'll tell you...

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On your recommendation, I just watched this one - YouTube has an excellent copy. Good movie. Thank you.

That's where I saw it as well, although I have no idea how I came across it.

 

When Williams takes the blonde decoy for a ride, I thought the scene would end differently. The writer really fooled me.

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The 3rd Voice (1960)

 

Film Noir starring Edmund O'brien, Laraine Day, and Julie London. O'Brien plays an impersonator. His job is to assume the identity of Seattle business tycoon Harry Chapman. The plan is that Chapman is going to be murdered by Marian Forbes (Day) his ex-executive secretary, as soon as he returns to Mexico. O'Brien will also dispose of the body. The plan is to continue the ruse long enough for O'Brien and Day to acquire the possession of $600,000 cash for a real estate deal in Mexico and head to Europe. A few nice twists 6/10

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Thank you for the good word about Without Warning.  This one I want to catch.

 

I just did.  WOW!  It's not Naked City but not far behind.

 

I didn't see any of the 4-Star producers named in the credits but it had their stamp all over it.  The producers were Jules Levy and Arthur Gardiner and the director was Arnold Lavin; this trio was responsible for The Rifleman, The Big Valley and most of the other 4-Star TV shows.  Their in-house scorer, Herschel Burke Gilbert, did the honors here and for me that's always a treat.  I also never tire of seeing 50's automobiles; that was the greatest decade for original styling with every make different from the others.. 

 

The actors, led by Misters Williams and Binns, were spot on.  The length, an hour and fifteen minutes was just enough to tell the story and keep the suspense going without dragging.  The documentary style made you feel you were in on the action and it reminded us what could be done without computers if you were willing to put in the legwork.   

 

Was that William Conrad narrating? 

 

The one playing next was The Well.  The only recognizable name in the credits was Dimitri Tiomkin as the scorer; as he's my favorite I'll have to catch this one later.   

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