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Okay, now you're guilty of one my cinematic pet peeves: judging and dismissing films you haven't even seen. How do you "know" what they do in The Big Lebowski if you haven't even seen it? And anyone who thought that film was a string of "4:20" jokes either didn't watch it or fell asleep, because that's not what it is at all. 

 

I know enough that that's why it's loved for much more and other reasons than it should be, and that California stoners, like bowling, was the "world" that the Bros wanted to comically explore their own artistic ruminations upon, while putting in the usual gangster plot.  (I remember even Gene Siskel reviewing the "matador" bowling-championship scenes on S&E and saying in effect "...That's supposed to be funny?")

I have it on my streaming queues out of cinematic peer-pressure, but I'm letting my ribs heal for the time being from all the aggressive nudging I got on the Bros.' last movie.

 

darkblue

They've made some great movies: Fargo, The Man Who Wasn't There, The Big Lebowski, True Grit, Raising Arizona.

 

Even their not-so-great movies are at least fun time-wasters. Brad Pitt's performance in 'Burn After Reading' alone is worth the price of admission - what a hoot.

 

It's said, if you want to hate something but don't really know why, watch a bad imitation, and then you'll suddenly realize why.  It helps to have the problems lovingly blown up big enough to notice.

 

And sitting through Grant Heslov's plagiaristic Coen-fanboy imitation (right down to the George Clooney casting) in "The Men Who Stare At Goats" (2009) is the most powerful aversion therapy toward breaking yourself of the Coen-hoot habit that was ever FDA approved.  It's just something you can't un-see in the real thing after that.

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I know enough that that's why it's loved for much more and other reasons than it should be, and that California stoners, like bowling, was the "world" that the Bros wanted to comically explore their own artistic ruminations upon, while putting in the usual gangster plot.  (I remember even Gene Siskel reviewing the "matador" bowling-championship scenes on S&E and saying in effect "...That's supposed to be funny?")

 

I have it on my streaming queues out of cinematic peer-pressure, but I'm letting my ribs heal for the time being from all the aggressive nudging I got on the Bros.' last movie.

 

It's said, if you want to hate something but don't really know why, watch a bad imitation, and then you'll suddenly realize why.  It helps to have the problems lovingly blown up big enough to notice.

 

And sitting through Grant Heslov's plagiaristic Coen-fanboy imitation (right down to the George Clooney casting) in "The Men Who Stare At Goats" (2009) is the most powerful aversion therapy toward breaking yourself of the Coen-hoot habit that was ever FDA approved.  It's just something you can't un-see in the real thing after that.

 

This exaggerated drivel you're trying to pass off as clever isn't fooling anyone.

 

Try saying something real sometime.

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"Portrait of Jennie" (1949)--starring Jennifer Jones, Joseph Cotten, and Ethel Barrymore, directed by William Dieterle.

 

Film is a romantic/metaphysical/supernatural mood piece.  Film starts in the 1930's, where Eben Adams (Cotten) is a talented but struggling artist who finds inspiration in Jennie (Jones), a strange girl he meets and is charmed by.  She makes him promise to "wait for her to grow up."  He does, and when he meets her in a month, she's a few years older.

 

Script is full of meditations on the meaning of love, time, and space.  Every time the script threatens to get Lost in its' musings, Joseph Cotten is there to keep the film bound to reality, as he tries to figure out what is going on.  Jennifer Jones is marvelous (if I go into more detail, I'll spoil the film).  Ethel Barrymore, as an art gallery owner, is simultaneously charmed by Adams, and wonders if he's losing his mind.

 

Joseph Augusts' cinematography is extraordinary, and suggests the bending/melding of time and space.  The switching from black and white to Technicolor comes without warning to the viewer and is spectacularly effective. He was deservedly nominated for an Oscar.  POJ's Special Effects won the Oscar.

 

I was in the mood for an odd film.  "Portrait of Jennie" is too good a film to dismiss as a lot of blathering/hooey (which I did the first time I saw it).  The film improves as it goes along.  Very worth seeing.  3.3/4.

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Deathtrap (1982). Alfie is a successful playwright, or formerly successful playwright, married to Dyan Cannon (The Muppets Go Medieval) who has a bad heart. The film opens with our playwright's latest play having its premiere and being another flop.

 

But Alfie is in luck, as Superman, who took a writing seminar Alfie taught last summer, sent him a copy of a play he'd like reviewed. Alfie realizes it's brilliant, and if nobody else knows about the play, Alfie can kill Superman, take credit for the play himself, and make millions.

 

The movie takes a ton of twists and turns from there, more convoluted than the 28497203758 flashbacks-within-flashbacks from The Locket. For the most part it's good, except for Irene Worth playing a Dutch psychic whom you just want to strangle every time she shows up; she's that irritating.

 

Some people would probably love to live in the Lawn Guyland house that our playwright calls home, although having the master bedroom in the shaft of a windmill seems a bit disconcerting.

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"Portrait of Jennie" (1949)--starring Jennifer Jones, Joseph Cotten, and Ethel Barrymore, directed by William Dieterle.

You forgot Cecil Kellaway and Lillian Gish!

 

There's also the music of Debussy used to good effect. PBS fans may remember the music being used in a different context:

 

 

 

(Jack Horkheimer has been dead for six years; Isao Tomita, who did the music, died earlier this year.)

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Speaking of 'Deathtrap', why in the world does TCM never show 'Sleuth' (1972).

 

As I remember, it was a tour-de-force for both Michael Caine and Sir Laurence Olivier. Brilliant production. Where has it gone?

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Speaking of 'Deathtrap', why in the world does TCM never show 'Sleuth' (1972).

 

As I remember, it was a tour-de-force for both Michael Caine and Sir Laurence Olivier. Brilliant production. Where has it gone?

 

I loved that movie, and it has a spot on my top ten of that year. When I went to track it down, I discovered that it hasn't had a decent DVD release, surprising since there was a remake in 2007, and they usually re-release older versions on disc as a tie-in. I ended up getting a VHS copy. Maybe there are rights issues holding up it's showing, as it would fit in fine with TCM's usual programming. 

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From the great Wizard of Odds...

 

TCM Scheduled & Shown

Kn1dnJV.jpg

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From the great Wizard of Odds...

 

TCM Scheduled & Shown

Kn1dnJV.jpg

 

So, 3 years ago, huh - and after an absence of 5 years.

 

Maybe there's hope for another showing in the next 2 years.

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"Portrait of Jennie" (1949)--starring Jennifer Jones, Joseph Cotten, and Ethel Barrymore, directed by William Dieterle.

 

 

Thanks for the review, film lover, of one of my film favourites, a strange meditation, as you say, on time, love and space. Stunning cinematography, sometimes giving the film the look of a grainy canvas, befitting its central character, an artist. The cast is wonderful, with a special nod to Joseph Cotten. But it's the sound of that Debussy music, combined with the photography, of course, that really provides the film with an ethereal quality.

 

portrait-of-jennie-1948.jpg

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"Portrait of Jennie" (1949)--starring Jennifer Jones, Joseph Cotten, and Ethel Barrymore, directed by William Dieterle.

 

I was in the mood for an odd film.  "Portrait of Jennie" is too good a film to dismiss as a lot of blathering/hooey (which I did the first time I saw it).  The film improves as it goes along.  Very worth seeing.  3.3/4.

Watch it every time I am able....I love this film, next to Uncle Charlie I believed this to be a great role for Joseph Cotten and I liked JJ as well...she isn't as "forced" as she was in many of Selznick's pictures.  I put this for JJ, in the same category as the nice job she did IN SINCE YOU WENT AWAY

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There's also the music of Debussy used to good effect. PBS fans may remember the music being used in a different context:

 

(Jack Horkheimer has been dead for six years; Isao Tomita, who did the music, died earlier this year.)

 

Thanks for the Star Hustler clip, Fedya. I'm not particularly into astrology but I always enjoyed Horkheimer's enthusiasm for the subject, as well as his engagingly odd ball uncle personality. The Debussy music, of course, was a sublime touch.

 

I didn't know Jack had passed away. Wherever he is now, I hope he can still enjoy the stars and planets.

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The Taking of Pelham 123 (1974) - I had seen the remake with Denzel Washington and John Travolta, but this was my first time to see the original. I was really surprised how much I enjoyed it! This is going to be hard to explain, but one facet of the movie that was unusual was how every scene, every twist of plot, came at the audience at the exact same level of emotional intensity. There was no roller coaster effect. Compare to the sequel where there's constant rise and fall of action, and certain scenes like the train car running out of control with no driver cue to the audience via the score and fast-cutting that okay here's where you're supposed to get really tense! The original doesn't do that. It provides a steady tension throughout without ever trying to be manipulative about it. The final moments of the film are so anticlimactic in how the final member of the gang is taken down, I don't think most young moviegoers would even "get it". No ten-minute shootout. Just a certain quirk of fate happening at just the right moment, and Matthau knows he has his man. Roll credits. I thought that was brilliant, the way it was so underplayed.

 

Boy, Matthau could really play anything. I can't remember off the top of my head if he's ever been SOTM or had a SUTS day. He certainly deserves either or both. This sort of seems an odd career choice for him. Maybe at a time in his career when he was being piegonholed into broad comedy (at which, of course, he was absolutely brilliant), he wanted to try something different. This is one of his more serious roles, alongside the likes of Lonely are the Brave and A Face in the Crowd, though he does get a nice comic moment when he gets egg (or sushi) on his face when he learns all those Japanese guy understood him the whole time. He just stands there and says nothing but his facial expression is priceless Matthau.

 

Martin Balsam is always great, and Hector Elizondo was frightening - I only know him mostly as avuncular grandfather figure type roles from Pretty Woman on. I think he was in every Garry Marshall film. This performance was a revelation. His casual use of the N word while committing an act of cruelty is quite shocking viewed from a 2016 persepective, though sadly, perhaps not so shocking in 1974. Not my favorite Robert Shaw performance. Too similar too his role in The Sting. I swear, every time he was giving instructions to Matthau over the phone, I kept waiting for him to say, "Ya falla?"

 

Many great little moments: that stupid supervisor walking down the tunnel alone to give the kidnappers a piece of his mind while everyone else is heading the other direction. You knew exactly what was going to happen to that schnook. The sadness in Matthau's voice after (Spoiler alert!) a hostage is killed (as I recall, no hostages were killed in the remake. They certainly soft-focus these things in modern times. Seventies movies were always so dark and relentless and cynical!). The great Tony Roberts as the deputy mayor whipping everyone's rear end until a decision is made how to handle the crisis. When Matthau finally meets the police chief, he says, "I thought you would be shorter ... I don't know what I thought." I thought maybe that little bit of dialogue was a joke that Matthau didn't realize he was going to be black, but I'm not a hundred per cent sure. Oh, yeah, and when Matthau is riding in the chief's car, you get a one-second shot of the police car that wiped out an hour earlier in the film while transporting the ransom money being righted. Lots of nice little touches. 

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I didn't know Jack had passed away. Wherever he is now, I hope he can still enjoy the stars and planets.

 

I know, you just expect some people to live forever. I just visited his final resting place in Wisconsin. His stone says "THE STAR GAZER" and I suppose he's lying on his back so he's able to "keep looking up".

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Thanks for the Star Hustler clip, Fedya. I'm not particularly into astrology but I always enjoyed Horkheimer's enthusiasm for the subject, as well as his engagingly odd ball uncle personality.

It's astronomy, not astrology. :P

 

And that personality was made up for the show, from what I've read. He wasn't like that at all in real life.

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I watched Hobson's Choice  last night with Charles Laughton , John Mills  and Brenda De Banzie . Dee-lightful!  I had seen the TV-movie version with Sharon Gless and Richard Thomas and liked the story but this  one was better.  John Mills'  timid cobbler was even funnier than Charles Laughton, whose drunken slap-stick bits got a little tedious in places.  The score was half the fun, everyone had their own instrument, it reminded me of "Peter and the Wolf."

 

Brenda De Banzie was the featured actress last night.  I had no idea who she was but she was great in this role.  I think it would be hard to play this domineering, bossy woman without coming across as unlikeable but she manages it very well by letting us see glimpses of vulnerability here and there. 

 

Prunella Scales is young and pretty in a way I could never have imagined, while watching her in so many old lady roles.  I know her best as the Aunt in "Howards End."  Even young she had the kind of English accent that can cut glass.

 

I'm usually satisfied to keep old movies as they are but I think this one would do well in an update.  It's just so much fun to watch it all unfold as the two young ones take charge of their own destiny.

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Prunella Scales is young and pretty in a way I could never have imagined, while watching her in so many old lady roles. I know her best as the Aunt in "Howards End."

I take it you've never seen Fawlty Towers?

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It's astronomy, not astrology. :P

 

And that personality was made up for the show, from what I've read. He wasn't like that at all in real life.

 

Actually, I'm not into astronomy or astrology, but thanks for the correction.

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I watched Hobson's Choice  last night with Charles Laughton , John Mills  and Brenda De Banzie .

 

John Mills gives a fine performance in Hobson's Choice. But I would have loved to have seen the original casting choice for the meek little clerk who gradually develops the backbone to stand up to a tyrant, Robert Donat. I can't recall the reason Donat dropped put of the project, but it was probably due to his asthma.

 

Seeing Laughton and Donat opposing one another would have been a special treat.

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I watched Hobson's Choice  last night with Charles Laughton , John Mills  and Brenda De Banzie . Dee-lightful!  I had seen the TV-movie version with Sharon Gless and Richard Thomas and liked the story but this  one was better.  John Mills'  timid cobbler was even funnier than Charles Laughton, whose drunken slap-stick bits got a little tedious in places.  The score was half the fun, everyone had their own instrument, it reminded me of "Peter and the Wolf."

 

 

I want to say that HOBSON'S CHOICE was originally supposed to pair LAUGHTON with RONALD COLMAN, but Colman died suddenly of a heart attack, which allegedly devastated Laughton- but he soldiered on; and really, I adore John Mills in this and wouldn't want anyone else.

 

He's like some delightful little shoe-making elf in this film and he is such a one-of-a-kind actor.

 

(one could almost imagine HOBSON'S CHOICE being set and staged in some kind of FRACTURED FAIRYTALE-like setting, with Laughton as king of a fantasy realm and de Banzie as a strong-willed princess who is madly in love with a cobbler elf.)

 

Also recommended highly- TUNES OF GLORY (1960) which pairs Mills with Alec Guiness as Socttish military officers at odds with one another; I was just thinking about it the other day and wishinG TCM would show it again.

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The Taking of Pelham 123 (1974) - I had seen the remake with Denzel Washington and John Travolta, but this was my first time to see the original. I was really surprised how much I enjoyed it! This is going to be hard to explain, but one facet of the movie that was unusual was how every scene, every twist of plot, came at the audience at the exact same level of emotional intensity. There was no roller coaster effect. Compare to the sequel where there's constant rise and fall of action, and certain scenes like the train car running out of control with no driver cue to the audience via the score and fast-cutting that okay here's where you're supposed to get really tense! The original doesn't do that. It provides a steady tension throughout without ever trying to be manipulative about it. The final moments of the film are so anticlimactic in how the final member of the gang is taken down, I don't think most young moviegoers would even "get it". No ten-minute shootout. Just a certain quirk of fate happening at just the right moment, and Matthau knows he has his man. Roll credits. I thought that was brilliant, the way it was so underplayed.

 

Boy, Matthau could really play anything. I can't remember off the top of my head if he's ever been SOTM or had a SUTS day. He certainly deserves either or both. This sort of seems an odd career choice for him. Maybe at a time in his career when he was being piegonholed into broad comedy (at which, of course, he was absolutely brilliant), he wanted to try something different. This is one of his more serious roles, alongside the likes of Lonely are the Brave and A Face in the Crowd, though he does get a nice comic moment when he gets egg (or sushi) on his face when he learns all those Japanese guy understood him the whole time. He just stands there and says nothing but his facial expression is priceless Matthau.

 

Martin Balsam is always great, and Hector Elizondo was frightening - I only know him mostly as avuncular grandfather figure type roles from Pretty Woman on. I think he was in every Garry Marshall film. This performance was a revelation. His casual use of the N word while committing an act of cruelty is quite shocking viewed from a 2016 persepective, though sadly, perhaps not so shocking in 1974. Not my favorite Robert Shaw performance. Too similar too his role in The Sting. I swear, every time he was giving instructions to Matthau over the phone, I kept waiting for him to say, "Ya falla?"

 

Many great little moments: that stupid supervisor walking down the tunnel alone to give the kidnappers a piece of his mind while everyone else is heading the other direction. You knew exactly what was going to happen to that schnook. The sadness in Matthau's voice after (Spoiler alert!) a hostage is killed (as I recall, no hostages were killed in the remake. They certainly soft-focus these things in modern times. Seventies movies were always so dark and relentless and cynical!). The great Tony Roberts as the deputy mayor whipping everyone's rear end until a decision is made how to handle the crisis. When Matthau finally meets the police chief, he says, "I thought you would be shorter ... I don't know what I thought." I thought maybe that little bit of dialogue was a joke that Matthau didn't realize he was going to be black, but I'm not a hundred per cent sure. Oh, yeah, and when Matthau is riding in the chief's car, you get a one-second shot of the police car that wiped out an hour earlier in the film while transporting the ransom money being righted. Lots of nice little touches. 

 

Having also read the book, I'd say the older movie was more true to it.

 

The newer version's Travolta character was too far "over the top" for my taste, and all that dialogue between him and Denzel's character served no purpose.  The maker's attempts to make the story more contemporary only made a muddle of mostly modern day action movie cliches IMHO.

 

 

Sepiatone

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Yesterday, the historic vaudeville theatre near my house showed "Singin' in the Rain" (1952). I brought my friend who had never seen it before, and he absolutely LOVED it, which made me feel really good. I have now seen this movie about 7 times within the past 2.5 years or so, which I guess either proves I love it, or I'm just crazy, or maybe both. 

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I would like to suggest that any poster stating that Ronald Colman's death prevented him from appearing in Hobson's Choice better research their facts.

 

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I would like to suggest that any poster stating that Ronald Colman's death prevented him from appearing in Hobson's Choice better research their facts.

They got their history from The Story of Mankind.

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I would like to suggest that any poster stating that Ronald Colman's death prevented him from appearing in Hobson's Choice better research their facts.

 

Tom, it's quite possible that Lorna was making a Lorna-style joke. ie, Lorna made it all up about Ronald Coleman because she has a wicked sense of humour and couldn't imagine anyone less suited to the role of meek, unprepossessing  Will Mossop than the debonair Mr. Coleman. Lorna wrote "I want to say" which suggests to me that she was amused by this idea and just threw it out there.  Here's what she said:

 

"I want to say that HOBSON'S CHOICE was originally supposed to pair LAUGHTON with RONALD COLMAN, but Colman died suddenly of a heart attack, which allegedly devastated Laughton- but he soldiered on; and really, I adore John Mills in this and wouldn't want anyone else."

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