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"Mulan" (1998)--Starring the singing voices of Lea Salonga (Mulan), Donny Osmond (Shang) and Marni Nixon (Grandmother Fa), and Eddie Murphy (Mushu).

 

Beautifully animated Disney feature is a feel-good tale about a girl in ancient China who can't do anything right. When her crippled father is drafted to fight an invasion of the Huns, Mulan cuts her hair in the middle of the night, takes his armor and sword, and goes to fight in her fathers' place.

 

Jerry Goldsmith's score ranges from pretty to serviceable. It got the movies' only Oscar nomination.

 

The script echoes "Aladdin" (1992), especially Murphy's Mushu, but overall Mulan is a very enjoyable, very well drawn Disney film. Well worth a watch. 3.2/4

 

Source--archive.org. Search "mulan"; restrict results to movies only, and then arrange by date archived. Film should be the second result, with 37 views, archived April 1st, 2017.

Did the GENERAL YEN-style racist Asian caricatures with pointy ears and sinister brows not bother you though? (I mean, I know they are the bad guys, but seriously it looks like they hired the guy who did a bunch of World War II internment camp posters to design them.)

 

Ps- you may know this already, but the live action remake of MULAN is underway and there's a bit of a controversy that they're not including any of the songs in it.

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Lorna--Yes, the caricatures bothered me, as well as the gags that dated back to silent movies; the score also wasn't the best I've heard from Disney.  But the quality of the animation knocked me for a loop.  The copy I saw was a crystal clear print from the United Kingdom release of the film (that was mentioned in the End credits).  The animation is the main reason why I rated it so highly. The theme of the underdog/underrated winning out and all the singing roles being well sung help "Mulans'" likability factor enormously.

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Lorna--Yes, the caricatures bothered me, as well as the gags that dated back to silent movies; the score also wasn't the best I've heard from Disney. But the quality of the animation knocked me for a loop. The copy I saw was a crystal clear print from the United Kingdom release of the film (that was mentioned in the End credits). The animation is the main reason why I rated it so highly. The theme of the underdog/underrated winning out and all the singing roles being well sung help "Mulans'" likability factor enormously.

A live action MULAN is actually one of the few cases where I think redoing it with live people is a good idea...or at least it has the potential to be

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"Mars and Beyond" (1957)--I had to do a bit of searching on this.  There's nothing on TCM, but according to imdb.com, this was the 12th episode of Season 4 of "Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color"; the episode aired December 4th, 1957.

 

The prologue and epilogue with Walt isn't shown, but the first ten minutes is an animated history of the planets, and mans' theories about them.  The highlight of the 47 minute episode occurs about ten minutes in, a parody of sci-fi comics/B movies.  A secretary who wears a little black dress to work, types three words a minute, and drinks martinis while working is abducted by Martians.

 

The rest of the episode is interesting enough, but the first fifteen minutes isn't topped.  Overall, an entertaining watch.  2.9/4.

 

Source--archive.org.  Search "772"; Should be the first result, with a 4 star review, that was archived March 29th, 2017, with 210 views.

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"Mars and Beyond" (1957)--I had to do a bit of searching on this.  There's nothing on TCM, but according to imdb.com, this was the 12th episode of Season 4 of "Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color"; the episode aired December 4th, 1957.

 

The prologue and epilogue with Walt isn't shown, but the first ten minutes is an animated history of the planets, and mans' theories about them.  The highlight of the 47 minutes episode occurs about ten minutes in, a parody of sci-fi comics/B movies.  A secretary who wears a little black dress to work, types three words a minute, and drinks martinis while working is abducted by Martians.

 

Ward Kimball's science cartoons for Disney's "Tomorrowland" episodes were insane (in a good way).

There's also the one he did for "Man & the Moon" (with a big-budget but wildly off-the-mark prediction of the first moon mission), and one for old weather theories, in the "Eyes in Outer Space" episode about future weather satellites.

 

Walt reportedly hated animation's whole 50's move to abstract-stylized "UPA style" animation, and when Ward won an Oscar for "Toot, Whistle, Plunk & Boom", Walt reportedly congratulated Ward with his award personally, and added, "And don't ever do that again!"   :lol:

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A live action MULAN is actually one of the few cases where I think redoing it with live people is a good idea...or at least it has the potential to be

 

Yeah Lorna, but isn't it a shame that neither Paul Muni or Luise Rainer are still around to play any part in it?!

 

(...and now if YOU haven't figured out by now, I'M kind of an odd person TOO!!!) ;)

 

LOL

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"The Reluctant Dragon" (1941)--Starring Robert Benchley, Goofy, and the title character.

 

Robert Benchley goes to the Disney Studios to sell the title story, and learns how the various departments in the studio work.  There are three cartoons in the film that make up half the films' running time; "How to Ride a Horse" is the best of the three.  The sequences showing the departments (sound effects, music, etc.)  are fascinating to watch.  Robert Benchley's ad-libs are amusing.  Look for Alan Ladd in a bit part.  Semi-documentary/cartoon feature is worth a watch.  2.6/4.

 

Source--archive.org.

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Runaway Jury (2003)

 

A first rate courtroom drama, with elements of a thriller tossed in, regarding the case of a widow suing a gun manufacturer over the death of her husband, one of a number of victims of a murderous assault by a gunman two years before.

 

Dustin Hoffman portrays the earnest, idealistic lawyer who represents her, while Gene Hackman is cast as Rankin Fitch, the brilliant, morally corrupt jury consultant hired by the gun lobby to do everything he can to rig the jury in their favour. Fitch has an army of assistants who indulge in video surveillance, wire tapping, data investigation of the jurors and even home burglaries, if need be, to win their case.

 

As Hackman says with a smile at one point to the gun manufacturer, "Trials are too important to be left up to juries."

 

But also in the mix is John Cusack as one of the jurors who, with an assistant on the outside (Rachel Weisz as a negotiator) is also in on jury rigging to try to make a fortune.

 

If some of the elements of this film seem pretty far fetched (the entire trial is watched by Hackman and his group via hidden cameras; they seem to be able to find dirt or ways to influence a number of the jurors) it still remains an engrossing ride, propelled by the high powered performances of its cast and Gary Fleder's fast moving direction, with a camera in constant motion at times.

 

Hackman, playing a man who truly is evil, is a particular joy to watch with his commanding, at times intimidating, screen presence and ability to sell any line of dialogue with absolute conviction.

 

The film also provides its audience the satisfaction of allowing Hackman and Hoffman to share one scene together. This would be, I believe, the only scene these two actors ever shared, both of their careers have skyrocked originally with 1967 productions.

 

The scene takes place in the courtroom washroom. Hoffman speaks with passion about justice and the jury system, which Hackman and his team are trying to corrupt. Hackman responds with contempt towards people, none of whom he says have the same idealism as Hoffman, and the system.

 

At the end of their exchange Hoffman tells the evil Fitch that even if he wins their case one day he will lose.

 

"Because you cannot carry that much contempt without it becoming malignant until you're going to be alone in a room full of shadows and all you're going to have is the memories of all those people's lives you have destroyed."

 

Hackman smiles.

 

"Nice story," he says, "You may be right but, the thing of it is, I don't give a ****. What's more, I never have."

 

runawayjury-hoffman-hackman.jpg

 

3 out of 4.

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Runaway Jury (2003)

 

 

Tom, I'm sure you've heard that in their struggling actor days in the early 60's, Hackman and Hoffman were roommates and classmates, and that they shared the "Least Likely to Succeed" award from their fellow acting students. They also roomed with Robert Duvall, who was said to be a real ladies man at the time, often going out on dates while his two roommates sat home, broke and lonely. 

 

Runaway Jury was based on one of the courtroom thrillers of John Grisham. There was quite a bit of controversy at the time of the film's making, as in the book, the target of the big trial was not a gun manufacturer, but rather Big Tobacco. The producers claimed that they changed the "bad guy" from tobacco to guns because of The Insider in 1999, which featured anti-tobacco trials, and that audiences wouldn't want to see the same thing again. However, there were also rumors that the real reason was strong lobbying by the tobacco industry to change the subject matter. As an aside, in those early days of film talk, Will Smith was slated to play the John Cusack role.

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LAWRENCE, I remember reading something about the friendship Hackman and Hoffmann had and once when Hoffmann was visiting his wife while she was working at MACY'S, Hackman came in all grotty looking and acting like a drunken patron just for laughs, although it was said Hoffmann's wife didn't see the humor in it much.

 

 

Sepiatone

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Tom, I'm sure you've heard that in their struggling actor days in the early 60's, Hackman and Hoffman were roommates and classmates, and that they shared the "Least Likely to Succeed" award from their fellow acting students. They also roomed with Robert Duvall, who was said to be a real ladies man at the time, often going out on dates while his two roommates sat home, broke and lonely. 

 

Runaway Jury was based on one of the courtroom thrillers of John Grisham. There was quite a bit of controversy at the time of the film's making, as in the book, the target of the big trial was not a gun manufacturer, but rather Big Tobacco. The producers claimed that they changed the "bad guy" from tobacco to guns because of The Insider in 1999, which featured anti-tobacco trials, and that audiences wouldn't want to see the same thing again. However, there were also rumors that the real reason was strong lobbying by the tobacco industry to change the subject matter. As an aside, in those early days of film talk, Will Smith was slated to play the John Cusack role.

 

Thanks very much for the additional information, Lawrence, and, no, I didn't know any of that, though I had heard that a pre-stardom Hackman had been dubbed least likely to succeed. Seems they were a little wrong in the application of that label.

 

I recently saw The Insider, which I enjoyed very much. Al Pacino and Russell Crowe are both outstanding in that one.

 

1618367.jpg

 

I found this little bit, an anecdote from Dustin Hoffman on what Robert Duvall had once told him

 

https://ricochet.com/archives/worst-actors-get-parts/

 

That photo of Hackman and Hoffman together at some activity (a sporting event?) may have been taken, based upon their appearances, around the time that Runaway Jury was made, maybe a little later. It would be nice to think that these actors still keep in touch.

 

I hope that Gene Hackman is doing well in his retirement. He's a real favourite of mine.

 

I'm just catching up on some of his later films for the first time (Runaway Jury, Welcome to Mooseport and The Royal Tenenbaums, in which he gave a marvelous comic performance - no one can play nonchalant irresponsibility quite like him. He brings a wink of the eye little boy charm to that role.

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Guns, Girls, And Gangsters (1959) Mamie Van Doren, Gerald Mohr, Lee Van Cleef.  Ex con Chuck Wheeler gets out of the Pen and sets up a armed car robbery of a Las Vegas casino. Van Cleef is his hot headed nut job best, Van Doren is the eye candy. 7/10

 

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Guns, Girls, And Gangsters (1959) Mamie Van Doren, Gerald Mohr, Lee Van Cleef.  Ex con Chuck Wheeler gets out of the Pen and sets up a armed car robbery of a Las Vegas casino. Van Cleef is his hot headed nut job best, Van Doren is the eye candy. 7/10

 

 

Sounds like a very familiar plot for mostly T.V. actor Gerald Mohr.   Saw him in The Sniper last night.   

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I received a Film Noir Boxed Set for Christmas. Better late than never, I just got around to viewing. The first film was Whirlpool '49 with the beautiful and talented Gene Tierney. It's a fantastically good film with Jose Ferrer, Richard Conte and Barbara O'Neil. Charles Bickford is great as the cop investigating a murder. This is a spellbinding film and I give it a 10 for great acting, interesting story, and Film Noir settings.

 

Vincent Price and Lynn Bari are great in the second Film Noir, entitled Shock. This one is also very scary and worth watching.

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"LES HERITIERS"  [ "ONCE IN A LIFETIME" ]  (2014)

 

I recently saw this at a film festival.  It's a French film about a teacher who has her class do a project on the Holocaust.  It's a typical class, teenagers who have their own lives and don't care much for school.  But once they begin to study the effects of the World War and Nazi camps on the Jewish people, they become interested.

 

This movie is based on a real story.  It's a great film, and although the story is about events decades back, considering politics involving immigration and nationalism today it's still very relevant.

 

 

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The Savage Eye (1960) Experimental "Dramatised Documentary" Noir

 

Savage%2BEye%2BPoster%2B1960.jpg

 

A passion project, directed and produced by a triumvirate of Ben Maddow who was also a prolific screenwriter and documentarian noted for (Framed (1947), Kiss the Blood Off My Hands (1948) (adaptation), The Asphalt Jungle (1950)), film director and editor Sidney Meyers (The Quiet One (1948)), and director, producer and screenwriter Joseph Strick (The Big Break (1953), Tropic of Cancer (1970), Road Movie (1974)).

 

They worked on this project, both writing and editing it in the city of Los Angeles, California, over a number of years in the late 50's strictly on their weekends for roughly $65,000. The music was by Leonard Rosenman. The outstanding cinematography was by Jack Couffer, Helen Levitt and Haskell Wexler. 

 

The Savage Eye is a feast for Noir eyes.

 

Barbara Baxley, as the moderately depressed woman seems to absorb her surrounding situations without coming off as being too desperate despite her personal tragedy. She and Gary Merrill trade the lines of narration. Herschel Bernardi making his moves, is convincing as the straying husband out to score.

 

What makes The Savage Eye special is that practically every frame of the film could grace the walls of a photographic art gallery in Noirsville. 

 

Full review with mucho screencaps (some NSFW) from Image Entertainment October 10, 2000 DVD here: http://noirsville.blogspot.com/2017/04/the-savage-eye-1960-experimental.html
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Fire Maidens of Outer Space (1956) youtube

 

Cringeworthy (as my fiancée kept saying) attempt at sci-fi. The opening credits warn us that “All characters in space are fictitious.” Apparently this is for people who are too dumb to understand what is written at the bottom of a beer bottle:  “Open other end.”

 

The film begins with Anthony Dexter flying to London, probably because his Hollywood career has gone into the toilet.  In short order, he is on a mission to the 13th moon of Jupiter with four horn-knee morons. Miraculously, the trip only takes three weeks, which is slightly faster than flying Delta from New York City to Miami.  Along the way, we are treated to thrilling moments like a meteorite shower and Dexter shaving.

 

Of course, the 13th moon is inhabited, otherwise the film would have been over and everyone would have gone home happy. The population consists of an old geezer, over a dozen chicks in Greek miniskirts, and one creature. Welcome to “New Atlantis,” where the people of Atlantis fled after their continent went belly-up.

 

The film sinks into tedium the rest of the way, with Dexter and a companion captured, and the other guys wandering around aimlessly trying to find them. The finale features an attempted human sacrifice, but unfortunately the screenwriter escaped.

 

Selections by Borodin are played throughout, including “The Gliding Dance of the Maidens,” aka, “Stranger in Paradise.” It was at this point that actor John Williams made a surprise appearance to hawk records:

 

 

The film is loaded with product placements. Everyone has a Longines “space watch.” A Coke machine stands prominently in a hallway. One of the crewmen has a Polaroid camera. And the entire crew light up Chesterfields when they land on the 13th planet. Man, that must have been one great ride.

 

Untitled_zpsayrrmf91.png

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Fire Maidens from Outer Space (1956) youtube

 

 

I've always been a bit partial to this British entry in the Cat Women of the Moon kind of '50s sexist sci fi films.

 

Not only do you get to see a some British cuties, occupants of New Atlantis, dance to the strains of Stranger in Paradise, but you also see one of them (Susan Shaw) inexplicably drawn to astronaut Anthony Dexter. (Possibly because he looks exactly like Rudolph Valentino).

 

One of my favourite scenes in the film occurs early in the production before the rocketship crew has blasted off from Earth. Dexter and another actor playing a scientist are having a vapid exchange of truly dull dialogue when an actress appears playing a "secretary" who will take about 30 seconds worth of dictation from one of them.

 

The "secretary" is in a clinging white dress, with what might be described as a torpedo sized bra underneath. While her hair is pulled back and she is wearing horn rimmed glasses, it must have been apparent to any Playboy reading male at the time that this secretary was clearly centrefold material.

 

What I particularly enjoy about the scene is its spectacular lack of subtlety. The two actors stop talking as the camera pans up to a platform above them where the "secretary" first appears walking. The camera follows the secretary down a flight of stairs, stays on her as she opens and closes a couple of little gates then takes a seat in a chair, making a point of crossing her legs before she starts to take dictation.

 

Believe me when I say that no male watching this scene is wondering about how good her short hand might be.

 

The dictation ended, the scene remains dialogue free as the camera stays strictly on the secretary, following her back up the stairs and remaining upon her until she has walked out of the frame. "The secretary" will not appear in the film again but she has served her purpose, letting the audience know the sexist nature of the film they are watching, even though this presentation will be pretty tame and innocent by most standards.

 

18848112209_35992ddd90_b.jpg

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Tom, you described that scene perfectly. Dexter and the other actor regarded the secretary as if she were a piece of meat.

 

Note: I had the wrong title for this film. I corrected it to read Fire Maidens of Outer Space.

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 "The secretary" will not appear in the film again but she has served her purpose, letting the audience know the sexist nature of the film they are watching, even though this presentation will be pretty tame and innocent by most standards.

Congratulations, your re programming seems to have gone well.  ;)

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Tom, you described that scene perfectly. Dexter and the other actor regarded the secretary as if she were a piece of meat.

 

 

 

If you take another look at the scene with the secretary and just watch Dexter, he has a very slight smile on his face as he looks at her without saying anything. The slight smile said it all.

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If you take another look at the scene with the secretary and just watch Dexter, he has a very slight smile on his face as he looks at her without saying anything. The slight smile said it all.

 

 

In the MST3K version (which scsu may or may not have seen before trying to write his own), the comics have him watching the secretary leaving, and adding, in an Al Pacino imitation, "What a caboose, hoo-hah!" :lol:

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In the MST3K version (which scsu may or may not have seen before trying to write his own), the comics have him watching the secretary leaving, and adding, in an Al Pacino imitation, "What a caboose, hoo-hah!" :lol:

 

"Trying", AND succeeding as usual, I might add, Eric!

 

(...love these movie reviews of Rich's...every one of 'em always has me laughing out loud)

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