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55 minutes ago, film lover 293 said:

"The Scarlet Empress" (1934)--Starring Marlene Dietrich, John Lodge, Louise Dresser, and Sam Jaffe. Directed by Josef von Sternberg.

I seem to be in the minority in finding this the best of the Dietrich/von Sternberg collaborations. Shanghai Express or The Blue Angel are usually given that accolade, but I prefer The Scarlet Empress, and rank it among the best of its year.

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Don't make fun, but I just watched Jaws 2 (1978) on Netflix. I am a fan of the original movie from 1974, with Steven Spielberg at the helm (haha ocean puns), so I was prepared to be let down by this first in what seems like many, sequels. This wasn't as horrible as I originally thought, but it should have been a testament to Hollywood to stop this franchise with this one. 2/5. 

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1 hour ago, LawrenceA said:

I seem to be in the minority in finding this the best of the Dietrich/von Sternberg collaborations. Shanghai Express or The Blue Angel are usually given that accolade, but I prefer The Scarlet Empress, and rank it among the best of its year.

I AGREE.  I THINK IT IS ABOUT THE BEST OF DIETRICH/VON STERNBERG COLLABORATIONS too.  I give it a very high accolade too and had forgotten to say how the music and sets as well as a superb cast made this a marvelous and engrossing story.

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Mikey And Nicky (1976) Friend Fatale

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Philadelphia Noir. Lost Neo Noir.

Elaine May, despite all the on set controversies hits it out of the ballpark, The film is a Neo Noir
gem. Powerful performances by real life long time friends, Cassavetes and Falk, informs the piece, they got chemistry, the friendship depicted is alive with a vitality that's well, authentic. The rest of the cast  Ned Beatty, M. Emmet Walsh, Carol Grace, Sanford Meisner, William Hickey, Joyce Van Patten, and Rose Arrick round out an excellent supporting cast.  9/10 Full review with more screencaps in Film Noir/Gangster Thread.

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9 hours ago, film lover 293 said:

"The Scarlet Empress" (1934)--Starring Marlene Dietrich, John Lodge, Louise Dresser, and Sam Jaffe. Directed by Josef von Sternberg.

 

Years before there was such a thing as video tape I used to go to a lot of small Toronto film societies (often in a church basement or library or some such place) to see a number of the Hollywood studio products that didn't come on TV.

THE SCARLET EMPRESS was the only one that actually received a standing ovation (there were about 30 of us there). I recall applauding wildly, thrilled with this Von Sternberg masterpiece, one of my two favourite films he made with Dietrich (along with SHANGHAI EXPRESS). That final over the top climax with the troops on horseback riding up the palace throne steps, the 1812 Overture, I believe, pounding at the finale, seemed a surreal experience.

It's interesting that this film was able to get away with some brief topless nudity of a woman being tortured during that opening sequence depicting the history of Russia as being told to a young Catherine as a child.

The Criterion DVD release of this film is a real disappointment. It's excessively grainy and in the wedding scene, the closeup of Dietrich's face behind a veil with a flickering candle nearby, there is a long circular hair on screen that stays and stays and stays. It drove me crazy, apparently the result of Universal having leased an inferior print of the film to Criterion.

TCM showed a far better looking print of "Empress" when they broadcast it a number of years ago. And, yes, there was no hair on that print.

 

 

 

By the way, filmlover, do make a point to see THE DEVIL IS A WOMAN, one of the most visually opulent films in their series. Dietrich later wrote that she thought she never looked more beautiful on screen than in "Devil" and she may well be right.

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The Rich Are Always with Us (1932) - Romantic melodrama starring Ruth Chatterton as a rich woman whose current husband John Miljan is having an affair with a younger woman. Chatterton gets a divorce and wishes to marry writer George Brent, but Chatterton's friend Bette Davis wants Brent for herself as well. All of these romantic shenanigans take place in swanky nightclubs, Parisian getaways, and fancy apartments.

Bette Davis considered cinematographer Ernest Haller her favorite after this movie was made, and it's evident why: she looks her best up to this point in her career, especially in her first scene, wearing a black, off-the-shoulder evening gown. She's also very good in the acting department, even if her clipped accent gets a bit much. Chatterton is sharp and professional, but Brent is a bore. I know he has his fans, but he has yet to make any kind of impression on me from what I've seen him in. Chatterton was impressed, though: the two were married not long after filming.   (6/10)

Source: TCM.

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14 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

I seem to be in the minority in finding this the best of the Dietrich/von Sternberg collaborations. Shanghai Express or The Blue Angel are usually given that accolade, but I prefer The Scarlet Empress, and rank it among the best of its year.

I thought Devil is a Woman was considered by critics as their best collaboration. I know Dietrich thought it was. I think V.S. did too.........

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10 minutes ago, Hibi said:

I thought Devil is a Woman was considered by critics as their best collaboration. I know Dietrich thought it was. I think V.S. did too.........

I've never read that, but I make no claims at being an expert, so I'll take your word for it.

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"Night of the Comet" (1984)--Starring Catherine Mary Stewart, Kelli Maroney , Robert Beltran, and Mary Woronov. Directed by Thom Eberhardt.

Film is an agreeable parody of disaster/horror films. Stewart and Maroney play "Valley Girl" sisters Regina and Samantha who survive the comet when it passes over Los Angeles (which turns everyone outside looking at it into a heap of dust). Thanks to where they chose to spend the night, the two apparently are the only survivors. But it turns out there are other survivors, who have been turned into ghouls, and survivors at an army base, who want the blood of non-ghouls to develop a serum so they can survive.

Stewart and Maroney both got their start in tv soap operas. Beltran had the title role in "Eating Raoul" (1982). Woronov subtly parodies her role as the "good" army cop.

The sequence where the two girls go shopping in a deserted department store to the accompaniment of "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" is one of the films' highlights. The slapfest between Samantha and her stepmother Doris (Sharon Farrell) is another. The film turns the cliches of disaster and horror movies upside down. Film is very 1980's, down to the big hair. I enjoyed it. Movie's good, not great. 2.8/4.

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26 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

The Rich Are Always with Us (1932) - Romantic melodrama starring Ruth Chatterton as a rich woman whose current husband John Miljan is having an affair with a younger woman. Chatterton gets a divorce and wishes to marry writer George Brent, but Chatterton's friend Bette Davis wants Brent for herself as well. All of these romantic shenanigans take place in swanky nightclubs, Parisian getaways, and fancy apartments.

Bette Davis considered cinematographer Ernest Haller her favorite after this movie was made, and it's evident why: she looks her best up to this point in her career, especially in her first scene, wearing a black, off-the-shoulder evening gown. She's also very good in the acting department, even if her clipped accent gets a bit much. Chatterton is sharp and professional, but Brent is a bore. I know he has his fans, but he has yet to make any kind of impression on me from what I've seen him in. Chatterton was impressed, though: the two were married not long after filming.   (6/10)

Source: TCM.

I like him in Jezebel and The Rains Came. The characters are memorable.

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Just now, laffite said:

I like him in Jezebel and The Rains Came. The characters are memorable.

I've seen Jezebel and don't recall him from it at all. I'll be rewatching it in the near future, though. so I'll pay more attention to him. I haven't seen The Rains Came, but I also have that one recorded, and will get to it some day soon.

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46 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

I've seen Jezebel and don't recall him from it at all. I'll be rewatching it in the near future, though. so I'll pay more attention to him. I haven't seen The Rains Came, but I also have that one recorded, and will get to it some day soon.

Brent gives a good performance in Jezebel.   He plays a cad and his part isn't that large (just a few key scenes).    To me those are the reasons for his good performance;  a cad has their own persona and such a character helped mask the typical Brent screen persona.   (if that makes any sense).        Brent often plays a character that as written is boring \ flat, especially in 'women pictures' (e.g. Davis films),  and in these roles his screen persona isn't able to elevate the character\material.  

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17 minutes ago, Hibi said:

I thought Devil is a Woman was considered by critics as their best collaboration. I know Dietrich thought it was. I think V.S. did too.........

I'm under the impression that Shanghai Express, the most financially successful of the Dietrich-Von Sternberg collaborations, is also the most highly regarded of their films by many critics.

I find Devil Is A Woman quite fascinating, blessed with stunning photography to make it a memorable visual feast, and a playful, giggly Dietrich as a manipulative vamp.

image.jpeg.6eb409ae913f0488d3939f877773bfc7.jpeg

 

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36 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

I've never read that, but I make no claims at being an expert, so I'll take your word for it.

 

Well, I'm no expert either, but I remember reading that somewhere. I know it was Dietrich's favorite.

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34 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

I've seen Jezebel and don't recall him from it at all. I'll be rewatching it in the near future, though. so I'll pay more attention to him. I haven't seen The Rains Came, but I also have that one recorded, and will get to it some day soon.

Well, he's not in it for very long.  He plays second fiddle to Henry Fonda for Davis' affections. And is used badly.

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2 minutes ago, Hibi said:

Well, he's not in it for very long.  He plays second fiddle to Henry Fonda for Davis' affections. And is used badly.

I thought George Brent was good in “The Spiral Staircase.”

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Ride Him, Cowboy (1932) - First of a series of 6 quickie B-Westerns co-starring John Wayne and Duke the horse. Wayne arrives in town just in time to save Duke from being executed by the court for assault & battery! It seems Duke took the blame for bashing a guy in the head, a crime actually committed by a mysterious bandit known as the "Hawk". Wayne takes custody of Duke, tames him, and rides him on his journey to uncover the identity of the Hawk. Also featuring Ruth Hall, Henry B. Walthall, Otis Harlan, Harry Gribbon, and Frank Hagney.

Like many of these, this is a remake of a silent Ken Maynard western, and a lot of stock footage from that is reused. I liked seeing silent star Walthall again, even if it's a wasted role. Harlan has a (too) lengthy comedic courtroom scene as a doddering judge. This is silly and juvenile, and not even a big brawl scene featuring a succession of chairs broken over backs and heads can save it from the dustbin.   (4/10)

Source: TCM.

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1 hour ago, Hibi said:

Well, he's not in it for very long.  He plays second fiddle to Henry Fonda for Davis' affections. And is used badly.

I don't recall he being a rival to anyone for affections, if so, certainly not to be taken seriously. Yes, used badly because not enough imo. He has swaggering rogue appeal and I like his direct approach.

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"I Was A Teenage Frankenstein" (1957)--Starring Whit Bissell, Phyllis Coates, Robert Burton, and Gary Conway. Directed by Herbert L. Strock (this film and 1954's "Gog" seem to be highlights of his directing career).

This low budget AIP chiller was made to capitalize on the success of "I Was a Teenage Werewolf" (1957).

This time it's Professor Frankenstein (Bissell) who comes to 1950's America from England to lecture college professors at a seminar. His theories are derided, and Frankenstein vows that they shall soon see the theories work in practice. His faithful secretary Margaret (Coates) tells him he's wonderful and that she wants to be more than a secretary. Dr. Karlton (Burton) is blackmailed into helping Frankenstein carry out the grave-robbing and other errands Frankenstein needs to carry out his plans. Conway is Frankensteins' Monster, made up of various bodies. The doctor has a unique method of body disposal that's located beneath his laboratory/morgue. The plot goes from there.

Bissell is good as the arrogant, crazy Frankenstein. Coates' part is written as an understanding to a fault, a brainless woman who knows of her would-be husbands' felonies and doesn't mind covering them up. Conway is supposed to be pathetic, but misses the mark by a mile.

Memorable lines; Frankenstein to Monster--"Speak to me! I know you have a civil tongue in your head! I sewed it there myself!" Frankenstein, to unwilling accomplice Burton; "In this laboratory there is no death until I declare it so."

Film switches from black and white to color for its' last two minutes. The print I saw was a British print which was titled "Teenage Frankenstein". I didn't expect much out of this movie, but it is a bit better than Maltin thinks. A barely ok time passer. 1.9/4.

Source--YouTube.

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The Shadow of the Eagle (1932) - 12-chapter serial from Mascot Pictures, the first starring John Wayne. He plays a stunt pilot working in a rundown carnival (rundown carnivals have stunt pilots?), and when his plane is used to sky-write some cryptic threats to a group of businessmen, he sets out to find the culprit. It's a mysterious figure known as the "Eagle", a supposed ghost seeking vengeance for being shot down in WW1 and for having a valuable invention stolen from him. 

It doesn't make a lot of sense, but the plots of serials rarely do. This one has a few aspects that make it stand out. A few of Wayne's fellow carnival workers help him out, such as a ventriloquist, the strong man, and a dwarf named Little Billy. The Eagle's secret technology presages some modern developments. And one of the lower level goons is played by Yakima Canutt.   (5/10)

Source: YouTube.

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7 hours ago, speedracer5 said:

I thought George Brent was good in “The Spiral Staircase.”

I like George Brent The Spiral Staircase and others.  He was a greatly underrated actor and one of my parents' favorites.

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7 hours ago, Hibi said:

Well, he's not in it for very long.  He plays second fiddle to Henry Fonda for Davis' affections. And is used badly.

I know what you mean.  At the end he realizes that Bette's character was using him and speaks out about it.

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ride-him-cowboy.jpg

Could this movie be how Wayne got the nickname "Duke"?

Filmlover said: This time it's Professor Frankenstein (Bissell) who comes to 1950's America from England to lecture college professors at a seminar. His theories are derided, and Frankenstein vows that they shall soon see the theories work in practice.

This must be where Mel Brooks lifted the "Fronkensteen" bit from. "We ALL know what he did...."

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Winner Take All (1932)

Pre code programmer featuring James Cagney as a dumb pug boxer who takes a rest from big city life at a desert resort where he meets and falls for a young widow (Marian Nixon) before returning to the city and falling under the spell of a high society patron in search of a thrill with a mug like him (Virginia Bruce).

Cagney made a lot of these bouncy Bs in his Warners years immediately after finding stardom with The Public Enemy. They are, for the most part, light weight and fast moving, and this one is no exception, even if it is a decidedly minor entry in the Cagney canon.

It's fun watching the actor playing a guy who's not the sharpest card in the deck for a change. With his flattened nose and cauliflower ear he looks different, too. His character will later get plastic surgery, prompting him to change his fighting style and become a dancer in the ring, rather than a slugger, in order to avoid a flattened snozola once again, much to the boos of the crowd.

16-james-cagney.jpg.17dc7a7b4820c4f343952becb6886cac.jpg

Virginia Bruce is effective as the shallow society dame with whom the naive Cagney becomes enthralled. And in one scene she's also highly sensual. Bruce is good enough that I pondered why this actress's career never rose to greater heights. Look fast if you don't want to miss George Raft in a three second bit in a nightclub.

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2.5 out of 4

 

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