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8 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

I preferred talking about why Meryl Streep is or is not terrible.

I was walking down the Streep one day

In the Meryl Meryl month of May

B)

Don't ask, it doesn't mean anything

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1 hour ago, LawrenceA said:

Arabian Nights (1942)

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Tsk, task. Perhaps your feelings about Arabian Nights would be a little different if you had grown up with the film as a kid, Lawrence. I certainly did, along with Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves, and decided right then and there that I would eventually see all six of the films that had co-starred Maria Montez with Jon Hall. Mission accomplished!

Unsophisticated? Natch! Hokey dialogue and performances? And how! But rich in Technicolor and with an unpretentious appeal to the child in many of us. These comments could apply to any of their films together, though their final outing (Sudan) was a bit of a disappointment for me, with Hall putting on the beef and, surprisingly, not getting Montez at the end.

Maria Montez may have been, to put it kindly, limited as an actress. But she had an exotic appeal that made her perfect for these kinds of hokey sand-and-sex costume adventures churned out by Universal during the war. Even her halting, broken English delivery of cornball dialogue somehow seemed right for an Arabian Nights or Gypsy Wildcat or Cobra Woman.

After the war, with escapism no longer in vogue with film audiences looking for more realistic fare, Montez's brief reign as a Hollywood star was over. Universal cast her in two not particularly good films which bombed then cut her free. She would soon be making films in France (noirish crime dramas) and Italy (more costume escapism).

Montez, by the way, gave a surprisingly convincing performance as a hard boiled call girl living by her manipulative wits in Hans le Marin (English title: The Wicked City), filmed in France in 1949. It may well be her best performance (or was it just great casting?), and she certainly looked as beautiful as ever, perhaps even moreso, but who saw it?

Soon after she was dead, drowned in her bathtub, possibly an accident, though there was much speculation that she had suffered a heart attack while bathing in her home.

Not many today talk about the lovely Maria but she continues to hold a small place in my heart, hunting down videos of her films whenever possible (even her final ones in French and Italian- Maria, by the way, was, in some of them, at least, dubbed into the foreign languages). At least with The Wicked City there is an English soundtrack version available, and it is Montez's own voice that we hear.

Last year I managed to snag Montez's autograph on a small card, as my childhood-born affection for the lady who became a star playing the dancing girl Sherazade in Arabian Nights continues unabated.

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31 minutes ago, TomJH said:

Tsk, task. Perhaps your feelings about Arabian Nights would be a little different if you had grown up with the film as a kid, Lawrence. I certainly did, along with Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves, and decided right then and there that I would eventually see all six of the films that had co-starred Maria Montez with Jon Hall. Mission accomplished!

Great post, Tom. I also have Ali Baba in my stack to watch when I get to 1944. Maybe if I had seen Arabian Nights when I was a youngster I would have liked it more. I was into The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad and Jason and the Argonauts when I was that age. I don't have any autographs, but I do have a statue of Talos standing guard on an end table in a room of my house.

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Army Surgeon (1942) - Minor war-time drama from RKO and director A. Edward Sutherland. Jane Wyatt stars as Beth Ainsley, who's onboard a US Navy ship during WW2. Talking with a young officer, she tells the story of her wartime service as a nurse during the first World War, when she was torn between two men: driven doctor Jim Mason (James Ellison), and hotshot fighter pilot Phil Harvey (Kent Taylor). Also featuring Walter Reed, James Burke, George Cleveland, Lee Bonnell, Eddie Acuff, and Glenn Strange.

This short, hour long propaganda piece uses a lot of stock footage from other, more expensive WW1 movies. The plot is cliched and tired, and neither Ellison nor Taylor command much screen presence. Wyatt is decent, but it's a thankless role. Oh well, everyone was trying to do their part for the war effort, I suppose.  (5/10)

Source: TCM.

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32 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

Great post, Tom. I also have Ali Baba in my stack to watch when I get to 1944. Maybe if I had seen Arabian Nights when I was a youngster I would have liked it more. I was into The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad and Jason and the Argonauts when I was that age. I don't have any autographs, but I do have a statue of Talos standing guard on an end table in a room of my house.

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Childhood nostalgia is a potent force for us all to a degree. You grew up with Harryhausen (ah, Jason's duel with the skeletons!) and I with Montez. May they never lose their appeal for us. I hope you enjoy Ali Baba more than you did Arabian Nights, Lawrence. In Kurt Katch (usually cast as Nazis) you will have a memorably evil Hulagu Khan. This guy's so bad he sticks a knife into . . . well, I'll let you find out for yourself.

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1 hour ago, TomJH said:

Childhood nostalgia is a potent force for us all to a degree. You grew up with Harryhausen (ah, Jason's duel with the skeletons!) and I with Montez. May they never lose their appeal for us. I hope you enjoy Ali Baba more than you did Arabian Nights, Lawrence. In Kurt Katch (usually cast as Nazis) you will have a memorably evil Hulagu Khan. This guy's so bad he sticks a knife into . . . well, I'll let you find out for yourself.

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I grew up with Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, watching it on tv every chance I could. Probably within the last year or so I located a decent copy on youtube and watched it with my fiancee, who was seeing it for the first time. Towards the end of the film, she said "I can see why you enjoyed this movie as a kid."

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Blue, White and Perfect (1942) - Wartime mystery from 20th Century-Fox and director Herbert I. Leeds. Private detective Michael Shayne (Lloyd Nolan) takes a job at an airplane manufacturing firm in order to look for saboteurs. On his first day, a load of industrial diamonds are stolen, and Shayne tracks them all the way to Hawaii and a gang of German crooks. Also featuring Mary Beth Hughes, Helene Reynolds, George Reeves, Steven Geray, Henry Victor, Curt Bois, Marie Blake, Emmett Vogan, Mae Marsh, Wade Boteler, Ann Doran, and Al Kikume.

This is a fun, breezy mystery despite the heavier implications of the war. Nolan is funny and charming, and his detective is a morally ambiguous hero, such as when he defrauds his girlfriend (Hughes) out of a thousand bucks so that he can pay for a pleasure cruise to trail his quarry. Yeah, it was for a good cause, but most guys who do that to a girlfriend end up the subject of somebody else's murder mystery. The supporting cast is good, particularly Reynolds as an old acquaintance of Shayne's, and Reeves as a shady Latin salesman.  (7/10)

Source: Fox DVD.

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Castle in the Desert (1942) - Final entry in the Charlie Chan mystery series to be produced by 20th Century-Fox, directed by Harry Lachman. Chan (Sidney Toler) finds himself summoned to a medieval-style castle built in the middle of the desert in the western U.S. It belongs to eccentric researcher Paul Manderlay (Douglass Dumbrille) and his wife Lucy (Lenita Lane) who happens to be a descendant of the infamous Borgias. They have a house full of guests, one or more of whom seems intent on killing them all. Also featuring Henry Daniell, Arleen Whelan, Richard Derr, Edmund MacDonald, Ethel Griffies, Steven Geray, Milton Parsons, Lucien Littlefield, and Victor Sen Yung.

This is an odd installment of the series, with a lot of comedy and an "old dark house" setting. The characters are all strange enough to hold one's interest, and Toler and Sen Yung's interplay is still fun. Fox decided to end the series with this one, stating a desire to cut back on film production during the war, but many feel it was also due to the Asian lead character, who, despite being Chinese-American, would still be resented by those with anti-Japanese sentiments due to the war. Toler himself would eventually buy the rights and take them to the poverty row Monogram company, where a new batch of Chan films started in 1944 with Charlie Chan in the Secret Service.   (7/10)

Source: Fox DVD.

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3 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

Yeah, it was for a good cause, but most guys who do that to a girlfriend end up the subject of somebody else's murder mystery.

Well, I should hope so ! My poor Mary Beth :(

I fell in love with her when she descended a stage coach near Ox-Bow Canyon.

 

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7 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

Castle in the Desert (1942)

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I think the Chan series at Fox ended on a good note with Castle in the Desert. A fun cast of red herring suspects but even more than that, it's such a handsome looking "B," with great sets and shimmering photography. From what I've seen of them none of the Sidney Toler Chans that he would later make at cheapo Monogram could remotely compare to this one.

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9 hours ago, scsu1975 said:

I grew up with Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, watching it on tv every chance I could. Probably within the last year or so I located a decent copy on youtube and watched it with my fiancee, who was seeing it for the first time. Towards the end of the film, she said "I can see why you enjoyed this movie as a kid."

Glad to see your fiancee has such good taste in films, Rich. I hope, though, she's bracing herself for a lot of Tor Johnson. I hope it doesn't tor your marriage apart.

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9 hours ago, scsu1975 said:

I grew up with Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, watching it on tv every chance I could. Probably within the last year or so I located a decent copy on youtube and watched it with my fiancee, who was seeing it for the first time. Towards the end of the film, she said "I can see why you enjoyed this movie as a kid."

Actually, the ALI BABA I'M most familiar with is the one with POPEYE! ;)   Anyway, some of those "sand and sword" flicks from the '40's can be a hoot.

Back in my smoking days, the tobacco shop I frequented was run by a couple of guys from Iraq, and one day I went in and the owner, a guy whose name actually IS Ali, said he saw THE THIEF OF BAGDAD ('40) the night before, and laughing, said, "That city's streets must have been covered with that BLUE SAND before MY time!" :D

Sepiatone

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16 hours ago, laffite said:

That bad? Is there anything that she did that you even remotely approve of? What is it, her acting style? Or something else? Does it have something to do with Harvey? Is she just another liberal elite who talks too much? If so, what does that have to do with acting? I know she gets a lot of flack around here, but such a dismissively contemptuous and sarcastic pot shot like this is curious to me. Perhaps your attitude towards her is well known around here and I just don't know it. If so, just let this go. I don't want to start anything, Please understand, I am genuinely puzzled.

 

 

Meryl Streep’s a wonderful actress, probably one of the best there ever was. However, in recent years I have kind of formulated two opinions about her that I just can’t shake- One, that she cares more about winning awards than the work itself and two that she sometimes kind of puts it on auto pilot for a lot of the film, doing sort of a broad general thing for her performance – and then blows everything away with one or two (albeit great) scenes- ie DOUBT or PRADA.

I’ll always be a fan, but With increasing hesitancy.

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(I know it seems like people dump on Meryl a lot- but I also don’t think she much cares)

Also props to her for being one of the last bankable old-school movie star names long after a lot of her male contemporaries and more less retired and moved to Netflix.

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She might not have been an Academy Award winner but . . .

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. . . Maria Montez knew how to make an entrance.

 

That applied to real life too. One time she entered the commissary at Universal but noticed that no one was paying any attention to her. She left, returning a few minutes later with a large entourage and all the accompanying sounds that went with it. All heads turned. A movie queen had arrived!

Maria Montez: "When I look at myself I am so beautiful, I scream with joy."

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8 minutes ago, TomJH said:

She might not have been an Academy Award winner but . . .

0e3f7af99e13d10891c13cebb3b.jpg?w=820&h=

arabian-nights-cover.jpg

. . . Maria Montez knew how to make an entrance.

 

That applied to real life too. One time she entered the commissary at Universal but noticed that no one was paying any attention to her. She left, returning a few minutes later with a large entourage and all the accompanying sounds that went with it. All heads turned. A movie queen had arrived!

Maria Montez: "When I look at myself I am so beautiful, I scream with joy."

Those outfits that the attendant ladies are wearing, so cool. Is there a name for that get up? Anyone know?

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1 hour ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

Meryl Streep’s a wonderful actress, probably one of the best there ever was. However, in recent years I have kind of formulated two opinions about her that I just can’t shake- One, that she cares more about winning awards than the work itself and two that she sometimes kind of puts it on auto pilot for a lot of the film, doing sort of a broad general thing for her performance – and then blows everything away with one or two (albeit great) scenes- ie DOUBT or PRADA.

I’ll always be a fan, but With increasing hesitancy.

I find her distant, with a manner that looks like "obvious acting" - I'm unconvinced by her performances, generally.

The way I feel when watching her is obviously wrong because she is highly regarded everywhere and by almost all critics. But she doesn't reach me. Her projections don't feel real most of the time.

So, it's not her, I suppose. It's me - I'm just not plugged into the correct perceptiveness.

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3 hours ago, TomJH said:

Glad to see your fiancee has such good taste in films, Rich. I hope, though, she's bracing herself for a lot of Tor Johnson. I hope it doesn't tor your marriage apart.

She suffered through Plan 9 from Outer Space a few weeks ago, and about 5 minutes into it, said she now understood why it's ranked as one of the worst films of all time. I had to explain who Criswell was. Oddly enough, she already knew who Tor Johnson was. Speaking of which, he has a bit in Sudan, another Montez flick.

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1 hour ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

Meryl Streep’s a wonderful actress, probably one of the best there ever was. However, in recent years I have kind of formulated two opinions about her that I just can’t shake- One, that she cares more about winning awards than the work itself and two that she sometimes kind of puts it on auto pilot for a lot of the film, doing sort of a broad general thing for her performance – and then blows everything away with one or two (albeit great) scenes- ie DOUBT or PRADA.

I’ll always be a fan, but With increasing hesitancy.

I wouldn't use "auto pilot" (not bad, but too strong for me) but I get what you mean and what others have said. Her technique seems to be too obviously on display and she can come across stagy. She did this in August: Osage County. a recent watch for me. I'm quite sure that was from a play but that might not cut any ice with movie goers. But it didn't bother me. I think she generally overcomes it but obviously not everyone agrees. I didn't see this "transparency" however in Florence Foster Jenkins in which she really excelled IMO. Looking over her filmography there are so many I haven't seen, so that might be something. Actually, I have never counted myself as a super avid fan but I do think she's exceptional nonetheless..

Thanks, Lorna.

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1 hour ago, TomJH said:

arabian-nights-cover.jpg

Maria Montez: "When I look at myself I am so beautiful, I scream with joy."

 

36 minutes ago, scsu1975 said:

She ain't the only one.

I suspect if Maria was still around today she'd be taking a lot of selfies.

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1 minute ago, TomJH said:

 

I suspect if Maria was still around today she'd be taking a lot of selfies.

Why cant TCM show some Maria Montez??? I've yet to see ONE of her films! I know they are Universal, but they cant be THAT costly to rent. COME ON!!! Yvonne DeCarlo too!

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21 minutes ago, laffite said:

I wouldn't use "auto pilot" (not bad, but too strong for me) but I get what you mean and what others have said. Her technique seems to be too obviously on display and she can come across stagy. She did this in August: Osage County. a recent watch for me. I'm quite sure that was from a play but that might not cut any ice with movie goers. But it didn't bother me. I think she generally overcomes it but obviously not everyone agrees. I didn't see this "transparency" however in Florence Foster Jenkins in which she really excelled IMO. Looking over her filmography there are so many I haven't seen, so that might be something. Actually, I have never counted myself as a super avid fan but I do think she's exceptional nonetheless..

Thanks, Lorna.

Yes, Osage County was a play.........

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FOR THE RECORD,

I (honestly) think one of Streep's absolute best performances is in SHE-DEVIL, which might be the worst movie she ever appeared in.

when the material needs help, she single-handedly elevates it.

 

edit- wait, no, the worst movie she ever did was HOUSE OF THE SPIRITS, AND EVEN SHE CAN'T SAVE THAT ****

 

 

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2 minutes ago, Hibi said:

Why cant TCM show some Maria Montez??? I've yet to see ONE of her films! I know they are Universal, but they cant be THAT costly to rent. COME ON!!! Yvonne DeCarlo too!

I believe TCM has shown both Arabian Nights and Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves in the past but they're certainly not common broadcasts (maybe it was only once for each film).

The Montez-Jon Hall film that seems to be the most elusive to find is their second film together, WHITE SAVAGE (1943). On those rare occasions in which I came across a copy of it (once on the internet, once through a private collector) the quality of the prints were very mediocre.

Unfortunately I suspect most of us will be waiting a long time before TCM puts on Maria Montez in anything. Her reign on top (1942-45) was a short one. She had a cameo in Douglas Fairbanks Jr.'s THE EXILE, which TCM has shown a couple of times but, again, it was just a cameo (ironically Montez got top billing in the film due to contractual stipulations that she get top billing in all her films, once she became a star).

The last five films of her career, all made in either France or Italy, are murder to find, and when you do find them they are almost always in French or Italian without English sub titles. I have found all her European films (once she was a Hollywood exile) on You Tube in the past, and perhaps they are all still there: The Wicked City (Hans Le Marin), Portrait of an Assassin (with Erich Von Stroheim and Arletty), City of Violence (Amore e Sanguine), Thief of Venice and Revenge of the Pirates (La Vendetta del Corsaro), her last film.

On occasion Montez's last Hollywood film, Siren of Atlantis (1949), has been on You Tube with an English soundtrack.

I am a bit mystified by a sixth European production of Montez listed by IMDb, a German-Italian (apparently) production of 1951, Schatten uber Neapel. Unless it also goes by a more recognizable English title, I can't quite figure out what this film is, or if it is a mistake in that data base. There are ZERO reviews of this film on IMDb. But they also refer to it as a version of Amore e Sanguine (City of Violence). If that is the case I assume it is a German language version of the previously named French film.

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