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I Just Watched...

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Been combing through a lot of late sixties Sexploitation "roughies" and finding a few Noir gems that unfortunately get thrown into the same bin because they are exploiting a new found freedom of very limited censorship. These would also fit into Cave Girls Outré thread. 

It was quite quaint re-watching The Blue Gardenia and it's strait-laced 50's mores. 

The Blue Gardenia (1953) Café au lait Women's Noir

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The credits run over a montage of the City of Angels and probably the San Bernardino Freeway built in 1948, it's one of the first Film Noir to show one that I can remember.

Directed by Fritz Lang and based on a novella by Vera Caspary. The cinematographer was Nicholas Musuraca, and the music was by Raoul Kraushaar.  An independent production released by RKO.

A Woman's Noir a chick flick. The three main characters are three single women getting by in the City Of Angels. Ann Sothern is the continually tar bar sucking Crystal Carpenter. Jeff Donnell is Sally Ellis, the kid sister type addicted to the pulp fiction of a Mickey Spillane clone hard boiled detective novelist. Our heroine is torch carrying Norah Larkin played by Anne Baxter who is in love with a GI serving in Korea.

Richard Conte plays newsman Casey Mayo his sidekick photographer is Al played by Richard Erdman, Raymond Burr is playboy Harry Prebble, George Reeves is the L.A.P.D. Police Capt. Sam Haynes, Ruth Storey is Rose Miller, Ray Walker is Homer, and Nat King Cole plays himself.
 
The cast does an admirable job with a routine story. Of course being made under the Motion Picture Production Code, all the references to why Rose is frantically trying to speak with Harry are reduced to subtext references. Harry, apparently, supplied Rose with enough Polynesian Pearl Divers to successfully "dive" down on her "pearl," getting her pregnant in the process. She wants Harry to make her an "honest" woman, in the parlance of the times, to marry her. Oh, how quaint and innocent the Hollywood Studio powers were (on the outside) in the straight-laced 1950's and how the sexual Pandora's Box was nuked open by Sexploitation in the late 1960s.

I personally get a kick out of Anne Baxter's very convincing tipsy woman sequences at the Blue Gardenia and at Harry's studio/pad. Sothern is a hoot with a cig perpetually dangling from her bottom lip, Burr is appropriately slimey, and it's always great seeing Nat King Cole. Screen caps with fuller review in Flim Noir/Gangster pages. Café au lait Noir 7/10 

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1 hour ago, cigarjoe said:

The Blue Gardenia (1953)

 

Nat King Cole plays himself.

Only after TOR JOHNSON was unavailable though.

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I watched WILD YOUTH (either 1939 or 1940) on TCM ON HULU,

*****EDIT: OOPS, THE TITLE IS REALLY “MAD YOUTH”- APOLOGIES AND THANKS TO SHUTOO FOR THE CORRECTION*****

it's a tacky hour long movie that somehow manages to deal in a pretty forthright way with prostitution (I guess it was an independent film that was a roadshow attraction and didn't need a HAYES CODE seal of approval?)

BETTY COMPSON- who was, I think, one of the very first Oscar nominees for BEST ACTRESS is pretty funny as a divorced socialite who loves bridge and gigolos.

there is a lot of racy innuendo in the beginning, but about a quarter of it is WEIRD MUSICAL and BAAAAAAAAAD DANCE NUMBERS (some teens throw an OUT OF CONTROL party and one of them goes out and returns in a DRUM MAJORETTE OUTFIT AND TWIRLS A BATON!!!!!!)

There are worse ways to kill an hour though.

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2 hours ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

I watched WILD YOUTH (either 1939 or 1940) on TCM ON HULU, it's a tacky hour long movie that somehow manages to deal in a pretty forthright way with prostitution (I guess it was an independent film that was a roadshow attraction and didn't need a HAYES CODE seal of approval?)

BETTY COMPSON- who was, I think, one of the very first Oscar nominees for BEST ACTRESS is pretty funny as a divorced socialite who loves bridge and gigolos.

there is a lot of racy innuendo in the beginning, but about a quarter of it is WEIRD MUSICAL and BAAAAAAAAAD DANCE NUMBERS (some teens throw an OUT OF CONTROL party and one of them goes out and returns in a DRUM MAJORETTE OUTFIT AND TWIRLS A BATON!!!!!!)

There are worse ways to kill an hour though.

Sorry I missed this! LOL.

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15 hours ago, cigarjoe said:

Look how far back her head is on her shoulders looks deformed or like she's arching her back, compare her to the other woman.....

She's taking a deep breath!

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15 hours ago, TomJH said:

Actually, in that particular photo, I would say that Mamie is using them.

LMREO!!!

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13 hours ago, rosebette said:

I can't believe the bras that must have created those figures!  An engineer must have created them.

Maybe Howard Hughes? :D

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5 minutes ago, Hibi said:

Sorry I missed [WILD YOUTH]! LOL.

One of the many good things about HULU. I was also able to pause it, which helped.

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2 hours ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

I watched WILD YOUTH (either 1939 or 1940) on TCM ON HULU, it's a tacky hour long movie that somehow manages to deal in a pretty forthright way with prostitution (I guess it was an independent film that was a roadshow attraction and didn't need a HAYES CODE seal of approval?)

BETTY COMPSON- who was, I think, one of the very first Oscar nominees for BEST ACTRESS is pretty funny as a divorced socialite who loves bridge and gigolos.

there is a lot of racy innuendo in the beginning, but about a quarter of it is WEIRD MUSICAL and BAAAAAAAAAD DANCE NUMBERS (some teens throw an OUT OF CONTROL party and one of them goes out and returns in a DRUM MAJORETTE OUTFIT AND TWIRLS A BATON!!!!!!)

There are worse ways to kill an hour though.

This was a strange film, but your post got me thinking that TCM should promote a daytime or a special few nights of programming.  They could call it "Wild About TCM" and feature movies with nothing but the word 'wild' in the title.  The possibilities would be astounding!

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17 minutes ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

One of the many good things about HULU. I was also able to pause it, which helped.

Oh, sorry, I thought this was on TCM!

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5 minutes ago, Hibi said:

Oh, sorry, I thought this was on TCM!

it was, instead of cable, I have Hulu which you can use to watch any TV Network you want- so I can watch live TCM OR choose from an ever rotating list of 70-80 titles at a time

WILD YOUTH was one of those titles.

(it's also in the PUBLIC DOMAIN)

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The Last Days of Pompeii (1959)  -  6/10

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Italian historical epic starring Steve Reeves as Roman soldier Glaucus Leto, who returns to his hometown of Pompeii only to learn that a group of black-masked bandits is terrorizing the area, killing and looting the wealthy villas, including that of Glaucus' father. The only clue to the bandits' identity is a symbol they leave as their calling card: a Christian cross. Also featuring Christine Kaufmann, Fernando Rey, Barbara Carroll, Anne-Marie Baumann, Mimmo Palmara, Guillermo Marin, and Angel Aranda. Historical fiction done peplum style, with the beefy Reeves in top hero form. Incredibly, Kaufmann was only 14 years old when this was filmed. Anne-Marie Baumann, as the spoiled rich girl Julia, fills out her costumes nicely. The production values are excellent, although the action scenes are hit-or-miss, with some bad fight choreography. This was directed by Mario Bonnard, a name that I'm unfamiliar with, but there are several notable talents that worked on this, including future spaghetti western maestros Sergio Leone (credited here with screenplay and first assistant director, although he's said to have directed much of the picture due to Bonnard's health) and Sergio Corbucci (screenplay and second unit director), and future horror directors Jorge Grau (color consultant) and Lucio Fulci (associate producer).

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5 minutes ago, Hibi said:

How was the volcano eruption?

Fiery. And with much lava (syrup lit from below) and falling rocks (Styrofoam). There was even a little thin strip of fire on the water that Steve had to swim under. Very exciting stuff.

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Lawrence, I always love your scholarly approach to even the most iffy films. This is a good example, with all your cross-referencing and production details. I admit to wading through this one with the main purpose of watching the effects at the end, which were way more George Pal than Cecil B. DeMille, but fun none-the-less. Did anyone catch the recent TCM broadcast of the 1930's original? Really great effects, basically from the King Kong team.

Steve Reeves looked so much better beardless.

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5 minutes ago, DougieB said:

Lawrence, I always love your scholarly approach to even the most iffy films. This is a good example, with all your cross-referencing and production details. I admit to wading through this one with the main purpose of watching the effects at the end, which were way more George Pal than Cecil B. DeMille, but fun none-the-less. Did anyone catch the recent TCM broadcast of the 1930's original? Really great effects, basically from the King Kong team.

Steve Reeves looked so much better beardless.

I watched the '35 version recently, as well. I enjoyed it. I liked Basil Rathbone as Pontius Pilate. I've also seen the 1984 TV mini-series version, but not since it was originally on. It had a big cast, including Laurence Olivier and Ned Beatty, a screen duo no one expected.

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The Man Who Understood Women (1959)  -  4/10

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Woeful comedy-drama with Henry Fonda as a movie producer who falls for French actress Leslie Caron. He watches her star soar, followed by the inevitable drifting apart. Also featuring Cesare Danova, Myron McCormick, Marcel Dalio, Richard Deacon, Jack Kruschen, Doug McClure, and Conrad Nagel. Inside-joke Hollywood navel-gazing, arguably my least favorite movie genre, with Fonda bored and a torpid Caron struggling to play a French movie actress convincingly. Fonda considered quitting film acting forever after watching this. An extreme reaction, but I can't say that I blame him. Thankfully he didn't follow through. 

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Meet Me in St. Louis (1959)  -  5/10

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Live TV version of the musical about a turn-of-the-century family. Featuring Walter Pidgeon and Myrna Loy as the parents, Jane Powell and Jeanne Crain as sisters Esther and Rose, and Tab Hunter as John Truett. With Ed Wynn, Reta Shaw, Kelly Brown, Lois Nettleton, and Patty Duke as "Tootie". Betsy Palmer also appears as the hostess and corporate shill. This is worth note for the performers, but it lacks the vibrancy and production values of the film version. I'm sure fans of the material will get more out of this than I did, as well.

MV5BYjBjMDRkNjUtNWVkMC00ODk3LTkzN2ItZTQ1 

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Never Steal Anything Small (1959)  -  5/10

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Misguided musical comedy with James Cagney as racketeer Jake MacIllaney who is determined to win election to leadership of a powerful labor union. This brings him into contact with straight-laced attorney Roger Smith and his wife Shirley Jones, who Cagney sets out to break up. Also featuring Cara Williams, Nehemiah Persoff, Royal Dano, Anthony Caruso, Horace MacMahon, Virginia Vincent, Robert J. Wilke, and Jack Albertson. This is one of Cagney's hardest to find titles, and it's the last, save his final TV-movie, that I hadn't yet seen. It's no one's finest hour, but I've seen worse (today even; see The Man Who Understood Women above). It seems to be striving for a breezy, crooks-with-a-wink, Billy Wilder-meets-Damon Runyon type of vibe, but it fails. Everyone puts on their best face, but the material just isn't there in the script or the direction.

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4 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

Fonda considered quitting film acting forever after watching this. Thankfully he didn't follow through. 

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"I don't know. I might have lasted a little longer."

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The Rebel Set (1959)  -  5/10

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Minor crime drama featuring Edward Platt as a beatnik club proprietor who masterminds an armored car heist. He hires a motley assortment of characters, played by Gregg Palmer, John Lupton, Don Sullivan, and Ned Glass, to help carry out the caper, which results in the usual double-crosses and foul-ups. Also featuring Kathleen Crowley, Vikki Dougan, Robert Shayne, Collette Lyons, Gene Roth, and I. Stanford Jolley as "King Invader". I was surprised to see that this had an IMDb rating of 2.5, or an F+, as it isn't nearly that bad. I wasn't surprised to then learn that this had been a MST3K showing, since, as much as I like that show, movies that were shown on it seem to routinely get trashed far worse than they deserved by viewers who never saw anything but the MST3K version.

Anyway, I've seen much, much worse, and while this is very low budget, and not the most original movie, I enjoyed the satiric beat-club scenes (particularly longtime character actor Jolley's turn as a beat poet), and I always enjoy a heist-gone-wrong story at least a little bit.

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Riot in Juvenile Prison (1959)  -  4/10

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Ludicrous drama with Jerome Thor as a crusading psychologist who gets hired to overhaul a juvenile detention facility after a breakout attempt leaves two boys dead. Much to the annoyance of the warden (John Hoyt), Thor's first move is to make the place co-ed, shipping in female delinquents. This unsurprisingly leads to trouble, as does incorrigible case Scott Marlowe. Featuring Marcia Henderson, Ann Doran, Virginia Aldridge, Richard Tyler, Jack Grinnage, and Dorothy Provine. Another example of late 50's cinema absurdity, pushing censorship boundaries with a wink-wink, resulting in a movie that looks even more juvenile now. Plus, Scott Marlowe is quickly becoming one of my least favorite actors. 

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13 hours ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

I watched WILD YOUTH (either 1939 or 1940)

Do you mean Mad Youth (39) that's on the watch tcm app now?  it's Betty Compson gone bad, and has one of the most bizarre party scenes I've ever seen:  everyone is jitterbugging and playing strip poker, and suddenly this girl comes out in a shiny majorette get-up and starts twirling the baton..so very strange.  Bad mom's hired gigolo falls for daughter, turns out to be only sensible one in the bunch.

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