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After reading a #number# of posts below I thought to mention that I aspire to watching the Top 5 Least Searched Movies on the TCM database.  (Or something . . .   ).  

 

     Revenge of the Teenage Vixens from Outer Space

     Over-s e x e d Rugsuckers from Mars  (The El Cheapo plot has to do with aliens and vacuum cleaners)

     Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-o-Rama

     Voyage of the Rock Aliens

     Assault of the Killer Bimbos

 

I think we should give a good round of applause to all the many people who did not search for these titles. I never realized so many could have such good taste.

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So - just trying to clarify for myself here, speedy - when you say "this movie was ridiculous", you mean that in a good way?

 

As I said in another thread about the film, I love Nightmare Alley. But I'm kind of a sucker for almost any film with a carnival locale. Even though you just know that life in such a place would be hard, dangerous, and dirty (that last one, literally), there's something fascinating about carnivals as depicted in old movies. Nightmare Alley does not glamorize the carnival, but for some reason I still want to be there when I watch it.

 

Helen Walker's character - what a piece of work! And, interesting, I think it's the first, and possibly the only time, that I've seen a woman threatening to have a man certified for the insane asylum.

 

But while it lasts, she and Power really do have quite a clever little scam going, don't they? Til, of course, they both have to get too big for their collective britches.  (hm, weird image...)

 

I keep reading about what a great performance Power gives.

 

But for me, it's Walker who makes the film truly worth watching. She's perfection. Too bad the movie flopped at the box office - it should have made her a star (kind of like 'Cuckoo's Nest' did for Louise Fletcher).

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You channel Dennis Hopper quite well.

 

...especially since I hardly know the man. He was quite a star, wasn't he? Do you think I should pursue a career in the movies? I can't act worth a damn but apparently I can channel.

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I keep reading about what a great performance Power gives.

 

But for me, it's Walker who makes the film truly worth watching. She's perfection. Too bad the movie flopped at the box office - it should have made her a star (kind of like 'Cuckoo's Nest' did for Louise Fletcher).

 

One of these days someone should start a thread on truly evil femmes fatales, one with various subcategories that allow for different class types and m.o.'s.  If there were an "intellectual" subcategory, then Helen Walker would be right up there at the top of the list, much as Ann Savage in Detour would head up the Trailer Trash heap and Barbara Stanwyck would contend for the Bored and Restless Housewife honors for her role in  Double Indemnity.

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One of these days someone should start a thread on truly evil femmes fatales, one with various subcategories that allow for different class types and m.o.'s.  If there were an "intellectual" subcategory, then Helen Walker would be right up there at the top of the list, much as Ann Savage in Detour would head up the Trailer Trash heap and Barbara Stanwyck would contend for the Bored and Restless Housewife honors for her role in  Double Indemnity.

 

I agree, there are sub-categories of femme fatale. And some who are called that aren't femmes fatale at all, they're just the lead female character in the movie. There is such a thing as a film noir without an FF.

 

However, back to the sub-category idea: The single most plain and pure evil  femme fatale that I've ever seen as got to be Margot Shelby, played by Jean Gillie, in Decoy. This 1946 movie, directed by Jack Bernhard, has to be one of the strangest, most uncanny noirs ever. The premise for the storyline is absolutely bizarre.

And Jean Gillie's character is jaw-droppingly wicked.

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misswonderly3--Do you remember what studio released Decoy (1946)?

 

My nominations for the "pure evil" femme fatale are Angel Face (1953) with a young Jean Simmons; shows no remorse for anything.

 

Pretty Poison (1968), a neglected film where a lie is told and consequences snowball--one could argue whether it's noirish, black comedy, or both.  With Tuesday Weld.

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misswonderly3--Do you remember what studio released Decoy (1946)?

 

My nominations for the "pure evil" femme fatale are Angel Face (1953) with a young Jean Simmons; shows no remorse for anything.

 

Pretty Poison (1968), a neglected film where a lie is told and consequences snowball--one could argue whether it's noirish, black comedy, or both.  With Tuesday Weld.

 

I guess it was Monogram Pictures. Pretty "poverty row".  I've hardly heard of anybody involved with it, seems to have been kind of a one-off.  fxreyman's link should help with the details.

 

...nope, not a one-off. I just looked up Jack Bernhard, and looks like he made a handful of obscure low-budget films, mostly noir. I'd like to see something he made called The Second Face, with Ella Raines . Especially since I just recently re-watched Dark Passage.

 

I agree, Pretty Poison's Tuesday Weld is diabolical. I'd forgotten that movie, it's pretty darn good.  An interesting role for Anthony Perkins.

 

And yes, Jean Simmons is no angel in Angel Face. Although in her case, I'd say her character was borderline mentally ill. She's a bad one, all right, but she also comes across as unbalanced, whereas Decoy's Margot Shelby is simply evil (some have made the argument that that kind of behaviour is a mental illness itself, but  that kind of takes the fun out of it all, at least in fiction.)

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Last night I watched Mr. Roberts.  I read some people on this board didn't like the film, but I thought it was really funny.  The cast, James Cagney, Henry Fonda, William Powell and Jack Lemmon were excellent.  At first I was surprised to see how old Powell looked, but quickly realized that he had the same old cool, calm demeanor that I always associate with Powell.  He brought dry humor to the film which was nice as it off-set Lemmon's wackiness.  Cagney's character was a horrible person, I'm surprised that Fonda, Lemmon, Powell and the 60+ men on the crew didn't throw him overboard.  They could have.  I've never watched many of Henry Fonda's films, not that I don't like him, I just never see his films--except for when he's starring with people I like and am more familiar with.  I really like Fonda's "every man" persona--it was definitely an asset for his role in this film.

 

My favorite parts were the end when Lemmon threw Cagney's palm tree overboard and then comes busting up his office and says: "What is this crud about there being no movie tonight?" and the part when all the sailors are escorted back to the ship after being given liberty and they're all trashed and completely outrageous.  The following scene when Cagney announces that they've been kicked out of the port was funny too.  

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Last night I watched Mr. Roberts.  I read some people on this board didn't like the film, but I thought it was really funny.  The cast, James Cagney, Henry Fonda, William Powell and Jack Lemmon were excellent.  At first I was surprised to see how old Powell looked, but quickly realized that he had the same old cool, calm demeanor that I always associate with Powell.  He brought dry humor to the film which was nice as it off-set Lemmon's wackiness.  Cagney's character was a horrible person, I'm surprised that Fonda, Lemmon, Powell and the 60+ men on the crew didn't throw him overboard.  They could have.  I've never watched many of Henry Fonda's films, not that I don't like him, I just never see his films--except for when he's starring with people I like and am more familiar with.  I really like Fonda's "every man" persona--it was definitely an asset for his role in this film.

 

My favorite parts were the end when Lemmon threw Cagney's palm tree overboard and then comes busting up his office and says: "What is this crud about there being no movie tonight?" and the part when all the sailors are escorted back to the ship after being given liberty and they're all trashed and completely outrageous.  The following scene when Cagney announces that they've been kicked out of the port was funny too.  

Henry Fonda starred in Mr. Roberts on Broadway though I don't know if he originated the part.  I wonder what Fonda would have been like on the stage?   

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Henry Fonda starred in Mr. Roberts on Broadway though I don't know if he originated the part.  I wonder what Fonda would have been like on the stage?   

I believe Fonda did originate the role of Mr. Roberts on Broadway.  I think Ben Mankiewicz mentioned that in his opening or closing remarks. 

 

I don't know how he would have been onstage.  I imagine that he was a very powerful presence onstage and probably was very believable as a man whom the younger sailors would listen to and respect.  I am basing my opinion of his stage presence on the clips I've seen of him performing as Clarence Darrow.

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SPOILERS AHEAD

 

Last night I watched Frisco Jenny (1933).  Great film!  Lots of the usual precode themes – drunken, lusty men, bawdy women, prostitution, bootlegging, gambling, murder… 

 

The film opens in a San Francisco saloon in 1906.  Jenny Sandoval wants to marry Dan, the piano player in the bar, but her father is against it.  Then comes the earthquake…  Good special effects of the time.   Dad dies, but so does Dan.  Jenny is pregnant with his baby…

 

To support her growing son Dan Jr. Jenny becomes a madam.  Her character starts to change as she becomes more and more sharp, hard and world weary…

 

Steve Dutton, a lawyer, fatally shoots a gambler and Jenny helps hide the evidence.  Eventually Jenny herself is accused.  She allows her son to be taken in by a foster family to avoid his being taken away by the child welfare authorities.  When she comes to collect him again and he’s traumatized, she allows him to stay, at great pains to herself. 

 

Dan Jr. grows up to be a prosecuting attorney and tries none other than his own mother, who is now in the bootlegging racket and who has killed Steve Dutton.  Dan has no idea Jenny is his mother.  Even when she is sentenced to death and awaits the noose, Jenny will not tell Dan the truth, out of her own sacrifice and love for her son.

 

Ruth Chatterton is terrific in this film!  Very believable in her change from a good hearted ‘innocent’ in the beginning of the film to a woman hardened by life.  Her final scene in the jail, she stripped of makeup and looking devastated, is raw and powerful.

 

(I also watched a documentary on Bill Wellman, with lots of footage of the director talking about his experiences.  He was interesting to watch – loved it.)

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SPOILERS AHEAD

 

Last night I watched Frisco Jenny (1933).  Great film!  Lots of the usual precode themes – drunken, lusty men, bawdy women, prostitution, bootlegging, gambling, murder… 

 

Frisco Jenny is my favorite pre-code. It's a kind of inverted Madame X: instead of her son being the lawyer who gets her off, her son is the prosecutor who sends her to the gallows. And I learned some history from the film: the SF earthquake was caused by the slap Jenny got from her Dad early in the film.

 

The final scene -- Helen Jerome Eddy burning the clippings, shot from the other side of the fireplace -- is heartbreaking; one of the great final scenes.

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Frisco Jenny is my favorite pre-code. It's a kind of inverted Madame X: instead of her son being the lawyer who gets her off, her son is the prosecutor who sends her to the gallows. And I learned some history from the film: the SF earthquake was caused by the slap Jenny got from her Dad early in the film.

 

The final scene -- Helen Jerome Eddy burning the clippings, shot from the other side of the fireplace -- is heartbreaking; one of the great final scenes.

 

Ruth Chatterton is another actor that TCM introduced me to.

I love her in FRISCO JENNY and also in DODSWORTH.

Her character in DODSWORTH is clearly supposed to be viewed negatively by the audience.

It's a testament to Ruth Chatterton's skill at creating a real human being that her character Fran is able to elicit any sympathy at all from the audience (notably in the scene where Kurt's mother refuses to accept her as a future wife for her son).

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I have problems with Frisco Jenny.

I do very much enjoy the pre-codeishness of it all, as Eugenia said, the "drunken lusty men, bawdy women, prostitution, gambling" etc.

Watching vice like that (fun vices, anyway - not the murder stuff) is one of my favourite aspects of pre-codes. Hey, that's what they're all about !

 

And I agree that Ruth Chatterton is very good in this, as she was in the rest of her work (Holden mentioned some of her films.)

 

But - - I just can't deal with the "self-sacrifice" thing. She chooses death over "shaming" her son? I don't find that kind of choice noble and touching, I find it twisted and frustrating.

 

How come someone's "name" is more important than another person's life? I know a lot of you will say, "those were the values of the time".

But I dunno - some values never change. Like choosing to stay alive. So she 'd tell her son who he really is. If he's the decent and fine man  we're led to believe he is, he'd be strong enough to withstand society's criticism . After all, he didn't do anything wrong.

 

I never  "get" stories like this (and Frisco Jenny is just one of many, a variation on a theme), where someone gives something up - like their life ! - or, less drastically, their child, as in Stella Dallas-  because of class snobbery.

Ok, Jenny wasn't just of a "lower class", she was a **** (strong plain old-fashioned word Hm, will Otto Censor accept "prostitute" ? ) But hey, she didn't start out that way. She could have told her story, just as we the audience saw it, to her son.

 

This is not to say that I don't ever like movies involving some kind of sacrifice. But not that kind.

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How come someone's "name" is more important that another person's life? I know a lot of you will say, "those were the values of the time".

But I dunno - some values never change. Like choosing to stay alive. So she 'd tell her son who he really is. If he's the decent and fine man  we're led to believe he is, he'd be strong enough to withstand society's criticism . After all, he didn't do anything wrong.

 

But MissW, baby, in all your name permutations on the Board -- I think you are the champ here, at least of admitted name-changes -- you've demonstrated that names are VERY important! Before long, we'll probably get Missw4, or something like that!

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But MissW, baby, in all your name permutations on the Board -- I think you are the champ here, at least of admitted name-changes -- you've demonstrated that names are VERY important! Before long, we'll probably get Missw4, or something like that!

 

Let's hope "something like that," meaning that the misswonderly part will be retained. I think the current software will allow a return to the original misswonderly, without number or anything. Previous software versions on this site did not allow that.

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But MissW, baby, in all your name permutations on the Board -- I think you are the champ here, at least of admitted name-changes -- you've demonstrated that names are VERY important! Before long, we'll probably get Missw4, or something like that!

 

And that's worth more than someone's life? I doubt strongly that missw would agree with that. These are, after all, membership id's - not even real names.

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And that's worth more than someone's life? I doubt strongly that missw would agree with that. These are, after all, membership id's - not even real names.

Every time missw changes her name, an angel loses its wings.

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She chooses death over "shaming" her son? I don't find that kind of choice noble and touching, I find it twisted and frustrating.

 

 

Maybe the shame she has for her own behavior and life choices plays into that.  Maybe choosing death was a kind of redemption for herself.  Just guessing...

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You also have to take into account what was box-office at the time.  From what EugeniaH has posted about it being an inverted Madame X, that's exactly right.  I agree with misswonderly3s' objections to the plot on several points, but the bottom line was--would it make major money.  Madame X , in all its' versions, succeeded at the box office--so my guess is box-office potential played a major part in the plotting of the picture. JMO.

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And that's worth more than someone's life? I doubt strongly that missw would agree with that. These are, after all, membership id's - not even real names.

 

As Swithin's reply to this indicates, some things said here should not be taken too seriously.

 

...I should talk, if misswonderly should abandon 'misswonderly' I would be ... be ... well, disappointed at least. (I am prone to major clinical depressive episodes and that can't be ruled out ;-)  )

 

I wouldn't write a book about it, but I secretly wish that the original name, the simple and enormously appealing "misswonderly" be reinstated.

 

I like screen names. Someone should start ... no, CREATE ... and I'm beginning to like LAUNCH alot, a nice ring so space agey, like the actual launching of threads should be televised. Boy, that would put a few into a state of clinical Ecstaticism bordering on the psychotic (but let's no go there, since we already are)  .... But I digress ... what I'm trying to say is that someone should launch a thread about The 10 Most Coolest Daily Screen Names Appreciated TCM Data Base. Of course in order to be as scintillating and irresistibly enthralling as our beloved other one, we would all have to change our screen names every day, but that shouldn't be to much of a problem. (Except miss wonderly, hers is too cool to change, some things are just immutable.)

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You also have to take into account what was box-office at the time.  From what EugeniaH has posted about it being an inverted Madame X, that's exactly right.  I agree with misswonderly3s' objections to the plot on several points, but the bottom line was--would it make major money.  Madame X , in all its' versions, succeeded at the box office--so my guess is box-office potential played a major part in the plotting of the picture. JMO.

 

You also have to take into account what was box-office at the time.  From what EugeniaH has posted about it being an inverted Madame X, that's exactly right.  I agree with misswonderly3s' objections to the plot on several points, but the bottom line was--would it make major money.  Madame X , in all its' versions, succeeded at the box office--so my guess is box-office potential played a major part in the plotting of the picture. JMO.

 

You got it;  yea, this fairly typical Madame X type plot situation was over the top but it played (as well as paid) well.  Very well.   

 

I understand that part of us wants to grab Jenny and say 'wake up!' but than we wouldn't have that last scene and Ruth is great in that last scene.    So in some ways the plot is written so a film can have such a scene regardless of how realistic said scene is. 

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Keeping on my William Wellman theme, last night I watched Midnight Mary with Loretta Young.

 

As precodes go, this film didn't strike me as gritty like Three On a Match, provocative/challenging like Baby Face, and I wasn't as emotionally involved by the fate of the lead actress as with Frisco Jenny.  The sexy Ricardo Cortez as a gangster is always fun to watch, though.  :)

 

I don't have time to write out the full plot, but basically Mary Martin is on trial for murder, and her life is told in flashbacks.  The ending is pure Hollywood.  Franchot Tone is kind of bland, but I liked Una Merkel.  (Joan Blondell would have been great in Una's role.)

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