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I finally watched 1988's TORCH SONG TRILOGY. This is Harvey Fierstein's tour de force Broadway play somewhat adapted for film.

It follows the life of an adult gay man, Arnold (Fierstein) and his quest for respect and love. It starts with him talking (to us) directly to the camera, bringing us into his world. It's heartbreaking to see him go through flirtations and relationships with men who just want to "have fun" while he's longing for stability and even having a family of his own. ( just like hetero relationships!) Only the pool is smaller and tougher for him to find the "right" one because in the 80's, they were still in the closet, only out in particular sections of NYC, mostly entertainment venues.

The story's success falls on Fierstein's shoulders entirely-he must be entertaining and likable for us to feel his pain & frustration-and he succeeds. His job is female impersonator and I love that backstage is openly shown, what things are like from the performer's side. Fierstein is a terrible female impersonator. He doesn't look like a woman, especially funny when he sings with that deep raspy voice of his, which actually adds to the pathos of the performance. I've always loves Fierstein and was completely won over by his performance.

I especially liked when asked what he does and he says, "Female Impersonator" and the person says, "No, I mean for a living". Another fun scene is in a dress shop, where the saleslady doesn't know why these big men are in there!

There are tragedies & twists which you can discover for yourself. But the story climaxes with a visit from Mom overplayed by Anne Bancroft (Estelle Getty on Broadway). She acts a little over the top NYC Jew Mom, but maybe that's accurate for the time, she's still likable & believable. When Mom gets into a cab to leave, Arnold desperately yells "MOM" out the window and I cried like a baby, knowing all the love & pain he feels in that moment.

I know Fierstein also wrote THE BIRDCAGE, and the relationships are kept to that level. Men kiss, but thankfully there are no sex scenes (I hate sex scenes in movies, no matter who's involved) making this movie inoffensive to this old lady viewer. Loved it. Well written, well directed & edited, my interest never waned.

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19 minutes ago, Roy Cronin said:

My system was geared to the second balcony in the Empire Theatre, and it was hard to shed that.  Now, I understand that the reality of filmmaking is very exciting for the actor because it's another dimension; but it has to be realer than real....

YES!

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On 1/29/2020 at 8:09 AM, TikiSoo said:

Blech, Grand Hotel is the worst example of John's talent.

 

Really, TikiSoo? Amazing how two people can see the same performance and come away with different impressions of it.

I think John Barrymore is at his most elegant as the Baron in Grand Hotel. He is charming, amusing and flirtatious in his scenes with Crawford, while later showing sensitivity in those he shares with brother Lionel. John also hints that beneath his debonair appearance the Baron is a lonely man, bringing a little vulnerability to the role. Only his love scenes with Garbo now seem over done and dated to me.

Nevertheless that's just one film and it's apparent that, like me, you appreciate Barrymore's versatility and talent.

With his great speaking voice stilled during the silent era Barrymore was denied the opportunity to flourish at his best (such as he would have in the pre Code era) , and a lot of ham can be seen in his work then. However, one very effective performance that he gave during that period, and probably Barrymore's finest performance of the silents,  was in Tempest (1928), a costume production set just prior to and during the Russian Revolution.

The film gets quite melodramatic, of course, typical of films of its period, but Barrymore is dashing, charming and sympathetic as a commoner who becomes a soldier but is looked down upon by all the aristocrats who share the military with him. He's also looked down upon by a royal Princess, whom he sets out to rescue when the revolution erupts. Barrymore shows considerable charm and sensitivity, at times, in this film while also docking his shirt to show that, at age 44, he was probably at the peak of his male beauty. Louis Wolheim, two years prior to All Quiet on the Western Front, plays Barrymore's jovial, booming companion, his one true friend. There will also be a melodramatic mad scene in a prison cell for John. All in all, for Barrymore fans, it's an impressive show. TCM has never shown Tempest, to the best of my knowledge, but KINO has released an okay looking print of the film on DVD a few years ago.

My favourite moment in the film is relatively early when Barrymore, as a soldier, is invited to a royal ball. His outsider status (because of his peasant stock) is beautifully established in a shot of Barrymore standing in shadow on the outside of the ball room. It reminds me of a similar image of Chaplin from The Gold Rush, shot three years before.

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14 hours ago, speedracer5 said:

I agree with this completely.  There are actors whom are revered for their acting abilities who leave me cold.  Laurence Olivier, whom I liked in Rebecca, I think can be too much at other times.  Too intense I think.  I haven't really seen what the big deal is about him.  He's just too much at times.  I'm still trying to get through Wuthering Heights.  I think it's just my issue with 19th century literature.  I struggle at times.

I still haven't really seen what the big deal is about the  Barrymores.  Though I guess to be fair, I haven't seen any of them in very many films.  But none of them really seem all that remarkable to me. 
 

There's a lot to unpack here. LAURENCE OLIVIER's best performance that I have seen is in THE ENTERTAINER (1960)- which is a PUNISHING film to watch (deliberately so). He plays a NO-TALENT SEASIDE MUSIC HALL ENTERTAINER and there is a scene at the end where he BOMBS onstage that is superbly acted. It's one of the best performances of the 1960's and I don't think I've ever seen him really REACH THAT DEEP INSIDE in anything else he ever did, including his SHAKESPEARE films.

also this:

RE: JOHN BARRYMOORE- I can understand anyone who can't get past how DREADFUL he is as MERCUTIO in ROMEO AND JULIET, but he has his moments in other things. One performance of his that I like quite a bit is in MIDNIGHT, which is one of the underappreciated gems of 1939. He plays FAIRY GODMOTHER to CLAUDETTE COLBERT and he has a HILARIOUS scene on the phone where he pretends to be a child. I still CAN'T STAND TWENTIETH CENTURY (1934) though, and I have tried numerous times to watch it. He was also a pretty gutsy actor- his role in DINNER AT EIGHT is daringly close to cinema verite and I actually enjoy the film he did with KAY KYSER where he plays himself.

RE: LIONEL BARRYMOORE Has become my favorite of the trio. His signature catchphrase "GAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!" resonates with me the older I get. He is great in the DR KILDARE SERIES, which I binge watched one day on TCM when i had the flu; he is superb in DOWN TO THE SEA IN SHIPS (1949) and he holds a very special place in my heart as PROFESSOR/INSPECTOR ZELIN in MARK OF THE VAMPIRE,  a performance which INSPIRED me to work on a side project that has taken quite  a bit of effort the past year.  He was also a pretty tough old bird, living to the mid-1950's when no one expected him to be around that long. I also enjoy ON BORROWED TIME (1939) and I think POTTERSVILLE seems like a swell place to live.

re: ETHEL BARRYMOORE I really, really hate NONE BUT THE LONELY HEART, but after that, she became a valuable supporting player in the late 40's. I would cite THE PARADINE CASE as one of her most subtle performances, although the movie itself isn't all that great (it is one of HITCHCOCK'S numerous misfires between NOTORIOUS and STRANGERS ON A TRAIN.) she is also luminous in THE FARMER'S DAUGHTER and quite good as the eccentric invalid in THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE.

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20 hours ago, TomJH said:

Despite the film's title, by the way, I don't recall any indication in the screenplay that his character actually is the son of the old blood sucker.

In the scene where the town doctor is speaking with Professor Lazlo (the Van Helsing type character) and Lazlo mentions that Alucard is probably a descendant of Dracula. 

I just re watched this film last night and was still very impressed. Chaney gives one of his most subtle performances and is very effective. Albritton is  very "Goth" looking with that black wig and pale face, she also does a good job. I thought Robert Paige was pretty good too. His character is kind of neurotic and reckless, unlike some of the other horror film heroes of the time who were stiff, straight arrow types like David Manners or Patric Knowles. 

Edited by Det Jim McLeod
fixed Robert Paige's name
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Psyche 59 Poster

Psyche 59 (1964) TCM 5/10

A woman becomes blind after a traumatic event which she cannot remember.

An interesting though not totally successful melodrama which seems to be trying to be a psychological thriller. There is some good acting by Patricia Neal in the lead and Samantha Eggar as her vixenish younger sister. I also like the English locations and B&W photography. Curt Jurgens plays Neal's husband, I have only seen two other of his films and he always seems to be overshadowed by his co stars, not only in this one but by Brigitte Bardot in And God Created Woman and Roger Moore as James Bond in The Spy Who Loved Me. 

I found this film to be very slow moving and the big reveal was no surprise.

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46 minutes ago, Det Jim McLeod said:

In the scene where the town doctor is speaking with Professor Lazlo (the Van Helsing type character) and Lazlo mentions that Alucard is probably a descendant of Dracula. 

I just re watched this film last night and was still very impressed. Chaney gives one of his most subtle performances and is very effective. Albritton is  very "Goth" looking with that black wig and pale face, she also does a good job. I thought Robert Craig was pretty good too. His character is kind of neurotic and reckless, unlike some of the other horror film heroes of the time who were stiff, straight arrow types like David Manners or Patric Knowles. 

Thanks, Detective Jim. There was a lot of expository dialogue between Frank (Mr. Nosey) Craven and J. Edward Bromberg (the Van Helsing clone) in the film and I missed that reference you caught to Alucard's ancestry. I think you're being rather kind, though, to Robert Paige's character when you say he's "kind of neurotic and reckless" when he shoots a character six times after being knocked down by him and sets a bedroom on fire (no matter what the reason). Using fire to destroy a vampire rather than a stake through the heart I guess was considered less violent. Even when Lugosi got the stake in Dracula it was done off camera with just a groan heard from Bela.

But Son of Dracula is definitely a fun ride and I find Louise Allbritton's attraction to vampirism one of the film's most interesting aspects, certainly for a film of its time. I suspect she was the first female character in any vampire movie to be obsessed with immortality of the undead like that.

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30 minutes ago, TomJH said:

But Son of Dracula is definitely a fun ride

I just wanted to mention a few other things:

Chaney is the first Dracula to have a mustache, just like in the original Bram Stoker novel.

There is the character of Queen Zimba, a gypsy woman who Albritton visits. She is played by Adeline DeWalt Reynolds, an elderly actress (she was 81 at the time). She is not too well known but had some good cameos in films. She also played the old mental patient in Witness To Murder opposite Barbara Stanwyck . Perhaps her most memorable role was her uncredited one as Barry Fitzgerald's elderly mother in the last scene of Going My Way. 

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3 hours ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

YES!

I think the reason that I find this performance so fascinating is that I can imagine Julie's Frankie as a Sociopath, which makes it highly watchable.

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1 hour ago, Roy Cronin said:

I think the reason that I find this performance so fascinating is that I can imagine Julie's Frankie as a Sociopath, which makes it highly watchable.

THERE ARE a handful of topics that pretty much guarantee derailment of a thread here** and JULIE HARRIS in MEMBER OF THE WEDDING is one of those topics.

Personally, I think she gave the only one out of the five BEST ACTRESS OSCAR NOMINATED PERFORMANCES in 1952 that really- under scrutiny- DESERVED to be nominated (although I do think it's FABULOUS JOAN got nominated for SUDDEN FEAR! and would NEVER take away that triumph!) I also remind people that a NOMINATION FOR a failed/controversial/unlikeable performance is VASTLY preferable in the long-run to a nomination for a DULL ONE (see: WYMAN, JANE) and I'm glad JULIE was recognized for her gutsy work.

HOWEVER, I really think that if anyone deserved a nod for MEMBER OF THE WEDDING, it was ETHEL WATERS- who (to me) is the film's TRUE LEAD.

I also add that if MEMBER OF THE WEDDING were to conclude with a scene of FRANKIE getting the backsass beaten out of her with a hairbrush, there is a chance IT WOULD HAVE WON ALL THE OSCARS.

 

**that's not a complaint, just an observation.

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7 hours ago, TikiSoo said:

Of the dozen films in my "Great Barrymore" box set:

No Dinner at Eight?

One of the DVDs has WB's 1934 parody of it, Come to Dinner, which is an absolute hoot.

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3 hours ago, Roy Cronin said:

I think the reason that I find this performance so fascinating is that I can imagine Julie's Frankie as a Sociopath, which makes it highly watchable.

When I first reviewed it on these boards, I suggested that Frankie is what you'd get if Woody Allen were playing the part of a 12-year-old girl.  That, and how I wanted Ethel Waters to smack her into the next county.

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Danger Signal (1945).

Bizarro World version of Mildred Pierce.  Monty Beragon (Zachary Scott) kills a woman in the opening scene making it look like suicide, and escapes to somewhere on the Warner Bros. backlot, where he meets self-employed business girl Mildred (Faye Emerson), now working as a public stenographer.  She's being pursued romantically by a mousy research scientist played by Bruce Bennett (the first Mr. Mildred Pierce), but is beaten to the punch by Monty, who by now has rented a room from Mildred's mother.  Monty starts putting the moves on Mildred until her kid sister Veda (Mona Freeman) gets home from some sort of rest cure, at which point Monty starts putting the moves on her, hearing that she's in line to receive an inheritance once she gets married.

Mildred thinks of revenge and there's the possibility of a murder in a house near the beach, before the unsatisfying Code-enforced ending.  Rosemary DeCamp takes the non-comic Eve Arden role of moral support, as a psychiatrist in whose house the climax occurs, while the closest we get to Jack Carson is a young Dick Erdman playing Binky, the guy who's really right for Mona Freeman.  (OK, I've changed the names of several of the characters, but not the actors playing them in Danger Signal, which really did make me think of Mildred Pierce for reasons beyond the presence of Scott and Bennett in the cast.)

Danger Signal is good for what it is, which is a melodramatic programmer, but not particularly great.  6/10.

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Escape (1940) with Norma Shearer, Robert Taylor, and Conrad Veidt

I struggled to make it through this one. I like all of the actors, but something annoyed me throughout the film and I can’t quite pinpoint it. Taylor’s character consistently missing the obvious point throughout the film was tiresome. I had a run of films where I enjoyed all of them, so I was bound to run across one that I didn’t like. 

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6 hours ago, Roy Cronin said:

I could start a thread titled  FRANKIE ADDAMS SOCIOPATHY, YEAH OR NAY

But no, I won't.

(I agree about Ethel.  An almost flawless performance.)

I know it’s sensitive turf, but MEMBER OF THE WEDDING has potential for a revisionist version. Maybe a BAD SEED type thriller called GIRL, YOU GOT THE DEVIL IN YOU? 
 

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20 hours ago, TomJH said:

Really, TikiSoo? Amazing how two people can see the same performance and come away with different impressions of it. I think John Barrymore is at his most elegant as the Baron in Grand Hotel.

Oh sorry. I just hated GRAND HOTEL, the plot felt tedious, Garbo's a bore & I hate what happens to Kringeleine. It's being screened this spring & I'm hoping it's better for me on the big screen with an audience.

There's lots of movies that I don't care for until seeing them in a theater setting- that's why I always give a movie another try if given the opportunity. 

Also-in general I love Julie Harris performances. I don't know....she always seems so vulnerable.

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1 hour ago, TikiSoo said:

Oh sorry. I just hated GRAND HOTEL, the plot felt tedious, Garbo's a bore & I hate what happens to Kringeleine. It's being screened this spring & I'm hoping it's better for me on the big screen with an audience.

There's lots of movies that I don't care for until seeing them in a theater setting- that's why I always give a movie another try if given the opportunity. 

Also-in general I love Julie Harris performances. I don't know....she always seems so vulnerable.

I’d skip the screening of GRAND HOTEL. Something tells me it’ll go over like a lead balloon with a modern audience. 
I have mixed feelings about GRAND HOTEL...One thing I will say is that I did learn a very valuable lesson about classic film from it which is: IT MAKES A HUGE DIFFERENCE TO SEE THE RESTORED VERSION OF A MOVIE. 
I remember renting GRAND HOTEL On VHS in the 1990s And The TERRIBLE, fuzzy print, and hissing, popping soundtrack  was a lot to overcome for a film that is a challenging watch to begin with.

Years later I saw the restored version on TCM, which I think is pretty close to what audiences saw in 1932, and it makes a huge difference in the digestion process.

(Still, i vastly prefer DINNER AT EIGHT)

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5 hours ago, TikiSoo said:

Oh sorry. I just hated GRAND HOTEL, the plot felt tedious, Garbo's a bore & I hate what happens to Kringeleine. It's being screened this spring & I'm hoping it's better for me on the big screen with an audience.

There's lots of movies that I don't care for until seeing them in a theater setting- that's why I always give a movie another try if given the opportunity. 

 

Hopefully the big screen with make a difference for you with Grand Hotel. The first time I saw it was in the basement of a church where a film society held their screenings. Around 30 of us watched it then.

I enjoy the performances of much of the cast. The two Barrymores are both wonders for me, particularly good in any of the scenes they share together. Again, watch the sensitivity and sympathy that John extends towards Lionel in their scenes together. Lionel is at his peak as a scene stealer here. And Crawford, not one of my favourite actresses, is extremely impressive, as well. There's not a false, "actressy" note in her portrayal. Some think she takes the film with this performance. I'll even give Wally Beery credit for being the one cast member who attempts a German accent.

The only performer in Grand Hotel whose work dates terribly for me is Garbo. In trying to portray the emotional highs and moody lows of an "artiste" I think she way overdoes it and her scenes are the hardest for me to get through, including her love scenes with John. The first time I saw this film was the first time I ever saw Garbo and I didn't quite know what to make of her as an actress. Since then I've seen her other films, realize how much more understated and effective she could be and now regard her performance as the ballerina  here as close to the worst of her career. Ironically, though, Grand Hotel may be the film of her career that I like the most.

When Garbo says, "I vant to be alone," I think, "Yeh, let's do that. Let's all just move on to someone else in this film."

opening-night-of-the-movie-grand-hotel-o

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3 hours ago, Gershwin fan said:

I like Tempest too but saying it's Barrymore's best silent is a bit much. I prefer Jekyll and Hyde or Beau Brummel.

 

Actually, what I said is that Tempest probably has Barrymore's best performance of the silent era. But I very much like the film itself, as well, ranking it as one of my three favourites of his of that era, along with Don Juan and The Beloved Rogue. The latter film has him swashbuckling, but combined with much physical humour in the early scenes, as he portrays Francois Villon. This is the closest that he came to competing with Fairbanks when it came to a physical costume performance. He turns melodramatically hammy in the film's final scenes but, prior to that, he's quite delightful to watch.

Neither of the films you mentioned made much of an impression upon me, though I suspect that Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is Barrymore's most famous (and viewed) silent. Beau Brummel I found pretty stiff as a film and John really overdoes the mad scene. Another silent in which he is really over the top is The Sea Beast, the first of two adaptions of Moby Dick he would be in. It's tough to find a decent looking print of this one, though, and, I admit, it's been quite a few years since I last saw it.

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Here's a shot of the three Barrymores in their younger days. Sorry, I couldn't find a date for this pix. Lionel, in particular, looks like a kid here, compared to the character actor we're so  used to seeing. I wonder if Ethel was regarded as a beauty by some then. Based on these photos, quite possibly so.

1280px-Lionel,_Ethel,_and_John_Barrymore

640px-Ethel_Barrymore,_three-quarter_len

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On 1/28/2020 at 7:36 PM, speedracer5 said:

I agree with this completely.  There are actors whom are revered for their acting abilities who leave me cold.  Laurence Olivier, whom I liked in Rebecca, I think can be too much at other times.  Too intense I think.  I haven't really seen what the big deal is about him.  He's just too much at times.  I'm still trying to get through Wuthering Heights.  I think it's just my issue with 19th century literature.  I struggle at times.

tomorrow as the first day of OSCAR PROGRAMMING begins its long, painful slog- THE ENTERTAINER (which I mentioned in my reply to this quote of yours) is airing at 6:00 am (I think) (East Coast time.)

it is NOT a fun film, it's one of those INTENSE BRITISH KITCHEN SINK DRAMAS that became so big in the 1960's with the success of ROOM AT THE TOP...

AND YET, it is the best performance of OLIVIER'S that I have seen and one of the best performances of the 1960s. you might not like the film, but you can't help but be in awe of his work with this one.

😧 Tony Richardson. Laurence Olivier, Brenda De Banzie, Roger Livesey, Joan Plowright, Daniel Massey, Alan Bates, Shirley Anne Field, Albert Finney, Thora Hird. Seedy vaudevillian (Olivier, recreating his stage role) ruins everyone's life and won't catch on. Film captures flavor of chintzy seaside resort, complementing Olivier's brilliance as egotistical song-and-dance man. Coscripted by John Osborne, from his play. Film debuts of Bates and Finney. Olivier and Plowright married the following year. Remade as a 1975 TVM starring Jack Lemmon.

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Just now, LornaHansonForbes said:

tomorrow as the first day of OSCAR PROGRAMMING begins its long, painful slog- THE ENTERTAINER (which I mentioned in my reply to this quote of yours) is airing at 6:00 am (I think) (East Coast time.)

it is NOT a fun film, it's one of those INTENSE BRITISH KITCHEN SINK DRAMAS that became so big in the 1960's with the success of ROOM AT THE TOP...

AND YET, it is the best performance of OLIVIER'S that I have seen and one of the best performances of the 1960s. you might not like the film, but you can't help but be in awe of his work with this one.

😧 Tony Richardson. Laurence Olivier, Brenda De Banzie, Roger Livesey, Joan Plowright, Daniel Massey, Alan Bates, Shirley Anne Field, Albert Finney, Thora Hird. Seedy vaudevillian (Olivier, recreating his stage role) ruins everyone's life and won't catch on. Film captures flavor of chintzy seaside resort, complementing Olivier's brilliance as egotistical song-and-dance man. Coscripted by John Osborne, from his play. Film debuts of Bates and Finney. Olivier and Plowright married the following year. Remade as a 1975 TVM starring Jack Lemmon.

I actually like Oscar Programming, most of them are some the best films ever.

I agree about about Olivier's performance, I think he deserved the Oscar that year, over Burt Lancaster in Elmer Gantry.  What I like about the film is the atmosphere, the dingy music halls and flats, you can almost feel the damp air in the outdoor scenes. 

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