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speedracer5

I Just Watched...

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1 minute ago, Det Jim McLeod said:

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. 

Yes, TONY RICHARDSON is one of those BRITISH-TO-THE-BONE directors who portrayed British life quite well; not in a deprecating way, just straight forward.

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2 hours ago, 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.

178647-tt0053796.jpg

Thanks! That picture is terrifying; yet it makes me want to see The Entertainer.  I'll set my DVR.  It's on  at 3AM for me. 

Okay.  This has nothing to do with anything.  But right now, I'm watching the first episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents (its on Hulu) and it stars Ralph Meeker, Vera Miles, and Francis "Aunt Bee" Bavier.  Ralph Meeker was hot! damn.

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1 hour ago, speedracer5 said:

Thanks! That picture is terrifying; yet it makes me want to see The Entertainer.  I'll set my DVR.  It's on  at 3AM for me. 

Okay.  This has nothing to do with anything.  But right now, I'm watching the first episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents (its on Hulu) and it stars Ralph Meeker, Vera Miles, and Francis "Aunt Bee" Bavier.  Ralph Meeker was hot! damn.

I bought the complete series on the viewing of that one.  It was shot more on location than most of his studio bound episodes.

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Why Be Good? (1929) with Colleen Moore

I’ve now seen a grand total of one Colleen Moore film and I’m now a Colleen Moore fan. I haven’t seen nearly as many silent films as talkies, but this is one of my favorites. I don’t find the story itself that entertaining, but the film flew by thanks to Moore’s performance. 

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I just finished watching THE CHEAP DETECTIVE (1978) on tape.  I was going to watch it a few nights ago, but got too tired to concentrate.  So I ended up stuffing the videocassette into the unit this evening.  I've seen it several times, but not lately.  And I've always wondered what was c/u/t at the last minute before its release.  On the opening credits 'CAROLE WELLS' is billed, but does not appear in the movie.  She gets a credit at the end as the 'Hat Check Girl'.  And then there are numerous credits at the end as well for a number of characters who do not appear in the released film.  → I'm guessing somebody with power at Columbia thought there was a sequence or two that slowed down the pacing of the picture so they were excised.   

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17 hours ago, Mr. Gorman said:

I just finished watching THE CHEAP DETECTIVE (1978) on tape.  I was going to watch it a few night ago, but got too tired to concentrate.  So I ended up stuffing the videocassette into the unit this evening.  I've seen it several times, but not lately.  And I've always wondered what was c/u/t at the last minute before its release.  

I remember seeing it in theaters fresh off of Peter Falk and Eileen Brennan's characters stealing most of Murder By Death (1976 - which has now entered the Columbia Orphanage, and is now happily traveling the streaming markets), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0zY0fNzYf8 , and...not getting most of the film-specific Humphrey Bogart jokes.  


But, of course, nobody KNEW old-movie jokes back in 1978 beyond some vague knowledge that Bogart was a detective in "The Maltese Falcon", so I've wanted to watch it again to see if Neil Simon's Falcon and Casablanca jokes play better forty years later.  Maybe that'll find its way into the streets too.

(And if the auto censor won't let us say "cut", they've got their mind in the gutter...)

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Some weird **** has shown up right before OSCAR ZHIMONTHO unfurls. I watched HOUSE OF WAX for the 14th time and I tried with THE NIGHT PORTER but it was too kinky EVEN FOR ME (take some time to think about that. or better yet, don't.

I watched EYES WITHOUT A FACE aka many other things, some in FRENCH

Eyeswithoutaface_poster.jpgI do not often watch FOREIGN FILMS, A big reason why is: I get migraines and I have to be careful about not straining my eyes. foreign films are often subtitled IN WHITE PRINT which, when not letterboxed AND RUNNING IN CONTRAST WITH OFTEN GREY-TO-WHITE IMAGES IN THE LOWER SCREEN, is what i imagine failing a colorblind test is like. so i missed some of the dialogue in this one.

this was kind of as if JEAN LUC GODDARD decided to pay a well-merited homage to ED WOOD, THE ATOMIC BRAIN and every movie with either JOHN CARRADINE or BELA LUGOSI or both. Dash of PHANTOM OF THE OPERA too.

this combined with my recent discovery of THE ART OF FRENCH COOKING by JULIA CHILD has really upped my respect for the FRENCH in the WORLDWIDE GROSSOUT ABILITY category. there is a REALLY SICK SCENE HALFWAY THROUGH and I don't understand what the dogs were all about.

when she has the mask on SHE REALLY looks like MIA FARROW.

Weird- but effective score by MAURICE JARRE. 

HIGH FASHION COLLARS by HUBERT de GIVENCHY.

FANS OF TINY VINTAGE FRENCH AUTOS ALERT.

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7 hours ago, Mr. Gorman said:

I just finished watching THE CHEAP DETECTIVE (1978) on tape.  I was going to watch it a few night ago, but got too tired to concentrate.  So I ended up stuffing the videocassette into the unit this evening.  I've seen it several times, but not lately.  And I've always wondered what was c/u/t at the last minute before its release.  On the opening credits 'CAROLE WELLS' is billed, but does not appear in the movie.  She gets a credit at the end as the 'Hat Check Girl'.  And then there are numerous credits at the end as well for a number of characters who do not appear in the released film.  → I'm guessing somebody with power at Columbia thought there was a sequence or two that slowed down the pacing of the picture so they were excised.   

THE CHEAP DETECTIVE made $28 million (according to wikipedia) which was a damn good gross for the time, so something worked. I SWEAR it aired on TCM a while back and I saw it and liked it but I don't remember a damn thing else about it.

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15 hours ago, Mr. Gorman said:

I just finished watching THE CHEAP DETECTIVE (1978) on tape.  I was going to watch it a few night ago, but got too tired to concentrate.  So I ended up stuffing the videocassette into the unit this evening.  I've seen it several times, but not lately.  And I've always wondered what was c/u/t at the last minute before its release.  On the opening credits 'CAROLE WELLS' is billed, but does not appear in the movie.  She gets a credit at the end as the 'Hat Check Girl'.  And then there are numerous credits at the end as well for a number of characters who do not appear in the released film.  → I'm guessing somebody with power at Columbia thought there was a sequence or two that slowed down the pacing of the picture so they were excised.   

They might have been cut thanks to the pan and scan.

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On 1/30/2020 at 9:03 AM, TomJH said:

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

I happen to be a fan of Grand Hotel, especially the performances of the Barrymores and Joan Crawford.  I agree that it is one of Garbo's weakest performances, mannered and affected, rather like Carole Lombard's parody of her in The Princess Comes Across.   However, I would like to share my experience of another actress in the lead of Grand Hotel.  In the early 90s, I saw a production of the musical Grand Hotel at a New England theater in the round with, of all people, Cyd Charisse as the ballerina.  She played the role as an aging ballerina, but I was seated pretty close, and she looked fabulous and still moved beautifully.  (One of the problems with Garbo is that you can't really believe she was ever a ballerina.)  Her singing voice wasn't much, but her songs weren't demanding.  The Count's role was played by an attractive 30ish tenor, and as they did a love scene, which just involved some kissing and embracing, the people behind were remarking that it was "disgusting" that this young man was making out with an older woman.   All I could think of as a young woman in her early 30s was that I wished I could look that great when I got to be Cyd's age and how lucky she was to have this young man singing a beautiful aria to her.    My other thought was how many films I had seen where older men were making love to much younger women (sometimes barely out of their teens) , and audiences weren't thinking how disgusting that was, but that these guys were great lovers and leading men.

By the way, there are some good tunes in the stage version of Grand Hotel.  I think Jane Krakowski made her debut in the Joan Crawford part and she has a couple of good numbers on the cast album.

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18 minutes ago, rosebette said:

I happen to be a fan of Grand Hotel, especially the performances of the Barrymores and Joan Crawford.  I agree that it is one of Garbo's weakest performances, mannered and affected, rather like Carole Lombard's parody of her in The Princess Comes Across.   However, I would like to share my experience of another actress in the lead of Grand Hotel.  In the early 90s, I saw a production of the musical Grand Hotel at a New England theater in the round with, of all people, Cyd Charisse as the ballerina.  She played the role as an aging ballerina, but I was seated pretty close, and she looked fabulous and still moved beautifully.  (One of the problems with Garbo is that you can't really believe she was ever a ballerina.)  Her singing voice wasn't much, but her songs weren't demanding.  The Count's role was played by an attractive 30ish tenor, and as they did a love scene, which just involved some kissing and embracing, the people behind were remarking that it was "disgusting" that this young man was making out with an older woman.   All I could think of as a young woman in her early 30s was that I wished I could look that great when I got to be Cyd's age and how lucky she was to have this young man singing a beautiful aria to her.    My other thought was how many films I had seen where older men were making love to much younger women (sometimes barely out of their teens) , and audiences weren't thinking how disgusting that was, but that these guys were great lovers and leading men.

By the way, there are some good tunes in the stage version of Grand Hotel.  I think Jane Krakowski made her debut in the Joan Crawford part and she has a couple of good numbers on the cast album.

A friend of mine said that she saw Cyd Charisse and Tony Martin together in, I believe, Puerto Rico. Now this was quite a few years ago, maybe in the '70s or '80s. She commented that while Martin hadn't aged very well, Cyd looked fabulous.

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@Cin Int:  It was more than just any side-screen cut-offs due to panning-and-scanning.  There are a sizable number of characters billed over the closing credits who aren't in the released film.  And PHIL SILVERS only had 1 line as 'Hoppy' at the end of the movie.  → I guess it's because I like the movie that I wish there was a longer version available to see what was edited out just prior to release.  Note also over the opening credits there are 2 editors listed. 

I think there's a fair number of movies that have had last-minute edits made to them prior to release.  HAROLD AND MAUDE, for one example.  'Cyril Cusack' is billed over the opening credits and he barely appears in the film as 'Glaucus'.  And Bud Cort mentioned the finished film didn't include a scene that explained why he slept with Maude and he was none too pleased.  In OH, GOD! you see Donald Pleasance listed prominently over the opening credits yet he barely appears in the released film.  Apparently his sequence as a priest didn't work so it was excised. 

THE CAREY TREATMENT (1972) has 'Rosemary Edelman' billed.  She does not appear in the film.  Her scenes were deleted just before release. 

And so it goes . . . chop chop! 

         

 

  

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COME BACK LITTLE SHEBA (1952) *Score: 3.5/5

Burt Lancaster and Shirley Booth are both very solid in this. I had seen snippets of this several years ago, and finally sat down to watch it in its entirety. 

BIRDMAN OF ALCATRAZ (1962)  *Score: 4/5

Burt Lancaster is quickly becoming one of my favorite actors. I'm doing a challenge for film club, where I pick 5 movies from 12 of my favorite actors and watch them all this year. This comes out to the grand total of 60. I have done 4/5 for Burt,  but plan on watching more of his since there is a collection of several of them on the Criterion Channel. 

THE STING (1973) *Score: 3.5/5

I didn't love this as much as I thought I would, but Paul Newman and Robert Redford are delightful. 

MARY AND MAX (2009) *Score: 3.5/5

This was the pick for film club this week; a charming stop motion film revolving around a young girl and her penpal friend Max, a 48 year old Brooklynite. 

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10 hours ago, NickAndNora34 said:

COME BACK LITTLE SHEBA (1952) *Score: 3.5/5

Burt Lancaster and Shirley Booth are both very solid in this. I had seen snippets of this several years ago, and finally sat down to watch it in its entirety. 

I re watched this recently, Shirley Booth was heart breaking and deserved her Oscar. Many thought Lancaster was miscast since he was so young, but he was quite powerful in the drunk scene.

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Trog Poster

Trog (1970) Movies Network 3/10

A missing link is discovered in an English cave, an anthropologist (Joan Crawford) studies him.

Crawford's last film and I doubt if she was very happy making this low budget  misfire, but she does keep a straight face during the ridiculous dialogue. Trog is played by Joe Corneilous, who mostly played bit parts as prize fighters in other British films. He wears monkey mask that looks like a reject from the cave men in 2001 A Space Odyssey. A lot of talk until things pick up at the end when Trog escapes and hangs a butcher on a meat hook and later kidnaps a little blond girl who reminds him of a doll he played with. The girl is played by Chloe Franks who appeared is some other good 1970s horror films like Who Slew Auntie Roo and The House That Dripped Blood.

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Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, 1941 version

Guess I'm one of those people who still watches movies aired on TCM in real time. So I just watched this film, which was aired in what's normally the Noir Alley time slot (which I will miss, but we get it back in March.)  I'd seen it once before, years ago, but this time 'round I liked it even more than that first viewing.

This Victor Fleming -directed version of the Robert Louis Stevenson tale is probably the best. I love the cinematography, all those noirish scenes of rain-swept Victorian alleys with gas lights burning, wrought-iron fences (which, by the way, Spencer Tracy keeps leaping over, quite nimbly), the recreation of that time and place, 19th -century London, so well done. I also really enjoy all the actors in this version. I used to be not the biggest fan of Spencer Tracy, but I'm slowly changing my mind. And as the dual character(s) of the respected Dr. Jekyll and the sadistic Mr. Hyde, Tracy nails it.  I also really like Donald Crisp. I've always liked him, he's an actor who somehow conveys decency no matter what role he's playing. There's a dignity about him that shines through in everything I've seen him in, even when he's playing an unsympathetic character. In this film he plays the father of Beatrix, the girl Dr. Jekyll's engaged to. This somewhat thankless role goes to Lana Turner. I say "thankless" because, of the two female leads, her character is far less interesting than Ingrid Bergman's as the tormented victim of Hyde's lust and brutality.

It's not really fair to compare these two actresses, I suppose. But I've never really taken to Lana Turner, I'm not sure why. I like her well enough, and she's certainly been in some fine films, and done well. But when you compare her to Ingrid Bergman, who plays the unfortunate "Ivy", Turner literally pales by contrast.  It's not altogether Lana's fault; she's cast to play the "good" girl, in love with Jekyll, upper class, obedient, long-suffering, sweet, but rather dull. That is, she's dull when compared to Ivy's character. If I had to put it in a few words, I'd say that Lana Turner often seems "prissy" to me, and she certainly is in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, whereas Ingrid always seems warm and human. Lana Turner is lovely, but in a waxwork lovely kind of way, where Ingrid Bergman always radiates warmth. Every role I've ever seen Ingrid  Bergman in has this quality. She's luminously beautiful. Remember how touching and vulnerable she is in Casablanca and Notorious, as well as beautiful. She brings this same quality to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

I don't know why I'm going on so about these two actresses, I sound like one of those guys here who are always opinionating about women's looks, something I dislike. And I'm a hetero woman.  But I've always thought that about Ingrid Bergman, and this seemed as good a time as any to say it.

Anyway, the film has more to offer than the two beautiful actresses. It's an interesting interpretation of the Stevenson novel, emphasizing the conflict in Jekyll's psyche over the more lurid aspects of the story.  I love the special effect they use when Tracy transitions from one of his characters to the other; I know it would be done much differently now, with CGI. But I think the way they showed Tracy's metamorphosizing from his "good self" to his "evil self" and back has an almost dream-like quality which works.

The one other thing that really struck me, watching this 1941 film, is how relevant in some ways its premise still is today. The conversation the doctor has with his friends and fellow scientists at the dinner party he attends, near the film's beginning, centres around the danger of messing with nature (reminiscent of the conversations in "Frankenstein"),  and the folly of unleashing forces which humans  may not be able to control. Sounds like a conversation one might have today.

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1 hour ago, misswonderly3 said:

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, 1941 version

 

Thanks for the thoughtful review, Miss W. While the Tracy version of Stevenson's novella is not my favourite screen adaption (I find the Rouben Mamoulian-Fredric March version more exciting and bolder as far as sexuality is concerned, being done in the pre Code period; I'm also partial to the Jack Palance take, a Canadian production, from the late '60s), the 1941 MGM version is interesting, mostly for Ingrid Bergman being cast against type as Ivy.

I happened to catch the ending today and laughed a little when I saw the surprised look on Ian Hunter's face when he saw Tracy transform from Mr. Hyde to Dr. Jekyll. I mean, come on, Tracy's Mr Hyde looks like Tracy's Dr. Jekyll on a rough day with his hair messed up and a bit of a hangover. Did Hunter really not have a clue that one could be the other (unlike the Mr. Hydes in the March and Palance versions which bore no physical resemblance to their Jekyll counterparts).

You made reference to Tracy's nimbleness in leaping over wrought iron fences in the film, MissW. We might also give a little credit to the actor's stunt doubles in those same scenes, as well. I was struck (to my eyes, at least) by the obviousness of the doubling in any of the action scenes in the film's latter part. Spotting stunt doubles like that always take me a little bit out of the scene for a moment, even if I appreciate the skill of the stunt men involved.

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Late last night I endeavoured to stuff JABBERWOCKY into the trusty videocassette recorder.   I watched the same tape several months ago, but before that I hadn't seen it for so long I cannot remember. 

I think the best sentence I could use to describe "Jabberwocky" is:  An absurdist medieval comedy that's Earthy and grimy! 

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3 hours ago, misswonderly3 said:

  I also really like Donald Crisp. I've always liked him, he's an actor who somehow conveys decency no matter what role he's playing. There's a dignity about him that shines through in everything I've seen him in, even when he's playing an unsympathetic character.

I guess you have not seen Broken Blossoms.

SzdeLDO.png

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1 hour ago, scsu1975 said:

I guess you have not seen Broken Blossoms.

SzdeLDO.png

Actually, I have  seen Broken Blossoms. I even remembered it when I was talking  about Donald Crisp. But you're right in that there's nothing "admirable" or "noble" about his character in that film. He plays a horrible character, poor Lillian Gish's abusive father.

So, ok, sometimes Donald Crisp does not play a likable or even "decent" person.  But usually he does, especially as he got older. Maybe he was more of a Mr. Hyde type in his silent movie roles.  I think Broken Blossoms is the only one of these I've seen.  But, maybe it has something to do with the way he aged, as an older actor he always strikes me as "noble" and "decent".   

 

image.jpeg.7e23502adb4887addac1500e80be7cc0.jpeg

I mean,just look at him. He looks so stern and British.

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3 hours ago, TomJH said:

.....You made reference to Tracy's nimbleness in leaping over wrought iron fences in the film, MissW. We might also give a little credit to the actor's stunt doubles in those same scenes, as well. I was struck (to my eyes, at least) by the obviousness of the doubling in any of the action scenes in the film's latter part. Spotting stunt doubles like that always take me a little bit out of the scene for a moment, even if I appreciate the skill of the stunt men involved.

Sometimes when I'm talking about a character in a film I use the actor's name. I suppose this can be confusing.  When I spoke of Spencer Tracy leaping nimbly over those wrought iron fences, I should have said "Mr. Hyde", not Tracy.  I don't actually really care whether it was really Tracy doing it or not, and I definitely believe you that it was in fact a stunt man.  Unlike you, I tend to not notice those kinds of things. 

Often when I've watching an old movie with my husband, he'll point out something like that, or he'll go "that's just a painted backdrop",  or, "look at how obvious that rear-view projection is" (you know, in car driving scenes.)  Stuff like that. But I always tell him I don't care, I would probably not notice these things if he didn't point them out and I don't want to notice them.  And my lack of sophistication in this department works for me, since I don't notice such things, and therefore don't get "taken a little bit out of the scene". 

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38 minutes ago, misswonderly3 said:

Sometimes when I'm talking about a character in a film I use the actor's name. I suppose this can be confusing.  When I spoke of Spencer Tracy leaping nimbly over those wrought iron fences, I should have said "Mr. Hyde", not Tracy.  I don't actually really care whether it was really Tracy doing it or not, and I definitely believe you that it was in fact a stunt man.  Unlike you, I tend to not notice those kinds of things. 

Often when I've watching an old movie with my husband, he'll point out something like that, or he'll go "that's just a painted backdrop",  or, "look at how obvious that rear-view projection is" (you know, in car driving scenes.)  Stuff like that. But I always tell him I don't care, I would probably not notice these things if he didn't point them out and I don't want to notice them.  And my lack of sophistication in this department works for me, since I don't notice such things, and therefore don't get "taken a little bit out of the scene". 

If I really get into a film emotionally I will probably not notice aspects of the film along this nature. Most of the time, though, I'm noticing the little things like stunt doubles or rear screen projection.

That also includes flubs such as Scarlett O'Hara leaving the Wilkes home and momentarily placing her hand on a porch post which wobbles after she removes her hand from it or the shadow of a boom microphone appearing on a door as Scarlett speaks (both of which occur in the film). Yes, it can be distracting to spot stuff like this, at times. Other times, though, I find it kinda fun to catch the errors, particularly if it is in a big film like GWTW dripping with lavish production values.

But there are times, MissW, when I suspect that even you would notice a stunt double. There is a scene in Universal's The Mummy's Hand (1940) in which character actor George Zucco who, if not actually bald, certainly had a profound lack of hair, is shot. As his body rolls down a long flight of stone stairs he is doubled by a man with a full head of dark hair.

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January 6
Gentleman's Agreement
 (20th Century Fox, 1947)
Source DVD

This was the last of the two dozen movies I got my father for Christmas that I got to watch with him before my holiday ended. Gregory Peck plays a widowed journalist who transplants from California to New York City with his mother (Anne Revere) and young son (a young Dean Stockwell) to write a column for a Time-style magazine. He's uncertain what to write for his first assignment. His editor wants a story on the titular "agreement", the tacit understanding among the owners and management of the finest hotels and restaurants in the vacation areas of Connecticut and elsewhere New Yorkers might travel to not admit Jews. Nothing so crass as their Southern brethren posting "Whites Only" on their shop windows but just as rigidly enforced, though never publicly admitted to or acknowledged. The conceit reminds a bit of a Dave Chappelle routine where he compares racism in the North and South, saying that in the latter "it's healthy and out in the open". 

Peck initially isn't crazy about the subject matter but he becomes more intrigued when at a party hosted by his editor, he meets the editor's lovely young and recently divorced niece (Dorothy McGuire) who tells him the story was her idea. She was rescued from poverty by her uncle and aunt, who provided for an education and a life of comfort. Curiously, she's chatting with her ex-husband when Peck meets her and later confesses to him her aunt may secretly be hoping for a reunion. 

Peck's character seems a little dense. He at first wants to get the magazine's research staff to gather facts and figures until the editor tells him he wants more gut-wrenching personal experience. He still doesn't seem to get what he should do next until he goes into a monologue to his mother about how when he wanted to learn about coal miners, he became a coal miner; when he wanted to learn about Dust Bowl migrants, he migrated with them ... after what seems like 10 minutes of this speech, it occurs to him what the audience has long ago figured out. He needs to write a story titled "I Was a Jew for Two Months" and pretend that he is a Jew and see what happens when he tries to make reservations at said hotels and restaurants.

The thorny issue becomes just who's going to be aware of his secret, particularly as he becomes more involved with McGuire and has to meet the associates of her socialite sister (Jane Wyatt). How much does he have to keep up the pretense in his personal life if he truly wants to understand what it means to be Jewish in America? He decides to begin by casually mentioning he's Jewish at an editorial meeting to gauge his co-workers' reactions.  The implication is that the magazine's publisher is Jewish, and he doesn't care for stirring the pot. He is apparently supposed to symbolize the thought held by a number of wealthy and influential American Jews of that era that the best way to deal with the problem is to pretend it doesn't exist. This I learned from the commentary track by longtime Time magazine film critic Richard Corliss. I didn't live through that era, so I can't vouch for this assertion. Some other employees Peck meets are a no-nonsense female writer (Celeste Holm), who gets a crush on Peck, and his secretary (June Havoc), who reveals to Peck, thinking he's Jewish, that she had to pass as a Gentile to get her job. Peck has one of his first moral quandaries in the movie when he brings to light the shameful hiring practices at his own magazine, and when he returns to his secretary to tell her what he's accomplished, she fears it will result in the hiring of some Jews who are "a little too k i k e-y". This is another little swipe the film seems to take at the Jewish community, or at least a segment of them, who might feel ashamed of their fellow Jews who may express their Jewishness a little too loudly. Again, I wasn't there; I don't really know how prevalent that was. Sam Jaffe has a nice extended cameo as a celebrated Jewish thinker who comments on such interesting ideas as lack of true ethnic identity and implies that he himself might actually be an atheist, but these ideas aren't expounded upon.

Then there's a completely different type of Jewish character introduced well into the film,  played in a rare supporting role by John Garfield, a childhood buddy of Peck's who's just gotten out of the Army after having had to stay on in Europe for a couple of years since the war's end. Garfield, we learn in the commentary track, took the role, even though it was a smaller one, because he believed so much in the film. He has a wife and children back in California but also wants to relocate to New York and is trying to secure employment there. When he learns what Peck is up to, his first words are "You fool! You poor, crazy fool!" When he sees how Peck reacts to the indignities he has to suffer, he reminds him they sting because they're still so new to him. He hasn't had a lifetime to endure them the way Garfield has. There's also a nice scene where Garfield almost loses it with a more demonstrative bigot in a nice restaurant, and you see just for a moment the anger he has pent up in him from this lifetime of experience.

Peck experiences all kinds of indignities, not just in his attempts to check into hotels (Ha ha ha, one less-than-impressed critic I read said ""Would it be different if my name was ... Smith?' There, that's the whole movie"), but also when his kid gets bullied at school and, perhaps even more disturbingly, when McGuire tries to comfort her future potential stepson by telling him, "It's not true! You're not Jewish! It's all a horrible lie!", as if that somehow makes what happened better. Peck begins to look at her more askance for the rest of the movie, and she resents being lumped in with the outright bigots. Again, Garfield has a nice scene when it appears the Peck-McGuire romance may not be salvageable, when Garfield confronts McGuire in as kindly a way as possible about inaction to deal directly with prejudice that's obvious is a kind of prejudice itself. Boy, Garfield really deserved a Best Supporting Actor nomination for this movie.

Also, Holm, an actress I've never particularly cared for,  has a really nice role in this movie as a truly open-minded Gentile, while sometimes it feels like McGuire is only play-acting at being one. And there wasn't much doubt in my mind which woman I wanted to Peckto end up with.

I wasn't too crazy at everyone who discovers the truth about Peck having to say "You're a Christian?" as if that's the only alternative to being a Jew, especially since Peck doesn't seem to express any religiosity. I would instead call him a Gentile, but maybe not everyone in the audience would know that word. I don't know. 

Corliss raises some interesting points in the commentary track. While the movie was championed at the time as raising awareness to a societal injustice, it certainly could have done more. Despite one of the characters being a veteran, there is zero effort to question how anti-Semitism could still be so prevalent so soon after a war where we'd just discovered the extent one madman would go to attempting to wipe the entire population of Jews off the earth. What did that say about us as a country at this time? The movie clearly wasn't ready to plunge that deeply into the issue. Also, Corliss notes there's an odd fit in the main anti-Semitism storyline as it battles with storylines about the Peck-McGuire romance and the health of Revere for dominance. There's almost too much kitchen sink soap opera going on than is really necessary. Revere gives a long speech at the end about maybe the door is opening for a new kind of America she'd like to live long enough to see. I don't know that she would have particularly wanted to stick around for all the skinheads and Holocaust deniers and Internet trolls who are still around, but I will bite my tongue before commenting on modern-day politics any further.

My only problem with Corliss' commentary is that he didn't appear to have done any research about production details. He remembers having seen it as a child but didn't appear to have any interest in learning more about it before watching again. For example, he's unsure if some opening outdoor scenes were really shot in Manhattan - certainly looks like they could have been - or were just the magic of the Hollywood backlots. There are also inserts on the commentary track by Holm and Havoc - I don't know what year it was recorded, but all three lived until at least 2010, so it could have been fairly recent. Also, I believe John Garfield's daughter provides some commentary about his participation.

Gentleman's Agreement (1947)

Total movies seen in 2020: 8

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