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14 hours ago, misswonderly3 said:

or he'll go "that's just a painted backdrop",  or, "look at how obvious that rear-view projection is" 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. 

Annoying. I especially agree with that last sentence- I want to be caught up in a film-at least when seeing it the first time.

Except the movie I just watched STAR 80 (1983)

This is the story of model Dorothy Stratton who was murdered by her husband in 1980. I was the same age as Stratton when she died and wanted to know more details of her story since I was too busy at the time to watch the news. 

Mariel Hemingway (also the same age at the time) plays Dorothy. Hemingway absolutely embodied the innocence & charm of Stratton, although some might feel her performance was a bit flat or wooden. With that soft sweet face & voice, I felt the character was underplayed, evoking a shy and unassuming young girl. Talented Eric Roberts plays her "pimp" husband to perfection-boy, is he slimy!

Since Stratton was a model -a Playboy centerfold- there are many beautiful stills and scenes with Hemingway bare breasted and in suggestive poses. I don't think it's any spoiler saying there is also graphic sex & violence in the last 5 minutes that was uncomfortable for me to watch. Just a warning for those who have a tough time with that sort of thing like I do.

The 2 leads are excellent but the standout for me was the direction (Bob Fosse) & editing. Very emotional, artistic and clever all evoking the feeling you're a voyeur watching real life and flashbacks. Sordid real life. Painful. I won't ever watch this again.

Star80poster.jpg

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Hard To Handle (1933)

Zippy little Depression era comedy with James Cagney as a fast talking promoter and his various schemes to try to come up with money. Those schemes range from a fixed dance marathon to a thick cream that won't vanish when rubbed promoted as a weight reducer to an 18 day grapefruit diet.

The film opens impressively with the last two exhausted couples still standing in a dance marathon as crowds watch to see who will fall (two falls and you're out and both couples have fallen once). Mary Brian is one of the two contestants, upon whom marathon promoter Cagney is sweet and for whom he hopes to rig the contest. You'll recognize Sterling Holloway as the male partner of the other couple and, in an engaging performance, Allen Jenkins as the motor mouth marathon commentator with a series of amusing observations.

Cagney is a marvel in this fast moving comedy (he refers to the public as "a big cow waiting to be milked"), constantly angling, in money one day, out the next then back in again. Mary Brian, cute but looking a little tacky with blonde hair, is the girl he pursues (literally, across the country). She doesn't make much of a contribution to the comedy of the film, merely a romantic prop (and inspiration) for Cagney and his schemes. Brian's character is a "nice girl," but hilariously cast as her gold digging mother is Ruth Donnelly, who comes very close to stealing the film. Donnelly is looking for a gold mine for her daughter to marry to put them both in the gravy and her attitude towards Cagney throughout the film turns on a dime depending upon what Jimmy's financial prospects may be.

Cagney cheerfully accepts Donnelly for what she is because, when it comes to hustling, they're two of a kind (though Ruth may be a little more mercenary). At one point Donnelly threatens to put her foot in Cagney's mouth to which Jimmy gleefully responds, "My mouth's not that big!" as he ducks out a window to escape from her. At another point in the film Cagney and Brian are having a private conversation in a room. Cagney opens the door and Donnelly falls into the room flat on her face. It's that kind of comedy and, if you're in the right mood for it, can be a lot of unpretentious fun.

Cagney always looked down upon the series of low budget comedies in which Warners cast him during the pre Code period but, in many respects, he was at his whirling dervish peak as a performer then and gave some of his funniest performances. The films may lack substance but the best of them do entertain. Hard to Handle is a fine illustration of it. The grapefruit references in the film can be seen as homage to Cagney's Public Enemy association with the fruit.

e586da9eeb3a5dbb81838b1b3a622eef.jpg

2.5 out of 4

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2 hours ago, TikiSoo said:

Annoying. I especially agree with that last sentence- I want to be caught up in a film-at least when seeing it the first time.

Except the movie I just watched STAR 80 (1983)

This is the story of model Dorothy Stratton who was murdered by her husband in 1980. I was the same age as Stratton when she died and wanted to know more details of her story since I was too busy at the time to watch the news. 

Mariel Hemingway (also the same age at the time) plays Dorothy. Hemingway absolutely embodied the innocence & charm of Stratton, although some might feel her performance was a bit flat or wooden. With that soft sweet face & voice, I felt the character was underplayed, evoking a shy and unassuming young girl. Talented Eric Roberts plays her "pimp" husband to perfection-boy, is he slimy!

Since Stratton was a model -a Playboy centerfold- there are many beautiful stills and scenes with Hemingway bare breasted and in suggestive poses. I don't think it's any spoiler saying there is also graphic sex & violence in the last 5 minutes that was uncomfortable for me to watch. Just a warning for those who have a tough time with that sort of thing like I do.

The 2 leads are excellent but the standout for me was the direction (Bob Fosse) & editing. Very emotional, artistic and clever all evoking the feeling you're a voyeur watching real life and flashbacks. Sordid real life. Painful. I won't ever watch this again.

I watched this last year (?) I think when TCM honored Carroll Baker with a SUTS day.  I'd heard about this movie, and loving true crime, and being familiar with the sad demise of Miss Stratten, I wanted to see this film. I agree with everything that you've written above.  Eric Roberts as Dorothy's husband was so gross and reprehensible. 

Since I knew what happened to Dorothy, I wasn't anticipating a happy ending.  I agree with the voyeurism aspect.  The film had somewhat of a dreamlike quality--which juxtaposed with the action of  the film made it very uncomfortable. 

Like Looking For Mr. Goodbar, I will never watch this film again.  I don't think there is anything else that I could get out of it.

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22 hours ago, misswonderly3 said:

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.

 

21 hours ago, TomJH said:

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.

I loved the 1931 version of this film with Fredric March and Miriam Hopkins.  I thought it was fantastic.  When I saw the 1941 version, it definitely lacked the grittiness and sleaziness of the precode version.   I was turned off by Spencer Tracy's hammy performance.  Though honestly, Tracy isn't among my favorite actors.  I just don't see what's so special about him. I did agree that Ingrid Bergman was an interesting casting choice for Ivy, the prostitute.  I loved Miriam Hopkins' performance in the precode version.  She brought a certain vulgarity and sleaziness to the role.  Bergman's performance was a more highclass take on the character.

I do agree with Miss Wonderly's assessment of Lana Turner.  I don't dislike her, she's good in some of the films of hers that I've seen like The Postman Always Rings Twice, and Imitation of Life. But she does come across as stiff at times. While Lana is touted as one of the all-time great Hollywood beauties, I find her to have a very generic brand of pretty.  She is beautiful, but there's nothing remarkable about her.  I think someone, like Barbara Stanwyck, who is not usually remembered for being a great beauty, is very pretty because she has a unique look and I like the types of characters she plays.  Even someone like Marilyn Monroe, who has a similar appearance to Lana, I think is pretty pretty because she brings a level of charm about her that I think Lana lacks.  I have this theory (and yes, I know that it's not true) that all the NFL QBs are married to the same average height, thin, buxom, blonde woman.  Lana reminds me of that woman.

Maybe I need to give the 1941 version another chance?

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18 hours ago, misswonderly3 said:

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". 

Ugh. I also notice these things too, but I want to get lost in the film.  Sometimes the rear projection is really obvious, like in All About Eve when Addison and Eve are walking down the street..  I swear that the background repeats and it makes you wonder if they're just walking in circles around the same block.  The rear projection in driving scenes are also obvious when the driver can have full conversations with his passenger, not even looking at the road--or when they're turning the wheel so much that in real life, the car would be all over the place.  Or there are scenes like On the Town where you can see the driver's entire legs while driving, making it obvious that the car doesn't have a dashboard. There are other films where it's supposedly a city scene, but its obvious that it is a set in a soundstage--only because the sidewalk and everything just looks too clean to be a real city.

But none of that ruins my enjoyment of the film--I just roll with it and I wouldn't sit and point it out to someone with whom I was watching the movie. 

I think the rear projection, the painted backdrops and such are all part of what gives old movies their own aesthetic and makes them enjoyable to watch.

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3 hours ago, TikiSoo said:

Annoying. I especially agree with that last sentence- I want to be caught up in a film-at least when seeing it the first time.

Except the movie I just watched STAR 80 (1983)

This is the story of model Dorothy Stratton who was murdered by her husband in 1980. I was the same age as Stratton when she died and wanted to know more details of her story since I was too busy at the time to watch the news. 

Mariel Hemingway (also the same age at the time) plays Dorothy. Hemingway absolutely embodied the innocence & charm of Stratton, although some might feel her performance was a bit flat or wooden. With that soft sweet face & voice, I felt the character was underplayed, evoking a shy and unassuming young girl. Talented Eric Roberts plays her "pimp" husband to perfection-boy, is he slimy!

Since Stratton was a model -a Playboy centerfold- there are many beautiful stills and scenes with Hemingway bare breasted and in suggestive poses. I don't think it's any spoiler saying there is also graphic sex & violence in the last 5 minutes that was uncomfortable for me to watch. Just a warning for those who have a tough time with that sort of thing like I do.

The 2 leads are excellent but the standout for me was the direction (Bob Fosse) & editing. Very emotional, artistic and clever all evoking the feeling you're a voyeur watching real life and flashbacks. Sordid real life. Painful. I won't ever watch this again.

Star80poster.jpg

I haven't seen the film.... but I was just looking at a bio about Bob Fosse within the last few weeks and the section about the making of Star 80 was fascinating, if also disturbing. It was pretty clear that everyone involved was more than a bit uncomfortable with it all. Fosse was really in a dark place moodwise at the time and was really afraid of hurting the actors, who he truly liked while filming such sordid scenes. Eric Roberts hated playing his role (he got it though over the original pick, Richard Gere). The whole crew were dreading the filming of the ending, since the film was shot in sequence. It also remarked how unlike most crime films, almost every single moment of the film was meticulously planned, almost choreographed before filming.

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Pandora’s Box (1929) with Louise Brooks

I think I’m finally beginning to appreciate silent films as a whole now, instead of just comedies, because there is no way I would have been able to sit through over two hours of this kind of film before. I’m still relatively new to silents, so I did lose the plot a few times, but it was an enjoyable film to watch. I didn’t know a lot about Louise Brooks’ acting before I watched, but I was surprised by her subtlety. Her simple smirks and looks really completed the film. 

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9 hours ago, YourManGodfrey said:

Pandora’s Box (1929) with Louise Brooks

I think I’m finally beginning to appreciate silent films as a whole now, instead of just comedies, because there is no way I would have been able to sit through over two hours of this kind of film before. I’m still relatively new to silents, so I did lose the plot a few times, but it was an enjoyable film to watch. I didn’t know a lot about Louise Brooks’ acting before I watched, but I was surprised by her subtlety. Her simple smirks and looks really completed the film. 

I am kind of the same way. I recently got into silents as well. I would recommend The Kid (1921) and Safety Last (1923). Those are both quite short and entertaining, in my opinion. 

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Some Like it Hot (1959)

This never gets old. At least my third rewatch of it and it's still one of my favorite comedies with one of my favorite final scenes in any flick. It's a lengthy one at over two hours but it has plenty of comedy; wordplay, back-and-forth dialogue, punchlines, visual gags, reaction shots and quips from something that happened off-screen and running gags. And what really sells it is that Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon make pretty convincing ladies. They play off each other well, with Marilyn and the other cast. If I had to pick a Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis duo movie, it would be this one, even over The Great Race, which I also love. And which is up next on 31 Days of Oscars.

9.5/10,

Sort of related, but Jack Lemmon should have gotten at least a nom for The Great Race. Professor Fate is pure hilarity.

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FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF (1986) *Score: 3.5/5

Starring: Matthew Broderick, Alan Ruck, Mia Sara, Jennifer Grey, Jeffrey Jones, Charlie Sheen.

I just watched this yesterday for the first time. I'm glad I finally sat down and watched it, because it was quite entertaining. I understand why so many people my age and older like this. 

LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA (1962) *Score: 2.5/5 

Starring: Olivia de Havilland, Yvette Mimieux, George Hamilton, Rossano Brazzi. 

This one was okay. I didn't really enjoy it, although I do like Olivia de Havilland. 

THE FIGHTER (2010) *Score: 3.5/5

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Melissa Leo. 

Real powerhouse cast here. Everyone turned in solid performances. I don't consider myself a fan of boxing in any way, shape, or form, but I was able to stay invested in the film through the performances, despite the subject matter. 

THE FUGITIVE (1993) *Score: 3.5/5

Starring: Harrison Ford, Tommy Lee Jones, Jane Lynch, Julianne Moore.

I was thoroughly entertained by this one, holy cow. I've started getting into Ford's action movies from the 90s, and I'm glad to say this one didn't disappoint. 

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39 minutes ago, NickAndNora34 said:

I am kind of the same way. I recently got into silents as well. I would recommend The Kid (1921) and Safety Last (1923). Those are both quite short and entertaining, in my opinion. 

Those are two that I need to see. I’m a big fan of Keaton and I’ve seen a good chunk of his shorts and a few of his features. I just started to get into Lloyd’s shorts recently and I like them a lot, too.

I recommend Max Linder’s films if you haven’t seen them. He was a huge influence on Chaplin. 

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41 minutes ago, YourManGodfrey said:

Those are two that I need to see. I’m a big fan of Keaton and I’ve seen a good chunk of his shorts and a few of his features. I just started to get into Lloyd’s shorts recently and I like them a lot, too.

I recommend Max Linder’s films if you haven’t seen them. He was a huge influence on Chaplin. 

Max Linder also came up with the famous mirror gag used in Duck Soup.

 

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I guess I like Greta in Grand Hotel better than most. It was all so intentionally overdone, almost a parody of itself, but that worked for me. You have to take it with a grain of salt. They wanted (and presumably she) this exotic type with grand theatrical gestures and world-weary lassitude. Too bad they couldn't get her enough energy to do a couple of pirouettes. She probably would have broke a shoulder. I think she was very clumsy (as I read). As it is, agreed. she doesn't seem a dancer at all, it's hard to believe that she could even walk across the room with any sense of purpose. I am a big fan of her silents, but of her talkies, hardly at all.  

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I just watched another TCM recording-a very old one-featuring Robert Osborne in the intro/outro. He was obviously very ill and could barely breathe. What a trouper though, he gave it his all.

The movie was SMILE 1975, a satirical comedy of teen beauty pageants- this competition choosing who will represent California from each county winner. Barbary Feldon plays the driven coordinator who fills her life with running the pagent and Bruce Dern plays the main Judge who lives. Both are very strong in their roles, with enough over the top antics for parody & laughs.

This movie is full of subplots including the Judge's son taking stealth Polaroids of the contestants undressing, the husbands in town participation in a secret society, the contestants sabotaging the girl they dislike's talent act and frustrations of a "Hollywood" choreographer hired to teach the gals a stage routine. May not be always be laugh out loud funny, but pretty entertaining nonetheless. I especially liked the janitor's numerous hiding places for pint bottles of booze all over the school. The clothing and home interior styles are so incredibly dated 1975, it becomes part of the fun.

Shot in documentary style, this idea  has been completely reworked & updated by Chris Guest in his movies like BEST IN SHOW and WAITING FOR GUFFMAN. If you liked those, you'll probably enjoy this. I'm going to file this movie next to 1971's COLD TURKEY, a similarly silly, yet well acted & crafted 70's satire.

Smile_(1975_film).jpg

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I agree about SMILE.  It's funny and witty and sharp.   Like the contestant whose talent was "how to pack a suitcase."

A good role for Barbara Feldon and small appearances by Melanie Griffith, Denise Nickerson and Annette O'Toole was particularly good.

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5 hours ago, laffite said:

I guess I like Greta in Grand Hotel better than most. It was all so intentionally overdone, almost a parody of itself, but that worked for me. You have to take it with a grain of salt. They wanted (and presumably she) this exotic type with grand theatrical gestures and world-weary lassitude. Too bad they couldn't get her enough energy to do a couple of pirouettes. She probably would have broke a shoulder. I think she was very clumsy (as I read). As it is, agreed. she doesn't seem a dancer at all, it's hard to believe that she could even walk across the room with any sense of purpose. I am a big fan of her silents, but of her talkies, hardly at all.  

“IT WILL BE SUNNY IN TREMEZZO!”

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On 2/2/2020 at 2:26 PM, misswonderly3 said:

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.

There's always something about MGM's horror films that are just too grand in atmosphere and I don't mean this in a good way.  Everything is just too perfect and polished.  Just not a fan of MGM. 

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I just watched "Mystery Road", a 2013 film from Australia.  It's a movie about a detective from the Outback who's investigating the murder of a local girl along a highway outside of the small town where she lived.   The town, despite its size, has a disproportionate share of illegal drugs and residents with drinking problems.  Most of the local law enforcement officials sport cowboy hats that would make you think it were taking place in Wyoming or Texas, but that's how many cops dress in the Outback, so I thought that was a nice touch.  The film got a lot of praise for its "Australia-ness", and I agree.  Aside from nature films and the Australian Open tennis tournament, I don't know a lot about the country or Australian cinema.  I can rattle off the different states and their capitals, but that's about it.  There were many parts of the movie that would make a viewer think it took place in the United States or Mexico, that is, if you had the sound on 'mute' since the accents would give it away.

Anyway, the principle character is the lead detective, Jay Swan, who is played by Aaron Pedersen.  He runs into snags during his investigation, because none of the people he questions about the girl's murder either know much or want to offer too much information.  Are they clamming up out of fear?  Or are they not co-operating with Swan because he happens to be an indigenous Australian, ie. less white than the upper classes or people in authority positions?  Swan isn't a pure Aborigine, but he's just too dusky for the howlies to give up their secrets so easily.  This kind of ethnic tension extends to the police force where he works, from his sergeant to the plain-clothes guys.   Throw in the part, which I thought was a bit cliche, where Swan is also an absentee father, and his daughter and his ex-wife happen to live in the same small town as he does!  The girl is 14, and he hasn't been involved with her for the past 10 years when he and her mother split up.  However, since she was friends with the deceased girl, Dad finally takes an interest in her, because he doesn't want to see her get involved with the drugs and prostitution as her dead friend.  The detective is finally able to get a break in the case, with no thanks to most of the people he's interrogated, and that sets up the climactic scene, which takes place on the outskirts of town just off Mystery Road.  There is an hellacious gun battle between him and the local drug runners, and with a little help from an unexpected source, he's able to overcome their fire power and kill them all (5 altogether, I think).  Overall, I'd give this picture a 6.5 out of 10.  Had the final gun scene not been so contrived and over-the-top and the cop had a more believable relationship with his estranged daughter and  ex-wife, it would have scored a 7.5 or an 8 with me.

I still liked it though.  The way Pedersen looked and played the part of Detective Swan was very reminiscent of watching the late Tom Laughlin play Billy Jack.  Only difference was, Swan used a semi-automatic pistol and high-powered rifle to do his talking, instead of his feet or fists!

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5 hours ago, Janet0312 said:

There's always something about MGM's horror films that are just too grand in atmosphere and I don't mean this in a good way.  Everything is just too perfect and polished.  Just not a fan of MGM. 

I think I am different from just about everyone else on these boards in that I don't pay much attention to which studio produced a film I watch.  Well, that's not entirely true...I do tend to notice when it's a Warner Brothers film, probably because that studio produced many of the classic movies I like a lot.

But then, when I start to think about it, and look up some of my favourite films and actors from the "classic" era, there are movies from all of the major studios of that time that I like.  And some of the minor ones too.

It's a bit like recorded music for me:  not now, of course, but until the turn of this century, musicians and singers tended to be associated with particular record labels. But it's not like I'd go,  "Oh, that band is on Decca, I don't like that label so guess I don't  like that band",  or "That group is signed with Atlantic, therefore I must like them"  (This is arbitrary, I like music that's on both those labels.)

It's also like deciding what you're going to read based on who the publisher is. There are great books put out b y many different publishing houses.

Now, I do get what you're saying, I think:  that every studio back then had a different style, and you don't especially enjoy the style that MGM was known for.  Maybe sometimes MGM was "too polished".  But I would never decide in advance of watching a film whether I liked or not , based on what studio is producing it. But that's probably not what you're saying anyway.  Hope not.

Sometimes I don't even notice what studio has produced a movie I'm about to watch. And I realize this is an egregious flaw on my part, as a self-identified dedicated movie fan.

Anyway, you know what? Next time TCM airs the 1931 version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr.Hyde I'll try and make a point of watching it. Another poster here has said she prefers that version, and I respect her opinion.  Also, I like Fredric March.  And that production of the story is from Paramount, so maybe it'll be not so "perfect".

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Has anyone ever seen True Believer starring James Woods and Robert Downey, Jr.? It's an entertaining movie. It became a little fantastic towards the end, but an exciting watch for an evening.

James Woods plays a rather unusual defense attorney, and Robert Downey, Jr. his assistant, and they are going up against the DA to defend a man who has already been convicted of murder. I've seen quite a few courtroom dramas before and this one isn't much different, with the exception of James Woods. His dynamic performance steals the show and makes the movie really stand out.

Actually, the point I wanted to make was I thought it was so cool that those two actors were in this movie together. Three years later Woods would have a cameo appearance in Chaplin. In a courtroom scene, he plays the attorney prosecuting Charlie Chaplin played by Robert Downey, Jr.

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54 minutes ago, Rudy's Girl said:

Has anyone ever seen True Believer starring James Woods and Robert Downey, Jr.? It's an entertaining movie. It became a little fantastic towards the end, but an exciting watch for an evening.

James Woods plays a rather unusual defense attorney, and Robert Downey, Jr. his assistant, and they are going up against the DA to defend a man who has already been convicted of murder. I've seen quite a few courtroom dramas before and this one isn't much different, with the exception of James Woods. His dynamic performance steals the show and makes the movie really stand out.

It was one of the first mainstream movies where the "good" Woods tried to ditch his oily-creep image for a mass PG-13 audience, but still kept a little of the charm.

And it's hard to think back when late-80's/early-90's Robert Downey Jr. was still a twenty-something Brat-Packer cast for his good looks and offhandedly confused-but-wisecracking demeanor.

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17 hours ago, Hibi said:

What happened to JOAN????

sorry, sorry. I meant to answer you the first time you asked. i changed YE OLDE AVATAR back in OCTOBER to coincide with what I thought would be my wrapping up a project i have been working on in my spare time. (THE AVATAR is related to that.)

I'm still poking away at 212 pages of mess, but the AVATAR and the quote is there to TRY and INDUCE me to finish it up.

I'm sure i'll switch it back to JOAN some day.

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Duel in the Sun (1946)

David O. Selznick's big budget sexy western (nicknamed "Lust in the Dust" by some) was the producer's attempt to top Gone With The Wind, as well as promote the career of actress Jennifer Jones, his future wife. While the film fails to supplant GWTW on Selznick's film resume it remains a big, at times silly, but still hugely entertaining affair, boasting a superior cast giving generally fine performances, particularly among the supporting players, impressive art direction, a booming, at times, passionate, musical score and some of the most stunning Technicolor photography seen in any Hollywood studio film during the 1940s.

It's the tale of Pearl Chavez, as played by Jones, a half breed Indian who, following the deaths of her parents, is taken in by her father's cousin on a sprawling Texas ranch where she will meet two brothers. One will be "good" while the other one will help to lead her down the path of temptation and sin. Pearl struggles with the desire to be "a good girl," unlike her Apache mother when it comes to promiscuity but it's a struggle she will lose, thanks to Lewt McCanles, the ranch owner's younger son, your classic "bad boy," as played by Gregory Peck.

There is an inherent racism in the film's screenplay with its implication that Pearl's succumbing to the temptations of the flesh are due to her Indian heritage. With the usual double standard, of course, Peck's young white character is merely sowing his wild oats while Pearl, on the other hand, will be deemed "bad" for being his girl.

Peck seems strange casting as the bad son, who just gets worse as the film proceeds, while Joseph Cotten, as the "good" son has relatively little to do to make any real impression (this would be one of four films in which Cotten and Jones were co-starred). Jennifer Jones would receive an Oscar nomination for her work as Pearl in the performance of her career for which I remember her the most. Overplayed as some of the sexy scenes may be (pretty well cartoonish is one scene, in particular, in which Jones lies in bed wrestling with her sexual desires as Lewt plays a serenading guitar outside only to finally succumb to the inevitable and pose like a hooker for him in the window) the actress is generally persuasive in her role and fun to watch.

The film's supporting cast is truly exceptional. Lionel Barrymore is loud and stubborn as the patriarch of the family, while Lillian Gish (in an Oscar nominated performance) is charming and sensitive as his wife in a difficult marriage. Herbert Marshall is outstanding in his few scenes at the film's beginning as Pearl's father, a Southerner of artistocratic refinement who "surrendered" his  honour and dignity years before by marrying a promiscuous Indian (again, that racism in the film's screenplay), thus degrading him. There is also a really fun colourful turn by Walter Huston as the "Sin Killer," a gun wielding "minister" who roams the countryside and preaches against the evils of sin and, in particular, lust.

"Pearl," he proclaims upon first meeting her, "you're curved in the flesh of temptation. Resisting's going to be a darned sight harder for you than for females protected by the shape of sows."

"Part Injun, ain't you," he says, cuddling her hand as he leans in towards her. There are flashbacks here to Huston's portrayal of Reverend Davidson in Rain.

Unfortunately Butterfly McQueen is also along, in a repeat performance of her portrayal of a dim wit servant in GWTW. Once was quite enough, thank you.

King Vidor directs the film to a great lavish start with its introduction of Pearl dancing outside a palatial saloon and gambling house where her Apache mother (Tilly Losch) seductively dances on a huge stage inside to the whoops and hollers of hundreds of male customers. Her husband (Marshall) who wears a Confederate uniform, plays cards nearby while watching her being grabbed and kissed by one of the customers, with whom she will soon disappear. Chavez is being scoffed at by the other card players because of his wife but he is about to assert his vengeance. This opening sequence is one of the true colourful highlights of the film.

There is, unfortunately, little in the way of real action in Duel in the Sun for western fans, though there is a big expansive scene in which hundreds of stunt men ride horses across the country, as lead by Barrymore, who is strapped to a horse, to confront the construction workers of a railroad about to invade Barrymore's land.

The film ends memorably with a confrontation in rock strewn country under a blazing sun (filmed in Arizona). During this sequence, beautifully photographed, the big, impassioned musical score of Dimitri Tiomkin plays an immeasurable role. With her crawling over rocks and falling off boulders I have to wonder how physically taxing this sequence must have been on Miss Jones and any stunt doubles she had.

As over the top (amusingly so) as Duel in the Sun may be, at times, there is too much expert studio craftsmanship involved in a production like this to dismiss it. It may be a good film, rather than the great one that Selznick had ambitiously envisioned, but it still commands your attention.

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3 out of 4

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