What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Open, general discussion of classic sound-era films, personalities and history.
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Dean Thompson
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by Dean Thompson » Sun Sep 09, 2018 8:00 pm

boblipton wrote:
Sun Sep 09, 2018 7:40 pm
I know my reviews here are.... well, let's put it kindly, shall we, idiosyncratic.
No, Bob, no: they're erudite, wonderfully opinionated, and always enlightening. Thanks for the energy you've put into your 5000, and please don't let up!

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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by s.w.a.c. » Mon Sep 10, 2018 6:31 am

One of four theatrical features directed by William Conrad - better known as the voice of Marshall Matt Dillon on the radio version of Gunsmoke, the narrator of The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle and the star of Cannon in the '70s - Brainstorm (1965) is a fun assortment of elements that mixes film noir, psychodrama and the early computer age into a story of love, betrayal and madness. Jeffrey Hunter (who started in Conrad's first feature, The Man From Galveston) is a gifted computer engineer for an aerospace firm who rescues an unconscious woman (Anne Francis) who parks her car on the train tracks one night. She turns out to be the wife of his company's founder (Dana Andrews), and although Hunter's proto-computer nerd does his best to resist her charms, a forbidden romance quickly develops.

Naturally, this leads fairly quickly to planning her husband's murder, and being a real thinking man, Hunter decides to lay the groundwork for an insanity plea, groundwork which ironically had already begun thanks to Andrews' discovery of the affair and an effort to discredit Hunter with false accusations and paranoia. But what if Hunter takes this insanity business a little too far? It's Double Indemnity meets One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest with a fun bit part for Strother Martin as one of Hunter's fellow asylum inmates. Aside from the assorted leaps in logic required to get us from affair to murder plot to insanity, entertaining solid thriller, and one of Hunter's last hurrahs as a leading man in Hollywood, before he famously turned down the starring role on Star Trek (after filming the pilot episode) and making a few westerns and thrillers overseas until dying from a stroke and its complications in 1969 at the age of 42.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by TheRedLadder » Mon Sep 10, 2018 11:54 am

Dorothy Arzner's Merrily We Go to Hell (1932), my second viewing having become something of a pre-code favourite. Despite the sensationalistic title, it's an ably-performed picture, ahead of its time in addressing alcoholism and even open relationships with a steady, matter-of-fact approach largely free of melodrama.

Fredric March plays Jerry, a boozing newspaper man and later playwright, caught between his sweet society bride Joan (Sylvia Sydney), and lost love and star of his play, Claire (Adrianne Allen), a fabulous theatre darling. Cary Grant has a bit part in a very early role. It's interesting to note director Arzner's life and career, as part of Hollywood's lesbian set and the only female director in the USA during the 1930s.

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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Mon Sep 10, 2018 1:09 pm

TheRedLadder wrote:
Mon Sep 10, 2018 11:54 am
Dorothy Arzner's Merrily We Go to Hell (1932), my second viewing having become something of a pre-code favourite. Despite the sensationalistic title, it's an ably-performed picture, ahead of its time in addressing alcoholism and even open relationships with a steady, matter-of-fact approach largely free of melodrama.

Fredric March plays Jerry, a boozing newspaper man and later playwright, caught between his sweet society bride Joan (Sylvia Sydney), and lost love and star of his play, Claire (Adrianne Allen), a fabulous theatre darling. Cary Grant has a bit part in a very early role. It's interesting to note director Arzner's life and career, as part of Hollywood's lesbian set and the only female director in the USA during the 1930s.
...and much better than folk such as Leonard Maltin give the film credit for...

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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Mon Sep 10, 2018 1:23 pm

I recall being intrigued by Samuel Fuller's VERBOTEN! (1959) when I watched an extract from the film at a course at my local polytechnic. A bit hard to follow in spots, and taking several minutes to get under way, VERBOTEN!, if one can get past the horrible 'theme song' (sung by Paul Anka) comes over as a bit of a dog's breakfast.

James Best plays a wounded G.I. nursed back to health by blonde German Susan Cummings, who then tricks him into marriage after the War. The rest of the film follows Best's work for the occupying forces, pitted against unrepentant Nazis led by one of Cummings's friends, who are up to no good. For a change, some of the actuality footage is skilfully blended into the rest of the film, although some of the use of concentration camp footage might seem rather questionable, - it is effective, however.

Less convincing is Cummings's trip to the Nuremberg Trials, where they watch atrocity film, but in a ludicrously small room, with perhaps a couple of dozen others. Please correct me if I am wrong here. This one, it has to be said, is more for Fuller completists than anyone else....

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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by Dean Thompson » Mon Sep 10, 2018 4:20 pm

boblipton wrote:
Sun Sep 09, 2018 7:40 pm

So, what's your favorite Kurosawa?

Bob

Ikiru, which I saw as a sophomore in college. The print was scratchy and the subtitles often impossible to read, but the film still hit with gale force: I had never seen anything else on screen that stark and yet that tender. Some members of the class dozed early on, but no one fell asleep during Watanabe’s haunting "Gondola no Uta,” sung during the beautiful snowfall at the playground. The only problem: there were no subtitles for the lyrics of the song.

After the lights went up, we asked the professor what the song was about. She had seen the film in an art house but couldn’t remember much about the lyrics; still, she said, she’d find a way to get the essence of the song across during our next class meeting.

When we next met, she brought in a record player and several albums. “I’m going to play three songs,” she said. “Take them in aggregate, and you’ll have an idea.” She then played Walter Huston’s “September Song,” Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now,” and Mabel Mercer’s “While We’re Young.” We got it.

I’ll always be grateful to that professor: she introduced me to Kurosawa and made me a Mabel Mercer fan for life. Not a bad day’s work at all.

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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by boblipton » Mon Sep 10, 2018 7:46 pm

Pane, Amore e .... aka Scandal in Sorrento (1955): Vittorio de Sica is retiring from the Caribinieri, returning to Sorrento to become head of the Police Department. He comes equipped with an elderly governess, a brother who is a priest, and a great variety of uniforms, all with white gloves. What he lacks is a place to live. His family apartment has been occupied since the War by Sophia Loren, a widowed fishwife. She has a boyfriend with whom she fights a lot. This does not, of course, prevent her from coming on to de Sica, who easily loses his head over women -- it's Loren, who wouldn't? -- to keep the apartment and get her boyfriend a job with the police. The boyfriend objects to her methods. Meanwhile, de Sica is staying at the home of Lea Padovani, a highly religious and insanely repressed woman, as a favor to the priest.

I have the feeling that the movie's length of 110 minutes, although long for a comedy, is trimmed. Miss Padovani's sequences seem rather abrupt and Miss Loren, while startlingly beautiful, gives a performance that is rather harsh and monotonous; it's true she was only 20 when she made this, but she soon showed herself a capable farceur and actress of considerably greater range. Perhaps the producer and director simply lacked confidence in her abilities.

Despite these misgivings, this is a good comedy, mostly because of de Sica, who plays his well-written role of a mature and intelligent man who becomes a gibbering poet at the sight of a beautiful woman, with the beautiful freedom of a true clown.

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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by TheRedLadder » Tue Sep 11, 2018 10:07 am

Darren Aronofsky's Mother! (2017), one part Rosemary's Baby, one part home invasion movie and two parts religious allegory. A metaphor for humanity's destructiveness and a headf*ck of a film. Props to apple pie wholesome Jennifer Lawrence for straying from conventions. Certainly not one for the the faint of heart, it's a compelling film experience that's divided audiences and has all the makings of a future cult classic.

Jack Clayton's The Innocents (1961), a masterful exercise in psychological horror and quintessential Victorian ghost story. Deborah Kerr plays a governess caring for two orphaned children in a remote English estate, increasingly haunted by the recent death of her predecessor and her lover. An ambiguous take touching on some uncomfortable themes.

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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by TerryC » Tue Sep 11, 2018 11:48 am

My mother was watching this last movie by herself in the living room when I was about 20 (47 years ago!). I was up on my room. When I came downstairs I found her frozen to her chair unable to move! This is the best version of “The Turn of The Screw”!

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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Tue Sep 11, 2018 12:28 pm

I caught up with the sound version of HELL'S HEROES (1930) a few years ago, but it was a rather poor copy, so was grateful for the chance to watch a better upload yesterday evening.

One of William Wyler's first talkies, this adaptation of 'Three Godfathers' is very different in tone from Ford's version of 1948, although there is still the religious symbolism (the cross-shaped cactus, the three men silhouetted against the sky), and the sentiment is more effective here.

Four men hold up a bank in the town of Jerusalem, killing the cashier. Three manage to flee, although one (Raymond Hatton) is wounded, the fourth bring killed by the parson. Their troubles continue when they find the nearest well has been poisoned: they then come across a woman alone, and about to give birth. Before she dies, she names them as the baby's godfathers, not knowing that it is her husband who has been killed in the raid. The responsibility brings out the sense of duty in the three men, which is further affected by the fact that the next well is dry, due to some fool using dynamite.

Harsh and powerful, with effective work from Charles Bickford as the leader, Bob, as well as Fred Kohler as his pal, Bill, who both end up redeeming themselves for the child's sake. Bickford's struggle to bring the baby back (drinking the poisoned water), the climax occurring in the town church on Christmas morning us very moving, although there is perhaps a jarring note when (SPOILER) he dies as the organ still plays despite everyone realising what is happening.

The early scenes in the saloon have a nice, salty feel to them, Bickford being well at home in the pre-Code atmosphere, but HELL'S HEROES is far more than a curiosity on historical or technical grounds, standing up well as a fluid, emotional piece of work.

NOTE: Jan Herman's 1996 book on Wyler, 'A Talent for Trouble', stated that the film was lost. Was this ever the case? I do recall that it was missing from the films shown in the NFT retrospective back in the late 1970s / early 1980s...
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2017)

Unread post by drednm » Tue Sep 11, 2018 8:13 pm

Girl of the Port (1930) has already been discussed. The print I saw had an AMC logo and bad sound. Odd to say the least. The "white supremacy" bar toasts were something. The caste system was interesting in that it's perceived from a white perspective: white, mixed, black in descending order. When I was working with the schools in Papua New Guinea, the "mixed" was the lowest since they were outcasts from both 'pure" groups. It's enough to make your head spin. Anyway, I thought Sally O'Neil brought a lot of energy and, accent aside, not bad at all. Can't remember Reginald Sharland in anything else. And Renee Macready totally wasted in a small part in the firewalker ending.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Wed Sep 12, 2018 1:34 pm

A hash-up with the film I intended watching the other evening led to a mini-programme of shorts:

THE CHRISTMAS PARTY (1931) has Jackie Cooper inviting some pals round for a party, but when things get a bit out of hand, he asks Norma Shearer to put a word in for him with Mr Mayer, so that they can have the party on a sound stage. Serving the grub are Clark Gable, Lionel Barrymore, Wallace Beery, Marie Dressler, Polly Moran, Bette Davis, amongst others, before Young Master Cooper wishes us all a Merry Christmas - for 1931, that is.

HELP WANTED - FEMALE (1931) gives us Daphne Pollard and her greedy pig of a son turning up as cook to a doctor, who is in the process of being burgled by Edgar Kennedy and Arthur Housman, with occasionally amusing results.

Humphrey Jennings started off his directing career with POST-HASTE (1934), telling, mainly through old illustrations, the story of the Mail Service in Britain. Despite the odd interesting nugget of information, this one is incredibly boring and reminiscent of the sort of thing put out on television years later, or even the 'educational' films shovelled out to schools*. As we know, Jennings progressed to better things, such as...

FAREWELL TOPSAILS (1937), an interesting, lyrical look at transport (of clay) by sail, which was dying at the time, some of the practicioners working at a loss for the sheer love of it. Shot in faded Dufaycolour, with an accompaniment of traditional music, this is a likeable, rather sad documentary in that the way of life shown was on its way out. More than a little Fordian...

* Although at the time, any film was usually preferable to lessons!

DON'T KNOW HOW THIS GOT ON THE 2017 THREAD. WOULD APPRECIATE IF SOMEBODY OUT THERE COULD TRANSFER THIS TO THE RIGHT ONE! (have been advised how to do this, but will attempt next time I'm online as time to watch another movie)

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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Wed Sep 12, 2018 2:39 pm

One I watched a short while ago, Willy Forst's MAZURKA (1935) is impossible to describe fully without dropping a load of spoilers.

Suffice to say it starts off with a young girl's mother leaving her for a couple of days and the girl getting picked up by a concert pianist (Albrecht Schoenhals) old enough to be her father - older, actually. The horrid old goat starts romancing her, but at a nightclub, panics when he recognises the singer, played by Pola Negri. He attempts to leave, but she picks up a handy loaded pistol and lets the beastly fellow have it!

On trial for murder, she refuses to speak, until...

With a title like MAZURKA, one might expect a gay Viennese trifle, filled with music and romance. As with the splendid WAIT 'TIL THE SUN SHINES, NELLIE, titles can be deceptive, and this film, a bit disorientating to start with, turns into a decently watchable melodrama with a touch of Douglas Sirk and and a few spoonfuls of MADAME X added for good measure. Negri also shows here that she wasn't always a wash-out in talkies, being quite effective here. And suffice it to say the musician (a conductor in the flashbacks) is the sort of thoroughgoing bounder and cad who deserves to be horsewhipped and boiled in oil, as you will find out...

Remade in America two years later as CONFESSION, with Kay Francis.

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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by oldposterho » Wed Sep 12, 2018 7:00 pm

Director Rudiger Suchsland takes on Kracauer's theories in Von Caligari zu Hitler: Das deutsche Kino im Zeitalter der Massen (aka From Caligari to Hitler: German Cinema in the Age of the Masses) and provides an insightful look at Weimar era German film and the milieu they arose from. Unfortunately, for me, it remains as unconvincing as I remember Kracauer himself to be in that it never really makes the case that the films were prescient to the rise of the Third Reich as much as they mirrored the times that caused it to erupt. What it does do admirably is add yet more films to my list of must sees as it highlighted a few I was completely unaware of that seem right up my alley. For that and the general history of the times, the film is well worth tracking down.

I definitely need to re-read Kracauer's book since it's been over 30 years since I did. Maybe I'm just remembering it wrong...

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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Fri Sep 14, 2018 12:50 pm

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:
Wed Sep 12, 2018 1:34 pm
A hash-up with the film I intended watching the other evening led to a mini-programme of shorts:

THE CHRISTMAS PARTY (1931) has Jackie Cooper inviting some pals round for a party, but when things get a bit out of hand, he asks Norma Shearer to put a word in for him with Mr Mayer, so that they can have the party on a sound stage. Serving the grub are Clark Gable, Lionel Barrymore, Wallace Beery, Marie Dressler, Polly Moran, Bette Davis, amongst others, before Young Master Cooper wishes us all a Merry Christmas - for 1931, that is.

HELP WANTED - FEMALE (1931) gives us Daphne Pollard and her greedy pig of a son turning up as cook to a doctor, who is in the process of being burgled by Edgar Kennedy and Arthur Housman, with occasionally amusing results.

Humphrey Jennings started off his directing career with POST-HASTE (1934), telling, mainly through old illustrations, the story of the Mail Service in Britain. Despite the odd interesting nugget of information, this one is incredibly boring and reminiscent of the sort of thing put out on television years later, or even the 'educational' films shovelled out to schools*. As we know, Jennings progressed to better things, such as...

FAREWELL TOPSAILS (1937), an interesting, lyrical look at transport (of clay) by sail, which was dying at the time, some of the practicioners working at a loss for the sheer love of it. Shot in faded Dufaycolour, with an accompaniment of traditional music, this is a likeable, rather sad documentary in that the way of life shown was on its way out. More than a little Fordian...

* Although at the time, any film was usually preferable to lessons!
Thank you to whoever moved this to the correct thread for me!

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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Fri Sep 14, 2018 1:38 pm

A kind gift from a friend, King Vidor's THE STRANGER'S RETURN (1933) had been on my wish list for a very long time, but I must confess to finding it slightly disappointing. It tells of a woman's (Miriam Hopkins) return to the family farm after she has separated from her husband. Her presence causes ructions amongst grandfather Lionel Barrymore's relatives, (Grant Mitchell, Beulah Boni, Stuart Erwin) whom the old boy regards as a pack of workshy parasites. Miss Hopkins also disrupts affairs at neighbouring farmer Franchot Tone's place!

Some nice details, and an agreeably cantankerous performance from Barrymore (his disgust and actions when he finds a bowl of cereal placed in front of him for breakfast are most amusing) make the film enjoyable enough, but I got the feeling that another studio, such as Warner's, might have given the film an edge which seems to be lacking, as it cam across as perhaps too folksy (the harvest meal, etc) for its own good. It also seems odd that Tone is seen as being at a loose end on Sundays, when a farm would usually give little opportunity for mooning about like a lost sheep. Perhaps it was that I had been keen on watching it for so long that gave me the mild sense of letdown.

The last section, however, does compensate, as (SPOILER) Barrymore starts beginning to talk nonsense, imagining he is back in the 1860s and preparing to do battle. We suddenly realise he is spoofing, in order that his pesky relatives can show their true colours by sending him packing to the funny farm. This, and the meeting with the doctors are very amusing. Would make useful comparison with OUR DAILY BREAD made the following year.

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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Fri Sep 14, 2018 1:59 pm

Another shortie from the prolific Phil Rosen, SECOND HONEYMOON (1930) has fed-up Josephine Dunn deciding to leave husband Edward Earle when he continues to drivel on about his rare books, forgetting it is their anniversary.

Rather than mending his ways and becoming less of a boring old fart and stuffed shirt, they hatch a wheeze whereby his pal, the Major (Ernest Hillard) 'elopes' with her in order to give the girl a thoroughly miserable time. Much of this is a little repetitive, with the Major behaving so abominably that any self-respecting girl would walk out on him within minutes. This situation has been done in other films since then. The plan goes wrong when (SPOILER) the two idiots hire a couple of would-be waiters to impersonate Red Indians, but are interrupted by the real thing.

Although rather thin, SECOND HONEYMOON is moderately diverting, and worth seeing for those interested in the smaller studios (Trem Carr in this case) who would have supplied the less wealthy theaters with cheaper, simpler fare.

n.b. IMDb lists the running time at 76m, whereas the upload I watched ran just under an hour.

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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by MaryGH » Fri Sep 14, 2018 6:27 pm

Summer of Fear (1978)

This gem directed by Wes Craven stars Lee Purcell, Linda Blair, and Fran Drescher in one of her early roles. The most amazing part being, "Summer of Fear" is an attention holder that combines as many elements possible into a tightly woven script based on the Lois Duncan novel of the same title. Reminds me of the saying, "Not all movies about witchcraft are made equal" holds true here.

Those Halloween contact lenses Lee wears does wonders for her.

Perfect to watch at Halloween or any other time of the year, for that matter.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by drednm » Fri Sep 14, 2018 8:34 pm

Having lived in New Mexico for 25 years, I found Roswell (1994) pretty lame. Love the story about aliens in the desert and all, but the entire thing was filmed in Arizona and it always bugs me when the cars are all spotlessly clean, an impossibility in that climate and even moreso in the 1940s.

Much better was a little British gem called Chain of Events (1958) which clocked in at 60 minutes. Story has a mousey bank clerk short of money on a bus so he tries to bluff it with the ticket taker guy and claim he had paid. When they don't believe him, they demand his name and address for fraud. He gives a customer's info. When the customer turns out to be a big cheese and is hauled into court, it sets about a chain of events that snowballs and involves more and more people and it lurches along. Dermot Walsh, Kenneth Griffith, Ballard Berkeley, Susan Shaw, Joan Hickson, Harold Lang and others. The gigantic convertible that Alan Gifford drives is a beaut!
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by boblipton » Sat Sep 15, 2018 6:46 am

I haven't been contributing much to this thread recently. A great variety of silent shorts have come my way, and I’ve focused on the sister thread. My evenings have been spent looking at some of the riches on Filmstruck. Over the last three nights I have revisited three early Kurosawas. While I have some original thoughts, I'm pretty sure that others have had the same thoughts before. So, to consider reviewings of movies which you all should be familiar with -- if only by reputation....

Sanshiro Sugata (1943): Kurosawa's first movie as top dog on the shoot, and it causes me to wonder about the difference between an important director and an influential one. An important director is one that directs important movies.... ones that people talk about, but their techniques and themes may be so idiosyncratic that, like John H. Collins (really looking forward to The Cossack Whip, Ed, and perhaps we can Kickstart a good copy of Blue Jeans one of these days), Bunuel or Herzog, no one else can do anything like what they do. An influential director is one that other directors learn from. It doesn't mean they necessarily invented what they did, but are what I call the bottleneck through which these things pass to others.

Thus D.W. Griffith did not invent most of the techniques he made popular, but he picked through what he admired in earlier works, from cross-cutting (derived from 19th century stagecraft) through George A. Smith's experiments from 1898-1904, regularized them and swamped the competition. Likewise, his student, Mack Sennett, took a lot of what he learned from observing French farce (it's an accepted truth that he and Griffith stole The Curtain Pole from a Gasnier short) and The Master, and soon everyone was doing slapstick (whether you believe the idea was his or Lehrman's).

So was Kurosawa just important or was he also influential? We know that Lucas started with The Hidden Fortress for Star Wars, and you can see Kurosawa's influence all over Sturges in the 1960s: not only in The Magnificent Seven, but the way he composed The Great Escape, with tight shots in the first part and then, after the escape, the broad vistas.... clearly, it seems to me, modeled on Kurosawa's High and Low. Over in Italy, Leone rewrote Yojimbo (which was based on Dashiell Hammett's Red Harvest with a soupcon of The Glass Key).

Returning to Sanshiro Sugata, in the final fight sequence, not only do I spot clouds moving like Steven Spielberg skies, there are three men standing around at the beginning of the fight that reminds me of the three-way duel in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Oh, yes, Leone was influenced by Kurosawa.

The question for me is: is Kurosawa still influential? Or has he passed out of the mainstream of film-making's memory, his influence reduced to an echo of an echo?

Sanshiro Sugata Part 2: (1945) So, Akira, you've done a propaganda movie for the war effort. How about another Judo movie? "But I've already done it." "So? Have him do the same thing, only with more evil karate masters!"

The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail (1945): So, seven outlawed noblemen are.... here we see the roots of The Seven Samurai. Except that in an hour and writing by himself, Kurosawa winds up concentrating solely on one of them, Denjirô Ôkôchi. Kurosawa would note that he preferred to work with other writers, so that other characters could come to the fore... trying to get past a barrier and to safety in a time of war. Sounds a bit like The Hidden Fortress, doesn't it? According to my reading, all of Toho's actresses had been sent out of Tokyo because of bombing. Otherwise he might have made the other movie in 1945. There's surely a hint of it, when the noblemen they are trying to keep safe is said to look like a girl.

Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Sat Sep 15, 2018 9:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by Richard P. May » Sat Sep 15, 2018 9:18 am

RIO BRAVO (1959) Long considered one of Howard Hawks' major westerns, it didn't hold up for me in a current viewing (via TCM). Way too long at 140 minutes, lots of leisurely talk, and anti-climax after the big action shoot out.
Every shot fired by the good guys hits its target, no matter how far away, or if the shooter is even aiming the gun.
The sound on the version used seems to have the gunshots toned down for older TV sets. They go pop instead of BANG!
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by Ray Faiola » Sat Sep 15, 2018 11:01 am

I have to agree with you, Dick. I think the best thing about the picture is Dimitri Tiomkin's score.

And GIRL OF THE PORT had, I believe, a C&C logo (not AMC). I'm sure Dick May can confirm how it's been a slow process restoring the original RKO versions of so much of that beleaguered library. The alterations were made, incredibly, to the 35mm originals - not the 16mm negs - even though the library was distributed to television exclusively in 16 (except, for, I believe the RKO stations in New York and Los Angeles, who initially got many of the films in 35 though they later downgraded to 16).

I was at WCIX in Miami in 1978 and we bought the RKO library as house prints. It was just at the time that UA was remaking the negs and they managed to restore the RKO titles to the "big" pictures. But the soundtrack negs remained the same so you often had mute logos with upcut music as the main title faded in. And then the end title music cut out mid-way.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by drednm » Sat Sep 15, 2018 11:07 am

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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by Jim Roots » Sat Sep 15, 2018 11:27 am

Flicker Alley has a new release in its film noir series: The Man Who Cheated Himself (1950) with Lee J. Cobb as a rumpled, gruff chief of detectives nudged over the line into becoming a bad cop by his lust for wealthy serial-wife Jane Wyatt. John Dall is not only Cobb's brother, he's also the new guy on the detective squad, eager to make a splash with his very first case, which just happens to be a murder committed by Jane and covered up by Lee.

Wyatt starts the movie with one of the worst performances I've ever seen an actress give. She plays her role as if she's in a 1910 D. W. Griffith melodrama and it's her very first time on screen. She gets a bit better as the film goes on, but it really never fully recovers from her being so seriously miscast. You can't help thinking someone like Linda Darnell or Kay Francis or Barbara Stanwyck or Audrey Totter or ... just about anybody short of Judy Garland would have been better in this role.

It has the classic noir tropes -- bad cop, brother/partner/best friend cop slowly realizing the evidence points to him, sex-based manipulation by a cold-hearted bitch, lonely isolated locations (Fort Point, airport parking lot, etc.), night driving, San Francisco (third choice behind NYC and LA for noirs), black and white photography with lots of chiaroscuro, enormous clunky cars, trench coats and slouch hats, big-city police force that has only three people on the homicide squad (the third guy sits at his desk in the foreground in one scene, hiding his face behind a giant hat, and never once looking up or around).

Importantly, the film maintains constant interest through the slow piling-up of arrows pointing at Cobb, as if a prison cell is being built around him bar by bar through 82 minutes of tension.

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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by Ray Faiola » Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:16 pm

Ah - I get it. I thought you meant a logo at the head. NEVER MIIIIND!

So was this one you taped or did some bootlegger sell an off-air DVD?
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by drednm » Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:38 pm

Ray Faiola wrote:
Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:16 pm
Ah - I get it. I thought you meant a logo at the head. NEVER MIIIIND!

So was this one you taped or did some bootlegger sell an off-air DVD?
I've had this FOREVER. I probably taped it when I lived in Santa Fe and was still taping stuff. I haven't taped anything in the last 8 years. Probably never watched it before because O'Neil is not a favorite but I have to admit she was lively in this one.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Sat Sep 15, 2018 2:03 pm

Watched GERONIMO (1939) last night, and found it pretty entertaining, though spotty. Film starts with young cavalryman William Henry joining his father's (Ralph Morgan) outfit as he (Morgan) proceeds to make plans for peace with Geronimo (Chief Thundercloud) and his men, who are causing endless mayhem. His work is not made easier by gun runner Gene Lockhart, as slimy a villain as ever deserved a sticky end, and Henry's difficulties are helped by new buddies Captain Starrett (Preston Foster) and Sneezer (Andy Devine).

Admittedly the plotting is a bit bumpy (the central father-son bit taken from LIVES OF A BENGAL LANCER) and unconvincing in parts (Henry's mother and sweetheart decide to come to the fort, an act of sheer craziness / their stagecoach, which appears to have been wrecked, is brought back to the fort)). There is also a jump in continuity when Foster and Devine ride to Henry's rescue and immediately we see Foster being tortured and have no idea where Devine has got to, although this is more likely due to missing footage.

This, and possible liberties with history aside, GERONIMO is quite a lively film, although, as Parish and Pitts pointed out ('The Great Western Pictures') some of the more spectacular footage was lifted from THE PLAINSMAN, THE TEXAS RANGERS and WELLS FARGO. The film does have a spot of realism in the fact that some of the wounded appear to actually suffer.

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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by Jim Roots » Sat Sep 15, 2018 2:25 pm

I forgot to mention that the spur to the action in The Man Who Cheated Himself has the unfortunate effect of being almost totally implausible. Jane Wyatt shoots her soon-to-be-ex-husband when the latter comes home to murder her, with Cobb being an interested looker-on. As an experienced detective, Cobb should know immediately that Wyatt will get off easily on a plea of self-defense; Cobb himself only needs to leave the house while she calls the cops, and then show up on the spot as the chief detective investigating the case. Open and shut. Fifteen minutes in, and then we could settle back to an hour and 67 minutes of Cobb and Wyatt smooching.

On second thought, let's agree to pretend Cobb is so blinded by lust that he doesn't think of the self-defense argument and instead decides to cover up the killing.

Jim

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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by Frame Rate » Sat Sep 15, 2018 9:53 pm

Ray Faiola wrote:
Sat Sep 15, 2018 11:01 am
I was at WCIX in Miami in 1978 and we bought the RKO library as house prints.
So UA-TV was still offering stations 'house prints" that late in the game? I thought the practice ended years earlier.

Or do you mean that whenever the station needed to replace a worn/damaged/missing print from the RKO library (which the station had actually licensed on long-term lease, years earlier) the replacement copy (probably from Guffanti labs in NYC) sometimes arrived with restored RKO logos at the head and tail but with the same incomplete sound-negs used for the audio?

I was in grad school at the time you mentioned, doing research for my dissertation, and I had been granted free access (on-site only) to the "house prints" at several Chicago TV stations -- but I was told that such distribution deals (as opposed to short-term "bicycling prints") were all based on contracts that dated back to the earliest days of major-studio-title, broadcast syndication, in the mid-1950s.

And the RKO pre-1950 library, according to the inventory database at WLS-TV, was actually purchased (from C&C Corporation) by the station's predecessor, WBKB-TV, "in perpetuity," although that database, probably compiled via some Unix code-based program, erroneously listed the contract's "expiration" as December 31, 1999.

It must have been an early example of the later-dreaded, but ultimately wimpy, Y2K error!
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by Mike Gebert » Sat Sep 15, 2018 10:04 pm

Easy Living (1937) is written by Preston Sturges and directed with both gorgeous 30s gloss and high energy by Mitchell Leisen. And really, what more could you ask? As good as Sturges was at directing his own work, he never had an eye to rival Leisen's—just compare the scene in which Jean Arthur wanders the hotel suite she's been given with the one in which the Wienie King wanders Claudette Colbert's The Palm Beach Story. No comparison in style.

Anyway, if you were going to ask me to name a classic that isn't recognized as one, this would be up high among my candidates. The plot is basically Twain's The Million Pound Note for a pretty girl— tycoon Edward Arnold throws his wife's mink out the window and it lands on bus-rider Jean Arthur, and suddenly owning a sign of wealth (and, to her boss, a clear mark of immoral goings-on) discombobulates her life in ways so complicated only Preston Sturges could concoct them, make them more and more complex, and then solve them in an instant for the wrap-up. Fast pace, stylish art direction and camerawork, Arthur never lovelier nor the often charmless Milland more charming, Arnold having the time of his life playing slapstick and Santa Claus, actual laughs from Luis Alberni's foreign malapropisms, a couple of astonishingly filthy lines snuck past the censor*, and a scene depicting a lost way of eating out (the automat) in anthropological detail—this is the kind of movie that's such a marvel that you take it for granted.

* Example: "I am not one to come in the back door when I can beat around the bush."
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