What is the last film you watched? (2018)

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

Unread post by FrankFay » Tue Oct 09, 2018 1:23 pm

Daveismyhero wrote:
Tue Oct 09, 2018 9:48 am
I recently watched Dracula (1979). I really enjoyed Frank Langella's portrayal of Count Dracula, but the rest of the film fell flat for me. No idea why, though. I just found it dull and had a hard time finishing it.

I guess I prefer my vampires in black and white.
The movie didn't seem to know what tone to aim for- romance or horror.

It didn't help that Lawrence Olivier gave a very hammy performance
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by boblipton » Tue Oct 09, 2018 1:38 pm

Tales of the Navajos: The IMDb claims that "crew believed to be complete" with this tale of two youngsters wandering by themselves about Grand Canyon National Park in search of sacred blue turquoise, while a narrator recites an Ancient Navajo Legend. Well, hardly, since the two actors are not identified, nor is anyone on the camera crew.

It's a short feature, only an hour in length, and it might have been produced by the Children's Film Foundation over in Britain, if that had existed. While I found the voice of the narrator to be droning and boring, that might be an artefact of my general dislike of narrators in movies. On the other hand, the Technicolor camerawork by the uncredited director of photography is top notch, and the materials from which TCM drew the copy I saw were in great shape, with some beautiful colors -- the weird desert landscapes with their umbers were quite lovely, as were the owls which appeared frequently. Every time they did, the narrator informed the audience that Owl is not necessarily Owl.

As series of great camera sequences, it's topnotch. As a story, it's dull.

Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Tue Oct 09, 2018 1:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Tue Oct 09, 2018 1:47 pm

drednm wrote:
Sun Oct 07, 2018 8:25 am
An absolutely wonderful TV production of The Last of Mrs. Lincoln from 1976 captures one of Julie Harris' 5 Tony Award winning performances and it's a pip. The story picks up after Lincoln's assassination. Mary Todd Lincoln (Harris) is forced to move into a squalid flat with sons Robert and Tad while they wait for the president's will to be probated. They are also in hopes of Congressional action on a pension for her. She is mentally distraught and has mountains of debt accumulated from her years in Washington and her attempts to make over the White House. Many of the bills she has have not been paid by Congress, which is divided along political lines (what a surprise) and in turmoil following the end of the war and the assassination. The plot follows the demise of Tad and he estrangement from Robert as her mental health declines. She writes to and meets with various Congressmen over the years and the bitterness and jealousy continues long after Lincoln's death. Eventually she moves in with her disapproving older sister and spends lots of time living in poverty and under assumed names in Europe. She never escapes her own notoriety.

Julie Harris is mesmeric as the often mentally vague Mary who has flashes of steely will and determination. She never forgets or forgives the Washington foes. Michael Cristofer is good as Robert and Priscilla Morrill is also very good as the older sister. Also with Robby Benson as Tad, Linda Kelsey, Denver Pyle, and Kate Wilkinson as the loopy Mrs. McCullough from Springfield.
As a sucker for Lincoln-related films, I shall have to seek this one out!

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

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Tue Oct 09, 2018 1:56 pm

boblipton wrote:
Tue Oct 09, 2018 9:57 am
Convict Stage (1965): Some time ago, stage-coach-robbing brothers Joe Partridge and Eric Matthews killed Harry Lauter's sister. He has been chasing them since. Marshall Red Barry has captured them and is taking them to prison by stage, and Lauter means to exact vengeance, though his wife tells him she won't be there when he returns. Others are there, too. Hannah Hertelendy, the robbers' mother is on the stage, and a drummer with a very large pistol...

The American B western had vanished under the assault of television. In 1965, the TV western was not in great shape and there was still a market for the darker western. 20th Century-Fox could always use one to offer for double or triple features, and if you could keep the budget down, you could give some professionals jobs and make yourself a few dollars, just like in the old days of the cinematic west. And that is what this was: classic, simple story, competent actors (mostly; I think Jodi Mitchell as Barry's wife offers poor line readings), some decent direction by Lesley Selander and the wide-open camerawork that was often the best part of the old B Western.

In many ways, it looks like a large and gracefully shot, serious episode of a TV western. It is distinguished by Gordon Avil's black-and-white cinematography of the badlands near Kanab, Utah -- Ford Country, but contrary to legend, a lot of people shot westerns there. Lynn Reynolds was the first in 1924, a decade and a half before Ford first went there for Drums Along the Mohawk. Avil was born in Philadelphia in 1899. His career as a cinematographer began in 1929. By 1930, he had worked on King Vidor's Billy the Kid. In 1931, it was The Champ, again for Vidor. Then his screen credits vanished for 16 year. He returned to the camera in B movies and television work. After camerawork on a third of the episodes of Hogan's Heroes, he retired. He died of a heart attack in the Barbados in 1970.

Bob
Was surprised to see the name Gordon Avil turn up as I found a 1933 short on YT called THOUGHT FOR FOOD, produced by the Kroger Food Foundation, although there was only the first nine minutes or so uploaded. The image and sound were very clear, so perhaps Avil went to work in industrial shorts, which is odd after his excellent work on the two Vidor films. Perhaps that kind of work, though less lucrative, interfered with his family life too much.

And his first credit was HALLELUJAH...

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

Unread post by boblipton » Tue Oct 09, 2018 2:11 pm

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:
Tue Oct 09, 2018 1:56 pm
boblipton wrote:
Tue Oct 09, 2018 9:57 am
Convict Stage (1965): Some time ago, stage-coach-robbing brothers Joe Partridge and Eric Matthews killed Harry Lauter's sister. He has been chasing them since. Marshall Red Barry has captured them and is taking them to prison by stage, and Lauter means to exact vengeance, though his wife tells him she won't be there when he returns. Others are there, too. Hannah Hertelendy, the robbers' mother is on the stage, and a drummer with a very large pistol...

The American B western had vanished under the assault of television. In 1965, the TV western was not in great shape and there was still a market for the darker western. 20th Century-Fox could always use one to offer for double or triple features, and if you could keep the budget down, you could give some professionals jobs and make yourself a few dollars, just like in the old days of the cinematic west. And that is what this was: classic, simple story, competent actors (mostly; I think Jodi Mitchell as Barry's wife offers poor line readings), some decent direction by Lesley Selander and the wide-open camerawork that was often the best part of the old B Western.

In many ways, it looks like a large and gracefully shot, serious episode of a TV western. It is distinguished by Gordon Avil's black-and-white cinematography of the badlands near Kanab, Utah -- Ford Country, but contrary to legend, a lot of people shot westerns there. Lynn Reynolds was the first in 1924, a decade and a half before Ford first went there for Drums Along the Mohawk. Avil was born in Philadelphia in 1899. His career as a cinematographer began in 1929. By 1930, he had worked on King Vidor's Billy the Kid. In 1931, it was The Champ, again for Vidor. Then his screen credits vanished for 16 year. He returned to the camera in B movies and television work. After camerawork on a third of the episodes of Hogan's Heroes, he retired. He died of a heart attack in the Barbados in 1970.

Bob
Was surprised to see the name Gordon Avil turn up as I found a 1933 short on YT called THOUGHT FOR FOOD, produced by the Kroger Food Foundation, although there was only the first nine minutes or so uploaded. The image and sound were very clear, so perhaps Avil went to work in industrial shorts, which is odd after his excellent work on the two Vidor films. Perhaps that kind of work, though less lucrative, interfered with his family life too much.

And his first credit was HALLELUJAH...
.... and I just checked Youtube and discovered he was the cameraman for a Jam Handy industrial Master Hands, from 1936. So I guess that's what he did in those years.

Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Fri Oct 12, 2018 9:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Tue Oct 09, 2018 2:26 pm

LOVE AFFAIR (1932) has flier / engineer Humphrey Bogart falling for society girl Dorothy Mackaill despite some of her less than winning ways*. They both think she has money but in fact she's broke (aside from owning her father's house) and her middle-aged (Hale Hamilton) boyfriend is bankrolling her. Bogart also has a showgirl sister (Astrid Allwyn) who is also treating Hamilton as a sugar-daddy, but is attracted to a smooth-talking toe-rag played by Bradley Page.

Based on a book by the wonderfully named Ursula Parrott, LOVE AFFAIR has been dismissed by writers on Bogart, which makes one wonder if they've actually seen the film, which has enough plot for a couple of movies of this length, what with Bogart's ambitious engineer and the rather tangled sex lives of the characters. Not exactly a very good film, there is enough entertainment and interest to occupy the brief running time together with an amusing finale when Bogie thwart's Mackaill's suicide attempt. Excellent print.

*Her house seems filled with the empty-headed, and at one point Mackaill attempts to auction off faithful retainer Halliwell Hobbes...

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

Unread post by boblipton » Tue Oct 09, 2018 5:58 pm

Animals Are Beautiful People (1974): Beautiful footage of the Kalihari Desert is edited with an openly humorous attitude for a lively and funny documentary. It turns out that Disney's artists did capture how ostriches move for "Waltz of the Hours"!

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

Unread post by boblipton » Wed Oct 10, 2018 4:20 am

Five Angles on Murder aka The Woman in Question (1950): Jean Kent has been murdered in her bedroom. Duncan Macrae and Joe Linnane conduct the investigation by speaking with the people around her.

The gimmick in this movie is that as each of the witness/suspects describes the events, we see it from the speaker's viewpoint... and the character, appearance and behavior of every individual changes according to whose version we are hearing. It's a subjective camera: not a new thing in the movies, but still a novelty. THree years earlier, Hitchcock had misused it in The Paradine Case and the year this came out, Kurosawa directed Rashomon, which seems to assert there is no objective reality.

That's not what's happening here. The point is to take the subjective realities and winkle out the objective reality behind them. In the course of so doing, we get to see the actors perform their roles in a variety of manners, particularly Miss Kent, who ranges from slattern to aristocrat. In the US, this would have been a vehicle for the actress in the lead role looking for an Oscar. Look! I can do this line as a loose woman! Look, I can do it as as an impoverished noblewoman! And so forth.

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

Unread post by boblipton » Wed Oct 10, 2018 8:50 am

Where Trails Divide (1937) Tom Keene takes the stage to Rawhide. He plans to open the first law office in town and surprise his kid brother, David Sharpe. When robbers try to take the coach he's on, Keene stops them single-handedly. When he gets to town, he finds that Warner Richmond, controls the town. He suspects Richmond of running more than a saloon and dance hall and hopes that his brother isn't involved in it.

It's another decent albeit randomly titled western from Monogram. There's a lot of subtextual issues about brothers in the script by Robert Emmett Tansey, but director Robert Bradbury doesn't lean on it heavily enough to spoil the fun. DP Bert Longenecker adjusts the frame size with blocking throughout, and there's a nicely shot final sequence in Death Valley to make the audience ooh and ah.

Keene was an ambitious cowboy star in that he was interested in acting and would take breaks from Gower Gulch for stage work. He also refused to establish a particular look or persona, nor was he a two-fisted character. This meant he never cracked the top tier. However, he seems to have done well in his real estate investments and was well enough regarded that he was honorary mayor of Sherman Oaks in 1939.

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

Unread post by s.w.a.c. » Thu Oct 11, 2018 9:28 am

I thought'd I'd already seen William Wyler's early talkie take of the 3 Godfathers story, Hell's Heroes (1929), but I DVR'd it anyway just in case, which was a good thing because a few minutes into it I realized I'd never seen this "Universal Special" before.

There had been three silent versions (including John Ford's Marked Men (1919)) and it would be followed by two more sound versions (including John Ford's 3 Godfathers (1948)), plus a 1974 TV movie The Godchild directed by John Badham, set during the Civil War. Who knows, maybe even the Three Men & a Baby comedies were inspired by the original story.

Filmed on location in the Mojave Desert and the mining town of Bodie, CA, which was already becoming a ghost town by the time this was filmed, Hell''s Heroes marks Wyler's first all-talking sound picture (after goat gland efforts The Love Trap and The Shakedown, also for Universal), but he isn't restricted by the technology, making fine use of the locations and moving camera to make a film that doesn't bear the hallmarks of many stiffer early talkies. Charles Bickford, Raymond Hatton and Fred Kohler are terrific as the three bandits whose hearts are softened by the discovery of a woman giving birth in a wagon in the desert, and at 68 minutes it tells its tale briskly without feeling rushed.

Was also pleased to discover the Oswald the Lucky Rabbit parody Hell's Heels (1930) on YouTube. Too bad it's in squish-o-vision.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by Mike Gebert » Thu Oct 11, 2018 12:21 pm

I think it actually is goat-glanded a bit, but so skillfully you can't tell—that is, I suspect they finished it as silent and then shot sound scenes to blend in with the silent footage, doing a really good job of adding dialogue scenes and dubbing in sound effects. I think if you look closely at Bickford in the bar scene, for instance, he looks just a little heavier in the face when he starts talking. I could be wrong, somebody ought to look at the studio records, but that's my suspicion.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by odinthor » Thu Oct 11, 2018 12:58 pm

The Apartment (1960) for the first time. It's a familiar film to most, I assume, so I won't ramble on about it, except to state that I liked it very much indeed, and was touched to the point of watery stuff forming around my eyes at the end. Jack Kruschen (the neighbor doctor) was my father's Army buddy (they did radio stuff in the Pacific during WWII)! In fact, I think I have a . . . yes!, here's a pic. My father to the left, Jack to the right.

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

Unread post by boblipton » Thu Oct 11, 2018 1:07 pm

Parade (1974): Tati's last film -- done as a TV Special in Sweden -- is a circus show. Tati appears as the master of ceremonies and does three or four of his skits. There is a brass band. There are acrobats and jugglers and Pia Colombo sings the theme song towards the end. She sings it like she's Piaf singing "Je Ne Regrette Rien". It's a pleasant show.

Like I said, it's Tati's last movie (although I am sure he hoped otherwise), done after Playtime and Traffic had been bankrupting flops. So did Tati make this, thinking he'd do some of his old routines, make a few kronas and see if he could get back to his real projects? It's a tempting idea, and one could hardly blame Tati. He is adored by many, disliked by a few. I think he was a serious artist who used his clowning to comment on a deep dissatisfaction with the modern world, and his self-aware disdain for speed and technology and the latest fad were at the heart of his movies. And because of his artistic certainty and lack of anyone to tell him no, he had forgotten that film is a commercial art, and you can never forget the audience you are making it for.... its size, as well as its empathy.

Notice the painted audience members on the sets. Notice the shots of the audience, as they enter, as they observe, as they enter the ring for one or two events, and as they leave. I think Tati was telling himself, if not his audience, that he had to be more careful in the future, remember who he was making his movies for. It's a shame he never got another chance.

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

Unread post by boblipton » Thu Oct 11, 2018 3:29 pm

Unpublished Story: Richard Greene is a newspaperman covering the retreat in Northern France. When get gets back to his paper, he dictates his story and collapses. When he arises to pursue the news, a peace-at-any-cost movement, the Blitz, and novice newspaperwoman Valerie Hobson occupy his attention.

It's a pretty good battle-of-the-sexes story set amidst the darkest days of the War, and besides the leads, there are some fine performers on hand: Basil Radford as a censor who may have a little more on the ball; George Carney as a public-house owner who insists that people enter through the bombed-out door instead of the bombed-out window; and other welcome movie regulars like Roland Culver and Miles Malleson. Director Harold French gets good performances out of everyone, and if the propaganda seems laid on too thick for modern tastes, it's what was in style at the moment.

Miss Hobson's star was in the ascendant. She was married to the film's producer, Anthony Havelock-Allan. It was the fourth of nine pictures they would work on together.

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

Unread post by boblipton » Thu Oct 11, 2018 5:00 pm

Surgeon Guy Rolfe is stuck into an ambulance and taken to a mysterious location to operate on a mysterious patient. Then he is clunked on the head, wakes up home. As the bodies start piling up wherever he is to be found, comes to realize that an important industrialist is being kidnapped. Trouble is that Scotland Yard won't believe him. For some reason they think he has something to do with the deaths.

Operation Diplomat (1953) is a well-acted, exciting, thoroughly muddled thriller with a bunch of loose threads. Officials give false names for no reason, the police leave important witnesses unguarded and let a surgeon indulge in the rough-and-tumble while they stand around gawping, for no reason I could see except to increase the fog. Event the movie's title refers to the randomly-named "Operation" the government institutes when they realize that the industrialist in missing.

It's pretty good for a thorough piece of shoddy nonsense. I was having a fine time until the Mysterious Foreign Woman (Lisa Daniely) is running away from the bad guys. They were so slow about that sequence, it gave me time to review and count the unpatched holes.

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

Unread post by boblipton » Thu Oct 11, 2018 7:15 pm

Shitô No Densetsu aka A Legend Or Was It? (1963): It's the summer of 1945, and there is muttering that Japan may lose the war. Gô Katô is invalided out and joins what's left of his family -- his father and a brother have already perished in the struggle and his mother, grandmother and sisters are in a small village. The villagers don't like outsiders, but the son of the mayor, Bunta Sugawara, wants to marry the oldest sister. The trouble is that Gô saw him kill and rape civilians. His sister decides to not go through with the wedding.

Soon their garden is trampled, and the police refuse to prosecute. Soon other families are suffering depredations. The mayor and son spread rumors it is the refugees. Finally, the day comes when bad news overwhelms the town. Atomic bombs have fallen on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; eleven sons of the village have been killed in battle; and the mayor's son tries to rape Gô's sister and gets clouted in the head. His horse returns home and the village decides that he has been murdered and they should go and kill them all.

Keisuke Kinoshita wrote and directed this and it is a beautifully shot movie, that is difficult to take seriously at times. People in it act so stupidly. That's how mobs act, he seems to be saying: out of stupidity. However, as difficult as it is for me to watch it, it must have been harder for a contemporary Japanese audience. In prologue and epilogue, he makes it clear that no one will talk about it. It will become a legend, with demons doing all these things. No one will accept responsibility for their actions. No one will ever try to make them. It will just be some evil demon, who came and went, and they're lovely, lovely people.

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

Unread post by drednm » Thu Oct 11, 2018 7:39 pm

Life Begins at Eight-Thirty (1943) is a neat little drama with comedy, starring Monty Woolley as a one-time stage actor who's been off the stage and hitting the bottle for 8 years. He lives with his crippled daughter (Ida Lupino) in a tenement dump. Downstairs lives a composer (Cornel Wilde) who gets Woolley as small part in a musical he's written. It starts the process of a comeback for the acid-tongued old actor. Lupino and Wilde fall in love and she learns her foot problem is not hereditary but was caused by an accident. Meanwhile, Wilde's aunt (Sara Allgood) a grande dame with fond memories of Woolley as a young actor, arranges for him to star as Lear in a new production. But he falls apart when he learns Lupino is leaving him to marry Wilde. Nicely acted by all, though Wilde is a bit of a stiff. Based on a play by Emlyn Williams that had starred Paul Muni and Jessica Tandy on Broadway.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by Mike Gebert » Thu Oct 11, 2018 8:54 pm

Movies are so often the same any more that I grab any chance to go to a theater and see something different. MFKZ (2017), originally known as Mutafukaz but bowdlerized for movie marquees, is different all right. Take a wacked-out scifi plot like that of Repo Man or They Live, set it in a ten-times-grungier and more violent version of Los Angeles called Dead Meat City, rendered in fantastically evocative detail, give it the apocalyptic tentacle-monster plot of pretty much all Japanese sci-fi, co-produce it between a Japanese anime studio and a French one so it seems part Akira, part The Triplets of Belleville with some Rick and Morty thrown in... and throw in a message about global warming.

It's a mess and full of the old ultraviolence, a little (but not as much as you might wish) funny, directed in full non-sequitur mode (one of the three main characters is a cat, another has a skull head that's constantly on fire like Ghost Rider—oh and the real heroes are a race of immortals who keep their skills up by working as Mexican wrestling luchadores)... okay, I need to stop explaining the plot, it's not helping.

It's wack. It kind of reminded me of the underground humor of Fritz The Cat, too, which is the kind of thing that animated films have not done for a very long time. Surely I have described enough that you know to either race to catch it or to stay very far away. If the former, it will be playing again on Tuesday 10/16 via Fathom Events at selected theaters.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by R Michael Pyle » Fri Oct 12, 2018 6:17 am

"Stage Fright" (1950), directed by Alfred Hitchcock, begins rather roughly and not very well - it would seem. For an audience today, much of the back-lit scenes will seem crude and very old-fashioned. Nevertheless, this film not only picks up steam, but eventually roars! After the initial disappointment, I got more and more into the show until I finally saw that the beginning itself may have been somewhat intentionally "false". This one is about a murder. Imagine that. Hitchcock. A murder. This one stars Marlene Dietrich, Jane Wyman, Michael Wilding, Richard Todd, Alastair Sim, Sybil Thorndike, Kay Walsh, and many others. Yes, Hitch shows up. Dietrich is such a diva - and she plays one, besides. She's good, sometimes great - although her performance at the beginning was, for me at least, a tad off-putting, not even good. Just my opinion, of course. Jane Wyman was at the top of her game here. She'd just won the Academy Award for Best Actress for "Johnny Belinda" a couple of years before. Michael Wilding was fine to watch and had a little dimension. Richard Todd was the surprise. He was very good. But - the person who stole the entire show - every scene except where he had to play opposite Dietrich (from whom no one could steal a scene) - was Alastair Sim. Simply great performance in every respect. Add all the other character actors and actresses: fine film. Not Hitchcock's best, but certainly a fine film by standards of comparison with other films and other directors. This was my very first time with this one. For some reason I'd just never been exposed to it before.

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

Unread post by boblipton » Fri Oct 12, 2018 6:56 am

Danger Route (1967): Richard Johnson is a hit man for British intelligence. Literally. He offs them with a karate chop to the neck. He's getting weary of the job and is thinking of leaving the profession when he gets another job. Whitehall wants a Soviet defector, but the Americans have him, so he needs killing. Johnson is assigned to the task. However things go awry. There's more at work than Whitehall setting policy.

There's a lot of Bondian elements here: the beautiful women, and so forth -- Carol Lynley, Barbara Bouchet and Sylvia Sims, and Diana Dors gets the cherished final spot on the credits. It's not just a Bondian romp at the peak of the 1960s spy craze. The darkness and betrayal lend a tinge of John Lecarre to the proceedings as Johnson slowly untangles the tangled web of the plot of the plot -- and finds himself snarled in its slubby mass at the end.

It a good performance and you can see why Johnson had been Terrence Young's first pick for playing Bond in Dr No. Although the movie works, his depressed character is, in the end, not terribly attractive; however, no one is.

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

Unread post by s.w.a.c. » Fri Oct 12, 2018 7:09 am

R Michael Pyle wrote:
Fri Oct 12, 2018 6:17 am
"Stage Fright" (1950), directed by Alfred Hitchcock .... This was my very first time with this one. For some reason I'd just never been exposed to it before.
I just watched for the first time recently as well, not sure why I'd held off on it for so long, and ended up really enjoying it (Sim being a major part of it for me too). Great cast, I thought the unreliable narrator thing was fairly clever, and can overlook its faults thanks to the evident skill behind the camera.

Now I need to revisit some Hitchcocks that I know I've seen, but can barely remember anything about, like Mr. & Mrs. Smith and Rich and Strange. And finally finish watching my new blu-ray of Under Capricorn.
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earlytalkiebuffRob
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Fri Oct 12, 2018 12:24 pm

s.w.a.c. wrote:
Thu Oct 11, 2018 9:28 am
I thought'd I'd already seen William Wyler's early talkie take of the 3 Godfathers story, Hell's Heroes (1929), but I DVR'd it anyway just in case, which was a good thing because a few minutes into it I realized I'd never seen this "Universal Special" before.

There had been three silent versions (including John Ford's Marked Men (1919)) and it would be followed by two more sound versions (including John Ford's 3 Godfathers (1948)), plus a 1974 TV movie The Godchild directed by John Badham, set during the Civil War. Who knows, maybe even the Three Men & a Baby comedies were inspired by the original story.

Filmed on location in the Mojave Desert and the mining town of Bodie, CA, which was already becoming a ghost town by the time this was filmed, Hell''s Heroes marks Wyler's first all-talking sound picture (after goat gland efforts The Love Trap and The Shakedown, also for Universal), but he isn't restricted by the technology, making fine use of the locations and moving camera to make a film that doesn't bear the hallmarks of many stiffer early talkies. Charles Bickford, Raymond Hatton and Fred Kohler are terrific as the three bandits whose hearts are softened by the discovery of a woman giving birth in a wagon in the desert, and at 68 minutes it tells its tale briskly without feeling rushed.

Was also pleased to discover the Oswald the Lucky Rabbit parody Hell's Heels (1930) on YouTube. Too bad it's in squish-o-vision.
It will be interesting if the silent version becomes available as I am given to understand that it is extant. And thanks for the tip-off on HELL'S HEELS, as that can be my support for this evening!

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

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Fri Oct 12, 2018 1:05 pm

Johnny Mack Brown, Tex Ritter and 'Fuzzy' Knight share billing in DEEP IN THE HEART OF TEXAS (1942) a semi-musical with a dose of history, whereby Brown is returning home to his Dad (William Farnum) only to find him involved with a bunch of crooks eager to exploit the local citizenry after Texas has rebelled against the Union following the Civil War. Brown's Dad isn't as bad as his associates who raise taxes and hang anyone who dares oppose them, silencing the local newspaper to boot. A bit lightweight, but nicely shot little movie with the usual ingredients (the editor's pretty daughter who naturally hates Brown at the start) present and correct, although there is the novelty of a ruffian and ex-soldier who is fond of Knight's singing to an almost pathological degree.

WITHOUT HONOR (1932) has Harry Carey as the 'good bad man' brother of a Texas Ranger who is killed and has incriminating documents planted on him. Harry takes the blame for that part of things and is sworn in as a Ranger to clear the territory of a gang of ruthless smugglers. These varmints are also guilty of killing another man, swindling his widow (Mae Busch* - now a saloon girl in the power of one of the crooks) and farming their daughter out to a vicious thug played by Gibson Gowland as if he was auditioning for 'Battling Burrows' in BROKEN BLOSSOMS. Although the storyline# is rather familiar, the development is nicely done, and Carey's gruff but decent outlaw is a very agreeable character and well presented. Again a very nice copy of an enjoyable second feature western.

*Didn't recognise Busch here, although her talent was much in evidence.
# Occasionally slightly convoluted, although this might be a false impression as my viewing was interrupted more than once.

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

Unread post by R Michael Pyle » Sat Oct 13, 2018 6:27 am

Last night I watched one of those 30's "B" films that lasts just a tad over an hour (61 minutes in this case) that really outshines its origins and is worth much more than decades of being forgotten. I must admit, though, that the critical reception on the IMDb is rather slaps in the face than kisses. One reviewer found it boring, another just badly done. The other critic (yes, there are only three reviews) at least gives it its due and is kind.

I watched "Missing Witnesses" (1937) with John Litel, Dick Purcell, Virginia Dale, Sheila Bromley, Ben Welden, William Haade, Raymond Hatton, and others. What struck me very quickly was the fact that this was obviously made from current events at that time in New York where Thomas Dewey had just been newly elected the District Attorney of New York County as "gangbuster" to counteract the racketeering Tammany bosses and corrupt judges. The story plays out the events of witnesses being too scared to give over evidence in court against protection rackets which wreck businesses that don't co-operate with money demands. Even those beat up, scarred, and so forth are too afraid, once they reach court time, to give evidence. John Litel is hired to break up the racketeering. He's a fine actor, and he gives a good account of himself. However, he's far outshined by Dick Purcell who plays a strong-arm cop who ends up an assistant to Litel. Purcell would rather use brawn than brains. Yes, it's an old, old story and you've seen it a thousand times. Still, Purcell pulls it off very well, and he's fun to watch. One of the criticisms that was given - and is valid - is his rather Chauvinistic attitude towards Virginia Dale who is a couple of things for the film: she is a secretary to the corrupt boss of bosses (although she doesn't know her boss is corrupt until too late), and she becomes the girl friend of Purcell, and she also is the person who can convict her boss. Her boss, by the way, is found floating dead in a bay... Or is it her boss?

Good show. New on Warner Archive releases. Well worth the watch if you like 30's crime dramas. For the record, the secondary cast in this show is loaded to the gills with great character actors and actresses and some who would become much better known later. Some of the secondary performers are John Hamilton (Superman's boss on the 50's TV show), Lane Chandler, Carole Landis, Hooper Atchley, Veda Ann Borg, John Harron, and the list goes on and on.

Now, as a coda, I will agree that there are some plot loopholes in the film. One that is obvious, but only if you think hard about it, or are a lawyer: when the person who is beat up and whose restaurant is ransacked by the hoodlums goes to court and refuses to testify against those men, the cop who had shown up right after all this happened was also attacked by those same people as they came out the door. He disarmed them as they attacked him outside of the restaurant, and they were carrying switchblade knives and carrying guns and tried to use them against him. HE COULD HAVE PRESSED CHARGES! Right? By the way, the cop was Dick Purcell...

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

Unread post by drednm » Sat Oct 13, 2018 7:13 am

Splitting Heirs (1993) probably looked good on paper, but the realization is a comic dud. Story of a cursed British family has a 1960s baby disappearing from a pram while hippy parents (Eric Idle, Barbara Hershey) are shopping. The baby is returned but of course it's the wrong one. Thirty years later, the new heir (Rick Moranis) claims the ducal estate and enjoys the high life, marries a gold-digger (Catherine Zeta-Jones), and befriends a schmuck (Idle again). Idle has been raised by an Indian family in the London slums but he's the real heir to the estate. With the "help" of a greedy lawyer (John Cleese), Idle sets out to kill off Moranis and claim the estate for himself. The main problem with the film is that the ages of the main players are all wrong. Idle is plainly older than Hershey, who plays his mother, and Moranis, who is the same age as Idle. Hershey brings a nice touch of comic lustiness as the duchess, but everyone else seems to be just going thru their paces. Stratford Johns plays a snappish butler and Brenda Bruce plays Moranis' real mother.
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Re: What is the last film you watched? (2018)

Unread post by boblipton » Sat Oct 13, 2018 7:58 am

Since we're looking at films from the 1990s, Malicious (1995) is Fatal Attraction among the college set. Patrick McGaw is a star college baseball player being scouted by the pro teams. After a one-night stand with Molly Ringwald, she starts stalking him, which his girlfriend, Sarah Lassez, doesn't care for. Mimi Kuzyk plays McGaw's mom, John Vernon the cop who tells him that Ringwald has a restraining order against him.

Ringwald plays the maniac okay, but there's no real dazzle in her performance, possible because McGaw never really brings any sense of outrage to the role; he's just trying to get through the events until he gets that big contract. In the entire cast, only Vernon manages anything on the mark, listening to McGaw without offering anything that he's just doing his job and doesn't believe or disbelieve anything people say. Ian Corson directs efficiently, without raising any real sense of madness among the characters. It's a desultory potboiler, bringing no sense that anyone was interested in more than a paycheck.

Bob
Life's too short to sit on our rears watching other people's work.
— Bob Fells

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

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Sat Oct 13, 2018 2:29 pm

Although it presumably counts as a 'B', THE DEFENSE RESTS (1934) has a good cast and is here presented in a lovely sharp print. Jack Holt plays a cynical and bent lawyer who is idealised by newly graduated Jean Arthur until she sees the little wrinkles used by Holt to get his clients off the hook, and in one case to ensure a guilty man goes free.

The plot livens up when he is called to defend a kidnapper / child murderer and he is gradually persuaded that what he is doing is disgraceful. In a truly shocking scene, the dead boy's mother (Sarah Padden) shoots herself in front of Holt, who then determines to see justice done, come what may.

An interesting theme is let down somewhat by the feeling that the makers weren't sure whether to go for comedy of drama, and the two sit a little uneasily at times. Quite a few well-known faces grace this picture, with Nat Pendleton as Holt's sidekick as well as a couple of unbilled bits from Donald Meek and Ward Bond, amongst others.

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

Unread post by boblipton » Sat Oct 13, 2018 4:20 pm

Is there anyone here willing to admit, as I do, that he watches the Hallmark Channel's original movies? For as long as I can recall, TCM has been sandwiched between the Hallmark Channel and Bravo, with Lifetime just above Hallmark. When I use the Guide button to figure out what TCM movies to record for later watching, there they are. I got tired of Lifetime pretty quickly, since it was all cozy mysteries about random women who are so much better than the cops, except they always wound up trapped by the maniac with low back lighting. That's how you knew they were about to be trapped, because they went to low back lighting, I looked at my watch to see there is between 18 and 11 minutes left, and waited for them to be rescued by the handsome guy.

So that grew old quickly, and I gave up Lifetime. Hallmark was a different matter. They had a few women's detective series, usually starring a good actress in her thirties. She has a job that doesn't look like a job (which are the most time-consuming in reality), and she lives in a bright, prosperous town that looks like it's the 1950s, except the heroine has a Black friend. I invariably suspect it will turn out that they were kidnapped by flying saucers and are living, brains wiped, in a zoo, where scientists test their theories by killing off clones and seeing how the colony reacts.

I won't mention the romcoms because, a few directed by Ron Oliver aside -- pause to check if Mr. Oliver has bettered himself... post-production on his first big-screen release in ten years, Grand-Daddy Day Care. Guess not. Pity -- they were identical in plot, settings (when you're looking at a movie set in Alaska in December and the maples have green leaves the and sun wakes the hero at 6:15 in the morning, you know they didn't waste money on research), leads and tweedly scores that told you how you were supposed to react to this scene -- Max Steiner and Carl Stalling could take lessons on mickey-mousing from Hallmark's composers. They did have some old actors in support, making bricks without straw, but... well, when Hallmark moved the mysteries to another channel, hundreds of spaces away in the listing, I stopped watching.

I mention this because -- do you know my brother told me a couple of weeks ago that I ramble? I don't know what he's talking about, since it's a poor theory that has a solitary confirming experiment, and writers who fail to amuse their audiences will soon have none. Maybe it was the lawyer we were paying to listen he had in mind -- A Simple Favor (2018) is the sort of mystery the Hallmark Channel would produce if they could afford to. Or gave a d**n.

Anna Kendrick is the sort of single school mother who terrorizes all the others. She volunteers for everything, bakes delicious vegan GMO- and gluten-free whatnots at the drop of a hat. She is also a vlogger, with a channel on how to make all the other members of the PTA drop dead (although she's much too nice to even think about that). Her son makes friends with another boy. His mother is Blake Lively, a beautiful sophisticated woman who lives in a magnificent post-Frank Lloyd Wright house in the ritziest neighborhood in this ritzy town in Connecticutt. She's the anti-muse of a man who wrote one great book and hasn't been able to put a word on paper in ten years. He teaches at a college, but she pulls down the big money managing publicity for a clothing magnate in Manhattan. She teaches Anna how to make the perfect martini, winkles out her dirtiest secrets. One day she phones from Manhattan, asking Anna to pick up her son. Then she disappears off the face of the earth. Then her corpse turns up in a lake in Michigan. Then she rearranges Anna's shoe closet.

It' s a heck of a performance by Miss Lively, and this being a Paul Feig movie, there are some very funny bits in it, including a hilarious turn by Rupert Friend as Miss Lively's employer. But it's really a Hallmark Movie done right. Except for the cinematography. It's the same easy camerawork. Well, maybe that's meant as a snide comment of Hallmark.

Bob
Life's too short to sit on our rears watching other people's work.
— Bob Fells

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

Unread post by R Michael Pyle » Sun Oct 14, 2018 5:42 am

boblipton wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 4:20 pm
Is there anyone here willing to admit, as I do, that he watches the Hallmark Channel's original movies?
Bob
I have a hard enough time not running into my hall tree, let alone watching Hallmark. If I had to do both at the same time it would be like putting TNT against TCM and finding myself on CNN.

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

Unread post by R Michael Pyle » Sun Oct 14, 2018 6:24 am

I watched a film I'd not watched in over 30 years last night, "He Was Her Man" (1934), with James Cagney, Joan Blondell, Victor Jory, Frank Craven, Sarah Padden, Harold Huber, Russell Hopton, Ralf Harolde, John Qualen, and Bradley Page. Let's begin by saying that James Cagney with a mustache is like James Cagney playing against Bogey in the western "The Oklahoma Kid" where he wears a hat that looks exactly like a giant mushroom. Cagney wasn't born to play in Westerns, and his mien looks overdressed and prettified in a 'stache. Nevertheless, the film is a pleasant surprise, exceptionally well done, especially since Warner Brothers was obviously trying to play the film down against the new rules of the coming Breen Code. The Code was put in place on the 13th of June 1934; the film was released on the 16th of June 1934; though the rules of the Code itself weren't put into effect until 1 July 1934. The film could have been a wowzer; instead it plays a game that's 2+2=4. Normally, films play the game where 2+2=5, or more, because that's the way films are played in Hollywood. Things occur the way we'd like them to, rather than the way things normally go. When a film's bad 2+2=0 or 1 or just doesn't add up, but that's another story altogether.

Cagney's an ex-safe-cracker in this one. He evidently got framed last time he pulled a job, and two of his cohorts turned him in and he served a three year sentence he shouldn't have served, or served alone anyway. Now, he turns the tables and gets his ex-cohorts by having the cops turn up while a job is being pulled. One of the men kills a cop and is burned for it. The ex-cohorts go after Cagney. Cagney decides to disappear to a tiny little town somewhere near Monterey, California where Portuguese fishermen live and make their living out of the Pacific. Meanwhile, he's met Blondell, an ex-hooker who's now engaged to be married to Victor Jory, one of the fishermen. She's falling for Cagney, and Cagney - well, yes, he probably for her, too. It's rather sloppy, isn't it. The acting, meanwhile, is very underplayed, but an undercurrent is there that keeps the tone right on target. The acting is spot on. I won't divulge the rest of the plot, but must state that the film is very, very bittersweet. It ends with 2+2=4 - as I said earlier. Something most films don't do. In my opinion, both Blondell and Cagney are at the top of their games in the acting department; it's the script that isn't quite there for this to be a formidable remembrance in their repertoires. Victor Jory must be commended for his performance, though, even above those other two. He's wonderful. It's just that, well, Cagney's body language is so full of energy, no matter what, that he doesn't steal a scene from anybody, he gallops through it, even when he's restraining himself.

New from Warner Archive Collection. Well worth the watch. Be advised: it isn't the normal Cagney crash, bang, boom; it isn't the normal Blondell with snappy lines delivered back against some crack line delivered before. The Pre-Codeness isn't really here; it's calm, but it's real, and it's good.
Last edited by R Michael Pyle on Sun Oct 14, 2018 2:48 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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