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WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

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Ann Harding
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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby Ann Harding » June 20th, 2012, 9:49 am

I saw recently But The Flesh is Weak (1932, J. Conway) with Robert Montgomery, C. Aubrey Smith and Nora Gregor. I absolutely loved it! I enjoyed tremendously the witty dialogue written by Ivor Novello himself (from his own play). I felt the film had a tremendous pacing and was positively sparkling. For once Hollywood left British humour more or less untouched and it shows. Bob Montgomery and C. Aubrey Smith made a tremendous pair as the impoverished father and son. Smith is allowed for once to show his range. And the rest of the cast is just as great: Heather Thatcher as the masculine-looking eccentric lady, Eddie Horton as the super-rich lord and Nora Gregor as the widow who looks rich, but isn't. Great fun from start to finish!

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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby feaito » June 20th, 2012, 10:18 am

Christine, I also enjoyed this little-known Bob Montgomery comedy when I saw it a while ago.

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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby Ann Harding » June 23rd, 2012, 7:18 am

feaito wrote:I have just seen a superbt Precoder: "The Man in Possession" (1931), a MGM film directed by Sam Wood. it's a charming, frothy, risqué comedy and love story, full of nuances and with excellent performances. Robert Montgomery and Irene Purcell make a great team together: they sparkle, have chemistry and give splendid performances. The rest of the cast is very good: Charlotte Greenwood, Reggie Owen, C. Aubrey Smith, Alan Mowbray, Beryl Mercer, Forrester Harvey, etc. A must-see for Pre-Code fans. I wonder why Irene Purcell did not make more pictures or became a well-known movie actress. She certainly had talent, beauty and charm. A must-see.

I am somewhat less enthusiastic than Fernando with this Precoder. Compared to But The Flesh is Weak, I found it more average. The dialogue didn't have the same sparkle and the characters felt rather 'déjà vu'. Sam Wood lacked zest in IMHO. In spite of the excellent Bob Montgomery, I felt a bit bored by the film as a whole. I have seen the remake with Bob Taylor which has about the same faults. I think what sparked my interest in But The Flesh is Weak is the true English wit it contained. This film lacked it desperately...

feaito

Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby feaito » June 23rd, 2012, 11:09 am

Ann Harding wrote:
feaito wrote:I have just seen a superbt Precoder: "The Man in Possession" (1931), a MGM film directed by Sam Wood. it's a charming, frothy, risqué comedy and love story, full of nuances and with excellent performances. Robert Montgomery and Irene Purcell make a great team together: they sparkle, have chemistry and give splendid performances. The rest of the cast is very good: Charlotte Greenwood, Reggie Owen, C. Aubrey Smith, Alan Mowbray, Beryl Mercer, Forrester Harvey, etc. A must-see for Pre-Code fans. I wonder why Irene Purcell did not make more pictures or became a well-known movie actress. She certainly had talent, beauty and charm. A must-see.

I am somewhat less enthusiastic than Fernando with this Precoder. Compared to But The Flesh is Weak, I found it more average. The dialogue didn't have the same sparkle and the characters felt rather 'déjà vu'. Sam Wood lacked zest in IMHO. In spite of the excellent Bob Montgomery, I felt a bit bored by the film as a whole. I have seen the remake with Bob Taylor which has about the same faults. I think what sparked my interest in But The Flesh is Weak is the true English wit it contained. This film lacked it desperately...


In spite of liking both films I enjoyed more TMIP than BTFIW.

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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby Ann Harding » June 24th, 2012, 9:44 am

Yesterday I watched a William S. Hart's western White Oak (1921, Lambert Hillyer). Hart plays a Missouri gambler who decides to avenge his little sister who was the victim of a seducer. The film starts on a paddle boat on the Mississippi river and ends in the desert in a wagon train. Based upon a Hart story, this feature length film shows a William S. Hart who is trying to avenge his sister while being in love with the lovely Barbara (Vola Vale who looks like Lillian Gish). The later is herself the prey of her nasty father-in-law and also of a dodgy character planning to attack a wagon train. While the film was shot by the masterful Joseph August, I was unable to appreciate the quality of the images because of the horrible DVD I had to watch. Alpha Video is often the only choice when you want to see a Bill Hart. In general, the quality is extremely poor.... :cry: When are we going to have a good edition of all Hart's pictures? Flicker Alley please do something!
Last edited by Ann Harding on June 24th, 2012, 10:52 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby JackFavell » June 24th, 2012, 9:51 am

That's too bad about the quality, Ann, I've heard that White Oak is quite good. It deserves better treatment.

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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby MichiganJ » June 24th, 2012, 11:00 am

I saw White Oak last year at Cinesation and the film is great fun, particularly the jail-breaking dog! The 35mm print, from the Library of Congress, was gorgeous, particularly in showing off Hart's dyed, jet-black hair.
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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby JackFavell » June 24th, 2012, 11:31 am

Oh my GOSH, MJ, I LOVE your avatar! That is super!!!!!

LOVE IT!

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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby charliechaplinfan » June 25th, 2012, 6:27 am

Scarface, a film that has been talked about and is iconic in every way, I revisited it today, there's not an ounce of spare fat on the film, it's all lean, nothing wasted, everything knitting together tightly, even the business with the illiterate secretary paid off. So much has been said about the movie but I'll add my twopennyworth.

Before it starts it has preachy subtitles as if to say, we know you're going to enjoy this movie but remember, you are responsible for your own neighbourhood and your government etc. The first killing, the silohette probably more vicious than if we saw the man salmming against the doorframe but we do see that later on and it's very effective too. Tony Camonte is an utter thug, with no saving graces apart from the fact that he's determined to take out everyone and end up top of the heap. His madness doesn't seem to bother his goons around him, I thought at first that Muni was overdone, but it's a performance much parodied, is it an Italian accent he captures I'm not sure, by 5 minutes I'd settled into his rather unsettling performance. As showy as Camonte is, his friend Guino Rinaldo is quiet, doesn't say much, tosses his coin, he's very economical with words and gestures but he dispatches Tony's dirty work like a man shining shoes for a living, no fuss, bang, bang, bang and he walks away and back to Tony's side.

Clothes maketh the man and the make and say a lot about the people, Tony is showy, he doesn't know how to dress, he's loud, he wants to wear all his wealth, Guino is more understated by wears a light coloured hat with dark suits, he's never seen without his hair pomaded. Poppy, seen first in underwear, she dresses for the man she wants and she wants Tony, Cesca she wants to be noticed, she has it all on show and finally cracks Guino, I love the scene after they are married before Guino is killed. Lovo, he becomes scruffier as his relationship with Poppy and Tony disintegrates.

It's very sexual in the precode way, Poppy when she views Tony's machine gun, Cesca and Guino when she dances for him, Tony with Cesca disturbingly, it seems all one way until she goes back to him after he's killed Guino, Poppy putting it on display for Tony to gawk at.

Ultimately, what undoes Camonte, is it Cesca? She only accelerates his decline, once he'd killed Rinaldo he'd lost it, even if the police hadn't caught up with him straight away, he'd lost it, killed his pal and his sister's love. I'm not sure he would have wanted Guino for Cesca anyway. Guino's death is so well done, if you were seeing it for the first time you wouldn't necessarily know what was coming, you wouldn't know they were married. The ending, with Tony going mad and madder still as Cesca dies, so much better than Muni facing the hangman.

The casting wonderful, the contrast of Muni and Raft, Morley and Dvorak, Boris Karloff, I love his gangster, how can a guy who speaks like that be a gangster or Frankenstein for that matter? Howard Hawks trying to fit in everything Howard Hughes wanted in this gangland movie and succeeding. One of the best precodes IMO.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby JackFavell » June 25th, 2012, 7:29 am

Ooh what a wonderful, juicy review Alison!

I never thought about the way they all dress, it's a great observation. Perhaps what brings Tony down is his focus on the superficial? the way he looks and how big a man he can be, the girl he wants must be the best, he doesn't really see Poppy for who she is, just who she belongs to. And he doesn't even see how she mocks him at the beginning. he doesn't see the love between Cesca and Guido, just the sexual, perhaps because of his own disturbing feelings for her. But he never understands any of it or even thinks about it. He is of the moment, all impulse, and does what pleases him never thinking of what's next in any realistic way.

The same ruthless blindness to anything but himself that brought him power is what brings him down I think.

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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby CineMaven » June 25th, 2012, 12:28 pm

You've made me want to see "SCARFACE" Alison. Great review. Covered all the points. The clothes? See, I must be so &%#*!* blind. Never noticed that. Your "twopennyworth" is worth at least a hundred pounds. Nice!

JackFavell wrote:...The same ruthless blindness to anything but himself that brought him power is what brings him down I think.

Your last line is a killer.

I had on "Turn Back the Clock" this morning, though with the sound muted. I like Lee Tracy, but couldn't take the rat-a-tat-tat this morning. I did notice something. I did notice something I don't think I verbalized internally before. It seems that people in 30's movies talk very close to each other. They're right up in each other's faces spitting out lines. I noticed (but not heard) Tracy arguing with his wife and he was right in her kisser. Is it b'cuz of the new fangled Sound, and folks were sharing a mic or what; just something I noticed that made me go "whoa!" As the movie was nearing its end and Tracy's being chased (An "It's A Wonderful Life"-sort of premise), I see him running in slo-motion. I was in shock because I don't think I've seen slow-motion in any movie in the 30's. I stopped what I was doing in amazement: "WoW!"
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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby JackFavell » June 25th, 2012, 12:42 pm

Oh dadgum! I missed the end of that movie! I was actually moved by Tracy's scene with his mom, and though I hadn't really been paying attention, I thought it must be an alternate universe thing, like Wonderful Life. If anyone needed to change his priorities, get some humanity pounded into him, it's Lee Tracy! He also had on a weird blond wig or something at one point. Now that I think of it, he WAS practically standing on top of his mom in that scene... if he'd been any closer he would have been behind her. The things we notice!

I think it must have been the camera, it was an immovable force for a few years there, so yeah, I can see that people would have to come in close contact for a simple two shot. Or maybe for the mike to pick up their dialogue properly. Makes you really appreciate something like The Big Trail.

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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby charliechaplinfan » June 25th, 2012, 12:52 pm

Thank you both, that review poured out when the kids were at school, not being interrupted makes a big difference. Your line nailed it Wendy, what brought him down, that and the fact he was an out and out nasty person, I can't think of any other character in film up to that point that had no redeemable qualities, Guino was redeemable, he was a murdering killer but he could love a woman and he had a gentle side. Poppy seemed Tony's counterpoint, I don't think there was anything redeemable about her either.

If you guys like Lee Tracy look on the George Raft thread there is a cracking picture of Tracy, Raft and Cagney at a charity baseball game.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby CineMaven » June 25th, 2012, 1:16 pm

charliechaplinfan wrote:...Guino was redeemable, he was a murdering killer but he could love a woman and he had a gentle side...

Didn't Hitler have a dog?? But he wasn't in movies.

If you guys like Lee Tracy look on the George Raft thread there is a cracking picture of Tracy, Raft and Cagney at a charity baseball game.

Saw the picture. I bet they played their share of baseball as kids. Yeah...talk about fast-talkers!!!

Again, enjoyed your review. You've got to figure out how to keep the kids in school all year 'round. I like your writing. Okay...okay. That's a selfish remark. Awwww man, when your puppy comes, you'll never be around.
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Re: WHAT SILENTS & PRE-CODES HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

Postby charliechaplinfan » June 25th, 2012, 1:28 pm

It's a silly statement, Guino being redeemable, it's not exactly what I meant, more that he had a redeemable quality, that's what having the kids home will do. Keep my kids in school all year around, if only, my hubby's home all holidays too, he's a teacher, which is great because we're all here together but it wrecks my film viewing, he doesn't do classic movies, not really, if I watch with headphones I'm unsociable. I can't win but I will be around, grousing no doubt about everyone under my feet and in my kitchen :roll:

Are you trying to tell me that when I have the puppy I won't have time for movie watching or posting :shock: heavens. I'll have to cram it all into the time Chris takes her for a walk. I'm going to educate her to be a film fan.

I love all the fast talking, thirties movies have an energy and zip all of their own.
Last edited by charliechaplinfan on June 25th, 2012, 3:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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