WHAT FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN LATELY?

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ChiO
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Post by ChiO »

GUN CRAZY is my favorite film noir, thereby making it one of my favorite movies. I've watched it ten or more times in the past 2-3 years and find something new each time. The sexual tension between Cummins and Dall is painful to watch, made even more so knowing why he was cast in the role. Rusty Tamblyn's early appearance is one of the best of his cyclical career.

Joseph H. Lewis often had something of interest in his films, but here (and in THE BIG COMBO) he created a masterpiece.
Everyday people...that's what's wrong with the world. -- Morgan Morgan
I love movies. But don't get me wrong. I hate Hollywood. -- Orson Welles
Movies can only go forward in spite of the motion picture industry. -- Orson Welles
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movieman1957
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Post by movieman1957 »

ChiO:

I'd never heard of this until someone mentioned it somewhere and put it on my Netflix list.

Would expand on Dall's casting? I thought they played both the tension and their seemingly increasing desperation very well. Even at the end when she seems borderline crazy she underplays it just enough.

I'll have to check out more of Mr. Lewis's work.

Any expanded comments or suggestions to look for on a next viewing are appreciated.
Chris

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana."
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ChiO
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Post by ChiO »

Movieman1957 --

Lewis wanted Cummins and Dall, upon their meeting and engaging in the shooting challenge, to act (as I believe he put it) like "animals in heat." However, he wanted Dall's character throughout the film to have a vulnerability that Lewis thought could best be achieved by using a "quietly" gay actor, and that for Lewis meant Dall (Hitchcock teamed him with Farley Granger for a similar reason in ROPE the previous year). He is the softer, sympathetic figure throughout, whereas Cummins is the animalistic passion, the unleashed Id. The gun imagery is better left to Freud, but Tamblyn's cradling of the gun is the finest image this side of the model oil derrick in WRITTEN ON THE WIND. Dall's clinching of his fist -- repression of violent urges that repulse him -- are echoed throughout. His underlying sexual impotence is made more overt by Warren Beatty in BONNIE AND CLYDE, but here many acts can be taken only hesitantly.

The bank robbery is a classic scene. A typical director would take us inside the bank and witness the robbery. Lewis brings tension to an otherwise common scenario by never letting us in. What's going on in the bank? And then the policeman engaging in conversation with Cummins heightens the tension further. And it's all surrounded by a bravura single take to get us to the bank and out of town. According to Lewis, Billy Wilder called him to find out how the shot was done because he couldn't figure out how three to four background rear projection machines could be used at the same time. Lewis told him that it was shot "real", without rear projection; Wilder said "it's impossible" and refused to believe him.

The film breaks alot of the "rules" of film noir: the setting is rural and small town, not urban; with few exceptions (the opening scene and our duo in a cabin being the major ones), it's pretty much a daytime movie, not nighttime; shadows and Expressionistic camera angles are at a minimum. But a dynamite femme fatale and the overpowering sense of doom doom doom for reasons that seem out of their control leave no doubt that it is noir.

There is one camera shot that is a Lewis staple: Lewis' nickname was "Wagon Wheel" Joe because in his early Westerns, he would add visual interest by shooting through a wagon wheel so often that it became his trademark. When they're on the lam and Dall is driving, there is a shot of him through the steering wheel (the camera would have been about where the accelerator should be).

Some of Lewis' early Westerns and East Side Gang movies are available at Nina's Discount Oldies (on Alpha Video, so its 5 for $25), as are CRIMINALS WITHIN (military-spy mystery thriller), INVISIBLE GHOST (a surprisingly good Lugosi vehicle), BOMBS OVER BURMA (haven't seen it), SECRETS OF A CO-ED (Otto Kruger in an OK movie that's not as good as its title) and the remarkable THE BIG COMBO. The two post-THE BIG COMBO Westerns I've seen are definitely worth watching: A LAWLESS STREET (Randolph Scott and Angela Lansbury) and, even better, TERROR IN A TEXAS TOWN (an anti-HUAC/blacklist film with harpoonist (!) Sterling Hayden, written by Dalton Trumbo).

If it weren't for Edgar G. Ulmer, Joseph H. Lewis would be the King of the B's.
Everyday people...that's what's wrong with the world. -- Morgan Morgan
I love movies. But don't get me wrong. I hate Hollywood. -- Orson Welles
Movies can only go forward in spite of the motion picture industry. -- Orson Welles
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movieman1957
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Post by movieman1957 »

Thanks for the info and taking the time.

One thing that did strike me was I knew the driving scenes were real as a couple of times you see Peggy really struggling to turn the sterring wheel. You are right about the bank robbery. Letting your own head run with what happens inside play against the tension outside really packs a punch. Not sure why Wilder wouldn't believe Lewis as I thought there little doubt that those were shot on the road. When I noticed the shot through the sterring wheel it did get my attention to think that is the original of that angle.

Peggy plays the "animal" type very well. When she tells Jon that she is next to him in bed and to remember she belongs to him there is an underlying suggestion there too.

I have a copy of "A Lawless Street" from TCM and I can never forget Jack Elam at the end of Rawhide."
Chris

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana."
MikeBSG
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Post by MikeBSG »

"Gun Crazy" is terrific. I think it is far, far better than "They Live By Night," which bores me. (I prefer "Thieves Like Us" to "They Live By Night," but I am really drifting off topic.)

Anyway, last night I watched the 1991 French film "All the Mornings of the World" on DVD. The film is about a family of musicians in the 17th Century.

It was unusual in that it took its time and really captured the feel of life in the 17th Century. There was no rush, but you felt the passage of years. Also, the film kept you guessing as to what it would turn out to be. There was love in it, but it wasn't a love story in the conventional sense.

In some ways I had to compare it to "The Red Shoes" in that both films are about living for one's art and the price that this demands of the artist. A very interesting film, with a lot of passion, but passion for music.

Thank God there's never been a Hollywood remake.
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charliechaplinfan
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Post by charliechaplinfan »

I've just watched Make Way For Tomorrow directed by Leo McCarey. It had some splendid funny moments but in the most it is a sad tale of an elderly couple driven to live in seperate towns with different children because of their reduced circumstances. It is difficult and they are sad to be apart but they are cheered by the fact that in 3 months they will move in together with another daughter. That never materialises. Each child is either unwilling or unable to take their parents for too long a time.

Father lives temprorarily with a harridan of a daughter and strikes up a friendship with a shop owner. One of the most poignant scenes in the film for me was when the shopowner reads the father a letter from his wife because father has broken his glasses. The shopkeeper can't finish the letter through sadness, the father just gets up ands shuffles off.

Finally it's decided that father is going to California for a better climate and mother is going to a retirement home but father mustn't know. Mother knows that they will never lives together again but father continues to dream.

Before father goes to California he meet mother in New York and they go back to the hotel were they spent their honeymoon. The management makes a fuss of them and when they decide to dance the waltz they get to the dance floor to have the music change to something faster but the conductor notices and changes the music back just for them.

The wonderful time they have at the hotel is in contrast to how unhappy they have been apart. They annoy their children by truanting at the hotel, like naughty children. The film ends with them parting at the railway as father boards a train for California. To me it's one of the saddest endings to any film I've seen but I didn't cry.

It's an example of a film that hasn't dated. It's themes are just as relevant today, this having been made a few years after the depression so many families would have known hardship like it. It's not a blockbuster either but it's the kind of film that stays with you due to it's brilliant direction, script and stars.
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Post by MikeBSG »

Leo Mc Carey directed "Make Way for Tomorrow," and he felt it wasn't appreciated enough. When he won the Oscar the next year for "The Awful Truth," he supposedly said: "Thanks, but I should have won for 'Make Way for Tomorrow.'"

I read somewhere that, supposedly, "Make Way for Tomorrow" was mentioned in the debates leading up to the beginning of Social Security. (Although I am dubious about that claim. Most sources say that "people stayed away from that movie in droves" as it were.)
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charliechaplinfan
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Post by charliechaplinfan »

It's not a popular subject to make movies about but so powerful a story. I was so moved. However what you have said about the start of the social security system rings a bell in my head, like I'd heard it said before.

This was made a few years after the depression but could be just as relevant today. Remarkable film making.
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charliechaplinfan
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Post by charliechaplinfan »

Last night I saw Sylvia Scarlett a 1935 film directed by George Cukor. It was especially interesting to me as it is one of the films were the Cary Grant rally emerges as a creditable actor. I've seen some of his early efforts and although good there is nothing to set him apart. He really seems to relish his role in this film. The film belongs to Kate Hepburn who splendidly plays a girl posing as a boy. The film was panned on it's release but I don't understand why, it's very watchable and has good direction and performance.

Tonight I watched Hallelujah an early talkie directed by King Vidor. It is a remarkably brave film on behalf of MGM and King Vidor. It has an all black cast some of whom have never acted in front of a movie camera before. The story follows Zekeiel, a rogue who first loses money on a crooked card game after being lured in by Chick a beautiful dancer and then finds redemption after shooting his brother. He sees the light and becomes a preacher. One of the best scenes of the film involve the baptisms and the congregation in the church hall. Zekeiel is tempted by Chick who wants to find redemption herself. Finally he gives in and runs away with her leaving the preacherhood behind. A few months later we see Chick having a liaison with her former lover. She leaves Zekeiel but he runs after he, the carriage she is overturns, she is thrown and is killed. He then pursues the boyfriend who was also the leader of the crooked card game and kills him. Next we see him in prison and then released and returned to the arms of his very forgiving family.

The film is punctuated by lots of gospel singing, at times whipping the crowds up to frenzy. The sound is a little crude as it was an early talkie but the message is a strong one. I for one never knew that this had been made so long ago and by such a major studio. I hope all those associated with it went on to have properous careers.
Last edited by charliechaplinfan on March 4th, 2008, 6:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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movieman1957
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Post by movieman1957 »

charliechaplinfan wrote:Last night I saw Sylvia Scarlett a 1935 film directed by George Cukor. It was especially interesting to me as it is one of the films were the Cary Grant rally emerges as a creditable actor.
"rally emerges..." sounds just like Kate would have said it.

I haven't seen in some time but this is the film the really set her on the road to box office poison. Historically, critics have hated it, but what do they know.
Chris

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana."
feaito

Post by feaito »

Haven't seen much lately...

I watched "Elizabeth-The Golden Age" (2007) last weekend. What a visually stunning film! One of the most lavish spectacles I've seen lately. Very allegorical, well acted and magnificently set in the XVIth Century. The costumes, the décors, the detail....awesome. Cate Blanchett divine. A must-see contemporary film. I'd like to watch it back to back with "Elizabeth" (1998). I felt though that Philip of Spain's character was depicted in a most creepy, demonized, somewhat caricaturized style. Was it on purpose? Was he supposed to be that way at that stage of his life?

Yesterday I finished watching the pre-release 1945 version of "The Big Sleep" (I finally got it -as a gift from a relative who lives in the USA). I realized why it isn't being sold in my country: the zone 1 DVD has no Spanish subtitles. I liked the film, although I could not watch it back to back with the 1946 general release version as I intended to. I did watch the short documentary which compares both versions. I enjoyed it very much. Bogart is superb and so is the rest of the cast. Dorothy Malone's naturalness impressed me. This actress has nothing to do with the lady who acted in "Written on the Wind" (1956). Don't misunderstand me; she's superb in Sirk's film, but I was amazed about the many changes in her persona ten years later. She has such a freshness to her in "The Big Sleep"; it's like comparing Loretta in "Midnight Mary" or "Zoo in Budapest" (both 1933) with the screen persona she had by the time of "The Bishop's Wife".... (1947).....just too different.
jdb1

Post by jdb1 »

Listen up, everyone - I've got a real gem to tell you about.

I got the second Joan Crawford Collection, and I couldn't wait to see Torch Song (1953). TCM will air it on April 25. This was one of the best bad movies I've ever seen. I thought I had seen it before, but on watching it, I realized that what I was remembering was the Carol Burnett parody - know the one I mean?

Crawford plays a famous Broadway musical-comedy star, whose perfectionism and brash manner have isolated her from her peers. She is in rehearsal for a new show, and is full of self-doubt about her abilities, now that she is middle-aged.

So no one wants to work with her any more, and her trusted rehearsal pianist (who is seen sneaking liquor from her dressing room) quits. He gets his friend, played by Michael Wilding, to fill in. The kicker here is that Wilding is blind, and he quickly falls for Crawford because he of course can see her 'inner beauty.' The whole story is silly, contrived and full of logic holes; the dialog is Grade D soap opera, and Wilding looks like a big, pudgy, wuss.

Crawford goes on an on about how her only love is The Audience. I think from the dialog we are supposed to infer that her language is salty: she is constantly telling everyone they stink, and that their work and ideas stink. One voice of reason and calm in the rehearsal process is the venerable Harry Morgan (here billed as "Henry" Morgan). I'm not sure who he's supposed to be - either the director or the stage manager. He has a little moustache in this one.

Crawford does a little dancing, very gingerly, as though she's afraid she's going to fall off her very high heels. Most of the clothes she is given to wear - 50s "New Woman" style stuff - makes her look like a little squat fireplug. She does show off her legs wherever she can, and they are very nice ones. She's got one of those flat on the top, fluffy on the sides hairdos, with those awful Mamie Eisenhower bangs. She sports sort of butterscotch-colored hair, and wears shocking pink lipstick. But even though this is a Technicolor movie, you can't see her eyes very well. I thought they were dark blue, but here they look black. Whoever gave her her look in this movie didn't do her any favors.

Crawford also sings a few Broadway-like songs, but she is dubbed by the singer India Adams, who had a very brassy sort of voice; appropriate for the character, but it didn't sit too well on Crawford. In the features on the disc there is audio of Crawford rehearsing one of the songs from the movie, which was not used, although in one scene Crawford sings along with a record she is listening to. It's not a great voice, but it's a perfectly nice voice.

There is also a little feature on the movie and Crawford in it. This was very interesting to me. There are comments from Richard Barrios, Jeanine Basinger, Bob Thomas, and Christina. Christina does not say anything negative about her mother here. Rather, she talks about how her mother loved her fans, and they loved her. There's a good scene in the movie where Crawford, as the Broadway star, interacts with a group of teenage fans at the stage door.

The little docu also tells that the movie was intended originally for Lana Turner, but it was decided that since Crawford had had a few recent box office successes, they'd put her in it. Most of the plot and songs came from other movie projects. The film, made cheaply, lost money. This docu was really well done, but was much too short.

Basinger made the point that although this movie is pretty bad, Crawford carries it and transcends. I agree - I loved her in this. Wilding, however, was a very weak link, and they were like oil and water. One thing I especially liked was that Crawford spoke normally, it seemed to me. That is, she didn't use the pseudo-British speech of her earlier films, nor did she use her sobbing, put-upon Mildred Pierce voice. She spoke as I've heard her speak in interviews; they way I imagine Joan Crawford actually spoke (well, of course refined a bit for the movies, but still different from what I was used to hearing from her).

Oh, yes - that truly awful "big number." This was written originally for Cyd Charisse in The Band Wagon, but cut. For reasons known only to the demeted people who made this movie, Crawford was required to do it in "brownface," as Barrios said. All the dancers looked like they had dunked their faces into their morning cocoa. I couldn't figure out the men's costumes - brown slacks and sweaters, with brightly colored scarves at the waist, and big hats. Calypso hairdressers? Crawford was all in sparkly blue. She was particularly stiff in her movements here; a combination, I suppose, of the restrictions of the costume and acute embarrassment.

But be that as it may, this movie should be one that all "camp" enthusiasts and Crawford fanatics (two different groups?) will love.
Last edited by jdb1 on March 9th, 2008, 10:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
feaito

Post by feaito »

I saw "Torch Song" long ago and I agree with most of your assessments Judith. It's kind of a "camp" classic :wink:

BTW, I'm thinking about buying that Set too...especially due to "Strange Cargo", "Sadie McKee" and "A Woman's Face", all of which are not sold individually, as far as I know.
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Bogie
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Post by Bogie »

Last night I watched the unbelievably bad but highly watchable comedy film COLLISION COURSE starring Pat "Mr. Miyagi" Morita and Jay Leno. Now normally this would be something to laugh at and then later be ashamed that you laughed at kinda movie but the one thing of note is that it looks like it was the basis for the Rush Hour films.

Has Hollywood gotten so bad that it took the story idea in a cheesy Dino De Laurentis backed film and tweaked it into a hip '90s movie franchise?!

Oh and thank the baby Jesus that Leno never made it big as a comedic actor, boy was he HORRIBLE.
feaito

Post by feaito »

I watched "The Golden Compass" (2007) on Friday night. Amusing, good special effects. Nothing much more. Obviously there is at least one sequel intended for this story.
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